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New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please?

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New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please? keith 4/28/19 12:57 AM
RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please? terry 4/3/19 1:06 PM
RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please? keith 4/5/19 5:03 PM
RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please? terry 4/5/19 6:27 PM
RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 4/3/19 1:40 PM
RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please? keith 4/5/19 5:31 PM
RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 4/6/19 8:06 AM
RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please? keith 4/6/19 3:50 PM
RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please? keith 4/28/19 1:03 AM
RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please? shargrol 4/6/19 6:22 AM
RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please? keith 4/6/19 4:26 PM
RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please? shargrol 4/7/19 6:46 AM
RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please? keith 4/28/19 1:07 AM
RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please? shargrol 4/18/19 6:14 AM
RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please? keith 4/28/19 1:09 AM
RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please? terry 4/13/19 4:18 PM
RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please? shargrol 4/13/19 4:44 PM
RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please? keith 4/14/19 3:58 AM
Hello all,

I'm new here, and I am guilty of writing off Theravada as "lesser" until recently.  I've always had a nagging desire to get "one-pointed concentration" and then apply that to Vipassana practice.  I am here because I can't help wondering where I am at, hearing people talking so casually about access concentration, "crossing the A&P," and more.  So here are some things I've been through and where I am currently at.

Without my whole life story: I really started off doing Kriya Yoga.  There are 5 separate exercises through, whereas people tend to think it is just the breath/spine thing.  I started in 1998 and did  it for about 2 and a half years.  

I had some insights.  I felt the chakras, well I had trouble feeling the muladhara and svadisthana, but everything above those I could feel, especially the heart chakra (I'm not the hippy, love and light type--so that's not a brag)

I saw my "personality" fall to pieces in an experience very much like a house of cards.  I felt like everything, EVERYTHING I thought I knew about everything was just an opinion.

I entered timeless dimension/or maybe spent a long time in eternity (words, ya know?) ...for a few seconds.  I know because I was holding my breath.

It's been a long time, but I went through my share of ups and downs with it. I still seem to go in cycles, up and down.  Then I stopped until late 2012 or early 2013 (?). 

I had gotten the second initiation in 2004 but only got 8 days into it before quitting again.  So I zipped through that level, which increases by 10 reps every 10 days until you are doing 200 reps per day for 10 days, then you are done with that level. Then I got the next initiation, which adds a mantra.  Same schedule.  I zipped through that too.  The routines started at a minimum of 45 minutes with no meditation, but I would always follow them with at least 30-45 minutes of formless meditation/watching thoughts without latching on (or attempting to).  By the 200s it was between 3-4 hours per day, and I didn't miss days.

Then I got the final initiation for that stage, which added a physical component ("striking" if anyone is hip to my jive). This schedule was different.  You started with 36 reps, and added 36 reps per for 36 days.  They don't have to be consecutive. I got them done in 2 or 3 months.  By the end I was between 6 and 7 hours per day.

I had my ups and downs.
I had a period where I felt "the mind is spacious."
I had fairly violent full-upper body convulsions, back and forth/up and down.
I went into some spontaneous postures (nothing mindblowing).
I went into my recent dreams often.
I lost time quite a few times too.  I wasn't asleep. This is how I heard about "the jhanas."  The guy who runs the meditation group that I go to sometimes said that was his only guessas to what was going on, but he was vajrayana and didn't know anything about it.  I had always approached my yoga through a buddhist framework.  My teacher was non-sectarian and my mentor (who I was closest with) had risen to the top of a few paths, and got the most from Buddhism before meeting our teacher.---So, from yoga terminology I knew dhyana. This may have been absorption, but there didn't seem to be any concentration.  There was nothing.  I would just come out of it with 45 minutes missing.  Like I said, not sleep either.  No clue.

So, in 2016 I finally took refuge and I've been working on shamatha since then, without much progress.  I came across the "Deconstructing Yourself" podcast, which led me to Culadasa first and The Mind Illuminated, then Tucker Peck, then Daniel Ingram and MCTB2.   

So I'm pretty sure I went through some stuff during my yoga days.  I don't know if it was purification of karma, or maybe nothing lasting at all.  I'm pretty sure that all that time on the formless meditation was a waste.

It took a long time for me to be able to give up the goal attainment mindset and stop striving.  Through those years of hard work during the yoga I never once fell asleep, but once I stopped and finally reall started working on shamatha (I had always hated working with the breath, probably because Joseph Goldstein's presentation didn't work for me) I fell asleep for the first time.

So, after listening and reading some stuff, I have decided that I have been wasting time not doing insight practices.  So I am working with the breath.  I have Mahasi Sayadaw's giant book too.  Noting is too slow for me, and I think it gets in the way.  By the time I note "hearing," I l have already heard three other things, felt two, and thought twice as well.

keith:
Hello all,

I'm new here, and I am guilty of writing off Theravada as "lesser" until recently.  I've always had a nagging desire to get "one-pointed concentration" and then apply that to Vipassana practice.  I am here because I can't help wondering where I am at, hearing people talking so casually about access concentration, "crossing the A&P," and more.  So here are some things I've been through and where I am currently at.

Without my whole life story: I really started off doing Kriya Yoga (as made famous by Yogananda), energy work (all seated).  There are 5 separate exercises through, whereas people tend to think it is just the breath/spine thing.  I started in  1998 and did  it for about 2 and a half years.  

I had some insights.  I felt the chakras, well I had trouble feeling the muladhara and svadisthana, but everything above those I could feel, especially the heart chakra (I'm not the hippy, love and light type--so that's not a brag)

I saw my "personality" fall to pieces in an experience very much like a house of cards.  I felt like everything, EVERYTHING I thought I knew about everything was just an opinion.

I entered timeless dimension/or maybe spent a long time in eternity (words, ya know?) ...for a few seconds.  I know because I was holding my breath.

It's been a long time, but I went through my share of ups and downs with it. I still seem to go in cycles, up and down.  Then I stopped until late 2012 or early 2013 (?). 

I had gotten the second initiation in 2004 but only got 8 days into it before quitting again.  So I zipped through that level, which increases by 10 reps every 10 days until you are doing 200 reps per day for 10 days, then you are done with that level. Then I got the next initiation, which adds a mantra.  Same schedule.  I zipped through that too.  The routines started at a minimum of 45 minutes with no meditation, but I would always follow them with at least 30-45 minutes of formless meditation/watching thoughts without latching on (or attempting to).  By the 200s it was between 3-4 hours per day, and I didn't miss days.

Then I got the final initiation for that stage, which added a physical component ("striking" if anyone is hip to my jive). This schedule was different.  You started with 36 reps, and added 36 reps per for 36 days.  They don't have to be consecutive. I got them done in 2 or 3 months.  By the end I was between 6 and 7 hours per day.

I had my ups and downs.
I had a period where I felt "the mind is spacious."
I had fairly violent full-upper body convulsions, back and forth/up and down.
I went into some spontaneous postures (nothing mindblowing).
I went into my recent dreams often.
I lost time quite a few times too.  I wasn't asleep. This is how I heard about "the jhanas."  The guy who runs the meditation group that I go to sometimes said that was his only guessas to what was going on, but he was vajrayana and didn't know anything about it.  I had always approached my yoga through a buddhist framework.  My teacher was non-sectarian and my mentor (who I was closest with) had risen to the top of a few paths, and got the most from Buddhism before meeting our teacher.---So, from yoga terminology I knew dhyana. This may have been absorption, but there didn't seem to be any concentration.  There was nothing.  I would just come out of it with 45 minutes missing.  Like I said, not sleep either.  No clue.

So, in 2016 I finally took refuge and I've been working on shamatha since then, without much progress.  I came across the "Deconstructing Yourself" podcast, which led me to Culadasa first and The Mind Illuminated, then Tucker Peck, then Daniel Ingram and MCTB2.   

So I'm pretty sure I went through some stuff during my yoga days.  I don't know if it was purification of karma, or maybe nothing lasting at all.  I'm pretty sure that all that time on the formless meditation was a waste.

It took a long time for me to be able to give up the goal attainment mindset and stop striving.  Through those years of hard work during the yoga I never once fell asleep, but once I stopped and finally reall started working on shamatha (I had always hated working with the breath, probably because Joseph Goldstein's presentation didn't work for me) I fell asleep for the first time.

I was SO happy!  I have depression and anxiety, so this was a good step for me as a human, if not a meditator.  For all you Dark Night people, I am pretty sure the depression came first for me...but maybe not?

I also gave MBSR a real chance, and it did help me relax--while I was relaxing, but it doesn't really phase my anxiety off the cushion.

So, even if it takes me a while to calm down, I get into the breath, but I don't get into real concentration before I get too dull or fall asleep.  I also see Daniel's point about insight being the name of the game anyway, if the situation is urgent, which it is.

So, after listening and reading some stuff, I have decided that I have been wasting time not doing insight practices.  So I am working with the breath.  I have Mahasi Sayadaw's giant book too.  Noting is too slow for me, and I think it gets in the way.  By the time I note "hearing," I l have already heard three other things, felt two, and thought twice as well.


So my question is: in Culadasa's and Ingram's maps (preferrably Ingram's), where do you think I am, and what practice do you think I should be doing? 

If I don't get any better advice I am just going to give Culadasa's system a try.  I would prefer Daniel's but I haven't finished the book, and he said early on in the book that noting is the highest practice.  If noting without "actually" noting is okay, then I'm with it. Otherwise I am tripping over my own notes.

Please and thank you.

(p.s. I have a deadly condition that could go south at any time, and would like to get shit done in this lifetime...because I can't count on another!)


aloha keith,
   
   I'm afraid I can't help with maps and such, but I can offer you a story. Perhaps it will help. Good luck with culadasa's system.

terry



from anthony demello's 'song of the bird':


THE EXPLORER

The explorer returned to his people, who were eager to know about the
Amazon. But how could he ever put info words the feelings that flooded his heart when he saw exotic flowers
and heard the night-sounds of the forest; when he sensed the danger of wild
beasts or paddled his canoe over treacherous rapids?
He said, "Go and find out for yourselves." To guide them
he drew a map of the river.

They pounced upon the map. They framed it in their town hall. They made
copies of if for themselves. And all who had a
copy considered lhemselves experts on the river, for did they not know its every turn and bend, how broad if was
and how deep, where the rapids were
and where the falls?

It is said that Buddha obdurately refused to be drawn into talking about God.
He was probably familiar with the dangers of drawing maps for armchair explorers.

Hi and welcome! Thanks for sharing your story!

Could you tell us more about those instances of losing time? Didn’t you experience any duration at all? Do you have any notes on your experiences leading up to those time gaps and your experiences from coming back again? Were there any changes to your daily life following these instances?

The difficulties in your current practice are not necessarily a bad thing. They could be progress, if you are now working on the next level, so to speak. I’m not qualified to tell, though. But if I were to bet, I would bet that you did not waste your time.

keith:
Hello all,

I'm new here, and I am guilty of writing off Theravada as "lesser" until recently.  I've always had a nagging desire to get "one-pointed concentration" and then apply that to Vipassana practice.  I am here because I can't help wondering where I am at, hearing people talking so casually about access concentration, "crossing the A&P," and more.  So here are some things I've been through and where I am currently at.

Without my whole life story: I really started off doing Kriya Yoga (as made famous by Yogananda), energy work (all seated).  There are 5 separate exercises through, whereas people tend to think it is just the breath/spine thing.  I started in  1998 and did  it for about 2 and a half years.  

I had some insights.  I felt the chakras, well I had trouble feeling the muladhara and svadisthana, but everything above those I could feel, especially the heart chakra (I'm not the hippy, love and light type--so that's not a brag)

I saw my "personality" fall to pieces in an experience very much like a house of cards.  I felt like everything, EVERYTHING I thought I knew about everything was just an opinion.

I entered timeless dimension/or maybe spent a long time in eternity (words, ya know?) ...for a few seconds.  I know because I was holding my breath.

It's been a long time, but I went through my share of ups and downs with it. I still seem to go in cycles, up and down.  Then I stopped until late 2012 or early 2013 (?). 

I had gotten the second initiation in 2004 but only got 8 days into it before quitting again.  So I zipped through that level, which increases by 10 reps every 10 days until you are doing 200 reps per day for 10 days, then you are done with that level. Then I got the next initiation, which adds a mantra.  Same schedule.  I zipped through that too.  The routines started at a minimum of 45 minutes with no meditation, but I would always follow them with at least 30-45 minutes of formless meditation/watching thoughts without latching on (or attempting to).  By the 200s it was between 3-4 hours per day, and I didn't miss days.

Then I got the final initiation for that stage, which added a physical component ("striking" if anyone is hip to my jive). This schedule was different.  You started with 36 reps, and added 36 reps per for 36 days.  They don't have to be consecutive. I got them done in 2 or 3 months.  By the end I was between 6 and 7 hours per day.

I had my ups and downs.
I had a period where I felt "the mind is spacious."
I had fairly violent full-upper body convulsions, back and forth/up and down.
I went into some spontaneous postures (nothing mindblowing).
I went into my recent dreams often.
I lost time quite a few times too.  I wasn't asleep. This is how I heard about "the jhanas."  The guy who runs the meditation group that I go to sometimes said that was his only guessas to what was going on, but he was vajrayana and didn't know anything about it.  I had always approached my yoga through a buddhist framework.  My teacher was non-sectarian and my mentor (who I was closest with) had risen to the top of a few paths, and got the most from Buddhism before meeting our teacher.---So, from yoga terminology I knew dhyana. This may have been absorption, but there didn't seem to be any concentration.  There was nothing.  I would just come out of it with 45 minutes missing.  Like I said, not sleep either.  No clue.

So, in 2016 I finally took refuge and I've been working on shamatha since then, without much progress.  I came across the "Deconstructing Yourself" podcast, which led me to Culadasa first and The Mind Illuminated, then Tucker Peck, then Daniel Ingram and MCTB2.   

So I'm pretty sure I went through some stuff during my yoga days.  I don't know if it was purification of karma, or maybe nothing lasting at all.  I'm pretty sure that all that time on the formless meditation was a waste.

It took a long time for me to be able to give up the goal attainment mindset and stop striving.  Through those years of hard work during the yoga I never once fell asleep, but once I stopped and finally reall started working on shamatha (I had always hated working with the breath, probably because Joseph Goldstein's presentation didn't work for me) I fell asleep for the first time.

I was SO happy!  I have depression and anxiety, so this was a good step for me as a human, if not a meditator.  For all you Dark Night people, I am pretty sure the depression came first for me...but maybe not?

I also gave MBSR a real chance, and it did help me relax--while I was relaxing, but it doesn't really phase my anxiety off the cushion.

So, even if it takes me a while to calm down, I get into the breath, but I don't get into real concentration before I get too dull or fall asleep.  I also see Daniel's point about insight being the name of the game anyway, if the situation is urgent, which it is.

So, after listening and reading some stuff, I have decided that I have been wasting time not doing insight practices.  So I am working with the breath.  I have Mahasi Sayadaw's giant book too.  Noting is too slow for me, and I think it gets in the way.  By the time I note "hearing," I l have already heard three other things, felt two, and thought twice as well.


So my question is: in Culadasa's and Ingram's maps (preferrably Ingram's), where do you think I am, and what practice do you think I should be doing? 

If I don't get any better advice I am just going to give Culadasa's system a try.  I would prefer Daniel's but I haven't finished the book, and he said early on in the book that noting is the highest practice.  If noting without "actually" noting is okay, then I'm with it. Otherwise I am tripping over my own notes.

Please and thank you.

(p.s. I have a deadly condition that could go south at any time, and would like to get shit done in this lifetime...because I can't count on another!)
Hi again,

 
I wanted to add a couple things. and on reading my post again I want to clear a few things up.
 
I just happened upon a podcast, which opened up some doors, which led to me taking a fresh look at Theravada and this new-to-me movement of pragmatic/realistic/reality testing/opening up about experiences/demystifying dogma and otherworldly attainments/etc. stuff. I love it.  I’ve only met a few people in real life who are willing to talk like this.
 
It cracked open some pathways in the old brainy brain and gave me a fresh perspective.  I'm admittedly excited, though I wasn't in a stale place in any way beforehand.
 
Some experiences I left off, just in case there is a doctor in the room:
Early on, I was just walking through my yard to go inside and something snapped (“shifted” would probably be the cooler word) and it was like I was seeing the world for the first time, anew, everything was ultra-vivid and fresh.  I heard every individual bird call, smelled every smell, etc., stronger than ever before, all as if for the first time all over again.   That has happened another 2 or three times since 1998/1999. Mild versions have happened more.
 
A couple months ago, as I was driving, something snapped again and the separation between me and the rest of the world that I was experiencing disappeared.  I could understand how people could describe it as there being “no self,”  but I could also understand people describing at as everything as self, aka “I am that.”  I was still there and able to think, but experientially I was the entirety of my experience...or there was no me, only experience (but I was still there to notice it, as freed up as I was).
 
 
Back to some backstory.
So my pranayama work did things and produced insights on and off the cushion.  I think that my time meditating afterwards may have been better served working with the breath early on though, whether doing concentration or insight practices, rather than "formless" or "choiceless awareness" meditation. 

I may be wrong, but I know now that my current level of concentration is much stronger than I thought and I had mythologized "One-pointed concentration" to a point where I was never going to attain that in my life, which was a prerequisite to Vipassana practices from what I had learned.
 
I stopped the Kriya and took refuge because I got to some "dark" (no reference intended, that's just how I always described it) territory, scary dark--not depressing. There was fear, like literally going into a dark forest alone. 
 
I took refuge and switched to only meditation in 2016. 
 
Looking back, and I may be stretching here, admittedly:
I was restless for a while, dissatisfied.
I went through a period where I didn't want to do any practice whatsoever.
I decided to go finally go “back to basics” and work on shamatha (I had always hated working with the breath, as my introduction to it came from the IMS and Joseph Goldstein…and, at least in my memory, the instructions were to count the breaths up to ten over and over again, starting over every time you got lost.  So, when I was young and just starting out I hardly ever got to ten and just ended up getting pissed off.).
I went at shamatha loosely this time, relaxed, not to tight—and this was on purpose.  I was very goal-oriented when I was young, and still am to a good extent, plus I am hard on myself.  So, I loosened the reins at first, which allowed for some daydreaming and gentle returning to the breath.
I gradually tightened up, never rigid though.
Throughout the process I began to relax, sometimes going to sleep.
I can get into the breath now.  One thing that got me excited was when I read something Daniel wrote about sinking into some bodily bliss (don’t quote me here)  halfway through the outbreath and going through another shift at the bottom of that breath.  I had been going through at least that deep shift halfway through the outbreath.  Our terminology might differ a little, but the point resonates.
When I started experimenting with noting it took me less than two sessions to outpace the verbal noting (mental, not spoken, I know). Point being, I am much better at it already than I would have guessed.
 
Break.
 
I have always been interested in this enlightenment thing as the grandest of all experiments, and my life’s deepest purpose. I’m blooming a little later than I would have chosen, but it is as it is. 
 
My interest/goal, and best guess about what enlightenment actually means has always been to see reality clearly. So, coming back from a Zen, then Bodhichitta/Mahayana type, then Vajrayana view—now coming back to what tends to somehow end up feeling like “back to basics,” which are actually the Buddha’s original teachings…this stuff has really clicked for me.  
 
I’m excited to get into this style of Vipassana, whereas in other traditions and schools the term has different connotations and types of practices.


Keith

Thanks Terry,

I'm cool.  I didn't mean to come off as super thirsty for this new map thing.  I've been around enough to know that my path unfolds the way it will, and its mine only.  I appreciate the guidance though.  I just had a string of insights and am excited about where I am right now.  

Sincerely,

Keith

RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please?
Answer
4/5/19 5:31 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Hi and Thanks Linda,

I sold myself short as far as what rightly read as difficulties in my first post .  I added a reply in the thread that I hope will help to understand me a little bit, though I still have some nervous energy discovering this niche group and joining.

My mentor always kept a diary, which worked for him and ended in some good hand me down wisdom. For me though, I have just always hated journals in general. I even hate the look of composition books!  So no, no notes.  Keeping one on "me" makes me feel pretentious.

There were two different types of time experiences.  One I can still tap into during a certain exercise, but the early experiences were more intense and profound.  This one happens in the due course of the order of the exercises, no intense practice required. It was as if I stepped into eternity and spent a LONG time there...but "I" knew I was there, and then I came back... and exhaled.  This wasn't a blackout thing either.  I've done it without holding the breath too, and if I do go back and play around with the kriyas I do it whatever way I feel like and it still happens sometimes, both ways.  But in this examply there is an I that kind of warps into a black eternity or timeless space, no ground, but there is an "I" that comes and goes.

The oither experience, where I lost time, was different, as there was no consciousness enterring, existing, or remembering the event. I can tell you that I was doing at least 4 hours of advanced pranayama techniqes every day, no breaks, and it was also happening when I was working in increments up to 8 hours per day of that and a higher technique.

I've listened to Kenneth Folk on the Deconstructing Yourself Podcast talking about Nibbana in a similar way, and I was in oblivion. But his descriptions seem to be of moments of this state.  Mine were more like at least 20 minutes, usually 40 to 45.  I wouldn't be conscious of going into it like I am as I am easing into sleep. I would just snap to.

To be clear: anything is possible, and pigs might fly, but if I had to bet my life, THIS WAS NOT AN NIBBANA EXPERIENCE, and nothing to brag about. I would guess they were extreme bouts of dullness/torpor.A

I am making progress.  My insight is that I have been holding myself back from these insight practices for too long...or maybe just long enough.  Who the hell knows? But I am excited right now to be at this juncture.

Thank you,

Keith

keith:
Thanks Terry,

I'm cool.  I didn't mean to come off as super thirsty for this new map thing.  I've been around enough to know that my path unfolds the way it will, and its mine only.  I appreciate the guidance though.  I just had a string of insights and am excited about where I am right now.  

Sincerely,

Keith
you're cool... and I'm happy that you find where you are exciting by virtue of a string of insights... and this may well be a good place to ask about maps...I don't mean to chill the discussion by being negative...

maps indeed have value for those who know the territory first hand and can use them appropriately...

don't take me for an authority, my friend, or a guide...I'm more of a voice crying in the wilderness, just trying to stay alive...

playing my kazoo...

t

Hi Keith, sounds like some really solid years of practice! Diagnosing is always pretty tricky especially when multiple practices, multiple traditions, many years of practice comes into the equation. It seems you are somewhere in the middle, certainly not at the beginning and apparently not done, which is both good news (good progress has been made) and bad news (really hard to nail down exactly where you are and more tricky to advise on a path forward). 

As you know, the further you get on this path, the more independent minded and self-directed practice becomes. The whole point of this work is to become someone that knows their own mind. MCTB does a really good job of describing things --- where do you think you might be? 

It can be helpful to remember that a lot of these maps were designed for monastics that did periodic rain retreats (30 to 90 day retreats during the rainy season in india) -- in those situations there is a lot more continuity of practice and diagnosing becomes easier. One really great way to really see where the remaining sticking points are in your practice is to schedule a 7, 10, or 14 day retreat and see what comes up.

Perhaps more importantly, any questions about any of the insight practice methods? There is a whole universe of different approaches that work for teasing out remaining resistances and blind spots -- maybe we can recommend something if you identify what kind of stuff you really want to work on.

(On your comment about noting, the point is not to note everything in experience, but rather use it as an ongoing feedback on whether we're staying present in our practice. So it's totally fine to note one thing that is heard yet hear 10 more things, for example. Basically a good test is to see if you can sit for an hour and note one thing in experience on every outbreath. That's it. Note one thing 12 times a minute or so, for an hour and otherwise watch the mind/experience.)

Advanced phases of this work become very personal (ironically emoticon ). A lot of the practices deal with the unromanitic stuff like focusing on remaining reactive patterns, fears, greed/ambition, ignoring, and fantasies... which can be sometimes hard to notice in ourselves, and yet we sometimes have a suspicion that we need to find a practice that will work on our tendency to do (whatever it is). 

So, maybe not very helpful, but I'm curious what you think?

Hi again!

You didn’t seem desperate or anything like that to me, just like a solid practicioner, practicing well.

About journals: no problem. Not everyone is a phenomenology junky. I’m being really nerdy about it, which kind of took me by surprise because I thought of meditation as something I did for myself just for the fun of it. It turned out that writing detailed reports of it is part of the fun for me. That’s why I keep doing it, or at least it’s one of the main reasons.

The eternity thing sounds like a really cool experience. Maybe some kind of jhana?

There are states that one can drop into that entail so subtle perceptions that remembering them is hard, and this is without dullness being involved. There are also states where one loses any sense of time without being dull. Still, dullness can also appear very suddenly, sofar as I understand, for instance if something is too much to handle and causes one to go blank. I asked those questions because I was wondering if you had a fruition (cessation, nibbana), but since you seem very certain that you did not, you probably didn’t. Yet.

I look forward to reading more about your journey, when and if you feel like writing about it here. It seems like an interesting one.

RE: New to maps, jhanas. Not found on K's Idiot Guide. Where am I, please?
Answer
4/6/19 3:50 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Thank you kindly, Linda.

Thanks Shargrol,

Yes, over the past three or four years I have finally started to become comfortable making my own decisions (which may seem a little ironic here and now).  

I know that I have a lot of fear, a giant ego with giant opinions and judgmentalism, and anger, and I'm sure plenty of good human muck.

But for now, I think I should stick with novice-to-intermediate moment-to-moment insight stuff, since I am new to it. I have always been an "in my head" type of guy, and I am not so close with my body, so I might benefit from some pointers on how to stick to bodily sensations. I've also noticed that rather than noticing sounds I am waiting to notice them, listening to them or anticipating them, if that makes more sense--which is not in-the-moment. I imagine this is pretty common at first.

As far as where I am at on the "maps," I'm just a curious guy.  There is no way that I could read Daniel's stuff and how he accomplished what he did in so few years, then showing how and mapping it out, and not be curious as to where I am at.

I've been around the net and some insight forums like, lurking, before I came here, and I've seen so many people talking so casually about "crossing the A&P" so quickly and early in their practice, not even on retreats.  Same with dark nights.

My experiences where nature just popped alive and vivid, as if brand new, loud and clear--especially the first one, "may" have been A&P??

As far as dark night stuff goes, I've had major depressive disorder and generalized disorder since my late teens.  I was an active alcoholic for around 16 years.  I've been in therapy and on meds a few times, but when your still active in your addiction it's hard to get much work done.  I've been back in therapy since getting sober in 2012. I'm on my meds, but my depression is "treatment resistant."  They've just approved some new ketamine based depression treatments which are supposed to be a breakthrough for treatment resistant depression, so fingers crossed.  Anyway, I might not recognize a dark night if it smacked me in the face, and I might also breeze through it like it was a walk in the park compared to where I've been before. I have no idea.

I DID go through a few months where I was COMPLETELY restless and NOTHING was satisfying or enjoyable.  I had no desire to practice, and none of my regular escapes worked either. Everything SUCKED!  I can laugh now, but I was pissy as hell.  So again, I don't know.

As far as positve states, depression gives one a negativity bias, which sells everything short.  So I have been working on reevaluating these things over the past two years before landing here anyway.  So what I call feeling relaxed, very comforatable and content just sitting and breathing may just translate to others' "bodily bliss" and "rapture."     

So, to your question about techniques: please refer to paragraph three above (But for now...) for requests.

Thank you,

Keith

Another quick question Keith, which will help with suggestions... why are you wanting to meditate? Are you going for the mental stability effects or more for the spiritual investigation into imperminance, suffering, and not self insights?

Meditation is one of those slightly dangerous things that can really help or really fuck up psychological therapy. A lot of times, getting into contact with the basic building blocks of experience (sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts) can really help clarify a particular problem we are working on (depresssion, anxiety, etc.). This tends to happen when someone has both a good therapist and a good meditation teacher.  Unfortunately, sometimes even with good teachers it's possible that meditation just fuels a natural inclination to over-analyze, over-react, over-doubt, become anxious, become depressed, and creates more trouble than is helpful. So it's not a cure-all. 

My sense is that maybe just short periods of sitting would be helpful for you as you work on everything else. So for what it's worth, I would probably recommend:

Either at the beginning or end of the day... Finish what you are doing, maybe take a shower and switch into comfortable clothes, take a comfortable seat on a cushion, adjust the body so you are sitting mostly upright but not being overly-rigid, and mentally connect with why you want to practice including how meditation practice is both good for you and good for others. Then...

* Sit for 5 minutes and just settle into being on the cushion. You can use the sensations of the body breathing to bring you into your practice. No need to fixate on the sensations of breathing, just notice as part of what is happening as you settle into being on the cushion. The mind might jump around a lot, no big deal. At this point you are just letting mindfulness develop on its own. You can't do this wrong.

* Sit for 5 minutes and have the intention to notice body sensations (including the physical sensations of breathing). Not overly focusing on body sensations, but intenting to notice them a little more than normal. If you get lost in thought, note the kinds of thoughts that are distracting you (make up your own label) and return to noticing body sensations. You can get lost 10 times or 1000 times, no problem. You can't do this wrong.

* Sit for 5 minutes and just notice body feelings (urges and emotions). If you get lost in thought, note the kinds of thoughts that are distracting you (make up your own label) and return to noticing feelings. You can get lost 10 times or 1000 times, no problem. You can't do this wrong.

* Sit for 5 more minutes and just notice sensations, feelings, and even the thoughts you have. If something really draws you into an non-mindful trance-like state then when you notice your lost of mindfulness, note what distracted you (make up your own label) and return to noticing things. Once again, you could get lost 10 times or 1000 times, no problem, you can't do this wrong.

* Sit for 5 minutes and just return to being your normal you. Don't do anything in particular, just let thoughts about whatever is next in your life start happening. Think about what you experienced, what was pleasurable, what was interesting, and what you learned. Maybe consider dedicating your practice to the benefit of yourself an others. Just sit on the cushion and experience what it is like, you can't do this wrong.

I would say that this is a good basic practice. Surprisingly powerful and will meet you where you are at. Little chance of things going wrong, too. You should probably check with your therapist or someone IRL that you trust if you want to get another opinion. Internet advice is worth what you pay for it! emoticon

Hope this helps in some way!





Sit for 5 minutes and 

shargrol:
Another quick question Keith, which will help with suggestions... why are you wanting to meditate? Are you going for the mental stability effects or more for the spiritual investigation into imperminance, suffering, and not self insights?

Meditation is one of those slightly dangerous things that can really help or really fuck up psychological therapy. A lot of times, getting into contact with the basic building blocks of experience (sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts) can really help clarify a particular problem we are working on (depresssion, anxiety, etc.). This tends to happen when someone has both a good therapist and a good meditation teacher.  Unfortunately, sometimes even with good teachers it's possible that meditation just fuels a natural inclination to over-analyze, over-react, over-doubt, become anxious, become depressed, and creates more trouble than is helpful. So it's not a cure-all. 

My sense is that maybe just short periods of sitting would be helpful for you as you work on everything else. So for what it's worth, I would probably recommend:

Either at the beginning or end of the day... Finish what you are doing, maybe take a shower and switch into comfortable clothes, take a comfortable seat on a cushion, adjust the body so you are sitting mostly upright but not being overly-rigid, and mentally connect with why you want to practice including how meditation practice is both good for you and good for others. Then...

* Sit for 5 minutes and just settle into being on the cushion. You can use the sensations of the body breathing to bring you into your practice. No need to fixate on the sensations of breathing, just notice as part of what is happening as you settle into being on the cushion. The mind might jump around a lot, no big deal. At this point you are just letting mindfulness develop on its own. You can't do this wrong.

* Sit for 5 minutes and have the intention to notice body sensations (including the physical sensations of breathing). Not overly focusing on body sensations, but intenting to notice them a little more than normal. If you get lost in thought, note the kinds of thoughts that are distracting you (make up your own label) and return to noticing body sensations. You can get lost 10 times or 1000 times, no problem. You can't do this wrong.

* Sit for 5 minutes and just notice body feelings (urges and emotions). If you get lost in thought, note the kinds of thoughts that are distracting you (make up your own label) and return to noticing feelings. You can get lost 10 times or 1000 times, no problem. You can't do this wrong.

* Sit for 5 more minutes and just notice sensations, feelings, and even the thoughts you have. If something really draws you into an non-mindful trance-like state then when you notice your lost of mindfulness, note what distracted you (make up your own label) and return to noticing things. Once again, you could get lost 10 times or 1000 times, no problem, you can't do this wrong.

* Sit for 5 minutes and just return to being your normal you. Don't do anything in particular, just let thoughts about whatever is next in your life start happening. Think about what you experienced, what was pleasurable, what was interesting, and what you learned. Maybe consider dedicating your practice to the benefit of yourself an others. Just sit on the cushion and experience what it is like, you can't do this wrong.

I would say that this is a good basic practice. Surprisingly powerful and will meet you where you are at. Little chance of things going wrong, too. You should probably check with your therapist or someone IRL that you trust if you want to get another opinion. Internet advice is worth what you pay for it! emoticon

Hope this helps in some way!





Sit for 5 minutes and 
HI Shargrol,

To answer your question, I'm after the insights and clear seeing.  Of course I want the personal insights into myself and I'll take any positive side effects I can get, but in my experience those insights come either as byproducts or on their own terms, however you want to word it.   I want to feel truly alive, and to feel in my bones what it really means to be a living part of this living universe. 

Philosohpically, I have always been a non-dualist (since I was able to make any such proclamation about my philosophy).  I have had a few experiences where the separation between me and the rest dropped away/disappeared/whatever.  I think I have a good grip and fairly safe framework.  I am a thinker, which has its drawbacks, but it also has its advantages.  Long before I had any real "experiences" I knew that they were just that, and might* be flagposts but were not the goal and nothing to get stuck on or brag about.  When I finally did have some of the expreriences I always wanted to, they weren't as epic as I had always romanticized them to be--or as those writing about them had mythologized them to be. 

I typed out a long reply to this post the other day on my phone with my one thumb technique, and when I finally hit publish I got a message saying that the message boards were down at the moment...and my post was all gone.   

About your concerns over my mental health: I have two degrees in human services and psych and am about to start a master's program. My issues are not acute, I am stable, have never had any psychotic breaks or hospitalizations, nor arrests, and have no plans to harm myself or anyone else.  I know myself fairly well, from therapy, practice, and just being introspective by nature.  That's not to say that I know all of my secrets, but I'm pretty cool with myself, and am not about to fry my brain.  I am in therapy to do the work, not because I need it to function or get by.  It's a choice and I do fine without it.  Me and my issues are old friends by now.  

I know that more practice is not always better, and you can't necessarily sprint to catch up to where you think you should be.  In no relation to the progress of insight, I have been through plenty of stages and cycles.  This current excitement has died down into a gentle positivity about taking what seems to be a very logical step in the insight direction. 

I am getting the hang of noting, though I need to iron out my vocabulary list. Early days though, and that's fine.

I already always dedicate the merit at the end of every session, so we are on the same page there.

As far as everything else goes: Since I am just turning this corner of my path I am just focusing on noting and working on not missing a breath for the whole session.  I can usually sit for about an hour on the dot before my hips hurt bad enough to need to change positions.  I then straighten my legs out for a minute or two, then switch legs (Criss cross apple sauce on a zafu, on a pillow, on a zabuton--my personal setting) for at least another half hour to an hour.

I am keeping all of your grounding techniques in my hip pocket as well, and I do appreciate your concern. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to dig in straight  to the noting right now though.  Just 1-2 hours per day for now, which will go down when school starts again. I have no intention of frying my brain.

Retreat time is on my To Do When I Can list. 

I am getting towards the end of MCTB2 as well, so I will see if any techniques pop out at me there.  After that I need to finish Mahasi Sayadaw's Manual of Insight.  I think Daniel may also be responding to me concerning this stuff when he gets done with his retreat as well.  The fire kasina  for really interests me, but I need to work on the basics first. 


Thank you for your concern and help,


Keith

 
Noting is simple and powerful, and it's okay to dive in if you are ready. The nice thing about noting is it takes you where you need to go. Something really amazing about the mind sort of points the way. The main challenge is that you must get used to (over time) being on the level of direct experience rather than interpreted experience. The more intimately you can be in experience, the more likely the experiences leading to legitimate insights into the nature of experience happen. The more abstracted and intellectualized the relationship with experience, the more likely experience will be shallow and the insights will be somewhat abstracted or intellectualized. This is a whole different domain than philosophy or therapy.
 
The idealized 1+ hour version of a good noting session is:

1. Let mind get settled into practice mode, slowly letting day's thoughts get replaced with the intention to practice.

2. Let the body get settled. Sit. Rock left and right and forward and backward until you find the place of a stable upright spine. Move your head around until it is centered on your shoulders. Move your shoulders back and down so that they are hanging down and resting on your torso. Rotate your elbows without moving your shoulders and rest your hands in your lap. This should be a good comfortable position.

3. Take slightly longer and deeper breaths, just 20% deeper and hold it 20% longer. Start feeling that combination of relaxation and invigoration.

4. Now let the breath do itself normally. While the body breath itself, feel the relaxation of the out breath and count breaths from 1 to 10. If you miss a count, start over again. If you get to ten, start again at one. No big deal, just be honest. If the body can naturally breath itself and the mind can naturally from 1 to 10 three times then the mind is nicely settled. (It’s easy to get this part wrong by using too much effort. Anyone can count breaths if they use a lot of effort, like a soldier counting push-ups. This breath counting should be basically effortless, the body breathes, the mind counts, no effort.)

From this foundation starts the basic noting phase…

6. For 5 to 10 minutes, have the intention to notice sensations in a very intimate and direct way. On each out breath, note just one of the sensations that is present. This is a very easy rate (10 to 12 times a minute or so) which leaves plenty of time for directly noticing sensations. The mental note is a way to see if you haven’t entered a trance of sorts. If you slip into a trance and are lost in thought or are in a trance and forget to note, then simply note what was distracting you, give yourself a “good job!” feeling for returning to mindfulness, and start noticing sensations again.

7. Next slowly switch into urges and emotions. For 5 to 10 minutes, switch to urges and emotions in the same way. Urges are like little non-verbal motivational intentions that rise up, usually clinging/greed or aversion/resistance. Emotions are longer lasting non-verbal moods or feelings (different than the momentary sensations). If you slip into a trance and are lost in thought or are in a trance and forget to note, then simply note what was distracting you, give yourself a “good job!” feeling for returning to mindfulness, and start noticing urges and emotions again.

8. Next slowly switch into thoughts. For 5 to 10 minutes, switch to “categories of thought” in the same way. In this step you don’t become imbedded in thinking, but you don’t stop it either. You let your mind think the way it naturally does, but you pay attention to it as thinking, and on every outbreath you note the general category of thoughts you are having. You might be planning your day, thinking about the past, worried about making progress, doubting the effectiveness of the method, etc. Perfect! You would simply note “planning thoughts”, “remembering thoughts”, “worrying thoughts”, “doubting thoughts”, etc. You can make up your own categories or style of labels. If you slip into a trance and are lost in thought or are in a trance and forget to note, then simply note what was distracting you, give yourself a “good job!” feeling for returning to mindfulness, and start noticing categories of thought again.

9. At this point, the mind is now very good at being mindful and discriminating (in the good “distinguishing” sense) between  sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts. Now for 5 to 10 minutes, let yourself note any one of these things while you let your body and mind do what it wants. This is basically freestyle noting. If you slip into a trance and are lost in thought or are in a trance and forget to note, then simply note what was distracting you, give yourself a “good job!” feeling for returning to mindfulness, and start noticing and noting again.

This all sounds very easy, but very few people are capable of following the instructions above. Most people jump into freestyle noting, which is totally fine, but you need to be honest and admit if you are having any difficulty with any of the four categories of mind objects. You can't go wrong with checking in on all four before freestyling. But if one of the categories of sensations, urges, emotions, or thoughts is more difficult, you might want to spend more time on it. It might be you spend focused time on sensations and thoughts before going freestyle if you are already good with urges and emotions. . It might be that you need to spend a lot of time on urges or emotions before going freestyle. Etc. Basically, you are trying to design a practice that uncovers what is non-conscious or confused in your experience and what kinds of stuff you avoid by going into a mindless trance. Again, the path and goal is at the level of direct, intimate, visceral experience, including the direct experiencing of thoughts as thoughts. Definitely a different domain than therapy or philosophy (but obviously it supports both of those).

Now for the next phase….

10. Now simply sit for 5 minutes without applying any techniques. Let the mind transition from a practicing mind to a normal mind. Notice what observations from practice linger and what you might want to bring with you off cushion. What can you work on off-cushion during your normal life?

11. Dedicate merit

12. And now let the effort of practice go. It is important to have not practicing time to let the mind non-consciously digest what happens during practice. Yes, it’s okay to work on some stuff off-cushion, but don’t become neurotic or obsessive. Just like with physical exercise, you actually build muscle/mindfulness during your recovery from your workouts/meditation. Sleep is really important, too. Strange things can happen over night in terms of developing awareness, attention, mindfulness, subtle distinguishing, etc.
 
The last thing I’ll say is that the direct and intimate experience of sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts are like a gateway. We assume we know what these things are, but honestly we really don’t. If you can simply have the direct experience of these things, then some amazing progress is made and the seemingly mythical progress described in the traditions all makes sense. And practice does lead to nanas, jhanas, cessations, and awakening. Yes, don’t crave these experiences, but also don’t write them off as unimportant. You’ll be amazed at the powerful experiences that do happen. But the gateway to all of this is simply intimately and directly experiencing sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts. Don’t underestimate the power of doing these very simple practices. Also use caution with these very simple practices, the results can be destablizing.

In the same way that you tear muscle to build it back to become stronger, you tear apart confusions (fused-with-ness) about experience so that your mind grows clearer.
 
Maybe this is helpful or not, in any case, best wishes for your practice!!
 

shargrol:
 
Noting is simple and powerful, and it's okay to dive in if you are ready. The nice thing about noting is it takes you where you need to go. Something really amazing about the mind sort of points the way. The main challenge is that you must get used to (over time) being on the level of direct experience rather than interpreted experience. The more intimately you can be in experience, the more likely the experiences leading to legitimate insights into the nature of experience happen. The more abstracted and intellectualized the relationship with experience, the more likely experience will be shallow and the insights will be somewhat abstracted or intellectualized. This is a whole different domain than philosophy or therapy.
 
The idealized 1+ hour version of a good noting session is:

1. Let mind get settled into practice mode, slowly letting day's thoughts get replaced with the intention to practice.

2. Let the body get settled. Sit. Rock left and right and forward and backward until you find the place of a stable upright spine. Move your head around until it is centered on your shoulders. Move your shoulders back and down so that they are hanging down and resting on your torso. Rotate your elbows without moving your shoulders and rest your hands in your lap. This should be a good comfortable position.

3. Take slightly longer and deeper breaths, just 20% deeper and hold it 20% longer. Start feeling that combination of relaxation and invigoration.

4. Now let the breath do itself normally. While the body breath itself, feel the relaxation of the out breath and count breaths from 1 to 10. If you miss a count, start over again. If you get to ten, start again at one. No big deal, just be honest. If the body can naturally breath itself and the mind can naturally from 1 to 10 three times then the mind is nicely settled. (It’s easy to get this part wrong by using too much effort. Anyone can count breaths if they use a lot of effort, like a soldier counting push-ups. This breath counting should be basically effortless, the body breathes, the mind counts, no effort.)

From this foundation starts the basic noting phase…

6. For 5 to 10 minutes, have the intention to notice sensations in a very intimate and direct way. On each out breath, note just one of the sensations that is present. This is a very easy rate (10 to 12 times a minute or so) which leaves plenty of time for directly noticing sensations. The mental note is a way to see if you haven’t entered a trance of sorts. If you slip into a trance and are lost in thought or are in a trance and forget to note, then simply note what was distracting you, give yourself a “good job!” feeling for returning to mindfulness, and start noticing sensations again.

7. Next slowly switch into urges and sensations. For 5 to 10 minutes, switch to urges and emotions in the same way. Urges are like little non-verbal motivational intentions that rise up, usually clinging/greed or aversion/resistance. Emotions are longer lasting non-verbal moods or feelings (different than the momentary sensations). If you slip into a trance and are lost in thought or are in a trance and forget to note, then simply note what was distracting you, give yourself a “good job!” feeling for returning to mindfulness, and start noticing urges and emotions again.

8. Next slowly switch into thoughts. For 5 to 10 minutes, switch to “categories of thought” in the same way. In this step you don’t become imbedded in thinking, but you don’t stop it either. You let your mind think the way it naturally does, but you pay attention to it as thinking, and on every outbreath you note the general category of thoughts you are having. You might be planning your day, thinking about the past, worried about making progress, doubting the effectiveness of the method, etc. Perfect! You would simply note “planning thoughts”, “remembering thoughts”, “worrying thoughts”, “doubting thoughts”, etc. You can make up your own categories or style of labels. If you slip into a trance and are lost in thought or are in a trance and forget to note, then simply note what was distracting you, give yourself a “good job!” feeling for returning to mindfulness, and start noticing categories of thought again.

9. At this point, the mind is now very good at being mindful and discriminating (in the good “distinguishing” sense) between  sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts. Now for 5 to 10 minutes, let yourself note any one of these things while you let your body and mind do what it wants. This is basically freestyle noting. If you slip into a trance and are lost in thought or are in a trance and forget to note, then simply note what was distracting you, give yourself a “good job!” feeling for returning to mindfulness, and start noticing and noting again.

This all sounds very easy, but very few people are capable of following the instructions above. Most people jump into freestyle noting, which is totally fine, but you need to be honest and admit if you are having any difficulty with any of the four categories of mind objects. You can't go wrong with checking in on all four before freestyling. But if one of the categories of sensations, urges, emotions, or thoughts is more difficult, you might want to spend more time on it. It might be you spend focused time on sensations and thoughts before going freestyle if you are already good with urges and emotions. . It might be that you need to spend a lot of time on urges or emotions before going freestyle. Etc. Basically, you are trying to design a practice that uncovers what is non-conscious or confused in your experience and what kinds of stuff you avoid by going into a mindless trance. Again, the path and goal is at the level of direct, intimate, visceral experience, including the direct experiencing of thoughts as thoughts. Definitely a different domain than therapy or philosophy (but obviously it supports both of those).

Now for the next phase….

10. Now simply sit for 5 minutes without applying any techniques. Let the mind transition from a practicing mind to a normal mind. Notice what observations from practice linger and what you might want to bring with you off cushion. What can you work on off-cushion during your normal life?

11. Dedicate merit

12. And now let the effort of practice go. It is important to have not practicing time to let the mind non-consciously digest what happens during practice. Yes, it’s okay to work on some stuff off-cushion, but don’t become neurotic or obsessive. Just like with physical exercise, you actually build muscle/mindfulness during your recovery from your workouts/meditation. Sleep is really important, too. Strange things can happen over night in terms of developing awareness, attention, mindfulness, subtle distinguishing, etc.
 
The last thing I’ll say is that the direct and intimate experience of sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts are like a gateway. We assume we know what these things are, but honestly we really don’t. If you can simply have the direct experience of these things, then some amazing progress is made and the seemingly mythical progress described in the traditions all makes sense. And practice does lead to nanas, jhanas, cessations, and awakening. Yes, don’t crave these experiences, but also don’t write them off as unimportant. You’ll be amazed at the powerful experiences that do happen. But the gateway to all of this is simply intimately and directly experiencing sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts. Don’t underestimate the power of doing these very simple practices. Also use caution with these very simple practices, the results can be destablizing.

In the same way that you tear muscle to build it back to become stronger, you tear apart confusions (fused-with-ness) about experience so that your mind grows clearer.
 
Maybe this is helpful or not, in any case, best wishes for your practice!!
 

Shargrol,

Thank you for your instructions. I do know how to settle in to practice already.  I would not have known that method of investigating the different areas one by one instead of "freestyling" from the start of the noting period of practice.   

I do find myself looking for/searching out things to note when I am not aware of any (which I realize now is a mental activity, "searching"), in order to meet the noting quota sometimes.  I assume this is normal at the beginning. 

I think this would fall into your category of urges, an urge to do.

Thank you for your help, and I do hope we can continue our dialogue.  I can see from your posts in this and other threads that you are a helper and know this practice well. 

Peace,

Keith

aloha keith,

   Non-duality as a personal framework. 

   Nonduality. Personal. Framework.

   Like shargrol, I like to talk about what I think about. We like to think it helps. Hopefully it helps someone. I realize your defenses are up, but there is no criticism here, nonduality can only be shared.

   I've been thinking about how non-duality is based on duality, or the reverse. We see one thing with two eyes, two halves of a brain. Idea and reality; pattern and random events, mind and body. That which is framework, and that which is personal.

   Consider the persistent human perception that mind and body are separate. Body is solid, tangible, unambiguously "real." Mind seems ephemeral, intangible, like smoke. But like the chicken and the egg, mind and body are products of each other. Non-dual as it were. But seeing them as separate can enable us to refine both body and mind. Thus duality can serve the function of nonduality.

  How does this actually work? That's a moire (sung to the tune of, "that's amore"). Take two grid patterns and superimpose them a little biased and you have the "moire effect," which gives rise to an apparently infinite variety of patterns, some of which harmonize and produce rhythmic effects. Thus we have music, beauty, the harmony of the spheres. Scientific laws, causes and effects; all harmonics. The visual effect is seen in taking two pieces of screen, tilting them slightly, and looking through them. Audibly, sonar works by bouncing two sounds against an object and interpreting the pattern when the two sound streams return to the receiver: the rhythmic disturbance in the patterns outlines the object. Take two humans and superimpose them slightly off grid and you have love. That's a moire. 

   So, dualism provides information, stimulus, input. Something to map and something to be mapped upon. Us in here and the world out there. All perception is that of difference. We can only gain information about an object through observing it change, or by moving head and eyeballs, or ears, or hands, over the object. The combination of two streams of information provides a third stream (incidentally, if you know any two of the streams, the third may be inferred).

   Where non-duality comes in is in realizing there is only the one thing, what gregory bateson calls, "the pattern that connects." Aka "ultimate reality." But here's the real problem: "ultimate reality" is still just an idea, however "adequate" it may be or seem. There is an unnameable "ultimate reality" that underlies ultimate reality: beyond everything we can conceive of or picture, an ocean vastness unthinkably beyond anything we can possibly imagine. 

   This means that all we can really know is that we cannot really know. If we have a map of the universe, we think we know the universe, or something like. Everything we know about the universe is comprehended under "universe." We tend to think this sort of thinking is somehow adequate to the object, that the map comprehends the territory. Realization is about understanding that the maps are all just used toilet paper, in the zen metaphor. 

   We try to understand what is so far beyond us, it is like trying to swallow the ocean. 

   How to deal with this reality? We can accept our limitations, take life on its own terms. Open ourselves to novelty, stop trying to pin things down. See a new pattern in every moire. People see patterns in rorshach inkblots. Significant ones. See and respond instead of think and react.

   If we trust the unnameable so-called ultimate reality to take care of us in all things like it breathes for us when we are asleep, we can put the mind to rest. Realization in practice.

   Sorry if none of this makes any sense; apparently I can't help myself. (wink)

terry
   


from "on the improvement of understanding" by benedict spinoza:

[41] (1) We may add that the idea in the world of thought is in the same case as its correlate in the world of reality. (2) If, therefore, there be anything in nature which is without connection with any other thing, and if we assign to it a subjective essence, which would in every way correspond to the objective reality, the subjective essence would have no connection, with any other ideas—in other words, we could not draw any conclusions with regard to it. (41:3) On the other hand, those things which are connected with others—as all things that exist in nature—will be understood by the mind, and their subjective essences will maintain the same mutual relations as their objective realities—that is to say, we shall infer from these ideas other ideas, which will in turn be connected with others, and thus our instruments for proceeding with our investigation will increase. (4) This is what we were endeavoring to prove.

[42] (1) Further, from what has just been said—namely, that an idea must, in all respects, correspond to its correlate in the world of reality,—it is evident that, in order to reproduce in every respect the faithful image of nature, our mind must deduce all its ideas from the idea which represents the origin and source of the whole of nature, so that it may itself become the source of other ideas.

keith:


I am far from a proud man, but you are starting to kill me with the warnings that practice is different than therapy, after I have already answered your question that I I am not trying to heal my mental illnesses through spriritual practice.



Sorry about this. This really wasn't my intention. My goal in saying that it isn't therapy/philosophy was only to try to emphasize the importance of the raw sensate aspect of experiencing as opposed to storylines or conceptual frameworks. That's all. And it's fairly common for me to issue warnings to folks, so nothing special there. 

No worries, I'm glad you told me. I'll be on the lookout for this in my posts. 

I figured you didn't mean to, and I appreciate your understanding. And I do appreciate your warnings.  I was very gung ho when I was young, and I have pushed things too fast.  It took me a long time to learn how to back off and even take breaks some times.  I don't push myself too hard off the cushion either.  I don't doubt that I will hit new territory and feelings, and I am not too proud to ask for help.

Thanks again,


Keith