Message Boards Message Boards

Practice Logs

Steph's Practice Log - #2

Toggle
Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/17/20 11:16 AM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Chris Marti 5/17/20 11:26 AM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/17/20 12:28 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Sam Gentile 5/17/20 1:22 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/17/20 2:15 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Olivier 5/17/20 2:25 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/17/20 2:59 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Olivier 5/17/20 3:47 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/17/20 4:43 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 agnostic 5/18/20 8:01 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/18/20 4:51 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 agnostic 5/18/20 8:01 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 agnostic 5/18/20 9:29 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/18/20 9:39 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 agnostic 5/18/20 10:00 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Chris Marti 5/19/20 6:47 AM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Papa Che Dusko 5/19/20 7:26 AM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/19/20 8:11 AM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Papa Che Dusko 5/19/20 8:29 AM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 agnostic 5/19/20 8:53 AM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 agnostic 5/19/20 10:40 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Nicky2 5/18/20 10:25 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 agnostic 5/19/20 5:48 AM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/20/20 9:56 AM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Nicky2 5/21/20 4:18 AM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Papa Che Dusko 5/19/20 5:15 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/20/20 3:02 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 agnostic 5/20/20 8:22 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/20/20 8:36 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/21/20 8:29 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Chris Marti 5/22/20 6:34 AM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 shargrol 5/22/20 12:57 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/25/20 10:08 AM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Sam Gentile 5/26/20 8:40 AM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Brandon Dayton 5/25/20 3:29 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Papa Che Dusko 5/25/20 5:03 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 agnostic 5/25/20 7:39 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/26/20 1:43 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Chris Marti 5/26/20 1:44 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/26/20 1:47 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Chris Marti 5/26/20 1:57 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/26/20 1:54 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Siavash 5/26/20 2:09 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/26/20 2:21 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Brandon Dayton 5/26/20 2:56 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/26/20 4:18 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Tim Farrington 5/29/20 8:29 AM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Sam Gentile 5/29/20 11:19 AM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/29/20 3:40 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Papa Che Dusko 5/29/20 3:49 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/29/20 5:16 PM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Tim Farrington 5/30/20 2:56 AM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Chris Marti 5/30/20 9:22 AM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Steph S 5/30/20 10:38 AM
RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2 Brandon Dayton 5/22/20 12:56 PM
Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/17/20 11:16 AM
My first practice log can be viewed here if anyone wants to look at it: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/view_message/20033926#_19_message_20033926

I'm copying my last response in that thread over to here, in case Olivier or others wanted to reply.

I also think it's important to not crave or cling to the wow factors. As Chris said, we can cherish and appreciate them, but I find there can be a fine balance between appreciating them and craving them. There are lots of aspects of experience that are fascinating and can seem kind of showy. But, they're side effects of the practice. People, including me, use alot of the walking around in daily life effects of how their experience and perception presents as descriptors of where they're at, but again, these are side effects and fireworks. They're a result of some of the insights and not the insight themselves.

The fireworks lose their wow factor over time. They become integrated and part of the new normal baseline, so they don't seem as showy as they once did. This is important to take to heart. I'm saying this as much for you Olivier as I am for myself. We can't go reminiscing about the glory days of great experiences and ways of perceiving that we once did. Either its lost its wow factor because we're used to as a new part of experience now, or it was just another temporary mind state or way of experiencing that is now gone. Regardless, chasing fireworks is craving, which begets clinging, and the whole cycle of samsara continues. And that itself is what needs to be understood on a fundamental level.

This again gets back to chasing after certain sensations like the observer - it's yet another side effect and not the root issue. I'm truly appreciating how vital the root issues, the beliefs and views themselves, are right now. I think that the teachings on dependent origination are probably one of, if not the, most important thing to truly understand at the deepest level.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/17/20 11:26 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Better?

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/17/20 12:28 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Yep. Thanks again!

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/17/20 1:22 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
My first practice log can be viewed here if anyone wants to look at it: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/view_message/20033926#_19_message_20033926

I'm copying my last response in that thread over to here, in case Olivier or others wanted to reply.

I also think it's important to not crave or cling to the wow factors. As Chris said, we can cherish and appreciate them, but I find there can be a fine balance between appreciating them and craving them. There are lots of aspects of experience that are fascinating and can seem kind of showy. But, they're side effects of the practice. People, including me, use alot of the walking around in daily life effects of how their experience and perception presents as descriptors of where they're at, but again, these are side effects and fireworks. They're a result of some of the insights and not the insight themselves.

The fireworks lose their wow factor over time. They become integrated and part of the new normal baseline, so they don't seem as showy as they once did. This is important to take to heart. I'm saying this as much for you Olivier as I am for myself. We can't go reminiscing about the glory days of great experiences and ways of perceiving that we once did. Either its lost its wow factor because we're used to as a new part of experience now, or it was just another temporary mind state or way of experiencing that is now gone. Regardless, chasing fireworks is craving, which begets clinging, and the whole cycle of samsara continues. And that itself is what needs to be understood on a fundamental level.

This again gets back to chasing after certain sensations like the observer - it's yet another side effect and not the root issue. I'm truly appreciating how vital the root issues, the beliefs and views themselves, are right now. I think that the teachings on dependent origination are probably one of, if not the, most important thing to truly understand at the deepest level.
For one just tuning in, where are you doing for practices?

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/17/20 2:15 PM as a reply to Sam Gentile.
Hey, Sam. I posted about my style of practice in my first practice log, which is at the link I put in the first post of this thread. But just as a quick summary so you don't have to go digging through almost 200 replies - right now I'm doing a mix of insight and jhana. For jhana, I've been using the brahma viharas and once I stabilize the mind quite a bit using that jhana, I'll move into insight with that more refined state of mind. For insight, instead of focusing in on every individual sensation, I've been working on insight incorporating the whole field of experience, and paying attention to that and how it presents. I know that maybe sounds vague. I also know that you were doing a metta retreat and realized I forgot to reply back to your questions you asked me in there. Since metta is one of the brahma viharas, and I've been doing jhana with brahma viharas, I'll go reply in your thread about metta with more details about how I practice this.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/17/20 2:25 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Thank you for the reminder, nicely put.

The balance between craving and appreciating is indeed fine. I've found myself recently, doing the shargrolian "resistance ?" exercise, and having that come up as the dominant theme : is this my life purpose being seen clearly, or is it some egotistic fantasy, and where is the dividing line ? And some subtle identification and pride coming up.

As in, "We're getting seriously enlightened here, right ?"

Subtle, and vital, like you say, vital. 

Yes, but we needed, at least i needed, to cling to that, in order to know that that's not the best of ideas, right ? emoticon Could not have avoided it.

May I ask you to break down your understanding of dependent origination ? I get a sense there are many ways to understand this. The 12-link version, anyway, although I've composed a 25' long piece of music based on those, I've never fully grasped, and honestly always found really confusing, if you could help me out here. The more abstract because this is that is, when this ceases that ceases, I understand better... 

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/17/20 2:59 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Dependent origination is abstract AF. There are different ways to go about seeing it. Some people say you need to observe each of the 12 links as they occur in real time, and know what each of those links are as they occur, which I find doesn't always work that well when it comes down to it. I'm not that into that particular method. 

I tend to prefer the method of seeing sensations clearly for what they are and cutting through before it has a chance to get to the craving and clinging links. So weaken the initial links in the chain, basically. So it's cutting off the bonds of suffering earlier in the chain instead of trying to see the whole chain ride out.

We talked a bit about Mahamudra in my first practice thread, and I mentioned I went on a weekend Mahamudra retreat several years ago. I forgot most of what I learned on that retreat because honestly I think alot of it was over my head at that time. But one part that did stick with me and that I remembered again recently is how we hold sensations and view them. Essentially, they said to hold all sensations and view all sensations with a sense of unconditional love, in the way that a parent might look at their child. This is where my brahma vihara practice has been kicking ass lately, and is a side effect I didn't necessarily expect. In cultivating feelings of love and compassion towards myself and others, I've also naturally without at first realizing it, been cultivating those feelings towards my whole field of experience. It's basically like developing an attitude of unconditional love and acceptance for everything that happens in your experience. How this relates to dependent origination, is... if all sensations are met with love, compassion, and gratitude then it cuts down craving before it occurs. There's nothing to crave if all sensations are equally loved, equally viewed, and if you're all inclusive in that way - in other words, there's great equanimity towards them all. The same way a parent might have multiple children and love all of them unconditionally, or still love a child even when they're acting like a total brat. I'm not a parent, but I understand the sentiment. Does that make sense?

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/17/20 3:47 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Yeah definitely, i can resonate with that, what i dont get is the 12 actual links though. It doesn't seem to me like DO in the pali buddha's mouth is what i do when i deconstruct experience... But then again, this guy.......................... 

As for dependant origination in the way burbea puts it, it also seems to be something different different than anything we talked about here, more like : views create perceptions and vice versa.

I'm curious, if someone knows the fine points here.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/17/20 4:43 PM as a reply to Olivier.
I'd love to hear other people's takes on dependent origination. It really is a tricky one to fully understand. It's one of those things that with insight you probably have seen many times. That's the weird thing about these concepts, is you may have seen them in action, just without knowing all the terminology behind it. the Many of the explanations of it are hard to decipher, using what I think is convoluted language. This page has one of the easier to understand explanations of DO that I've found, though. I just re-read it again and it makes alot of sense. It describes all of the links and how they interact. https://www.buddhistinquiry.org/article/dependent-origination/

A quote from that article that's pretty interesting is:

"In classical presentations, this pro­cess of dependent origination is com­prised of twelve links. It is important to understand that this is not a linear, progressive, or sequential presentation. It’s a process always in motion and not static at all. It’s also not deterministic. I also don’t think that one link deter­mines the arising of the next link. But rather that the presence of certain fac­tors or certain of these links together provide the conditions in which the other links can manifest, and this is go­ing to become clearer as we use some analogies to describe how this interac­tion works.

It’s a little bit like a snowstorm—the coming together of a certain tempera­ture, a certain amount of precipitation, a certain amount of wind co-creating a snow storm. Or it’s like the writing of a book: one needs an idea, one needs pen, one needs paper, one needs the ability to write. It’s not necessarily true that first I must have this and then I must have this in a certain sequential order, but rather that the coming to­gether of certain causes and conditions allows this particular phenomenon or this particular experience to be born."


RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/18/20 8:01 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Hi Steph,

I'll chime in on DO. I'm by no means an expert, but I've been thinking about and meditating on it for a while. I agree that DO is the most important teaching of the Buddha, because it explains the mechanics of how we create dukkha out of our raw experience, which is the second noble truth. And understanding how dukkha is created gives you a chance to stop it, which is the third noble truth.

Every author seems to have their own slightly different take on DO. I think it's just one of those things that you study and meditate on and form your own understanding of how it works in your own experience, which is they only thing that is relevant to lessening your own dukkha at the end of the day. I like Bhikkhu Buddhadasa's book Paticcasamuppada - Practical Dependent Origination, which has some good worked examples.

I like Christina Feldman's explanation, however she does what a lot of authors do which is to say it's not strictly linear. I agree that DO operates on a lot of different levels - from instantaneous experience to whole lifetime - and that it contains multiple smaller feedback loops within each larger loop. However a breakthrough for me was trying to understand the links leading up to contact in their actual linear sequence. This is still a work in progress, and I may be completely off base here, but this is the way I see it. I think it helps to make sense of how consciousness is fabricated, which seems to be your question here:

The idea of paying attention to things seems a bit ludicrous, in that on some level you know there's nothing paying attention to things, but that knowing hasn't fully matured. Which is a bit mind-fucky and has tripped me up a bit. Because the observer is still operating, yet the way the observer is perceived hasn't quite caught up with the fact that there is still a knowing that there's nobody behind the curtain paying attention. This kind of manifests like, when I'm meditating or if I even thought "pay attention to X now" , it seems weird to think of myself as paying attention to an object. Or said another way, weird to conceive of attention as something that is applied to another thing. It doesn't quite add up anymore. But there's still the sensations of the observer and that subject/object duality happening, so again, not a fully matured insight on that front yet.

We have to be a bit careful about words here because you are using "attention" (manasikara) which is technically part of namarupa at the fourth link, but I believe what you are really talking about is consciousness (vinnana), i.e. the fact that I am aware of sense object X right now. As you say, it's a bit of a mystery - who decides to pay attention to X in the first place? You know there isn't really an observer behind the curtain making these decisions, and yet somehow the decision to meditate was made, somehow the decision to pay attention to the breath was made, somehow the dog barking didn't catch your attention but the firetruck passing did etc.

Well if you look at DO, the link before consciousness is sankhara, so the literal translation of that is preconscious activity of body, speech/thought, perception and feeling. If you're serious about DO I would read SN 12.2 and MN 44 on Sutta Central with the side-by-side pali word lookup activated. It might seem like a bit of a struggle, but once you know what the original pali terms are then you are much less likely to get confused by everyone's different translations and explanations, because you know they all point back to the same 20 key words and formulas in the original suttas.

So anyway, sankhara is all that stuff that's going on in your body and mind before you become conscious of X, and it's a result of your conditioning. Take two different people in the same room with the same incoming sense data and they will have different conscious experiences because of their different conditioning. Or as you see in meditation when you slow the mind down, there's all that bubbly vibrational stuff (sankhara) going on and only a specific subset of that forms into actual sense objects you become conscious of. My understanding is that sanna (perception) is the specific part of sankhara which is "choosing" object X over object Y to enter your stream of consciousness, and a big part of that "choice" is the feeling (vedana) tone of the object (I prefer X to Y so I'm conscious of it and happy, or else I don't like X and I can't ignore it so I'm unhappy). The conditioning here is a major feedback loop which is building and reinforcing your sankharas. The more you attach to cling to certain pleasant objects and reject others at step 8 (craving), the more those "choices" get reinforced in your sankharas and shape your stream of consciousness at steps 2 & 3.

The other step I found tough to understand is namarupa (mind & body) at step 4, because that is happening in between consciousness and contact (between X and the relevant sense organ) at step 6. But in my experience, if you really slow the mind down you can seem some physical and mental processing occurring between X first entering your awareness and X being fully established in your awareness. Like when you are "half aware" of a thought in meditation but you don't chase it and it fades away, that's step 3 (consciousness) which never made it to step 6 (contact). Or maybe you were talking to a friend and a dog passed through the room - you weren't fully conscious of it because you were listening to what your friend was saying, but if she asked you whether the dog passed you might be able to recall it - again consciousness without full contact. And that nama includes a lot of stuff - feeling (again), perception (again), intention, contact (before step 6!) and attention. Some people say it's because the DO list is an amalgamation of early lists with redundancies, but I think you really can observe that a lot of these things aren't digital and build incrementally if you watch slowly and carefully enough. The feeling tends to build and support the process, the contact builds and can be broken before completion, the intention builds etc.

Once you've got to contact (step 6) then I think the rest of DO is easier to understand. You are fully aware of X and the feeling (step 7) is either pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, in which case at step 8 (craving) you will either want it, reject it or ignore it. Step 9 (clinging) means nurturing the craving either revisiting the object or trying to avoid it. Step 10 (becoming) is turning the craving into an identity or an action (e.g. "X makes me angry", "X makes me happy", "I want some X", "I want X to go away" etc.). Step 11 (birth) is when you really assume the identity or do the action ("I am angry", "I am happy", "I am doing this", "I am not doing that"). Then step 12 (death) is when that identity falls apart or the action is over ("my anger didn't get the result I wanted", "I am no longer happy", "X is finished", "X has returned") and the end result is dukkha - dissatisfaction because you didn't get what you wanted or what you wanted didn't last or because what you wanted to avoid happened anyway.

The other really interesting thing about DO is that "you" the individual don't appear in there anywhere, it's just a bunch of processes which are conditions for other processes. Of course that's what you know, but really breaking it down step by step and seeing the mechanics of how the sense of self is created on the fly out of craving for sense objects is really helpful I think. Even the sense of self itself is just another sense object or collection of sense objects (the word "I", the idea of me, the bodily feeling of being me etc.) which is being created on the fly. Of course you know all this already so I'm probably being redundant here, but I found it really powerful to go back to the original suttas and see that it's all in there as the central teaching/realization of the Buddha after his awakening.

Anyway, that's my current understanding ... I would be interested to know what you or anyone else thinks. Sorry this post was a bit longer than I intended, I was already thinking about starting a separate thread on it and would be happy to do that if you would prefer not to clog up your log with a more technical discussion.

Cheers
agnostic

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/18/20 4:51 PM as a reply to agnostic.
agnostic:

I like Christina Feldman's explanation, however she does what a lot of authors do which is to say it's not strictly linear. I agree that DO operates on a lot of different levels - from instantaneous experience to whole lifetime - and that it contains multiple smaller feedback loops within each larger loop. However a breakthrough for me was trying to understand the links leading up to contact in their actual linear sequence. This is still a work in progress, and I may be completely off base here, but this is the way I see it. 

This whole reply is awesome and alot to digest. I'll have to come back to it several times, but here are some thoughts to start.

The reason I quoted that part of Christina's article and thought it was interesting was because of what you say here. If others also say it happens out of order, maybe I missed it. When I've read about DO in the suttas before and in other places, they seemed to imply that it IS a linear process and that links happen one after the other. So reading her article again, I was like... wow, is this something I've misunderstood all this time? I get the idea that there are loops within loops, that makes sense. But I will say, as far as seeing it in real time as a linear process, and noticing every single link, that's what I've had trouble with. I also seem to recall that I've read that after coming back online after a cessation, all 12 links will appear in order. I don't know that I've really cognized all of that with extreme clarity after coming out of cessation - it implies that you'll perceive, yes, this is ignorance, yes this is formations, this is this, etc. Sometimes these old Buddhist texts and some of the monks who comment on them say you will automatically see something and automatically know its such and such in a way that I sometimes find unrealistic. Sometimes insight happens quickly, and yet it takes time for it to integrate and for you to really recognize what happened.

agnostic

So anyway, sankhara is all that stuff that's going on in your body and mind before you become conscious of X, and it's a result of your conditioning. Take two different people in the same room with the same incoming sense data and they will have different conscious experiences because of their different conditioning. Or as you see in meditation when you slow the mind down, there's all that bubbly vibrational stuff (sankhara) going on and only a specific subset of that forms into actual sense objects you become conscious of. My understanding is that sanna (perception) is the specific part of sankhara which is "choosing" object X over object Y to enter your stream of consciousness, and a big part of that "choice" is the feeling (vedana) tone of the object (I prefer X to Y so I'm conscious of it and happy, or else I don't like X and I can't ignore it so I'm unhappy). The conditioning here is a major feedback loop which is building and reinforcing your sankharas. The more you attach to cling to certain pleasant objects and reject others at step 8 (craving), the more those "choices" get reinforced in your sankharas and shape your stream of consciousness at steps 2 & 3.

I was just talking with Chris about this the other day in my original practice log. Here's the direct quote:

Steph (in my first practice log):

I sincerely don't think there's a predictable rhyme or reason to why certain sensations are obvious in the field of experience, while others aren't perceived. I think it's a bunch of causes and conditions momentarily colliding, the full extent of those causes and conditions being impossible to entirely ponder. That also goes for anything that could be conceived of as intent. You might think that you want something to happen, and even if it does happen, it's not because that thought was the intent of it or even because there might have been some craving for it. It's just one tiny part of a huge line of causes and conditions, which again, can't be entirely known.

So then, is it possible to see this conditioning in real time? What's the actual method for seeing the initial links in DO that come before contact?


I have more thoughts, but I'll stop there for now.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/18/20 8:01 PM as a reply to Steph S.
I've found that a lot of authors pay lip service to the linear sequence, but when they do a worked example they tend to conflate steps or take them out of order.

I've only had one clear cessation (possibly) and afterwards I saw little "particles of experience" bubbling up and coalescing into bigger objects as reality rebooted and reassembled itself. I didn't know much about DO at the time and certainly didn't see 12 links. Possibly it is one of those scripted things that you see once you know about it. But before I ever heard of DO I was doing fast noting and seeing solid objects (sights, sounds, body sensations) breaking down into little "sensory quanta" which were devoid of their objecthood. My interpretation is that those are the sankhara before you start to become aware of the object at consciousness and then contact.

Another exercise to reveal pre-consciousness is to play with objects on the periphery of awareness. For example you are meditating with eyes closed and focus on the sounds. There's a sort of background of little noises which are all mixed up and then certain ones jump into consciousness as "the sound of X". Before you were conscious that it was X, your ears were still receiving the data and there was some preconscious processing going on (reptilian brain scanning for sounds of danger or food). Then ask why did X capture my attention? Maybe X was birdsong and it happened because you like birds or because you find it annoying.

Or try staring in front of you for a while absorbing the entire visual field without focusing on any particular object. Then say to yourself that you are going to allow an object into consciousness without choosing it first, just sort of open yourself up to the possibility of a visual object and see what happens. You can sort of see various shapes and colors "competing for your attention" until one of them captures your attention and then you are aware of "seeing X". If you slow it down enough you can find something coming into focus slowly and you know it's captivated your attention but you don't know what it is yet. Maybe I'm being too literal saying that is consciousness first followed by contact, but experientially I can definitely observe distinct steps leading from first awareness to full awareness of the object. Same exercise - why did I become aware of X? Maybe it was the color that appealed to you, maybe it reminded you of something etc. Sometimes you can find the association (conditioning) and sometimes not.

Final exercise, let yourself fall asleep slowly and watch your sense of self-identity and continuous thought stream breaking up. You start to lose track and "random" thoughts and images start popping into mind. Sometimes you see why and sometimes not. Either way, it gives you a glimpse of the preconscious activity going on inside your mind all the time. That's also the raw material of your dreams, where a sense of self-identity and consciousness is reimposed as your brain keeps up the preconscious processing.

There's also some interesting research evidencing preconscious mental activity. E.g. Benjaimin Libet's famous experiment which proved that people can initiate a "voluntary action of their own free will" but only become conscious of it after their brain has already started the preprocessing which leads to the action. This is explained well in Daniel Wegner's book The Illusion of Conscious Will. Another good read is Thomas Metzinger's book The Ego Tunnel which shows how sense of self is fabricated. Basically it seems like western science and philosophy is finally catching up with the realization that consciousness, agency & selfhood are fabricated out of preconscious experience - just 2,500 years after the Buddha was the first person documented to observe it in meditation!

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/18/20 9:29 PM as a reply to agnostic.
One last exercise (this is as much for me as you):- focus on the body and see which bits come into awareness. Normally it is familiar sensations which are pleasant or painful (this tingle here, that ache there). That is the habitually reinforced sankhara. Then there's the 95% of neither-pleasant-nor-painful sensations (sankhara) which we usually ignore - they are there, preconscious, but part of the brain is monitoring such activity for irregularities and they are available to be pulled into consciousness.

The main bodily sankhara the Buddha listed was breathing. It's obviously critical to stress and relaxation, but it's also interesting because it's normally preconscious but we can also (appear to) exercise voluntary control over it. But have you ever played the game of observing yourself deciding to breath "voluntarily"? I don't mean breathing on a counting schedule or taking a quick breath without thinking about it. I mean relaxing into really calm slow breathing and waiting for the voluntary impulse to breathe to arise. It's voluntary right? So is it going to be now? Or now? Or a couple more seconds? When exactly are you going to decide to breathe?

What I find eventually happens is that suddenly I'm conscious of being about half a second into a new breath without actually having been conscious of the moment when I decided to initiate the breath. Try as hard as I like, I can never capture the exact instant of deciding to initiate the new breath. Sometimes I feel myself sort of "mustering up the intention to breath", but if I look really closely at that it's more like intention waiting for the body to be ready to breathe. Unless I'm fooling myself, I think this is similar to Libet's experiment - breathing is a preconscious sankhara and conscious control is just an illusion. Obviously you can decide to breath every 10 seconds or something, but that's a different question and just pushing the illusion of control further up in the hierarchy of mental complexity - how did you decide 10 seconds rather than 15? etc.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/18/20 9:39 PM as a reply to agnostic.
This is a really cool real world as it happens when you practice explanation and I totally get what you're saying, so thank you for taking the time. Maybe I just have trouble with the comprehension of this terminology when I read about it and need it broken down like this to understand it. I tend to favor explanations that detail how things manifest in actual practice, versus the really academic takes on things. It's not that I don't appreciate scholarship or that I'm dense to that side of things, but you probably know what I mean. 

What you say about things being sort of fuzzy and then coming into focus - yes, totally. There absolutley is a perceivable and tangible moment when something goes from just barely in the field, can't quite make it out, to when it is shining forth at center stage. I do notice the habitual tendencies of narrowing into certain things. Funny that you mentioned the example of the bird chirping sound. It is spring and the bird sound does light up often these days when I'm practicing. And yes, I like the bird sound so that could be part of the conditioning. And why, say, the hum of random house noises or whatever are chugging along and not that obvious - they're tagged as neutral sounds, neither here nor there.

Related to the example of falling asleep and watching things break apart - Sometimes when I meditate I have dream like thoughts happen - thoughts that can get pretty surreal, choppy, and not like normal discursive thought. Other times it's abstract memory type thoughts. Like, the other day I was meditating and all of a sudden all these Korean words started manifesting in thought. I don't speak Korean, but earlier in the day I was watching a TV show with Korean speaking characters, so it must have been a thought memory of that. There's alertness when that happens while I meditate and I'm definitely not falling asleep, but it does remind me of how the mind functions when I'm falling asleep. I figure I'm getting into a more subtle strata of mind at that point. It can be very interesting for insights into not-self, specifically related to thought and how it occurs. Another good one is what I call proto-thought - it's the feeling of knowing that a thought is coming on, before the content gets expressed.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/18/20 10:00 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Ah yes, the old proto-thoughts :-) And then you realize that there's actually a ton of them - how does it get decided which ones make it into actual thoughts?

Since I've already dumped a load of stuff in your log, here's a passage I really like from Ajahn Maha Boowa's Arahattamagga Arahattaphala which I think illustrates this kind of process really nicely. His terminology is slightly different because he's talking about the khandhas (where sanna is separate from sankhara) rather than DO (where sanna is part of sankhara).

AS A WHOLE, THE WELLSPRING of thought and imagination is called sankhãra khandha. Each thought, each inkling of an idea ripples briefly through the mind and then ceases. In and of themselves, these mental ripples have no specific meaning. They merely flash briefly into awareness and then cease without a trace. Only when saññã khandha takes them up do they become thoughts and ideas with a specific meaning and content. Saññã khandha is the mental aggregate of memory, recognition and interpretation. Saññã takes fragments of thought and interprets and expands them, making assumptions about their significance, and thus turning them into issues. Sankhãra then perpetuates these issues in the form of incessant, discursive thinking. Saññã, however, is the principal instigator. As soon as sankhãra flashes up briefly, saññã immediately grasps it and defines its existence as this or that—agitating everything. These two are the mental faculties that cause all the trouble. Together they spin tales—of fortune and of woe—and then interpret them to be the reality of oneself. Relying on memory to identify everything that arises in awareness, saññã defines them and gives them meaning.

Sankhãras arise and cease with distinct beginnings and endings, like flashes of lightning or fireflies blinking on and off. When observed closely, saññã khandha is far more subtle than sankhara khandha. Bursting into awareness, sankhãras are the basic building blocks of thought. Saññã, on the other hand, is not experienced as flashes of thought. When the mind is perfectly still and the khandhas are very quiet, we can clearly feel the manner in which each khandha arises. Saññã will slowly spread out, permeating the citta like ink moving through blotting paper, expanding slowly until it forms a mental picture. Following saññã’s lead, the sankhãras, that are constantly arising, begin to form a picture and create a story around it that will then take on a life of its own. Thoughts about this or that begin with saññã recognizing and interpreting the ripplings of sankhãra, molding them into a recognizable image which sankhãra then continuously elaborates. Both of these mental factors are natural phenomena. They arise spontaneously, and are distinct from the awareness that knows them.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/18/20 10:25 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Some people say you need to observe each of the 12 links as they occur in real time, and know what each of those links are as they occur, which I find doesn't always work that well when it comes down to it. I'm not that into that particular method. 

I tend to prefer the method of seeing sensations clearly for what they are and cutting through before it has a chance to get to the craving and clinging links.


Hello Steph

The Pali scriptures often teach Dependent Origination starting from feeling that occurs at sense contact, for example:

Dependent on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there arises a feeling felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant. When one is touched by a pleasant feeling, if one does not delight in it, welcome it and remain holding to it, then the underlying tendency to lust does not lie within one.

When one is touched by a painful feeling, if one does not sorrow, grieve and lament, does not weep beating one’s breast and become distraught, then the underlying tendency to aversion does not lie within one.

When one is touched by a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, if one understands as it actually is the origination, the disappearance, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in regard to that feeling, then the underlying tendency to ignorance does not lie within one.

That one shall here and now make an end of suffering by abandoning the underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feeling, by abolishing the underlying tendency to aversion towards painful feeling, by extirpating the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, by abandoning ignorance and arousing true knowledge—this is possible.

https://suttacentral.net/mn148/en/bodhi


Probably the shortest teaching in the scriptures about Dependent Origination is: 

Now this has been said by the Blessed One: “One who sees dependent origination sees the Dhamma; one who sees the Dhamma sees dependent origination.” And these five aggregates affected by clinging are dependently arisen. The desire, indulgence, inclination and holding based on these five aggregates affected by clinging is the origin of suffering. The removal of desire and lust, the abandonment of desire and lust for these five aggregates affected by clinging is the cessation of suffering.’ At that point too, friends, much has been done by that bhikkhu.”

https://suttacentral.net/mn28/en/bodhi

Therefore, the degree of practice you are doing appears sufficient. emoticon





RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/19/20 5:48 AM as a reply to Nicky2.
Nicky2:

Probably the shortest teaching in the scriptures about Dependent Origination is: 

Now this has been said by the Blessed One: “One who sees dependent origination sees the Dhamma; one who sees the Dhamma sees dependent origination.” And these five aggregates affected by clinging are dependently arisen. The desire, indulgence, inclination and holding based on these five aggregates affected by clinging is the origin of suffering. The removal of desire and lust, the abandonment of desire and lust for these five aggregates affected by clinging is the cessation of suffering.’ At that point too, friends, much has been done by that bhikkhu.”

https://suttacentral.net/mn28/en/bodh


Thanissaro Bhikkhu says of the first sentence "This statement has not been traced in any other part of the extant Pali Canon." Does that mean that this five aggregates version of DO is the original one, or somehow questionable? Why is there a separate twelve links version of DO as well?

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/19/20 6:47 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Stating what is no doubt obvious:

In my experience, in order to "see" we don't need to memorize the steps in the classic version of dependent origination, and need not (and likely cannot) observe the steps, in order, in real-time. It's more about grokking the nature of perception and experience, which is not an academic exercise. While there's nothing wrong with memorizing and codifying the steps, that and a dollar will buy you a cup of coffee. Truth is, through effective observation in meditation, we don't need to understand dependent origination from an intellectual perspective because we're going to experience it in a practical and, eventually, a deeply felt way.

Carry on!

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/19/20 7:26 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
"Truth is, through effective observation in meditation, we don't need to understand dependent origination from an intellectual perspective because we're going to experience it in a practical and, eventually, a deeply felt way.

Carry on! "

Hear hear! 
This was always the sense I had about this practice-path.Otherwise we could "think" ourseves to awakening. Seeing things as they arise and pass, showing ther 3C nature and their cause and effect, develops dispassion. This dispassion inevitably leads to stripping down of the Chariot perception as we start seeing its many components until there is no Chariot perception left.

Practice-realisation.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/19/20 8:11 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris - yep, understood. emoticon That's what I'm trying to get at in a roundabout way when I say things like... I have a feeling I've seen this in practice many times, even though I find some of this confusing when I read it, partially because people write about it in ways that are over my head.

I've read my share of the countless numbered lists of Buddhism and suttas, but there are many more that I haven't read. You're both right that practice is realization. Hell, I even said it in Brandon's post about the 3C's, which Che is referencing I think. I don't need to become a Buddhist scholar to become enlightened, I just need to sit my butt down, and practice well and diligently. I somehow managed to get this far just by following some very basic, yet also extremely profound instructions. They truly do perform as prescribed. Imagine that.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/19/20 8:29 AM as a reply to Steph S.
I was not referencing to that thread (will need to look it up). 

Kenneth Folk told me the very first time we met over Skype "you don't need to master these stages and Paths to awaken, but it's good to master them if you want to teach this to others". 

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/19/20 8:53 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Sometimes I feel that trying to understand the suttas is like debugging one of those computer programs that has a bunch of nested loops and you finally get to the inner loop and think you will have the answer and all you find is a "GOTO MN 44" statement and off you go again. Maybe that was the Buddha's intention, to frustrate the mind and force you to give up questioning and go back to your own experience ...

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/19/20 5:15 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph Im not sure if this will "talk" to you but have a listen to what Shizen in saying here especially about the infant and re-parenting it etc ... 
note what he sais about the moment of contaction and expansion and the space inbetween where some feeling forms etc ... and seeing this again and again ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cg-h_MSijDo

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/19/20 10:40 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Hi Steph,

Nicky was too modest to point it out, so I will:- I just studied his Guided Meditation on Dependent Origination and it is excellent, both practical and faithful to the suttas. I probably should have read it before I went spouting off about DO! It really makes clear the distinction between pre-conscious vs post-conscious mental-physical activity in sankhara vs namarupa, which I was clumsily grasping at. I would defer to him on the details.

Best
agnostic

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/20/20 9:56 AM as a reply to Nicky2.
Thanks, Nicky, for that excellent post from 2016 (which nobody ever replied to) about dependent origination. It's very clear. It should probably be a pinned post somewhere.

The framing of dependent origination as the same thing as the 2nd Noble Truth is really helpful. Yes, totally obvious that they're the same thing now, but I somehow didn't connect those dots before. Because you're right, most places do list craving as the origin of suffering - not ignorance, which is the beginning link of dependent origination.

Nama & rupa operating skillfully as the actual practice of meditation - don't think I've heard it framed that way before either, so that's also way easier to understand now. The way I've misinterpreted writings about nama & rupa most of the time was probably thinking they were more like the sankharas.

So basically, The 4 Noble Truths in my own words:

1. There is suffering.
2. There is the cause of suffering - ignorance / the whole process of dependent origination.
3. There is the cessation of suffering - it is possible to extinguish the process of dependent origination.
4. There is the path which leads to the cessation of suffering - if you follow the Noble Eightfold Path, you'll eventually extinguish the process of dependent origination. Or said another way, if you practice well & according to the instructions, you'll automatically be cutting through dependent origination... and if you do all of that to the right degree (whatever that is), you'll become fully enlightened. Which is what Nicky, Chris, and others have said to people over and over and over. emoticon

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/20/20 3:02 PM as a reply to Papa Che Dusko.
Che - Shinzen talks about the heat of feeling being the beginning of birth. Interesting. Here's another interesting take on birth. The DhO user An Eternal Now has a blog called Awakening to Reality and a FB group of the same name. Many good insights on his blog. Today in the FB group he posted a blog post he made that has an excerpt from a book called "The Breakthrough" by Ajahn Amaro. It talks about birth in a profound way. Here's an excerpt of that excerpt (ha) with me emphasizing that point in bold:
Ajahn Amaro:

After a while, though, there was a strange feeling of being cramped, a quality of containment or limitation. I thought, ‘What is this about?’ There was clear seeing that things are anicca, dukkha, anattā, not self, empty of substance; but there was also this strange limitation, a strange kind of tension in the system. And it suddenly dawned on me and became clear, ‘Ah! It’s all happening here.’ I realized that it was the mind creating the feeling of locatedness, that everything was happening in ‘my’ mind, even though the usual crystallizations of the ‘I’ feeling were absent. I realized my mind was attached to the notion that it was happening ‘here’, at this spot.

At the risk of being too abstruse, I feel this is a helpful thing to look at. It was clear to me that until that point I hadn’t actually seen the attachment to the feeling of place or the feeling of location that the mind creates – the sense of ‘here-ness’, in this spot, this geographical centre where things are felt.

I don’t know if any of you have intuited or felt this but it was very striking to me at that time. I suddenly realized there was an attachment to the idea that awareness was happening in this place, this location. So I began to look at that very feeling of locatedness and the sense of things happening here. I used a very simple and straightforward reflection: bringing to mind the word ‘here’ or saying to myself, ‘It’s all happening here.’ By bringing the attention to it, the word ‘here’ began to seem absurd. Then a whole extra layer of letting go was able to happen.
Awakened awareness, knowing, is free from bondage to the realm of time and space as well. It is timeless and unlocated.

Shortly after that, I came across a sentence in a Dhamma talk by Ajahn Mahā- Boowa. He talked how this very insight had played a radical role in his own spiritual development. It was just after the time when his teacher Venerable Ajahn Mun had passed away. Ajahn Maha-Boowa was doing walking meditation, and out of nowhere this thought appeared in his mind: ‘If there is a point or a centre to the knower anywhere, then that is the essence of birth in some level of being.’ If ‘the knower’ considers itself to have a location or a centre, then that is the essence of birth in some level of being. This means that this is where the mind gets caught. Avijjā happens right there. Until that false locatedness is recognized as a quality of grasping, the heart cannot truly be free.

So along with things being impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-self, I find it is also helpful to recollect that Dhamma is essentially unlocated in the world of three-dimensional space. Location is a useful tool in the physical world, but in the world of mind location, place does not apply. Three-dimensional space only refers to the physical world, to the rūpa-khandha. Mind, the nāma-khandhā, does not have any relationship to three-dimensional space, because mind has no material substance. Mind has no physical form; therefore three-dimensional space has no fundamental relationship to the mind.

https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/12/the-breakthrough.html?fbclid=IwAR2cMLbBVc6Rl_sA8X6vv_PexOrCRcxXUs6ds46izs1_4LhhQIlrvNP7kW0

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/20/20 8:22 PM as a reply to Steph S.
I found Ajahn Maha Bua's book very powerful. The point you highlight is discussed at greater length on pp 56-62 and 69-74.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/20/20 8:36 PM as a reply to agnostic.
Excellent. I'll keep reading then. You linked that book in one of your replies above. I already downloaded it back when I first read that reply. On page 30, so I'll get to the part you talk about soon and then probably have some comments.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/21/20 4:18 AM as a reply to Steph S.
The framing of dependent origination as the same thing as the 2nd Noble Truth is really helpful. Yes, totally obvious that they're the same thing now, but I somehow didn't connect those dots before. Because you're right, most places do list craving as the origin of suffering - not ignorance, which is the beginning link of dependent origination.

Thank you Steph. If you are interested in more scripture, AN 3.61 literally says dependent origination is the 2nd Noble Truth, as follows:

These are the four noble truths”: this, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma taught by me that is unrefuted … uncensured by wise ascetics and brahmins....

Now it is for one who feels that I proclaim: ‘This is suffering,’ and ‘This is the origin of suffering,’ and ‘This is the cessation of suffering,’ and ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’...

And what, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering? With ignorance as condition,... activities come to be; with ...activities as condition, consciousness; with consciousness as condition, mind-and-body; with mind-and-body as condition, the six sense bases; with the six sense bases as condition, contact; with contact as condition, feeling; with feeling as condition, craving; with craving as condition, clinging; with clinging as condition, becoming; with becoming as condition, birth; with birth as condition, old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and anguish come to be. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering. This is called the noble truth of the origin of suffering

https://suttacentral.net/an3.61/en/bodhi


RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/21/20 8:29 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Paraphrasing some pointers that I got from a friend today:

  • The frustration, the visceral feelings of UGGGHHH, the confusion, the pure frustration. Look at those. Everybody wants to avoid looking at suffering, but that's exactly what this is all about. Follow these relentlessly, like a hound dog. Look at them over and over and over again. Getting to this level of frustration is good. Keep looking at the deepest most visceral feelings of suffering... the ones that you want to back away from.
  • Look at the mental processes of confusion, the tracking, everything in the mental sphere. Look at how impermanent they all are. Look at the impermanent nature of all attentional qualities. Clarity, focus, width, all of it.
  • The impermanence and suffering characteristics are perfectly valid. You don't have to crack not-self if you hit a wall with it. Looking at any of the 3 characteristics is great. Any of them will get you there.
  • Grasping is impossible. It's impossible to get away from anything that's happening, so it's not possible to grasp anything. THIS. IS. IT. Even the tracking sensations that seem like they're looking for something or trying to grasp onto something can't be escaped and are actually happening right then in experience. The lunging feelings that feel like grasping are just more bodily sensations that are happening in experience, and aren't actually getting to or obtaining something else. They're just impermanent sensations.
My added comments: I think there was a band in the 80's called Primal Scream. I'm re-dubbing the level frustration that feels like a really visceral form of suffering as Primal Squirm. Gotta get away, gotta get to here, wanna get to there, squirm, squirm, squirm. Pushsquirm, Pullsquirm. Can't actually make anything else happen. Squirm. Want to re-establish the sense of self. Squirm. Noble ones, it was said, keep looking at the Primal Squirm until there is no remainder.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/22/20 6:34 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Those are great pointers.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/22/20 12:56 PM as a reply to Steph S.
The frustration, the visceral feelings of UGGGHHH, the confusion, the pure frustration. Look at those. Everybody wants to avoid looking at suffering, but that's exactly what this is all about. Follow these relentlessly, like a hound dog. Look at them over and over and over again. Getting to this level of frustration is good. Keep looking at the deepest most visceral feelings of suffering... the ones that you want to back away from.
Been trying to run that stuff down, but it's so slippery. I guess that's the point. You try and look at it, and it's already gone. And then there is the meta-unease of having just seen something you didn't like and wondering if and when it'll pop up again.

I've also been noticing those "tracking" sensations, but I haven't had a name for it. It's good to have words for all the weird subtle stuff your mind does! 

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/22/20 12:57 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
+1

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/25/20 10:08 AM as a reply to shargrol.
On Friday an interesting shift occurred. I laid down after work to take a nap, but instead of sleeping, I just laid there with my eyes closed and meditated. So I started looking at all the feelings of deep frustration and also what was happening in the headspace. What that confusion and frustration do in the headspace. The feedback loop they create. I focused intently on every sensation happening there. All the panning, tracking, the mental images, the thoughts. And in the body, the bodily feelings of frustration, doubt, anger - the visceral guttural ones. 

In the headspace what I noticed particularly was the metaphoric wall I kept hitting. In looking at the observer, it felt like perception would keep hitting this wall... like it'd loop around, but instead of a circular loop, it'd hit this wall and bounce back the other way. So it became like this movement that I'd say is similar to a ping pong ball bouncing back and forth between two walls, the frustrating part obviously being that it has nowhere to go but back and forth endlessly. This has got to be the perceptual wall that is the deeply rooted feeling of wanting to get away from here and go to there. Directly seeing the chasm that creates - the bouncing back and forth and never being able to settle. That feeling itself is what I started seeing more clearly. It's like there's this stopping point in the center of the head. It feels like a very tiny tension. When looking at it that closely, the tension got intense, but it feels so small. I kept at it, looking directly at this, relentlessly. I even thought something along the lines of, I will keep looking at this even if my head explodes if that's what it takes. Feelings of both desperation and absolute determination to see it through. 

I continued to look at all the bodily feelings and other sensations in the head. All the mental movements. They started all flickering and I began to conceptualize each of them as little stars that appear, then just die. Some shine brighter than others, some are really subtle. But they all just seemed like little stars floating in space, not supported by anything, just floating, shining, then dying. Just to be clear, to explain what this metaphor was like in experience - it was a series of thoughts and I got some fun mental images of some stars while this was happening, but they were pretty brief and intercut with the other sensations happening. I wasn't actually visualizing the entire field of experience like a giant 3D star field in outer space or anything like that, although that does sound cool. haha. So then, I kept noticing every sensation in the headspace flickering, impermanent - all the mental movements, images, feelings. Every feeling tone, all bodily sensations, flickering, impermanent. Not tied together or grouped together in any way - that's a key piece there. Not conceptualizing the stuff in the headspace as sensations related to the observer, just seeing each individual sensation without qualifying or defining it as such. Each just flickering, with its own unique qualities, not tied or bound, doing its own thing.

As this continued, I kept looking at the tension in the center of the head and it became more and more intense, became more clear, until it.... went away. It stopped. There wasn't some big event and I didn't notice a fruition - so that's one reason why I think this was probably a deep insight and not a full-on realization. If anything, right after there was a milky/cloudy wash of whitish purple. And then all those little flickering sensations continued to do their thing, with no observer observing them. Nobody behind the curtain, and nobody making them happen, nobody experiencing them. No discernible vantage point. The sensations in the headspace and eye space, not conceptualized as lumped together. Just a bunch of flickering whatevers doing their thing. And the little stopping point tension simply wasn't there. It's like the stopping point just went away and perception started flowing uninterrupted, free, smooth, effortlessly, without hiccup, without that feeling of it endlessly bouncing back and forth on itself. The vague, unlocatable sense of presence in the headspace that I kept going on and on about in my practice log, well, it's not happening either.

I figure this was a profound insight into emptiness/not-self. I also want to say that there is also a huge diminishing of that urge to get away from here or go to there. I'm saying huge and not total because I'm not ready to confirm that those urges are 100% not happening. It's possible there is some of that urge/resistance that's happening at such a subtle level that I'm just not noticing it at the moment. Regardless, I'd say that experience seems whole, complete, just as it is. 

So-called negative feelings and happy feelings feel very interesting. Like I am able to experience all the little sensations of those feelings as dynamic, fascinating, and lively, and not be all hung up on them in the same way as before. It's like sensations are textures weaving together, layered together, in an intricate pattern. One example - I was laying down on the couch listening to some music on Saturday and the sounds of the music were weaving together with my other bodily sensations, like they were blending together and combining into a fabulously rich texture, where they felt like they bled into each other continuously, yet I could still make out that there was sound and bodily feelings (and a bunch of other sensations) happening.

The visual field - so I've had lots of experiences previously where the visual field has this quality where everything becomes very detailed and in stark relief. Ironically, stark relief means that one element stands out amongst everything else - but if you could apply that to basically everything in the visual field, that's what it's like. Ultra HD, vivid, sharp, full of life - full of life is a key part of it. People are probably going to think I'm high AF for saying this, but I'm not kidding when I say how noticeable this stark relief is in the visual field - I was outside on my back stoop last night, looking at those qualities in the sunset, clouds, trees, grass, a bunny in the yard... and then I was legit marveling and in awe of how majestic and dynamic a wooden telephone pole looked - as majestic as the clouds and sunset. LOL. Trust, me, I'm laughing as much as others probably are at that. Right now that's happening most of the time with the visual field, whereas before this shift happened it would happen fairly regularly, but be way more noticeable while cycling through A&P.

So far all of these changes are persisting uninterrupted and without effort, 3 days later. Anyway, we'll see how this plays out and what changes might come. Could be an incredibly awesome baseline shift, could be some temporary state, could evolve, could revert. Who knows. Either way, it's deeply relieving, wondrous, and chill so I'll take it while it's here.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/26/20 8:40 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
On Friday an interesting shift occurred. I laid down after work to take a nap, but instead of sleeping, I just laid there with my eyes closed and meditated. So I started looking at all the feelings of deep frustration and also what was happening in the headspace. What that confusion and frustration do in the headspace. The feedback loop they create. I focused intently on every sensation happening there. All the panning, tracking, the mental images, the thoughts. And in the body, the bodily feelings of frustration, doubt, anger - the visceral guttural ones. 

In the headspace what I noticed particularly was the metaphoric wall I kept hitting. In looking at the observer, it felt like perception would keep hitting this wall... like it'd loop around, but instead of a circular loop, it'd hit this wall and bounce back the other way. So it became like this movement that I'd say is similar to a ping pong ball bouncing back and forth between two walls, the frustrating part obviously being that it has nowhere to go but back and forth endlessly. This has got to be the perceptual wall that is the deeply rooted feeling of wanting to get away from here and go to there. Directly seeing the chasm that creates - the bouncing back and forth and never being able to settle. That feeling itself is what I started seeing more clearly. It's like there's this stopping point in the center of the head. It feels like a very tiny tension. When looking at it that closely, the tension got intense, but it feels so small. I kept at it, looking directly at this, relentlessly. I even thought something along the lines of, I will keep looking at this even if my head explodes if that's what it takes. Feelings of both desperation and absolute determination to see it through. 

I continued to look at all the bodily feelings and other sensations in the head. All the mental movements. They started all flickering and I began to conceptualize each of them as little stars that appear, then just die. Some shine brighter than others, some are really subtle. But they all just seemed like little stars floating in space, not supported by anything, just floating, shining, then dying. Just to be clear, to explain what this metaphor was like in experience - it was a series of thoughts and I got some fun mental images of some stars while this was happening, but they were pretty brief and intercut with the other sensations happening. I wasn't actually visualizing the entire field of experience like a giant 3D star field in outer space or anything like that, although that does sound cool. haha. So then, I kept noticing every sensation in the headspace flickering, impermanent - all the mental movements, images, feelings. Every feeling tone, all bodily sensations, flickering, impermanent. Not tied together or grouped together in any way - that's a key piece there. Not conceptualizing the stuff in the headspace as sensations related to the observer, just seeing each individual sensation without qualifying or defining it as such. Each just flickering, with its own unique qualities, not tied or bound, doing its own thing.

As this continued, I kept looking at the tension in the center of the head and it became more and more intense, became more clear, until it.... went away. It stopped. There wasn't some big event and I didn't notice a fruition - so that's one reason why I think this was probably a deep insight and not a full-on realization. If anything, right after there was a milky/cloudy wash of whitish purple. And then all those little flickering sensations continued to do their thing, with no observer observing them. Nobody behind the curtain, and nobody making them happen, nobody experiencing them. No discernible vantage point. The sensations in the headspace and eye space, not conceptualized as lumped together. Just a bunch of flickering whatevers doing their thing. And the little stopping point tension simply wasn't there. It's like the stopping point just went away and perception started flowing uninterrupted, free, smooth, effortlessly, without hiccup, without that feeling of it endlessly bouncing back and forth on itself. The vague, unlocatable sense of presence in the headspace that I kept going on and on about in my practice log, well, it's not happening either.

I figure this was a profound insight into emptiness/not-self. I also want to say that there is also a huge diminishing of that urge to get away from here or go to there. I'm saying huge and not total because I'm not ready to confirm that those urges are 100% not happening. It's possible there is some of that urge/resistance that's happening at such a subtle level that I'm just not noticing it at the moment. Regardless, I'd say that experience seems whole, complete, just as it is. 

So-called negative feelings and happy feelings feel very interesting. Like I am able to experience all the little sensations of those feelings as dynamic, fascinating, and lively, and not be all hung up on them in the same way as before. It's like sensations are textures weaving together, layered together, in an intricate pattern. One example - I was laying down on the couch listening to some music on Saturday and the sounds of the music were weaving together with my other bodily sensations, like they were blending together and combining into a fabulously rich texture, where they felt like they bled into each other continuously, yet I could still make out that there was sound and bodily feelings (and a bunch of other sensations) happening.

The visual field - so I've had lots of experiences previously where the visual field has this quality where everything becomes very detailed and in stark relief. Ironically, stark relief means that one element stands out amongst everything else - but if you could apply that to basically everything in the visual field, that's what it's like. Ultra HD, vivid, sharp, full of life - full of life is a key part of it. People are probably going to think I'm high AF for saying this, but I'm not kidding when I say how noticeable this stark relief is in the visual field - I was outside on my back stoop last night, looking at those qualities in the sunset, clouds, trees, grass, a bunny in the yard... and then I was legit marveling and in awe of how majestic and dynamic a wooden telephone pole looked - as majestic as the clouds and sunset. LOL. Trust, me, I'm laughing as much as others probably are at that. Right now that's happening most of the time with the visual field, whereas before this shift happened it would happen fairly regularly, but be way more noticeable while cycling through A&P.

So far all of these changes are persisting uninterrupted and without effort, 3 days later. Anyway, we'll see how this plays out and what changes might come. Could be an incredibly awesome baseline shift, could be some temporary state, could evolve, could revert. Who knows. Either way, it's deeply relieving, wondrous, and chill so I'll take it while it's here.

Wow, don't know what to say other than it sounds like a pleasent shift. Good work!

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/25/20 3:29 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Very cool to read this.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/25/20 5:03 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
On Friday an interesting shift occurred. I laid down after work to take a nap, but instead of sleeping, I just laid there with my eyes closed and meditated. So I started looking at all the feelings of deep frustration and also what was happening in the headspace. What that confusion and frustration do in the headspace. The feedback loop they create. I focused intently on every sensation happening there. All the panning, tracking, the mental images, the thoughts. And in the body, the bodily feelings of frustration, doubt, anger - the visceral guttural ones. 

In the headspace what I noticed particularly was the metaphoric wall I kept hitting. In looking at the observer, it felt like perception would keep hitting this wall... like it'd loop around, but instead of a circular loop, it'd hit this wall and bounce back the other way. So it became like this movement that I'd say is similar to a ping pong ball bouncing back and forth between two walls, the frustrating part obviously being that it has nowhere to go but back and forth endlessly. This has got to be the perceptual wall that is the deeply rooted feeling of wanting to get away from here and go to there. Directly seeing the chasm that creates - the bouncing back and forth and never being able to settle. That feeling itself is what I started seeing more clearly. It's like there's this stopping point in the center of the head. It feels like a very tiny tension. When looking at it that closely, the tension got intense, but it feels so small. I kept at it, looking directly at this, relentlessly. I even thought something along the lines of, I will keep looking at this even if my head explodes if that's what it takes. Feelings of both desperation and absolute determination to see it through. 

I continued to look at all the bodily feelings and other sensations in the head. All the mental movements. They started all flickering and I began to conceptualize each of them as little stars that appear, then just die. Some shine brighter than others, some are really subtle. But they all just seemed like little stars floating in space, not supported by anything, just floating, shining, then dying. Just to be clear, to explain what this metaphor was like in experience - it was a series of thoughts and I got some fun mental images of some stars while this was happening, but they were pretty brief and intercut with the other sensations happening. I wasn't actually visualizing the entire field of experience like a giant 3D star field in outer space or anything like that, although that does sound cool. haha. So then, I kept noticing every sensation in the headspace flickering, impermanent - all the mental movements, images, feelings. Every feeling tone, all bodily sensations, flickering, impermanent. Not tied together or grouped together in any way - that's a key piece there. Not conceptualizing the stuff in the headspace as sensations related to the observer, just seeing each individual sensation without qualifying or defining it as such. Each just flickering, with its own unique qualities, not tied or bound, doing its own thing.

As this continued, I kept looking at the tension in the center of the head and it became more and more intense, became more clear, until it.... went away. It stopped. There wasn't some big event and I didn't notice a fruition - so that's one reason why I think this was probably a deep insight and not a full-on realization. If anything, right after there was a milky/cloudy wash of whitish purple. And then all those little flickering sensations continued to do their thing, with no observer observing them. Nobody behind the curtain, and nobody making them happen, nobody experiencing them. No discernible vantage point. The sensations in the headspace and eye space, not conceptualized as lumped together. Just a bunch of flickering whatevers doing their thing. And the little stopping point tension simply wasn't there. It's like the stopping point just went away and perception started flowing uninterrupted, free, smooth, effortlessly, without hiccup, without that feeling of it endlessly bouncing back and forth on itself. The vague, unlocatable sense of presence in the headspace that I kept going on and on about in my practice log, well, it's not happening either.

I figure this was a profound insight into emptiness/not-self. I also want to say that there is also a huge diminishing of that urge to get away from here or go to there. I'm saying huge and not total because I'm not ready to confirm that those urges are 100% not happening. It's possible there is some of that urge/resistance that's happening at such a subtle level that I'm just not noticing it at the moment. Regardless, I'd say that experience seems whole, complete, just as it is. 

So-called negative feelings and happy feelings feel very interesting. Like I am able to experience all the little sensations of those feelings as dynamic, fascinating, and lively, and not be all hung up on them in the same way as before. It's like sensations are textures weaving together, layered together, in an intricate pattern. One example - I was laying down on the couch listening to some music on Saturday and the sounds of the music were weaving together with my other bodily sensations, like they were blending together and combining into a fabulously rich texture, where they felt like they bled into each other continuously, yet I could still make out that there was sound and bodily feelings (and a bunch of other sensations) happening.

The visual field - so I've had lots of experiences previously where the visual field has this quality where everything becomes very detailed and in stark relief. Ironically, stark relief means that one element stands out amongst everything else - but if you could apply that to basically everything in the visual field, that's what it's like. Ultra HD, vivid, sharp, full of life - full of life is a key part of it. People are probably going to think I'm high AF for saying this, but I'm not kidding when I say how noticeable this stark relief is in the visual field - I was outside on my back stoop last night, looking at those qualities in the sunset, clouds, trees, grass, a bunny in the yard... and then I was legit marveling and in awe of how majestic and dynamic a wooden telephone pole looked - as majestic as the clouds and sunset. LOL. Trust, me, I'm laughing as much as others probably are at that. Right now that's happening most of the time with the visual field, whereas before this shift happened it would happen fairly regularly, but be way more noticeable while cycling through A&P.

So far all of these changes are persisting uninterrupted and without effort, 3 days later. Anyway, we'll see how this plays out and what changes might come. Could be an incredibly awesome baseline shift, could be some temporary state, could evolve, could revert. Who knows. Either way, it's deeply relieving, wondrous, and chill so I'll take it while it's here.


Nah, boring.
What else ya got? 




emoticon 

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/25/20 7:39 PM as a reply to Steph S.
I like your chilled approach to practice.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/26/20 1:43 PM as a reply to agnostic.
Update: Might have been a temporary non-dual experience - based on a good insight. It seems to have reverted and I'd say something is probably either fully non-dual or it's not, and I don't think my experience right now could fully qualify as the same thing as it was for those 3 days.

Some observer-y type sensations started coming up this morning. Although, it does feel like there is still a big dent in the way the observer type sensations are happening. They seem pretty unstable, coalescing for brief moments into what seems like that fixed vantage point through which experience seems processed - but then they go away. And even when the observer type sensations come up, they seem weakened and pretty subtle overall. Sometimes it sticks around for minutes at a time. But it also goes away for long periods still. 

I noticed some subtle aversion happenign too. Like being a little disappointed that things reverted a bit, although even in those feelings of disappointment I'm still pretty chill about them and it's not some huge deal. They vanish pretty quickly. Either way, it's still pretty damn good and I'd say equanimity towards things is still very strong, so that's good.

I guess the trick now is to use my super powers of mindfulness to hone into this further. Any tips on this?

edit: DREAM WALKER - i see you posting again. I know you have tips on this so I'm giving you a shout out here. Anybody else is also obviously welcome to share.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/26/20 1:44 PM as a reply to Steph S.
I guess the trick now is to use my super powers of mindfulness to hone into this further. Any tips on this?

Well, yes.

I'd like to tell you try something completely different -- to relax. Chill. Take a break. Go outside and sit under a tree. Watch the world go by. Take it easy and just be. And... do that kind of thing for a while, like a few weeks.


emoticon

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/26/20 1:47 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I like this one. Interesting thing with this is... my mind gives no fux about jhana right now. I tried hitting jhana over the weekend, and my mind was not interested and bored with the idea of it. It still inclines towards insight and is okay with that. But I suppose you're saying just chill entirely and don't formally practice at all for a little bit. 

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/26/20 1:57 PM as a reply to Steph S.
I can't make the suggestion any clearer.

EDIT: at West Point when we do leader training we have this concept called "tactical pause." It means to stop all activity and re-evaluate your situation. In order to do that properly you have to STOP doing. The pause itself is both therapeutic and provides the space for much better evaluation. There's a huge value in this concept. I'm suggesting you use it, but for more than a few minutes to an hour. It's in the nature of the practice we do to keep seeking, but that's not always in our best interest.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/26/20 1:54 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I know. I was just re-iterating. I gotchu. 

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/26/20 2:09 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I can't make the suggestion any clearer.

EDIT: at West Point when we do leader training we have this concept called "tactical pause." It means to stop all activity and re-evaluate your situation. In order to do that properly you have to STOP doing. The pause itself is both therapeutic and provides the space for much better evaluation. There's a huge value in this concept. I'm suggesting you use it, but for more than a few minutes to an hour. It's in the nature of the practice we do to keep seeking, but that's not always in our best interest.



This is what I do when dealing with a complex problem at work. Either a bug or a design issue, that I can't find any angle to attack the problem. I just stop and try to forget it for sometime, and often after sometime (an hour, or a week or...), many ideas come.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/26/20 2:21 PM as a reply to Siavash.
Yep, this is great both Chris and Siavash. I do design research work and do the same thing. Let it marinate and simmer, then something really good will naturally come up after a little while.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/26/20 2:56 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Gotta say that many logs of more advanced practicioners can be hard to follow, but this has been fairly accesible and fun to read. Really cool to see the progress from my vantage point as a newbie. It turns out meditation makes a great spectator sport.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/26/20 4:18 PM as a reply to Brandon Dayton.
Sweet! That was by design. I'm writing this log to have a record of what happens, to get advice, and also in hopes that it will help others. I look at the Recent Posts page on this board and see that all the different threads get alot of views, which means lots of people are reading the board. How many people actually know how to decipher all this stuff that other people say happens in practice - especially true if they haven't experienced those aspects of practice yet or don't have a frame of reference for it. I'm not anti-being super smart or using advanced words or anything like that, but I also recognize that using advanced terminology can act as a form of gatekeeping... and I don't like gatekeeping, so there you go.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/29/20 8:29 AM as a reply to Brandon Dayton.
Brandon Dayton:
Gotta say that many logs of more advanced practicioners can be hard to follow, but this has been fairly accesible and fun to read. Really cool to see the progress from my vantage point as a newbie. It turns out meditation makes a great spectator sport.
beautifully put, Brandon. +1, thank you Steph.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/29/20 11:19 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Tim Farrington:
Brandon Dayton:
Gotta say that many logs of more advanced practicioners can be hard to follow, but this has been fairly accesible and fun to read. Really cool to see the progress from my vantage point as a newbie. It turns out meditation makes a great spectator sport.
beautifully put, Brandon. +1, thank you Steph.

I also agree. There's a lot here for me to learn.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/29/20 3:40 PM as a reply to Sam Gentile.
Thanks, friends.

I'm just hanging out, chilling, based on Chris's advice. But up to 3 weeks seems like a long time to not practice. heh. I'm noticing some resistance to just hanging out doing nothing and not practicing because I feel like I built up all kinds of momentum and there's this feeling of like... yeah, buuuut maybe I should just practice. heh.

Not to say I'm not also enjoying just hanging out. It's a nice Midwest summer and I'm at peak chill when I can hang out on my porch swing, looking at the trees and birds, taking it all in.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/29/20 3:49 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Maybe one can also be "chilling out" duirng activities like mowing the lawn or weeding out around your rose bushes, or sorting out your old post stamp scrapbook in need of some love emoticon Or you could try learning to play a mandoline or ukulele emoticon lots of practicing there emoticon and "chilling out" while practicing it and weeding and mowing and ... emoticon 

Its late here I should go to bed!

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/29/20 5:16 PM as a reply to Papa Che Dusko.
Good tips, Che.. while I'm not formally practicing right now, I also understand that my mind is inclined that way, and so even when I'm not "on the cushion," attentiveness happens anyway. It's just the effort isn't as specifically directed or however you want to frame that. So thoughts of backsliding from not practicing... well they're just little fears, and so what? What's a little feeling of fear here and there? emoticon

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/30/20 2:56 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
Good tips, Che.. while I'm not formally practicing right now, I also understand that my mind is inclined that way, and so even when I'm not "on the cushion," attentiveness happens anyway. It's just the effort isn't as specifically directed or however you want to frame that. So thoughts of backsliding from not practicing... well they're just little fears, and so what? What's a little feeling of fear here and there? emoticon

Or terror, even? And why stop at "now and then"? Why not, "they're just giant existential terrors, unrootable, indissoluble, searing my soul constantly, and so what? What's a vast burning sky full of helpless abject terror on a constant basis?" emoticon

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/30/20 9:22 AM as a reply to Steph S.
I'm noticing some resistance to just hanging out doing nothing and not practicing...

Why the resistance? Why can't you let it all go and just be? Who says letting go so you can just be isn't practice?

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2
Answer
5/30/20 10:38 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
It was mostly because I was concerned about losing what I thought was really good momentuum. Thinking that sitting practice speeds things up or adds to that momentuum. Questioning why I should just stop doing sitting practice and chill out right now - like why this is the precise moment to do that in my practice. There was some impatience & fear, in thinking I'm close to flipping a switch and not wanting to mess it up.

That being said, I do see the point in chilling out and just being. That tendency to want to "do the practice", in a way that seems like formal practice, is part of the suffering. It's pretty graspy when you think about it. The funny thing is, I don't think of myself as being a hyper productive type that always feels like I have to be accomplishing something or doing something. If anything, I'd say I sometimes fall a little towards the lazy side of the spectrum. I do know how to chill out. For much of the pandemic, when I got furloughed, I was able to sit at home and not do anything productive. Felt no guilt about not accomplishing things and just hanging out. I actually settled into pandemic life pretty easily because I've been really appreciating not having to go out and about, not having anywhere to have to be, not having much obligation. Even being back to working from home, after coming off furlough, I'm taking it pretty easy at work and it's nice being there virtually with my coworkers, whom I really enjoy being around.

At this exact moment, I don't feel any stress of feeling like I should be meditating. I'm on my couch watching a re-run of the 2019 Roland Garros (French Open for tennis) with my husband and I don't feel like I need to go and do a sit. I agree with you (I think this is what you're saying, anyway) that it's good to have things settle and relax. I even said in someone else's thread not that long ago, I forget the topic, that periods of rest are really important for integration work to happen. Similar concept, if you want to use an athletic metaphor, you can't be lifting weights every day to build muscle. You gotta take a break to let things heal.