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Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anagami?

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Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anagami? Oatmilk 7/30/20 4:26 AM
RE: Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anaga A. DIetrich Ringle 7/30/20 11:09 AM
RE: Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anaga Oatmilk 8/1/20 1:51 PM
RE: Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anaga Dustin 7/31/20 9:31 PM
RE: Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anaga Oatmilk 8/1/20 1:58 PM
RE: Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anaga Dustin 8/1/20 9:20 PM
RE: Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anaga Oatmilk 8/2/20 5:46 AM
RE: Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anaga Dustin 8/8/20 9:27 PM
RE: Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anaga Oatmilk 8/9/20 11:01 AM
RE: Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anaga Jazz Muzak 8/1/20 11:41 PM
RE: Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anaga Oatmilk 8/2/20 6:09 AM
RE: Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anaga B B 8/9/20 5:58 AM
RE: Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anaga Oatmilk 8/3/20 11:49 AM
RE: Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anaga B B 8/9/20 5:06 AM
RE: Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anaga Oatmilk 8/9/20 10:59 AM
RE: Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anaga Ben Sulsky 8/3/20 2:19 PM
RE: Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anaga B B 8/9/20 5:55 AM
Hey all, 

I was curious if the time spend on cushion correlates with the amount of cycles post SE. I remember going through different insight cycles all at once while on retreat or practicing several hours/day. I am currently not sitting much and the cycles seem to have slowed down over the last few month. They don't feel so obvious and the duration got longer. 
My experience has only a small percentage of the center left and my sense of agency has been diminished over the last few months. A non identification with thoughts and seeing the field perfectly illuminated/non-conceptual seems to be my new baseline most of the time. Formless realms seem to appear during daily life as well. Are those characteristics of 3rd path? 

-O

Cycles slowing down and speeding up are in fact something to be investigated. Let me tell you!

So did you stop regular sits after SE and the cycling off cushion led to your experience of life now?
I'm not sure about your question because I'm not there but I find the post interesting.

RE: Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anaga
Answer
8/1/20 1:51 PM as a reply to A. DIetrich Ringle.
Thanks.

Dustin:
So did you stop regular sits after SE and the cycling off cushion led to your experience of life now?
I'm not sure about your question because I'm not there but I find the post interesting.


Hey Dustin! No, I continued with practice (even more intense) after SE (assuming that I even am post SE - peoples opinions and requirements seem to vary). 2nd path followed quickly after and I continued to practice for several months after that. But atm I'm nowhere near my old practice in terms of time spend on the cushion. 

Oatmilk:
Dustin:
So did you stop regular sits after SE and the cycling off cushion led to your experience of life now?
I'm not sure about your question because I'm not there but I find the post interesting.


Hey Dustin! No, I continued with practice (even more intense) after SE (assuming that I even am post SE - peoples opinions and requirements seem to vary). 2nd path followed quickly after and I continued to practice for several months after that. But atm I'm nowhere near my old practice in terms of time spend on the cushion. 
I get it now. Yeah peoples requirements are way different. I believe I got first and had a teacher tell me I got first and second. After talking with people and practicing for a while I do not believe I got second. I hear second can go really fast or be really long.  I've  had fractals and other weird cycling stuff but sometimes think I haven't even got first. Lol How does your experience line up with Daniels MCTB revised 4 path model? 

Hi Oatmilk,

I am no expert, but my experience post-2nd has been quite similar to yours, I think. Up until 2nd, my practice included lots and lots of sitting. Longs sits, short sits, medium sits, moments in the day where I just sat and concentrated for a few seconds before returning to whatever it was I was doing, you get the idea. Not too long after 2nd, I stopped sitting so much, and I stopped keeping track of cycles. This was for a couple of reasons. Part of my kind of knew that the name of the game wasn't exactly the cycles, although the cycles did seem to have something to do with waking up. Another part of it was watching other practitioners here and elsewhere get totally wrapped up in cycles, subcycles, various fractals of cycles, etc. I honestly just couldn't be assed.

As a result of slowing down on sitting and stopping dealing with the cycles so much, my practice took on much more of a "walking around, in real life" sort of flavor. I quickly found I didn't have to be sitting or otherwise engaged in a meditative posture or technique to actually practice, and this seemed actually beneficial to me. I feel this was probably something of a natural progression (and from my current point of view, it couldn't have been anything BUT natural), as practice got much cooler and more fun after that, even when it sucked haha.

As for the second part of your post, I would say yes, non-agency, reduced centerpoint, luminosity/emptiness/anatta/maha/sunyata becoming a walking-around full-time thing is very much third path territory as far as I'm concerned. But again, I am no expert, and hopefully someone around here with the chops to know better can chime in.

Dustin:

I get it now. Yeah peoples requirements are way different. I believe I got first and had a teacher tell me I got first and second. After talking with people and practicing for a while I do not believe I got second. I hear second can go really fast or be really long.  I've  had fractals and other weird cycling stuff but sometimes think I haven't even got first. Lol How does your experience line up with Daniels MCTB revised 4 path model? 


The perceptual shift of first path was barely noticeable in daily life - the only thing it did for me was the easy access to Jhanas and it contributed well to my off-cushion Noting practice. Second path did basically the same but its intensity was a little bit stronger and from there on it was just cycling and cycling and cycling emoticon If I look at Daniels 'simple model' then I'd say 3rd - late 3rd path. 

RE: Correlation between cycles and on-cushion time/characteristics of Anaga
Answer
8/2/20 6:09 AM as a reply to Jazz Muzak.
Jazz Muzak:
Hi Oatmilk,

I am no expert, but my experience post-2nd has been quite similar to yours, I think. Up until 2nd, my practice included lots and lots of sitting. Longs sits, short sits, medium sits, moments in the day where I just sat and concentrated for a few seconds before returning to whatever it was I was doing, you get the idea. Not too long after 2nd, I stopped sitting so much, and I stopped keeping track of cycles. This was for a couple of reasons. Part of my kind of knew that the name of the game wasn't exactly the cycles, although the cycles did seem to have something to do with waking up. Another part of it was watching other practitioners here and elsewhere get totally wrapped up in cycles, subcycles, various fractals of cycles, etc. I honestly just couldn't be assed.

As a result of slowing down on sitting and stopping dealing with the cycles so much, my practice took on much more of a "walking around, in real life" sort of flavor. I quickly found I didn't have to be sitting or otherwise engaged in a meditative posture or technique to actually practice, and this seemed actually beneficial to me. I feel this was probably something of a natural progression (and from my current point of view, it couldn't have been anything BUT natural), as practice got much cooler and more fun after that, even when it sucked haha.

As for the second part of your post, I would say yes, non-agency, reduced centerpoint, luminosity/emptiness/anatta/maha/sunyata becoming a walking-around full-time thing is very much third path territory as far as I'm concerned. But again, I am no expert, and hopefully someone around here with the chops to know better can chime in.

Hey, 
thank you for the thoughtful reply(: Good to hear that you found a more enjoyable approach to practice! At the very beginning I thought that it's all about formal practice but off cushion practice is so much more important. I was also really wrapped up into theroy in the very beginning but after a PCE my relationship with concepts drastically changed. I still value certain aspects about maps but direct experience is what matters the most. 

Hi Oatmilk,

I like your name. Here's my take FWIW. I've practised for about 11 years and no longer experience a sense of centerpoint after many years of going through cycles.

It's really fantastic that you are seeing such significant results from your practise. Congratulations.

To answer your query, in my opinion the cycling phenomenon is like your personal wheel of samsara. You will spin around the wheel insofar as you are creating karma*, i.e. attempting to exert the will of a Doer with a basis in craving/aversion, not acting in the spontaneous, non-judgmental mode of an arahat or buddha. You will find there are certain underlying assumptions behind your meditation practice which are fuelling this. Arguably your primary task on the path is to free your mind of these assumptions. I'd sum up the samsaric mode of perception as something like "I as a separate autonomous Self/Agent can exert influence on my circumstances to achieve a favorable outcome". There are multiple false assumptions behind this statement which you can investigate and see through.

If you are cycling less when you don't practice, this indicates that you're actually not creating karma as intensely when off the cushion*. Now it may be that you just need to go through this phase of "efforting", doing, judging, discriminating in your practise to get it out of your system. This was the very same for me. I can't claim to have gone beyond the cycling yet but I'd definitely say that the cycles fade as one's practise matures and one's obscurations are reduced. I've even been assured by a woman who was a Buddhist nun for over 20 years that there is a stage where the cycling "definitely" ends. Definitely.

I'd advocate for a style of practise in the same vein as what U Tejaniya outlines in his book When Awareness Becomes Natural. I've found the Mahamudra instructions in Clarifying the Natural State to be very helpful as well. Basically "right effort" is no effort. It's impossible to perceive the nature of mind clearly as long as you're acting in this willful Doer mode. It's like you've got this unconscious habit of stirring up silt at the bottom of a lake so that the water is always muddy and opaque. At least once a certain baseline level of mental stability and clarity is achieved, there's no use attempting to control and focus your mind in order to see clearly. Just stop feeding the tornado of delusion and it will subside on its own. This also requires a pretty high degree of faith, patience and discipline which might put it out of reach of less advanced practitioners.

You need to get to the point where the Doer is subdued and the sense of the Mind (i.e. your whole field of experience) as a natural empty process is revealed, something like a self-aware diffraction or crystal. If there's a sense of restlessness or doubt, then take some time to investigate the emptiness of Mind as described in Clarifying the Natural State, then go back to the non-doing. You'll gradually see how the remaining sense of a centerpoint is part of this dependently-originated process, and how the very concept of a centerpoint is empty, and relax into this. This is the approach which worked and is working for me.

Regarding formless realms in daily life, I've never experienced anything like that. I wonder how you are defining formless realms.

Best wishes,

B

* clarified in a post below

B B:
Hi Oatmilk,

I like your name. Here's my take FWIW. I've practised for about 11 years and no longer experience a sense of centerpoint after many years of going through cycles.

It's really fantastic that you are seeing such significant results from your practise. Congratulations.

To answer your query, in my opinion the cycling phenomenon is like your personal wheel of samsara. You will spin around the wheel insofar as you are creating karma, i.e. attempting to exert the will of a Doer with a basis in craving/aversion, not acting in the spontaneous, non-judgmental mode of an arahat or buddha. You will find there are certain underlying assumptions behind your meditation practice which are fuelling this. Arguably your primary task on the path is to free your mind of these assumptions. I'd sum up the samsaric mode of perception as something like "I as a separate autonomous Self/Agent can exert influence on my circumstances to achieve a favorable outcome". There are multiple false assumptions behind this statement which you can investigate and see through.

If you are cycling less when you don't practice, this indicates that you're actually not creating karma as intensely when off the cushion. Now it may be that you just need to go through this phase of "efforting", doing, judging, discriminating in your practise to get it out of your system. This was the very same for me. I can't claim to have gone beyond the cycling yet but I'd definitely say that the cycles fade as one's practise matures and one's obscurations are reduced. I've even been assured by a woman who was a Buddhist nun for over 20 years that there is a stage where the cycling "definitely" ends. Definitely.

I'd advocate for a style of practise in the same vein as what U Tejaniya outlines in his book When Awareness Becomes Natural. I've found the Mahamudra instructions in Clarifying the Natural State to be very helpful as well. Basically "right effort" is no effort. It's impossible to perceive the nature of mind clearly as long as you're acting in this willful Doer mode. It's like you've got this unconscious habit of stirring up silt at the bottom of a lake so that the water is always muddy and opaque. At least once a certain baseline level of mental stability and clarity is achieved, there's no use attempting to control and focus your mind in order to see clearly. Just stop feeding the tornado of delusion and it will subside on its own. This also requires a pretty high degree of faith, patience and discipline which might put it out of reach of less advanced practitioners.

You need to get to the point where the Doer is subdued and the sense of the Mind (i.e. your whole field of experience) as a natural empty process is revealed, something like a self-aware diffraction or crystal. If there's a sense of restlessness or doubt, then take some time to investigate the emptiness of Mind as described in Clarifying the Natural State, then go back to the non-doing. You'll gradually see how the remaining sense of a centerpoint is part of this dependently-originated process, and how the very concept of a centerpoint is empty, and relax into this. This is the approach which worked and is working for me.

Regarding formless realms in daily life, I've never experienced anything like that. I wonder how you are defining formless realms.

Best wishes,

B

Hey BB, 

thank you for your thoughtful reply. It's really interesting and encouraging! After finishing a cycle, I feel very contracted and suicidal, there tends to be a tremendous amount of emotional identification happening, do you have any advice on handling that stuff better? I also get extremely lethargic during those periods and it's much, much worse than the Dukkha Nana's itself. 

Thanks a lot! 

-O 

Thanks for the thoughtful post B B.  

I like the take!

thank you for your thoughtful reply. It's really interesting and encouraging! After finishing a cycle, I feel very contracted and suicidal, there tends to be a tremendous amount of emotional identification happening, do you have any advice on handling that stuff better? I also get extremely lethargic during those periods and it's much, much worse than the Dukkha Nana's itself. 
I will assume you are actually cycling. My best guess is that you are experiencing cycles within a larger cycle. You are passing through the inner cycles, but in the outer cycle you are still DN’ing. So the completion of an inner cycle isn’t giving you the usual accompanying sense of release. I’ve gone through phases of this. It can get really tough. The light can go out and you are left with a very small, dark state of mind. It’s very easy to start thinking suicidally. Although for me there was always something slightly melodramatic to these thoughts, like I was venting frustration. If you are seriously feeling suicidal, then it is time to be very grounded and realistic and seek emergency help, call a suicide hotline, etc. I think the crucial difference here is whether you’ve achieved SE or not. When you’ve already passed through one cycle, you have faith in the process and know you can get through this and it will be worth it.

I want to be careful not to problematize what you’re experiencing. Sometimes it can make sense to do something which will provide temporary relief. The danger is that by doing this you are sustaining the habit of mind which thinks in terms of endless problems and solutions. It’s sustaining the Doer, which through struggling to solve problems creates the agitation and narrow-mindedness which gives rise to more problems, because on the level of ultimate truth there are no problems. Analogies might be a Chinese finger trap or a vortex.

There are methods which have helped me get through the kind of situation you find yourself in, without being ultimately liberating. I will describe some of these. It’s really up to you to work out what level of temporary relief you need. It’s always going to be tricky to do something radical in a balanced way. I respect some teachers who are very grounded and can suggest many techniques to achieve a relative result, but I’m personally a big believer in just having faith in reality—that it’s not out to get you, that it’s not something you have to struggle with, that it is in fact very much on your side. With most religions you have make do with faith alone, but with Buddhism you can eventually understand through direct experience why this faith is justified. It’s justified beyond anyone’s capacity to fully comprehend.

What helped for me was to practice mindfulness of the mind and contemplate the emptiness of concepts. Normally we’re swept along by concepts without being fully aware of them, as if in a daze. Just to recognize that particular circumstances are giving rise to particular thoughts and concepts can be illuminating. Then you can develop mindfulness of the context or assumptions behind a thought (i.e. all the fixed background concepts we have about the nature of self/the external world/reality which usually go unacknowledged). You can learn to cut through thoughts, uncovering a glimpse of nonconceptual awareness. Good instructions here: https://www.lotsawahouse.org/topics/dzogchen/. It’s important to cut through not just the foremost thought, but all the subtler background thoughts/concepts that create momentum, doing, discriminating until one is left with the timeless sameness. Eventually you can see how your whole reality is sort of thought into existence, and none of these thoughts have any inherent meaning. It can really help to pick apart all the beliefs and assumptions which are causing you trouble on the path. A useful question to ask yourself is “is this a source of freedom, or a limitation?” Don’t hold on to anything which limits you.

You can begin to appreciate how, from a certain perspective, reality has always been perfect just the way it is, and everything is an expression of this totally unimpeded freedom and perfection. I really got into this practice of deeply appreciating every moment just the way it is, and it is such a lovely antidote to the usual beleaguered Theravadin mindset.

After a certain point of following this thread of contemplation, and going through a lot of cycles, the misery and edginess of the DN began to flip over and became a kind of deep bliss. The joy of liberation from liberation or something. It can also transform into a feeling of masochistic pleasure. Some time after that I just stopped taking the DN seriously and the reactivity which creates really heavy DN’s stopped occurring. It’s like I just exhausted every possible reaction, and understood the causal factors so clearly, that I eventually just quietly moved on.

Also, after about a year of practicing the instructions in that link (Mipham's instructions IIRC), conceptual fixations began to automatically self-liberate. This self-liberating capacity has been slowly growing and strengthening over the past 5 – 6 years. It starts out very slight and occasional. The analogy used is that of a mountain stream developing into a wide and slow-moving river and eventually reaching the ocean. This has been absolutely transformative for me because the clinging which leads to DN’s and suffering begins with subtle conceptual fixation. Now this tendency has been mostly neutralized and actually harnessed as fuel for awakening. Once you are confident that this capacity is established and strong enough to cope with most daily life situations, in theory you could just gently practice openness and non-doing and this will develop on its own until you are as enlightened as the Dalai Lama.

I recall a tendency to subtly bear down on my experience, assuming that there’s something to see or focus on. It helps to examine carefully the whole experience of “looking at” something. You might need to clarify for yourself how awareness and appearances are non-dual.

That’s all I can think of. The above practices can be very useful and liberating in a sense, but may not result in any permanent shifts in perception. Perhaps they were necessary all the same. There is a Tibetan story about having to travel to many faraway lands and meet many people just so that you can appreciate what you have at home all along.

I’ve described what ultimately works for me in my last post. Basically just sit with the squirming, bring awareness to it, relax into it. Let go of attempts to control. Eventually there’s a point where one sees through the next layer of delusionl, it dissolves and never returns.

I wrote some more relevant advice here.

P.S. you could also consider practicing guru yoga, deity yoga or Vajrasattva purification

Oatmilk:
Dustin:

I get it now. Yeah peoples requirements are way different. I believe I got first and had a teacher tell me I got first and second. After talking with people and practicing for a while I do not believe I got second. I hear second can go really fast or be really long.  I've  had fractals and other weird cycling stuff but sometimes think I haven't even got first. Lol How does your experience line up with Daniels MCTB revised 4 path model? 


The perceptual shift of first path was barely noticeable in daily life - the only thing it did for me was the easy access to Jhanas and it contributed well to my off-cushion Noting practice. Second path did basically the same but its intensity was a little bit stronger and from there on it was just cycling and cycling and cycling emoticon If I look at Daniels 'simple model' then I'd say 3rd - late 3rd path. 
I would like to know more about your off cushion noting practice. Can you explain how you practiced? 

To answer your query, in my opinion the cycling phenomenon is like your personal wheel of samsara. You will spin around the wheel insofar as you are creating karma
If you are cycling less when you don't practice, this indicates that you're actually not creating karma as intensely when off the cushion.

I want to clarify what I wrote here, as I feel this is simplistic at best, inaccurate at worst. IMO, as long as you're creating karma, you will cycle. Beyond that, the relationship between creating karma and the frequency of cycling is not so easily defined. If you are in high EQ, it's possible to experience multiple successive fruitions, which would arguably mean that one has very quickly passed through multiple cycles. If DN'ing, one can be creating a lot of very heavy karma without moving even slightly closer to EQ. However, in my experience there is a momentum to the cycling which correlates with the intensity of practice--if one's practice involves effort and the Doer. This momentum can be noticed if one is experiencing cycles within cycles: one can pass through many inner cycles even while remaining stuck at a particular stage of the outer cycle. As one's reactivity and obscurations are reduced over time, it will become easier to practice with a lighter touch. Increasingly long periods of time can pass where one is creating no karma--the mind is in sponteous, single-pointed instant presence mode like the Dalai Lama. Then the momentum of the cycling slows down and the stages start to fade in intensity. One can be practicing even more than before, and at least as effectively as before, but in a gentler, more refined way.

Wow! This was super helpful, thank you for the great explanation and the clarification! 
I just started reading the advices linked in the comment, I haven't read the instructions of Mipham yet. Have you got any experience with contemplation using a journal? Or do you use it as an ongoing off-cushion practice?
I'm not sitting much at the moment I was thinking about trying a different form of contemplation. 
Could you also recommend some books which were helpful in your development. I'd be interested in material which focuses more on off cushion practice. 

-O

I tried to note as many sensations as possible during the day while for example driving, walking, running errands and doing chores. Be careful while doing it in social settings though(: