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Dazed & Confused
Answer
12/22/19 11:13 AM
I appologise deeply in advance for my bizarre, disorganised, disjointed, telegraphic and yet engorged, mixed-register writing style. I know it's a mess. I'm really bad at having thoughts, not to mention expressing them.

Okay, so I know I should have read tons of stuff and watched 108 dharma talks before coming here with what must be super basic questions, but I've been waddling in the dark for years, and honestly just hope someone will hear me out.

I started meditating on July 10, 2010. I had no idea what I was doing, just read some vague description somewhere probably, can't remember exactly, and just started trying to observe the breath. At that point I was 17, just finished higschool (started school aged 5), full of pride, unable to concentrate, and anxious out of my mind. I literally slept for an hour a night for the whole last month of school, not because I was studying but because I was tripping non-stop on unadulterated anxiety. Didn't take medication (although I had a prescription for an ADD drug), wasn't seeing a professional. My parents and everyone else were looking the other way. I may have had a talent for concealing the extent of my disease. (I will get to meditation, I promise. I think my background might be useful for evaluating whatever has been going on.) Flunked school, didn't graduate, although at some point during my childhood some test put me in the 99th percentile for intelligence according to I know not what scale. Never felt smart but "knew" that I was, was out of my mind with suffering, and had the absolute knowledge, the gnosis that I must resolve this on my own. No drugs, no head doctors. DIY or Die. So meditation was the way, obviously.

As a child I had a pretty intense awareness of my body. Occasionaly I would lie on my back staring at the ceiling, just feeling my body, my attention moving around at a leisurely pace, feeling probably tension and throbbing and other sensations - I don't remember exactly. Also my concentration was, I think, above average - I could get super focused when I was reading, to the extent that if I had a headache it would go away while I was reading, and come back once I stopped reading. Or maybe that happened for some other reason. Occasionaly I would stare at like corners, and for a few seconds all thought would cease and I'd have a glimpse of some kind of bliss and maybe vibration, things in my field of vision would start kinda glowing and then I'd have double vision for a couple of seconds. Then I'd snap back into reality. At night, in the dark I'd stare into things, unblinking, and notice a creeping darkness, greater than the natural dark of a residential room at night, spreading over my field of vision, stopping when I moved my eyes or blinked. Also at night, I could make things appear to move through power of will - I had some poster on the wall, I think of Pikachu, and I think I used to make it physically move its lips, as if it was talking to me. I could shape monotonous, continuous sounds, like an alarm or the sound of a vacuum working, into melodies. Even when I was like 6, I think I assumed it was just my imagination. Now I don't know any more.

Anyway, by July 10, 2010 all that was long gone. I started trying to observe my breath and discovered that apparently I had no breath, or body, or thoughts, or images, or emotions. It was just unadulterated suffering and I only had the vaguest notion that it inhabited a body, but it seemed like I couldn't locate any sensation. Again, no breath. Just abstract suffering in a vaguely body shaped vacuum.

It might also be important to note that at some point before I started my practice I had concluded that all the bad stuff was caused by thinking, so I started training myself doggedly not to think, ever. Before that I had been an obsessive thinker, would literally think almost every moment between waking up and going to bed, mostly trying to convince myself that I deserved to live. With some lapses, by 2013-2014, all the while meditating (despite it making no sense. It didn't seem to do any good) for an hour every morning, I managed to extinguish all thought. For the next few years I didn't think at all. At least there was no perception of thought. I started going on shorts retreats conducted in the Thai Forest tradition, and there didn't appear to be any mental activity at all, despite being alone with myself for days. Just constant pain, dread, almost total lack of concentration, double vision, blurred vision, confusion, depression. I didn't have double or blurry vision before I started my practice, but I didn't make the connection for years. I also had terrible musculoskeletal pain. The physical problems persistent in and out of retreats, as well as the mental/spiritual stuff, which changed character as I kept meditating. It used to be just tension and headaches and exaustion when I was at school, but gradually turned into a permanent sense of cold, physical and spiritual, and a kind of sucking sensation in the abdomen, like a black hole, sucking in I know not what. I lost all affect for it seems like years. My sense of my past is really warped and fragmentary, because my memory got shattered. Eventually I couldn't follow like a three word sentence. I was nigh unresponsive, sitting in front of the computer, listening to far-right pundits on youtube (felt really validated by them for some reason). Not watching, because my eyesight had gone haywire. For years I couldn't focus my vision. It was all double and a blur, getting progressively worse. Nothing made sense to me, literally. There were no facts and no causal relationships. Eventually if I felt anything at all it was rage. Or I would enact rage without feeling it. Terrible pain throughout the body (eventually started to be able to locate phenomena in the body), especially in the joints, chronic weakness. Couldn't enjoy anything. Complete anhedonia. Wouldn't wash for months, sometimes couldn't even bring myself to brush my teeth.

Lived with my parents all of those years. They have all the best intentions but are kinda spaced-out and are consumed by their own undigested trauma. So yeah, no hospitalisation, no intervention of any kind, almost no communication. Took pills for anxiety, depression and ADHD, on my own initiative, for a little while a few times, would quit on a whim. Nobody appeared to pay attention. A pure DIY or Die situation, whether I liked it or not.

I meditated through all of that. Just because I said I would, lol. Actually, I always somehow had the notion in my apparently thoughtless head that all the problems were due to my mental illness and some undetectable physical ailment (doctors kept basically telling me to stop pestering them since I'm as healthy as an ox), and that meditation was this magical thing that if I only learn how to do good I'll become super smart, super functional, super charismatic, superbatman ninja turtle. So I meditated. Rarely less than an hour a day, often for three hourse or more. I was sitting for up to three hours in one sitting. There was a month I'd practice for six hours daily, in two hour blocks, morning, afternoon and evening. During that month I experienced intense bliss once or twice, and then deep, deep sorrow, which made me reduce my practice. Yes, I realised eventually that the longer I meditated, the nuttier I became, but I kept feeling it was not a bug but a feature, and I just had to power through it. I had a vague notion of the Dark Night, but that was about the extent of my understanding of Buddhism. Every time I felt less bad I thought I was getting enlightened, every time I felt bad after a "good" episode, I felt completely useless and redundant, and only even more determined to push harder. Without consulting anyone or reading any books or listening to talks, because I'm a genius and an Enlightened Materialist, and all of those meditation people are hopeless peddlers of woo-woo, except of course for Sam Harris, who's the Messiah, lol. Eventually I started re-teaching myself painfully how to think, and that's when this drowning ship, my psyche got punctured by a couple dozen new cannon balls. I say painfully, by the way, because I didn't realise (or maybe I'm wrong now, dunno) that extensive meditation wasn't in aid of learning but a profound detriment. The more I meditated on the breath (which I had finally found after years of seemingly futile trying), the more difficult it was to regulate thought, to solve problems, to do anything purposefully really. A total loss of agency for long stretches of time - weeks and months. So I read and it was blowing my mind how seemingly useless it was. At the beginning I still couldn't really focus my eyes, so that was fun, and as for content, I could barely tell who the characters were. Like I read some 60 books in 2017, and I doubt I could tell you what any of them were about. I would force myself to think for a few minutes every day, and it would clear my eyesight for some reason, but also exhaust me. I forced myself to socialise. I somehow managaed to hold two jobs consequetively, each for a few months. Much of that time I just wanted to die. Like imagine you go to work on a farm when you meditate for three hours every morning. Someone talks to you and you're like "What?". Now that I've winded down my practice significantly I get the absurdity, I guess, of trying to become an effective worker, a quick learner and a social butterfly by doing hours of meditation daily. Forgetfulness - information would wash over me like water over a window, lack of coordination, emotional numbness alternating with hightened anxiety. I had so much luck with my bosses, it's incredible that they tolerated this insanity. 

What else? You can tell I'm not totally well yet, this is a mess. Yeah like as I learned to think and read and faced stuff at work, my practice got a new coat of disgusting paint. Thoughts started to arise, mostly about how everybody screwed me over, twitching all over, pain beyond good and evil, would talk out loud uncontrollably for like half an hour, would get into fights with parents and friends (that I somehow managed to get back in touch with, and even a new friend), complete loss of empathy. Like eventually I didn't care if I hurt people, and I didn't care that much if I died myself. Still managed to present a sufficiently tolerable façade to be able to not get fired and occasionally meet with friends. Occasionally would think, why? I could live with my parents till they died, and then I'd die, too. What's the big deal.

Then I learned Goenka-style vipassana and it gave me a different perspective. Seems like anapana makes me more broken-robot like, more limited in any way, whereas vipassana in conjunction with anapana makes me able to tap into humanity again. But maybe it's because I'm not very good at vipassana yet? I did notice one time when I did some four hours of vipassana in one day, after coming back from a retreat, that I started getting the icky, yucky something that I used to experience with pure anapana.

Oh yeah, I somehow got cleared for a Goenka retreat after having been repeatedly turned down for years. Since may 2018 I've sat three 10 day retreats and served thtee full 10 day retreats, and despite all the problems with Goenka's not-cult, I feel blessed. Stuff really seems to have gotten slightly sorted out, even though the amount of sheer horror that I experienced on all those retreats, including the ones I served, is hard to put into words. First time there I thought I might literally, actually die. But you know, anicca, lol.

Let's wrap up. Still struggling fiercely but far more functional on all fronts. Can follow the breath easily. Feel sensation all over the body, almost, though the resolution is still pretty low. Also, I now feel tingles pretty often during the day, and during meditation all sorts of I guess "energy" throughout the body, waves of something moving around, far, far less bodily pain  - I also meditate far less: half an hour anapana/vipassana followed by about half an hour of loving kindness. Have a far less alien disposition, I think I behave more humanly too. Have had a no-self experiende a few times. Occasionally when I look at things they shimmer and shift. Like the wooden door sorta melts, the grain getting all soupy and fuzzy. I've experienced the floor visually rippling like jelly, and the heater growing and contracting like it was breathing. Hordes of dots kinda glowing on the floor and running around in the cat box. A few days ago I decided to finally put away my pride, start learning about Buddhism. So I listened to Daniel on 10% happier, and here I am. Anybody still reading? Have any idea what the hell has been going on with me? I will read MCTB obviously, but does anyone here have any ideas?

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
12/22/19 11:15 AM as a reply to Andrey.
Thank you for the detailed history.

I have more questions for you than answers:

Do you have someone nearby that you can claim as a teacher?

What's the status of your medications? Do you still take any? Do you see a doctor regularly? Do you see a psychiatrist or a psychologist?

This is a message board and it's very, very unlikely that anyone here can get a full, deep, detailed understanding your situation, so I think pointing you to teachers and medical/psychological help is the best thing we can do, assuming you're worried about yourself and feel you need help.

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
12/22/19 12:04 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Thank you for the detailed history.

I have more questions for you than answers:

Do you have someone nearby that you can claim as a teacher?

What's the status of your medications? Do you still take any? Do you see a doctor regularly? Do you see a psychiatrist or a psychologist?

This is a message board and it's very, very unlikely that anyone here can get a full, deep, detailed understanding your situation, so I think pointing you to teachers and medical/psychological help is the best thing we can do, assuming you're worried about yourself and feel you need help.

Thanks for the reply, Chris. I understand it's much to ask of a message board to give a precise diagnosis, either Buddhist or clinical. I'm just interested in hearing ideas, but maybe I seemed a little overenthusiastic, haha. I'm not sure how to tell a credible teacher from a huckster, and am not in a position to pay for a psychologist. The ones the NHS provides here In Israel can be hit and miss, and I kinda got burned a lot already. And the local physicians literally think I'm a nuisance, so I'm kinda wary of seeing any of them again. So I guess if anyone knows of credible teachers in Israel, near Tel Aviv preferrably but I could probably manage some travel - it would be wonderful. I haven't taken any drugs, exluding caffeine and very rarely alcohol, for a few years. So far things been pretty steadily improving lately but I may start taking something against my anxiety at some point, if things stagnate again.

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
12/22/19 12:26 PM as a reply to Andrey.
Here is just one teacher I found in Israel using Google and the Dharma Seed website:

https://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/589/

This is someone whose talks you can listen to now (at the link I provided above) and decide if you want to contact him or not. There are many others. Go for it!

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
12/22/19 1:24 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Thanks. Pretty embarassing that you had to look him up for me. Sorry.

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
12/22/19 1:49 PM as a reply to Andrey.
I can relate to much of what you describe, although the intense experiences when I was a teenager scared me and made me avoid meditation for a couple of decades. As it wanted to happen anyway, I had a rather brutal spontaneous Kundalini awakening about a decade ago which may have caused health issues, some of which seemed chronic but went away thanks to yoga and some of which still remain. Doctors can't find anything in my case either. When I eventually took up a systematic meditation practice, things happened fast but not faster than I could integrate. I see things that are similar to what you describe. That is pretty normal among meditators, I think. Most of what people see is just constructions anyway.  It's important not to jump to conclusions about that, existentially, though. Buddhism isn't nihilism. It sounds to me like you have had insights (even before starting a formal practice) that you couldn't integrate and therefore got into some really tough versions of dukkha nanas (dark night), with derealization, anhedonia and related symptoms.

The fact that you put in so much effort on controlling your mind may have led to repression. The mind cannot be controlled. Sure, we can learn techniques to get more focused and stuff, but the mind does what it does. It isn't personal. We don't have to engage with it actively all the time, but trying to get it to shut up entirely doesn't lead to anything good. The mind does what it is supposed to do, and it does so in interplay with everything else that occurs. We can investigate it and see it for what it is, which enables liberation. Liberation is however not the same thing as control. Meditation can liberate, but if you use it to chastice yourself and force yourself into discipline, it won't. Also, it doesn't solve everything. If you have traumas, you still need to deal with them. If you have repressed stuff, it won't magically go away when you meditate, but will most likely show up when you dig into new layers in your practice. If you need medications, you will most likely still need them. Meditation doesn't take away mundane issues, but gives you tools for dealing with them. You will still have to use the tools to deal with the issues, although farther along the journey you will see clearer and clearer that the "you" is not what most people read into the concept - not in a depersonalization sense, though. Exactly what it will be like is still beyond my knowledge, as I have only started the journey, but so far it seems to be pretty cool. 

I like your writing style. I think it makes perfect sense. I have ADHD, though, together with Tourette syndrome and being autistic, so I'm used to thinking that branches off in many directions and dimensions. 

Much compassion and my very best wishes for your practice and wellbeing.

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
12/22/19 1:57 PM as a reply to Andrey.
Sounds like a mirror of my life. When I was five or six I entered a deep existential crisis which subsequently lead me through heavy periods of darkness throughout my entire life. Two and a half years ago I started meditating and things took a very interesting turn. I seem to be getting answers about this darkness and a strong sense of some kind of pristine clarity behind it all. The pain you experience is driving you to find answers. Keep going with that. 

You can read Daniel's second book here. It demystifies much of the process and places things in more of a normal context. Tricky to use the word normal in this arena but there it is.

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
12/25/19 10:42 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I can relate to much of what you describe, although the intense experiences when I was a teenager scared me and made me avoid meditation for a couple of decades. As it wanted to happen anyway, I had a rather brutal spontaneous Kundalini awakening about a decade ago which may have caused health issues, some of which seemed chronic but went away thanks to yoga and some of which still remain. Doctors can't find anything in my case either. When I eventually took up a systematic meditation practice, things happened fast but not faster than I could integrate. I see things that are similar to what you describe. That is pretty normal among meditators, I think. Most of what people see is just constructions anyway.  It's important not to jump to conclusions about that, existentially, though. Buddhism isn't nihilism. It sounds to me like you have had insights (even before starting a formal practice) that you couldn't integrate and therefore got into some really tough versions of dukkha nanas (dark night), with derealization, anhedonia and related symptoms.

The fact that you put in so much effort on controlling your mind may have led to repression. The mind cannot be controlled. Sure, we can learn techniques to get more focused and stuff, but the mind does what it does. It isn't personal. We don't have to engage with it actively all the time, but trying to get it to shut up entirely doesn't lead to anything good. The mind does what it is supposed to do, and it does so in interplay with everything else that occurs. We can investigate it and see it for what it is, which enables liberation. Liberation is however not the same thing as control. Meditation can liberate, but if you use it to chastice yourself and force yourself into discipline, it won't. Also, it doesn't solve everything. If you have traumas, you still need to deal with them. If you have repressed stuff, it won't magically go away when you meditate, but will most likely show up when you dig into new layers in your practice. If you need medications, you will most likely still need them. Meditation doesn't take away mundane issues, but gives you tools for dealing with them. You will still have to use the tools to deal with the issues, although farther along the journey you will see clearer and clearer that the "you" is not what most people read into the concept - not in a depersonalization sense, though. Exactly what it will be like is still beyond my knowledge, as I have only started the journey, but so far it seems to be pretty cool. 

I like your writing style. I think it makes perfect sense. I have ADHD, though, together with Tourette syndrome and being autistic, so I'm used to thinking that branches off in many directions and dimensions. 

Much compassion and my very best wishes for your practice and wellbeing.

Thanks for the long reply. By "integrate" do you mean conceptualise and put into an intellectual framework? For quite a long time I've felt that I basically know nothing, and maybe nothing is knowable, and maybe concepts are futile. Now it seems like concepts are at least useful for maintaining a functional psyche, so I'm willing to try.

When you say meditation gives one tools to deal with mundane issues, what do you mean? Sorry if it's a toddler's question.

As for the nature of the self, it seems I don't have a solid self, but there are consistent psychological and behavioural patterns, and I seem to go through cycles of pattern-clusters, a bit like a Jekyll and Hyde thing, but they might have another friend or two.

Again, thanks a lot.

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
12/25/19 10:48 AM as a reply to Bardo.
That's really interesting. Would you feel comfortable sharing some of those answers and something about the darkness they were answering, or is it too personal/wouldn't make sense if put into words? Also, I'm interested in the kind of meditation you do. You can PM me if that's doable on this forum, I haven't figured that out yet lol. I'm like 400 years old when it comes to tech.

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
12/25/19 2:45 PM as a reply to Andrey.
Andrey:

Thanks for the long reply. By "integrate" do you mean conceptualise and put into an intellectual framework? For quite a long time I've felt that I basically know nothing, and maybe nothing is knowable, and maybe concepts are futile. Now it seems like concepts are at least useful for maintaining a functional psyche, so I'm willing to try.

I think what I mean is coping with the insights and accepting their implications without resorting to any form of defense mechanism (like most of us tend to do at first), and realizing how liberating they actually are. Something like that. With or without concepts, whatever one needs.

When you say meditation gives one tools to deal with mundane issues, what do you mean? Sorry if it's a toddler's question.
It’s not a bad question at all. I’m not sure I’m capable of providing a good answer, though, because I’m only starting to find out for myself. I’ll try, and if it’s bullshit, I hope someone more experienced will step in and correct me. Meditation helps getting better and better at seeing reaction patterns manifest and being identified with as ”me” or ”mine”, and as it is seen while it happens, it loses much of its power. Therefore it is possible to let go of lots of unnecessary suffering. But it still takes willingness to actually let go, and that’s the tricky part, I guess.

As for the nature of the self, it seems I don't have a solid self, but there are consistent psychological and behavioural patterns, and I seem to go through cycles of pattern-clusters, a bit like a Jekyll and Hyde thing, but they might have another friend or two.

Nobody has a solid self. Many people are good at smoothing out the inconsistencies and the discontinuity, though, to keep the illusion intact. This is the kind of insight that you may need to integrate. As for the cycling and the Jekyll and Hyde thing, that is the different nanas in the progress of insight. Once one has gone through the Arising and Passay away nana (the A&P), cycling is inevitable, but one can learn to deal with it and learn from it. It's kind of a blessing in disguise. 

Again, thanks a lot.

You are very welcome. I’m not a teacher, though, just so you know. Just a fellow traveller. There are many people here who are more experienced than I am.

For what it's worth, I think you may be one of those people who are too observant to be able to avoid insight regardless of whether you meditate or not. Since you also seem prone to have a bit of a bumpy ride, getting a qualified teacher is probably a good idea. The insights may seem very disruptive and hard to digest, but I think that is because we humans are so drilled into maintaining basic assumptions that are threatened by the insights, and letting go of those assumptions is scary - until we do and find that it is a greater relief than we could have imagined. I still have much of the letting go left to do, but so far I find that it is well worth it. There is no rush, though. Taking your time to acclimatize is probably a good idea. Going through therapy alongside the practice may be a good idea too if you are worried about your mental health. And don't push yourself too hard. 

If you find yourself in territory you are unable to handle, I would recommend sending an email to Daniel M Ingram. He has helped many practitioners going through spiritual turmoil.

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
12/25/19 5:58 PM as a reply to Andrey.
quote=Andrey

 A few days ago I decided to finally put away my pride, start learning about Buddhism. 






aloha andrey,

     If you had put aside your pride sooner, you might have suffered less. Good luck with your studies. Come back when you have some questions.

terry
   


MELE KALIKIMAKA

Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii's way to say Merry Christmas to you
That's the island greeting that we send to you 
from the land where palm trees sway 
Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright 
The sun will shine by day and all the stars at night 
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii's way to say Merry Christmas to you

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say on a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day 
That's the island greeting that we send to you 
from the land where palm trees sway
Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright 
The sun will shine by day and all the stars at night 
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii's way to say Merry Christmas to you

Instrumental bridge

Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright 
The sun will shine by day and all the stars at night 
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii's way to say Merry Christmas to you
Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say on a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day 
That's the island greeting that we send to you 
from the land where palm trees sway 

Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright 
The sun will shine by day and all the stars at night 
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii's way to say Merry Christmas, 
Merry Merry Christmas to you, Merry Merry Christmas to you

Songwriters: R. Alex Anderson

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
12/26/19 12:45 PM as a reply to terry.
terry:
quote=Andrey

 A few days ago I decided to finally put away my pride, start learning about Buddhism. 






aloha andrey,

     If you had put aside your pride sooner, you might have suffered less. Good luck with your studies. Come back when you have some questions.

terry
   

from "learning how to learn" by idries shah


Twenty-Three Study Points

Q; May I have any brief aphorisms or statements which I can register and study, which will help to progress on the Sufi path?
A: If you are not a viable unit in the ordinary world, you will not become one elsewhere. If you have a poor capacity for making human contacts, we cannot offer you the substitute of a community where 'we understand one another'. That belongs to play-life, what some, of course, generally call real life.
***
If you are accustomed to being supported and kept going by social, psychological and other pressures in the everyday world, there is a sense in which you do not really exist at all. The people who collapse in the often unpressured-dervish atmosphere and who slack, become tiresome to others, or seek to attract or obtain attention: they will fall to pieces and one cannot help them.
***
Try to remember; and, if you cannot remember, try to become familiar with this idea:
Lots of people who imagine that they are with us because they are physically present, or because by the ordinary tests (feelings of loyalty, indoctrination) are ostensibly present, lots of those people are not effectively here at all. If you are one of those people, there is nothing we can do for you. If you are like an ordinary person: that is, if you have the tendency to 'be here' only for limited and primitive amusement, but have it only as a tendency and not a way of life: then we can perhaps make some progress.
***
Remember that the human being is so intensely standardised
that an outside observer, noting his reactions to various stimuli, need not infer an individual controlling brain in each person. He would be more likely to infer the existence of a separate, outside brain, and the people as mere manifesters of its will.
***
Register the fact that:
Virtually all organisations known to you work largely by means of your greed. They attract you because what they say or do appeals to your greed. This is concealed only by their appearance. If you stop listening to their words and look at the effect, you will soon see it.
***
Remember that greed includes greed for being not greedy. So, if someone says: 'Do not be greedy, be generous', you may inwardly interpret this in such a manner that you will develop a greed for generosity. This, however, remains greed.
***
There are some things which you have to do for yourself. These include familiarising yourself with study-materials given to you. You can only really do this - and thus acquire real qualities - if you suspend the indulgence of desire for immediate satisfactions.
***
All members of contemporary societies, with few exceptions, are in need of graduating from primitive morality to a higher one. The primitive one is the one which tells you, like a child, that honesty will make you happy, make you successful, get you to higher things. Honesty, you may now be informed, is essential as an instrument, not to be worshipped as a seldom-attained emotion-loaded ideal.
** *
Sufis have their own methods of deterring unsuitable people. You may only know one or two ways. Pay attention to the techniques which, for instance, deter by compelling people to conclude that they are worthless.
***
What you may take to be attractive, or even spread out by us to be attractive to you, may well not be intended in this manner at all. That which attracts you, or others, about us may be that which is laid down by us as a tool which enables us to regard you (or others) as unsuitable.
***
One can give or withhold in a manner far more effective, sophisticated, useful, which is quite invisible to people who think that giving or withholding is done by external assessment. If you seek some mark of favour or 'promotion', know that you are not ready for it. Progress comes through capacity to learn, and is irresistible. Nobody can stand between you and knowledge if you are fit for it.
***
Anybody or anything may stand between you and knowledge if you are unfit for it.
***
You can learn more in half an hour's direct contact with a source of knowledge (no matter the apparent reason for the contact or the subject of the transaction) than you can in years of formal effort.
***
You can learn and equip yourself with latent knowledge, whose development comes at a later stage. Only those who insist upon instant attention want anything else.
***
The role of the teacher is to provoke capacity in the student, to provide what there is when it will be useful, to guide him towards progress. It is not to impress, to give an impression of virtue, power, importance, general information, knowledge or anything else.
***
Systematic study or behaviour is valuable when it is of use. When it is not, it can be poisonous.
***
Those who seek consistency as a major factor, in people or in study materials, are seeking system at a stage where it is not indicated. Children and savages do this, when they ask for information which will explain or make possible 'everything'. Consistency is, however, on offer from those people whose business it is to offer comfort and reassurance as objectives.
***
If you seek illumination or understanding when what you really need is information or rest from pressures, you will get none of these things. If you know what you want, you should go and get it.
***
If you carry the habit of judging things into an area where it does not apply, you will judge in a manner which will not correspond with your needs.
** *
You cannot work on a higher level entirely with the concepts, language and experiences of a lower level. Higher level work is in a combination of manners and relationships.
* **
The ultimate absurdity, incapacitating from real learning beyond the stage you have reached, is to imagine that one thing is another. If you think that a book is a sandwich, you may try to eat it, and will not be able to learn what a book can teach. If, too, you imagine that you are being 'open' or 'working' or eager to learn when you are only playing a social game, you will Ieam nothing. The people who refuse to play that game with you will also, of course, sooner or later annoy you.
***
Human organisations can take two forms: entities which are set up to express or attain the aspirations of their members; and those which exist in order to acquire or provide something which is needed. Wants and needs are not the same. The difference is in information. If people know what they need, they do not have to confuse wants with needs.
***
If you do not know already the difference between opinion and fact, you can study it in the daily and weekly newspapers.

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
12/26/19 1:14 PM as a reply to terry.
terry:
terry:
quote=Andrey

 A few days ago I decided to finally put away my pride, start learning about Buddhism. 






aloha andrey,

     If you had put aside your pride sooner, you might have suffered less. Good luck with your studies. Come back when you have some questions.

terry
   

from "learning how to learn" by idries shah


Twenty-Three Study Points

Q; May I have any brief aphorisms or statements which I can register and study, which will help to progress on the Sufi path?

you may be saying, sufi path?

it's all one...


from idries shah, "learning how to learn":



How can one method be as good as another?


Q: What you have said about the same person, or the same
group of people, being able to employ entirely different techniques
to achieve the same object interests me. But how can one method
be as good as another?

A: If a house is on fire, two ladders may be propped against
one window. Both lead to the ground. The different colours of
the paint on them may obscure the fact that they are ladders.

Q:But how do we know that either is a ladder?

A:You know by learning to recognise a ladder when you see
one.

Q:How is that done?

A:By familiarising yourself with ladders.

Q:And climbing ladders?

A:While you are learning recognition, climb them as a part of it.

Q:But some people insist that there is only one ladder, their own.

A:They are right, if they are saying that to focus attention 
on a specific escape-ladder as an instrument. If it works, it is
equivalent to being the only true one. For practical purposes, it is.

Q: Are they right under any other circumstances?

A: Seldom, because if they really were right they would teach
not 'There is only this ladder', but 'Look at all these ladders; they
can - or could - work. Ours, however, is applicable to you and to
me.' Failure to do this reveals ignorance.

Remark: But they are short of time.
Comment: So is everybody.

Q: Are some ladders too short?

A: Ladders are in all conditions: new, old, rotten, short, long,
blue, green, weak, strong, available, in use elsewhere, and all the
rest of the possibilities.

Q: What should one do about all this?

A: Try to conceive that the house is on fire. If you can do so
without becoming obsessed or irrational about it, particularly
without becoming suggestible through dwelling on this idea, you
may get out. But while you are full of hope or fear, of sentiment
or desire for social activity or personal prominence or even recog-
nition, you will not be able to use a ladder, you may not be able
to recognise one, certainly you should be spending your energies
in circles which abound for the purpose of welcoming such ten-
dencies.
   People learn by methods which correspond with the kind and
extent of their aspiration: this is the constant Sufi dictum.
In the Anwar-i-Suhaili it is said:

Nobody found the way to ascend
Until he found the step of aspiration.
Seek the stage, to mount to the Moon;
None drinks rain from a well.

Equally, of course, there are many people who cannot learn
something at a given time, because they have some other expecta-
tion, some preoccupation, probably an emotional one. Reflect on
this news item:
'More than 3,ooo worshippers fled in near-panic from the
famous Church of the Blessed Mary of the Rosary at Pompeii on
Saturday night, when a bottle of Coca Cola exploded.'*

* Daily Telegraph, (London) Monday. 9 May 1977, p. 6, col. 8. 154

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
12/29/19 10:28 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I'm having a hard time figuring out how to divide the quote so that I can write beneath the fragments, like you did. Maybe my ancient tablet doesn't gibe with the interface. 

It's interesting. I really have attempted to use meditation to Make Myself Great Again, and it does seem like in the few periods I didn't have the expectation that meditation would make me a superhero I felt much better, and I'm not sue I was any less functional for it. I've decided that I'll mainly meditate to explore reality from now, and concentrate my self-improvement effort on other venues. I've found a meditation group that seems serious - the guy leading it wasn't shocked by anything I told him. He just said, basically, "Yeah, usually thins kinda stuff doesn't happen to Western practitioners, but it's nothing unheard of. Yeah yeah, I've had that too. You should talk to our teacher when he comes for a visit from Thailand. Don't do the fire kasina, though. Someone like you might lose his mind." I'm hesitant to approach Daniel; I'm sure he gets bombarded by emails from meditators in crisis.

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
12/29/19 10:50 AM as a reply to terry.
terry:

Thanks for the quotes, Terry. Very interesting, and the last one I found very thought provoking. I think I see your point. You may be right.

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
12/29/19 3:54 PM as a reply to Andrey.
Andrey:
I'm having a hard time figuring out how to divide the quote so that I can write beneath the fragments, like you did. Maybe my ancient tablet doesn't gibe with the interface.

If you click on ”source”, you can access the code. That’s how I do it. If I can’t remember the code for something, I just look at how it’s already done.

It's interesting. I really have attempted to use meditation to Make Myself Great Again, and it does seem like in the few periods I didn't have the expectation that meditation would make me a superhero I felt much better, and I'm not sue I was any less functional for it. I've decided that I'll mainly meditate to explore reality from now, and concentrate my self-improvement effort on other venues.

Meditating for the purpose of exploring reality is a great approach, I’d say. Then basically everything is a success.

I've found a meditation group that seems serious - the guy leading it wasn't shocked by anything I told him.

That sounds promising.

He just said, basically, "Yeah, usually thins kinda stuff doesn't happen to Western practitioners, but it's nothing unheard of. Yeah yeah, I've had that too. You should talk to our teacher when he comes for a visit from Thailand. Don't do the fire kasina, though. Someone like you might lose his mind."

Oops, I have done some fire kasina...

I'm hesitant to approach Daniel; I'm sure he gets bombarded by emails from meditators in crisis.

Possibly. But if shit hits the fan, he’d probably know how to deal with it.

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
12/31/19 1:40 PM as a reply to Andrey.
Andrey:
terry:

Thanks for the quotes, Terry. Very interesting, and the last one I found very thought provoking. I think I see your point. You may be right.

aloha andrey,

   I'm more about being thought provoking than being right. Keep your salt shaker handy.

   Neat thing about the shotgun approach is that you are bound to hit something.

   Thanks for playing.

terry

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
12/31/19 1:59 PM as a reply to Andrey.
Andrey:
terry:

Thanks for the quotes, Terry. Very interesting, and the last one I found very thought provoking. I think I see your point. You may be right.

   In the last quote shah deliberately - shah is always deliberate - uses the central mahayana buddhist parable of the burning house. In mahayana, children have locked themselves into a burning house and a concerned adult is trying to entice the children, who are unaware of their danger, into unlocking the door and exiting the burning structure. The adult offers them candy and treasure, whatever they might desire. The "truth" of what the adult tells the children is unimportant, successfully saving the children is the goal. This in mahayana is called "skill in means." In philosophy, "pragmatism."

terry



Love Minus Zero (No Limit)
(bob dylan)

My love, she speaks like silence
Without ideals or violence.
She doesn't have to say she's faithful
Yet she's true, like ice, like fire.
People carry roses
And make promises by the hours
My love laughs like the flowers
Valentines can't buy her.
In the dime stores and bus stations
People talk of situations
Read books, repeat quotations
Draw conclusions on the wall.
Some speak of the future
My love, she speaks softly
She knows there's no success like failure
And that failure's no success at all.
The cloak and dagger dangles
Madams light the candles
In ceremonies of the horsemen
Even the pawn must hold a grudge.
Statues made of match sticks
Crumble into one another
My love winks, she does not bother
She knows too much to argue or to judge.
The bridge at midnight trembles
The country doctor rambles
Bankers' nieces seek perfection
Expecting all the gifts that wise men bring.
The wind howls like a hammer
The night blows cold and rainy
My love she's like some raven
At my window with a broken wing.

Songwriters: Bob Dylan

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
1/1/20 1:54 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Yeah, something's funky about the interface for me - can't always access the source. Again, this tablet is really old, it runs on like Android 3.2. Anyway, wanted to correct myself there - what the guy really told me was that "Ajahn Cha used to say the fire kasina is a distraction from the path" and "you really need a practice that will bring you back to the ground, 'cause you already have a tendency to fly high". I had talked to him in an earlier conversation about wanting to transfom my practice to be more compatible with lay life, and that was probably the context for the second statement. 

RE: Dazed & Confused
Answer
1/2/20 9:57 AM as a reply to Andrey.
I see.

Ah, that makes sense. And I guess it is easy to fly off course when one flies too high to see the ground.