Opinions welcome

Olivier Sandilands, modified 2 Years ago.

Opinions welcome

Posts: 733 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Hi everyone !

I’ve benefited a lot from reading posts on this forum for a few months, and now I thought I’d come to participate a bit.
 
So, here is a description of the hour-long sit I just did.
 
I just decided to very gently investigate whatever would present itself (no verbal noting at all, no effort, no intentionally getting attention to be fast and sense everything that happens), as i’ve been having the impression that I’ve been “chasing states” and trying too hard to make sense of what was happening in my meditation lately. So, just sitting nicely, very quietly, in my room. As usual when I get in this kind of laid-back attitude, what happens is that I become very keenly aware of sounds. So, I’m just listening to sounds, gently staying with them, while trying to be clear about the difference between the sound perception itself, the mental echo, resonance or memory of it being created in real time in the mind, and the sort of background, mental visuo-kinesthetic sense of the room I’m in and of my body in it, which is also there.
Very nice, effortless, open awareness. Since I’m weary of not thinking about what’s happening and particularly, of any mapping taking place, I just note away thoughts like “this feels jhanic, might be in the AP with a 2nd shamatha jhana flavor.”

After a while (I do note when it feels like it makes sense to note), the way in which continuity and identity is being constructed mentally becomes more and more apparent : there are sensations, and at the same time, this seemingly all-encompassing mental construct, made in real-time based on these sensations, which, if I’m not careful, seems to be the same as them. This has been a central object of inquiry for me the past few weeks, and the fact that it has to be “seen through” again and again at each sit, that this obviously artificial sense of solidity and identity just reconstructs itself naturally however removed it might have become after an hour of meditation, has become a subject of frustration in my last few sits.

So this time, wishing to let go of aversion, in the same laid back fashion, I just quietly see what I see, and that’s that. A state shift happens after some time. At the beginning of the shift, there is this familiar sense of the hands disappearing and somehow pulling appart, and this just starts to pervade everything. The mental body-image itself, having been repeatedly seens as just a construct, has become very peripheral and insubstantial ; the body sense (perceptual) itself has changed dramatically : it feels like it has expended enormously, that its boundaries have somewhat disolved, and yet there’s a tremendous sense of weight across the whole field, almost unpleasantly so.Yet I still hear very clearly and distinctly, though sounds seem like they are farther away.

The sense of self is now very different, and it starts being investigated actively : no more does it appear like there’s an entity there, only sensory things happening, and as I look for the sense of watcher, things fade more and more. This has been a pattern for me : I get into this space where asking a certain question, like “where am I ?”, or “what is time ?”, just triggers this fading of perception, and at the same time means I’m able to see everything sort of happening at once. It always goes along with a pervading sense of anatta. I’ve wondered is this is “formations”, and I do think so, but it’s always happened after I start to investigate in a very broad and inclusive way for me, never through fast vibratory qualities.

I stay in that state(stage ?) almost until the end of the session ; what I do is to gently try to make the sense of identification dissolve by directly seeing that whatever is observed cannot be me. In the past, this has brought me to very interesting places, creating this crazy instantaneous loop where the act of “seeing such thing as not me” is being instantaneously seen as “not me either” starts to happen, also triggering an all encompassing sense of ... fading. This does happen here, though not as much as it could, and at some point, I get a little bit of fear, because the sense of self starts to unravel and it feels like disappearing completely is just a step away, but then I just note : fear, heart beating. The solidity/heaviness and (not really) boundarilessness does fade away near the end, and it kind of just feels like everything is normal. Then I question my identification with certain sets of sensations, which has formed itself again, and it kind of goes back into that different mode. And voilà, the alarm goes off (sounding quite distant), I emerge very calm, and upon seeing myself in the bathroom mirror, just start laughing thinking “this stuff is so weird man !”
 
Right now I feel very relaxed and almost giddy, with a mild sense of things appearing “unreal.” The last few sits (I’ve been doing 1h morning 1h evening since last Sunday, where I meditated for 8h. Otherwise, I try to do at least 1h a day…) had not been like that : rather, there was this frustration at not being able to reproduce the profound states of vastness and clear seeing of anatta that seemed so close from being “it”, and almost a sense of ill-will at this mental constructing of the sense of self ! Haha ! But this is very recent, and I think I’ve found a solution already.
 
I’m curious to hear your thoughts. I’ve had a sense that I’ve been in EQ for a while, though I’m not very sensitive to nanas, and only once had the sense of seeing each classic stage unfold in one session up to a very panoramic and bodiless anatta-flavored EQ. I now feel like I’m stagnating, or even regressing, and today just feel a bit confused. So, I’d greatly appreciate your input, and any advice.

Thank you,

Olivier
shargrol, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

Posts: 1575 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Seems like it could be equanimity, with a bit of formless realm jhana. 

It might be that your stagnating, or it might be the dreamy states that can come before SE.

My sense is there is still a bit too much of trying to >investigate< at the end of your sits. So just a little too much vipassina, you could say. This is totally understandable, because this active investigation is what keeps us sitting and moving through the nanas... but there is a time when it needs to be mostly dropped, leaving the natural curiousity of the mind to take over.

When solidly in EQ, it's time to rely on the natural awareness and curiousity of the mind. Notice how the mind is naturally aware and awareness itself doesn't require any effort. Notice how the mind has it's own curious nature, and will move from object to object on its own. Participate in this process (go where the mind goes) and don't try to force the mind to go somewhere in particular. 

The gentle nudges at this stage are more along the lines of not allowing very subtle resistance to be >fully< experienced. Usually the resistance takes the form of thoughts about practice. Something says "this isn't it, this is wrong"  and we try just a little bit harder to figure it out.  It can be useful to occasionally note thoughts about practice itself. Instead of "trying to make sense of identification" and  "questioning my identification with certain sets of sensations", simply allow that tendency to want to investigate happen and note "practicing thought" or "trying to figure it out thought" or something like that. 

Because you mention the fading aspect a few times, I feel like it's important to mention that this experience is not detrimental to SE, in fact, allow your experience and self to fade completely if that's what is happening naturally. The fading tends to mean the mind is drifting into light formless jhanas, which is a good sign. Let it happen. You don't need normal clarity of mind for SE. Most likely that's you trying to subtly stay in control of things. You have to let go of control.

No one knows how to make SE happen. No one knows when SE will happen. It's beyond your control --- what a relief! If it's beyond control, that means you can really relax.

At this point you have to trust the mind itself to lead to SE. Here's the text from Mahasi's Practical Insight Meditation
https://archive.org/details/bub_gb_M2S-7-lWzHIC/page/n47

How Nibbana is Realized

Path Knowledge

The ups and downs of insight {knowledge occurring in the
aforesaid manner arecomparableto abird let loosefrom a
sea-going ship. In ancient times the captain of a sea-going
ship, finding it difficult to know whether the ship was
approaching land, released abird that he had taken with
him. Thebird flew In all four directionsto look for the shore.
Whenever it could not find any land, it came back to the
ship. So long asinsight knowledge Is not matureenough to
grow into path and fruition knowledge and thereby attain
to the realization of N ibbana, it becomes lax and retarded,
just as the bird returns to the ship.

When the bird sees land, it flies on in that direction
without returning to the ship. Smilarly, when insight
knowledge is mature, having become keen, strong, and
lucid, it will understand one of the formations at one of
the six sense doors as being impermanent or painful or
without self. That act of noticing any one characteristic
out of the three, which has a higher degree of lucidity
and strength in its perfect understanding, becomes faster,
and manifests Itself three or four timesin rapid succession.
Immediately after the last consciousness in this series of
accelerated noticing has ceased, path and fruition {magga-
phala) arises realizing Nibbana, the cessation of all
formations.
So the point here is in late EQ you let the mind be the bird circling around the ship as it moves toward shore, an at some point the bird itself notices land and leaves the ship and flies directly to land, leaving the ship where it is. You are the ship, getting closer to shore, but you are not the bird. Trust the bird.

Keep your sitting practice, but use less and less effort. You might be close or it might be 10 years away. No one knows.

Hope this helps in some way!
Olivier Sandilands, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

Posts: 733 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
"Trust the bird", I love it.

That is very auspicious : you know, that word actually comes from latin avis-specere, an expression which litterally means... bird-watching !

So, this can only mean your message is a good omen ;)

I'll go watch that bird till I see it no more (let's hope that's not in ten years though).

Thank you, Shargrol. I'll post some updates if things develop...
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

Posts: 733 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Hi,

I'm gonna give a description of the development in my practice in the three months since those previous posts, in case anyone can relate to it, and maybe find some inspiration or clarification, while also hoping to get some elightened opinions for my own benefit emoticon

Sorry in advance about the length of this, but I honestly think there are interesting bits to be found.

---

So, since that advice Shargrol gave me - basically, that I should just relax and let things happen naturally - I chilled out quite a bit regarding meditation. I even started to slack off a bit, losing interest in any special experiences, although I kept some continuity of practice. But I had many interesting openings in daily life, moments of profound significance and beauty.

Actually, this seems to have been a regulard feature in my life for the past few months. "Feeling great and healthy naturally" sums it up nicely, but there has also been a deep appreciation of the beauty of existence and a sense of dots connecting in the depths of my being. Depth and totality of meaning, silent joy, firy silence : that's been the norm of my existence, with a lot of equanimity and acceptance of suffering, and in retrospect, a pervasive sense of ease and mastery. 

On a macro level, there has been a regular feeling of being connected to childhood. For some reason, I have a very bad memory of my personal history, of events in general. I habitually remember what I want to with great precision (I'm renowned for my mnemonic abilities ^^), particularly symbolic stuff, but strangely enough I have few memories from childhood. Yet these past few months, some have come up, and in particular, emotional memories (that is really rare for me, though some people like my brother are very prone to that) : Proustian moments of enlightened reminiscence, which conveyed a clear and moving sense that unobstructed joy and simplicity, such as the one that was the baseline of my normal experience as a boy, was directly accessible - since I was obviously experiencing this kind of mental-emotional state in the moment.... - and a very real possibility for life... And this triggered a lot of compassion, for myself and others, upon realising how simple happiness can be, and how needless our sufferings really are, how confused and pointless... Just writing this now brings tears to my eyes.

I reckon all this is quite typical of someone who is well established in equanimity, as I believe was my case. But there has been a profundity of meaning to experience, a poetic quality and emotional depth which is worth mentionning. This particularly interests me, as during those past months I finished writing my master's thesis, which deals with precisely that : the connections between esthetic moments and meditative experience. Let me tell you about such a moment which really stands out in my memory (yes, i remember it !! surprising I know).

I was taking a nice walk - well, soaring, really - in the forest, going up a hill. I felt very happy and satisfied, softly vibrant, and was kind of absent-mindedly pondering this stuff that i've been talking about. Then some verses by Augustine came up in my mind, the famous poem inspired by his experience of "conversion" :

"Sero te amavi, pulchritudo tam antiqua et tam nova, sero te amavi ! et ecce intus eras et ego foris, et ibi te quaerebam."

It's a beautiful poem. It goes on, but the verse I quoted means : "Late have I loved you, O beauty ever ancient and ever new! Late have I loved you! And, behold, you were within me, and I out of myself, and there I searched for you." Realizing once more how profound and universal the truth of these realms of experience, the awesomness of the fact that texts hundreds and thousands of years old are accessible to us, today, and that they sing the same old song (although theoretical models differ ^^)... Just like that : sacredness. And much release, much gratitude. I actually fell down on my knees and looked up to see the scintillating folliage above my head, the luminous patches of white sky merging with the greenness of the leaves into a shimmering texture, and I felt like I was a character in Pierre Michon's book, Vies minuscules (small lives). Let me quote that too.

This book tells in a half-imaginary, half-factual way the story of different people, who have existed, but not left any mark in official history. At times, this book takes on a truly mythological dimension. It's quite amazing, you'd think you are reading something from the great religious texts. The passage is at the end of a chapter narrating the life of a countryside priest, whose parish is made mostly of people from an insane asylum, among whom the author of the book has spent some time as a patient. The priest was also a drunk. He died in a motorcycle accident, in the forest, after an evening of drinking with peasants at the local bar. Michon imagines how it happened : "He carressed very soft little snakes. He was still speaking. The cigarette burned his finger : he took his last drag. He got hit by the first sunlight, wobbled, held on to fallow dresses, to handfuls of mint ; he remembered women's flesh, children's gaze, the delirium of the innocents : all this spoke in the song of the birds ; he fell down on his knees in the overwhelming significance of the universal Word. He raised his head, thanked Someone, everything took its meaning, he fell back down dead."

Haha. I didn't die. But this kind of grandiose stuff was what I had in mind at the time (april, may) and gives a good idea of my general state. I know, I know, this is not sensate level phenomenology. But these phenomena were occurring for me at this level, so, whatever... It's interesting to mention them in my opinion, because it raises the question of meaning, meaning, what is meaning, and what is its connection with insight ?

Anyways, things changed a lot since then. Unfortunately, I didn't keep a close monitoring of events, as I was busy with other things and just not really focused on practice. Actually, my meditation felt pretty sloppy during the months of may, june. I would regularly get absent-minded. I didn't know if that was maturing or just bad practice. At times I would give myself advice like : "think about death to get some motivation !" But life was very easy and my meditation somehow profound, though the states had lost a lot of their attractiveness.

At the beginning of July, though (around the 4th) I started to notice some new things. I realized, while my father was paying me a visit, that there was something a bit different. Like I was in an unnaturally good mood, but not a grandiose thing like described above, a simple, clean joy. In particular, I was surprised at how quickly emotions were moving along, how unsticky they were. That's something that stood out on its own with no reference to anything. It appeared to me specifically in a situation where some comments made by my musician dad on my new composition would usually have brought on negative emotions : in this case, they kind of did, but it just left quickly without leaving a mark. It seemed obvious there was a bit more natural space and fluidity around things. 

Then I started to notice that whenever I started to pay attention, to my body, for instance, I would experience fine tingling and vibrations all over, and could confidently and straight away pick out a frequency of 5-15 Hz on average. This was consistent. I should mention that before this, i'd never really understood that frequency thing. Now I got it : it was just a matter of sensing the internal rythm of whatever you were experiencing. I also felt really really calm, internally silent, and started to realize the I could get absorbed into whatever I wanted quite easily. Suspicion was aroused, because I was now picking up that this matched a remark from Kenneth Folk I wrote down in my meditation journal a few days before (interesting timing...), about the fact that signs of SE are : one is immediately in the A&P, and has access to jhanas...

Then I remembered an event which occurred at the end of june : during one of these "sloppy" meditation sessions, I experienced a kind of jolt, which immediately brought to my mind the thought "was that it ????" That got discarded immediately, as I tend to be quite on the look out for scripting and am definitely not one of those who identify things too quickly as this or that. In fact it's quite the opposite, I tend to question things excessively : the first time I got hard second jhana, I thought it was access concentration (granted, I was practicing with ajahn brahm instructions). I decided immediatly that this blip was that I had just fallen asleep and woken up ;) ;) So I just forgot about the event, which occurred twice more in the next few days. Now, around the 6th of july, I thought : could this have been it ?? I was very skeptical, since it seemed so anticlimactic (especially because I didn't experience a clear bliss wave afterwards). But again, this matched some descriptions (some of yours, for instance, Shargrol), and my mindfulness at the time was definitely not very high...

I decided to OBSERVE what was going on !!!

Whether it was due to my budding belief in the SE theory, or just what was happening naturally, I realized that I was experiencing some kind of return to normalcy. Compared to the past few months, everything just felt ... normal. Which was really weird. Aspects of my life appeared more simple, more naked, it seemed my outlook was somehow more honest. I also at times felt less clarity than before in my daily experience, as if life got "thicker", more "raw", as well as diminished reactivity... Meditating appeared pointless (i didn't stop though, but it was like... half-assed every time for a while !). In contrast with what I described above, where life felt so profound, easy, mystical at times, where I would spend hours listening to dharma talks (Rob Burbea !!), reading the DhO, thinking about meditation and deep philosophical questions and readings, now I had a trend off feeling like going out, having a drink (stopped drinking with no looking back over a year ago !), finding a girlfriend........

I would, at the time, always begin a sit in what i'm taking to be the AnP. During some sessions, I was noticing very clear Dukkha Nanas, much more clearly than usual, but sits were otherwise quite equanimous, very inclusive and "normal". But for some reason, I really
couldn't bring myself to meditating really seriously, like,  to check all of that....

Yes, the meditative spaciousness, seemed to have really become a baseline, yet experience somehow seemed thicker and this, in the perspective of SE, started to make sense to me : it dawned on me that things had to redensify to be penetrated again in the next round, otherwise there would be no need for further practice, right ?? That idea was seductive because it felt so "real", not something I could have made up given my initial expectations as to what SE might be like. Yet, I felt a certain disappointment. Nothing spectacular. Maybe it was the least interesting SE of all time ? Another sign of strange "realness" to me is that, contrary to previous attainments (2nd jhana, 4th jhana in particular), I had no spontaneous inclination to announce it to people. Well, because I doubt it, certainly, but also something else... As if this time, it was really serious and I shouldn't talk about it. In fact, I've been quite a bit more silent than usual these last weeks, I would say.

I started to experiment with Jhanic absorption, half-seriously, and with a sense of incredulity. Yet, the first time i did a bit of shamatha after thinking I might have gotten SE, it felt like I immediatly jumped into a jhana, and got to a very equanimous space reminiscent of a light 4th, in a matter of minutes, just before a session of work on my memoire.

The next day (11/07), taking the train to paris, I started to pay attention to the breath, and it was right there in exquisitely fine detail, completely granular and textural, effortlessly seen. It quickly (minutes) started to get a slow-motion quality, and it was also the first time I realized that I could use it as a vipassana object (before that, I exclusively used the breath for shamatha). I realized that, while maintaining a perfect attention to the slow motion of the breath, I could also sense pulses of sight/sound/body sensations all around, fluttering at a clear frequency of 20+ Hz. None would grab my attention though. That was a characteristic of sits at the time : I could really quickly have a lot of reflexivity, the kind that happens in EQ, where things are instantly seen as what they are in a powerful, all-encompassing way, which to me corresponds to what Husserl calls the "splitting of the self" ;);)

Accompanying this was a sense of profound bodily stillness and slow motion which could be maintained while moving and with eyes opened. The slow mo effect, as well as fast vibration, were also present in sight, if I remember correctly. All this was very easy, unremarkable at the time, but I realized afterwards that I certainly had never had such fine (for me) perceptual abilities. Also, at the end of this "session", I remember a sentence about the balance of energy and surrender, and realized I could decide to increase energy very easily, while surrendering deeply. How did I know how to do that ? No idea, but it provoked a kind of accumulation of pressure in a spot the base of my skull, near the back of the neck, where the sense of self started to recede, and which started to actually hurt, and i felt like it was gonna break and I was gonna die if I kept watching it ^^ I realized that this "spot", in fact, the "over there" of my field of experience, was connected in some way with the experience of the infamous "blips", "clicks"....

Later (the next day ?), at my job as an usher in the paris Philharmonic, I closed my eyes in the empty room before the show, and started to follow the breath, and felt that within minutes I got to an equanimous space which would usually have taken me a while (30 min +) of directed effort to get to... Did I just get to 4th shamatha jhana using only absorption ? That had never happened, as I'd only been able to access the 4th jhana, interestingly, through insight practice ^^ (Btw, Rob Burbea has interesting things to say about this connection...) Yet, as it was so natural, it felt unspecial, which was a bit confusing. Shouldn't all that be a bit more spectacular, i thought ? Though, i have to admit there were moments of elation and giggling during that period when I thought, "holy shit, this might be real !!!!!! YES !!!!!" But where were the fireworks ?? 

I also started to experience really unexpected things. Intense bouts of negativity, for instance. At my job : I started to see only the aspects I disliked. I experienced great aversion to people : feeling that everyone is really, really stupid and mean ; a feeling of internal "exile", and, a sense of alienation as well as hostility (paranoïa) emanating from my colleagues. Interestingly, this reminded me of similar feelings I'd had in my childhood. And it appeared to me that perhaps all this negativity was but an exacerbation of feelings which are usually unnoticed or only partially acknowledge, perhaps, and that somehow there was nothing to fear from them - especially if they were the same as some childhood feelings.... And when I saw that, the negativity disappeared completely, not to come back. Poof. Big heart opening and relaxing...
This happened a few times during the two week when i was working in the philharmonic in Paris. I found it extremely interesting to read some accounts on this very forum of people who would say that second path is basically pure ill-will and finding anything that comes out of anyone's mouth stupid, or plain wrong.... I can relate, though this isn't my permanent experience by a long shot. On 14/07, I wrote : "I've experienced intense negativity these past few days, both ill-will and its counterparts, self-contraction, fragility. These have only seemed to change when it was accepted/seen-through, but when it did it just vanished." I had also experienced mild nausea regularly in the two weeks since the supposed event. Now, I think all this might be related to daily life cycling.

When I began meditating, three and a half years ago, one 15 min session of meditation would make a huge difference in my days. It would transform my experience, honestly, it was great. During the months of may-june, it felt like even two hours of meditation made little difference in my daily life experience, except perhaps make it a bit more spacious. Like equanimity was complete. Now, it was the same, but in the opposite way : when I sat down to meditate, I felt like a complete beginner, despite the fact that I could access states and things which were certainly not there when I started... I wrote down (this will seem to contradict my earlier writing) : "it seems that gross reactivity and the return to normalcy of life, implies that there begins the possibility to do some real work again... interesting... And if it weren't that way, it would be the end of the path. Either new things are coming up, psychologically, reactivity, habit patterns appearing more clearly, etc., OR, things that were not apparent before are showing up. It's quite humbling. Very humbling. I'm not a spiritual superhero... I have very basic, human issues and flaws that it seems I wasn't even really seeing, or refusing, before... well..."

Writing this liberated something. Like it sealed some understanding. With that deep sense of humility (and having slept only a few hours), I for some reason decided it was time for some Jhana practice. Having read a cool formulation by Burbea about them ("first, we let go of the hindrances, then different varieties of pleasure and collectedness arise, then perception starts to fade until the 8th jhana"), I reconnected with the energy I had in october 2018, when I was really going for Jhanas. I sat down, remembered the brahm routine, relaxed, let go of hindrances, keeping the list of them close to my mind as a mental check up. And it seems my mind just knew what to do and I just had to trust it : very cool. Energy truely was aroused at will, kammacchanda was identified and let go of live. There was a part of me that knew : "Ök, this is first, and this is second jhana. Fuel the bliss !! Right !! Oh, woow, that is nice. Well done. Ok, time to move one ! This one will be a bit confusing. Here goes ! remember it will be murky. Ok, time for fourth now.... spacious, feels kind of normal." Here a tinge of doubt arose : "is this real or a script ?" This was immediately seen as doubt & agitation, and I knew : "ok, arouse energy just like this ! And trust yourself" A kind of mantra appeared : "let go of the perception of diversity.... there's only space... it's all the same..." And sure enough, as I kept recalling to stay with the breath, the body started to disappear. Not completely, but still. 

It's all a matter of confidence, intent, right exertion, and keeping with the breath. Wow. They were pretty hard Jhanas too... very impressive and easy. I gues it took about 35-40 min to get to that j4.j5 or whatever it was... I'd never before, as I said, been able to access this through pure concentration practice.

Somehow, I was doubting the truth of this (have I demonstrated clearly enough that I have a problem with skeptical doubt ??? one of the best things about this kind of detailed write-up is to make this kind of stuff emerge.... It wasn't obvious to me that i was doubting things in excess, but now that I see it like that....), partly because the doing as well as the knowing of what was going on during that jhana session seemed outside of my conscious control or monitoring. Key insight, I believe. (So, I also have a problem with control ? Is that why I'm not clearly experiencing repeat fruitions ?) This, interestingly, resonates deeply with what was understood earlier : I felt sobered up, mor "real", more out of control, as if it was starting to really dawn on me that this process is NOT personal. Yes, sobered up about this whole thing. Hung over ? This is starting to sound like a Rumi poem, isn't it ?

That shamatha session really showed me in a direct way what letting go means... The whole effort/surrender thing made much more sense now... And I intuited that this new (?) section of the path would be very much about surrender. 

Later that day, I went for a walk near the river, and something happened which occurred in exactly the same way the evening of the day I first got up to light formless realms in EQ through vipassana a couple of months back : it seemed like my mind tuned into the background sound of the water (there is a small water fall in my village which makes this beautiful noise) and kind of merged with it in a totally spontaneous way, giving rise to a sublime state of mind, velvety, a diffused spatial experience of a jhanic kind, coupled with the soft touch of the late-afternoon breeze on my skin... Becoming smooth, airy movement... Completely unexpected, a beautiful gift. So simple, just hearing, and touching, yet so fulfilling... Later still, I noticed that the spatial aspect was quite prominent generally in experience. For instance, writing my meditation journal entry, the spatiality of the sound produced by my pen moving from left to write as I wrote was exquisitely clear... And more surprisingly, when I had dinner, taste itself had an unprecedented dimensionality to it, as if that old goat cheese was just surrounding, not only the flavour of the pasta, but ME, it felt like it was around me !! The goat cheese space invasion : a new meditation side effect  !!

On 15/07, I again remarked that whenever I turned my attention to the body, I could sense buzzing and spontaneous tingles. I also acknowledged that I was going through a phase of pretty high sex drive, with a kind of impulsive and reckless energy. Which seemed like a real step-back, not unfamiliar though (I have been known to party a lot and such, used to smoke and drink a lot, and generally had excessive tendencies ;) ). I was afraid that it was "coming back." And when I realized it could be linked with the 4th nana being a prominent aspect of life these days, I experienced a relief, which upon noticing it, produced this insight (yes !) : this opening, liberation, means that I had been identifying with these sexual pulsions which were seen in a negative light. Which means 
I was in self-contraction, self-clinging ! Thank you, Rob Burbea. Right there, I thought : I am entertaining a view regarding SE, first, I thought it would change more things ; second - this is important -, i've the notion, which comes from reading a lot of stuff on the DhO, that basically aspects of my existence which were seemingly hidden or repressed or whatever will start to come up, and that basically, sankharas in the Goenka sense are gonna start to liberate. And I had associated this sexual stuff with that, with ME, with MY snkharas bubbling up to the surface, etc. Both these views were creating conflict and suffering. And it appeared to me that the solution was : a bit of the Diamond Sutra. Not me, not mine, not self. Have compassion for this non-self which thinks it is a self....

Later, (did this, like the previous insight before the jhana session, liberate something ?) I noticed that I was spontaneously noticing a bunch of little things about my behaviour in daily life, about a lack of mindfulness in my behaviour, a lack of care, which, though I don't necessarily do anything about it, was at least clearly present and represented an increase in baseline vigilance. This has actually been consistant since the beginning of July. 

On 16/07, I wrote down that writing things down, though very beneficial, sometimes could have the negative side-effect of "killing things", that is to say, of labelling experiences, deactivating them, rendering them automatic. Understanding it all might be preventing one from approaching experiences in a fresh and playful, engaged way.... Anyways...

On 18/07, I observed that for a few nights in a row, I'd had trouble going to sleep because of an unsettling intensity to experience. After my evening meditation, things would be pulsing (even my phone screen for instance), lots of vibrating sensations would arise, and I even felt mild nausea at times. In the evening as well as morning of this day.

Starting that date, I started a week long singing workshop, in which we would sing for 7-10 h a day, basically doing nothing else than sing this composition we were to perform on the 24th, and so I stopped meditating, basically, as well as journalling. Well, this kind of singing could be considered like a meditation retreat in itself, I believe. But I do have things to report. Firstly, it was the first time I saw my brother in a long time, as well as othr people I knew. It felt upon seeing them and spending time with so many people constantly for a few days that, really, something had changed with me. Something was more light, more fluid, more mature. Secondly, the first day of singing, I realized I had never had such ease reading (I'm not a great sight reader), had really progressed in a few ways though I hadn't sung in months and months (understanding something new about rythm, generally singing better) and had a really pleasant and smooth time concentrating and all... Felt more confident in many ways, too. At the end of the first day, I felt a bit fed up and mildly negative emotions, so I went up to my room and lay down for a few minutes... And it felt like an oferflow of energy got liberated : I immediatly got intensly pleasant and very smooth piti all over my body, and these five or ten minutes of rest were simply amazing... The singing might have something to do with that of course. 

I immersed completely in the singing and the life around it for about a week. I must add for the sake of really frying my reader's brain out with excessive amounts of information, that I seem to have a much more spontaneous relationship to things these days (july). Like, I won't hesitate to tell people things I would normally not have said, knowing full well that it is completely ok to do so, part of being a social animal. Or even raising my voice, in a non angry, but very natural way... Well, i have no good exmple in mind, but basically i've noticed behaviour things that seem closer to how I would have acted as a kid, less filtered, less processed through my ideas of what right behavior or speech are... Quite unexpected I must say.

Ok, here comes the final stretch. Resuming formal meditation practice : on the 27th of july, I did 45 min of vipassana, fast noting, followed by three 10 min light kasina sessions. After 5 or 10 min, it seems that everything gets noted from a distance, pretty fast. A kind of jhana comes up, my hands disappear, and as I tune into the intense pleasure I get from being aware with such finesse of what's going on in my body, a rather strong absorption happens. It happens three times during that session, but it never becomes full, because each time it seems that some details in the sense field cannot be overlooked and become distracting. Perception is extremely detailed, and globally the meditation is rather pleasant from beginning to end. But I would say - if you insist that I map it ! ;) -, that it didn't go beyond the fourth nana : coming out of the meditation, i was perceiving fast pulsing vibrations, 10-20 Hz, with a level of detail in perception that I've rarely experienced. 

The first Kasina session was in the same vein : an extremely detailed nimitta in its first phases, white dot, not red, with a bunch of stuff happening inside of it and around. An ability to maintain continuous focus on the dot that is really something. Inside the dot, very clear pulsing happens in phase with the breath. And surprisingly, it doesn't even go to the black dot phase !! There is a kind of black dot with a pulsing white thing inside which grows and gets smaller with the breath, but then that's it, it all goes away and I open my eyes. The same thing happens in the next two rounds : the black dot is maybe a bit more clear, but it doesn't go farther, though concentration is good. What the heck ??

It also seems, generally, that when I meditate (and not), that somehow the sense field is bigger or I smaller, that more things are there to be perceived, that reality is more solid ... I still have pretty easy access to jhanas, but it seems to me, contrary to what is commonly expressed, that they are now colored by vipassana, not the other way around ! Vipassana had always had jhanic aspects for me, and now jhanas have vipassana qualities... funny things ^^

All in all, meditation is kind of confusing. Sometimes it seems nanas happen, and I get to EQ, but these don't seem as all-encompassing as before, they seem polluted. Yet, it's becoming quite obvious that individual guidance is gonna be necessary, as I never really mastered with certainty the phenomenology of these stages and states.......... 
Sometimes meditation is nebulous. Sometimes i'm clealry in a rather strong A&P. Sometimes I feel daily life cycling, especially DN which manifests as psychological negativity....

I have felt almost distressed regarding all this at times. 

My last blip was during a meditation session last week, and this time it really doesn't feel like I drifted off. I definitely saw it happen and it clearly was not a sleep-jolt, a head-nod, nor a loss of attention followed by a snap-back. I was, I'm pretty sure, in "relaxed" and unfocused EQ when it occurred, and it was just like a really unremarkable "blip" which seemed to be connected, as I mentionned earlier, to that kind of "space" in the head where I get pressure build ups when I'm in equanimity, and that seems so connected to the sense of self in a mysterious way. But i still can't, and have never, been able to get a repeat fruition "on-command", if that's what these things are at all. I would say at least a half-dozen events of that kind happened during july... And in fact, in retrospect, they were happening in june already. Or something similar....

To be completely honest, my intuition right now, is that I am basically in A&P territory of 2nd path. There. 

Anyways, I'm trying not to obsess about all this, and since I'm going to Panditarama Lumbini for 30 days in september (Yes !!), I guess new developments, confirmations, clarifications and such will be apparent soon enough. Maybe i'll realize this was all a dream : it feels like that at times ^^

I praise anyone who had the curiosity to read all of this. I'm glad to be able to share this important aspect of my life, which is unfortunately not something one can discuss with many people. I hope someone gets something out of it. All informed opinions are welcome emoticon

Best regards & well wishes,

Olivier
Edward, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

Posts: 97 Join Date: 6/10/19 Recent Posts
Thanks Oliver. I enjoyed reading this account. 
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

Posts: 1575 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Heh, sounds REALLY good! Congrats!!

Yeah 2nd path is really confusing. Just keep a regular practice and all the right stuff will happen. 
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Noah D, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

Posts: 1148 Join Date: 9/1/16 Recent Posts
Great thread, good descriptions, thanks.  Fwiw I liked the book quote as imagery for your experience.
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

2nd/3rd path ?

Posts: 733 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Thanks for your replies guys. 

So, I'm coming back from a 9 day long retreat, and have really fresh new stuff to report. 

In fact, though the retreat was labeled as "shamatha", it was actually dzogchen with a strong emphasis on shamatha. The teacher was Doug Veenhof, a student of Alan Wallace, and what we were taught is the first in a system of eight phases leading towards full enlightenment according to the presentation of Dudjom Lingpa, a 19th century dzogchen master... 

We started with plain shamatha, moved on to a very interesting presentation of mental stillness as the "union of movement and immobility", then progressively added some very mild vipashyana, ending up with "cutting-through" practices. A lot for one week. I must say I was rather disappoited with the teachings in the first days, but when we started moving on to more advanced topics, it got more and more fascinating, until I started experiencing totally new things, leaving me to question everything I've learned about meditation so far... I've had LOTS of understandings during that retreat, on many levels. 

For now, let me stick with the most self-centered considerations ;)

On the second day, I decided that I was too good for that teacher who seemed like a mushroom grower to me. Being extremely motivated and really bored with the really long talks that taught me nothing and the small amount of actual practice (4-5h of actual meditation per day), I resolved to skip all teachings and prayers and such, to do my own meditation, and join the rest of the retreatants for the times of practice. On that day, my meditation was amazing : responsive, rich, creative, balanced, fast, profound... I went through a very clear POI : in the end of the morning I reached a profound A&P, incredibly beautiful and quite intense, with lots of understandings, creative bursts of poetry about eternity popping up spontaneously in my mind, seeing how the shimmering dance of the shadow of a prayer banner was telling me something so deep about the sun, from which we are all born, a fact we never bother to linger on... Perception was really fast, it was textbook A&P, so much so that I made a resolve not to let the impending crash be too much of an obstacle... Interestingly, I feel like I identified sub-nanas during this A&P.

In the late afternoon, I experienced a mild dissolution. Right after the last session, I broke my vow of silence to offer some advice to a woman who had expressed that she really had no idea what shamatha was about and that doing 6 hours of that during the day had been totally meaningless.... I tried to explain to her that the key was to domesticate her interest, to have fun with it... Talking with her and another guy, I realized just how out of phase we were in this moment. That basically moved me into the DN. My visual field of extremely fine grained and I was experiencing things like objects leaving a trail of color behind them as they were moving. I started getting scared and paranoid. Going to watch the sunset was strangely gloomy and ominous. When I found myself alone to look over the field, the stars and the moving cars in the distance, I realized just how detailed and clear perception was. A bit later, it all started to become overwhelming : the vibrations started to take on a really edgy and maddening quality, it got to the point where I didn't know if I was ok or not. In my bed, I was trying to stay calm, felt some fear about the fact that some stranger was sleeping on the bed next to me. This peaked at around 10 pm, when I felt full blown panick and a sense that I wasn't gonna be able to escape this experience and was doomed to madness, or something like that. Then all of a sudden, this whole delirium lifted, leaving me feeling tired, raw, uneasy, but fine... I reckoned that this was the POI of second path, in fact it seemed perfectly aligned with daniel's detailed map.

I decided that it was a problem that I was really gonna be on a trip of my own if I kept practicing like that. So, I decided to chill out and be with the others, to really do that retreat and listen to that teacher (at least some of the techings), deciding that fast progress was not worth feeling completely alienated from everyone else there... and that it was just not cool to go too much against the flow. 

So, I'll skip the next few days. Whether they all occurred in EQ or not, I don't know. I would guess that yes, but since I started really following Doug Veenhof's teachings and techniques, I'm not sure how to map any of it. In fact, is it mappable at all ? Later experiences, and teachings, have left me doubtful about the POI maps. This way that phenomena seem to develop, is it not very much the result of conditioning and ways of working with attention that create this verydevelopment ? I have some ideas about that but won't spell them out now.

I started to experiment with this "union of movement and stilness" technique in my visual field, while walking, eating, etc., finding it very interesting and much more aligned with ways of looking I had been practicing spontaneously since my early teenage years than anything I had ever been taught about meditation. The dzogchen approach is very much to work with real-axation and global awareness rather than precise attention and intense focus.

On the 5th day I had a really interesting visual experience : I could take the whole visual field as an object, and while being extremely relaxed, not focusing on anything, start to se the totality of the field come alive, as a flux of indistinct shapes and colors, all shimmering. I was getting all kinds of insights, about the equivalence of perceiving everything as "not-me" and perceiving everything as "me" ; about the fact that perceiving that everything is in constant movement (impermanence) actually cancels movement, and so that total change is rigorously changeless. Later that day, I had what I think was a fruition through the no-self door for the first time - a "woosh" thing, instead of a "blip", which matched what I imagined it would be, except it was quicker. It occured during the outbreath. Right after that i was left with a much less spatial experience, and physical sensations were much grosser in an obvious manner. I also came out of that meditation session felling extremely fresh and light, and didn't care much about meditation anymore. I now am guessing that this might have been 2nd path.

On the 6th day, during the last sits in the morning, we started to use new techniques of investigation : my examination of dependent origination had unprecedented clarity, in particular as regards thoughts : I could really see them for the first time as the dim, vague and insubstantial ghosts that they are very directly. I started to play with the way objects of perception are constructed, messing with my mind by replacing parts of the process with others, by imagining that this thing which was perceived as if it was "in front" of that other thing was actually behing the first, or replacing certain images with absurd ones, just to see if the mind would realize how crazy the whole process was ; trying to get the machine to break up, basically. It was a lot of fun. At noon, after getting up and waiting for the bell to call us up for lunch, I kept an extremely relax and extremely sharp investigation of objects of perception going while sitting on a bench. Opening my eyes, I looked at one of my fellow retreatants walking back to her room.

This was astounding. I don't really know how to explain it, but I believe I was experiencing emptiness in real time. It was absolutely clear that there was no past and future in that immediate experience : though she was obviously changing position, her movement was not of time. It was utter immanence, eternity : she was moving, and everything around her was moving ; yet nothing was moving. In fact, she didn't exist, and yet existed more than ever. Something angelic. 
I got up, went to get my food. As I looked upon the face of some of my fellow meditators, I was struck by two profound things : first, I was perceiving them in such detail and in such a light, that they appeared like universes, like infinite things which had nothing to do with anything else ; each one of them was a miracle, right here in front of me, indistinct from me, of the same fabric. This brought about deep compassion and love, which moves me to tears now as I write about it. 

As I was eating, in silence, my visual perception was deepening. It was already quite astounding, in detail and brightness. But now, looking at my fork, it was starting to really bloom in a crazy way. My forkful of dahl was the most beautiful and rich thing I had ever seen. In fact, as I was letting that develop itself, myself just trying to relax into it, it felt as if visual perception started to open, that I started to dissolve into it ; it felt like something untangled in the back, and that everything got bigger. It felt like a free fall into a world of unexpected richness, of a transfigured nature, timeless, the same as ever, yet totally different, raw, vivid, inescapably rich. In fact, this started to get freaky. I stopped the process. I felt some fear, but it was confined to a tiny perception of my heart beating in the chest. I decided to chill out. But something had flipped. It was this : reality, become REAL. I now understand what realization must mean. Just that : reality become completely real.

For about two hours I explored the premices, walking around the pond, into the forest, etc. It was completely surreal, psychedelic. Visual perception was totally illuminated : every object that had some kind of brightness or movement was emitting intense light in the whole of my visual field. It was like the experience I described earlier, x10, with an added depth to spatial perception that was astounding. Furthermore, I could "freeze" perception on command by stilling it on a particular object, which would start to acquire the same "transfigured" quality I described. The same, yet totally different, totally new, totally immanent : direct perception, pure unfolding of shapes and colors bound by nothing, flux.

Emotionnally, I felt a mix of elation, incredulity, great amusement and mild background panic. What the hell was that ?? I skipped meditation to go lie down. Was this a side effect of my ear infection ? Was it the first phases of a visual migraine ? Have I gone nuts ? 

None of these... 

I talked with another meditator in the hallway of one of the buldings. The best way I can describe it is : it was like a conversation on mdma. The kind where one is both profoundly calm, at ease in a supernatural way (nothing can touch me), yet extremely sharp, loving and energetic. Visual perception was so sharp, in particular, any reflecion in the field of vision, particularly the periphery, was perceived as a glowing neonish light. The face of that man was beautiful to look at : shimmering with light, detailed, with a background sense of eternity infusing the whole of perception... Man. Powerful.

We had been working with trying to sense the union of mind and appearances, the emptiness of all of that ; about trying to perceive everything as not different from dream appearance. Very global, synthetic ways of working, totally different than what I've been accustomed to, contrasting sharply with the highly analytic techniques and presentations I'd been immersing myself with lately. These ways of working seemed very meaningful to me, like extensions of my natural inclinations.... And it very quickly paid off in unexpected ways.

I didn't feel at all like meditating anymore. In fact, I went into the teaching very giddy. My outlook on this teacher had really changed. He started this session by saying this : "well, what's interesting about this path is that it can quckly get one from shamatha (ie access concentration) to getting a glimpse of rigpa and then learning to stabilize in that perception." He looked at me when he said that, I laughed, he smiled, and then he kept looking back at me during that whole session while explaining things about that. He said smthg which seemed to describe my life up until this point, smthg about pride and such... Then we read a text which, he said, could be mindblowing for someone who had some experience of these things : it was a dzogchen texht by the Dalai Lama on the difference of point of view between the "new translation" and "old translation" schools of tibetan buddhism. I can find it and post it if anyone is interested. One of these schools says there must be cessation for pristine awareness (the way dzogchen describes the goal, the experience of an enlightened mind) to be accessed. The other says this is not necessary. The dalai-lama argues both perspectives can be reconciled (surprising coming from him, isn't it ?). But reading that text did blow my mind at this moment. Could it be that there is indeed a completely altenate route to enlightenment ? This is what this tradition claims : they say it "cuts through", that it's a different path than the others. Of course, all traditional vehicles claim this, I assume. But here i was reminded of some things I've stumbled upon around here. Isn't this what kenneth folk calls the "simplest thing" ? I seem to recall that he says that this is something beyond the cycles and paths and jhanas and all that, and that in some ways it is independent of it... 

I'm sure someone must have asked this before, but I would love to hear your opinions about this regardless. I'd be glad to elaborate if needed, and to include some texts if you are curious.

In anycase, since that event, 5 or 6 days ago, my visual perception hasn't gone back to normal. It's not subtle : sometimes, I'm unsure what color something is, simply because the glow of it is so different from what I'm accustomed to. In the periphery of vision, anything with a reflected light on it is sharp and shiny. Lights and bright colors are really different from before, now possessing an eery and often intense glow which, when I reflect upon it trying to qualify that perception, seems "unreal". Colors seem to have a "fake" quality to them, in fact it is like they are seen in a totally non-conceptual but direct and unmediated way as MENTAL. This, may I stress it again, is not subtle, but a kind of in-your-face spontaneous, effortless new thing in perception which is pretty entrancing. Passing through Paris on the way back from the retreat, was quite an experience ^^ It seems that all these luminous things are patches of vivid "emptiness" ...... what a terribly word to describe this, emptiness....

Everyday objects are now luminous and glittering, and none of this is a hallucination, just very enhanced awareness of what is there... I get the sense that great progress would come from contemplating that luminous quality that vision now possesses. Please let me know what you think, and what that might represent. emoticon

The whole mapping, jhanas, nanas things has lost appeal to a large degree. I think enlightenment has nothing to do with that. And I'm a bit scared of the real thing, actually ! It seems like it's gonna be... almost... too real. Can you talk me out of that ?

Another slight concern is this : I'm wondering if I should move back to a more theravadin way of practicing vipassana. I'm going to nepal for a few weeks in september, to meditate in panditarama lumbini and perhaps other places. I've been doubting this projet a bit since the retreat. Doug Veenhof advised that it was moving backwards to resume with more "attentional" and conceptual prctices when serious experiences of rigpa (if that's what i had....) had been reached. What do you guys reckon ?

With friendly thoughts,

Olivier
Edward, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?

Posts: 97 Join Date: 6/10/19 Recent Posts
very cool. thanks.
would be interesting to hear what a seasoned Theravadan cartographer has to say about this..
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?

Posts: 5769 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Sounds pretty cool. What would your best advice be to someone who is working towards second path?
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?

Posts: 733 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Hi Linda, I'm not very comfortable with the idea of teaching or even giving advice to people yet, to be honest. After all I'm still very much a student, in need for validation and guidance still.
But, given that what I'm about to say probably won't harm your practice, here is what came to mind after pondering your question for a while - don't be disappointed :

I think you are the one who has the answer. You have all the skills you need.

What do you need to do ? Ask yourself that, and you'll probably find that you know exactly what to do. What's missing ? Why are you struggling ? What doesn't add up ? What are you trying to understand ? Follow your intuition and emotions. When you ask yourself real questions like that, what brings about the deepest response from the being ? Tune your practice to something that opens something up, and rings true. Meditation is like music - in fact the buddha used that imagery a lot. What sounds right ? I think THAT is worth following. Tuning in with the unknowing did something for me : it told me : "You already know, let it happen." But that was hard, it was a kind of renunciation. It was hard and easy, obvious, painful in a just and healthy way. 

All this connects with a new way of understanding this thing about doubt being overcome by SE that's developed. It actually means something quite different than I would have guessed. I basically was entertaining a fantasy that I would be able to spell out exactly what needs to be done, that I would intellectually and conceptually know, and be in control MORE. Actually, the opposite was true. Which brought some confusion for a while. What I thought I knew, I didn't. My conceptions weren't changed by SE. Much else was, though. And it seemed I knew things I didn't know I knew. The being was transformed, not the ideas about self. Very interesting. Isn't that also, mysteriously, what the relinquishing of self-view means ? 

So, for me, I knew instinctively that what I needed to do, what I still need to do was : to trust this, to deepen the surrender. I'm sure you have some intuitive idea like that, maybe something poetic which moves you but it has nothing to do with maps and theory : flung away the theory. Trust that. Trust that. It might be something different than me, I imagine......

This was very practical : I started just following what occurred by itself in meditation. And progress was really fast then. It naturally brought me to a deeper understanding that : I don't know anything. Haha. Looking at something, paying attention to something : "What is this ?" Don't know. I really don't know. For me that opened something... "Where is this coming from ? Where is it going ?" I just don't know. Wow... Marvelous. Marvelling is good : the heart of philosophy, said Aristotle. If complete impermanence is eternity, isn't total unknowing also perfect knowledge ? 

In a more synthetic way : Get you fire going like only you know how to. Practice diligently with openness and curiosity. Anything that feels right, in my opinion, is game. Trust yourself. 

Just my two cents ;) I hope it can be helpful. Please, more advanced practicioners, don't hesitate to call me out on this if you think I'm full of crap !!

With metta.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?

Posts: 5769 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Thankyou Olivier! I’m a big fan of peer support, so I don’t think one needs to be a teacher in order to give helpful advice, and you just illustrated that very well. This was exactly the advice that I needed right now. It both validates the way I’m already working and gives me additional input. Also, it took away that bit of envy that I caught myself feeling, and I think that was the main reason for my asking. I wanted to cultivate a more skillful approach to other people’s success. Now that you took the time to write this very thoughtful and humble answer, there is no way I could envy you anymore. The envy transformed into genuine happiness. I’m happy for you. That feels so much better. So your reply helped me to overcome a defilement. For that I’m very grateful.

Very best wishes for your wellbeing and practice.
Anicca Dukkha Anatta, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?

Posts: 70 Join Date: 12/29/18 Recent Posts
Thanks for your long, detailed, beautiful post Olivier. I have not crossed SE so I do not really have much opinion about ur experiences but I found reading your posts extremely inspiring and beneficial. I can relate to some of the earlier parts like :
* Feeling great and healthy naturally.
* Reactions which r lot more unfiltered.
* Absent-mindedness and forgetfulness.
* Lot smoother interactions with people.
* Spontaneous tingling etc.

I found the advice you gave to Linda very relevant and helpful. "Being was transformed, not ideas about self." .Please continue sharing your experiences.

Also few lines for u Linda. Envy was very interesting for me since when I read your practice details in some thread last time , it actually brightened my day, I felt 95% happiness ( for u and in general) and 5% envy. I just found it funny, thought u might too. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?

Posts: 5769 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Thanks for sharing, ADA. I often feel happy about others’ attainments, but apparently envy still pops up when I’m unbalanced. That’s something to work on. It’s part of the Brahma Viharas.
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?

Posts: 733 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
That's very nice to hear emoticon

To get back to my earlier post : I'm still very curious to hear what people have to say about this report, even though I said I didn't care much about maps and theory anymore ^^ Shargrol, Noah ... ?
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

Posts: 1575 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Out of curiousity, what kind of vipassina jhanas or soft jhanas or hard jhanas are appearing in your sits? Have you explored those?
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

Posts: 733 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Nothing so far. Not even first jhana in fact. Since that retreat was definitely not about jhanas (in fact, there was talk of jhanas explicitely being avoided in the mahayana, which I guess influenced me : I only had jhanas show up once during that retreat, in a very mischievious, surprising and quick way - like kids playing a trick on me and quickly running away), and maybe because of momentum, i haven't inclined to that at all since. Life has been busy and my meditation totally ... disengaged, kind of like in july. The experience that I had, whatever it was (I'm reading daniel's description of third path in mctb2 and, though this hasn't stuck, it seems to be quite similar in certain ways - A&P of third path ???) really  made me utterly lose interest, until a few hours ago in fact, in jhanas, nanas, and all that, because it seemed so much like the real-deal, having nothing to do with these things - though, it did : it's because I practiced the way I did and read mctb that this revealed itself. But now, it's gone : no more visual vividness, even emoticon emoticon hehe 

I really haven't started investigating anew, or even being curious about meditating. Life circumstances this past week (only ?) also played a big role in that. Today I completed my final bit of graduate school, and right now I'm in the airport waiting to board for nepal. So I guess I'll find out in Panditarama Lumbini ! I feel ready to meditate again !

Ok, in truth some things to report about daily life mostly : There does seem to be something new in the way emotions just glide by ; this also comes with a new level of honesty, like I can't avoid being aware of things I might not want to see or know about "myself", but that are in fact not clung to at all (here it is like my reactions defy my own expectations, in a vein that is becoming familiar) ; I definitely observed some cycling that manifested in very obvious ways when the lights were still there, because they transformed according to the cycle, which was pretty cool ; a couple of days ago in bed, in a half awake state, I was just thinking about the fruition I mentionned having thought of as second path (?? who knows), and it seemed to happen again several times in a row (which would be a first for me), in fact I think with each new outbreath - well, somthg happened with the outbreath several times in a row anyway... ; when I close my eyes for a sec and examine things, it seems there is more space, like the world is bigger, a perception i've had since that moment I talked about earlier when I was watching my fork and something opened profoundly ; also a recurrent feeling that reality is less solid and could vanish easily (odd) ; dependent origination (the reification process) is seen much more easily ; and a few other little things not worth mentioning, intuitions of some things which might be possible...

So, I'll post back a few weeks from now, I guess. 

Cheers emoticon
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Shaun Steelgrave, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

Posts: 121 Join Date: 7/7/19 Recent Posts
I’d be interested in hearing you describe your fruitions.
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

Posts: 733 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
I'm extremely tired writing this, so don't know how this will come out ^^ I'm letting ideas burst forth, hope it won't cause confusion...

Well, i experience it in the same way that most people seem to be reporting it : quick blips, soft wooshes, and perhaps intruding cracks sometimes. I definitely am not one with a lot of clarity into that, and I'm not interested enough to try to figure more out - at least right now. I don't get bliss waves of any kind (well, some mild rush feeling sometimes, but I would never call that bliss... terminology), though sometimes the desire to meditate evaporates for a while (that's what happened for a period of a few days after both my suspected path moments - I guess that's my way of feeling done, in the negative). 

It's something that absolutely cannot be planned for me, and I must say the times that I have indeed kind of tried to make them happen have always failed. They occur when there's a true and kind of holy disinterest in what's going on, which usually is associated with low sensate clarity for me. It's honestly a lot like improvising music : sometimes you "don't care", yet you do, and that's usualy when grace comes. When you're not the one improvising, and yet it's coming from you, that's the kind of state I'm talking about, I guess. It's linked with true lack of clinging, in action. Doing something (meditation) without clinging. A subtle balance, about which the taoists have a lot to say I think. I recently started reading things about Tchouang Tseu, and I think that's gonna bring a fresh new perspective on the whole path. Interestingly, after supposed SE, my improvisation skills were a quantum leap better.

(Shargrol's first response to my initial post in this thread was a great way of expressing that and really I must credit him for putting me on this track in a way that was simple and probably more relatable to most than the heavy stuff I tend to write... Have I expressed how deep my appreciation is Shargrol ? I'm afraid not, shame on me !!)

It's also probably a "wiring"/inclination thing (this is linked with values and desires, and also views in a philosophical sense.). Some people are very naturally in tune with their bodily sensations, and I would imagine people like that tend to have more to say about fruitions in terms of sensations... Because when they let go of effort and directed attention/intention in EQ, then they maintain a high clarity of the sensate field. I tend to be more of a poet/thinker, at heart, and so, usually, I get a fruition when I'm a bit taken by a thought or image or such. I guess that's what happens when I just truly flow with things. 

Well, just an idea...

Other times, it's just when I'm paying attention to the breath, or something else, in a really soft and non directed way.
In any case there's a key point here about interest, motivation/drive, and fundamentally in the end, eros/love. I think I'm talking about dependent origination somehow here...

What about this : people who hold a strong view that the world is fundamentally made up of sensate atoms of sort, will naturally be fascinated by the detailed sensate aspects of phenomena. Others who hold other views, won't. Similarly, at a different order of magnitude or what, if one truly cares about experiencing fruitions in a very detailed way, one will. But one can't lie about that. So I guess we find again that element of absolute honesty that goes along with all this, the deep connections interrelating values (what is desirable ?) beliefs and perceptions. 

To sum up : fruitions are really not very significant - as an experience - for me. It does seem to be a co-event to some other transformations which do not ever manifest in connexion with it, though.

Nota bene : in fact, I must say that most of the time I'm not even sure that the things I experience are fruitions. Could be that I get them quite often, could be that other events get misidentified... I would say that Shargrol's descriptions are the ones that resonate most with what I experience ; you can find a bunch of topics on this. But I suspect that there is also my tendency to doubt my intuition which shows up there. In the moment, I'm usually spontaneously totally sure that something was a fruition, but will then doubt it ("that was so insignificant it could have been anything"). I am open to the possibility that I have never actually experienced a fruition, but that seems pretty unlikely to me if I reread my journal or think about past experiences. That "insignificance" of the event seems almost like a universal trait that people report...

Which in itself is incredibly interesting, if you reflect for a second. Nibbana is the most boring thing in the world. Doesn't that sound just right ? If it weren't seemingly insignificant, would the dhamma be hard to see ?

I guess the whole path, if I tried to express my current conceptin of it - what do you mean you didn't ask ? ^^ - is about learning to see what's right in front of you and always has been. Wittgenstein also said that that's what is hard about philosophy -  becoming aware of what's familiar. That is why we repeatedly immerse ourselves in the simplicity of the manifest : so that some day there will only be that, a purified awareness of pure immanence. The goal is very precisely and litteraly in front of you, right now, as we speak, and the secret is to start exactly where you want to arrive, I was told.

At the other end : Saying that something is not significant, what does that mean ? sign-ificant. Something which is not a sign, something which is not part of any kind of relational structure, not even any intentionality. The consumation of épochè. I think that's what cessation is. Fruition is utter and total insignificance, which is the exact equivalent of absolute meaning, isn't it ?

Alpha et omega...

Well, I'll stop rambling now... Hope that wasn't too out of touch with your expectations. Good night emoticon
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

Posts: 733 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Hello everyone,

So after this month long retreat in Lumbini, i've a lot of stuff to share, and I think I'll start a specific thread for this new report, as well as my questions regarding second path.

Just one remark : the events described in my previous posts (and the intense faith and grandiosity of said posts ! oops) where connected with the fourth ñana - it could have been obvious, but the realness of those things makes it hard to have "diagnostic" distance. So for anyone who might have been curious, neither second nor third path where achieved during that 7-day shamatha retreat !

The visual craziness (things appearing with a rainbow-like appearance, meaning glowing, sometimes contour-less, presenting simultaneousely observable and fused yet distinct colors) was linked with this A&P phase too. In fact, it provided a very clear personal confirmation to Daniel's notion that everything that occurs between the A&P event to re-observation, is a kind of unit, and that something else starts with EQ. That's better than U Pandita's division of the vipassana jhanas. 

One rationale for what was happening is that peripheral vision (sensitive to brightness) was extremely predominant, in a way that changed in sync with the different dukkha ñanas. I know this for sure because after the first sit during which I hit EQ of second path, with the crystal clarity and certainty that retreat conditions offers (meaning, in the realm of abstract abdominal f*ing sensations), it so happened that this visual phenomenon disappeared entirely. A fact I did not notice, being so chilled-out, until the next day. I then experienced it reoccurring every morning for a few days, in it's jarring, elusive, strange and distressing version, as I was falling back into Re-ob, and it would disappear again when I reached EQ around lunchtime.

So, to present things backwards in terms of causality : the lights were a very direct and precise indicator of what territory was being traversed : cool ! They also confirmed that the third jhana is definitely about periphery of attention in a radically obvious way : cool ! And they were not "luminosity" at all, in the sense of everything seeming aware of itself - a pretty common mistake i reckon. The word numinosity could be a nice replacement, what do you think ? cool !

Let me just add this : let's not forget that the maps are conceptual tools. They are derived from our experiences, not the other way around - just like math and sciences are theories construed from... etc. etc. A grave blunder would it be (it was Galileo's and still is most scientific minds' mistake) to mix things up and believe that theories are not descriptive but generative ! It's a sure way to lose touch with, well, numinosity, and the immediacy of experience.

Cheers emoticon
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

Posts: 5769 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
I guess that means that there are even more goodies in the goodiebag for you, then, which is kind of cool.
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

Posts: 733 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Right, it's all quite unpredictable isn't it ?
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

Posts: 733 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Hi everyone,

So, after a few months of absence, here we go for an update. Long post (but, really), as usual emoticonemoticon Hoping it may be of interest and use to some.

Long retreat. A few markers from that long retreat (4 weeks in panditarama lumbini in sept/oct) : I arrived there after a week long shamatha retreat in which I'm assuming I ended deep in a new A&P. It had left me with this crazy glow vision thing, which I detailed on here before. The glow had faded but started becoming brighter and more prevalent as soon as I set foot on the meditation compound in lumbini, basically. During the first few days I experienced none of the discomforts that usually accompany the first few days of a retreat, and many experiences of "suchness", particularly visually. Something interesting is that I was experiencing review fruitions (I believe) with a new degree of clarity for me, or perhaps they were just "new" fruitions from the second path which I hypothesized I might have attained during the shamatha retreat in august. ... or whatever...

New or clearer fruitions ? Let me pause here to describe that, so that maybe an external observer could chime in : I would start observing the abdomen, go through a fast sequence of light nanas, with a few shifts of perception (2 or 3, like entering different spaces - vipassana jhanas), get to a point where observation would becoming kind of impossible to maintain and replaced with dreamy states which were very very clear, and oddly connected to my supposed meditation object (the abdomen) in a deep way. There would then be some weird understanding about something, like the movement of the person moving in my mental dreamlike vision is not something else than the movement of the abdomen, and it is in fact no movement at all, and there would be a sharp snap from one sense door (mental) to the other (tactile) which would be followed by an unmistakeable and very pleasant deep shaking or surge, which felt so right. I think these were textbook fruitions but oddly enough, in my notebook I just reported them as cool and curious events, without realizing what they were... So I don't know what that says about all the other times I though I had fruitions where they were never like that, with that kind of merging of sense doors ending in an unmistakeable discontinuity that would send a bliss wave... Could it be the difference between first and second path fruitions ?

EQ2. Anyways. I broke through to the EQ nana during a sit on the 6th day of the vipassana retreat, I believe. Oh, and that was when I applied the narrow focus technique with intense determination and might, I must say for the sake of transparency... because the sayadaw was making me feel like i was fucking around... So, it manifested in a highly "abstract" and crystal clear cut way, meaning just in the way abdominal sensations of the breath were changing... You know, endings obvious, then nothing, force your way through that desert, then poooof all of a sudden huge sensations available right here, and life feels good again ! This was immediatly followed by the disappearance of the visual glow. Then, the glow vision would flare up and then recede regularly, cycling in a way that lined up with how I was going from DN to EQ every day for some time. I don't know whether getting more concentrated did it, or if that means the glow was a characteristic of the 3rd VJ which would be subsumed by the broader 4th...

I guess I really got established in EQ after three weeks, which is when the teachers finally acknowledged I was moving into the higher nanas, thereby ending the torture of me constantly doubting if they were assessing my progress correctly. Of course, they knew I had been going up there since a while back, but didn't let it on at all, and just gave me instructions that were designed to help them evaluate how mature each nana was. 

Fetters model. I must say, most of the DN stuff I experienced there, was connected with this precise situation - feeling I was in the wrong hands, frustration about the dogmatism of the place, doubting this technique which was definitely not a good fit for me... a LOT of frustration about all that, but I kept going anyways trying to make the best of the experience. This DN was very much about ill-will, and I speculated for a while that this was connected to the fetters ; what i came up with - and i was very seduced by this notion for a bit - was that during first path, the main theme/problem lies with the perception of a fundamental issue pertaining to identity. Through spiritual development we come to solve this problem directly, but it constitutes the core issue of the first path, the thing that comes up again and again. Through gradually understanding, directly, and reflexively, that there is no permanent self, we develop wisdom, solve the issue, and lose all doubts as to how to solve that problem. Then SE seals all that stuff in and "eradicates" the notion that any other way of resolving that issue than the one that has been found could be the solution, since the right way has been experienced. There go the three fetters : self-view, rites and rituals, doubts. Then, I thought, echoing stuff I had read around here, it would make sense that THE problem of second path would have to do with ill-will and greed, right ? This lines up with what I experienced during that retreat anyways...

EQ2, II. The new equanimity nana that opened up had a new broadness to it, in the sense that, at the level of abdominal sensations for instance, I could tell, when I got there, that I could both observe very precisely the object of meditation (one sensation), and at the same time have exactly as much clarity about a bunch of other things around it - my body, sounds, etc. It was very itneresting because with that degree of clarity, and concentration, I could see how the object of meditation would become extremely small and remote while the surrounding sensations where becoming prominent (3rd vipassana jhana stuff), and then there would be a moment where it all opened and the center as well as surroundings became extremely clear and easy, and it seemed like I could observe many objects at once and see through objects, as if I could see all the trees in the forest. But at no point did I get into crystal clear absorption states like I did during first path, or in the month after what I take to be stream entry. Even when the EQ was very jhana like, when I experienced, for instance, the 4th jhana in a way that really reminded me of that classical description the buddha gave with the image of cool water infusing a lake etc., it was not at all as refined as I have sometimes experienced it in the past, although by all means my concentration levels must have been at an all time high...

Psychological bubbles. The last week of this retreat was extremely interesting, not really vipassana anymore, but there was an incredible amount of psychological insights and ideas, like a stream, bubbling up constantly, of forgotten memories, sensations from the past, atmospheres, little proustian moments of reminiscence all day long, basically. Very touching. Sometimes the sound of a crow's cry was just exquisitely satisfying in the sober, quick, yet profound emotionality it evoked... Lots of creativity, by all means. For instance, music would come up - I actually, immediatly after the retreat ended, composed music based on a poem by mary oliver, which praises Attention as a form of prayer, for 4 voices, based on some fragments that kept coming up during that last week. Also, conflicts would arise, becoming my meditation object, and get untangled and understood seemingly for good. Many of them. I had, in particular, one extremely profound emotional opening, like  something huge about my life had been understood, was being accepted, through an incredible release of emotional energy, during about two or three hours... It was quite something, very beautiful. I do think my psychology has evolved by a step there...

Meditation ? Some time before that, i think, i had started to venture in mental spaces along the lines of "if there are no "things", then how could one possibly be distracted ?" ... And the notion of concentration started not making much sense anymore. After said opening, it seemed like all interest in vipassana practice vanished - I told the Sayadaw that it really felt like I was just observing stuff happening, that there was nothing special about it, and that I could as well be just looking at the flowers in the garden to the same effect... which pleased him, as you can imagine. Oh yes, there were also a few sits, on stands out in particular in my memory, where I was just resting in a kind of perfect midnfulness of things, not doing anything, except gently tryng to notice how things experience were always already "known", conscious, without there having to be any action on my part. That led to a very precise sequence of observations, whereby I jsut decided to check out what attention did, exactly. So, I focused on something : my index finger. This meant that the rest of experience receded, though it was still there ; that the perception of the index became somehow bigger, more detailed. At the same time, it created a tension in the neck.back of head, and a sense of unpleasantness, as well as a stronger sense of "duality". It as well triggered mental images and impressions, an image of an old woman for some reason. I released that and it was much better. 

And I guess these kinds of experiences just deepened this conviction that it was quite artificial and not very useful to develop strong narrow focus on objects anymore. I was at the end happy and fresh and excited to be done with this retreat, somehow skeptical about meditation, but incredibly focused and disciplined, something which lasted for a few weeks and slowly faded, which went along with a rise in general unpleasantness/

Critique of panditarama lumbini. That retreat has left me with a bittersweet aftertaste, I would say. I'm now somehow disenchanted with vipassana practice, and have developed particular aversion to the mahasi sayadaw approach and the values and views it entails. I went there without having measured exactly what it would be like, who those teachers were, etc. There was no real hardship, in fact i did well and the retreat really went good, with the teachers in the end telling me I was practicing well, etc. But it kind of fucked my confidence in the practice, or in my own intuition, perhaps. 

Before that, I was very much meditating based on strong intuition, faith, everything technical I had learned of course, but with a sense of wonder, amazement and beauty, before that reatreat. You might have sensed that in my previous posts. And that was perfect. But they insisted so much on needing to apply their technique so litterally, discouraged and dismissed any kind of natural curiosity as "experimenting", had no regard whatsoever for beauty and wonder.... It was so dry... And I actually think that this is not a good thing, it is life denying, because beauty is an internal necessity for life, as Michel Henry would say. Of course it is in line with the pali canon dogma, and this is what they believe, so it is what they teach... But that, I realized the hard way, is not for me, at all. They also did not try to assess my actual attainments, and so, it was only after 16 days, when I managed to tell the sayadaw that  Ithought I had stream entry, that he changed his instructions to a more free flow kind of way, which finally started meeting my experience where it needed to be met... 16 freaking days into the retreat, can you imagine.. ! 

Gratitude for panditarama lumbini. Well otherwise, of course, the place itself is beautiful (garden of eden), the teachers so dedicated, as well as everybody else which practices there, and they are extremely good people, that must be said. Maybe I shouldn't focus on the negative. I also had very profound and beautiful moments of connecting to the deepest meaning of my own life there, so I should also express gratitude... Yes, it was such an adventure... 

I guess I might also have overdone it a bit and fried myself somehow, though it didn't really feel like it at the time. 

Meditation now. I guess is not very structured at all, sometimes i'll incline more towards cultivating calm abiding, sometimes examine things just a bit, but the very idea of taking the rise and fall of the abdomen as object and developing a narrow focus in a "heroic" way (which is what the sayalay there kept advising me....) just feels terribly wrong ^^  

The thing is, the ability to perceive things simultaneously is now sort of default, or maybe it's better to say that attention is more broad "by default", so this kind of narrow focus makes little sense anymore. I've also notice countless things that hint to the fact that perception is at a new level of clarity, generally speaking. All kinds of details in things are available... in vision particularly.

I guess this new level of clarity had to be integrated - still is being integrated. I've also started to open my eyes much more fully to the predicament the world is in right now, and that has contributed to the somehow more difficult period I went through after the retreat, but that's something else, although a much more important topic than my little practice...

Emotions. It seems, though, that the emotional fluidity, the way emotions, though they may hit stronger, move away quite quickly, has very much stayed as a default thing since last summer, and somehow deepened. There is an increased resilience and a lot of stability in my daily life, clearly. It seems that negative mindstates don't really happen anymore.. even when I'm feeling not so well, there is usually a smile on my face at the same time... Don't know if that will last but there seems to be something permanent there ^^ I also seem to be drawn to just getting absorbed in activities for hours on end with little need for breaks, which seems like a nice perk that comes from such a long retreat time (350 + hours over a month and a half). But i've also noticed a somehow dicreased ability to get organized, strangely enough.

Rainbow cycles. The glow vision phenomenon comes back and forth in cycles of about a week, and this is unrelated to how much practice I put in. Sometimes it may be triggered by talking about it - when I explained the august breakthrough, it came back on, and I then perceived things with this rainbow vividness for a solid week.

There have been times where this felt like some form of visual non-duality, like the patches of glowing color were perceived as neither here nor there, neither far nor near, some beautiful and weird magical in-between of undetermined identity, very immediate in the sense that it seemed "aware", alive, on its one, known and seen as vivid vision before I could register an act of perceiving something... In fact, the teacher from that shamatha retreat told me via email (I wasn't able to tell him during the retreat about my experiences) that he thought I was starting to perceive things "non conceptually", and quoted that famous bahia sutta... well... But another person, a very nice guy, probable anagami, that I met through the DhO (hi fred !), suggested it sounded more like A&P stuff than non-dual perception.

There is also DN things happening sometimes, at a macro level of days, which express as nervosity, edginess, etc., all the good stuff (right now, I have this knot in my stomach which makes me think that perhaps...). But not debilitating at all. Things are rather smooth in general, but more rich and complex, I would say, than in the months (year, really...) that preceded stream-entry...

Weirder things, like - I noticed numerous times that if I look at something with a lot of calm and stilness, the whole visual field starts to move, kind of warp in a perceptible way, not dramaticly, but clearly. I mention this because it happened earlier this afternoon. There are many moments where it seems that things are perceived in a more... untangled way, as if different sense modalities were more "separate", in a way. Sometimes, perceptions that seem to only be what they are (ie : in the seeing just the seen, in the felt just the felt describes it well, and these are kind of strange but also exhilarating experiences, where it seems that this thing i'm seeing is really disconnected from all other sense modalities which seem mostly absent from that moment of perception... although they don't happen very often).

I've basically given up on the maps, and am now just sitting regularly without much complication beyond that. My plan had been to get second path in the more vipassana style and then move on to emptiness practices as described by Burbea in his Seeing that frees book. I don't know if I got second path yet, but I'm about ready to get to that new stuff.

Sensory atoms ? meh. I've developed a lot of doubts about the whole buddhist thing, though, at least theravadin stuff seems to me so reductionist, lacking subtlety and aliveness and emotionality now... Sorry for being so blunt, dear theravadin practicioners... But there is something confining to absurdity in a world view that reduces experience to a bunch of different sensory atoms to be perceived very quickly... Not that I ever gave credit to that kind of abidhammic perspective, but then, I'm now thinking - well why the hell was i not suscpicious about practice based on the conception that "reality" is actually.. kalapas ? Can you tell me ?

Hmm... anyways, that's it for now. Let me finish by stating that I do feel somehow confused and perplexed (although this does not create much suffering) about meditation practice as of today. I know that this i probably normal. But still, I'd appreciate some advice from seasoned practicioners.

Thank you to anyone who might answer this, very best wishes for your life and existential endeavours emoticonemoticon


Olivier


ps : edited a few times
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Smiling Stone, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

Posts: 216 Join Date: 5/10/16 Recent Posts
Hey Olivier,
I really enjoyed your thread a few months back and was looking forward to reading this post after your "teaser" in another thread a few weeks ago. Detailed phenomenology, honest and sensitive reports, please keep on sharing about your practice!
Not much to comment on. I thought interesting that you had some critics about the end goal of the buddhist path (which you did not develop that much here yet), and about the way of teaching in the most trendy mahasi center in the world today (on dho at least, and the fault cannot be imputed on the politics of the center, far from it!). So feel free to develop...
I (still) practice in the Goenka tradition, so I have not much in the way of advice. One thing, about reluctance toward narrow focus: In the course of my practice, there was a point where I would consider myself quite mature while monitoring the body perceptions with easy open awareness, but the narrowing on a smaller area would still produce some kind of tension or the other.
It took me quite a few years to understand why the assistant teachers would ask us (hum... mature practitioners) to alternate between free flow (extending the area of attention) and "part by part" (narrow focus), even though we would dwell effortlessly in cool, wide open states.
We had to attend the tension, which was different from avoiding it.
After practicing that for a while, there is less and less difference between the two modes, the effort, boredom or discomfort have more or less disappeared from the narrow focus.
More on this here : https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/14719066#_19_message_14719066
Also, in everyday life, as we have to focus sometimes, isn't it for the better if we learn to do it without tension in a meditation setting?
I wish you the best on your ongoing journey (and I will re-read the whole thread which is not so present in my mind right now). It seems that this kind of long post tends to elicit less reaction from the community, but I hope you get more informed "opinions"...
With metta
Smiling Stone
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

Posts: 733 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Smiling Stone:
Hey Olivier,
I really enjoyed your thread a few months back and was looking forward to reading this post after your "teaser" in another thread a few weeks ago. Detailed phenomenology, honest and sensitive reports, please keep on sharing about your practice!
Not much to comment on. I thought interesting that you had some critics about the end goal of the buddhist path (which you did not develop that much here yet), and about the way of teaching in the most trendy mahasi center in the world today (on dho at least, and the fault cannot be imputed on the politics of the center, far from it!). So feel free to develop...
I (still) practice in the Goenka tradition, so I have not much in the way of advice. One thing, about reluctance toward narrow focus: In the course of my practice, there was a point where I would consider myself quite mature while monitoring the body perceptions with easy open awareness, but the narrowing on a smaller area would still produce some kind of tension or the other.
It took me quite a few years to understand why the assistant teachers would ask us (hum... mature practitioners) to alternate between free flow (extending the area of attention) and "part by part" (narrow focus), even though we would dwell effortlessly in cool, wide open states.
We had to attend the tension, which was different from avoiding it.
After practicing that for a while, there is less and less difference between the two modes, the effort, boredom or discomfort have more or less disappeared from the narrow focus.
More on this here : https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/14719066#_19_message_14719066
Also, in everyday life, as we have to focus sometimes, isn't it for the better if we learn to do it without tension in a meditation setting?
I wish you the best on your ongoing journey (and I will re-read the whole thread which is not so present in my mind right now). It seems that this kind of long post tends to elicit less reaction from the community, but I hope you get more informed "opinions"...
With metta
Smiling Stone

Hi there ! 
Thank you for the kind words, as well as your attentiveness. 

I never intended to "tease" haha, I just felt that explaining my ideas here would be out of place somehow, would not be heard, or not be of interest for people. And seeing how my posts don't elicit much reaction ... I also didn't want to spend too much time criticizing things, you know. Finally, altough english is my "father tongue", my command of it is less subtle, and expressing my thoughts on these topics in english seems more daunting, especially since a lot of authors who nourish me are french and sometimes not available in other languages.

But if you're interested, I'd gladly elaborate. What would you like me to say more about ? You just have to be warned that it'll most probably turn into a long, hard to follow and radical discussion emoticonemoticon  (I actually started answering you generally, and it's already three pages long on my wps document...)

Interesting suggestion about attending the tension in narrowness of focus, I'll explore that.

Best wishes to you, smiling stone emoticon

A smiling tree.
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Smiling Stone, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

Posts: 216 Join Date: 5/10/16 Recent Posts
Hello Olivier

So I went through your posts and pasted below some stuff that drew my attention...

"since I started really following Doug Veenhof's teachings and techniques, I'm not sure how to map any of it. In fact, is it mappable at all ? Later experiences, and teachings, have left me doubtful about the POI maps. This way that phenomena seem to develop, is it not very much the result of conditioning and ways of working with attention that create this very development ? I have some ideas about that but won't spell them out now".

The power of intention and scripting regarding practice has been an area of interest for me as well. I have the feeling it is easy to crystallize an ego around the maps (that's the downside of the maps, they have a huge value in expanding our understanding of the path), and that the mahasi method was crafted to give lay people a first hand experience of what it is all about, but not the whole package (see my rambling about monks below)... And there seems to be this ongoing competition between methods in Burma, regarding which will be the quickest to bring people to "stream entry" (one week these days)...Thoughts?

"it was a dzogchen text by the Dalai Lama on the difference of point of view between the "new translation" and "old translation" schools of tibetan buddhism. I can find it and post it if anyone is interested. One of these schools says there must be cessation for pristine awareness (the way dzogchen describes the goal, the experience of an enlightened mind) to be accessed. The other says this is not necessary. The dalai-lama argues both perspectives can be reconciled (surprising coming from him, isn't it ?) "

Yes. Direct seeing vs purification... I would be interested in the reference of this text.

"The technique these guys teach, and the way they teach it - in fact, the whole way these retreats are conceived - aren't they inherently life-denying, and designed to cause disenchantment with the world ? They have that built-in them in a way, because they emanate from certain values, notions of what is desirable and undesirable, which are directly connected to the worldview of those who invented them. They do work as advertised. Is this really what you want ?  The professed goal of buddhism is actually to end it all. Do we realize what this means ? One could argue that it's litteraly the only way to commit suicide - more than sui-cide, existencide - for someone who believes in reincarnation. I'm the first to reject claims that buddhism is nihilistic, and philosophically it's not, but in terms of ethos it kind of is. A good life in the here and the now is basically only a side-effect of this primary emphasis. I realize most people who practice vipassana do not believe that, and do not seek that, me included. I'm not saying at all that this is the case. But it's a bit disturbing to think that the people who invent and teach the techniques which we practice regardless, actually do think that life, in the sense of being, of existing, has no value, and that enlightenment is the ending of becoming, as the highest possible goal. Crazy stuff. "

This touched me deeply as I went through the same kind of realization with Goenka. Extinction... To be honest, I associate it with the most dark night-ish experiences I had on retreat, it does not bother me that much the rest of the time. Also, there is something when I hear a monk talk (about nekhama, for example)... If they really thought a lay person could make it all the way, how would they be monks?
I believe, as lay people, we are quite "protected" from "existencide" by our remaining attachments... That would come as a consequence of the maturity of the dark night stages... The deep meaning of "desire for deliverance"?

Also some thing you said about the intersubjectivity of music making it more inclusive than meditation. Worth pondering... It would be true of every (sacred) art form, though... Anything that can stir the emotions toward the sacred... isn't it what tantra is about?

Anyway, these are just comments that came while reading those posts again. I am interested with your questioning, because it seems that you went full on with the maps (and got a lot from them), and then (now) a little bit off. As I said before, I appreciate your honesty and thoroughness, which is why I push a bit for further reports!

All the best, then
with metta
smiling stone

PS : Yeah... The 3 pages wps document !
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

Posts: 733 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
I'll answer you, promess.

But honestly it might be more illuminating for you to start listening to Rob Burbea's talks available here, if you don't know the man. I always find his stuff extremely inspiring and liberating, and it has definitely informed my thinking and conceptions a lot. For instance this one, Living in the truth https://dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/talk/10831/ or this, Creative Samadhi https://dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/talk/26008/

I listened to that one again today, almost a year after my first listen, and I'm realizing how important it is to go back on your tracks, conscientize and keep in touch with what has nourished you and what nourishes you now. I realize how much my conception of the path was influence by Burbea's approach. The ending of this last teaching is priceless and will allow me to add something about the critique of the mahasi (and goenka I assume) methods :


"If we take as our meaning of the word samadhi not this english word concentration [...] but this more open state involving the whole body, involving a degree of unification and well-being, to whatever degree, it doesn't have to be amazing, then something's important to realize : that direction or the deepening of this "avenue" of practice is much more dependant on openness of heart than we might realize. It's not just about focus, it's not just about withdrawing the senses, walking around with the eyes down - it might be skillfull at times - but it's much more about openness of heart. That, as a key ingredient in the opening of samadhi, is much more significant than the focus. Why ? Why is openness of heart so significant in samadhi ? Because when the heart is open, the energy body is already soft, unknotted to a degree, it's already open, the energy is already flowing, there's already some alignment, it's not far from samadhi already from the openness of heart. It implies that it's more important to nourish openness of heart than focus, perhaps. What is it that nourishes the heart ? Are you feeling (on retreat) connected with the community, is the heart open to gratitude and appreciation, are you connecting with nature, is there some sense of love and inspiration and beauty ? These things, feeding the sense of beauty, inspiration, gratitude, togetherness, connectedness, these nourish deeply, they open the heart and that's much more significant than we often realize. There's an artfulness to being on retreat, it's quite individual and it varies over time, so experiment with what it is that nourishes you heart in support of samadhi. Experiment, feel, where am I ? How do I feel ? What do I need ? Can I notice ? Can I respond ? And it includes everything, everything. Feeling, and responding, open the eyes, open the heart to the beatuy that's around, because that's significant. The heart is, sometimes, the most significant piece."


What a HUGE difference with the dogmatic ineptness I was fed during that mahasi sayadaw retreat, where it was hammered into my head that I should NOT experiment ; where I was asked, when giving the best reports I could, in the most precise formulations : "what did you study in university ?" with a look that implied I was some kind of incompetent idiot for using sophisticated language, and that I could not even understand basic meditation instructions when at the time I already had stream entry ; where they could give little in the way of instructions beyond "concentrate on the abdomen through effort"..."Don't look at the plants"... Sure...

I'm seriously starting to suspect that the fact that this meditation method of Mahasi Sayadaw is so inbalanced, is the reason why it takes so much time for the insights garnered through its use to be integrated. I don't know, but I suspect it. There is a lack of integrity there, in the sense of integralness, in the sense that part of what makes humans humans is repressed, ignored, disrespected, very deeply.

Now that I'm really starting to be done processing the anger and confusion I've felt ever since then, I have to make it "official" : I can't recommand that anyone go to panditarama lumbini and don't recommand dry vipassana practice, in particular Mahasi Sayadaw's version of vipassana practice either. When I see the destabilizing effect these retreats have on so many people, probably everyone (my brother has been kind of fucked in the head since he went on his first goenka retreat), and in the light of understanding how basically humanity denying theravadin buddhism is (yes it is ! come on) it makes me want to yell :

(please children leave the room)

F* HEROISM AND TOUGH GUY BULLS*, F* neutring, life-denying and loveless practices which seek to end desire and give an end to existence. F*CK. THAT. CRAP. I wan't beauty, love, and magic.

Ok. Moving on.

Bye for now emoticonemoticonemoticon

shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

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Olivier:
... I'm realizing how important it is to go back on your tracks, conscientize and keep in touch with what has nourished you and what nourishes you now...




This is really important. Everyone is different. Daniel is different from Kenneth is different from Vince is different from Michael is different from Hokai is different from Chris is different from Nicholi is different from Shargrol is different from Ron is different from Curious...

Mahasi is usually great for SE for most everyone, it really has a way of cutting through the fog of samsara in a very basic and effective way... but not so great for everyone beyond that point.

We always have to own our own practice. 
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

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Sorry for the bad language btw, I'm just venting off. I know that posting that here is a bit crazy, but hey.

When you say we should own our practice, what do you mean ? I'm not sure I'm getting the expression.

Well, is it really not so great beyond that point only for some ? what I was told with much conviction from the guy in charge is that the practice stays the same until arahatship and that effort should increase continually. Isn't that a bit crazy too ?
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

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So, I pondered whether I should edit that previous rude message and decided to leave it on here, since it's a new and different flavor expressing with honesty what I'm going through. Because this very anger and frustration was the heart of the difficult times I encountered during the long retreat. Also because it seems to have had a good effect on me to "make it official" that I was somehow disavowing the kind of practice I submitted myself to during that time. Something important there, as shargrol pointed out. So all in all I decided to leave it. It seems to be part of a process where some blockage is being allowed to dissolve more fully, and since then, like I said earlier, I've been contemplating going back on my tracks to understand better what was right in my practice before, that doesn't feel so right anymore. It also allowed me to really acknowledge that, in fact, I do feel like something is off, that I am somehow unquiet and off-center, in practice and life, at times. 

I've been doing that, going back to listen to dhamma talks by Rob Burbea which had been my daily bread last year, listening to ajahn brahm  talks, too. Those were my daily bread the year before that, which is when, I know now, I had my final very hard bout of DN and really had no more choice than to just  discipline this mind-body, stop running away, cross my legs, sit down, and face myself, face life full-on in the secluded time and space of meditation. Basically needing to take time to really reconnect with the simplicity that meditation practice used to be... To rediscover the emotional, analytical, observational tools and know-hows, practical know-hows which had become so well integrated in my practice and life, partially without realizing it, culminating in the stellar mastery which was mine (MINE ! I said it ! lol) before and during that shamatha retreat last august, which were slowly bashed out of my system through these few weeks of intense and rigorous mahasi noting in the burmese style.

Or, another way to think of this is that I just lost this ease and mastery because this is what it means to be working on a new path. And it must be said that thinking in terms of nanas definitely has the virtue of taking some weight off of things at times - something like dis-identification : 'it's not me, it's not existence, it's just the nanas ! what a relief'. But the downside is to reify this so-called process of awakeing (it can't logically be a process...), to make it mechanical, which dries the heart out.

I guess this is what it means to play with views. See, I'm playing again emoticonemoticon Long live curiosity, my dearest companion !!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you'll allow me an aside - because thinking and reflecting is highly important for integrity, because "penser" in french comes from "peser", which means "to weigh things out", and evaluate : Know-how, or practical knowledge, is a way to translate prajna (Dan Lustraus). Meditation is praxis. It's not objective knowledge, knowledge of some thing, it is non-objective, knowledge which in essence is no different than its own enactment, if I may say it that way. It is the knowledge that onions have, if they don't grow skin one year when the winter is not gonna be cold. How do they know that ? And what is it they know ? They are that knowledge, which is life, life always already revealing itself to itself through its own phenomenalization. Isn't it also how plants know how to grow towards the sun ? Their knowledge that the sun is out there is the very movement that they become, there is no difference between their flesh and their movement towards the light, which is the knowledge that they have that the sun is out there, when they pursue that light... That is phusis, and it is incarnation. Meditation is the human version of blooming, isn't it ? And that process of blooming, of becoming, bhavana, the buddha's word for his practice of choice, which shares the same origin as the word phusis, well my friends, that is what Michel Henry simply calls culture, the culmination of which is precisely what we are looking for here, what I am looking for, through meditation, and which is so dear to me - simply the actualisation of the highest possibilities offered to us, the transfiguration of the universe through our small being, receiving the revelation of who we truly are. Just watering the seed and letting it follow the light without too much intervention.

This is the most rigorous way that I can conceive of awakening... right now...

That's another view, another perspective, which has the virtue of providing me with a sense of inspiration and depth of mystery (but also, there is in there a profoundly justifying point to the notion that meditation should, as all things, be mostly intuitive). That poetic sensibility, heart openness and sense of inspiration was integral in my practice before. That is being deeply in line, for me. THat's what I need to keep exploring and developing. Why else did I write my master's thesis on the connections between esthetic experiences and meditation ? After all, everybody with some culture knows from Parmenides to Wittgenstein that truth is not expressible, not accessible through any theoretical means (least of all scientific), not some ob-ject that consciousness could put in front of her to be aware of passively from afar. Burbea speaks very highly of unfathomability and depth of mystery. I couldn't agree more. My practice took off over a year ago, at a time when I simultaneously discovered mctb, but also realized that I was free to follow my gut and intuition in meditation. In particular, TNH's way of using poetic phrases as a mindfulness practice, was a great inspiration. I remember writing in my journal - "anything is game". If you understand the spirit of something you are king.

Follow the spirit, not the letter.

This, in my practice, evolved into using internal discourse in times where it was useful as a way of both bringing awareness to what was going on in my experience, emotionally, etc., to unknot the knots, to control attention, and also to deliberately induce an intense esthetic sensitivity, all of these combining to produce a sense of wonder, an openness of heart, and also a strong foundation to navigate whatever came at me when it became difficult - working with energies and emotions in order to achieve collectedness, to imbue my experience with a background bliss, and to develop enough space to be able to welcome all movements of the being, good or bad, to truly welcome and, by virtue of that, transform them.

We are, after all, creatures of speech, creatures of emotions, creatures of art, why should these things not guide meditation ?

All these things were key in finally establishing equanimity. I never used mahasi noting. Noting practice came in my life at a time where, I can now tell in retrospect, I was already deeply established in equanimity and had all the tools needed. I started using a light noting technique, almost non-verbal, in a very free-flow and non-directive way, although there was definitely room for effort and tight examination, definitely, because it felt right to do so at the time, around march 2019. I had no idea where I was on the maps at the time, but I quickly started experiencing nanas and it turned out I was farther along than I thought, since I had delt with 1st path DN entirely already, which is why I got SE less than three months later, having put in, probably, less than a hundred hours of deliberate vipassana practice.

But it probably did also happen because of these new conceptual frameworks (the spiritual faculties were a key teaching for me) and technique, and generally because of mctb too. 

So, these are avenues which I should engage with again, and that should be my discipline, for me, who always wants to explore and have new things to satisfy this curiosity  ;) ;) And I bet, though i've copiously shat on them, that dryer techniques will come back when the time has come, and i'll be sorry to have talked badly to them. And perhaps I will learn.

--

Here is what I wrote in my journal earlier :

1h of creative metta meditation. I let the correct/just (in the musical sense of justness) phrase emerge, which is vibrant for my little heart in this moment and allows a real connection to other beings and benevolence be felt - "may all beings fully realize the highest potentialities which are offered to them." This is spontaneously associated with a broad and spacious attention to what Burbea calls the energy or emotional body which centers somewhere around the head. I tentatively let myself comment what I am experiencing, at times feeling the confusion and blockage that "this is not how meditation should be", but not letting that burmese sounding voice brainwash me. It helps me unknot things, this internal discourse, subtil and momentous. Because what I've been feeling in meditation for a few months is fear and confusion, let's be honest. I'm afraid of meditation, afraid of becoming crazy, of losing reason, joy, self. Afraid of suffering. Afraid of life again. There is often times, though not acute, a mild diffused background panic (I almost wrote "picnic") which arises when I sit, or even nausea. I realize writing this, that I had been tuning out from this. 

I'm afraid of myself again.

Wow. That's very important.

And staying with, noting these things as somehow sensate (in the sense of being made of up of simpler namarupic atoms, these things which we call emotions being neither emergent nor reducible but just what they are - sorry for the polemic touch here, it's one of my tendencies) would be one of the least skilfull and natural things to do in that moment. No, what makes sense, what vibrates, is to feel, actively, to probe, to question and engage, to listen deeply to what is playing itself out and the emotions.

At the end of this session, a lot of openness and self-compassion, well-being, a sense of reconnecting with a skilfull way to let life be life in meditation and to exist - talk to your fear, tame it, make her your friend... It is the time you spent taking care of your rose, which makes her precious.

Gratitude. And a strong desire to listen to this : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKRcaaX6ULc.

--

I hope I can regain fuller faith and trust in myself and life on and off the cushion. I wish it for you too.

I'm going on a three-four day mahamudra retreat this friday, that will be interesting !

Finally, I want to reassure that even though it may sound like there is a lot of struggling going on for me, it's in fact not acute at all. It's more that meditation has become dull, and that there is sometimes and general sense of a lack of direction. But it's only if I compare with the amazingness of the times i've had before SE. For the record and the sake of perspective, I'll just add that there has remained, basically at all times, since last summer, a kind of ease which is not going away, although I sometimes wonder what would happen if I didn't meditate for, say, a month. I can always conjure up a smile. But it does feel like there is sometimes a very mundane bleakness and almost despair which poke their nose, and that means there are things that I must face, tame and embrace, not fear.

The whole range of emotions is still available to me. They move quick, and there's a general simplicity and joy to existence. But one must stay prudent, humble, honest, open.

May you be well, may you realize your highest potentialities.

Olivier
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curious, modified 1 Year ago.

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Hi Olivier, thanks for posting this.  I really enjoyed reading your experiences.  Just a couple of comments.

1. If you go back and reread your thread, you will see the nanas playing out in your writing as well as in your reports. Some classic reobservation in there too!  But we've all done that (or at least I have emoticon).

2. The territory between first and third can be really mucky for some, and a cookie cutter approach to meditation may not work. You do sound like you have been suffering from getting stuck with inappropriate instructions, compounded by the difficulty of trying to make sense of the two approaches you have been looking at. I guess that's why Ajahn Chah said "take the one chair".  Still, you have two chairs now, so let me see if I can help you reconcile them.

3. So weird colours, spinning things, pulses - yeah A&P.  But intensely vivid reality, with no awareness of a separate consciousness, and things glowing with their own inner existence and beauty, even mundane things. Sure sounds like a glimpse of the ground. Remember the Tibetans frame the ground as first appearing in glimpses, then growing in frequency, then occupying all waking hours, and then you go beyond it. On the Theravadan path the ground manifests later, and from different causes than the direct non-dual practices of the Tibetans, but it is still the same.  So enjoy the glimpses of the ground - don't strive after them, but don't discount them either. 

4. If you are still noting, you should be well beyond the rising and falling of the abdomen by now. I would recommend noting the arising and passing a way of phenomena in the six sense doors as fast as possible, and once you have mastered that, going on to note the three characteristics of these phenomena.  But by now noting should not mean a verbal label, or even a mental 'bip'.  You should now be able aim for the bare mental act of knowing - a fortieth of a second. Then you use your spacious awareness to have that bare mental act of knowing applied to dozens of things in a second.  It's like an jhanic absorption in the flux of reality, as it arises and passes away through your sense doors.

5. That style of noting should not only clear out the vipassana dissonance you are experiencing, it should also support development of nondual perception later. 

6. And I'm not sure path labels are useful at this point (they will be again later).  For some people, and you may be one, the progress around jhanic control, nana control, emptiness of space, emptiness of concepts, glimpses and so on gets really mucky. Things happen in different orders for different people.  So just accept what is, consolidate, improve, and don't cling to paths.  Actually, the seven factors of awakening contain all the advice you need right now!

I hope this helps.  With much metta and good wishes.

Malcolm
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

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Posts: 5769 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
curious:

2. The territory between first and third can be really mucky for some, and a cookie cutter approach to meditation may not work. You do sound like you have been suffering from getting stuck with inappropriate instructions, compounded by the difficulty of trying to make sense of the two approaches you have been looking at. I guess that's why Ajahn Chah said "take the one chair".  Still, you have two chairs now, so let me see if I can help you reconcile them.

3. So weird colours, spinning things, pulses - yeah A&P.  But intensely vivid reality, with no awareness of a separate consciousness, and things glowing with their own inner existence and beauty, even mundane things. Sure sounds like a glimpse of the ground. Remember the Tibetans frame the ground as first appearing in glimpses, then growing in frequency, then occupying all waking hours, and then you go beyond it. On the Theravadan path the ground manifests later, and from different causes than the direct non-dual practices of the Tibetans, but it is still the same.  So enjoy the glimpses of the ground - don't strive after them, but don't discount them either. 

4. If you are still noting, you should be well beyond the rising and falling of the abdomen by now. I would recommend noting the arising and passing a way of phenomena in the six sense doors as fast as possible, and once you have mastered that, going on to note the three characteristics of these phenomena.  But by now noting should not mean a verbal label, or even a mental 'bip'.  You should now be able aim for the bare mental act of knowing - a fortieth of a second. Then you use your spacious awareness to have that bare mental act of knowing applied to dozens of things in a second.  It's like an jhanic absorption in the flux of reality, as it arises and passes away through your sense doors.

5. That style of noting should not only clear out the vipassana dissonance you are experiencing, it should also support development of nondual perception later. 

6. And I'm not sure path labels are useful at this point (they will be again later).  For some people, and you may be one, the progress around jhanic control, nana control, emptiness of space, emptiness of concepts, glimpses and so on gets really mucky. Things happen in different orders for different people.  So just accept what is, consolidate, improve, and don't cling to paths.  Actually, the seven factors of awakening contain all the advice you need right now!

I hope this helps.  With much metta and good wishes.

Malcolm


Malcolm, do you think this advice applies to me as well?

It sure is mucky, and I miss how the practice found its own momentum the period just before SE.
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curious, modified 1 Year ago.

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Linda - yes and no!  The practice is really straight out of MCTB and I think it is very useful for anyone with strong meditation who is in that mucky space. But Olivier and you have slightly different challenges, I think. As you get to the stage of doing more off the cushion, and making practice choices a bigger part of your life, you can get a sort of 'meta-hindrance' that is not about what happens on the cushion so much as how you relate your life to your pratice. Olivier seems to be suffering from the meta-hindrance of doubt (partly due to external causes).  For you, I sense the hindrance is different - agitation/restlessness, which is an excess of energy. There is a sweet spot in energy - a kind of flowing optimum. You know what that feels like on the cushion. I think you probably need to try to hit it off the cushion too. So to balance that out, you need to just let go, a lot. Just let go.  Does that sound scary? :-)
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

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No. I was about to write about how I think it has gone away, to ask whether it's a good thing or a bad thing. But I'm not sure we are talking about the same thing. I have found that the Kundalini ready-to-pop thing has vanished. I don't get bubbly from doing Kundalini exercises nowadays, and today the energy didn't get stuck in the head when I pushed it up there either. It's just a very mellow flow. 

I still have ADHD and Tourette, though. That seems to be pretty hardwired. There is some restlessness and agitation there that I'll probably need to deal with the rest of my life. It probably helps not to take it personally, but it will still be close at hand. On the other hand I'm also autistic and chronically in need of antidepressants and I often get exhausted. Thus there is a part of me that gets very amused when somebody thinks that I have excess energy. Did you know that before I started me regime with daily meditation and yoga several times a week, I kept a mattress on the kitchen floor to lie down on while cooking food? I had chronic fatigue. I couldn't even walk up a small staircase without losing my voice for several days. I had to develop a routine for packing my groceries so that I could prioritize which ones to put in the freezer and fridge, because there was no way I could deal with them all after going to the grocery store, because that had consumed all my energy. I used to have lots of dirty dishes around my bed (sometimes even in it) and stuff that should have been put in the garbage can, because all my energy was consumed. It just wasn't possible to take it away. I had to prioritize survival, that is resting lots and managing to get something to eat, and going to the bathroom and paying the bills. That has changed, but I still have disability aid twice a week, and I still rest a lot, because otherwise I collapse. So I wouldn't exactly phrase it as having an excess of energy. It's probably more of an imbalance of energy. The wiring of my brain conditions me to waste energy on the wrong stuff. That drains me, but it is also a not so healthy coping mechanism for dealing with already being drained: when there is no energy left, I can push myself to go on by getting agitated. And even with that "coping" mechanism, I haven't been able to go to work yet this week, because I haven't managed to get out of the bed until this evening, except for some errands and chores that I had to do. If that changes your advice to me, you are most welcome to comment in my practice log. I don't want to hijack Olivier's thread more than I have already done. Sorry Olivier! And much gratefulness to you, Malcolm!
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

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Posts: 733 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Don't feel sorry Linda, your hijacking is causing an interesting discussion between advanced practicioners here, and that's what i'm here for !!! I'm sorry to hear about your difficulties, and can imagine that my writing must be very annoying for you, with all the foolish young cow enthusiasm, and the complaining at, really, not very difficult problems. 

I'll post again later with reactions and such, to the more technical practice advice that's been mentionned - if I have time before the retreat.

But I just quickly want to mention one funny thing ... I looked up the ground, and something interesting happened when I saw this image : https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/97/Dzogchen_A.png 

I got goosebumps and a deep tremor in my body. I clicked on the picture, and experienced very strongly that feeling that one may get when things fall into place : solving a math problem you've been at for a long time ; finally understanding what that music composition you're working on is really about ; or when a poetic line comes up to you which is just... it, if you know what I mean. That, very intensily, and I started crying profusely. I then meditated gazing at that image for a while. During the shamatha/dzogchen retreat, I had some moments of great sensitivity to the fact that the morning sky was the color of a rainbow, and then to the fact that many things in that very meditation hall had the exact very vivid colors of rainbows, it touched me deeply. And then some time later, the radical opening of vision happened.

The diffused rainbow thing... With the hieratic, infinitely sharp whiteness of this sign, this seal, should i say, which expresses the highest possible ...

I'm LOVING the talks about the ground. It's exceedingly exciting to me, to be in the presence of people who know this in and out, can point directly at things from experience and talk about whole traditions which have found ways to express this in enlightening language, and methods for realizing... Finding this has been the main driver in my life since I was 11 or 12, something I was always looking for very itensly although I didn't realize it so clearly before, it has always been something I knew with great force was there but I didn't know what it was nor how to get it, and had no one around most of the time to relate with about this... Really, I can't tell you how profoundly exhilarating it feels, for me, to approach this ...
I'm like a horse smelling the stable here... It also resonates so much with what I'm reading these days, the great Michel Henry.. It's like an unshakeable intuition that i'm getting closer to the ultimate meaning my life could offer, and the great synthesis .. 

Hey, in fact what happened with the dzogchen image earlier, it's exactly what happened the first time I read the diamond sutra a little bit over two years ago - I cried out of sheer rightness and justness, "this is it. this is right."

Like a shooting star, a mirage, a flame,
An optical illusion, dewdrops, bubbles in water,
A dream, a lightning-flash, and a cloud:
Thus consider all composite things.


Sorry for pouring out but I imagine many people here understand and can relate, or share this magnetic pull towards light and sky and the sometimes magically ephemereal nature of things... And I think it's important for me to re-cognize the fact that this very pull is what drew me to meditating in the first place.

The rainbow thing, the rainbow thing, the rainbow thing...


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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

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That's a relief to hear. emoticon

Nah, I think I have done my share of the young cow enthusiasm. I know for a fact that my young cow enthusiasm has annoyed some. None of us are stereotypes. No need to be sorry. My life is fine as it is. I could tell thousands of different storylines about it. They would all be equally true, and equally untrue, and they would be very different from each other. For instance, I also have my dream job and am happily in love and have great friends and am currently writing a book. Two books, in fact. And there is a purring cat next to me and one by my feet as I'm writing this. And your enthusiasm makes me smile happily. 
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

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ps : Linda, that sorry was not pity. Of course, you contain multitudes.

With metta
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Stirling Campbell, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

Malcolm, do you think this advice applies to me as well?

It sure is mucky, and I miss how the practice found its own momentum the period just before SE.

I'm not Malcolm, obviously, but I hope you don't mind me chiming in or intruding. He has a lot of good suggestions there.

Just to share my own experience, after SE the "practice" and what that meant conceptually started to die away. It became obvious that previous meditation techniques, and ideas weren't what was going to work now. I got some help from fabulous board member Dream Walker on working with the Sense Gates, a suggeston to read "Untethered Soul" by Michael Singer (recommended) - I asked for Amitabha's help in dissolving the witness (success!), turned toward strange "tightnesses" on busy streets and mentally embraced them, found strange jhana states I never bothered identifying, and many other small things, but the suggestion to "let go" in any moment your body or mind are tight or grasping/clinging/defining is KEY.

Most of the work that ended up mattering on the way to 4th path, for me happened OFF the cushion, and in the letting go framework. While my primary practice is and always has been open awareness/Dzogchen/Zazen, this surrendering/accepting is what moved things, and in many traditions constitutes a path in and of itself.

My experience is that, at this point, it is your "self" that is in your way, and no particular technique will get you past that. When I read your posts I notice that you tend to heavily define yourself in a variety of ways... I'd see what it would be like to let go of that. What is it like to let go when you are getting dressed and you telling yourself a story about how what you wear will impress someone, suprise them, or frighten, or make them like you? What is like to let go of getting prepared for a meeting, or worrying about the outcome of a date, or just meeting someone on the street? What is like to look at everyday objects and have them be "empty" of your past stories, attachements, or aversion? Can you watch a body sensation go from just that, to like/dislike all the way to being a concept and then fitting into your illusory worldview? How familiar are you with it? Can you see just this moment, empty of things, beliefs, etc? How much of your day can be spent that way? Can you drive a car, or talk with a friend that way? Can let the mind settle into that view in a few moments, or just notice that it is that way already and always has been?

You may be doing some or all of this, which is great - just some ideas about where to go next, said in the spirit of sister/brother/otherhood. emoticon
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

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Thanks, I appreciate it. 

Believe me, you wouldn't want me to drive a car like that, or in any other way. I don't have a driver's license. emoticon

I have let go of lots of conventions and "musts" and "shoulds" and identity things over the last decades, for the purpose of survival, but sure, that can turn into an identity as well, and that must also be let go of.

I sure need to learn to let go more, but mainly in other ways than what you describe. I keep my clothes in large bags on the floor, based on category (what body parts they cover). Most of them are black so they are easy to match. I just grab some. I rarely have the energy to prepare for stuff, etc. I usually avoid dating, except when people practically fall into my lap (who am I to say no to free home delivery?), because I have enough people in my life as it is. So maybe I do define myself a lot, but apparently not in any way that gives people any idea of what my life really is like. The reason that I try to describe my conditioning and conditions in my posts is that I hope to get advice adapted to my conditioning and circumstances, but it seems to be pretty counterproductive. I get the picture, though, and can transform it into something that applies to my life. Many thanks! Hopefully this is helpful to Olivier as well. I'm really sorry for taking up the space here in this thread. 
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Stirling Campbell, modified 1 Year ago.

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Thanks, I appreciate it. 

Believe me, you wouldn't want me to drive a car like that, or in any other way. I don't have a driver's license. emoticon

emoticon

I sure need to learn to let go more, but mainly in other ways than what you describe.

The WAYS aren't important, these are merely examples or things to try. You already know what you are really holding on to, and don't need anyone's input, unless you have REALLY gotten stuck - and then the idea that you are stuck is often what you need to let go of. WHO is stuck, after all?

The reason that I try to describe my conditioning and conditions in my posts is that I hope to get advice adapted to my conditioning and circumstances, but it seems to be pretty counterproductive.

I agree that it is likely counterproductive. Ultimately there ARE no conditions. The sense doors aren't windows into reality, they are mirrors into mind. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

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Stirling Campbell:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Thanks, I appreciate it. 

Believe me, you wouldn't want me to drive a car like that, or in any other way. I don't have a driver's license. emoticon

emoticon

I sure need to learn to let go more, but mainly in other ways than what you describe.

The WAYS aren't important, these are merely examples or things to try. You already know what you are really holding on to, and don't need anyone's input, unless you have REALLY gotten stuck - and then the idea that you are stuck is often what you need to let go of. WHO is stuck, after all?

The reason that I try to describe my conditioning and conditions in my posts is that I hope to get advice adapted to my conditioning and circumstances, but it seems to be pretty counterproductive.

I agree that it is likely counterproductive. Ultimately there ARE no conditions. The sense doors aren't windows into reality, they are mirrors into mind. 
Good points, all of it.

I know people who are very frustrated about meditation instructions that are poorly adapted to how their minds function, and I get that. I was, in the beginning. Getting started can be very frustrating when teachings cater to specific ways of functioning because the barriers can be too large - or the opposite, aiming at learning something that one has known for decades whereas one would need to learn something else that is taken for granted by others instead. At this point in my practice, I can usually figure out on my own how to adapt methods to what applies to my mind, if necessary, and the details that bothered me about specific methods have shown themselves as empty anyway. I don't think I had fully realized that development. 

I did find out yesterday, though, that one teacher that I find unusually easy to understand is a fellow autistic. It's probably not so much about the methods themselves or the points conveyed about them, because now that I get them I recognize them in instructions from other teachers that I haven't understood quite as easily. It seems to be something about the way referential points are presented and how things are contextualized and emphasized, and how things are framed (knowing when the other party is joking or serious, and how things relate to each other, what is subordinate to what, and so forth). In order to facilitate interaction in my daily life, I have found that it often helps to metacommunicate more about how my mind works. I mean, my mind may not be "real" ultimately, depending on how one defines real, but as long as I'm alive it still sets limits to my part of the interaction with others. But if people read it as identity claims rather than as information about what kind of communication is needed, then it won't help, of course. 
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Stirling Campbell, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Opinions welcome

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

I know people who are very frustrated about meditation instructions that are poorly adapted to how their minds function, and I get that. 

Me too. Fortunately there are (supposedly) 84,000 dharma doors, and at least one of them should resonate? I wish it was easier for people to stumble upon the ones that work, though really, this is ALL Dharma if you look at it carefully - it is all set up to challenge your cherished beliefs and assumptions. It seems to take the right ripened moment and/or teaching to unlock them. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

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Stirling Campbell:

Ultimately there ARE no conditions. The sense doors aren't windows into reality, they are mirrors into mind. 


I know that. And sure, during cessations there are no conditions. In the relative reality, on the other hand, it would be naive and potentially dangerous to say that there are no conditions. We are all limited by our current physiology and neurology. It wouldn’t be wise to just stop taking our medicines, for instance, if our mammalian body needs them. Conditions and conditioning also continue to have impact on our communication with others. In order for communication to work, the interlocutors need to establish a critical amount of common ground, and that is highly dependent on conditioning. That applies to arahants as well as to others. If a meditation teacher and their student lack sufficient common ground, assessments and advice and/or the reception of them may be misguided and misguiding, and failing to recognize that would be unprofessional. On the other hand, if sufficient common ground is established, even a very brief pointer may lead to cessations, which was the case for Malcolm’s advice to me here as well as several times before (he is not my formal teacher but this just tends to happen). I have seen that kind of well-synched interaction happen between others here on this forum as well, with people who have sufficiently matching conditionings for establishing sufficient common ground. Thus, conditioning continues to matter, unless maybe if one withdraws from interaction entirely, but that would also be dependent on conditioning.
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Stirling Campbell, modified 1 Year ago.

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Stirling Campbell:

Ultimately there ARE no conditions. The sense doors aren't windows into reality, they are mirrors into mind. 

I know that. And sure, during cessations there are no conditions. 

Speaking only from my experience, there are no conditions in this moment either... or any moment that is experienced, which is always now. All dharmas are always already empty, and can be seen to be empty in any moment. This moment is always quietly Rigpa until you breathe your conceptualization into it. This is where bringing practice to every moment, not just the cushion, begins to pay off. 

In the relative reality, on the other hand, it would be naive and potentially dangerous to say that there are no conditions. We are all limited by our current physiology and neurology. It wouldn’t be wise to just stop taking our medicines, for instance, if our mammalian body needs them.

Complete "no-self" is seeing that this moment, as it is, just IS. There isn't anyone to take or decide not to take your medicines, at the same moment that there is what you think of as "you" holding the bottle and putting the pills in your hand. There is also no-one to blame if you suspect you forgot. Ultimately, the story you tell yourself about who you are, about what conditions from the past cover this moment, is just that, a drama that is just your thoughts about a "self" happening now.

If a meditation teacher and their student lack sufficient common ground, assessments and advice and/or the reception of them may be misguided and misguiding, and failing to recognize that would be unprofessional. On the other hand, if sufficient common ground is established, even a very brief pointer may lead to cessations, which was the case for Malcolm’s advice to me here as well as several times before (he is not my formal teacher but this just tends to happen). I have seen that kind of well-synched interaction happen between others here on this forum as well, with people who have sufficiently matching conditionings for establishing sufficient common ground.

In my opinion, learning happens or it doesn't happen, and it has nothing to do with conditions you create, or prefer. If you notice what irks you, or what you are attached to in an exchange with a teacher (or even more often a stranger since Dharma is coming at you 24/7) and investigate it, you have the opportunity to untie another knot of your karma. It can be more valuable than teaching in this respect. I don't believe that common ground is necessary, and a teaching, or teacher doesn't need to necessarily resonate with you to be effective... in fact, a good (and trusted) teacher will put pressure on your sore spots, and push you out of your comfort zone, when necessary. There is more teaching happening in this moment of world politics than you'll get out of your next dharma talk, probably. emoticon
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

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I hope you make sure that you have somebody's consent before you start teaching them.
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Stirling Campbell, modified 1 Year ago.

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I hope you make sure that you have somebody's consent before you start teaching them.

Oh yes... there is always a permission form involved, unless someone is eavesdropping on the other side of my fence, or reading my shopping list over my shoulder. emoticon
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

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Stirling: I know what you are saying. I can even feel it energetically in my body, the difference it makes to ponder the fact that every given moment is totally new. And it is. Samsara is created anew at any given moment. Karma is, too. And the storytelling about conditions tends to set limits to how the new moment manifests (and that is at the core, or non-core, of conditioning). That is an important realization.

Still, it is good that you have those consent forms, and I hope that before a student signs them, they are thoroughly informed about the conditions of your contract, including how you see your role - in a way and in a language that they are conditioned to understand. I also hope that they realize that if they have a medical condition, they need to stay on their medicines, and that if they have a psychiatric condition, they might need therapy and might need to move forward slowly with their meditation. Because if you keep poking at sore spots, there is always the risk that you might trigger a trauma that they have gone through in the relative world, and that they will be retraumatized. If you are new to meditation teaching, please be careful. You are probably already very aware of this, but I just felt that I owe it to the traumatized people I know to spell this out. Because even though there are no conditions, people are still conditioned, or conditioning, and not taking that into consideration might cause harm. And also, maybe you wouldn't be bothered if they were to sew your ass, but in case you would, I don't think a jury or a judge would respond well to your explaining that there is no legal system, no judge, no jury, and no-one to be harmed. 

Writing this makes me body contract in a painful way, because it solidifies inflammatory pains that are only spiritosomatic. So I very well understand your point. Yet, it needed to be said. Because I happen to know that precisely this point is a huge trauma trigger for many people who have been told throughout their life that their feelings and boundaries and difficulties are just something that they are imagining. 
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Stirling Campbell, modified 1 Year ago.

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Stirling: I know what you are saying. I can even feel it energetically in my body, the difference it makes to ponder the fact that every given moment is totally new. And it is. Samsara is created anew at any given moment. Karma is, too. And the storytelling about conditions tends to set limits to how the new moment manifests (and that is at the core, or non-core, of conditioning). That is an important realization.

When you start to look at what dependent origination means - how all-encompassing and transformative it is - self and other dissolve as anything other than belieffs. Time, space, separateness, agency, anything the subject/object relationship makes you feel is real is understood in a new and deepened way. This moment is the only moment. Samsara is our beliefs, our attachments and aversions - the creation of the delusion and suffering. 

“Strictly speaking there are no enlightened beings; there is only enlightened activity.” If you think you are enlightened, that is not it. The goal is to let go of being anyone special and meet each moment with beginner’s mind". - Suzuki

Still, it is good that you have those consent forms, and I hope that before a student signs them, they are thoroughly informed about the conditions of your contract, including how you see your role - in a way and in a language that they are conditioned to understand. 

There are no forms, I was being sarcastic honestly. Anyone I speak to personally about dharma I have a personal relationship with first. Sore spots are where we are caught. If there is hoping to see beyond the self, working to get as much of it out of the way as possible is an worthy pursuit IMHO, and one that I try to assist with if there is interest. A significant life trauma that I finally let go of coincided with a massive shift for me, so I have some conviction. I am aware that this can be a difficult journey, and carry a short-list of local Buddhist-friendly psychiatrists for this reason. I don't see working with psychiatry as my role. 

I don't think a jury or a judge would respond well to your explaining that there is no legal system, no judge, no jury, and no-one to be harmed. 

Makes me think of Meister Eckhardt. emoticon Worth reading about.


Writing this makes me body contract in a painful way, because it solidifies inflammatory pains that are only spiritosomatic


That's how you know where the gold is. This is obviously worth deep investigation.

Because I happen to know that precisely this point is a huge trauma trigger for many people who have been told throughout their life that their feelings and boundaries and difficulties are just something that they are imagining.

It absolutely is a huge trigger. It was a trigger for ME. Letting go of what we are attached to - what we think defines us, and what we use to define ourselves, or create our "character" - is paramount. I may have recommended this recently (as it seems to have become valuable to recommend in a number of venues lately) but I will again - the book "Untethered Soul" by Michael Singer is, IMHO, a primary resource for working with this issue. Highly recommended.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts Linda/Polly.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

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Well, thankyou for sharing your conviction, as you phrased it. You seem very enthusiastic about it. I'm glad it worked for you. 
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

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Hello everybody,

I've been putting off writing here for a while, because I felt much less of a need to do so, but for the sake of perhaps being useful to someone, I'm gonna pick up where I left off. Four months already, hey...

Still praticing, 1h+ a day in general, I guess a lot has happened since the last time, which was right before my mahamudra retreat in february, so... Let's start there, and let's do this bit by bit, I guess i'll make a few posts. I'll try to keep it short but as you know I'm a prolix mofo.

Mahamudra retreat.

The above discussion with Stirling (and following unfortunate clash with Linda the tigress emoticon) was very good, it made some very obvious conceit and clinging come out.  I had to recognize to myself that I had developed a sense of attachment to meditative experience, a conceit, a pride, a sense of being a strong meditator, and had to open to that and grieve a bit at the beginning of retreat, which was what needed to happen. Felt good, more connected. I see this as the official end of the somewhat dark/confused period I had been describing, and the return, in my sits during that retreat, of a level of spaciousness and fadedness and unification and subtelty which I hadn't experienced since the period when I first started this journal last year. 

This sentence of Stirling particularly struck me, as I read it while already at the retreat :
Ultimately there ARE no conditions. The sense doors aren't windows into reality, they are mirrors into mind. 
It was a very good moment for me to hear that. Coupled with the grieving of self-image, it produced, the first night, a very interesting opening as I was walking back home (the retreat center was full and I had to stay about a km away, very cool to walk under the stars for a while after a day's meditation) - well basically the sense that "hey, this vision thing is my mind." I remember noticing later, in bed, a sort of warm collectedness and light in my head/forehead, a sense of something cleared up. 

Hmm, ok, that is a start, now I'm gonna have to do the rest, so that's it for now ! emoticon 

I'm kind of " lost in time " these days, chilled out, unphased... And procrastinating ! !! Sh*t !

Good night.
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

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Hello,

Just wanted to share some of that soothing spiritual music with you all : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFA0FYQo0Gg

Because sometimes
"Just as apes spend their time throwing things and picking them up unceasingly, so it is with you and your learning" 

Huang Po
Cheers !

Olivier
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

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Hi, 

Here is part of an email exchange I've had with An Eternal Now these last few days. He has been kind enough to reply with lots of links and info. To sum up : he's telling me that the actual insight/realization of anatta has not arisen (that's obvious), and that this is what needs to happen. lol. I really liked his later comment that after realization of anatta, "one is headless" emoticon I find that very funny.

AEN "Also, out of curiosity, did you experience the dissolution of all sense of self/Self/perceiver in this experience? Or was there still a subtle sense of self, or you don’t know? " [Oli : he is talking about the big opening I expereinced last august, described on page four of this log. AEN has included this description in his guide under the headline "intensity of luminosity"]

Olivier : In this experience, there was a degree of dissolution of the sense of perceiver, yes, but not full, I think. It was last august, so I don't remember perfectly. The part where I describe like I'm "falling into vision" was in fact like dissolving into vision, like I was disappearing into vision, or rather, that I was disappearing and that only vision was left ; but this triggered a reaction from me, and I "stopped" it from dissolving entirely. I distinctly remember that. It was like vision was extremely predominant but I could still feel my body faintly and the heart was beating hard. So, there was still a sense of self, although it was very diminished. 
After this experience, which occurred during a 10 day dzogchen retreat, I went on to do 4 weeks of intensive mahasi noting 12h a day at Panditarama Lumbini in Nepal. I had planned the retreat a long time before, so I still went, but in fact, after the experience I described to you, I felt like it was a bad idea to do mahasi noting... But I did. There, I went through another "cycle of insight". Awareness opened up : many objects could now be experienced at the same time at the center of attention. Like being aware of all the branches of the tree at the same time, or like being able to perceive all the trees in the forest at the same time.I'm not sure it was a good idea to do intensive noting after what seemed like a real opening, but hey, that's how you learn... And it did lead to progress.  Afterwards, for a few months, things were very confusing, meditation was confusing. At the end of this retreat, I had trouble making sense of the very notion of concentration. It just stopped making sense : how can I be focused on something, if there are no-things ???? 
For months my practice was very conflicted, because I did all these hundreds of hours of strict mahasi noting, when I was far beyond the point where I needed to do that, yet the teachers there did not realize I wasn't a beginner... And there was this inner conflict as to what meditation even was. This resolved after this winter.
I also had interesting openings during a 3day mahamudra style retreat in february, where I realized I had developed some attachment to these experiences I describe to you, some sense of pride around them.

“Since then, I've had lots of moments of "non duality", I would say, moments of feeling "transparent" and somehow a very subtle and deep sense of freedom and space in experience." [Let me add the qualifier that this can be accessed upon contemplation in every day life, within a range of "depth", but that it is far from being my constant experience]
 
AEN :How is your nondual experience like?

O : So, they are glimpses. I don't know if it's fully non-dual, or if is to some degree of non-dual, or what. Sometimes after "looking for myself" (ie, doing self inquiry, or the practice I described to you of experiencing the gap between "here and there") something opens up, or "unties", and it feels like "I'm not there" the way I usually am ; as if indeed there was no sense of "someone" solid being behind sight, no "body" behind the eyes (this can be triggered by looking at the periphery of vision and looking at eyebrows and seeing them as "just sight"), a "transparency" of experience, I don't know how to describe it better, with a feeling of joy and very subtle but deep freedom, not spectacular but the feeling of "this is it". Or, sometimes, it is like everything is seen to happen "in the same place", like sense doors are neither separate nor the same, overlapping but not, and are not locatable in relation to each other. This goes with a kind of "magic" and insubstnantiality. This is what I mean by transparency : things are nowhere to be found and yet do appear ; sense modalities are different but co-exist in an incomprehensible and paradoxical co-existence... And in there, I can't find myself. I've had moments particularly these last few months where it does seem like in the seeing there is just the seen ; like appearances are just appearances, that I'm nowhere in it. And this goes with freedom/bliss, again. 

I've done lots of very very precise investigation in mctb vipassana style, without labels necesarily, but examining the details of experience in great depth and intensity. One thing that was very interesting for me these past weeks/months was seeing the working of attention, and how "objects" are constructed. Like, playing with paying attention to one object, and just seeing very clearly how this is actually created and seeing how the sense of "space" "out there" is a mental fabrication, that the sense of the movement of attention, the sense that there is something which moves from here to there and "selects" some truly existent "object" within experience and brings it to the forefront, is actually not what it seems, but a mostly mental construction, that this very sense of movement is mental, that there are mental processes involved, and that all these are happening nowhere other than where thoughts are happening...

All this is not like an "on/off" thing, but come progressively and go progressively. It seems to vary in intensity/completeness, too. The default is still that I'm here behind my eyes and looking at objects out there. 

ps : seeing, or perceiving that "my head" and "what I'm seeing" are not happening in different places sometimes occurs, but I have a feeling that this could be "realized" whereas now, as you say, it is just experiences which come and go.

AEN : Yes you are having some very good experiences. Keep going and contemplate to arise the insight and you will make it to MCTB 4th path after not very long.

Regarding sense of head and body, after anatta one is headless. And eventually bodiless (no sense of solid shape and boundary and construct of body) called mind body drop... deconstruct the Mind and body. But not a dissociative state, one can still and should be fully somatic
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

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To add to this update :

I've also had some fruitful contact with Shargrol (of course). I've been issued the warning about this part of the path - "it can get existential" emoticon

Anyways, Shargrol has advised me some extremely simple practices : asking questions such as "where is resistance ?" "Am I experiencing the natural state ? If not, what could happen so that I would ? How can I bring this there, here ?"

It has been very interesting, although I don't have much to add from the descriptions in the previous post.

Also been suggested to pay attention, basically, to subtle pride, ie, sense of superiority/inferiority, and the dichotomy here/there. I do do (emoticon) that, and it's proving interesting in daily life. In fact, I'm very itnerested to see how meditation can be brought to daily life these days. I'm finding that there are interesting fruits. For instance, it seems that conflictual stuff that may arise, becomes automatically a source of insight, nowadays. Kind of like what started to happen at the end of my retreat in lumbini : psychological knots appear, and they attract interest, and that untangles them and brings understanding and liberation. It's pretty cool. I feel like most of the suffering in my life comes from/happens in imagination. Things always go well. It's only when you project that suffering happens - litterally. Like, situations are fine, but beforehand I might get nervous out of fear that it won't be fine. It always is fine, though.

One thing I could mention, because it has been unusual, is that for a period of a few weeks, following the conversation with Shargrol (actually, I think it might have started before that), I've had a series of dreams around "awakening", and a lot of things happening during my sleep. This is unusual for me, I'd never had dreams about meditation before, and I'm usually and extremely sound sleeper, don't pay much attention to dreams in general nor do I recall them very well.

The first dream : I was meditating, and I managed to figure out how to dissolve the sense of self completely. It was crazy. I could "do" this thing, a certain way of watching and of "projecting" myself out there, which lead to an experience without a sense of self, where only "sight" was experienced. I could trigger it on command, and come back to normal afterwards. Surprisingly, this was not actually a nice thing. I new it was "it", but it wasn't pleasant. I think I woke up many times that night and had trains of thoughts where it seemed to me like I had understood the thing, then would fall back to sleep, repeat. In the morning, I had forgotten these understandings.

Strangely this happened several times over the next few weeks. I would have agitated sleep, wake up, feel like I was understanding everything, fall back to sleep, etc. It was rather unpleasant than pleasant.

One time, I had a dream in which I was dreaming that I was meditating, and the same thing happened, I think, but in a more "nested" meta way.

Anyways, this has stopped - the last time I had agitated sleep was two week ends ago, I would wake up very stressed and feeling like I had overslept, like 10 times, and then I woke up feeling extremely refreshed and lighthearted, and the "problem" has not reoccured. After that, it also seemed like some kind of youthful energy started going on in ym life again, a desire to just have fun and not be serious. Well, it's also summer that's starting, hehe.

No idea if this is of any significance, but it was certainly interesting.

Well, that's it for today folks.

Cheers and metta emoticon
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Steph S, modified 1 Year ago.

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This is good stuff. Keep it coming. I took a few weeks break from meditating and started up again recently and find it hard to articulate what practice is like. I haven't posted about practice because it's hard to talk about. Yours is an interesting guide. My experience isn't as refined as this and there's still duality happening, but a couple things you mention stand out as interesting and stuff I can relate with right now.

Things I also keep asking.... "what even is meditation anymore?" It's like sitting with my eyes closed, versus not. Slightly more attenuated, but also knowing that daily life doesn't seem all that different from meditation.

Also the transparency of experience. I keep thinking about how all sensations seem like ghosts. It's obvious they're there and happening, but feel very insubstantial, without a core essence, without the same sense of weight they used to have. Like they're all just apparitions. 
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

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Steph S:
This is good stuff. Keep it coming. I took a few weeks break from meditating and started up again recently and find it hard to articulate what practice is like. I haven't posted about practice because it's hard to talk about. Yours is an interesting guide. My experience isn't as refined as this and there's still duality happening, but a couple things you mention stand out as interesting and stuff I can relate with right now.

(Hey Steph ! Nice to hear from you !

Again I want to stress that it's definitely not like I abide constantly in non-duality at all, you know.) 

Maybe i should tell you that when I read your report of these three days of non dual which led you to take this break, I felt it sounded very similar in some ways to the experience I keep refering back to, in this new update for instance...

Things I also keep asking.... "what even is meditation anymore?" It's like sitting with my eyes closed, versus not. Slightly more attenuated, but also knowing that daily life doesn't seem all that different from meditation.

...hence perhaps, this is akin to what happened to me this winter... It does sound like it. I remember telling Sayadaw Vivekananda that it just seemed like I was just sitting there, things where happening, and I might just look at the flowers in the garden to the same effect, it would be the same thing. Pretty confusing. But I kept sitting though. I definitely had a pretty long period where i just didn't understand what the hell was what the hell. This question "if there are no things, what does it even mean to be concentrated ? to pay attention ?" Like, direct experience that, no, it's not me and/or my so-called cognition that are making things be experienced. But then, what the hell could meditation even be ?

Also the transparency of experience. I keep thinking about how all sensations seem like ghosts. It's obvious they're there and happening, but feel very insubstantial, without a core essence, without the same sense of weight they used to have. Like they're all just apparitions. 

Yes, I can realte to that quite a bit. The more I "rest" in that, the more "insubstantial" and magical things appear, particularly people. It's really beautiful. 
The funniest thing to contemplate for me, is to take an object of attention, and discern how it's made up of different sense modalities, and then to ask "where are these different aspects located in relation with one another ? Where are they in relation with my head ?" It's just so weird emoticon

I like the bit about the sense of weight : emptying out objects from the weight of substantive existence...

It's like ... this weight is at the back of the mind, so to say... not over there but right here... 
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

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I have a question.

Isn't it dualistic to talk of agencylessness ? It doesn't make sense to me. It seems to contradict the ontological middle way.

Arahats, anagamis,  would you be so, kind as to describe how you would perceive, like, a car passing by ? Could you describe it precisely, please emoticon ?

Does the inside/outside perception exist but is seen to be just one aspect of experience/perception ?

Any further elaborations would be greatly appreciated.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

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... describe how you would perceive, like, a car passing by?

A car passes by:

See the car
Hear the noise of tires on the street
Hear the engine noise


You're going to have an urge to think experience must be different post-awakening. It's not. If anything, it's as mundane as anything could ever be. But... that's the point!


Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

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Chris ! Hi !

Now that I've dragged you here...

What about the sense of there being a truly exisant entity moving through in space over there in front of me here ? What about the perception of like... weight, I was refering to earlier, this ontic weight of substantial existance which seems to get projected into sight most of the time... but sometimes doesn't.

I definitely have that urge to think awakening makes a big difference ! After all, experience is different for me now than it was a year ago. Quite different.

You are saying that being awake is not different from not being awake, in short ?

Most people say that the difference is, to quote an infamous crazy singaporian sage, "quantum, bro".

How does this line up with what, for instance, AEN says above, that "one is headless after anatta insight (again, lol), then eventually bodiless". That the world that opens up only deepens the experience of luminosity and insubstantiality which was glimpsed at before and started suffusing experience ? (this is coherent with my experiences so far).

Or what Daniel says about flipping the switch to utter (or, to use the exact term, "true") agencylessness which is supposed to be both "vastly better" as well as "an acquired taste" ?

Or what Stirling was describing earlier in this thread ?

What does it mean for you to say "in seeing only the seen" ? 

For me, in seeing, there does not seem to only be the seen.

Thanks for your time emoticon
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

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I will try to describe this:

The mind has unlimited, infinite capability. It can and does perceive what comes its way, and it then attempts to interpret those things. What changed for me is the innate, deeply felt, and habitual interpretation of things (objects) as being separate from "my" existence. You can call this the "inside/outside" duality. Things are only experienced because of mind. This realization changed my habitual interpretation of what's going on all the time, but not the mechanism. I can see the mechanism of perception doing what it does all the time, and I can choose to pay attention to that process, know what it is and how it works. I'm not fooled by it. I don't have to believe it.

Hope this helps, but these changes are not always easy to put into words.
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

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Thanks.

Isn't that a pretty big change to your experience though ?

What do you mean when you say "objects" that come in the way of the mind ? It sounds like saying there are pre existing things which "the mind" interprets ? There is mind ? Mind and things are not the same ? There is someone who believes things about things ?

What does it mean, to you, when you say perception is a mechanism ?

What do you think about the non-dual perspective of the mahayana, that reality is non-arising and not subject to cessation, etc. ? Is that just a perspective one may engage in or withdraw from ?

That is not how I've come to view the notion of realization, but you seem to be challenging this, and that is so very interesting for me.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

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Olivier, language in inherently dualistic, so I can't talk about this stuff without sounding like I'm inferring a dualism when I say "thing" or "object" or "mind.". There's no way around using those words that I'm aware of.
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

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Olivier:
Isn't it dualistic to talk of agencylessness ? It doesn't make sense to me. 

Don't know if this is helpful, but...

A _state_ of agencylessness is dualistic. (What recognizes and observes agencylessness? What is aware of the state?)

The bone deep insight and lived experience that we don't have control over what we experience... is different than a state.

Now that said, the insight is worthwhile because there are state-like associations with this insight, for example:

* A lot less pretension. We know that defensively physically and mentally tensing up doens't offer protection. Really the best protection we have is simply sensitivity to this moment. It's nice when the visceral tension drops away, but it is still there when needed.

* More present oriented, less future oriented. A lot of what people do is think about "creating a future self that will protect/reward me". The compulsive self survival mechanism is future oriented and is relentlessly exhausting. It's nice when it mostly drops away, but it is still there when needed.  

But I really don't think there is a way to have the lack of pretension and present-orientedness unless we clearly have the insight. The body can't drop it's fear and the mind can't drop it's paranoia. We HAVE to practice to see the utter ghost like nature of all experiences, thoughts, and meditation practices.

There was never an experience that came with a label. 
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

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shargrol:
Olivier:
Isn't it dualistic to talk of agencylessness ? It doesn't make sense to me. 

Don't know if this is helpful, but...

A _state_ of agencylessness is dualistic. (What recognizes and observes agencylessness? What is aware of the state?)

The bone deep insight and lived experience that we don't have control over what we experience... is different than a state.

That is a fine point and helps. However it does still sound very much like there is a before and an after, and that something is quite different after, in the experience, (as the dalai lama would ungrammatically add : ) "isn't it ?"

I imagine this is a conversation you guys have had too many times... Yet it feels good to have it. There are so many questions I want to ask, but I feel like the answer will ultimately be : "get there and you will have all the answers you need."

And that would imply a location to arrive at. 

For instance, shargrol you wrote : "
We HAVE to practice to see the utter ghost like nature of all experiences, thoughts, and meditation practices". That brings me back to my question about the car I was asking earlier. It doesn't seem to me that perceiving everything as a "magical illusion, an echo, thunder", as the vimalakirti sutra (the sutra of inconceivable freedom) and all those mahayana suttas state, or as ghostly in nature, is very mundane. 

In fact, it sounds like the opposite of mundane. Because the world, mundus, is made of entities, things. Doesn't it ?

This makes me think of this chapter title from The cloude of unknowing : "For nowhere bodily is everywhere ghostly".

edit : oh. Unknowing ?
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

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From my practice log just after "it" happened to me. This might help you, Olivier. It probably won't but I'll throw it out here anyway as some descriptions that come from someone much closer to it:

Okay, back in the saddle…. I ended my last thread very abruptly. Here’s why: I spent nine days on the road in late April and early May. This was business travel full of running around producing stuff and meeting people and managing things. At the end of those nine days I was bone tired. So I got on a plane at Dulles in Washington DC and flew home. This was Thursday May 6th. Window seat. I really like window seats because I like the sensation of flying and I like the view, which heightens that sensation. I was decompressing. I was listening to music. I looked out the window and saw some clouds floating by below me, and then …… **click ** Before that click I was what I have been all my life and throughout my practice: – out of sync with my experience – wondering what magical thing I could find to help me see what was really going on – driven by a process that seemed energetic, biological, inexorable, a dharma conveyor belt After that click I was: – in sync with experience, all of it. I mean ALL of it. – not wondering or seeking, knowing beyond any doubt that what I had been looking for all these years was right in front of me and always had been – off the energetic, biological conveyor belt What struck me then (and now) is that I had suddenly, somehow, managed to get out of my own way, phenomenologically speaking. No more need to seek, no need to see anything but what is right here, right now. The import was thus — awareness became a part of perception. All the time, always on, real time, any time perception. Perception is wrapped in awareness, so to speak. This was not an event. I don’t know what happened. I don’t recall a fruition. I know those and how they feel, event the little ones. This was…. not that. But it did and still has immense consequences. TBC….

Some pieces of a what I e-mailed to Kenneth a day later:

The tipping point, if there really is any one thing I can point to that seems to have caused “this” whatever-it-is, is the notion that the seeking is hiding the sought. That, weirdly, is everything in a nutshell. This is a cosmic joke. When this happened, I laughed out loud. I’m still laughing out loud when I think of this. It’s just funny. I seem to have taken a walk, aiming for the nearest corner but ended up going all the way around the city just to travel a few feet. The seeking, the urge and the act, are done. There is nothing to go out and find because it’s all right here, right in front of me. It always has been. Recognizing this and the utter simplicity of it clicked in my head as if a switch had been thrown. A void exists where the seeking was. The conveyor belt that has driven me to seek, to believe there was something I could or would find, has been turned off.

So… now what? There is a leveled experiential playing field. There is a deeply felt removal of an innate, heretofore unexamined hierarchy of experiential existence. All things, all processes, all experiences, are absolute equals. There are no experiences or processes that are in control, bigger, better, or somehow more import, than other processes and experiences. I see, more clearly than ever, that “I” am a collection of little things that only seem to add up to a bigger thing. These little things are always scurrying around and they each have their own problems, concerns, delights and interests. Taken as a whole they appear to the world as “Chris.” Do not be fooled! I’ve been staying awake at night a lot, right after I go to bed. Not upset. Not worrying. Just in awe of “this.” Whatever has occurred has opened a universe to me. It’s huge. HUGE. It echoes with curiosity and wonder. And it brings energy.

That’s it. I’ll keep updating as time goes by.
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

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Thanks Chris.

Have you ever felt the seeking come back during these years since that event/non-event happened ?

I've had such a powerful seeking drive since I was about 12. I wonder what it would be like to not have it, and how much of this intense curiosity and quest for meaning that's driving most of my life would drop off. Perhaps it would increase Oo That actually sounds more likely to me, but anyways.
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

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Olivier:
Thanks Chris.

Have you ever felt the seeking come back during these years since that event/non-event happened ?

I've had such a powerful seeking drive since I was about 12. I wonder what it would be like to not have it, and how much of this intense curiosity and quest for meaning that's driving most of my life would drop off. Perhaps it would increase Oo That actually sounds more likely to me, but anyways.

It's really worth pondering what it would be like to be DONE. Imagine that. How would your life change?
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Steph S, modified 1 Year ago.

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shargrol:
Olivier:
Thanks Chris.

Have you ever felt the seeking come back during these years since that event/non-event happened ?

I've had such a powerful seeking drive since I was about 12. I wonder what it would be like to not have it, and how much of this intense curiosity and quest for meaning that's driving most of my life would drop off. Perhaps it would increase Oo That actually sounds more likely to me, but anyways.

It's really worth pondering what it would be like to be DONE. Imagine that. How would your life change?

This is something I've been thinking about and wanted to jump in. "Done" is another one of those future state imagination based concepts. For me, when I ponder what it's like to be done, it's always some idea - a series of thoughts, mental images, some feelings. It fees like simply more out-of-sync'ness. It's like the thought, then the lungy feeling of trying to move towards something that doesn't exist. It's entirely conceptual. I can't predict how my life would change if I was done anymore than I can predict any milisecond of life that hasn't happened or doesn't exist. Life changes all the time, so what is this idea of being done at this point other than some idealized fantasy? Life would just keep changing, just as it does now, I suppose.
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

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Steph S:


This is something I&#039;ve been thinking about and wanted to jump in. &#034;Done&#034; is another one of those future state imagination based concepts. For me, when I ponder what it&#039;s like to be done, it&#039;s always some idea - a series of thoughts, mental images, some feelings. It fees like simply more out-of-sync&#039;ness. It&#039;s like the thought, then the lungy feeling of trying to move towards something that doesn&#039;t exist. It&#039;s entirely conceptual. I can&#039;t predict how my life would change if I was done anymore than I can predict any milisecond of life that hasn&#039;t happened or doesn&#039;t exist. Life changes all the time, so what is this idea of being done at this point other than some idealized fantasy? Life would just keep changing, just as it does now, I suppose.

It's interesting isn't it?

So what is still being overlooked? The saying is:

Too close - you can't recognize it.
Too profound - you can't appreciate it.
Too simple - you can't believe it.
Too good - you can't accept it.


Some additional good stuff:
https://unfetteredmind.org/pointers-doors-and-openings/
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Steph S, modified 1 Year ago.

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What is being overlooked? What a great question. Upthread there was talk about the existential questions. Maybe that then.

When I think about what being done means on a more existential level, it relates to the seeking mentality of what I even want out of being done. What does being done represent? For me, it's a sense of stability, safety, closure. It seems like some final milestone to cross over that's made out to be a really huge deal in my mind. Like if I'm done, I'll really have cracked the thing and found a sense of stability for whatever life throws at me. I will feel safe and settled. Said another way, and this is important, is that all of these ways of looking at it are basically synonymous with me seeking a sense of permanence and solidity.. and thinking being done will result in that. The giant joke there obviously being that nothing is permanent, except realizations, apparently. 

So what to do with this and how to channel this skillfully? The interesting thing is you can ask me on any given day why I want 4th path or whatever, and it could change based on my mood. This is my answer to that question right now. Other days I could say it's because it just sounds really, really incredibly cool based on all the descriptions I read. Sometimes I might say, if there's a way to end suffering, why wouldn't I go for that? Other days I might say that it will somehow prove that I'm awesome and special enough to have got it done - i.e. I'm worthy and good enough. All these other people who have got it done aren't any more special or unique than me, so it's all good. And underlying all of this, is the fact that these are all varying beliefs and views about myself that shift and change based on all kinds of things. I don't hold all of these views about myself all of the time. Part of identity view is that there is some underlying assumption that your core beliefs about yourself seem like they are a constant running thread throughout your life, and those beliefs about yourself are permanent and always there and make you who you are. But it's not true. I know that my beliefs about who I am change all the time. And yet, they still have an effect.

So what to do with that as well? Am I asking the right questions here or looking in the right places? Another thing I would love to ask shargrol, Chris, and anyone else who has got it done is... what are the questions that hardly anybody ever asks you about all this stuff that you wish they would ask, because they're actually really important questions? And to follow up, what is the answer to those questions that people don't really ask you?
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

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I want to suggest that what is overlooked and what we want from 4th doesn't really change that much. That's what makes it so easy to overlook.

That's what makes it a core wound and what makes it too close, too profound, too simple, too good.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

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"Can you help do this last thing? Can someone tell me the one thing to do, to ask?"

Answer: No. That very question is aimed in the wrong direction. This process is at the most subtle and fundamental aspect of your existence. No one but you knows this territory. No one else can articulate your unique question, can know your foibles.

It's natural to seek help, to grasp at what might be the lifesaver of your spiritual quest, though. I did it. I was a real pain in the ass for a while.
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

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Chris Marti:
"Can you help do this last thing? Can someone tell me the one thing to do, to ask?"

Answer: No. That very question is aimed in the wrong direction. This process is at the most subtle and fundamental aspect of your existence. No one but you knows this territory. No one else can articulate your unique question, can know your foibles.

It's natural to seek help, to grasp at what might be the lifesaver of your spiritual quest, though. I did it. I was a real pain in the ass for a while.

+1
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Steph S, modified 1 Year ago.

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So then it is an existential question of what seems like the very core / struggle of myself that I seemingly don't want to look at thoroughly enough or can't see clearly. 

I probably am being a pain the ass. I know you guys can't answer my own existential questions for me, but I still asked. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

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Chris was a pain in the ass first, then I was, now you are. It's a beautiful thing. emoticon
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

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For Steph: for what it's worth, getting closer to this sense of subtle dukka/subtle knot is a good goal to have to the extent that you are practicing.

Usually there are three practices that help zoom in on it: 6 Realms, 5 Elements, and "Investigation of ill will".

The first two are somewhat complex, but surprizingly effective, and can be found in Ken McLeod's "Wake Up To Your LIfe".

The third is simple and direct: search for the slightest experience of lack, unease, confusion, or ill will within your experience, include that experience in your awareness, and rest in the totality of your experience including (but not entirely focused on) the sense of lack, unease, confusion, or ill will. It's important not to focus on it, because that keeps the self-other kind of attitude toward it. Simply include it as part of the totality of experience.

Anyway, worth what you paid for it! 
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Steph S, modified 1 Year ago.

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Thank you!!

I'm going to look at these practices... Ken has a bunch of audio on his site for each of the 5 elements, but will also look into the book. Will post more in my own practice thread so I don't take over Olivier's practice thread. 
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

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Don't sweat it steph, the last time someone hijacked my thread, the discussion that ensued helped me a lot - your interaction here with the other ex-pains in the ass was very welcome, but this time, there wasn't even any fighting involved ! emoticon Great stuff.

And in fact, I like to think I am also part of that select club, and look forward to becoming a future ex-pain in the ass emoticon

--

I'm just reading the mctb2 section on "the three kayas" and this part which had escaped my attention is now making a lot of sense :

... sambhogakaya - the full range of phenomenal reality and even the full range of the emotional life can be deeply appreciated for what it is. They see that the world of concepts, language, symbols, visions, magickal experiences, thoughts, and dreams is fundamentally the same as the world of materiality, that they both share the same essential nature from an experiential point of view. The first line of the Gospel of John, “In the beginning there was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God,” is a nice way to put it. For those who find this phrase too cryptic, I paraphrase it as: “From the beginning, concepts, words, dreams, visions, and the realm of thought have always been an aspect of ultimate reality.”

This is cool because it seems to correspond to a seemingly minor insight which has slowly been dawning up on me. Kind of hard to pinpoint exactly but it has to do with symbols and meaning. 

Hmm. I used to have this intuition that "pure" experience, like, a "pure" experience of sight consciousness, would be utterly meaningless. Because it would be pure phenomenality, pure fluxing phenomenological matter, totally pre-categorial, pure "hylè", as the phenomenologists would say. This seemed to me like i would represent the natural and ultimate deepening of some experiences i've had many times. That it would be "ultimate" in some way, truer than my normal perception of the world, something to cross over too, a process of seeing "beyond concepts" and "labels" and "names" on a perceptual/experiential level. I've been very naturally and pretty intensly inclined towards for years.

(((((((Sorry about the intellectuality here, skip it. This bit is just for me, just to articulate something - this in my mind is the difference outlined by Husserl in his Lessons for a phenomenology of intimate time consciousness, where he discerns between intentional consciousness, which is where time is fabricated, and impressional consciousness, which is "the pure flux of absolute consciousness", and actually not temporal. Or said another way : it is form VS matter, morphè VS hylè. Actually, Michel Henry drew on this distinction and put it at the base of his thinking : he discernes two "modes of phenomenalization" : (1) the world ; (2) life. (1) is intentionnality, time, objects, attention, (nirmanakaya?). (2) is non-duality, intimacy, absolute non-separation, and in a way, non-manifest, "pre-world", (dharmakaya ?).))))))))))))))))

I also had the notion that this absolute meaninglessness was "emptiness" and that it was strictly equivalent to absolute meaningfulness (right ?), and that somehow this was one extreme of experience - dharmakaya ; and that led me to think that there is this process of gradual conceptualizing, or fabrication, which I identified as dependent origination, which goes from this absolute immanence up to the world of everyday perception of objects, with everything in between ; and I took this to be what the three kayas were about.

But after reflecting many many times upon such experiences, I have to say that even though things manifested very differently, I can't actually say they were not meaningful, that they were "unfamiliar" and "uncategorized". I thought they were, or almost. Yes, they were intensly luminous, not separate one from the other, insubstantially fluxing shiny phenomenality without boundaries or depth - but things were discerned and things were recognized. Transfigured, but recognizable.

I just assumed that this could be deepened to a limit, and that, in other words, there was a way to go utterly non conceptual. 

The presupposition there being that conceptuality was like a mental overlay on experience. That signs were a fabrication of the mind and could be seen as such, and that non semiotic perception was somehow truer.

But in fact, I realized that that is not the case. That what appears is always already inherently meaningful and that there is no reason that it shouldn't be so, or could be otherwise.

I have no idea if this makes any sense to anyone else. But for me, though it hasn't been a huge insight or anything, it's just added a sense of familiarity and closeness with the world. Nice emoticon It feels like it's begging to deepen. For some reason, it seems strangely significant, although it's just a thought that popped into my head while going to do so recycling the other day :p

I don't know... it makes me think of that famous heart sutra punchline.

Interesting to see it described as sambhogakaya, although I'm sure this is Daniel's personal take on that.

And so, to conclude à la Daniel : Thoughts ?

[Hell. While rereading this post, I am having a small epiphany. It's becoming apparent to me, that this might actually be what I have always been looking for, to connect this with Shargrol's earlier question ("think about what it would be like to be done"). A few moments of tearing up, for instance, reading the quote from the bible. Is there no "beyond" signs ? I read it again - “In the beginning there was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God,” and again, I get shivers.]
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Steph S, modified 1 Year ago.

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Olivier:

... sambhogakaya - the full range of phenomenal reality and even the full range of the emotional life can be deeply appreciated for what it is. They see that the world of concepts, language, symbols, visions, magickal experiences, thoughts, and dreams is fundamentally the same as the world of materiality, that they both share the same essential nature from an experiential point of view. The first line of the Gospel of John, “In the beginning there was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God,” is a nice way to put it. For those who find this phrase too cryptic, I paraphrase it as: “From the beginning, concepts, words, dreams, visions, and the realm of thought have always been an aspect of ultimate reality.”


“Anything may happen. Everything can happen, everything is possible and probable. Time and space do not exist... the imagination designs and embroiders novel patterns: a medley of memories, experiences, free fancies, absurdities and improvisations.”
- August Strindberg, A Dream Play

Going back a little to what shargrol said about finding the most subtle aspect of dukkha, the aspect that seems lacking, ill will, confusion. The interesting thing about the experiences I've had that seem to be non-dual was that... one aspect that stood out the most, that had me marveling in awe the whole time over and over again, was how directly clear it was that absolutely nothing was lacking. Everything was whole, complete, enough as it was, aligned, and in-sync.
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

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Im starting to feel overlooked.
Edit : ;(
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

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Aw, we love you, Olivier.
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Steph S, modified 1 Year ago.

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Whether non-conceptuality is possible. Well in cessation, sure. And parinibbana I would guess, yes. When one is an arahant/a possibly... can't confirm. I think that coagulating sensations or aspects of experience into a thingness is  conceptualizing them. I talked a bunch about putting sensations into groups/containers a bit back. As in, this collection of sensations = this thing. I've also been thinking lately, though, about how even the process of sensationing experience, i.e. breaking it up into a bunch of different sensations and viewing it as a bunch of sensations, is conceptualizing things. I've been questioning what a sensation actually is. The process of identifying or singling a sensation out seems like conceptualization to me. Making it into a thing, giving it some status of thingness makes it seem more significant than it is. That’s also from a dualistic perspective, though.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

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My experience is this: there is no experience/perception without some amount of conceptualizing, however tiny and subtle. Without it, we're not conscious.
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Steph S, modified 1 Year ago.

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That's what I kind of figured. It's probably just how we process information. 
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

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I feel like doing a 2-3 week solo retreat going through Rob Burbea's book Seeing that frees. I'll do it when I can but I'm not sure when.

As I've never done a long formal solo retreat, I wonder if you guys have any advice/ideas.

What I imagine as a daily schedule is something like, doing one hour of intentions setting in the morning ; bf ; one session of meditation (shamatha ? could vary based on what seems to be needed) ; a session of reading the selected passage of the day from STF ; two hours of meditation related to that passage/theme ; lunch ; 3 sessions of meditation around the theme ; dinner ; one hour of dedication, etc.

Something along those lines. I'm not sure how to decide on the progression - select potential sections before the retreat, start there, and move along at the natural rythm that seems to unfold ? That sounds reasonable.

But how much flexibility/fixity of schedule is reasonable though, I wonder. Of course it's up to me, but I'm hoping people here have some experiences to share. "Thoughts ?"

emoticon
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Smiling Stone, modified 1 Year ago.

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Hey Olivier,
I guess nobody answered because everybody knows you'll do just fine with whatever you come up with. As to me, you've been following my home retreat log, so you know what I think... Flexibility is key, and reasonable goals (time table wise), and it of course depends on whether you are on your own or not! Also, food takes some time to prepare (depending on what you eat of course), so you want enough time for that (not to get stressed out by your schedule)...
And... you don't want to follow one of Rob's retreats? I ask because audio is nice to sit with...
Do you think that a few hours will be enough to really sink into each exercise of the book (I don't remember the nature of his propositions right now...)?

Anyway, that sounds like a good plan, let us know how it goes!
All the best with that
metta
smiling stone
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

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Thanks for the advice Smiling.

A for food, ideally, I'm looking to do this somewhere where my meals would be prepared for me emoticon that would be very nice, hehe.

As for the idea of following audio, that's an idea, but i've listened to so much of his audio, and would like to dive in the book, which is so intimidatingly huge that I've put it off until I could really devote a lot of time to it. I feel like it will be a "paradigm" change for my understanding of what meditation is. 

So far, I've found that 6-8h a day is good amount of meditation for me. I feel like this amount of sitting is a good basis, to which I could add if it feels like it. I've sometimes made a lot of progress on retreats where the schedule was light (even if it felt too light !), and not so much when it was really heavy, so I'm not necessarily convinced by the notion that more is better (not that this is what you said). 

Hope all is well with you emoticon

Metta,

Olive
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Smiling Stone, modified 1 Year ago.

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Hi Olivier,

I meant “not so many hours dedicated to each exercise in the book”, because I understood that you would change chapter (or exercise) everyday or so. I had no advice for amount of practice whatsoever because you've done enough retreats to have a fair idea by yourself (ah yes the one I had : don't aim too high, especially if you are at home, you'll see how it goes and increment if necessary. This because in my case for example, six hours were already not so easy to find during the day, but I was not so “square” with my schedule).
I thought that you were already intimate with the book, that's why I talked about the audio. You'll be aware that Seeing... is really about emptiness and dependent origination and not at all about more imaginal practices which were at the core of his later teachings. I do think it is a wonderful idea to dedicate a full retreat to it (I skimmed through the book as I always tend to, and it was already paradigm altering (sic.)).
Now about progress... Did we have this discussion before? you say that intense retreats are not always the more conducive of “progress”, that a light schedule might be better... for sure better for openings, for relaxing, for merging whatever. I believe that meditation is not only about that, if not we would not need to sit but would only lie down because it is less stressful, easier to let go of the body etc. Retreats are also there to push you into this little corner beyond your limits, to show you stuff that you might not have access to by just relaxing. I mean, of course you have to relax in the experience, but what will this experience be made of? Hence different retreat environments. In some yes, you might hit wall after wall... and develop resilience. Because real life is not always sweet and easy. And maybe have an opening at the end of the retreat when you power down.
Anyway, that's just my two cents about that particular issue (the truth of suffering, we could say...). I do value relax more and more myself, and I agree it is necessary for untying the self (but you already did that, did you not?), so I'm just a bundle of contradictions, and I'm happy to share that on your log!

Be well, my friend
metta
smiling stone
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

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(1) Right. The idea is to dedicate as much time as feels necessary, as in : if it feels like I should spend five days on one paragraph, I'll do it. That's the general plan anyways emoticon

I like the "don't aim too high" advice. This won't be at home if possible, but a general 8h +-2 seems fair to me.

(2) I know that Seeing that frees is very much emptiness/DO oriented, and am not expecting any imaginal stuff. 

I've actually skimmed through it a few times, read some passages, done some practices.

But everytime I've just thought - "man, I'm not ready. I don't really understand this ways of looking thing fully."

It feels to me that currently, I'm undergoing a new shift in my conception of what meditation is. I started in 2016 to meditate formally within a buddhist framework. The first major changes in my framing of the practice was with mctb. Then there was a very awkward period, which followed new openings/insights, and this gave rise to a new understanding of what meditation is. 

Now, a similar thing seems to be happening - I'm not meditating much, I'm drinking, enjoying life, etc. Meditation seems uninteresting and unappealing. However, I've comitted myself to practicing in some way or other until I die, so this is just a temporary taking it easy phase.

Probably something is readjusting, and I feel ready for the "ways of looking" framework, which just seems to entail something really radical which I was unable to grasp before...

These days, I feel free, I feel like there is nothing I need to understand. (for the moment !) Ever since I had this insight that what I was looking for did not exist - "there is no absolute reality, no transfigured reality different from the forms and signs and significations which already exist as they are in my current experience" (... sounds obvious I know ! )-, there is a kind of ordinariness and simplification in my life... I'm not sure what that insight corresponds to, but it feels like it changed something.

I surely hope this is not "the end" though, because it would kind of seem like a bad joke :p 

Anyways, I don't think so, and feel that I will soon feel ready to tackle a new, more fluid, more scary, more free conception of practice. hehe

(3) As for the schedule thing, it's like this thing with "optimal amount of practice" in any practice. Some people say that more than x hours a day is just counterproductive and I tend to agree.

Hope you're all right Smiler :p

Cheers emoticonemoticon

edited with some qualifiers
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Smiling Stone, modified 11 Months ago.

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Hey, Olivier, you deep adapter!

I read this a few weeks ago but was in no writing mood... just wanted to say I appreciate your upfront reports on your practice / non-practice. Always a pleasure to read you...
I was wondering if you found that magic place for your self-retreat. My only advice would be to power up your practice sometime before, so as not to get surprised by the amount of sitting, even though I understand you are in deep attending to reality in your daily life. When you read the logs of serious practitioners, they tend to look down on the periods where they completely stopped formal practice (Chris comes to mind). Much booze does not help either, but we have to test things by ourselves.

Ok, I just read your last entry again. Great post, as I said before, and good approach. Enjoying life definitely deserves our full attendance (I had written attention but...)! And you did not say you stopped formal practice. Duly noted...

I'm fine thanks, life goes on, with its surprises, wonders and hardships (shuffle and repeat)...
love and metta
smiling stone
Olivier, modified 11 Months ago.

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Hi guys,

One question, and one announcement.

The question : Chris, Shargrol, Linda, ..., would you mind writing up precise descriptions of what fifth jhana is like for you, what are the main phenomenological markers, how different sense modalities manifest, what the sense of body (sensations) and body image are like, what sounds are like, how the transition from fourth to fifth happens, what the general feel is like ? That would be lovely, thank you in advance.

The news : I've just submitted my official PhD project - it's gonna be an interdisciplinary study of meditation, and I'm sincerely hoping that some of the good people on this forum will be interested in helping me with this thing as I go along, perhaps taking active participation depending on how the project unfolds emoticonemoticon More to come in the following months/years, if all is well. May things go smoothly and may this work be beneficial to others somehow.

Here is the abstract, translated from french :
 
The general aim of this project is to contribute to furthering our understanding of contemplative practices, to better our grasp of their nature, their aims, their effects and the value which they could have within the context of our modern societies, often atheistic and dissociated from their spiritual heritage. More precisely, we shall establish a general phenomenology of spiritual experiences, taking interest in the long-term effects on those who are engaged in a diversity of meditativo-contemplative practices. The term “spirituality” is understood here in the precise sense, gnoseological or even gnostic, of an inquiry into the nature of mind, of conscious experience, of manifestation. We will heavily rely on Michel Henry’s phenomenology of life. In order to root our theoretical discussion within experiential practice, we will proceed to a micro-phenomenological study of the transformations of subjective experience perceived by highly trained subjects from a variety of contemplative traditions, wondering if they can be understood from the distinction between intentional consciousness and impressional awareness upon which the material phenomenology of life is constructed. We hypothesize that experienced meditators cultivate the primacy of a non intentional consciousness to the point of shifting into the experience of an auto-affected mode of phenomenalisation (which we shall call “non-dual”), and that this precise aspect of human spiritual life represents the endpoint of a certain domain of investigation, which to us defines some of the most essential aspects of the notion of spirituality. From there, we will seek to determine how our results might shed light on other domains of research, attempting to apply them to the study of musical practices, in order to evaluate what meaning might be construed from the framework we will have developed.
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

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So, for about two months, much less regular meditation. It seems I have no more concentration or investigation abilities, at least in the way I used to think about those two things. I sometimes think that this is actually : I have no more desire to manipulate oxperience or forc anything to happen in my experience. When I approach it that ways, it relates with a few insights which came up since the last discussions happened on here. I'm referring to the time where I realized that there is no "absolute" non-conceptual experience to be found, that appearances where, in their particularity and inherently meaningful qualities, the only way that manifestation manifests. This seemingly minor understanding seems to have made a big shift ; but perhaps I'm making this up. Although these kinds of logs are very cool in that they allow one to see things which were previously opaque. They are also biased, because they come from a perspective which is seeking changes connected to practice, and looking for those changes in ways that corresponds with expectations, things read in other journals, other texts, etc. Although, it's always a good sign to me, a sign of authenticity, when something unexpected comes up and sheds a new light on things. But it must be said that it does create a kind of narration which is a construction.

So, that narration for me, is that this minor insight mentioned above, led me to see pretty clearly in practice, a few times, that the only thing standing between actuality and this moment being perfect just as it is, is the notion, which manifests as a kind of tension in space, actually, that there is something to be found which is not already here-and-now, or conversely, something missing, or something imperfect in experience. Holding that notion is what makes experience imperfect...

And so now, it seems that ptractice happens in a way I can't control. My last few meditations where kind of weird in the sense that it seemed more like day dreaming than anything else, but a daydreaming which was insightful, making me directly perceive that the dream world, or the world of thoughts, intentions, etc., is litteralyl as real as anything else ; that it's not, as I used to believe/perceive, that those things are fantasies inside of me, but that they have the same status as other perceptions... Very interesting, kind of freaky too. Sending love to my dead grandmother did not seem like a fantasy...

If someone thinks this is just a result of slacking, please say it emoticon !!

Also, the last two longer sits I did, brought me, near the end, in contact with something I hadn't realized was still there : a feeling deep-down that I'm not worthy of being loved. It was both time a kind of bodily feeling associated with mental things and emotions; but very bodily in a way, like, it comes up when I'm pretty silent, very relaxed, when the space is like cotton and smooth and attention is extremely light and effortless. That contact brings tears, sadness, surprise, a bit of sideration, compassion, acceptance of the fact that this perhaps will stay with me forever, curiosity, a bit of release. Don't know if it will linger, sounds worhty of consideration.

So, since I'm tracking signs which correspond to the whole meditator waking up thing, in a way that conforms to what i've kind of come to expect from reading other people's practice journals and talking with them here and elsewhere, I would say that i've noticed some things : that it seems these days that when suffering is there it is always a source of insight, very valuable in itself. That manipulating experience is always artificial and a way to move away from what is happening. And that perhaps the most fruitful thing would just be to exist and not try to change anything, and that perhaps this will always be ok from now on - ergo exeunt active meditation practices ?. Also a lot of curiosity for this fucked up world.

Perhaps it's all in my head. emoticon

Btw, I can't seem to be able to find a place to do a retreat !

Cheers, my friends.
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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Hey Olivier,

I just read your blog and there's so much cool stuff in there. Makes me kind of wish I had had more time to be more precise and deeper about my practice. There's only one thing I can think of offering and it may not resonate with you at all. Have a look at The Open Secret by Tony Parsons. IMHO it's the most powerful nondual teaching out there. It blew the doors off for me and I'm still trying to come to terms with it, which is by definition impossible!

Cheers
George
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

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agnostic:
Hey Olivier,

I just read your blog and there's so much cool stuff in there. Makes me kind of wish I had had more time to be more precise and deeper about my practice. There's only one thing I can think of offering and it may not resonate with you at all. Have a look at The Open Secret by Tony Parsons. IMHO it's the most powerful nondual teaching out there. It blew the doors off for me and I'm still trying to come to terms with it, which is by definition impossible!

Cheers
George
Thanks George, I've dlded it, but haven't had time to read it much yet !

Cheers,
O
shargrol, modified 10 Months ago.

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Olivier:
a feeling deep-down that I'm not worthy of being loved.

...

That manipulating experience is always artificial and a way to move away from what is happening. 

Nice. Yes, core wounds become visible very late in the four path model. These things get seen and it explains a lot of our worldviews and patterned thoughts and actions. 

It's also worth looking for what the core habit/compulsion is --- what is your unconscious strategy to be worthy of being loved? Common things are niceness, competence, obeying, working hard, intelligence, entertaining, worshipping, etc. 



Manipulating experience isn't always artificial. Life likes to play and explore --- there are many actions which are consistent with this, even the whole practice of meditation itself. It's okay to "test" reality through playful experiments, she doesn't mind. The "rule" of no manipulation is actually a little dogmatic. Creativity and experimentation is fine, it's only when we take an approach of superiority or inferiority and try to force or solidify reality that a foundation for suffering is created. (and like you said, the neat thing about suffering is it points to where we made a mistake).

Are you resisting your own creativity? Are you limiting your own experimentation? Are you limited by a core wound or a core compulsion?


At a certain point, structured practices that emphasize very open experiences, like resting and looking practices, are an interesting way to keep experimenting.
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

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shargrol:
Olivier:
a feeling deep-down that I'm not worthy of being loved.

...

That manipulating experience is always artificial and a way to move away from what is happening. 

Nice. Yes, core wounds become visible very late in the four path model. These things get seen and it explains a lot of our worldviews and patterned thoughts and actions. 

It's also worth looking for what the core habit/compulsion is --- what is your unconscious strategy to be worthy of being loved? Common things are niceness, competence, obeying, working hard, intelligence, entertaining, worshipping, etc. 

Hi Shargrol. In what you mention, I would say that most of those things apply, except perhaps worshipping emoticon

A few things though. Why do you and others seem pretty sure I'm that far along the path ? I'm personnally not so sure I even got third path tbh, given the definitions given by Daniel in mctb for instance. Certainly, I feel like that event back in august 2019 was like a "filter" was permanently deleted between "me" and the world, and in some ways it resembles third path descriptions. But I don't have, to my knowledge, and have never had, access to formless realms for instance, or even much command of the formed jhanas. Granted, it seems that interest in altered states basically disappeared in august 2019. And I'm pretty sure I have a kind of homebase in a mild form of fourth jhana. Also, a few days ago, I practiced intense fast noting for an hour, followed by an hour of the opposite : relaxing all objectification and all attentional/intentional activity, which had the effect of triggering a kind of almost formless jhana, I guess, but I don't know. But still, we are far from this famous jhanic arc that many thrid pathers report. 

In terms of fetters, which seems to be your working model, we are closer to the mark, and also in terms of AEN's 7-fold model. But I don't know, I'm a bit skeptical. Not that it's bothering me, just trying to be accurate and clear and honest.

Manipulating experience isn't always artificial. Life likes to play and explore --- there are many actions which are consistent with this, even the whole practice of meditation itself. It's okay to "test" reality through playful experiments, she doesn't mind. The "rule" of no manipulation is actually a little dogmatic. Creativity and experimentation is fine, it's only when we take an approach of superiority or inferiority and try to force or solidify reality that a foundation for suffering is created. (and like you said, the neat thing about suffering is it points to where we made a mistake).

Are you resisting your own creativity? Are you limiting your own experimentation? 

Very funny, because the day after I posted that bit about "perhaps I will never want to do active practices again", and before you wrote this, I found myself extremely inspired to do very fast freestyle noting for a couple of hours emoticon Haha !!! This triggered a jarring POI which did not, to my knowledge, lead to a fruition.

This is another point of question for me.

I recall, in my history, two periods where it seems there were many fruitions happening during sits. I mean, blips, not three-doors stuff (the closest to seeing stuff like that was on the second week of my panditarama lumbini retreat - I think !). Before june 2019 it never happened to me to have blips in my sits. It lasted for a few weeks then stopped. Then, after the end of august retreat and during the beginning of panditarama lumbini, there were also very regular blips and more clearly dileneated strange discontinuities for 2-3 weeks. That disappeared entirely afterwards and has never returned yet. 

There seems to have been some kind of event around june 2020, after the period where I was having nightmares/dreams of awakening. This strange period ended during the night between a saturday sunday, which was again very agitated, punctuated with strange in-between dreams and experiences. I woke up the next morning fresh as a daisy, and afterwards went into a kind of reset period similar to the year before, where I just "reconnected" with life and regular self, kind of lost interest in meditation, 

So what do you think about my theory of : I'm actually more on the verge of third than fourth ?

(What about you Chris, as you're probably reading ?)

At a certain point, structured practices that emphasize very open experiences, like resting and looking practices, are an interesting way to keep experimenting.

For some reason, I rarely do the practice you recommended. Perhaps because it feels like the momentum isn't right for that atm, but it felt very fruitful, so I'm keeping it at the back of my mind. I've started experimenting again, in particular, as I said, I'm starting to wrap my head around Burbea's "ways of looking" framework, and have tentatively started recording the efffects of particular kinds of very sharply defined types of practices. For instance : doing very fast intentional practice/objectifying/noting (clarity, destabilization, almost irritation, disentanglement) and then immediately doing objectless shamatha (which I'm likening to the phenomenological practice of épochè : no intentional/reifying/conscious activity, as well as the way taoists sometimes describe meditation as falling into confusion, and just the plain old notion of "silence", which I'm seeing now as more of a non-fabrication of experience through non-cling non-objectifying non-desiring). I then practiced metta visualizations for a half hour. It was very interesting and informative to compare the effects on experience/perceptions of different axes of practice.

Also, I could mention something interesting which has come up spontaneously these past months : elements.

I've started thinking (a bit) and feeling (a lot) in terms of the four elements (earth wind fire water), as "energies" or very special "regions" or "qualities" or "aspects" of experience, both in terms of actually feeling how special a stream of running water is, for instance, and as psychological/personal energies of people. I've started feeling people in terms of combinations of these qualities and it seems to be a very insightful way of expressing people's energies. And also gives pretty good explanations of imbalances and what to do about them, as well as personality affinities. Ex : I'm air mostly, and fire. My gf is earth and water, clearly. This is just the spontaneous feeling I get. And it seems to explain the complementarity a lot. Etc. So yeah, feeling "energies" a lot more.

Are you limited by a core wound or a core compulsion?

I think this will come up on its own when it must, but interesting. Especially the connection you're making with creativity... Touché, good sir, touché.

Thank you for your continued interest emoticon

Last thing, finally found a retreat place, so I'm going for 2 weeks of retreat starting on friday.
I've changed my plan : for the first four days, I will do one type of shmatha in the morning, and in the afternoons one of the brahmaviharas in order. Then for the next ten days, I will work through Clarifying the natural state. Thoughts, advice ?

shargrol, modified 10 Months ago.

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I have no strong urge to pin down where you are exactly on the path maps. The nice thing about practice is it can only hit you where you are, so as long as you are continuing to explore and be curious about your experience... it all works out.

I woke up the next morning fresh as a daisy, and afterwards went into a kind of reset period similar to the year before, where I just "reconnected" with life and regular self, kind of lost interest in meditation,

My hunch is that your next challenge will be to find out how formal sitting practice is not in conflict with "reconnecting with life and regular self". The you that lives life isn't different from the you that sits, and the you that sits isn't different from the you that lives life. It might be good to look at anything that suggests a difference between sitting and life.

For some reason, I rarely do the practice you recommended.


No worries! emoticon

 Last thing, finally found a retreat place, so I'm going for 2 weeks of retreat starting on friday.
I've changed my plan : for the first four days, I will do one type of shmatha in the morning, and in the afternoons one of the brahmaviharas in order. Then for the next ten days, I will work through Clarifying the natural state. Thoughts, advice ?


My inital reaction is that this sounds kind of contrived. Obviously, I can't know for sure, but it seems unclear what you are trying to achieve. I also get the feeling that you really want to go on retreat but you are slightly worried about doing a traditional sitting walking sitting walking practice for some reason... could you say more about your goals? what really interests you? 

 
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

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You have to remember that I'm a very curious person with extremely broad areas of interest. So usually, many different levels of interest/inquiry converge in what I do. This is sometimes puzzling or even straight weird for people, but it's just how I seem to function. Might contribute to your finding this contrived.

--

My goal is to achieve direct realization of the nature of the mind/reality, to experience the most profound liberation and beauty possible in this lifetime, and to integrate this as much as possible with my other areas of interest (music, philosophy, culture, knowledge in general, history, religions, poetry, sciences...). My interest in meditative practice is deeply intertwined with my intellectual investigations ;) So there is a kind of meta exploration aspect to the construction of this retreat. I want to draw bridges between everything and everything, break the walls between "buddhist inspired modernist vipassana" and, say, gregorian chant, to integrate the whole thing on all levels, and share that with people in the ways I can manage... I don't know, it feels like there's this intense urge to understand in me. 

But I actually want to be able to understand what realization is in the terms of my own culture and in relationship with european history.

I've sometimes found it effective and fruitful to use text as an anchor to meditation. Furthermore, I'm very interested intellectually and experientially, in understanding how the traditional notion of meditation (as in augustinian meditation for instance), which is based on reading, can be integrated in a broader framework.

In the christian tradition, reading was almost always the basis for meditation ; and in the whole philosophical history of the west, there has been a connection between text and meditation. Like, you are meditating on an idea, the actual process of meditation is taking an idea, or a consideration about the nature of reality, into contemplation, to hold it lightly and let it affect perception and see what comes of that. Is this hermetically separate from Mahasi noting or not ?

In the tibetan traditions as well, there are analytical meditations based on reasonings and logic, like in the gelug Neither one nor many thing, or some of Shantideva's works. This seems more connected with philosophy to me, but it is something which can find its way into meditation.

Burbea in his later talks made reference to this, and in fact IMO it aligns well with his "Ways of looking" framework, which is so far the most satisfying framework I've personally encountered. And I want to figure out how for exemple noting relates with augustinian meditation or even the cartesian practice of "maintaining oneself in a fixed meditation" ("manebo in hic meditatione desfixa", I think is the latin phrase, which Descartes uses - maintaining himself in unknowing, holding the fact that he knows nothing about the nature of reality and seeing the effect of that on perception).

Unifying analytical/conceptual and phenomenological approaches, we migh say, is part of the intention. I have found that purely sensate investigation is less powerfull than sensate investigation combined with some philosophical/conceptual activity. Or at least, that it's a more integrated approach.

--

So, about the schedule.

(1) The idea is to establish a level of calm and concentration the first few days.

In my experience, doing a mix of shamatha and heart practices really has deep opening/relaxing/quieting/centering effects. The reason for doing different kinds of shamatha is because I'm intellectually interested in exploring the effects of slightly different emphases on the actual experience. As in : what experience does spending four hours of focused attention on an object fabricate ? What experience does doing four hours of non-intentional shamatha fabricate ? What are the differences if any ? What is specific to each practice ? This as a kind of meta-cognitive experiment.

(2) As for going through the brahmaviharas in order, I think that's pretty self explanatory. I've also been wanting to devote retreat time to cultivating these states/intentions, so I'm gonna include them in this one.

(3) As for clarifying the natural state, it seems like a simpler guide to take on retreat than Seeing that frees for now. I've had good results from following dzogchen/mahamudra type instructions previously, and as unfortunately it's hard to find a competent teacher in france, I've resolved to do this by myself.

(4) About your other concern : no, I don't think I'm worried about walking/sitting, i just dislike this format and hadn't really considered it for a solo retreat, in fact.
shargrol, modified 10 Months ago.

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Sounds good, but it's funny... now my hunch is that a very traditional therevadian sit/walk/sit/walk retreat is probably a really good thing for you to try. emoticon 

There is something about a very simple practice that tends to bring out the sublte (or not so sublte) aversion, greed, and indifference that obsures the true nature of mind. Any problem that shows up in this format points directly back to the three poisons and psychological blindspots. It's a very direct path.
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

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Why ?

It's not like I haven't tried a very traditional mahasi retreat before.

I got much better results from intuitive "freestyle" investigation and pointers from texts by dzogchen masters than anything else ever.

I have some problems with the very assumptions behind the mahasi framework, too.

So, I don't know...

I will consider your hunch though.

Are you suggesting to format the day as sit/walk/sit/walk, or to actually also do noting only ?
shargrol, modified 10 Months ago.

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I thinking along the lines of structuring the day as traditional sit/walk... and as a practice, using a basic scaffolding/heirarchy:

1. noticing experience as it is 
2. when 1 is not possible, noticing attraction, repulsion, neutralness as it is
3. when 2 is not possible, noticing greed, aversion, indifference
4. when 3 is not possible, noting greed, aversion, indifference
5. when 4 is not possible, noting sensations, urges, emotions, or thoughts
6. when 5 is not possible, noting 6 realms or some other big categories of psychological views

Something like that. Four days of that... whew!
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

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What do you think, adding a few days of that to the mix here ? Maybe in the middle part ?

What even is the difference between repulsion and aversion ? Same with the other pole ?

Btw, I was recommended the Inner game of tennis again today, so I thought I should just get the thing, and I did.  
shargrol, modified 10 Months ago.

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(Right at the point of contact of experience, there can be attraction, repulsion, and neutralness... which can quickly become greed, aversion, or indifference. Distinguishing the difference between these two sets of experience can be very illuminating.)
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

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That sounds like something I should train for !
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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Salut Olivier!

I'm a fairly intellectual person (philosophy/math phd). I don't have your depth of  practice, but after my initial vipassana breakthrough I went on an intellectual quest trying to reconcile various spiritual teachings and philosophies. Over the course of a year I must have bought or downloaded about 300 texts. Eventually I realized they are all coming from the same place - the drive to understand one's place in the scheme of things. It was about the same time I came across Tony Parsons, who really exposed for me the futility of this whole seeking dynamic. I also realized that intellectualizing was just a way of diverting myself from certain rather mundane patterns of aversion and grasping in my day-to-day life, which are the real root of dissatisfaction.

I hope you have a good retreat,
George
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

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Are you saying that this is true for everyone, or something you understood about yourself ?

I don't think that (diverting oneself) is true of all desires by a long shot.

Cheers emoticon
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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It was true for me and I'm just speculating about your experience, so I may be completely wrong emoticon Maybe it's just that I'm at a different stage of life. I finished my PhD almost 20 years ago and had to convince myself to leave academia, so I probably have a bias against academics. If so, apologies, but here's my take FWIW ...

In the suttas thought is called the vaci sankhara ("speech conditioner") because "having first directed one's thoughts and made an evaluation, one them breaks out into speech". We are social animals and the evolutionary purpose of speech was to enable us to develop complex social structures with division of labor, philosophy departments etc. In this sense thought is just another tool to gain social power (Foucault?). I'm not saying one shouldn't have an intellectual interest in mediation (I certainly do), but at some point one needs to address one's real motivations for practice.

I hope this doesn't come across as a personal attack. We all have an axe to grind. I'm sure being a celebrity lama is a big draw as well emoticon One of the reasons I started meditating again was to help me manage my emotions in day trading, make of that what you will!
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

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agnostic:
It was true for me and I'm just speculating about your experience, so I may be completely wrong emoticon Maybe it's just that I'm at a different stage of life. I finished my PhD almost 20 years ago and had to convince myself to leave academia, so I probably have a bias against academics. If so, apologies, but here's my take FWIW ...

I also have a huge bias against academia and don't plan to become an academic, so I can relate emoticon

In the suttas thought is called the vaci sankhara ("speech conditioner") because "having first directed one's thoughts and made an evaluation, one them breaks out into speech". We are social animals and the evolutionary purpose of speech was to enable us to develop complex social structures with division of labor, philosophy departments etc. In this sense thought is just another tool to gain social power (Foucault?). I'm not saying one shouldn't have an intellectual interest in mediation (I certainly do), but at some point one needs to address one's real motivations for practice.

Yeah, I agree. What do you do once you find what you were seeking though ? How do you transmit that ?

There need to be people who try to place true culture as an important thing in the social arena. 

We are a so-called post-traditional society. That means that things like that are not passed on from one generation to the next (tradere), anymore, thanks partly to the Galilean revolution.

This, by the way, is what liturgy means. Liturgia used to be a tax, which rich greek citizens had to pay, as a just retribution to society for having received so much. So it was in the church later on. 

How can I, having spent years and years developing intelectual skills, within a culture which values intelectuality very very much, as well as art, truly have a liturgical action in due time ?

Emptiness is form too, isn't it ?

I hope this doesn't come across as a personal attack. We all have an axe to grind. I'm sure being a celebrity lama is a big draw as well emoticon One of the reasons I started meditating again was to help me manage my emotions in day trading, make of that what you will!

Not at all, this is something I reflect on very often.

When I think that people who sell SUV's don't hesitate to pour billions in advertisment to get what they want, but that people who are willing to spend decades understanding the nature of reality just disengage from social/political life somehow, I can't help thinking there is a misunderstanding somewhere.

Jesus overthrew the merchants in the temple.

Once one overcomes personal suffering, what is left to do ?
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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For me, the feeling that one needs to do something
is personal suffering. Before enlightenment - chop wood, carry water, sell SUVs, tax the rich. After enlightenment - chop wood, carry water, sell SUVs, tax the rich emoticon
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

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Then i'm not interested at all in that version of enlightenment. And that doesn't make much sense IMO. The feeling that something needs to be done is consubstantial with manifestation, as I see it. If there is no desire, there is no experience - quite literally. Can you stop breathing, please ? emoticon

There is a life desire in you, which is not transparent to yourself, but it is an existential necessity. Recognizing it, nurturing it, and obeying it, is essential. Call it daimon if you will. I see this as "being aligned".

So, which desires are skilfull ? I humbly suggest to you the book : We've had a hundred years of psychotherapy and the world's getting worse by jungian psychotherapist James Hillman. 

Ending personal suffering but not trying to help with other people's is the definition of selfishness. Morality : the first and last training.
shargrol, modified 10 Months ago.

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"For me, the feeling that one needs to do something is personal suffering. "


I mostly agree with this statement, but it is important to notice/distiguish between want and need in this case. emoticon  


EDIT: just for more context...  vague feelings of needing to do a vague something, wow this quickly becomes suffering. Strong needs to do s specific something, wow this is destined to cause conflicts when reality doesn't match the need perfectly. But vague feelings of wanting to do something, if contemplated and shaped into an intention to do something specific, which is held lightly and able to be modified as one pursues the intention based on new information, which evolves over time into practical, incremental progress... well, that's basic sanity. emoticon
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

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Case study 1 : my daughter is being menaced by a fanatic islamist. I need to help her. That's not a nice feeling, we can say it is suffering. Which is the problem, my clinging or the situation ?
Which is the appropriate response : changing my reaction, relaxing clinging and forming gentler intentions, or acting to change the situation ?
shargrol, modified 10 Months ago.

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Okay, this might be fun, I have no idea where it will lead...

Problem is/could be various forms of needing/clinging:
Assumption of intentions of so-called "fanatic islamist"
Assumption of menace
Assumption of nature of menace -- is this a set-up, is this a decoy? where is the real threat?
Assumption of your daughter needing help 
Assumption of your daughter needing YOUR help
If any of these assumptions are unconscious, and I'm not saying they will always be unconscious, then enevitably this mode of action will lead to suffering.

Versus:
I want to help my daughter, but I don't know if I am seeing the situation accurately. I don't need any particular outcome, I'm open to options. So I analyse what is known/unknown about individual, nature of threat, strengths and weakeness of threat, disposition of daughter. Approach problem from intention to help, but stay open to the path it takes. I ask more questions than take actions until I know what is appropriate and even then I still stay open to the likelihood that I'm still wrong in some way.


Yeah, those approaches seem really different in view and likelihood of success, so I think need/clining is the problem, not the situation. Life sucks, always will, but suffering is optional for many aspects of it. Basic sanity is the only way not to suffer needlessly.
shargrol, modified 10 Months ago.

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p.s. just ordered We've had a hundred years of psychotherapy and the world's getting worse by jungian psychotherapist James Hillman.  Looking forward to reading it!
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

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shargrol:
p.s. just ordered We've had a hundred years of psychotherapy and the world's getting worse by jungian psychotherapist James Hillman.  Looking forward to reading it!
Neat ! Please do offer your feedback emoticon

So, about your analysis of the situation : not sure I understood it. These situations do occur ... Why is it needless suffering to grieve someone close, or to feel a need to help them ? Isn't that as natural as the need to breathe ? Isn't a certain level of suffering the condition for appropriate action to occur ? If I manage not to care, perhaps I will not suffer, and perhaps my daughter will not die, but is that possible ? 

What is the difference between clinging-suffering and loving-grieving ?

Certainly life will always suck, and so, I wonder - I'm sure there's an optimal way to approach these kinds of situations, but I really doubt there is a way to not suffer, and even doubt that eliminating these reactions is even healthy ?

Not that this is what you are suggesting, it seems to me you are arguing for radical openness and fluidity of judgment/intentions. I can only concur with that, and it sounds like a high and most worthy ideal to aspire to, one I am far from being able to embody.

But in real life situations such as the one described, it seems like things are a bit different. And in these situations, isn't suffering a blessing ? I need to relieve this young woman's suffering because I find it unbearable to see her be violented like that - don't you think that is good and compassionate ?

How do we act without forming judgments/intentions, in other words, engaging ?

I don't know, in the end, if the relative is the absolute, isn't there, actually, good and evil ? A right and a wrong course of action ? These are questions I ask myself now after years of holding the position that no, there is no real right and wrong. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 10 Months ago.

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Best wishes for your upcoming retreat Olivier! May it be fruitful. 
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

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Thank you Papa Che.
Olivier, modified 9 Months ago.

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Retreat delayed by one day because of covid suspicions, which turned out negative.

Arriving in the place tonight, i will finalize my schedule and post it on here for ref if anyone is interested.

I've copied by hand on two sheets of paper Daniel's post that was quoted recently by pepe, and will read it from time to time because i find it so pure and clear : 

"There are various modes of perception arising and vanishing, which may highlight various qualities over others, yet the divisionlessness of this full, rich, transient, direct, interdependent, causal field eliminates the subtle sense of some thing that is choosing modes. (link)

(Regarding No-Self Mode and Self Mode,) At some point there will no longer really be either option, as the thing will just be the thing, the field as the field of sensations, of manifestation, of qualities, textures, colors, and aspects. 

Call it True Self. Call it no-self. Regardless, it is happening, as it always has. And there are various modes of attention, as there always have been. And various modes of perception arising and vanishing, which may highlight various qualities over others, it seems. And there is nobody to decide that this full, rich, transient, direct, interdependent, causal field is either. But thoughts that it might be one or the other can still arise, as they did before. And in that direct perception, the divisionlessness of it eliminates the subtle sense of some thing that is choosing modes. Though the sense of those apparent choices and decisions arising on their own may still occur.

And this lack of a split, this lack of an illusion of some separate, permanent, continuous something that could truly stand outside of all of this and make such choices is seen through as part of the whole of the flickering, shimmering, transient thing. 

So look carefully at the patterns that seem to be deciding between those various modes and notice them and just get to know them, such that what is getting to know them and them are both clearly comprehended on their own, by themselves, aware/manifest where they are and all modes will come to be clearer about having that same quality of directness, of where-they-are-ness, in a way that eliminates finally the sense that any of those specific modes is the one true ultimate mode, but all modes are truly the thing itself, as the qualities of fundamental perceptual truth are universal and apply to all states and qualities and modes of perception and attention without exception.

Spend time enjoying the nice ones if you wish, as all modes of attention reveal the universal truths if perceived clearly, so if the nice modes happen, perceive them clearly, and if the modes you don't like as much happen, perceive them clearly, though it is true that the most pleasant and unpleasant ones as well as the least interesting ones are not as easy for some to just see as they are, as our reactions of enjoyment, aversion and boredom may seem to cloud clear perception.

But with clear comprehension from good practice, the fundamental truths reveal themselves, and a fluent clarity and facility in all states of manifestation becomes natural and habituated such that apparent exceptions and finally the sense of fundamental options become finer and more subtle and may eventually vanish. 

... The common way of looking at this is that there are zillions of sensations but we can only comprehend a limited number of them. 

Except that perspective actually misses a really essential point that is strangely obvious once you think about it and yet also quite slippery, given how we are so used to not seeing things this say, or so we think.

That point is that each sensation already knew itself when it arose. If it arose, then the comprehension was build into it, intrinsic to it, the same as it.

We have this notion that there is some central comprehender, some liner processor of all of that stuff out there, and yet all of the stuff out there already processed itself it as it arose, as that arising was the processing, and what the seeming central processor does is to make some additional secondary impression (that is also just more sensations that are aware where they are and of themselves), but we actually believe that this secondary impression, this echo, this stand-in, is actually the awareness, the comprehension, when it is actually just a secondary effect from the first cause, that being the first sensation that the second sensation follows.

Said another way: 

All of the sensations know themselves as and when and where they are, always have, always will, couldn't be any other way. Awareness and phenomena just always are not in a 1:1 ratio, they are actually just the same thing.

When reality seems filtered through this odd secondary central processing habit, it appears that some middleman, some potentially overburdened one-at-a-time system, is perceiving them, when actually it is just making poor copies one at a time of something that is vast and rich and already comprehended itself and never really actually needed any poor copies made to already be known.

So, just let the field in all of its richness speak for itself, including the small, central, limited copying process, and, seen thusly, the knot of perception that doesn't realize that the things already happened and already knew themselves will eventually and perhaps in stages shift to the whole thing knowing itself directly, as it actually always has but just somehow failed to know that at the level that makes the difference.

I, for one, see no reason not to enjoy the state you are able to get into, as, done well, most such things get boring after a time, no matter how amazing, and eventually familiarity with it will, if you are lucky and when the thrill and novelty wear off, lead to better and more clear sensate comprehension, which is the first basis of insight.

Dukkha is a power hog only because it fails to realize that the work was already done, that phenomena already knew themselves naturally, and so it is when that overcompensation stops that the whole thing fully knows that it shines on its own without having to do anything."


At the end of it I've copied Shargrol's pithy and direct instructions :

1. noticing experience as it is 2. when 1 is not possible, noticing attraction, repulsion, neutralness as it is3. when 2 is not possible, noticing greed, aversion, indifference4. when 3 is not possible, noting greed, aversion, indifference5. when 4 is not possible, noting sensations, urges, emotions, or thoughts6. when 5 is not possible, noting 6 realms or some other big categories of psychological views

Very grateful that i've come to find this places, for the people here and their high standards, as well as the time and resources they offer generously.

May we all realize our true nature and bring our human potential to flourish.
shargrol, modified 9 Months ago.

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shargrol:
p.s. just ordered We've had a hundred years of psychotherapy and the world's getting worse by jungian psychotherapist James Hillman.  Looking forward to reading it!


Hmm... I'm not finding the book that engaging at the moment. I started reading and I'm having trouble with all the straw dog arguments. So far it is feeling like these are two "Strategist" in Cook-Grueter's adult development mapping (page 64) but not quite Construct-Aware (page 77) and that's the tension that drives their dialog. I'll put it down for a while and come back to it... 

https://www.reddit.com/r/streamentry/wiki/resources-reading#wiki_cook-greuter
agnostic, modified 9 Months ago.

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Best book I read about therapy was "The Impossible Profession" by Janet Malcolm. It's funny and I devoured it in a couple of sittings.
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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Thanks to the discussion in Agnostic's log, I finally wrote kind of a summary of that retreat, which felt very fruitful. Here goes, not so documented actually, but I'll probably fill in with details later... I took lots of notes.

So, I wrote in that log that it seemed i'd hit some kind of end to 
vipassana, not in the sense of noting, but actually, in the basic activity of "deliberately investigating things wondering what their nature is". Ie, observation which seeks to understand something about mind/experience, to achieve some understanding/or further realization.

I started like I stated earlier, with 4 days of shamatha/brahmaviharas, one vihara per afternoon. These days were in themselves both difficult because of detox I would say, from kind of static lifestyle, coffe drinking and all, but also amazing, filled with insight and richness and beauty, and I really feel like these are practices I want to explore further now and devote full retreats to. Incredible amount of relative but profound insight there, about love, suffering and all that stuff. 

Also, during  the first part of the retreat, did various contemplations (bahiya sutta and such), which brought me into a state of "no mind", I would say, the 4th day. Actually now that I think about it, these contemplations came to happen naturally because emtiness meditation just felt like the logical extension of the fourth brahmavihara, equanimity. Very close to the experience I described from august 2019 and the radical opening of the Dzogchen retreat / but more laid back, deeper, more refined, less me. There was excitement at that time, because I could actually see, after doing a very careful contemplation of the "sick person sutta", and then deeply contemplating through the six sense doors following each of the lines of the bahiya sutta - i could actually see it. "I'm close", feeleth Olivier

After that, 4 days of "just looking", whith a special emphasis on contact/vedana if resistance seemed to be there, referring to the scaffolding of things to look for, going down the chain of DO, if practice proved difficult, concocted by Shargrol-sama (see above (ps : don't worry, at the time i wasn't conceptualizing it)). A kind of open yet very structured practice which basically blends dzogchen type "just looking/being" and vipassana, vipassana being a kind of backup plan to keep the momentum going. I was also regularly contemplating on a text by Dan Ingram on "the two modes of perceptions being one". Again, some relative insight then (hey, I'm noticing repulsion when I look in the mirror some times !!), more struggle than previous days, and the struggle was interesting in the sense that it was almost exclusively about the practice itself, a kind of back and forth between "i'm doing something wrong/this practice sucks"/ and just being there and being ok with that. 

It seemed like I was going through the ñanas during this period, but they were like a really tiny part of experience, yet very clear, but not possible to contract on them. At all times experience was very panoramic and seemed 99% fine and normal, except sometimes these aspects, like angry thoughts happening at the notion that the practice should be corrected, would be quite sharp, yet just a really small part of the whole thing and benign. The 3rd day of this part of the retreat, I remember, in the afternoon, really looking pretty deeply and wholeheartedly with a burning desire to understand what mind is, to see something which I wasn't seeing. Also during activities and at other times I would engage in noticing noting attraction/repulsion/neutralness quite a bit, and would later realize I was doing this out of doubt about the practice, forcing it instead of just examining resistance as it showed up (which it didn't much except about practice itself), a forcefulness which played a role in ....

the freak out. Something kinda strange happened here,later that same afternoon. There was this conflict happening somewhere in the thought space whil doing walking practice. That walking session was like fully experiencing some of the worst emotions of the worst time of my life and associated thoughts/conceptions/images/self images. This was all within a panoramic awareness, and it actually seemed that all this stuff was just one small aspect of space. Kinda felt crazy. It was also very much connected to the unease mentioned above about practice, and excessive zeale at noticing/noting repulsion/attraction/netrualness, in a contrived way which drove the thing to a full blown panic moment, from strain, I believe. The freak out itself was interesting because it subsided rather quickly, but I reacted with some very primal defense/escape mechanisms which I used to use at the time which the internal conflict was referring to, a time in my life which was very difficult and full of negative emotions and such (early teenage years). Eating, going to a heat source in the bathroom, taking a shower, reading. I actually read a lot of shargrol's posts about 3rd/4th path at that point. Took it easy for that evening, not making much of things.

Anyways. I then reflected on what had happened. And that was extremely interesting, becaused it appeared specifically that any suffering I experienced during this past week was connected to a subtle insatisfaction with the meditation practice itself, with my ability to do it, or with the person who prescribed it, and the result of trying really enthusiastically to pinpoint EXACTLY what the hell that seemingly elusive thing called mind WAS, where and what shape, etc. ?, with a kind of excitement/frustration/curiosity at finally figuring IT out.

FYI I usually just stuck to shargrol's instructions, but sometimes did extremely fast investigation of three c's and such, experiencing for instance the mind stream's impermanence at new levels of granularity for me, like seeing clearly maybe 15/20 thoughts bubbles per second.... just to boost things a bit :p

But let's say that the whole thing was very much motivated by "I'm looking for something here, and it seems I'm really really close !!!!". And then I experienced fully the suffering which arose from that and the subtle dissatisfaction. I also reckon that the freak out was basically connected with some assumptions I had about practice showing you "core wounds" at some point, which came from over reading dharma posts...


During these two days I saw clearly that the whole thing was based on positing that the mind was something and that it could be found, that something hadn't been fully seen, or that there was some higher understanding to be had, and that the way to do that was to get better at, or to perfect meditation, basically. And it seemed excessively clear to me upon reflection that this whole thing was fundamentally restlessness, conceit, and ignorance... This seemed extremely certain. And it also appeared very clearly that any suffering I experienced during those two weeks was basically due to my looking, in the future, for something which doesn't exist. It was the fetters of subtle restlessness and conceit, connected to ignorance, because ignorance was contained as the act of looking for something other than what is... This was seen and felt in a deep, clear way.

Then during the last four days, I went through the instructions in Clarifying the natural state. Went through the bit of shamatha, then vipassana. Then I did the pointing out instructions, which point to the fact that shamatha, calm, is the empty, ungraspable, unfindable, luminous appearances themselves appearing and liberating on their own, and vipassana is just the knowing of your present moment experience, which is not different from the experience itself.. And that both these, and any meditation methods you are using to observe the moment, are part and contained within this moment.... (or close enough ! :p Dont quote me)

This came at the perfect time to bring the understanding mentioned above to a kind of completion. Something really drove the thing home.

After going through these instructions very carefully things seemed really really complete, with a kind of complete quiteness, perhaps more quite than ever, an almost complete absence of desire, like "nothing to do now than rest in this natural state of the mind and let that take over". It also seemed I really deeply understood, I want to say GROK the connection between restlessness (basically subtle agitation based on dissatisfaction with what is), conceit (essentially : judging things as + or -, ie, this experience is not it) and ignorance as not being lear that this is it and that nothing is excluded from it, not even the imaginary goals, whether I'm looking or not, whatever qualities manifest at any given moment which is always full and complete... etc. etc.

I repeated these instructions several times during the next few days.
 It would bring about and deepend the sense that my experience was "complete", in the sense that there was absolute certainty than nothing could be added or subtracted from the thing. The completeness/stilness was in itself very impressive, but it wasn't, because it was like everything, every thought, image, etc., was seen just as it arose when it arose and there by dissolved smoothly in itself, never causing contraction, ie attention pushing/pulling something and thereby ignoring something else.

It was also self evident, and that was truly satisfying, truly resting, that the act of looking through that push and pull (attention) was connected very subtly and fundamentally to dissatisfaction, that it was born from it. The thing that allowed for this to be understood was the full emotional certainty that this was so. Everything dawning as dharmakaya, let's say. Edit : here what i mean is that, it's not like i'd never experienced that tension in looking etc., But in this case there seemed to be a confidence about why that was, an understanding of that if you will

And life was dripping with seemingly ultimate insight, it seemed that the barest reflection would yield these really really profound understandings, which i sometimes wrote down, and it seemed that I really understood the dharma now, up until the very root of ignorance. 

It seemed I was able to see DO happen in real time during daily activities, which was kind of freaky actually, seeing exactly how push/pull and ignorance created this chain reaction and identities to be born, but the freaky was part of the whole thing so...

And that was kind of like "oh, everything is unravelling now".

Anyways, guess that's it. That's what I meant when I said "vipassana feels done". I'm sure I'm not actually done, but that was a really deep, beautiful two weeks, extremely sanitizing I guess, brought about a lot of humility, awe, realness, down-to-earthness and a great sense of lack of control. THinking back on it now, which I hadn't really done, brings back a deep, heartfelt and almost teary sense of gratefulness.

Also, a lot of synchronicities happened during that retreat, just as an example, the first and last days (which i didn't count in the three times four sections) where actually Saint Francis (of Assises)'s day and the last was St Theresa of Avila's day (one of the greatest christian contemplatives). I learned that afterwards. What's funny is, I read the life of St Francis while I was there, the name of the pond on this retreat center is St Francis of Assises, and there was a young resident teacher there named François, who basically invited me to come do talks there later on, after several discussions.

Well, thank you for taking the time to read this post.

Ah, yes, finally. Since the instructions in CTNS say that after having identified the natural state, the practice becomes "undistracted ordinary  mind" and that this should be maintained at all times without efforting at all. Then further progress will come from sleep practice, being aware in your sleep. So this is why I feel drawn to that now.

But it feels to me like life circumstances are preventing me from bringing this undistracteness to all aspects of my life including sleep, which seems like the next area of work. Particularly, living with someone who is not a deep practicioner, doesn't really have a commitment to meditation/presence, and is (as is living closely with anyone) somewhat distractive and influencing daily habits. Not a source of frustration, and in fact things are going extremely smoothly globally, but perhaps I should do something about that.

Haven't practiced much since then, but written quite a bit, and am now close to finishing my first book on "esthetics and meditation". 

Ah, yes. I dropped the PhD project :p emoticon Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah, renunciation, my old friend, what a pleasure to see you again...

Pax.
 
agnostic, modified 7 Months ago.

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Sounds like an amazing retreat and really nicely described thanks. You had a ton of experiences which are way deeper than anything I ever experienced so I feel a bit presumptuous to point out the fly in the ointment, but I guess it's my turn to be a pain in the ass so here goes ...

But it feels to me like life circumstances are preventing me from bringing this undistracteness to all aspects of my life including sleep, which seems like the next area of work. Particularly, living with someone who is not a deep practicioner, doesn't really have a commitment to meditation/presence, and is (as is living closely with anyone) somewhat distractive and influencing daily habits. Not a source of frustration, and in fact things are going extremely smoothly globally, but perhaps I should do something about that.

That's some significant aversion to daily life right there. It feels like you have a split between your retreats and your daily life. Like you can go on retreats to have amazing experiences, try to bring some of that back to your daily life and if it doesn't work then just suck it up and wait until your next retreat. You say it's not a source of frustration but I would question that since you felt the need to say it, especially since you say perhaps you *should* do something about it. I could be wrong, but 'should' usually rings an alarm bell for me as to the presence of self-directed anger/frustration. 

This undistractedness is just another state of mind, it will come and go, and then what?

Sorry to be a little aggressive here and I could be wrong. But if I'm right then your practice may get stuck here, even if you do continue to have deeper and deeper experiences on retreat. It's not necessary a problem, maybe that's what you actually do want - to have a pretty smooth daily life with the occasional exotic meditation holiday thrown in. But if that's not what you want then it really is going to have to get existential - you're going to have to tease apart that split. Who is running the show? How do they decide when to go on retreat and when to suck it up at home?
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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Nice.

But i could definitely make some changes to certain circumstances which are nit optimal in the relative sense, as i'm living in a place i didn't chose with lots of cars passing by and such, and this was just supposed to be temporary etc., Just regular mundane decisions like where will i go and how should i live to be able to write this other book, to go to bed and not feel like im sleeping on the side of the road, how to make a living etc.

I'm all for accepting what can't be changed but if i can change it, why not ?

When i say no frustration, i mean "not much", not infuriating or anything like that. But remember that i'm young (27) and very much building my life still. I don't think it's necesarily about aversion.

Edit : and i don't feel like i'm not bringing any of this back home ;)
agnostic, modified 7 Months ago.

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Yeah how to make a living, that's a really tough question. I couldn't have done this when I was 27 or 37, I felt that my life had to be relatively settled first. But being a writer? That's a really tough way to make a living ... without selling out. And if you're going to have to sell out anyway, why not sell out sooner and write the books you want in comfort later?

Your book is on aesthetics and meditation right? It sounds like your interest in meditation might partly be about garnering unusual experiences to write about. Nothing wrong with that, but it's best to be clear about your objectives. I don't know what awakening is, but I do know that it's probably hiding in plain sight in the part of your life that you least want to examine.

It's quite dangerous to look backwards when making a career choice. Being a public intellectual seems like it was a pretty good gig in France for most of the 20th century, maybe not so much the 21st ...
shargrol, modified 7 Months ago.

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agnostic:
I don't know what awakening is, but I do know that it's probably hiding in plain sight in the part of your life that you least want to examine.


Good pointers agnostic and you are probably right in the quote above, too.

Spiritual practice can be very dangerous to dabble in. Even if we make quick progress -- actually, especially if we make quick progress -- it's important to remember that spiritual bypassing is a very easy temptation and in a sense it gets easier when life is basically going well. It's sort of like we learn enough meditation tricks to more effectively repress reality -- basically this is the God Realm. And life is very cruel to gods, they tend to ride high for a long while, then crash suddenly. 

Not saying this about Oliver --- just as a general rule for all of us. (I'm listening to my own words and getting the yucky feeling I always get when I consider how dangerous and sneaky and pervasive samsara is!) I suspect that even after his enlightenment, Buddha would still remark on occassions: I see you Mara!
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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There's a lot of assumptions in your comments, guys. 

Some are jumping to conclusions a bit quick.

For instance, I'm not currently looking for life or career advice. emoticon That, I reserve for people who know me well and in person, and whom I know well and in person.

This log, as most logs, is mostly an exercice in self reflection and a kind of testimony which I hope might serve as inspiration for some, perhaps ; I have appreciated the pointers and suggestions, but this is not an open-call for people I only know from this board to influence the details of my life. Thank you for respecting that.

The suggestions to stay humble and honest are appreciated. The misspelling of my name though ...

I urge all people reading this to stay critical on the internet as in life, and to keep their common sense unto themselves at all times.

May you all be well.

Cheers.
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Chris Marti, modified 7 Months ago.

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We all mean well, however mistaken we may be  emoticon
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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It's interesting, I didn't mention it but during that retreat I also felt very keenly that I needed to take my distances from internet and this forum - perhaps that is why I didn't want to post afterwards.

There are limits to such a medium of communication, in which anyone can appear and respond/freely say stuff about you or dispense commentaries in a space which is both quite intimate and utterly non-intimate.  These limits must be clearly acknowledged...

I think that can really be damaging, because in real life, we know instinctively whom we need to let ourselves be influenced by, and whom we should stay away from. Or not emoticon Actually, this advice applies to other situations too... 

This is not an attack or statement on anyone in particular, mark me - just a general reflection. 

Anyways. Bye for now.

edit : Chris : I don't doubt that, but has they say, Hell is paved with good intentions ! emoticon
agnostic, modified 7 Months ago.

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Sorry to to see you go Olivier because I do like you. If you're still reading though, I'll tell you something else that those who know you well might not tell you ...

27 is a tricky age because you think you’re still young but you’re not really. When I was 27 I was just finishing my phd, still dreaming about being a mathematician and thinking about applying for one year postdoc positions which paid a pittance. I called an old friend of my recently deceased grandfather for advice and he essentially said “What the fuck are you thinking about shit for brains? Go and get a proper job.” I felt like my whole world come crashing down around me so obviously I called my mother, being the independent young man I thought I was. She was mortified that this stodgy old accountant should try to crush the creative dreams of one oh so young and tender. I had enough sense to know that if my mother disagreed with it then it must be good advice, so off I went to work for the man.

It's not widely recognized but evolution needs another few hundred thousand years to catch up with advances in medicine. I'm sorry to tell you but at 27 you are biologically middle aged. Biologically speaking (and in most of human history), 12-14 is the age when you are primed to find a mate and procreate. With the advent of schooling and higher education that got pushed back to 18-21. My grandparents got married at 21 because they had seen a bunch of their friends get killed in the war and, as my grandfather said, ‘that’s the only way you could have sex.’ The so-called greatest generation didn’t want their kids to go through what they had to go through so they overprotected them, creating narcissistic boomers like my parents who fucked around until their mid to late 20s before settling down (sort of). Gen Xers like me obviously didn’t want to tune in and drop out like their parents, so they threw themselves into their careers before having kids in their 30s.

None of this changes the fact that by your late 20s you are middle aged – in peak physical condition and ready to help your kids have kids. Life can be very confusing being an adolescent trapped in a middle-aged body. Your mind is telling you that you are still young and the world is full of unlimited possibilities, while your body is telling you to buckle up.

Fast forward another 10-12 years and by your late 30s/early 40s you are biologically old-aged. It’s called a mid-life crisis but really it's an end-of-life crisis. You are playing in extra time, supposed to be watching your grandchildren have kids and waiting to die. And yet many of us are still looking for a partner, starting a family or trying to get a career off the ground. It’s a very confusing situation.
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Chris Marti, modified 7 Months ago.

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My grandparents got married at 21 because they had seen a bunch of their friends get killed in the war and, as my grandfather said, ‘that’s the only way you could have sex.’ The so-called greatest generation didn’t want their kids to go through what they had to go through so they overprotected them, creating narcissistic boomers like my parents who fucked around until their mid to late 20s before settling down (sort of). Gen Xers like me obviously didn’t want to tune in and drop out like their parents, so they threw themselves into their careers before having kids in their 30s.

OMG - I'm going to pile on with Olivier. I give this the over-reach award for inter-generational over-generalization



agnostic, modified 7 Months ago.

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There's actually some academic justification for this, if you're interested - The Fourth Turning by Strauss & Howe - one of the best books on history I ever read
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Chris Marti, modified 7 Months ago.

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There's actually some academic justification for this, if you're interested...
Which of course means that we can apply them to every situation  emoticon
agnostic, modified 7 Months ago.

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Chris Marti:
There's actually some academic justification for this, if you're interested...Which of course means that we can apply them to every situation  emoticon

Definitely not, they're just demographic averages. It's just that I happen to be your average middle/old aged guy handing out potentially life changing advice over the internet with zero legal liability. 
emoticon
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Chris Marti, modified 7 Months ago.

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Olivier, this is the Internet, man. When we post our "stuff" on DhO it's publicly available and prone to be interpreted in more ways than we can even imagine. I've always enjoyed your participation on DhO and I'd hate to see you get frustrated and leave, but to be honest, I think it's we posters who must exercise more caution than our thousands of potential readers and scores of responders. This is due simply to the realities of the thing. If we don't want to deal with misinterpretation then we should probably rethink our style of participation, because misinterpretation is what we're usually going to get.

My motto? "Poster, protect thyself."
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Chris Marti, modified 7 Months ago.

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Fast forward another 10-12 years and by your late 30s/early 40s you are biologically old-aged. 

I'm afraid to ask what stage I'm in at my age. Ancient? Decrepit? Dilapidated? Worn out? Useless? Rotting away on the inside? Beyond hope?

emoticon
shargrol, modified 7 Months ago.

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Chris Marti:
Fast forward another 10-12 years and by your late 30s/early 40s you are biologically old-aged. 

I'm afraid to ask what stage I'm in at my age. Ancient? Decrepit? Dilapidated? Worn out? Useless? Rotting away on the inside? Beyond hope?

emoticon

I feel like I'm in the wistleling past the graveyard stage...
agnostic, modified 7 Months ago.

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Chris Marti:
Fast forward another 10-12 years and by your late 30s/early 40s you are biologically old-aged. 

I'm afraid to ask what stage I'm in at my age. Ancient? Decrepit? Dilapidated? Worn out? Useless? Rotting away on the inside? Beyond hope?

emoticon

Sorry, tact was never my strong point. I think the Buddha said we're rotting away on the inside from the moment we are born. I remember asking my grandmother for a word of advice on her 50th wedding anniversary and all she could say was 'I don't know, we weren't supposed to live this long'. emoticon
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Chris Marti, modified 7 Months ago.

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Eh, sonny?
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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Agnostic, what a shallow, cold and cynical worldview...

All pessimists think they are the only lucid ones ... 

Realize, oh One, that despite your Pointing Out, the scientific materialist worldview and normative thinking that seems to show up in your writing when you're not going all Open Secret, IMO is bound to fabricate a grey experience...

Anyways, if you want to discuss what people's lives should be like and what goals they are supposed to pursue, what the norms of evolution and the real laws of nature actually are, you know, really really, not dharma fairy really, the real ontologically real reality and its corresponding grimness, as well as the correct times to do things, related age categories and name tags... And debate whether we should just let the older people go, you are invited to create your own thread about it. In the mean time I will stick to my current role-models, none of whom seem to fit your conception of what a good life is, but seem more satisfied with their existence, and don't seem to think they can tell people what's good and what's bad :p.

Papa che, hehe, I am flattered. All my best wishes to little Oliver and the second-time parents to be. I am with you guys in the Bar(do) ;) Can't you see that dude already passed out under the table ? Don't try to wake him up, it's not gonna work........ believe my experience !
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Chris Marti, modified 7 Months ago.

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I just realized the irony in the name of this topic: "Opinions welcome."  emoticon
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 7 Months ago.

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Chris Marti:

My motto? "Poster, protect thyself." 


To be fair, isn't that what he is doing? He is communicating his boundaries here in his log. Sure, the thread was originally named "Opinions welcome", which might sound very general, but in most cases of informed consent, one is allowed to change one's mind. Some Buddhist traditions forbid giving any advice that isn't explicitly asked for. That's not the consensual logic of this forum in general, and I deeply appreciate the eagerness to help and the generous sharing of experience here at DhO, so I'm not saying that people should wait until asked. It would be extremely ironic for me to say that, as I know that I have all too often pushed my advice on people very prematurely. I'm just saying that in this case Olivier actually explicitly asks us to refrain from some specific forms of advice, firmly but politely. We could just, you know... respect that, and thank him for trusting us enough to communicate his boundaries. If he didn't think of us as both well-meaning and capable, I don't think he would bother. 

Also, wait, what? Are you leaving, Olivier? If so, you will be missed. Just like Chris, I have enjoyed your contribution very much. I would be sad to se you leave. 
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Chris Marti, modified 7 Months ago.

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To be fair, isn't that what he is doing? 

I was referring to being circumspect before we post personal things we don't want to be exposed. Sorry to be inexact in my language.
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Chris Marti, modified 7 Months ago.

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I'm just saying that in this case Olivier actually explicitly asks us to refrain from some specific forms of advice, firmly but politely. We could just, you know... respect that, and thank him for trusting us enough to communicate his boundaries. If he didn't think of us as both well-meaning and capable, I don't think he would bother. 

That's absolutely the way it should be, yes, and what I would prefer. But I have to say again, we're posting to a forum that is open to anyone, so we can't expect specific behaviors, or requests to abide thereby, to be manifest. This is why some of us have at times created other forums that are not public, requiring a login, so that we could have more personal, deeper discussions without the public part.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 7 Months ago.

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Chris Marti:
To be fair, isn't that what he is doing? 

I was referring to being circumspect before we post personal things we don't want to be exposed. Sorry to be inexact in my language.
Chris Marti:
I'm just saying that in this case Olivier actually explicitly asks us to refrain from some specific forms of advice, firmly but politely. We could just, you know... respect that, and thank him for trusting us enough to communicate his boundaries. If he didn't think of us as both well-meaning and capable, I don't think he would bother. 

That's absolutely the way it should be, yes, and what I would prefer. But I have to say again, we're posting to a forum that is open to anyone, so we can't expect specific behaviors, or requests to abide thereby, to be manifest. This is why some of us have at times created other forums that are not public, requiring a login, so that we could have more personal, deeper discussions without the public part.


I can see that you are looking out for Olivier's best interest from your own perspective, and I appreciate the clarifications. It's good to be reminded of the need for that kind of boundaries as well. I agree that with much richer knowledge about a person than might be wise to expose in this format, it would probably be possible to be explorative enough to give more tailored advice to a larger extent, maybe even find enough common ground to adress more subtle stuff.

In my reading of the conversation at hand, I didn't get the impression that the problem was about having personal details exposed as much as about getting advice based on assumptions filling in the blanks of what has not been exposed, including areas that are clearly outside the scope of this practice log. That's why I wanted to shift the emphasis a bit. But Olivier can speak for himself much better than I can, and I don't want to barge in with my assumptions here too, so I'll stop here.

The internet is indeed frustrating at times, especially when trying to adress subtle matters. It's a miracle that so much good comes out of it despite all the limitations, like caring for each other. emoticon 
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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Linda, that's just it. You have a keen mind and big heart.

Here's the deal : I'm a very open person, although I can be sharp and seemingly intellectual, I'm actually deeply sensitive.

I don't even know how to express it but I feel weary of the driness of this place ; like a lack of some kind of emotional/mental openness, trust and wonder, non-assumption, which is what makes life valuable in my opinion because it's so connected with love, actually it is like the interface of knowledge and love and the root of any wisdom I find worthy...

I have zero interest in any kind of "awakening" from which love and innocence are absent. I'd rather stay ignorant my whole life and die ignorant.

This attitude is not youthful naïveté. After all Aristotle  identified THAUMAZEIN, marvelling, as the root of wisdom and all things good... And I wholeheartedly reject, not out of ignorance and aversion, but as wrong view - cynicism. 

By that I mean the kind of superior attitude which finds refuge in "being experienced" and knowing better, and actually tries to pull people with a bit of inspiration down - which is not the same as "down to earth" . Fuck that, without lube. Because there are these people who live and manage to keep the flame alive : that is what makes it all worth it in my view.

What I'm talking about is a mind-body ethos, one which is connected with certain views/interests, particularly the general scientific materialism area and our culture of rationality... 

It's a mentality I know very well, because I used to have it in an extreme form as a teenager - when I also dreamed of becoming a mathematician. That lead to problems.

If someone tries to impose this kind of perspective on me I will fight back - and I can be surprisingly scary, despite the big blue eyes :p

More art, more poetry, less science, less wisdom, please...

I'm probably not leaving, but I have to admit I'm weary of the grimness of the spirit here. And I know for a fact it is based on a mistake, because I experienced life in one mode, and life in the other... Because I have had the immense luck, of being very loved. That is not weakness... The weakness of love is ultimate strength...

Well anyways. Those who know what I mean, know what I mean. Good night.
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Chris Marti, modified 7 Months ago.

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I grok that Olivier. Thanks for baring your soul.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 7 Months ago.

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I do know what you mean, Olivier, and I think you put it into words beautifully. I'm grateful for how you opened your heart and exposed your throat to say this, because that kind of vulnerability is needed for the authenticity of it to come through. Respect. Thankyou!

I think there is room for more than scientific materialism here at DhO. I don't think any culture is set in stone. Let us bring the love back in! I suspect it's actually the case that it has been there all along, but it may still need some uncovering for it to be accessible. 
shargrol, modified 7 Months ago.

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(pm sent)
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 7 Months ago.

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"The misspelling of my name though ..."

I'm totally with you on this one Olivier emoticon btw, my partner is pregnant and we decided to name him Oliver and to be honest I did think about you when we made that decision. I know it's not the same name but they look similar on the paper emoticon 

Also it's fine if you leave this forum. However you can join us in The Bar(do) of Last Resort which is not really part of this forum. It's hosted in the 6 Realms and we are never sure which one as it cycles very fast! Fucking roller coaster I'm telling ya!  emoticon 
Tim Farrington, modified 7 Months ago.

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Ah, yes. I dropped the PhD project :p emoticon Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah, renunciation, my old friend, what a pleasure to see you again...

Pax.

ahh, and off the cliff he goes. Welcome to the fast track to poverty, also known as creative writing. There's no askesis like combining art and meditation: if the one doesn't obliterate you, the other will. Still, wouldn't take nothin' for my journey now, as the old gospel song goes. But seriously, mon ami . . . yikes. 

love, tim
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J W, modified 7 Months ago.

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Tim Farrington:
Ah, yes. I dropped the PhD project :p emoticon Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah, renunciation, my old friend, what a pleasure to see you again...

Pax.

ahh, and off the cliff he goes. Welcome to the fast track to poverty, also known as creative writing. There's no askesis like combining art and meditation: if the one doesn't obliterate you, the other will. Still, wouldn't take nothin' for my journey now, as the old gospel song goes. But seriously, mon ami . . . yikes. 

love, tim
Heh, from my experience, the life of a PhD candidate is not unlike the life of an ascetic... if you are studying anything in the humanities or liberal arts at least.  You're paid starvation wages for 6 years with little to no hope of any job prospect... you gotta be a pure idealist to sign up for something like that IMO.  Half the people drop out after a couple of years.  If you can somehow manage to stay out of 10's or 100's of thousands in debt, you're lucky. (And I know several that aren't that lucky)

At least that's the way it is here in the USA... students are treated kind of like footsoldiers.

Olivier, great stuff here man, and thanks for all of your contribution and inspiration here.  Totally understandable if you feel you need to step away, I've felt that need myself before.  And, if you don't come back, you will be missed, but best of luck to you wherever/whatever you end up going/doing.

Peace

J W (John)
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 7 Months ago.

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"At least that's the way it is here in the USA... students are treated kind of like footsoldiers"


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhNrqc6yvTU
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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Hey J W,

Thank you for your kind words (as well as the other kindnesses which have been expressed here, it's warmed my heart).

Yes, the PhD project was the idealistic/ascetic thing ! 25% of the poor fools who end up working in academia in europe, are seriously precarious...

It's actually now that I've ditched it that I've decided to tackle on the money business, and contrary to what's been assumed repeatedly here, I've never entertained the idea that I would make money by going into academia, or by being a writer, or by being a musician. All these things are out of love and I will sacrifice a lot for them. But I know that I will build the structure which will allow me to do all those things and more while earning a decent living. 

I'm not looking at the 20th century as a model, but much farther back - think renaissance... And I'm gonna make it ;) 

But that's off topic !

Anyways, thanks again J W, bybye
agnostic, modified 7 Months ago.

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Olivier:

It's actually now that I've ditched it that I've decided to tackle on the money business, and contrary to what's been assumed repeatedly here, I've never entertained the idea that I would make money by going into academia, or by being a writer, or by being a musician. All these things are out of love and I will sacrifice a lot for them. But I know that I will build the structure which will allow me to do all those things and more while earning a decent living. 

I'm not looking at the 20th century as a model, but much farther back - think renaissance... And I'm gonna make it ;) 

That was my goal too when I left the ivory tower. The problem is that trying to become a renaissance man turns out to be surprisingly tiring and expensive.

Unfortunately pursuing your dreams is samsara. 90% of people don't realize their dreams and remain stuck in the human realm with just a few modest successes which never quite match their expectations. 9% of people make it into the titan realm where they have to compete viciously to keep the 90% out and try to make it into the god realm. 1% become gods and see their dreams come true, only to realize that everyone else wants what they have now and is against them ... which leads to their fall straight into the hell realm.

Role models are people you want to become, just another way of avoiding who you are - this too is dependent origination.

What if awakening meant waking up to the life you have rather than trying to get the life you want?
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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Thank you, O, One, for explaining to me the mechanism of role-models. Now I will give up all dreaming - never again will I be intoxicated. I shall cross over to the furthest mountain, and there wake up to my own life, and sit on my chair all day, beyond contentment and discontent, not pursuing the illusions of the past nor those of the future ; I shall disregard the false contentments of Eros and abide in the simplifying detachment of Metta and Agape, abide in the clear light of knowing, in the bear and naked truth of the now ; and thus, free of desire, until the Deathless shows itself to be the non-arisingness of the arising of its absence. You have pacified this one through your beneficial word ; now I shall go forth into the homeless life, and meditate until I Wake Up To My Life As It Really Is, or Die Trying. Or maybe, get married, have kids, and THEN, wake up to my life As It Is... but in the future, so, to My Life As It Will Be, though perhaps not My Life, as I will have seen the no-self by then, so, Life As It Will Be.

Seriously though.

(i) You think that awake people do not have things they like to do and others they don't ? That sounds crazy to me. Just one example : the deepest, broadest, and most inspiring practicioner i've listened to is rob burbea, a man who saw the emptiness of all things and then proceeded to invent the dharma of desire, soulmaking and imaginal practices, who did not have kids nor a girlfriend that I know of and yet seemed to find great meaning, beauty, and depth in the process of his own dying. And I don't want to become him, actually, inspiration is not jealousy. That is very different. One energizes, uplifts, fills with joy ; the other, well... Further... I do love myself. And I'm not in denial emoticon I've pledged to love myself no matter what until the very last breath, and I will fulfill that promess regardless of what I may or may not become. Even if I fail to fulfil it. Get it ?

edit : Here is a recording from Rob's deathbed https://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/talk/62457/

I think you are the one doing spiritual bypassing, honestly, and imagining what awake existence is like.

Believe me, I know what you are talking about : both my parents are musicians, who pursued idealized careers and did not achieve to the level they wanted ; my step mother on the other hand is a very successful singer, who's conception of music and competitiveness I hate think is unhealthy ; and my brother's godfather is a god-like musician whose name I wont tell you, and who is now aging and losing his game.

But actually, he is a religious man, who's had a deep practice and faith, since an early age, and seems to have found profound calm and acceptance and clarity through that, and whose success I actually attribute to detachment, so that's ok. And he seems to still very very much benefit from the fruits of his engagments. He has also helped and benefited a lot of people on the way through the sharing of his findings, me including.

Very inspirational, actually.

I believe there is a specific life desire in all of us, and that this meditation business is also very much about stripping down the intoxications, and comitting to doing the things that are ours to do, which express our individuality ; that beyond emptiness, there is the process of free, and creative individualization, without necesary attachment to outcome. Second part of the heart sutra. And many awake people say that. People who are awake sometimes have a lot to offer, sometimes not.

(ii) What does it even mean, "wake up to your life as it is, not as it could be" ? There is something such as "my life as it is ?" and something else which is not that ?

There's some kind of wrong view to be teased out there.

(iii) I've always thought it would be more effective to hear someone in a Bear costume tell me about Bare Awareness :p 

edited a couple times.

Now, please stop making assumptions and guesses. I didn't want to do that, but I'm calling you out on your narcissim, as you've repeatedly asked people to do, agnostic. How effing cocky does one have to be to think they are clever enough to figure out what people's expectations and psychology are through a few posts on a board ? Should I also remind that you keep saying that you're not actually capable of true sollicitude/love and can only act like you care, but are actually in it for other reasons, spite, or something along those lines ? 
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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Question : Is the narcissism why you seem to not be able to conceive of a disinterested approach to life ? The things I do, I do mostly because I enjoy in themselves, not because I want to achieve some future goal, or be something/someone. This seems to be the key point here.........
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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Also, and this is the final chapter on my part.

Honestly, it's never too late to change course. Well, until it's too late, of course, but THEN, that's actually your life As Is :p

My aunt was a stay at home mom who married the man, my uncle, whose secretary she used to be. At 55, kids all grown up, she decided to study. Proceeded to get her BA with 100 % in all subjects. MA, same. PhD, same. Started her business. Is now making a lot of money doing something she's so passionate about she doesn't sleep at night. She'd rather be up there working than chill with us emoticon But that's not dukkha. She's happier than she was before ; not more enlightenedç sure. But she might be more satisfied thinking back of her life, on her deathbed. Less regrets, more of a sense of accomplishment and of having done the task.

Other example ; this man : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbJiy6EJLsI&feature=youtu.be

Who got enlightened and finished his medical studies in late twenties, wrote a book which was enjoyed by many and rejected by many others, proceeded to work as en ER doctor for fifteen year (YIKES), then retired early, and is currently doing a bunch of research and networking and such (YIKES), all because he loves the dharma and has a desire to help others.

Said book contains a few things on relative happiness which are of some relevance here...

Etc.
agnostic, modified 7 Months ago.

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I imagine that awake existence is just life really, nothing that special about it. It’s a very appealing idea though that awakening should be meaningful or useful to us in some way. No doubt that narrative sells spots on retreats and generates research funding.

I’m definitely not saying that people should have partners or kids. A lot of people seem happier on their own and it’s probably a bad idea to have kids unless you really want them. The planet is groaning and life is suffering right? I was just pointing out that our bodies have evolved for a certain purpose. The creative drive is strong and gets sublimated in all sorts of ways ... whether we have kids or not.

You still believe that people actually become enlightened? That’s kind of sweet really.
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Steph S, modified 7 Months ago.

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Olivier, you wanted people to get real. I'm halfway through a martini because I have the next two weeks off. I'm feeling a little loose with the keyboard, so here goes. HAHA. We'll see how I feel about this tomorrow, but I'm keeping it up, because why not?

Relative happiness is awesome and I'm glad you mentioned it. When I embarked on all this meditation stuff a decade ago, like many of the unitiated, that was honestly my main goal - before I got so deep into I realized what they were really talking about wasn't just relative happiness. I can honestly say I'm at a point in my life right now where I am what many folks would consider "standard happy" or "content." The kind of happy that through the trauma, anxiety, and depression I've had to contend with to varying degrees over the course of my life I thought sounded so bizarre.. thinking things like, "Who are these fucking assholes who are just having their go at life and are HAPPY? What the hell even is that? What does that even feel like? You mean life doesn't just feel like a major UGGGH and a chore most of the time for some people? Seriously, how?"

In fact, the level of contentedness I'm experiencing on average right now has even made me consider, do I even need to continue this meditation thing? Didn't I basically reach that initial goal of why I started meditating in the first place? (although the word goal doesn't feel quite right for it, but I'm using it for convienence). I wonder what would happen if I just quit and folded my hand right now. Would things revert? Or have the insights I've gained been so irreversable that I'll always somehow be able to tap into that brightness, quietude, clear love that streams endlessly, regardless. I have no idea, as I haven't quit meditating. And I don't plan to. I also think the dharma wants to finish itself, so even if there was thoughts of wanting to quit (because let's get real I've had that thought many times over the years).. I'd probably get pulled back somehow eventually, like I have every other time. I'm not saying this because I think anyone here is talking about quitting. I just wanted to talk candidly because that's what you asked for and your comment about relative happiness sparked these thoughts. We're not all materliasts here. I used to be someone who only really believed in science and was a major skeptic of "spiritual" things, but the dharma genuinely changed that for me.

Right now I think I've reached the point of my practice when I just want to have some fun and play around with it. Now that I'm this far in it's like, why stop? I'm genuinely curious to see what else is possible because I know its A TON. I'm utterly fascinated by how reality works based on what I've seen so far. The human condition is flawless and beautiful even with all its ugliness—the things we're capable of is bewildering to me in the best possible way. I love the adventurer aspect of it, like we're exploring the furthest fringes like some deep sea explorers or outer space kosmonauts. There's something so, so special happening here and I need to keep tapping into it and seeing what else is there.

Anyway, you're cool and I like you. Stick around. I won't give you unsolicited advice because it's not my style. You're doing fine. Go for your dreams, both the relative reality and ultimate reality ones.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 7 Months ago.

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"I'm genuinely curious to see what else is possible because I know its A TON."

And maybe, ... just maybe, emoticon it is ONLY an itch, and the rest is fun-games Disneyland of the "advanced" (burp) La-la Land emoticon emoticon 

Then again I might be off on this one , ... hm? ... lemme think ... Oh emoticon look! A Butterfly! emoticon (runs after it in excitement) ... ... 
Tim Farrington, modified 7 Months ago.

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I can't buy the view that "It's the Internet, Jake" is relevant to this discussion, as if it's the last scene in the movie and there's nothing for the anti-hero to do but walk away from the tragedy with a ruined nose, leaving the bodies in the street. This isn't Chinatown, it's DhO, and the people on this thread so far are not a random selection of op-in trolls, hungry ghosts, and cruel strangers. I have the most troll-like track record of anyone on this thread so far, and I've only been banned from here once, righteously, by one of the finest moderators the place ever had. I strive to be worthy of the degree of decency and compassion, the intelligence and commitment to practice, and the sheer depth of soul that prevails here. This is a sangha, and a great one, populated by a beautiful collection of spiritual assholes.

agnostic, I have never seen you on a horse this high, and I've seen you on horses where the feet never touched the ground, and the horse didn't exist, and there was no ground. Are you really going to take your stand as the cynical uncle who has seen it all in this dog-eat-dog world, and can tell the poor deluded dreamer that the bottom line is money? Here, where our lineage goes back to a guy with one all-weather robe and a begging bowl? 

Olivier, are you really going to let a little patronization make you storm out of the kitchen? It's not even that fucking hot, man. You've seen kitchens hotter than this a thousand times and gotten your cooking done. Take a smoke break, go have a few cold ones at the bar next door, tell george to stick it where the light and the darkness are one. You are beloved here. You're at a point on your path where you're committing to what draws you most deeply in a way that is less than prudent, all things considered. Just keep your cool and keep your feet moving. The begging bowl, strangely enough, always ends up with enough to keep you from starving, from what I've see of this dog-eat-dog world.

love, a random internet troll
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Chris Marti, modified 7 Months ago.

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Tim - the comments that hurt most are from those we know and respect. My "It's the Internet" comment was about that more than random strangers and trolls, but they can hurt us, too. I just think it wise to remember that we can't prevent the hurt if we decide to participate honestly and if we're open about how we feel and think. Just like any endeavor - nothing ventured, nothing gained. I know you get this.

Olivier - you're smart, well-read and you have real heart. I've long been keenly interested in reading your comments here and it hurts me to think you'd leave. I want you to stay, please. I've learned from you.

Agnostic - stop digging.
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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Hey Guys,

Thank you Chris, Tim, Linda, Papa Che, Steph, for your messages of appreciation. Very heart warming.

I want to point ot that what I was talking about is, I think, really as much, or mostly, caused by the sheer medium : internet. Chris is right, here, I think there's just inherent limits to the thing, and I'm sure if all of us were to find ourselves at some retreat center, practicing and exchanging, hearing each others' voices, seeing each others' bodies, etc., it would be quite different. Less distractions, etc.

So don't think I'm just shitting on this place, which is really great as the internet goes, honestly, and has been very beneficial to my practice, I think.  I mean, the sheer reaction here is more than enough proof that the people who hang around here are mostly good, patient, appreciative, open, etc. No question about that.

I think I'm just the kind of guy who can't just go so far into this, explore the nature of reality to its depths, etc., on the side of an otherwise conventional life at the same time. I don't know, not sure...

So I do feel like there's a problem in spending a lot of time on an internet forum, which might also be a personal thing, sure. A solution might be, as chris said, to be more protective of what I put out and engage, but again, that's what you guys like about me I imagine, I'm very engaged and pretty radical in fact. Would be kind of paradoxical to superficialize my presence here, you know what I mean ?

Like, I recently had some interesting experience (vertigo/near fainting) which made me start thinking about death again. Something both very disturbing/moving and powerful/fascinating about the sense of things there. Being face with this absolute powerlessness/radical transformation possible in a split second/everything being taken away from you, etc. I've been thinking about it a lot and wanting to bring it into practice and life.

When I started all this, it wasn't about "proving that fruitions exist", or "just this" or "enlightenment is like pooping", it was something about life and death, which set my life straight, made it profoundly joyful, and possible to imagine dying very serenely and more. That's what I'm actually interested in exploring along with others who are interested. This thing about mortality and beyond.

Oh yes, I see now, this will clarify it. I'm talking about sacredness. A lot of this stuff is sacred to me, or should lead to sacredness. It's impossible to have sacredness in a place which is not singled out, separated from regular life somehow - that's the meaning of it, sacrum is separated. Especially when you have people who are gonna show up and make fart jokes about this life changing moment, you know what I mean emoticon

Or, when someone suggests something which is in the domain of poetic perception, as a meditation instruction, or very real existential possibility with inherent value, it usually gets classified as "waxing poetry", or "woo woo", or downgraded as "froo froo stuff".

Which is pretty offputting and violent to someone who's been writing poetry on impermanence since 13, lol, who spends lots of time these days playing bach and medieval church music, gets an enormous emotional kick out of Rilke, and is in the process of finishing a book started 1.5 years ago on the relationship between esthetic experiences and meditation.

Not that I'm against a good fart joke now and then, far from me this idea ! I do fart a lot. My gf loves it, you can imagine. emoticon

It's just that the reason why I'm here is not for fart jokes, you know what I mean, it's about the nature of reality, existential transformation, meaning of life and death, learning to live and to die well, and there is an inherent solemnity to that... 

For instance, the first four fays of my previous retreat felt like the most fruitful, actually. Doing the brahmaviharas, and particularly, seeing the world as a place of suffering and transforming that into joy through breathing - was very powerful. I'm gonna pursue that much more. But the feelings that arise from that have nothing to do with Wake Up to Your Life, it's about transformation and mysticism, the poetry and infinity of existence. One doesn't have to cling to this, to want to infuse existence with this sense. But here, there will automatically be suggestions of the kind ; it will sometimes be reduced to a reductionnist vision of spirituality, which I know for a fact, is not clearer or more lucid, just smaller. Or, when you experience deep understandings about the profound interconnectedness of various religions/spiritual systems, and express that understanding, which is not something even questionable, because it's an understanding, and then someones comes and says - NOPE, that's not buddhadharma... blablabla... I mean, it's not that it's wrong to discuss and all. But what i'm interested in is deepening this thing i understood... Which perhaps someone with a certain view will come and say "hey, maybe you're looking for special experiences to talk about, but that has nothing to do with awakening ; you'll know what I mean when you grow up"...

Well, ok then. Very different than the conversations I had about all this with the resident teacher at my retreat center, who was actually keenly interested what I had to say, and basically invited me to talk there. Although, sure, other downsides there, FPMT dogmatism too, but since it was IRL, it's just different, here it was someone who was pretty much a renunciate.

And I'm sorry that this is turning into some kind of theatrical scene here. I'm definitely not blaming this on anyone you know, it's just circumstancial, structural, I think. There is something deflating about the possibilities of anything entering your field of consciousness unexpectedly, particularly, advice and other magical forms of communication of people who actually are trying to shift your energies, in a way, you know what i mean ? Not necesarily wih bad intentions, of course, but it's got effects.

And you know what they say : "Beatus vir qui non abiit in concilio impiorum, ..."

So anyways, stuff to reflect upon for me. I think it has more to do with being clear about what I want or not, than with the DhO itself, which, I repeat, has brought me a lot. 

I might just be looking for religion, actually, more than just a meditation practice ; something which comes regulate all domains of life, with collective rituals, etc.

Xox
Tim Farrington, modified 7 Months ago.

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"Beatus vir qui non abiit in concilio impiorum, ..." Psalm 1:1

"And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, 'They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that  meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'" Matthew 9:11-13

I have to confess, mon ami: I AM here for the fart jokes.



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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 7 Months ago.

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I think this is a very important conversation. I'm referring to two different things here. One is the metacommunication where we take the leap to be more vulnerable and learn more about each other's boundaries. For me, that's Bodhicitta right there. I love to see that happen. That's the sort of thing that I live for.

The other thing is this particular type of boundary per se, how we need our practice and our life to be. That is for us to investigate if that's what needs to happen, but it's not for others to poke around in when it's not wanted. In some cases it can be bad timing because the process needs to deal with other stuff at the moment, or it can cause resistance that messes things up, or just be confusing because we misunderstand each other - and in other cases it is simply not our path in this lifetime and that's just the way it's supposed to be. And that's not anybody else's business. And if we are too attached to the outcome of somebody else's practice, that is probably something for us to investigate more in our own practice. There seems to be a widely spread culture here to passionately deconstruct everything that is holy for others while at the same time neglecting to see the self-grasping, pride, aggression, attachment to view etc that is embedded in our behavior. I'm embarrassed to say that I'm no better myself. I have done that. Not intentionally, but I get caught up in it. It is all too easy to do it out of misguided care, and the self-grasping that sneaks up on us can make it really messy, not least when it's all entangled. 

I can relate to the need for some things to be sacred. I separate it on a different axis than you, perhaps. I have a practice that I try to integrate as much as possible into my daily life, as I don't want it to be separate. But then apart from that, I also have sacred rituals that are part of my practice. I enjoy it esthetically and it helps me to remember some pointers that are very helpful to me, and it raises Bodhicitta and gives juice to my practice. I was recently hurt when some practicioners (outside of DhO) expressed strong aversion to some rituals that I find beautiful and made it sound like they were both delusional and harmful. Those rituals are about compassion towards all sentient beings. Now and then things like that happen here at DhO too (and based on what I have seen of the weird situation with Bikkhu Analayo intentionally attacking Daniel's credibility as a person, it seems to be a widely spread issue). In most cases people probably mean well, but I don't think it's good for the world. Also, I think a whole lot of the poking is based on assumptions that are misguided. 

I sometimes really wish I could talk about all the things I have questions about without feeling that I'm making a fool of myself. I'd like to be less self-grasping, but as a matter of fact, I'm not quite there yet, so shame makes me miserable. I have hypotheses about possible ways of existing "after" full liberation that would be without any individual karma and without continuity as we think of it and yet make it possible to be there as a resource when needed. I would like to be able to talk about it, but I find that it's easiest to reserve such conversations to people who go through regular psychoses and therefore don't judge. Two of the persons I can talk to most freely have both been banned from this forum during a mania. When I try to talk about stuff that diverges from the consensual reality, I find that I get talked down to. For instance, I'm assumed to have just bought into superstition without any critical thinking. That is not what it's about. Rather, I'm trying to open up from the narrow mindset of buying into normality, because I find it oppressing and limiting and fear-based for me in my practice and my life. Let's say that the views of normality are a pink elephant. If I'm told not to think about a pink elephant, I'm very likely to think of a pink elephant. On the other hand, if instead I tune into the possibilities of green elephants with purple dots, yellow elephants, turqoise elephants with golden stripes, and occasional rainbow-colored dragons, it is much easier to let go of the pink elephant. 
agnostic, modified 7 Months ago.

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Olivier:

I think I'm just the kind of guy who can't just go so far into this, explore the nature of reality to its depths, etc., on the side of an otherwise conventional life at the same time. I don't know, not sure...

So I do feel like there's a problem in spending a lot of time on an internet forum, which might also be a personal thing, sure. A solution might be, as chris said, to be more protective of what I put out and engage, but again, that's what you guys like about me I imagine, I'm very engaged and pretty radical in fact. Would be kind of paradoxical to superficialize my presence here, you know what I mean ?

Hi Olivier,

I think that’s a very mature decision. I see that you have a good strong heart and a very rich life ahead of you, which will doubtless bring blessings to many. I am sorry that I was such an asshole through all of this.

It gives me about as much pleasure to spoil people’s dreams of enlightenment as it would to tell my 6 year old daughter that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. The reason I do it is because I feel that in this case it is better to find out sooner rather than later. At least that is what I observe from studying the dharma scene from a distance. Maybe I would have a different experience if I got more involved.

I actually think you might have a better chance of nibbana sneaking up and catching you by surprise in daily life when you are not looking for it, rather than searching for it on retreats or obscure internet forums. It’s always right there in front of your eyes - just a moment’s recognition away. What makes it so tricky is that it is so ordinary. You don’t recognize it while you are looking for something special and unfamiliar. My best guess is that you will see it once you are ready to let yourself see it.

Bonne chance, mon ami.
George
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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Agnostic, please listen to this https://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/talk/31520/
agnostic, modified 7 Months ago.

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Olivier:
Agnostic, please listen to this https://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/talk/31520/

Really nice dharma talk thanks. Too bad Rob is no longer with us. Agreed with pretty much everything he said. Good exposition of the foundations of tantra - fabrication and emptiness of perceptions, personalities, beliefs, cultures, worldviews, philosophies, religions, realities etc.

I didn't know you were interested in tantra. It's a kind of game right where you engage with another person and play with each other's manifestation, sometimes in opposition and sometimes in harmony, constantly seeking to respond to each other's energy. It needs some tension to work though, otherwise the energy is all flowing in the same direction. What's the point? To find an opening, something which might just shock you out of your mindset enough to see a different possibility ...
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 7 Months ago.

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agnostic:
Olivier:
Agnostic, please listen to this https://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/talk/31520/

Really nice dharma talk thanks. Too bad Rob is no longer with us. Agreed with pretty much everything he said. Good exposition of the foundations of tantra - fabrication and emptiness of perceptions, personalities, beliefs, cultures, worldviews, philosophies, religions, realities etc.

I didn't know you were interested in tantra. It's a kind of game right where you engage with another person and play with each other's manifestation, sometimes in opposition and sometimes in harmony, constantly seeking to respond to each other's energy. It needs some tension to work though, otherwise the energy is all flowing in the same direction. What's the point? To find an opening, something which might just shock you out of your mindset enough to see a different possibility ...
I'll just say this: no, that's not it. 
Tim Farrington, modified 7 Months ago.

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agnostic:
Olivier:

I think I'm just the kind of guy who can't just go so far into this, explore the nature of reality to its depths, etc., on the side of an otherwise conventional life at the same time. I don't know, not sure...

So I do feel like there's a problem in spending a lot of time on an internet forum, which might also be a personal thing, sure. A solution might be, as chris said, to be more protective of what I put out and engage, but again, that's what you guys like about me I imagine, I'm very engaged and pretty radical in fact. Would be kind of paradoxical to superficialize my presence here, you know what I mean ?

Hi Olivier,

I think that’s a very mature decision. I see that you have a good strong heart and a very rich life ahead of you, which will doubtless bring blessings to many. I am sorry that I was such an asshole through all of this.

It gives me about as much pleasure to spoil people’s dreams of enlightenment as it would to tell my 6 year old daughter that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. The reason I do it is because I feel that in this case it is better to find out sooner rather than later. At least that is what I observe from studying the dharma scene from a distance. Maybe I would have a different experience if I got more involved.

I actually think you might have a better chance of nibbana sneaking up and catching you by surprise in daily life when you are not looking for it, rather than searching for it on retreats or obscure internet forums. It’s always right there in front of your eyes - just a moment’s recognition away. What makes it so tricky is that it is so ordinary. You don’t recognize it while you are looking for something special and unfamiliar. My best guess is that you will see it once you are ready to let yourself see it.

Bonne chance, mon ami.
George

George, you just don't get it. You don't fucking get it. You have been a bull in the china shop on this thread, relentlessly condescending, repeatedly smug and superior and patronizing. And now you want to pat Olivier on the head on his way out? Fuck that shit.
I am sorry that I was such an asshole through all of this.

i don't actually think you are sorry in the least. You fucking wrote a new book on how to be an asshole through this, and you're still writing new material even in the wreckage of the china shop, a wreckage you mostly made on your own. Do you really believe you performed some kind of thankless, selfless, heroic service to Olivier and all sentient beings by letting him know that Santa Claus is a construct? Do you really think Olivier is a fucking idiot? Because you're talking to him as if you do think that. You're being an asshole even as you tell him you're sorry for being an asshole.

That is clever as fuck, I will grant you. It's one of your most endearing qualities, in general, how readily you can cop to being an asshole, or even a "narcissistic sociopath." But what the fuck good does it do if you don't stop doing it?

We're done rounds on this before, you and me. One of the tells is when you start talking too much about the Cosmic Fucking Joke, as if you get it now, and the rest of us have no sense of humor and will just have to catch up. All you can do, you say, is throw up your hands and laugh at the glorious absurdity of it all. But your cosmic joke never is funny, oddly enough. And your laughter always sounds forced to me. 

Yeah, wow, "enlightenment" is a construct. And love. And dignity. And warmth, and kindness, and heart. You have cosmic joked your way beyond all that santa claus shit for six year olds. But it's a heartless fucking worldview you spew, when you're on this high horse of enlightenment is nothing special, it's already alreadyness, you poor deluded strivers just don't get it.

I think you owe Olivier a genuine apology, without embedding it in a greasy ball of patronizing crap. And I think you should get your head out of your ass right now. Stop apologizing for being an asshole in a way that matters, by actually trying to stop being one.

love, tim
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 7 Months ago.

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We have only one rule in this place emoticon and that is ELE ! Cmon' people we can do this! https://youtu.be/2nXJe9i70DE
Tim Farrington, modified 7 Months ago.

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Papa Che Dusko:
We have only one rule in this place emoticon and that is ELE ! Cmon' people we can do this! https://youtu.be/2nXJe9i70DE

Jesus got up one day a little later than usual. He had been dream-
ing so deep there was nothing left in his head. What was it?
A nightmare, dead bodies walking all around him, eyes rolled
back, skin falling off. But he wasn’t afraid of that. It was a beau-
tiful day. How ’bout some coffee? Don’t mind if I do. Take a little
ride on my donkey, I love that donkey. Hell, I love everybody.

"Goodtime Jesus" by James Tate
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 7 Months ago.

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My 4 year old just told me "Dad you are dumb!" 
I think he has cracked the ultimate truth!  emoticon 
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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Hey guys,

Tim - my hero. I thought I wouldn't say anything because i reckoned people were probably not being fooled by Agnostic's show, but you did, and I thank you for it.

Ok, I think I have a duty to say something here for the sake of others who are reading.

It might not be obvious to you from the outside because there isn't that much information about me. But agnostic has been doing pretty heavy manipulation of both his self image and mine, and crafted both through silently activating false assumptions about me, repeatedly, through his messages, in a way which of course belittles me and makes him shine.

It's pretty well done, so well done actually, that for a while it was a bit of a mind fuck. But then I understood what was going on.

That's, IME, the characteristic of personality disorders : you see someone act or say things which from your perspective just can't really be explained. Like : "No, it can't be that - because I would never do that on puprose." This kind of thing... Then, if it's a kind of abusive thing, usually, good people will find excuses for the other person.

In that case, I would encourage people to read up on Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

It's a real thing.

George keeps telling us he has it and we're kind of not taking that seriously I think.

Well, reading up on NPD just described what I am perceiving here. I won't elaborate, you can make your own judgment.

The thing with personality disorders, from my experience, which is small, is that the flaws we see and try to adress, can't be seen by the other person ; or if they are seen, they can't be acted upon. That's why it's a personality disorder and not a flaw. And that's why, to quote Dan Ingram, they're such "a tough nut to crack".

Tim - think about it seriously though. I'm just saying we should be aware that these things exist. We should be compassionate but should also protect ourselves, and I think it's sufficiently recognized that PD such as N are important sources of social problems that we should educate ouselves about them seriously for everyone's sake.

As an fyi, NPD is considered as part of the "malignant triad" of personality disorders...

Not trying to defame anyone here, this is just an invitation to exert caution. There are these people and they are part of society, and they do a lot of damage.

Cheers.
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Chris Marti, modified 7 Months ago.

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That is clever as fuck, I will grant you. It's one of your most endearing qualities, in general, how readily you can cop to being an asshole, or even a "narcissistic sociopath." But what the fuck good does it do if you don't stop doing it?

For some with these conditions, it is literally impossible to admit fault - in a deeply honest, meaningful way. They will admit fault when it's meaningless, and thinking that's banking good karma for when it's really needed, as in, "See, I can say it's my fault, and I do say I'm sorry!" So carrying on with the charade of competence and the desperate need for being in control, through manipulation, is their forte. I have long worked with someone like this and that long practice has made these tactics easier to spot.

It's both saddening and maddening, all at the same time.
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissism#Narcissistic_personality_disorder

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True_self_and_false_self#Lowen

(fun fact, Winnicott was my grandmother's uncle or great-uncle !)
agnostic, modified 7 Months ago.

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Olivier:
Hey guys,

Tim - my hero. I thought I wouldn't say anything because i reckoned people were probably not being fooled by Agnostic's show, but you did, and I thank you for it.

Ok, I think I have a duty to say something here for the sake of others who are reading.

It might not be obvious to you from the outside because there isn't that much information about me. But agnostic has been doing pretty heavy manipulation of both his self image and mine, and crafted both through silently activating false assumptions about me, repeatedly, through his messages, in a way which of course belittles me and makes him shine.

It's pretty well done, so well done actually, that for a while it was a bit of a mind fuck. But then I understood what was going on.

That's, IME, the characteristic of personality disorders : you see someone act or say things which from your perspective just can't really be explained. Like : "No, it can't be that - because I would never do that on puprose." This kind of thing... Then, if it's a kind of abusive thing, usually, good people will find excuses for the other person.

In that case, I would encourage people to read up on Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

It's a real thing.

George keeps telling us he has it and we're kind of not taking that seriously I think.

Well, reading up on NPD just described what I am perceiving here. I won't elaborate, you can make your own judgment.

The thing with personality disorders, from my experience, which is small, is that the flaws we see and try to adress, can't be seen by the other person ; or if they are seen, they can't be acted upon. That's why it's a personality disorder and not a flaw. And that's why, to quote Dan Ingram, they're such "a tough nut to crack".

Tim - think about it seriously though. I'm just saying we should be aware that these things exist. We should be compassionate but should also protect ourselves, and I think it's sufficiently recognized that PD such as N are important sources of social problems that we should educate ouselves about them seriously for everyone's sake.

As an fyi, NPD is considered as part of the "malignant triad" of personality disorders...

Not trying to defame anyone here, this is just an invitation to exert caution. There are these people and they are part of society, and they do a lot of damage.

Cheers.

Glad you got your mind back and are feeling more comfortable.

Thanks Tim for playing the part of the White Knight.

Yes NPD is a serious disorder and the best advice is to avoid having relationships with narcissists if you can.

I'm coming to the conclusion that awakening is too terrifying a prospect for many people. You have to accept everything about yourself which you would rather ignore and let go of everything which you hold most dear, including your most cherished beliefs. That's the true meaning of renunciation unfortunately. I can understand the desire to retreat back into your comfortable mental shell and tolerate a mild amount of dukkha. It's ironic that basic sanity - letting go of your psychological defense mechanisms - should make you seem so crazy.
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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Agnostic - Yes, I personally agree with the notion that the best course of action is to avoir such relationships.

I admire those who insist out of genuine compassion, but I don't play those games.

Hence I am now formally asking you to stay away from this log and myself - and let that be the end of this spat.

Wishing you the best, agnostic.

--

I'll add, for the sake of readers, that agnostic is not as advanced as he will make you think he is, and that you should also exert caution when he gives you pointing out advice and tries to delude you into buying his grim version of the thing. Own your practice, don't let anyone influence your life. There is a delightful spaciousness, clarity and freshness of existence which can be achieved and accompany you through the highs and lows of this unfolding, utterly out of control existence.

Notice that the fact that finding the prospect of letting one'sdefense mechanisms down so terrifying, makes a lot of sense in the context of NPD. One definition of narcissism is the the False Self is overinvested and the True Self is damaged and rejected. In that case, seeing through the false self indeed seems like a very scary thing. I'm truly sorry that this might be the case for agnostic, truly... but generalizing that to others is a mistake.

This has NOT been the case for me, on the contrary. I have gone on a total of several months of retreat now, over time, which isn't much compared to some, certainly, but I can tell you that none of these retreats involved terrifying shedding of psychological defense mechanisms... For me, the terrifying things happened during first path. Seeing through those, seeing that the stick was a stick, not a snake, has brought about persistent happiness and joy... Which is now basically constant.

This is not a subtle thing, people have noticed. My relationships are so much better. My life is so much easier. I recover from difficult times much more naturally. I am more humble, more real, very mortal still, which is perhaps scary, but now equipped with the necessary tools which allow one to face this suffering condition and transform it into joy. 

And I'm not exceptionnal, people can do this, agnostic can do it, I have faith in that.

Well, enough said...

Listen to the ones who you consider to be god good (lol emoticon ! typo) examples and speak to your heart. Be clear about your boundaries. 

Here are a couple of quotes from Dogen.

”Life is short and no one knows what the next moment will bring. Open your mind while you have the opportunity, thereby gaining the treasures of wisdom, which in turn you can share abundantly with others, bringing them happiness.”

“Life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken. Awaken! Take heed, do not squander your life.”

And for my own sake, I will add this other Dogen quote, contradicting some advice by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal in CTNS to not teach/help out too soon : 

”Foolish people think that if they help others first, their own benefit will be lost, but this is not so. Beneficial action is an act of oneness, benefiting self and others together.”

Pax.
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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As counterpoint, here is an intersting video about empathy/empaths with advice. (edit : well the guy links to his coaching site at the end ;) but it's still interesting) I see that i've spontaneously implemented the advice he gives throughout the years, like journaling, metacognitive awareness of emotions, etc. thought it might be heplful for some...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMMRWR3bHuk


I feel like meditation has made me more sensitive to everything while also more able to handle that sensitivity. This also means more receptivity to other people's "energies". The practice can, perhaps should, prompt emotional/psychological work that is needed to be able to not be confused about what/whose emotions you're feeling, as well as, providing the necessary inner space/availability to actually notice what's going on better and handle it calmly. Less pre-occupation => more openness space for the rest of the world and others ; more sensate clarity and emotional maturity => becoming better at understanding and advising others, which seems to be a strong trait of empaths.

For me it really feels like emotions are not much of a problem anymore but a hugely valuable source of information, and that the seeming end of being pre-occupied by personal issues has made it all the more clear that when emotions/pain happen, it's because there's something to understand, so, not to be repressed ! It seems these days that strong/not particularly pleasant emotions are now welcomed with curiosity and interest more than anything for what they will reveal...

WHen I reflect on it, I would say that empathy is something that gives you the ability to solve other people's problems by living them and having to solve them for yourself. lol.
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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Because there is both a right and wrong way to understand such phrases as “ordinary knowing,” “doing nothing in mind” or “beyond expression,” you have to be clear about this crucial point: same words, higher meaning.5 When you are, you will come to an experiential understanding of the profound Dharma.

While resting in the natural flow of the experience of mind itself, some people just try to stay clear and aware. They end up in mind consciousness6 thinking, “It’s so clear!” Some people hold on to an empty serenity, in which knowing seems to have gone empty. Both are holding on to subject-object experiences associated with mind consciousness.

When these experiences arise, with steady continuous attention look right at the knowing of clarity and what holds on to clarity or the knowing of emptiness and what holds on to emptiness. Dig out the stake of consciousness that holds on to subject and object. When a pristine, transparent, dimensionless, empty clarity arises on its own, unshakeable, fresh and alive, that is called “awareness itself.” Free from the coverings of held experiences, awareness, timeless awareness, arises, utterly fresh and clear.

[...]

The practice consists of peaceful resting, the steady continuity of attention when you rest in the natural flow, and insight, knowing that recognizes its own clarity and presence, joining through their own momentum. When you stabilize this practice, knowing that is undifferentiated resting and insight, that is, timeless natural flow and natural sheer clarity — naturally present timeless awareness — an experiential understanding of Great Completion,
7 will arise.

[...]

A naturally present timeless awareness arises, awareness that is the pure being of experience that has always been present in your experience. Because this pure being is not different from the pure being of all experience, it is also the sheer clarity that is what you are.9

[...]

What is a measure of progress? Night-time sheer clarity takes hold. What are signs that you are on the right path? Faith, compassion and wisdom grow through their own momentum. How does direct experience come easily with little difficulty? You will know this through your own experience. Why is this path profound and fast? Without doubt, when you work at this practice and pour your energy into it, your direct experience will be similar to the experience of those who have engaged this or similar practices.

What do you attain when you practice the sheer clarity of your own experience?10 When the spurious distortions of conceptual thinking and associated patterns have naturally cleared and the two kinds of knowing have effortlessly developed,11 you experience eternal being12 and the three dimensions13 are naturally present.

Profound

Secret

Sacred


From : 
https://unfetteredmind.org/a-light-in-the-dark/
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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For Tim

The Light, Changed by Yves Bonnefoy. Translation John Naughton

We no longer see each other in the same light,
We no longer have the same eyes, the same hands.
The tree is closer, and the water’s voice more lively,
Our steps go deeper now, among the dead.

God, who are not, put your hand on our shoulder,
Rough cast our body with the weight of your return,
Finish blending our souls with these stars,
These woods, these bird cries, these shadows and these days.

Give yourself up in us the way fruit tears apart,
Have us disappear in you. Reveal to us
The mysterious meaning in what is merely simple
And would have fallen without fire in words without love.
Olivier, modified 7 Months ago.

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Just a paste from something I wrote in another thread, summing up my current view of the path. A work in progress :p Wanted to keep a trace of it.


A lot of work is needed, for most people, meditative/psychological/emotional.perceptive, to actually get to a point where some kind of "filter" is taken off perception and life can manifest in all its glory. This might entail several transformations having happened beforehand, with perhaps discrete events and/or gradual shifts, but it's perhaps one of the most striking one as an event. Different people with different make up experience this differently, for some it might be less noticeable, but plenty report a one time even where it seems that the whole thing is illuminated all of a sudden.The intensity may wear down but from then on, there is a sharp clarity to all perceptions which remains and a new depth of insight becomes accessible upon reflection. It can change the way you've been thinking about meditation and consciousness in general, moving one from attention to awareness in a very direct way. A permanent reduction of perceptive ignorance, might we say.

This, I would say, is the natural state, and it's a kind of peak insight, which is just basically becoming aware that the whole thing is aware and illuminated. 

Then, it becomes a more subtle game of letting things manifest as they are and from this subtle way of modalizing consciousness, one eventually starts understanding things about the nature of perception, mind, experience, non-locatability, unfindability, emptiness and vividness, etc.

With further contemplation, these things become more and more apparent, but the experience doesn't necessarily change so much after that. There might be no mind moments, non-dual experiences, etc., but from then on, "the experience is the same, the realization evolves."

This last quote is actually from Gampopa. My take is that the event is actually the beginning of the third of the mahayana paths, and that from then on one is progressing through the "bodhisattva grounds".

So, to sum up: purification of body speech and mind leading to progressive clarification of the field with threshold effects, then breakthrough and then further contemplation on the new world which leads to more and more refined realizations, which are understandings about the nature of the thing, a kind of deeply felt body mind understanding which goes way beyond simple rational understanding.

Explorations continue, and start seeing the deep connections between different aspects of experience which condition each other and modalize the whole thing in return. In particular, we start exploring the deep connection between desire and perception, and in particular, the ways of relating to things which cause contractions of the field, or obscure it, etc. The connections between those mechanisms and grosser worldly identities and events starts also becoming very clear. 

Then there is supposed a kind of final insight, at least in the 4 path model.

Some say it is about the nature of looking, or something much more definitive about the nature of subject object. In any case, whether that correlates to "4th path" or not, there will be a moment when it will become apparent that the meditation methods are not other than the realization they seek. Thus, the tracks disappear, trackless path - there was no path, but there was...

It's actually not so clear to me, some people seem to consider that 4th path is not an "end" of anything, some do...

In any case, I think many agree that the more we practice, the deeper the Great Mystery gets.

Let me just add that several traditions speak of further development, as many 4th path people here also do. 

René Guénon calls the "true man" what theravada buddhism calls the Arahat, I think the name comes from Taoism. He also says that there are many more levels of realization afterwards, the highest being the "transcendant man". You can read about this in his book The Great Triad. Obviously, buddhism thinks a buddha is beyond an arahat. It's interesting to realize that this is not proprietary buddhism, though.

Guénon says that from the point of view of ordinary men, the True Man and the Transcendant Man are indistinguishable...

I'm starting to believe this...
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Chris Marti, modified 7 Months ago.

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