Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… ed c 6/6/11 7:34 PM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… ed c 6/7/11 7:38 PM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Nikolai . 6/7/11 8:08 PM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Harry Potter 6/7/11 9:29 PM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Nikolai . 6/7/11 9:51 PM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Nikolai . 6/7/11 10:11 PM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Jon T 6/8/11 12:04 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Pål S. 6/8/11 4:32 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 6/8/11 8:37 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… ed c 6/8/11 12:21 PM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Jon T 6/8/11 1:43 PM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Nikolai . 6/8/11 6:51 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Nikolai . 6/8/11 6:49 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Jill Morana 6/8/11 9:48 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… richard weeden 6/8/11 11:21 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Jon T 6/8/11 1:27 PM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… tarin greco 6/8/11 5:30 PM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Jon T 6/8/11 5:59 PM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Adam Bieber 6/9/11 11:21 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… tarin greco 6/10/11 5:09 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Jon T 6/10/11 2:52 PM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… tarin greco 6/16/11 10:49 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Jill Morana 1/19/12 4:23 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Jon T 6/15/11 11:28 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Jill Morana 6/16/11 10:54 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… ed c 6/10/11 10:18 PM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Nikolai . 6/11/11 11:01 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Harry Potter 6/8/11 8:50 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Nikolai . 6/8/11 9:10 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… ed c 6/8/11 11:21 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Jill Morana 6/16/11 11:34 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… ed c 6/16/11 7:37 PM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… ed c 6/17/11 9:49 AM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Jill Morana 6/17/11 12:05 PM
RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do… Nikolai . 6/17/11 12:53 PM
ed c, modified 10 Years ago at 6/6/11 7:34 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/6/11 7:34 PM

Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

Posts: 59 Join Date: 8/9/10 Recent Posts
Hi all -
The timing on Nick’s post is interesting as I’ve been flip flopping the last few weeks over whether to go on my 10 day Goenka retreat (first one) next month or go camping and follow Richard Weeden’s example for a solitary AF retreat .

I am signed up for a 10 day Goenka retreat this July as an AF person said that Goenka helped them and suggested it might help me too. I’m actively pursuing AF and would only be doing this retreat for the value it would have with my AF practice which is new (about 4-5 months). A 30 minute daily concentration meditation sit for me is about the extent of my abilities so on some level the volume of meditation required in this retreat seems daunting. However, I just want to do whatever will help the most in experiencing a PCE (never had one I can remember), VF then AF.

I’m leaning toward camping and already have a location picked out but I have not confirmed/cancelled my Goenka commitment yet. I’m speculating the value of Goenka as it relates to possibly assisting in AF practice would be much better if the Goenka retreat(s) came before moving to AF, rather than what I am considering.

Given I have limited exposure with AF and none with Goenka I thought I’d ask for opinions from those with direct experience. Any advice would be appreciated…
Thanks
Ed
ed c, modified 10 Years ago at 6/7/11 7:38 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/7/11 7:38 PM

RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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SW said:
I still strongly suggest that you do the Goenka course. I think that Vipassana meditation is an invaluable tool as Nick points out in the post you reference. I recognize the temptation to choose a relaxing, fun, felicitous camping trip over a 10 day silent retreat. The Goenka retreats are designed for absolute beginners to advanced practitioners, so don't let your inexperience stop you. Ultimately you must decide what is right for you; but my advice would be to proceed with the retreat.


Seems pretty clear from a good source. Goenka, here I come...
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Nikolai , modified 10 Years ago at 6/7/11 8:08 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/7/11 8:07 PM

RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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ed c:
SW said:
I still strongly suggest that you do the Goenka course. I think that Vipassana meditation is an invaluable tool as Nick points out in the post you reference. I recognize the temptation to choose a relaxing, fun, felicitous camping trip over a 10 day silent retreat. The Goenka retreats are designed for absolute beginners to advanced practitioners, so don't let your inexperience stop you. Ultimately you must decide what is right for you; but my advice would be to proceed with the retreat.


Seems pretty clear from a good source. Goenka, here I come...


Hey Ed,

Don't know if this will be helpful. maybe something to keep in mind in order to make the most of the 10 day course. Remember to follow the big G's instructions to the Tee!!

http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com/2010/11/going-for-stream-entry-on-goenka-10-day.html

:-)
Nick
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Harry Potter, modified 10 Years ago at 6/7/11 9:29 PM
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RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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Is it not true that noting practice may lead to the peril of developing dissociation, as opposed to seeing the fact the "I" am "my" feelings? Quoting from your blog post, Nick:

Nick:

I was washing the pots and pans in the kitchen of the meditation centre. Suddenly, I noticed a strange flow of sensations erupting in the middle of my chest. They began as slow thumping, pulsing flow of vibrations and preceded to become heavy and extremely unpleasant . All of a sudden I felt the mind state of agitation. Thoughts of a negative nature arose: ”Why am I the only one who has to wash the pots and pans???

I quickly realized how that heavy unpleasant flow of sensations at the chest had just influenced the mind, triggering a volley of negative thought. I ran to the dining room to hide the growing angst I was feeling. I sat down and immediately began to ball my eyes out. What was weird was that it felt like “I” had nothing to do with this process. The body was crying, without “my” help and the thoughts which arose seemed not to be “mine”. “I” watched as the body cried all by itself. It was the body that felt a tremendous sadness triggered by that unnatural flow of vibrational activity at the chest, not “me”. It was quite a surreal situation and left me very enthusiastic about what I had got myself into. Mind influencing body and body also influencing mind. None of it a “self”
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Nikolai , modified 10 Years ago at 6/7/11 9:51 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/7/11 9:40 PM

RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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Harry Potter:
Is it not true that noting practice may lead to the peril of developing dissociation, as opposed to seeing the fact the "I" am "my" feelings? Quoting from your blog post, Nick:

Nick:

I was washing the pots and pans in the kitchen of the meditation centre. Suddenly, I noticed a strange flow of sensations erupting in the middle of my chest. They began as slow thumping, pulsing flow of vibrations and preceded to become heavy and extremely unpleasant . All of a sudden I felt the mind state of agitation. Thoughts of a negative nature arose: ”Why am I the only one who has to wash the pots and pans???

I quickly realized how that heavy unpleasant flow of sensations at the chest had just influenced the mind, triggering a volley of negative thought. I ran to the dining room to hide the growing angst I was feeling. I sat down and immediately began to ball my eyes out. What was weird was that it felt like “I” had nothing to do with this process. The body was crying, without “my” help and the thoughts which arose seemed not to be “mine”. “I” watched as the body cried all by itself. It was the body that felt a tremendous sadness triggered by that unnatural flow of vibrational activity at the chest, not “me”. It was quite a surreal situation and left me very enthusiastic about what I had got myself into. Mind influencing body and body also influencing mind. None of it a “self”


No noting if you follow Goenka's instructions to the Tee. I didn't practice noting for 8 years. He isn't going to go there to practice HAIETMOBA as far as I understood it. He is going there to gain some useful skills that will help him practice afterwards. Access to sensations/vibrations on and within every living part of the body is a very useful tool for PCE practice. The U Ba Khin/Goenka sweeping method technique of vipassana will take you there. You dig? Ed is going to sit a course recommended by Stefanie and others. TG Broccoli has talked about how helpful it was for her. It has been extremely helpful for me, for a buddy who may have just got AF, and others. Stefanie got stream entry on a course. Stream entry is good jumping point to PCE practice. 4th path even more so. He may experience the nanas. Peril? That idea is very Richard. I don't agree with it. Your point is?

:-)
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Nikolai , modified 10 Years ago at 6/7/11 10:11 PM
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RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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This set of instructions by Tarin is really effective for both anapana and the sweeping method of vipassana:

"What I mean by 'the sense of seeing' is, literally, what it is to experience seeing directly; to perceive is to be engaged in a lively activity and is what is meant by paying attention. Yet, such attention is likely to tend toward proliferating stories and fabrications, from persistent reflection and mental commentary on one hand (when concentration is weak and/or scattered) to outright hallucination on the other (when concentration is powerful and/or focused). Those proliferations are to be avoided. How may these proliferations be avoided? By otherwise engaging the proliferating tendency. How may the proliferating tendency be otherwise engaged? By applying the mind further. To what further apply the mind? To the apprehension (of more) of what is happening. What more is happening (that is not yet engaged)? The apprehension of (the apprehension of) perception itself.

To apprehend perception directly is necessarily also to apprehend that apprehension is occurring, and to experience in such a manner is to experience cleanly and clearly, entirely engagedly and encompassedly, incuding the bodily sense of such experience. To see not just what the eye sees but what it is to see is therefore to see cleanly and clearly, entirely engagedly and encompassedly, including the bodily sense of such seeing. Seeing in this manner engages the energies which otherwise fuel the proliferating tendency, and so avoids such proliferation. Further, experiencing seeing as a bodily sense leads to deeper insight into what the body is, and what perceiving is." Tarin


I asked Tarin recently if these very instructions were effective for triggering apperception/PCEs. His answer was "yes". My own experience tells me it is too.

Anapana (concentration practice) will give you more control over your mind and may also help in cultivating felicitous states of mind. The instructions above will aid you in taking advantage of the first 3 days of anapana practice.

On day 4, you will learn the sweeping method of vipassana. If you keep the above instructions in mind as you sweep your body observing the sensate universe, you will gain a very, very useful tool for later when you take up your AF/PCE practice again. Forget about what nana you may experience, and just follow instructions, honing as much as possible your skills with the above instructions. That is my advice.


:-)
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Jon T, modified 10 Years ago at 6/8/11 12:04 AM
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RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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Good luck Ed,

I, personally, don't think any of it is necessary. I suggest you try it because both SW and Tarin recommend it, but I can only see it helpful if you think it will force you to do things you don't want to do while in everyday life. As for learning how to cultivate a PCE, I don't see how sitting down in a miserable position away from everything you would rather be doing is going to get you there. You may learn how to feel that suffering is empty and everything is suffering and the way out is annata which, as it so happens, is also the way in. That is to say, the three characteristics. But a PCE is happiness. It isn't wisdom.
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Pål S, modified 10 Years ago at 6/8/11 4:32 AM
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RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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Ed, do you relate to Daniels map of insights? Are you post A&P? If not, and your goal is AF, going on retreat can put you past the A&P and into DN, which can hinder AF practice. If however you are post A&P then go for it, try and get stream-entry; it's extremely useful, wouldn't you agree Jon?

edit: and thanks for that Tarin quote Nick, I've been looking for it for ages...
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago at 6/8/11 8:37 AM
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RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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Paul S.:
If not, and your goal is AF, going on retreat can put you past the A&P and into DN, which can hinder AF practice.


right, this is what i wonder, too. if you do cross the A&P, you will start dark night-ing, which can be pretty painful and confusing, as it seems the suffering is coming from nowhere. that being said, the dark night sucking entirely depends on the person, and the reaction to it is what makes it suck more, so it might just be a good learning experience if you can be equanimous towards it. not sure, though.
ed c, modified 10 Years ago at 6/8/11 12:21 PM
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RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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Paul S.:
Ed, do you relate to Daniels map of insights? Are you post A&P? If not, and your goal is AF, going on retreat can put you past the A&P and into DN, which can hinder AF practice. If however you are post A&P then go for it, try and get stream-entry; it's extremely useful, wouldn't you agree Jon?


Hi Paul -
I'm at Zero. Defintetly not post A&P. The comment you make is echoed by others and gives me pause, but I’m going forward and will just deal with whatever happens. Richard brings up some points that address this and while I don’t fully understand them, it seems to point to a lack of assuredness about what the outcome might be.

While I have no map attainments I am aware of, perhaps I could take a second to describe one experience from a few months ago. Maybe it means something?

I walked into my home office to sit down and think about AF and some beliefs. I decided to close my eyes and just relax for a moment. Within 20-30 seconds my vision (my eyes were closed) started to rock left and right and I suddenly and noticeably felt very calm. The back of my neck at the base of my skull got very hot (not in reality but it felt hot and did for several hours). I felt like I was being pulled somewhere. I could hear my heart beating faster and the sound was striking. I got sensations down my arm and then they started to shake mildly, and uncontrollably. This lasted for about 7-10 minutes, then it started to fade and I eventually just opened my eyes and wondered what the F$%& was that? It was not a PCE as “I” was there the whole time. I normally sit for 15-30 minutes, just following the breath and never really get lost in it. There is always effort and nothing like this ever happens. Additionally I wasn’t even trying to mediate per se. Lastly, about a week later I was actually meditating and tried to bring the experience back. It started to happen (with my eyes rocking) then the phone rang and I lost it and it’s been 3 months and never come back.
Thanks.
Ed
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Jon T, modified 10 Years ago at 6/8/11 1:43 PM
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RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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Maybe it means something?


What do you believe it could mean? In other words, what are some possible meanings that you would personally consider subscribing to it?
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Nikolai , modified 10 Years ago at 6/8/11 6:51 AM
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RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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Gotta disagree with you there Jon. PCE practice sheds light on a ton of things. Lots of wisdom to gain. A wisdom that can lead to the end of all suffering.
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Nikolai , modified 10 Years ago at 6/8/11 6:49 AM
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RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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Hey Ed,

I think Trent's piece of advice found here on Jon's practice thread could be helpful to keep in mind too.

As a general reply to your thoughts about the passions and emotions … make sure you are investigating and learning about the complexities of compounded feelings as well as their more fundamental aspects in a way which does not exclude having flexible knowledge about both. Understanding the specific feeling being felt and what’s implied by that feeling provides knowledge, and so does understanding the fundamental passion that the feeling is a derivative of and what’s implied by that; the information provided by understanding one is often different than that of the other. That is to say … sometimes it is more useful to look at things as a generality (e.g. “this is fearful” or “this is desirous”) and sometimes it is more useful to look at things specifically (e.g. “this is terror” or “this is lust”). Essentially, such knowledge is to be an aid for finding one’s identifications and possibly helps one to understand how to end such identifications. The more you understand them, the more information you have … and since ‘I’ and ‘my’ feelings and ‘my’ feelings are ‘me’, that information allows one to uncover and eliminate ‘me.’


This can be done at times while sweeping as feelings may come up. Coupled with what Goenka calls "being equanimous", it may help with being happy and harmless IMO.

:-)
Jill Morana, modified 10 Years ago at 6/8/11 9:48 AM
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RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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Jon T:
Good luck Ed,

As for learning how to cultivate a PCE, I don't see how sitting down in a miserable position away from everything you would rather be doing is going to get you there.

if you are not yet actually free or experiencing a pce, in daily life you would be constantly "in a miserable position away from everything you would rather be doing," whether very obviously or so subtly that it's hard to be aware of it. this is why learning to face those unpleasant and unwanted corners of your psyche with discipline will help get you there. it will help you become more aware of the misery being generated and compounded by the identity at each split second, down to the level of vibrations and energetic phenomena. without developing awareness of the obstacles to the pce, it's very hard to overcome them.

Jon T:

You may learn how to feel that suffering is empty and everything is suffering and the way out is annata which, as it so happens, is also the way in. That is to say, the three characteristics. But a PCE is happiness. It isn't wisdom.

what do you mean by "it isn't wisdom"?

jill
richard weeden, modified 10 Years ago at 6/8/11 11:21 AM
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RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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Hi Ed,

i agree with the idea of doing the goenka retreat first; to learn to concentrate and investigate in supportive and challenging conditions. i had done lots of vipassana and zen-style retreats before trying an AF soiltary; i took the discipline of those into the AF solo. i am fairly sure if i had tried doing it years ago it wouldn't have come to much.

i am also interested in this idea that vipassana/cycling = dark night, while AF = pleasant enjoyable and you can avoid Dark Nighting by practising AF which pops up on this forum.

since using the AF method i have often experienced (and investigated) intense fear; this is obviously a sign of falling back into affect and cycling, but it also suggests to me that the AF mode works as a kind of insight practice in a fairly conventional sense - which becomes apparent when I fall back into cycling - it is also inevitable until AF is attained that some cycling will go on to some extent.

before MTCTB and AF i would fairly often expereince these same intense bouts of fear - my teacher at the time said it was a good sign and meant you were brushing up against shunyata and the identity was threatened, fear in fact of self-immolation- I've never felt any need to think of it differently. though in af terms obviously it can be investigated and dropped as it arises.

my point is - i wonder if its true that the AF method can avoid the Dark Night - Richard on the AF site says that the journey can be frightening. if we are going to die aren't we going to get at least some resistance?

rich.
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Jon T, modified 10 Years ago at 6/8/11 1:27 PM
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RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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if you are not yet actually free or experiencing a pce, in daily life you would be constantly "in a miserable position away from everything you would rather be doing," whether very obviously or so subtly that it's hard to be aware of it.


Yes. The self is rather miserable.

this is why learning to face those unpleasant and unwanted corners of your psyche with discipline will help get you there. it will help you become more aware of the misery being generated and compounded by the identity at each split second, down to the level of vibrations and energetic phenomena.


It would be easier to identify an emotion, identify the trigger, identify the root belief and logically examine that belief. In between emotions or during a time of peak mood, cultivating felicity is a pleasant and necessary exercise. I don't think one can dismantle the social identity by observing "vibrations and energetic phenomena."

without developing awareness of the obstacles to the pce, it's very hard to overcome them.


The obstacles to a PCE are all your beliefs regarding everything and your lack of felicity.

what do you mean by "it isn't wisdom"?


In a nutshell, I meant that stream entry is neither necessary nor helpful to attaining AF.
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tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago at 6/8/11 5:30 PM
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RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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Jon T:

In a nutshell, I meant that stream entry is [not] helpful to attaining AF.

a strong claim. what evidence or reasoning supports it? my own experience was otherwise.

tarin
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Jon T, modified 10 Years ago at 6/8/11 5:59 PM
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a strong claim. what evidence or reasoning supports it? my own experience was otherwise.


Stream entry taught me that myself was malleable, not constant and as much illusion as fact. This helped me distance myself from my emotions which in turn helped me choose to be happy. Or in other words, it helped me understand one particular function of self which is that of arbiter in the psychological process. And that arbiter can be manipulated to choose happiness over boredom, frustration, etc. This was invaluable to me up until the point that I began dismantling the social identity. Everything I learned before I discovered the social identity, I re-learned but with greater applicability. The social identity part of self is the aforementioned arbiter (or it at least controls the arbiter) and so by analyzing the social identity one can learn to choose happiness and/or felicity.

In my case, I just assumed that I didn't have much of a social identity to begin with. I figured that I was beyond all that conditioning. Once I discovered that I wasn't, I learned as much about the illusory and impermanent and frustrated nature of the self as I did in that moment of stream entry.
Adam Bieber, modified 10 Years ago at 6/9/11 11:21 AM
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RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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Hey Tarin,

Mostly, a slight being is in effect with spurts of instinctual identity and social identity. Is a slight being always an instinctual identity? I am in a peak experience or close to it all day. What would your advice be to "raise the bar"? much appreciated.
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tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago at 6/10/11 5:09 AM
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RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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Jon T:
In a nutshell, I meant that stream entry is [not] helpful to attaining AF.

tarin greco:
a strong claim. what evidence or reasoning supports it? my own experience was otherwise.

Jon T:
Stream entry taught me that myself was malleable, not constant and as much illusion as fact. This helped me distance myself from my emotions which in turn helped me choose to be happy. Or in other words, it helped me understand one particular function of self which is that of arbiter in the psychological process. And that arbiter can be manipulated to choose happiness over boredom, frustration, etc. This was invaluable to me up until the point that I began dismantling the social identity. Everything I learned before I discovered the social identity, I re-learned but with greater applicability. The social identity part of self is the aforementioned arbiter (or it at least controls the arbiter) and so by analyzing the social identity one can learn to choose happiness and/or felicity.

In my case, I just assumed that I didn't have much of a social identity to begin with. I figured that I was beyond all that conditioning. Once I discovered that I wasn't, I learned as much about the illusory and impermanent and frustrated nature of the self as I did in that moment of stream entry.

hmm... your testimony, as far as i am able to tell (going by your words only), seems to support to a claim to the contrary - that stream-entry is helpful, rather, to attaining an actual freedom from the human condition.

to wit:

Jon T:
Stream entry taught me that myself was malleable, not constant and as much illusion as fact.

as stream-entry provides an understanding that 'i' am not a-thinker-of-my-thoughts (being that there is evidently no 'thinker' as such), this 'i' which 'i' am is certainly malleable and not constant ... and the resulting cessation of the belief that 'i' am a-thinker-of-my-thoughts frees 'me' up considerably to attend to other matters (such as matters of 'who' 'i' am in relation to others - issues of social identity).

Jon T:
This helped me distance myself from my emotions which in turn helped me choose to be happy.

indeed, a certain distance from one's feelings (in the sense not of being distanced from their experience but of being distanced from their imperative) can enable one to choose to be happy. this distancing is enabled by an awareness of feelings as processes of their own right, rather than as processes interpreted and added to by a thinker.

Jon T:
Or in other words, it helped me understand one particular function of self which is that of arbiter in the psychological process.

as you progress further, you may come to understand that the 'arbiter in the psychological process' is, too, utterly dependent on conditions, and not a 'self' that has a basis for executive control. it was either in jest or vain that archimedes once said, 'give me somewhere to stand, and I will move the earth'.

Jon T:
And that arbiter can be manipulated to choose happiness over boredom, frustration, etc. This was invaluable to me up until the point that I began dismantling the social identity.

it seems then that you did what you found had been working for you for some time, came upon new territory in which your previous methods were no longer effective, then learnt new ways to proceed on the fly...

Jon T:
Everything I learned before I discovered the social identity, I re-learned but with greater applicability. The social identity part of self is the aforementioned arbiter (or it at least controls the arbiter) and so by analyzing the social identity one can learn to choose happiness and/or felicity.

...which process was aided and supported, according to your account, by what you had previously learnt (some of which you re-learnt) ... and thus your progress continued.

Jon T:
In my case, I just assumed that I didn't have much of a social identity to begin with. I figured that I was beyond all that conditioning. Once I discovered that I wasn't, I learned as much about the illusory and impermanent and frustrated nature of the self as I did in that moment of stream entry.

a discovery you did not make, apparently, prior to stream-entry.


exactly what part of your previous reply did you intend to support the claim that 'stream entry is [not] helpful to attaining AF'?

tarin
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Jon T, modified 10 Years ago at 6/10/11 2:52 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/10/11 2:52 PM

RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/30/10 Recent Posts
exactly what part of your previous reply did you intend to support the claim that 'stream entry is [not] helpful to attaining AF'?


This part.
Everything I learned before I discovered the social identity, I re-learned but with greater applicability.



To use a formula. If path A doesn't lead to path B and everything on path A can also be found on B then path A is redundant.

I can not prove that stream entry did not lead to the dismantling of the social identity. I can only say that I don't recall that my experience of dukkha, annata and annica had anything to do with discovering the social identity and any subsequent dismantling. Of course, there are many hidden factors in any psychological entity and just because one isn't aware of a particular factor within a particular decision doesn't mean it doesn't play a role. But at this point, I have no reason to think that it definitely or even probably played a role in my case. I only have reason to believe that it possibly played a role.

Now, it's most certain that my experience of dukkha, annata and annica helped me accept the truths which the process of social unconditioning uncovered. However, those truths are so obvious that I doubt a previous primer is necessary for all but the most stubborn individuals.

So when I said,
stream entry is [not] helpful to attaining AF
I misspoke. It is far more accurate to say that stream entry becomes redundant once the social identity is discovered and the process of dismantling it begins. AND that the social identity can probably be discovered without stream entry.

Do you agree with this?

Have you weighed in on whether Goenka retreats are helpful or not and whether they are worth the time, energy and possible social complications?
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tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago at 6/16/11 10:49 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/16/11 10:49 AM

RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Jon T:
exactly what part of your previous reply did you intend to support the claim that 'stream entry is [not] helpful to attaining AF'?


This part.
Everything I learned before I discovered the social identity, I re-learned but with greater applicability.



To use a formula. If path A doesn't lead to path B and everything on path A can also be found on B then path A is redundant.

I can not prove that stream entry did not lead to the dismantling of the social identity. I can only say that I don't recall that my experience of dukkha, annata and annica had anything to do with discovering the social identity and any subsequent dismantling. Of course, there are many hidden factors in any psychological entity and just because one isn't aware of a particular factor within a particular decision doesn't mean it doesn't play a role. But at this point, I have no reason to think that it definitely or even probably played a role in my case. I only have reason to believe that it possibly played a role.

Now, it's most certain that my experience of dukkha, annata and annica helped me accept the truths which the process of social unconditioning uncovered. However, those truths are so obvious that I doubt a previous primer is necessary for all but the most stubborn individuals.


So when I said,
stream entry is [not] helpful to attaining AF
I misspoke. It is far more accurate to say that stream entry becomes redundant once the social identity is discovered and the process of dismantling it begins. AND that the social identity can probably be discovered without stream entry.

Do you agree with this?

Have you weighed in on whether Goenka retreats are helpful or not and whether they are worth the time, energy and possible social complications?


hi jon,

having already lost my original reply to a copy-paste error and an http misadventure, i am inclined to reduce my reply to its essential points, as follows:

- that it only takes a review of the actualism practitioners and ex-practitioners who have contributed to this forum to determine that, of those who have achieved a good measure of success with the actualism method (which would range from self-reports of having become increasingly happy and harmless to having become actually free), the portion who have attained stream-entry is greater than those who have not.

- that it only takes a review of these same practitioners and ex-practitioners to determine that, of those who have not achieved a good measure of success with the actualism method (going only by their own reports and admissions), the portion who have also attained stream-entry is non-existent.

- that it is not a successful practice strategy for anyone to continue doing what they have already done, without success, year in and year out.

- that i came to this realisation at one point, tried something different, and it worked (i have written about this previously, though i cannot remember where on this site, and so here is an external link).

- that while attaining stream-entry is by no means necessary for dismantling the social identity, my first two points suggest that, to the extent that the dismantling of the social identity is instrumental to becoming increasingly happy and harmless (which it is), to that extent attaining stream-entry is extremely helpful to becoming increasingly happy and harmless (however one chooses to narrativise the how's and why's regarding this).

- that jhana is a very rewarding experience, and the careful yet fearless (and one had better be careful if one is to be fearless) cultivation of powerful methods of focusing one's energies (affective and otherwise) can be so helpful for giving a clueless actualist an understanding of what felicitous feelings and excellence are, and thus of what direction to go, when they are unable to either recall or induce a pce.

- that the very process of dismantling the social identity almost certainly is bound to lead through highly irrational and emotionally difficult processes, and that the 'dark night' of insight practice will not make that any more difficult so long as one does not 'buy into' its 'content' (by stirring around in psychological dramas in attempts to either avoid or resolve them).

- that goenka courses are a good place to learn many of the fundamentals of insight practice.

- that whether goenka courses are worth it to a practitioner of the actualist method may depend on how interested they are in learning to do insight practice vs. whatever time and effort investment and social complications may be involved in undertaking such a lesson.

tarin
Jill Morana, modified 10 Years ago at 1/19/12 4:23 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/13/11 12:52 PM

RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

Posts: 93 Join Date: 3/1/10 Recent Posts
Jon T:

TJ Broccoli:
this is why learning to face those unpleasant and unwanted corners of your psyche with discipline will help get you there. it will help you become more aware of the misery being generated and compounded by the identity at each split second, down to the level of vibrations and energetic phenomena.

It would be easier to identify an emotion, identify the trigger, identify the root belief and logically examine that belief. In between emotions or during a time of peak mood, cultivating felicity is a pleasant and necessary exercise. I don't think one can dismantle the social identity by observing "vibrations and energetic phenomena."


that's cool if it works like that for you. i was never able to make significant progress by thinking through things and taking stuff apart intellectually--most of it needed to be done at the level of sensations. the social identity was never a problem for me because i don't think i ever identified much with one. even without attachment to a social identity and after the dropping of all obvious illogical beliefs in the face of naivete, there was still a junkyard left to deal with. the emotions were still like sticky beliefs in of themselves, fueled by habitual craving and aversion, difficult to keep from getting generated: "I believe I'm scared" or "I believe I'm sad" or "I believe I'm irritable." those subtle raw affective push-pulls, already severed from circumstances, can be dealt with through the help of training in equanimity towards body sensations. the answer is not in the vibrations themselves, but in the way in which the mind maintains and loses equanimity(felicity) while observing them, which in turn affects the way the sensations feel, revealing even more areas where equanimity is lacking. objectively observing sensations arising from moment to moment without reacting with craving or aversion, you can rewrite the non-equanimous impulses with equanimity right at the instant they arise, which was to me more effective and more precise than trying to think back and reason about what caused what in a cause-effect chain-link of a hundred impulses, especially when there is nothing more unreasonable than the emotions!

Jon T:
The obstacles to a PCE are all your beliefs regarding everything and your lack of felicity.

lack of stillness is an example of another big obstacle. i suppose if you have much higher concentration than average (which i sure didn't have in the beginning), then automatic de-conditioning can happen in everyday life, as it seems to in the later paths. before stream entry, i remember that staying with the present moment every second of the day, in whatever mood or no mood, was a huge torturous task for me--actually quite impossible. one could practice felicity every time the attention is in the present, but if the mind is off to the past or future or in the clouds much of the time then something ought to be done about that.

jill
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Jon T, modified 10 Years ago at 6/15/11 11:28 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/13/11 4:27 PM

RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/30/10 Recent Posts
Hey Jill,

congrats on your significant progress or actual liberation!!

and after the dropping of all obvious illogical beliefs in the face of naivete, there was still a junkyard left to deal with.


What is this junkyard? Is it the instinctual passions or ones social conditioning?


the social identity was never a problem for me because i don't think i ever identified much with one.



The social identity is more than just who and what you identify with but how you are conditioned to think, feel and do. It doesn't matter that you don't consider yourself an american, male, straight, liberal, secular, etc; when you're down on yourself for not mowing the lawn this past weekend (example).


lack of stillness is an example of another big obstacle.


Agreed. But this lack of stillness is an instinctual thing. I call it "to-do" and I've called it 'dukkha' in the past: It's an impulse towards action. It can also be called stress. But whatever it's called, it definitely isn't part of our conditioning. It's a fundamental part of our psychological makeup.

The AF website recommends dealing with the social identity first before exploring the passions. That is what I have done and it works for me. However, I just saw a post by Tarin recommending concentration meditation for those unable to do that. And that post made sense. And I can see how there might be this huge block within an individuals psyche that only concentration can move. But I'm more inclined to believe that people just aren't trained to deal with deconstructing an identity. It's a skill set like any other and one has to learn how before actually doing it.

i remember that staying with the present moment every second of the day, in whatever mood or no mood, was a huge torturous task for me


Please expand on this for us. Did you judge yourself every time your mind wandered?



i suppose if you have much higher concentration than average (which i sure didn't have in the beginning), then automatic de-conditioning can happen in everyday life, as it seems to in the later paths.


Maybe concentration is necessary for those who don't find this process fun. I'm a thinker, a natural problem solver provided that the problem is abstract and linear. Turning the flashlight inward is second nature and a ton of fun. Once I was pointed in the right direction, knowing what to look for and how to deal with it, the process just took off. But there's no reason to think that that would be case with everyone. Although, I do think anyone can learn how to do it.

For the record, I am now beginning to deal with the instinctual passions. The social identity has been removed to the point that only a systematic eradication of the passions will bring about its final dissolution. As a result, I probably won't be on this website as often. Instead I'll be exploring the feeling of to-do and removing it. I expect this to be more difficult and less fun than removing the identity. And it will involve much sitting and doing nothing..maintaining happiness in the face of to-do, studying to-do and learning to live without obeying it and hopefully removing it.


Best regards,

jon

*edit
Jill Morana, modified 10 Years ago at 6/16/11 10:54 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/16/11 10:23 AM

RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

Posts: 93 Join Date: 3/1/10 Recent Posts
Jon T:
TJ Broccoli:
and after the dropping of all obvious illogical beliefs in the face of naivete, there was still a junkyard left to deal with.

What is this junkyard? Is it the instinctual passions or ones social conditioning?

i think it was the instinctual passions, mostly. but a lot of the time i didn't even bother categorizing what was what, because after stream entry i didn't see anything as a "problem" and my goal and interest was not so much to get rid of suffering, but to perceive everything as clearly as possible. in my mind i would recognize the passions and blind or negative conditioning as something like "blockage to seeing the present moment clearly and fully" (but without words), with my focus more on the sharpening of attention rather than on identifying the characteristics of the problems. now that i'm trying to analyze this stuff a little, it seems like a "blockage" could also be some combination or configuration of conditioning+passions+lack of stillness+reactivity.

Jon T:

The social identity is more than just who and what you identify with but how you are conditioned to think, feel and do. It doesn't matter that you don't consider yourself an american, male, straight, liberal, secular, etc; when you're down on yourself for not mowing the lawn this past weekend (example).

ah, ok, i thought of that as "conditioning." for me, dismantling the social identity and seeing how it worked and how it was unnecessary did not seem to stop its impulses from habitually arising. (or maybe i didn't wait it out enough years?)

Jon T:

lack of stillness is an example of another big obstacle.

Agreed. But this lack of stillness is an instinctual thing. I call it "to-do" and I've called it 'dukkha' in the past: It's an impulse towards action. It can also be called stress. But whatever it's called, it definitely isn't part of our conditioning. It's a fundamental part of our psychological makeup.

true that it comes from the psychological makeup, but it seems that this stress can also be intensified through conditioning, like growing up in a stressful environment with bad role models, reinforcing the most aggressive emotions.

Jon T:

But I'm more inclined to believe that people just aren't trained to deal with deconstructing an identity. It's a skill set like any other and one has to learn how before actually doing it.

yeah, i think the identity is really hard to see. and after you see some part or aspect of it clearly, other parts remain hard to see.

the nice thing though is that once some suffering related to identity creation is really really seen, both the suffering and a part of the identity dissolves. so there's actually no need to try to get rid of emotions or suffering or anything. once it's seen and understood, it ends. like i mentioned, my biggest goal was not to get rid of suffering or any part of my nature, but it just happens that seeing suffering clearly makes certain things dissolve and never arise again.

Jon T:

TJ Broccoli:
i remember that staying with the present moment every second of the day, in whatever mood or no mood, was a huge torturous task for me

Please expand on this for us. Did you judge yourself every time your mind wandered?

i don't remember judging myself or being down on myself. after the pce and prior to the first vipassana course, i simply didn't know if progressing towards the pce was possible, and whenever i checked and tried to stay with the senses, it seemed impossible to stay present enough to lead to much lasting change. so i just kept staying on the look out for new advice because i couldn't figure it out on my own. then, when i took the vipassana course, since maintaining awareness was part of the instructions, i basically forced my attention in every way possible so that it would stay with the present senses every second all day long every day. it was very very tiring and mentally and emotionally straining, but the results most rewarding.

Jon T:

For the record, I am now beginning to deal with the instinctual passions. The social identity has been removed to the point that only a systematic eradication of the passions will bring about its final dissolution. As a result, I probably won't be on this website as often. Instead I'll be exploring the feeling of to-do and removing it. I expect this to be more difficult and less fun than removing the identity. And it will involve much sitting and doing nothing..maintaining happiness in the face of to-do, studying to-do and learning to live without obeying it and hopefully removing it.

let us know how it goes!

jill
ed c, modified 10 Years ago at 6/10/11 10:18 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/10/11 10:18 PM

RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

Posts: 59 Join Date: 8/9/10 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:
On day 4, you will learn the sweeping method of vipassana. If you keep the above instructions in mind as you sweep your body observing the sensate universe, you will gain a very, very useful tool for later when you take up your AF/PCE practice again. Forget about what nana you may experience, and just follow instructions, honing as much as possible your skills with the above instructions. That is my advice.


Nick,
For days 4-10 are you suggesting:
a) That I do not make efforts to progress through the stages of insight and just use those days to practice the sweeping method?
b) That I do make efforts to progress through the stages of insight but that I shouldn’t be concerned with how many stages I get through as that is secondary to simply learning and practicing the sweeping technique?

Option A being interesting in that, while there is some debate, many consider SE itself helpful to pursuing an actual freedom. I’ve left the possibility open that I might choose to pursue it later based on the experience and how it seems to be relating AF practice.

Thanks
Ed
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Nikolai , modified 10 Years ago at 6/11/11 11:01 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/11/11 10:54 AM

RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
ed c:
Nikolai .:
On day 4, you will learn the sweeping method of vipassana. If you keep the above instructions in mind as you sweep your body observing the sensate universe, you will gain a very, very useful tool for later when you take up your AF/PCE practice again. Forget about what nana you may experience, and just follow instructions, honing as much as possible your skills with the above instructions. That is my advice.


Nick,
For days 4-10 are you suggesting:
a) That I do not make efforts to progress through the stages of insight and just use those days to practice the sweeping method?
b) That I do make efforts to progress through the stages of insight but that I shouldn’t be concerned with how many stages I get through as that is secondary to simply learning and practicing the sweeping technique?

Option A being interesting in that, while there is some debate, many consider SE itself helpful to pursuing an actual freedom. I’ve left the possibility open that I might choose to pursue it later based on the experience and how it seems to be relating AF practice.

Thanks
Ed


Hi ed,

No, I do not mean that you should not make any effort to progress through nana territory with the techniques taught on the Goenka course, but to just ignore the mental mapping tendencies that we can often get distracted by when we have been exposed to such things in our reading and exchanges. Just follow the technique to the Tee and don't worry about which nana/stage of insight you are in. Wandering about such things is exactly the type of mental proliferation that can hinder progress. If you catch yourself doing it often, use Tarin's instructions above to cease it. Get in the habit of not worrying about where you are on a map and just make the most of the techniques taught. Later on, if you are curious, post your experiences here for others to proliferate and ponder on.

The instructions given by Tarin if applied to the techniques of vipassana and ananapana, will make sure those techniques are actual put into good and proper use as opposed to doing the techniques half-heartedly, one foot observing the breath or observing sensations, and the other foot in mental proliferation/masturbation territory, which will get you nowhere except frustrationville.

Forget about 'thinking' about progressing through the insight stages and just focus on the techniques and instructions. With Tarin's added touch above, take the techniques as far they can take you in 10 days. If you do this, you are guaranteed to progress quickly. Tarin's instrctions are a great antidote for the wandering proliferating mind (* papanca), which is cause for so much suffering. In other words, option b), hehe. Go for it!

:-)

* Papanca
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.018.than.html
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Harry Potter, modified 10 Years ago at 6/8/11 8:50 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/8/11 8:50 AM

RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

Posts: 84 Join Date: 5/20/11 Recent Posts
Your response came off as a bit defensive; all I asked was a straightforward question (how to reconcile Goenka's part-instruction of 'not identifying' with feelings,.. and AF's "I" being "my" feelings) which was not directly answered yet.

As this is primarily a Buddhist forum, this is expected. I am more interested in my own practice (for which DhO certainly is a good place), so I better stick to that only.

Note: I have nothing against Goenka's retreat and may in fact take one up this year to see if it helps with attentiveness.
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Nikolai , modified 10 Years ago at 6/8/11 9:10 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/8/11 9:10 AM

RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
But I put a smily face at the end!! Hehe! Yeh, sorry about that. Got carried away. No hard feelings...just felicitous ones.

Apologies!

:-)

Nick
ed c, modified 10 Years ago at 6/8/11 11:21 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/8/11 11:21 AM

RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

Posts: 59 Join Date: 8/9/10 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:

No noting if you follow Goenka's instructions to the Tee. I didn't practice noting for 8 years. He isn't going to go there to practice HAIETMOBA as far as I understood it. He is going there to gain some useful skills that will help him practice afterwards. Access to sensations/vibrations on and within every living part of the body is a very useful tool for PCE practice. The U Ba Khin/Goenka sweeping method technique of vipassana will take you there.


Nick I really appreciate your feedback and this is accurate. I am going there with an end goal of AF, but plan on giving 100% attention and effort to what is being taught for its own sake. After the class, I expect to try and use the technique as an aid to my AF "practice". If or how that actually happens is unclear to me but I'm not concerned about it. I'm going to read your blog post and refresh on certain chapters of MTCB. I'm going to spend the next 30 days preparing to maximize the experience.

I've made some pretty good progress lately with AF, especially as it relates to beliefs/judgments. While my overall experience is probably best described as 2 steps forward, one step back, progress has been made as experience has been gained and understanding deepened. Felicity or well-being is not just a word as it was a few months ago. I'm interested to see if Goenka experience seems to accelerate my understanding/progress or not but I can't ignore Stefanie's advice despite "my" pull to have a felicitous camping trip instead. I’ll know soon and if anything about the retreat helped and if signifcant, I’ll share.

If it’s OK I might hit you up for clarification on some of what you posted as not all of it makes complete sense yet. But I need a few days to digest.
Take care.
Jill Morana, modified 10 Years ago at 6/16/11 11:34 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/16/11 11:33 AM

RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

Posts: 93 Join Date: 3/1/10 Recent Posts
a few tips for Ed, for the retreat:

>>how much you force your body to go through discomfort or pain is up to your judgement, but it is ALWAYS ok and actually ideal to force your attention to work non-stop. the two are separate issues. on such an intensive retreat too many students think giving the body a break=giving everything a break=off to the clouds for a few minutes, and then continuity of awareness is disrupted.

>>one way you could apply a bit of actualism throughout the goenka course while following all his instructions is to keep an attitude of naivete—of not assuming you know anything about anything. and when a thought arises, making it seem like you know something, you don’t know why you happen to know it. when feelings come up, you don’t know why you feel them, and when a thought or memory arises, you don't really know the who-what-when-where-why-how behind it. practice as if you’re a kid that doesn’t know anything (and doesn’t have to know) but is fully capable of following instructions. you make choices and move your body to eat, walk, participate, follow instructions, sleep, etc. because “it seems like a good idea,” but you don’t really know why anything happens. every split second, you are a little kid with no knowledge, assumptions, judgements, or beliefs about anything, but you’re fully equipped with curiosity and the ability to perceive through the senses. that is, LITERALLY every split second you are awake. or as Richard once said, “rather than live your life, let life live you” (not sure of exact words).

>>you’re trying to use the technique and instructions as a tool to develop your ability to stay in the present. as you know that both insight practice and actualism are about awareness of the present and not about exploring dream states or going off to meet aliens, don’t get too obsessed with the instructions at the expense of losing touch with the present--use your judgement to solve obstacles as they come at each moment to get your mind back here and now and make it stay, whether it’s very slight movement, slight tensing, relaxing, breathing harder, opening your eyes during more day-dreamy sits, etc., and then once your attention is present, get back to following instructions to the letter. the question “how can I stay in the present?” is more important than “am I doing this technique right?”

>>lastly, (to follow the rules) don’t copy any of this down to read during your course!

jill
ed c, modified 10 Years ago at 6/16/11 7:37 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/16/11 7:37 PM

RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

Posts: 59 Join Date: 8/9/10 Recent Posts
Jill,
I will admit I struggle when things like being hyper sensitive to being present conflict with my ability to be happy and harmless now. For the retreat I will follow your advice and attempt to do that 100% of the time. Being happy and harmless will take a back seat (if necessary) to staying present. Nick essentially suggests the same things you do. Stay present, follow the instructions, don’t have expectations about progress or worry about figuring things out while you are there. Learn the technique and don't over think it.

Thank you for the advice. I will do my best!
ed c, modified 10 Years ago at 6/17/11 9:49 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/17/11 9:49 AM

RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

Posts: 59 Join Date: 8/9/10 Recent Posts
Jill, (Nick?)
As I mentioned earlier, I’m trying to practice now in advance of the class. I want to make sure I understand something.
When I practice staying in this exact moment over and over each second, I notice a feeling of boredom or fear arising, but I don’t investigate it. I don’t attempt to find out the story behind it, nor try to get back to feeling felicitous or anything else. I just notice it and keep trying to pay attention to everything else around me and stay right here. I’m essentially trying not to think/ponder, judge or produce a feeling. Is this how I should be practicing in preparation for the retreat?

I’m also spending most of my time noticing what is around me rather than sensations in my body. I only turn attention to the body when a noticeable feeling or sensation arises. I’m wondering if the body attention should be more primary?
Staying present without investigation nor attempting to actively cultivate felicity is counter to what I typically do. I will typically spent a fair amount of time thinking about my beliefs, current feelings and the story behind them, AF principles (naivety, wonder) and past high felicity moments, in an attempt to find perfection in this moment. I have no issue putting aside my normal practice to focus on simply staying present, but at this stage the two practices for me aren’t totally complementary so I want to clarify if I am doing this right.

I’m making the assumption the goal is to practice this enough that staying present with a constant awareness becomes so natural it eventually happens in the back ground with little to no effort. This will then help me overall to stay present while allowing me to notice in the background AND think in the foreground to change things and use it as a tool for aiming toward felicity and the PCE.
Thank you.
Ed
Jill Morana, modified 10 Years ago at 6/17/11 12:05 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/17/11 12:05 PM

RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

Posts: 93 Join Date: 3/1/10 Recent Posts
ed c:
Jill, (Nick?)
As I mentioned earlier, I’m trying to practice now in advance of the class. I want to make sure I understand something.
When I practice staying in this exact moment over and over each second, I notice a feeling of boredom or fear arising, but I don’t investigate it. I don’t attempt to find out the story behind it, nor try to get back to feeling felicitous or anything else. I just notice it and keep trying to pay attention to everything else around me and stay right here. I’m essentially trying not to think/ponder, judge or produce a feeling. Is this how I should be practicing in preparation for the retreat?

hi Ed,
you're doing the right thing: just noticing everything arising in the present without analyzing, judging, evaluating, compounding the feelings, or assuming what anything is. but i suspect you're using the word "investigate" differently from how it's used in insight meditation circles as well as on the DhO, which could be a source of confusion. the definition we use is exactly what you're doing--just noticing and being aware of stuff. it doesn't mean to intellectually analyze, rationalize, or philosophize. and to "not investigate" would mean to hang out absorbed in some peaceful state, just maintaining the stillness and relaxation without noticing things arising and passing.

ed c:
I’m also spending most of my time noticing what is around me rather than sensations in my body. I only turn attention to the body when a noticeable feeling or sensation arises. I’m wondering if the body attention should be more primary?

if you can, then yes. simply feeling the breath every moment is a nice and easy anchor. i'd say that at this point in your practice, continuity is much more important than intensity--being able to keep track of your breathing almost all day long is better than being aware of tons of sensations simultaneously at different sense doors for only a few minutes a day.

if you can be (more and more) present with sights and sounds around you as raw sense data--not as who-what-when-where-why, but as shapes, shadows, tones, colors, brightness, loudness, textures, with childlike wonder and curiosity, then it is very helpful (and it will help you observe body sensations with the right attitude when you're forced to do it all day long in the course), but i feel that body attention is like the fast lane to confronting your emotional knots and untangling them, especially the stuff that is hard or impossible to figure out through rational analysis. this is because when some craving or aversion--some problem of the identity arises--there arises some physical sensation on the body that corresponds or relates somehow to the problem, and even if you don't know exactly which body sensations correspond with what problems, just having your attention on body sensations in observe-only mode drives the de-conditioning process because
-observing overwrites the habit of avoidance. when you analyze things at the intellectual level, you are most likely sorting through thoughts with the same old patterns of avoidance, but when you observe body sensations, not knowing which sensations are linked to what problems, your pattern of avoidance becomes void.
-for objective (naive) observation of physical sensations to be possible at all, there has to be some degree of non-reactivity, so trying to apply this objective awareness refines your equanimity.

ed c:
Staying present without investigation nor attempting to actively cultivate felicity is counter to what I typically do. I will typically spent a fair amount of time thinking about my beliefs, current feelings and the story behind them, AF principles (naivety, wonder) and past high felicity moments, in an attempt to find perfection in this moment. I have no issue putting aside my normal practice to focus on simply staying present, but at this stage the two practices for me aren’t totally complementary so I want to clarify if I am doing this right.

they might start feeling more complementary when your AF processing becomes simpler and simpler, more sensate and less thought-analysis based. maybe the vipassana will help make it so.

ed c:
I’m making the assumption the goal is to practice this enough that staying present with a constant awareness becomes so natural it eventually happens in the back ground with little to no effort. This will then help me overall to stay present while allowing me to notice in the background AND think in the foreground to change things and use it as a tool for aiming toward felicity and the PCE.

you have the right idea. thoughts are not a problem in of themselves, and when attention and equanimity become full enough, thought and sensate experience can happen together with no conflict at all. but as long as there isn't enough attention and equanimity for both at once, the thoughts, which drag feelings around with them, need to be turned down so that bare attention can be exercised and strengthened.

jill
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Nikolai , modified 10 Years ago at 6/17/11 12:53 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/17/11 12:05 PM

RE: Goenka retreat or Solitary AF “retreat”? What to do…

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Jill, (Nick?)
As I mentioned earlier, I’m trying to practice now in advance of the class. I want to make sure I understand something.
When I practice staying in this exact moment over and over each second, I notice a feeling of boredom or fear arising, but I don’t investigate it. I don’t attempt to find out the story behind it, nor try to get back to feeling felicitous or anything else. I just notice it and keep trying to pay attention to everything else around me and stay right here. I’m essentially trying not to think/ponder, judge or produce a feeling. Is this how I should be practicing in preparation for the retreat?


Hi Ed,

Tarin's tip is great for both for PCE practice AND insight practice. Focus on getting the hang of it with what ever you are doing, sitting, standing, lying down, pooping, eating, showering, typing, wondering, thinking, pondering; any mental, verbal or physcial action. Apply it to EVERYTHING you do to get a nice run up to the course. It will come in handy once you learn the techniques taught, and it will come to you much more easily. This skill will help you to prctice the Goenka technique of vipassana as well as anapana. It will also aid in your future PCE/AF practice.


"What I mean by 'the sense of seeing' is, literally, what it is to experience seeing directly; to perceive is to be engaged in a lively activity and is what is meant by paying attention. Yet, such attention is likely to tend toward proliferating stories and fabrications, from persistent reflection and mental commentary on one hand (when concentration is weak and/or scattered) to outright hallucination on the other (when concentration is powerful and/or focused). Those proliferations are to be avoided. How may these proliferations be avoided? By otherwise engaging the proliferating tendency. How may the proliferating tendency be otherwise engaged? By applying the mind further. To what further apply the mind? To the apprehension (of more) of what is happening. What more is happening (that is not yet engaged)? The apprehension of (the apprehension of) perception itself.

To apprehend perception directly is necessarily also to apprehend that apprehension is occurring, and to experience in such a manner is to experience cleanly and clearly, entirely engagedly and encompassedly, incuding the bodily sense of such experience. To see not just what the eye sees but what it is to see is therefore to see cleanly and clearly, entirely engagedly and encompassedly, including the bodily sense of such seeing. Seeing in this manner engages the energies which otherwise fuel the proliferating tendency, and so avoids such proliferation. Further, experiencing seeing as a bodily sense leads to deeper insight into what the body is, and what perceiving is." Tarin



I’m also spending most of my time noticing what is around me rather than sensations in my body. I only turn attention to the body when a noticeable feeling or sensation arises. I’m wondering if the body attention should be more primary?
Staying present without investigation nor attempting to actively cultivate felicity is counter to what I typically do. I will typically spent a fair amount of time thinking about my beliefs, current feelings and the story behind them, AF principles (naivety, wonder) and past high felicity moments, in an attempt to find perfection in this moment. I have no issue putting aside my normal practice to focus on simply staying present, but at this stage the two practices for me aren’t totally complementary so I want to clarify if I am doing this right.


Keep cultivating felicity and wonder. Wonder in particular behaves like equanimity as it can help one see phenomena with "new eyes" as opposed to the habitual aversion that usually occurs, so it will come in handy on the course. Keep investigating those feelings as that will help unravel them and if they come up on the course, then apply the technique you would have then learned. No use trying to put into use a technique you haven't learned yet. ;-)

I’m making the assumption the goal is to practice this enough that staying present with a constant awareness becomes so natural it eventually happens in the back ground with little to no effort. This will then help me overall to stay present while allowing me to notice in the background AND think in the foreground to change things and use it as a tool for aiming toward felicity and the PCE.


Practice Tarin's instructions on all the senses, seeing, hearing, feeling (physical) tasting, and even thinking. It will aid you in applying the vipassana technique when taught to you, as well as lay the ground work for PCE practice. Continue unraveling the social identity as well. This way, you will have less "you" interfering putting the techniques learned into action (less mental proliferation tendency)

:-)

Edited to say: what Jill said! :-)

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