So where am I? Good question.

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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
First of all, I would like to introduce myself. I'm J, and this is my first post. Please forgive me if it is long. I have been reading DhO for a while now, and feel fairly comfortable about sharing with you all here. So where to begin?

As of now, it is difficult to say where I am. I have gone through what has been described here as extremely intense A&P periods several times in my life. Back in the 90’s I did a mixture of my own version of meditation along with some Native American stuff while hanging around them at the time. I was raised Baptist and during that time I was constantly condemning myself because of my incessant desire to explore and practice other spiritual systems. Deep down, even though I denied it back then, I thought that I was losing my soul by betraying my Christian heritage. However, one night when I felt that I was descending into the deepest pits of my own inward hell, I stayed up all night looking into my eyes in the mirror: Something profound happened as the fear grew more and more and I felt that my sense of self was being torn to shreds which finally ended, surprisingly, with a wide, infinite sense of calm where there was no more fear at all. I couldn’t believe it. I had never felt such peace in my whole life. I could tell that I was one with the universe, and that there was nothing to fear anymore, not even death itself.

Unfortunately, the Charismatic Christians that I had gotten to know then were very skeptical about my experiences and began their own campaign of fear trying and unfortunately succeeding to brainwash me into believing that I was demon possessed from all of my activities with other religions. They told me that my great sense of peace was not so much a good thing seeing what led up to it, and that it was most likely a very powerful and evil shamanistic spirit guide protecting me. This started an extended dark night period in my life where I tried to force myself to be a perfect Christian constantly casting demons out of myself and every other rock that I imagined them hiding behind. Finally, I gave up, exhausted with little results. After realizing that some demons just would not go, I got involved in various forms of the occult again ranging from Celtic, Kabbalah, Hinduism, and then finally I turned to Buddhism in a desperate need for clarity. I was also tired of being so hateful and angry.

In May of 2008, I started reading books written by various Buddhist monks from various Buddhist traditions. I made a decision to try and keep the moral precepts as I understood them, to practice universal loving kindness, to practice tranquility concentration, and to begin with determined effort, insight meditation as well. I did very well at developing the concentration jhanas, and can produce all of them very well, very quickly. Also in 2008, I went through what I have seen to be described here as another A&P period. I wouldn’t say it was an event, though, because it lasted a long time. It was so profound and huge that I thought that I was enlightened. It lasted for almost a year in a very intense manner. I still have nothing but a calm peace even when things in my life get very chaotic and stressful, but I have noticed that even the good things about meditation seem to get in the way of my everyday life at times. I have somehow subconsciously developed a method of reaching a completely silent and empty state whenever things seem like they might become overwhelming for me to handle. This is not very convenient when it comes at times where I need to think critically and recall important information from memory. It is as if my mental process completely disappears at times, and there seems to be nothing that I can do about it, either. Everything seems to be an empty, impersonal, undirected process, and sometimes find it difficult or even impossible to establish the much needed process of will power in order to get things accomplished. I make a lot of lists of things that need to be done and remember. I go through those lists checking them off like a programmed algorithm, but sometimes I even quit doing that. At least there is usually a feeling of a wide quiet calm, happiness, and contentment, though.
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J Groove, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 59 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Hi James.
Thanks for telling your story. I'm not qualified to guess at where you are on the maps, as I'm not a particularly advanced yogi, so please take my perspective here with a grain of salt. To me, it sounds like you've developed a great deal of concentration through some fairly arduous practice, but are unsure of where to go from here. Your at-times painful spiritual quest seems to have given you the gift of intense motivation, which you have put to use. (Few people would be willing to stand in front of a mirror all night as you described doing, for example.)
Would it be incorrect to assert that, at times, you get caught up in obsessive thought patterns, particularly when religious themes are part of the content? (De-emphasizing religiosity to the greatest extent possible might be a good way to go, for now.) You did not mention noting practice or doing vipassana. Is that part of your practice now? If not, maybe you'd benefit from turning the powerful concentration you've developed toward vipassana practice as taught in Daniel's Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha and discussed on the Mahasi Noting section of this forum? That might help you see some of the difficult experiences you're going through now in a different and more liberating way.

I don't mean this as a criticism at all--I wish I had a mastery of the concentration jhanas, for example--but it seems like some jhana-junkie stuff might be going on here. If meditation feels like a way of retreating from life rather than making you more present for it, i.e. if you feel like there's a 1-or-0 quality whereby you're either in a state of intense concentration or you're on autopilot, that might be something to look at. If you can keep your mind focused on the present moment or the breath without difficulty, you should be able to attend to a to-do list with just as much focus, although the dark night might be the primary cause of this phenomenon.

Have you read Bhante Gunaratana's Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English? He talks a lot about "right concentration" and "wrong concentration" in there. Just as you should feel energized after a good workout, rather than depleted, mindfulness ought not to leave you feeling wiped out cognitively, methinks. (although, again, you could be dark-nighting it very hard)
Don't know if any of this helps or makes sense.
-Joel
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Thanks for your response J Groove.

I don’t think that it has been so much of an obsession with religious themes as it has been a desperate need to find liberation. Please forgive me if I do not use a lot of Buddhist or Pali words. I usually use what I consider to be English equivalents of them due to my lack of certainty at both spelling and correct meaning. When I say that I have diligently practiced insight meditation the correct interpretation probably should be Vipassana meditation. Yes, I have read Daniel’s book, and have found it to be very insightful, but sometimes it is difficult to recognize what it is exactly that I am going through as there are sometimes quite a bit of overlapping experiences that can be misdiagnosed. I don’t feel drained. I feel much at peace all the time. It’s just that thoughts sometimes vanish at times when critical thinking is expected. It is very peaceful, though. I mostly do the Buddho exercises while concentrating on my abdomen rising and falling seeing each moment as composed of a coming into being of the universe, a being, and a disappearing all happening simultaneously in each frame of reality in this ever changing moment of now. When I focus mainly on the vanishing, I do notice the fear coming, then the misery, the desire for liberation, the equanimity, and then the releasing of the clinging of the equanimity, and then the vanishing of the noticing of the vanishing. This is when I black out. Sometimes this happens very fast, and sometimes it happens when I need to actually be thinking. I am not saying that I have reached any kind of fruition, though, as I have fooled myself in the past not knowing that what I was experiencing was just an extended A&P period.

J
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Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Hi James, welcome.

As a tentative answer to the question formulated in the topic, I'd guess you've got some paths, just needing to wrap up the thing.

Maybe you will find the actual freedom stuff interesting? Here are some links:

"A precis of actual freedom"

"This moment of being alive"


Bruno
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Hi Bruno,

I see now what AF and PCE are. Very good reading you gave me. I can see how actualizing these things into words is a very wise thing to do. I have a lot of learning to do on my slowly reaching plate towards the food.

James
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Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
A number of people on this forum have concluded that AF is a very worthwhile goal, and the best possible definition of "getting it done." A few already went ahead and did it (Tarin, Trent, Stephanie, Chris), and a few are working towards increasing that number emoticon

One great thing about AF is how it manages, in one elegant whisk, to sweep aside things such as faith, dogmas, linguistic imprecisions, hand-holding, sainthoods, gurudoms, "accepting things as they are," "I am not my body," ..., and other spiritual bullshit.


Take care,
Bruno
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Bruno, I agree with what you say, but what is so wrong with hand holding? emoticon
Aman A., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 793 Join Date: 5/24/10 Recent Posts
AF produces its own bullshit. Many people have concluded this as well. What gets done is one shit getting replaced with another shit.
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Aman A.:
AF produces its own bullshit. Many people have concluded this as well. What gets done is one shit getting replaced with another shit.


What kind of problems are you talking about? Do you have any links to their statements or any of their quotes? Perhaps they have not fully gotten rid of the idea of self, and it keeps coming back to cause problems like the trickster scenario. I have found that the less that I have a self rising up to take control, the better off I usually am, but it keeps sneaking back, and that is when I have problems re-emerging into my daily life.

In fact, joining this site has presented me quite the personal confirmation. I just woke up and wrote this before I saw your post:

This PCE and AF stuff is so interesting. Reading the descriptions of PCE’s that others have had where they have no sense of self made me recall a question that I had been pondering just a couple of weeks ago. I was walking to class, and the thought dawned upon me to make a resolution to embark on a path that leads to having no sense of self at all for the rest of my life, because that would be the only way that I would ever be the way that I truly want to be. How interesting is that? And now I am presented with these very same ideas. I may not be there yet, but I think that getting rid of every instance of a self as soon as I notice it rising, or at least bring to my mind the realization that that self is not really an entity then bringing the awareness immediately to the senses 24 hours a day has to be my next course of action. Nothing else makes any sense, really.
Aman A., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 793 Join Date: 5/24/10 Recent Posts
http://harmanjit.blogspot.com/2004/08/actual-freedom-from-human-condition.html
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Aman A.:
http://harmanjit.blogspot.com/2004/08/actual-freedom-from-human-condition.html


I don't know. I have had those same kinds of experiences, and yes, they are what I would descrbe as "the way that life ought to be". The experience that they describe is much like what the Buddha was talking about when he said the end of all suffering, the deathless infinity of now, no longer needing to accomplish anything else, and of course, anatta.

Those people in your link above sound like they are just giving judgmental opinions, possibly because they might be the overly cerebral types who shun anything that goes against their own clinging to their own left-brain logical safety net.
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J Groove, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 59 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
James Eric Barnhouse:
Thanks for your response J Groove.
When I say that I have diligently practiced insight meditation the correct interpretation probably should be Vipassana meditation. J


Nah, man. My mistake--I didn't see your specific reference to insight meditation. Sorry about that...
Sounds like you're in territory that is beyond me--not just simple dark night or jhana junkie stuff. Best of luck!
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Beoman Beo Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
My first impression is also that you have gotten a few paths, at least stream-entry in any case (i think that moment of liberation when you were staring in the mirror might have been it). In any case, this is classic description of going through the stages and attaining to a fruition:

James Eric Barnhouse:
I mostly do the Buddho exercises while concentrating on my abdomen rising and falling seeing each moment as composed of a coming into being of the universe, a being, and a disappearing all happening simultaneously in each frame of reality in this ever changing moment of now. When I focus mainly on the vanishing, I do notice the fear coming, then the misery, the desire for liberation, the equanimity, and then the releasing of the clinging of the equanimity, and then the vanishing of the noticing of the vanishing. This is when I black out. Sometimes this happens very fast, and sometimes it happens when I need to actually be thinking.


The italics are a wonderful and concise description of Vipassana. though the way that tarin put it was: "the practice of noting [a Vipassana technique] is the practice of noticing a particular process, namely, that of the arising of an object and the knowing of it, and the passing of the object and the knowing of it."

the bolded words, if your descriptions are accurate, show a clear-cut progression through the cycles.

My first few days after stream entry I would get fruitions just when talking to people, and only notice after the fact, and I suppose it could be a bit distracting as your mind and body are jolted a bit by it.

They also aren't always that noticeable... during daily life I'd only notice slightly after the fact, by noticing that there was some kind of gap, and a bit of bliss following it. Maybe you can try ramping up your concentration during a sit, focusing on one of the Three Characteristics, and see if you can observe which door you're going through into fruition? Perhaps a few sits of purposefully trying to go into the fruition and understanding it as such might help to control it during your daily life.

What do you want to do now, by the way? What's your goal? You said what you have been doing but not what goal you had in mind.

James Eric Barnhouse:
After realizing that some demons just would not go...

apparently one can make all ones demons disappear, according to the reports of the Actually Free. though i can see why the approach advocated by the Charismatic Christians would not work.
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Hi Beoman,

Right now, I don’t have any plans. I’m not sure what kind of goal I should be making as far as what we are talking about goes. Every day I have the personal goal of practicing insight meditation for at least an hour when I wake up and an hour just before I go to sleep. Throughout my days, I have been trying to get my education out of the way. It is very demanding. I like to help people anyway that they need help on a one on one basis if I have the time and if anyone comes along. I don’t make too many grandiose plans anymore, though. They usually end up being too unwieldy, unpractical, and they don’t really match my way of doing things, anymore. I’m not saying this as someone trying to be humble, either. I really am humble, whether that is a good thing or not in a worldly sense. I tend to be better as an introvert I guess is what I am trying to express. I have no idea what kind of goals that I should make to be perfectly honest with you. Most of the time, I just take things as they come.

James
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Beoman Beo Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
James Eric Barnhouse:
Right now, I don’t have any plans. I’m not sure what kind of goal I should be making as far as what we are talking about goes. Every day I have the personal goal of practicing insight meditation for at least an hour when I wake up and an hour just before I go to sleep.


Why do you feel it important to practice insight meditation for at least two hours each day? What are you trying to accomplish by doing so?

James Eric Barnhouse:
I have no idea what kind of goals that I should make to be perfectly honest with you. Most of the time, I just take things as they come.


Is there anything you'd like to change about how you currently experience being alive? What about the stuff I've emphasized here:

James Eric Barnhouse:

I still have nothing but a calm peace even when things in my life get very chaotic and stressful, but I have noticed that even the good things about meditation seem to get in the way of my everyday life at times. I have somehow subconsciously developed a method of reaching a completely silent and empty state whenever things seem like they might become overwhelming for me to handle. This is not very convenient when it comes at times where I need to think critically and recall important information from memory. It is as if my mental process completely disappears at times, and there seems to be nothing that I can do about it, either. Everything seems to be an empty, impersonal, undirected process, and sometimes find it difficult or even impossible to establish the much needed process of will power in order to get things accomplished. I make a lot of lists of things that need to be done and remember. I go through those lists checking them off like a programmed algorithm, but sometimes I even quit doing that. At least there is usually a feeling of a wide quiet calm, happiness, and contentment, though.
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Beoman,

I feel that it is important to practice at least two hours a day, because of several reasons:

1. Before I began meditating on a regular basis, my life was much worse than it is now.
2. From experience, meditation sits for less than an hour were never very productive.
3. Scheduling regular meditation sits gets the job done.
4. Meditation before anything else happens in the day prepares me to live life with minimal stress.
5. Meditation before I sleep sorts out my thought patterns so that my sleep is just as productive as my daily life.

I definitely plan on working to get rid of the automatic-jhana thing that happens when I need to be thinking critically, but the actual ability of my brain to function better may be something completely out of my control. I take dietary supplements for memory and cognitive enhancement, but it seems to do little good. I am handling this unfortunate truth about my mental limitations much better than I used to handle them, though. I no longer have an ego issue with any of my limitations, and it does not bother me to admit them, anymore. I think that this is actually something profoundly good. Do you not agree?

As for some aspects of life being chaotic and stressful, that does not mean that I am necessarily affected by it. There is no way to make the world a stressless place. I cannot change the way life is. I can only change the way that I see it.
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Could you describe this "automatic-jhana thing" in more detail please? Which jhana do you believe you're entering?

I'm finding it difficult to understand what it is you hope to acheive here, would you mind saying a bit more about what your overall goal is, or if you even have one?

If you found out where you were on this map, what difference would it make?
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Tommy M:
Could you describe this "automatic-jhana thing" in more detail please? Which jhana do you believe you're entering?

I'm finding it difficult to understand what it is you hope to acheive here, would you mind saying a bit more about what your overall goal is, or if you even have one?

If you found out where you were on this map, what difference would it make?


It is really difficult to put into words the automatic jhana episodes that I go through seeing that they happen on their own. I regularly have a sense of peace, so it is like trying to split hairs to distinguish what is actually going on at those times. I am usually very busy using my higher, abstract mind to solve very complex mathematical operations or algorithms when it happens. I don’t know if it is that the memory loss is actually because of the jhana forming or just a malfunction of my own brain with jhana in the background. It is the highest of jhana experiences, fourth or fifth jhana, usually. It happens very quickly, and there is no way to notice any progression.

I am not purposefully trying to achieve anything here, but if something gets achieved for mine or even someone else’s benefit, then great. I suppose my goals are kept a bit general in order to allow flexibility with the overall developing benefits that may or may not be foreseen, and no, I am not stating it like that to dodge the question.

If I found out where I am on the map, then I would be able to proceed with more intended accuracy and efficiency.
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
It is really difficult to put into words the automatic jhana episodes that I go through seeing that they happen on their own. I regularly have a sense of peace, so it is like trying to split hairs to distinguish what is actually going on at those times. I am usually very busy using my higher, abstract mind to solve very complex mathematical operations or algorithms when it happens. I don’t know if it is that the memory loss is actually because of the jhana forming or just a malfunction of my own brain with jhana in the background. It is the highest of jhana experiences, fourth or fifth jhana, usually. It happens very quickly, and there is no way to notice any progression.


I think you're mistaken here, and I also think that you're trying to shoehorn your experience and make it fit with the concept, as you understand it at present, of jhana. If there's something in your brain which is causing memory loss that's this noticeable then I recommend that you speak to a doctor, if only to rule out any physical reason for this.

The reason I think you're mistaken is that you refer to your 'jhana' experience as being "the highest of jhana experiences, fourth or fifth jhana, usually." which is just plain bullshit and no one with the level of knowledge you claim would make this error.

I'd encourage to you split those hairs you refer to.
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Beoman Beo Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Tommy M:
It is really difficult to put into words the automatic jhana episodes that I go through seeing that they happen on their own. I regularly have a sense of peace, so it is like trying to split hairs to distinguish what is actually going on at those times. I am usually very busy using my higher, abstract mind to solve very complex mathematical operations or algorithms when it happens. I don’t know if it is that the memory loss is actually because of the jhana forming or just a malfunction of my own brain with jhana in the background. It is the highest of jhana experiences, fourth or fifth jhana, usually. It happens very quickly, and there is no way to notice any progression.


I think you're mistaken here, and I also think that you're trying to shoehorn your experience and make it fit with the concept, as you understand it at present, of jhana. If there's something in your brain which is causing memory loss that's this noticeable then I recommend that you speak to a doctor, if only to rule out any physical reason for this.

The reason I think you're mistaken is that you refer to your 'jhana' experience as being "the highest of jhana experiences, fourth or fifth jhana, usually." which is just plain bullshit and no one with the level of knowledge you claim would make this error.

I'd encourage to you split those hairs you refer to.


Ya I also strongly doubt it is random chancing into 4th or 5th jhana (also those aren't the highest, as there is 6-8 to go). I think they are fruitions and they can certainly seem like malfunctions (consider how we use the analogy of a computer crashing and re-booting). Perhaps they happen a lot while J is in 4th or 5th jhana and that's where the confusion is coming from. But +1 to trying to shoehorn experience into what is thought of as jhana... I recommend more careful investigation of jhanas to figure that out.

If it is actually memory loss then that is an issue, but are you (J) sure it is? Or is it just losing your train of thought and not remembering what you were just thinking about?
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
I'd agree with the possibility of fruition and had actually written a paragraph about that before deleting it. The other idea I had was that perhaps rolling these abstract mathematical equations and suchlike around in one's mind are functioning like a mantra, if you get what I mean. Perhaps James is actually entering the 1st samatha jhana via this method? Just an idea.

If you've attained stream-entry, which, going by what you've said before and the advice of others, I'm assume you have, then, as Beoman and other have said, it's perfectly natural to experience Fruition. Would you consider the phrase "a moment of unknowing" to be any closer to how you feel after you feel you're in whichever jhana? That's something that helped me understand when a Fruition occurs in daily life, not like the A&P double drop thing, just a moment when you realise that reality totally dropped out and you didn't experience anything.

I only mentioned consulting a doctor as a precautionary measure, chances are it's nothing to do with any sort of illness, mental or otherwise, but better safe than sorry.
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Tommy M:
It is really difficult to put into words the automatic jhana episodes that I go through seeing that they happen on their own. I regularly have a sense of peace, so it is like trying to split hairs to distinguish what is actually going on at those times. I am usually very busy using my higher, abstract mind to solve very complex mathematical operations or algorithms when it happens. I don’t know if it is that the memory loss is actually because of the jhana forming or just a malfunction of my own brain with jhana in the background. It is the highest of jhana experiences, fourth or fifth jhana, usually. It happens very quickly, and there is no way to notice any progression.


I think you're mistaken here, and I also think that you're trying to shoehorn your experience and make it fit with the concept, as you understand it at present, of jhana. If there's something in your brain which is causing memory loss that's this noticeable then I recommend that you speak to a doctor, if only to rule out any physical reason for this.

The reason I think you're mistaken is that you refer to your 'jhana' experience as being "the highest of jhana experiences, fourth or fifth jhana, usually." which is just plain bullshit and no one with the level of knowledge you claim would make this error.

I'd encourage to you split those hairs you refer to.


First of all, while I claim to have mastered the jhanas, I do not claim to have mastered being able to talk about them to more discriminating practitioners very well. Jargon is jargon, and I don't think that anyone knows as much as they tend to claim just because they have some sort of mastery over terminology. You seem a bit edgy. Do you drink a lot of caffeine?

There are different ways of looking at what level of jhana there is. Sometimes people divide them up into four, sometimes five, while others still say eight or even higher. I don’t know a whole lot about any of the specific labels that people expect me to use. Even the Sutras themselves seem to say various things depending on the context. I do know that I began with concentration jhanas, though, and was capable of sustaining each one at length, and can still do that. Characteristics are a better way for me to understand what kind of jhana it is rather than a label of some sort of specific level. For instance, first jhana to me is a very thick bliss and is felt more at the skin or body while mentally unifying. They get progressively lighter and more stable as the jhanas get higher like as they gradually become more balanced.

However, you might be correct in that I have fruitions in the fourth jhana and confusing things. All of the terminology and various experiences are very difficult for me to know exactly how to describe them accurately. Like I said, a lot of my progress has actually happened in the past with other systems before I even read about Buddhism, which is why it might be good for me to understand where exactly I am. I don't know. I know that I am very good at producing the higher jhanas, though, whether I can put my experiences into good enough words for seasoned practitioners to accept or not. Perhaps I should just not say anything at all about anything.

Even if I did go to a doctor, there is little that can be done for memory loss, except mental exercises. I am pretty sure that I get enough mental exercise, though with my current degree program, and I also already take suppliments that help a little. It happens to all of us as we get older, anyway.

It is quite possible that you are correct about everything, though.
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Beoman Beo Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
James Eric Barnhouse:
I know that I am very good at producing the higher jhanas, though, whether I can put my experiences into good enough words for seasoned practitioners to accept or not. Perhaps I should just not say anything at all about anything.

Nah I'm one for open discussion. I'd be interested in hearing your descriptions of the jhanas as you currently understand them. Maybe in another thread since that's getting into another topic.

James Eric Barnhouse:
Just one question, though: If there really is no self, then what good does a will do?


Ah well don't dip into nihilism. If we were nihilistic, nothing would matter anyway, and why do anything at all?

I'm gonna try to explain this and use some Actualism terms and probably fail in the process.

The word 'self' is used in different ways... in the Actualist sense, there is definitely a self. It consists of your emotions and feelings. It's the layer standing in the way between you (I'll get to what 'you' that is) and actuality. And one can't deny that it exists. It's clearly manifesting when someone is angry, for example. Saying it doesn't exist would be a delusion.

But in the Buddhist term, this self would still have the no-self characteristic. It would have all3 of the characteristics actually: it's impermanent, it is unsatisfactory, and it isn't fundamentally 'you'. There's nothing special about it except that it is identified with as being special.

Apparently, according to the Actually Free, you can eliminate this self. What's left then? Just what is physically/actually there: your body and all the cells in it, including your sense organs, and including your brain. That's all you are really - a collection of these things - and that is what is fully realized upon becoming Actually Free. And this collection is conscious of itself... I'm getting a bit confused here with consciousness and stuff... but basically the brain is still there, the flesh and blood body that is there consists of the brain, it can direct the brain in various ways... and that brain can be willed to do certain things by itself, and that will is definitely important - that is what is meant by 'pure intent'.

All speculation on my part, but look back on those experiences that you think might be PCEs for corroboration.
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
First of all, while I claim to have mastered the jhanas, I do not claim to have mastered being able to talk about them to more discriminating practitioners very well. Jargon is jargon, and I don't think that anyone knows as much as they tend to claim just because they have some sort of mastery over terminology. You seem a bit edgy. Do you drink a lot of caffeine?


I'm disputing your claim, which I'm entitled to do and just as you're entitled to do with any claims I would make. I mean no ill-will whatsoever although I understand how my words would be interpreted as such, for this I do apologise, but I am neither edgy nor caffeine-addled. Would you like to post a practice report and demonstrate what occurs during practice? That way we can begin to understand each other a bit clearer and we can both learn something!

You're free to do and say whatever you want, just don't expect not to be called out on it or to have someone question what you're saying. I posted in the hope of being able to clarify some of the questions you had, particularly since you've come from a similar magickal background to me, and to offer any advice which may be of help to you in the long-term.

My comment about terminology was offered as someone who's still learning how to communicate their own experience in mutually understandable terms, and who has found that lacking this will lead to confusion and an increased risk of inaccuracy in diagnosis. I'm certainly not an expert in jargon, personally I agree with you, but I feel it's important to have terms which are understood universally, as far as possible at least, within a community such as this when you're communicating an interpretation of an essentially subjective experience. Would you agree with that?

There are different ways of looking at what level of jhana there is. Sometimes people divide them up into four, sometimes five, while others still say eight or even higher. I don’t know a whole lot about any of the specific labels that people expect me to use. Even the Sutras themselves seem to say various things depending on the context. I do know that I began with concentration jhanas, though, and was capable of sustaining each one at length, and can still do that. Characteristics are a better way for me to understand what kind of jhana it is rather than a label of some sort of specific level. For instance, first jhana to me is a very thick bliss and is felt more at the skin or body while mentally unifying. They get progressively lighter and more stable as the jhanas get higher like as they gradually become more balanced.


I agree completely. Again, I refer to my earlier point about communicating in a mutually understandable way within a particular community so as to be able to discuss, analyse, and learn about the subject at hand. Your description of the first jhana fits well enough with my own and with those of many others, these are obviously subjective but there's certain things which define each jhana and can be experienced by anyone who practices. Above that, that's a whole other thread for another day.

However, you might be correct in that I have fruitions in the fourth jhana and confusing things. All of the terminology and various experiences are very difficult for me to know exactly how to describe them accurately. Like I said, a lot of my progress has actually happened in the past with other systems before I even read about Buddhism, which is why it might be good for me to understand where exactly I am. I don't know. I know that I am very good at producing the higher jhanas, though, whether I can put my experiences into good enough words for seasoned practitioners to accept or not. Perhaps I should just not say anything at all about anything.


You'll be surprised to hear that I agree with you once again here. The reason I'm saying all of this about clarifying the terminology you're using is to make these things sooooooooooo much easier to define and discuss! It's not about using "good enough words", I'll tell you right now that you're doing exactly what I did when I came on here. Misunderstanding words, confusing terminology and learning very little that's of practical use. This isn't me sitting slagging you off, I completely understand what you're going through trying to line up these experiences and, unless you're a seriously gifted and scholarly magician, you'll waste a whole lot of time on that when you'll learn more from observing the breath for ten seconds. I know this because I did exactly the same and quite probably made an arse of myself (moreso than you think I am right now...Ha!) in the process.

Yes, I'm abrupt and I can be quite short with people. I'd rather be like this than someone who'd blow smoke up your arse and pretend to care about how you're getting on in your practice. I look forward to seeing how things go and please understand that I really mean no harm and wish you the very best of luck with whatever comes your way. If you think I'm a dick, so be it. It's the internet. emoticon

It is quite possible that you are correct about everything, though.


That's a lot of ballocks. Nice finishing line though. emoticon
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
What makes you think it should even matter to me whether anyone believes my claim to anything or not, Tommy M?
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
What makes you think it should even matter to me whether anyone believes my claim to anything or not, Tommy M?


Honestly? It doesn't.

I questioned your claim as you've provided incorrect information regarding the jhanas themselves, presented yourself as being highly experienced in the samatha jhanas, and implied that you think you're enlightened. You may have full mastery of all traditional attainments for all I know, but I can't say that it would make me any more inclined to accept such a bold claim at face value.

A few things to bear in mind before you write off everything I've said: I don't know you, I've had no interaction with you prior to your initial posting and I've seen no evidence of your practice beyond that. It's nothing personal, as I've said before I'm only being honest with you and offering an opinion based on twelve years of experience in magick and meditation.
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Tommy M:
What makes you think it should even matter to me whether anyone believes my claim to anything or not, Tommy M?


Honestly? It doesn't.

I questioned your claim as you've provided incorrect information regarding the jhanas themselves, presented yourself as being highly experienced in the samatha jhanas, and implied that you think you're enlightened. You may have full mastery of all traditional attainments for all I know, but I can't say that it would make me any more inclined to accept such a bold claim at face value.

A few things to bear in mind before you write off everything I've said: I don't know you, I've had no interaction with you prior to your initial posting and I've seen no evidence of your practice beyond that. It's nothing personal, as I've said before I'm only being honest with you and offering an opinion based on twelve years of experience in magick and meditation.


Like I said, I am experienced in it as I understand it, and I really don't care whether or not you think that I have given incorrect information about the jhanas. I personally don't think that I have given any incorrect information about it. You can have your opinion about it all you want, but like I said, I really don't care.
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
So you didn't say: "It is the highest of jhana experiences, fourth or fifth jhana, usually."?

Ok, fair enough. I see there's no point in being honest here and wasting my time on offering advice which might, if (and it's a big if 'cause it seems you don't like being told you're anything other than completely enlightened) be of help if you haven't attained Arahatship and are in fact, like me, another yogi on the middle stages of this particular model.

If you wish to discuss anything further then you're free to contact me privately, otherwise I'm done with this discussion and I'll leave it to others to tell you just how amazingly enlightened you are.

Good luck with whatever comes your way.
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Tommy M:
So you didn't say: "It is the highest of jhana experiences, fourth or fifth jhana, usually."?

Ok, fair enough. I see there's no point in being honest here and wasting my time on offering advice which might, if (and it's a big if 'cause it seems you don't like being told you're anything other than completely enlightened) be of help if you haven't attained Arahatship and are in fact, like me, another yogi on the middle stages of this particular model.

If you wish to discuss anything further then you're free to contact me privately, otherwise I'm done with this discussion and I'll leave it to others to tell you just how amazingly enlightened you are.

Good luck with whatever comes your way.


I think you need to relax and take a chill pill, yourself. I think you are taking labels way too seriously. I am not wanting people telling me I am enlightened. Actually, I am thinking about quitting this insight cycle stuff and going the actual freedom route, anyway. It really doesn't matter to me what label is put on my insight stage, Arahat, or a lowly confused jhana junky. It really just doesn't matter to me. Again, I think you are taking things way too seriously.

It is also quite possible that I am just a mentally challenged Arahat. Slow people can be Arahats, too, can't they?
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
The limitations of communication via the internet are probably at the heart of this bizarre sidetrack we appear to have taken. I keep saying that I agree with the bulk of what you've said so far, I don't think you're a liar or deluded but I do think that there are certain terms which are used in a particular way on this site, and in the literature of the Theravada, which are generally agreed upon when discussing these areas e.g. the eight samatha jhanas and the four vipassana jhanas.

If someone comes to this site and tries to apply their own non-empirically tested interpretation of these areas i.e. without having sat down as an absolute beginner, ignoring your previous experience of techniques which are not vipassana/samatha, and just applying these techniques to reality as it occurs, taking the time to explore the territory you're talking about, then it will cause confusion and misinterpretation. This means that the person enquiring will be given information which may not be of any practical use at that time and may lead to unnecessary suffering, which is what we're all, whether you're into the Dharma or AF, looking to put an end to.

That is why I'm being serious about this, I really do want to see you end suffering, just as I do for me and every other person on this planet. Perhaps I can seem a little intense, but it's because I believe that what we're all working towards here will lead to a fundamental shift and contribute, in however small a way, to the end of suffering, the human condition, the illusion of self and all the dualism that pulls us to and fro until we see through it, for everyone. It's idealistic and grandiose, yes, but I'm under no illusions about it and consider the words of Hermes Trimegistus to be pretty accurate: As above, so below. Microcosm/Macrocosm and all those dualistic models, you know what I mean.

Does that answer your question about why I take this so seriously?

I actually have a sense of humour which would probably surprise you if you were to base your judgement of me on the words on a screen. Read my posting called "Dog Farts" and you'll see what I mean, I really can laugh at enlightenment and any ridiculous ideas of what it "is" so I think you're incorrect in your assumption there. I also swear quite a lot and tend to be quite sceptical of words used to describe experiences, I take a size 13 in shoe (UK size) and enjoy the music of Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band. Trust me, I don't take any sort of "self" seriously any more.

In the words of George Carlin, "It's all bullshit, people. It's all bullshit and it's bad for you".

James, seriously here, you do what you feel is correct for you and I, again, wish you all the very best of luck with whatever you choose. Whichever way you go, keep us posted as you're clearly an intelligent and eloquent writer so it'd be great to see what happens from now.
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Nikolai H., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Hey James,

This might help shed some light on what you are experiencing:
I'd be interested to know if you could follow along with this guided video of the jhanas.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRdiOoTZC3A

emoticon

Nick
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Nikolai H.:
Hey James,

This might help shed some light on what you are experiencing:
I'd be interested to know if you could follow along with this guided video of the jhanas.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRdiOoTZC3A

emoticon

Nick


I have started watching them, but they are not playing very well at the moment. They stop for long periods and I have to wait for short packets of it to download, then it stops again. What I can say about it so far is this:

I noticed as they were describing the first four jhanas that they noticed somewhat of a center, but in the fifth jhana there was an infinitely expanding space. Strangely enough, I don’t notice a center anymore ever. Am I stuck in the fifth or higher jhana or something? I always notice an infinite amount of space and no localized self. Is that normal or should I try to find some way to come out of the higher jhanas? Or is this the way that stream entry is supposed to always feel from now on?
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Nikolai,

When I start what I call the first jhana, I start where the skin meets the air going closer and closer to that space where the atoms of the skin and air meet paying attention to the fact that it is impossible to distinguish between the space between the subatomic particles of each and the space between the two things realizing that there can really be no distinction in the two. Then I begin vanishing and begin almost immediately to go into what they are calling the pure land jhanas. I notice five of them. I’m not sure that what most people call the first jhana with there being a center can be noticed anymore. I’m sorry if this doesn’t sound plausible, but this is how I honestly experience things.

James
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Beoman Beo Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
James Eric Barnhouse:
Nikolai,

When I start what I call the first jhana, I start where the skin meets the air going closer and closer to that space where the atoms of the skin and air meet paying attention to the fact that it is impossible to distinguish between the space between the subatomic particles of each and the space between the two things realizing that there can really be no distinction in the two. Then I begin vanishing and begin almost immediately to go into what they are calling the pure land jhanas. I notice five of them. I’m not sure that what most people call the first jhana with there being a center can be noticed anymore. I’m sorry if this doesn’t sound plausible, but this is how I honestly experience things.

James


I actually wouldn't be too surprised if you got Arahat as we defined it here, based on your descriptions earlier, and the recent ones now of there being no center. Maybe you can ask for clarifications on how to tell, lol, but no center point is a big hint.

However even Arahats can experience all 8 jhanas and then the pure lands, so I'd try to really make an effort to go through all of them if that's what you want. I know I made the mistake once of going up the jhanas, thinking I got into the purelands and thinking there were five of them, but then i started going into infinite space and consciousness and realized I was just hitting very hard first to fourth jhanas.
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Beoman Beo Beoman:
James Eric Barnhouse:
Nikolai,

When I start what I call the first jhana, I start where the skin meets the air going closer and closer to that space where the atoms of the skin and air meet paying attention to the fact that it is impossible to distinguish between the space between the subatomic particles of each and the space between the two things realizing that there can really be no distinction in the two. Then I begin vanishing and begin almost immediately to go into what they are calling the pure land jhanas. I notice five of them. I’m not sure that what most people call the first jhana with there being a center can be noticed anymore. I’m sorry if this doesn’t sound plausible, but this is how I honestly experience things.

James


I actually wouldn't be too surprised if you got Arahat as we defined it here, based on your descriptions earlier, and the recent ones now of there being no center. Maybe you can ask for clarifications on how to tell, lol, but no center point is a big hint.

However even Arahats can experience all 8 jhanas and then the pure lands, so I'd try to really make an effort to go through all of them if that's what you want. I know I made the mistake once of going up the jhanas, thinking I got into the purelands and thinking there were five of them, but then i started going into infinite space and consciousness and realized I was just hitting very hard first to fourth jhanas.


I came to realize that there really is no center several months ago, and while I can produce the lower jhanas the way that I used to, I just don't really see the point. It's like pretending. Why pretend that something exists in a certain way when I know that it just isn't real. When I look at other people, too, I see no center, but I know that they believe one exists. I just don't see the point in pretending anymore.

By the way, all of the jhana experiences are pretending, in a way. That's how I see it, and I would rather not get stuck in one if that is what has happened.
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Beoman Beo Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
James Eric Barnhouse:
I came to realize that there really is no center several months ago, and while I can produce the lower jhanas the way that I used to, I just don't really see the point. It's like pretending. Why pretend that something exists in a certain way when I know that it just isn't real. When I look at other people, too, I see no center, but I know that they believe one exists. I just don't see the point in pretending anymore.

By the way, all of the jhana experiences are pretending, in a way. That's how I see it, and I would rather not get stuck in one if that is what has happened.


Yeah the point would just be to see if they are there so you can match your experiences with ours. If you feel that is not useful, then no need to do it. Think of it as satisfying my intellectual curiosity (I was going to say your, but I don't know if you have it, heh). There's no chance you will get stuck into thinking there is a center again =P.

I strongly doubt you can get stuck in a jhana. It really is a trance-like state. I have managed to get formless realms with eyes open but I was sitting still and I think moving would have gotten me out of it right away. Also it was quite different.. like at 6th jhana the visual field was still there, though I feel it wasn't being 'updated' with new information, kind of surreal, nothing like walking around through daily life.

Also if you want it could be fun to try to get Nirodha Samapatti. Basically, go through all the jhanas, and resolve to go into cessation after the 8th one (neither perception nor non-perception). MCTB link here. Can be quite relaxing. Or try this approach to jhana - I think it's the 'right' way to go about jhanas.
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Beoman Beo Beoman:
James Eric Barnhouse:
I came to realize that there really is no center several months ago, and while I can produce the lower jhanas the way that I used to, I just don't really see the point. It's like pretending. Why pretend that something exists in a certain way when I know that it just isn't real. When I look at other people, too, I see no center, but I know that they believe one exists. I just don't see the point in pretending anymore.

By the way, all of the jhana experiences are pretending, in a way. That's how I see it, and I would rather not get stuck in one if that is what has happened.


Yeah the point would just be to see if they are there so you can match your experiences with ours. If you feel that is not useful, then no need to do it. Think of it as satisfying my intellectual curiosity (I was going to say your, but I don't know if you have it, heh). There's no chance you will get stuck into thinking there is a center again =P.

I strongly doubt you can get stuck in a jhana. It really is a trance-like state. I have managed to get formless realms with eyes open but I was sitting still and I think moving would have gotten me out of it right away. Also it was quite different.. like at 6th jhana the visual field was still there, though I feel it wasn't being 'updated' with new information, kind of surreal, nothing like walking around through daily life.

Also if you want it could be fun to try to get Nirodha Samapatti. Basically, go through all the jhanas, and resolve to go into cessation after the 8th one (neither perception nor non-perception). MCTB link here. Can be quite relaxing. Or try this approach to jhana - I think it's the 'right' way to go about jhanas.



I don't know. I don't want to cause any more trouble than I seem to be causing. I think I'll just go with the AF and PCE stuff from now on. I really don't want to sit and study terminology just to find out that I am rehashing things. I am so content, now, that I just don't feel like there is any reason to continue with this. I was just concerned, because I feel like I'm a little high all the time and lose my ability to think at times. It will probably pass.

Again, I didn't mean to cause any trouble here. I will quietly go now. Sorry.
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Beoman Beo Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Ah dont be too shy about speaking up with regards to causing trouble. for what it's worth I'm sorry about my part in calling you amazingly enlightened. Yeah discussions about where one is can get heated as you have seen, it also doesn't really matter as you have seen. Do what you feel is right. Feel free to ask questions about whatever (af, pce, insight, etc).

I suspect the blank outs will decrease as you go onto AF things, eg paying attention to your physical surroundings.
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Beoman Beo Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
James Eric Barnhouse:
I feel that it is important to practice at least two hours a day, because of several reasons:

1. Before I began meditating on a regular basis, my life was much worse than it is now.
...
3. Scheduling regular meditation sits gets the job done.
4. Meditation before anything else happens in the day prepares me to live life with minimal stress.


Compare those points with what you said earlier:

James Eric Barnhouse:
Right now, I don’t have any plans. I’m not sure what kind of goal I should be making as far as what we are talking about goes... I have no idea what kind of goals that I should make to be perfectly honest with you. Most of the time, I just take things as they come.


Would you say your goal is to make your life better? What is "the job" that has to get done? Would you say your goal is to live life with minimal stress?

James Eric Barnhouse:
I definitely plan on working to get rid of the automatic-jhana thing that happens when I need to be thinking critically, but the actual ability of my brain to function better may be something completely out of my control. I take dietary supplements for memory and cognitive enhancement, but it seems to do little good. I am handling this unfortunate truth about my mental limitations much better than I used to handle them, though.

You can try playing lumosity games. I find them fun, and they say they improve mental function.

My opinion about your mental function is that, since I think you at least have stream entry, it's actually more powerful than most people's, and that you just have to learn to control it a little better.

James Eric Barnhouse:
I no longer have an ego issue with any of my limitations, and it does not bother me to admit them, anymore. I think that this is actually something profoundly good. Do you not agree?

I believe it is good to not have an ego issue with any of your imitations, yes. From that platform of equanimity regarding yourself, you're in a good position to see what you can and can't do.

James Eric Barnhouse:

As for some aspects of life being chaotic and stressful, that does not mean that I am necessarily affected by it. There is no way to make the world a stressless place. I cannot change the way life is. I can only change the way that I see it.


Ah I wasn't sure if by "chaotic and stressful" you meant internally or externally. Note that as I understand it, it is possible to live life without any stress (or any other form of suffering) whatsoever, if you want to pursue that goal.

Would you say you're happy most of the day? Indifferent? Detached? Would you prefer to be any other way than you currently are? (e.g. happier, more detached, more involved...)
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Beoman,

It is always good to make my life better for my own and everyone else’s benefit.

The job that I was referring to, in its proper context, was the goal of actually sitting and meditating every day. I have to purposefully schedule some things or else it would be too easy to forget to do them like the daily routine things that have to get done such as eating, brushing teeth, taking a bath, washing clothes, etc… Meditation is no different than those kinds of things.

Yes, I will try some luminosity games. Thank you for the link.

I am pretty sure that I have stream entry as well. I am not quite sure when exactly it actually happened, and as Tommy M pointed out, it might not even matter. I’m not quite sure whether a good understanding of what I have actually been through matters or not. I was just going on what I have seen others like Daniel say. They seem to put a big emphasis on it. Maybe it’s important. Maybe it’s not. I don't know.

I would say that I am happily content almost always. Too much happiness can actually become irritating as giddiness can become a form of manic suffering. A little bit of humor is great, but too much is too much, no matter what one is talking about. I would not say that I am indifferent. Indifference has a negative connotation to most people as well as detached. I would say that I am healthily unaffected. I am definitely not detached, because I do not see any separation with any of the other aspects of the universe. The only thing that I would change is to know more about how to be more effective and more efficient at whatever I might be doing, and I do that. There just seems to be a lot of uncertainty at times where certainty is needed.

I have no difficulty in meditation types of concentration, but I have much difficulty concentrating on dry facts and scientific analysis types of things. It takes a long time for me to study something to the point of remembering it and recalling it quickly. I want that to change. Would achieving higher paths fix those kinds of problems, or would they just remain as the frailty of the human condition?

James
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Beoman Beo Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
The job that I was referring to, in its proper context, was the goal of actually sitting and meditating every day. I have to purposefully schedule some things or else it would be too easy to forget to do them like the daily routine things that have to get done such as eating, brushing teeth, taking a bath, washing clothes, etc… Meditation is no different than those kinds of things.

Ah, got it. I thought you were referring to something else.

I would say that I am happily content almost always. Too much happiness can actually become irritating as giddiness can become a form of manic suffering.

Hehe ya i didn't mean walking quivering with excitement, a huge smile on your face, not being able to contain yourself. Happily content was closer to it. Reading your posts they came off a bit morose, but I wasn't sure if that was the case or if I was projecting, and it seems to be the latter.

I have no difficulty in meditation types of concentration, but I have much difficulty concentrating on dry facts and scientific analysis types of things. It takes a long time for me to study something to the point of remembering it and recalling it quickly. I want that to change. Would achieving higher paths fix those kinds of problems, or would they just remain as the frailty of the human condition?


Further progress will free up your mental processes more, and probably result in less mental friction, so you'd probably be able to concentrate more on such things. For example, Daniel Ingram says somewhere in this long thread that when he is in PCE mode (an AF term for an unaltered state of consciousness - you can read about it here), he can work his high-pressure job (as a doctor of some type) much more easily, return home not nearly as tired as usual, etc. UPDATE: Ah I found the paragraph I was thinking about:

Daniel Ingram:

As I have started to get used to being at work in my very high-volume, high-intensity emergency department physician job where I have to be extremely clear and on-target in my interactions with people, my processing of extremely complex information and my ability to be with what is happening, I can now attest that doing this in PCE mode is way better than Cycle Mode, which can be problematic at times, even at the arahat level.

I have worked probably a total of 5-10 shifts worth of work now in PCE mode and so have a pretty solid basis for comparison, and there is simply no argument at this point for Cycle Mode at all in that very high-stakes and demanding situation from my current point of view. It did take a little while to get used to the fact that the cues to do things are different and the thing functions differently (an example being that in Cycle Mode I might remember to order a chest x-ray after putting in a central line because there was this weird nagging ache in my stomach that I would look at and try to figure out and then would emerge the realization that I forgot to do that as compared to just the body remembering and doing that, which is so much more clean and less fatigue-producing and more pleasant all around), but the adjustment has been relatively easy in comparison to all sorts of other things I have had to adjust to, such as functioning in the Dark Night.


James Eric Barnhouse:
It is always good to make my life better for my own and everyone else’s benefit.


It sounds like you're doing just fine. I would recommend looking into Actualism/Actual Freedom. See if you can't remember any PCEs (the theory is that everyone has had them at some point, most likely during childhood) or cultivate any, to see if there isn't something worth exploring there, for you. You can read some descriptions of PCEs. The method one would apply to get there is detailed in this article (also linked by Bruno above). I've been at it for about 3 weeks and there has been a marked change in my level of happiness (not the giddy over-excited kind =P) and enjoyment of life, and more and more I appreciate just how wonderful it is to be alive.
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Daniel Ingram:

As I have started to get used to being at work in my very high-volume, high-intensity emergency department physician job where I have to be extremely clear and on-target in my interactions with people, my processing of extremely complex information and my ability to be with what is happening, I can now attest that doing this in PCE mode is way better than Cycle Mode, which can be problematic at times, even at the arahat level.

I have worked probably a total of 5-10 shifts worth of work now in PCE mode and so have a pretty solid basis for comparison, and there is simply no argument at this point for Cycle Mode at all in that very high-stakes and demanding situation from my current point of view. It did take a little while to get used to the fact that the cues to do things are different and the thing functions differently (an example being that in Cycle Mode I might remember to order a chest x-ray after putting in a central line because there was this weird nagging ache in my stomach that I would look at and try to figure out and then would emerge the realization that I forgot to do that as compared to just the body remembering and doing that, which is so much more clean and less fatigue-producing and more pleasant all around), but the adjustment has been relatively easy in comparison to all sorts of other things I have had to adjust to, such as functioning in the Dark Night.


And as Beoman pointed out above with this quote of Daniel's, it looks as though being in PCE mode might be exactly what the doctor ordered to ensure proper functioning in daily life rather than repeated cyling, which does seem to be a similar kind of situation that I am going through.
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Hey James,

I won't waste your time with trying to suggest where you are in terms of Paths, there's some similarities between where you've come from and my own background so here's a few things I'd suggest which might help:

1. Don't try figuring out where you are based on past experiences. You may very well be able to find seamless correlation between the kabbalistic maps and those of the Theravada, personally the whole matter just confused me and wasted time I could have spent on practice. There's a lot of things which will line up nicely e.g. Da'ath and the Abyss can be mapped to Dark Night, Tiphareth sits nicely with the A&P, but a lot of other things which seem miles off e.g. I find it difficult to map sephirah such as Geburah or Chesed without considerable work and there are differences which just do not fit.

2. Get a grip on the basics of the terminology used most commonly on here as it will increase your ability to communicate your experience in more mutually understandable terms. This helps if you're trying to get an opinion on where you are and anything Path related. Posting some practice notes is really useful too 'cause then it's easier to get people with more experience with this particular system to provide advice, or an opinion.

The last paragraph of your first posting seems quite confusing, you indicate that you've practised vipassana so you would have come across these stages naturally. This leads me to suspect that you may have begun practice in Wisdom, but that you stopped for a fairly lengthy period due to the apparent length of your A&P experience, if indeed that's what it was. This is only an opinion so feel free to disregard it but I'd rather be honest with you than blow smoke up your arse. You may very well have attained enlightenment, maybe not and only time, and integration of these insights will tell. Only you'll know this for sure, but it sounds like you're still searching.

I also get that, although you speak of being constantly peaceful, there still considerable suffering going on at a fundamental level. The list-making comment and, going by your exploration of various systems, your ferverent adherence to your previous religious commitments and other factors in your story, suggests to me that you have some psychological stuff which may need to be examined before delving into insight. Then again, if your concentration is as strong as you suggest then that provides a wonderful platform to examine these issues from so go for it, if you feel that's what you want to do.

There's also the possibility that you're suffering from some form of depression, or maybe going through a heavy Re-observation stage, as the feeling of "emptiness" in the no-self sense is neither here nor there. I was diagnosed with clinical depression a few years ago and find that my experience of similar feelings of dissociation, which require a self, and is what your description sounds like, and the experience of there being no-self feel very different in daily life. Again, all of this is opinion and I'm not remotely qualified to make a medical, or even dharma, diagnosis so don't think I speak from some position of authority. I'm only basing my words on what you've said, and my own experience of similar feelings.

What you're saying sounds very much like you're detaching from reality, seeking refuge in this empty space which you will find is a thinly veiled sense of a self, which is contrary to what you say you want to do, in this case vipassana. If you want to get insight then you need to examine those feelings of peace, the balance, the happiness, the equanimity, look at the sensations, the Three Characteristics. Only then will you get insight into where you are, anything other than this just isn't insight at a fundamental level.

Basically, look at what's going on right now at a sensory level. If you want to pursue the AF and PCE route then it's up to you, there's plenty of resources on this site and elsewhere with plenty of knowledgeable and helpful practitioners who can help.

I hope you find what you're looking for, take care of yourself and hopefully we'll see you more often on the DhO!

Tommy
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Hi Tommy M,

I appreciate what you have said. I have given up the other religious systems such as the Kabbalah. It can be very confusing filled with too much content and intricate symbolism, which to me was a major distraction in the first place. I think a lot of my mind going blank is just a bad brain. I am going through a lot of mental challenges at school which may be more than I am capable of handling. I started this degree that I am currently trying to obtain when I had a lot more ego needs than I do now. The university, making me think too much, is very stressful on my mental capacities at times, and apparently I have subconsciously formed a triggered jhana-creating defense mechanism of some sort that I might very well need to figure out how to deprogram in public situations such as test taking, at least that’s how it was last semester. This semester might be different, though. Things seem to be going a little more smoothly this time around. I have had depression in the past, but for the most part, I am usually fairly content, now. I am unfamiliar with AF and PCE. I will have to look up what they stand for. I always notice the three characteristics in everything, especially with what occurs with my physical and mental senses. I usually gravitate towards the no-real-localized-self notion, and that is where I have found most of my tunneling and blipping out experiences if that helps. I do not see anything as really being separate from the universe.

James
Amanda Toney, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 13 Join Date: 1/29/11 Recent Posts
I have been wondering the same thing. About 3 months ago, I might have hit the dark night. When I started reading up on it today, a sense of relief came over me. First, because I didn't fully understand what was wrong before. Second, the realization that this stage had an end if I kept practicing. This sense of relief has lasted for hours if not most of the day by now. Was it the real deal or depression? Where am I now? And is this normal? And.. does this relief mean that its finally over?
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Beoman Beo Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Amanda Toney:
I have been wondering the same thing. About 3 months ago, I might have hit the dark night. When I started reading up on it today, a sense of relief came over me. First, because I didn't fully understand what was wrong before. Second, the realization that this stage had an end if I kept practicing. This sense of relief has lasted for hours if not most of the day by now. Was it the real deal or depression? Where am I now? And is this normal? And.. does this relief mean that its finally over?


If you'd like feedback, could you post this with more details in a new thread?
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Amanda Toney:
I have been wondering the same thing. About 3 months ago, I might have hit the dark night. When I started reading up on it today, a sense of relief came over me. First, because I didn't fully understand what was wrong before. Second, the realization that this stage had an end if I kept practicing. This sense of relief has lasted for hours if not most of the day by now. Was it the real deal or depression? Where am I now? And is this normal? And.. does this relief mean that its finally over?


What did you read?

I am glad that you have a sense of relief. That is a good, hopeful sign. Yes, keep practicing. I have no idea whether you have experienced anything substantial or not, and only time will tell. Most likely the sense of relief that you have is what you need to hang onto with all of your might. It is based on the realization that continued effort will pay off.

You ask, “Is it finally over?” What I have found is that things get progressively better, and yes there does come a time when things get much, much easier.
Amanda Toney, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 13 Join Date: 1/29/11 Recent Posts
I read Mastering the core teachings of Buddha, the Progress of Insight. I don't think I am going to try to hang with all my might onto the relief though. The dark night is a natural phase of practice just as much as the relief. Part of the reason it sucked was because I thought it shouldn't be happening. This feeling of relief can come and go as it pleases. I can't be happy all the time and that's ok.
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James Eric Barnhouse, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 24 Join Date: 2/1/11 Recent Posts
Amanda Toney:
I read Mastering the core teachings of Buddha, the Progress of Insight. I don't think I am going to try to hang with all my might onto the relief though. The dark night is a natural phase of practice just as much as the relief. Part of the reason it sucked was because I thought it shouldn't be happening. This feeling of relief can come and go as it pleases. I can't be happy all the time and that's ok.


I do not mean to hang onto the momentary relief, itself, Amanda, I mean what is at the base of that relief, it's cause, which is the understanding that continued effort will bring a final relief. It is a taste of what is to come.
Amanda Toney, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: So where am I? Good question.

Posts: 13 Join Date: 1/29/11 Recent Posts
Oh, sorry my bad. I misunderstood. emoticon' Major duh moment.
Will do!

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