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Removal of Suffering & Happiness

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Removal of Suffering & Happiness Kim Katami 10/3/19 2:54 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Milo 10/3/19 5:26 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Jim Smith 10/3/19 6:44 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Change A. 10/3/19 6:51 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Kim Katami 10/12/19 2:20 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Nicolas G. 10/12/19 3:40 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Kim Katami 10/13/19 10:21 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Jim Smith 10/13/19 2:49 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Kim Katami 10/4/19 2:19 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Jordi 10/4/19 2:56 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Nicolas G. 10/5/19 5:08 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Dodge E Knees 10/4/19 6:17 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Kim Katami 10/4/19 6:47 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness JP 10/4/19 8:29 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Chris Marti 10/4/19 6:46 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Stirling Campbell 10/4/19 2:38 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Jim Smith 10/4/19 5:28 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Jordi 10/4/19 9:05 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Jim Smith 10/4/19 11:49 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Jim Smith 10/5/19 12:25 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Jim Smith 10/5/19 12:57 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness B B 10/5/19 9:39 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Change A. 10/5/19 10:12 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Jim Smith 10/7/19 11:31 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Mangala 10/8/19 8:46 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Sleeping Buddha Syndrome 10/8/19 9:58 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness William 10/10/19 8:56 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness T DC 10/10/19 10:33 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Jim Smith 10/10/19 2:57 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Santiago Jimenez 10/10/19 6:16 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Milo 10/11/19 2:49 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Chris Marti 10/11/19 6:16 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Stirling Campbell 10/11/19 6:49 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Chris Marti 10/12/19 8:52 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/12/19 12:38 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Jim Smith 10/12/19 1:22 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Jim Smith 10/12/19 1:21 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness streamsurfer 10/11/19 2:53 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness B B 10/13/19 10:11 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Derek2 10/15/19 3:55 PM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Adam 10/16/19 2:24 AM
RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness Derek2 10/16/19 11:12 AM
Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/3/19 2:54 PM
Hi folks,

I'd like to ask people of this forum if removal of self-based suffering is synonumous with happiness? What do you think? What is your experience?

I've been focused on emptiness and compassion in my practice for a number of years now, enough to have established effortless knowing awareness as my prevalent state of mind. However, even if my mind is quite spacious and clear most of the time, I do not feel happy. Also I realise happiness/cheerfulness is something I miss from my time of non-buddhist of training.

Feel free to share. 

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/3/19 5:26 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Kim Katami:
Hi folks,

I'd like to ask people of this forum if removal of self-based suffering is synonumous with happiness? What do you think? What is your experience?

I've been focused on emptiness and compassion in my practice for a number of years now, enough to have established effortless knowing awareness as my prevalent state of mind. However, even if my mind is quite spacious and clear most of the time, I do not feel happy. Also I realise happiness/cheerfulness is something I miss from my time of non-buddhist of training.

Feel free to share. 


Hi Kim,

It's not the same, IMHO. In my practice I've found that at the deepest level of emptiness there is no meaning to even giving a distinction between happiness and unhappiness, or a distinction between anything and anything for that matter. Quite simply, all the relationships between phenomena (Including states like happiness and unhappiness) grind to a stop, and without those relationships, the phenomena themselves can't be sustained and collapse like a house of cards into a ground state of non-arising. No states exist to be compared, and no subject/object relationship occurs for a conceptual do'er to arise to compare them. I suspect even that is sort of a poor description since it requires a do'er to arise again and try to describe it based on a mentally constructed shadow of an un-experience.  

That being said, this to me is where the limits of lay practice are reached. Actually, probably the limits of 'being alive' practice. It's not possible to function as a normal person from that perspective alone. The conventional view must also be retained while you are alive, or you will cease to be so. It makes me appreciate the genius of the two truths doctrine in the Mahayana. It is possible to experience happiness/unhappines and other dualistic states while also seeing through them. 

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/3/19 6:44 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Kim Katami:
Hi folks,

I'd like to ask people of this forum if removal of self-based suffering is synonumous with happiness? What do you think? What is your experience?

I've been focused on emptiness and compassion in my practice for a number of years now, enough to have established effortless knowing awareness as my prevalent state of mind. However, even if my mind is quite spacious and clear most of the time, I do not feel happy. Also I realise happiness/cheerfulness is something I miss from my time of non-buddhist of training.

Feel free to share. 

Words have so many different meanings in different contexts it's hard disucss this question ....

So I'll skip the philosophy and get right to the practical advice.

What I have found has hugely increased my happiness, well being, cheerfulness is learning to practice the soft jhanas in sitting meditation and then learning to carry a bit of that with me in daily life. So I am not walking around in intense bliss which would not be pleasant, but I have a (mostly) persistant "pleasant relaxed" mood it's not exactly happy, it feels nicer than happy. It feels like this is my natural state. I don't want to be in any other kind of mood, it's the best one I've experienced. It has metta and compassion built in. I want to avoid harming others and I have very little ill will. I don't claim I have perfected this but ... ... it's really really nice - but it's not intense - it's relaxed, pleasant.

I don't think it is actually necesary to practice the jhanas to experience the same thing. If one will relax and quiet the mind I think they can achieve the same state.  That is what  it is in essence: a realaxed mind/body and an un-turbulent mind. It requires some concentration but not intense concentration. Too much concentration blocks the effect. The key to it is getting the right balance, the right amounts, of relaxation and concentration. I don't feel that I have reached the end of where this is going, I am still learning about it, but it seems to me to be as much about relaxation as it is about meditation. It is not just quieting the mind it involves the body as well.

It is kind of different from what is usually discussed on this forum  because it is focused on creating a specific state that you experience right at that time. It is somewhat like yoga that you might do to relax. It is not about anything in the future it is about feeling well now, today. I ignored all the experts who said "don't waste time on the jhanas", "it doesn't last", "it's wallowing in bliss". 

I had been a regular meditator for many years but when I read  something by Thich Nhat Hanh: "... practice breathing with a half-smile. You will feel great joy.". I tried it and it worked and it set me off in a new direction which led to where I am now.

I have described how I meditate on my web site:
https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/meditation-1#meditation_serenity

I recently posted an update with my latest views about meditation my blog:
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2019/09/aspects-of-meditation.html


My practice log is here:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8496517?_19_delta=20&_19_keywords=&_19_advancedSearch=false&_19_andOperator=true&_19_resetCur=false&_19_cur=1

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/3/19 6:51 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
You are still stuck in the duality of suffering and happiness.

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/4/19 2:19 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
If you start looking at most buddhist adepts and teachers, they do not seem happy. It needs to be mentioned though that the vast majority of buddhists alive are samsaric beings and therefore not embodiments of the buddhist path. They have varying degrees of mind clarity and settledness but they don't seem happy and spontaneously joyous. There are few exceptions, like Dalai Lama.

As a tantric I practice guru yoga and have done so with a large number of buddhist and non-buddhist gurus. Buddhist gurus transmit their type of realisation which is marked by clarity, settledness and aliveness but I wouldn't say that any buddhist guru I've practiced seemed happy and joyous. They're like the solid bedrock (which is very necessary). On the other hand I can instantly think of a bunch of non-buddhists who have both the qualities that buddhists do but also have tremendous happiness emanating from them.

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/4/19 2:56 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
I felt a real change on my life and myself focusing on doing metta.

Evoking inside myself the feelings of worth, happiness, peace, security, confidence, joy...had changed me. Also you usually jump to jhannic factors doing this type of practice so is like 2x1 emoticon.

You write a replay about metta on a old post...some instructions that were really interesting.

If this doesnt work maybe its good to try a more Shamanic approach. Buddhist practices are more still, silent and go inside. Shamanic practice are more dynamic, expresive and go to the outside, usually you work on celebrating life and the rituals they do looks like a party is like sharing te expirence togheter etc. Buddhism is more isolated expirence.

Maybe is time to change paradigm hehe

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/4/19 6:17 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Hi Kim,

I thought you had attained the maximum bhumi?

Shouldn't suffering be gone at that stage?

Cheers, Dodge.

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/4/19 6:47 AM as a reply to Dodge E Knees.
Read the book, Dodge. Opening and perfecting bhumis are two entirely different things. Plus, when it comes to happiness, I think personality plays a part in that.

Thanks for that, Milo.

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/4/19 6:46 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
I'd like to ask people of this forum if removal of self-based suffering is synonumous with happiness?

In my experience, no. Happiness needs to be distinguished from "not suffering" and even that needs to be measured on a sliding scale. I'm not sure everyone defines "happiness" the same way, either, so YMMV. I think happiness can be an emotion - for example, how I feel when something pleases me deeply. And happiness can be a state - how I feel when I'm not threatened by something. Most of the time I'm neither happy or unhappy. That's because most of the time I'm not focused on "me" at all.

Having said all that I'm not sure what you're really asking us to weigh in on. Care to elaborate?

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/4/19 8:29 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Have you tried making the kind of standard changes to your lifestyle that people would generally recommend in order to be happier?  Stuff like sleeping more, exercising, having meaningful work, laughing a lot with friends, having satisfying romantic relationships, etc.?  

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/4/19 2:38 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Hello Kim,

It's interesting that you bring this up, as I have been getting some good perspective on how things were 6 months or so ago for me. I would describe my experience of life as "dry" with infrequent moments of joy, and occasional mild suffering. I knew I was still experiencing self, but couldn't manage to get out of what I was thinking was "3rd path". With this was a real determination to maximize the depth of seeing emptiness and maximizing and deepening it. At one point my teacher (and a few DHO denizens) started to point out that I really needed to "return to the market" (oxherding picture reference) - stop thinking I needed to, or could, contrive my experience.

I realized that this is what was really messing me up - I had built a non-dual "self that I thought was best qualified to help others, and that could deepen emptiness with "practices", etc. I realized that like all contrived things, this too was illusory. It was only days after this realization that what I think of as 4th path dawned.

While, for a week or two, things continued to be a little dry emotionally, as the last bit of selfing process dropped away my simple joy in just being really returned, and suffering has entirely dropped away... or at least it isn't "mine" but something that arises and passes of its own accord. The "joy" is probably most like a blissful contentment - the feeling that there isn't anywhere to go, or anything to be done, or anyone to do it - of belonging exactly where there is being. Tritely, small things like steam from car exhausts, or trees in the wind create a soft, comforted bliss... are simple, clean and beautiful, but entirely empty and meaningless in the best possible way. It is this return to a "unity" that has precipitated this - the dropping away of there being a person who has maps to complete, things to accomplish, people to liberate, but also with the deepening inclusiveness of being witness to this moment, increasingly sharing it with the unity that is the 10,000 things. 

Over the last few days I have been reading and listening to commentary on the Five Ranks of Donshan, a post awakening Zen map you may already be familiar with. While I had read it previously, it is now clear that I didn't understand it at all. I now see that it perfectly describes where I was lost:

2nd Rank — The Real (emptiness) within the Apparent (form)

At dawn the old women finds the ancient mirror
Immediate and intimate
But nothing particular
There is no need to search for your own face.


This corresponds to the 9th ox-herding picture — seeing form, completely freshly and vividly, with intimacy and immediacy, as our minds come back into focus after experiencing “no-thing.” It is a rush of consciousness and seeing the world completely anew. We see all forms through the eyes of emptiness and exacting clarity. Form is seen in equality with no differentiation.

The shadow of the 1st and 2nd ranks is the very green, immature, enlightened person with the stink of Zen. Zen sickness, sometimes this is called. Because our insights are all so new and intoxicating, people with new insight may come off as arrogant, judgmental and self-righteous. We need to mature our understanding at this point. As Dogen points out: “You are playing in the entranceway, but you are still short of the vital path of emancipation.”
In the first two ranks, the practitioner is still quite focused on their individualized self and still compartmentalizing in duality; sometimes being in form, sometimes being in emptiness.

http://www.judithragir.org/2012/06/dongshans-five-ranks/


I'm not affiliated with this teacher but I also liked her podcasts on this topic. Her folksy American Midwest speaking voice makes me smile.


https://www.judithragir.org/podcast/2012-06-19-the-first-three-ranks-dharma-talk-by-judith-ragir-june-2012-sesshin-hokyoji-zen-practice-community/


Or:

https://www.lionsroar.com/becoming-the-mountains-and-rivers/


Your experience sounds uncomfortable. Here is hoping something in this thread might be helpful to you.

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/4/19 5:28 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn54/sn54.009.than.html
Vesali Sutta: At Vesali
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu


Then the Blessed One went to the assembly hall and sat down on a seat made ready. As he was sitting there, he addressed the monks: "Monks, this concentration through mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is both peaceful & exquisite, a refreshing & pleasant abiding that immediately disperses & allays any evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen. Just as when, in the last month of the hot season, a great rain-cloud out of season immediately disperses & allays the dust & dirt that have been stirred up, in the same way this concentration through mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is both peaceful & exquisite, a refreshing & pleasant abiding that immediately disperses & allays any evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen.

"And how is concentration through mindfulness of in-&-out breathing developed & pursued so as to be both peaceful & exquisite, a refreshing & pleasant abiding that immediately disperses & allays any evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen?

"There is the case where a monk, having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect, and setting mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.

"[1] Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' [3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' [4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'

"[5] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.' [6] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.' [7] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication [feeling & perception].' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.' [8] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming mental fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming mental fabrication.'

"[9] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the mind.' [10] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in gladdening the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out gladdening the mind.' [11] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in steadying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out steadying the mind. [12] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in releasing the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out releasing the mind.'

"[13] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on inconstancy.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on inconstancy.' [14] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on dispassion [literally, fading].' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on dispassion.' [15] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on cessation.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on cessation.' [16] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on relinquishment.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on relinquishment.'

"This is how concentration through mindfulness of in-&-out breathing is developed & pursued so as to be both peaceful & exquisite, a refreshing & pleasant abiding that immediately disperses & allays any evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen."

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/4/19 9:05 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn54/sn54.009.than.html
Vesali Sutta: At Vesali
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu


Then the Blessed One went to the assembly hall and sat down on a seat made ready. As he was sitting there, he addressed the monks: "Monks, this concentration through mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is both peaceful & exquisite, a refreshing & pleasant abiding that immediately disperses & allays any evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen. Just as when, in the last month of the hot season, a great rain-cloud out of season immediately disperses & allays the dust & dirt that have been stirred up, in the same way this concentration through mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is both peaceful & exquisite, a refreshing & pleasant abiding that immediately disperses & allays any evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen.

"And how is concentration through mindfulness of in-&-out breathing developed & pursued so as to be both peaceful & exquisite, a refreshing & pleasant abiding that immediately disperses & allays any evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen?

"There is the case where a monk, having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect, and setting mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.

"[1] Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' [3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' [4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'

"[5] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.' [6] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.' [7] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication [feeling & perception].' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.' [8] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming mental fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming mental fabrication.'

"[9] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the mind.' [10] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in gladdening the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out gladdening the mind.' [11] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in steadying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out steadying the mind. [12] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in releasing the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out releasing the mind.'

"[13] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on inconstancy.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on inconstancy.' [14] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on dispassion [literally, fading].' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on dispassion.' [15] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on cessation.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on cessation.' [16] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on relinquishment.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on relinquishment.'

"This is how concentration through mindfulness of in-&-out breathing is developed & pursued so as to be both peaceful & exquisite, a refreshing & pleasant abiding that immediately disperses & allays any evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen."
.,
I still not understand how something that simple that just focusing on your breath can bring these good sensations and feelings.

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/4/19 11:49 PM as a reply to Jordi.
Jordi:
Jim Smith:
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn54/sn54.009.than.html
Vesali Sutta: At Vesali
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu


Then the Blessed One went to the assembly hall and sat down on a seat made ready. As he was sitting there, he addressed the monks: "Monks, this concentration through mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is both peaceful & exquisite, a refreshing & pleasant abiding that immediately disperses & allays any evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen. Just as when, in the last month of the hot season, a great rain-cloud out of season immediately disperses & allays the dust & dirt that have been stirred up, in the same way this concentration through mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is both peaceful & exquisite, a refreshing & pleasant abiding that immediately disperses & allays any evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen.

"And how is concentration through mindfulness of in-&-out breathing developed & pursued so as to be both peaceful & exquisite, a refreshing & pleasant abiding that immediately disperses & allays any evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen?

"There is the case where a monk, having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect, and setting mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.

"[1] Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' [3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' [4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'

"[5] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.' [6] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.' [7] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication [feeling & perception].' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.' [8] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming mental fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming mental fabrication.'

"[9] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the mind.' [10] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in gladdening the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out gladdening the mind.' [11] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in steadying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out steadying the mind. [12] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in releasing the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out releasing the mind.'

"[13] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on inconstancy.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on inconstancy.' [14] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on dispassion [literally, fading].' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on dispassion.' [15] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on cessation.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on cessation.' [16] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on relinquishment.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on relinquishment.'

"This is how concentration through mindfulness of in-&-out breathing is developed & pursued so as to be both peaceful & exquisite, a refreshing & pleasant abiding that immediately disperses & allays any evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen."
.,
I still not understand how something that simple that just focusing on your breath can bring these good sensations and feelings.

When someone focuses their awareness on a pleasant sensation, with constant attention over time, the feeling increases.

It is like a feedback loop. You notice something pleasant which induces a stronger pleasure response in the brain and you notice that greater pleasure which causes an even greater pleasure response ....

I find I need a bit of concentration and a lot of relaxation. People talk about "access concentration" I think in terms of "access relaxation". Dukkha = stress. Relaxation = letting go of attachments. When you are grasping (something in your hand), you let go by relaxing (your grip). When you are totally relaxed, you feel good. It is natural. You only need the feedback loop for intense feelings - it is not strictly necessary.

When I meditate I try to relax as I breathe and I focus my attention on the pleasant feeling of relaxation. Like if you inhale deeply and then exhale slowly and notice the feeling of relaxation. That feeling is pleasant and makes me feel like smiling. Smiling releases more pleasant feelings which I also notice. Like I said above, it's like a feedback loop. 

One trick that might make it easier to experience is to try it when you are naturally happy, try observing the feeling of happiness with constant attention and see if that makes it increase in intensity.

Another factor I think is necessary is adequate nutrition. The brain needs the right building blocks to produce the neurotransmitters that produce happiness and pleasure. So if you try to experience this by meditating after a meal it might be easier. One indication your brain has the right nutrients is after a meal you feel sleepy or you feel full or your mood is elevated.


https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.036.than.html
"I thought: 'I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities — I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening?' Then following on that memory came the realization: 'That is the path to Awakening.' I thought: 'So why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?' I thought: 'I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities, but that pleasure is not easy to achieve with a body so extremely emaciated. Suppose I were to take some solid food: some rice & porridge.' So I took some solid food: some rice & porridge. Now five monks had been attending on me, thinking, 'If Gotama, our contemplative, achieves some higher state, he will tell us.' But when they saw me taking some solid food — some rice & porridge — they were disgusted and left me, thinking, 'Gotama the contemplative is living luxuriously. He has abandoned his exertion and is backsliding into abundance.'

If they knew he was experiencing pleasure, they would be even more disgusted. Instead of listening to his words they would say "he is attached to pleasure", "he is walowing in bliss", "he is distracted from the true path".


You may have  seen my first post in this thread, if not it has links to more information:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/16039323#_19_message_16041838

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/5/19 12:25 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/selvesnotself.html#talk1

Selves & Not-self
The Buddhist Teaching on Anatta
by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
...
After his awakening, the Buddha could have talked about anything at all, but he chose to talk on just these two topics. To understand his teachings, we have to understand not only what he said about suffering and its end, but also why these topics were of utmost importance.

The purpose of his teachings was to help people find true happiness.

...

In the same way, the Buddha would answer only the questions that provided an answer to our primal question and helped put an end to suffering and stress. Questions that would get in the way, he would put aside, because the problem of stress and suffering is urgent.

Usually when we hear the teaching on not-self, we think that it's an answer to questions like these: "Do I have a self? What am I? Do I exist? Do I not exist?" However, the Buddha listed all of these as unskillful questions [§10]. Once, when he was asked point-blank, "Is there a self? Is there no self?" he refused to answer [see Talk 2]. He said that these questions would get in the way of finding true happiness. So obviously the teaching on not-self was not meant to answer these questions. To understand it, we have to find out which questions it was meant to answer.

As the Buddha said, he taught two categorical teachings: two teachings that were true across the board and without exceptions. These two teachings form the framework for everything else he taught. One was the difference between skillful and unskillful action: actions that lead to long-term happiness, and those that lead to long-term suffering [§§4-5]. The other was the list of the four noble truths: the truth of suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering, and the path to the end of suffering [§6].

...

When we learn to do this in the proper way, we'll arrive at true happiness, free from any suffering and stress. At that point, questions of self and not-self will be put aside. When you arrive at true happiness, you no longer need strategies to protect it — the way you do for forms of happiness that are subject to change — because it's unconditioned. It doesn't depend on anything at all. The strategy of self is no longer needed, and neither is the strategy of not-self. As Ajaan Suwat, one of my teachers, once said, when you find true happiness, you don't ask who's experiencing it, for that's not an issue. The experience itself is sufficient.

...
the Buddha refused to get involved in the issue of whether there is or is not a self. This will involve discussing in more detail two of the points I made last night.

The first point is that the Buddha's teaching was strategic, aimed at leading to a specific goal: total freedom in the minds of his listeners. The second point is that, as part of this larger strategy, the Buddha had strategic reasons for putting questions of the existence or non-existence of the self aside.
...
No matter who you are, if you try to answer the question, "Do I exist?" or "Do I not exist?" or "What am I?" you get entangled in views like, "I have a self," or "I have no self," which the Buddha calls "a thicket of views, a wilderness of views [§§10, 19-20]." The image is clear: If you're entangled in a thicket or a wilderness, you've wandered far from the path and will have trouble getting back on course.
...
You also place limitations on yourself if you hold to the idea that you have no self.
...
So these are different ways in which defining what you are can give rise to limitations. When you learn how to drop these unskillful ways of creating a self — or even the idea that you have no self — you can free yourself from these limitations.
...
Tonight I'd like to start looking at how we create a sense of self that can lead to long-term welfare and happiness, focusing first on the question of why we would need to do this.
...
If we create a fixed view of who or what we are, we limit ourselves. We keep on creating suffering and stress. But if we see that we can create many senses of self and can learn to use them as tools, we'll be in charge of our happiness. We can use these tools to bring suffering and stress to an end.
...
This is where the teaching on not-self comes in. It, too, is an activity — a strategic activity — that has to be mastered as a skill: knowing how to put down a particular sense of self when it's no longer skillful, and ultimately, when your selves have taken you as far as they can, knowing how to let go of them all.

When you understand both self and not-self as activities in this way, it's easy to see how the Buddha's teachings on this topic are answers to his basic question for fostering discernment: "What, when I do it, will lead to long-term welfare and happiness?" When, through practice, you've learned how to use perceptions of self and not-self in a skillful way, you'll know for yourself that these skills are a very effective answer to that question.



RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/5/19 12:57 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
I am only posting these excerpts to point out that my interpretion is justified.  

I don't have an opinion on whether one interpretation or another is true or right or best.

And I am not making any criticism of teachings (Buddhist or non-Buddhist) outside the Pali canon.


https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/desilva/wheel407.html


Nibbana as Living Experience / The Buddha and The Arahant
Two Studies from the Pali Canon
by
Lily de Silva
...
Nibbana is described as the highest happiness, the supreme state of bliss.[7] Those who have attained Nibbana live in utter bliss, free from hatred and mental illness amongst those who are hateful and mentally ill.[8] Sukha in Paali denotes both happiness and pleasure. In English happiness denotes more a sense of mental ease while pleasure denotes physical well being. The Paali word sukha extends to both these aspects and it is certain (as will be shown below) that mental and physical bliss is experienced by one who has attained Nibbana.
...
The experience of non-sensuous physical bliss for limited periods is possible even before the attainment of Nibbana through the practice of jhaana or meditative absorption.
...
Regarding the experience of the arahant, the Suttanipaata states that by the destruction of all feelings/sensations a monk lives desireless and at peace.[11] Once Saariputta was asked what happiness there can be when there is no feeling/sensation.[12] He explained that the absence of feeling/sensation itself is happiness.[13] It is relevant to note here that the Buddha says that he does not speak of happiness only with reference to pleasant feelings/sensations. Wherever there is happiness or pleasure, that he recognizes as happiness or pleasure.[14]

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/5/19 5:08 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Hi Kim,

For joyful and humorous Tibetan masters check: Mingyur rinpoche and Tsoknyi rinpoche.

I second what Jim said, about cultivating a good mood, good feeling or positive emotions. Lately I felt stuck, but positive emotions practice and keeping the wellbeing feeling in daily life is making a big difference.

If you find interesting the intersection between scientific and spirituality, for example there is evidence that metta, wishing the good to others, but also, nourishing a feeling of well being in your chest, belly, will put in coherence the hearth and this then activate the parasympathetic system with all the good effect that brings (opposite of flight-flight mode). So is not only the pleasure what's happens, there are a lot of biochimestry,  and signals changing in the organism. We have to think the impact of this in the long term! will balance everything and we will just feel goooood naturaly, no effort....

Jeff Tarrant is a Neurofeedback specialist, in this video he talks about the effect of Open heart meditation (or positive emotions) in the brain:
https://youtu.be/oOEXppaYKII?t=1558

There is a device that measure heart rate variability (HRV) in realtime: 
https://www.heartmath.com

I've played with it and verified that when there is a subtle sense of wellbeing in the body (specifically in the belly and hearth) with a soft and gentle breath rhythm, the coherence is proportional higher. and the opposite, when there is worry, anxiety or a lot thoughts, the coherence is lower. 

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/5/19 9:39 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Based on my personal experience of practicing Dzogchen for about 5 years now, I do occasionally access a state where the energy or pressure in my head gathers at the crown chakra and there is a certain "penumbra of awareness" which falls away, so that the awareness-emptiness matrix sort of nonconteptually recognizes itself, and the recognition stabilizes - tensions and fixations self-liberate. This is accompanied by a profound feeling of bliss, wholeness and completeness, as if finally ariving home after many, many years of searching for it. There is a feeling of certainty that this is one's true nature or natural state, as it is unveiled through practice, not fabricated.

So I'm convinced that eventually the path does result in a state of total plenitude and happiness. Some masters who I feel have probably reached this state are Chogye Trichen (I mean, he attained the rainbow body so it's a pretty safe bet), Adzom Paylo, and Rigdzin Drolma (aka Anne Klein). 

As I've progressed on the path, delusions and clinging have been gradually reduced, and this has definitely correlated with a reduction in suffering. In particular, there is a capacity one can develop for the automatic self-liberation of clinging through trekcho practice which has been immensely beneficial for me. This eventually (after a few years of cultivation) cuts through clinging so rapidly that the POI cycling loses its fuel source and fades away (although I can't claim it's 100% gone yet). Instead the energy has stabilized for the most part around the third eye chakra. From what I've read, this may be a necessary step before it can stabilize at the crown chakra. Dharma practice hasn't correlated so much with positive feelings of happiness, joy, pleasure, etc., but this is just my karma.

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/5/19 10:12 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Desire about certain outcome through practice?

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/7/19 11:31 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
If the four stages of awakening are defined by the absence of fetters, then it would seem that happiness is not really part of the equation.

You can be happy and awakened, you can be unhappy and be awakened, you can be neither happy nor unhappy and be awakened, and you can have mood swings and be awakened.


In "The Science of Enlightenment" Shinzen Young said that most people experience enlightenment gradually rather than suddenly and many and don't know they are enlightened. I suppose one reason might be that they are unhappy and think it means they cannot be enlightned.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_stages_of_enlightenment
A Stream-enterer (Sotāpanna) is free from:

1. Identity view
2. Attachment to rites and rituals
3. Doubt about the teachings


A Once-returner (Sakadāgāmin) has greatly attenuated:

4. Sensual desire
5. Ill will


A Non-returner (Anāgāmi) is free from:

4. Sensual desire
5. Ill will


An Arahant is free from all of the five lower fetters and the five higher fetters, which are:

6. Attachment to the four meditative absorptions, which have form (rupa jhana)
7. Attachment to the four formless absorptions (ārupa jhana)
8. Conceit
9. Restlessness
10. Ignorance

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/8/19 8:46 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Sayadaw U Tejaniya is apparently extremely joyous and he was a man who dealt with crippling depression in his days as a lay person.  He’s a student of Shwe Oo Min Sayadaw who was a student of Mahasi Sayadaw.  Even though they’re in that lineage he often criticizes the way that other Mahasi lineage teachers teach calling their meditation centres “tension factories” if I remember correctly. He talks about joy quite a bit too I believe.  

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/8/19 9:58 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
I just mentioned something I call noting out ahead of the curve. Usually this means I am in a higher Jhana than first. I call this a type of emotional coil or spring that is more primordial in nature. It used to be quite dependent on what day of the week it was, but this might be changing.

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/10/19 8:56 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Kim Katami:
Hi folks,

I'd like to ask people of this forum if removal of self-based suffering is synonumous with happiness? What do you think? What is your experience?

I've been focused on emptiness and compassion in my practice for a number of years now, enough to have established effortless knowing awareness as my prevalent state of mind. However, even if my mind is quite spacious and clear most of the time, I do not feel happy. Also I realise happiness/cheerfulness is something I miss from my time of non-buddhist of training.

Feel free to share. 
Kim,

As a Vajrayana practitoner, do you practice training in bliss?  If so, do you not equate bliss with happiness?  To put it in rather simplistic terms:  my experience of Vajrayana is that the sutra techniques work to reduce suffering through many method practices to see the empty nature of the self and provide a stable moral base for tantra.  The tantric techniques work to increase bliss yet also reduce craving by seeing the empty nature of the blissful experience.  From my sutra practices (from multiple traditions) I have much less mental chatter, better moral discipline, increased concentration and see my psychological issues more clearly.  From tantra I have increased enjoyment of pleasures such as food, games sex, etc., but have decreased my craving for them.  Now it doesn't matter "what's for dinner", when I'm practicing well it is all blissful. 

I'm not awakened, my realizations are not stable, but I'm certainly much happier and mentally stable than I was before I practiced. I'm curious as to why your experience is different.  Have you gone beyond bliss?  If so, why? 

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/10/19 10:33 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Hi Kim,

The question of the removal of suffering (or emptiness) vs happiness is a good one.  I first became interested in the Buddhist path after a very profound glimpse of enlightenment experience.  I was suffering from a lot of anxiety and self-doubt at the time, and this glimpse experince was 180 degrees in the opposite direction.  I felt totally free, perfectly at peace, and filled with the boundless evergy of the living present moment, manifesting as a crackling and uniquly alive and upbeat frame of mind - in short this experience was filled with all the aspects of true happiness.

After this experience I began meditating, seeking to get back to this state of ultimate happiness.  When I encountered MCTB and read about 4th path and its supposed finality, I assumed to achieve 4th path would be to get back to the state of perfect enlightenment I had witnessed.  The reality however was that 4th path was in many ways just the entrance to a much greater path of meditation. 

4th path for me represented the dawning of the experience of empintess, a pround experience.  However, in no way did it compare to the state I had witnessed and long sought.  A Shinzen Young quote well captured the realization that although at 4th path we "glimpse the ox, but our ultimate goal is to ride it."  And it was a long path beyond the 4th path realization before I felt like I had returned to the the state I sought.

TLDR - The path is a long one.  Final enlightenment, emotional perfection, true happiness, ect... is much debated, but the reality is that what we seek really is out there, it's just not easy to achieve.

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/10/19 2:57 PM as a reply to T DC.
T DC:
Hi Kim,

The question of the removal of suffering (or emptiness) vs happiness is a good one.  I first became interested in the Buddhist path after a very profound glimpse of enlightenment experience.  I was suffering from a lot of anxiety and self-doubt at the time, and this glimpse experince was 180 degrees in the opposite direction.  I felt totally free, perfectly at peace, and filled with the boundless evergy of the living present moment, manifesting as a crackling and uniquly alive and upbeat frame of mind - in short this experience was filled with all the aspects of true happiness.

After this experience I began meditating, seeking to get back to this state of ultimate happiness.  When I encountered MCTB and read about 4th path and its supposed finality, I assumed to achieve 4th path would be to get back to the state of perfect enlightenment I had witnessed.  The reality however was that 4th path was in many ways just the entrance to a much greater path of meditation. 

4th path for me represented the dawning of the experience of empintess, a pround experience.  However, in no way did it compare to the state I had witnessed and long sought.  A Shinzen Young quote well captured the realization that although at 4th path we "glimpse the ox, but our ultimate goal is to ride it."  And it was a long path beyond the 4th path realization before I felt like I had returned to the the state I sought.

TLDR - The path is a long one.  Final enlightenment, emotional perfection, true happiness, ect... is much debated, but the reality is that what we seek really is out there, it's just not easy to achieve.

What is final enlightenment like? Do you feel emotions? Are you happy? Do you feel anything?  Do you suffer?



Thanks

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/10/19 6:16 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Kim Katami:
Hi folks,

I'd like to ask people of this forum if removal of self-based suffering is synonumous with happiness? What do you think? What is your experience?

I've been focused on emptiness and compassion in my practice for a number of years now, enough to have established effortless knowing awareness as my prevalent state of mind. However, even if my mind is quite spacious and clear most of the time, I do not feel happy. Also I realise happiness/cheerfulness is something I miss from my time of non-buddhist of training.

Feel free to share. 

Thanks for bringing this out. At some point I felt that my practice was pretty "plane", I could generate compassion and see myself as empty awareness. However, I realized that I still had some subtle, yet significant, self - denying attitudes (in a relative sense). I had unconsciosly generated a self - denial attitute. Like it was "bad" to pursue things that would make me happy (in a relative sense). I realized many shadow issues that just weren't being addresed by traditional Dharma practice (relationship and family issues, for example). Now, I include that in my practice, I aknowledge the relative self and it's needs in an explicit way. In that sense, a lot of psychotherapy wisdom has been super useful.

This has been very humbling, to see that even after deep realizations, there's still a lot of healing left to do on the relative side. But once I acknowledge it, became honest about it, and allowed myself to be humbled, life has been much more satisfying.

Hope this is helpfull in some way.

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/11/19 2:49 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Kim, I'm feeling for you with this post. The recent threads about morality and awakening, etc. really caused me to have to go back and review a lot of things I thought were already settled. Thankfully our friends here are always willing to challenge our assumptions in the name of better practice. I guess we just have to continue to chop wood and carry water, eh? : )

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/11/19 6:16 AM as a reply to Milo.
This is fascinating - Kim's original question is like looking in a mirror for those who answer.

emoticon

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/11/19 2:53 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Besides buddhist practice, my "bridge" for embodying the qualities of mind is tai chi and qi gong (including the standing positions). It's good energy work which synchronizes body and mind, brings joy to my heart and lets me feel home again in my own body. It sensitises for the aliveness in emptiness. Maybe one could say it has a tantric touch? - There's some magic in the movement of your existence. Anyhow, it really did something for me in terms of happiness, both in the meditative and conventional sense, if one would want to distinguish altogether.

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/11/19 6:49 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
This is fascinating - Kim's original question is like looking in a mirror for those who answer.

emoticon

Agree... but can't help but wonder what that mirror offers your perspective? ;)

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/12/19 8:52 AM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
Stirling, happiness is a fleeting thing like everything else. The most trouble I've ever had with practice was with this realization. It was as if the floor was ripped out from under and there was infinite falling. There is nothing to rely on in the way I'd always thought. This freaked me out for a while. But I got used to it. I had no choice. What's in the mirror is another reflection. It's nothing "real."

Re-read Kim's original post:

I'd like to ask people of this forum if removal of self-based suffering is synonumous with happiness? What do you think? What is your experience?

I've been focused on emptiness and compassion in my practice for a number of years now, enough to have established effortless knowing awareness as my prevalent state of mind. However, even if my mind is quite spacious and clear most of the time, I do not feel happy. Also I realise happiness/cheerfulness is something I miss from my time of non-buddhist of training.

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/12/19 12:38 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Lately I have started to clearly see the dukkha in strong positive emotions, not just because they won’t last, but because they are unsettling compared to peace. I do have some difficulties dealing with this, but I trust that this insight will eventually integrate. I’m not planning on avoiding strong positive emotions, because I believe they are part of human life, but I’m hoping that there will be smoother shifts, or at least that I will get used to the contrasts and maybe require less recovery time. I’m ridiculously sensitive sometimes (selfing noted).

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/12/19 1:21 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
This is fascinating - Kim's original question is like looking in a mirror for those who answer.

emoticon

Maybe I don't understand what you mean, but wIth any thread, people reply according to their own beliefs and experiences. How is this question different?

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/12/19 1:22 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
Stirling Campbell:
Chris Marti:
This is fascinating - Kim's original question is like looking in a mirror for those who answer.

emoticon

Agree... but can't help but wonder what that mirror offers your perspective? ;)

You were looking right at it.

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/12/19 2:20 PM as a reply to Change A..
Just dropping in to thank of all replies and letting you know that I'll get back once this hectic bout in my life subsides. Cheers.

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/12/19 3:40 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
A big hug and best wish for you Kim!

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/13/19 10:11 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
On further reflection I think the best response to this question—like so many other topics on this forum—is to cultivate compassion, bodhicitta, and the four thoughts that turn the mind. If one’s compassion is so pure that one’s overriding concern is to maximize the welfare of all beings, no matter what degree of personal sacrifice is required, then assuming one recognizes the need to achieve freedom before one can truly help others, what needs to be done is usually very clear. That is, stop navel gazing, stop faffing about, stop worrying about one’s own wellbeing, stop fixating on concepts, and go do the actual practice.

Without a solid grounding in these preliminaries, one can fall prey to an endless variety of subtle and insidious maras which create limitations and obstacles, especially as a lay practitioner, because the desire for self-preservation is so strong, and we are surrounded by people who unwittingly pull us deeper into the sinkhole.

Given the Chinese finger trap-like nature of samsara, and the centrality of the self delusion, compassion is one of the most liberating qualities one can cultivate. It’s like the rocket fuel which powers one’s escape from the gravitational pull of samsara. If it’s lacking, one’s capacity is curtailed, and one’s chance of achieving even personal liberation is greatly reduced. There is a risk of becoming stuck at a rarefied orbit.

One is also prone to getting trapped in eddies within samsara. The habit of hanging out on internet forums with like-minded people is arguably such an eddy. They have an echo-chamber or hall-of-mirrors quality which tends towards the lowest common denominator. Signal gets drowned out by noise. The one thing you most need to learn is what none of the others are capable of teaching, because you’ve all self-selected for the same eddy together, and it’s what they need to learn as well.

Useful questions:
  • Is this a source of freedom? Or has it become a limitation, a greater source of restriction? If it’s the latter, why hold on to it?
  • Is this the best use of my time? Is this the most important thing I could be doing right now? Does this ultimately have any value or meaning or significance?
  • What’s really the point here? What are the assumptions behind my actions? What is the basis for those assumptions?

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/13/19 10:21 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
This bit hit me as hard as a lightning today.

In the essence traditions (tantra, mahamudra and dzogchen) the theory is that this is all about buddhanature and awakening to your true nature. Another thing that came out in essence traditions that is really strong is the appreciation that it's not all about suffering, that the positive qualities of mind are much better to facilitate meditation practice, and much better for mental health than just eradicating suffering. Eradication of suffering doesn't lead to the positive qualities of mind, you have to develop them and it's important. There is a lot of positivity in this Third Turning of the Wheel.” 

- Daniel Brown, Sacred Sundays interview, 47:40

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/13/19 2:49 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Kim Katami:
This bit hit me as hard as a lightning today.

...Eradication of suffering doesn't lead to the positive qualities of mind, you have to develop them and it's important....

- Daniel Brown, Sacred Sundays interview, 47:40

That sort of clarifies an idea that has been forming in my mind: that the process is not just one thing that you develop until it is perfected.

It is more than one thing. And those things do not always happen in the same order in different people.

And I think that pertains to why Shinzen Young finds that more people attain awakening gradually than suddenly, and why he finds that many people who awaken gradually don't realize they are awakened.

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/15/19 3:55 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
It's a good question. I don't know the answer, but I'm glad that you're willing to challenge the group-think of conventional wisdom, as you did in an earlier thread where you pointed out that most spiritual teachers are appallingly bad at their jobs.

Just one observation: the Ur Buddhists all had a strong bliss practice (solid jhana) going. Is it possible that they threw out the baby with the bath water when they invented the notion of the dry insight practitioner?

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/16/19 2:24 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
I like Leonard Cohen's take in Anthem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bN7Hn357M6I

RE: Removal of Suffering & Happiness
Answer
10/16/19 11:12 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
P.S. "Only one-third of Americans surveyed said they were happy. In the nine-year history of the Harris Poll Survey of American Happiness, the highest index was 35 percent." -- Max Lucado, How Happiness Happens.