Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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[Link to previous log]

I've just re-read the Progress of Insight, remembered how brilliant it is, and decided to go back to noting practice (for the first time in over a year). I'm tired of getting lost in thought throughout the day and in meditation as well. The last few days/weeks have been relatively equanimous and I'm able to reside in neutral awareness several times a day, but it keeps collapsing as soon as thoughts start up and then aversion sets in again. It's relatively mild aversion by my standards and life is pretty good externally, but it's still a drag. I don't have a lot of time for meditation and circumstances are still less than ideal, so at least I can practice noting throughout the day and avoid getting lost in aversive thought trains for extended periods.


Reviewing my practice history, there was a few months of starting to meditate in fall 2018 and getting to grips with depression. Then I discovered MCTB/POI and made rapid progress with a few weeks of intensive noting, which led to some sharp insights and shifts of some kind in spring 2019. Things got a little intense so I started some samatha practice, which ironically seemed to trigger strong kundalini pains etc. I also got interested in all things spiritual and broadened out my practice (a.k.a. losing focus). I hit nonduality hard in fall 2019 after reading The Open Secret, which led to some profound if disturbing depersonalization experiences. In spring 2020 I got sick with COVID/CFS and took up the Advaita vs Buddhism challenge where I masqueraded as a nondualist, which had the tantric effect of inducing some kind of nondual realization. But it was obvious I wasn't "done" and still had more personal stuff to clean up.

I feel like my concentration actually peaked during the initial noting phase 18 months ago, but it was masked by the appearance of progress I was getting from the energetic transformations and increasing bliss levels from samatha practice. But if I'm honest the bliss has never been fully satisfactory, it's always too little or to unstable or too short-lived. Having worked through a lot of my psychological stuff (tempting fate surely), I'm still struck by the basic aversive texture of a lot of my experience. Realms/elements practice has been very helpful in contextualizing the patterns and removing a lot of the personal narrative, but there's still a basic dissatisfaction with the present moment a lot of the time. So it's back to basics now. Note the shit out of everything until something happens ...
Sam Gentile, modified 1 Year ago.

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Congratulations on another new blog. Progress of Insight is always insipiring and I'm happy it's brought you back to Noting (as a big Noting fan). I too find that it helps me from  getting lost in thought.
agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

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Returning to noting has re-energized and refocused my practice. I'm not logging as much because noting takes care of itself most of the time. emoticon In a way posting had become a substitute form of noting. I had been spending a lot of time exploring more nebulous emotional and psychological constructs, but it feels like those are more settled now and the texture of immediate experience is once again coming to the foreground. I guess that's a natutal progression - start with basic phenomenology, have some insights, start wondering what it means for you as a person, get over that and return to phenomena.

It's not like noting is a big sea change, I see it now as a neat technique for maintaining mindfulness. Once mindfulness is strong then noting subsides, but as an over thinker it helps to occupy the verbalization bandwidth with the present moment so it doesn't get engaged in discursive thinking. Noting has also been really helpful off the cushion to bring me back to the present moment once I notice myself getting lost in thought.

Overall I'm spending significantly more time in equanimity, which is nice. Mapping concerns still arise, but I see now that even if I did manage to trick my brain into a couple of cessations last year, what really matters is releasing ever deeper layers of conditioning and spending as much time as possible in equanimity. A lot of sits seem to be cycling within EQ, although the nanas are often out of order and not so clear. Some of the DNs were laughably short - a few minutes in mediation - while others rumbled throughout the day although without any major reactivity.

Anxiety in high EQ tends to dispel now with noting. The bleeding edge seems to be a very pure form of objectless craving which is felt as an energetic contraction in the torso. Just like a pure sense of "I want, I want, I want". As always, dropping the focus on attaining states of bliss and calm is leading to greater states of bliss and calm. emoticon I'm also noticing more directly how clinging to those states leads to aversion elsewhere (eg I wish family life wasn't so noisy and chaotic). Letting the states come and go as they do is increasing acceptence of the way things are.

It's been interesting coming back to the Progress of Insight after having studied the suttas a bit. I see now how skillfully Mahasi weaves a lot of suttic material into the POI - anapanasati, satipatthana, dependent origination (mind & body -> cause & effect), jhanas etc. All the while it feels like you're just taking a walk in the palk with a delightfully deadpan friend (favorite one-liner: "So it is not possible to note any objects while we are asleep.")

Dependent Origimatiom continues to be the main theme of investigation - how dissatisfaction is manufactured. Buddhadasa makes an interesting point that in one of the suttas (he doesn't say which one) there is "extinction in the middle", meaning it switches from causation to extinction, from "feeling gives rise to craving" to "because of the extinguishment of craving attachment is extinguished". I found that a useful hint. Not that I can extinguish craving, but that by acknowledging craving and getting a better feel for it as it arises, I'm getting better at preventing it solidifying into clinging. Intentionally minimizing certain feeling-intensive forms of contact is also helpful but in my experience it can only take you so far. I imagine that even (or especially?) if you take minimizing contact to the extreme, you still have to confront significant craving.

Yesterday evening I went through a 5 hour stint or revisiting old memories and releasing their uncomfortable emotional content. It wasn't planned - it started while I was watching a movie with the kids, probably because I was in a relaxed state of mind but not intentionally meditating. It felt like the memories were losing their personal emotional charge, like watching old move clips that weren't really about me any more. It also felt like the sense of "happened in the past" had been lost, like my whole life was being laid out flat in a timeless way. Each point in time seemed more like a place that was immediately available and had never been anything more that. Nothing terribly significant, more like another one of those "defragging" episodes which seems to occur from time to time.
Martin, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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agnostic:
It also felt like the sense of "happened in the past" had been lost, like my whole life was being laid out flat in a timeless way. Each point in time seemed more like a place that was immediately available and had never been anything more that. 


I realize this is an old log entry, but it's an interesting observation. Have you read Slaughterhouse-Five?
agnostic, modified 9 Months ago.

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I started it once and thought it seemed like an interesting style of writing, but I didn't feel enough energy to keep going. Maybe I'll try again. Thanks.
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

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"Billy Pilgrim had come unstuck in time," is the basics of what Martin was getting at I think.

It's a great novel, Vonnegut's best, I think, in that he brings the horror of history front and center while maintaining that weird, whimsical black humor and vast cosmic ironic perspective. It adds to the impact to know that Vonnegut actually was a POW in the basement of a slaughterhouse in Dresden when the firebombing of the city happened. 

but once you've said "Each point in time seemed more like a place that was immediately available and had never been anything more that," you might want to write your own novel, lol. 
agnostic, modified 9 Months ago.

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Tim Farrington:

you might want to write your own novel, lol. 

Oh man, you're trying to get me in trouble aren't you 
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

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agnostic:
Tim Farrington:

you might want to write your own novel, lol. 

Oh man, you're trying to get me in trouble aren't you 
lol, maybe I am; you've fallen in with a bad crowd here. But remember: Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time.
agnostic, modified 9 Months ago.

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Tim Farrington:

But remember: Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time.

Man I wish someone had told me that before I started meditating.

By the way, I'm still waiting for your bestseller - working title "Fear and Loathing in Las Nanas"
Martin, modified 9 Months ago.

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agnostic:
I started it once and thought it seemed like an interesting style of writing, but I didn't feel enough energy to keep going. Maybe I'll try again. Thanks.

It's mostly just a fun book if you like the style of writing. He describes a planet where everyone can see all the moments in their life at once and direct their attention to them at will. The people on that planet describe the way humans perceive time as being like being strapped to a railroad carriage and only being able to see things as they appear while moving down the track. The aliens can look around in time, and walk around in time, like we move around in space. "The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. ... When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. "

Your comment reminded me of it.
agnostic, modified 9 Months ago.

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That's pretty much the way I see time now. I don't pretend to be able to see into the future, but once you've been around the block a few times you know the kinds of things that could happen. I find that liberating, although apparently some people find it depressing. I was much more depressed when I felt I had to make something special out of the future.
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

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There is also a more recent (2016) movie about aliens that live outside of the human perception of time: Arrival

emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

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Martin:
agnostic:
I started it once and thought it seemed like an interesting style of writing, but I didn't feel enough energy to keep going. Maybe I'll try again. Thanks.

It's mostly just a fun book if you like the style of writing. He describes a planet where everyone can see all the moments in their life at once and direct their attention to them at will. The people on that planet describe the way humans perceive time as being like being strapped to a railroad carriage and only being able to see things as they appear while moving down the track. The aliens can look around in time, and walk around in time, like we move around in space. "The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. ... When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. "

Your comment reminded me of it.

Martin, thanks for the expanded riff on the relevance of Slaughterhouse Five to our trans-temporal friend here. I sold the Tralfamadorians way short, lol.
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

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Have you read Slaughterhouse-Five?

This book was made into a movie in 1972:  
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069280/
agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

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Round-tripped from EQ through some kind of DN in the last 24 hours. Seemed to be triggered by reading guided meditations on dying in Wake Up To Your Life. Imagined disintegration of body & mind, dispersal of property, fading of memories etc. Powerful exercises, brought on some energetic shifts as well as new appreciation that all we have in life is the immediate moment (and even that is fabricated).

Later a powerful headache set in, couldn't ignore it so decided to face it full on and mindfully let go of resistance at the same time. Felt risky and required some courage, but it worked and headache modulated. Realized that I've gotten stuck for months before trying to ignore headaches. The direct approach is best if you can do it, but there's the risk of being re-traumatized by the emotional content if you can't.

Morning meditation settled quickly in EQ, there was no piti and sukha and the memory of them seemed almost distasteful, the coolness was far more preferable. My mind naturally latched onto 'space' as a subject of investigation, realizing it is unsatisfactory because it's empty. Next came investigation of 'consciousness', unsatisfactory because it's nothing more than consciousness of sense contact, not an independently existing thing in and of itself. There was a lot of investigative thinking and I lost concentration after that.

Regarding emptiness, I've been reflecting on the Kaccayanagotta Sutta (SN 12.15) which talks about the middle way between the two extremes of 'everything exists' and 'everything does not exist', also using Nagarjuna's commentary. I'm realizing that when I went through that whole nondual realization a few months ago, I was falling into the trap of viewing emptiness (or non-existence) as being a thing in and of itself, a kind of ultimate reality, whereas actually it's just another characteristic of conventional reality. It's like form is emptiness (because everything is empty of any intrinsic existence) but also emptiness is form (because emptiness is not a separate thing apart from form - if there was no form there would be no emptiness either). I feel that's the realization which "brings the world back to life" and allows one to function in the world whilst simultaneously being mindful of emptiness. Instead of nihilism there's a fuller appreciation of what is actually happening right now.

The other meta subject that is coming into view is how the various elements of practice can be seen as working on different parts of the chain of dependent origination. Morality is aimed at reducing contact (link 6) with unwholesome sense objects. Meditation calms the sankhara (link 2) - breath/body, speech/thought and mind (perception and feeling). Therapy/psychology and realms practice works on the last 3 links (becoming, birth, death) where identification and de-identification is already taking place. Elements practice works on the middle links of contact-feeling-craving where basic emotional reactions occur. Don't know if that makes any sense or is just wishful thinking, but I feel like DO is really the heart of the Buddha's teaching.

agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

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Spent most of the week working further with elements and realms using WUTYL. I know I committed to back to basics, but this kind of interminable cycling through emotional reactions and states seems to be the basics of experience right now. Life is about as smooth as it's been all year (politics aside) but my greater awareness of the DO cycling is making it feel rougher than it is.

I'm actually kind of welcoming the emotional reactions in daily life now, because it's the signal there's something to work with ... "oh there's anger, water right, there's the perceived threat, wonder if this is going to tilt towards hell (conflict) or hungry ghost (avoidant feeding), oh wait the threat is empty, now there's clarity". Or in meditation there's a clear cycling between deva (bliss), hungry ghost (craving piti), hell (irritation at losing concentration), human (strategizing), animal (blind noting) etc. The seed elements are becoming more recognizable (I view them as putting a bit more color around the vedana) and I'm getting a clearer view of the underlying emptiness and distorted reaction pattern which is also self-liberating if held in enough awareness. I don't know if it's a real thing, but at times I feel like I'm approaching some kind of "equanimity towards transmigrations", meaning there's a subtle element->realm cycling but it's not a problem because there's awareness and limited external reactivity. I'm tempted to say "samsara is nirvana" except it's really not that big of a deal.

Each time I identify an element-realm pattern and liberate it in awareness I feel a release of energy and some associated kundalini type rewiring with strong energetic sensations and pains. Then I try to identify any resistance to the pain/discomfort and relax into that so it doesn't get "stuck". I'm realizing how much energy is trapped in these old resistance/avoidance patterns. I don't want to sound like I've got it all figured out, because I've been jumping around WUTYL for a week whereas McLeod recommends giving a week to each element and realm, but it seems to be doing something even if it's a bit of a mess. I guess life is messy and you can't really plan when the best reactive "opportunities" are going to come up. And once you become aware of them then you start seeing them everywhere!

I'm not sitting quite as much and there seems to be some aversion to sitting, but it's more of the "I'd rather be watching myself navigate life" rather than "I'd rather not be mindful". I'll find myself getting tired or stressed or irritable during the day and craving meditation, so I'll sneak off for a meditation break but after a 5 minute bliss boost I'm like "what am I doing sitting up here avoiding life, get back into the fray!" I still sit for an hour each night because that's the only reliable time I have, but I tend to be tired and more inclined to go to bed than push the meditation. I'll often wake up after 4-5 hours and meditate for an hour or two but then go back to sleep. With the kids not in school I just don't really have the time at the moment for the relaxed 3 hour sits I need to get into high EQ, except on the weekends when there's less to do and EQ is more accessible.
agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

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I've been gently freaking out the last 24 hours. It seems to have been triggered by the impending eviction of a certain dangerous narcissist from the White House. I disagree with most of what he stands for and yet I realize how attached I've become to him as a reliable source of controversy and outrage. I recognize it now as the fire element in me. It explains why when someone expresses an opinion which I basically agree with, I'll sometimes find myself taking the other side purely for the sake of argument. It's a classic response to feeling isolated - to generate some heat to feel connected to others (if only in opposition). I kept it to myself this time and meditated my way out of danger, but I realize what a prevalent behavior driver it is for me. It's led me into numerous conflicts, defending the indefensible and doing all sorts of things I'm morally opposed to.

Wherever I look now I'm seeing these elemental reaction patterns in my behavior, even in meditation. At the bottom they are all just basically ways of avoiding uncomfortable feelings. Feeling insignificant? Become rigid and inflexible (earth). Feeling isolated? Generate some friction or consume something (fire). Feeling threatened? Become angry and reckless (water). Feeling anxious or groundless? Become busy and overanalyze things (air). Feeling overwhelmed? Become bewildered or depressed (space). The sad thing about the reaction patterns is that although they offer some short term relief  (which is what makes them so attractive), ultimately they lead to reinforcing the unpleasant feelings they seek to avoid. Cultivating solidity leads one to feel more poweress as it inevitably crumbles. Generating conflict leads  one to feeling more isolated. Consuming unnecessary stuff leads to feeling even more empty. Anger leads to greater threats. Overthinking causes more anxiety. Shutting down makes life even more overwhelming.

The good news is that opening up awareness to the operation of these patterns offers the possibilty of freedom from the compulsion to behave in self-defeating harmful ways. The tough part is the feelings of retraumatization which come from releasing the energy trapped in the patterns, as well as the instability that comes from seeing certain pillars of "core personality" crumbling. Even if I don't like reacting in a certain way and understand that it is harmful, I'm still attached to the behavior and see it as a necessary part of "who I am". This probably all sounds a bit academic, but it's very practical and I'm just giving the top level view of what I'm going through. A lot of the meditation is very "stuff" based and can even seem like getting lost in stuff at times, but eventually the core pattern is located as a feeling of tension or unpleasantness in the body which can be released through giving up resistsance. It can be quite disassociating at times because there's the thought that if all my personality and behavior is just a bunch of conditioned reaction patterns, then who is aware of that and what's left when it dissolves? Awareness doesn't seem to be the answer because it's just awareness of stuff. That leads through the formless realms. As to what's left over, clearly behavior still continues but it's less compulsive. I can still express anger if the situation warrants it and I believe even arahants have been seen to do that. Ultimately I think it comes down to developing a healthy relatioship with emptiness (or impermanence or not-self), even if there is "no one" in that relationship ...
shargrol, modified 11 Months ago.

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These few post have been really cool to read. You're definitely getting how these frameworks are used to notice reactive patterns and see them for what they are. This work is so hard to describe because it is so personal, but no worries --- these practices are for you, no one needs to judge or approve. It sure brings back memories for me of when this work was really taking hold in my own practice! Best wishes Agnostic!!
agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

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Thanks Shargrol for your encouragement and guidance. You're right to point out the need for approval - another pattern emoticon

For anyone who is reading and finds themselves at times behaving in ways they don't want or understand (i.e. anyone but arahants), I can't recommend Wake Up To Your Life highly enough. I just finished Chapter 5 dealing with elements and realms which is pretty much a roadmap for every kind of emotional and psychological pattern you might go through. It's very practical and explains how to recognize and interrupt patterns in realtime, which is invaluable. I can't help wondering why this kind of material is not more common. My guess is because it cuts so close to the bone. It exposes all of your motivations and beliefs about practice and puts them on a continuum with the rest of your behavior, whereas most of us (myself included) start out with the attitude that our practice is something special and separate from the rest of our life which is going to redeem us.

When I started out noting last year it was relatively easy because my underlying assumption was that I was going to get something out of meditation (a better life, peace, bliss, enlightenment, fame, groupies etc.). Even when it was painful or I got distracted, there was a strong motivation to note it and return to the breath because that was the way forward to a better future. Once that fantasy fell apart then I lost the motivation to concentrate so hard and the distractions became much more appealing. The distractions are actually patterns of core personality trying to preserve themselves, whereas awareness gets perceived as an existential threat. Sure you can always note distractions and return to the breath, and if you have enough faith in the method then it could take you all the way, but for me it helps to understand why I get distracted (even if that is something of a distraction as well!) Here are some examples I'm noticing of basic patterns at work during meditation:

1) Discursive thinking (papanca). Thinking is perceived as a core part of personality, so any chance to proliferate thoughts is a win for personality structure. Thinking is air reaction (busyness to avoid anxiety reaction to emptiness).

2) Piti (physical rapture). This is god realm (rising above the world, having your greatest pleasures fulfilled), but it easily degenerates into hungry ghost (chasing the sensations). Chasing piti is basically no different from taking a hit of ecstasy. You've got to let it come and let it go. It's quite a mature perspective and I'm surprised to find myself espousing it.

3) Anxiety. Anxiety arises but resisting it or getting freaked out by it is a subtle way of holding onto it as a way of avoid the existential threat posed by emptiness. It's unpleasant getting anxious or freaked out, but at least it proves I still exist. I see now it's the basis of the OCD type behaviors I used to have.

The other thing that's becoming more noticeable is the way the patterns use energy and how it is released as the patterns come into awareness and are released. All this stuff about kundalini and chakras, that's basically all it is. It takes energy to react to experience in a pre-defined way which is not receptive to what's actually going on. That energy and tension gets trapped in a habitual location in the body. Once you turn awareness on that pattern then that energy and tension gets released. That's all, even if it does feel dramatic and personal at times, it's just another impersonal process running, this time towards greater freedom.
agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

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I've been working with 5 element dakini meditations the last few days (also from WUTYL). I don't have much visual capacity and I question the ontological status of deities, but I found these visualizations surprisingly powerful. The reason seems to be that visualization bypasses the resistance of the rational mind and connects more directly with the emotions. I'll typically replay uncomfortable situations to identify the element pattern playing out and then visualize the relevant dakini as a way of liberating the underlying emotions in awareness. Then when everything is calm I go the other direction and watch the element patterns arise as distorted reactions to emptiness (fear, boredom, anxiety, isolation etc.) It gets quite mechanistic after a while and once you recognize the pattern then it can be used off cushion to defuse reactivity in real-time.

I like to trace stuff back to the suttas where I can but it's a bit of a stretch here. AN 10.29 talks about meditation on the kasinas of the different elements and colors, which could be a basis for this kind of visualization. I view the reaction patterns themselves as expanding the clinging step of dependent origination. Two elements are  on the attraction side: earth (cultivating solidity in reaction to feeling powerless) and fire (consuming in reaction to feeling isolated). Two are aversive: water (dispersing energy in reaction to feeling threatened) and air (busyness to avoid anxiety). And space seems related to ignorance (feigning confusion and depression in reaction to feeling overwhelmed).

I view the dakinis as temporary fabrications designed to help liberate the emotional patterns. If you have lighter karma and more awareness then you can probably release stuff directly, but I tend to find that a bit overwhelming. So having a structured way to separate out patterns and hold them in attention is really useful. But yeah ultimately the dakinis have to be impermanent and empty like everything else.

It's almost as if the elemental patterns are competing with each other to monopolize attention. Each time a pattern plays then it increases its chances of survival by planting a seed (a habitual tendency to react the same way under similar conditions) for a future samsaric loop. It's really cool to watch that play out under different conditions and timeframes. I actually find myself looking forward to stressors now because I know it means there's a chance to release another pattern a bit more. I've got much more appetite for viewing painful stuff head on and I'm generally more comfortable in the present moment (from a low bar). There's also some new energetic sensations and new dream material being thrown up. It's not all unicorns and rainbows, it's pretty exhausting and sometimes I get fed up with it, but basically I know it's the only way forward now and whatever I ignore will end up dominating. So please dear readers, if you see any patterns I'm missing then please do point them out! I need help seeing my blind spots. emoticon 
agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

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Bottomed out with the structured element/dakini pattern stuff a couple of days ago and went back to equanimous choiceless sitting. Mind just circling around - a bit of noting, a bit of relaxation and energetic stuff, a bit of light jhana, a bit of insight, some thought trips, some emptiness etc. Mind knows it's looking for the way out and it doesn't know how to find it and it's all kind of ok anyway.

Off cushion I've given up on work for a bit and just sitting with son during online classes and helping him with his schooling, which he needed. It was quite frustrating at first due to resistance on both sides, but now it's settled down. It's actually quite nice to let go of personal ambitions for a while and just focus on being "of service" to the family. Kind of wondering now how much motivation I will find to get back into personal projects.

Tonight's sit felt like releasing some heavy conditioning - strong energetic pains and shifts and some tearful emotional releases. Bit dark nightish but no personal concerns. Been round here many times before and still surprised how deep the conditioning goes. But trust in the process and the body seems to known how much it can safely release at a time. Don't even bother asking myself now how much longer it can go on for. Gotten quite used to it and know it's all just part of the game.
agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

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Less logging at the moment because practice seems to be taking care of itself and knows which way to go (even if I don't!)

Reactivity has declined to much more manageable levels with better awareness of elemental reaction patterns. On the cushion I get into a relaxed empty/formless state and then watch reactions arise as energetic tensions in certain parts of the body which solidify into emotions and thoughts (fear, anger, passion, anxiety, dullness etc.). Then I relax again back into emptiness and repeat. As I go deeper it tends to get more refined into amorphous vibrations and waves with a kind of pre-verbal pattern recognition rather than specific thoughts. Off the cushion there is more space around arising reaction patterns, so I can feel it without actually having to act on it. Sometimes I act in a small way but it's more playful than compulsive.

There's still a bit of freaking out along the way, because it's quite disorientating seeing elements of core personality falling apart. But even the freaking out is just another pattern so there's always a sense that it's ok.

Spectrum of Ecatasy is full of practical tips on how to work with elements in a (slightly dualistic) nondual setting (I mean if it was fully nondualistic it wouldn't be practical at all :-)). One line which stuck is "It's not pain we avoid but emptiness." Because that's basically what I see all the time: increasing awareness of emptiness leading to reaction of fear, threat, isolation, overwhelm, leading to painful reaction pattern. But thankfully once I'm aware of it then the energy of the painful reaction dissipates and it's back towards emptiness.

(Sidenote: isn't not-self just a special case of emptiness? If emptiness is recognizing that every object is void of any intrinsic permanent essence then not-self is just emptiness of the self?)

I realize now of course (duh) that the proper place for the elements in dependent origination is the rupa of namarupa. I see why rupa gets variously translated as materiality, physicality or body, because the elemental reactions are at root physical patterns. They have emotional and mental consequences, but when you look closely enough there's always an underlying bodily sensation. Earth is physical tension or rigidity, which then manifests as inflexible behavior. Fire is physical heat, which manifests as devouring or provoking. Etc. And they do condition the kind of sense contact one experiences. For example air can be a feeling of anxiety which causes over-analysis which increases contact with anxious thoughts. Nice to see all has its place in the suttas ... unless I'm mistaken. Any pali scholars reading?

Last night I was meditating and realized that I don't control my attention. I think I have experienced this before but it was much clearer and more personal (or rather impersonal). I was struggling to keep my attention on something and I just gave up and let it do it's thing and suddenly I could observe the sense of "that's me moving my attention" as a secondary sensation lagging the actual move of attention. I guess that's what's called choiceless awareness, except I had the sense before that I had chosen to do choiceless awareness whereas now I see that awareness is choiceless all the time and we just overly a sense of choice most of the time. That was kind of cool and a little bit freaky. Of course I might choose to anchor attention on the breath, but that intention is itself conditioned (from reading anapanasati or whatever) and doesn't get us out of choicelessness.

The other thing that's been going on is I'm a lot less inclined to try and give meaning or interpretation to things now. And it's a big relief. I suppose that's just "letting things be as they are", but for a worrywart such as myself it's recognizable as a marked reduction in obsessive thinking about things. It kind of feels a bit irresponsible, but life still seems to be happening ok and it's a lot less stressful. 

That was asking for trouble a bit because today I got hit with another strong wave of energetic deconditioning, but there's less resistance to that now. I was a bit sick and retreated to my room for a few hours. My only real
opportunities for long sits are when I'm sick (which "fortunately" has still been quite a lot recovering from covid-induced CFS) and so I'm never quite sure how much of the yuckiness is due to sickness vs poor karma. Or maybe the two are related. Anyway, it's all good. emoticon




 
 
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I was watching this interview with zen monk Daizan Skinner last night, describing the deprivations of his early training, and I saw some parallels (in a small way) with what I've been going through over the last year. It started with me giving up some of my work ambitions/fantasies to spend more time looking after my kids. Getting sick with CFS was a sort of enforced physical renunciation. Moving in with my in-laws has been an exercise in giving up my supposed freedom and learning to ovecome resistance to a living situation I really didn't want to be in. And giving up my last bits of work to help my son with online schooling has been another "act of renunciation". I realize that some of these things might sound like attractive options, and in hindsight I can see the blessings, but at the time it didn't feel that way relative to my narcissistic mindset. I'm very lucky to be surrounded by people who love and care for me - even if they annoy the hell out of me at times with their (often accurate) criticisms.
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Using Spectrum of Ecstasy along with WUYTL is a nice combo. SOE has an idiosyncratic style with lots of different examples which give more insight into how element reaction patterns play out.

Sits are alternating between light 4th jhana territory and strong energetics. Can't stablilize j1-2 cause piti/energetics too strong, but when they abate and equanimity emerges feel jhana "coming on". Spine straigthtens automatically and posture becomes erect, start to see mind whitening out but it's never as bright as that time I dropped into it falling asleep. Linda mentioned something Aya Khema said about finding your own jhana triggers, so maybe for me it is actually allowing myself to fall asleep, but still anxiety arises and other disturbing subconscious stuff in the liminal space. Still, I know it's there and it's only a matter of time while tensions are released.

Energy waves are traveling down from the head into the torso now and there's a feeling of space opening up in the belly. I realize how tense I've been down there and
it's recognizable as earth element stuff - emptiness triggers feelings of powerlessness, reaction is to build, accumulate and cling to stuff, becoming a rigid structure which you know is empty so you try to build it up more and the problem becomes worse. Letting it go is the opposite process - recognize and relax into the emptiness, see it's ok, no need to build on it, leading to equanimity.
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Couple of developments over the last 24 hours. First was terry pointing out my habit of rebelling against father surrogates. It was like a light turning on for me. It's a secondary facet of narcissism. The primary drive of the narcissist is to secure narcissistic supply (attention, adulation, praise, jealousy, criticism, anger etc.) from those considered to be weaker than or dependent on oneself. This is to compensate for deep inner feelings of worthlessness. The problem is that not everyone is obviously weaker than or dependent than the narcissist, and sometimes those people just can't be ignored. To address this problem the narcissist makes a temporary bargain where they put those problematic people on a pedestal to milk them for whatever skills or advantages the narcissist feels they have and he lacks. Once this transfer process is complete then the narcissist seeks to abandon or undermine those people because he no longer needs them and he feels ashamed of ever having had to look up to them in the first place.

This dynamic originated for me in my relationship with my own parents, both of whom are narcissists. Having felt rejected by them, I went on to rebel against and abandon them. But it's played out countless times since. At work I was always finding a boss or sponsor who would get me in the door before I rejected them. I've been in relationships with people I didn't really want to be with but felt compelled to because they had something I lacked or wanted (beauty, sex, status, culture, emotional depths) and once I got what I wanted I moved on. And yes here on DhO I have continued to act out this dynamic in more muted ways (looking down on some people, looking up to others and trying to trigger them). Please do me a favor and call me out on this narcissistic crap whenever you see it! emoticon Of course keeping up a log is a bit narcissistic, but hopefully it can be of use to other narcissists and their victims. Thanks Terry!

Second development was finally getting round to listening to Michael Taft's cosmic joke interview with Kenneth Folk. I know Kenneth was strongly trying to make the point that there is no holy grail, but I think he's come about as close as you can to finding one: CONR + "Just This". CONR refers to the 4 necessary conditions for suffering:
C = Consciousness
O = Ownership
N = Negative valence
R = Reality
If you suppress any one of these conditions then you stop suffering. Consciousness vanishes in dreamless sleep, anesthesia, cessations or death. Ownership vanishes through self enquiry - asking "who is this happening to? who is experiencing this? who am I? etc." (answer: "no one", or "I don't know"). Negative valence (unpleasant feelings) diminishes in samatha, bliss states, jhana etc. Reality falls apart when you use insight or noting to break objects of experience down into constituent waves, particles or sensory quanta. Kenneth's point was that these all these interventions (apart from death) are temporary and most of them require considerable time to learn to do effectively, which is the point of any progressive path. On the other hand there is the so-called cosmic joke, which is "just this" - how could awakening be anything other than just this present moment? And the next one, and the next one, whatever appears to be happening. There is no future, only expectations or plans or thoughts about the future which are occurring in the present moment. And there is no past, only memories or thoughts about the past which are happening in the present moment. And I would add there is no person really in the present moment either, just the aggregates doing their thing. Basically "just this" is nondualism as far as I can see, although in the interview they call it zen mind fuckery. And CONR is a synthesis of the main progressive practices, most of which originate in the suttas with some Mahasi overlay. (Side Note: CONR + Just This looks like an expanded form of the three speed model.)

The thing that really clicked for me was the relationship between the progressive practices and nondualism. Up until now I basically couldn't see any relationship. You were either on the progressive path, working through your stuff and slowly chipping away at suffering. Or else you were suddenly getting the joke, which seems to make all the progressive practices pointless and turns you into a heartless asshole - doesn't matter how much you are suffering, it's just what's happening kind of thing. Suddenly I realized that's it's possible for both of them to be true at the same time and to be aware of that. You get the joke and nothing matters, then something comes up and you feel the need to work on it, but at the same time you remain aware that your needing to work on it is just what's happening until it stops happening. There's a kind of osciallation between CONR and Just This. I suppose it's basically a rehash of the relationship between form (progressive practice) and emptiness (nondualism). When you get the joke it's very tempting to dismiss all form, but it will come back to bite you, even if it's ultimately empty.
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Moderately heavy deconditioning session. Started with Ken McLeod's exercise of emptying the realms. Segued into 2 hours of reliving highly charged memories - lust, anger, thrills etc. Each time experiencing the repressed emotion in awareness and releasing the associated tension. Eventually it just became waves of physical release without any specific memories or mental content. I'm starting to get the sense that there will be an end to this process at some point (not suggesting I'm anywhere near it). There's only so many memories and repressed emotions, only a finite amount of tension in the body (so long as you're adding less than you're releasing, which I feel I am). The other thing which suggests progression is that the focus of tension release has moved from the head and into the belly, which is where greed/clinging and anger/aversion are held. For 2 years it was just like a solid ball and I couldn't feel anything there, but now it's started to open up. I seem to have skipped the heart area mostly, maybe that comes last?
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agnostic:
Moderately heavy deconditioning session. Started with Ken McLeod's exercise of emptying the realms. Segued into 2 hours of reliving highly charged memories - lust, anger, thrills etc. Each time experiencing the repressed emotion in awareness and releasing the associated tension. Eventually it just became waves of physical release without any specific memories or mental content. I'm starting to get the sense that there will be an end to this process at some point (not suggesting I'm anywhere near it). There's only so many memories and repressed emotions, only a finite amount of tension in the body (so long as you're adding less than you're releasing, which I feel I am). The other thing which suggests progression is that the focus of tension release has moved from the head and into the belly, which is where greed/clinging and anger/aversion are held. For 2 years it was just like a solid ball and I couldn't feel anything there, but now it's started to open up. I seem to have skipped the heart area mostly, maybe that comes last?


Hi George,
In those areas in the body that have tensions and are releasing them and have energetic manifestations, do you notice any change in the type of tensions or type of energetic manifestations?
For me there are certain locations in the body that often have painful sensations related to the kundalini energy (That's what I think), which usually become stronger when the energy is stronger. I notice changes in the types of energetic sensations in them, that seems to be taking a progressive path. For instance, a location has one kind of pain, but then for a period of time it manifests as a different kind of pain, in another period it manifests as itching, and sometimes it's not painful anymore and manifests as a pleasant coolness, pretty much like you press an ice cube to the area. Recently I've noticed this chnage in a few of these locations. I wanted to ask if you have had these kinds of changes related to this energy? Thanks.
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Hey Siaviash! Yes I've noticed a lot of changes like you mention in the intensity, frequency, texture and location of the energetic sensations over the last 18 months. But usually sitting and watching them in meditation hasn't led to much change. If anything, focusing on them too rigidly causes them to get stuck and intensify in a more painful way. One trick which seems to work is instead of focusing on the sensation itself, focus on the resistance or clinging to the sensation. So if it's painful, focus on that sense of "I don't like this, I want this to change or go away". Usually that sense of resistance is another location in the body and if you can bring that into awareness then the painful sensation itself will start to loosen up and diffuse. If it's a pleasant sensation then focus on the sense of "I like this, it's a sign of my spiritual progress, I want this to continue or intensify". At times I've even been attached to the painful sensations as a sign that at least something is happening so I must be making progress!

But ... the really big energetic changes have originated not in meditation but in making changes to the rest of my life. If find myself getting stuck in meditation then eventually I have to step back and say "ok, where am I stuck in my life?" This has happened 3 times in the last 18 months and it was always something that I knew was the right thing to do but there was strong resistance (fear or discomfort) towards actually doing it. It was always a case of me having to give up something which was personally important to me in favor of what was best for my family. In all cases the relief was immediate after I made the change and I realized it was purely the fear and resistance which was the problem. I noticed big energetic shifts after these changes and meditation deepened even though I had less time and space for it. Also the first change was the biggest and hardest and since then they have gotten easier and more frequent.

So if you really want to get the energy moving, what I would recommend is to say to yourself "what would an external observer looking at my life say is the one best change I could make and which I would feel most resistant or afraid to actually implement?" And then just do it, without giving yourself enough time to think about backing out! 
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Thanks.
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Last night I was half-heartedly spinning some old memories and my mind suddenly seemed to say "enough of this, done with the past". It felt quite abrupt and had an air of finality, but who knows if it will stick. Words of Jack Kornfield came to mind, something about giving up hope of a better past. It's like I could still go there if I wanted, but the drawbacks are too obvious and I just can't be bothered. Kind of feeling a bit the same way about the future as well, except it er like hasn't happened yet.

There's quite a bit more "just this" time during the day. Any time things get mildly irksome and I start wishing I was someplace else, "just this" comes to mind and I'm back again.

Belly is less tense now and there's a stream of buzzy blissful light energy pointing up to my heart. If I focus on it too much it becomes almost unbearably pleasant and all sorts of spiritually prideful thoughts start up.

There's quite a bit of hungry ghost attitude towards DhO, checking throughout the day for posts I can respond to. It's quite narcissistic - wanting to be seen posting the best answer to someone's problem. And selfish - getting a buzz from helping someone out. (Not fishing for compliments here - that's really how the mind of a narcissist works.)

I read Malcom's log from last year and something shargrol said jumped out at me - the need to let go of whatever it was that propelled one into the dharma in the first place. In my case that was definitely the narcissism - wanting to become the best to make up for feeling like I was the worst. It's just kind of silly really. I can still remember the time  before I became a narcissist and it was just fine. There was curiosity, playfulness, laughter, spaciousness (light formless jhana) and instinctual knowledge that everything was caused by something else so there really was no me in there with free will. Effortless and just fine. Would be quite funny to end up back there. Can't really imagine any other kind of outcome, since all the rest of it was just castles made of sand.

Don't want to make anything more of this than it is, because it's just 24h and no blips or anything, but there seems to be a strong energetic pull towards something. It could just be jhana. I see much more strongly the connection beteeen the anger and greed fetters and the jhana fetters. I can't imagine being fettered to soft jhana and aversion/attraction are obviously the main hindrances to hard jhana. I don't know, pointers anyone?
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I hadn't heard the kornfield quote about "giving up hope for a better past" -- pretty funny and right on! emoticon

A lot of the work later in practice is evening things out. No longer fetishizing, no longer demonizing, getting used to "not sure" and "don't know". Yes, a lot of the best of our character --- not our identity --- starts coming back without all the drama of youth/immaturity. We start understanding that our real strength comes from the quiet and not obvious strength of feeling like a normal human. Externally we can seem resilient an perceptive, to us it's just not having a lot of other drama to have to juggle.

Jhana is always fine, especially if we also know that they are more like getting a massage rather than a workout. Massages help in recovery and help peak performance, but it gives nothing without putting in the time exercising. 6 realms, 5 elements is the workout. jhana can be the massage.

My advice for jhana, especially if you are not a natural jhana person, is to trust that the mind know where to go when we remove aversion and greed. I never mastered willful jhana, but I would gently hold sensations of "not feeling quite right" with a kind of caring attention, my mind would become quite centered, would naturally naturally drop into deep deep states, come out, and I would get some new perspective on my remaining holding/tension/drama and the 6 realm, 5 element work would have a new focus until that knot was untangled.

Consistent daily practice is as important as it ever was. I really liked night time practice because I could use the raw material of the drama of the day as a meditation object.

Yeah, it's hard to become fettered to jhana -- mostly because they satisfy on some level and you don't need or want more because you are satisfied... and the rest of life awaits.

(Not very instructive, but I hope this is helpful somehow.)
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Thanks for the tips.

Jhana for me seems to be more of a narcissistic ego trip - wanting to have the best and be the best. Actually,
just accepting that and holding it gently in attention seems to bring more calmness and depth. The perspective really resonates with me that it's god realm - fundamentally rooted in ignorance (having the best experience and being oblivious to everyone else).
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But I take your point - it's "just personality", not identity emoticon
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Spent most of the day in a light jhanaesque state - quite buzzy and blissy but not removed from external experience, perceptions feeling hyper-real like there is not much filter or separation. Very little sense that there's anything I could be doing differently, yet still spending time trawling old posts on here for some missing clue or link ... even though I know that whatever it is is already here. There was a sense that this is somehow bigger and something might happen, although I also know that's an impediment.

As I got tired later in the day some slight reactivity arose but nothing serious. Evening sit very powerful energy, linking back up from heart to head. Belly is emptier now (less greed and anger) and tension has moved back up into the head (blisssy stupifaction). As I started falling asleep I would drop deeper and then anxiety would arise. Played that a few times, I always intend to tough it out but end up too tired not wanting to frazzle myself and preferring sleep. Whole body is still vibrating and blissy with a slight anxious underlay.

EDIT: if I had to summarize - a strong sense that things are what they are and there's nothing much that can be done about it.
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"if I had to summarize - a strong sense that things are what they are and there's nothing much that can be done about it."

Yeps. But you can do something about it also; Interventions emoticon I see you be listening to Kenneth talk about CONR emoticon He is a fine teacher. 
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It's a good idea thanks Papa Che. It's not really possible until my kids are back in school. 
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I meditated on my motivation a bit more and found the root assumption, which is "there's something fundamentally wrong with me which the dharma is going to fix". It feels like an intractable knot. However much I improve my behavior or disposition and tell myself "I am ok", it seems like any thought with "I am" in it is inherently problematic. The solution seems to be to stop thinking in terms of "I am" at all and focus instead on "this situation is ok" or "life is ok".

In tantric terminology, it comes down to recognizing that every situation is already the perfect expression of its own fully liberated energy, even when someone (including myself) is feeling a bit annoyed or upset. I'm just talking about the normal ebb and flow of daily life here, not the extremes. It's amazing how much resistance there is to the idea that things are basically ok, or at least good enough, and don't need to be fixed or made any better. It just seems to be part of the hardwiring of being a human being ... human realm, ah emoticon emoticon Yup, you heard it here first folks - there's nothing wrong with being a human being emoticon

Human realm is really a very funny place when you look at it. It's easy to fixate on heaven and hell, those exotic destinations that get all the attention - bliss, ecstasy, depression, anger. Or even hungry ghosts with their addictions or titans with their dramatic vendettas. But when it comes to human realm, hiding in plain sight right there in the middle, we're like a fish in water and it's hard to get an outside perspective. It's so busy and and the inhabitants are so funny running around in circles with their pet peeves and preferences. Tea or coffee? Red or blue? Pop or classical? It's so normal and familiar it's hard to see how wonderfully exotic it is as well in its one way. Feeling a bit giggly now, time to get the show started. emoticon
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"The solution seems to be to stop thinking in terms of "I am" at all and focus instead on "this situation is ok" or "life is ok". "

Don't do this to yourself mate. "I am" is not to be rooted out. Knowing this very "I am" unfolding as part of dependent origination is the name of the game. It's a thought pattern, a mind state, self validation and is necessary in being a human personality and part of this social life. 

It's enough to just know the experience as it's arising and passing away without adding extra hats on top of it. 

It's more about simplifying than trying to figure it all out and going deeper into the rabbit hole so to speak. 

Just my view on this shabang thing we call modda effn awakening. Of course I might be plain wrong emoticon 
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Don't worry mate, I ain't disappearing down that existential rabbit hole again. emoticon Of course "I am" is fine as a figure of speech in its normal social context. Trying to root it out is indeed neurotic. Accepting it as it is seems to weaken its power as a basis for neurotic thinking. Fully agree with you on simplifying. I'm always amazed by how profoundly shallow the dharma is once you grok it. emoticon

Some more musings on human realm this morning. It's our natural home but it has this inherent instability in that it feels like we might disappear unless we intensify it enough. That's how irritation turns into anger, sadness into depression, one drink into five, happiness into ecstasy, comparison into rivalry etc. Doesn't really matter if the experience is good or bad as much as its being intense enough to confirm our existence which we know deep down is kinda shaky. It seems to me that the key redeeming attribute of being a human being is having a sense of humor. None of the other realms are able to laugh at themselves, they all take themselves too seriously. Human realm has this constant wobble because it's never quite good enough, there's always something that could be said or done better. Being able to laugh at oneself and the comical absurdity of the situation seems to be the fastest way back to the centre.

The funny thing is, the more I give up on artificially intensifying the situation, the more I can appreciate the actual intensity of everything as it already is. I mean just being alive with the senses on and looking around the room is a totally intense situation, before anyone has even opened their mouth. Like how the fuck could any of this even be happening? But even this intensity of awareness seems to carry the seed of its own destruction, because you can get so totally captivated by it that you fail to relate to others and then all hell breaks loose again. It really is a joke - whoever designed this thing had a wicked sense of humor. I love it! emoticon
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Good stuff what you write there mate! I just wanted to point out that Kenneth Folk, who is considered to be an awakened lad, does state that he can still see these sub-minds of Kennething stitching up stuff in every day conscious living. Of course emoticon  I like the way he stares that even Awakening is subject to modda effn Anicca emoticon Ha! Top that one! Yes it's all a fucking Joke emoticon emoticon eventhough it did make me cry at times instead of giggling. 

If there is anything experiential to describe about Getting the Joke than it's just listening, just comprehanding, just tasting, just hearing, just sitting, just feeling, ... just as it is, right now as it is, bad, good, fucking jolly or sour or indifferent, with or without self validating thoughts, just This. 

We already do this stuff on the cushion to a certain degree right. We just seem to find it hard to Give Up chasing something down the path emoticon 

Im not saying POI is useless. Far from it. I think it's the best thing for us dense motherfuckers who just can't get it that This will never be anything other that this. We start thinking how This ain't good enough, then we of course go back to watching it all closely on the cushion and hopefully at some stage after much diligence we can get it for a while, until we forget it again, and on and on until we die I guess emoticon It's a fun project this observing of the push-pull between Samsara and Nirvana. 

Am I to be found anywhere? We all see in our sitting practice that we can't find it and yet off cushion there is this person still selfing around the world. Great stuff. Where the difference lies is in either Knowing this selfing unfolding or not knowing it. 

Ok, too much blabbing on my part. If I were you or anyone else here I would just ignore most what I write! Except the serious stuff I post in The Bar(do) of Last Resort emoticon 
Off to make some food for my son now! 
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Yeah I like the fact that Kenneth seems open to new insights and developments. It makes me suspicious when someone says they're done in any permanent way. Probably just a reflection of my lack of awakening LOL.

It seems to me that most people are more awake than your average dharma junkie. I'm talking about the majority of people who don't have any major mental health problems, go about their lives without any expectation of awakening and deal with their troubles with a resigned shrug, knowing smile and "that's life". Most dharma junkies seem to have a somewhat troubled backstory and while they do get some deep insight into the fabrication of certain aspects of reality, it's really hard for them to see how they've turned their lives into an awakening project to redeem them from their former selves. Of course that could just be me projecting again. emoticon 
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Really cool and encouraging reading these recent entries. Thanks for sharing!
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Life feels a lot more like it's on auto-pilot now. I've mostly
stopped getting annoyed with my kids or feeling judged by my in-laws. Understanding my own reactivity has enabled me to see it better in others. When the flashpoints arise now my instinct has shifted from aggrevating to defusing. I'm using humor a lot more. I don't really feel like I need to defend myself or win any more. I'm starting to notice that life is harder for others than it is for me, and helping more.

The field of awareness has gotten a bit bigger, although there's some strong head pressure and energy waves. I can be aware of a very large space but that tends to cause a panicky reaction (air element). I'm also seeeing how space causes an overwhelm reaction which leads
to a dullness and shutting down sometimes (distorted space element). I seem to be meditating frequently during the day's activity and formal sits feel a bit too contrived or intense.
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Been playing around with awareness today - zooming out, zooming in, diffuse and letting stuff disintegrate. Getting a better resolution of the separately occurring consciousness at each sense door and seeing how the sense of a central consciousness is created on top of that and can be let go. Also seeing how the sense of a continuous field of awareness (and a watcher) is created and can also can be let go. I could see it before in light 6th jhana but now I'm seeing it off the cushion. I guess I saw this in a limited way before, but it's much more pervasive now.

I'm trying to embrace dark nightish experiences more like dullness, tiredness, confusion, overwhelm, anxiety etc. Dropping the negative stigma and resistance and just opening up to them as they are. It's turning the dull parts of the day into more of a fun exercise, seeing how they are created and maintained.
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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Spent some time reprocessing an old lsd trip and facing primal anxiety. It's amazing the mind's ability to compartmentalize and repress certain aspects of experience, although just an evolutionary strategy really. Went through the DN on a deeper level, really opening myself up to exploring the experience, for the first time seeing what it was trying to teach me rather than wishing for it to end. Noted my fear of insanity and how on some level I hoped practice would protect me from that. Let go of that and allowed my mind to fall apart and experience a taste of true insanity. Not so bad after all. DN seems to be about processing fear of going crazy as we let go of conventional mind structures.

Getting a better handle on the jhana equalizer knob now, fiddling with it somewhere in the range 90% vip to 65% sam. Pretty cool seeing how you can warp reality both on and off the cushion with slight changes to attentional mode.

Also spending some time "realm surfing" and "element flipping", ie consciously inducing them to get a better understanding. Eg during a pleasant family experience at the dinner table, intentionally freaking my mind out to see how exactly the same situation can be experienced through a different lens. Or when tensions are running high, generating a peaceful bliss mode in the mind while still staying engaged. In meditation find myself voluntarily inducing anxiety attacks (air element) to understand them better. 

Noticing some pride and god realm stuff arising with greater meditative skill. Also starting to wonder, if nature of experience can be manipulated that easily then what to do with it? Helping others to suffer less is obvious answer, and life is definitely better, but also noticing how people are attached to certain aspects of their suffering and get quite upset if you try to mess with it. Trying to find the middle way between total disengagement and heavy handed intervention, which basically comes down to playing along while tweaking at the margins.
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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Getting more interested in how the mind constructs sense of space and form and position of body within space as well as location of senses and thoughts. I don't doubt there is some kind of obejctive shared reality out there which triggers some substratum of shared or at least correlated experience, but fact is we can never access it directly so we're stuck trying to figure out how this hall of mirrors works from the inside. It's kind of freaky once you start seeing how walking around experience is constructed frame-by-frame in realtime. Feels a bit like your whole perceptual world is on very shaky ground and falling apart, although basic functions still seem to work ok.

Formal sitting at the moment consists in going as deep as I possibly can into subconscious before I reach a kind of natural limit of what seems to be attainable in each sit whilst still maintaining basic family life functionality. Mostly it's watching a lot of pre-verbal energetic stuff bubbling up and leaning into various degress of anxiety, fear, insanity etc. Hard to put any coherent words around it, but feels like the right way to go within limits.
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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Grinchy here sees the light:

christmas = 100% tantra
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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It takes a lot of energy to maintain a functional model of the body. When that energy exhausts itself and the body fades away then space remains. But it still takes some energy to maintain a model of space. Incoming sensory data have no a priori spatial distribution - the brain has to do some work to configure them thus. When we get tired of doing that work then space fades away leaving awareness. But it still takes some energy to maintain the useful fiction of a field of awareness. In reality there is just a stream of individual sense-object-contact and the poor brain still has to some work to maintain a unified field of respsonsiveness potential. Tiring even of this, nothing remains. But even nothingness requires some energy to maintain. Fuck it, I'm tired, I'm going back to bed.
 
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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Space can be utterly terrifying. Anxiety is a natural response - any kind of neural activity, however unpleasant, to assuage the fear of non-existence.
shargrol, modified 10 Months ago.

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this is all good stuff. 
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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I just came across this post of SigmaTropic and it suddenly triggered in me the seeing that "objects are aware of themselves". I immediately lost that sense of dissatisfaction which arises due to not being able to concentrate on the thing I'm supposed to be concentrating on. It's absolutely obvious once you see it - how can you be aware of anything other than the thing you are aware of right now? The whole concept of being distracted ceases to make sense. I still sit down with some intention to focus on the breath, but instead of getting irritated at losing focus it's just other objects arising for a while which are naturally "aware of themselves". It sounds trite but there's a subtle perceptual shift. I guess you could say it's the loss of the sense that there's an agent directing awareness. Off the cushion as well there is less dissatisfaction with the present moment because I'm not unhappy with wherever my awareness happens to be. It's only been a couple of hours and I've had a lot of time to meditate this weekend due to fatigue, so let's see if it holds up once the week ramps up again.

An analogy comes to mind. A rain drop lands on a leaf and there's a slight tremor. Enough rain drops land and eventually the leaf tips and the water runs off. The thought of going to the bathroom arises in my mind and has a slight resonance. The thought arises enough times and eventually I get up to go to the bathroom. In both cases there's just an object making contact and a reaction with potential for further action, which is all awareness is. In that sense one could say that the leaf is aware or even everything is made of consciousness, but that sounds like a big spiritual deal. I prefer to say that everything is made of matter and the same physical processes that govern the interaction of water and leaves also govern the working of the brain and the body. But I'm just substituting the word 'matter' for 'consciousness' and could equally well use 'stuff'. Once you drop the sense of "happening to me" or "arising in my field of awareness" then the arising of a thought in the mind doesn't even seem that different from, or more personal than, a rain drop hitting a leaf. Sure I can't be aware or react to the thoughts in your mind, but then nether can a rain drop hitting one leaf cause another to move. I feel like the so-called "hard problem of consciousness" just vanished in front of my very eyes! emoticon
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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I feel like I'm mourning the end of my relationship with awareness, a "dark night of awareness" if you will. It's been such a core assumption for most of my life - "I am the one who is aware" - that it's quite a shock to realize that awareness is getting on just fine without me. I guess it's just like any other dark night and the key is to surrender and lean into the feelings of anxiety and dread. Gotta say though, this dharma train really does take you on a mind-bending trip ... not for the faint of heart emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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I'm continuing to play with this vanishing of "the one who is aware". I wouldn't say it's a permanent baseline shift as it comes and goes, however there does seem to be a more subtle sense of it lingering in the background. The experience is somewhat similar to the depersonalization experiences I sometimes have on waking after a short sleep, however it's more perceptual based. The depersonalization experiences are much more about the loss of sense of identity (who am I as a person) and I'm usually too terrified and cognitively panicked to be aware of my other perceptions. The vanishing of the one who is aware still has a cognitive component, because I kind of reason my way into it with a bit of thinking about how the process of perception and awareness is working  - "ok so sense object makes contact with sense organ and awareness (response potential) arises automatically without needing a sense of a central subject of awareness (although if that arises that's also just another complex sense object (idea + associated sensations) making contact)". It's a bit clunky but it seems to work to induce some kind of nondual awareness.

I just listened to Ron Serrano's Guru Viking interview (highly recommended) and he talked about using the technique of recalling previous "fruit moments". It suddenly made me realize I could do the same with the early nondual visual experience I had where I was staring at the visual field until objects lost their objectness and it disintegrated into a flat canvas of visual vibrations and then I suddenly became aware that no one was watching. I don't think that was a fruition but it had some kind of deeper path-esque shift quality. Anyway, I just started meditating again with my eyes open and recreated the experience. Then I realized that I could do the same with the auditory field (micro sounds with no hearer) and proprioception of the body (micro sensations with no feeler). I found it harder to do with thoughts - feeling them as micro thoughts with no thinker - although I had some success breaking a simple thought down into impersonal "thoughty bits".

I guess what I'm seeing here is a pattern of triggering some kind of nondual awareness at the different sense doors, as well as a more integrated version where you try to maintain nondual awareness at all of them simultaneously (although it seems there's a fair bit of flitting between them in that scenario). The latter one reminds me of an experience I had last year crossing the road when the whole sense field seemed to suddenly synch up and present itself directly minus the sense of a central observer. I'd be interested to hear other's perspectives on this piecemeal approach to nonduality. I had assumed that nonduality (subjectless experience) was an all or nothing thing, but seeing as the suttas define consciousness as no more than the individual consciousnesses at each of the 6 sense doors (SN 12.2), maybe it makes sense ...

Oh yeah, one other thing while I'm about it - anyone have a view if if nondual awareness and rigpa are the same thing?
shargrol, modified 10 Months ago.

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agnostic:
Oh yeah, one other thing while I'm about it - anyone have a view if if nondual awareness and rigpa are the same thing?

ALL of this is the same thing.
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

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Oh yeah.
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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Oh shit.
shargrol, modified 10 Months ago.

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Oh shit is the right answer. emoticon

This is the classic "golden chain" idea. It's very tempting to make a state into a (false) refuge. Either a state we already have or a state that we imagine. That state could be jhana or "real-time emptiness" or "rigpa" or "non-duality".

All of these states are good signs of progress, for sure, and not inherently a big problem... But where there is a state, there is a sense of a self that is having that state --- which hasn't been fully noticed. States also imply "time" and time is another interesting experience that rarely is fully noticed. This is the whole story of meditation. First the states we identify with are crude pride, shame, etc. Then we clear up that emotional/psychological mess. Then the states we identify with are flow and imperminanc, and that "allowing" really cuts through a lot of our egotistical control/defense mechanisms. Then the states we identify with are cessations and jhanas. Then (simplistic) emptiness and (simplistic) non-duality and (simplistic) rigpa.... 

This is where the riddle "emptiness is not other than form" starts becoming important. It's a doozy of riddle. The answer is _not_ meditation was bullshit all along. The answer to the riddle can only be solved by someone who has a very sensitive awareness. 

To make it closer to home agnostic, your version of the riddle might be "apparent duality is actually already non-dual". What prevents us from seeing samsara-ing as already nibbana-ing?

Hope this is provokative in a good way. emoticon
shargrol, modified 10 Months ago.

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we posted at the same time --- your reply above is perfect! emoticon

thusness
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

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I stand by my Oh yeah. It was a commentary on shargrol's punchiness there. emoticon
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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shargrol:
Oh shit is the right answer. emoticon

This is the classic "golden chain" idea. It's very tempting to make a state into a (false) refuge. Either a state we already have or a state that we imagine. That state could be jhana or "real-time emptiness" or "rigpa" or "non-duality".

All of these states are good signs of progress, for sure, and not inherently a big problem... But where there is a state, there is a sense of a self that is having that state --- which hasn't been fully noticed. States also imply "time" and time is another interesting experience that rarely is fully noticed. This is the whole story of meditation. First the states we identify with are crude pride, shame, etc. Then we clear up that emotional/psychological mess. Then the states we identify with are flow and imperminanc, and that "allowing" really cuts through a lot of our egotistical control/defense mechanisms. Then the states we identify with are cessations and jhanas. Then (simplistic) emptiness and (simplistic) non-duality and (simplistic) rigpa.... 

This is where the riddle "emptiness is not other than form" starts becoming important. It's a doozy of riddle. The answer is _not_ meditation was bullshit all along. The answer to the riddle can only be solved by someone who has a very sensitive awareness. 

To make it closer to home agnostic, your version of the riddle might be "apparent duality is actually already non-dual". What prevents us from seeing samsara-ing as already nibbana-ing?

Hope this is provokative in a good way. emoticon

Ok so time ... let me see. I find it hard to imagine that there isn't an objective process of irreversible thermodynamic change occurring (and yes thermodynamics is a mental construction, but I imagine that aliens develop similar concepts in their struggle to survive). But yes, this subjective personal sense of time - this is my life and it's going somewhere - this is a fiction, a purely mental construction. If that's the case then this appearance of a personal life isn't going anywhere, never has and never will. In fact it's always been this way, even when it was completely fucked up. I would even go so far as to say I always recognized this on some level, it's just that I had a particularly messed up way of expressing it.

In short - there never was a problem that had to be solved (even although the appearance of a personal process had to happen the way it did according to causes and conditions). My mind keeps playing a game of "now you see it, now you don't" with this insight. The mind recoils from its staggering simplicity: "oh my god ... you don't mean to say ... you've got to be fucking kidding me ... this is it? seriously?! ... but that would mean there's nothing that needs to be done, nothing to add and nothing to take away ... and then what? what next?!" The only possible response at this point is laughter at the glorious absurdity of it all 
emoticon And possibly compassion, although I'm still *working* on that emoticon

If this is correct then nibbana is both extremely subtle and extremely obvious. It's everything just as it already is *right now* (even when we think it isn't). You could say that samsara is the delusion that we have to get *somewhere else* to have a special experience of nibbana at some point *in the future*. The only thing that apparently prevents us from seeing nibbana is the looking for it.

Er, but isn't this supposed to end with some mega fruition or something which enables you to announce to the world "I AM DONE"? Or is that just an eighth fetter thing?!
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

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I gotta say this sounds like what i went through in my last retreat except for the special clarity conditions... 

I want to ask you, shargrol, isn't that special insight, more of a kind of complete trust/certainty in some understanding, based perhaps on having thoroughly explored special modes of consciousness, rather than any sort of perceptual shift ?

I feel that there's something misleading to the "flipping the switch" thing which is sometimes advertised, if the perspective we're onto with ag here is correct... 

As in "i now realize that this crack on the wall is there and didn't before, but nothing has changed" - or some better image.... - and it's a kind of cognition, or recognition. Would you say so ? 

Having to do with intelligence in the end. 

But what about death then ?

...

Exit Olivier, ducking
shargrol, modified 10 Months ago.

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Olivier:

I want to ask you, shargrol, isn't that special insight, more of a kind of complete trust/certainty in some understanding, based perhaps on having thoroughly explored special modes of consciousness, rather than any sort of perceptual shift ?


Perceptual shift is kind of a vague word... but lets say that realization often feels like losing something rather than gaining something.



As in "i now realize that this crack on the wall is there and didn't before, but nothing has changed" - or some better image.... - and it's a kind of cognition, or recognition. Would you say so ? 

Having to do with intelligence in the end. 

But what about death then ?

...

Exit Olivier, ducking

I think it's very very subtle and therefore very profound. Intelligence isn't a great word for it, it's really wisdom, not intelligence, because it's about a worldview you could say.

And it does answer the great matter of life and death in it's own way, I would say.
shargrol, modified 10 Months ago.

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agnostic:


Ok so time ... let me see. I find it hard to imagine that there isn't an objective process of irreversible thermodynamic change occurring (and yes thermodynamics is a mental construction, but I imagine that aliens develop similar concepts in their struggle to survive). But yes, this subjective personal sense of time - this is my life and it's going somewhere - this is a fiction, a purely mental construction. If that's the case then this appearance of a personal life isn't going anywhere, never has and never will. In fact it's always been this way, even when it was completely fucked up. I would even go so far as to say I always recognized this on some level, it's just that I had a particularly messed up way of expressing it.

In short - there never was a problem that had to be solved (even although the appearance of a personal process had to happen the way it did according to causes and conditions). My mind keeps playing a game of "now you see it, now you don't" with this insight. The mind recoils from its staggering simplicity: "oh my god ... you don't mean to say ... you've got to be fucking kidding me ... this is it? seriously?! ... but that would mean there's nothing that needs to be done, nothing to add and nothing to take away ... and then what? what next?!" The only possible response at this point is laughter at the glorious absurdity of it all 
emoticon And possibly compassion, although I'm still *working* on that emoticon

If this is correct then nibbana is both extremely subtle and extremely obvious. It's everything just as it already is *right now* (even when we think it isn't). You could say that samsara is the delusion that we have to get *somewhere else* to have a special experience of nibbana at some point *in the future*. The only thing that apparently prevents us from seeing nibbana is the looking for it.

Er, but isn't this supposed to end with some mega fruition or something which enables you to announce to the world "I AM DONE"? Or is that just an eighth fetter thing?!

Yeah, this is the right direction... keep letting it sink in.

Usually it's not a mega fruition... it's more like losing a veil over the eyes. When Chris was trying to describe it to me, he mimicked Keanu Reeves saying "Whoa!"   emoticon  
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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The experience it most reminded me of was a time I was running late to meet my wife. She's calling me asking "where are you?" and I'm saying "I'm just leaving" and frantically going around the apartment looking for my phone. This goes on for a minute or so with her getting annoyed saying "what you haven't even left yet? what's taking you so long?" and me saying "just a second, I can't find my phone". Eventually I decide fuck it I'm leaving without my phone and of course the minute I close the door behind me I realize I'm holding it to my ear. It's something that's hard to see because it's so obvious - hidden in plain sight - the last place you would ever look.
Tim Farrington, modified 10 Months ago.

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agnostic

In short - there never was a problem that had to be solved (even although the appearance of a personal process had to happen the way it did according to causes and conditions). My mind keeps playing a game of "now you see it, now you don't" with this insight. The mind recoils from its staggering simplicity: "oh my god ... you don't mean to say ... you've got to be fucking kidding me ... this is it? seriously?! ... but that would mean there's nothing that needs to be done, nothing to add and nothing to take away ... and then what? what next?!" The only possible response at this point is laughter at the glorious absurdity of it all 
emoticon And possibly compassion, although I'm still *working* on that emoticon

If this is correct then nibbana is both extremely subtle and extremely obvious. It's everything just as it already is *right now* (even when we think it isn't). You could say that samsara is the delusion that we have to get *somewhere else* to have a special experience of nibbana at some point *in the future*. The only thing that apparently prevents us from seeing nibbana is the looking for it.
I sometimes feel like i get so deep in the sense of the emptiness of all things that anything at all is a surprise. In dark night, that surprise of specific reality usually brings a "No" response, like, between this shit and emptiness, I'll take emptiness, thank you. And then once in an eon of blue moons, out of nowhere, the specific reality where by all rights there should be nothing evokes a spontaneous "Yes." I could see "nirvana" as stabilizing that spontaneous "Yes" response, from the first movement of consciousness. But this seems to me to be a work that goes on until the end of time, given my self knowledge. 
Er, but isn't this supposed to end with some mega fruition or something which enables you to announce to the world "I AM DONE"? Or is that just an eighth fetter thing?!
i thought you had already announced that, George! And how are you keeping count, on the fetters? I try to do it on my fingers and keep running out of fingers before I run out of fetters.

shargrol, modified 10 Months ago.

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Tim Farrington:

I sometimes feel like i get so deep in the sense of the emptiness of all things that anything at all is a surprise. In dark night, that surprise of specific reality usually brings a "No" response, like, between this shit and emptiness, I'll take emptiness, thank you. And then once in an eon of blue moons, out of nowhere, the specific reality where by all rights there should be nothing evokes a spontaneous "Yes." I could see "nirvana" as stabilizing that spontaneous "Yes" response, from the first movement of consciousness. 

Shit is shit, emptiness is emptiness -- "whew, what a relief, there is something besides shit!". Shit is none other than emptiness --- "ooh that sounds good, I like that. There really isn't shit if we can just withstand the stink, it's all emptiness!". What if emptiness was none other than shit --- "wait a second, I liked my emptiness, this isn't cool. Now I can't ignore shit anymore, it's acutally shit..." emoticon

What if No and Yes was the endless struggle over the great matter of life and death? What if "meh, whatever" was the temptation of ignorance?

What if through a lot of work we realized nirvana was neither "No" nor "Yes" nor "meh, whatever" but "Oh, this!"  In a sense, it's seeing what we have been reacting to all these years, but we see it without a reaction and then we can't unsee it that way. What is self? What is "I"?

Basic human sanity really is the best description of awakening.  http://hardcorezen.info/enlightenment-and-cat-poop/3949   The problem is "basic sanity" doesn't convey the near endlessness of our psychological defense mechanisms, unconscious reactive patterns, and the subtle temptations of greed, aversion, and indifference. But there is a tipping point where a basic sanity does become available. Unfortunately, there isn't a technique that fixes this stuff. Instead, fixing this stuff fixes this stuff... and you just need to get to a tipping point where you're like "ah, okay" and then you go on fixing stuff.  https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-is-enlightenment_b_960127 

Big blindspots can be teased out by meditation methods as well as through reflection about our worldviews [url=http://www.cook-greuter.com/Cook-Greuter%209%20levels%20paper%20new%201.1'14%2097p%5B1%5D.pdf]http://www.cook-greuter.com/Cook-Greuter%209%20levels%20paper%20new%201.1'14%2097p%5B1%5D.pdf. Therapy early on, meditation in the middle, meditation and contemplation of worldviews to the tipping point. 

EDIT: I'll add one other caution: every insight and every path moment, especially as one gets to 3rd path, feels like it is the highest point on a mountain. It's 99% the case that it is actually a false summit. That's why we need to be very very honest with ourself about how much reactive patterns and greed/aversion/indifference continue to rule our lives. Stopping practice too soon is a horrible mistake. It's a joke I have that the surest sign of 3rd path is wondering if we're done. emoticon  4th path sorta destroys the idea of the mountain, but in a really interesting way. The self or "I" is actually seen for what it is, in a way that's much more different than just "unreal" or "not-self". The spiritual sense of self has a reason to exist -- we realize there was a method to this spiritual madness, so to speak -- until it doesn't. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 10 Months ago.

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shargrol:

What if through a lot of work we realized nirvana was neither "No" nor "Yes" nor "meh, whatever" but "Oh, this!"  In a sense, it's seeing what we have been reacting to all these years, but we see it without a reaction and then we can't unsee it that way.

That’s a useful map. From it I can tell that I’m not done, because there was definitely a ”Yes, I want that” popping up there. There was also a "No, there’s got to be something more to it than that”, but it was not a very strong voice. Being on the threshold to depression, I know all too well that the ”meh, whatever” can feel solid at times. Through Michael Taft’s course ”Reversing the stack” and through trekcho I have had moments of coming through emptiness and seeing stuff I’m neurotic about in a non-reactive way, and that has been amazing and very healing, so I know that it’s a possibility (which is probably why the craving for something more than that is less strong now than before). Reactivity seems to find many ways to feed itself, though, so there are probably many alternative entries that need to be seen through.

Q:
Shargrol, would you say that it gets easier when you reach the tipping point? Or does one simply get over oneself and do it anyway? I'm sort of hoping that the reactivity will if not stay away more then at least just be something that is transient, non-sticky and not self and thereby less energy-consuming. 
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 10 Months ago.

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"Basic human sanity really is the best description of awakening.  http://hardcorezen.info/enlightenment-and-cat-poop/3949"

I nearly choked on my lunch from laughter when I read the hardcorezen post about poop and enlightenment. The last three years I have been reading thousands of pages trying to understand what awakening is, and then this guy just nails it with a simple metaphor taken hilariously far. Top notch dharma! emoticon
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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Awesome Niels, thanks for that. I was laughing so hard I had to leave my son's virtual classroom before the teacher heard me. emoticon

I'm enjoying this discussion but don't have a lot to contribute right now because I'm still getting over the smell of that humongous dump I took yesterday. emoticon

Uh oh, I can feel another one coming:- if forgiveness is giving up hope for a better past then ninth fetter is giving up hope for a better future. Or worse. Or any expectation really that the future will be any different from the past. emoticon

EDIT: just realized the link was from shargrol - thanks!
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Pepe, modified 10 Months ago.

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Niels Lyngsø:

I nearly choked on my lunch from laughter ... Top notch dharma! 
+1 emoticon
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

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... Stopping practice too soon is a horrible mistake.

Ok, hearing this.

These days I rarely meditate. It really feels like there is nothing further to expect from vipassana ... But, I'm certainly not done done, although, from everything i'm reading about fourth path, it kinda feels like.... (:p) Your sentence has scared me enough that I'm gonna resume practice though emoticon Thanks.
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Steph S, modified 10 Months ago.

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Olivier:
... Stopping practice too soon is a horrible mistake.

Ok, hearing this.

These days I rarely meditate. It really feels like there is nothing further to expect from vipassana ... But, I'm certainly not done done, although, from everything i'm reading about fourth path, it kinda feels like.... (:p) Your sentence has scared me enough that I'm gonna resume practice though emoticon Thanks.

Not to crash agnostic's thread... but dude, Olivier, why else do you think I abandonned Mahasi and am all up into more of the Mahayana stuff now? LOL. Even though I never got to what is probably considered the end of the Theravada system, I felt it was no longer working as well for me and I felt I wasn't really getting much out of it anymore. Meditation is like any long-term relationship. Sometimes you have to find new ways to keep it exciting so you don't lose your interest over the (many, many, many, many) years.
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Chris Marti, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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IMHO, the Mahasi hard-core noting thing works great... until it doesn't. That happens soon after stream-entry. Noting, as a practice, doesn't "advance" the program so much after that. It's revealed most of what it's capable of revealing. What's required is concentration, self-examination, and learning how to just be. The heart and the head need to connect, as it were. We need to learn how to feel thoroughly and deeply. These are third-path kinds of things. I suspect that's why other types of practice lure us in - noting doesn't satisfy these very different quests.
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Steph S, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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I agree that noting stops being helpful pretty quickly for many. I stopped noting within a few months or so of starting my practice back in 2010. Once I got solidly to A&P for the first time along the Progress of Insight model, I was like, screw this I can't even note this fast and ditched it. From that point on I did a mix of shamatha and choiceless awareness. I still followed the maps, and nanas, and such until maybe this year when I stopped caring about that sort of thing. The utility of nanas & maps & paths felt way past their sell-by date for me.

edited to add: Yes to feeling thoroughly and deeply and the heart-centered stuff. Even though I did alot of really feeling deeply into my feelings all along the way, it wasn't my primary focus probably. I've come to realize the importance of it.
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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Let me just add though that I find it very fascinating to think about the pedagogy of all this right now, the fact that getting people to high enough levels of concentration/clarity/emotional acceptance to experience a first cessation is actually the name of the game for beginners (and the huge amount of work that this can entail !) ... and that then it's not, or still is but in a pretty seriously different way... is really cool to reflect on. Such a fascinating process.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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Chris Marti:
What's required is concentration, self-examination, and learning how to just be. The heart and the head need to connect, as it were. We need to learn how to feel thoroughly and deeply. These are third-path kinds of things.
I love this. 
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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Steph, I didn't mean mahasi style vipassana, but actually, "actively investigating things wondering what their nature is". Ie, vipassana as that activity of observation which seeks to understand something about mind. Let me give a bit of context. 

Edit : Actually, see my log for context emoticon

Linda, yes, I did do a dzogchen retreat in 2019, and this really opened something up and kind of was the point in time for me that chris mentions where noting and such practices just stopped making any much sense at all. After which I proceeded to do a month long mahasi noting retreat - just to be sure, you know. lol emoticonemoticon
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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Olivier:
... Stopping practice too soon is a horrible mistake.

Ok, hearing this.

These days I rarely meditate. It really feels like there is nothing further to expect from vipassana ... But, I'm certainly not done done, although, from everything i'm reading about fourth path, it kinda feels like.... (:p) Your sentence has scared me enough that I'm gonna resume practice though emoticon Thanks.
Oh. I thought you were into Dzogchen? 
Tim Farrington, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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shar grol

I'll add one other caution: every insight and every path moment, especially as one gets to 3rd path, feels like it is the highest point on a mountain. It's 99% the case that it is actually a false summit. That's why we need to be very very honest with ourself about how much reactive patterns and greed/aversion/indifference continue to rule our lives. Stopping practice too soon is a horrible mistake. It's a joke I have that the surest sign of 3rd path is wondering if we're done. 
emoticon  4th path sorta destroys the idea of the mountain, but in a really interesting way. The self or "I" is actually seen for what it is, in a way that's much more different than just "unreal" or "not-self". The spiritual sense of self has a reason to exist -- we realize there was a method to this spiritual madness, so to speak -- until it doesn't. 
I love this. We're dualistic until we're not. And the rest is toilet training and hygiene, lol --- thanks for this, shar grol,  http://hardcorezen.info/enlightenment-and-cat-poop/3949   

This whole thread is really starting to stink of zen, actually. I mean that in the best possible way.

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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I'd say that nonduality could also be defined as it all being the same thing, depending on where in the abstraction process you put your foot down when you decide what to call what. Totally agree that a state is not the real deal. So we have a state (or possibly a number of states) that is often referred to as nonduality, but in separating that from anything else, we have a duality. Really messy wordings. As a word nerd with a soft spot for logic I find it hideous to talk about non-duality as a separate state side by side with an opposite. That's not how I would choose to use it, and yet sometimes I do since it seems to be the most consensual language use. Michael Taft talks about it as two levels of non-duality (as a simplification): one is the state that people often find pleasant because lots of tensions fall away. Another level is the realization that the first level of non-duality is not different from anything else. 

Exactly what it takes for it to be a realization, I don't know. Intellectual understanding is not enough. I don't think observing it in a convincing way is enough either. Maybe it needs to be observed with regard to different aspects of it, or maybe it needs to be integrated over time. I don't know. I have seen it in more than one way and I think it would be ridiculous to say that I'm done. 
Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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And so that "realization", is reality become to our intelligence what it always was, is adequate, clear-understanding of "there is nothing possible other than what happens as it happens", and it's a kind of , well maybe not intellectual, but a full-body-mind understanding, a visceral understanding... ? What does MT say ? 

Edit : you edited while i wrote this :p
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 10 Months ago.

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Oh sorry, Olivier. Bad habit. I tend to publish too soon. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 10 Months ago.

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Michael says that this is the long part of the path, which I guess sort of speaks for the integration over time hypothesis? 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 10 Months ago.

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Another thing that I find confusing is that according to path criteria it seems like you are supposed to first get to a stage where the simplest level of "nonduality" is your experience most of the time, and after that you are supposed to see that it's not really different from anything else. I can't say that I have reached having that state as my default experience. What I don't get is how people can reach that far without noticing that the division doesn't hold up. There is probably some more subtle level to this that I'm still not getting. It must be. Either that or there isn't a fixed order of realizing stuff, and so it is possible to get that and still have other other realizations to make before it all clicks. 

As for me, it's more like I broke something in my brain. I often can't retain thoughts long enough to express them or act on them. I look at everyday objects with surprise, like "Oh yeah, this thing exists, how weird is that?" and "Does it really look like this? I don't remember that" and "I remember using this thing on a daily basis, but somehow I have no idea how to do it". And at the same time, today I survived suddenly sliding on wet slippery steep rocks by intuitively running downhill instead of trying to stop the fall. I didn't even fall, as it turned out, and I didn't drop my ipad. Not a scratch on any of us. I have no idea how I pulled that through. I guess it wasn't me. 
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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It's getting harder and harder to resist - the unbearable thusness of being - although something inside me is fighting every damn step of the way. But that's ok, it's just part of the game. How could anything be other than just the way it is? Even the resistance! emoticon
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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agnostic:
It's getting harder and harder to resist - the unbearable thusness of being - although something inside me is fighting every damn step of the way. But that's ok, it's just part of the game. How could anything be other than just the way it is? Even the resistance! emoticon

Ya! Du bist fucked up utterly mein freund emoticon emoticon 
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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"utterly out of control existence" LOL 
Tim Farrington, modified 10 Months ago.

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agnostic:
"utterly out of control existence" LOL 
"Utterly Out Of Control Existence" would make a great band name! The fans could call it UOOCE (pronounced oo-ookie).

Speaking of UOOCE, you couldn't hold off on that Santa Claus thing until January, maybe? You fucked up my Christmas bad, mate. And I dread spring now, with the whole Easter Bunny question up in the air. Not to mention Jesus. I'm not sure I can survive without chocolate and resurrection. And what about Elijah? Should I leave the glass of wine out at the seder or not? Where does it end?

oo-ookie, tim
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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Bless you Tim. Do you know something strange happened yesterday evening after I read your post and I was putting my son to bed. He told me that he thought Santa Claus was the parents and I somehow managed to mindfuck convince him back into believing that Santa Claus exists! I'm sorry I fucked up your Christmas mate, but you sure made one little 8 year old boy feel better again. That's some good karma you carry right there. emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 10 Months ago.

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emoticon

Now THAT is upaya: very skillful means, amigo.
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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Sometimes you play the hero, sometimes the villain. What else can you do emoticon
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Helen Pohl, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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"Chocolate and Resurrection" would make another great band name, imho. ^^

What would they play?
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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I can see now why dream yoga is recommended. The experience of nibbana feels a bit like the moment when you become lucid in a dream and realize 'oh, this is a dream'.
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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Pretty sure it's not stream entry. I'm falling out of nibbana and getting reborn ~10-20 times per day. Wondering whether it will stabilize or just keep having fun with it for now.
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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There's also quite a bit of anxiety at times. I'm suddenly incredibly sensitive to stimuli and it feels like the volume knob on my experience got turned up to 10, so I'm finding ways to turn it back down. Just being with family members and feeling love and affection for them is soothing and grounding.

Any kind of music is like taking drugs. I just drove down to the village with some trance music playing and for some reason I started driving below the speed limit, which gave me the feeling that the car was stopped and everything was passing through me. Something about the combination of the fast music and low speed triggered a drug muscle memory and suddenly it was like I was back in the ministry of sound circa 1993 on a combination of ecstasy and speed with a small dose of lsd thrown in for good measure. Fun but quite stimulating and took me a while to come down when I got back home.

Time feels like it's basically stopped, very little sense of past or future. Thoughts are a bit of a manic mess a lot of the time but it's not too disconcerting, more like some mildly annoying background noise which I can tune out.
agnostic, modified 10 Months ago.

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Something must have changed - my wife just asked me about meditation, for the first time in the two years since I started. I told her I was done with obsessive meditation, I had found what I was looking for. 'What's that?' she asked, looking me in the eye. I looked back, smiled and couldn't think of a single thing to say. She smiled and after a while said 'I know what it is - a pony'. The only thing I could think of saying was 'yeah, it's a pony'. We both laughed like we haven't laughed in ages.
Tim Farrington, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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Something must have changed - my wife just asked me about meditation, for the first time in the two years since I started. I told her I was done with obsessive meditation, I had found what I was looking for. 'What's that?' she asked, looking me in the eye. I looked back, smiled and couldn't think of a single thing to say. She smiled and after a while said 'I know what it is - a pony'. The only thing I could think of saying was 'yeah, it's a pony'. We both laughed like we haven't laughed in ages.

Ahh, beautiful moment. By their fruits ye shall know them, and this is sweet sweet fruit of love and laughter.

Also, fantastic insight on your wife's part. Next time one of us is wondering WTF, where's the pay-off, what's the fuss all about, we finally have a definitive answer: as the old joke goes, with all this horse shit, there must be a pony in here somewhere!




agnostic, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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agnostic, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Agnostic's Log 5 (Back to Basics)

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Closing this log now. They always seem to get a little stinky down the bottom :-)

This is a link to a thread which sums up this phase of practice.

This is a link to the next log.

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