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smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/7/20 7:55 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/7/20 7:59 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/7/20 8:19 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/7/20 8:25 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 3/25/20 5:58 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/7/20 8:29 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Olivier 3/27/20 7:56 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/7/20 8:37 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Olivier 3/29/20 5:26 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/7/20 8:44 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 4/13/20 6:39 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 4/13/20 6:33 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log John W 3/31/20 7:21 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/7/20 8:47 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/7/20 8:52 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/5/20 4:37 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/7/20 6:47 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/7/20 2:34 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/10/20 4:21 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Jason Massie 4/10/20 11:38 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/11/20 8:43 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Olivier 4/11/20 1:19 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/11/20 3:28 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/11/20 3:35 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Olivier 4/11/20 3:37 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/11/20 3:47 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/12/20 3:42 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/12/20 3:46 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/14/20 4:58 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 4/16/20 8:42 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/16/20 3:54 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 4/16/20 4:04 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Chris Marti 4/16/20 4:06 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 4/16/20 4:08 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 4/16/20 4:15 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 4/16/20 4:18 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 4/16/20 4:22 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 4/16/20 4:28 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/17/20 4:25 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 4/17/20 4:53 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/17/20 6:51 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 4/17/20 7:07 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 4/22/20 9:17 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Bhante Rakkhita Samanera 4/17/20 10:33 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/18/20 4:40 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Chris Marti 4/18/20 9:25 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/18/20 8:51 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/18/20 3:36 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/20/20 3:26 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 4/21/20 6:24 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/21/20 3:44 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 4/22/20 9:40 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 4/23/20 12:31 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 4/22/20 9:54 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/23/20 9:29 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/23/20 3:57 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 4/23/20 4:54 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/24/20 3:40 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log John W 4/25/20 10:53 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/25/20 4:46 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/25/20 4:50 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Olivier 4/26/20 7:25 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/26/20 9:09 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log John W 4/26/20 4:03 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 4/27/20 3:49 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/27/20 3:36 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log John W 4/27/20 8:08 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/28/20 3:01 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Olivier 4/26/20 7:45 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/28/20 3:17 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 4/29/20 4:43 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 5/1/20 2:25 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 5/1/20 4:27 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 5/2/20 3:19 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Jason Massie 5/2/20 5:02 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log John W 5/2/20 9:25 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 5/3/20 4:20 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 5/3/20 3:59 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 5/5/20 4:31 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Olivier 5/5/20 5:43 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 5/5/20 11:20 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 5/6/20 3:06 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 5/7/20 4:19 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Olivier 5/8/20 9:27 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 5/8/20 1:45 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Jason Massie 5/5/20 10:20 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 5/9/20 5:36 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 5/10/20 5:41 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 5/18/20 3:52 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 5/19/20 2:33 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 5/21/20 4:13 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 5/23/20 3:36 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Papa Che Dusko 5/23/20 4:02 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 5/23/20 3:52 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 5/29/20 9:07 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 5/29/20 3:04 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 5/25/20 9:33 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 5/29/20 8:41 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Jason Massie 5/29/20 9:25 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 5/29/20 11:50 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Papa Che Dusko 5/29/20 3:25 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 5/30/20 2:59 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 6/4/20 5:37 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 5/11/20 2:33 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 5/13/20 11:29 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 5/1/20 3:26 AM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Smiling Stone 5/1/20 5:51 PM
RE: smiling stone's home retreat log Tim Farrington 5/3/20 4:17 PM
smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/7/20 7:55 AM
Hello everybody!
I have started what I would call a "loose home retreat" on Thursday -today is Saturday- triggered by... well, you know, the global confinement... and thought it would be a good opportunity to open a practice log here.

You can find more about "me" and my practice in this thread:
Some views on the technique in the Goenka tradition

I will hopefully go on about things here that would not fit there. You are of course welcome to chime in.

So, about the set-up:
I am trying to put in six hours of daily sitting, still taking my part in home duties and chores, not cutting on my time (or quality) of interaction with my girlfriend (we are sharing a small flat in a big city), staying in touch with family and friends on the internet etc (that's the "loose" part). I noticed in the past that six hours of sitting in one day made quite a difference in daily practice for weeks afterwards... We'll see how it plays out with the global crisis and enduring confinement in the background.
Not so much to comment up to now: I ramped up the practice to four hours from Monday, started awareness of the breath at the nostrils on Tuesday evening. Planning to switch to body scanning tomorrow... The stilling of the mind does not reach the intensity of formal retreat (12 hours of sitting, no interaction, silence), but the sits are very smooth so far, the mind spacious and relaxed, the object well defined with thoughts flying around. I contemplated exploring another technique, and might do it after a couple of weeks, but starting in known territory (is there such a thing anyway?) seemed to make sense given the context.

To be continued...
May you all be well, happy and safe
with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/7/20 7:59 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 5

Yesterday (Day 4), I switched to the body scan in a somewhat ritualized manner: in the afternoon, I did one hour of concentration, a few minutes of walking, followed by two hours of scanning switching from the "zone" to the top of the head, staying there for a while, then doing very precise review of the different body parts (as during retreat) before releasing the attention. It remained quite slow and quiet for the rest of the sit, although the experience was open and luminous from the very start (from not tensing up during the concentration practice). At some point, I thought "wow, this is a really powerful practice", which surprised me as I was quite at ease... I guess the "ego" wobbled, both at the intensity and at the lack of grounding of the fluxing experience. On day 4 of a home retreat, I did not expect that!
Before bedtime (after another nice meditation), I had a "tooth alert" which shook me in an again unexpected way. Teeth issues often pop up before or during retreats and they tend to reveal the fragile nature of existence (of the ego) and the subconscious intimacy with mortality. I went to bed a little absent to my partner, going through a strong emotional upheaval connected to my reflections on the tooth (and its impermanence, could we say)... I had to verbalize it to my girlfriend, which was really good, but it made me realize how sensitive I had become because of the meditation, like I was not in my "normal" state anymore.
On a general note, it is really fascinating to see how the meditation intertwine with daily life. My schedule looks something like this:
6h30-8h30: 2 hours (or 1)
11h-12h: 1hour (or 2)
15h-17h: 2 hours
19h-0h00: 1 hour (or 2)
which, as you see, leaves a lot of space for life in which I jump wholeheartedly when I leave my cushion. I have a good quality of presence to what I do (hum...), which I now cultivate by being in it instead of being mindful of it. Hmmm, that's what I explore on the cushion as well, the relationship between awareness and its object... and how to avoid the trap of denial in meditation (and in life!)... The first thing I learnt (years ago) was to "create" (or introduce) some space between "myself" and the object (whatever the object is, thought, emotion, sensation). Slowly, the awareness took a "spacious" quality to it which is important, but also tends to act as a buffer from the experience. And to maintain a sense of self as a pristine witness... And this whole witness business has then to be deconstructed as well, and the experience fully experienced, by an awareness freed from hindrances which is One with the object (it always was, as the object is in awareness). It does not mean that it will be free from filters, as awareness is itself a filter... A good sign for a lack of hindrances is a joyful quality to it.
So, in meditation, I track the slightest imbalances of awareness, as they indicate a degree of dissatisfaction. And I try to find the right balance between holding the object and not grasping it. Letting go while attending to something... Like with the body, if you really want to let go, you lie down. If you sit you have to maintain balance. It becomes almost effortless but still needs adjustments.
That's the tentative program for the retreat.
And that's it for now, it's quite long already... back to cushion!

Love to you all
with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/7/20 8:19 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
"A good sign for a lack of hindrances is a joyful quality to it [the awareness]."
That was quick... What I wanted to express is that awareness (of any object) is tainted, either by a hindrance (again, this is an oversimplification, it is tainted by our whole conceptual apparatus) or, in the absence of any hindrance, by a quality that has been isolated as one of the eight (...nine) jhanas factors (because the buddhist tradition is really good at isolating qualities of the mind).

Here, with body-scanning, the object changes all the time but the pervading quality of the mind tends to unify the field of experience. I here consider the jhana factors because it stroke me as a nice progression that fits my experience, but I feel it is important not to get stuck on one frame of reference (the fourth satipatthana, for example, uses the seven bojjhangas -seven factors of enlightenment-, after the mind has been assessed to be free from hindrance, and we can find other lists in other places):

0- some hindrance is tainting our experience inducing some kind of dissatisfaction.
In all the next states, dukkha becomes subtler and subtler...
1- some kind of neutral awareness, devoid of hindrances, concentrated through exertion.
2- bliss (in one of its myriads shades).
3- joy (in one of its myriad shades, I would include the three brahmaviharas in 2 and 3).
4- equanimity, first still constricted on the object, then, more and more spacious,
5- until it identifies with infinite space (ultimate unbounded spacious quality),
6- which consciousness pervades until becoming the whole field of experience with all its objects (unbounded consciousness, that would be the One taste, all is One kind of...).
7- all this consciousness is then realized to be empty (of any thingness, Dzogchen rigpa?),
8- leaving behind any kind of conceptualization (deepening of rigpa?).
9- Total extinction of awareness (Nirodha).

I am always bragging about spaciousness, so I guess my baseline these days is somewhere on the spectrum of 4 (on the spacious side of it), and I am kind of looking forward to exploring the numbers I am not yet acquainted with (reading the previous post, I can see some excitement at the idea of getting a serious grasp at nonduality, of which I had quite a few previews)... but each time we change object, the signal can override the quality of our awareness and send us... anywhere, that is where the training comes handy. For example, when a thought comes with an emotional load, if the equanimous mind does not get overwhelmed, the contact might produce a bliss wave or some joy that will slightly stir the equanimity for a moment. Or the spaciousness could contract on an object etc.
One last thing is that different methods propose, with a twist, to experience directly (often through following pointing out instructions) some taste of... 5,6 or 7, you name it... I always feel a little bit uncomfortable with that, especially when it comes from dhamma merchants who try to lure their clients into more expensive trainings with some promises of deep experiences... Tibetans would recommend to get thoroughly rid of the hindrances before that, no?
Hmmm, thinking out loud, not so sharp like I hoped it would be before writing it... But that's the thing with this log... to let it flow a bit!

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/7/20 8:25 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 7

These last days, I have been practicing moving my attention using the framework I outlined in the previous post. The scan tends to get subtler and subtler, into a spacious experience which I sometimes narrow down into a more minute observation.
It struck me how this framework (of vipassana jhanas, could we say with a slightly different meaning from the one used on this forum, something like "moving absorption") makes sense of the evolution of the peak experience of my practice so far (what I was tempted at the time to assess as bhanga or free flow leading to bhanga -see the other thread-):
When I first started to feel my body as a unified field of experience, I made sense of it using the framework of the elements, all the different shades of heat, of solidity, of cohesion or the lack thereof, all the nuances of movement-stillness. These all correspond to different types of energetic phenomena, falling under "Bliss". I would then switch my focus to notice all the different kinds of exaltation linked to those experiences. That's all filed under "Joy".
Noticing how fragile it was and how it was sending me back to more challenging sensations, I learnt to discard this exaltation (that's the kind of slightly depreciative name I use for it) in favor of peace and non-reactivity to the experience, namely "Equanimity".
For the last two three years, I have been (while scanning, remember) more and more focused on the spacious aspect of the experience. And the awareness starts to merge with the object (by glimpses). I know that phenomena is empty in nature... but it has not percolated in the deep parts of my being yet... And I am still NOT practicing the total letting go that I know is the key to the realm of neither perception nor non perception...
And I don't feel like I should hurry to the later stages...where I am is fascinating enough, and have been since the beginning of this adventure.
So this framework seems at least helpful not to reify the later developments of practice!
Also, Goenka insists on equanimity... the neo-advaitins on nonduality... the tibetans on emptiness... the pragmatists on cessation... Dhammarato on joy... However, it is quite obvious that when you start, whatever you are pointed to (in my case equanimity), you will have to do the work -the work is the path, really-, even if you are offered the full blown preview by a gifted teacher. The difference is that most people know what joy or equanimity look like (well, you might have to explain what equanimity is...), which is not the case with non-dual experience or emptiness, hence the pointing out business, not so necessary for more mundane attainments.
I did not make any reference to the progress of insight yet? I guess we are still in the realm of concentration practice...

It was hard to fit my six hours yesterday, I finished at midnight (5h50), and we'll see today, I am a bit behind as well. But I love it, it is -being an island to oneself... I also see how joy and peace, and that spacious feeling, infuse throughout the day.
I wanted to say something about denial. It is certainly not that I have no blind spots and weak sides... Concentration is what keeps the hindrances at bay during the practice, and the focusing on the jhanic factor can help to override (not notice) negative emotions. Not fully satisfying, is it? Working on that as well, and will report later...

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
3/25/20 5:58 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed reading it. I especially appreciate getting to read someone else describing the phenomenology from a kinesthetic point of view. 

Metta right back at ya!

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/7/20 8:29 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Thanks Linda, and welcome here, you are my first guest!
Back to business...

Day 8

Sitting afterwards (evening of day 7), some flaws appeared in what I had written: I tend to confuse non duality with Oneness of stage eight. Non duality is a trick the mind plays on itself...or duality is. In both cases, it has nothing to do with concentration states, which can be experienced both ways... Maybe that's the difference between a soft and a hard jhana, the fact that there is somebody to witness it. Anyway, let's stress again that I'm not talking about jhanas, but about the color of experience, be it without absorption.

And also, the way I presented it, it might appear to be sequential: bliss, then joy, then equanimity etc. In fact, these are different dimensions of the same experience, which build on each other in a mysterious way. I first thought of orthogonal dimensions to experience, but it seems interesting to think of music, and of the different states of being as being harmonics of the meeting of the equanimous mind with the "physical sensation". Anyway, thinking about harmonics really seemed to open a door of inquiry...

Day 8 saw a deepening of peace, the sits bordering on absorption. The fact that I admit being in some kind of concentration practice certainly help to relax into peace (versus putting some effort in investigating the three characteristics). Really good mood throughout the day, though I keep on listening to the news and reflecting on the situation throughout the world... This peace I am building is not dependent on external conditions... An island to myself... A raft with no mooring... it is promising, if not fully satisfying, mainly because of me being aware of my unresolved shadows (which are not bothering me in this moment... or they would not be shadows, would they?). And if I read Daniel, for example, he makes it clear that I should not expect psychological solace, even from insight practice.

Day 9

I've been playing with the idea of harmonics, which I really find fruitful:
From an early age, we are in the juice of the mental realm, where we learn thinking and other ways to process the signals coming from the five senses. That's our ground, our tonic. Meditation is one of these other ways to process the signals: tune in to the contact between the signal and the mind, with the least interference (aiming for equanimity).
when equanimity is good enough (thinking has receded in the background or stopped), the vibration of the awareness (its note) comes in tune with the vibration of the signal. Instead of just producing a sensation, it creates a chord: "bliss"... and this chord produces harmonics, the first one being "joy"... we can listen to the chord, or tune in to the harmonic, even sing the overtone on top. And, as in music, there is a whole scale of perfect harmonies after the first one.
Joy is already pretty unstable, we get easily out of tune, so the next overtones really need fine tuning of the tonic... deep peace... Somehow, there's a feedback loop that opens a space around the objects in the mind... the mindspace. I suspect that the mind is already an overtone of physical processes, but rational language made us loose its natural tuning. So by going beyond speech in meditation (or singing, or doing maths etc.?), we increase the harmony of the mind, and it develops that spacious quality. I would only fantasize about higher qualities that might be further developed, expanding the range of the mind, ultimately going beyond it. All that is existence, samsara, and we are exploring it, and it is really evanescent. Anytime we manage to tune in outside the mind (catching a higher harmonic), there is cessation of consciousness (oops, that's highly speculative, sorry).

Ok that's me, this is supposed to be a practice log and I get all excited about wild ideas. To be honest, it also happens on retreat and here, I can follow the thread day after day, instead of giving you the cooked resume after one month of thinking it over.

Long peaceful sits, today. The rambling above took place in the morning, but did not invade the day, other than as a useful framework...

Thanks for taking the time to read this,
with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
3/27/20 7:56 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Hi smiling,

I think you're spot on with the music thing though. You know that Sutta where the buddha explains to a guy how his mind in meditation must be neither too tense, nor too relaxed ? just like an instrument's tension must be just right so the strings will sound.

Some say the buddha used that metaphor because the person he was talking to was a musician and would understand that language.

Others think there is something deeper, like thanissaro bikkhu, who often talks of the connection between music and meditation in his book on the wings of awakening.

Others yet say that music is meditation, this Sergiu Celibidache guy for instance...

Personnally, I don't think it's a metaphor at all. Perhaps we have just forgotten how to actually make music. After all, people in the buddha's time practiced the jhanas without getting enlightened. 

Just some thoughts ; but then again, if things are not-two, then of course, music is meditation, just like the rest, I guess. And perhaps any activity can bring about awakening, and my fantasy about the special status of music is just a superficial dream.. Don't know.

But I have the intuition that what is actually music in music... is a similar harmony of the faculties as that which are a cause for awakening, from a cause and effect perspective, this kind of being thanissaro bikkhu's perspective. 

I've mentioned this idea in another thread before, but I think that perhaps music is a way to share awakening with others ? A privileged place for realizing union, transfiguration, untangling, and a privileged vehicle for the transmission of mind. In fact, I sometimes believe that music has nothing to do with sounds, that it can be expressed through sounds, but also painting for instance. Perhaps it could be said that music is the mathematics of the world of aesthesis - the essence of right-ness, the "hidden structure" of alignment, but not hidden, totally immanent, just invisible. In fact, perhaps we have it backwards : perhaps it's not that cheesy line, "music is mathematics", but rather, mathematics are music expressing through very precise and specific symbolic means ?

Maybe the specificity of music, being a matter of sounds, is to be an art of time, which could make it a vehicle more suited for achieving the realisation, specifically, of the emptiness of time ?

More imprudent ramblings for you... An elucidation in progress... Seriously, though. Need to praxis that.

Nice journal, I'm also thinking of doing a home retreat starting at the beginning of april, you have inspired me dear sir !

Best wishes, and metta,

Olivier

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/7/20 8:37 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Hey Olivier, thanks for chiming in, I kind of suspected that you would be interested in this harmony thing. I enjoy the intensity you put in your answers about these fascinating topics.
I am aware of that sutta, for me the quote about tuning the strings of a veena was about applying right effort, not too lax and not too tight... But as you say, there are many layers to each word of the Tathagata... And I did read Wings of Awakening years ago, which I found really inspiring... but, my memory being what it is, I don't have any precise recollection of that particular analogy.

Something else I like about the analogy with harmony in music is that it underlines the fleeting nature of any attainment, even when we thoroughly establish ourselves into it... I feel slightly uncomfortable when I see "liberation" being sought as some final state...

If we push the analogy a bit, music has several components: so, what about melody? Our behavior in the world organizes the signals at the entrance of our mind in a more or less harmonious way. That's the melody of our perceptions (and it has to do with sila!). Should it be sweet, sad, or more martial? In harmonic minor or in lydian mode? The body scan helps to fine tune the different notes of this melody (it tunes the mind to the different signals through non reactivity), before it leads to a unified field of experience (isolates the overtone).
And what is music without rhythm? Rhythm is the easiest way to produce trance states, directly through interaction with the outside world... And the rhythm of mantras, the power of singing rituals, the effect it has on spiritual life, a whole path on and of itself... Is it the same to isolate a harmonic in a chord versus to actually sing the note and directly access the state? open questions, food for thought...

The main point of my rambling is to realize how the concepts we use tend to magically fit with our experience despite them being so diverse. You see I did not refer to the progress of insight, or to the Goenka framework (I have elsewhere). I felt like I would let the practice lead the way to whatever. I have been switching from the eight jhanas to that overtone thing, and I could well have used the anapanasati sutta, or the seven factors of enlightenment. In the end, it is a playful search for meaning, and realizing that meaning is highly dependent on the frame of reference we are using.

Day 10

That would be the last day of a ten day retreat. I thought about doing a full day of formal metta... but didn't. Several sits got interrupted by daily life, so for the first time I did 30 mn sits here and there, which were still quite peaceful after some initial agitation. And I could see some stirring in body sensations (well, some restlessness) at the end of a one hour sit in the evening.


Day 11

As I am kind of starting a new ten days cycle, I was thinking of going back into stillness, even if I feel my scan has been pretty quiet and concentration heavy these days. In another thread, Chris said something about doing concentration in the morning and "spaciousness" in the evening, the latter NOT being a concentration state (but more akin to open awareness?). I thought, when I focus on the "zone" (the size of a fingertip, below the nostrils above the upper lip, Goenka style anapana), I do it "from" spaciousness, and it has been kind of an issue on retreat, knowing I was kind of tightening the focus but was then supposed to go back to spaciousness (that's what made retreats easy, by the way...).
So this spaciousness, as a quality of awareness, is not a concentration state but a constituent of the mind (that developed from the practice), which sometime gets obscured by experience (when it is overwhelming).
So it is not the same type of quality as bliss or joy. These I may imagine, but this imagination is (still?) different from the real thing (like singing the note vs hearing the harmonic of the chord), and it is more different when I "descend" more toward physicality (producing the vibration of "joy" is easier than "producing" a physical sensation purely in the mind).
That's the old debate about ekagatta, one pointed concentration versus gathering (unification) of the mind around a single object which can be the whole body (see anapana sati... or the whole universe... or nothingness...).
In the end, I kind of switched between the spaciousness of awareness of the whole body and the slight tightening of holding concentration on one spot. I have been working toward no tightening at all... I had three really peaceful sits so far (1h, 2h, 2h), and one to go...

Long post already
with metta
May all beings see their basic needs fulfilled, be happy, be safe
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
3/29/20 5:26 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
when equanimity is good enough (thinking has receded in the background or stopped), the vibration of the awareness (its note) comes in tune with the vibration of the signal. Instead of just producing a sensation, it creates a chord: "bliss"... and this chord produces harmonics, the first one being "joy"... we can listen to the chord, or tune in to the harmonic, even sing the overtone on top. And, as in music, there is a whole scale of perfect harmonies after the first one.
Joy is already pretty unstable, we get easily out of tune, so the next overtones really need fine tuning of the tonic... deep peace... Somehow, there's a feedback loop that opens a space around the objects in the mind... the mindspace. I suspect that the mind is already an overtone of physical processes, but rational language made us loose its natural tuning. So by going beyond speech in meditation (or singing, or doing maths etc.?), we increase the harmony of the mind, and it develops that spacious quality. I would only fantasize about higher qualities that might be further developed, expanding the range of the mind, ultimately going beyond it. All that is existence, samsara, and we are exploring it, and it is really evanescent. Anytime we manage to tune in outside the mind (catching a higher harmonic), there is cessation of consciousness (oops, that's highly speculative, sorry).

So, despite my intensity, or because of it, I hadn't read and understood this properly apparently...

Interesting, but what if it was the other way around, what if we like chords because they produce by virtue of the laws of nature, what buddhists call piti ? What if we experience goosebumps, sometimes, when we listen to music, because the mind is coerced by the power of the work of art creating itself anew in our individual awareness, into having all the jhanic factors alined ? What if getting a higher overtone is actually the sonic manifestation of an awareness which is clear, precise, calm, broad, qualities which all imply a form of equanimity and samadhi, perhaps a recquirement for being able to perform such precise activities as overtone singing ? (which i have no skill at incidentally ^^)

"We must tear away culture from the metaphysics of representation which reduces it to its "objects", and place those back to what constitutes their proper site : subjectivity." Michel Henry

If awareness is co-created and inseparable from its objects, then the objects are inseparable from awareness.. ? So, is it a recquirement that to achieve some stuff in music/art, practicioners must acquire skills which are totally related to meditative skill ? I tend to think so, though I have never in fact put so much attention to what's happening in attention/awareness during any other activity than meditation. Because we objectify things... Isn't music essentially, not about sounds, but about the awareness which imbues those sounds, and its qualities, and where that can lead ? I want to start experimenting with that more...

I really don't think the music meditation thing is an analogy (in the limited sense of the word I mean). I'm pretty convinced people can get enlightened by playing music, tbh. Though he has never told me so openly, I'm pretty sure I know one such person... A guy who can improvise fugues... As you mention singing as a path of its own, I imagine you're talking about the christian tradition ?
I practice that quite a bit too, singing what used to be the church's music, centuries ago. From George Duby's Time of the cathedrals : "Singing, and through it, liturgy, were the most efficient means of knowledge which men of the XIth century had at their disposal. (...) Through choral singing, all of man, body, mind and soul, walks towards illumination. He accesses that stupor, this admiratio which the cistercien Baudoin de Ford speaks of, in the XIIth century, to the still contemplation of eternal splendor."

Rigpa much ?

Well...

Cheers and metta, may retreat part II go as well as part I

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/7/20 8:44 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Olivier :
 "Interesting, but what if it was the other way around, what if we like chords because they produce by virtue of the laws of nature, what buddhists call piti ? What if we experience goosebumps, sometimes, when we listen to music, because the mind is coerced by the power of the work of art creating itself anew in our individual awareness, into having all the jhanic factors alined ? What if getting a higher overtone is actually the sonic manifestation of an awareness which is clear, precise, calm, broad, qualities which all imply a form of equanimity and samadhi, perhaps a recquirement for being able to perform such precise activities as overtone singing ? (which i have no skill at incidentally ^^)"

Wow, Olivier, what makes you think that I do not wholeheartedly agree with what you are saying here?
"As you mention singing as a path of its own, I imagine you're talking about the christian tradition ?"

It had not crossed my mind, though it sure is (as is any tradition that considers the art of music as "sacred"). Actually, I was thinking exactly about what you are evoking in this paragraph. The fact that singing a simple note within a chord can produce bliss and joy... that identifying the harmonics of a sound, or tuning your instrument definitely trains attention in a peculiar way. Your question comes back to what came first, the hen or the egg?
Said another way, is inner consciousness a development, an integration of the signals of the five senses (the inner sense being a building up, an outshoot from the five), or is outside world a projection, and "true consciousness" the base from which everything arises? Who are we to decide? Did not the Buddha say something against indulging in that kind of argument?

Anyway, good to have you here, enjoy your home retreat when it happens!
with metta


Day 12

I am in a concentration phase, indulging in stillness... well, I have a decade of training in moving the focus of my attention constantly (when not at the tip of the nose). So I thought, maybe it would be interesting to focus somewhere else? Also, I have the belief (see the other thread) that it can be dangerous to stay in certain spots for too long (one of the reason for choosing the "zone" being that it is safe)... So I will take this concentration period to test that belief, and see if there is anything to it.

What I notice, trying to remain at the crown of the head, is that there is a certain kind of subtle tension there, and I have a tendency to come back to the "zone" where there are these obvious sensations of breathing that I have been thoroughly trained to feel (800+ hours of practice on retreat). Another tendency is to slide from the top of the head to the back of the skull, or the base of the back of the skull (remember Nikolai or Tarin saying something about focusing there in equanimity during the final steps of looking for a doer). Anyway, beautiful long peaceful sits in the second part of the day. In the morning I attended a group thing on social media which spilled over the day, and I had to catch up with meditation later...

Day 13

A day of concentration, trying to choose a spot and not move, experimenting with "chakras" or clusters of sensations throughout the body which seem to radiate awareness...
How I focus my attention: I am aware of the zone (under the nostrils etc..), with a resonance of the whole body around it. I am aware of the whole body, with a cluster in the zone. The other sensations of the breath are not attended to. I form the intention to switch somewhere in the torso, thinking about the abdomen but letting the awareness land where it wants. The heart area...
I have this big thing around the heart area ("do not stay more than a few minutes, it can be too much", I experienced it in the past!). Ok, let's test that fear, let's stay there. Awareness escapes by itself after a while (20 mn?), I come back several times in the sit, then switch to the top of the head. After some time, big activity in the back of the head, should I associate this with my bold move? I feel a slight densification of the body, nothing as strong as my past experiences of intense restlessness. Maybe it is just bullshit? Maybe I was not dissolving enough? I had not thought of the progress of insight these last 13 days...
I think these "upsurge of gross sensations" have to do with the excitation when a strong tension is released, and I do not feel such tensions these days (and it is not the intensity of a formal retreat).
Anyway, good easy sits, more tomorrow

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
3/31/20 7:21 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
I am thinking about doing a home retreat soon as well, thanks for sharing, interested to see what works. If you have any resources on how you came up with your scheduled I'm interested to read it.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/7/20 8:47 AM as a reply to John W.
Hey John,
No special resources, you can check my other thread to see where I'm coming from.
As I say in the first post, six hours seemed doable without putting too much retreat pressure on my partner! That's where the indicative schedule comes from. Continuity of practice IS important, so it is not perfect, but I kind of come back to it all day long, with as long as three hours breaks...
What works for me is not bound to work for you !!! This retreat is the fruit of all my practice before it, and an ongoing exploration...
I felt I had enough experience to deal with anything that would come up with that amount of sitting. We'll see about that one, so far so good!

I wish you the best with your retreat. Did you listen to Daniel's last guruviking interview about covid 19? I would recommend it. He is down to earth regarding insight practice in the midst of a pandemic. Assess that you are in a good frame of mind before going too deep.
with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/7/20 8:52 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 14

During my first sit, I was reminded how deeply ingrained were some of my assumptions about consciousness: I had decided I would keep up with concentration for a full week (from day 11), to aim for a three weeks program in the Goenka framework (follow it with two weeks of "vipassana"). That's because I feel it is useful to build up concentration before scanning... why? because it will allow me to access deeper energetic layers of consciousness which still retain some density (belief number 1). They have not yet been purified by my focused attention/wisdom (purifying 'cause it's aware of the 3 characteristics) (belief number 2). My yesterday's experience of "densification of the body" brought this back to the fore. Finding some tensions to go through the process of observation/dissolution (see the other thread if this is nebulous to you). Because I believe this is how I developed spaciousness of the mind space (belief number 3). So, to recapitulate:
1- consciousness is a field with layers which vibrate at different frequencies.
2- it is easier to pierce through the layers on a small surface (the zone). That's how you access a deep layer, that you have not yet "colonized". By moving your attention (with equanimity...) everywhere in your consciousness (and you are only conscious of that layer), you do just that: you pacify the field.
3- Pacifying the field brings the mental signs of bliss, joy, and peace. Moving your attention around develops spaciousness. Questioning the witness gives the little step aside to the awareness... Seeing emptiness brings emptiness...
4- Obviously there is a near-to-infinity of layers, so you'll never get bored.
5- It is not so interesting for your spiritual development to dwell in a pacified layer (what I've been doing for the last year or so, getting more shamata-esque) (???)

Hmmm, thinking about harmonics and the jhanas factors: space, unified consciousness and emptiness can be accessed directly, they do not need a building up of concentration, they are not "energetic" per se. That's why Advaita or Dzogchen cut through with pointing out instructions. The mind needs to conceptualize them, or to "take a little step aside" (oups, just thought about entheogenes, which can be quite "in your face in this regard", thus have I heard...). Anyway, that's what we theravadans do with the 3 Cs, we get slowly acquainted with these subtle concepts. Note: There is a big difference between realizing these concepts in the utter silence of the 4th (hard) jhana or in an otherwise scattered mind... my guess!
And they are considered attainments. Once you get "the joke", you are in the arena of the grown ups...

With all that, I practiced anapana most of the day with good focus and no strain.

I listened to the second Evan Thompson interview with Michael Taft on Deconstructing Yourself (I do listen to stuff once a day while meditating, with headphones, mainly when my girlfriend needs a little bit of intimacy talking on the phone...).
Questioning assumptions about Buddhism
It resonated quite a bit with my current investigations, and I would recommend it to all of you pragmatists!

Day 15

In the late afternoon, I struggled a bit with writing the report for day 14 (you might have noticed!) and got late with the sitting schedule. I had two hours to go after dinner (to keep to the 6 hours program), which went smoothly in the stillness of an assumed "anapana"...
I realized that concentrating on body parts which were different from the "zone" was more akin to my practice of the body scan, albeit without moving for a while, as that's what I have been doing in the past when the field got more unified. So I will resume this when meeting the proper conditions during the "vipassana" part of the retreat, though I can see I have not stopped all investigation during the phase I am in now...
Also, when I focus somewhere, even if concentration is very strong and precise, it tends to shower all the neighboring parts with attention, as it is never a hundred per cent perfect. So staying somewhere for a long time can "charge" some other delicate spots in the vicinity, triggering unforeseen energetic reactions.
I noticed some slightly unskillful exchange with my girlfriend on petty subjects (working on that one!), and I wondered if meditation played a part in this (have not been talking about cycles, and do not notice them in the mood so far).

That's it for now
with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/5/20 4:37 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 16

This morning, I had the sense of getting deeper into anapana, the periphery of my attention did close on itself a bit (getting denser, or more solid), to the point of having a few tensions in the knees and opening my legs at the end of a long session. Self programming?

A serious headache in the night had me abort my last sit after 30mn (it was 12.30 am, I got late again and fell short of my daily goal with 5h30) and gave me the opportunity to see my breath altering a bit, my body ache and my mind get slightly unbalanced... It lasted the whole night and disappeared in the morning. I would not put it on meditation as there are a few more likely causes (stopping coffee, eating too much gluten), but it was interesting to have it appear at this point in the practice!

Day 17

I slept late in the morning and missed the first session, but caught up in the afternoon. Good focus with some remnants of (subtle) restlessness until the evening.

I have been thinking about spaciousness and what comes after, coming back to the POI maps and the advice on the other thread. Something about the quality of the letting go or... what do we mean by "letting go"? 2 hours night sit made the day...


Day 18

This afternoon, I switched back to "body scan", which looks dangerously close from the former concentration practice... which was back to "really peaceful" today, with quite a bit of jhanic qualities... and some thoughts about practice.
Coming back to the qualitative difference between the jhana factors of the arupa jhanas vs rupa jhanas...

Back to an alternate view on the three characteristics:
When the mind contemplates suffering, a witness emerges, which stands at a moving distance from the object which bears the characteristic of dukkha. That is how the quality of spaciousness is developed. The distance between the witness and the object is a product of aversion (I could not stay with the object because of some kind of dukkha).
When the mind contemplates the lack of self, it reveals the illusory nature of the witness which is a construct born from suffering. Consciousness is everywhere in the space around the objects and includes them. Consciousness is one with the object. There is no subject separate or outside.
When the mind contemplates impermanence, it reveals object and subject as processes and destroys the "thingness" of phenomena. As a consequence, it disengages from phenomena and also creates space. It also enriches perception with time. Space is seen through. Consciousness is seen through. Emptiness.

We can hold these characteristics in mind while it performs other tasks, it is quite possible for insight to develop in a busy mind, but it needs coming back to it again and again... and it does not preclude working on energetics, that's what we are made of, we mammals. There is no order in which to hold them in mind, any pair can lead us quite far, into understanding what "letting go" is really about (none of these understanding is final, it is still a view), into "neither perceiving nor non-perceiving" etc.

I always thought that I was primarily working on impermanence, but realized that the Goenka framework really makes you intimate with suffering from the very start.
I am now very aware of the constructed nature of "space" and want to dig (during that next vipassana period) into the constructed nature of consciousness... I had some preview a few weeks ago about space/consciousness collapsing on itself...

Rambling again!
with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/7/20 6:47 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 19

I realized there was some compulsion in posting yesterday evening [that's two days ago now], I am sorry if it was no so clear.
I am trying to adopt different angles at working with the three characteristics, establishing some bridges with the arupa jhana factors. I am just playing with views here, and do not pretend to assert "some ultimate truth".

Also, what I write about is what comes during meditation as "themes" of contemplation (or mind-wandering!). As most of you will know, it is sometimes so clear and powerful during the sit, and loses most of its appeal at the time of writing. I still think some of it is worth investigating or recording here to the best of my abilities.

I want to come back to the analogy (or non-analogy, Olivier?) with music, to elucidate the role of the witness.
First, I was ignorant about music, I had no sense of tuning, of melody, of rhythm (for you, what sense you have comes from your former upbringing, everybody comes with different assets). Yet, I could sometimes get in a musical trance where I would totally lose myself inside the music... think about that guy in the circle around the fire, who sings loudest or bangs on a drum, totally oblivious to the world outside him (and to the other musicians). He may still feel totally One with the music he hears (he might be high as a kite as well), although the rest of the crew does not share his enthusiasm...
Then, I decided to learn the art of music. With training, I am slowly developing this witness/censor that gets more and more accurate, through practice, at acknowledging when I am in tune, in rhythm, what is a "good" melody or harmony. It is a slow process...
The purpose is that, after a usually tremendous amount of time and practice, the witness relaxes, and you become one with the music. Magic happens when you perform, music flows through (I lost the I, there)...
Letting go of the witness (or the trainee) too early, the quality of the music that flows through will be limited by what the trainee helped the mind learn (to learn so well as to get it on autopilot, with nobody driving).
Some will say that all music is about letting go and becoming one with it, that an empty mind will find the right note... Maybe some music teachers directly teach this to students who want quick results?... Or maybe not, it would sound kind of mumbo-jumbo, no? It is essential to have an experience of the different aspects of music and it is good that a teacher points out towards them, but it does not save one from practicing.
In my musical training, I am at the point where my witness can start to relax in a simple harmony (a unison or a fifth, maybe a minor third), to the point that I am sometimes one with the sound (singing or playing a note on a drone). It does not survive more complex experiences. If it does, there is strong discrepancy between subjective and objective experience (how it sounds for me and for an outside ear!). So the witness naturally disappears from tuning in in a sustained manner (from mastery), not from urging the witness into disappearing.
I started this though, because it is obvious that the overdeveloped "censor" in music is really a pain in the butt when it comes to playing, cutting one from pleasure and satisfaction when performing. So it is essential to be able to unplug it when it is not training time... In meditation as well, would not it be that joy and bliss are good signs that the witness is at least relaxed?

That was the thought of the day...

Practice was open, easy and luminous, I did a more precise scan once in a while, and inquired into "what is that witness business?". I can see thoughts arise that are not coming from "me", but this "I" is still thinking thoughts to make sense of the experience ("this is spacious, this is luminous, this is empty"). I try to inhabit the empty space (vs contemplating it), to infuse it with consciousness, to annihilate the distance between me and the object... Thinking about collapse (urging the witness to disappear???).
I also did 35 minutes of walking meditation, which was not so easy (mind escaping from the noting with some regularity). I have been wanting to integrate that in practice for a long time without ever going very far. This and meditation with eyes open as well (this does not seem to be a problem, though). I do not want to cut on the sitting, so we'll see if I can manage...

Metta to everyone
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/7/20 2:34 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Hello,
re-reading Olivier's posts, I looked for Celibidache and stumbled upon this :
"Sergiu Celibidache explains his philosophy of music" (in french with subtitles, it is a 30 minutes youtube video)
I post the link here for those interested in the mystical aspect of music. It is really interesting (I was quite fascinated, to be honest) to hear a master with a life of dedication (he is a Romanian conductor, composer etc.) go that deep, and so close to what I have been so inadequately rambling about. "Hearing the upper (of nine) octaves [from the meeting of the different elements to realize unity]" somehow resonates with the harmonics, and I could see where the most mysterious paragraph of Olivier's second post was coming from (about music being realization).
Anyway, thanks for that one, Olivier!
with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/10/20 4:21 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 20

Tonight came this: the witness does not witness, it processes! it is still extracting meaning from the signals sent by the environment. The experiencer is a way of making (energetic) sense of it, the thinker a more conceptual one (thinking thoughts), the spacy witness still organizing meaning on a more inclusive level (oh this is a sensation, this is an emotion, this is a thought, this is space, this is nothing, this is not)... I am not acquainted with the next levels but I am quite sure there is some level of conceptualization involved there too, the point being "less and less"...
So... I have learnt to disembed from sensations... except those feelings that "are me". With the scan, I am continuously disembeding from the sensations I can recognize as sensations. Which one still eludes me?
I have learnt to disembed from thoughts... Except from the thoughts that come from me (mainly the ones about "me", the progress and the path).
I am learning not to identify with the witness of that space of consciousness, suspecting he is a hoax. He has to be outside that space to observe it. The snake bites its tail. I suspect a collapse is doomed to arrive...

Day 21

I dreamt about the pandemic and my morning sit was also a bit contaminated by reflections about the management of the crisis by the different governments. Bleak, but these days, the thinking process does not prevent the body perceptions to merge in a jhanic way.

Second sit, I listened to the third part of the Monk on a Motorbike interview with Daniel. I really enjoyed having him got through the beginning of the progress of insight (again!) in a phenomenological way and insist on the "high" of the A&P which conditions the "low" of the dark night stages. My thought : the intensity of the "low" vs "high" is directly related to the degree of equanimity with which all these experiences are approached. Also, it seemed quite obvious to me that he is using a framework to make sense of experiences just as much as I do on this log. It kind of bothers me to see that presented as some universal truth (is it?).
Incidentally, this retreat is marked by an impressive lack of ups and downs so far, and it seems questionable for me to ascribe this as being on some kind of plateau, hovering somewhere in equanimity, waiting for the final letting go to propel this self beyond itself... Or is it exactly what all this is about?
Another interesting thought popped up when he was talking about Buddhahood and Bodhisattvas. If you bring back this Bodhisattva ideal to moment to moment awareness (innumerable moments of existence vs innumerable lives), which we do without hesitation when we contemplate dependent origination, then the scanning could appear as the way of the Bodhisattva: We willingly stay in the cycle of existence (at the level of sensate experience) instead of escaping into extinction (by letting go of the object)... The only thing, is: of course, we are supposed to volunteer for the way of the Bodhisattva, it is a vow, and we are lured into thinking we will get liberated... Here, I am trying to make sense of my reluctance at taking that last step (pointed to me many times by Shargrol, Paul, Jason Massie and others in the other thread), and recognize that I know some kind of liberation from suffering already...
Because actually I am sure that I have got something really precious from my practice, though it lies below the attainments advertised on this forum. It has to do with the "purification" of the energetic field (ok, that word "purification" seems so wrong to me, I usually try to avoid it... I mean "repeated disembeding from the perceptions of feelings on the body, which leads to change") and it seems not to be always completed (well, to lack) in the reports from some of those who witnessed a drastic change in perception (that "purification").
I also love Daniel's story about calling nightmares up into imperturbable bliss and resolve the issues linked to the dreams. Powerful stuff. And finally, how the end of that third part plunged into a deep silence as he declaimed "all there is... only experience arising and vanishing... there never was a self... never will be... How deep is that teaching..." (paraphrasing, but it was deep and heavy on the side of "No self" versus "Not self")

Goenka says something a bit mysterious about the Bodhisattva vow here (from 20.15 to 21.25, but for those interested, it is a good documentary about the tradition, they even say a word about Sayamagyi).

With all that, I got late for my last sit and quit after 30mn, going to sleep after midnight again...

Metta to all
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/10/20 11:38 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Hey - You inspired me to get another push going. I am about 8 days into it. About 5.5 hours a day as well. I think I am going to continue this month and do full time solo retreat in the first half of May for 9 days.

I had some thoughts on your last post.

If I was in your spot and I was indeed in equinimity, I would change practice a little bit. I would spend a couple sits a day trying to be as inclusive as possible while backing off effort as much as possible. So trying to feel the entire tactile field while not "trying" to do that. I use bodily tension to point to where I am exerting effort and then let it go. Eventually stop trying to stop trying. It can feel like sloppy practice. You have to trade clarity for inclusiveness. Mindfulness can be spacey. It might feel like mind wandering but it is ok if you are still with the entire tactile field. Occasionally, I would just do nothing for periods of time especially if the formless jhanas arise. I have a period of day that is "good" for meditation. Usually 1-5pm. I would work in these types of sits then saving more structured ones before and after. I would go for longer reclining ones if possible.I have completed a cycle twice right after the retreat was over because I quit trying too hard.

Another idea came up. Maybe you are going to hard up the concentration side of things. I have experienced high concentration softening the highs and lows but they are still there and even clearer. Just less bite. If this is the case, the remedy would be to increase investigation. Sometimes equinimity, if out of balance, can make the vibrations smooth and dull. Strengthen rapture and investigation. It may help to change something to help investigation. Change the order of the scan.More walking. Some fire kasina. Ear ringing. etc. I don't know if any of this is the case. Disregard if not. emoticon

A couple other things that have helped me: The fourth foundation. When a problem arises, what hinderance is there? What factors can remedy it? What factors are out of balance? To me, it is a pragmatic way to let monkey mind be skillful. Also as Goenka says "Continuity of practice is the secret to success".

Good luck homie!

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/11/20 8:43 AM as a reply to Jason Massie.
Hi Jason, nice to have you here! I am quite proud to be a source of motivation for... now, at least two dedicated practitioners... Thanks (again!) for your advice, I find you are the member of this community who is most concerned with my eventual liberation.
Congratulations with your ongoing retreat, are you still into fire kasina? (just curious)
Very nice, the full time solo retreat at the end, I will try to fit in three days myself at some point after the first month.
I would spend a couple sits a day trying to be as inclusive as possible while backing off effort as much as possible. So trying to feel the entire tactile field while not "trying" to do that.

That's exactly my practice at one end of the body scan spectrum. I do not keep it for the full session, though, changing focus after a while. It's part of my hesitation about the "total letting go" approach, which I will eventually get to in the near future, I guess (that was the plan!).
You have to trade clarity for inclusiveness.

I like that one, beautifully said. Maybe I value clarity too much...
I would go for longer reclining ones if possible. I have completed a cycle twice right after the retreat was over because I quit trying too hard.

Well. I sit only six hours, I would not count this as "trying too hard" (and I even walk a bit). I use bedtime to meditate in a reclining position. I understand your point, as inducing "total letting go" in a way that is hard to get to with sitting. But... I totally agree with you about the boon of relaxing in the meditation after retreat, just from reducing the amount of daily sitting. Does it mean we should lax during the retreat? Or is it time to learn to relax while exerting ourselves beyond our usual boundaries?
Another idea came up. Maybe you are going too hard up the concentration side of things. I have experienced high concentration softening the highs and lows but they are still there and even clearer. Just less bite. If this is the case, the remedy would be to increase investigation. Sometimes equinimity, if out of balance, can make the vibrations smooth and dull. Strengthen rapture and investigation. It may help to change something to help investigation. Change the order of the scan. More walking. Some fire kasina. Ear ringing. etc. I don't know if any of this is the case. Disregard if not.

I agree that the scanning induces concentration, like I said up in this thread. I am now throwing in more and more self inquiry (or second gear à la Kenneth Folk?), which would count as investigation? I certainly do not feel any dullness these days, and the mind seems quite sharp. I can feel variations (obvious if you browse the last part of this log), but they certainly do not qualify as "dark night". Should they?
I am really interested to have a serious go at fire kasina soon... But it is the heaviest concentration practice, isn't it? I know you are advocating for change, I'm into it...

All agreed about the fourth foundation... Using that as well.

Well, I can see I kind of react to your post, being kind of defensive (been there before with you), but I am all the more thankful for your heartfelt intervention, and your aptitude to challenge my views. I will bring your words in my practice from now on (day 24 for me) and see what blossoms...

I wish you the best with your retreat, let's keep in touch!
with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/11/20 1:19 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Hi guys,

Smiling, I would agree with a lot of what Jason said. I believe SE happens (well, not to everyone it seems, but anyways) from a serious level of not trying to do or get anything... To me it could be formulated as really not caring what happens. 

I can remember a point in my practice where second gear practice would pop up from investigation turning in on itself and leading to slightly formless stuff. That would happen in my sits for a while. But I kept thinking there was something to be done. To see through any kind of sense of self or observation or what. Then I posted here and Shargrol sent me a classical line involving a bird and such, saying that I was still trying too hard, that I couldn't make SE happen. I took it to heart and my practice basically became third gear practice. I had put enough effort and engagement beforehand and the appropriate thing at that point was really to let things happen, I was ripe enough for that. I think you've put in enough effort for now. 

And what's really interesting, is that this shows you very directly that insight doesn't happen because you think it should or how you think it should ^^ It's out of your conscious control. A bit scary that, isn't it emoticon.

I was planning on posting a KF quote about the gears, which I stumbled upon recently, which has really helped me conceptualize recent changes in my practice, but I see you're familiar with that. But just for the sake of it, I'll post it anyways :
The three speed transmission is a conceptual framework for understanding the ways in which contemplative practices from various traditions complement one another. It grew out of my need to make sense of the different, often contradictory teachings and techniques I encountered from various contemplative traditions and teachers. Think of it as a tree to hang your knowledge on. It will help you organize your thoughts. This kind of knowledge tree is called a schema. Here is the three speed transmission schema in a nutshell:

  1. First gear: What?
  2. Second gear: Who?
  3. Third gear: Stop practicing; this is it.
At a slightly higher level of detail, here it is again:

  1. First Gear: Bring attention to the experience of this moment. Objectify (take as object) the simple phenomena of the six sense doors, which are seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling, and thinking. Pure concentration practices also fall under the First Gear heading.
  2. Second Gear: Bring attention to the apparent knower of this experience. Typical guiding questions are “Who am I?” or “To whom is this happening?”
  3. Third Gear: This is it. It’s over. Surrender to the situation as it is in this moment. Then, go beyond even surrender, to the simple acknowledgement that this moment is as it is, with or without your approval. Even your effort to surrender is a presumption, a last-ditch effort to control the situation; by agreeing to surrender, you imply that you have a choice, as though you could choose not to surrender. This is not so. You are not in charge. You are the kid in the the back seat with the plastic steering wheel. This moment is already here and nothing you can do or not do in this moment will change it.
Here is a third iteration of the schema with a partial list of practices that correspond to each gear:

  1. First gear:
  1. Vipassana meditation, with or without following the breath, noting aloud or silently, Burmese Mahasi-style, interactively or alone; body scanning vipassana, as taught in the U Ba Kin/Goenka tradition of Burma.
  2. Pure concentration practices like mantra (repeating a word); gazing at an object; counting the breath; repeating metta (lovingkingdness) or compassion phrases; focusing on feelings of metta or compassion; concentrating on a conceptual object, i.e., visualization of deities, lights, or physical objects.
  3. Ecstatic dancing, whirling, or speaking in tongues.

  1. Second gear:
    • Self-enquiry as taught in Advaita Vedanta; hua tou as taught in Chinese Zen (Chan) and Korean Zen (Seon).
  2. Third Gear:
    • Shikantaza (just sitting), as taught in Japanese Soto Zen; turning toward the “un-manifest” as in Mahamudra or Dzogchen practices; “Just stop!” as taught by Advaita teacher Poonja-ji. Being reminded by a teacher that you are “already enlightened” or that you “cannot do it wrong,” as taught by some neo-advaita teachers, e.g., Ganga-ji, Mooji.

If I were you I would give up and trust intuition emoticonemoticon My opinion is you can't meditate wrong at this point. 

The thing is, you can always go back to other types of practice. For instance : after months of third gear stuff, I'm now feeling very inspired to do very rapid and ardent mctb style noting in my sits !! What do you know.

Anyways, great discipline, keep it up. 6 hours a day is already a lot of meditation.

Cheers,

Olivier

edited once for details

and twice to add this ps : I believe insight can be understood as "non-objective" knowledge. It's not about understanding something through consciousness. It's totally beyond consciousness, in the sense of "theory", of knowing-something-about-that-over-there-from-over-here. The Alexis Lavis video I sent you makes a good job explaining that. You can't "understand" reality in the sense of "oh, i see this new thing from analyzing this thing more thoroughly than before" - that kind of conscious understanding is actually derived, in my opinion (well that could be discussed... it goes both ways... but in terms of SE I think the first thing is correct). It's more about being it, more like blooming. Then you reflect on it and derive theoretical understanding. It's not analytical. I'm sure you know this but thought that I would mention it. Could happen when you're not looking.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/11/20 3:28 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Hey Olivier,

What! I get two precious visits in one single day. Blessed be the dho!
Duly noted... The fact is: I know all this, it has been hammered through the dho since its inception, I've done my research in the last five years here. Paul and Jason said in the other thread: there is no good reason to delay stream entry one minute! I have all the cards in my hand and don't play them... I guess that's the time required for me to surrender, or to integrate to the core that is is the path leading to the goal. Goenka says something in a discourse about the housewife not caring for the composition of the washing powder as long as it washes... I was always shocked (not to be compared to a housewife, Linda!), But I need to own my understanding, which I am in the process of doing.
I have read that KF classic a few times, but it is always good to be reminded!

Thanks for nailing the coffin, Olivier
with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/11/20 3:35 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 22
I got up feeling completely off the retreat. Utterly normal. It was hard to switch back to retreat mode (well, to find the motivation to sit, but it lasted a minute). First sit was full of thoughts, then it subsided into more concentrated states during the day. This happened to me on long retreats after an intense bout. Back to focus and investigating the witness.

Last sit was concentrated (unified) but... densified. I attributed it to unusual questioning of the witness, meaning progress followed by resistance (another deep belief: the downs translate as more challenging body sensations, that are dealt with through further investigation) [oups Jason! These famous ups and downs!] (edited on day 24)

Day 23
The self inquiry continues. This "witness" up there, he quite often has thoughts from "down here". Then, he looks at you in the eyes and says: "no, I was just witnessing, imperturbable, and thoughts passed by.." Bullshit detector sniffing around (getting contaminated by Tim's spirit, as I just read the Bodhisattva thread and thought about chiming in!)..

metta to all (with a special one to my guests)
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/11/20 3:37 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Well, at least you might be the only one there who didn't die of SARS2-covid-19 !!

Hmm, sorry, bad joke.

Sorry if I'm just rehashing old news for you, that can be a bit depressing. It doesn't matter so much. We learn what we need to learn.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/11/20 3:47 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Don't worry, I loved both your interventions, with a preference towards the POI one because it moved me more!

We read some lines a thousand times, and one day it clicks.

Much metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/12/20 3:42 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 24

I forgot to say that I've been walking half an hour for the last few days (except yesterday), which was part of my practice time, and not a bonus as was the plan at first. A new way to experience my living room... After the first try, it was easier to stay with the notes: toes, forward, heel, sole, toes etc. I guess I should do more to feel a groove from doing that... I am really aware of the necessity to bring the meditation forward in the perceptions of the outside world, by meditating eyes open and walking. Until then, I have tried to keep mindfulness in waking life, doing chores etc. but it was more of a keeping the connection with the body. Noting is more intrusive, for sure. Hmmm, I start with the walking bit...

Today I received three messages on the two threads, urging me to move forward to the total letting go I have been dodging until now. They arrive right on time, it seems, for me to listen to them at last.

Day 25

I had a busy night contemplating new assumptions for further practice: back to the progress of insight. Thanks to some skillful pointing in the right direction, I am finally seeing through the equanimity which I have developed through the years to the point of solidifying it, creating this (cool) space between me and experience. I have to accept that equanimity is not the goal of practice (something I have been utterly convinced of, since it was, after all, the goal of my practice in each moment for the last ten years or so ) as it can become a resistance, a cosy corner from which one can avoid change, protecting his ego. It has been really fascinating developing that balance of mind, but it is time to let go of the state associated with it.
So... up at 5.30 for 2.5 hours of not doing (well, sitting from 6 to 7, the rest lying down, Jason!). That really does not look that different from what I was doing before... except I do not come back to focus and when I do, I notice it and open awareness again. Still, it is bordering on jhana.
2 hours of sitting again at 11 am, same same and... I'm still in equanimity! seeing through it did not kicked me out of it just like that... I guess I still have to develop equanimity with that level of letting go (I can go back and read Shargrol's advice as well...). Nice that I still have a few days ahead of me to integrate yesterday's realization (yes, that's what it feels like, Olivier is my angel, he was spot on with his post on the POI -which I will paste here as well, because I believe it is a precious reminder for "equanimity yogis" of which I suspect there are a few here. They do not get the same kind of attention as the "dark night" yogis, more discreet I guess).

I listened to the last part of Daniel's interview with the Monk on a Motorbike (half of it yesterday and half today)
He starts by talking about entheogens and strongly recommends "How to change your mind" by Michael Pollan, which really opened my views on psychedelics a few months ago. I have been experimenting with a few low to mild doses of mushrooms since then (as well as San Pedro) which I did find very compatible with meditation (that's one more step away from the sila as seen in the Goenka world)...
He also talks about his experience with visualization as a teenager, and it made me think about mine: when I was around twelve in boarding school, the way to escape was through my imagination at night after lights off. Before sleep! I was really good at plunging into a scene and really feel the action as well as seeing/hearing it. I remember vividly the quality of a "windsurfing reverie" which I kind of chased afterwards with less success. Imagination developed from there. But with the insistance of Goenka not to give importance to mental images, this capacity has been quite atrophied (as well as with age, I suspect it is at its peak during the first decades of life for most of us), and I have been thinking about going for formal visualizations to cultivate that again. But I have still not started with that, for the same kind of reason I did not start with open awareness... Some kind of remaining influence of this tradition on me which I did not want to acknowledge until now... Another field to explore in the future?
Well, He talked about many other interesting things in this 4 hours, he is such a speed-freak-200 words-a-minute-machine-gun. But I just noted what resonated with me in the last two talks...

Long sit this afternoon, in part listening to some live broadcasts of one of my favorite indian classical music festival (Sankat Mocham Sangeet Samaroh on Facebook), starting today and usually lasting five or six full nights in a Hanuman temple in Varanasi (online this year due to circumstances). Soothing for the heart... And I felt the same quality of attention as if I was sitting there all night again... Vibrations through luminous space...

So, six hours sitting today, plus the lying down. Little exaltation from the new direction, for sure...

More in the next days
with metta

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/12/20 3:46 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Here the copy from Olivier's post, for the benefit of all "equanimity yogis":
Hi again Smiling,

Nice name btw.

So, I just went through your thread and now about the POI. I'm not an expert but here is something interesting. I went through it in daily life a long time before I ever started formal meditation. When I read mctb I thought : "wow, the DN sounds scary, what i'm gonna do is hold off vipassana practice until I can do a long retreat to be sure to go through it there and not in daily life."

Little did I know that I had been in it for years and had dealt with most of it by that point, and was already quite established in equanimity.
So when I did tentatively start doing noticing practice as described in mctb, I quickly realized that I was going through kinds of stages, but they were very very mild... 

That could be your case. What if you were deeply established in EQ from all those years of practice and experienced the nanas but in such a mild form that they just don't register ?

Here is a way to get a sense of the nanas : the AP is a sense of something more, a strong sensitivity to something spiritual and beautiful, I associate it with Rilke's line "For the beautiful is but the beginning of the terrible which we can still bear." Then there is what Sartre would call a "transcendental accidental in daily life". Something cracks, some familiarity is lost, something... Then comes the desert and the dark night of the soul. Many things there...  But again, I think the easiest way to describe this is to mention Sartre's book "La nausée". It doesn't really get more clear than that... Nausea. The myth of Sysiphus by Camus also comes to mind. Then comes revolt, Shargrol's translation for the 10th ñana.  Do you remember Camus' book "The revolted man" ? Existential revolt. All this existentialist stuff. Then acceptance, space, etc. It's pretty simple.

I went through it completely unknowingly. So I got SE with seemingly almost no progression through the POI doing formal "vipassana". Vipassana just means observing, basically. People with high curiosity, strong concentration, etc., will have these events occur naturally. You can find traces everywhere, in the arts, etc., by people who have never known anything about buddhism. It has nothing to do with a technique or a tradition.

The thing is, it then happened again. But this time, in a controlled environment. And that just confirms that this way of theorizing is more or less correct, because you then go through new, fresh ñanas one by one over again. And this time they feel real, although you now have a lot of knowledge on how to handle it.

Still, it's surprising : when you hit a new AP, it's incredibly amazing and you had no idea this existed or was possible or what the FFFF man ! When you hit a new baya ñana, it's really scary, and you can't get away or observe the creep from afar. It's transcendental creepiness again. When you hit a new re-observation, you're really actually really pissed. Pissed in a way you haven't been for years and thought would be impossible from the equanimous perspective which seemed to have become your baseline - more existentially pissed than since the last time that the first DN was really burning your ass, actually. And when you hit equanimity again, it might just feel normal, or spacious. But you can see the difference happening in a ridiculously clear way. "Wow, after this new level of angst, this space just literally opened up for the first time in front of me." I observed this new obvious EQ in terms of completely pure bodily sensations based on strong retreat concentration and the transition from revolt to eq went something like "I can't see anything, where is that fucking tiny ass sensation, it hurts I'm gonna cry" to this huge, soft, fresh, comparatively enormous new bunch of movements appearing right at the center of attention again, with the sense that a balloon had been filled with air around it, a complete relaxing of all tensions, and the capacity to perceive several sensations from different sense modalities all at once with perfect ease.

It's real

It also confirmed the notion that I had experienced the ñanas in daily life prior to any real meditation practice, because when I experienced the whole new baya ñanas, for instance, I recognized events which had happened years ago. I thought it was really cool to have that confirmed, but again, I staid convinced that this was just "something" happening, not the main point.

When I said I was "moving away" from the POI, it's not that I was saying it was never true, just that I sensed there was something deeper and more fundamental, which is in everything and behind the whole POI, which has more to do, actually, now that I think about it, with the mysteriousness of how SE happens. But it does happen kind of the way it is described, and I just want to put the hypothesis I mentioned out there. I honestly would find it extremely surprising if in some way or other you didn't go through it, perhaps decades ago, who knows, and are just so deep in equanimity that it appears like nothing to you when you go through it.

This happens to many people, and my experience is probably quite common.

Metta
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RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/13/20 6:33 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Smiling Stone:
Thanks Linda, and welcome here, you are my first guest!
Back to business...


Day 9

I've been playing with the idea of harmonics, which I really find fruitful:
From an early age, we are in the juice of the mental realm, where we learn thinking and other ways to process the signals coming from the five senses. That's our ground, our tonic. Meditation is one of these other ways to process the signals: tune in to the contact between the signal and the mind, with the least interference (aiming for equanimity).
when equanimity is good enough (thinking has receded in the background or stopped), the vibration of the awareness (its note) comes in tune with the vibration of the signal. Instead of just producing a sensation, it creates a chord: "bliss"... and this chord produces harmonics, the first one being "joy"... we can listen to the chord, or tune in to the harmonic, even sing the overtone on top. And, as in music, there is a whole scale of perfect harmonies after the first one.
Joy is already pretty unstable, we get easily out of tune, so the next overtones really need fine tuning of the tonic... deep peace... Somehow, there's a feedback loop that opens a space around the objects in the mind... the mindspace. I suspect that the mind is already an overtone of physical processes, but rational language made us loose its natural tuning. So by going beyond speech in meditation (or singing, or doing maths etc.?), we increase the harmony of the mind, and it develops that spacious quality. I would only fantasize about higher qualities that might be further developed, expanding the range of the mind, ultimately going beyond it. All that is existence, samsara, and we are exploring it, and it is really evanescent. Anytime we manage to tune in outside the mind (catching a higher harmonic), there is cessation of consciousness (oops, that's highly speculative, sorry).

Ok that's me, this is supposed to be a practice log and I get all excited about wild ideas. To be honest, it also happens on retreat and here, I can follow the thread day after day, instead of giving you the cooked resume after one month of thinking it over.


Thanks for taking the time to read this,
with metta
smiling stone

dear emoticoning stone,

i love this bit on music so much! It deserves its own thread, and room to fractalize, go into n-dimensions, and otherwise run rampant in a wild and endless jam. So i stole the riff, basically:

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/20050155

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/13/20 6:39 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Olivier:
Hi smiling,

I think you're spot on with the music thing though. You know that Sutta where the buddha explains to a guy how his mind in meditation must be neither too tense, nor too relaxed ? just like an instrument's tension must be just right so the strings will sound.

Some say the buddha used that metaphor because the person he was talking to was a musician and would understand that language.

Others think there is something deeper, like thanissaro bikkhu, who often talks of the connection between music and meditation in his book on the wings of awakening.

Others yet say that music is meditation, this Sergiu Celibidache guy for instance...

Personnally, I don't think it's a metaphor at all. Perhaps we have just forgotten how to actually make music. After all, people in the buddha's time practiced the jhanas without getting enlightened. 

Just some thoughts ; but then again, if things are not-two, then of course, music is meditation, just like the rest, I guess. And perhaps any activity can bring about awakening, and my fantasy about the special status of music is just a superficial dream.. Don't know.

But I have the intuition that what is actually music in music... is a similar harmony of the faculties as that which are a cause for awakening, from a cause and effect perspective, this kind of being thanissaro bikkhu's perspective. 

I've mentioned this idea in another thread before, but I think that perhaps music is a way to share awakening with others ? A privileged place for realizing union, transfiguration, untangling, and a privileged vehicle for the transmission of mind. In fact, I sometimes believe that music has nothing to do with sounds, that it can be expressed through sounds, but also painting for instance. Perhaps it could be said that music is the mathematics of the world of aesthesis - the essence of right-ness, the "hidden structure" of alignment, but not hidden, totally immanent, just invisible. In fact, perhaps we have it backwards : perhaps it's not that cheesy line, "music is mathematics", but rather, mathematics are music expressing through very precise and specific symbolic means ?

Maybe the specificity of music, being a matter of sounds, is to be an art of time, which could make it a vehicle more suited for achieving the realisation, specifically, of the emptiness of time ?

More imprudent ramblings for you... An elucidation in progress... Seriously, though. Need to praxis that.

Nice journal, I'm also thinking of doing a home retreat starting at the beginning of april, you have inspired me dear sir !

Best wishes, and metta,

Olivier

Hi Olivier,

I was driven wild by the shakti of these music musings, and thought they desrved their own thread. You mentioned another thread with thoughts along these lines--- could you give me the locale, please?

I took the liberty of stealing riffs from both you and our smiling stoner, in the spirit of an homage and an instigation to further jamming:

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/20050155

with metta, as the stoned Bodhisattva says, tim

 

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/14/20 4:58 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 26
Quite a bit of exaltation tonight after writing my "Bodhisattva piece" which flew effortlessly and showed (me) more truth than intended at first. I wrote it at the time of my night sit. But as sleeping was not an option, I could meditate lying down for a full hour until 1 am. And again at 5am this morning, the excitement was still there. Not enough to threaten the peace, but more like a harsh luminosity and high pitched joy. The kind that triggered stuff on retreat!
Yet morning was good with two and a half hours of open sitting and twenty minutes of my monday internet shared dancing practice. It consists of a few friends dancing with eyes closed at the same time, in whatever way or mode they feel like, sharing their practice with the group in written, spoken or whatever form afterwards. It is a renegade offshoot of the "Authentic Movement"... Today, I stood feeling the vibrations in different parts of my body while vocalizing deep to high notes and back (then going wild), and moving accordingly. It was raw, intense, liberating and fun. It looked like I was going nutty nutty to my girlfriend!

In the sitting, the awareness sometimes feels lost at not having a fixed dwelling of focus anywhere. It might need some time to let go of old habits...

Day 27


Another exhilarated night, woke up at 5am, 1 hour lying in bed, 1 hour sitting, then bed again drifting in and off of sleep. I did not say anything about sleep yet... There is a strong fence between my waking and dreaming world, I don't have good dream recall (actually I had this morning, certainly due to the sleep pattern, famous to facilitate lucid dreams), and I have always been longing for it. Same as with noting, I know all the exercises but don't do them. For me, it is actually a good hint that I still drift somewhere below the awakening line. This fence should subside... (note "view")

Today, awareness went under the absorption feel (buzzy space everywhere) to get in contact with another layer of body sensations. No scan, goes where it wants, no doing. It found more 'in your face' impermanence, singled out vibrations of different textures, change, it felt good actually. But buzzy space is still prominent. "Buzzy" instead of "empty", because of these days exhilaration, that threatens peace a bit. But peace holds its ground. When I say "exhilaration", I mean "joy" multiplying itself out of control. That's exactly papanca, proliferation, and that's what ineluctably leads to suffering.

Why this excitation? Because I had an insight about the path. It became clear that making your practice being aware of cycling (whether by noting or other mean) gives you insight into the nature of mind and in the end makes you more human. That's it. No superhero of any kind, and that's the beauty of it. Look at Daniel, Kenneth, Chris or Shargrol, this kind of grounded wisdom, of "no bullshit" approach to practice(s).
Apart from that, there is samadhi, concentration (also not my favorite word for it, but it's late and I can't find a better one at the moment, unification, recollection). Concentration gives you everything else, it induces all kind of experiences, of altered states, of powers. Concentration needs a balanced mind ("start with a calm and equanimous mind"). So all kind of samadhis you develop from equanimity.
And concentration ability develops exponentially with paths, with the better understanding of the nature of mind. Because equanimity develops. And many many people among the experienced practitioners tend to confuse the two and reify one state of samadhi stating it is the ultimate truth.
Well, did I not say at the beginning of this retreat that the arupa jhana factors were NOT concentration states but had to do with the way of seeing? I think it is true, so... thinking out loud.
... tend to confuse the two and reify one way of seeing and knowing as the ultimate one. Think Daniel, and the various neo advaitins, no subject, experience by itself...
Ok, is it because the nature of the never ending cycling mind presents the three characteristics? That's the ultimate truth?
I was thinking, with my equanimity fixation (I subconsciously believed it was the goal, actually I still do, because it builds up naturally with the path), I more or less stopped cycling (this retreat was so precious for that very reason), and dwelled in a space free of suffering... at the cost of that tiny distance to experience, which is peace, denial, a bumper that dulls the intensity of vibrations, well, suffering really...

So this would go in the direction of Jason second advice: resume investigation... Precious directions, even if they go in different directions... With every direction, keep balance...

One hour behind today because a friend came to visit us, a rare occurence in this confined world...

much metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/16/20 8:42 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.

I was thinking, with my equanimity fixation (I subconsciously believed it was the goal, actually I still do, because it builds up naturally with the path), I more or less stopped cycling (this retreat was so precious for that very reason), and dwelled in a space free of suffering... at the cost of that tiny distance to experience, which is peace, denial, a bumper that dulls the intensity of vibrations, well, suffering really...


damn, i love this. My own variation on it was that stream entry was against my religion, a humorous variation, i think now, of the same basic stop sign at EQ; and also that my bipolar condition, that old neurorhythmic/ neurochemical roller-coaster/pendulum, and surviving the ride without doing damage to anyone, was cycling enough for the likes of me. I think there was a long "penitent phase" of very explicitly stopping at the risk free point of do no harm, even unto doing nothing whatsoever, which is peculiarly prone to winding up at EQ-like painlessness with more or less frequency. My fear of wreaking manic havoc did the rest: better, far better, to never learn another thing, to never get better on some minute point in some obscure way, never to, yes, risk the unknown action arising from the gut metta filtered through the state of the art morality into action without guarantee of value or good effect. And here i am, dropping word bombs on a Bodhisattva's retreat log! Now THAT is wreaking some fucking havoc! Let me know if it fucks you up, if only for the sake of my learning curve. 

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/16/20 3:54 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Hey Tim,
I actually love to have you here, you are a careful reader and have the patience to find some value in what I say (well you read it, for one), thanks for that! Plus, you are all over the forum, so you are on my mind anyway! And sure we'll close the curtain and have an herbal tea together one of these days, chilling out in together in the cold lonely night...

Day 28

Breaking the spell... But let's come back to Goenka's instructions (paraphrasing): "you will reach a very quiet place and think you're done, but you are still in the realm of mind and matter, you have to find the very subtle wobbling (vibration, any indication of change in the stillness), something, there and follow it... Eventually you will reach the goal...". Hmm, that's what I have been doing for years, and what it does is to deepen equanimity. It is wisdom, because movement of the mind (a kind of investigation) brings the cycling back (from A&P, exhilaration, to dark night, the down again and again... re-observation), but... For me, it did not break the spell (because it maintains the self as "scanner", although this one has seen a huge relaxing in the past years, and the scan is more or less doing itself nowadays, as a teacher (AT) once explained to me when I asked how to deepen the process -quite insightful, really-)... To be in the insight stage of equanimity is to (feel like you) stop cycling for a while. That explains all the n(x).n(y) in Daniel's map: they are a mapping of re-observation! A more raw investigation seems to be needed to cycle "through" equanimity, that's the gist of the method in noting practice. In the Goenka tradition, the dogma is to deepen equanimity until you "reach the goal" (the spell naturally vanishes once you "stopped" cycling for a while? It looks like the opposite to me, the spell becomes more powerful). So maybe I was not patient enough? No, because I "saw" through the downside of equanimity in a deeper way that just finding viblets in the void, and that's the whole point. I was too patient because stopping cycling solidified the experience into a subconscious reification...
Noting makes you sharp and restless? you understand existence by cycling through it at a faster pace...
scanning tends towards quiet and dull in a way (the dullness that comes from the distance from the signal, you loose intensity, thus increase peace), you not exploring the whole field...
Balance...
"... tend to confuse the two and reify one way of seeing and knowing as the ultimate one. Think Daniel, and the various neo advaitins, no subject, experience by itself... "

Been thinking more about this bit. What is it that bugs me in these realizations? I have the feeling that they are, at a much higher level, falling in the same trap as I did with equanimity. Taking an attainment (a way of perceiving) as being the ultimate truth. Reifying... And in the same movement, losing some humanity, because they lose (or bury under the carpet) the apparatus that make us able to feel "humane" emotions. The self with a small "s".
It is unfair to put Daniel in the same batch, because he's got that radical honesty, he just seems tempted once in a while, flirting with the powers and with nonduality with all the momentum from his practice.
Also, the fact that there is a shortcut to these attainments make people say there is no path. That's annoying because they usually spent a while finding out. There is also a path to it, that goes up to the arupa jhanas...
Hum, I am kind of inferring stuff ahead of me... again!

Practice wise... I am more and more aware of the difference between concentration and wisdom: when I am sitting with eyes closed, even if I lean heavy on the investigation side, samadhi stays prominent. Hence the interest of walking, it reduces the samadhi (for me beginner), and brings back investigative focus... I walked for half an hour, and yesterday as well (40 mn). I had skipped for a few days before (it kind of breaks the intensity of the flow of concentration), but it is precious as it is my only formal noting practice so far.

Day 29

Ok, I was thinking to erase some of what I wrote tonight, but... there is this whole thing going on about right speech on the forum today, and this rambling seems relevant to it. (and I did not look at the advaita post yet!)

The rambling about solidification of views. Let's say: any ñana you are in, it is very difficult to see you are in it. You are entranced in the ñana, you believe the way you see is "real"... Each one is a trance with a different groove to it, and the groove conditions your attention, it is "above" it. It gives the tonic of your awareness. Then awareness comes in contact with an object (or a situation, on a macro scale), and comes a chord (hence Daniel saying some ñanas -or some vipassana jhanas- are more dissonant and other more consonant or harmonious).
So... the ñana gives the tonic (that's the subject, be it totally empty). Your object of attention gives the note.
Some situations trigger your mind to jump from one ñana to another one.
What I mean with my attainments critic is: they are "vipassana arupa jhanas", that's what I was talking about at the beginning of this log. And I just happened to stumble upon the beginning of the "vipassana jhanas" chapter in MCTB2, looking for the part on equanimity for my own sake and... Daniel's got it well together, and I am, of course, reinventing the wheel, but it is necessary for me in order to own the understanding. And I found it a little bit cryptic in the book, I try to be clearer (to myself anyway).

The ñanas also delineate a process of letting go, mapping the successive reactions that the letting go produces. Like A&P would be when your consciousness has some pleasant mindstate proliferate through clinging (in my other thread I have a theory of how a single sensation proliferates as a wave of bliss in your body, same goes for the thinking process). It (the A&P) goes from mild awe and exhilaration to full blown mania, depending on how and when the mind is able to stop the wave. The bigger the wave, the bigger the jump... the longer the fly... and the higher the fall. That's the full dark night condensed, and it is all because of papanca, proliferation of some mindstate that went out of control. Notice the high pitch of exhilarated joy above your thinking?

So... in our life, we cycle naturally through the ñanas, but... we need a special (often dramatic) outside event to trigger the letting go that will have us change ñana. We touch one for a moment and come back to our baseline, or get projected into new territory, depends..
To attend to an object, is to establish a distance from that object, to create a subject-object duality, when before we were entranced in ignorance. Awareness naturally starts cycling, whether we notice it or not. And we can get stuck in every corner of the path. Noting looks like the way to disembed from a ñana, because it involves the least concentration, and concentration is what's keeping you entranced...

Anyway, the "vipassana jhanas" give its qualities to the subject, they tint the whole experience. Back to the "arupa vipassana jhanas": they do the same, they give the subject the quality of spaciousness, of infinite consciousness, or of emptiness. Nothing wrong with that, it is super beautiful and a great improvement on some former way of seeing the world... But it is a construct all the same, not the truth, not unconditioned! And the higher the state (of the subject), the more it is difficult to let go of it. The slower the cycle get so you think you are out of it. That's the realm of devas and gods. That's non-duality and rigpa, how high can one get?
If you do not see through that, you'll start to teach, how to stabilize non dual awareness, how to stabilize rigpa?
The good pragmatist buddhist does not stabilize these, he knows... Chris knows... cycling makes you more human, not that you are a god. The Buddha could go up in the highest realm, but he was human.

Ok, I got carried away, I stop here hoping there is something in all this which I'll still find interesting tomorrow. Living thought, anyway, quite chaotic.

Love to all the realms
metta to all
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/16/20 4:04 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
lol, that advaita thread! Chris Marti took a chain saw and cut the thing in two today, and i think a ton of ugly stuff might have just got disappeared like sawdust, though I'm not exactly sure, i took a nap and woke up, and all my karma was good suddenly! I think he may have edited my worst shit out!! lololol love that man.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/16/20 4:06 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Uh, no. All I did was split the thread. The original thread, in all it's glory, is still available and will live forever on DhO.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/16/20 4:08 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
emoticon

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/16/20 4:15 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
I'm glad you didn't erase it. Those are great observations. This is gold.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/16/20 4:18 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I'm glad you didn't erase it. Those are great observations. This is gold.

Amen. Nice doing through not-doing, Sly. I mean Smiling.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/16/20 4:22 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
I was actually referring to what Smiling Stone wrote about how he was thinking about erasing some of what he had written. But I'm certainly glad that Chris didn't erase anything either, because yes, context is key. 

edited: oh, you got that now. Okie then. emoticon

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/16/20 4:28 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
lol! you're the only one, probably, who will get that glimpse of how stupid and all-about-me i can be, but at least you can also get the glimpse of a corrective mechanism in place. emoticon

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/17/20 4:25 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Three buddhists sheriffs enter a saloon. Picture John Wayne, Dean Martin, and Angie Dickinson. They are looking for an advaita landlord who plans to own everything in town. No one is there. The bartender is nowhere to be seen. There is something written with lipstick on the mirror behind the bar... "Help yourself"...
But there is no self.
After a while, Dean utters "I know where Jack keeps his booze". He passes behind the bar and find the odd Shargrol's spirit.
They have a shot and Dean forgets everything. Another one and he remembers nothing. One last for the road and they fall back in their boots, feeling lite and awake.
"This Jack is an "Eraserhead"", says Angie.
"Better go to that ranch and stop that Advaita horse thief before he buys the whole town", says John.
"He won't get that saloon" says Dean!
Off they go. The bar is empty.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/17/20 4:53 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
emoticon

You know about the "An advaitan and a buddhist walk into a bar . . ." thread right?

 https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/19935401

please post this one there so i'm not the only fuckwad out this far on the limb here! Do it for me! Please?

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/17/20 6:51 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Yep I do
That was my private joke in this protected environment... But ok damn yes, I will go public!

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/17/20 7:07 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Smiling Stone:
Yep I do
That was my private joke in this protected environment... But ok damn yes, I will go public!


Sir, you are a mensch among menschen, a gentleman, a scholar, and a damn fine officer in this man's Marine Corps.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/17/20 10:33 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Good morning

  Friendly Greetings and respects.
You recently asked for my opinion on a sensitive issue on a different thread during a depth discussion. I'm neither happy to remain altogether silent nor am i altogether discussing it openly here on any thread. As there doesn't seem o be a way to privately dialogue or message on the site that I am yet aware of, and as every post or comment gets shown on the Discussion main page for all to see, I'd rather share my website which has some embedded Fbook and email links within which if you sincerely wish to discuss the issue you are most welcome to. If you do go onto it, just follow the Bhante info bio etc links and there are email and fbook logo icons dotted around the site that show you how to contact me, where I would be more than happy to dialogue, preferably cerbally on say Messenger chat as its is a broad topic that arose.

gratitude and metta

Bhante Ven Rakkhita Samanera

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/18/20 4:40 AM as a reply to Bhante Rakkhita Samanera.
Hello Bhante,

Thanks for your kind message,
I will be happy to share privately with you on these topics, but I could not find your website or email so far (only FB that does not give these info and that I am not keen on using if we can avoid it).

I sent you a private message, which you should be able to read clicking on the message button just below the logo. Then you should be able to answer directly.
If this was not the case (or you want to contact somebody else), when you are in the "message" zone, to send one you have to find the direction of the recipient. For me, you would click on my name (in a thread),
and read the name that appears inside the url of this new page. For me it would be :
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/smiling-stone/home
that's what you write in the recipient box and you will find me...
To my knowledge, there is no alert that you received a message, so you have to go there every once in a while...

Come back here if this does not work!
Best regards

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/18/20 9:25 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
To my knowledge, there is no alert that you received a message, so you have to go there every once in a while...

If you send another user a private message they will receive an e-mail asking them to come to DhO to read it:


You received a new message from xxxxxxx.
Click Here to view Inbox

The other user may have to have permissions enabled, but if so I'm pretty sure that's the default.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/18/20 8:51 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Thanks Chris!
I should check my mail more often... guilty as charged

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/18/20 3:36 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 30

I realized tonight that through these last few days, I had made my way into understanding the path of Sariputta. It had always been something of a mystery to me, how he could realize the way without recurring to the powers. I feel I can now see the whole path. I don't know it. I haven't walked it, but the map is much more accurate now.
This whole forum is my sangha, so many posts have triggered an insight of some sort lately. The mind must be somehow sharp from all this sitting... And I have been doing heavy investigation all along, if I was wondering (I was). That's what this log is about, it is investigation, not so much of immediate sensate experience, but of the nature of concepts (hence all this rambling!).

Coming back to Daniel... He often says that centerless-ness, agencyless-ness are a "vastly better" way of perceiving reality. He does not say it is some ultimate truth, but it could sound like the goal of practice, that's a feeling I often get here on the forum, to get a tech that will change our way of perceiving into something more trippy (at first). Because the absence of the "default mode network" is trippy.

For sure, on the way we are leaving filters behind... but it is still just that, a way of perceiving, a state, and the higher the state, the more we tend to be entranced by it, to take it as true, as "who we are". It is already true about space, I can only imagine the difficulty to disembed from these... attainments?

Practice wise, I woke up at six, sat one hour, lied down one hour, not doing. Two hours before lunch (30 mn walking, focused noting) and almost three hours in the afternoon (30 mn walking, focused noting), in peace. Slowed down on investigation. Spent too much time catching up on the dho!
Got some really sweet vibes when thinking about Sariputta, it felt like an opening... and vanished. Very open today... (well, last year I finally read that book that Daniel always recommend: "Great disciples of the Buddha". It is great and inspiring, you should read it!)

Day 31

Many things happened yesterday, which made me wondering about cause and effect. I went out on the forum only a couple times and... first my friend Tim got banned (I learnt it at midnight, thanks to Polly), and then I got this message from Bhante, related to three lines I uttered in another thread. Did I measure all the consequences of these few lines? with only a few very small movements, I got myself involved in an intricate set of causes, the consequences of which are now unfolding (forever and ever, we could say).. Skillful speech is so difficult... It is so important to cultivate silence, to ponder the words we utter... It's a learning process!

I practice to be kind, compassionate, and omniscient.
I practice to perceive like a bat, like an octopus, like an oak.
I practice to be as a titan, as a god.
I practice to see the infinite universe, everything from everywhere, in unknown colors.
I practice not to be.

I don't practice because I am kind and compassionate.
I don't practice because I am a god.

What's the goal? To achieve some certain way of perceiving? To dwell in infinite peace?
What's the fruit? To end suffering? To act skilfully in the world?

Choose your line. Invent it. See through it.

Practice: I was in contact with strong emotions due to the movements here on the forum, but the energetic signature quickly subsided into deepened peace (in the morning). Sensations of the core (spinal chord, back of the skull) took a hollow nature, with a vacuum quality to it. Like when you feel hunger on an empty stomach... In this context, I thought of progress. I've felt that before but it was quieter and more persistent. Now, I feel physically tired (nervously tired, to be exact), and it's actually the same feeling, kind of... One I know from many days on retreat, like you realize you're tired when you have to actually do something...

Interesting how, when I was starting to feel like I was getting wiser (hum...) etc., I kind of screwed up and the world threw my flaws back at me (ok I am exaggerating quite a bit)... I'm actually very happy that Bhante showed up but, well, that's a big consequence for a very small post. And I say hi to Tim here, we know he's still practicing, and we hope he'll be back soon, all quiet from his retreat!

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/20/20 3:26 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 32

I was thinking of the dho as a single organism, we are all bits and pieces of it. It has its quiet moment, and then it cycles. The coming of Tim was like an A&P for the forum, inducing movements in every part of the body. He leaves and we enter dissolution. I venture many of us were touched in one way or another by the strange energies that got stirred by his buddysattva presence... we'll see what happens on the next round!

Due to circumstances, I did not sit before noon (1h) but could catch up in the afternoon (3h45) so the goal is still doable tonight. Listened to one hour of indian classical music while sitting, it triggered bliss and peace prevailed.

I skipped my night meditation (did it lying down for about 15 mn before loosing everything into oblivion), so I was 45 mn behind on my daily schedule. After day 30, need to revive motivation for sitting. The initial plan was to go non-dual, but I am still exploring this new view (about the vipassana jhanas defining the quality of the subject (surrounding consciousness, if you want, or englobing it), and the formless ones being ascribed a quality of attainment).

I forget what I already said about sleep, but the dense barrier/frontier I experience between the two states (awake and asleep) make me think I still have quite a bit of work (of disembedding) to go through.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/21/20 6:24 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.

Stoner:

I was thinking of the dho as a single organism, we are all bits and pieces of it. It has its quiet moment, and then it cycles.



cycle this, baby! emoticon

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/21/20 3:44 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Hey Tim, welcome back, long time no see!


Day 33

Another day of not feeling in the retreat until afternoon. Morning sit was late (I had my little internet practice before), only one hour and little scattered, listening to Analayo's lecture number 9 on the Nibbana sermons of Ñanananda. They are steep but always inspiring.
I copied a quote from the sermon that resonated with what I'm concerned with, these days :

"The essence of this entire Dhamma is said to be deliverance. The very emancipation of all this, the bereft of all this, is itself deliverance. Some think that the essence is a heaping up of concepts and clinging to them. But it is not the essence of this teaching. It is the ability to penetrate all concepts, thereby transcending them. The deliverance resulting from transcendence is itself the essence. With the cessation of the concept of a "gem" [a gem you discern in a heap of dust and fix in the middle of your attention] as a special thing, a valuable thing, separate from the rest of the world, as well as a... heap of concepts, by way of craving, conceit and views, the gem ceases to exist. That, in itself, is deliverance. It is the emancipation from the gem. Deliverance is the essence of all things".

And another take about dependent origination:
"-All concepts and thoughts have name and form as their objective
- the 18 elements account for their diversity
-they arise with contact
- they converge on feelings
-they are headed by concentration
-they are dominated by mindfulness
-their agama, or point of transcendence, is wisdom
-their essence is deliverance
-and they get merged in the Deathless"
"The essence of the teaching is release from name and form".
(Any mistake my bad!) Food for contemplation...

I wanted to dig a little bit deeper in that "dho as one organism" reverie. So we are all One (forum), and while we retain our individuality (our "voice" in our posts or threads), we participate in something bigger than us, and the quality of the forum (its ñana) depends on us, its posters (and moderators, creators). Each time I post, I give a certain color (or taste), I promote a certain emotion, and this will influence my reader, make him feel something, trigger some energetic change in him. And if this reader consults forty posts during his visit (as I do sometimes, what do you do?), his mind will be reshaped somehow by this emotional soup. If there are a lot of posts from people navigating the higher realms, or with really clear insights, the forum really becomes an awakening trigger machine. It draws us towards the higher ñanas. If not, well, that's the reality of this moment.
Also, if I stay in my thread, I have... ten or twenty people visiting, it is intimate, but any post outside seems to trigger more consequences. Hence my interest in cross-pollination (some people are really good at it, they create movement on the forum, life, exhilaration, crisis), it makes people read more, come across more ways of thinking, get more exposed. Spatial, I think, talks about the power of posting on this forum. I agree, it is a teaching in itself. A teaching about dependent origination, thus a teaching about responsibility: what do we want to convey when we write? The best of us... A glimpse of truth... whether we want it or not, some truth about the ñana we are in. Some level of teaching, for somebody.

Again, little bit over five hours, mind little bit excited... I can really see that, when I listen to Analayo, who is really slow and deep and dense, any train of thought will make me loose the thread. I lost it a few times today!

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/22/20 9:17 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Smiling Stone:
Day 20

Tonight came this: the witness does not witness, it processes! it is still extracting meaning from the signals sent by the environment. The experiencer is a way of making (energetic) sense of it, the thinker a more conceptual one (thinking thoughts), the spacy witness still organizing meaning on a more inclusive level (oh this is a sensation, this is an emotion, this is a thought, this is space, this is nothing, this is not)... I am not acquainted with the next levels but I am quite sure there is some level of conceptualization involved there too, the point being "less and less"...
So... I have learnt to disembed from sensations... except those feelings that "are me".

Yes, they are all processing. I think processing is bound to happen as long as there is still consciousness (including deep sleep), and the processing is sensate experience as well, and disembedding from those that consitute the construction of self is the great challenge. Sometimes it seems helpful for me to categorize in other directions than inner and outer. I can use concepts such as the trikayas or the elements and thus divide what appears to be an entity while at the same time disregard distinctions between that assumed entity and other assumed entities. That opens up new possibilities and dissolves what seemed to be solid. 


Day 21

[…]

Also, it seemed quite obvious to me that he is using a framework to make sense of experiences just as much as I do on this log. It kind of bothers me to see that presented as some universal truth (is it?).

No. Not an absolute truth anyway. I don't think there are any. The way I see it, everything that exists is a creation. A construct. Some constructs are more shared than others. There are variations to how humans process visual input, but none of us do it like a fly does it. As far as I know, humans can't walk on water, wheras some insects can. When we see a printed sign, we tend to see the word (if we can read the written form of that language fluently and our sight is functioning in a way that allows us to read it). Stuff like that conditions how we construct our reality and makes it partly shared. Cutural expectations are part of the conditioning, and so are all learned approaches. Thereby a construct can be more or less reliable within a group of being sharing specific conditionings. Daniel's constructs seem unusually reliable to me, butbthey are still constructs. 


Here, I am trying to make sense of my reluctance at taking that last step (pointed to me many times by Shargrol, Paul, Jason Massie and others in the other thread), and recognize that I know some kind of liberation from suffering already...
Because actually I am sure that I have got something really precious from my practice, though it lies below the attainments advertised on this forum. It has to do with the "purification" of the energetic field (ok, that word "purification" seems so wrong to me, I usually try to avoid it... I mean "repeated disembeding from the perceptions of feelings on the body, which leads to change") and it seems not to be always completed (well, to lack) in the reports from some of those who witnessed a drastic change in perception (that "purification").
Exactly which last step are we talking about?

I have a feeling that there could be more to the purification than people often give it credit for here. Your description of it resonates much more with me than the term purification. It could be that I am also resisting the next step, I don't know, but just maybe it helps with dealing with the insights in a more integrative way, such as not throwing out the whole existence with the bath water. I really don't know. I do know that there is something in your logging that inspires insight in me. I have something to learn from it. I can feel that energetically. My paranasal cavities crack open from reading it and a rhythmic ticking arises in my head and the nada sound gets really loud and there is a very subtle buzzing.


I also love Daniel's story about calling nightmares up into imperturbable bliss and resolve the issues linked to the dreams. Powerful stuff. And finally, how the end of that third part plunged into a deep silence as he declaimed "all there is... only experience arising and vanishing... there never was a self... never will be... How deep is that teaching..." (paraphrasing, but it was deep and heavy on the side of "No self" versus "Not self")
Yes, it sometimes sounds very much like no self, but he also makes it very clear that morality still matters and that the relative world is the only world we've got, and there is no doubt that he still has a personality with personal quirks. 

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/22/20 9:40 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Smiling Stone:

[…]

Day 33

[…]

I wanted to dig a little bit deeper in that "dho as one organism" reverie. So we are all One (forum), and while we retain our individuality (our "voice" in our posts or threads), we participate in something bigger than us, and the quality of the forum (its ñana) depends on us, its posters (and moderators, creators). Each time I post, I give a certain color (or taste), I promote a certain emotion, and this will influence my reader, make him feel something, trigger some energetic change in him. And if this reader consults forty posts during his visit (as I do sometimes, what do you do?), his mind will be reshaped somehow by this emotional soup. If there are a lot of posts from people navigating the higher realms, or with really clear insights, the forum really becomes an awakening trigger machine. It draws us towards the higher ñanas. 

I suspect that is how so called transmission works.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/22/20 9:54 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Smiling Stone:
Day 30

I realized tonight that through these last few days, I had made my way into understanding the path of Sariputta. It had always been something of a mystery to me, how he could realize the way without recurring to the powers. 

[…]

Coming back to Daniel... He often says that centerless-ness, agencyless-ness are a "vastly better" way of perceiving reality. He does not say it is some ultimate truth, but it could sound like the goal of practice, that's a feeling I often get here on the forum, to get a tech that will change our way of perceiving into something more trippy (at first). Because the absence of the "default mode network" is trippy.

For sure, on the way we are leaving filters behind... but it is still just that, a way of perceiving, a state, and the higher the state, the more we tend to be entranced by it, to take it as true, as "who we are". It is already true about space, I can only imagine the difficulty to disembed from these... attainments?



I used to be convinced that I should stay out of the magickal business as far as possible because it was dangerous shit. Now I kind of think that the whole existence is magickal, and so there is absolutely no way to stay out of it. Working hypotheses will probably continue to change.

As for states and attachment to them, I think that is really important to keep in mind, and I think that includes realizing that it is all states to some extent, everything that can be experienced. What do you think?

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/23/20 9:29 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Hey Linda, thanks for your comments!

about transmission : Yes, internet shaktipat, some speed gurus around...
about magick : of course you are right, I am processing all my fears and hesitations in form of doubts, and you get all the juice from this daily log...
(this is day 36, I'm logging one or two days behind, just for the record)

Edit : Whoops!!! I just saw your first post of the three, which had escaped me yesterday. And that is where most of the meat is, thanks for taking the time to answer like this.
Exactly which last step are we talking about?

I have a feeling that there could be more to the purification than people often give it credit for here. Your description of it resonates much more with me than the term purification. It could be that I am also resisting the next step, I don't know, but just maybe it helps with dealing with the insights in a more integrative way, such as not throwing out the whole existence with the bath water. I really don't know. I do know that there is something in your logging that inspires insight in me. I have something to learn from it. I can feel that energetically. My paranasal cavities crack open from reading it and a rhythmic ticking arises in my head and the nada sound gets really loud and there is a very subtle buzzing.

I was talking about the last step of total letting go of all experience do deepen the peace in the immaterial realms, not about the "step aside the joke".
I am really touched by you being somehow inspired by my explorations. it's like being in the jungle at night with a flashlight, and describing what I see step by step.
I have something to say about your paranasal cavities activity but did not have a chance yet... I will soon! Nice phenomenology, by the way.

Otherwise, I agree with your inputs. I have used the elements as well, but not in this phase of practice... yet?
I respect Daniel immensely, and hope it doesn't look like I am criticizing. I am looking for ways to integrate his teachings to my experience that really fit. It is getting better these days...
I have noticed before that we are on the same page regarding constructs, it is nice to see some like-minded spirits (it looks like you are really deep in the subject in your professional life as well, I am just an "amateur").

Best regards
much metta to you
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/23/20 12:31 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Smiling Stone:

[…]

Day 33

[…]

I wanted to dig a little bit deeper in that "dho as one organism" reverie. So we are all One (forum), and while we retain our individuality (our "voice" in our posts or threads), we participate in something bigger than us, and the quality of the forum (its ñana) depends on us, its posters (and moderators, creators). Each time I post, I give a certain color (or taste), I promote a certain emotion, and this will influence my reader, make him feel something, trigger some energetic change in him. And if this reader consults forty posts during his visit (as I do sometimes, what do you do?), his mind will be reshaped somehow by this emotional soup. If there are a lot of posts from people navigating the higher realms, or with really clear insights, the forum really becomes an awakening trigger machine. It draws us towards the higher ñanas. 

I suspect that is how so called transmission works.

a Buddha field, everyone's posts fertilizing the soil with their own unique nutrients and everyone who has fruitions, sharing both the fruit itself and the seeds of new growths to new maturing plants, to fresh fruits. 

"The parable is this: the sower sows the Word."

and,  

"Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." John 4:35


RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/23/20 3:57 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Hey Tim, do I see some bible quotes proliferating everywhere? You were speaking "dhammic" talk but, at the bottom, you were the guy going on about Bernadette Roberts a few years back, an undercover deep south evangelist... What will become of us, poor satvic buddies closing the samsara joint?
Well, to the point :

Day 34

Sleeping late again, and little bit busy during the day, so I have two more hours to go in the night. I listened to sermon number 10. Like in other sermons, he (Ñanananda) goes on a lot about "name and form", formal name and nominal form, interdependent in the sense that "form" cannot exist without "name", but "name" can exist without form in the immaterial spheres (comment by Analayo). Interesting as I wanted to go back to the "nama rupa" thread after getting the message from Bhante, but did not really do it yet (I remember they were sharing the other view, that nama rupa stands for mentality-materiality, and did not accept the "name and form" translation for reasons that are not yet sparkling clear to me, that's why I need to go back -it has to do with the Thai forest vs Mahasi tradition, the importance the former give to jhana and ho reality comes back into shape when one comes out from absorption-). I really like Analayo's breadth of understanding (he seems like he's not clinging to his own views), even though he is steeped in early Buddhism, but found interesting to see it challenged here (as I did not question his views until then).
For those interested, he shares some critics (from the standpoint of early Buddhism) about Seeing that Frees (Rob Burbea) at the beginning of this sermon.
Well, I thought today (and before) that developing this "understanding" of the path without having actually experienced the pure immaterial absorptions (or any pure absorption for that matter) is questionable, if not preposterous. But I have this idea that the technique I specialized in :
- allows me to experience the jhanas with a moving awareness (that's the real benefit of the technique which does not fit so much with the phenomenology of noting, maybe)
- prevents me to experience pure still hard jhanas, because I did not trained (enough yet) to really still my perception. I mean, I do consider the whole body at once but I am aware that there is loads of subtle movements going on. And the zone at the tip of the nose is too small to make it easy (I'm not far at all on retreat, though).


Of course, you notice, as I do, that I am continuously repeating the same thing with slight variations. I guess this is how thought develops, little by little, with sometimes whooosh, a "new" insight...

In the afternoon, two sits, where I let the stillness prevail. Some part is still curious to experience "hard" jhanas, although I have the impression that my last "insight" really led to peace regarding craving for the higher realms. Still, it is essential to continue to explore consciousness to its limits. Becoming...
Nice two hours sit in the night to catch up. I am open but do not recoil from experience. Peace.

Link to the nibbana sermons

Day 35

In the model I use these days, concentration would stand for everything that has to do with developing states, triggering experiences... and insight for all the processes which lead to understanding the nature of experience, including the very subtle experiences born from concentration.
It just occurred to me something that has been bothering me since I started attending this forum: insight is NOT letting go. Letting go is a concentration practice, or more accurately a "de-concentration" practice, that leads you from the absence of craving in equanimity to the experiences of the immaterial realms. Why? because letting go can be born of dispassion, or be born from aversion (disgust towards the world etc., that subtle movement away from phenomena that I noticed when I considered the distance from which the feeling of space emerged), so it is not wholesome per se. It is a worthy path, for sure, but it can also lead to dissociation, feeling godlike etc... because there can be in it that slight aversion towards existence.
For insight to emerge you need to consider some of the three characteristics of the object you are letting go of in your contemplation.
The cessation seems to take place in this mysterious way (falling from the sky instead of being the culmination of letting go in the immaterial realms) because we are exerting a complex re-programming of our subconscious towards letting go during the whole path, and intentions are not linear in their effects. Cessation comes from this deep intention of letting go that, for a moment, takes over the whole mind, including the deep subconscious, coupled with the deep understanding of two of the three characteristics (open source Daniel Ingram).... Well, still making assumptions, sorry... If not (without the understanding bit) we are heading up the immaterial jhanas and stay in the cycle of existence!

Insight simply enables one to see through these "attainments". That's Sariputta!

It is also why Goenka advised against going for the formless realms before being a Sakadagami. Because you will be left with some stuff do deal with in form and you might find it difficult to come down (because "there" is no feeling that it is necessary, because "there" is feeling that this "liberated way of perceiving" is... permanent).

So, I was a little bit excited about this new insight today... When I sat in the afternoon, I listened to sermon 11 (to avoid live conversation in the room). I noticed quite a bit of mental proliferation that went on obscuring the talk, to the extent that I was not able to really follow it with clarity. Funny that the main subject of the talk is "papanca" (mental proliferation). In the evening, I felt a bit "down" with doubts about my understanding, coupled with doubts about the path... Full reobservation, it was really nice to catch myself cycling. I sat in peace at night, in the midst of harsh vibrations during the full hour (and finished before 11.30pm, for once).

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/23/20 4:54 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Smiling Stone:
Hey Tim, do I see some bible quotes proliferating everywhere? You were speaking "dhammic" talk but, at the bottom, you were the guy going on about Bernadette Roberts a few years back, an undercover deep south evangelist... 
 I've been going on about BR for 35 years, and John of the Cross for longer than that. You know i snuck in here under cover of a glare of honesty in 2011, moments after i read Daniel's book the first time. I came here to save you poor benighted heathens, i admit it. But somehow here i am yet, and you [absolutely unforgivable and blasphemous in every tradition and in many secular contexts as well abuse of a truly demented character deleted, as per DhO forum rules] are all still smarter than me.

What will become of us, poor satvic buddies closing the samsara joint?

Oh ye satvic amigo of little faith. Do you doubt my plan? I will obviously burn in hell as a Catholic heretic for my associations with this dharma crowd here, and will obviously spend every cycle of existence in hell because of my theistic evangelism. I've got all my bases covered, my friend. I am simply counting on you to save my ass, in the end. I'll be at the Bar of Last Resort, as previously indicated. Drop in any time, vowmeister.


RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/24/20 3:40 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Day 36

I woke up at 5am with a punishing headache after a short night, and spend three hours with it, lying down in bed, in not so efficient total relax mode. I started on the back but had to move on the side a couple of times to ease he body. I noticed that my breathing had altered to something slightly more forceful, it had happened only once before during this retreat. I did fall back asleep though, but not much (maybe 45 mn, dreamt about Shargrol, coming out on a thread as being a 30 years old from Tianjin, a chinese city! -forgot the rest, but it was all written dream, posts-). I sat at 8am, and peace came back, with the headache still present but receding.

It was fascinating that the slight excitation from a thought was enough to loose balance and cycle back through the dukkha ñanas... I had been really stable in equanimity for quite a while (you see, I'm back at using the good ol' POI framework after erring for a while). It made me realize that this was the downside of thinking/investigation. After the body has been pacified, this is where loosing balance can occur, each time I produce a thought that generates exaltation and mental proliferation. Hence the value of mental silence... or of really not buying into your thoughts (that's me, generally, but I got beaten this time). So it also showed the way forward to deepen equanimity: disengage more from the forum (which has been in my thoughts quite a bit, during meditation), and really let go into peace. The deeper the peace, the slighter the excitation needed to disturb it... until it builds up (in the way I have built up equanimity so far, to persist amidst more and more intense experiences).
I have also been reading again the chapter on equanimity in MCTB2 (also to stop with my assumptions/hesitations and come back to core basics). I'm really close from experiencing the formations as discussed there, just a slight shift needed...outside the bubble.
Next sit was full peace and letting go, without the hesitations from these last few days... (years???). Like this last episode convinced me that it was the way to go (along with the orthogonal: " I saw through the joke, these are all constructs, I won't fall into believing that one of these new ways of perceiving is "real" or "permanent" or some "truth"". We'll see if I remember this in the future, when I try to sell a new way of perceiving as "truth").
The whole day followed this trend (toward open awareness, without a"doer", but still a witness aware of the constructed nature of the reality of this moment).
I guess I am back in exploration mode, hoping that I found the key to the next ñana.

metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/25/20 10:53 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Hey smiling,
You might find this helpful:
https://shargrolpostscompilation.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html#transitiontoeq

"Sometimes there will be a storm of worries and concerns and feeling like everything is a catastrophe. Don't worry. That's your friend reobservation. Now is a perfect time to say "oh, look at this mind worry and freak out. I'm going to study how a mind freaks out."



I've kind of the same thoughts recently about thinking and investigation. Depending on where you are in the cycle it's more or less helpful (like, perhaps(?), in the DN it's more helpful).  But yeah I think in EQ it's not helpful.  So I'm on the same wavelength as you right now. Just trying to chill out and let the mind do it's thing.  My thoughts on disengaging from the forum itself, im trying to disengage at least during my meditation. But i've found DhO so valuable, maybe just setting aside certain time(s) during the day to ask/offer advice and research? 

Best of luck to you and let us know how it goes.
With Metta,
John

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/25/20 4:46 PM as a reply to John W.
Hey John, thanks for showing up.

Yes, I've heard of that Shargrol character before. Actually, at least one of the most beautiful quotes on this wonderful selection comes from my other thread.
I'm ok, by the way, nothing to worry about.
And no, I don't think that letting go and relaxing are the same processes aimed at different objects. I would posit it's different processes relating to the same objects. More below...

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/25/20 4:50 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 37

Today there was also this new, deep acceptance of letting go in meditation. No scanning, no going toward an object. There is space in the center of attention, subtle signals in the periphery. In the morning, I noticed that any movement of the attention towards the signal was bounced back into space, I had the impression of being rejected from object to object (because I associate distancing from the object with aversion).
In the afternoon, I realized that space in the center now acted as a vortex, a strange attractor for attention. Even when it would go towards an object, it would now be pulled back to the center by a kind of gravity, and the object would fade, there was this dynamic of "passing away" in the awareness like text book dissolution, it really came from "preferring" space. It really made for shanti meditation. I had always wondered about this "notice the passing away of events" of Vivekananda's instructions...
So, it seems to confirm my recent intuition, that as the POI delineates a path of total letting go, it needs a dynamic of the mind towards pushing away from phenomena. Total balance, or relaxing into the object, and you deepen equanimity...

Oh yes, in the afternoon, I lied down for 45 minutes, thinking it would help me to relax more. It did, it was impressive development into space (of course, body sensations still recede more in the background when reclining).

Day 38


Early this morning, I woke up meditating into an experience of the top of the head and back of the skull (sense of subject, king of) collapsing into a big burst of blissed out light by the back of the heart area (near the spinal chord, as far as locating it spatially goes). That was intense (more intense than other collapsing experiences), a lot of fun, and was obviously linked with the letting go in practice. No hangover... It seemed like a near miss, cessation wise...
All meditations so far were super peaceful. Focusing on space, with objects in the background (mainly soft subtle vibrations), very little thoughts, it feels like bordering on hard jhana, but no flipping in.
The interesting thing about space is that, contrary to perceptions, there is no distance to it. It's right there, I mean, the conception of the subject takes place inside space, or at most just at the border. So it really feels like the right way to go towards some kind of infinite consciousness (subject touches space, space touches the object, the object dwells inside space, space is inside consciousness).
This or having subject collapse into object. To be honest, I believe that conformity involves relaxing into the experience, merging with it just like when we were ignorant, but with this new balance of mind brought by the development of equanimity (which still needed this distance to deal with experience). This is what is meant by the change of lineage. Oups... again! I'll confirm if I make it there.

I listened to the introduction of the first sermon of season 2 (2018), where Analayo talks about an article he wrote linked to sermon 7 (for those interested), where he investigates on the concept of luminosity of the mind. In most suttas, the mind is full of defilements that you purify until the mind is rendered luminous (as gold would). But there is this one sutta (did not note which, sorry) where the mind is considered luminous in its essence, and even the defilements cannot totally obscure it. He goes on about how this particular sutta led to the pointing out instructions of Dzogchen, Huato of Ch'an and koan of Zen. He says he has the utmost respect for these (he had the "great fortune" to receive the pointing out instructions from Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche), but there is the risk of reifying these states of "natural mind". That was quite synchronous with my own questioning these days...

That's all for now
with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/26/20 7:25 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Smiling Stone:
Day 37

Today there was also this new, deep acceptance of letting go in meditation. No scanning, no going toward an object. There is space in the center of attention, subtle signals in the periphery. In the morning, I noticed that any movement of the attention towards the signal was bounced back into space, I had the impression of being rejected from object to object (because I associate distancing from the object with aversion).
In the afternoon, I realized that space in the center now acted as a vortex, a strange attractor for attention. Even when it would go towards an object, it would now be pulled back to the center by a kind of gravity, and the object would fade, there was this dynamic of "passing away" in the awareness like text book dissolution, it really came from "preferring" space. It really made for shanti meditation. I had always wondered about this "notice the passing away of events" of Vivekananda's instructions...
So, it seems to confirm my recent intuition, that as the POI delineates a path of total letting go, it needs a dynamic of the mind towards pushing away from phenomena. Total balance, or relaxing into the object, and you deepen equanimity...



Hey SMiling,

When you talk about bouncing from object back into space, I associate that with equanimity, not dissolution. Does it speak to you if I talk of some "perfection" of mindfulness ? Things arise and are seen as they arise, so comprehensively that there is nothing more to do than just relax back into space, and almost no possibility of doing otherwise ? Whatever may arise, hence unshakeability and deepening and broadening and fading of objects ? Is that what seems to be happening ?

I might be able to shed some light on the dissolution thing from Vivekananda : basically, whenever he thinks your knowledge of the fast arising and passing away of formations (his way of naming the A&P) is mature, he then suggests you start paying attention to the dissolution of phenomena, see if there is something happening there. Dissolution (5th ñana) is deemed mature when there is a clear perception that the "noting consciousness" is overwhelmed by the speed of dissapearance of perceptions, as in : "I was noting things but as soon as I could label one thing, five others had already appeared and disappeared". The instructions are then to let go of noting, open up attention, and resume noting when it is possible again (which happens in the 10th ñana where according to some dogma, and that is the view at panditarama lumbini, is when the "noting consciousness" starts again, hence re-observation).

But there is something else to that. He told me at the end of my retreat that he actually noticed over the years that as retreatants' practice matured, they would start noticing more and more passings of phenomena, until they would notice almost all of them ; so he actually used that as a way to judge one's maturity, how many percents of phenoma were clearly seen to pass away.

That seemed a bit strange to me honestly, and probably linked to an abidhammic notion that experience is actually made up of sensate atom of sorts which one can learn to perceive by refining the finesse of attention until they can see all these little bits clearly. This neither makes much intellectual nor experiential sense to me, and the Heart Sutra for instance clearly goes against this, but maybe in the contex of a Mahasi style intensive retreat that is indeed what people tend to perceive after a while.

So anyways, I don't think it's dissolution you're experiencing, in the POI sense, but "fading" of form, something I can relate to and that I associate with equanimity - Daniel Ingram would say "mid-range" EQ, because "High-EQ is not something one notices".

I see you're really letting go, very nice !!! 

Metta

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/26/20 7:45 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Ps : O yes, I forgot to mention, that I found extremely fruitful at times of great stillness and fading and unshakeability to throw in subtle questions like "What is time ?" or ""Where am I ?", etc. That's more akin to how the tibetans practice vipasyana, I gather. I experienced very cool opennings and insights that way. It would happen pretty spontaneously, asking sincere questions born of stillness and fundamental curiosity, and just waiting to see what would happen, waiting for an answer.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/26/20 9:09 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Hey Olivier,
When you talk about bouncing from object back into space, I associate that with equanimity, not dissolution. Does it speak to you if I talk of some "perfection" of mindfulness ? Things arise and are seen as they arise, so comprehensively that there is nothing more to do than just relax back into space, and almost no possibility of doing otherwise ? Whatever may arise, hence unshakeability and deepening and broadening and fading of objects ? Is that what seems to be happening ?

I am pretty darn sure I've been dwelling somewhere in equanimity for quite a while now. I also don't relate that much to how the POI is framed, although I am back to confronting my experience to it.
So I think that any "cycling" I am doing these days is happening within equanimity (except when I talked about reobs a few days ago, where symptoms were showing that I had been slightly shaken away from eq.).
I referred to dissolution, more because in this moment I understood the assumptions needed to see things as vanishing, the kind of concepts that sustain noting practice which were until then foreign to me... the letting go (of object) being a dynamic process that one has to espouse at the expense of balance. There is a deep questioning of the buddhist path going on there, and it is still growing and developing in me... I need to follow the process to its (temporary) conclusion to push any critic (well, idea...) further. Today's entry will deal a bit with that question.

The instructions are then to let go of noting, open up attention, and resume noting when it is possible again (which happens in the 10th ñana where according to some dogma, and that is the view at panditarama lumbini, is when the "noting consciousness" starts again, hence re-observation).

I am quite familiar with Vivekananda's method (partly thanks to your other contributions on this forum, maybe), from A&P onwards.
Here is how I think of that: letting go of experience (as in noting, where you extract (yourself) from sensate experience in every moment to a mental reduction of it (a note), when you "disembed" into language) triggers energetic releases totally independent from your "doing". You create a powerful feedback loop by noting this very phenomena, but get exhilarated all the same, and loose it for a while in the dukkha ñanas, until you can note again (hence Vivekananda's comment). Once you are "unshakeable" into equanimity, these same energetic releases don't throw you out of balance anymore, so that you just deepen the peace afterwards, which might trigger more adventures ad vitam at this point(that's where the whole jhana practice takes place, that's why people need to have a good bit of practice before establishing them -if a bit of bliss gets you off balance, you won't get far-, that's also where the whole AEN/Thusness scale takes place, the development of the immaterial spheres, all the subtle dangers of reification of states)...if you don't extract yourself once again (by looking for the subject?) to conclude path... and START AGAIN!
But there is something else to that. He told me at the end of my retreat that he actually noticed over the years that as retreatants' practice matured, they would start noticing more and more passings of phenomena, until they would notice almost all of them ; so he actually used that as a way to judge one's maturity, how many percents of phenomena were clearly seen to pass away.

We can see here that he really only measures the disentangling from experience by the thinking mind (Daniel's "process, not content"). It is a precious comment to share, and to ponder (I am a little bit quick in answering!).
Ps : O yes, I forgot to mention, that I found extremely fruitful at times of great stillness and fading and unshakeability to throw in subtle questions like "What is time ?" or ""Where am I ?", etc.

Doing just that, I think, questioning the subject, its location, its existence, its relation to space (soon to consciousness, to emptiness).
I see you're really letting go, very nice!!! 

Yeah!!! Thanks for your input, again, always appreciated here...

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/26/20 4:03 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Dude... just like, listen to John Lennon man... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHNbHn3i9S4

Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream emoticonemoticonemoticon

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/27/20 3:49 AM as a reply to John W.
John W:
Dude... just like, listen to John Lennon man... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHNbHn3i9S4

Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream emoticonemoticonemoticon

Why Johnnie boy, you old stoner!

But be careful here, the Smiling One or Olivier may give you a taste of some music that will blow your sunglasses right off, as we play the game of existence to the end . . . . of the beginning!

emoticon

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/27/20 3:36 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Tim Farrington:
John W:
Dude... just like, listen to John Lennon man... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHNbHn3i9S4

Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream emoticonemoticonemoticon

Why Johnnie boy, you old stoner!

But be careful here, the Smiling One or Olivier may give you a taste of some music that will blow your sunglasses right off, as we play the game of existence to the end . . . . of the beginning!

emoticon

"Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void
It is shining
It is shining
Yet you may see the meaning of within
It is being
It is being
...
So play the game "Existence" to the end...
... Of the beginning, of the beginning..."

Yes John, it's a good pick. The two of us, we don't make one Terry, as he always quotes the entire song! I left out the bit about love, for some (buddhist?) reason...

You sounded like you were a little bit high on peace, good for you! I don't know if I should take it as a critic to the tone of this log (brainy? over-analytical? full of tensions? pedantic?) but yes, these entries are also a counterbalance to the sits and can go a bit over the top. And I let them go there, I assume that.

I wish you the best in your practice
with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/27/20 8:08 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
I always saw myself as more of a Paul, unless you want to be Paul, then I can be John. Paul definitely has a happier ending though...

And no, not being critical at all. I just relate to your log quite a bit and see a lot of my own experiences in there, although I must admit the vividness and clarity of your sits seem to be far more lucid than anything I have experienced.

Yesterday morning I happened to listen to the Beatles so I thought I would share it.  EQ is where you have to simply let your mind do the work and surrender.

I probably am high on peace (and maybe some other stuff) but you can never have too much gratitude!!  Especially with this treasure of knowledge that is DhO.

"All you need is love"

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/28/20 3:01 PM as a reply to John W.
Hey John, nice!

So you're Paul, John and I'm John, stoned. And tomorrow, you never know, we might join the Magical Mystery Tour with our Lonely Hearts Club Band.

with love and metta, looking at you floating down the stream, or diving in... a yellow submarine, yellow submarine!
smiling stoned

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/28/20 3:17 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Day 39 (it is day 41 today)

Ok, so there is this tension between "letting go of" and "relaxing into". This tension is released if we consider "letting go of craving and aversion", but "letting go of the object" is just that same one pushed to its limit, according to paticca samupadda. If one of the links disappears, the whole chain eventually collapses.
And "relaxing into the object" to the point of merging with it, is there not a kind of pleasant vedana involved? Or a neutral vedana verging on pleasant?
Well, I said ***that for now, and just practice that letting go thing...

So, the (luminous) space in the center... That's a way to look at it, of course. Before, it would have been the nimitta, but it was hard to stay on the nimitta, now it's natural to rest in the space (maybe because I've been going on for 39 days). I can feel that the slightest shift is needed to consider this space as consciousness or emptiness. Well, space is good enough for now.

And this "cognizing the three characteristics of phenomena", it sounds like a clumsy way to acknowledge the constructed nature of phenomena. Coupled with letting go, detachment, it really maintains a dualistic perception throughout, when merging with phenomena in absorption brings back to non-duality (because total ignorance is non-dual, kind of). But is insight the way to go to realize non-dual states? Because the illusion of duality cannot survive the scrutiny of the subject noting phenomena? The subject just becomes wary of itself? For a few years now, I've been blessed with a (relatively) relaxed subject. Maybe I'm just not tired of myself enough yet?

Forgot to say something about the day practice. Not so eventful. Peace. No daydreaming or colorful imagery (remember Daniel saying something about this in high equanimity -maybe, too much old information stew in this little mind-, I guess I've still got a long way to go). Finally reread the chapter on conformity knowledge in MCTB2, so I'm prepared just in case. Well, just a couple of moments where everything synchronises, all the perceiving that takes place at the six sense doors during one mind-moment, then whoosh...that's kind of disappointing. Doesn't last!

Day 40

"Etaṃ santaṃ etaṃ paṇītaṃ, yadidaṃ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭinissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṃ."

"This is peaceful, this is excellent, namely the stilling of all preparations, the relinquishment of all assets, the destruction of craving, detachment, cessation, extinction".

Alternative translation: “This is peaceful, this is sublime, namely: the calming of all constructions, the letting go of all supports, the extinguishing of craving, dispassion, cessation, Nibbāna.”

That's how each of these nibbana sermons starts... Quite intense really, a promise of sort, the "goal". These sermons were originally given to an assembly of monks on a mahasi-style retreat in Sri Lanka who all had made a vow to attain stream entry before the end of the retreat (There are 33 sermons in total).

No vow for me, just curiosity in seeing how everything unfolds around every new curve on the path...
The quote above gives a different light on the path that what I have in mind when in "pragmatic" mode.

Interesting day, full peace was there, but less sense of space, like I would recede on the vipassana jhanic arc (which indicates the state you're in when you enter the sit, the one that colors the subject from above) while fully staying in equanimity.

Ok, I got carried away about the different kinds of letting go, no taking all of them into account. I was remembering when I was using the framework of the five aggregates (or dependent origination, I used them in a similar way): letting go of one of the aggregate would weaken all the other ones. Like, if you stop reacting consciously, it weakens the whole sankhara-(formations) part of the experience. That, in turn, will affect sañna: you stop evaluating (consciously!) that moment of experience. It gets easier and easier not to evaluate. The subconscious does its thing but it also loosens up with time (moment after moment, repeatedly). Vedana (feeling) is very close to sañna. If you don't evaluate, soon you don't register the signals as pleasant or unpleasant. There is a feedback loop here, sañna is the evaluation of vedana, it is also the comparing with previous experience to "recognize" the object, so it deals directly with phasa (or the viñana of the previous moment). With sañna, vedana and sankhara out of the way (so to speak), the viñana (the next moment of consciousness) will release itself from phasa (the contact with the object of perception). That's my whole "distance" theory, the progressive detachment of the subject from the object of experience. Rupa is that object of perception that nama lets go of in the process. The conclusion of this is the whole disappearance of nama-rupa. Cessation, extinction...
The viñanas succeed to each other very quickly (moments of consciousness), so each new viñana superimposes itself on the signal from the sense door, this is how we go progressively towards ignorance (clinging to past viñana, the signal gets drown in the noise) or wisdom (each viñana takes the signal into account, no clinging, no aversion, until viñana does not arise from lack of fuel).
I think I wrote something very similar when I started the Goenka thread, but I did not cheat, I promise!
I put this here because it is really an organic way of letting go, no aversion involved... well, some kind of disenchantment regarding experience (that whole nama-rupa thing), but it's not like it has not been advertised from the beginning, was it? And that's what bugs us, non-monastic practitioners...

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/29/20 4:43 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 41

Vittaka - Vicara: the first two factors of the first jhana. I don't speak pali, so I will think of it as "directed attention" and "sustained attention". When I scan my body, I do direct my attention...
Ekagatta: One-pointedness. This one has been rendered as "gathering of the mind" around an object, it does not say anything about the relative size of this object. So I gathered my mind on "body" and move it around with vittaka. That's how I find Piti and sukha (physical "bliss" and mental joy). Actually it took me a while to discern these two: is there not a physical component to joy? well it's bliss... and a mental component to bliss? You get the picture...
And of course, to be in jhana, you need equanimity (uppekha, the fifth factor).
With these interpretations (not that far out), you can perfectly enter first jhana while scanning, that's the "free flow" (welcome to the Goenka terminology).
When I stopped moving around and rested aware of the whole body, that was enough to experience second to fourth jhana. And I am now playing with the immaterial realm, but will only really access them (the "pure abodes") when I have really let go of body: in Goenka tradition, after completing the first two paths.
That makes perfect sense to me: some kind of reboot is needed to change the deep relationship to body.
Why do I come up with this (framework, aha!)? because it tells me I don't need to release into space now, it won't really work because the mind is still not subtle enough. That's why perceptions remain in the background (instead of vanishing). I will stay in what Daniel calls j4.j5. (where I've been for the last few days).
So some subtle investigation remains to be done at j4, along with some well deserved relaxing!

Cool, that came at the end of noon meditation. It's like making sense of a whole aspect of the path.

Sermon 13 is really deep, I'm in the middle of it. Analayo likes to translate Nibbana as "going out", he finds it more positive than extinction. There is this strong recognition that imagining and conceiving are a sign of not having completed the path (in a study the first sutta of the majjhima nikaya : the Mûlapariyâya Sutta), which corresponds to the Goenka admonishment: "no imagination!" (which will, however, still be there until arahatship!).

Day 42

Every day at 11.00 am, my girlfriend attends a workshop on the web where she follows vocal instructions. It lasts one hour and a half,, and that is my preferred time for listening to Analayo or else. But yesterday I ended up a little bit scattered from too much listening, so I decided to focus on the nada sound (as it's trendy these days around here). I've had tinitus since my twenties, from too much punk and other loud music gigs. When I first noticed it, it bothered me for about half an hour, before I understood it had to do with grasping, that it would soon fade in the background if I did not attend to it, and that it did not interfere with "normal" hearing. I have very seldom used it for formal meditation, but noticing it in daily life really helps with releasing oneself from thinking, and going back to the presence to this moment. (I liked the operating noise analogy  with sound system from Steph in this thread!)
So this morning I had the high pitched nada sound, the movement instructions and various other outside noises fading in and out. When I loose meaning and just get the modulations of the voice, I know that I am in deconstruction mode (going toward the "bare" signal). It is easier to loose meaning taking another object, e.g. the nada sound. So I attended to the awareness jumping from one of the three sources to the next, and to the mind constructing an "audio scene" from all this, with heavy remixing and editing foreground and background.
Then there is luminosity in the visual field. I used to think of bliss, luminosity and tinitus as the saturation of these three sense doors (feeling, seeing, hearing) when concentration was ramping up. Or when they would get saturated. you hear (mainly in the yogic tradition) of smelling roses and tasting honey (exhaling honey to be exact) as the sublimation of the last two, but I have only very transient experiences of this.
When the mind constructs an experience aggregating body bliss, intense luminosity and high pitched frequencies, you are first as high as a kite and there, you learn not to react the hard way (from feeling the suffering the reaction entails)...

Anyway, it was very clear this morning that the mind would aggregate the different sense consciousness of rapidly succeeding instants to build a single, complete mind moment of the reality of now.
When I focus on body sensations I tend to carry around the luminosity with "me" as I scan or consider the whole body at once. That's the nimitta, nice, it's impermanent, changes texture, color or intensity. But that luminosity only happens at the "seeing" sense door, around the third eye, and the hearing around the head (the vibration of the sound will resonate in differetn parts of the body depending on its frequency), if we consider the cartography of the mind space, which also becomes more of an expanding sphere at the apex of deconstruction. Well, it happens "up there" but the mind takes it in account to construct the experience of "down there" or of the whole reality of this moment.

I also noticed that, same as with a dhamma talk, I can keep the tinnitus in mind and attend to body sensations or other sense doors. Awareness goes around the thinking process (in the case of a talk) and do its concentration thing. Not so when I try to read while watching something, or follow the meaning of two different audio sources at the same time...

Ok time to go (once again, it was clearer during the sit)!
with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/1/20 2:25 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 43

Sitting this morning, attention was directly attracted to the nada sound (from the momentum of yesterday's practice). It made me realize how deeply I am conditioned (by my years of training) to tune automatically to the perceptions of the bodily sensations. If I concentrate further on these (as with the systematic body scan), it overrides the other sense doors (absorption). It is obvious with the nada sound how other perceptions fade out along with absorption. So the little game I had of focusing on the space in between, instead of one of the sense doors is really useful to disembed from all these.
I practice a little bit with eyes open as well, which is no problem really, it is as easy to let go of it as of the inner luminous activity of the closed eyes.
Also, the high pitch of the nada sound tends to fixate the awareness "up there" (on top of the head or above it, that's where it's coming from). It is quite unbalancing in my opinion, so I tried two things:
1- I scanned my lower parts (for body sensations) while keeping the nada sound in mind. Ok, it works, but it is kind of the usual stuff.
2- I listened to the lower overtones of the pitch, which also brought me down (in the chest mainly), but it brought me down with the "hearing" sense, and it was really quite a different way to attend to these "body parts" (in the constructed cartography of the body which represents the boundaries of my spatialized consciousness). All in all an interesting new experience with something of synesthesia (I always imagined synesthesia as seeing sounds and hearing colors, here it's a bit different, hearing merging with the sense of touch...)

In the afternoon, in the middle of my sit, I got curious to find the tuning of my tinnitus. Wouldn't it be cool to sing in tune with our inner sound... The only problem is that it is in the eighth or ninth octave... And I'm not Celibidache (wink to Olivier). I tried with the tuner on my phone, which goes to the sixth octave, and guessed it was a B (also by trying to sing different notes and see which one feels best). Well, it was good fun and I ended up singing a B in unison on a drone for a while, which is something I did for a couple of months in the morning this winter, and today again it gave me that nice crystal jhanic feeling when I stopped.

Also had the feeling that I was still often embedded in thoughts (that tend to be associated with the awareness, like a "thinking" awareness). Made a resolution to clarify this from now on. Maybe noting is the way to debunk these last ones (most thoughts are already seen passing through the space of consciousness...but not all of them). And from what I said about absorption in the body scan, it is obvious that there (body scanning, or tinnitusing) is not the best place to observe thoughts, as I can of suppress them "easily". I really have to attend directly to thoughts as a meditation object and not at a passing by object in concentration states. Food for thought aha...


I forgot to say about sermon 13 that Buddha cared about deconstructing concepts in speech as well. There is an interesting bit about the philosophy of grammatical structure. Interesting because I thought it was a much more modern concern... Well, just to say these sermons are full of deep avenues of investigation and reflection. Did I say that already?
Something about "paramattha" dhamma, generally translated as "absolute", when the meaning in the suttas would be more "highest good". How a tradition starts to reify concepts branding them as ultimate realities...
In sermon 14, Nibbana as Dipa, an island, and how this analogy can make it as it was a place in the world (a state). the Kappamāṇavapucchā sutta makes it very clear that it is the end of craving and grasping.

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/1/20 3:26 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Smiling Stone:
Day 39 (it is day 41 today)

Ok, so there is this tension between "letting go of" and "relaxing into". This tension is released if we consider "letting go of craving and aversion", but "letting go of the object" is just that same one pushed to its limit, according to paticca samupadda. If one of the links disappears, the whole chain eventually collapses.
And "relaxing into the object" to the point of merging with it, is there not a kind of pleasant vedana involved? Or a neutral vedana verging on pleasant?
Well, I said ***that for now, and just practice that letting go thing...

So, the (luminous) space in the center... That's a way to look at it, of course. Before, it would have been the nimitta, but it was hard to stay on the nimitta, now it's natural to rest in the space (maybe because I've been going on for 39 days). I can feel that the slightest shift is needed to consider this space as consciousness or emptiness. Well, space is good enough for now.

And this "cognizing the three characteristics of phenomena", it sounds like a clumsy way to acknowledge the constructed nature of phenomena. Coupled with letting go, detachment, it really maintains a dualistic perception throughout, when merging with phenomena in absorption brings back to non-duality (because total ignorance is non-dual, kind of). But is insight the way to go to realize non-dual states? Because the illusion of duality cannot survive the scrutiny of the subject noting phenomena? The subject just becomes wary of itself? For a few years now, I've been blessed with a (relatively) relaxed subject. Maybe I'm just not tired of myself enough yet?

Forgot to say something about the day practice. Not so eventful. Peace. No daydreaming or colorful imagery (remember Daniel saying something about this in high equanimity -maybe, too much old information stew in this little mind-, I guess I've still got a long way to go). Finally reread the chapter on conformity knowledge in MCTB2, so I'm prepared just in case. Well, just a couple of moments where everything synchronises, all the perceiving that takes place at the six sense doors during one mind-moment, then whoosh...that's kind of disappointing. Doesn't last!

Day 40

"Etaṃ santaṃ etaṃ paṇītaṃ, yadidaṃ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭinissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṃ."

"This is peaceful, this is excellent, namely the stilling of all preparations, the relinquishment of all assets, the destruction of craving, detachment, cessation, extinction".

Alternative translation: “This is peaceful, this is sublime, namely: the calming of all constructions, the letting go of all supports, the extinguishing of craving, dispassion, cessation, Nibbāna.”

That's how each of these nibbana sermons starts... Quite intense really, a promise of sort, the "goal". These sermons were originally given to an assembly of monks on a mahasi-style retreat in Sri Lanka who all had made a vow to attain stream entry before the end of the retreat (There are 33 sermons in total).

No vow for me, just curiosity in seeing how everything unfolds around every new curve on the path...
The quote above gives a different light on the path that what I have in mind when in "pragmatic" mode.

. . . 
I think I wrote something very similar when I started the Goenka thread, but I did not cheat, I promise!
I put this here because it is really an organic way of letting go, no aversion involved... well, some kind of disenchantment regarding experience (that whole nama-rupa thing), but it's not like it has not been advertised from the beginning, was it? And that's what bugs us, non-monastic practitioners...

with metta
smiling stone
Thank God for people like Daniel Ingram, who blew all their credibility with the elitist monastic practitioners to let the cat out of the bag to the unenlightened masses. The Mushroom Factor in effect, for millenia. I love Daniel Ingram. He is as good as God, in certain ways, and better in several critical other ways (DI's articulation at length and in scrupous, labor-intensive detail, and earthly availability, are relevant superiorities, of course, and subject to the three characteristics. But here in hell, DI's as good as they come.)

As are you, my beloved Stone, Rock of my salvation.

with love, tim

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/1/20 5:51 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Hey Tim,
I saw this was your Daniel's day! He fully deserves it...
And you know firsthand, as you saw God today, hooray!
Love and metta
smiling stone

Edit: the thread continues above. The reply options mess with the order. (That's why I sign out to read the forum. Then I get the chronological order and don't miss posts!)

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/1/20 4:27 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 44

Yesterday I re-read Shargrol's sum about equanimity. Inspiring read, I felt like I was in the rails... If I made a Boddhisatva vow in the past, cessation won't happen anyway, no big deal. Analayo made a comment at beginning of sermon 14 about stream-entry being an unfortunate accident for the would be Boddhisatva on the way to Buddhahood. Because the goal of the Boddhisatva is to become a full Buddha, which takes eons in order to fill all your baskets of paramis (the parami thing is very Goenkaesque, I added it, not Analayo). So I was not joking after all about Goenka! (for context, see the Boddhisatva thread) "We are here to reach the highest goal"... Buddhahood, of course! "Do not err from the technique or you might get stream entry, and we've been on this road together for eons" (fake quote, but it is a plausible explanation for not changing technique)... That's how special we are, long term Goenka practitioners!

On this retreat, I do not force myself into stillness (as I do not loose concentration if I move a bit, or even talk a few words) but I could feel a little bit more movement this morning during the 2 hours sit, indicating mild restlessness. I have been targeting thoughts more specifically (off sitting as well), and it works. I was thinking that you need to come in on the same sense door if you want to skilfully deal with a perception. If not, it has a shade of denial, or looking away, when the release happens by attending with equanimity. So, if a thought arises and I am attending to some body sensation, it will pass without my attending... This became clear with the nada sound and how the mind can only deal with one sound at a time with utter clarity, but can retain clarity on different sense doors (I can listen to a talk, or to music... or think, and still do a precise body scan without loosing meaning, but if I listen to two sound sources, I have to focus on one... like: a full mind moment lasts more than a single sense door moment of perceiving).

Ñanananda sermon 14: in the analogy of the vortex forming in the river (to represent a human body), the inside and the outside of the whirlpool are made of water, it is just the agitation that gives the illusion of a separate entity. Similarly when we contemplate the elements, it is interesting to consider their presence inside and outside to reduce selfing. Sermon 15 goes on analysing the Bāhiyasutta. Endlessly fascinating stuff... Ah yes, he spoke about space (in sermon 14), as one of the five elements with earth, fire, water and air. (I had forgotten about this, this gives a special status to space because, as an element, it is not a simple construct, as I thought it was. Analayo commented: neither constructed nor unconstructed.) Ñanananda then goes on to explain that it is relative to form, like a picture and its background, and born from attention. It is saṅkhata, "prepared". The only asaṅkhata is Nibbana. He speaks of philosophers who later took space to be asaṅkhata, thus misinterpreting the dhamma. And he goes on about the jhanas and the formless realms, which really pleased me (because of all the rambling at the beginning of this retreat).

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/2/20 3:19 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 45

Very still, deep two hours sit in the morning... What happens now I call "triangulation": I am tuned to the body sensations, I think "where is the nada sound?", I was not aware of it and now it comes to the fore... "is there any thought? of course there is... where does it emerge from?", and from there stay at the point of balance in the space of consciousness where I don't get attracted to any of the three perceptions (smell and taste not being a real risk of getting lost in so far)... either this or attend to one sense door. This morning was "thought", I had the sense that I could see them emerge from the deep within (like somehow "down" and "back" in the spatialization I identify with these days).

I want to make it clear that this is just another framework I use to make sense of experience. I do not pretend that the mind actually works that way. This is the early buddhist theory, that of the six viñanas (sense consciousness) independent of each other. I am not sure if the theory would agree with my take on how they aggregate in the mind consciousness of the next moment (like some kind of russian doll, as the mind consciousness is one of the six that get bundled together to make one moment of... mind consciousness). I have tried to use it before but it is the first time that I get to discern these different signals coming in from different locations with sufficient clarity to really work with it. I believe it is fruitful, it makes practice really rich and interesting since I started with it (well, it was nice before as well, so... I'm just a happy fellow!). Actually I think this theory has been debunked by recent findings using neuro imagery but I forgot the reference. Anyway...

In the afternoon I sat for one hour, nodding a lot after a big lunch, not so much investigation but lot of peace, relax. Then I went to lie down for 20 minutes, more relax, no sleep, bright awareness, and came back to sit for the remainder of the three hours. More relaxed from the lying down, and still aware, I rested in space with sensations in the background, and the sense of a subject disappeared in some buzzing peace. I came out of it after a few minutes triangulating (as explained above), with the feeling I had been in hard jhana, and that I had had a taste of "nothingness" (from j4.j7, or even j1.j7 because of the remaining sensations, but without the usual subject, that was the thing). That might be far fetched, but there was something to the sliding from space into nothingness that was a "first time". It was SLOW... Usually when an experience comes, it is quite abrupt and takes me by surprise. Not so here... I also thought of "hypnagogic" because there was this feeling of falling asleep with full awareness (but no images). And there was some heaviness when I came out (the "buzzing"), but I stayed erect during the whole sit and did not slouch (like earlier in the afternoon). Actually, luminous buzzing at the periphery (and high pitched sound) was all there was during the event.
So after I triangulated back to my usual observation of space, I tried to replicate climbing up the jhana ladder (as we could see the buzzing as some subtle bliss from j1), it worked but seemed a little bit forced as the subject was back. Going directly to space seemed the way, I did not merge again, but still the subject was really evanescent. Nice experience.
I had some phone calls to make, so I had to stop but it was an apex of sort. And I was fully energized at the end of the sit (little high?). I am quite curious to go back there, see if I can replicate and explore...

Well, that was the 45th day of this home retreat, so it's nice to celebrate with something new. I know that some people just sit that much everyday but, for me, it was a first at home.
I'm thinking of slacking a bit tomorrow and then go on for a few more days.

love and metta to you all, with some extra to the few of you who are bravely following these ramblings day after day (more or less) into the unknown...
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/2/20 5:02 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Dont slack off. You have built momentum. It sounds like practice is effortless so what does slacking off even mean. Haha.

Sounds like interesting experiences. Try to repeat. 

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/2/20 9:25 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Smiling Stone:

Well, that was the 45th day of this home retreat, so it's nice to celebrate with something new. I know that some people just sit that much everyday but, for me, it was a first at home.
I'm thinking of slacking a bit tomorrow and then go on for a few more days.



Hmm, awareness of slacking... "intending to slack?" Sounds like thinking. emoticon 
Awareness of Netflix.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/3/20 3:59 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 46

Ok guys, no slacking today, six hours in already! Thanks for your inputs... As Jason, said, I have the momentum, and was quite excited to keep on exploring more these far out realms (for this "letting go" rookie). I actually sat one more hour yesterday night, in peace. (I had some writing to do, that was what the "slacking" was about, but this will be for another day...)
There is build up during the day, it does not come right away. Morning went with a little bit of scanning and triangulation, relearning to rest in space. This comes easily enough but, if I'm not careful, quite a lot goes in the background (thinking, thinking!). So there is quite a bit of adjustement...
Today (this afternoon), I did not touch "nothingness" (which was the real dive from the cliff yesterday). But "space" morphed easily into "consciousness". That move I was talking about since the beginning of this log... is now true in my experience. We'll see if it confirms in the next few days. I forgot to say that "nothingness" (that's my label to it, I do not pretend it is j7!) was followed yesterday by strong (very sweet) vibratory activity in the upper back from the top of the skull...
Another avenue of exploration is "eye open" practice, as I have years of training with eyes closed. But this will come after (or apart, when I go for a walk) these diggings into absorptions.

How does the mind capture the "present" moment? In this model, the mind consciousness takes a snapshot of the six viñanas, freezing them as it presents them to itself. It is already a look on the past. What happens in a more subtle state like "consciousness"? there is a feedback loop because the mind consciousness was looking at itself before becoming the object, there is some kind of overdrive... Raaaaaambling!
Let's not forget that a lot of sutta scholars question this idea of tiny separated moments of consciousness as being a later development, not at all necessary to understand the depth of the Dhamma. So... I just find it useful and it has helped me to make sense of "mind" for a few years now. Not attached to it, just saying...

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/3/20 4:17 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Smiling Stone:
Hey Tim,
I saw this was your Daniel's day! He fully deserves it...
And you know firsthand, as you saw God today, hooray!
Love and metta
smiling stone

Edit: the thread continues above. The reply options mess with the order. (That's why I sign out to read the forum. Then I get the chronological order and don't miss posts!)
hey stone of ages, cleft for me,

No disrespect whatsoever to Daniel, who is as high a human as there comes, and cute as hell, but God is fucking HOT!

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/3/20 4:20 PM as a reply to John W.
John W:
Smiling Stone:

Well, that was the 45th day of this home retreat, so it's nice to celebrate with something new. I know that some people just sit that much everyday but, for me, it was a first at home.
I'm thinking of slacking a bit tomorrow and then go on for a few more days.



Hmm, awareness of slacking... "intending to slack?" Sounds like thinking. emoticon 
Awareness of Netflix.
Busted. The road to hell is paved with slacking. Perfect strategy for a Bodhisattva. I recommend that movie on Netflix now about stalin dying. My brother told me it is exquisitely high black humor, and will earn Steve Buscemi the Oscar he richly deserves.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/5/20 4:31 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 47

Morning was slow (Monday!), 1h30 at noon, and three hours in the afternoon. Focused, centered, not so much on the triangulation (because of the curiosity aiming at falling again into that non-dual pit). I was not so good on the letting go like the last two days, where is my beginner's mind? Is there such thing as a skillful intention? Is triangulating letting go? because I was letting go of the triangulating... and back to the sensate field. I was still aiming for space, though, it was easy... but the fact that there was a periphery felt like cheating (no, felt unsatisfying... dukkha... but it's not dukkha about space, but about its limits). Muddy report today, I go back to it now (I am behind schedule)...

How do I attend to space? Do I look at it? Is space different from consciousness? Is space different from emptiness?
My upbringing: feeling the space around each sensation (perception of the "touch" sense door), not focusing on the percept, but on emptiness around it...
New paradigm: extracting "myself" repeatedly from identification form each sense-door "I" am identified with at any given moment. The fragile point of balance in between: space...
Remembering this space is also a construct, nothing but consciousness itself. Cool, I do that, but have only really sunk once (the day before yesterday) into that "raw" consciousness without observer. Is is necessary to the progress on the path? or is it just playing with the immaterial realms? Is there a necessity to realize all of this pre-buddhist wisdom (meaning mastering each of these subtler and subtler states)? Or was it enough to get the joke, and then tell everybody (especially the neo advaitist branch): "what, you don't get the joke? your stuff is not final, no stuff is final..."? It is kind of pedantic if I don't experience their stuff myself (said that before)... Night rambling!

Sat one more hour in the night, deep peace, and finished fifty minutes behind daily schedule. The afternoon sit was still cruising in the same territory around space and peace, with some hesitations as reported.

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/5/20 5:43 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Smiling Stone:
Day 47

Morning was slow (Monday!), 1h30 at noon, and three hours in the afternoon. Focused, centered, not so much on the triangulation (because of the curiosity aiming at falling again into that non-dual pit). I was not so good on the letting go like the last two days, where is my beginner's mind? Is there such thing as a skillful intention? Is triangulating letting go? because I was letting go of the triangulating... and back to the sensate field. I was still aiming for space, though, it was easy... but the fact that there was a periphery felt like cheating (no, felt unsatisfying... dukkha... but it's not dukkha about space, but about its limits). Muddy report today, I go back to it now (I am behind schedule)... 

How do I attend to space? Do I look at it? Is space different from consciousness? This just makes me want to mention this : we can make a distinction between con-sciousness, ie, intentionality, the knowing by someone of some-thing, which is dualistic (and is, or is bound with, the process of attention) ; and awareness, which is the sensitivity in things, the awakeness of things, the blindly familiar fact that things are always already sensitive/sensed on their own and their is nothing for "you" to do so that it will be that way, contrary to attention which is what you "control" ; in fact, there is nothing in the world, in your world, you experience, which is not already sensed and thus, known somehow, inherently. From that terminological basis, we could say that awakening is about awareness, not consciousness, at least I found it helpful on my path to realize that, it changed my conception of the whole thing. I think that's why there isn't a need to pay attention anymore for SE to happen for instance. All the meditation methods are just a way to still things enough so that it becomes self-apparent that things are always already self-apparent without any intervention from you whatsoever. There is something which is totally not about attention, there, and this is true of the rest of the path, for what I can see and what I've gathered from more experienced meditators. It's really more like "resting in awareness", awareness being the sensations (both namic and rupic, so we could say "impressions" if that is clearer) thmselves as they manifest, always already known by themselves and somehow being that very knowledge ! That is a weird conception, and this is why SE can be disorienting somehow, this is what happened to me anyways : it seemed like it showed me that meditation wasn't really what I thought, it was not really about the efforts the guy meditating was putting in, but it was something weirdly unknown and totally OUT OF CONTROL.

Is space different from emptiness? : "Space is not space, that's why they call it space." emoticonemoticon I for one think space is different from emptiness, at least what we usually call space (the abstract container of things (but - aren't there no-things ? so how can there be space ? And how can there be attending ? What is atending to what ?????? Seriously. Puzzling yet enticing questions for me).  In fact, when I perceived emptiness the most directly ever, it wasn't spacious, it was totally flat, in a way. Nothing to do with the notion of space as in "physical container" of everything. That's my feeling anyways !
My upbringing: feeling the space around each sensation (perception of the "touch" sense door), not focusing on the percept, but on emptiness around it... If there is "emptiness" around sensations, do you mean by emptiness the mental space into which are mapped all sensations ? Sunyata is not space. An alternative translation of sunyata could be "fullness", it seems. Some translate it as "openness". This points, IMO, directly to the notion that there is not about any parts of experience and is not a property of any part of experience. Although I can't claim great depth of understanding of emptiness. On this general subject  though : I believe, when Linda was talking about interior and exterior being no different, in Tim's log, she was maybe hinting to the fact that you can actually see directly, say, when you are triangulating (i like that term), that : {mental images of your foot, or the kinesthetic sense of your body which seems to place the perception in a kind of mental map of your body and the room you're supposed to be in (space)} = Nama, and "physical" sensations = rupa, you can see sometimes that nama and rupa are actually made of the same stuff, not situated in different, separated regions of some external space which "contains" them all, you can see that they are on an equal footing, and really, impossible to actually locate relatively to one another, and in perceiving that it points directly to an untenable paradox, so that you can sometimes perceive that actually, there is no separation, either between sense doors/consciousnesses, nor between interior and exterior. This can be a temporary experience, as it is for me, but in fact I believe this is getting third path is basically all about : deleting that separation.
New paradigm: extracting "myself" repeatedly from identification form each sense-door "I" am identified with at any given moment. The fragile point of balance in between: space...
Remembering this space is also a construct, nothing but consciousness itself. Cool, I do that, but have only really sunk once (the day before yesterday) into that "raw" consciousness without observer. Is is necessary to the progress on the path? or is it just playing with the immaterial realms? Is there a necessity to realize all of this pre-buddhist wisdom (meaning mastering each of these subtler and subtler states)? A quote from Burbea : "We may say whatever we want about those cittamatrins [who play with perceptions suh as the one you mention], but they sure know how to have fun !" From the talk "The vastness of awareness" which you can find on Dharmaseed. Or was it enough to get the joke, and then tell everybody (especially the neo advaitist branch): "what, you don't get the joke? your stuff is not final, no stuff is final..."? It is kind of pedantic if I don't experience their stuff myself (said that before)... Night rambling!
Maddening as it may sound, I think there isn't anything more you have to do but wait and see and be patient, I guess, which you are, so all is well. Of course you know that since you've been precticing 6 h a day for 45 days, and we keep telling you the same thing, but remember that the only aspect of that devotion we get to experience is the thinking about it that you do afterwards, so forgive us for feeding you that same old crap !

Cheers Smiling !!!

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/5/20 10:20 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
In j4.j6\n11.j6, you can take space as the object. You can do vipassana on space and perceive the impermance between sense door and sense object. This is the nudge that pushes me into n11.j8+. 

They are very subtle states though. I try to take a skeptical stance as a counter balance. What if these yogis just went mad staring at their eye lids and called it a map? What if the map is so general it is as accurate as a horoscope? What if I am daydreaming and telling myself stories? haha

I am left with falling back on basic assumptions and good practice. For me, that would usually mean balancing tranquility and investigation at this point.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/5/20 11:20 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Olivier:
Smiling Stone:
Day 47

Morning was slow (Monday!), 1h30 at noon, and three hours in the afternoon. Focused, centered, not so much on the triangulation (because of the curiosity aiming at falling again into that non-dual pit). I was not so good on the letting go like the last two days, where is my beginner's mind? Is there such thing as a skillful intention? Is triangulating letting go? because I was letting go of the triangulating... and back to the sensate field. I was still aiming for space, though, it was easy... but the fact that there was a periphery felt like cheating (no, felt unsatisfying... dukkha... but it's not dukkha about space, but about its limits). Muddy report today, I go back to it now (I am behind schedule)... 

How do I attend to space? Do I look at it? Is space different from consciousness? This just makes me want to mention this : we can make a distinction between con-sciousness, ie, intentionality, the knowing by someone of some-thing, which is dualistic (and is, or is bound with, the process of attention) ; and awareness, which is the sensitivity in things, the awakeness of things, the blindly familiar fact that things are always already sensitive/sensed on their own and their is nothing for "you" to do so that it will be that way, contrary to attention which is what you "control" ; in fact, there is nothing in the world, in your world, you experience, which is not already sensed and thus, known somehow, inherently. From that terminological basis, we could say that awakening is about awareness, not consciousness, at least I found it helpful on my path to realize that, it changed my conception of the whole thing. I think that's why there isn't a need to pay attention anymore for SE to happen for instance. All the meditation methods are just a way to still things enough so that it becomes self-apparent that things are always already self-apparent without any intervention from you whatsoever. There is something which is totally not about attention, there, and this is true of the rest of the path, for what I can see and what I've gathered from more experienced meditators. It's really more like "resting in awareness", awareness being the sensations (both namic and rupic, so we could say "impressions" if that is clearer) thmselves as they manifest, always already known by themselves and somehow being that very knowledge ! That is a weird conception, and this is why SE can be disorienting somehow, this is what happened to me anyways : it seemed like it showed me that meditation wasn't really what I thought, it was not really about the efforts the guy meditating was putting in, but it was something weirdly unknown and totally OUT OF CONTROL.

Is space different from emptiness? : "Space is not space, that's why they call it space." emoticonemoticon I for one think space is different from emptiness, at least what we usually call space (the abstract container of things (but - aren't there no-things ? so how can there be space ? And how can there be attending ? What is atending to what ?????? Seriously. Puzzling yet enticing questions for me).  In fact, when I perceived emptiness the most directly ever, it wasn't spacious, it was totally flat, in a way. Nothing to do with the notion of space as in "physical container" of everything. That's my feeling anyways !
My upbringing: feeling the space around each sensation (perception of the "touch" sense door), not focusing on the percept, but on emptiness around it... If there is "emptiness" around sensations, do you mean by emptiness the mental space into which are mapped all sensations ? Sunyata is not space. An alternative translation of sunyata could be "fullness", it seems. Some translate it as "openness". This points, IMO, directly to the notion that there is not about any parts of experience and is not a property of any part of experience. Although I can't claim great depth of understanding of emptiness. On this general subject  though : I believe, when Linda was talking about interior and exterior being no different, in Tim's log, she was maybe hinting to the fact that you can actually see directly, say, when you are triangulating (i like that term), that : {mental images of your foot, or the kinesthetic sense of your body which seems to place the perception in a kind of mental map of your body and the room you're supposed to be in (space)} = Nama, and "physical" sensations = rupa, you can see sometimes that nama and rupa are actually made of the same stuff, not situated in different, separated regions of some external space which "contains" them all, you can see that they are on an equal footing, and really, impossible to actually locate relatively to one another, and in perceiving that it points directly to an untenable paradox, so that you can sometimes perceive that actually, there is no separation, either between sense doors/consciousnesses, nor between interior and exterior. This can be a temporary experience, as it is for me, but in fact I believe this is getting third path is basically all about : deleting that separation.
New paradigm: extracting "myself" repeatedly from identification form each sense-door "I" am identified with at any given moment. The fragile point of balance in between: space...
Remembering this space is also a construct, nothing but consciousness itself. Cool, I do that, but have only really sunk once (the day before yesterday) into that "raw" consciousness without observer. Is is necessary to the progress on the path? or is it just playing with the immaterial realms? Is there a necessity to realize all of this pre-buddhist wisdom (meaning mastering each of these subtler and subtler states)? A quote from Burbea : "We may say whatever we want about those cittamatrins [who play with perceptions suh as the one you mention], but they sure know how to have fun !" From the talk "The vastness of awareness" which you can find on Dharmaseed. Or was it enough to get the joke, and then tell everybody (especially the neo advaitist branch): "what, you don't get the joke? your stuff is not final, no stuff is final..."? It is kind of pedantic if I don't experience their stuff myself (said that before)... Night rambling!
Maddening as it may sound, I think there isn't anything more you have to do but wait and see and be patient, I guess, which you are, so all is well. Of course you know that since you've been precticing 6 h a day for 45 days, and we keep telling you the same thing, but remember that the only aspect of that devotion we get to experience is the thinking about it that you do afterwards, so forgive us for feeding you that same old crap !

Cheers Smiling !!!

You're right, Olivier. He totally buried the hook:
From that terminological basis, we could say that awakening is about awareness, not consciousness, at least I found it helpful on my path to realize that, it changed my conception of the whole thing. I think that's why there isn't a need to pay attention anymore for SE to happen for instance. All the meditation methods are just a way to still things enough so that it becomes self-apparent that things are always already self-apparent without any intervention from you whatsoever. 
Ain't that just like the kid? Gotta love that.

Best to both you musical maniacs. Dele is going to take forever, given that it involves seeing and knowing. I will present a finite chunk soonish, sooner if i get banned from here again.
love, tim

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/6/20 3:06 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Hello my friends,

A few question marks and the whole rescue team shows up! Thank you for that, it warms my heart as I switch on my computer for a morning look at the dho...
I will read all that again attentively (spend maybe more time on Olivier's, aha)... and sit on it! (today is day 49, I am one day behing in the reports)

love and metta to you
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/7/20 4:19 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Olivier:
we can make a distinction between con-sciousness, ie, intentionality, the knowing by someone of some-thing, which is dualistic (and is, or is bound with, the process of attention) ; and awareness, which is the sensitivity in things, the awakeness of things, the blindly familiar fact that things are always already sensitive/sensed on their own and their is nothing for "you" to do so that it will be that way, contrary to attention which is what you "control" ; in fact, there is nothing in the world, in your world, you experience, which is not already sensed and thus, known somehow, inherently.

Yep Olivier, thanks for the care with which you reply here, I deeply appreciate!
How I see it, all awareness is a construct. So it is a distinction in construction. If I don't put forward an intention to triangulate, awareness will identify with the most interesting process happening in this moment, and forget about the rest...unless it is already detached, then interesting things will happen on their own...
All the meditation methods are just a way to still things enough so that it becomes self-apparent that things are always already self-apparent without any intervention from you whatsoever

Beautifully said, I will meditate on that one. as long as there is a "you", it intervenes. When it disappears, things are self apparent... Do you mean they carry the concept of what they are with them? I would think (I think too much, yes) that the fact that a "thing" appear (instead of a symphony of non-signals) gives us a hint that there is a "you" somewhere below the surface that keeps on making sense of experience, for this body-mind to be able to orient itself in this sensate world. That's the word of a worldling...
 In fact, when I perceived emptiness the most directly ever, it wasn't spacious, it was totally flat, in a way.
...
If there is "emptiness" around sensations, do you mean by emptiness the mental space into which are mapped all sensations ? Sunyata is not space. An alternative translation of sunyata could be "fullness", it seems. Some translate it as "openness".

I totally agree with you here, and I thought I had made clear that I "mapped sunyata" at "nothingness", meaning after "consciousness" where "space" has been invested by the fullness (yes) of consciousness. At this point, there is already no locality of the signals, they are all at once in awareness (without the construct of space), that's what I'm on these days, with mixed results!

Your post deserves deeper analysis (and it's fun and challenging, do not think that I don't value your advice, I feel compelled to answer!). Sorry to stop here, but I'm tired already... Ah yes, you said "namic and rupic", that surprised me as to me, one cannot be without the other, interdependence 101.

Jason :
In j4.j6\n11.j6, you can take space as the object. You can do vipassana on space and perceive the impermanence between sense door and sense object. This is the nudge that pushes me into n11.j8+. 

Thanks again, Jason! I will meditate on that one (impermanence between sense door and sense object). I'm quite sure I haven't done exactly that yet...
What if these yogis just went mad staring at their eye lids and called it a map?

I love it when you relax a bit!
For me, that would usually mean balancing tranquility and investigation at this point.

I've been following that one since you said that a few weeks ago. These last days, I've been loosening up the investigation bit (at times) to deepen the jhanas (or the jhanic factors of whatever I'm in).


Tim:

You're right, Olivier. He totally buried the hook

I'm so happy you're here, Tim!


Love to the three of you,
I'll try to live up to your expectations

metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/8/20 9:27 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Hey, no need to take what i say too seriously my dears, i'm just perhaps not always so skilfully writing up whatever comes to mind, without having any final answers..... although i may let it seem like i do sometimes emoticonemoticonemoticonemoticonemoticon 

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/8/20 1:45 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Olivier:
i'm just perhaps not always so skilfully writing up whatever comes to mind, without having any final answers...


Aha, Mister Olivier, that could well be a definition of this entire log!
It is surprising how deep it can get when you let it flow... sometimes

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/9/20 5:36 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 48

In the morning, awareness of the subtlest thoughts, realizing that I am still embedded in quite a few of them (that was a blind spot in my practice -because of the type of practice-, as underlined again and again... working on it, patiently and persistently).
I remembered the semblance of falling asleep but was full of energy and wide awake, so I went into deeper peace without the vertigo.... I had some occurences of wobbling of awareness itself (also the next day), which I take as a good sign that something is starting to happen around the "subject".
My girlfriend knows she can talk to me when I'm sitting, I will usually answer and get up to do whatever needs to be done: I am usually pretty good at staying in the groove with a reasonable amount of interaction. That's why I can do this home retreat. She's good, and I'm good too. Two hours into the afternoon sit, she did and I got annoyed and answered a bit harshly before getting up in a bad mood. It was over after five minutes and I apologized but it was a sign that I was stretching a bit my balancing through a subtle territory of deep peace, at the border of "consciousness" as I mapped it before.
Later, I wrote a couple of messages, here and elsewhere, and realized (the next morning!) that I had been somehow harsh or slightly insensitive. I am in the process of making amends where needed!
It is kind of paradoxical to lack sensitivity when you train all day for it, but (I've also noticed that in daily practice), when things get a little bit "unusual" or "spectacular", there is sometimes a backlash of edginess after the sit. It has to do with "losing" the subtle state and going back to "everyday" reality (like at the end of a retreat, I hoped I was done with that...Nope)

Day 49

Tired during the morning sit (7.30 am to 9): I lied down for 20 mn in the middle (I say tiredness but it was uneasy sensations, restlessness). The idea that the point is not to work on pain these days, but to go deeper into ease... a little lack of acceptance of "what is"...

Olivier's comment made me give more attention to subtle intentions: in the afternoon sit I stopped any directing of awareness even towards "space". There was a feeling of recoiling from the objects that made the "subject" more evanescent (not to the point of disappearing). Also Analayo making a short comment (in sermon 16) to "direct investigation towards cessation, as nibbana is the culmination of cessations" (from memory, I apologize for any mistake)...
Well, sermon 16 was really inspiring... Analayo shared an insightful comment by Shaila Catherine at the beginning, where she reflects on the tendency (or the risk) there is, however advanced on the path one is, to create a meditator from the experience, however subtle it is. Sermon 15 was all about the Bāhiya Sutta, this one takes up from there into multiple references to Nibbana. Analayo makes a long comment in the body of the sermon, to voice a critic of the interpretation of a particular passage by a senior recluse monk... The description he gives of this highly realized being gave me the goosebumps. There are people in the world today who take the Dhamma quite far in their lives...

Back to the day... I felt I was quite deep in absorption, with quite faint signals from the sense doors, and the knowledge that there would be no subject without object. Conversely, there is no-no subject if there are objects. Awareness is just projected onto the object to deal with the disappearance of the said "subject".

Light headache in the evening, backlash?

Just heard about Rob Burbea's passing away... Cancer sucks. A thought for his dear ones, and all the avenues he has opened for those who dare to follow. "Seeing that frees" was a landmark in my practice (in opening up views, not changing techniques)...

Day 50

Big headache in the second part of the night, I woke up really tired after quite a bit of lying down with it. So I missed the morning sit but got rid of the headache, which was good.

Today, I completely let go of attending to "space". Like, it did not cross my mind. So there was no conscious localization, "consciousness" was everywhere, but discursive thought that was still happening, on and off... I considered the discursive thought as being the gross manifestation of the meditator (as per Shaila Catherine). There are loads of subtler manifestations in the absence of inner speech... I'm not pretending to be in "hard" anything, but the quality of absorption is definitely there, from the first minute of the sit, without directing the attention... Does it mean, I quick start at J4 or that I don't notice the vibrating quality at the beginning of the sit? I do, but I do not attend to it, or to joy. For me these days, I find joy in peace...
From the object becoming subtler and subtler, the subject also looses solidity (as I am quite aware that there is no subject without object, the infamous nama-rupa...). So there were quite a few moments where the whole field of experience flickered... But objects are still there, a little bit below the threshold of consciousness, so nothing spectacular. I wonder whether this does qualify as "neither perception nor non perception" or not, I did not think about it because there was no dive into "nothingness"... But it goes with the model of the different stratas of consciousness each imbued in a different vipassana jhana, so one could touch "space" and the rest still be in the form realms, which does give that spacious quality to all experience (which is already really fulfilling imo, when it comes to measuring "suffering" in life!). That's how "dry" vipassana works, by the way: you perform tasks with the mental and it acts on a deeper layer of experience...(you notice I go back to a model layering consciousness in stratas, which implies some "spaciousness" of it... I've got to tighten my act, but this one is kind of a worldview for me, been there for a long time).

In the night, I listened to Daniel's conversation with Bill T and Jasmine Che, and it was really interesting for me to hear his informed take on Goenka, how U bah kin would give different instructions to each student, and that Goenkaji did not have the kind of trouble that would have needed some detailed exposition of the dukkha ñanas, so that he progressed in the path without that. Acknowledging that he was quite a special character, he infused so much faith in his disciples that it would help them go through the tough bits. But now that he is no more here for support, ATs are stuck with the promise they made to continue exactly as before...
My own experience tells me that, focusing on physical sensations after the A&P (meaning you always go back to them when you totally lose it, which happens), IN MY CASE, cut short the mental proliferation of fear etc. that is the landmark of the dark night. That's what the instructions tell you to do... But each individual will have a different intensity in the "losing it" bit, in some cases needing more tailored instructions, or straight psychological help. The "grounding" provided by the sense of touch should give us time to develop sufficient equanimity (by a process detailed at length in the other thread) to be ready to face the dissolution of the ego. Not always the case, for sure, aha... what to do? Daniel is quite bleak regarding the possibility for the organization to recognize the existence of the "risks" of meditation... So am I, so far...

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/10/20 5:41 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 51... oups: Day... 52 (one day got lost somewhere in the reports, I just counted on a calendar!)

The "disparition" of space in my mental construction seems to hold, leaving an ever pervading consciousness in "immediate" contact with the sense doors. No wobbling or flickering today, though... There is something of a mind game altering (inner) perception, I guess that's how the pointing out instructions succeed.
I tend to use the term "signals" instead of "objects" sometimes, to underline the deconstructing aspect of the percipient, not to pretend I would have attained some kind of "bare" awareness or "ultimate reality" in Goenka's terminology. The mind constructs perception from the very start. No construction, no perception...

Sermon 17: Ñanananda takes from the suttas that Nibbana is an "ayatana" to which the mind directs itself when it relinquishes the "salayatana", the six sense bases. And Analayo repeated in a comment that "investigating cessation leads to the end of preparations (experience)" (like a few sermons ago), "it is of utmost importance on the insight path". The sermon goes on about that.
Also, in the comments at the beginning, he commented on the bahiya instructions (in the seen only the seen etc.), saying it could be understood as the end of proliferation and not as an absence of conceptualization. He added "because Bahiya still had to move around in the world after his realization"... I wanted to shout: "that's why he got hit by a cow!". Anyway... If anybody gets the drive to have a go at these Nibbana sermons from reading these musings, this log will have served its purpose!

More energy today, I did not lie down (as I did on previous days). It felt like I was looking directly at the subject this afternoon, seeing more through it... wishful thinking?

Day 53

Today saw a little bit of oppression show up in the physical sensations, along with the lasting collapse of space, as the whole consciousness got infused with itself in a non-localized way. I take it as progress. Did not Daniel say something about high equanimity having a "normal" feeling somehow? Here "normal" would refer to the lack of distance (this distance which was acting as a protection) between awareness and the signal. Of course, it was always like this, awareness has to reach the object until it is seen through (what awareness? Nothing here, nothing there, nothing everywhere). I am now only in the adjustment phase of this renewed intimacy with the objects. Of course, this is only a model, a way to make sense of an intense day, a mind game. When the ever-pervading consciousness will have diffused equanimity in this new layer of perception, the transparency that will result of it will be "nothingness" itself (the subject will have let go of itself in that next level of peace). Or there won't be transparency (because it only happens from distancing oneself) and the chaos will loose its thingness... It already has, somehow. I am pretty sure I had a preview of "nothingness" a few days ago, and that each stage needs to mature in its own time.

Yep, just scripting next week's program! It's going to be a busier week, which might put a halt to this semi retreat format. I'll try to maintain as much meditation as I can. I like how it is developing...

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/11/20 2:33 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
emoticon
Smiling, very stoned
My girlfriend knows she can talk to me when I'm sitting, I will usually answer and get up to do whatever needs to be done: I am usually pretty good at staying in the groove with a reasonable amount of interaction. That's why I can do this home retreat. She's good, and I'm good too. 
This is the coolest thing i've heard in years, and one of the most heartening. Good for you guys.

love, tim

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/13/20 11:29 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Tim Farrington:
emoticon
Smiling, very stoned
My girlfriend knows she can talk to me when I'm sitting, I will usually answer and get up to do whatever needs to be done: I am usually pretty good at staying in the groove with a reasonable amount of interaction. That's why I can do this home retreat. She's good, and I'm good too. 
This is the coolest thing i've heard in years, and one of the most heartening. Good for you guys.

love, tim

dear mr. stone,

informed sources tell me that you wished to preserve the exquisite finishing note here, and would henceforth forego sullying the thread further with what can obviously only be a letdown after that peak of cuteness, that satori of sap, that enlightening endearment.

This would be a tragedy for all who know and love you, and rely on occasional posts from the Land of the Sane. We in hell here beg you, Mr. Stone Bearer, bring your tablets down from the mountain again. We are sorry we broke the first ones, and that golden idol thing was all a big misunderstanding, we thought it was a golden idyll, or even a golden idleness, and believed we were simply keeping the Sabbath holy.

love, your devoted, tim

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/18/20 3:52 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Less meditation, fewer entries. Still going on...
Thanks Tim, for the ongoing support! this is entertaining, this laying out of my insides for all to see...

Day 54 -56 (week 8 finishes on day 56)

3h1/2 on day 54
3h40 on day 55
5h1/2 on day 56

These last few days I had to dial down from the schedule to meet worldly affairs. I still plan to keep the momentum going as long as possible (with 3 hours daily minimum), until I get seriously disrupted. Although meditation was really effortless lately, I could feel some relaxing, mainly from not struggling to meet my requirements.
The main theme of this whole retreat was the relationship to space in inner experience, and the "distance" created between subject and object as being a subtle form of aversion. I heard the end of Daniel's interview today (Timeline), where he is asked about the difference between equanimity and indifference. He answers quickly by saying that they are near enemies, but that equanimity has acceptance as a trademark (if I remember well).
In my experience, equanimity slowly matures from a superficial indifference (to intense sensations, thoughts or emotions) to a growing non reactive intimacy with what is. It is a normal process and you don't go directly from one to the other. That's what bothered me with Shargrol's comment about Goenka practitioners being unable to see their obvious emotional flaws (in the other thread). It is because we take equanimity as a goal, we think we are there but we are maturing into it. Only a tiny part of the mind is equanimous and we focus on it, taking it for the whole. It seems that noting practitioners do not reify this stage, and just cycle through it endlessly until their mood stabilizes (which seems to take a while as well). That's one of the mysteries of the progress of insight (of life?), that you only spend some part of the cycle in equanimity, all the rest of the time remaining somehow unbalanced. Ok, equanimity is not perfect balance, only cessation is... Thinking out loud...


Week 9 (running)
Day 57 3h07
Day 58 2h
Day 59 4h
Day 60 3h05
Day 61 3h so far

Day 57 got disrupted by Analayo's article which I was really curious about, so I spent a fair amount of time looking for a way to read it for free. Eventually managed... Also quite a bit of unjustified anger in the morning, which culminated in a vocal burst... hum, we are not perfect nor aiming to be but... unskillful behaviour is what it is, beurk! In these moments, I realize how hard it still is for me to recognize my wrongs and make amends right after the deed. Wooorking on it!

I'm reading Erik Braun these days, and it's really interesting to follow Ledi Sayadaw in his ascent, his abhidammic controversies, and deepening of meditation practice. It gives a new light on the special place of abhidamma in burmese society, and on its role in the development of meditation. I gather where "ultimate realities" (in Goenka) come from and how it is totally heretical to contest their existence (as I do all the time here!).

I struggled a bit to write something on the thread about the analayo article. I managed in the end but was not so happy with it (as always). One good thing is that it made me assess my own position in respect to the progress of insight and the use of the maps. Most of what I write on this forum has something to do with my understanding of the maps and how they relate to my scan-orientated subjective practice. I think Daniel is too broad in his exposition, but why?
Because he puts too much emphasis on experience (Ok, I should go and read it again before speaking, that's what I remember from my last reading of MCTB2), and forgets the understanding part (the "insight"). An experience always has many possible triggers apart from the development of insight. The whole point of the POI is to map the evolution of the understanding of "reality" by the dualistic mind. That's why the "stages" are never really fully mastered and why one might come back to each of them again and again with ever growing discernment.
That means that somebody that goes through an experience without the reflecting awareness born (whether from practice or from former inner wisdom), might go through it a thousand time without developing "insight"... it is not mechanical, although we learn lessons from life... sometimes!
"One day you fly high...
After the fall, comes the low...
From there one might grow..."

Something mindfulness practices do is they show you how the mind works in respect to its reactive patterns. It gives us insight into the suffering of the poor worldling... It does not mean he gets the insight (unless he's us)! This could evolve towards a more general awareness if this whole discussion went public... If Daniel wins the argument, so it is a big stake in the end... I like what he shared about his discussion with Analayo on the subject, but I think he should still refine his view (if it's not too solidified)... [hum, that's quite pedantic... it's because I want him to "come out successful", and Analayo is a serious opponent! And that's my log...]

These last few days, I've been going back to some loose body scanning, as there were sensations to attend to, and a slight restlessness during practice until yesterday (partly due to the fact that "I was not sitting enough" to my taste, wow, that's the readjustment part of the program). Peace still prevailed, though, and the sits today have seen a return of this fine balance of non-doing evenly distributed at the border of nothingness. Practice is endlessly fascinating!

metta to all
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/19/20 2:33 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Smiling Stone:
Less meditation, fewer entries. Still going on...
Thanks Tim, for the ongoing support! this is entertaining, this laying out of my insides for all to see...

Day 54 -56 (week 8 finishes on day 56)

3h1/2 on day 54
3h40 on day 55
5h1/2 on day 56

These last few days I had to dial down from the schedule to meet worldly affairs. I still plan to keep the momentum going as long as possible (with 3 hours daily minimum), until I get seriously disrupted. Although meditation was really effortless lately, I could feel some relaxing, mainly from not struggling to meet my requirements.
The main theme of this whole retreat was the relationship to space in inner experience, and the "distance" created between subject and object as being a subtle form of aversion. I heard the end of Daniel's interview today (Timeline), where he is asked about the difference between equanimity and indifference. He answers quickly by saying that they are near enemies, but that equanimity has acceptance as a trademark (if I remember well).
In my experience, equanimity slowly matures from a superficial indifference (to intense sensations, thoughts or emotions) to a growing non reactive intimacy with what is. It is a normal process and you don't go directly from one to the other. That's what bothered me with Shargrol's comment about Goenka practitioners being unable to see their obvious emotional flaws (in the other thread). It is because we take equanimity as a goal, we think we are there but we are maturing into it. Only a tiny part of the mind is equanimous and we focus on it, taking it for the whole. It seems that noting practitioners do not reify this stage, and just cycle through it endlessly until their mood stabilizes (which seems to take a while as well). That's one of the mysteries of the progress of insight (of life?), that you only spend some part of the cycle in equanimity, all the rest of the time remaining somehow unbalanced. Ok, equanimity is not perfect balance, only cessation is... Thinking out loud...


Week 9 (running)
Day 57 3h07
Day 58 2h
Day 59 4h
Day 60 3h05
Day 61 3h so far

Day 57 got disrupted by Analayo's article which I was really curious about, so I spent a fair amount of time looking for a way to read it for free. Eventually managed... Also quite a bit of unjustified anger in the morning, which culminated in a vocal burst... hum, we are not perfect nor aiming to be but... unskillful behaviour is what it is, beurk! In these moments, I realize how hard it still is for me to recognize my wrongs and make amends right after the deed. Wooorking on it!

I'm reading Erik Braun these days, and it's really interesting to follow Ledi Sayadaw in his ascent, his abhidammic controversies, and deepening of meditation practice. It gives a new light on the special place of abhidamma in burmese society, and on its role in the development of meditation. I gather where "ultimate realities" (in Goenka) come from and how it is totally heretical to contest their existence (as I do all the time here!).

I struggled a bit to write something on the thread about the analayo article. I managed in the end but was not so happy with it (as always). One good thing is that it made me assess my own position in respect to the progress of insight and the use of the maps. Most of what I write on this forum has something to do with my understanding of the maps and how they relate to my scan-orientated subjective practice. I think Daniel is too broad in his exposition, but why?
Because he puts too much emphasis on experience (Ok, I should go and read it again before speaking, that's what I remember from my last reading of MCTB2), and forgets the understanding part (the "insight"). An experience always has many possible triggers apart from the development of insight. The whole point of the POI is to map the evolution of the understanding of "reality" by the dualistic mind. That's why the "stages" are never really fully mastered and why one might come back to each of them again and again with ever growing discernment.
That means that somebody that goes through an experience without the reflecting awareness born (whether from practice or from former inner wisdom), might go through it a thousand time without developing "insight"... it is not mechanical, although we learn lessons from life... sometimes!
"One day you fly high...
After the fall, comes the low...
From there one might grow..."

Something mindfulness practices do is they show you how the mind works in respect to its reactive patterns. It gives us insight into the suffering of the poor worldling... It does not mean he gets the insight (unless he's us)! This could evolve towards a more general awareness if this whole discussion went public... If Daniel wins the argument, so it is a big stake in the end... I like what he shared about his discussion with Analayo on the subject, but I think he should still refine his view (if it's not too solidified)... [hum, that's quite pedantic... it's because I want him to "come out successful", and Analayo is a serious opponent! And that's my log...]

These last few days, I've been going back to some loose body scanning, as there were sensations to attend to, and a slight restlessness during practice until yesterday (partly due to the fact that "I was not sitting enough" to my taste, wow, that's the readjustment part of the program). 
it would be absurd for me to say anything but you go, guy.

Peace still prevailed, though, and the sits today have seen a return of this fine balance of non-doing evenly distributed at the border of nothingness. Practice is endlessly fascinating!

metta to all
smiling stone

from the border of nothingness,
love, tim

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/21/20 4:13 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
End of week 9 (Day 62-63)

Day 62 (3h20)

I've been playing with this idea of duality being a necessary part of "vipassana". Non-dual lacks the distance, the space within which insight happens... Somebody told me it was duality all the way till the end, only cessation breaks the spell (my adjunct)...

Day 63 (3h15+1h mindful walking)


I've been contemplating the "fuel of becoming" this morning (Ñanananda talks about nibbana with and without residue for the arahants in sermon 18-19... I lost some of it in daydreaming! I have to be really into it (I was going to say "focused") to follow these sermons...).
That's a really entertaining way to practice, to ask oneself: "what in this experience constitutes the fuel for becoming?"... reaction, intention, reification... anything that participates in constructing a self. Sañna. The part of the field that gets solidified into a sensation of self. The frame when it seems like it is permanent (from "space" onwards)
It's a good question to keep in the back of the mind and probe once in a while, especially in more rarefied states (because "everything" leads to becoming).

In the afternoon, I walked around the room under the guidance of my girlfriend (who is a rolfing therapist). It was again fascin ating to realize how unsymmetrical I am (there was progress though), and how hard it is to implement simple instructions (well, not so simple like, "relax the pelvis (meaning: unlock your buttocks!) and see how it feels in your feet"... or "widen the space between the scapulas"...) while walking "naturally" ("you're too slow, you need to create the dynamics of the walk..."). I talk about this because I feel "sooo open" after these two months... but it does not translate directly into "body wisdom", far from it. And my meditation proficiency does not make me super gifted at following somatic guidance! Nothing new but it is good to be remembered once in a while. Another gift... of humility.

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/23/20 3:36 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Smiling Stone:
End of week 9 (Day 62-63)

Day 62 (3h20)

I've been playing with this idea of duality being a necessary part of "vipassana". Non-dual lacks the distance, the space within which insight happens... Somebody told me it was duality all the way till the end, only cessation breaks the spell (my adjunct)...

Day 63 (3h15+1h mindful walking)


I've been contemplating the "fuel of becoming" this morning (Ñanananda talks about nibbana with and without residue for the arahants in sermon 18-19... I lost some of it in daydreaming! I have to be really into it (I was going to say "focused") to follow these sermons...).
That's a really entertaining way to practice, to ask oneself: "what in this experience constitutes the fuel for becoming?"... reaction, intention, reification... anything that participates in constructing a self. Sañna. The part of the field that gets solidified into a sensation of self. The frame when it seems like it is permanent (from "space" onwards)
It's a good question to keep in the back of the mind and probe once in a while, especially in more rarefied states (because "everything" leads to becoming).

In the afternoon, I walked around the room under the guidance of my girlfriend (who is a rolfing therapist). It was again fascin ating to realize how unsymmetrical I am (there was progress though), and how hard it is to implement simple instructions (well, not so simple like, "relax the pelvis (meaning: unlock your buttocks!) and see how it feels in your feet"... or "widen the space between the scapulas"...) while walking "naturally" ("you're too slow, you need to create the dynamics of the walk..."). I talk about this because I feel "sooo open" after these two months... but it does not translate directly into "body wisdom", far from it. And my meditation proficiency does not make me super gifted at following somatic guidance! Nothing new but it is good to be remembered once in a while. Another gift... of humility.

with metta
smiling stone

recommended with genius embodied girlfriend: you know what i recommend. I won't say it here and get my ass banned. Use your enlightened intuition, or the equivalent from the sutas, in Pali or Sanskrit or Tibetan. Or hers, from the tantras. Or both. Rolf this, Is what i'm saying, exactly, like the beast with two backs.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/23/20 4:02 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
"I've been playing with this idea of duality being a necessary part of "vipassana". Non-dual lacks the distance, the space within which insight happens... Somebody told me it was duality all the way till the end, only cessation breaks the spell"

I like the anology of a river flowing downstream and dragging anything within it down the stream. The way of the world being dragged down the river of Samsara. The whole river is made of Damma's (phenomena). What we do is swim upstream in that same Dhamma (phenomena) and we feel that strong resisting force of the downstream dragging river. The current is so strong we hardly can swim unpstream and seem to be only in one spot. We dont go downstream either but meet with the Dhamma's of the river passing by and feeling their mighty force against our musscles, skin, energy, zeal, faith, gasping breath, desire for deliverance ... we swim and yet ramain in the same spot while Dhamma's pass by, one after the other until there is not a single drop left in that river.



p.s. just had my 2nd morning coffee emoticon 

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/23/20 3:52 PM as a reply to Papa Che Dusko.
Hey Tim,
I wonder what you read in my last post to come up with that kind of comment. What's in your mind these days? Everything all right? I noticed that even your log was kind of silent, the entries are short or borrowed from the Calendar... I hope you're fine, my friend... Anyway, thanks for luring Papa Che in this thread, I'm quite sure he came in your tracks!

And hello Papa-san, welcome here and thanks for sharing your morning coffee's contemplations... it nourished my post-coffee sit today...

Yes, the river is obviously a powerful analogy (metaphor? I never know...). It implies that we have entered the stream, then (hum)... I like the Ñanananda's image of the self being a whirlpool in the river, where some upstream currents (of kamma) meet the downstream flow... I've been contemplating it that way:
- first you believe you are an individual on the shore, dry and solid...
- then you realize that you are indeed swimming in the stream, but you still believe you're an independent whirling entity, free of your movements.
- at some point you realize that you are made from the same water as the river, and that it's the currents which control your every movements.
- the practice could be that you have this possibility to bend your route ever so slightly so that you escape from the strongest upstream currents (and the rocks and other obstacles), so that the vortex dissolves, first for a moment, then for good until there is only the unimpeded flow of the running river...
Here come my morning musings (later, obviously - from a reaction to your post, kind of "there is no such thing as swimming against the stream!").

love and metta to you both
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/25/20 9:33 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Week 10 (day 64-67)

Day 64 (3h)

The "birth of insight" is a fascinating read for a Goenka practitioner. We see where a lot of Goenka's beliefs come from, whether from Ledi Sayadaw directly or from Burmese culture. The fact that Pali is the "true" language of Buddhism and that the words carry a magic load (or an "ultimate reality" relating to the concepts conveyed). Listening to a discourse in Pali was thus bringing merits even if one did not understand anything... reminds me of the morning chanting during retreats.
There are numerous other occurences that don't come to mind right now (the layman as a monk in the world)...

During meditation, I was contemplating the openness of the felt sense of any perception of body. It is not space, it is not consciousness or void (both denominations feeling a little bit like hogwash when it comes to categorizing this)... Release! All my practice is about release... release the grasping, open hand... It is obvious with thoughts and mind objects, but it happens for most (I wanted to say "all", but that's far-fetched) discrete sensations in the body, even when they don't come to the center of attention. When in a "quiet luminous place" (most of the sits), I would notice the "fuel of becoming", I like that one... It's like seeing the self coming into existence. Of course, it is dualistic, but that's ok I think, that's how the work gets done.

Day 65 (3h15)

I've been thinking about Ben's comment on "penetrating objects". It implies that we go beyond the solidity to perceive a "truer" reality of the object (the abhidammic notion of paramattha dhammas or "ultimate realities"). It gives way to a kind of reification (that we see the truth, or reality as it actually is)...
In my understanding, it is not what is happening. On the contrary, we create a distance between "subject" and object in the act of observing, and we misread the void that appeared in between as pertaining to the object (when we just blurred the signal), just as if when looking through a mist we come to the conclusion that the object is "ghostly" or lacks reality. Of course there is no real in-between (all constructs, we produced the mist)... and no ultimate essence of the object in our mind (no access to it). What we have access to is a signal born of the contact between the object and our sense door(s) (and the sense door is already a strong filter) before the more elaborate "conceiving" occurs. Deconstructing perception is not penetrating the actual object, unless you posit there is not such thing as "an actual object" in the world...

It is interesting that Ledi Sayadaw emphasises the reading (and learning by heart!) of an introduction to the Abhidhamma BEFORE any meditation is deemed useful. The meditation takes place on the basis of this "pariyatti". Obviously, he knew how subjective experience is constructed and that the observation needs a proper framework to develop "right view". It is telling that Goenka gives us the minimum info to make sense of our experience in a very simple way, and reserves the study of the Abhidhamma for the very advanced meditator... That's why so many are disappointed with the technique after a while and thrive when they discover the progress of insight.
I was reflecting on the utility of learning by rote (I guess that's what novices do in monkhood before they undertake a meditative practice???). For sure it is a wholesome mental content that will appear during meditation/contemplation, and it will be the framework through which you will make sense of your meditative experience (like we do with whatever instructions we receive. So it makes sense (in a way I had not thought of before)...

Day 66 (4h15)

Really still two hours sit, full of a growing peace in the afternoon (when I usually get drowsy/sleepy, after lunch). Wrote the upper post about the stream...

Day 67 (6h)


I listened to sermon 19 after lunch, and missed part of it due to subtle dozing (like, I am still aware of the sound, even the meaning of the words, but can't follow the meaning over a full sentence, so I loose comprehension... It lasted fifteen minutes and was related to not enough sleep (five hours). I really find it interesting, our relationship to meaning when listening to speech... when it gets altered, there is quite some obvious deconstruction of experience. Same when I listen to two sources at the same time... where does attention go?
Sit with oppressed sensations in the envelope later in the afternoon. Breath went really shallow, entered in jhana territory with intense pity (harsh) and impeded movement. Long time no see, that was really interesting... I suspect that I spent some time on the chest area in the morning, my old belief about karmic discharge!
I did a fire kasina session in the night... It was fun, I refreshed often to be really with the after image. I guess what people call the murk is what is left when it disappeared? In that case, that's what's going on in the visual field when I attend to it during normal meditation. Or maybe at some point the after image does not appear at all, and that's when you're in the murk? Anyway, I cannot make my room dark in the day, so it seriously limits the opportunity for fire kasina. But... earlier this week, I meditated with eyes open on a coloured disk (sort of) lying in front of me. When I fix my gaze on something, after a minute or so, everything around becomes saturated with light (to the point of disappearing) and I'm left with a shiny object in the middle. I discovered that in my twenties when doing the model (for drawing classes) with eyes open. It occurred to me that maybe that was what kasina was really about (tripping with open eyes, more or less, no real need to close the eyes)... Interesting to come back to this, anyway (that might have been an early introduction to meditation)... Just thinking out loud.
So opening and closing the eyes was a bit disruptive for going deep, that's why I was surprised to find myself quite trippy afterwards. Got to experiment more with this, we'll see.

And I managed to sit six hours for the first time in two weeks. I had planned once a week, to keep the finger in the plug! We'll see what we can maintain...

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/29/20 8:41 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 68 (3h)

I thought about something I said about "out there being a real world although we do not have unfiltered access to it". In fact, the "real world" is completely undetermined until perceived (and conceived). It does not carry around the concept of itself, that's the bearer of the experience that applies relevant concepts to the situation fitting his worldviews. A mosquito, a dog, a monk or a god will each get a very different "image" and conception of... my girlfriend than me, for example (and from each other). We'll see something utterly different... And none of us will have a clue about what she really is (her "ultimate nature") or what the others see. In this sense, the world is an illusion devoid of essence all right.

Day 69 (2h40)


First try at fire kasina in the morning daylight. To be honest, my last attempts were done at night, yes, but with electric light switched on as my partner was working in the same room... Still, the after image is fainter and disappears more quickly (I come back to refresh without waiting for the murk, as I'm just starting this). I also get an afterimage of the square table on which the candle stands, and of the body of the candle. These disappears after less than a minute (the wig after four or five, I counted that I refresh (look at the candle) four or five times every thirty minutes). It confirms the very precise kind of concentration needed in the visual field that I noticed in my former attempts, how I have to relax my inner gaze to let the afterimage come back after it faded out. It is quite subtle, really, more so than what I do when I just stare at the inner luminous field during normal sits. I can see how this mode of attending can lead to discoveries in the visual frame, lead to making sense of irregularities, by looking for the dot (or not looking, but for a slight intention... -note "constructs"-). The dot, translucent with a (hazy to crisp) red ridge and a further purple ring, dissolving after a while and coming back a few times (three? four?), at some point it's a smaller red dot that comes back.

Evening: I bought a larger candle, and the ridge (the top) stays visible under the wig in the after image (a big chunk compared to the small column of the thin candle). Not a problem, though, I get addicted: two sits out of three with fire today.

Day 70 (3h50)

Fire in the morning: I managed to get some medium dark in the bedroom (it was possible after all). It was a noisy environment and I got distracted several times... The afterimage didn't last long (maybe two minutes), I would still wait a bit to refresh, and I suspected it had to do with the (mild) distraction.
The non-kasina sit is really soothing: a lot of doing with this kasina stuff, but it's quite fun. We'll see if there's some evolution with these low doses. I plan to increase a bit, but I like to maintain some regular sits as a balance...

I had a couple of beginner's questions (for Jason, maybe or Linda? but everybody's welcome!). I read everything on the fk site and more a while back and don't want to go back to it now, as I'm interested in not over programming myself with expected results.
1- I take off my glasses (I am shortsighted). I feel it's a hassle to focus the gaze for hours with spectacles (even if it's only one minute out of five, now in the beginning). What do you think? Do you know people who keep their glasses?
2 - I think that, because of the myopia, the afterimage is rather small... I guess I sit a little bit too far from the candle (maybe 4-5 feet). Is there some conter-indication to having it a little bit closer (below 3 feet)?
3- What about the necessity to keep the room dark? I don't mind making it a little bit more difficult. For example, the afterimage is much clearer with an electric light, but I like the subtler nature of the candle... Ok this could apply to having the candle closer as well, it's to make it easier...
4- After Day 1, the kasina got fainter and now lasts just a little, does it have to do with the ñanas? I suspected that maybe, as equanimity has a broad focus, I brought myself back to eq with the kasina and lost the center. Unlikely though (as it has only been a couple of weak days). Or something to do with the chemistry of the retina?

That's quite a change from the last weeks entries, this venture into the fk world, feels like a newbie...
Well, beginner's mind, that's nice!
with metta
smiling stone

PS: Jason, you're on self retreat these days? All the best anyway...

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/29/20 9:07 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Smiling Stone:
Hey Tim,
I wonder what you read in my last post to come up with that kind of comment. 

it was "In the afternoon, I walked around the room under the guidance of my girlfriend (who is a rolfing therapist)."
What's in your mind these days?

Easing into a big silence, not shitting in my nest, any of my nests. Making space for that point of rage or trauma within me that fuels my craziness.

Everything all right? I noticed that even your log was kind of silent, the entries are short or borrowed from the Calendar... I hope you're fine, my friend... 

I'm just easing my camel through the eye of the needle. All good.
Anyway, thanks for luring Papa Che in this thread, I'm quite sure he came in your tracks!

lol, Papa Che may just be trying to keep me out of trouble! He's sweet that way. I think he's trying to get you to invite him to play that new amp.
love and metta to you both
smiling stone

love, tim

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/29/20 9:25 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
I am on retreat. Wrapping up soon and have to go to my daughter's graduation today so half day today.

I have glasses. I can do it with or without. I would experiment. It is not possible to cheat. Whatever holds your fascination is the best way to do it. Light/dark, candle/led and near/far etc all have pros and cons. 

Daniel describes the jhanas like this roughly:
1st - narrow visual field. Unstable, hazy, wobble, effort
2nd - narrow visual field - stable and detailed. Wowness
3rd - you lose the center and it is wide. Hard to stay with if you fight for the center.
4th - periphery and center visual fields integrate. Vast and 3d

That is my experience too. Mostly vipassana jhana so same territory as the nanas but if you bring in bodily sensations as well, you can cruise up the samatha jhana arc as well.

The strengths of  building the up the wiring of focusing on a single sense door apply here as well. I think you will find this rewarding. 

The most important advice I got out of the fk material is above all else become fascinated with the detail.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/29/20 11:50 AM as a reply to Jason Massie.
Thanks for chiming in, Jason, congrats for your daughter!

Useful advice as always, I'm adjusting into the practice and will see where it takes me with that kind of schedule... I like your "I think you will find this rewarding".

"Above all else become fascinated with the detail".
Duly noted.

I sure hope we'll get some details about your retreat!

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/29/20 3:04 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Hey Tim,

thans for your articulate answer, at long last...
Making space for that point of rage or trauma within me that fuels my craziness.

Space is the place!

I'm just easing my camel through the eye of the needle. All good.

That's about as good a statement as it gets, in this world and above...

Papa Che entered the dance of the most depressing songs ever at the Bar...

Welcome back here, Mister T.
love and metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/29/20 3:25 PM as a reply to Jason Massie.
Jason Massie:
I am on retreat. Wrapping up soon and have to go to my daughter's graduation today so half day today.

I have glasses. I can do it with or without. I would experiment. It is not possible to cheat. Whatever holds your fascination is the best way to do it. Light/dark, candle/led and near/far etc all have pros and cons. 

Daniel describes the jhanas like this roughly:
1st - narrow visual field. Unstable, hazy, wobble, effort
2nd - narrow visual field - stable and detailed. Wowness
3rd - you lose the center and it is wide. Hard to stay with if you fight for the center.
4th - periphery and center visual fields integrate. Vast and 3d

That is my experience too. Mostly vipassana jhana so same territory as the nanas but if you bring in bodily sensations as well, you can cruise up the samatha jhana arc as well.

The strengths of  building the up the wiring of focusing on a single sense door apply here as well. I think you will find this rewarding. 

The most important advice I got out of the fk material is above all else become fascinated with the detail.


I dont want to poop into your jhana party emoticon but it is totally possible to get into absorption states while doing full on Noting (in my case noting aloud with OPEN eyes). Even pre-SE my mind would drop into strong visual doughnut like grey and dynamic coud rising from the floor and getting wider and wider and then abruptly vanish into its empty center (so fast its not possible to catch).

Now its happening on and off and I dont do anything to call it up. I do hiwever always rest my eyes on one spot (any dirty spot on the floor or the wooden round gode on the furniture or dirty spot on the wall or whatever spot there is or even a line in form of a shadow ... )

So while shredding noting full on there is also this absorption happening at the same time of all the rest. Its like a full Disco house on Saturday nights emoticon 

My most favorite one is the 3rd Jhana. Not sure why but I just feel "at home" with that one. Its chilled out, very restful on the long outbreath, coolness (instead of the damn heat of the 2nd), and vanishing in the center of the hazy dynamic greyish-purplish round cloud-like object. 

Anyway, my moto is "fcuck the Jhanas, let the God's have it!" emoticon 

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
5/30/20 2:59 AM as a reply to Papa Che Dusko.
Papa Che Dusko:
Jason Massie:
I am on retreat. Wrapping up soon and have to go to my daughter's graduation today so half day today.

I have glasses. I can do it with or without. I would experiment. It is not possible to cheat. Whatever holds your fascination is the best way to do it. Light/dark, candle/led and near/far etc all have pros and cons. 

Daniel describes the jhanas like this roughly:
1st - narrow visual field. Unstable, hazy, wobble, effort
2nd - narrow visual field - stable and detailed. Wowness
3rd - you lose the center and it is wide. Hard to stay with if you fight for the center.
4th - periphery and center visual fields integrate. Vast and 3d

That is my experience too. Mostly vipassana jhana so same territory as the nanas but if you bring in bodily sensations as well, you can cruise up the samatha jhana arc as well.

The strengths of  building the up the wiring of focusing on a single sense door apply here as well. I think you will find this rewarding. 

The most important advice I got out of the fk material is above all else become fascinated with the detail.


I dont want to poop into your jhana party emoticon but it is totally possible to get into absorption states while doing full on Noting (in my case noting aloud with OPEN eyes). Even pre-SE my mind would drop into strong visual doughnut like grey and dynamic coud rising from the floor and getting wider and wider and then abruptly vanish into its empty center (so fast its not possible to catch).

Now its happening on and off and I dont do anything to call it up. I do hiwever always rest my eyes on one spot (any dirty spot on the floor or the wooden round gode on the furniture or dirty spot on the wall or whatever spot there is or even a line in form of a shadow ... )

So while shredding noting full on there is also this absorption happening at the same time of all the rest. Its like a full Disco house on Saturday nights emoticon 

My most favorite one is the 3rd Jhana. Not sure why but I just feel "at home" with that one. Its chilled out, very restful on the long outbreath, coolness (instead of the damn heat of the 2nd), and vanishing in the center of the hazy dynamic greyish-purplish round cloud-like object. 

Anyway, my moto is "fuck the Jhanas, let the gods have it!" emoticon 

I'm shocked, shocked by your flippant attitude toward those jhanas, which everyone has an opinion on and no one understands! Except the gods, and maybe Daniel. And Chris Fucking Marti, of course, but only as sharks understand the jhanas.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
6/4/20 5:37 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Week 11
Day 71 (3h15)

This one was a tough day. I did a long (well, 1h15) morning session with a light bulb (because I was tired from not having any sustainable after image with the candle). I was not very focused as I was trying new stuff. The afterimage was huge and the progression very evident. I lost the dark dot every time (after 4 mn or so) but I could check that it was still there by blinking rapidly.
Anyway, I felt a bit down afterwards, nice regular sit which brought balance and again candle in the night, where I came to the conclusion that yes, I should bring it a little closer (the candle).
I tried focusing both above and below the candle, with the result of having a fainter afterimage.
I developed a serious headache in the second half of the night, and I strongly suspect it was because of the light bulb session (no coffee withdrawal this time).

Day 72 (2h50)

Nice morning sit, back into peaceful territory. Thought about cutting on the kasina, which carry a lot of doing, and a lot of focus on the third eye area... Maybe the headache had to do with that, as I believe in not staying forever anywhere in the body for that very reason. Also, while "doing" the kasina, I'm quite far away from peace, there's a slight building up of tension in the visual field, plus opening and closing the eyes, looking for the nimitta. It remains interesting though, and I have this big candle, now...

Day 73 (3h20)

Fire in the morning... It was much easier today. Opening and closing the eyes was not so much "doing" after all, and I relaxed in the experience, letting go of the chasing the afterimage, so I let the normal nimitta develop the usual way after the dot has vanished in the luminous field, keeping my attention on that sense-door instead of going back to body sensations (still in the background, though). So no hurry to open my eyes again...
About body sensations, on different occasions I had a different kind of void-vibe in the head, with a really mellow pleasant buzz... while attending to the flame. It vanished when I closed my eyes... and did not expand in the body.

Day 74 (5h)

Like yesterday, all meditations with candle flame. Looks like I'm getting hooked! Nothing new in the visuals though, but the mind has gotten more comfortable with the practice. The nimitta is evolving from the murk (in a normal condensation of light, nothing fancy)

Day 75 (3h)

First sit at 4pm...

Day 76 (3h)

No candle today, because of change of scenery. It will be harder to maintain practice for the next few days, we'll see how it goes.
It was very nice and chilled to go back to “normal” sits. In the last one, I had this “realization” (by the end of the sit) that: there is this experience of the instant which is a gathering of a multitude of minute perceptions. In this multitude, there are all these perceptions related to various objects and beside, on the same level, other perceptions related to the subject (these subtle perceptions the elder here always point to). It is not that the perceptions related to the subject look at the perceptions related to the object. They coexist in the field. I have kown this for years but it became “true” in an experiential way(just for a moment, I have to see if it can be conjured at will -or if it was some kind of preview-, I am my normal “me” writing this), hence the “realisation”... Really nice way to finish the day anyway.

Day 77(2h05)

One hour candle tonight, good afterimage but not so concentrated.Again that nice pity while looking at the flame.
About yesterday's “realization”, I have the knowledge all right, but not the feeling. It has vanished from experience... Preview then... To be honest, it feels like another construct anyway (constructed by the intense deconstruction aha). What sees the subject anyway? (Oups, that says how much there is still ahead...to the “in the 'X'ing just the 'X'ing...”)
Just two hours, maybe that signs the end of this “home retreat” which was already in chill out retreat mode, and now in “not home” mode. I might conclude and start a regular log, not sure yet... Maybe I wait until the end of these fire kasina explorations


Week 12 (first day only)
Day 78 (2h so far)

I guess the concentration during normal sits gets upgraded by the fk practice... bordering on sucking absorptions with brain melting pity (like the back of the head is “retracting”). The “realization” was definitely brought up by loose investigation into the subject, but not triggered by it. It kind of coalesced again (with less potent evidence) during the afternoon sit, where I raised the question while leaning heavily on the shamata side of the spectrum...

with metta
smiling stone