Any advice?

Garrett E, modified 10 Years ago at 7/6/11 10:20 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 7/6/11 10:14 PM

Any advice?

Posts: 21 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
This is my first post here at the DhO, though I have been lurking here for few months. I guess I'll give you guys a quick history of my practice to give a better idea where I am.

I started meditating about 6 months ago after becoming interested in Buddhism. I crossed A&P March 19th while on LSD. I didn't even know I had crossed it until early June. I was at a visit to the Bhavana Society talking with one of the residents and he described his A&P and it matched my experience very closely. After that discussion, I realized I must have been in the dark night and made a strong resolve to escape it. I practiced my ass off for the next few weeks trying to break into equanimity. Several times I thought I was finally out, just to have re-observation reappear and kick the living shit out of me. Finally, on the 5th day of a Goenka retreat (June 20th) I entered equanimity and made progress the rest of the retreat (at least in terms of the strength of my equanimity).

I have been back from the Goenka retreat for a week and a half now, and things seem really strange (in that everything seems normal). During the dark night, I had a very strong resolve for practice; at times it seemed that no matter how much I did, I had a drive to do more. Since I got back, I've just felt like chilling out. I've just been playing old computer games and watching TV, shit I almost never wasted my time with before. I've only been meditating 1-2 hours a day, even though I have essentially unlimited time for it. I just feel like I did before I started the whole meditation thing, except more normal, more chilled out.

I guess I'm just looking for advice on what to do. I keep telling myself I need to intensify my practice, that I can't be far from stream entry, but I still just feel like relaxing. Where am I exactly, and what is needed to make progress at this point?

Thanks guys, I look forward to your input.
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 7/6/11 10:26 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 7/6/11 10:26 PM

RE: Any advice?

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Sounds like early equanimity. You probably need to intensify your practice. But you knew that already.

If you haven't fallen back to reobservation yet and you're willing to take the risk that it won't happen and want a "soft" method until you get the resolve to intensify your practice, you could just try extending mindfulness into all the hours that you're playing video games and not meditating. That would definitely be worth something, and you could see how that goes.

If you fall back to reobservation at any point, you have to intensify your practice, period.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago at 7/6/11 10:37 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 7/6/11 10:37 PM

RE: Any advice?

Posts: 2227 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
did the feeling of strangely normal begin on the retreat, or only once you got home?
Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago at 7/7/11 6:52 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 7/7/11 6:52 AM

RE: Any advice?

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Typical equanimity boredom.

Be gently curious about your experience, pay gentle attention to background processes like background thoughts, intention, space, time, being here, being satisfied with equanimity — fine tune the whole thing in a gentle, panoramic fashion, neither dull nor tense. See everything at once.

When you can do that consistently, stream entry is just around the corner.
tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago at 7/7/11 12:59 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 7/7/11 12:59 PM

RE: Any advice?

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
welcome to the dho.

the most effective route to stream-entry, from what you have described as your location, is through consistent and continuous practice. if your goal is stream-entry, you should keep practising though there does not seem to be any point in doing so, and practise as if it is the only thing there is to be done.

you wrote that you "just feel like relaxing". if you want to relax, do so while sitting, or standing, or walking, without external distractions or unnecessary activity. equanimity is not the end goal; equanimity is merely a means to an end ... an end which is not likely to be accomplished (with any depth, anyway) without your full, utmost attention.

as you have attended a goenka retreat, you ought to know that the path of vipassana is essentially the path of contemplation of (any of) the three characteristics - it is through their contemplation that the progress of insight is advanced. further, you may remember that goenka's emphasis in particular is on the characteristic of momentariness, anicca; this is for for good reason: of the three characteristics, anicca is most obviously manifest in every moment and every sensate experience, and is the easiest and least slippery of the three to follow.

if your goal is stream-entry, reaffirm your resolve and redouble your efforts here and now, attending to impermanence (and suffering and no-self) at every moment and in every experience. the kind of liberation afforded by stream-entry does not happen without resolve and effort, as what is recorded in the pali canon to be the last words of the buddha indicates:
DN 16: Mahanibbana Sutta:

handa'dāni bhikkhave āmantayāmi vo, vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā"ti.

which means: 'all conditioned things are subject to decay; strive with diligence for liberation'.

Garrett E, modified 10 Years ago at 7/8/11 8:08 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 7/8/11 8:08 AM

RE: Any advice?

Posts: 21 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Beo, the feeling of normalcy wasn't really predominant until I returned home. For the rest of the retreat, my equanimity felt incredibly strong. It really seemed like my equanimity was unbreakable; whatever pain or nasty stuff came up, I could just observe it and it would disappear. In his chapter on equanimity Daniel describes a sort of James Bond like confidence appearing and that describes pretty well how I felt.

Thanks for the replies, I think that may have been what I needed to hear. I'll be increasing my practice these next few days and hopefully get back on track.