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Yuki's insight diary/practice log OHY

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Hi, 

It's been a while since my last log: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5858018, but I want to start one anew.

To give my history, I've been practicing meditation on and off for about 8 years.  In the beginning, for a while I have practiced Vipassana meditation such as mahasi noting, body scanning, and practicing according to Mind Illuminated, but later turned to more inquiry based method like Advaita or Liberation Unleashed.   I went througth the process facilitated by Liberation Unleashed about two years ago, gaining an insight into the emptiness of self (subject), which is seeing through the first three fetters according to the 10 fetter model. 

For sometime, I continued along in their approach, using inquiry to try to see through further fetters beyond the first three, but my progress has eventually stagnated, in part due to the fact that my family life got very busy, but perhaps also due to the limitation of inquiry based approach in seeing further subtler fetters, which I got to know later.

I was thus looking for some other approach that could break the ice.  Among other things, Vajirayana buddhism came to my mind for its promise of fast progress even in a busy lay life.

Unfortunately, many lineages of Vajrayana buddhism seem not very open to pragmatic approach due to oath of secrecy.  Luckily, Open Heart Yoga, introduced and discussed on Dho by Kim Katami, promises to be a pragmatic approach to Vajrayana buddhism and many of the practice materials are given online, so I thought to give it a go, and this will be my practice diary to hopefully jot down my thoughts or describe my practice along this line. 

Open Heart Yoga sets its starting point at awakening (initial insight into the emptiness of self).  This insight is called "opening" of the 1st bhumi, according to the map (OHBM) that is used in OHY.  Although I am not confirmed of this, I will set my working hypothesis that I have at least opened the 1st bhumi by the LU process. 

A way one goes about self-diagnosing the opening of the 1st bhumi is to intone the word "I" or "mine" internally and see if it causes a charge or grasping to that word.   Another way is to feel into the energetic sensation at the level of the eye.  Pre-1st bhumi, there is a clear sensation that appears to indicate that there is a looker sitting behind the eyes.  This "looker" sensation is caused by an energetic knot behind the eyes, and upon gaining the 1st insight, the knot gets untied.  The result is that that sensation of "looker" is either no longer there or is substantially weakened, and one's feeling of his/her visual field becomes substantially different from how it was pre-awakening, more open and relaxed.  See https://asiakas.kotisivukone.com/files/sundarayoga.kotisivukone.com/tiedostot/Awake-Kim_Katami-1.2019.pdf .

In any case, I set myself at least at 1st bhumi based on the criteria above.  

To continue on on this path, further emptiness insights need to be gained, this time of the phenomena, like thoughts, emotions and various subtler objects (object-side) rather than that of the self (subject).  Rather than using an inquiry approach like in seeing the initial insight, Open Heart uses a range of techniques to effect efficient progress through further fetters, like guru yoga, tantric techniques, dynamic concentration, and ati-yoga.

I've been practicing this appraoch for about a month now, and already seeing some good effects, which I am probably going to talk about in my next post because my time is out.

RE: Yuki's insight diary/practice log OHY
Answer
4/2/19 7:22 PM as a reply to Yuki Saka.
Continuing from the last post, I want to get into each of the aspects of OH practice and how it had affected me so far.

The basic instruction is given here: https://www.en.openheart.fi/111 

The practice starts with body scanning type exercise, basically releasing tension in the body, and tuning into the space that opens up.  Then, there is the visualization of one's body as a crystal, which opens up to include the size of one's aura.  Finally, one tunes into the central channel, feeling into the chakras below the body and above the body.

The body scanning part is something that is familiar to many.  Here, I want to mention that the instruction for tuning into the space that opens up (or, sometimes the instruction also points to the "knowing" nature of the sensation in the body), goes further than mere body scanning such as that by Goenka system.  Those who have read Rob Burbea's book (Seeing that frees) may recognize this part as active application of insight ("suffering" lens for the releasing of tension part and "selflessness" lens for the tuning into the space part) in the context of mindfulness of the body.  It is also called by the name "I"-less mode in OH.

The next part, visualization of one's body as a crystal is an interesting one.  It is very pleasant to do this practice, especially after having activated the insight in the first part, so that one's internal landscape is quite loose and open.  I can be creative and playful, choosing the colors and texture of the crystal to use or the form of the crystal I visualize.   For me, this exercise clearly opens up energetic sensations in the body, and my internal vision gets lighted up, sometimes by all kinds of colors.  I think the use of "crystal" as a quality of visualization is a key here, because what seems to be cultivated is not merely any energetic sensation, but an energetic sensation that has a lot of "space" around it..e.g. having a quality of equanimity.

The third part of tuning into the chakras below and high up above the head sets the stage for what comes after, guru yoga.  I will say that, at this point, this part of the exercise is my training ground for developing energetic sensitivities to the various chakras along the central channel.   The map that is used in OH: OHBM (http://openheartopenheart.blogspot.com/2016/02/stages-of-spiritual-attainment.html), has us tune into 13 chakras along the central channel that starts from the level of the eye and up, and see if they are open or not.  The progress is measured by opening of these chakras or bhumis, and then later perfecting them.  

At this point, as I mentioned in my first post, the chakra at the level of the eyes is quite open, in other words, the knot that used to be there is mostly absent and the internal space at this level is filled with free energy and is spacious.  I don't know if others have experienced this, but if I remember how my internal visual space was in the past, it used to be quite dark.  What I notice now is that there is always some amount of light, free energy and spaciousness behind the eyes.  Open-eyed, this is experienced as a change in how one experiences one's visual field.   It is experienced as if  the sense of "looker" at the level of the eyes that always existed seems almost absent.  I could say that the notion of "seeing" without the "I" that is seeing is more apparent.

Continuing along this trajectory, I tune into the chakras above the eyes.  At this point, I feel that my brow chakra (bhumi 2) and the middle of the forehead chakra (bhumi 3) do seem to have some quality of openness, although I will not claim to have opened them yet.  Further experimentation with these chakras and hightening of the sensitivity would be necessary for me to come to any conclusion about them.  

In improving one's sensitivity to the bhumis, I find tuning into the photos of other practitioners here: http://openheartopenheart.blogspot.com/2016/03/bhumi-study-series-part-6-before-and.html very helpful.  It is quite interesting how your vision and energetic sensation around the head respond by looking and comparing the photos of the practitioners there at different stages.  

Anyway that's it for now, and in the next post I'll go into the next stage of the practice, guru yoga.

RE: Yuki's insight diary/practice log OHY
Answer
4/3/19 5:54 AM as a reply to Yuki Saka.
Now I continue with my description of OH practice.  Before I continue, I just mention the whole sequence of the daily routine that I do:

1. Body scanning and open awareness
2. Jewel/crystal visualization 
3. Chakra pillar
4. Guru's blessings/guru yoga
5. Tantric practices
6. Atiyoga
7. Five Refuges, bodhicitta and dedication of merits

The entire routine takes about 30-40 mins.  Generally, I try to do this entire routine at least once daily, usually during the night before I go to bed.  In the morning, I do a simplifed routine without the tantric practices.  If dark night symptoms are heavy, I just do the simplified routine once per day.

Now, about guru yoga.  I think that for those who wants to adopt a completely secular approach to meditation, the idea of asking for blessings from a non-physical master ludicrous at best.  However, I think that the principle behind guru yoga is not different from that of, say, insight meditation, and that guru yoga can be practiced by someone with a secular mindset. 

Also, guru yoga is not limited to Vajrayana buddhism.  Even in Theravada buddhism, there is a practice called buddhanupassana or recollecting the quality of the buddha..  One also recites "namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa", paying homage to the buddha, before one begins other practices.  My understanding is that these are guru yoga in principle, except that it is usually not pointed out that one should pay attention to the energetics in one's bodymind during these practices.  This issue is pointed out on this thread: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/9970688 .

For all its worth, guru yoga involves: (1) an action/intention: asking for a blessing from a master, or reciting a mantra associated with the guru and (2) attention: tuning into one's bodymind for the result of (1).  This intention/action/attention loop, I think, is basic to any kind of meditation and guru yoga is no exception.  For instance, in breath meditation, action is breathing, intention is trying to breath in a particular (usually comfortable) way, and attention is paying attention to the quality of the breath.  So whether breath meditation or guru yoga, they use the same principle operating in the bodymind of a human being.

So, I have been practicing the guru yoga, which in the case of OH is the guru yoga of Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) and Yeshe Tsogyal.  These days, guru yoga is becoming more and more interesting, as my energetic sensitivity is improving.   For instance, I am starting to clearly feel the differences in energy among different masters.  With Guru Rinpoche, there is a penetrating, crystal-clear energy that seems to come more from the higher chakras, without much emotion.  My internal vision is usually filled with white light, but sometimes rainbow.  With Yeshe Tsogyal, there is warmth, heart/body centered quality with emotion..many times my visual field is covered in red/pinkish color.  The same kind of quality is pointed out by other OH practitioners, for instance, in Jehanne's post in the above mentioned thread.

That the mind responds in this way is very interesting...although it could just be shrugged off as suggestion..even if it was, I think it is still pointing to the selfless nature of mind, and hence, guru yoga can be a way to attaining insight as well.

I want to also mention the benefit I've gained from this practice so far.  For a long time my practice had been quite dry.  There was no real juice to it...this being true even after the first insight, in fact, even more so in a certain sense due to a nihilistic phase I went through after the initial insight.  I did try a lot of other things to get out of the dryness, like trying out samatha practice or loving kindness...but nothing so far worked better than the devotional aspect of OH through the guru yoga.  It seems that having the guru yoga as a central piece gathers one's entire being around the path like no other practice can.

RE: Yuki's insight diary/practice log OHY
Answer
4/3/19 6:50 PM as a reply to Yuki Saka.
This morning I did about 30 mins sit.  The routine is as follows:

1. Open awareness/jewel/pillar
2. Guru yoga
3. Ati yoga with phet mantra
4. Expanded bodhicitta

Regularly, we practice bodhicitta by reciting "may all beings be free" 3 times, but this aspect can be expanded to a bigger practice, as shown in the second of the following video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKfAUpOYSgw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ib54So3VkBE

This is a really nice practice...especially since it has us visualize all sentient beings, including those who are close to us, feel into their suffering, and then recite the mantra of Avalokiteshwara, feeling into the compassionate mind of this bodhisattva for all of them.  When I recite the mantra of Avalokiteshwara, I feel a warm and peaceful golden glow around the heart.   When this warmth is combined with the sting felt considering about the sufferings of others, I feel uplifted.  

The way I understand it is that any of the parts of the OH practice can be expanded and practiced in more depth like done above.  This is another part of OH that I really like.  There is a basic structure to the whole sequence of practices...but you can expand or contract elements of the practices according to your need at the time.  So there is a creative and playful element to it.

Also, in OH, there is a session of atiyoga, which is "doing nothing" with eyes open, being naturally relaxed and open in mind and body, and periodically shout Phet mantra when the mind becomes active (pronounced like "Pet!!").  Admittedly, I don't yet have a good grasp of the nonmeditation part of it.  Shouting of a mantra is called dynamic concentration (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_Dsxr1vnYg), and this is a really good practice..  It really clarifies my mind when my energy is low and mind is muddled. 

I have not seen this kind of practice anywhere in meditation circles, except that, it reminds me of my days of praticing martial arts in the past (Shorinji Kempo), where we always shouted kiai ("ha!" for offensive attacks or "hm!" for defense poses).  I realize that the principle is the same.  At the time when I was praticing Kempo, I thought only of it as a self-defense technique, but now I think that all aspects of it like Kata, movements and Kiai have internal aspects that are really pointing to the same principle of stillness and clarity.  I can partially understand it now when this connection is pointed out by through the dynamic concentration practice.

Anyway, I did quite a few Phet mantras this morning, and I feel quite clear...more clear than usual.  Though it's a working day, I feel like I am on vacation emoticon

RE: Yuki's insight diary/practice log OHY
Answer
4/8/19 10:52 PM as a reply to Yuki Saka.
I wanted to write down something about first insight (awakening, 1st bhumi, stream entry, 1st path, kensho etc.).

In OH, there is a specific technique that is used to bring about this insight, and it is called a 2-part formula: https://www.en.openheart.fi/113 .  

The following is a video guidance for practicing the 2-part formua:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnTOL76KDY0

The 2-part formula is simple to practice and it consists of two steps, "I"-less mode and "I"-mode. 

"I"-less mode, as I described in the past post, is where one puts oneself into relaxed, open awareness with an added recognition of there being no "I" in the space that opens. 

"I"-mode, on the other hand, is where one intones a mantra: I, I, I, or mine, mine, mine, then carefully observe and investigates its effect in one's body-mind until it subsides.  The two steps are repeated until charge associated with reciting of the I-mantra is neutralized. 

There is a guidance offered in OH to awakening to assist in this process and dialogues from such guidance can be found in the book (https://www.en.openheart.fi/114).  Though I did not receive such a guidance, I have tried 2-part formula on my own, and find it very interesting.

I think that one way to consider the buddhist path is that it is a way to dissolve the effect of habitual tendencies in one's bodymind that cause one's suffering.  We can consider these habitual tendencies like network of ice.  Some ice are big, some ice are small, but what they do is that they are loci upon which free flow of energy stagnates or freezes around them...causing suffering.  We could say that the biggest of them is the notion of an "I".

"I" is a notion, a construct that does not really exist in one's basic awareness as becomes evident when one tries the "I"-less mode.  Knowing this is good but it is not enough.  There is a danger in staying in this intellectual understanding because one may become suseptible to nihilism and spiritual bypassing, which is just taking up a notion that "I" do not exist whatsoever, or one could take up a belief that anything relative is an illusion so that anything goes.  I was basically in this trap after I went through the Liberation Unleashed process, still feeling its effects to some extent.

So, going back to the ice analogy, we could say that the path is a process of heating up that ice through a laser beam of clear seeing, melting it so that it becomes vapor, free energy that can be used and be in harmony within a space that opens up.  In traditional buddhism, there is described seven factors of awakening: mindfulness, investigation, energy, rapture, relaxation, concentration, and equanimity.  These factors are put in that order as one conditioning another, leading to awakening.  I think what seven-factors describe corresponds to this ice melting into space under laser light analogy.

What is perhaps not described in seven factors model is about which ice to focus on.  From the above analogy, it makes sense to go after the biggest of all so that once it melts, the released energy can affect the others so that snow-balling effect would ensue.  

However, there are not many meditation method that effectively focuses on the biggest ice of "I" (pun intended).  In usual Vipassana meditation, one works with 4-frames of reference (body, feelings, mind and mental qualities) and uses that as a reference upon which investigation is carried out, but no specific instruction to look directly into the "I".

One that comes to mind that focuses on the "I" is the emptiness meditation by the middle-way school.  In their seven-fold reasoning, one must first set up an object of pervasion, which is supposed to be the object which you want to see its nature as being empty.  Usually the sense of "I" is used as that object of pervasion (see https://www.nonduality.com/goode6.htm ).

However, I don't know how many meditators can use that framework in their meditation effectively, as it is complex and cumbersome in its presentation (Seeing that frees by Rob Burbea suggests using this framework  and gives many good suggestions, however).  

It seems to me that "I"-mode in OH is essentially the same in principle as the emptiness meditation of middle-way school.  However, there is a world of difference in its presentation and emphasis.  Setting up an object of pervasion in OH is very simple, it is just reciting an "I" or "mine" mantra that brings up the self-sense.  Investigation of the self-sense, is then carried out from the point of view of open awareness ("I"-less mode), and inquiry is basically just tuning into the effect of the mantra and asking questions about its energetic quality.

Also, as I posted before, this (1) reciting of a mantra and (2) tuning in, is the same principle used in guru yoga.  So even though "I"-mode is said to be a sutric practice, its specific use of mantra and energetic sensitivity really reminds me of other tantric practices in OH and so naturally fits in the overal framework of the range of OH practices.

In short, I think 2-part formula, which is based on the same principle as other emptiness meditations or Vipassana meditation under traditional meditation methods, is still a really unique contribution to the formula of awakening for its unique presentation with a tantric flavour that goes to the heart of the selfing mechanism.

On this point I also want to point out that the founder of OH, Kim Katami, is said to have remembered this formula as coming from past life.  I know that this mystical aspect may be off-putting to some, although I find it fascinating.   What I want to mention about this is that as mentioned here: (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bwki7uNX2aE)  termas or receiving teaching in a mystical vision is said to have been a mechanism of innovation in tibetan buddhism that was needed to keep the tradition fresh and alive and in line with the needs of the time.

If you compare the traditional sutric methods such as 4-frames of reference or 7-fold reasonings side by side with the 2-part formula like I did above, I think the spirit of innovation and suitability for the modern people somewhat apparent.  So, I think that there is something worthwhile in looking into these teachings that comes from a mystical vision.  Whether coming from tradition or mystical vision, I think it is useful to not merely just practice it by rote but to question it with a pragmatic attitude, to see if it works and to see why it works.

RE: Yuki's insight diary/practice log OHY
Answer
4/7/19 11:07 PM as a reply to Yuki Saka.
Since having taken up OHY, I feel that external situation is shifting in ways I have not imagined.  New relationships, whether spiritual or worldy, to people, things, belief-systems etc. are developing and old relationships are being questioned.   

Strangely, or perhaps not surprisingly, this shift is felt most accutely in areas where I tried to hide from my eyesight through spiritual bypassing, like money-issues, power-issues and moral-issues at work and at home.  I am running into events and relationships that put me into somewhat uncomfortable place.   Basically, even though spiriuality is about surrendering, I have been trying to do the opposite through it...putting on breaks rather than opening myself to it.   This tendency is very deep in me, and it partly comes from my  tendency to want to have the world be in a consistent whole. 

New and varied situations cannot, however, present to me in a single coherent whole.  They necessarily come to me with conflicting values and conflicting systems, with sometimes mutually irreconcilable differences.  In such a situation, they cannot be faced with in a normal dualistic way.

I cannot appreciate enough the value of faith that is slowly growing inside me through guru yoga when going through this process.  How else other than faith can we best cultivate an attitude of surrender?  When the meditation is for the self, it is doing exactly the opposite.  When the meditation is for the other whether through guru yoga or bodhicitta, it lights up an area that has been missing from self-based practices.

I think that those who has a tendency to meditate in order to escape the world (I was and still have that tendency), the world has its way of getting back to us and place us on the right track.  I think it is especially relevant to those who practice by themselves without connections to a lineage, a live teacher or an active sangha.  However, support from these live resources are probably absolutely necessary for most practioners in order to balance out the self-based practice.

In Japanese buddhism, it is often mentioned that there are two approaches: ta-riki (other power) and ji-riki (self-power).  This dichotomy I feel is similar to the two (faith and wisdom) of the five powers mentioned in the traditional buddhism.  The two aspects of the dichotomy really has to be in balance, and it is very easy for one or the other to grow in excess to the extent that it subotages one's progress.  In fact, many of the wrong directions that some spiritual teachers/groups have taken can perhaps be explained through this lack of balance in regard to their practice/attitude.

In OH, I find it fascinating that this balance between faith and wisdom seems naturally built into the practice itself.  In opening up a spacious awareness in the first part of the practice, then reciting guru mantra or any action toward cultivation of faith, and then tuning in and actively investigating the quality of the energy that comes through, faith is lighted up by the eyes of wisom through the practice, creating such a delicate balance that seems to prevent one element to grow in excess over others.

RE: Yuki's insight diary/practice log OHY
Answer
4/11/19 9:28 PM as a reply to Yuki Saka.
I wanted mention on the theme of difficulty that can arise after the initial insight into emptiness of self (1st bhumi, streamentry etc).

My experience with this first insight has been with Liberation Unleashed, where they use an inquiry-based method.  The problem there had been that, even though they have an effective system for seeing through the illusion of self, many people are kind of left hanging after that 1st insight.

There are attempts to use inquiry based method to progress further along the path using 10-fetter model of Theravada buddhism.  The link below describes a method to see the through next set of fetters: desire/ill will:

https://findingawakening.com/how-to-dissolve-the-assumptions-of-desire-and-ill-will/

What I find interesting about this method is its similarly to the 2-part formula of OH.  Instead of "I", they use certain sentence that they intone in their mind like a mantra to bring up a sense of desire/ill will.  The sentences have the form such as "she doesn't do ....", "I haven't ... " that bring up one's shadowy stuff.  One is said to stay in the "gap" where such sentence is intoned and before a reaction in the form of ill will/desire happens, until insight into these negative mindstates occur.

I have practiced this method....frankly, It did not work so well with me.  Bringing up the shadowy stuff using these sentences seemed to bring up a lot of tension in the body and mind without bearing much fruit.

I was pondering why a method like the above which seems similar in principle to the 2-part formula, which works so well with seeing through the self but perhaps not so much with the next set of fetters.

One reason I can think of is that after a brief honeymoon period, many people actually experiences a lot of negative emotions arising from their karmic storage after the initial insight.  So they do not need additional enforcement of their karmic arising using sentences that incites it even more. 

Another reason may be the over-emphasis on the fetter-mode (like the "I"-mode) in expense of the emphasis on the underlying awareness ("I"-less mode in OH).  This actually does come up as problematic even in seeing through the first fetter.  If the inquiry-part ("I"-mode done intellectually) is over-emphasized, the emptiness insight has the danger of staying only at an intellectual level..hence the need for a balance between the "I"-mode and the "I"-less mode.  

Still another reason maybe that although the initial insight mainly deals with a "belief" in the "I", further fetters has more to do with emotion and blockages in the physical and the subtle body.  They cannot so easily be addressed up by the method of inquiry, which usualy only gets at the level of thought but not at the physical or energetic level.

For this reason, I think OH uses different method for further bhumis, in the form of guru yoga and tantric methods, which goes more directly into one's energetic system.  Tantric method seems very effective at doing so.

Even then, basic skill in Vipassana meditation (objective-Vipassana) is needed to deal with what comes up as the result of tantric practice .   The following links show a very nice introduction into the objective-Vipassana from a dzogchen point of view.  I think the emphasis on basic awareness would work as a counter-measure to the difficulty mentioned above regarding directly handling one's shadowy stuff.  

Basic knowing through engagement with breath:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WslxzbckljI

Basic knowing through three characteristics, especially knowing at the level of the eyes:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEK3P-nsNfY

Basic knowing combined with emotions/thoughts to effect objective-Vipassana: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jolQMw5N_M

I
n any case, having seen these vidoes, I thought that perhaps using an inquiry-based method like I mentioned in the beginning for further insights may still work to some extent if the basic knowing is firmly established along the line explained in these videos, and balance between the inquiry and basic awareness is carefully maintained.

RE: Yuki's insight diary/practice log OHY
Answer
4/17/19 7:47 PM as a reply to Yuki Saka.
I've been practicing OHY in a pretty much similar schedule day to day.  Full OHY with tantric method at night and basic OHY in the morning without tantric part.  I've been feeling gradual increase in clarity, but also quite a bit of physical discomfort, like nausea, migraine, fatigues etc. is arising recently, effects of 3C stage I guess.  Also, during ati-yoga or after ati-yoga session, I'm inserting a session of simply mindfulness of breathing with an emphasis on detecting the knowing aspect.

I have been reading Ajahn Amaro's "Small Boat, Great Mountain", a book where he compares dzogchen with Theravada.  It's a very interesting read.  Among other things, there's a quote of Ajan Chah's last words to Ajahn Sumedho, who is the teacher of Ajahn Amaro:

"Whenever you have feelings of love or hate for anything whatsoever, these will be your aides and partners in building parami.  The Buddha-Dharma is not to be found in moving forwards, nor in moving backwards, not in standing still.  This, Sumedho, is your place of nonabiding".

This quote reminds me of 2PF again.  The first sentence refers to becoming familiar with or making friends with what one fears/loves, e.g. "fear/love-mode", which in the case of 2PF, is the "I"-mode in which one deliberately brings up a sense of constriction associated with the "I".   The second sentence refers to "fear/love-less mode", a place of no place, the basic awareness without the "I" that neither moves forward/backward or stands,  or "I-less mode".

In fact, as I continue reading his book, I see how seeing through the "mechanism of selfing" via 2PF, is basically the four noble truth of buddhism (which is also about dependent coarisng). 

The first truth, e.g. the truth of suffering, is where one intones "I" and gets to know the feeling of suffering associated with the "I" in the "I"-mode.  The second truth, the truth of cause of suffering, is where one tunes into and investigates the quality of energetic sensation associated with the "I" that supports the substantiality of the "I"-sense.  The third truth, the truth of cessation of suffering, is the cessation of that energetic charge or substantiality associated with the "I", which is realized when one compares the "I"-less mode and the "I"-mode, where the substantiality of "I" comes forward and realized to be empty in contrast to the spacious background of "I"-less mode where no substantiality of "I" persists.  The fourth truth, the way leading to the cessation of suffering, is the understanding of the set of conditions, e.g. attitude of comitment, guidance, mindfulness skills, concentration, etc. that makes following 2PF to realize the emptiness of "I" a successful endeavor.

Having the above background, I now see why in traditional buddhism, the "stream entry" is defined to be the direct understanding of the 4-noble truth. 

What interests me, though, is the fourth truth.  Fourth truth is the knowledge of the set of right conditions that breaks one into awakening.  Actually, the practical knowledge of this truth, I think, is the essential factor that allows someone to transmit or guide another to awakening.  So, fourth truth is the "pragmatic" side to the formula of awakening, saying that awakening is not just some radom event, but there are set of right conditions that sets one up for it. 

It's also curious that a "stream enterer" should have understanding of the fourth truth.  But how rare, even in buddhist community, to find a shared attitude regarding this pragmatic (not "dogmatic") understanding of the conditions that actually allows one to have an awakening? and to usually find instead, a completely opposite attitude, an utter disbelief that such a thing called awakening is even possible, while having the noble truth (which includes the fourth truth, a pragmatic understanding of awakening) in high regard.  This attitude simply contradicts itself.

I must say that anyone who has a deep knowledge of the fourth truth is such a gift because, he/she has deep and rational understanding of the conditions that leads to awakening and therefore is able to impart and guide others in a very precise manner to his/her awakening.  

So, to me it seems that at least a significant part of "pragmatic dharma" is the "fourth noble truth".

Also, Ajahn Amaro mentions in the book that in his lineage, the "cessation" as used in traditional buddhism is interpreted as being equivalent to the third noble truth, or "cessation of dukkha".  He also mentions that the "cessation of dukkha" is associated with the "deathless", or the place of no place from which dukkha is seen through and therefore ceases.  He then compares this "deathless" with the "basic knowing" or "rigpa" of dzogchen.  So, he basically makes the equation:

the third noble truth = "cessation" = "deathless" = "basic knowing or rigpa".

This equation clarifies my understanding a bit in relation to 2PF and the relationship between vipassana and dzogchen atiyoga.

RE: Yuki's insight diary/practice log OHY
Answer
4/22/19 7:26 PM as a reply to Yuki Saka.
For a few days, I have been practicing regular Vipassana in addition to OHY.  I was inspired by the following post, as well as some of the ways of working with Dependent Origination in "Small Boat, Great Mountain" book by Ajahn Amaro.

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/10190061?_19_delta=20&_19_keywords=&_19_advancedSearch=false&_19_andOperator=true&_19_resetCur=false&_19_cur=4#_19_message_11051931

A
lso see case II in the awake! E-book:

https://asiakas.kotisivukone.com/files/sundarayoga.kotisivukone.com/tiedostot/Awake-Kim_Katami-1.2019.pdf

I
n the post and in the book, Jason experiences awakening (1st bhumi), when, after practicing the 2-part formula, the wall between the awareness that clings to the "I" and the open awareness that is without clinging collapses.  

I'm working with object-Vipassana in a similar manner.  Basically, instead of the "I"-mode, I substitute "ill-will/desire mode", "sense of space mode", "sense of time mode" etc. etc..  In other words, I bring up anything in awareness that appear to be solid, permanent, causing a slight sense of unease and existential dread, and then look at the border between that sense of solidity and the open awareness, or to tune into that sense of duality or "directedness" in attention that is causing that sense of solidity. This is what is being investigated through 2PF with respect to the "I"-sense.

As posted last time, I understand this technique to be fully in line with the 4-noble truth.  Also, as Ajahn Amaro describes in the book, this practice is basically staying at the link of dependent origination between feeling (open-awareness mode) and craving (identification mode).

I also said in the past that I could not practice this technique because of over-identification with the sense of solidity in whatever it is I am investigating  However, it seems that it is more possible now, due to the clarity that has been brought up due to OHY practice.

It seems that OHY practice has the feature to gather the right conditions that allows for Vipassana to take place.  In one sense, the five faculties of mindfulness, faith, wisdom, energy and concentration seems to be brought to right balance through the practice.

OHY is a stand-alone practice in that Vipasana is already built in it.  My understanding of how tantric practice like OHY work Vipassana-wise, is that the dualistic mind baggage is released from the subconscious through energetic work, and Vipassana rather than identification automatically takes place due to spaciousness cultivated by atiyoga.

However, I find explicitly working with a certain fetter in a clear awareness interesting and illuminating, from the point of view of traditional sutric Vipassana. 

It simply seems that with more and more openness in awareness gained through OHY, easier it becomes to see the mechanism of dependent origination.  When there was not enough openness (or equanimity) before, such investigation was not possible.

RE: Yuki's insight diary/practice log OHY
Answer
5/7/19 7:49 PM as a reply to Yuki Saka.
Last night, I was watching the following video:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFrfNyh8GMk


Then, the aspect of devotion in Open Heart Yoga really hit me.  In the tantric practice part of Open Heart Yoga, we pratice with a mantra that represents a set of dieties, received through empowerment.  Since empowerment, I've been using the mantra without giving much attention to the dieties it represents.

However, after watching the above video, I did a session of Open Heart Yoga, but really tried to feel into the various dieties behind the mantra by reciting their names with devotion. 

The effect was quite profound, in that the energetic sensation that's felt in the body mind from reciting the mantra, after reciting the names of the dieties, kind of separated into various "colors" and energetic feel...representing various qualities of the dieties.  It almost reminded me how the white light of the sun gets separated into various different colors of the rainbow by being refracted through the water droplets in the air.  This added a new dimension to my understanding of the rainbow symbolism often used in tantra and dzogchen.

I've also practiced a version of guru yoga with a visualization component shown in the recent webcast:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKamP50Js00

This version of guru yoga, has us visualize Guru Rinpoche and Yeshe Tsogyal as sitting next to you and holding hands with you.  This guru yoga really allowed me to feel connected to the GR and YT and revealed to me the devotional aspect as well as the creative side of the tantric path.

RE: Yuki's insight diary/practice log OHY
Answer
5/22/19 2:26 AM as a reply to Yuki Saka.
These days I'm practicing OHY2 which is an extension of OHY1 with a few more tantric techniques.  Experience with OHY2 has been quite interesting...it certainly energizes the whole subtle system more than does OHY1.  This has had an interesting effect on GY as well, as the practice with GY is becoming more energetic and dynamic.

Recently, a list of preliminary practices for Open Heart has been published:

https://www.en.openheart.fi/37647

With this, there is now a whole range of practices beside OHY that I can take up to complement my practice.

For a start, I am taking up prostrations and smoke offering.  I'm doing about 30-60 prostrations a day for a start.  It is a very nice practice to do before my sitting practice...somehow it seems to bring about better unification of body and mind so that it is in a better state for meditation.  The prostration is done with a Guru Mantra, with tuning into the guru along with the physical act of prostration.

I also practice tuning into different bhumis by looking and tuning into my photos and photos of other practitioners.  At the moment, I seem to detect 2 shifts from my photos since I started OHY, and possibly one more.  At the moment, it is not clear to me if it is a shift within the bhumi or shifts between the bhumis. 

It seems to me that these shifts are kind of like a permanent relaxation of a certain tension (even muscular in nature) within the series of positions (called bhumis in OH) along the central column in the head.  When the tension is released permanently from a particular location, that becomes one's default mode and so it cannot get undone.  When a particular location is permanently relaxed and I tune into some other person's photo in whom that location is closed, there is a constrictive feeling...almost like putting a small rubber band around a position along a hollow tube so that the tube's diameter shrinks....but because that position is already opened, if the rubber band is removed, the tube goes back to its natural position....at least that's how it feels at the moment.
 

RE: Yuki's insight diary/practice log OHY
Answer
6/25/19 1:00 AM as a reply to Yuki Saka.
Recently, I asked my teacher to evaluate my progress. 

It turns out that I have 3 bhumis opened so far.  I had overestimated my progress, where I thought I had opened the 2nd bhumi in the early stage of practicing OHY, was in fact "maturing" of the 1st bhumi. 

In any case, it is really the first time I have had anyone evaluate my meditation progress, and it is good to have at least been confirmed that I did indeed make a bit of progress.

Even with a small amount of bhumi openings so far, there is a tangible increase in the spaciousness of the mind and corresponding decrease in the intensity of mind's reactions. 

This has had a lot of benefit to my life...with less fights with my partner, and more patience with my kids behavior and so on.  Of course I still go through bad days, mostly in the form of gloominess and difficult experiences partly coming from purification effect of medidation, but there's a world of difference in the way I am handling them compared to how I did a couple of years I go.  I attribute this improvement to the practice, which I am greatly thankful for.

One favorite practice that I started doing recently, as an extension of the guru yoga, is to chant the guru mantra internally at each chakra location.  This practice is very pleasant.  I can feel the energy of the guru seeping into every corner of my body.  It's as if the entirety of the body gets lighted up and merge with the presence of the guru.  Because this practice involves body, mind and sound (mantra) in a unified way, it is very engaging and harmonizing.   During this part of the practice, I rarely get distracted and thoughts/dullness are minimal.