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From Zen to Mahasi?

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From Zen to Mahasi? Mark R. 4/6/11 1:52 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Mark R. 3/22/11 2:57 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Brule K 3/22/11 11:21 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Mark R. 3/24/11 2:22 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? -- Timus -- 3/24/11 3:51 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Brule K 3/25/11 5:25 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? . . 3/26/11 7:54 AM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Tommy M 3/23/11 5:50 AM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Mark R. 3/24/11 1:02 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Tommy M 3/24/11 6:03 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Mark R. 3/27/11 5:54 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Mark R. 3/27/11 5:58 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Tommy M 3/30/11 8:55 AM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Mark R. 3/28/11 12:34 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Dauphin Supple Chirp 3/28/11 4:01 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Mark R. 4/3/11 12:40 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 4/3/11 2:22 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Tommy M 4/3/11 3:46 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 4/3/11 6:06 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? . . 4/4/11 7:37 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? . . 4/4/11 7:45 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Brule K 4/4/11 9:42 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? . . 4/3/11 5:54 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Mark R. 4/5/11 3:37 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 4/5/11 4:21 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Eran G 4/5/11 9:17 PM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? -- Timus -- 4/13/11 6:57 AM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? Mark R. 4/20/11 3:46 AM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? . . 4/20/11 6:09 AM
RE: From Zen to Mahasi? S. Pro 4/8/11 3:01 PM
From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
4/6/11 1:52 PM
I have psychological problems; not the ordinary man problems but something more structured. I've been into Zen Soto for a couple of years and have had attended a Zen group since then, plus some meditation (Zazen) at home. Results have been zero as of now in every field. I'm wondering if switching to Mahasi Vipassana, which to me seems a little more pragmatical, would be better or if it's better to stay were i am right now (no zen-jokes on this :bashfulemoticon

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
3/22/11 2:57 PM as a reply to Mark R..
For what concerns the name, i thought that the display name would have been displayed (i have chosen thing or thingy).

Thanks for reading.

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
3/22/11 11:21 PM as a reply to Mark R..
Hi,

I don't have psychological problems beyond the common troubles, so hopefully someone with more direct experience will be able to help you. Nevertheless, anyone with some experience in sanghas has some second-hand experience of the results of such difficulties. It seems to me that the noting practice, along with most other insight practices, can be quite destructive to an unbalanced mind. The best bet for grounding the mind/emotions would probably be practicing the four immeasurables--compassion, loving-kindness, equanimity, and empathetic joy. These are beautiful meditation practices that will help your concentration while balancing your spirit. Alternately, the Vajrayana have a practice called Tonglen that encapsulates all four immeasurables into one meditation. It's a beautiful meditation, and can be carried out whenever you find yourself in a difficult place. Hopefully someone with more direct experience of your difficulties (it might be helpful to be more explicit about what they are) will be able to suggest some way to evaluate when your ready for more intense practices.

May you be happy and well!

-Brule

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
3/23/11 5:50 AM as a reply to Mark R..
Hey mysteriously anonymous person,

Would you mind saying more about your psychological issues? There are people on here who deal with bi-polar disorder, clinical depression and a whole host of other mental health problems so you're not alone.

As for the suitability of Mahasi-style noting, I believe it's possible for anyone who's able to focus on sensation to benefit from it although I understand that having psychological problems may make the ride more intense and potentially dangerous. Hopefully someone else will be able to answer your question more fully.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
3/24/11 1:02 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Sorry for the blitz, i didn't say anything because i thought that nobody would have answered. The rational part of me is not undermined, for the rest i've grown up with something called avoidant personality disorder. Syntoms are low self exteem, thoughts to be often unpleasant, unlikeable, solitude, and anxiety/avoidance of some social situations.

The problem I have with Zen here is that often the only instrucion given is to not do anything, to stay with the breath and the body; it's really like this and i don't know what to do with it. It seems to me that maybe it is good for perfecting wisdom and maybe i need something more grounded. Personal guidance (open questions and answers with a teacher) is nearly absent.

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
3/24/11 2:22 PM as a reply to Brule K.
Brule K:
The best bet for grounding the mind/emotions would probably be practicing the four immeasurables--compassion, loving-kindness, equanimity, and empathetic joy.

I'd need an operative guide (book) for this. Interesting...

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
3/24/11 3:51 PM as a reply to Mark R..
[quote=Sorry Can't Say]I'd need an operative guide (book) for this.

Try 'Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness' by Sharon Salzberg.

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
3/24/11 6:03 PM as a reply to Mark R..
Thanks for clearing that up, at least we can talk openly about this stuff and how it affects doing insight practice so don't worry about not getting a reply. A lot of people here probably deal with the same shit you've got happening, to a greater or lesser extent, so you're not alone.

I'm not hugely familiar with Zen but I think it's a common misconception that one has to just sit and "do nothing", from what I know of this particular technique it's more about being aware of what appears in awareness, resting in awareness itself. I believe that proper understanding of this requires a teacher, but I don't know any Zen teachers myself.

Have you read "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha" yet? It really is an incredibly useful book and has been the turning point for many of us on here so maybe start with that for a solid foundation in the technique and some good theory as well. Daniel's friend, Kenneth Folk, does online teaching (he also offers scholarship places for his Skype lessons so you could still get some lessons even if you can't make a donation) and is a really nice guy who seriously knows his stuff. I would highly recommend checking out his site, Kenneth Folk Dharma and maybe contacting him then take it from there. It's up to you.

Maybe check out more about samatha/concentration practice, it's not the way to enlightenment by itself but is great fun and hugely useful. There's also the whole Actual Freedom thing but I'll leave that to other people to talk about since I don't follow actively follow that route.

What is is that you want to do through this? Why are you meditating?

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
3/25/11 5:25 PM as a reply to Mark R..
Hi Mark,

Nice to know your name.

Ms. Salzberg's loving-kindness book that Timus recommended is beautiful, and she treats her subject with care. Unfortunately, she's neglects the other three immeasurables. As a supplement to her book, you might want to check out B. Alan Wallace's Four Immeasurables: Practices to Open the Heart. He also has guided meditations for them, and for concentration, on his website.

Alternately, there are many excellent books on Tonglen, usually as a part of the Lojong (mind training) teachings.

Here's a link to the Lojong site, with Trungpa's description of Tonglen (giving and taking):

http://lojongmindtraining.com/Commentary.aspx?author=2&proverb=7

If you explore the site, you'll find that the whole of the Lojong teachings are there, with commentaries from distinguished practitioners/scholars. Don't worry, it won't make you a crazy, deity-visualizing Tibetan Buddhist.

But honestly, there are many good places to look for the Four Immeasurables and for Tonglen. They are not complex or esoteric practices, and following out almost any description from a decent web-site will benefit you. You'll never regret doing the practices, I assure you.

Enjoy,
Brule

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
3/26/11 7:54 AM as a reply to Brule K.
The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa, Volume 2: The Path Is the Goal - Training the Mind - Glimpses of Abhidharma - Glimpses of Shunyata - Glimpses of Mahayana - Selected Writings

Search: silkworm (pages 304-305), replace sitting discomfort with your own discomforts.

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
3/27/11 5:54 PM as a reply to Mark R..
Thanks for all the time. I try to merge everything here. My objective with mediation is to change my mind into something which produces less suffering, more worry-less relationships with the others, more joy to live. My basic problem is the assumption that people often dislike me, or that I'm unlikeable, this happens automatically and its almost ever-present. I'm flooded with such thoughts during the day. The other problem concerns my body, although I'm not bad-looking (neither good-looking), i hate my body and myself. These things have been such since i was very young and don't go away. About external conditions, there's almost the desert around me. A persistent kind of depression - dysthymia in the DSM-IV - partly felt as loneliness, is what is felt subjectively.
Cognitive behavioral therapy have failed for now (or i have either way), and i have a liking on the Buddha way so this is why i came here. I don't know what is meant with "unstable people" (about the sentence "this place is not for..." read somewhere). My mood is unstable, but i would say of myself that i tend to "suffer silently", in the sense that there is no significant flow-out of emotions. I keep my cool in other terms.


It is urgent for me to start doing something soon. Books are currently shipping. The commitment and effort i can put in it is strong, but i need someone to tell me exactly what to do without objections. If i start alone with Tonglen or noting tomorrow, it will last one time at best. Anybody i will be in contact with (teacher) wouldn't know, of course, a grain of what i said here. But who would want to work with somebody who's at the absolute zero level (even less probably)?
I will try with Tonglen the soonest, and read some stuff about noting which seems to be more complicated. Anybody please feel free to say anything even if it is out of topic.

katy s:

...unless you are getting external negative interactions, such as being actively told that you are unpleasant and unlikeable.

If I may ask: is this "unlikeable" framing provided mostly by persons around you (external) or provided by you (internally)?

It is mostly internal, but you know the self-fulfilling prophecies...

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
3/27/11 5:58 PM as a reply to Mark R..
I have discovered something, I think i am 100% correct on this. The practice that is taught - even to beginners - at the Zen Sangha that i attend to, corresponds exactly to the third gear. It is astonishing, as i read it, how much the same thing these words are to what is constantly said by the senior monks in the Zen group.

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
3/28/11 12:34 PM as a reply to Mark R..
Thanks... i understood about diligence and endeavor.
Since i have nothing else to do i must use all of it. Hoping that my mind won't do jokes such as strong resistance in the moments things don't go well (unfortunately that happens).
I think that unlikeable is not of the states that arise themselves. I had a glimps that learning to objectify them as is done in noting could change something about this identifications. This is mainly why i'm interested in Mahasi.

Anybody has the feeling that i'm deluding myself into thinking that such a practice can change this identifications? Then, if the identifications weaken, will these kind of thoughts (nobody can like me, i'm unpleasant, etc.) start to appear with less frequency?

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
3/28/11 4:01 PM as a reply to Mark R..
I invite others to correct me if I'm wrong, but the only real danger in Mahasi style noting is that it can quickly lead to an unpleasant state, so unpleasant that you quit meditating, possibly even attempt suicide.

What happens could be described as the sense of self becoming really strong, so strong that it eventually collapses. When that collapse occurs, you will be much better off than ever before, but the phase when the self becomes stronger could mean an amplification of your problems: You might just get caught in a vicious circle: Your meditation might become really frustrating. As a consequence, you will meditate less. Then you might think, "I am such a failure. I have had really bad meditation for weeks now, and instead of facing it like a man, I find excuses and don't even sit regularly anymore." Then you might try a totally different technique, possibly something that has worked for you before, and surprise, surprise! you may just be unable to repeat the good results you were previously achieving. You may feel as if meditation is aggravating your problems; You may feel as if meditation is causing your problems.

Such events are pretty much to be expected if you do Mahasi style noting, but they vary enough from person to person to be able to fool you into not recognizing or not believing that the unpleasantness you're going through is indeed a sign of meditative progress. I mean this last part. I was no exception the first time around, and I am no exception now.

However, if you can stick with it and pull through the unpleasant period, you will get to the point where what you think you are changes forever. Most of the problems you describe will then pretty much disappear in the blink of an eye (though it may take you a couple of weeks to fully see and understand that).

You should definitely have a real teacher (not just a book) if you do Mahasi. If that person is skillful, he may save you months, even years of unpleasant meditation and make you progress much faster, but even if he's not all that great a "teacher," just having someone there to talk to and who has gone through what you are going through will give you the confidence to continue as best you can until you reach the point where it all pays off.

Also: Meditation on loving-kindness is an excellent antidote for physical pain, mental pain, nightmares, restlessness. I can't imagine a person for whom it might be inappropriate to add a few minutes of metta meditation a day.

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
3/30/11 8:55 AM as a reply to Mark R..
Mark R.:
I have discovered something, I think i am 100% correct on this. The practice that is taught - even to beginners - at the Zen Sangha that i attend to, corresponds exactly to the third gear. It is astonishing, as i read it, how much the same thing these words are to what is constantly said by the senior monks in the Zen group.


Correct!

That's what I like so much about Kenneth's approach, it's not just straight-up Theravada and he incorporates techniques from many other Buddhist traditions into a uniquely open system of practice. I got into 3rd gear last night for a while actually and it's exactly as described on KFD.

I'll chime in later on when I've got a chance, but I wanted to confirm your suspicions regarding this matter.

T

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
4/3/11 12:40 PM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Very thanks for the replies. I have booked a 10 day retreat in may. I'm tired of this life. Sadly the retreat will work as something to hang up to, until the time i'll actually do it and realize it doesn't "heal" me. Please tell me if the way can be approached from a f* up mind too, if i should do something in particular, or avoid doing something.

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
4/3/11 2:22 PM as a reply to Mark R..
Mark R.:
Very thanks for the replies. I have booked a 10 day retreat in may. I'm tired of this life. ...Please tell me if the way can be approached from a f* up mind too, if i should do something in particular, or avoid doing something.

don't do this:
Mark R.:
Sadly the retreat will work as something to hang up to, until the time i'll actually do it and realize it doesn't "heal" me.

you've taken it as a given that that will happen, and that will surely increase the chances it does. do you sincerely want that to happen? if not then try something else (e.g. practicing diligently).

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
4/3/11 3:46 PM as a reply to Mark R..
I have booked a 10 day retreat in may.

You sure you're up for that? I don't know you other than through the brief interaction on this forum, but if you have concerns about your own mental stability then I would advise against it, for the moment at least until you've done a few months of vipassana practice at home and had a chance to see how stages like the A&P or Re-Observation feel 'cause, even for someone with no psychological issues, they can still be pretty intense.

Sadly the retreat will work as something to hang up to, until the time i'll actually do it and realize it doesn't "heal" me.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself. No, a retreat will most certainly not "heal" you and this is the reason why both me and Claudiu are saying the same thing. If you want to "heal" your "self" then go get some therapy from a qualified professional, don't sit down and pick apart the very thing you're trying to repair because that's what vipassana is all about. Insight is about seeing through fundamental attachment to phenomena, not about hanging on. If you approach a vipassana retreat with that attitude then you'll make no progress, and quite possibly leave yourself worse off than you are right now so, for your own sake, think twice about your plans.

Please tell me if the way can be approached from a f* up mind too, if i should do something in particular, or avoid doing something.

Yes, the way can be approached with a fucked up mind. Talk to some people on here or on Kenneth Folk's website who deal with mental illness and see what they're saying. Be realistic with yourself and don't bite off more than you can chew 'cause you just might end up flat on your ass in a psych ward. Avoid vipassana until you've worked on some concentration practice, that's about all I could recommend.

I'm tired of this life.

Y'know, I don't usually suggest this but it might be worth looking into Actual Freedom, vipassana is hard going and sometimes painful although it's my own preferred path at present. Claudiu knows his stuff and is good at explaining it in so perhaps he could comment on this. It may very well be more suited to you but I could be wrong.

Take care and keep us posted.

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
4/3/11 5:54 PM as a reply to Mark R..
something that is sometimes used in hospice care could be useful to you during your retreat.

In hospice, while a person is still conscious, they provide caregivers with a phrase that they want repeated when they enter into unconsciousness (i.e., I am safe and go forward with complete wonder)

1. develop a phrase that is valuable to you (i.e., no matter what, I am not harmful to any being and wish all beings well, including this Mark-being)
2. practice it now, when you are down on yourself and in the morning and at night, also when you are neutral or even content/happy.
3. write it on paper, keep it on your person during the retreat
4. this phrase is your sincere, unbreakable rule for no matter what thoughts/feelings happen during the ten day retreat

Long meditations can bring out new highs and new lows. Be prepared for this. It seems to happen to everyone. You are submitting yourself to a process, but you will ultimately be your core caregiver during the process.

just a thought. it may not resonate with you.

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
4/3/11 6:06 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:
Please tell me if the way can be approached from a f* up mind too, if i should do something in particular, or avoid doing something.

Yes, the way can be approached with a fucked up mind. Talk to some people on here or on Kenneth Folk's website who deal with mental illness and see what they're saying. Be realistic with yourself and don't bite off more than you can chew 'cause you just might end up flat on your ass in a psych ward. Avoid vipassana until you've worked on some concentration practice, that's about all I could recommend.

I'm tired of this life.

Y'know, I don't usually suggest this but it might be worth looking into Actual Freedom, vipassana is hard going and sometimes painful although it's my own preferred path at present. Claudiu knows his stuff and is good at explaining it in so perhaps he could comment on this. It may very well be more suited to you but I could be wrong.

ah i forgot the context of this thread, i.e. psychological problems. i'm not sure what to say, but i really don't recommend vipassana. if you're tired of this life now, it gets really really tough for "normal" people during the Dark Night, and even more so if there are already psychological issues to exacerbate it. you should talk to people who have taken that path themselves - i think triplethink over on KFD has?

Actual Freedom, in my opinion and that of a few others, leads to a much better place, anyway, and you don't have to go through enlightenment to get there, and the path is much much nicer, but i don't know anyone who has done that path that had psychological issues so i don't know what'll happen if you try doing that.

whatever you do, that psychological stuff will probably come up more intensely since it'll have to be dealt with as you progress, so take care and perhaps take extra steps to make sure you have someone you can trust helping you

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
4/4/11 7:37 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
hi mark -

it's of course your choice, but tommy and beoman have thoughtful advice on the point about not doing a vipassana retreat (just yet).

perhaps you can treat this like marathon training: mark a date for another retreat for 9-12 months from now. From now until then, you could treat anxiety on every front: exercise, sleep, stretching, metta meditation, actuality...

continuing marathon analogy: you and I anyone could surely carry our themselves to the finish line with less prep-work than experienced people around us advise, but we might have a it might cause a big, long-tem injury/impairment at the end of it.

Speaking from my own experience which I think is may be akin in some ways to yours, it is worth taking a longview, and finding patience on this endeavor. I certainly understand your eagerness to blitz out of your current mode of detrimental thinking, though.

I also will "third" the support for actualism here: i read what various dho contributers import from the AFT site. it did not "work" for me overnight, nothing, in my opinion will. I also do not carve the practice out from any useful information from any other tradition (and I find lots of schools of buddhist writing useful). I only recently just realized how much i appreciated that people in my day-to-day life were working with me, kindly and largely ignoring my panics, and my intention to give back a best, dedicated effort became complete (i.e., i only recently developed committed intention). Now, eight months after locating the DhO, and numerous struggles later, there is a lot of lift-off (meaning unreal things like anxiety are lifting away, evaporating). If you had told me eight months ago, it would take another eight months to get some lift, I probably would not have like that at all, but when viewed over what is soon 38 years, it's fine and very very fortunate.

best wishes, and thanks for posting this.

[lots of edits for clarity, edit to remove unintended familiarity "you and i"; a manner of speech that could be misinterpreted)]

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
4/4/11 7:45 PM as a reply to . ..
on the other hand...
if there's is one thing I personally can't stand, it is being underestimated, and my reply to your thread nagged me all day in this regard. so, good luck with what you decide to do and when.

Also, Mark - I apologize where I've overextended my own world into your thread. I am just going to read it going forward. There's a lot of great advice/experience around here. My point was really just to say that my experience is that the anxious parts of a psychological label may be overcome and leave you with straight forward un-demoted native attributes (no "un-likeability" appendages). Welcome to DhO, thanks again for your post.

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
4/4/11 9:42 PM as a reply to . ..
Hi Mark,

Go do some 4 immeasurables practice. And/or some tonglen. These are practices that improve concentration while balancing the emotions. They're beautiful and healing practices. If you feel like you hate yourself, start the practices with your mother or someone you love dearly. Then go through the standard practice, moving through those you're indifferent to, and ending with people that you have strong aversion towards. That might be a great time to transfer the meditation to yourself. Feel the flood of compassion, loving-kindness, empathic joy (joy at your own happiness!) and equanimity as you practice them with yourself.

Don't let yourself get caught in these self-defeating thought patterns. Fake it till you make it, trying to feel well for yourself even if it feels forced. Just go for it. But avoid pride and its twin, self-loathing. They won't help you.

When you're feeling good about yourself, feel free to start the vipassana. It will always bring up surprising things, but first find that foundation of emotional balance.

There's nothing to wait for: Try those practices when you read this. Do them repeatedly. They're easy, they'll help considerably, and they're totally safe. Check back in a few weeks when you're starting to feel better balanced.

May you be happy and well,
Brule

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
4/5/11 3:37 PM as a reply to Mark R..
Thanks everyone...emoticon
I should have said it before but it was embarrassing. Despite i don't completely lack contacts, i didn't have any (love) experience and this on late times is provoking a constant feeling of loneliness, starting more or less from the upper chest/throat that continues to appear specially on nights. I'm becoming a little intimate with a girl now and the problem is, that i fear my mind which is so self-devaluing will naturally leak out and make me uninteresting. If i was more free, not so obsessed about my look i would be naturally more attractive. The greatest obsession i have which is tormenting me is that i'm not handsome, neither bad looking i think but nothing more than that. I'm extremely vulnerable to even the small sign of refusal because it makes me think i'm ugly. I'll make an example: some days ago i met with a girl and everything seemed to go fine, then i asked if i could find her in the evening on the internet. She said yes but at the usual time she was not there and a feeling so strong arose in the chest that i couldn't eat, i spent 2 hours bent on the sofa, but found here later anyway... the feeling was gone in a minute at that point. I constantly feel to be ugly. But you understand nobody would find attractive or interesting a guy who reacts like this. Ok sorry for the story but this is to show how I am, otherwise people might think its about other things. It can look inappropriate to this place but this is the biggest problem, this is like a mountain in a valley compared to other problems.

It is fixed that i want to try with Dharma.

Previous experience: Attending a good Zen group for 3 years, did some irregular zazen at home, a 2-day sesshin, and sat through a whole night once.

Actual practice:
- Noting, second sitting until now, before dinner and the lenght is more or less 30 minutes. I learned it reading those 15 pages in "Practical insight meditation" by Mahasi, and i'm reading now through some pages at KFD.
- Tomorrow i'll start with a very easy 15 minutes of sat tonglen, probably on the chair. I learned It reading 30 lines from Trungpa on the internet. It is an easy schedule.

What i don't want to do... Actual freedom. It seems like a cult to me, really i have Zen, Mahasi, Tonglen and i'm already confused. Zen is dropped, I like both Mahasi and Tonglen (its really a personal liking) and don't want to get into still other stuff. I neither want to practice the 4 immeasurable aside tonglen (i have a problem with lists...one is better than four...)

The retreat is hard to cancel. What if i wait some months, and i find myself still at this point having lost yet more time? Why shouldn't i try... well i know that loneliness will strike making me feel the last of the scums of earth, it will, like it had during the night i sat through. But it's not much different from staying at home instead. It is said that A&P is a door that unlocks the way. I had from the beginning that objective when i booked for the retreat. Dark night comes after... after that i'll see. Before i continue to suffer the same things without an end.

I'd like to know, please, if i can open a thread to report sometimes how the noting is going...even if just for myself. Or ask directly to a teacher instead. Please say everything you want about everything... thanks all for reading this guy.

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
4/5/11 4:21 PM as a reply to Mark R..
Mark R.:
Thanks everyone...emoticon
I should have said it before but it was embarrassing. Despite i don't completely lack contacts, i didn't have any (love) experience and this on late times is provoking a constant feeling of loneliness, starting more or less from the upper chest/throat that continues to appear specially on nights. I'm becoming a little intimate with a girl now and the problem is, that i fear my mind which is so self-devaluing will naturally leak out and make me uninteresting. If i was more free, not so obsessed about my look i would be naturally more attractive. The greatest obsession i have which is tormenting me is that i'm not handsome, neither bad looking i think but nothing more than that. I'm extremely vulnerable to even the small sign of refusal because it makes me think i'm ugly. I'll make an example: some days ago i met with a girl and everything seemed to go fine, then i asked if i could find her in the evening on the internet. She said yes but at the usual time she was not there and a feeling so strong arose in the chest that i couldn't eat, i spent 2 hours bent on the sofa, but found here later anyway... the feeling was gone in a minute at that point. I constantly feel to be ugly. But you understand nobody would find attractive or interesting a guy who reacts like this. Ok sorry for the story but this is to show how I am, otherwise people might think its about other things. It can look inappropriate to this place but this is the biggest problem, this is like a mountain in a valley compared to other problems.

ah is that what you meant by psychological problems? i thought you meant some mental disorder ("something more structured..") like bipolar disorder or something. this shouldn't be too much of a problem.. i think you'd be ok to go on the retreat. not to say it isn't a painful situation, but i think it'll be ok.

Mark R.:
What i don't want to do... Actual freedom. It seems like a cult to me, really i have Zen, Mahasi, Tonglen and i'm already confused. Zen is dropped, I like both Mahasi and Tonglen (its really a personal liking) and don't want to get into still other stuff. I neither want to practice the 4 immeasurable aside tonglen (i have a problem with lists...one is better than four...)

incidentally, "Actual Freedom" is the most direct way to resolve your issue. why meditate for hundreds of hours to pick apart the minute details of all your experience, when you could instead sincerely talk to yourself about the issue and work through it to see what's actually causing it? it seems like a cult to lots of people, initially, but if you read what it's saying without judging it that way you soon start to see that it makes sense. and while your issue will probably continue to bother you while you meditate, get worse during the Dark Night, and probably still affect you after stream entry (i still have trouble working effectively even after 3rd path), a much much easier way to deal with this one issue would be to just talk to yourself sincerely about it, and the material on the AF web-site is good at showing you how to do that .

AF is no more a cult than mahasi-style noting, is - it's just a set of techniques with a particular (attainable) goal in mind. it also happens to be a lot more pleasant. maybe you can read some of the stuff there: a correspondence which mentions loneliness in particular, and more general on beliefs, sex, etc. (do a google search of "site:actualfreedom.com.au topicname" to find pages about that topic).

Mark R.:
The retreat is hard to cancel. What if i wait some months, and i find myself still at this point having lost yet more time? Why shouldn't i try... well i know that loneliness will strike making me feel the last of the scums of earth, it will, like it had during the night i sat through. But it's not much different from staying at home instead. It is said that A&P is a door that unlocks the way. I had from the beginning that objective when i booked for the retreat. Dark night comes after... after that i'll see. Before i continue to suffer the same things without an end.

it's up to you but i think it's ok to continue. dark night does suck though. and crossig A&P opens up a can of worms that dont go away for a while.

Mark R.:
I'd like to know, please, if i can open a thread to report sometimes how the noting is going...even if just for myself. Or ask directly to a teacher instead. Please say everything you want about everything... thanks all for reading this guy.

go for it, no one is stoppiin you! also at KFD they seem to be more hands-on if you like that approach more.

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
4/5/11 9:17 PM as a reply to Mark R..
Mark R.:
... I'll make an example: some days ago i met with a girl and everything seemed to go fine, then i asked if i could find her in the evening on the internet. She said yes but at the usual time she was not there and a feeling so strong arose in the chest that i couldn't eat, i spent 2 hours bent on the sofa, but found here later anyway... the feeling was gone in a minute at that point.


Hey mark,

The paragraph I quoted above actually contains some important insights on your part. I'll try to point out what I think is important and helpful.

First of all, you're noticing feelings arising.
You noticed some of the conditions that caused these feelings to arise.
You also notice the unpleasant nature (in this case, not all feelings are unpleasant) of those feelings.
Next you notice those feelings passing away
And finally, you notice what causes this passing away of the feelings.

In this short description your provided of your experience you noticed impermanence, not-self, suffering, feeling-tone and the law of cause and effect. By looking at our experience in this way we slowly learn to see that "we" are not as central in this universe as we tend to think. We can see that things don't happen to us, they just happen. We can see that these things are not necessarily our fault, they seem to just arise on their own. We also see (and this can be good or bad news) that non of these things that arise stick around forever. Based on these insights we can see more deeply into how things really are and start to truly unravel the confusion that is at the base of our experience.

Try applying this kind of seeing to more experiences in your life. Try applying it to things that are easy to notice like eating and to things that are more subtle like thoughts. I wouldn't limit this exploration to only unpleasant experiences, try to keep a balanced exploration. If you do this throughout your day along with the noting practice and some heart practice like tonglen, I believe you will start to notice a shift in your perception within a few weeks to a few months. The shift may be subtle at first but you'll see a difference.

You should be aware, as mentioned above by some of the others, the path is not linear. It will take you to places of unimagined beauty and serenity and it will dump you into some pretty tough territory as well. It sounds, though, like you have the commitment, the resolve and the good intentions to see yourself through this. You will find those to be invaluable.

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
4/8/11 3:01 PM as a reply to Mark R..
Mark R.:
Personal guidance (open questions and answers with a teacher) is nearly absent.


Then it´s not Zen as Zen is direct transmission beyond scriptures.
You may practice in an zenny environment, e.g. doing Gassho and wearing a certain robe. Doesn´t make it Zen.
I wouldn´t be surprised if most Zen practitioners don´t make any progress or just very little.
Adyashanti has a funny anecdote about it.

Try out vipassana...

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
4/13/11 6:57 AM as a reply to Mark R..
Mark R.:
... Why shouldn't i try... well i know that loneliness will strike making me feel the last of the scums of earth, it will, like it had during the night i sat through. But it's not much different from staying at home instead. It is said that A&P is a door that unlocks the way. I had from the beginning that objective when i booked for the retreat. Dark night comes after... after that i'll see. Before i continue to suffer the same things without an end.

I'd like to know, please, if i can open a thread to report sometimes how the noting is going...even if just for myself. Or ask directly to a teacher instead. Please say everything you want about everything... thanks all for reading this guy.


My few cents: Noting is a very powerful tool. You may not realize at first. It can open you up in a way you might regret afterward. Take Tommys warning seriously. And if it's at all possible see a teacher on a regular basis. Do this at least when strange things start to happen, as pleasant and exciting as they may be in the beginning. I don't want to scare you, but better safe than sorry.

I was doing Zen practice (just sitting) for over 15 years. It probably helped me quite a lot in dissolving some psychological 'stuff' during the first 2 - 3 years (That's just what I guess, I don't really know for sure - we often create stories that fit into what we like to believe.) But I didn't try to use Zen practice as a means to solve those issues, it just happened. Since I didn't make any progress over the last years I started noting practice 9 months ago. 4 months later practice took off. Right now I'm knee-deep into trouble (probably some not so smooth Kundalini awakening, but who knows). So, watch out for yourself.

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
4/20/11 3:46 AM as a reply to -- Timus --.
Thanks everyone for all you have said. I've been lazy in the last two weeks because of the social conditions that got a little better. But yesterday i had another nice fallout. Things got just buried during that time, not resolved by the least. I swear i'll not stop noting from this moment onward, giving it my best. For how much it looks like crazy, silly, stupid... If i find myself stopping i'll begin again the next conscious moment. When everything is too chaotic note "chaotic" and note abdominal movements. That is all for now...

RE: From Zen to Mahasi?
Answer
4/20/11 6:09 AM as a reply to Mark R..
HI Mark -

... nice fallout. Things got just buried during that time, not resolved by the least. I swear i'll not stop noting from this moment onward, giving it my best.
This sounds like unobstructed resolve to me. This is great for developing the causes that end the causes for this particular thread.

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