Candle Flame for Re-observation

thumbnail
Daniel M. Ingram, modified 9 Years ago.

Candle Flame for Re-observation

Posts: 3167 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Here's an interesting trick.

I taught this insight retreat, and as often happens, Re-Observation was accompanied by strong feeling of wanting to leave the retreat.

In an effort to keep this from happening, I decided to change gears radically and switch him to candle flame.

The practice was as in MCTB with a few specifics added for retreat: practice was as continuous as possible, chair was used to facilitate longer sits with less pain and bodily sensations to help concentration on the visuals, walking periods were just for a few minutes and only when a break was finally needed from the candle flame and sitting, and no schedule beyond waking up at 4:30 and going to bed at 10:30pm beyond showering and eating (two meals: breakfast, lunch). Basically: look at the flame, feel a shift, close eyes, see red dot, red dot gets stronger, red dot is replaced by spinning, shaking red dot with spinning yellow star and green/purple spinning outside, that is replaced by black larger thing (in this case he saw a square) and then attention is turned to the outside stuff around that. This done again and again had really good effects.

Basically, it was fun, a complete change, involved concentration strong and verifiable enough to avoid most content/dark night stuff, and had measurable landmarks for progress and interesting visuals.

About 4-5 days of that was followed by switching back to hardcore vipassana on anything that seemed to be center point or a core process using choiceless awareness with the one caveat to try to make sure to see what was being missed that prevented stream entry from arising, using the concept of a 3D grid or cube and noticing that all sensations appeared to happen in space on their own as just more objects.

The effect was to make Equanimity arise and nicely developed, as well as provide confidence, a new set of skills and perspectives, and make the whole thing much more workable.

As they say, further research needs to be done, but this approach worked well enough that it should be considered on retreat in this context and for this set of circumstances.
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Candle Flame for Re-observation

Posts: 2411 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Hi Daniel, and thanks for this. I appreciate the call back to basic practice, always. And I love this technique, and if it works for you it is a terrific way to slip through some real gnarliness.

For me, at the crunchiest points of what I think of as dark night, which is the maximum of Disgust, the directed attention and sheer practicality of any technique, or any use of the will or directing of attention, just make things worse. The worst of Disgust is usually disgust with whatever i have been trying to do, whatever I think I have been accomplishing, and so any technique or application of effort just tightens the knot. The only good thing for me here is that the Disgust and the desire for liberation become a perfect flame; nothing will do, nothing is worth doing, and any glimmer of an ambition burns up. If this goes on for more than a single session, the main problem is as always just being decent to people, but at the maximum of Disgust compassion flows naturally from the conviction that we're all equally fucked and there's no sense making things worse for anyone. There is really nothing worth doing, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and as things arise, in all their obvious miserable inadequacy, they burn away. I always feel like I have an infinite amount of misguided misery-making crap to burn, at this point, and there is a real clarity about the fact that there is nothing to do that doesn't make more crap, except let it burn. I just stop doing anything, including-- at the absolute max-- "breathing." So far, it always turns out that the next breath comes along on its own, and I just let it. It is impossible to feel gratitude for it at this point (gratitude for the breath is one of my fundamentals), but it is what it is, and that is enough (since nothing is enough). And there is a point amid all this, crap arising and crap passing away, breath coming and going, where quiet comes (a hopeless quiet, but a dstinct relief from Disgust), and then peace (a fairly clueless peace). In prolonged episodes, the peace is initially very fragile and will evaporate at the first whiff of Anything, but it does help with continuing to be decent to the rest of the sentient beings. And in the longer run, it stabilizes into a working Equanimity.
thumbnail
Darrek, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Candle Flame for Re-observation

Posts: 50 Join Date: 8/21/15 Recent Posts
You mentioned you kept cycling, do you think that straight Vipasina practice is still faster insight wise then fire kasina practice? Or maybe a combination of the two?

I have 5 free days about every month for home retreats. I wonder if it would be a good time to introduce this practice during that time. I am currently at mid EQ-2nd path and wondering if I should stick with my typical home retreat schedule or mix candle with vipassina.

After I complete this round of insight I will for sure be doing 5 days straight of fire kasina. Its no 14 days thats for sure but Im interested to see what will happen in review.


Do you have any suggestions? My primary focus is finishing this round.
thumbnail
Daniel M. Ingram, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Candle Flame for Re-observation

Posts: 3167 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Learning to concentrate well is a great idea if you haven't done it, and candle flame is a great way to learn to concentrate well and get a taste of what is possible, so, yes, I recommend it.

See www.firekasina.org for more. Within 5 days, if you do this well, you should really be into some interesting territory.

Let us know how it goes, if you wish. Might keep a practice journal.

Happy New Year!

Daniel
Tim Farrington, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Candle Flame for Re-observation

Posts: 2411 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Learning to concentrate well is a great idea if you haven't done it, and candle flame is a great way to learn to concentrate well and get a taste of what is possible, so, yes, I recommend it.

See www.firekasina.org for more. Within 5 days, if you do this well, you should really be into some interesting territory.

Let us know how it goes, if you wish. Might keep a practice journal.

Happy New Year!

Daniel
Hi Daniel, and thank you for this thread. It's sort of a pocket history of my involvement with DhO, in a way--- when I first read MCTB, in 2011 (first edition, maximum in-your-faceness), it made me realize that most of what i had been doing throughout my contemplative life was concentration practices, stabilizing a blissful spaciousness, at best. I was still inclined at that point to consider you a macho vipassana asshole, but you were the most non-bullshit tell-it-like-it-is, lightning-bolts-on-some-sections-required asshole i had ever come across, and i loved that about you from the get-go. Also never had much of a doubt that you were a state of the art real thing. By the time of this post, four years later in 2015, i had embraced the three characteristics in my own practice to a much greater extent, let go of the center into taking it as it comes, body, breath, technique. And on this round here at DhO for me, 2020, it was finding MCTB2 and falling in love with it all over again. You are a much-mellowed, richer, gentler asshole these days, and your compassion shines through. And you're still state of the art hell on bullshit. So thank you for that as well.
Tim Farrington, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Candle Flame for Re-observation

Posts: 2411 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Westthings:
You mentioned you kept cycling, do you think that straight Vipasina practice is still faster insight wise then fire kasina practice? Or maybe a combination of the two?

I have 5 free days about every month for home retreats. I wonder if it would be a good time to introduce this practice during that time. I am currently at mid EQ-2nd path and wondering if I should stick with my typical home retreat schedule or mix candle with vipassina.

After I complete this round of insight I will for sure be doing 5 days straight of fire kasina. Its no 14 days thats for sure but Im interested to see what will happen in review.


Do you have any suggestions? My primary focus is finishing this round.


Westthings, obviously, I've been mulling this reply for four and a half years without any fruit, though in my own defense, Daniel's responses on this thread cover the waterfront. I'm actually resurrecting this thread simply because wisdom about Re-observation is always in fashion, and also because I'm so heartened to know that Daniel uses a chair sometimes to sit. My old ass wouldn't survive without a chair, and my knees are shot from years of bad lotus anyway. But the candle flame really is an incredible way in and out and through and what have you, with no calories, no hangover, no side effects but bliss, concentration at its most healing.

I'm sure by now that you have finished that round of insight and are properly on to being miserable in the next. Namaste.
Tim Farrington, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Candle Flame for Re-observation

Posts: 2411 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Here's an interesting trick.

I taught this insight retreat, and as often happens, Re-Observation was accompanied by strong feeling of wanting to leave the retreat.

In an effort to keep this from happening, I decided to change gears radically and switch him to candle flame.

The practice was as in MCTB with a few specifics added for retreat: practice was as continuous as possible, chair was used to facilitate longer sits with less pain and bodily sensations to help concentration on the visuals, walking periods were just for a few minutes and only when a break was finally needed from the candle flame and sitting, and no schedule beyond waking up at 4:30 and going to bed at 10:30pm beyond showering and eating (two meals: breakfast, lunch). Basically: look at the flame, feel a shift, close eyes, see red dot, red dot gets stronger, red dot is replaced by spinning, shaking red dot with spinning yellow star and green/purple spinning outside, that is replaced by black larger thing (in this case he saw a square) and then attention is turned to the outside stuff around that. This done again and again had really good effects.

Basically, it was fun, a complete change, involved concentration strong and verifiable enough to avoid most content/dark night stuff, and had measurable landmarks for progress and interesting visuals.

About 4-5 days of that was followed by switching back to hardcore vipassana on anything that seemed to be center point or a core process using choiceless awareness with the one caveat to try to make sure to see what was being missed that prevented stream entry from arising, using the concept of a 3D grid or cube and noticing that all sensations appeared to happen in space on their own as just more objects.

The effect was to make Equanimity arise and nicely developed, as well as provide confidence, a new set of skills and perspectives, and make the whole thing much more workable.

As they say, further research needs to be done, but this approach worked well enough that it should be considered on retreat in this context and for this set of circumstances.
a mere 8 years and nine months after the original post, lol! This was a slow-sprouting seed. But in the big Bodisattva-scale picture, 9 years is barely a full sneeze.

May 1, 2020/ “Fire” Kasina: LED light as meditation object/ first time/ duration uncertain, spontaneous, minutes only/ ended 3:59 am
 
An astounding, mind-blowing experience. I was minding my own business, and saw the face of God. The sound was terrible--- we tried to talk, and it sounded like one of the voice-disguisers on a telephone, deep, underwatery, drawn out. managed only a few words of communication, in that hearing mode. I tried sign language for a while, mostly just heart, heart, heart, but God was steady, no chatter, just heart.
 
 But the visual! Such a beautiful face, totally unexpected and surprising. I mean, you can anticipate “Beauty,” all sorts of brain/mind references. But the living Face!!!!
 
I laughed, i smoked, i wept, i broke down and REALLY fucking wept, i prayed, i bowed low. The usual devotional shit, all of it as if no one had ever done any of that before.
And here’s the funny part, as i moved to embrace God, God broke off the connection! Apparently the Creator of the Universe had other business to attend to.
 
Sweet Sister Kerista, let me never forget this moment.
 
No fucking way to forget that moment. My heart is still thundering. One more like that and i can die as i always wanted, in blissful adoration of the One True Face of Love.
Anna L, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Candle Flame for Re-observation

Posts: 231 Join Date: 1/21/17 Recent Posts
This is beautiful to hear. How are you feeling a few days later?
Tim Farrington, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Candle Flame for Re-observation

Posts: 2411 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Anna L:
This is beautiful to hear. How are you feeling a few days later?

Hi Anna L!

I am currently experiencing meditation-related difficulties and probably couldn't recognize the Face if it looked back at me from the mirror. I'm beat to shit by that same Living Flame. Re-observation seems to be the name of the game right now, like having my nose rubbed in it. EQ? i laugh, i laugh at this myth, this chimera, this rumor, EQ.
Anna L, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Candle Flame for Re-observation

Posts: 231 Join Date: 1/21/17 Recent Posts
I'm sorry to hear that my friend. Are you still practising fire kasina right now? If so, what are you experiencing via 5 senses? 
Tim Farrington, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Candle Flame for Re-observation

Posts: 2411 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Anna L:
I'm sorry to hear that my friend. Are you still practising fire kasina right now? 
Thank you, Anna, my friend, but there is no cause to be sorry. I have only practiced a fire-kasina-like technique a few times in my life, and those spontaneously out of other situations, rather than going in with intent. My own breath has always served best as my meditation work-point. 

I am through the worst of that black spell for the moment, it seems, and back to steady practice that has all the marks of EQ, one breath at a time, without hurry or fear.

Thank you again. I love the work you are doing with those in meditation-related difficulties. Unfortunately, you will never lack cases, as people around the world are increasingly led into meditation by side doors advertising immediate do-no-harm-only-good benefits like strees, relief, and lowering blood pressure. Then some poor bastard wakes up the Big Snake and all hell breaks loose, and his blood pressure goes right through the roof. Thank God there are people like you to be there for him when it does.

love, tim
thumbnail
hae1en, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Candle Flame for Re-observation

Posts: 98 Join Date: 10/13/19 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
using the concept of a 3D grid or cube and noticing that all sensations appeared to happen in space on their own as just more objects.

Hi, the "concept of a 3D grid or cube" sounds strangely familiar, although I haven't read about it in any text of Daniel or anyone else. Could anyone direct me to some source reading or explain what it's about? Seems like a concept, which helps to describe the field of experience in a less 2D manner. Maybe for the sake of similar precision we sometime use the words like realm/dhatu to describe jhana, or landscape or territory. Though "3D grid" sounds more nerdy :-).