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Opinions welcome Olivier 4/27/19 5:13 PM
RE: Opinions welcome shargrol 4/28/19 6:38 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 4/28/19 1:11 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 8/2/19 12:21 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Edward 8/2/19 3:35 PM
RE: Opinions welcome shargrol 8/2/19 5:03 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Noah D 8/2/19 11:32 PM
2nd/3rd path ? Olivier 9/1/19 3:03 PM
RE: 2nd/3rd path ? Edward 9/1/19 3:05 PM
RE: 2nd/3rd path ? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/1/19 6:04 PM
RE: 2nd/3rd path ? Olivier 9/2/19 7:39 AM
RE: 2nd/3rd path ? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/2/19 10:42 AM
RE: 2nd/3rd path ? Anicca Dukkha Anatta 9/3/19 1:28 AM
RE: 2nd/3rd path ? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/3/19 2:20 AM
RE: 2nd/3rd path ? Olivier 9/3/19 11:50 AM
RE: Opinions welcome shargrol 9/4/19 8:37 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 9/5/19 7:14 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Shaun Steelgrave 9/5/19 8:12 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 9/7/19 2:15 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 10/27/19 1:53 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/28/19 4:13 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 10/28/19 7:01 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 1/17/20 4:35 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Smiling Stone 1/17/20 11:47 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 1/20/20 8:13 AM
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RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 1/31/20 2:31 PM
RE: Opinions welcome shargrol 1/31/20 4:05 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 1/31/20 5:05 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 2/11/20 4:10 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Not two, not one 2/12/20 3:31 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 2/12/20 4:18 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Not two, not one 2/12/20 11:52 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 2/12/20 3:02 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 2/12/20 6:00 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 2/12/20 6:08 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 2/12/20 6:28 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Stirling Campbell 2/12/20 4:09 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 2/12/20 5:33 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Stirling Campbell 2/13/20 10:16 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 2/13/20 11:12 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Stirling Campbell 2/13/20 4:11 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 2/15/20 5:08 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Stirling Campbell 2/17/20 1:58 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 2/17/20 12:45 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Stirling Campbell 2/17/20 2:06 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 2/19/20 2:38 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Stirling Campbell 2/23/20 2:00 PM
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RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 6/10/20 4:48 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 6/21/20 9:24 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 6/24/20 10:04 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 6/24/20 10:12 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Steph S 6/24/20 10:49 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 6/24/20 11:08 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 6/25/20 8:59 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Chris Marti 6/25/20 9:05 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 6/25/20 9:45 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Chris Marti 6/25/20 9:50 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 6/25/20 10:32 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Chris Marti 6/25/20 11:24 AM
RE: Opinions welcome shargrol 6/25/20 10:48 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 6/25/20 11:34 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Chris Marti 6/25/20 11:49 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 6/25/20 12:22 PM
RE: Opinions welcome shargrol 6/25/20 12:54 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Steph S 6/25/20 2:01 PM
RE: Opinions welcome shargrol 6/25/20 3:12 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Steph S 6/25/20 3:58 PM
RE: Opinions welcome shargrol 6/25/20 4:25 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Chris Marti 6/25/20 4:31 PM
RE: Opinions welcome shargrol 6/25/20 4:42 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Steph S 6/25/20 4:48 PM
RE: Opinions welcome shargrol 6/25/20 5:03 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Hibiscus Kid 6/25/20 9:05 PM
RE: Opinions welcome shargrol 6/26/20 6:00 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Steph S 6/26/20 11:49 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 6/26/20 2:03 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Steph S 6/26/20 4:29 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 6/26/20 5:43 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Chris Marti 6/27/20 11:28 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Steph S 6/27/20 11:48 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Chris Marti 6/27/20 11:50 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Steph S 6/27/20 11:52 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 7/20/20 9:00 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Smiling Stone 7/25/20 12:52 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 7/27/20 8:55 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Smiling Stone 7/27/20 10:55 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 7/28/20 4:21 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 6/25/20 2:49 PM
RE: Opinions welcome shargrol 6/25/20 12:50 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Matthew 2/12/20 3:30 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 2/12/20 6:29 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Not two, not one 2/13/20 12:05 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 2/13/20 4:50 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Stirling Campbell 2/13/20 10:35 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 2/13/20 4:00 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Stirling Campbell 2/14/20 2:51 PM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 2/13/20 7:22 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Stirling Campbell 2/13/20 11:05 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Smiling Stone 2/12/20 3:40 AM
RE: Opinions welcome Olivier 2/13/20 7:56 AM
Opinions welcome
Answer
4/27/19 5:13 PM
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

RE: Opinions welcome
Answer
4/28/19 6:38 AM as a reply to Olivier.
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

1234567891011121314151617181920212223242526272829
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!

RE: Opinions welcome
Answer
4/28/19 1:11 PM as a reply to shargrol.
"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...

RE: Opinions welcome
Answer
8/2/19 12:21 PM as a reply to shargrol.
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

RE: Opinions welcome
Answer
8/2/19 3:35 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Thanks Oliver. I enjoyed reading this account. 

RE: Opinions welcome
Answer
8/2/19 5:03 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Heh, sounds REALLY good! Congrats!!

Yeah 2nd path is really confusing. Just keep a regular practice and all the right stuff will happen. 

RE: Opinions welcome
Answer
8/2/19 11:32 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Great thread, good descriptions, thanks.  Fwiw I liked the book quote as imagery for your experience.

2nd/3rd path ?
Answer
9/1/19 3:03 PM as a reply to Noah D.
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

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?
Answer
9/1/19 3:05 PM as a reply to Olivier.
very cool. thanks.
would be interesting to hear what a seasoned Theravadan cartographer has to say about this..

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?
Answer
9/1/19 6:04 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Sounds pretty cool. What would your best advice be to someone who is working towards second path?

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?
Answer
9/2/19 7:39 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
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.

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?
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9/2/19 10:42 AM as a reply to Olivier.
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.

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?
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9/3/19 1:28 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
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. 

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?
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9/3/19 2:20 AM as a reply to Anicca Dukkha Anatta.
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.

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?
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9/3/19 11:50 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
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 ... ?

RE: Opinions welcome
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9/4/19 8:37 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Out of curiousity, what kind of vipassina jhanas or soft jhanas or hard jhanas are appearing in your sits? Have you explored those?

RE: Opinions welcome
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9/5/19 7:14 PM as a reply to shargrol.
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

RE: Opinions welcome
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9/5/19 8:12 PM as a reply to Olivier.
I’d be interested in hearing you describe your fruitions.

RE: Opinions welcome
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9/7/19 2:15 PM as a reply to Shaun Steelgrave.
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

RE: Opinions welcome
Answer
10/27/19 1:53 PM as a reply to Olivier.
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

RE: Opinions welcome
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10/28/19 4:13 AM as a reply to Olivier.
I guess that means that there are even more goodies in the goodiebag for you, then, which is kind of cool.

RE: Opinions welcome
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10/28/19 7:01 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Right, it's all quite unpredictable isn't it ?

RE: Opinions welcome
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1/17/20 4:35 AM as a reply to Olivier.
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

RE: Opinions welcome
Answer
1/17/20 11:47 AM as a reply to Olivier.
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

RE: Opinions welcome
Answer
1/20/20 8:13 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
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.

RE: Opinions welcome
Answer
1/21/20 11:28 AM as a reply to Olivier.
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 !

RE: Opinions welcome
Answer
1/31/20 2:31 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
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


RE: Opinions welcome
Answer
1/31/20 4:05 PM as a reply to Olivier.
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. 

RE: Opinions welcome
Answer
1/31/20 5:05 PM as a reply to shargrol.
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 ?

RE: Opinions welcome
Answer
2/11/20 4:10 PM as a reply to Olivier.
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

RE: Opinions welcome
Answer
2/12/20 3:31 AM as a reply to Olivier.
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

RE: Opinions welcome
Answer
2/12/20 3:40 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Thanks for this beautiful post, Olivier. It goes to the heart of the matter regarding the goal of the path. It also shows how deeply Rob Burbea resonates with you.

To answer an older post, I did read Seeing that frees a couple of years ago, and went through a whole retreat on dharmaseed (one Linda recommended back then!)
The book really opened some pathways, something about interconnectedness regarding dependant origination, something about not reifying ANY state, stage or experience.
Listening to him, he made it clear that the book was from another period of his practice. He is now into "soulmaking"... and getting to terms with his pancreatic cancer (may he be well). I was a little inconfortable with this new paradigm... the soul, a passing vehicle (from life to life?), looks like a self with a capital S...
I understand it comes from a place of radical honesty about his experience... But still, I suspect some kind of avoidance there...
 To me, he is really good at opening views and balancing some excesses and untold assumptions of mindfulness practice... And you are exploring quite deeply yourself  one of these shadows. 
On an aside, I was touched to read in Kenneth Folk bio (in the draft of contemplative fitness), that he received substantial help from a young German monk when he was at panditarama, in Burma in the nineties. Vivekananda has been on this path for a while... Made me reflect on the gap between monks and lay people when it comes to deepness of practice and what it entails (wrote about that in another thread)...

I will let others comment on the use of speech in meditation (as in your internal discourse). I find it's quite fascinating, and that part of the "efficiency" of noting practice has to do with how deeply our mindspace is embedded in language.
Anyway, your reflection on beauty is insightful and should be food for thought for us...
And I loved the onion's embodied mindfulness bit!

May your path be fruitful
With metta
smiling stone

RE: Opinions welcome
Answer
2/12/20 4:18 AM as a reply to Not two, not one.
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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2/12/20 11:52 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
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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2/12/20 3:02 PM as a reply to Not two, not one.
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!

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2/12/20 3:30 PM as a reply to Not two, not one.
curious:
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. 
Just chiming in to give a ringing endorsement of this advice. This type of "open vipassana" is the closest emulation of seeing from the ground that you can do without actually seeing from the ground, much more than some descriptions which seem to imply spacing out. If you feel you've fallen out of that state, this type of practice can be a way to settle back in. "Jhanic absorbtion in the flux of reality" is a nice juicy phrase.

In a sense the difference in feeling between seeing from the ground (rigpa) and seeing from objectifying mind (sems) is like the difference between analog and digital audio, or the difference between a continuous movement and a video of that movement. One is a non-discrete, uncircumscribed field of phenomena, and the other is an approximation made by updating a series of snapshots of that field very quickly. In MCTB, Daniel compares this to an orchestra playing a piece vs a kazoo player trying to imitate it in real-time.

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2/12/20 4:09 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
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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2/12/20 5:33 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
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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2/12/20 6:00 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
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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2/12/20 6:08 PM as a reply to Olivier.
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. 

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2/12/20 6:29 PM as a reply to Matthew.
Matthew:
curious:
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. 
Just chiming in to give a ringing endorsement of this advice. This type of "open vipassana" is the closest emulation of seeing from the ground that you can do without actually seeing from the ground, much more than some descriptions which seem to imply spacing out. If you feel you've fallen out of that state, this type of practice can be a way to settle back in. "Jhanic absorbtion in the flux of reality" is a nice juicy phrase.

In a sense the difference in feeling between seeing from the ground (rigpa) and seeing from objectifying mind (sems) is like the difference between analog and digital audio, or the difference between a continuous movement and a video of that movement. One is a non-discrete, uncircumscribed field of phenomena, and the other is an approximation made by updating a series of snapshots of that field very quickly. In MCTB, Daniel compares this to an orchestra playing a piece vs a kazoo player trying to imitate it in real-time.
I'll just quickly adress this - so, I did two sessions of this kind of noting today. Of course, I know that passage from mctb well, and it's exactly what I was doing before (when I started vipassana), which got me to stream entry quickly. I'm ever grateful for Daniel and for this place, which got me the right technique and perspective directly and when it was needed. Be clear that I'm not criticizing that kind of vipassana at all ! I only ever used the verbal labeling noting technique using the abdomen as object during that panditarama lumbini retreat... would not have consciously used it if I had been introduced to it in that way... and will not use it again ;) 
But as Stirling seems to be saying, even that has just stopped making sense entirely to me. I've experienced it again in those sessions : it seems I just can't do that fake kazoo thing anymore. It's just not right, I know it. Instead, I ended just lightly probing things, and I guess resting in awareness.

Is it laziness ? I don't feel like it is. Fast grainy "knowing" just feels like a very artificial thing to be doing with my mind... But maybe i am just spacing out. I don't know.. What does it seem like to you ? I imagine my descriptions are not telling enough for anyone to judge.

What those meditations did however, I noticed later, is to make my visual field much brighter the whole day. The usual thing. Again, I was struck several times by the fact that phenomena very faraway seem to just jump in my field of vision already extremely bright and alive, with an intrinsic light in them which is stronger when I'm not paying attention to it. And they seem inexplicably close to me and familiar, even though some of these things may be 500 meters away : it's the color itself which is just... immediate, shiny, and makes it difficult NOT to see things as transparent, and like a magical illusion.

RE: Opinions welcome
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2/12/20 6:28 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
ps : Linda, that sorry was not pity. Of course, you contain multitudes.

With metta

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2/13/20 12:05 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Olivier:

Is it laziness ? I don't feel like it is. Fast grainy "knowing" just feels like a very artificial thing to be doing with my mind... But maybe i am just spacing out. I don't know.. What does it seem like to you ? I imagine my descriptions are not telling enough for anyone to judge.

What those meditations did however, I noticed later, is to make my visual field much brighter the whole day. The usual thing. Again, I was struck several times by the fact that phenomena very faraway seem to just jump in my field of vision already extremely bright and alive, with an intrinsic light in them which is stronger when I'm not paying attention to it. And they seem inexplicably close to me and familiar, even though some of these things may be 500 meters away : it's the color itself which is just... immediate, shiny, and makes it difficult NOT to see things as transparent, and like a magical illusion.

Yes some things take effort - they are work rather than play.  But as for the second paragraph - sounds like we have truth in advertising!  What would happen if you kept up the practice for a week?  emoticon 

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2/13/20 4:50 AM as a reply to Not two, not one.
Well this is what i usually do, and this visual thing is pretty common for me to experience.

Mahamudra retreat starting tomorrow, that will be fun ! emoticon

Be well,

Olivier

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2/13/20 7:22 AM as a reply to Matthew.
It's very useful to have this vocabulary to talk about this ; i'm gonna claim that i've experienced and intuited and conceptually understood enough about the difference between rigpa and sems that that is why the notion of meditation has broken down to almost becoming meaningless to me, ever since the 4th week of my 5 week retreat 6 months ago, much in the way that Stirling seems to be describing. 

It's not that i didnt want to make effort during that last week of retreat or now - i sit anywhere between 24 min and 2h everyday still. But the difference between effort and not effort has kind of changed.

It struck me a couple of days ago, during the last meditation i described at lenght, creative metta, that i really needeed was to get out of my own way. I reckon Stirling kind of confirmed that intuition. The last insight was that i needed to surrender. 

I remember from my dzogchen retreat, we were told that after having glimpsed rigpa, it was a regression to go back to more attentional technique - having to do with sems then ? 

And i also read some warnings about the effects of using techniques and effort on the "kind" of enlightenment which will unfold. This is all speculation for me, but it does seem that there are different flavors there. What speaks to me and arouses desire are descriptions, for instance, from the dzogchen tradition, or those of people like burbea - appearances becoming divine. Not so much centetlessness and agencylessness. 

Big big, perhaps pointless debate i know, but i can't help but wonder if the distinction between the truth of the world and the truth of life, which M Henry makes very clearly, is a key for understanding this. I would need to explain it... But basically it intuitively seems to correspond what results from theravadin practices - realizing the view of the 3c's, the truth of the world - and what dzogchen would describe as recognizing then merging with the ground of being = absolute phenomenological life in phenomenological parlance ? Conceptually the distinction is clear though subtle. The latter seems deeper to me.

Anyways.

Malcolm, what would you say is the difference between work and play exactly ? 

It seems to me that play is usually more fruitful when directed with care and intelligence.

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2/13/20 7:56 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Smiling Stone:
Thanks for this beautiful post, Olivier. It goes to the heart of the matter regarding the goal of the path. It also shows how deeply Rob Burbea resonates with you.

To answer an older post, I did read Seeing that frees a couple of years ago, and went through a whole retreat on dharmaseed (one Linda recommended back then!)
The book really opened some pathways, something about interconnectedness regarding dependant origination, something about not reifying ANY state, stage or experience.
Listening to him, he made it clear that the book was from another period of his practice. He is now into "soulmaking"... and getting to terms with his pancreatic cancer (may he be well). I was a little inconfortable with this new paradigm... the soul, a passing vehicle (from life to life?), looks like a self with a capital S...
I understand it comes from a place of radical honesty about his experience... But still, I suspect some kind of avoidance there...
 To me, he is really good at opening views and balancing some excesses and untold assumptions of mindfulness practice... And you are exploring quite deeply yourself  one of these shadows. 
On an aside, I was touched to read in Kenneth Folk bio (in the draft of contemplative fitness), that he received substantial help from a young German monk when he was at panditarama, in Burma in the nineties. Vivekananda has been on this path for a while... Made me reflect on the gap between monks and lay people when it comes to deepness of practice and what it entails (wrote about that in another thread)...

I will let others comment on the use of speech in meditation (as in your internal discourse). I find it's quite fascinating, and that part of the "efficiency" of noting practice has to do with how deeply our mindspace is embedded in language.
Anyway, your reflection on beauty is insightful and should be food for thought for us...
And I loved the onion's embodied mindfulness bit!

May your path be fruitful
With metta
smiling stone

Thanks for your message Smiling, about soulmaking ; i'm not so versed in that but i wouldn't discard it lightly. I'm pretty convinced burbea is very highly realized, and adds to that a level of conceptual finesse, education as well as creativity which is rare. 

The term is borrowed from Keats by James Hillman, who is the main influence behind the soulmaking paradigm, i believe. Hillman is a jungian psychoanalyst. Burbea mentions his book "we've had a 100 years of psychotherapy and the world's getting worse" a lot. I haven't finished it but it's very worthmuch  a read. Deep, challengin, provoking and stimulating stuff there. Compatible with emptiness.

In one talk B explains that the mundus imaginalis where soulmaking happens is what the tibetans call sambhogakaya. In the fire kasina Book, daniel and shannon (?) State that the "magickal" practices they're doing (i think, daniels's main practice now) in the realms accessed through high concentration are happening in the sambhogakaya. Probably a natural area  of practice which opens up post-awakening...

I don't reckon it implies reifying anything at all. And burbea's criticism of insight meditation is the most insightful and deepest i've come across. 

But anyways, we're nowhere near there yet my friend ^^

About vivkananda and folk : interesting and touching indeed. Vivekananda is a formidable figure with peircing blue eyes and certainly an extremely profound practice, i like him a lot. I believe his position and engagements imply that he can never publicly go against dogma, and so his talks are that. But 4 weeks were enough to suspect that he thinks differently, in his for intérieur. Some inklings in his recommendatiins and other things went against mahasi orthodoxy - i could mention other examples. I also made a mistake in not bluntly telling him about SE straight up. 

Well, traditio'ally, the main, great forms of culture are art, religion and ethics - the beautiful, the true, and the good, right ? Where is beauty in buddhism ? We need it like we need air, because the laws of the world are esthetic laws.

Finally, the onion bit : it seems like a joke, and it kind of is, but it's not, and that's why we call it a joke ... 

Just messing around.. ^^ i don't think i've had a deeper insight yet, though, than recognizing that kind of  non objective knowledge as the original knowledge. Awakeness beyond consciousness. Again i suggest getting La barbarie by Michel Henry....

Cheers and metta to you,

Olivier

RE: Opinions welcome
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2/13/20 10:16 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
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. 

RE: Opinions welcome
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2/13/20 10:35 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Olivier:

What those meditations did however, I noticed later, is to make my visual field much brighter the whole day. The usual thing. Again, I was struck several times by the fact that phenomena very faraway seem to just jump in my field of vision already extremely bright and alive, with an intrinsic light in them which is stronger when I'm not paying attention to it. And they seem inexplicably close to me and familiar, even though some of these things may be 500 meters away : it's the color itself which is just... immediate, shiny, and makes it difficult NOT to see things as transparent, and like a magical illusion.

So, this is all actually a thing, and my experience is that it can seriously deepen your insight if you attend to it. Board member Dream Walker shared this once in a thread and I found a number of suggestions helpful, especially on working with panoramic vision:

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/view_message/5800945#_19_message_5800961

There are a number of hallmarks of this seeing which are quite similar in some respects to how things appear on psychedelics, IMHO, only subtler, richer, and seemingly permanent.

RE: Opinions welcome
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2/13/20 11:05 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Olivier:

And i also read some warnings about the effects of using techniques and effort on the "kind" of enlightenment which will unfold. This is all speculation for me, but it does seem that there are different flavors there. What speaks to me and arouses desire are descriptions, for instance, from the dzogchen tradition, or those of people like burbea - appearances becoming divine. Not so much centetlessness and agencylessness.

I sometimes wonder about this too, but my guess it is largely a question of depth of insight, and width of insight, and posibly what tradition, or conceptual lens it is seen through. I think centerlessness and agencylessness are related to self-view, or depth understanding of emptiness. The "divine" aspect, IMHO is related to "suchness" or the depth to which your realize that reality looks like your "karma" (Mind)... or it's none of that, just ineffable and quietly luminous. emoticon

RE: Opinions welcome
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2/13/20 11:12 AM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
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. 

RE: Opinions welcome
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2/13/20 4:00 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
Stirling Campbell:
Olivier:

What those meditations did however, I noticed later, is to make my visual field much brighter the whole day. The usual thing. Again, I was struck several times by the fact that phenomena very faraway seem to just jump in my field of vision already extremely bright and alive, with an intrinsic light in them which is stronger when I'm not paying attention to it. And they seem inexplicably close to me and familiar, even though some of these things may be 500 meters away : it's the color itself which is just... immediate, shiny, and makes it difficult NOT to see things as transparent, and like a magical illusion.

So, this is all actually a thing, and my experience is that it can seriously deepen your insight if you attend to it. Board member Dream Walker shared this once in a thread and I found a number of suggestions helpful, especially on working with panoramic vision:

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/view_message/5800945#_19_message_5800961

There are a number of hallmarks of this seeing which are quite similar in some respects to how things appear on psychedelics, IMHO, only subtler, richer, and seemingly permanent.

Oh yes, thanks for bringing this up. I've known about this thread for a while, and that's actually why I immediatly thought, after my shamatha retreat, that I had indeed gotten 2nd path and started 3rd through opening at least the vision.

It's a very informative thread and nice work but I must say I find the whole cognitivist stance pretty funny though, and I think DW should really read some Varela, and then maybe some phenomenology (Husserl's Crisis of the european sciences and transcendantal phenomenology) as well as Michel Bitbol if available in english, and then at some point Michel Henry, to really deepen his philosophical view and really let go of scientific realism and the notions that consciousness is an emergence, which, I'm almost certain, though I probably have a lesser meditative experience, must be a hindrance towards awakening.

The fact that you posted this to me right now just confirmed so much stuff that i've been doubtful of lately. Thank you for that. It's also led to new understandings about the connections between worldview and awakening, and how it does seem to me that theravadin practice and tibetan only converge up to a certain point, but that there is something much more fundamental than nanas and jhanas, which is something that i'd felt viscerally since the shamatha retreat. How views and practice are intricately connected. And I'm convinced that there are layers of awaeking which we rarely talk about here, which are connected with philosophy and analysis more than anything, which actually seem to me to play a crucial role in the whole thing.

I'm wondering if depth of insight, like you talk about in your next post, is related to depth of philosophical understanding ; and if philosophical views are what give different flavors and aspects and depths to people's experiences. Because the main difference I see between the tibetans and pragmatic dharma practice say, is that the tibetans value study and philosophy to an extremely high degree. Nagarjuna's stuff is astronomically deep. I'm wondering if the difficulties some people encounter on the path are related to their ability to make sense of their experience in philosophical terms. I'm pretty sure it is. My closest example being my brother, who is stuck in a bad 1st path DN, because he just doesn't know how to make sense of his understandings and has taken to clinging to highly rigid and schematic views to keep away the unknown, basically. He has suffered a lot from that since his goenka retreat 1.5 years ago...

Yes, the more i think about all the practice threads i've read and testimonies, I think it could partly explain why some people just fly and others get stuck and suffer. To talk about myself as usual, I've definitely quite precociously and with extreme intensity of interest developed my thinking about the world/nature of reality/philosophy and pursued that as my main life thread alng with music for the past 15 years. Maybe i'm just cocky but feel like I basically know what enlightenment is and how I'm gonna be able to make sense of it as it deepens - because of these countless hours i've spent thinking, reading, studying, discussing, what reality is, with extreme curiosity and keenness and had the chance of having the conditions, finding the right books and people, etc., this produced understandings which really gave me the tools to integrate experiences and just progress fast. My obsessiveness with what I'm interested also helped ^^ 

DW added some stuff since last summer though ! And it confirms what I thought after my retreat. Feeling more confident, which is what I asked for 2 days ago and am now getting ..., has made the brightenss of vision highten.

2) The vision opening technique described is basically exactly what I was doing everyday during that retreat, in particular I achieved this effect the first time while sitting under a tree and looking under the foliage trying to achieve the union of movement and stillness, which is a more powerful and succinct way to put it, I think. This is how Dudjom Lingpa defines shamatha : achieving the union of stilness and motion. Jesus says something like that about the kingdom, too...

I do think that philosophical depth is key in actual technical practice and in conceiving of practice. When you hold a basically galilean worldview like DW seems to, it makes more sense to approach things through small analytical categories and objectively. Actually i've always sensed that there was some of that in Daniel's writing too, with empiricism rather.

But there are more synthetic way to put things that IMO come from more profound philosophical perspective. It's somehow like trying to break a musical phrase in bits that correspond to the individual movements your fingers are gonna do on the piano... You can do it, but it's probably not gonna work, and if you keep focusing on individual fingers, not much music is gonna happen. But if you follow on the general shape of the melody you're trying to create, holding it lightly in attention and forgetting about your hands, with perhaps a general intention in mind and a clear emotional sense and intuition of where you're going, then the individual movements will happen by themselves without having to think about it for a second and without needing at all to have any kinesthetico-anatomical categorical names to describe the finger work through a mesh of ideal representations... Totally pointless for making music. 

In fact, if awakening is about merging with the ground of being as it seems to me, and that seeing, externally, the truth of the world, the 3C's, is where this centerless stuff is, if we focus on the external stuff it's about the same mistake as focusing on the hand that's playing the notes. I can't phrase it correctly right now but thanks to ..... Michel Henry !! I hope I some day will.

In DW's list about vision, I would say I have, on and off :

Parallax increase       ?
color contrast            yes
acuity/high definition yes
panoramic                 I think so
stereoscopic 3d instantaneousness what the hell is that lol ? The instantaneousness part I really get though.
emptiness of space   sometimes , or in patches
luminosity                  yes 
4) Funnily enough the exercise with thoughts he describes is EXACTLY what I was doing right before that radical opening which I'm pretty sure I can now say was a full-blown non-conceptual experience, particularly of vision, a glimpse of rigpa. During the last sit of the morning I was having an outrageous amount of fun (not efforting !) playing with my mental representations and the way they related with each other, deconstructing my perception like trying to replace the mental image of what was behind me with the mental image of what was supposed to be in front of me, to see what that did, imagining sarkozy was the person making the breathing noise I could hear. All that with a strong determination to remain extremely calm and be extremely precise. 

There was also this whole temporal aspect to sensing the union of movement and stillness : it also reveals emptiness of time. So all these things converged to produce that realer than real experience...

I agree with you that it surpasses all psychedelics i've tried, though i'm not a big psychonaut, but i've tried shrooms, mdma, 2cb, and I would say it was like a mix of mdma and shrooms but more clean and more crazy, visually speaking. But some of these aspects, like you say, have stayed. The intensity, efortlessness, all encompassing panoramicity, 3D depth and incredible richness and vividness which have faded. The completely transfigured aspect of experience is also not there ever anymore, it's only bits of the field.

Let me hypothesize that, following this, all the concentration and forceful narrow focus during the theravadin vipassana retreat did indeed have the effect of  somehow "closing" that opening. That's what I suspected but now that you guys are confirming some of my intuitions, I really think I was right.

Well that's all very great, I'm going to join that mahamudra retreat with a greatly restored faith in myself and my understanding of the path, a great sense of direction and enthusiasm.

And it's happening in the same retreat center !

I hope I'm not too far off the mark, and that all this analyzing and reflecting can be helpful to some. It sure is helpful to me. I sense great potential

May you be well,

Olivier

RE: Opinions welcome
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2/13/20 4:11 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
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. 

RE: Opinions welcome
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2/14/20 2:51 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Olivier:

It's a very informative thread and nice work but I must say I find the whole cognitivist stance pretty funny though, and I think DW should really read some Varela, and then maybe some phenomenology (Husserl's Crisis of the european sciences and transcendantal phenomenology) as well as Michel Bitbol if available in english, and then at some point Michel Henry, to really deepen his philosophical view and really let go of scientific realism and the notions that consciousness is an emergence, which, I'm almost certain, though I probably have a lesser meditative experience, must be a hindrance towards awakening.


I won't speak for DW, but I'll just say that I definitely got some mileage out of this approach, which I greatly appreciate. Speaking for myself, it's quite clear to me that all conceptual ideas about reality are flawed, and thus only pointers. I don't see any convincing evidence that there is an "out there", so I'd consider myself most aligned with madhyamaka, or perhaps shentong ideas. I don't find that any impilcations of what his philosophy may or may not be invalidate his suggestions. emoticon

I'm wondering if depth of insight, like you talk about in your next post, is related to depth of philosophical understanding ; and if philosophical views are what give different flavors and aspects and depths to people's experiences.

You have the karma to see things one way, I have the karma to see them another. You may be attracted to a teaching, and I might read the same thing and think it is gibberish. A dharma might impact you in one way, and me not at all. Enlightenment is not a democracy, or meritocracy, likewise there isn't a right or wrong way to look at it, IMHO.Your path is your path, until you realize there isn't one.

I basically know what enlightenment is and how I'm gonna be able to make sense of it as it deepens - because of these countless hours i've spent thinking, reading, studying, discussing, what reality is, with extreme curiosity and keenness and had the chance of having the conditions, finding the right books and people, etc.

Familiarity with the concepts was very helpful to me, but it is surprising in rereading some of the territory I have already gone through how much MORE there is hidden in the parts my mind didn't parse, or blocked out. Also, while the reading is great, I got a LOT out of my teachers, and people I interacted with, here and elsewhere... and in starting to teach the topic.

But if you follow on the general shape of the melody you're trying to create, holding it lightly in attention and forgetting about your hands, with perhaps a general intention in mind and a clear emotional sense and intuition of where you're going, then the individual movements will happen by themselves without having to think about it for a second and without needing at all to have any kinesthetico-anatomical categorical names to describe the finger work through a mesh of ideal representations... Totally pointless for making music. 

This is my experience, which is not to downplay the usefulness of reductionism that some seem to find,  but I would deprecate the conceptual knowledge somewhat, and say that the HUGE original insight (or gnowing as I cal it) is the real guiding principle moving forward.

The intensity, efortlessness, all encompassing panoramicity, 3D depth and incredible richness and vividness which have faded. The completely transfigured aspect of experience is also not there ever anymore, it's only bits of the field.

They return, at least for me, but in a cleaner less saturated way. The flavor of my awakening "experience" has slowly, or the last 5 years and change, dialed up in intensity.

Best of luck at your retreat!

RE: Opinions welcome
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2/15/20 5:08 AM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
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.

RE: Opinions welcome
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2/17/20 1:58 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
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

RE: Opinions welcome
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2/17/20 12:45 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
I hope you make sure that you have somebody's consent before you start teaching them.

RE: Opinions welcome
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2/17/20 2:06 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
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

RE: Opinions welcome
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2/19/20 2:38 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
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. 

RE: Opinions welcome
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2/23/20 2:00 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
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.

RE: Opinions welcome
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2/24/20 3:25 AM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
Well, thankyou for sharing your conviction, as you phrased it. You seem very enthusiastic about it. I'm glad it worked for you. 

RE: Opinions welcome
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6/10/20 4:48 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
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.

RE: Opinions welcome
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6/21/20 9:24 AM as a reply to Olivier.
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

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6/24/20 10:04 AM as a reply to Olivier.
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

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6/24/20 10:12 AM as a reply to Olivier.
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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6/24/20 10:49 AM as a reply to Olivier.
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. 

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6/24/20 11:08 AM as a reply to Steph S.
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... 

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6/25/20 8:59 AM as a reply to Olivier.
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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6/25/20 9:05 AM as a reply to Olivier.
... 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!



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6/25/20 9:45 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
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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6/25/20 9:50 AM as a reply to Olivier.
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.

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6/25/20 10:32 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
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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6/25/20 10:48 AM as a reply to Olivier.
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. 

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6/25/20 11:24 AM as a reply to Olivier.
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.

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6/25/20 11:34 AM as a reply to shargrol.
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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6/25/20 11:49 AM as a reply to Olivier.
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.

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6/25/20 12:22 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
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.

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6/25/20 12:50 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
"Oh all of that stuff is that... and all of this is THIS."   emoticon

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6/25/20 12:54 PM as a reply to Olivier.
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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6/25/20 2:01 PM as a reply to shargrol.
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.

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6/25/20 2:49 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Shargrol you magical great being bodhisattva (sorry), that question I will be pondering some more, for now it has made me very emotional for some reason, in a way bringing a sense of ... relief, the kind of teary relief which sneaks up on you like : omg, i didn't even realize i was suffering and now it's gone and it feels so good...... unexpected. I've had tears well up, and more, upon asking this three times now. Yes, I'm a sissy.

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6/25/20 3:12 PM as a reply to Steph S.
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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6/25/20 3:58 PM as a reply to shargrol.
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?

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6/25/20 4:25 PM as a reply to Steph S.
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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6/25/20 4:31 PM as a reply to Steph S.
"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.

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6/25/20 4:42 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
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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6/25/20 4:48 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
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)_/¯

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6/25/20 5:03 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Chris was a pain in the ass first, then I was, now you are. It's a beautiful thing. emoticon

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6/25/20 9:05 PM as a reply to shargrol.
And that's how lineages are formed emoticon

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6/26/20 6:00 AM as a reply to shargrol.
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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6/26/20 11:49 AM as a reply to shargrol.
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. 

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6/26/20 2:03 PM as a reply to Steph S.
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.]

RE: Opinions welcome
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6/26/20 4:29 PM as a reply to Olivier.
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.

RE: Opinions welcome
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6/26/20 5:43 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Im starting to feel overlooked.
Edit : ;(

RE: Opinions welcome
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6/27/20 11:28 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Aw, we love you, Olivier.

RE: Opinions welcome
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6/27/20 11:48 AM as a reply to Olivier.
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.

RE: Opinions welcome
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6/27/20 11:50 AM as a reply to Steph S.
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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6/27/20 11:52 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
That's what I kind of figured. It's probably just how we process information. 

RE: Opinions welcome
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7/20/20 9:00 AM as a reply to Steph S.
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

RE: Opinions welcome
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7/25/20 12:52 PM as a reply to Olivier.
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

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7/27/20 8:55 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
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

RE: Opinions welcome
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7/27/20 10:55 AM as a reply to Olivier.
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

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7/28/20 4:21 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
(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