Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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[Link to previous log]

It seems like as good a place as any to start a new log, now I’ve gotten “the joke” and am no longer seeking to become enlightened. This log is dedicated to “smoothing the ride” – practicing the jhanas and working with whatever subconscious material and latent hindrances are causing the bumps. The last log was dedicated to exploring my narcissism and that ended with me becoming no one (a.k.a. “the one” lol), so maybe this one too will be successful just not in the way I expect.

Here’s my ill-advised dharma self-DDx (Differential Diagnosis), a new term which I learnt from Daniel and is probably 98% wrong. I'm reasonably confident that I am either pre-SE, post-3rd or post-4th. Pre-SE because I haven’t experienced clear and repeatable MCTB/Mahasi-style momentary fruitions. Post-3rd because I did experience possible fruitions coinciding with path-like moments in practice – clear first glimpse of anatta (there’s no one here) and feeling of being sucked into the Dharma stream (SE), clearest fruition was possible 2nd path, possible 3rd path was extended depersonalization episodes which caused anxiety but were also recognized as reality (functioning can continue even if there’s no on here). Post-4th because of the realization (not just an intellectual idea) that 4th is not a personal attainment (“the joke”) because it’s the end of the personal perspective on life.

Just to give an example of what the end of the personal perspective means to me. Obviously the future still appears to be happening, but I’m not thinking like I used to “what do I want out of the rest of my life”, it’s more like “what does life want out of me”. And the past still appears to have happened, but it’s more like “what’s the best way to let the past conditioning dissipate skillfully in the present” rather than “I am so messed up because of my past”.

At this point for me maps and paths, while interesting, seem more like a source of attachment/suffering and an impediment to good practice (observing what arises without expectation or desire to get somewhere). But that could just be a reflection of my denial, narcissism or low practice standards.

Anyway, let’s see what comes up …

I went to bed early at 8:30pm with a powerful headache which seemed to arise as a result of new energy channels opened up by deepening meditation earlier in the day. I wake up a couple of times feeling depersonalized but the fear is manageable.

I wake up more clearly at 1:30am and start meditating. I’m expecting to get deeper and calmer but instead I’m mostly flailing around with poor concentration. Every time the samadhi deepens I get derailed by thoughts  and feelings and switch to trying to debug them with a half-hearted vipassana attempt. Several times I feel like either a nimitta or fruition is coming, but it’s not happening. Every time I start to settle in equanimity the mind throws up old memories of people and places. I’m reminded how meditation itself can seem like the source of suffering, although clearly this material is already in there so maybe it’s causing unconscious suffering even if I don’t meditate. But I’m still able to keep track of the sense that this is “not me” suffering, it’s just a computer defragging its hard drive to clean up all the old data files lying scattered about in different places.

I give up after 4 hours and fall into a light sleep. I have a dream where I’m revisiting various haunts of 15-20 years ago. I’m trying to get away to catch a train, but I keep getting delayed by people I used to know. I wake up suddenly with a feeling of being punched in the stomach and that I’m about to vomit.

Clearly the desire for jhana is a source of suffering (frustration at not attaining jhana). It’s just not clear to me if this suffering is unnecessary or was going to arise anyway because the mind will always be unsatisfied on some level if it can’t access its peaceful home in jhana. If it is necessary suffering then I would rather take the pain now as quickly as possible. If it’s unnecessary suffering then clearly I should stop practicing. My gut tells me that it is necessary. Actually logic tells me that too, since there’s no free will and yet here I am still practicing! The best way I can put it is that practice is just what seems to be happening at the moment.

Oh, there’s one other motivation. I lot of the distracting thoughts in my jhana practice are me trying to verbalize and explain what’s going on as if I was trying to teach it. I don’t actually want to be a teacher, but I do like figuring stuff out and explaining it. The process of finding the right formulation and writing it down releases the distracting thought pattern so I can keep making progress in practice. So I’m making some notes as I go and if I get anywhere interesting I will share them on here. A kind of “Hacker’s Guide to Jhana” if you like for people with spotty karma, poor concentration and limited time for practice/retreats. So, please feel free to comment with your own insights and jhana hacks. Let’s make this a collaborative effort!
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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Out of courtesy, I locked your last log so nobody can post there. If you don't want that just let me know.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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Thanks, but I'd prefer to keep it unlocked in case any new readers have specific questions and I might want to add something at the end as well.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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Unlocked.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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Thanks
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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Spent a lot of time lying on my back this afternoon in the face of strong energy blockages. Relaxing, trying to feel into openings. The spine arches occasionally and there is some movement, but it's very slow progress.

Later a post on noting catches my eye and I reply. I haven't actually done much noting for ages, but afterwards I open my attention to the headache in a kind of diffuse vipassana way rather than the solid shamatha attention coming from breath jhana practice. Wow quickly the headache falls apart into delightful little particles and I'm in a very pleasurable vj2 and quickly down into vj3. For hours I was struggling to focus on the breath because the blockages were so strong, and this vipassana jhana method seems to solve the problem immediately. I guess sometimes the mind is more suited for shamatha and sometimes vipassana. But the net result seems to be the same in terms of progress through piti-sukha to equanimity. That's my second jhana hack now: if your concentration is fragmented/distracted then go the path of least resistance and do vipassana jhana.

Goal now is to spend longer in equanimity (either pc.j4 or vj4), increasing likelihood of nimitta or indeed fruitions (would be nice to get more clarity around those). Damn 12 hours ago I was giving up on mapping and now look at me ...
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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I will follow your journey here. Interesting stuff how path can become unclear at some stage when applying Map of Insights to it. 

Im now in some mixture of pre A&P, post A&P and Jhana dropping the practice from Noting into Absorption. 

I basically don't care where this experience is on the Map as stuff seems to change rather fast and on its own anyway. Anicca all the way I guess. 

I happened to come across shargrol's quote saying that he let the mind go into Jhana when it was inclined for it or if dropping into more dull mind states and proliferation he would use gentle Noting. 

This seems to really be where my practice is right now. I have noticed this mind dropping into Jhana on its own even though I have decided to do full on Noting Aloud. So I just go with the flow and let the Jhana unfold. 
At first I was unsure about this as I trust Noting more than Jhanas. But reading shargrol's experience on this I'm now confident that mind knows where to go. 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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Thanks for reading and responding Papa Che. Do you happen to have the link to shargrol's post?

Yeah it seems like noting is better able to absorb the fractured energy of a distracted mind. I also noticed/was reminded that going through the vipassana jhanas the nanas are more compressed and the dark night is easier to handle in vj3. It can be just a quick spooky trip and I found myself sort of grooving to the spookiness of it and actually enjoying it in a slightly sinister way. I think I knew some of this stuff a few months ago but must have forgotten/suppressed it when I went off-piste in "3rd path" and my practice went much broader and intellectual/metaphysical and away from straight noting practice. Good to be getting back to basics!

You also reminded me of some stuff in Ajahn Brahm's book where he addresses this point. It's funny, I had forgotten about it and in my mind assumed that his approach was perfect samatha every time, no vipassana. But re-reading I see he includes this in a manner of speaking. I'm just gonna quote some passages here for my own benefit and anyone else reading cause it's good stuff.

From Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond: A Meditator's Handbook by Ajahn Brahm

Letting-be meditation can become quite powerful. If your breath meditation or mettā meditation or any other type of meditation isn’t working, very often it’s because the foundation is incorrect. So just do the letting-be meditation. You can “sit out in the garden” and just let things be. Whatever is happening, that’s OK. Whatever you’re experiencing is fine—no preference, no choice, no good or bad, no argument, and no commentary. Just let things be. You can have a little bit of a inner speech, but only a commentary about “letting be.” Just be with what is. Just be with thoughts concerned with the meditation subject, but not about anything else. That way the meditation comes close to complete silent awareness of the present moment.
...
Master meditators who are about to begin meditating will first examine the state of mind that they are to work with. If they have been very busy, they know that they will be starting out with quite a coarse mind. So they may start with a simple letting-be meditation. Perhaps they see that their body is stiff, so they choose to do some walking meditation. When they see that their mind is not so rough, they take up present-moment awareness and then silent present-moment awareness. Master meditators know from experience when their mind is able to watch the breath or ready to begin mettā meditation. They know when to apply the finer tools such as full sustained awareness of the breath or of the beautiful breath. Meditation masters become so proficient in their craft that they know the right time to turn to the nimitta and how to polish it deftly until the mind enters jhāna. Thus a coarse mind straight from the busy office is transformed by the master meditator into the most beautiful, smooth, and radiant mind.
...
Foolish carpenters, in a mad rush, take a coarse piece of wood and begin rubbing it with a polishing cloth! They waste much time and destroy many fine cloths. In the same way, inept meditators, in a rush of arrogance, don’t even take time to notice the coarseness of their mind and try to use mindfulness of the breathing from the very beginning. They waste much time and create many problems for themselves.
So, please become familiar with the various types of meditation until you know when and how they should be used. Then every time you meditate, begin by examining the mind you have to work with, and you will understand which meditation method to use. You will become a doctor of meditation, diagnosing accurately before treating effectively.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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The link is posted in that very thread you linked to above. Brandon's thread. That link is posted by John W in that thread. Follow your link above ... follow the bread crumbs back to where you've already been ... emoticon 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Another thing I forgot to mention yesterday. I was lying on my back in the afternoon surfing the wake/sleep boundary, my mind was descending into a random jumble of thoughts and I the phrase "the way things might be" started playing on a loop in my head. Suddenly my awareness shifted a notch deeper and I woke up with a louder more assertive voice saying "the way things must be". I didn't get any more information than that, but it felt like I was tapping into a deeper level of mind where the future is "already known", I guess the area of subconscious drives which ultimately determine more of our behavior. I don’t know, maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it was quite striking. It reminded me of a similar hypnagogic experience 6 months ago when the voice said “there is no path, there is no path, there is no path, 100%”, which looking back on it now was quite prescient given where my practice went after that (non-dual, depersonalization).
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago.

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When I get repeating phrases or images it's usually in the Re-observation and has Mysery+Disgust written all over it and Desire for Deliverance to make it bloody stop! emoticon Yours migh be something else. 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Falling asleep again after early morning meditation, I heard the phrase “you will not marry Teresa Adams”. I understood it to be a portmanteau of St Teresa and Robert Adams, meaning I should not be wed either to ecstatic pain or dondualism.

In the last 24 hours I seem to have been in a mild dark night, which hasn’t happened for 2 months. Partly it’s a function of coronavirus fatigue returning and having to go back to bed. But there’s also been a hint of the thought “this shouldn’t be happening now I’m done”. I quickly realize that’s absurd, it’s not me that’s done and there’s nothing that shouldn’t be happening. I won’t be done until I’m dead because “I” is just an ongoing process and the only variable is the degree of objectification.

In mediation I’m becoming aware again of my aversion to equanimity. I don’t let myself enjoy it before finding fault with it. I find it “too calm”, like there’s something wrong with it or something missing or even that something bad will happen. I find myself bouncing back up to the higher jhanas or nanas on thoughts or energy spikes. It’s a physical habit due to my aversive conditioning, hardly conscious. So my current goal is consciously to remain for longer periods in equanimity and relax into the bounces.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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When you say EQ "too calm" , could you try next time and feel if it's "too boring" instead? 
I find it has this "status-quo" like quality where all is just ok and there is no need to do anything. Not even move out of the way of an incoming stampede. 
There is a good reason why EQ is not the final stage to attain to. 
I don't find there is any compassion, altruistic joy and loving-kindness in this EQ stage. 
EQ in and of itself doesn't care about anything. It's all just ok. Status-quo. 

I prefer to treat it like DN = acceptance and just be with it, let it do its thing and inevitably Vanish. 

I might also be totally wrong on this as on your level that EQ stage might require some other understanding of it. 
Any way sharing is caring emoticon 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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Papa Che Dusko:
When you say EQ "too calm" , could you try next time and feel if it's "too boring" instead?

Hah you read my mind! Yeah I find EQ too boring. Good bullshit detector :-)
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Papa Che Dusko:
When you say EQ "too calm" , could you try next time and feel if it's "too boring" instead? 
I find it has this "status-quo" like quality where all is just ok and there is no need to do anything.

Thanks Papa Che, you really nailed it with this one! I thought there was something wrong with me for finding EQ boring, but having someone else point it out for me helped me to accept it. Now when I find myself getting dissatisfied in EQ I just note 'boring, boring, boring' and the feeling passes emoticon 
Thanks again,
agnostic
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

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 So my current goal is consciously to remain for longer periods in equanimity and relax into the bounces.

Playing devil's advocate for a moment here: this is not something someone who has ended the involuntary seeking treadmill on the spiritual quest would say. I'm not picking a fight with you, agnostic, but I am wondering. Maybe you've had a really deep, long-lasting experience of non-duality or not-self that has caused this "done-ness" to enter into your self-assessment. I'm genuinely curious about what you think.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Chris Marti:
 So my current goal is consciously to remain for longer periods in equanimity and relax into the bounces.

Playing devil's advocate for a moment here: this is not something someone who has ended the involuntary seeking treadmill on the spiritual quest would say. I'm not picking a fight with you, agnostic, but I am wondering. Maybe you've had a really deep, long-lasting experience of non-duality or not-self that has caused this "done-ness" to enter into your self-assessment. I'm genuinely curious about what you think.

Good question!

The "I'm done" was an error of thinking, because the big insight was that the sense of I is an illusion. The illusory I will never feel like it’s done, but in reality nothing “needs” to be done.

It definitely wasn't an experience of non-duality or not-self. In my view experience is dualistic (requires an assumed self), whereas this was the absence of the experience of self. It’s still there (or rather not there), so long as I don’t start looking for it!

So why am I still practicing and trying to spend longer in equanimity?

One reason is that I'm looking for a smoother ride. But I accept that the ride is just a function of my aversive conditioning and the bumps are manageable, so thinking it needs to be smoother is just a source of dissatisfaction. Probably the ride will get smoother over time, but that’s not something I need to force in order to get somewhere.

Probably the real reason is that being on DhO surrounded by more skillful practitioners, I feel the need to match their attainments (fruitions and jhana) in order to be able to defend non-duality better, otherwise I’m open to the criticism that I'm just copping out. It's clearly just vanity, because non-duality is reality as I see it and doesn't need any defense. I'm also curious about whether having clearer fruitions will reveal some insight that I've missed. And hard jhana just sounds cool.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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I was reading a post of shargrol about DN->SE and I realized that this recent DN is having a lot to do with the self-induced stress of self-diagnosis and fixating on paths and attainments. Without clear and repeatable fruitions it’s hard to know if I actually have SE. Maybe in my desire to believe I was making progress I just misdiagnosed a bunch of A&P type experiences as SE. The fact that I haven’t spent much time in EQ must be a red flag. The fact that kundalini is still so dominant must be another. Maybe depersonalization experiences were just psychological unfoldings. And maybe that whole non-dual metaphysical mind-fuck over the last few weeks was just a back-hand way of me trying to convince myself I’m done without saying “I’m done”. I feel stupid now, but opening up to this possibility seems to have shifted something inside, made me feel more human and vulnerable, and created a new opening into EQ. I’m just going to sit with that for now.
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Siavash, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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agnostic:
I was reading a post of shargrol about DN->SE and I realized that this recent DN is having a lot to do with the self-induced stress of self-diagnosis and fixating on paths and attainments. Without clear and repeatable fruitions it’s hard to know if I actually have SE. Maybe in my desire to believe I was making progress I just misdiagnosed a bunch of A&P type experiences as SE. The fact that I haven’t spent much time in EQ must be a red flag. The fact that kundalini is still so dominant must be another. Maybe depersonalization experiences were just psychological unfoldings. And maybe that whole non-dual metaphysical mind-fuck over the last few weeks was just a back-hand way of me trying to convince myself I’m done without saying “I’m done”. I feel stupid now, but opening up to this possibility seems to have shifted something inside, made me feel more human and vulnerable, and created a new opening into EQ. I’m just going to sit with that for now.


Glad to read this post. Really.
Thanks for setting a good example for the rest of us "seekers" by the honesty and questioning in this post.
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Lars, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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Siavash:

Glad to read this post. Really.
Thanks for setting a good example for the rest of us "seekers" by the honesty and questioning in this post.

Agreed.  emoticon
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago.

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agnostic:
I was reading a post of shargrol about DN->SE and I realized that this recent DN is having a lot to do with the self-induced stress of self-diagnosis and fixating on paths and attainments. Without clear and repeatable fruitions it’s hard to know if I actually have SE. Maybe in my desire to believe I was making progress I just misdiagnosed a bunch of A&P type experiences as SE. The fact that I haven’t spent much time in EQ must be a red flag. The fact that kundalini is still so dominant must be another. Maybe depersonalization experiences were just psychological unfoldings. And maybe that whole non-dual metaphysical mind-fuck over the last few weeks was just a back-hand way of me trying to convince myself I’m done without saying “I’m done”. I feel stupid now, but opening up to this possibility seems to have shifted something inside, made me feel more human and vulnerable, and created a new opening into EQ. I’m just going to sit with that for now.

Nice one. I 2nd what siavash said. Here is something I found from shargrol which all of us will find useful and a good DAILY reminder to have really (print it out and place it close to the cushion) emoticon 
"

Not enough honesty, not enough investigation, not enough acceptance. Meditation basically has three aspects: an honest experience of one's condition and balancing the effort/investigation and the relaxation/acceptance of that condition. 


Not enough honesty and it becomes fantasy/spiritual bypassing.

Not enough investigation and it becomes indulgent daydreaming.

Not enough acceptance and it becomes aversive manipulation"

 It also helps to see ALL Experience as equal. SE or Itch at the nose, when these are actually here they are here and liberating, and as soon they become a story (Aboutism) they become part of the not-so-liberating self-validating proliferation. 
I know this can sound strange to compare Stream Entry to the Itch on my head but really emoticon at the end that's all they are; momentary experiences. 

What does help is ; when in such state then Noting those self-validating thoughts and views about maps and practice and Label them. Like 1-10 sensations/mental states/feeling per second. There could be: Uncertainty, doubt, insecurity, disappointment, self-pitty, wishful thinking, scenario spinning ... and lock these in with the feeling tone and body sensation and you are back in the game; honesty, acceptance, investigation. emoticon 

Try focus on the daily practice as if you had never practiced before and tomorrow might never come. Be curious about today's practice. Today Only. 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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Thanks for your kind words Siavash, Lars and Papa Che.

It's quite shocking to me how quickly I went from what seemed to me like an honest realization and acceptance of there being no one here and life happening by itself to positioning myself on here as some kind of mini-authority on something. I can see why self-diagnosis is ill-advised, it snowballs very easily. Even a few carefully placed "modest" and "wise" words of advice is enough to start positioning yourself as some kind of mini-expert.

I shouldn't bet that surprised, it's a classic narcissistic pattern - needing to be the best and if not the best then the worst, so long as I still get the attention. Sitting with that as well.

Thankfully none of this spiritual status-mongering is invested in my "real life", which still seems to be pretty good by my standards at least (I hope I'm not asking for trouble by saying that). I can see how things can get much more complicated if you have some kind of public spiritual presence. Yay for the ability to remain anonymous on the internet! Spiritual pride, watch that one ...

Meditation-wise, apart from watching the psychobabble, the main thing is this early equanimity recognition of the sukha-dukkha pairing. It seems I can't have one without the other, sukha in the form of pleasant afterglow from the strong piti bursts, dukkha in the form of facial pain also connected with the strong piti. I guess that's the point of equanimity, accepting you can't have one without the other and just being ok with that, watching them arise and pass.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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I would like to apologize to anyone whose practice I affected by pretending to be something I’m not.

I’m also sorry for acting in a conceited and hostile way (often thinly disguised as humor or expertise).

Please do me and everyone else a favor and call me out any time you see me doing any of this stuff again.

If it would help you, feel free to let me know how I upset you or affected your practice. You can post it on here or send me a message, as you prefer.
T, modified 1 Year ago.

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Even if it is only on a forum with your virtual friends and peers, it takes some courage to bear the underbelly like this. Bravo, sir. 

Regarding your offer of apology or whatever. For my part, I thoroughly enjoy our good-natured sparring about these things. I find it helps my practice to sit with your ideas, try to poke holes in them in our posts, etc. 

Thank you for setting a good example (mostly), regardless of what's actually occurring. 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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T:
Even if it is only on a forum with your virtual friends and peers, it takes some courage to bear the underbelly like this. Bravo, sir. 

Regarding your offer of apology or whatever. For my part, I thoroughly enjoy our good-natured sparring about these things. I find it helps my practice to sit with your ideas, try to poke holes in them in our posts, etc. 

Thank you for setting a good example (mostly), regardless of what's actually occurring. 

Thanks T.

I enjoyed our discussions as well, but I've got a much more reserved attitude towards such non-dual ideas/arguments now. I still think they probably point to the ultimate reality, but that can be intoxicating. Even if there is no ultimate meaning to anything or free will, 90% of the time I have to act like there is and short-circuiting that was just creating tension and suffering. I'm switching things around and going to spend 90% of my time on "mundane" practice again and just reserve 10% of my mental space for ultimate reality. I'll be interested to see how those proportions change over time if my practice progresses at all ...

Cheers
agnostic
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

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agnostic:
I was reading a post of shargrol about DN->SE and I realized that this recent DN is having a lot to do with the self-induced stress of self-diagnosis and fixating on paths and attainments. Without clear and repeatable fruitions it’s hard to know if I actually have SE. Maybe in my desire to believe I was making progress I just misdiagnosed a bunch of A&P type experiences as SE. The fact that I haven’t spent much time in EQ must be a red flag. The fact that kundalini is still so dominant must be another. Maybe depersonalization experiences were just psychological unfoldings. And maybe that whole non-dual metaphysical mind-fuck over the last few weeks was just a back-hand way of me trying to convince myself I’m done without saying “I’m done”. I feel stupid now, but opening up to this possibility seems to have shifted something inside, made me feel more human and vulnerable, and created a new opening into EQ. I’m just going to sit with that for now.
damn, i love you, agnostic.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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I love you too. Just be careful you don't fall for my narcissistic self-pity play!
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

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agnostic:
I love you too. Just be careful you don't fall for my narcissistic self-pity play!
unless you get better at it, no danger there.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

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I'm impressed, agnostic. Highest congrats, deepest sympathies. Seriously - I've been there, done that, been super embarrassed. It is HARD to come down from that. 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Chris Marti:
I'm impressed, agnostic. Highest congrats, deepest sympathies. Seriously - I've been there, done that, been super embarrassed. It is HARD to come down from that. 

Thanks Chris. It's actually a weight off my shoulders.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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I’ve been reading the compilation of shargrol’s posts which is a real goldmine. I realize that I’ve been using too much effort to try to keep the mind on the breath, which just creates tension. That’s probably the reason for the headache I’ve been experiencing, which lessens when I relax more and let the mind follow the breath by itself. It really works, I can’t believe it took me so long to figure it out! The difference is the change in attitude –  not getting annoyed when the mind wanders but accepting it and relaxing so that the mind comes back by itself. The process has a certain rhythm to it and feels like building a muscle memory. Most of the time I can only manage a few breaths unbroken, but even that is enough to deepen the concentration significantly.

I started using Kenneth Folk’s method of counting 10 breaths and noting any distractions. I kind of turned my nose up at it before because it sounded “too basic”, I thought I was after more important insights. But again it really works to dispel distractions efficiently, rather than letting the mind wander with them for ages.

One significant distraction I notice is thoughts about how I’m going to describe my experiences here on DhO. It’s like I want to describe the experience before I’ve given it a chance to really happen. It's due to vanity and greed. I read about other people’s experiences and think why don’t I have that, I want that. This creates a greedy mindset for having certain preconceived experiences, which is just a source of frustration and prevents the actual experience from unfolding. I’m noting that too.
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Siavash, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

Posts: 1227 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
One significant distraction I notice is thoughts about how I’m going to describe my experiences here on DhO. It’s like I want to describe the experience before I’ve given it a chance to really happen

A very good description for this narration in mind! I have it most times, on and off the cushion. It's not entirely new though, I had it before this practice too I think, since I used to record my dreams and some of my experiences. But it's a good mind virus. At least for me it has a benefit, and help with improving my English!

I don't know about Folk's method, but Leigh Brasington uses a counting method too which has gotten from Pa Auk sayadaw, and it was very helpful for me too. It's up to 8, not 10, which I think 8 works better for me than 10.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Siavash:
One significant distraction I notice is thoughts about how I’m going to describe my experiences here on DhO. It’s like I want to describe the experience before I’ve given it a chance to really happen

A very good description for this narration in mind! I have it most times, on and off the cushion. It's not entirely new though, I had it before this practice too I think, since I used to record my dreams and some of my experiences. But it's a good mind virus. At least for me it has a benefit, and help with improving my English!

I don't know about Folk's method, but Leigh Brasington uses a counting method too which has gotten from Pa Auk sayadaw, and it was very helpful for me too. It's up to 8, not 10, which I think 8 works better for me than 10.

Richard Moss once told me that he would often catch himself in meditation sort of working up his experiences as they arose for presentation later in his teaching. He said it a little sheepishly. But it's sort of hard to imagine not doing something of that kind of rehearsal once in a while in our minds. We formulate and articulate to undertand and communicate our experiences, with an implied audience of people with a common language and experiences in the same neighborhood of reality; the mind does that; the mind is working on the stuff from the get-go and knows what it wants to do with the stuff. So let the mind do its work, and you do yours, which is to get free of identifying with the mind doing that work.

agnostic, quit giving yourself shit over this stuff, mate! That's what the rest of us are here for, to give you shit.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

Posts: 1602 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
It's good to know that I'm not the only one doing it! I don't feel bad about it, but it's a real distraction from keeping the mind on the breath. The fact that the mind thinks it knows what it wants to do with it is an extra layer of mental activity on top of the bare experience of breathing. I used to step back and let the story develop, which felt good, almost as if the story itself had become the meditation object. But that's definitely not keeping the mind on the breath any more, it's more discursive and the mind is less unified. I stopped identifying with the discursive mind as much, but concentration deepens much more quickly when I drop it altogether.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
agnostic:
It's good to know that I'm not the only one doing it! I don't feel bad about it, but it's a real distraction from keeping the mind on the breath. The fact that the mind thinks it knows what it wants to do with it is an extra layer of mental activity on top of the bare experience of breathing. I used to step back and let the story develop, which felt good, almost as if the story itself had become the meditation object. But that's definitely not keeping the mind on the breath any more, it's more discursive and the mind is less unified. I stopped identifying with the discursive mind as much, but concentration deepens much more quickly when I drop it altogether.

I think it helps to see yourself, in mediation at this point, as simply performing a Sisyphean task of interminable damnation, pushing a rock up a hill time after endless time, only to see it roll right back down to the bottom again. Reset. Le Bodhisattva Camus said, "One must imagine Sisyphus happy." Why? Because he's got something to do to pass the time in hell, until all beings are saved. What's a little bit of mind blab, compared to the priceless gift of that rock? Body hauls the breath up to the top on the in-breath, fucking rock rolls all the way down on the outbreath. It keeps us off the streets, mate, where we might be a danger to ourselves or others.

damn, i love you. This arc of your through the last couple months will be studied like astronomers study the first pass of a new comet.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

Posts: 1602 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I'm noticing that there is a critical point about a second after each distraction or thought arises, before "story mind" picks up the ball and starts running with it. That's the window of opportunity to relax and let the mind fall back onto the breath. I don't restart counting after that because it feels like a natural precursor to the  "jhana wobble" which Ajahn Brahm talks about. But I do restart counting once I've noticed that story mind has gotten going.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

Posts: 1602 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Part of the problem is that each time the concentration deepens through an unbroken run of breaths, then the stories become more inviting because the mind is more unified and can get into the story better. If I can manage a run of just 10 breaths then the concentration deepens noticeably, piti-sukha starts coursing and then it's really easy to get into a nice story for 10 minutes and think I'm having a successful mediation just because the mind is a bit more concentrated than normal and I feel so good. So I'm trying to make 10 breaths the baseline and then extend it from there.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

Posts: 1724 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
agnostic:


One significant distraction I notice is thoughts about how I’m going to describe my experiences here on DhO (note; planning thought and even imagining if you see the forum in your mind). It’s like I want to describe (note; planning thought) the experience before I’ve given it a chance to really happen (note; expectation, guilt, anticipation, unpleasant). It's due to vanity and greed (Note; judging thoughts, self-pity). I read about other people’s experiences and think why don’t I have that, I want that (Note; judging thoght, guilt, self-pity, unpleasant, desire, urge to get) . This creates a greedy mindset for having certain preconceived experiences, which is just a source of frustration and prevents the actual experience from unfolding. I’m noting that too (are you really? )

I 2nd Siavash and think its very normal for thoughts to pop out here and there about this or that, and yes it happens to me too and I treat them like the ITCH on my nose! emoticon 
You say it yourself above, that you failed to give it chance to really happen and yet YOU ARE NOTICING THAT VERY MIND STATE without really knowing it  emoticon  (I've marked my commentaries in Bold above)
I dont want to push on you a certain method but I think you need something tat really keeps you away from pending time inside the hindrances like "guit thinking, and self-pity thinking and feeling" and see them for what they are and move on.
You mentioned KF above and his counting method, well he has some other tools which could actually be of more benefit to you at this time.
But we are talking about your mind here and you have all the right to do with it as you please of course. 

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agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

Posts: 1602 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Thanks Papa Che, that is some very accurate analysis/noting.

Actually at this pont it seems like the breath is working now for samatha. After about 10 breaths I start to get into the "beautiful breath" as Ajahn Brahm calls it and the counting falls away. I'm just going to enjoy that for a bit while I can!

But this whole discussion about DhO storytelling has been very helpful for me. I felt like it was my "guilty secret" and now it's out in the open I can laugh about it and it's lost its hold on me emoticon 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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Good man emoticon  
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

Posts: 1602 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
It's funny, after our interaction I found myself slipping into vipassana on some kind of interpersonal mind stratum on quite an objective basis. I was just watching feelings around "should" and "shouldn't" in relation to other people, thoughts around wanting to impress them or being afraid of disappointing them or annoying or upsetting them. It wasn't in relation to you or anyone else specifically, it was just watching the underlying mechanics at play in a clunky and transparent way. Thanks again!
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
agnostic:
Thanks Papa Che, that is some very accurate analysis/noting.

Actually at this pont it seems like the breath is working now for samatha. After about 10 breaths I start to get into the "beautiful breath" as Ajahn Brahm calls it and the counting falls away. I'm just going to enjoy that for a bit while I can!

But this whole discussion about DhO storytelling has been very helpful for me. I felt like it was my "guilty secret" and now it's out in the open I can laugh about it and it's lost its hold on me emoticon 
Papa Che taught me almost everything i know about learning vipassana language of noting, using that amazingly simple and effective technique of marking in bold the ways in which you are already noting in current practice.

Interesting that the "beautiful breath" is happening spontaneously for you now. That's what we in the siddha yoga dham used to call "auspicious." lol. (If all sentient beings are to be saved, then every fucking godawful step of the way is, of course, auspicious. Some of the steps are just so much less painful than others. Beautiful breath is close to as painless as it gets.)

Glad we outed you on your guilty secret. I think i missed what it was. Could you endure another round of humiliation and public shame and tell me, or at least refresh my memory? I mean, I missed it. I think you came out with it while I thought you were pissed at me and was lying low.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

Posts: 3875 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Agnostic, we all harbor a desire to be special and have special experiences. That's the Quest mentality, the seeking mentality. It has to be ridden, tired out, captured, hogtied, and tamed. In a way, that's the whole path, right there. (You've seen the Ten Oxherding Pictures?) That takes a long time. Eventually, what that mentality truly is will be revealed. Maybe every time you can catch yourself in that thought process, take a brief pause and ponder it. What, and why, is it?
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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Chris Marti:
Agnostic, we all harbor a desire to be special and have special experiences. That's the Quest mentality, the seeking mentality. It has to be ridden, tired out, captured, hogtied, and tamed. In a way, that's the whole path, right there. (You've seen the Ten Oxherding Pictures?) That takes a long time. Eventually, what that mentality truly is will be revealed. Maybe every time you can catch yourself in that thought process, take a brief pause and ponder it. What, and why, is it?

Quit fucking with the guy, he's doing shamatha. He's got the beautiful fucking breath!
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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He can handle it. Just look at what he's been through the past few months!
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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Chris Marti:
He can handle it. Just look at what he's been through the past few months!
Well, yeah, clearly, the fucker's indestructible, beginning with that bulletproof ego. But he's got the beautiful breath, man! It's like he got R-and-R from Nam! Let him fuck the locals and drink until he pukes, apply, lather, rinse, repeat. He'll be under that heavy fire again soon enough. We don't want that combat fatigue to get worse. He's already started APOLOGIZING to people.

sorry for the caps, i know you HATE THAT shit.

but i know you can handle it. 

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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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Have you been drinking coffee again? I can see your raised hackle from out here in the midwest.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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i might have had a cup or two.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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Tim, the "guilty secret" was the desire to present my experience in a certain way to conform to an expected ideal of what should be happening in practice based on other people's experiences. I wasn't pissed with you at all, I learnt a lot from you prompting me to think about the story mind - thanks.

Chris, yes we all have a desire to be special but for a narcissist it is a much stronger need because it is compensating for feelings of shame and worthlessness. But it's ok, I can see it for what it is now. It's just a protection mechanism which has long outgrown its original purpose.

Actually, just having this conversation this morning in a mindful way, I feel like there is some rewiring going on in my social brain. For the narcissist mindset, every interaction is a minefield loaded with risks of self-abasement and opportunities for self-aggrandization. It’s powerful to be able to watch those emotions at play from a distance as it were, without identifying and getting involved so much.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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Chris, yes we all have a desire to be special but for a narcissist it is a much stronger need because it is compensating for feelings of shame and worthlessness. But it's ok, I can see it for what it is now. It's just a protection mechanism which has long outgrown its original purpose.

I think I get that. But what I was referring to is something different, and it applies to all yogis and meditators (even those who are narcissists). I was talking about the innate assumption that there is a specialness to the "I/me/mine" thing we all experience. That assumption is what has to be seen through - or as I said earlier, wrestled to the ground.

<Gotta go, before Tim catches me here again...>
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

Posts: 1602 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Oh yes that special story, you're right. I feel like I might have exhausted mine, or at least a good chunk of it. I was going over some old threads last night and realized that it's the same story that's played out before. I think J C put it really well in this thread:

My theory is that thinking you're done is an essential step in the process because if you think you're done, and then you realize you're not, it helps you let go of your attachment to being enlightened and your identification as enlightened.

I came here looking to learn, but there was also a feeling that somehow my story must be different or more special, like I was going to be the "the one". I stopped learning because I ended up defending my sense of how special I was. Probably that's the real reason I came on - to confirm my sense of how special I must be - and I  wasn't learning anything very significant. The outcome of this last few weeks has been by far the greatest learning experience. It's nice that we can all learn from each other like this in a safe and accessible environment without having to go off and join monasteries!
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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Wow, I seem to have missed a lot happening on this forum lately. Great development, agnostic! Premature claims of attainment - or of non-attainment in your case - is a very human thing, but lots of people are unwilling to see through it, and if they eventually do, many are too embarrassed to admit to it. Being able to handle this kind of deflating of an air castle is tough for anyone, and you are dealing with it very gracefully and learning from the experience. I think that is much more impressive than a fast ride. 

You haven't affected my practice negatively in any way. Your helping me through a fear reaction was real. The discussions about attainments and no self and so forth helped me to see some things I need to work with. I hope and believe that the future holds a more thorough relief for you, with much less tension and pain, and I hope I'll get to follow it when it happens.

A&P experiences can seem like The Shit indeed. I seem to be going through a set of strong A&P:s now, and Jeeze, do they feel like utter miracles. I can relate to basically everything you have written about feeling special or non-special too, including dictating reports while in the midst of meditating (I'm working hard to let go of that). 

One good thing in this is that the rest of us seekers get to continuosly enjoy your company in the seeking. I like that, because you are good company. 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

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Thanks for your kind words Linda. I like following your journey too and have more appreciation now for your gentle style.

It seems like my intellect decided it had THE ANSWER because it lost patience with the process that was still going on in my body/mind. Who knows whether that process has an end or not, but no amount of theorizing is going to make it go away (even if it's not ultimately "real").

For anyone else who is reading and might be wondering if they are in a similar situation, if you are honest with yourself you know if you are still suffering. It's scary thinking about opening up about it, but as you can see people are supportive and you will feel much better afterwards when you get back in touch with what's really going on.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
agnostic:

For anyone else who is reading and might be wondering if they are in a similar situation, if you are honest with yourself you know if you are still suffering. It's scary thinking about opening up about it, but as you can see people are supportive and you will feel much better afterwards when you get back in touch with what's really going on.

I think it is worthwhile to put this by Daniel Ingram, "The Isolation of Blowing It" up again, for "anyone else. . ."

For all of us, kids. Agnostic is different only in his scathing-self-abusive honesty. Most of us just let the big fart rip and then hope the stench goes away fast.

The Isolation of Blowing it":

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4462226
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 3 (Smoothing the Ride)

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:
Chris, yes we all have a desire to be special but for a narcissist it is a much stronger need because it is compensating for feelings of shame and worthlessness. But it's ok, I can see it for what it is now. It's just a protection mechanism which has long outgrown its original purpose.

I think I get that. But what I was referring to is something different, and it applies to all yogis and meditators (even those who are narcissists). I was talking about the innate assumption that there is a specialness to the "I/me/mine" thing we all experience. That assumption is what has to be seen through - or as I said earlier, wrestled to the ground.

<Gotta go, before Tim catches me here again...>

"JUST SEE IF YOU CAN MAKE IT TO THE END OF THE CURRENT BREATH WITHOUT GETTING DISTRACTED." --- The One

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