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JW's Monthly update

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JW's Monthly update
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8/29/20 4:00 PM
Hey friends,
Wanted to start up a new log, let y’all know that I’m doing okay and get some ideas out. I’m looking forward to catching up and seeing what everyone’s been up to. Hoping to keep this regular but less frequent (every month or 2?).

I’ve had the good fortune to be able to take some much needed time off of work (and off the Internet) and do a bit of traveling (driving) which included a 3 week self retreat. This was my first ‘real’ retreat, and though it was relaxed, it was overall a really positive experience for me. Going from memory over the past month, so I hope I can capture this the right way.

Starting out my goal was to do 5 hours a day of sitting, 5 hours of music and then some reading. My main reading was Rob Burbea’s Seeing That Frees (bless him), which I am still finishing up but have already got some great insights from, what a gift. A couple of the things that have really stuck with me:

- Lots of stuff on how insight and concentration are related and can benefit/build off each other
- Noting is more of an anatta practice (I always thought of it as impermanence). But now I can only think of it as “not-I”-ing emoticon

My “main” meditation practice, at least for the duration of the retreat, included tantric visualization and breathing techniques (e.g.. Ujjayi, Wim Hof Method). If I haven’t mentioned, it’s experimental. I may write about it in more detail at some point as I gain familiarity with it. But the main thing I would say is that the breathing really helps cultivate relaxation/samatha which leads to insight. What I like about the tantra part is it takes you through a nice flow of different stages of awareness, in this case the final object being the non-dual profundity (emptiness is not other than form). For me it just seems to have a nice natural flow to it. So I’ll typically spend about 15-20 minutes doing breath work and cultivating samatha, another 10-15 in a more focused state. For the last section, I would say ‘single-pointed’ but usually there is some amount of noting (not-I-ing) involved, depending on the amount of thought activity. This routine I would do typically 2-3 times a day, with the rest of the time being just your average smörgåsbord of mindfulness, concentration, noting, insight, awareness, reflection, thinking, feeling, breathing etc etc.

I did notice some interesting trends on a more macro level throughout the month, and I do think I hit some new territory in terms of realization, of which there were 2 main events which I’ll just mention briefly. The first week was for the most part, very blissful and relaxing. I basically did as much relaxing and samatha as I could. Week 2 I started to dive more into insight territory with a good amount of that being directed towards contemplating “around” Emptiness through the lens of the emptiness of the self, and the mind. At the end of week 2 I had the most clear (non) perception of non-self to date. There was still awareness, and there was still perception, so there is still much to unlearn. Nevertheless, it was a nice weird moment for me.

I did seem to became more aware of the changing and impermanent nature of my emotions throughout the day, to the point where if I was feeling cranky one morning, I viewed it as a good omen because most likely I’d be feeling great by the afternoon. On a slightly more macro level, I noticed myself falling into Reobservation a few times. When this happens for me (and I imagine for most people), it usually entails a good amount of flipping through my most regrettable and embarrassing moments. On one occasion in week 2 or 3, partially catalyzed by some external factors and already in Reob, I dipped back into Dark Night territory. With nothing else to do, and with some help from Seeing That Frees, I sat through it for a day or so and came out with a decent realization; that the narrative “Self” that I construct and fabricate via my memories, which I view as something in the “past”, is actually alive and well (only) in the present. In other words, the narrative of my past self is serving only to feed the monster of the present. It may not make much sense here as it’s probably more non-verbal, but it resonated with me at the time and seems o have stuck with me thus far. Lots of good stuff about memories in Seeing That Frees. This incident lasted around a day/day and a half.

There was a moment of merging, towards the end of the retreat, which was another new experience for me. There was a sort of quality of blending of my different sense doors and then my out breath sort of becoming one with the external blend of sensation and perception. I have low iron levels so get slightly lightheaded sometimes after sitting for long periods and this happened during one of those moments, so I am looking at it with a grain of salt but still, it was something I had never experienced before so I think worth mentioning.

It’s now been a couple of weeks since the formal retreat ended, so I am curious what changes I notice, if any. I’m back with family now which is a whole different challenge so I am also curious how this stuff translates into my interactions and patience with them. (So far so good). I still feel pretty chilled out overall, and more mindful of my various changing emotional states. I hope to keep at least a 2-3 hours a day schedule. Whatever the lasting effects of the retreat may be, I think the handful of insights gained last month have made it worthwhile and besides that it was just a really fun and relaxing experience. Cheers to riding the wave.


W/ Love
JW

RE: JW's Monthly update
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10/6/20 11:59 AM as a reply to J W.
It’s been a wild few weeks, including one of the roughest patches I’ve had in a long time, since at least since 2015 or 2016. I’ve got a little bit of a different perspective on that depression now, as I’ve been ‘out of it’ for a couple of weeks, but I’m still holding my breath for now as things are overall just kind of weird.

To what extent this depression was due to a post-retreat ‘come down’, environmentally triggered trauma, or natural cycling through stages of insight, I am not sure, but I do think it was due to some extent to all of these. Being home with family for several weeks, there’s been a lot of trauma there, going back for as long as I can remember. It’s been one of the great struggles of my life to move past all of that. I crashed and burned after a few days which left me feeling a little exasperated, sleepless and defeated, with the conflation of the ongoing shitshow of world events, it was a solid 4 weeks of roughness.

I tried to maintain some optimism throughout that month, making sure to note that there were good days, there were some positive experiences with my problematic family member(s), and (importantly) no major arguments between us. This alone is an improvement. At the recommendation of one of my teachers, I decided to start working with a therapist as a result of this, so that’s another positive. I had my first session last week and I am very excited to be working with the intention of overcoming some of these deep-rooted family issues in a more permanent way. We left things on good terms, in fact we’ve spoken a couple of times already since I left last week.

Starting towards the end of last month, this would have been around the 17th or 18th, I noticed my mental state becoming less agitated and more positive. Again, this may be due in part to the prospect of our time in Texas with family drawing to a close (as we were to hit the road the following week), as well as various other environmental factors. I noticed the mental shift as it happened, trying to remain wary of the potential slippage into the opposite direction (falling into A&P territory). That weekend I did a mushroom trip with my friend with our intentions set towards spiritual realization. The trip itself was kind of a bad trip (at the peak), but overall it was a really positive experience. Something about the primal fear of that trip helped open me up towards understanding of peoples’ experiences when they are under extreme stress and/or in hyper-deluded states. As I am often agitated by what I perceive to be “those” people (however misguided that is of me), it helped to somehow put things in perspective. For the record, I wouldn’t recommend psychedelics to anyone unless you’re really comfortable/experienced with it.

Since then we’ve driven back across the country and, despite some tiredness due to lack of sleep, overall I have been in a very positive mood, though I have had occasional periods of waffling between paranoia (we are deep in Trumpworld at the moment) and abundant lovingkindness (willingness to be friendly, even to the ‘other’). So, qualities of A&P, with a mild tinge of mania to it even, all of which I try to note as much as possible but occasionally still get sucked in.

I am kind of hesitant to try to self-diagnose this stuff, whether that’s EQ of the retreat, going into the DN and now back up (down?) through the A&P, or if it was a false EQ (actually A&P)->DN->now into low EQ, I’m really not sure how much it matters. What is clear is that there’s some sort of cycling at play. But, I am looking/will be looking for advice now on navigating this post-DN back into A&P or EQ ( ? ) territory.

In terms of practice: largely have fallen ‘off the cushion’ since the retreat. I aim for 1-2 hours but sometimes only 15-30 minutes a day. Some interesting experiences had occurred on the retreat in August, as well as one blackout event at the beginning of September when I first got to my parents’, which happened under the influence of cannabis edibles. Whether or not it’s appropriate to call any of these ‘Path’ experiences, I don’t think it’s possible to say for now, but It’s possible this event, these realizations, had something to do with the following depression that I went through, especially if one of these does end up being a Path experience. Also have noticed a return of the head pressure, though not as intense as before, generally it occurs in the nasal bridge/forehead area, it hasn't really been too much of a problem so far.

Generally, there is a quality of ‘spaciousness’ that has persisted since the end of August which is noticeable even if I sit for 5 or 10 minutes in most cases. I wouldn’t say I notice any drastic changes in my overall behavior, though the above paragraphs might paint me as a crazy person, it has always been like that, so nothing new there emoticon
My wife says I’ve become more patient lately emoticon
Last couple of weeks I’ve noticed more of a desire to sit and hope to bump up my daily sitting time again once we get back home next week, if not before.

Best wishes to everyone,
JW

RE: JW's Monthly update
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10/30/20 9:02 AM as a reply to J W.
I’m slightly hesitant to post all of this because I think it makes me feel a little bit vulnerable, however, I’m going to post it because I think it’s a good practice for me to expose the parts of myself that I feel vulnerable about / protective of. Please be warned that it may be too personal for what these logs are normally meant for, I’m not really sure what the ‘official’ guidelines are here.

So, it’s a few days from the election, and in about a week I could be looking back on this post in a few quite different ways, and I am really curious how I’m going to feel. On some levels maybe it’s silly to get obsessed and anxious about ‘causes and conditions’, but on a more relative level, it seems like a big deal. It’s at least a big deal to me because I feel like so much of my upbringing is wrapped around the conservative, fundamentalist mindset, that I’ve really seen it and seen (through) it, and it can be extremely depressing to understand how little some people care about anyone except themselves, and even more depressing seeing this mentality win elections on a national level with a plurality of support, and even MORE depressing if they win by cheating (which they do) without a plurality of support.

And from there it gets even more complex for me on a personal level because that narcissism was engrained in me from such a young age that, out of ignorance, I adopted it into my own worldview for quite some time, using it to my advantage (or so I thought), adding to the problem, adding to the suffering of others, rather than lessening it. So as a result, today, I feel the need to constantly and deliberately keep my selfishness in check, sometimes obsessively so, as it does manifest in many different ways, one of the easiest places for narcissism to thrive being around meditation practice. In many ways, the way I look at it, it is *the* problem, the root of all suffering, for all beings, as narcissism is essentially ignorance, and that same ignorance is present in even the most subtle levels of perception and awareness. We ignorantly cling to the assumption that the objects of our perception are be inherently existent, because we perceive them. When really, perception of an object just means that it is ‘appearing’ to us (via our various senses).
Enough election talk.

On an emotional level, I still feel a little all over the place (but I think much of that has to do with environmental conditions, and by that I mean the fact that things are f*cked right now). Cycling through moods over the past month, though quite cognizant of the cycling at any given point. On a few occasions I saw myself acting assertively and wrathfully (an internet argument here and there, things like that), which ended up causing me lots of self-reflection for a few days, and one period of 1-2 days where I was so distracted by my own thoughts that it was difficult for me to focus and be present in social situations.

It all has more of a deliberate feeling now. Kind of like when you are drunk or something - you know you’re being an idiot, but you act the fool regardless. I know going into a Facebook argument that it’s absolutely pointless, but I do it anyway - why? Well, selfishness is the obvious reason. I want to project onto this person, who I view as ‘other’, my own fears and traumas. Though, perhaps there is some insight to be learned from these situations? There is maybe a ‘protector’ instinct there, when I see someone getting attacked on Facebook I want to jump in and stand up for them. That view has many limitations. Though, I would like to think the external damage done by arguing with an anti-abortion zealot in someone’s Facebook comments is relatively limited, but who knows?

Practice-wise, averaging about 1-1.5 hours a day, my meditations have been quite intense at times, with cool experiences and all that stuff, dipping into formlessness on a couple of occasions I think (feeling a shared consciousness with an object which was perceived to be outside of my body? Body becoming extremely large/small?) Low-level light jhanas pretty much accessible anytime I sit, sometimes with a tinge of spaciousness and anatta that I usually associate with 4th jhana(?). Even throughout the day when not meditating, there is a light jhanic feel a lot of the time, or maybe a better way to describe it would just be a fluid self-sense (?)

Whats the point of talking about all this stuff? All this - the cycles of insight, the sitting, the experiences, may all just be delusions anyway. So much of what I talk about/think about/do is at the cognitive level. On a cognitive level, I “understand” the maps, I understand what should be and should not be expected from awakening, I understand what the (non-)goals are. But I don’t have the deeper, emotional, experiential understanding of these things: Heart practices and morality are really what’s important here. And the sitting should really be complimenting that - not the other way around. It’s a bit of the ‘golden shackles’ situation. Whatever cool experiences you have, you will not be any better off if you don’t deal with whatever new shadow sides emerge from any new insight experience.

Talking with one of my teachers, from more of a traditional Tibetan lineage, and I was telling him how I had the intention to incorporate more heartfulness practice and he was confused by the term. He said something like “all of our practices come from the heart”. Recently I have just been taking the heart as the object, maybe it really is that simple. It does feel like a lot of the time my consciousness is situated in my physical head, I’m interested in moving that center of consciousness into the heart chakra during meditation, maybe into the sacral/root chakras if I’m feeling particularly stressed, as this will often manifest as tightness and churning in the stomach for me.

And about psychedelics, since that is part of it, so I should report on it - I went 1 week without anything, 3ish weeks daily cannabis usage (not during working hours though) this month. The relationship between cannabis and meditating is complex. In some ways there can be a difference, for me actually I can be more focused when on cannabis, in other ways it’s not really all that different. Often times after meditating, when I’m sober, I *feel* high, and sometimes even after smoking, I feel bored and uninspired. Though at higher doses, for instance like an edible, the effects of cannabis are noticeable and may actually lead to strong A&P events, which should be approached cautiously. But what’s been more interesting to me is understanding how cannabis comes into play with my cycling. I did notice when I was already hopped up, like during a period of A&P / heightened awareness, cannabis even put me further over the edge to where I was getting uncomfortable and at times even socially anxious. Normally, it doesn’t do that at all. So I’m beginning to think more about recognizing these emotional cycles and basing my usage around that.
Anyone reading this, hope it doesn’t come across as preachy. I am preaching to myself. May it be helpful to someone, may it be helpful to myself.

RE: JW's Monthly update
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12/2/20 11:41 AM as a reply to J W.
A lot has happened since my last post, I’ll try to keep it as concise as possible. I have been working with a therapist which has done wonders, we are using Internal Family Systems as the primary treatment which is similar to the ‘inner child’ stuff, basically getting in touch with the neglected and vulnerable parts of yourself (which I have a lot of!!)

Meditation has been steady at 1.5-2hrs a day.  Usually at least 1 session of WHM a day, usually twice.  Meditation is a mix of vipassana, samatha, and metta. I use a variety of techniques, usually some form of noting as well as concentration. Usually the object is either the heart, the breath, or just the various sensations of the body.  Really nothing too complex, just sitting.

Last weekend I took acid for the first time in a long time (1 hit), and all I can say is Sweet Baby Jesus. It’s difficult to describe the experience but I did take notes throughout.
As it kicked in, things became a little intense, so I lay down on the bed for a few minutes, feeling my body become smaller and smaller, perception fading, classic ‘ego death’ type experience, though I was still somewhat conscious the whole time.
After that I got up, and it was like the veil had been lifted and I was able to see reality for what it truly is.

I remember thinking the whole time that “it’s all true” - all these Buddhist dudes were right. Like, all this emptiness stuff I’ve been reading about - this is it, it’s right here, I can actually see how it’s all connected, and we’re just all kind of swimming in this primordial soup. Everything has consciousness, or at least that’s the way it seemed. And yet, everything is exactly as it appears, at the same time. Theoretically, and at times perhaps in deep meditation, I have had glimpses of this, but on this trip here it was, *everywhere*, anywhere I looked. It *felt* like a direct experience, Path experience, if you want to call it that.

I still do not know how to process this. A true Path experience is one that is permanent, so it is too soon as of yet to tell whether this LSD experience is one that will have lasting impacts on my life, but at this moment, I am inclined to think that, whatever it was that happened was so vivid, so real, and so profound, I don’t think I’m going to be forgetting it any time soon.

Already towards the end of the trip I was feeling somewhat evangelical about it, like I had this amazing peak experience and now I want to go tell the world. Obviously, this is a shadow side. I’m not about to go running around telling everyone the good news. But I do think it’s now important to begin the journey of understanding *how* to talk about it, *who* to talk about it with, and *when* to talk about it with them, most importantly, *why* I want to talk about it.

Clearly there are a lot of mixed opinions on psychedelics within the meditation/Buddhist community, even here on DhO. And I think it's fair to say, at this point I'm getting more into Psychonaut territory than traditional Dharma. I myself have mixed opinions on it, but what I will say now is that I think psychedelics are accessible to anyone (it’s something anyone can do - ok, maybe not 'legally' do), and can be very helpful under certain circumstances, though it can be quite dangerous (I've actually had mostly bad experiences with it, but I mostly attribute that to lack of education/lack of respect while taking it). It may very well be that Buddhism is not really the right space for me to discuss and explore my particular experience, I’m not really attached to staying in the Buddhist space, even though for me personally it has been, and surely will continue to be, a really good model for awakening, I don’t think it’s necessarily the most appropriate language to use for communication with other people in general.

The obvious space for me to talk about this stuff that comes to mind is music: it’s something I have a lot of experience with, it’s universal/universally popular, use of psychedelics is generally accepted, and it’s meant to be shared, which is to say, it’s perhaps less invasive than other forms of communication, since people generally only listen to a song when they are interested in listening to it.

Here’s a few things I wrote on the trip:

“I write this for no other reason than to present and project this experience to the shared sense of consciousness. The truth of reality is that there is no separation between the self and the other. There is a sticky web of love that binds us all together, though we are all free, we do not exist independently.
The universe for both of us, the universe inside of us.”

“Let it wash like a wave of experience telling you that you know who you are”.

NB: I would not recommend LSD to most people, I’ve taken it about 10 times and most of them have been difficult experiences, a few, downright hellish. Once I went crazy for a whole week and was stuck in a dark night for about 10 years after that. This is actually the first time I’ve had a 100% ‘good’ trip. If you do take it, I would recommend educating yourself on it, do it in a good setting with good people.

Much love to everybody!
J W (John)

RE: JW's Monthly update
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12/3/20 9:17 PM as a reply to J W.
Hey JW, sounds like you've got some good stuff going on. I'm amazed at your persistence with psychedelics after all those bad trips! Once was enough for me!

RE: JW's Monthly update
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12/4/20 11:05 AM as a reply to agnostic.
Hahaha, yeah... maybe not the most intuitive path. I guess I am just that stubborn. After the first bad one which was the worst (when i was a teenager), I didn't touch psyches for a long time.  Started to dabble again in my mid 20's but still just had way too much emotional baggage and wasn't putting enough thought into setting and environment.  Only in the past few years, in my late 20's and now early 30's does it feel like I've gotten it right.  Mostly just doing small doses of Psilocybin, which I've found to be more manageable. 

It feels like I have finally had that profound spiritual psychedelic experience that I knew was possible, because I had heard of it happening to people, but never had myself.  Probably a big part of what I was searching for all these years in my experimenting with psyches. 

Regardless of how it plays out in the grand scheme of things, I think it's due in large part to meditation and Buddhist philosophy (and just more generally getting my shit together) that I was better equipped to make sense of and properly handle the psychedelic experience.

As of right now, I don't feel much of a need to dip further into psyches, though most likely I'll do it again at some point.  As always, I remain curious.

RE: JW's Monthly update
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12/4/20 10:55 PM as a reply to J W.
I made the mistake of trying a strong dose of LSD alone in a foreign city when I was 18. It worked out ok in the end but it was pretty hairy for a while. It definitely opened my mind up to other possibilities, although it also triggered some serious anxiety (which was probably there anyway and it just accelerated the process). After than I was scared of it and only ever did a small dose and a few shrooms. Actually just recalling this experience has helped me process some of the residual anxiety associated with it. emoticon

I've noticed that meditation itself can be pretty trippy though, especially A&P visuals and the dark night. Piti/sukha is very reminscent of ecstasy. It's quite nice being able to generate piti/sukha at will or trip out a bit. I usually do it for fun when I have to be with the kids but not really present, like watching films or in the playground or at birthday parties.

I feel like these drugs just forceably open gateways to experiences which are already there. I would be curious to try psyches again once I've purified my anxiety and the circumstances are right. I kind of feel like it would be a litmus test and might also reveal some other stuff I wouldn't otherwise see.

RE: JW's Monthly update
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12/5/20 5:12 AM as a reply to J W.
Hey John, great to see such an awesome practice! Great descriptions too, and consistent in a way that suggests more.

First thing, re. psychonaut vs. dharma practitioner: It may interest you to know that Prof. Robert Thurman (Uma's dad and also a highly realized yogi and academic) described the legendary mahasiddhas as "the psychonauts of the tradition".

Skillful use of psychedelics can allow for insight into layers of this 'thing' beyond the sense doors. Psychedelics heavily perturb consciousness, like throwing a brick into a pond, and the subsequent displacement of the 'waters' can reveal much about the most subtle levels of clinging that aren't normally accessible to the conceptual mind. It's been a long time since I took psychedelics myself so please know that I'm not implying that they're essential or necessary; merely that they are ethically-neutral 'tools' that can be used in a way that's conducive to penetrating the nature of samsara. The most important thing to bear in mind is that we shouldn't fall into intoxication or heedlessness, which is what the Buddha proscribed.

After that I got up, and it was like the veil had been lifted and I was able to see reality for what it truly is.

To your mind, what did the lifting of the veil reveal and what, in your words, would describe what reality "truly is"? I understand that it's difficult to express this stuff verbally, so use whichever analogies/metaphors you find most useful.
I remember thinking the whole time that “it’s all true” - all these Buddhist dudes were right. Like, all this emptiness stuff I’ve been reading about - this is it, it’s right here, I can actually see how it’s all connected, and we’re just all kind of swimming in this primordial soup.
Do you have any ideas as to what "this primordial soup" consists of or how it's being 'mixed in the pot', so to speak?

When you say "all this emptiness stuff", could you describe what that means to you right now?

I know, these sound like weird, perhaps even paradoxical questions but there's method to my madness...hahaha!
Everything has consciousness, or at least that’s the way it seemed. And yet, everything is exactly as it appears, at the same time.

Beautiful. Did everything 'have' consciousness, or would it make more sense to say that "everything is exactly as it appears" arising as consciousness? In other words, was there any distinction present or would a phrase like "world of appearances, simultaneously perfected" more accurately convey what was perceived?

It *felt* like a direct experience, Path experience, if you want to call it that.
It was a direct experience, but I would be less inclined to categorize it according to Path without knowing more.

I still do not know how to process this. A true Path experience is one that is permanent, so it is too soon as of yet to tell whether this LSD experience is one that will have lasting impacts on my life, but at this moment, I am inclined to think that, whatever it was that happened was so vivid, so real, and so profound, I don’t think I’m going to be forgetting it any time soon.

In most cases, the habitual patterning of personal karma will encroach again and reinstate the subject/object polarity. This is natural so don't worry too much about this realization remaining stable yet. The most important thing is the direct experiencing, which creates a conceptual placeholder in mind that we can refer back to continuously. You've tasted it, sampled the flavour of this exquisite banquet but it takes more work to find your place at the table.

Avoid clinging to the placeholder, or trying to recapture it. The harsh truth is that it's nothing special, even though it may feel that way. Instead, incline mind towards that 'space' and rest in it for increasingly longer periods.

Already towards the end of the trip I was feeling somewhat evangelical about it, like I had this amazing peak experience and now I want to go tell the world. Obviously, this is a shadow side. I’m not about to go running around telling everyone the good news. But I do think it’s now important to begin the journey of understanding *how* to talk about it, *who* to talk about it with, and *when* to talk about it with them, most importantly, *why* I want to talk about it.


Awesome, and very well put. Deep insight here, my friend. Love it.

Clearly there are a lot of mixed opinions on psychedelics within the meditation/Buddhist community, even here on DhO. And I think it's fair to say, at this point I'm getting more into Psychonaut territory than traditional Dharma. I myself have mixed opinions on it, but what I will say now is that I think psychedelics are accessible to anyone (it’s something anyone can do - ok, maybe not 'legally' do), and can be very helpful under certain circumstances, though it can be quite dangerous (I've actually had mostly bad experiences with it, but I mostly attribute that to lack of education/lack of respect while taking it). It may very well be that Buddhism is not really the right space for me to discuss and explore my particular experience, I’m not really attached to staying in the Buddhist space, even though for me personally it has been, and surely will continue to be, a really good model for awakening, I don’t think it’s necessarily the most appropriate language to use for communication with other people in general.

Totally understand where you're coming from here. Most of the complaints from dharma practitioners come from ignorance, fear and attachment to what they believe to be the Buddhadharma. As I've mentioned, the Buddha specifically proscribed substances which lead to heedlessness and inattentiveness, and for good reason. Your meditative chops afford you a unique skillset when it comes to navigating this territory, but I appreciate why you're concerned and I agree to some extent.

When you say "I'm not really attached to staying in the Buddhist space", there's one thing that I can say with regards to this and it comes from the bottom of my heart: Take refuge in the Three Jewels. Fully and completely. It would be pointless for me to say more on this, but fully putting your trust and faith in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha does something very special and important.

The obvious space for me to talk about this stuff that comes to mind is music: it’s something I have a lot of experience with, it’s universal/universally popular, use of psychedelics is generally accepted, and it’s meant to be shared, which is to say, it’s perhaps less invasive than other forms of communication, since people generally only listen to a song when they are interested in listening to it.

Musician here. If it helps you to integrate and actualize these realizations, then go at it with gusto!

“I write this for no other reason than to present and project this experience to the shared sense of consciousness. The truth of reality is that there is no separation between the self and the other. There is a sticky web of love that binds us all together, though we are all free, we do not exist independently.
The universe for both of us, the universe inside of us.”

Love it, love everything about it! What would you say that "sticky web of love that binds us all together" looks like? Is there more to than "love", and if so then what else was apparent?

“Let it wash like a wave of experience telling you that you know who you are”.

How would you, in your own words, define what this wave of experience is telling you about "who you are"?

I appreciate your caveats re. LSD. More people could do with understanding why the same dangers we can encounter on psychedelics can also occur with more advanced practices, e.g. Six Yogas of Naropa. Unless we have the capacity to handle and integrate what these experiences reveal about the nature of the thing, then we risk problems that can have long-lasting and life-changing effects. Seeing what samsara really 'is' could easily send most people into psychosis, and I don't say that lightly.

In closing, take refuge in the Three Jewels. Incline the mind via remembering what was experienced. Contemplate, integrate and actualize these insights however you see fit, and I wish you all the very best in your practice. 

RE: JW's Monthly update
Answer
12/5/20 10:34 AM as a reply to agnostic.
agnostic:

I've noticed that meditation itself can be pretty trippy though, especially A&P visuals and the dark night. Piti/sukha is very reminscent of ecstasy. It's quite nice being able to generate piti/sukha at will or trip out a bit. I usually do it for fun when I have to be with the kids but not really present, like watching films or in the playground or at birthday parties.

I feel like these drugs just forceably open gateways to experiences which are already there. I would be curious to try psyches again once I've purified my anxiety and the circumstances are right. I kind of feel like it would be a litmus test and might also reveal some other stuff I wouldn't otherwise see.

I totally agree. Meditation can induce these sort of natural hallucinogenic states and it's really nice to be able to do it on your own without any external substance. One of my goals with meditation is to get to a place where I am able to enter into these states at will, jhanic states or states of bliss/compassion/piti.  I'm not yet as consistent with this as I'd like to be... there are times when I feel like I can do it but sometimes there is still too much thought and distraction.  This is something I think only concentration practice will help with.

"I feel like these drugs just forceably open gateways to experiences which are already there."

I think that's a good way to put it.  They can certainly induce these peak experiences which can yield some great insights, if you are properly prepared - it's a tool.  I would be surprised if these psychedelic states, or at least really similar states, weren't accessible to a super advanced meditators.   (After all, it is all *already there*).  You hear stories of these advanced yogis taking large amounts of LSD to no effect. It's like they are just tripping all the time. So yes- litmus test indeed emoticon

RE: JW's Monthly update
Answer
12/5/20 3:17 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Hey Tommy,
Thank you for your response… these are some very thought-provoking questions, it gives me a lot to chew on, in a way that feels productive though.

I want to spend some more time on this, I think it would be worth it for me. I feel there is opportunity for great insight here for me, and your questions are pointing me in the right direction. For now I just want to say thank you for the interest and for taking the time - it is truly heartwarming, and I am grateful.

J W

RE: JW's Monthly update
Answer
12/6/20 3:40 AM as a reply to J W.
J W:

You hear stories of these advanced yogis taking large amounts of LSD to no effect. It's like they are just tripping all the time.

Consensus reality is a meticulously orchestrated trip and it takes a huge amount of energy to maintain the fiction of being a conscious free agent in the world emoticon

RE: JW's Monthly update
Answer
12/7/20 2:04 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Hey Tommy,
My apologies for the delay in response here. I have spent the past few days in what has felt very much like a Review phase, which I think is in part due to the natural progress of insight, but also spurred to some degree by your questions, so for that I thank you.

I felt it best to just proceed with a new post, actually more of a novella, as there has been a lot more of thought, and then answer your questions directly from there. 

I would list out all of the usual disclaimers here, but you don't seem like a judgemental person at all so, I'll just say this is probably way oververbose, grandiose or just sloppy, which is just the result of my karma and my narcissistic tendencies, probably compounded by the lack of sleep I've had over the last few nights, which seems to happen to me once a month or so as part of these natural cycles.  Please don't feel the need to spend too much time on this, just because I did. I feel that great benefit has already come from this.
Lastly, I don't know if any of these answers are "right"... I am mostly going off the cuff here!  And I also want to add that I do not find myself to be in any unique position here in terms of my realizations.  Ok!



Firstly, a few more thoughts on psychonaut / Buddhism / not-Buddhism, because looking back I'm not sure I really said exactly what I wanted to, and it is important to my realization. Honestly I think I just did not put the right amount of thought into it: 

I consider myself to be a Buddhist.  Not for any reason other than that I have found the Buddhist teachings to be completely true.  It has been somewhat of a gradual process; I was not raised Buddhist.  When I first met the Dharma 2-3 years ago, there was very much a sense that these teachings were putting into words things that I had long thought about, things about the nature of perception and the mind, things that I had questioned since at least my teenage years, and had come up with some partial answers to, but the Buddhist answers were far more complete and lucid than anything I had come up with.

As my meditation practice gained traction, and I began to gain some experiential knowledge, the Buddhist phenomonology and philosophy became less and less of a theory, and more of a reality, and not just "a" reality, but reality itself.  By the time I started this log, probably well before, I had very little doubt at all in the veracity of the teachings.  With this LSD experience, I feel like any remaining doubt has been completely eliminated. The laws of dependent arising, the nature of suffering and samsara, the path to eliminating suffering, these things are as real to me as my own body, the laws of physics, math, or anything else. Though, due to the nature of samsara and clinging, I don't always remember these as the truths that they are, because I still get wrapped up in my delusions. 

On another level, it doesn't matter what I consider myself to be.  I have found on quite a few occasions that my very identifying as this or that or either/both can contribute to hard feelings.  And I have found myself attempting to change that interpersonal or societal dynamic as a result.  Honestly, I am just getting to the point where I don't care if someone thinks of me as a Buddhist or not, or a Christian or not. It really just doesn't really matter unless I am somehow causing someone harm from the self-identification that I project, in which case I want to be aware of that.

So to clarify a bit more what I mean by the statement, "I'm not really attached to staying in the Buddhist space".
I have much more to say on this but I am going to try to keep it brief.

When I say 'Buddhist space', I don't mean Dharma Overground specifically, though this is a 'Buddhist space' (a rather unconventional once, I should say).  I am talking about Buddhism in general as an external means of communication. 
To give a little context: I am a believer in the concept of enlightened beings being 'hidden in plain sight' everywhere among us, and I believe that they come in all shapes and sizes, and they may have various sets or levels of attainments.  Whether or not this is true is beside the point, but I believe it to be true and I believe it is to my benefit to believe it to be true.  And if it is true, it means the vast majority of them have probably never heard anything about Buddhism.
So much has been said on this already, but it's like Chris M says a lot: This is human stuff.

All of this is to say that, somehow, this LSD experience was so indescribable and so real and present, it somehow reified the above statement for me.  Like, there's no way that "this" can be described even through Buddhism, because it's completely outside of any dualistic language, outside of language itself.  After all, 'There is no path, there is no attainment, there is no wisdom to attain'.  These words now ring true for me in a way they didn't before.  "This" is just the present moment and I don't see how Buddhism is even that relevant outside of pointing you to what already exists.  It's relevant for me because it's the method I've used and it's worked, but I don't know that means anything beyond just that. It certainly seems like there's other methods out there that work for other people because my life is a result of their kindness.

Just one brief example: my wife is in academia and she specifically studies systems of knowledge.  We frequently talk about her research and writers (Virginia Woolf, Tom Hardy, James Joyce, etc), and when we talk about this stuff it feels to me like we're talking about Dharma.  Not like, "these two schools of thought are vaguely touching on similar concepts in interesting ways", no.  These guys are all talking about the same. damn. thing.  Yes, the language is different, yes, there are differences in how enlightenment is talked about, but it's the same. At least anywhere that perception or the mind is explored.  I am probably not doing this justice but to give a little more context of what I'm talking about, the concepts of 'Flaneur' or 'the sublime' come to mind. I just had to paste this quote from Baudelaire (re: the Flaneur), it is too on point not to:

"The crowd is his element, as the air is that of birds and water of fishes. His passion and his profession are to become one flesh with the crowd. For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world—impartial natures which the tongue can but clumsily define. The spectator is a prince who everywhere rejoices in his incognito. The lover of life makes the whole world his family, just like the lover of the fair sex who builds up his family from all the beautiful women that he has ever found, or that are or are not—to be found; or the lover of pictures who lives in a magical society of dreams painted on canvas. Thus the lover of universal life enters into the crowd as though it were an immense reservoir of electrical energy. Or we might liken him to a mirror as vast as the crowd itself; or to a kaleidoscope gifted with consciousness, responding to each one of its movements and reproducing the multiplicity of life and the flickering grace of all the elements of life."

... a kaleidoscope gifted with consciousness...



Dharma is truth, and everything can be Dharma, therefore, everything is Dharma.  I don't need to find new relationships that are more Buddhist oriented, (though I rejoice in any Buddhist relationship, new or old).  The relationships I have are perfectly alright - my family, my friends, and yeah, my Sangha. All I have to "do" is to continue to cultivate and bring lovingkindness to those already existing relationships.  Family is Sangha.  Friends are Sangha.  Collaboration is Sangha.  I don't need to change or craft new spaces that speak in a language perfectly suited to my own constructions, I just need to find the right ones for me that already exist, and for me it doesn't have to be a Buddhist space.  It just has to be a space where people are doing what they love to some degree.  Eventually I want that space to extend to all perceived phenomena, where that can be any space at all, because those spaces do exist everywhere.


Moving on... I have struggled to find the right way to put my experience into words over the past week.  I feel like there are a few different aspects to it. But as I still have your questions to answer, there will be a sequel to this novel, so I am going to let my subconscious mind do the talking here (be warned, this is the mushy part emoticon ):


As I finally drifted off in the early hours of the morning, I slipped into a vivid dream. This was a gathering place of some sort, a celebration, on a beautiful, wide river, full of fanciful, human-like characters of all shapes and sizes, travelling together in little bands or tribes.  These were magical creatures, this was perhaps a Dakini realm.  I found myself thrown into this realm, lost.  I was observing the different guilds, and the whole shabang, from a close distance but from the outside. Sometimes approaching the creatures, who from what I remember were all nice to me, since they were clearly highly enlightened beings. But, I felt kind of like a lunatic, like a lost wanderer.  I could not communicate verbally with them.

Then, I spotted someone that stuck out to me, who was standing inside some sort of medieval looking booth. A warrior of some sort, with gold plated armour, with a little bit of a viking look to him.  (Maybe that's from the video game I had been playing earlier emoticon).  When I approached this strange warrior, he sang me his song.  Though it was music unlike anything I have ever heard (it was kinda like black/death metal), I could understand the words. "Break through... the part of you... that's holding to... long forgotten faces".  As I heard these words I began to cry, as I begin to cry writing this now.  These are the words to one of my songs (in real life).  Though I could not communicate anything beyond reciting those same words back to him, it was enough for him to understand that we were singing the same song, and we wept together in communiion for a brief moment, before he was pulled away by the rest of his guild, though I did get his business card (LOL).

In that moment, I felt like I belonged. And what I have come to realize over the past few weeks/months is that all I have ever wanted, is to belong.  What is this 'belonging'?  I think it is simply resting in the 'knowing' of this present moment.  Resting in that place of knowing is going for refuge.  It is the same mind that I experienced on the acid. It is the same mind I experience when going for refuge or practicing Metta or any other heart practice. A mind of compassion is a mind of going for refuge.  Wherever there is consciousness and awareness, there can be/there is compassion, which could be anywhere.







TBC....

RE: JW's Monthly update
Answer
12/7/20 1:47 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
To put these responses in proper context, I wrote most of it just a day or 2 after the trip when I was still in the afterglow of it (in phase 1 from below), and these visuals were still quite vivid. I marked my more recent thoughts with a ***

And FYI this is what I noticed about my changing experience of the last week:

1a, there was definitely an afterglow type effect which lasted a few days, which very much felt like what I would imagine spontaneous bodhicitta to feel like. Just an abundance of lovingkindness, coming naturally, without effort. (1-3 days after)
1b, there was a sort of knowledge of emptiness, the kind that is hard to describe, but I can tell you the this knowledge made me feel like everything was going to be okay, even in death. And it also brought a sense of satisfaction that 'everything is exactly as it is', that I was already doing exactly what I needed to be doing in life, and that I was exactly who I needed to be. (1-3 days after)
2, there was a sort of disillusionment period where these realizations became less accessible, my mind once again became a bit cluttered, and my meditations were a little bit frustrating (3-5 days after)
3, finally, I was able to get back to this place of knowing compassion, I was able to remember the feelings from #1 again, I think this was partially due to me coming back to my devotional tantra practice (described in the first journal entry) which seemed to help keep my concentration focused, partially due to investigaitoin and review of the experience. (5-8 days after)
4, current state is quite content considering the lack of sleep. I have cried happy tears several times today and I very rarely cry (maybe this is due to lack of sleep). Right now it seems generally easier to develop a mind of compassion.



"To your mind, what did the lifting of the veil reveal and what, in your words, would describe what reality "truly is"? I understand that it's difficult to express this stuff verbally, so use whichever analogies/metaphors you find most useful."


***Now the perhaps more important aspect to this is that what reality ‘truly is’ is just exactly what appears to our ordinary consciousness, though I feel that I’ve covered that in my last post

This will probably sound ridiculous but here goes:
There is certainly an infinite or fractal-like quality to things, and there is also no true separation of objects, so there’s this kind of dependent-arising feel to everything. And yet, these sort of ‘consciousness wells’ which form living entities, which are sort of arising independently out of the environment but ultimately not really separated from the environment. That’s not to say what we consider ‘non-living’ does not also have consciousness. But, there seems to be something unique about a living creature, like a human, or a cat, and especially places like eyes and ears, places where the eye sense and ear sense come into contact with the external. These appear sort of like black holes, or portals. This is where the magic happens, so to speak, where the internal consciousness comes into contact with the external. So entities, and objects in general, in one sense form sort of like planets, they just sort of materialize out of the necessity for an object to perform a given function within samsara, and they are created out of whatever junk/trash is sort of in the immediate vicinity.

It sometimes feels like we’re just kind of wading around in this beautiful soup of trash, this space jungle filled to the brim with fellow travelers running about, bumping into each other, etc etc, and it doesn’t seem like it should work in any way, but somehow it does. Kind of like New York City I guess


*** kind of looks like this:
(https://thenewstack.io/deep-learning-neural-networks-google-deep-dream/)

"Do you have any ideas as to what "this primordial soup" consists of or how it's being 'mixed in the pot', so to speak?"


I honestly don’t know if I have a good answer for ‘what it consists of’, that’s a really interesting question though. What I can say is that everything is exactly as it appears while simultaneously infinitely complex and interdependent. So, it, and how it’s being mixed, is the result of karma, and the various parts, molecules, pieces, of the various objects. And the result of karma is nothing other than exactly what appears to us, although because of our self-grasping delusions, we usually cannot see completely what is appearing to us, we can only see like the nominal appearance of things. Perhaps what I saw was simply a less deluded visual representation of causes and conditions? I’m not sure… it is interesting to think about what actually holds this stuff together. Like, from a physics standpoint… what do gravitational force consist of?

***I think one factor of ‘what it consists of’ is consciousness and awareness. And that consciousness element is maybe no different than a mind of compassion.






"When you say "all this emptiness stuff", could you describe what that means to you right now?"



Like what you are saying later on, really the only way to talk about it is by using sort of generic placeholders for the the ‘this-ness’ that is our constant, direct experience of the present moment, which we generally do not realize moment to moment, but is still there. So in once sense it is simply the current experience, whatever that experience may be, exactly as it is.
On the other hand it is so much more than that. That there can be the possibility of ‘something existing’, for reasons we will probably never fully understand, because that means there is the possibility of boundless, infinite joy arising out of something completely mundane, like the washing of a dish, is just truly a beautiful thing, is itself a cause for that joy to arise, which is also both fascinating and humbling.
A lot of my understanding of emptiness comes from didactic teachings, like meditating on the emptiness of the body or the mind, (think like Rob Burbea’s meditations on emptiness). From a theoretical perspective, I think of it as the way that things exists, so it’s sort of a way of looking at things, like by investigating or noting using the 3C’s.
We have these different sorts of ways that we’ve come up with that point us towards this thing that sort of exists outside of existence, outside of time and space, and yet, is itself time and space.

*** So i feel like practice at this point should be aiming towards more consistent realization of that 'thisness'




"Beautiful. Did everything 'have' consciousness, or would it make more sense to say that "everything is exactly as it appears" arising as consciousness? In other words, was there any distinction present or would a phrase like "world of appearances, simultaneously perfected" more accurately convey what was perceived?"


I think that is a more accurate description. It was like I was imputing consciousness onto various objects, not like a separate consciousness of “this is what it’s like to be a book” or anything like that, but more just like a shared consciousness. Like ‘this book’ is a living object that I feel this sense of connection to. It’s similar to states that I have found myself in during meditation before (I think of it as 6th jhana kind of stuff) or when listening to or playing music. So I think fundamentally, it’s kind of like empathy or compassion. It’s a knowledge or understanding of what it’s truly like to be someone/something else but weirdly, not in a way that’s really any different from your own experience. Empathy in a way is just this shared sense of compassion based around some mutual experience.

*** expanded on this in my first post




"In most cases, the habitual patterning of personal karma will encroach again and reinstate the subject/object polarity. This is natural so don't worry too much about this realization remaining stable yet."


*** At this point there is definitely a lot that has faded. But, there does seem to be some sort of lasting effect. Still kind of sorting it out.


"Avoid clinging to the placeholder, or trying to recapture it. The harsh truth is that it's nothing special, even though it may feel that way. Instead, incline mind towards that 'space' and rest in it for increasingly longer periods."


Thank you for this. Like any profound meditation experience, there can be attachment, it is always good to be reminded of this.
.
.
(Cutting out the Buddhist - space stuff since I already covered that in my last post).
.
.
“I write this for no other reason than to present and project this experience to the shared sense of consciousness. The truth of reality is that there is no separation between the self and the other. There is a sticky web of love that binds us all together, though we are all free, we do not exist independently.
The universe for both of us, the universe inside of us.”

"Love it, love everything about it! What would you say that "sticky web of love that binds us all together" looks like? Is there more to than "love", and if so then what else was apparent?"


I don’t know if I can get much more detailed from a visual perspective than my above descriptions since the memories were more vivid at that time. There is more to it than just love, though I think lovingkindness is kind of like this driving force behind it, perhaps the thing that actually binds things together - perhaps gravity itself? There is karma, but karma is the result of action and intention as well as the cause of action and intention, so lovingkindness and karma are kind of inseparable. Or more simply, wisdom and compassion.
“Let it wash like a wave of experience telling you that you know who you are”.

"How would you, in your own words, define what this wave of experience is telling you about "who you are"?"


I would say it is a knowing. It is a resting into this knowing that everything is exactly as it should be, of "thisness". But, there is a element of ‘doing’ associated with this know-’ing’, that doing is in essence nothing other than your own consciousness, your own awareness.



"I appreciate your caveats re. LSD. More people could do with understanding why the same dangers we can encounter on psychedelics can also occur with more advanced practices, e.g. Six Yogas of Naropa. Unless we have the capacity to handle and integrate what these experiences reveal about the nature of the thing, then we risk problems that can have long-lasting and life-changing effects. Seeing what samsara really 'is' could easily send most people into psychosis, and I don't say that lightly."

To be clear I am ultimately thankful for all of those experiences, I just feel like it would be irresponsible to not be honest about those experiences. I don’t mean to scare anyone away from it or anything like that.


"In closing, take refuge in the Three Jewels. Incline the mind via remembering what was experienced. Contemplate, integrate and actualize these insights however you see fit, and I wish you all the very best in your practice. "


Thanks very much for the time you’ve put into this. It has been very helpful to me, I hope it has been beneficial to you as well in some way. Thank you also for the reminders and encouragement to practice.

emoticon
John

RE: JW's Monthly update
Answer
12/8/20 5:44 AM as a reply to J W.
Outstanding, and thank you so much for such a detailed and heartfelt reply. Your words brought a huge smile to my face and a warmth to my heart, so I very much appreciate you taking the time to lay this out. I've made a resolution not to be so wordy and detailed, since it's creating problems that don't need to be there when discussing this stuff, so I'll keep it brief.
using sort of generic placeholders for the the ‘this-ness’ that is our constant, direct experience of the present moment, which we generally do not realize moment to moment, but is still there

Instead of "this-ness", think of it more like "thusness" or "suchness" since these appearances are empty and spontaneously arising. Ultimately, as you've seen, there's no this or that and it's a subtle sleight-of-mind at play when we get caught up in that reification.

What I can say is that everything is exactly as it appears while simultaneously infinitely complex and interdependent. So, it, and how it’s being mixed, is the result of karma, and the various parts, molecules, pieces, of the various objects. 

Nicely put, and spot on in regards to the question.

Empathy in a way is just this shared sense of compassion based around some mutual experience.

Deep insight. For putting this into practice, think about how the suffering of others is literally our own suffering. We think of our own suffering as being different to that of other sentient beings, but in actuality there is no such distinction.

There is more to it than just love, though I think lovingkindness is kind of like this driving force behind it, perhaps the thing that actually binds things together - perhaps gravity itself?

Excellent. Remember there are four immeasurables, so try to cultivate sympathetic joy and equanimity alongside that loving-kindness and compassion.

But, there is a element of ‘doing’ associated with this know-’ing’

Karma means actions, which ties back into your insights into the nature of karma as being what gives rise to appearances.

I just feel like it would be irresponsible to not be honest about those experiences. I don’t mean to scare anyone away from it or anything like that.

Totally understand. Your concerns come from a sincere wish to not lead others into confusion, which is noble in and of itself.

Keep up the good work and thanks again!

RE: JW's Monthly update
Answer
12/8/20 9:26 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Thanks Tommy. I know I waded into a deep end for a bit on that last one but don't worry, I'm fine.  

One thing that I was kind of struggling with yesterday was finding the intention around making further progress.  I don't think I've "made it past" 6th Jhana much if ever in my practice (unless the lsd trip was that).

Intellectually, I know that in order to in order to truly understand and therefore truly eliminate suffering for all living beings, we must attain insight into nonduality and 7th/8th+ Jhanas. Otherwise, we can't know if we are truly helping or hurting.  But, it kind of seems like blind faith for me at this point, that this sort of cultivating of compassion and sympathy/acceptance (which is quite real in the moment) is all that matters.  Any pointers on that?

RE: JW's Monthly update
Answer
12/8/20 9:27 AM as a reply to J W.
Intellectually, I know that in order to in order to truly understand and therefore truly eliminate suffering for all living beings, we must attain insight into nonduality and 7th/8th+ Jhanas. Otherwise, we can't know if we are truly helping or hurting.  But, it kind of seems like blind faith for me at this point, that this sort of cultivating of compassion and sympathy/acceptance is all that matters.  Any pointers on that?

As far as I know, the Buddha only prescribed the first four jhanas so don't get too hung up on formless realms. The main purpose of getting into those states is so that we can become familiar with formlessness and subtle habitual patterns implying "space", "consciousness", "nothingness" and perception itself. They're all just mental formations that are already present in your day-to-day experience, so you can penetrate them without full absorption.

Cultivation of the four immeasurables, in my experience, can be considerably more powerful in moving along the Path.

You've got a beautiful heart, my friend; share that and spread those feelings into the world.

RE: JW's Monthly update
Answer
12/9/20 12:04 AM as a reply to J W.
J W:
Thanks Tommy. I know I waded into a deep end for a bit on that last one but don't worry, I'm fine.  

One thing that I was kind of struggling with yesterday was finding the intention around making further progress.  I don't think I've "made it past" 6th Jhana much if ever in my practice (unless the lsd trip was that).

Intellectually, I know that in order to in order to truly understand and therefore truly eliminate suffering for all living beings, we must attain insight into nonduality and 7th/8th+ Jhanas. Otherwise, we can't know if we are truly helping or hurting.  But, it kind of seems like blind faith for me at this point, that this sort of cultivating of compassion and sympathy/acceptance (which is quite real in the moment) is all that matters.  Any pointers on that?

You can either go around "what is" and try to get "what is not" and keep being embeddd in such experiences or emoticon you can go straight into "what is" and watch it to death and be purified by being awake in it. 

I suggest you master as much acceptance you can, forget about LSD, and sit with what is painfully obvious, keep noting "uncertainty, doubt, inability to continue, stuck, unpleasant, unpleasant, uncertainty, self-pity, sadness, hopelessness, unpleasant, lost, desire for deliverance, etc ..." for the entire duration of the sit. 

Jhana and Brahmaviharas are all fine but they are beating around the bush. At one stage it comes down to facing your own demons and naming them so they are seen for what they are hence letting them pass away in piece. At some stage you gotta be all naked and ready to be hit by it all emoticon It's all fluff anyway but you have to see this to be free from it. 

This is just my view on this and if you are not ready to face this it's ok. I certainly understand that. I have been delaying it for about 8 years which were rather miserable. But there is no way back nor is there way around it. Only through it. 

All the best wishes to you mate! emoticon 

RE: JW's Monthly update
Answer
12/9/20 9:52 AM as a reply to Papa Che Dusko.
Papa Che Dusko:
J W:
Thanks Tommy. I know I waded into a deep end for a bit on that last one but don't worry, I'm fine.  

One thing that I was kind of struggling with yesterday was finding the intention around making further progress.  I don't think I've "made it past" 6th Jhana much if ever in my practice (unless the lsd trip was that).

Intellectually, I know that in order to in order to truly understand and therefore truly eliminate suffering for all living beings, we must attain insight into nonduality and 7th/8th+ Jhanas. Otherwise, we can't know if we are truly helping or hurting.  But, it kind of seems like blind faith for me at this point, that this sort of cultivating of compassion and sympathy/acceptance (which is quite real in the moment) is all that matters.  Any pointers on that?

You can either go around "what is" and try to get "what is not" and keep being embeddd in such experiences or emoticon you can go straight into "what is" and watch it to death and be purified by being awake in it. 

I suggest you master as much acceptance you can, forget about LSD, and sit with what is painfully obvious, keep noting "uncertainty, doubt, inability to continue, stuck, unpleasant, unpleasant, uncertainty, self-pity, sadness, hopelessness, unpleasant, lost, desire for deliverance, etc ..." for the entire duration of the sit. 

Jhana and Brahmaviharas are all fine but they are beating around the bush. At one stage it comes down to facing your own demons and naming them so they are seen for what they are hence letting them pass away in piece. At some stage you gotta be all naked and ready to be hit by it all emoticon It's all fluff anyway but you have to see this to be free from it. 

This is just my view on this and if you are not ready to face this it's ok. I certainly understand that. I have been delaying it for about 8 years which were rather miserable. But there is no way back nor is there way around it. Only through it. 

All the best wishes to you mate! emoticon 


Hey Che, thanks man!  That's good advice.  Lately i've been mostly interested in things like washing dishes, going on walks, playing basketball, making music, talking to friends, hanging out with my wife, playing with my cat, and meditating.  I feel like my log can be way over the top, i think partially because this is the first time I have ever talked about any of this stuff to anyone... 

RE: JW's Monthly update
Answer
12/9/20 9:55 AM as a reply to J W.
Oh, another thing I've been thinking about a lot lately -- getting out of the damn house and doing some traveling! (whenever that might be...)

RE: JW's Monthly update
Answer
12/9/20 11:18 AM as a reply to J W.
J W:
Oh, another thing I've been thinking about a lot lately -- getting out of the damn house and doing some traveling! (whenever that might be...)

Nature hiking is always a good alternative unless you are thinking about gambling, wild parties and expensive escorts emoticon in that case Vegas baby emoticon 

RE: JW's Monthly update
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12/9/20 11:23 AM as a reply to Papa Che Dusko.
Lol! I was thinking about coming to your house and jamming actually. Sorry i haven't gotten back to you on that tune. ive been a little scattered working on a bunch of stuff, i want to get to it soon though.

RE: JW's Monthly update
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1/6/21 2:01 PM as a reply to J W.
So this may be my last entry for a while, more on that later. I want to take some time to be explicit about my practice as I feel I’ve sort of gotten away from that in my log the past few entries. Part of that is simply that I don’t often pay enough attention to remember what I am doing when I sit, perhaps this is to my detriment, but I do find that I can get into mindsets where I am overanalyzing what I am doing, reflecting, thinking, etc, and I just generally find it better to observe all of the analyzing stuff as “thinking” or “reflecting” and just follow where my mind wants to go. But I’ve given some thought over the past few days and want to try to put this down. I’m also going to try to avoid any consulting MCTB or other teachings just to record my bare experience as best I can in my own terms, right or wrong, to give an accurate picture, starting with the micro (sitting practice) and spiraling outward from there into some of the macro and life stuff.

Daily practice is around 1-2 hours, throughout the work day I will do shorter sits, like 15-20 minutes, followed by usually a longer sit in the evening, 30-45 minutes. Tools: Wim Hof Method, Ujjayi breathing, Noting, Burbea’s meditations, MCTB POI knowledge, Devotional tantra, usually cannabis in the evenings.

A description I wrote down the other day:
Yesterday I could distinctly recognize the various stages of insight. Some sort of A&P experience (which I don’t remember at the moment) lead to a very palpable fear which I observed which then turned into a ‘closeness to death’ feeling, followed by a sort of ‘gut check’ moment. The answer (love) eventually emerged, which was very empowering and led me to a movement into the Titan (?) realm wherein I felt very powerful, like my body was really large. *At the time I felt* this Titan realm in a sense was another A&P so the whole process kind of loops back around on itself. (**I will add here sometimes I will enter into Micro-fruition here, which I think of as mindsets of knowing, usually nonverbal, but you come out with some realization**) Weird cause you have to stay one step above the process but can’t just go through the motions, so you have to actually be fully in the experience in order to actually progress. So there is trust involved. Mainly trusting yourself.

As far as my micro-level techniques -

Samatha practice: Focusing on the emptiness of the body, and using the breath, I imagine the body being filled with a viscous, honey-like substance that I sort of wade around in with my awareness and breath. Sometimes here I notice ‘structures’ which can then be investigated and revealed to be empty, which leads to this sort of ‘Magic Eye’ effect where perception itself is sort of hollowed, empty, and viscous. I play with moving the center of awareness to different parts of the body - the abdomen, the heart, the head. I think of this as more of a Samatha practice, it can be calming and lead to generating Piti, which can then become the object of meditation.

Voidsurfing (Vipassana(?)): More of a high precision type of awareness, I follow the tip of the breath sensation (or just the tip of awareness itself), sometimes following it from the very top to the very bottom, at the top of the breath, consciousness being based more in the head/crown, following it down towards the abdomen and bottom of the spine, so there is a sense of dropping / surfing down the breath with the out-breath. With the out-breath there is also an aspect of Voidness; I am not sure if I have had a true cessation, but in this exercise I have experienced gaps in awareness or ‘blips’ where my consciousness fades, sometimes coming back in with sort of enhanced A&P like perception. This can also be quite powerful combining it with breathing exercises like WHM or Ujjayi. Sometimes when “dropping out” I have noticed twitching in my arms or back. Depending on my macro state this can be sometimes quite intense, and when it is, it can feel sort of like I’m getting sucked into a black hole, so if it does get too intense, I just think of it as like a big wave that I’m riding, or just sort of wading in the outskirts of. So like hanging out halfway down the parabola, so to speak.

Metta: this is basically just generating compassion, either for the self or someone else, either/or/both. I look at this as the fuel tank. It’s the most important thing. Here I just try to stay as much in my heart as possible, especially if I feel like I’m getting too much ‘in my head’ or ‘in my feelings’. Just sink the centre of awareness into the heart (which is not always possible, but for me it seems I’ve gotten a little better at it), almost like your consciousness is underwater or something. All I can say is you need this heart power.

Subtle mind: This usually happens before bed, or late at night, it’s a little similar to the Voidsurfing stuff but much more relaxed, in this dreamlike state, strange and beautiful things can occur, sometimes I will hallucinate patterns like I’m on shrooms or something, sometimes faces or figures will flash for a brief moment. Sometimes I’ll feel like perception is warping back in on itself. On a couple of occasions I’ve been laying in bed and had it feel like the whole room just like slowly spins around and like morphs into itself. But in this clam state it’s usually not jarring or anything, it’s pretty relaxed. Whereas the more intense Voidsurfing can get a little overwhelming. So this is more of an automatic, allowing of natural processes, while Voidsurfing is more intentional and forceful.


Macro trends:

EQ: I go through a mode I call “Everything in its right place” (as in the Radiohead song), which I kind of think of as a “False EQ”. It’s sort of this smug feeling that everything is proper and correct in my life, but it’s kind of basic/surface level, so whenever I see this pop up, it’s usually a good indicator there is some rough waters ahead.
More of a “true EQ” is more of a sense that, still everything is “in its right place” but that place may not be attractive, or aesthetic, or special in any way, it’s more of a “everything exists exactly as it is” and being content in that knowledge.

Macro-A&P: I kind of think of like that faltering between mania/paranoia. My physical and mental abilities seem heightened, like playing basketball I will make every shot. Meditations go really well and I will sometimes find myself going through very distinct POI cycles on a daily basis. Conversely the paranoia factor does creep in, leading to:

Macro-DN: almost like just an inverse A&P, sometimes feelings like I’m on the edge of a cliff, concern that I may fall back into bad old habits, concern that people are against me, like my head’s going to explode, or just general irritability and restlessness. Eventually there will be some breakthrough and decision made leading to:

Macro-Path: this one is still a little semantically hazy to me, but I’ll distinguish capital P Path as something which constitutes permanent change and is necessarily tied to a given system, perhaps that system can just be your own lived experience. Of course, one can never know if a change is permanent until after death, and even then… (?)
With path it comes down to realizations.
But also I will say I think there are these ‘micro-fruitions’ which I described earlier, where you just sort of enter this realm of knowledge that you can’t really describe verbally but you come out with some profound realizations, so whether it’s a Path or just a micro-fruition I guess depends on how deeply those realizations stick and depends on your situation.

What I can say is that it is common for me to have any number of realizations on a daily basis, some of those I could try to list out but they might not make a ton of sense. All of these micro realizations on a macro level just lead me to want to live my life in a way that’s true to myself and that’s helpful to others. For example, I think about getting a masters for social work or something, or perhaps work as a drug counselor or something like that, and so a lot of what I’m doing right now is just trying to build the structure in my life to make that happen. I want to do more traveling and do more retreats. I’m not saying this to sound like I’m special or something, it’s just the easiest way for me to describe what Path currently entails for me on the macro level.

As far as traditional Buddhist lineage - I wouldn’t say I know enough about MCTB or Theravadin Buddhism to claim Stream Entry or any subsequent paths, though maybe my experience does match up. The Tibetan 5-path model is the one I’m most familiar with and even still I don’t want to claim any path yet, but what I will say is I’ve had an experience almost exactly matching up with the Tibetan 2nd path, which would still be pre-SE in the Theravada, which is basically “Glimpse”. So, I guess I don’t have an issue claiming ‘glimpse’ lol.


Finally… life stuff:

The main reason I may not be keeping my log anymore is just that I have a ton of stuff happening right now. My dad is facing some serious health concerns and so we are going to be with my family to help them through it for the next couple of months. My wife and I are taking a gap year after that since we are both remote for the next year, planning on going to SE Asia, doing a retreat (will be looking for advice on that!), then on to Nepal/India and beyond (all contingent on Covid stuff) all while working. We’re leaving in 5 weeks and have a sh*tload to get in order and then it’s probably going to be nonstop from there. That’s not to say I am not gonna keep up on DhO, I will. I just don’t know if I’m gonna have the capacity to keep a log going, it can be a little bit time consuming at least for me.

RE: JW's Monthly update
Answer
1/6/21 2:10 PM as a reply to J W.
Best wishes to you and your family mate! Do send us a post card from Asia emoticon (a few photos will be good too) emoticon 

RE: JW's Monthly update
Answer
1/6/21 2:16 PM as a reply to Papa Che Dusko.
Yes will do haha! And I'm definitely going to be on here looking for advice. We're not going until late summer so still a ways off... hopefully we can have the DhOrks album finished by then, lol!  I've been working on that new bridge, will upload some stuff soon.

Cheers!

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