RE: Equanimity Nana Question

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Zero, modified 5 Months ago.

Equanimity Nana Question

Posts: 40 Join Date: 2/21/18 Recent Posts
Reading Contemplative Fitness by Kenneth Folk and I want to better understand what he means by this: 
In order to master the equanimity ñana, the yogi has to completely develop the fifth and final phase of chicken herding. In this phase, the chicken herder has become one with the flock and is aware of the entire barnyard all at once. This takes a great deal of momentum, and a great deal of practice, because you can’t “do” this as much as you can “allow” it; the latter phases of concentration arise naturally when the momentum is strong. And in order to have momentum, you must practice. Frustrated by her slippery mind, however, the yogi may try to hold the objects of meditation too tightly. This will not work with slippery mind. Holding tightly will not allow the later phases of concentration to develop, and will result in yet more frustration.
What is this fifth chicken herding level referring in terms of concentration ability? A soft 4th jhana? Soft 1st jhana? "Access concentration"? Am I wasting my time if I'm not doing noting/choicless awareness in EQ nana and practicing shamatha/metta instead thinking I need to get more centered/concentrated? I do find that slippery thoughts are distracting, but I mean that's to be expected if I haven't been training shamatha anyway right? 

Another question, it would seem that retreat like conditions create a container for concentration to build naturally. But, off retreat concentration doesn't seem to build at all in the same way making me think that I'm spinning my wheels if I don't develop some decent amount of concentration like Rob Burbea's suggestion of 80% shamatha 20% vipassana while off retreat(50/50 on retreat) for example. 

Or maybe I'm just thinking way too much and I should just shut the fuck up and note. Any thoughts would be appreciated. 
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Oatmilk, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Equanimity Nana Question

Posts: 95 Join Date: 7/30/20 Recent Posts
I'm not a fan of theorizing, based on what others say it seems like that one shouldn't put a lot of effort into practice, especially into investigation. I think asking gentle questions like "what is awareness?" etc. will do the job. 
You can check out Shargrol's summery's for more detail. 
I think (based on my experience) that it happens when it's supposed to happen and that all the stuff you are "supposed" to do is just adding unnecessary confusion and stress. I was practicing Shamatha in EQ and high EQ, my approach has always been gentle and lead to "blip" moments, yet at the same time I don't claim any attainments. 
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Noah D, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Equanimity Nana Question

Posts: 1148 Join Date: 9/1/16 Recent Posts
You might be wasting time on metta & samatha in eq. It's probably better to lightly note/do open awareness.  The point is you need to keep vipassanizing & deconstructing .  BUT in eq you have to also allow the niceness of it to seep deeper into your mind. This saturation process sets you up for the ultimate surrender of cessation.  So while metta might help with that, it can also hinder by not deconstructing enough.  This is the balance you have to find - a gentle enough pleasant vipassana.

the concentration is not so important as the pleasure & the vipassana. Like you can be having intermittent distractions but still be progressing deeper into eq.  It can definitely be done off retreat as long as you do both on & off cushion - keeping somewhat the continuity of mindfulness to prevent backsliding 
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Jim Smith, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Equanimity Nana Question

Posts: 972 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Zero:
Reading Contemplative Fitness by Kenneth Folk and I want to better understand what he means by this: 
In order to master the equanimity ñana, the yogi has to completely develop the fifth and final phase of chicken herding. In this phase, the chicken herder has become one with the flock and is aware of the entire barnyard all at once. This takes a great deal of momentum, and a great deal of practice, because you can’t “do” this as much as you can “allow” it; the latter phases of concentration arise naturally when the momentum is strong. And in order to have momentum, you must practice. Frustrated by her slippery mind, however, the yogi may try to hold the objects of meditation too tightly. This will not work with slippery mind. Holding tightly will not allow the later phases of concentration to develop, and will result in yet more frustration.
What is this fifth chicken herding level referring in terms of concentration ability? A soft 4th jhana? Soft 1st jhana? "Access concentration"? Am I wasting my time if I'm not doing noting/choicless awareness in EQ nana and practicing shamatha/metta instead thinking I need to get more centered/concentrated? I do find that slippery thoughts are distracting, but I mean that's to be expected if I haven't been training shamatha anyway right? 

Another question, it would seem that retreat like conditions create a container for concentration to build naturally. But, off retreat concentration doesn't seem to build at all in the same way making me think that I'm spinning my wheels if I don't develop some decent amount of concentration like Rob Burbea's suggestion of 80% shamatha 20% vipassana while off retreat(50/50 on retreat) for example. 

Or maybe I'm just thinking way too much and I should just shut the fuck up and note. Any thoughts would be appreciated. 

It looks to me like he is saying you should be observing your mental activity (thoughts, emotions, impulses) not controlling it. 

The first time I clearly, mindfully, lucidly,  observed my thoughts as they flowed naturally it was like two people who had heard a lot about each other meeting for the first time. I said, "I love you." Then I said, "I love you too."

Retreat concentration is not necessary for awakening. Some people who never meditate awaken when they are crosssing the street. When you are not on retreat you can practice in a way that does not require heavy concentration but involves mindfulness in daily life more than concentration.

The essence of Buddha's teaching is that to end dukkha you should understand the arising of dukkha (2nd noble truth) and the passing away of dukkha (3rd noble truth). To gain this understanding I do relaxation exercises to get totaly relaxed so my stress response is switched off. When your stress response is switched off you are not experiencing any unpleasant emotions, that by some definitions is nirvana. I also mediate enough to keep my mind quiet so that I can be mindful off the cushion. Then I go about life, trying to be mindful and tranquil but I watch for stress (dukkha, unpleasant emotions, mental anguish, craving) to arise, by noticing the physical sensations in my body that accompany emotions and letting myself feel the emotions that arise.

When I see stress arising in daily life I try to relax, and surrender, that is letting go (not using force), if I need to go back to the relaxation exercises I do that. Practicing this way does not need a lot of concentration, just mindfuilness and relaxation.

When you see the arising and the cessation of dukka, over and over, many times per day, day after day, and you practice relaxation, which turns off dukkah, you gradually learn how to let go of your attachments, including attachments to self. It becomes a skill and you get better at it until it becomes second nature and you don't think about it or forget to do it.

Awakening is a process of letting go of attachments to self. You feel the ego as an element in all dukkha and you find that by letting go of emotions (realxing) you can let go of the ego consciously, deliberately, gradually. You don't need to hope for any kind of discontinuous involuntary event.

I know some readers are interested in non-duality (which buddha never taught) so I'll add this:

I posted this in my practice log today:

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/22028230
Ego is the feeling of cognitive dissonance arising when we don't have what we want.

To get what we want we have to be in control.

To have control we have to be independent.

To be independent we have to be separate.

The ego is what causes belief in separation.
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Noah D, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Equanimity Nana Question

Posts: 1148 Join Date: 9/1/16 Recent Posts
The argument that Buddha never taught non duality rests on the assumption that the texts outside of the Pali canon are not the original words of the Buddha.  The problem with this assumption is that the Pali canon was an oral tradition not written down until hundreds of years after Buddha's death.  Mahayana sutras & tantras claim the same status , they were just written down later.  It is an arbitrary cut off in the timeline to only accept the Pali canon.  
Catalin, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Equanimity Nana Question

Posts: 11 Join Date: 9/25/20 Recent Posts
The cut off is not that arbitrary. The Pali texts can have more of a claim of historicity to them. The form of the texts and use of language indicate great discrepancies (implying either different sources, or significant modifications to the message). I won't go into further details on this, since it's not my main point. This isn't really that important, since you can't really know how modified the Pali texts are either. Regarding the mahayanists, a lot of the texts are attributed to bodhisatvas and other beings, and they also have kind of a tacit recognition that you can compose new texts, as long as they are in line with the teaching.

Non-duality is actually referred to in the Pali suttas. A lot of passages indicate modes of non-dual perception (neither-perception nor non-perception and the cessation of perception and feeling are clear examples of this, among others)

Some suttas even have the word non-dual in them, refering to a mode of perception (MN77 has the word "advayaṃ", which I think Sujato correctly translates as non-dual). The literal translation would be not-two or not a dyad. I'm too lazy to search for other examples.

It's not that nonduality was not thaught in the Pali suttas, it's just not presented as the modern non-dual movement presents it.

The idea peddled by some mahayanists and non-dual teachers that the Buddha and the bhikkhus from the old sangha didn't get non-duality or didn't reach that point is quite silly, and mostly used as a marketing tactic.
agnostic, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Equanimity Nana Question

Posts: 1779 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Catalin:
The idea peddled by some mahayanists and non-dual teachers that the Buddha and the bhikkhus from the old sangha didn't get non-duality or didn't reach that point is quite silly, and mostly used as a marketing tactic.

+1

I got taken in by that for a while, thinking non-duality was more "more true" than core sutta budhhism. It's an easy trap to fall into, because in one sense non-duality is "the ultimate", but it can only be appreciated from a relative perspective. I feel like it's a similar discussion to 'emptiness is form' or 'nibbana is samsara'.

I like SN 12.24 Lokayatika Sutta (Cosmologist Sutta), where the Buddha rejects the extremes of the four cosmologies ('everything exists', 'everything does not exist', 'everything is a oneness', 'everything is a manyness') and teaches the middle way of dependent origination. 

It seems like getting beguiled by non-duality and rejecting the middle way is a common development along the path at some point before we come to our senses. 
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Equanimity Nana Question

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Zero:
Reading Contemplative Fitness by Kenneth Folk and I want to better understand what he means by this: 
In order to master the equanimity ñana, the yogi has to completely develop the fifth and final phase of chicken herding. In this phase, the chicken herder has become one with the flock and is aware of the entire barnyard all at once. This takes a great deal of momentum, and a great deal of practice, because you can’t “do” this as much as you can “allow” it; the latter phases of concentration arise naturally when the momentum is strong. And in order to have momentum, you must practice. Frustrated by her slippery mind, however, the yogi may try to hold the objects of meditation too tightly. This will not work with slippery mind. Holding tightly will not allow the later phases of concentration to develop, and will result in yet more frustration.
What is this fifth chicken herding level referring in terms of concentration ability? A soft 4th jhana? Soft 1st jhana? "Access concentration"? Am I wasting my time if I'm not doing noting/choicless awareness in EQ nana and practicing shamatha/metta instead thinking I need to get more centered/concentrated? I do find that slippery thoughts are distracting, but I mean that's to be expected if I haven't been training shamatha anyway right? 

Another question, it would seem that retreat like conditions create a container for concentration to build naturally. But, off retreat concentration doesn't seem to build at all in the same way making me think that I'm spinning my wheels if I don't develop some decent amount of concentration like Rob Burbea's suggestion of 80% shamatha 20% vipassana while off retreat(50/50 on retreat) for example. 

Or maybe I'm just thinking way too much and I should just shut the fuck up and note. Any thoughts would be appreciated. 

Hi Zero,

This is the first time I've encountered Kenneth Folk's chicken herding, and I love it, thank you for that. As an old ox-herder who got gored once in a while, I find the chickens--- they are free range chickens, right?--- refreshing.

For what it's worth, it seems to me that in EQ, the chickens are doing fine without much effort, there's plenty of food and water, the pecking order has been pretty much worked out, and most of them have laid eggs and spend their time brooding on the nest. This is so different from what was happening during the dukkha nanas, and it is good to keep that in mind. One of the easiest things to do in EQ is to try too hard to do anything, which you quickly find only sends the whole barnyard into a painful uproar again. So first, don't fuck with the chickens here, let them go about their business. You still practice your basic technique, but the difference is in attitude now: whatever acquisition-mindedness may have been causing distress in the dukkha nanas has eased, here. If you're in EQ, you've been doing it right. Now you can do it right, and very very very gently. Steady practice deepens it. There's an amazingly wide margin for error, in many ways. The chickens get fatter, the eggs mature, these things are happening on their own, and you're aware of them. If there's a fox, you chase it off. If there's a hawk, you do whatever chicken farmers do when there's a hawk around. But the barnyard's good. If you do your technique cleanly, without urgency or concern, the barnyard's goodness will deepen beyond measure. The timing on the eggs hatching is beyond your control. But your relationship to time is changing just by knowing that. 

But you know all this, lol.
Or maybe I'm just thinking way too much and I should just shut the fuck up and note. 

Couldn't have said it better!

love, tim
shargrol, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Equanimity Nana Question

Posts: 1563 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Equanimity Nana Question

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
shargrol:

ahhhh, thank you, this is absolutely wonderful. It one of the clearest and most helpful considerations of "concentration" "versus" "insight" or shamatha/vipassana that I've seen. I can imagine it saves a lot of people a lot of angst. It certainly saves me a lot of angst, lol. I came very late to an awareness of the vipassana/shamatha distinction in such explicit terms, it was only when I read the first edition of MCBT circa 2011. My first reaction was that, while I loved his no-bullshit style and everything rang true, Daniel was a vipassana maniac and in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. But the years have helped season my sense of both concentration and insight, and it is long since clear that Daniel is at least a hundred different kinds of maniac, all generally good in context. I still speak with a very strong accent, of course, lol, when discussing the fine points.

Thanks again for this. And thanks Zero, for the chickens and the barnyard. I hope I'm not cluttering up your thread here, and if so, please forgive me. I'm figuring you will take this clutter with equanimity, lol.
Emil Jensen, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Equanimity Nana Question

Posts: 264 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
My mind is blown! What?!

Why haven't I head this before? Or have I? If so, why have I not understood?

Damn.. see ya later, off to practice some concentration
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Equanimity Nana Question

Posts: 3934 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Now you can all see why working with Kenneth Folk can be such a good thing  emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Equanimity Nana Question

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts

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