Impact of path on your life

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Eran G, modified 11 Years ago at 8/9/11 1:44 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/9/11 1:44 PM

Impact of path on your life

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I rarely see this discussed here, but I assume that the reason we practice is not just to accumulate merit badges but to change our own lives and the lives of people around us. In that spirit, I'd love to hear how have things changes in your perception, in your life, etc. following different paths? What changes stuck around, what needed more work for it to stick around, what took some time to integrate, etc.

To start this off, here's my experience after what I suspect was first path:

I can easily connect to a mode of perception where it's quite obvious there is no one "in here" who's running the show. My moment-to-moment sense of self is definitely different but sometimes not quite as obviously different as that mode.

I used to know quite clearly who I am: I am Me. Now it's no longer quite clear. I still feel that I am something but I can't quite say what that is. In fact, my previous view (I am Me) is now seen with more clarity than before; I assume it's because I just took it for granted and could not even see it as a view.

These last two points mean that it is easier for me to just be in the world. There is less anxiety, more openness.

It is much easier to be mindful of thoughts, emotions and body sensations. It is also easier to objectify those and just see them pass away. I do still get caught up in stuff but not nearly as often. Possibly related to this, there is less spinning in thought and more being in my experience.

Concentration is much easier. I can access jhanas in my daily practice whereas before this was limited to retreat practice.

It seems that the heart is more open. Metta practice has shifted from difficult to natural. I can allow myself to feel more of my own pain and the pain of others around me.

Non-Dual teachings which never made any sense to me are starting to make some sense and are at least intriguing if not compelling at times.

How about you?
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Dylan , modified 11 Years ago at 8/10/11 1:16 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/10/11 1:16 AM

RE: Impact of path on your life

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Eran G:
I assume that the reason we practice is not just to accumulate merit badges but to change our own lives and the lives of people around us.


Here's a Jed McKenna quote, from Spiritual Enlightenment:

Enlightenment is about truth. It's not about becoming a better or happier person. It's not about personal growth or spiritual evolution...there is no higher stakes game in this world or any other, in this dimension or any other. The price of truth is everything, but no one knows what everything means until they're paying it.


Maybe that's also why we practice...?

Dylan
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Eran G, modified 11 Years ago at 8/10/11 4:56 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/10/11 4:56 PM

RE: Impact of path on your life

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so tell me about your experience of truth, Dylan.
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Dylan , modified 11 Years ago at 8/11/11 5:30 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/11/11 5:30 AM

RE: Impact of path on your life

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Ooops...Sorry. Maybe I came across as a bit of a smart-ass throwing that quote out there like that. It wasn't my intention, but I can see how it could be read that way.

I don't know if I share McKenna's view there or not. On the one hand it seems a bit extreme, perhaps a bit hyperbolic, a bit melodramatic. I'm still pre-path, but I sure value the changes I've undergone since I've been practicing. Big ones. Changes for the better, changes that effect how I interact with those around me and those I love, changes that take place at the core. I can really identify with a lot of the things you mentioned above - more mindfulness, less spinning in thought, better concentration, less anxiety, less of a solid sense of self. In addition to these things, I am discovering in this path and this practice a wondrous process of opening, deepening, healing and purifying. It is confronting and painful, yet sublime. It fills me with joy and gratitude.

Now all this is great, and was one of the reasons I was drawn to spiritual practice, and one of the reasons I've kept it up. But is that what's really motivating me now? Is that what's really driving me forward to Stream Entry and beyond? Hmmm...I'm not sure. Yes, I want all these benefits - ie. liberation from suffering and all the positives that entails. But I think for me the primary motivation is...I don't know...the desire to know, to really know. Does that make sense?

Anyway, it's a provocative quote and kinda challenging. Do you think he's right? Or do you think he's over doing it a bit? Maybe it's possible to have it both ways? I just thought it was interesting because it contrasted with what you were saying and I thought it might generate a comment.

As for my experience of truth, well I wouldn't want to bore people with that yawn-fest.

Peace my brother.

Dylan.
, modified 11 Years ago at 8/11/11 10:28 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/11/11 10:26 AM

RE: Impact of path on your life

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For me, uncovering makes the components of a moment's moving terrain more visible and dispel extras (like anxiety or promotion) that clutter or impede the terrain.

This simplification has almost no bearing on making moments "easier/harder". I.e., if there's clearing a minefield to be done, and the mind field is quieted, the minefield is not changed by this.

There are each moment's opportunities: a micro-selection of choice (movement, interaction) which, given the chance "to moment" repeatedly (to live), appears to form an aggregate of reasonabilities (aka "purpose") suitable to the aggregates of my then-capacities.

[edit:grammar]
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Nikolai , modified 11 Years ago at 8/11/11 10:37 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/11/11 10:37 AM

RE: Impact of path on your life

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My wife is happier with me than ever before. Nuff said.
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Eran G, modified 11 Years ago at 8/11/11 1:46 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/11/11 1:46 PM

RE: Impact of path on your life

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I've not read any of McKenna's writings so I have little context to understand what he's trying to say. But it has been my (limited) experience that Truth and being a happier, better, more open, loving and caring person seem to go hand in hand.
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Jake , modified 11 Years ago at 8/11/11 6:08 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/11/11 6:08 PM

RE: Impact of path on your life

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Awesome question Eran!

My motivation for practicing in the first place was having glimpsed, again and again, something much deeper than my ordinary, fixed sense of self and world. Something completely natural, something that promised a way of living that was free from the fetters which I could feel binding me in my "normal" mode.

Finally a turning point arose: it became clear that in order to bridge the gap between glimpsing this deeper reality/actuality of simplicity, wholeness, completeness, stillness, freedom, clarity, openness, and naturalness and my normal way of living driven by clinging and aversion and immersed in clouds of ignorance which allowed clinging and aversion to have their way with this body and mind and through it all I came in contact with, I would need to develop a formal practice. So from the get go, my practice has been in service to discovering how to discover/uncover/cultivate a way of life that is increasingly and more and more stably appreciative of that reality which was only glimpsed from time to time before.

So my whole orientation has been counter to the ethos of the pragmatic dharma movement, or at least, counter to the impression I have had about that ethos, in terms of (seeming to) separate life and practice rather deliberately. Ironically though I gained some important tools and maps from this community which have served me well. Certainly SE, as defined in this community, has been an incredibly important turning point in my Path, since changes similar to the ones you mention in your OP have made it far easier to make the changes needed to begin to move consistently in the direction I set for myself long ago.

For the first time in my life, in the short span of approximately two years since SE, I have consistently and rapidly moved in the direction (oscillating up and down along the way of course) of that deepening appreciation of Life in its completeness and simplicity and have begun to see how it is entirely possible to live-- to eat, breathe, think, interact with other sentients of various species, move, play, work and especially to undergo challenging experiences-- with a mind which chooses to appreciate the ever-available freshness and completeness of life first, and to deal practically with whatever pops up here and now second, so to speak *, rather than with a mind which sets up all sorts of conditions in terms of what pops up here and now for whether it will permit itself to enjoy being alive!!!

* more precisely, the unconditioned/timeless qualities of experience are increasingly often appreciated as already completely present in the conditioned and timely events which transpire as the six senses and their objects, rather than being in some "other realm" or "special state" which can only be accessed under certain conditions. The fewer restrictions which I place on myself for appreciating the unconditioned qualities of each conditioned event/meaning, the more opportunities for such appreciation, often in surprisingly challenging circumstances and conditions, the vicissitudes of a real human life. This has HUGE implications for how I live life.
--Jake
John Coetze, modified 11 Years ago at 8/11/11 7:06 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/11/11 7:06 PM

RE: Impact of path on your life

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Jacob Henry St. Onge Casavant:

My motivation for practicing in the first place was having glimpsed, again and again, something much deeper than my ordinary, fixed sense of self and world. Something completely natural, something that promised a way of living that was free from the fetters which I could feel binding me in my "normal" mode.

Finally a turning point arose: it became clear that in order to bridge the gap between glimpsing this deeper reality/actuality of simplicity, wholeness, completeness, stillness, freedom, clarity, openness, and naturalness and my normal way of living driven by clinging and aversion and immersed in clouds of ignorance which allowed clinging and aversion to have their way with this body and mind and through it all I came in contact with, I would need to develop a formal practice.


This is precisely where I've come from, and where I'm 'at' right now.

It's encouraging to learn that practice has paid off for you.
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Gerry T, modified 11 Years ago at 8/11/11 7:13 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/11/11 7:13 PM

RE: Impact of path on your life

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I agree with Dylan that the object is not to make me a better person, but I can also see what Eran is saying about how it has made him a better person.

Someone who observes me may see that I don't get as anxious as before, that I listen more closely when I interact with people, that I don't grasp so much for things as I used to. But these changes are a natural result of the "thinning" of an ego-center sort of life that I have lived and to a great deal still do.

From an inner perspective I do feel calmer, but still grasp at things and still want things but can observe it more clearly. At times I may seem very calm and even be in the middle of helping someone but inside I may be seeing my own mortality and know beyond a doubt that I still believe in a self, and that is frightening. So I still have quite a way to go.

At times I feel more free from myself and at other times I feel imprisoned by it.

I have been carefully reading one of the books on the list that was sent out recently (thanks for the list); The Paradox of Becoming.by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff). When I feel imprisoned by what I take for my self I can see how this act of becoming creates the dissatisfaction that I feel at times. But I haven't yet fully integrated it into my view.

Gerry
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Jake , modified 11 Years ago at 8/11/11 8:31 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/11/11 8:31 PM

RE: Impact of path on your life

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John Coetze:
Jacob Henry St. Onge Casavant:

My motivation for practicing in the first place was having glimpsed, again and again, something much deeper than my ordinary, fixed sense of self and world. Something completely natural, something that promised a way of living that was free from the fetters which I could feel binding me in my "normal" mode.

Finally a turning point arose: it became clear that in order to bridge the gap between glimpsing this deeper reality/actuality of simplicity, wholeness, completeness, stillness, freedom, clarity, openness, and naturalness and my normal way of living driven by clinging and aversion and immersed in clouds of ignorance which allowed clinging and aversion to have their way with this body and mind and through it all I came in contact with, I would need to develop a formal practice.


This is precisely where I've come from, and where I'm 'at' right now.

It's encouraging to learn that practice has paid off for you.


Hi John!
I'm glad you're encouraged. I found at that point that although I had had glimpses of the naturally free condition beyond effort and accomplishment, there was a part of me attracted to goal-oriented practice and attainments that needed to be lived-out to be understood, and that was the theme of my intentional progress to stream entry. Living out that part of me, letting it live itself out.

Towards the end of that phase of practice, in the territory between a&p and equanimity, my earlier effortless/timeless view began re-asserting itself and the "me" that was goal oriented and driven became part of the practice rather than the practitioner if you know what I mean. So if you can relate to this contrast, I would heartily recommend approaching formal, committed developmental practice with that timeless/effortless view in mind. I found that the result of allowing development to unfold within the context of a more timeless, non-dual view was the dispelling of any illusion that developmental paths (such as SE) were attainments (merit badges hahaha!) so much as the (decisive and lasting) dropping away of some experiential blocks to that timeless view, making a lifestyle informed by that view more realistic.
--Jake
John Coetze, modified 11 Years ago at 8/12/11 12:15 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/12/11 12:12 AM

RE: Impact of path on your life

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Hi Jake,

Again, what you're saying seems in perfect accord with my own views and intentions. I just want to remove the obstacles to seeing/being where I already am.. with as much open clarity / benign freedom / effortless insight as possible. The "glimpses" have revealed what feels like a natural state or birthright, but apparently it takes disciplined, systematic work to dissolve the layers of obscurity.

You said you "would heartily recommend approaching formal, committed developmental practice with that timeless/effortless view in mind". I'm glad to hear that, because I am naturally inclined that way. I'd like to practise in a way that emulates the open clarity of the "glimpses" as much as possible, even while traversing a linear map through the stages of insight. Mainly I want to systematically investigate what makes the "normal" state so opaque and dense compared with those "glimpses"... all the while understanding that those "glimpses" are what's already here, now, always.

When you started your formal practice, was there a particular set of teachings and practices you found most helpful?

Thanks,
John
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Jake , modified 11 Years ago at 8/12/11 3:12 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/12/11 3:12 PM

RE: Impact of path on your life

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Hi John!

John Coetze:
Hi Jake,
The "glimpses" have revealed what feels like a natural state or birthright, but apparently it takes disciplined, systematic work to dissolve the layers of obscurity.


Exactly! :-) For what it's worth, and this is a gross generalization (hahaha!), but it seems to me that those who start with this view seem to get more out of SE than those who have little connection to the natural state. For example, there are many yogis who have attained DhO 3rd path but who still obsess about things like a centerpoint of perception, a self-sense, and so on, in a way that I find hard to relate to as it seems transparently suffering producing rather than reducing (disclaimer-- also entirely possible that in addition to generalizing I am locked in my way of experiencing things). A common feature here seems to be that, even when they describe accessing "non-dual" states, I find it difficult to recognize what I would call the natural state or nonduality in those descriptions, but rather oneness or unity, which seems very very different to me. Anyways that's neither here nor there: just mean to say, it seems like those with a strong connection to the natural state pre-path get more out of path as they can use the greater pliancy of experience post-path to raise the baseline appreciation of wholeness, clarity and purity on a day to day level, and practice and life are more profoundly connected.

John Coetze:

You said you "would heartily recommend approaching formal, committed developmental practice with that timeless/effortless view in mind". I'm glad to hear that, because I am naturally inclined that way. I'd like to practise in a way that emulates the open clarity of the "glimpses" as much as possible, even while traversing a linear map through the stages of insight. Mainly I want to systematically investigate what makes the "normal" state so opaque and dense compared with those "glimpses"... all the while understanding that those "glimpses" are what's already here, now, always.


Yes, that's exactly what i'd recommend: emulating the natural state. There is an infinite spectrum of appreciation for the natural state between oblivion to it and complete selfless uncovering of it. Move in that direction by investigating what *seems* to obscure it. Use your best emulation of it to conduct the investigation, as the vantage point of investigating. This creates a feedback loop that reveals better emulations which in turn disclose subtler hang-ups or illusions.

John Coetze:

When you started your formal practice, was there a particular set of teachings and practices you found most helpful?



Yeah, I like radical dzogchen, by which I mean dzogchen which is not mixed with tantra, but which may encompass tantric methods. Namkai Norbu is a good source for this, as are the Aro Lamas. I would avoid the form of dzogchen that relies heavily on a tantric framework. You can tell the difference because radical dzogchen teachers offer all three series of dzogchen teachings, including Semde, which is very important as it includes a form of calm-abiding and insight training within that View.

Another version of these Semde teachings, or something closely related, are some forms of Mahamudra. I like Dakpo Tashi Namgyal's Clarifying the Natural State.

I also like vipassana, and think it's great for SE. By which I mean just noticing whatever arises moment to moment until more and more of the total field of experience shows itself in each moment as simply part of a holistic sensate field. Some folks also like to mentally or even out-loud "note" in addition to noticing but I never had any interest in that myself.

Those three.

It seems that the more dry one's insight practice the more rough it can be, before and after SE. On the other hand, focusing more on calm abiding in the way that Mahamudra or Dzogchen Semde function will also lead IMO to SE (and beyond) but in a gentler way, and by no means slower either. Check out the Aro Lama Ng'gakpa Chogyam's excellent book "Roaring Silence" for a really useful meditation manual on Dzogchen Semde. Chan and Zen also have a lot to offer in the way of view and pointers.

Sorry to derail this thread Eran!

Actually it kind of ties in as this issue of life and practice is so close to me, and I think it's related to this issue of whether one does dry insight or brings in more calm-abiding, since the latter seems to enact a path which is much more integrated between life and formal practice.
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Dylan , modified 11 Years ago at 8/12/11 9:38 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/12/11 9:38 PM

RE: Impact of path on your life

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Gerry T:
I have been carefully reading one of the books on the list that was sent out recently (thanks for the list); The Paradox of Becoming.by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff).


Hi Gerry. Just wondering if you (or somebody) can point me in the direction of the list you're referring to here?

Cheers.

Dylan
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Gerry T, modified 11 Years ago at 8/15/11 8:25 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/15/11 8:25 PM

RE: Impact of path on your life

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Dylan,
Here is the posting with the list of book references.

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1296955

I really like Bhiku Bodhi too.

Here is the link to his audio that covers the study of the Majhiima Nikaya,.
http://www.bodhimonastery.net/bm/about-buddhism/15-a-systematic-study-of-the-majjhima-nikaya.html?start=5

I didn't see the link in the list for The Paradox of Becoming but I'm sure I ran across this link in some post on this site.
It sheds a lot of light on why karma is so key to buddhism but its main point has to do with craving as a force in becoming.
It's a good read.

http://dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings/TheParadoxOfBecoming.pdf

Gerry
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Dylan , modified 11 Years ago at 8/16/11 5:39 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/16/11 5:39 AM

RE: Impact of path on your life

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Thanks