How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

Zsolt, modified 1 Year ago.

How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

Posts: 5 Join Date: 12/14/19 Recent Posts
Hi folks!

I’m coming back to shamatha practice (following TMI) after doing about 6 months of open awareness and noting practice during which cycling up the progress of insight was the norm. I’ve been at the shamatha for about 6 weeks now and cycling is still happening and is obstructing the cultivation of tranquility and stability of attention.

I sit 3-4 hours a day. My first hour is spent in mind and body, which is the bread and butter of my productive shamatha time. The 2nd hour is spent mostly in 3 characteristics, where bodily aches and discomforts become hard to ignore in favor of my concentration object. Tranquility is largely out the window for most of this 2nd hour too. This is always followed by an incredibly brief (1-5 minute) arising and passing filled with energy and bliss waves, which completely interrupts stable attention, after which I’m onto the dukkha nanas. Things clearly aren’t better for my shamatha there, with the wide diffuse attention and jarring physical and mental sensations. It’s kind of like trying to play a gameboy on a roller coaster - I can play but I don’t play well and it ain’t fun. Equanimity after is no better as the breath sensations are dwarfed into irrelevance by broad spaciousness and ultra-wide attentional stance.

In short, cycling is an obstacle to shamatha. To add insult to injury, ignoring the 3 characteristics in favor of the smooth continuity of my object slows the cycling down a lot, dragging out a cycle over hours. It was suggested to me that the cycling would fall into the background, becoming a minor phenomenon, as I got into the shamatha, but I’m 6 weeks in and things don’t seem to be changing. The shamatha I am able to do in that 1st hour is going well, which is nice, but I’d really like to focus all my available practice time towards it.

Surely others have experienced this given that it’s standard advice for post-2nd path noters to focus on shamatha on their way to 3rd. I’m open to any suggestions!
Sleeping Buddha Syndrome, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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I like your attitude. I think you should focus on grounding excercises because it might get worse before it gets better. Walking is good. You also mention your time table alot, so I will just say you should probably let that come up for you in meditation and try to see it through a non-duel lens,. Otherwise leave it alone. Progress is an illusion, or so they say.
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Sleeping Buddha Syndrome:
I like your attitude. I think you should focus on grounding excercises because it might get worse before it gets better. Walking is good. You also mention your time table alot, so I will just say you should probably let that come up for you in meditation and try to see it through a non-duel lens,. Otherwise leave it alone. Progress is an illusion, or so they say.


aloha sbs,

   Progress is an illusion because we are already "there." Already perfect. Even our delusions are perfect. We suffer perfectly.

terry



"Even my mistakes are perfect because I learn from them."

~michael jordan





tao te ching, trans mitchell



29.

Do you want to improve the world? 
I don't think it can be done.
The world is sacred. 
It can't be improved. 
If you tamper with it, you'll ruin it. 
If you treat it like an object, you'll lose it.
There is a time for being ahead, 
a time for being behind; 
a time for being in motion, 
a time for being at rest; 
a time for being vigorous, 
a time for being exhausted; 
a time for being safe, 
a time for being in danger.
The Master sees things as they are, 
without trying to control them. 
She lets them go their own way, 
and resides at the center of the circle. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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I can relate, although for me the best shamatha is done in A&P and EQ. I find that it helps a bit to have a really narrow focus in A&P and a really wide one in EQ (the breath can be felt in the whole body and even outside of it, and that works for shamatha too). I also find that the cycling is really an upward spiraling, so the baseline of concentration improves for each round. I'm somewhere in the middle paths too, and I still depend on a good position in the cycling for my shamatha as I cycle a lot.
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Stirling Campbell, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Zsolt:
Hi folks!

I’m coming back to shamatha practice (following TMI) after doing about 6 months of open awareness and noting practice during which cycling up the progress of insight was the norm. I’ve been at the shamatha for about 6 weeks now and cycling is still happening and is obstructing the cultivation of tranquility and stability of attention.

I sit 3-4 hours a day. My first hour is spent in mind and body, which is the bread and butter of my productive shamatha time. The 2nd hour is spent mostly in 3 characteristics, where bodily aches and discomforts become hard to ignore in favor of my concentration object. Tranquility is largely out the window for most of this 2nd hour too. This is always followed by an incredibly brief (1-5 minute) arising and passing filled with energy and bliss waves, which completely interrupts stable attention, after which I’m onto the dukkha nanas. Things clearly aren’t better for my shamatha there, with the wide diffuse attention and jarring physical and mental sensations. It’s kind of like trying to play a gameboy on a roller coaster - I can play but I don’t play well and it ain’t fun. Equanimity after is no better as the breath sensations are dwarfed into irrelevance by broad spaciousness and ultra-wide attentional stance.

In short, cycling is an obstacle to shamatha. To add insult to injury, ignoring the 3 characteristics in favor of the smooth continuity of my object slows the cycling down a lot, dragging out a cycle over hours. It was suggested to me that the cycling would fall into the background, becoming a minor phenomenon, as I got into the shamatha, but I’m 6 weeks in and things don’t seem to be changing. The shamatha I am able to do in that 1st hour is going well, which is nice, but I’d really like to focus all my available practice time towards it.

Surely others have experienced this given that it’s standard advice for post-2nd path noters to focus on shamatha on their way to 3rd. I’m open to any suggestions!

I would drop the noting, drop tracking cycling, let go of "where" you are in any conceptual framework, and just sit in open awareness. Watch thoughts arise and pass, including and especially those about any of the above. Notice when there is silent spaciousness between thoughts without labeling or grasping. Let go of any notion of "progress" or a map. Let go of any contrived type of mind or concentration. Let go of there being any right or wrong way that mind is. Don't "do" anything. Let go of the idea that you are "doing". Just be present. 

Think of the mind as a jar of muddy water. Set it on a shelf and let it settle into its innate clarity.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Stirling, that doesn't take away the cycling. It's what I have been doing as my default practice all along. If you don't notice the cycling, that's just poor phenomenology. 
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Stirling Campbell, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Stirling, that doesn't take away the cycling. It's what I have been doing as my default practice all along. If you don't notice the cycling, that's just poor phenomenology. 

You mean it doesn't stop the cycling for you?

Cycling is a concept tied to a particular set of traditions or practices, not all of them.

After reading MCTB, I could observe some aspects of the Progress of Insight if I looked for them, but this is, IMHO, because I reified them, not because I dug up something that was always there. It is one conceptual way of looking at a non-conceptual "problem", but is not a feature of all sects of Buddhism, or non-dual paths.  

Open Awareness is most commonly practiced as just seeing sensation, thoughts and emotions arise and pass as they are, where they are, without any labeling or tying it into or mapping it into a framework. If Zsolt is looking for more tranquility and less activation, dropping the mapping, noting and other more concentration based practices is the obvious starting point. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Stirling Campbell:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Stirling, that doesn't take away the cycling. It's what I have been doing as my default practice all along. If you don't notice the cycling, that's just poor phenomenology. 

You mean it doesn't stop the cycling for you?

Cycling is a concept tied to a particular set of traditions or practices, not all of them.

After reading MCTB, I could observe some aspects of the Progress of Insight if I looked for them, but this is, IMHO, because I reified them, not because I dug up something that was always there. It is one conceptual way of looking at a non-conceptual "problem", but is not a feature of all sects of Buddhism, or non-dual paths.  

Open Awareness is most commonly practiced as just seeing sensation, thoughts and emotions arise and pass as they are, where they are, without any labeling or tying it into or mapping it into a framework. If Zsolt is looking for more tranquility and less activation, dropping the mapping, noting and other more concentration based practices is the obvious starting point. 


I was cycling before I even started practicing or knew anything about any of the traditions, so we’ll just have to agree to disagree here. I think the maps are based on something inherent to human development. I know what open awareness is, because I do that practice. 
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Stirling Campbell:
Zsolt:
Hi folks!

I’m coming back to shamatha practice (following TMI) after doing about 6 months of open awareness and noting practice during which cycling up the progress of insight was the norm. I’ve been at the shamatha for about 6 weeks now and cycling is still happening and is obstructing the cultivation of tranquility and stability of attention.

I sit 3-4 hours a day. My first hour is spent in mind and body, which is the bread and butter of my productive shamatha time. The 2nd hour is spent mostly in 3 characteristics, where bodily aches and discomforts become hard to ignore in favor of my concentration object. Tranquility is largely out the window for most of this 2nd hour too. This is always followed by an incredibly brief (1-5 minute) arising and passing filled with energy and bliss waves, which completely interrupts stable attention, after which I’m onto the dukkha nanas. Things clearly aren’t better for my shamatha there, with the wide diffuse attention and jarring physical and mental sensations. It’s kind of like trying to play a gameboy on a roller coaster - I can play but I don’t play well and it ain’t fun. Equanimity after is no better as the breath sensations are dwarfed into irrelevance by broad spaciousness and ultra-wide attentional stance.

In short, cycling is an obstacle to shamatha. To add insult to injury, ignoring the 3 characteristics in favor of the smooth continuity of my object slows the cycling down a lot, dragging out a cycle over hours. It was suggested to me that the cycling would fall into the background, becoming a minor phenomenon, as I got into the shamatha, but I’m 6 weeks in and things don’t seem to be changing. The shamatha I am able to do in that 1st hour is going well, which is nice, but I’d really like to focus all my available practice time towards it.

Surely others have experienced this given that it’s standard advice for post-2nd path noters to focus on shamatha on their way to 3rd. I’m open to any suggestions!

I would drop the noting, drop tracking cycling, let go of "where" you are in any conceptual framework, and just sit in open awareness. Watch thoughts arise and pass, including and especially those about any of the above. Notice when there is silent spaciousness between thoughts without labeling or grasping. Let go of any notion of "progress" or a map. Let go of any contrived type of mind or concentration. Let go of there being any right or wrong way that mind is. Don't "do" anything. Let go of the idea that you are "doing". Just be present. 

Think of the mind as a jar of muddy water. Set it on a shelf and let it settle into its innate clarity.


    Absolutely right on...you are my guru, stirling. Today anyway.

terry
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Zsolt:
Hi folks!

 I’m open to any suggestions!


   Just sit.
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Bailey ., modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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The only purpose of shamatha meditation (concentratio meditation) is to improve your mindfulness meditation. You are complaining that your mindfulness meditation (observing cycling) is harming your concentration meditation!
Zsolt, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Thanks for the replies everybody.

Linda, I'll try loosening up the object as you're suggesting. This might be my best bet as I find myself in EQ for long periods.

Stirling, up until I began this shamatha round I was doing mostly open awareness, only using noting every once in a while when things got rough. I stopped looking for the cycling a while ago and it kept going strong all on its own. As Linda said, clear phenomenology shows me what's there and the mind does the pattern matching automatically. Though there is a degree of expecting it happening while I sit, which may well be bringing it to the fore. I'll see if I can let go of that.

terry, given that everything is perfect, so too is my lack of understanding that everything is perfect, so there's no need to point that out, as that is an attempt to change what is already perfect =)

Bailey, there is plenty of insight to be had in exceptional states afforded by high concentration that isn't nearly as easy to access while just sitting there cycling. This is what motivates the advice for post-2nd path noters that I mentioned, for example: jhanas provide a unique vantage point where signal to noise is exceptionally high, having isolated certain aspects of experience and brought them to crystal clarity for investigation.

Thanks again for all the feedback. I'd especially appreciate any other advice that accords with the premises of my question, namely that doesn't suggest I abandon my practice intentions entirely.
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Zsolt:
Thanks for the replies everybody.


terry, given that everything is perfect, so too is my lack of understanding that everything is perfect, so there's no need to point that out, as that is an attempt to change what is already perfect =)



   needless to say, no need to point out that there is no need to point out...

which reminds of the four students who entered the mosque...

the first said, "there is a sign that says, 'no talking in the mosque'"
the second said, "but you just talked by pointing that out"
the third said, "so did you"
the fouirth said, "I am the only one who has not talked"
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Zsolt:
Thanks for the replies everybody.

Linda, I'll try loosening up 

Thanks again for all the feedback. I'd especially appreciate any other advice that accords with the premises of my question, namely that doesn't suggest I abandon my practice intentions entirely.


   In all seriousness, bra, submitting your ideas to the sangha and then suggesting you only especially appreciate replies that accord with your premises is an assertion worth some consideration...think about it...this is the activity that has been lately popularized as cherry-picking (talib)...if you only want to hear to ideas that support your biases, you are like a person who watches fox news or the conspiracy channel all the time and calls the other shows "fake"...

   It's not like we don't all do it. More like it is a tendency to be checked or balanced.

terry
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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The proof is in the pudding, terry. It either works or doesn't work. That's how you know if the advice is good.

And quite frankly, it can be pretty annoying when people insist on giving advice based on entirely different approaches than what resonates with the person who asks. We all have our own pet hobby-horses, but restraining ourselves from shoving them down people's throats when the advice is unwanted is part of skillful means. 
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
The proof is in the pudding, terry. It either works or doesn't work. That's how you know if the advice is good.

And quite frankly, it can be pretty annoying when people insist on giving advice based on entirely different approaches than what resonates with the person who asks. We all have our own pet hobby-horses, but restraining ourselves from shoving them down people's throats when the advice is unwanted is part of skillful means. 


   You could just sit.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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terry:
Zsolt:
Thanks for the replies everybody.

Linda, I'll try loosening up 

Thanks again for all the feedback. I'd especially appreciate any other advice that accords with the premises of my question, namely that doesn't suggest I abandon my practice intentions entirely.


   In all seriousness, bra, submitting your ideas to the sangha and then suggesting you only especially appreciate replies that accord with your premises is an assertion worth some consideration...think about it...this is the activity that has been lately popularized as cherry-picking (talib)...if you only want to hear to ideas that support your biases, you are like a person who watches fox news or the conspiracy channel all the time and calls the other shows "fake"...

   It's not like we don't all do it. More like it is a tendency to be checked or balanced.

terry

terry,

i have suspected lately that you have been in a porcess of awakening in some way that leaves your strenths intact, while heightening your sense of humor, humility, and heart. I see now that i was probably wrong. Your head is so far up your ass that it shows from behind your teeth.

love, tim
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terry, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Tim Farrington:
terry:
Zsolt:
Thanks for the replies everybody.

Linda, I'll try loosening up 

Thanks again for all the feedback. I'd especially appreciate any other advice that accords with the premises of my question, namely that doesn't suggest I abandon my practice intentions entirely.


   In all seriousness, bra, submitting your ideas to the sangha and then suggesting you only especially appreciate replies that accord with your premises is an assertion worth some consideration...think about it...this is the activity that has been lately popularized as cherry-picking (talib)...if you only want to hear to ideas that support your biases, you are like a person who watches fox news or the conspiracy channel all the time and calls the other shows "fake"...

   It's not like we don't all do it. More like it is a tendency to be checked or balanced.

terry

terry,

i have suspected lately that you have been in a porcess of awakening in some way that leaves your strenths intact, while heightening your sense of humor, humility, and heart. I see now that i was probably wrong. Your head is so far up your ass that it shows from behind your teeth.

love, tim

   Perhaps neither view ever had any validity.

love, terry
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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terry:
Tim Farrington:
terry:
Zsolt:
Thanks for the replies everybody.

Linda, I'll try loosening up 

Thanks again for all the feedback. I'd especially appreciate any other advice that accords with the premises of my question, namely that doesn't suggest I abandon my practice intentions entirely.


   In all seriousness, bra, submitting your ideas to the sangha and then suggesting you only especially appreciate replies that accord with your premises is an assertion worth some consideration...think about it...this is the activity that has been lately popularized as cherry-picking (talib)...if you only want to hear to ideas that support your biases, you are like a person who watches fox news or the conspiracy channel all the time and calls the other shows "fake"...

   It's not like we don't all do it. More like it is a tendency to be checked or balanced.

terry

terry,

i have suspected lately that you have been in a porcess of awakening in some way that leaves your strenths intact, while heightening your sense of humor, humility, and heart. I see now that i was probably wrong. Your head is so far up your ass that it shows from behind your teeth.

love, tim

   Perhaps neither view ever had any validity.

love, terry

emoticon


perhaps! but where's the fun in perhaps? Although somehow I really did find that a perfect reply.

love, tim
SigmaTropic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Hi Zsolt, 

Have you had any success with solidifying the insight knowledges? Take mind and body and solidify it into 1st jhana. Or skip it. Take A&P and solidify it into 2nd jhana. Take dissolution and solidify it into 3rd jhana. Take equanimity tmand make it 4th jhana. 

Just tell your mind to do this and you might have success. This is typically how I call up jhanas on a whim, just sort of conjure up a strong sense of the pleasant nana of my choosing and make it into a concentration object. That's kinda all jhanas are anyway. 

It's certainly a valid route to be able to focus on an object like the breath as an object until piti arises and whatnot, but if you have a strong sense of the nanas you can go this other route and that will possibly give you a foothold into the more calm blissful states and then you can explore both approaches. 
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Balint Pinczes, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Zsolt:
... It’s kind of like trying to play a gameboy on a roller coaster - I can play but I don’t play well and it ain’t fun.
What a cool simile! Keep simile-ing emoticon
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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To get back to topic, one other thing that I have noticed is that for every new full insight cycle*, there seems to be a new "layer" of hindrances to work through before I can go deep. MCTB2 is helpful in reminding me of the different factors that need to be balanced. I need to go beyond restlessness, dullness, and physical and mental tensions of different kinds. There are also periods when I tend to fall asleep while remaining conscious of it, and during that lucid light dreamless sleep I can feel some kind of energetic disentangling going on. There is no going around this. It happens every time. Do not despair - this too shall pass.

*) Between second and fourth path there seem to be a large number of full insight cycles, many more than there are paths. Every full insight cycle, in turn, contains many cycles before it reaches its fruition. 
Ben Sulsky, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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I think the move here is to just back away from the conceptual framework.  Who cares if your jhanas flicker?  Who cares if your insight states produce jhanic qualities?  

My experience is that I can't tune out the three characteristics when trying to do jhanas and I also end up in jhana like states when trying to do insight.  Yet there are still the same recognizable jhanas and insight nanas as ever and they do the same things.  So I just threw out the desire to have "pure" insight or jhana.  

I love Daniel's mindmap here, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5037f52d84ae1e87f694cfda/t/506fcc5c84aefb9a79a610b3/1349504092518/Pathways.jpg.  As far as I'm concerned there are arrows going back and forth all over the territory and there's no particular reason a given state is either all jhana or all nana.  
J C, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Zsolt - I did not find samatha particularly helpful in getting to 3rd - lots of noting is what I'd recommend - but to answer your question:

If you're cycling, and you feel lots of rapid flickering and vibration, and you want to switch to a smoother samatha state, what you have to do is sort of follow the waves of flickering, trying to smooth them out.

Watch the start and stop of each vibration, and if it starts to slow, you're on the right track. Basically, you're trying to get the waves of your observation to sync up with the waves of the flickering.

This is really hard to describe in words, but if you play around with trying to follow the waves, smooth them, or slow them, you'll click on it.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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J C:
If you're cycling, and you feel lots of rapid flickering and vibration, and you want to switch to a smoother samatha state, what you have to do is sort of follow the waves of flickering, trying to smooth them out.

Watch the start and stop of each vibration, and if it starts to slow, you're on the right track. Basically, you're trying to get the waves of your observation to sync up with the waves of the flickering.

This is really hard to describe in words, but if you play around with trying to follow the waves, smooth them, or slow them, you'll click on it.
This is so very well put. It took me a long time to figure that out, I think mainly because I was clinging to the flickering and vibrations; I had the idea that clarity was very much about that. Yet this smoothing and slowing down happened, because the process just went that way, and I didn't know what to do with that. I was being bored by it. I needed to have more symbolically charged nondual absorptions before I could learn to appreciate it. 
J C, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Can you elaborate on what a symbolically charged nondual absorption is? Sounds pretty awesome.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

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Sure. For instance I have been waking up during the night with the experience of being empty space and then sort of penetrated and filled up by awareness and brought into being as existence, and then thinning out into empty space again, and brought back again, over and over. Sorry for the language, can't find better words for the experience. It's sort of a creational myth, the lovemaking between emptiness and awareness that creates the existence. It was pretty awsome indeed. 
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Sure. For instance I have been waking up during the night with the experience of being empty space and then sort of penetrated and filled up by awareness and brought into being as existence, and then thinning out into empty space again, and brought back again, over and over. Sorry for the language, can't find better words for the experience. It's sort of a creational myth, the lovemaking between emptiness and awareness that creates the existence. It was pretty awsome indeed. 

I have already joined your cult, right? Just checking.

your devotee,
tim
Zsolt, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Thanks again for all the thoughtful comments, everybody. They did help.

I'm just posting to record that I did solve my problem. Thinking about this inspired a blog post that includes my solution in the "Making cycling go away" section. Maybe it'll be of use to people stumbling on this thread in the future.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Zsolt:
Thanks again for all the thoughtful comments, everybody. They did help.

I'm just posting to record that I did solve my problem. Thinking about this inspired a blog post that includes my solution in the "Making cycling go away" section. Maybe it'll be of use to people stumbling on this thread in the future.

I'm with Charles B on this:
Charles B

You are not supposed to do shamatha is wut this means. Keep going all the way through!!! Pls?? Pleeeezz!!?

You've misunderstood shamatha, in my view, and sold it badly short, to fit was apparently was a deadline on your blog. I don't think that blog will help anyone in the same situation. and i think it has actually hurt you.

just my 2 cents. With charles b, that makes almost a nickel. go on a spending spree, my friend.

love, tim
Zsolt, modified 1 Year ago.

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How have I misunderstood shamatha or sold it short?

I write the blog just to collect my thoughts as I work on particular skills, there are no deadlines. I think it could be helpful to others, why don't you? How has what I wrote hurt me?
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

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Zsolt:
How have I misunderstood shamatha or sold it short?

I write the blog just to collect my thoughts as I work on particular skills, there are no deadlines. I think it could be helpful to others, why don't you? How has what I wrote hurt me?


Bagpuss put it way better than me, just above, wiser, gentler, less abrasive, so i'll be brief and humble here, to not distract from his fruitful, constructive response.

Shamatha is the first human move into the unknown of the mind and beyond the mind, the path to the riginal joy of being. if you're not finding that joy, you're doing it wrong. for you to be intellectualizing that essence of joy away as something to be done away is simply wrong speech, and bad dharma. It hurts whoever's reading your over-intellectualized blog, and it hurts you in that you will one day find yourself in a desert, craving the living water that shamatha bestows by grace in all its abundance.

love, tim
Charles B, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

Posts: 55 Join Date: 3/13/12 Recent Posts
You are not supposed to do shamatha is wut this means. Keep going all the way through!!! Pls?? Pleeeezz!!?
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: How can I do shamatha when all I do is cycle cycle cycle

Posts: 704 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Zsolt:
Hi folks!

I’m coming back to shamatha practice (following TMI) after doing about 6 months of open awareness and noting practice during which cycling up the progress of insight was the norm. I’ve been at the shamatha for about 6 weeks now and cycling is still happening and is obstructing the cultivation of tranquility and stability of attention.

I sit 3-4 hours a day. My first hour is spent in mind and body, which is the bread and butter of my productive shamatha time. The 2nd hour is spent mostly in 3 characteristics, where bodily aches and discomforts become hard to ignore in favor of my concentration object. Tranquility is largely out the window for most of this 2nd hour too. This is always followed by an incredibly brief (1-5 minute) arising and passing filled with energy and bliss waves, which completely interrupts stable attention, after which I’m onto the dukkha nanas. Things clearly aren’t better for my shamatha there, with the wide diffuse attention and jarring physical and mental sensations. It’s kind of like trying to play a gameboy on a roller coaster - I can play but I don’t play well and it ain’t fun. Equanimity after is no better as the breath sensations are dwarfed into irrelevance by broad spaciousness and ultra-wide attentional stance.

In short, cycling is an obstacle to shamatha. To add insult to injury, ignoring the 3 characteristics in favor of the smooth continuity of my object slows the cycling down a lot, dragging out a cycle over hours. It was suggested to me that the cycling would fall into the background, becoming a minor phenomenon, as I got into the shamatha, but I’m 6 weeks in and things don’t seem to be changing. The shamatha I am able to do in that 1st hour is going well, which is nice, but I’d really like to focus all my available practice time towards it.

Surely others have experienced this given that it’s standard advice for post-2nd path noters to focus on shamatha on their way to 3rd. I’m open to any suggestions!


What happens if you try something like this?

  • Get seriously comfortable (reclining preferably)
  • Take a nice deep breath and follow the breath all the way down till it starts to bottom out
  • Search your energetic body for a thread of pleasure, whatever seems first jhana like to you
  • Take that as object then when the mind is reasonably steady ALSO notice the vibrations and all that other stuff that comes and goes
  • As the energy rises /changes allow your focus to change with it. Eg. As you move from 1st to 2nd shift from focusing on the pleasure to focusing on the happiness and so on


It's not shamatha, but it's a lot less shit than dry vipassana lol...

~BTG

PS...
Re your blog post: Too much thinking pussykat..

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