MCTB2 Equanimity Chapter: some notes

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Pepe, modified 5 Months ago.

MCTB2 Equanimity Chapter: some notes

Posts: 376 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
As these notes on the MCTB2 Equanimity Chapter were buried in my practice log, I thought it would be of much better use in an individual post. Hope you find them useful.


Surrender to the truth of things:
Equanimity is much more about something in the relationship to and among phenomena than anything specific about the phenomena themselves. It involves a real, down-to-earth, honest humanity, a real acceptance of ourselves just as we are … If your practice stays future-oriented, goal-oriented, rather than just being with what is right now, what you wish for will not happen easily.

Beware of shifting to a concentration practice out of fear of falling back to DN:
It is very tempting to solidify Equanimity into the fourth shamatha jhana, either because doing so is very nice or because of fear of falling back … Many will shift to modes of attention that are much more in the realm of concentration practice, being more about the positive qualities than the three characteristics, meaning that they stop investigating those and rest in the equanimity. It’s more likely to not progress and fall back if you don’t gently investigate the qualities of this stage: peace, ease, and a panoramic perspective. 

See fundamental aspects of Self:
Equanimity is about seeing the true nature of even more integrated, inclusive, subtle, and fundamental things such as: expectation, analysis, wanting, knowing, awareness, space, peace, ease, anticipation, subtle fear, subtle doubt, etc.

Allow the wisdom of the 3Cs to show itself naturally:
In Equanimity, we can see the three characteristics in a way that applies to the whole field of experience: everything happens on its own, everything is shifting and ephemeral, everything that involves a “this” that seems to be watching “that” has this strange tension in it. Allowing that wisdom to come through and show itself naturally is key.

Practice tactics that worked in previous stages, now don’t.
It is common at these times to apply familiar practice tactics that worked in previous stages, such as going for very fine details about small phenomena as we did building up to the A&P, powering investigation, or noting fast as we may have tried to do in Re-observation, or some other gamey strategy that we borrowed from an earlier part of the path. Few of these are likely to help and most will hinder, but many people will try them again and again until they learn this, and there is something to be said for learning for ourselves by trial and error. 

Phenomenology:
If white lights arise in Equanimity, they tend to be much more broad, amorphous and/or diffuse than the pointed, train headlight of the A&P. Any images that form in this stage are much more likely to have more 3D elements than those in the A&P. The meditator is able to sit for longer and longer periods and begins to perceive clearly the three characteristics not about the object of meditation (like in A&P)   but more about the whole sensate universe (Equanimity). There is less rapture and more equanimity than in A&P. There are rarely if ever the spontaneous physical motions and odd breathing patterns that come with that earlier stage. I don’t mention anything about the frequency of vibrations in (low-middle EQ), as it is not about that, but much more about flow, fluxing, synchronization, and inclusion. There might be pulses, shifts, arisings, and vanishings, but this is not about the specific frequency or counting beats or anything of the sort.

The mini Dark Night of Equanimity can make things complicated
, and in the face of that seeming complexity some will either try to power the thing (unlikely to work well in Equanimity), or try to solidify the pleasantness they may have experienced right before it and turn something open, flowing, and accepting into a more stable and safe-feeling fourth shamatha jhana, which is Equanimeous but still more frozen and static than works well for reaching stream entry. In this way, people can stagnate in Equanimity.

A double-dip state shift is not a Cessation:
Unfortunately, just to make things confusing, there is often a single double-dip state shift into some deeper version of early Equanimity in the manner of A&P territory, with one state-shift that may involve an eye-blink and shift in consciousness halfway down the breath and the other at the end of that same breath, very soon after the shift from Re-observation to Equanimity. 

Dropouts and head-drops are not a Cessation:
If we are tired, we may begin having dropouts and head-drops that are like what occurred in Dissolution but more extreme, sort of like when we start to have our head nod while driving when extremely tired (something I have done way too many times and strongly advise against). These head drops are among the things that people can mistake for Fruitions, but Fruitions almost never involve the head dropping as these Equanimity head-drops do.

High Equanimity:
As practice matures, reality can be perceived with great breadth, precision, and clarity, and soon with no special effort. It is the loss of any sense of the isolated, individual, effortful kazoo player, and there is just the symphony of ordinary reality happening on its own, as it is. The odd thing about High Equanimity is that most of the time you don’t notice you are in it. In fact, not noticing that you are in it is part of its hallmark. 

Don’t get attached to ideals as how wonderful High Equanimity should be:
Our practice may feel that it lacks the speed and precision of the A&P, the drama of the Dark Night, the delightfully free wonder of the earlier phase of Equanimity, and as if it isn’t enough. When High Equanimity happens, it seems so ordinary that we may try to make it into something extraordinary. If we are attached to ideals about how amazing, blazing, bright, dramatic, powerful, sensational, and thrilling practice is supposed to be, we may keep seeking those qualities and prevent ourselves from being with the very ordinary-feeling but clearly extraordinary stage of High Equanimity.

It can feel pretty boring:
In High Equanimity … at that point practice is unlikely to feel much like practice or anything special or unusual. It can feel pretty boring, like we no longer care at all if we awaken, practice, or anything like that. 

While doing walking practice you let the pressure off:
It is quite common to experience High Equanimity during walking practice, as most people mistakenly believe that walking practice is not as important as sitting, so they let the pressure off, which in this case is good. 

This phase may be very quick, just a few minutes or even a few seconds
, but if we have set up our practice well, that is all it may need. If we have conditioned our minds to perceive the broad, interconnected, integrated world of phenomena however it manifests in the light of the three characteristics, then in this final natural letting go of everything, the mind does what we have trained it to do. By taking our whole world in, it takes our whole world out.

Vibrations in High-Equanimity:
They tend to be very different from how they were in earlier phases. In the A&P they tended to be fine, fast, of one clean frequency that tended to modulate its rate by the phase of the breath, and either localized in one small area or spread out across our skin and the like. In the Dark Night stages, vibrations start slower (the shamanic drum-like beat of Fear) and then later speed up, but in an edgy, irregular, irritating, complex way that is around the edges of attention. In Equanimity, (once out past the “chunky” phase) vibrations tend to be slower, more flowing, more volumetric, more about waves of moving attention-space-phenomena all together. Equanimity is more inclusive, almost like the graceful interpretative dance of attention and space creation itself. Many people don’t really notice much about the vibrations or flow and that is also okay. It is much more a question of flow, a shifting back and forth of attention like gentle waves on a beach.

Vedana:
Sharda Rogell gave me good advice: “Just watch the motion of attraction and aversion”. 

Subject-Object Synchronization:
As Equanimity progresses, it may feel like subject and object are trying to synchronize with themselves, catch up with each other, and align, or that this side is trying to synchronize with all of space. Gently investigate this feeling and any subtle, fluxing tensions in it as lightly as possible, leaving plenty of space for it to do its wide, flowing, easy, natural thing. Trying to force it is natural: feel this forcing, if it arises. You could note “forcing” if that helps identify it. Realize that you can’t do it, but, left alone, it may do itself. Basically, the less you mess with it and the more you just let it be and roll with it, the better. 

Mental and physical phenomena may appear nearly indistinguishable:
For those with more refined concentration, phenomena may even begin to lose the sense that they are of a specific sense door, and mental and physical phenomena may appear nearly indistinguishably as just vibrations of barely differentiated suchness. Vibrating formless realms may even arise, with no discernible image of the body being present at all ... These are not necessary, just very interesting consequences of having strong concentration skills. Most gain stream entry or the next path without ever having experienced these more refined Equanimity variants.

Formations:
One of the hallmarks of Equanimity is that the way reality presents is not made up of lots of little sensations occurring in some stable space, not broken up into lots of little, individual sense doors, but instead complete phenomena begin to be perceived as consolidated in a more integrated way, meaning that they are formed together, with space, awareness, and all the different types of sense qualities happening all together to make up the objects in the sensate world ...  It is as though flowing space has textures, colors, sounds, tastes, smells all integrated into it, as part of it, and gradually attention and anything that really seems to be “us” finally gets integrated in the same way also, though we might not notice this at all. It sounds dramatic, but it is very undramatic. Many will get through this stage and have no idea that something was different, and that’s okay. These put-together sense impressions, these formed things, are formally called “formations”. 

Formations contain all the six sense doors, including thought, in a way that does not split them up sequentially in time or positionally in space. If you could take a 3D moving photograph that also captured smell, taste, touch, sound, and thought, all woven into each other seamlessly and containing a sense of flux, this would approximate the experience of one formation. They contain not only a complete set of aspects of all six sense doors within them, but also include the perception of space (volume) and even of time, movement, and the sensate qualities that make up “duration”. 

What is observing formations?
Until mental and physical sensations fully synchronize on “that side”, there can be a bit of a “tri-ality”, in which there are three things going on: (1) the sense of the observer on “this” side; (2) most of the sensations of the body; (3) most of the sensations of the mind, with the latter two fluxing “over there”. As mental and physical phenomena gradually integrate with the sense of luminous space, this experientially begs the question, “What is observing formations?” at a level that is far beyond the intellectual contemplation of it. 

Formations are so inclusive that they viscerally demonstrate what is pointed to by the concept of “no-self” in a way that no other mode of experiencing reality can. As formations become predominant, we are faced first with the questions of which side of the dualistic split we are on and then of what is watching what earlier appeared to be both sides. Just keep investigating in a natural and matter-of-fact way. Let this profound dance unfold. If you have gotten to this point, you are extraordinarily close and need to do very little but relax and be gently curious about your experience.

Formations are so inclusive that they are the gateway to the Three Doors.
It is the highly inclusive quality of formations that is the most interesting, and leads to the most practical application of discussing formations. It is because they are so inclusive that they are the gateway to the Three Doors, stage fifteen, Fruition. They reveal a way out of the paradox of duality, the maddening sense that “this” is observing, controlling, subject to, separated from, etc., “that”. By containing all or nearly all the sensations comprising one moment in a very integrated way, they contain the necessary clarity to see through the three fundamental illusions.

Anatta and Formations: When experiencing formations, the mind can no longer section off parts of perception that enable it to appear separate, in control, or observing everything else.
One of the primary ways that the illusion of duality is maintained is that the mind partially “blinks out” perception of a part of each formation that it wants to section off to appear separate, in control, or observing everything else. In this way, there is not enough clarity to see the interconnectedness and true nature of that part partially blinked out of reality, and a sense of a separate or autonomous self is maintained. The problem is not the arising of those sensations and patterns that the mind is partially blinking out to, it is that these sensations are not clearly perceived. It is almost as if the mind is placing some sensations in its map of space and what is in it, and then only partially doing that for other sensations that it wishes to turn into a sense of something stable and continuous. When the experience of formations occurs, it comes out of a level of clarity that is so complete that “blinking out” can no longer easily happen, as everything is mapped equally and completely to the same volume of our perceived sensate space and so, finally, the clear perception we have developed threatens the core illusion of a stable, perceiving, separate self. Yay!

Core processes:
When formations become the dominant experience, very profound and liberating insight is close at hand. The more we practice being aware of our whole mental and physical existence, the fewer opportunities there are for blinking out. In practice, we gently work to integrate those subtle remaining processes that seem to be a “this” side, a practitioner, a practice, a self, and so on, into the rest of the clearly perceived sense field, basically just by being gently aware of the patterns of sensations that make up those qualities of space until they realize they are naturally aware of themselves and the thing flips over.

Dukkha and Formations.
Formations contain within them the seeming gap between “this” and “that”, as well as sensations of effort, intimacy, resistance, acceptance, and all other such aspects of sensations from which a sense of self is more easily inferred. These sorts of things are the core processes, those things that most feel like a “self”, “me”, or “mine”. Questioning, analysis, expectation, practicing, remembering, subtle fear, subtle desire, real longing for release, excitement about success, wondering, mapping, comparing, knowing: these are all just sensate qualities. Notice them.

Notice the shifting of attention and how the sensations are part of that flowing movement of effortless direct comprehension, with the comprehension being the manifestation itself and not something overlaid onto that or split off from it in a way that is at once intricate and integrated. 

We are not trying to get rid of these subtle patterns that seemed to be the most “us”—they are just fine and they never were a self, never are, and never will be. The point is to just perceive those sensations clearly, and the thing will flip over to another way of perceiving them in which they are just a part of all of this natural transience. 

No need to dissect these core processes ruthlessly or catch every tiny detail of them: that sort of stuff worked well in the early stages, but Equanimity sacrifices a bit of that for the bigger prize: wide-open, total, all-the-way-through understanding. Just an ordinary, simple clarity, with the natural curiosity of a fascinated child, will do just fine at this phase of practice—a child who is willing to become wakefully absorbed in the daydream that is whatever the mind does and wherever it goes.

Anicca and Formations. The level of clarity out of which formations arise also allows us to see formations from the time they arise until the time they disappear, thus illuminating clearly those transient, empty sensations that make up a sense of a self or of a sensate universe continuing coherently in time. In the first part of the path the beginning of objects was predominant. In the A&P we got a great sense of the middle of objects but missed subtle aspects of the beginning and end. In the Dark Night the endings are about all we could really perceive clearly. Formations once again put together all of this work we have done in a very natural and complete way that finally includes everything in experience.

Thoughts, Luminosity and Formations.
Formations also explain some of the odd teachings that you might hear about “stopping thought” ... The seeming duality of mental and physical sensations is gone by the time we are perceiving formations. Thoughts appear as a luminous aspect of the phenomenal world ... “Luminosity” refers to the fact that the knowledge of sensations is in the sensations of the things themselves and is the sensations themselves. In fact, I challenge anyone to describe the bare experience of thinking or mental sensations in terms beyond those of the five “physical” sense doors. Thus, in the face of experiencing formations, it seems crude to consider thoughts as separate from visual, tactile, auditory, gustatory, and olfactory qualities, or even to speak in terms of these being discrete entities. 

A near-miss moment.
Separating the early stages of Equanimity from its mature stage, there tends to be a “near miss” moment when we get very close to the fruit of the path, which serves to really chill us out, as it were. From this point, awakening is likely to occur quickly as long as the meditator continues to simply practice and very gently fine-tune awareness and precision, paying gentle attention to things like thoughts of progress and satisfaction with equanimity. At some point even this becomes boring, and a certain cool apathy and even forgetfulness arise. Most won’t notice much about this phase.

Conformity.
Around this very mature part of Equanimity the feeling that we are not really here can arise, or that somehow we are completely out of phase with reality … It tends to last only tens of minutes at most ... The sense that we are practicing or trying to get anywhere just vanishes ... We sort of come back, with clarity again becoming more predominant. Then we get truly lost in something, some strangely clear reverie, vision, object, or flight of fancy. By really buying in, we get set up to check out.
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: MCTB2 Equanimity Chapter: some notes

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Pepe, thank you for this! A wonderful breath of the basics. 

I sometimes think of EQ as an oasis in the desert of samsara, or "the world." As far as I can tell, a recognizable EQ stage is common to all traditions, and the "practice instructions" are all pretty much the same: 1) stop doing stupid shit intending to get someplace; and 2) pretty much anything you can imagine doing here, for any reason, is, pretty much, stupid shit intending to get some place. What you realize is that it is the camels that got you here, you'd never have found this place without them, and now that the camels have water and food and shade, they show no signs of wanting to go anywhere else. Every once in a while, you check to make sure, and there they are, lying in the shade, slurping water, chewing, spitting, making those weird camel noises. You'd love to just get on with the fucking journey, but all you know by now about the desert in every direction tells you that you'd be a fried egg in no time if you push on without the camels. You had all these maps, but the camels have eaten the maps. They're the only ones who know where to go anymore. They're ornery, but you love them. So you learn to wait. There are worse things than waiting. Like trying to Do anything else, lol. Love those fucking camels. I sure hope they really know where the fuck all this leads. No sign of that at the moment, but damn, those camels are enjoying the hell out of this oasis.
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Pepe, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: MCTB2 Equanimity Chapter: some notes

Posts: 376 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Tim Farrington:
... Love those fucking camels. I sure hope they really know where the fuck all this leads. No sign of that at the moment, but damn, those camels are enjoying the hell out of this oasis.

Eventually the camels will head towards Damascus so there will be no other option but to get on the saddle. If you are lucky enough, the trip will end shortly before reaching destination. Maybe when one stops squeezing the stirrups ...
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: MCTB2 Equanimity Chapter: some notes

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Pepe:
Tim Farrington:
... Love those fucking camels. I sure hope they really know where the fuck all this leads. No sign of that at the moment, but damn, those camels are enjoying the hell out of this oasis.

Eventually the camels will head towards Damascus so there will be no other option but to get on the saddle. If you are lucky enough, the trip will end shortly before reaching destination. Maybe when one stops squeezing the stirrups ...

Pepe, you're right, I've been hell on those poor camels, over-working the stirrups and reins.

Thanks to you, I think, I dreamed last night that my camels all stood up and headed for Damascus, only each camel went in a different direction! Camel footprints radiating out across the sand, to every point on the compass! Then when I woke up and went to sit this morning, I found that I was at the bottom of the sea anyway. This is disorienting. I was counting on those camels.
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Pepe, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: MCTB2 Equanimity Chapter: some notes

Posts: 376 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Tim Farrington:
Pepe:

Eventually the camels will head towards Damascus so there will be no other option but to get on the saddle. If you are lucky enough, the trip will end shortly before reaching destination. Maybe when one stops squeezing the stirrups ...

Pepe, you're right, I've been hell on those poor camels, over-working the stirrups and reins.

Thanks to you, I think, I dreamed last night that my camels all stood up and headed for Damascus, only each camel went in a different direction! Camel footprints radiating out across the sand, to every point on the compass! Then when I woke up and went to sit this morning, I found that I was at the bottom of the sea anyway. This is disorienting. I was counting on those camels.

LOL !! Nothing better than being peacefully at the bottom of the ocean after being in the desert. Although surely the best of both worlds would be to be at a beach party (Covid-free please). What I said about stirrups was not directed at you, but at Christians seeking to emulate Paul of Tarsus in his fall from the camel at the gates of Damascus. emoticon   
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: MCTB2 Equanimity Chapter: some notes

Posts: 1841 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"Many will shift to modes of attention that are much more in the realm of concentration practice, being more about the positive qualities than the three characteristics, meaning that they stop investigating those and rest in the equanimity. It’s more likely to not progress and fall back if you don’t gently investigate the qualities of this stage: peace, ease, and a panoramic perspective. "


I would say that whole part on EQ is "too much talk" and only good if you need to write a book or want to become a meditation teacher emoticon However this one quote above is very relevant. Read it once or twice and remember it before the sit not to cling to such modes and then Note gently 1 matter of fact note per second or even 1 note per two seconds. Don't waste time on "do nothing, open awareness, just sitting, just being" as you will do these anyway OFF CUSHION right emoticon So most of the day in the EQ stage (which can last for weeks) you will have so many hours off cushion to just be curious like child, to be open awareness, to just be emoticon 

But on cushion keep noting gently and matter of fact ; neutral, neutral, wonder, touching, seeing, neutral, pleasant-ish, unpleasant-ish, neutral, boring, boring, boring, touching, hearing, boring, neutral ... 

EQ Stage is not time to give up!!! emoticon 

All that stuff quoted is useless during the sit. NOTING these thoughts from the quote arising in the sit however is very useful. 
Do not give up on noting too soon! But then again you can say "fuck you Papa! Who do you think you are, some kind of super star!!! You but a deluded old man" emoticon Might well be. Make your own choices! Do what inspires you and may it be of benefit to many! emoticon 

Best wishes to us all! Btw, don't forget; SE is sold out in the Dhamma Store!!! All you are left with is the noting/noticing of your own unfolding experience! emoticonemoticon 
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: MCTB2 Equanimity Chapter: some notes

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
All that stuff quoted is useless during the sit. NOTING these thoughts from the quote arising in the sit however is very useful. 
Do not give up on noting too soon! But then again you can say "fuck you Papa! Who do you think you are, some kind of super star!!! You but a deluded old man" emoticon Might we'll be. Make your own choices! Do what inspires you and may it be of benefit to many! emoticon 

Fuck you, Papa! Who do you think you are, some kind of super star?!

You are disturbing my camels, dude.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: MCTB2 Equanimity Chapter: some notes

Posts: 1841 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
I would just ignore Me if at all possible!!! emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: MCTB2 Equanimity Chapter: some notes

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Papa Che Dusko:
I would just ignore Me if at all possible!!! emoticon

Ignoring "Me" is easy for you! But the camels!
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: MCTB2 Equanimity Chapter: some notes

Posts: 1841 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Tim Farrington:
Papa Che Dusko:
I would just ignore Me if at all possible!!! emoticon

Ignoring "Me" is easy for you! But the camels!


Out beyond ideas of
wrongdoing and rightdoing,
There is a field.
I'll meet your camels there.

emoticon 

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