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josh practice thread
Answer
9/18/11 9:25 AM
ok i figured i'd make a practice thread to uncrowd some of the other super-big threads.

I'm pre-path, came to actualism from buddhism jhana practice

right now I'm basically paying as much attention as possible (endinsight's advice basically), which I'm interpreting as keeping attention as wide as possible on experience right here and right now. whenever i see that i lost attention i do actualism style investigation before reinstating it. just did a 25 minute sit where i basically tried to just keep attention very wide and all-inclusive, not focusing on anything as best as i could. it was very uneventful, leading me to think that maybe i'm just not seeing enough for this to be effective. but thinking about it, i'm definitely less reactive to things, so I'm just going to wait a week or so and see if there is any medium term reduction in affective stuff. I've definitely seen improvement over the medium-term doing similar stuff the past few weeks, so although this practice might not be as effective for me as it would be for an arahant, i think im definitely getting somewhere.

oh and, i'm not quite sure about "inclining towards sensuousness" (again endinsight's advice) when i try and see everything at the same time without focusing on anything in particular i'm more sensuous than normal, but i don't know if i'm actually getting anywhere as the word "inclining" would imply...

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/18/11 9:41 AM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
I'm pre-path, came to actualism from buddhism jhana practice


Do you have a guess as to where on the progress of insight you were before you stopped?

josh r s:
just did a 25 minute sit where i basically tried to just keep attention very wide and all-inclusive, not focusing on anything as best as i could. it was very uneventful, leading me to think that maybe i'm just not seeing enough for this to be effective.


Nothing has to "happen" except that you notice your experience. Seriously. Sometimes things will happen and sometimes they won't. Both are equally good.

josh r s:
but thinking about it, i'm definitely less reactive to things, so I'm just going to wait a week or so and see if there is any medium term reduction in affective stuff.


What "medium-term" means can vary depending on the person and can vary depending on where on the path they're at, so (as you're at the beginning) try to have a liberal view of what "medium-term" means until you understand your mind more thoroughly, and stay committed. Time-scales are very individual.

josh r s:
oh and, i'm not quite sure about "inclining towards sensuousness" (again endinsight's advice) when i try and see everything at the same time without focusing on anything in particular i'm more sensuous than normal, but i don't know if i'm actually getting anywhere as the word "inclining" would imply...


You "incline" there from whatever level of sensuousness you're at, that's what counts.

Good luck on this journey! I think you'll find it's the best thing that 'you' ever did.

EDIT:

josh r s:
so although this practice might not be as effective for me as it would be for an arahant,


From a purely theoretical perspective, you might want to consider that what MCTB calls an arahant is actually something else.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/18/11 4:23 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Do you have a guess as to where on the progress of insight you were before you stopped?


I don't even know what that is... so probably not very far hehe. the only stages i'm aware of are the paths and i definitely haven't got stream entry. I think i may have just barely gotten first jhana before switching to actualism

Nothing has to "happen" except that you notice your experience. Seriously. Sometimes things will happen and sometimes they won't. Both are equally good.

ok

What "medium-term" means can vary depending on the person and can vary depending on where on the path they're at, so (as you're at the beginning) try to have a liberal view of what "medium-term" means until you understand your mind more thoroughly, and stay committed. Time-scales are very individual.

ok

You "incline" there from whatever level of sensuousness you're at, that's what counts.

I'm not sure i really get the inclining thing, I tried to just sort of interpret those words and what i ended up doing is just shifting attention towards the physical senses, trying to do the "seeing with the eye" rather than "seeing through the eye" is this inclining towards sensuousness?

Good luck on this journey! I think you'll find it's the best thing that 'you' ever did.


ok, i'm liking where it's going i think i pretty much get it, I enjoy the act of paying attention and i find myself to keep it up pretty steadily. I do seem to lose it when doing things like reading, but maybe i'll get better at that through practice. thanks for the help

From a purely theoretical perspective, you might want to consider that what MCTB calls an arahant is actually something else.


ok whatever emoticon

edit: also you mentioned the arupa qualities, would i need to have been through the 8 jhanas to actually get these? when i'm doing the wide attentiveness thing and i try to perceive the qualities of space, consciousness, nothing, signlessness just from the words I'm pretty much just lost

you keep mentioning the sensations of being, I'm not sure if i really perceive these at all, is seeing this sensation clearly necessary to make progress with this method?

hm... maybe I am seeing it though, I sort of feel myself to exist on the outside of the face and in my head, and sort of everywhere my attention shifts to. Like if my attention shifts to my arms i sort of feel "me" on the outer skin layer of the arms. I do feel something definitely recognizeable as affective, all over the place, and it changes when i make myself feel a specific emotion, is this the feeling of being?

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/19/11 6:31 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
Do you have a guess as to where on the progress of insight you were before you stopped?


I don't even know what that is... so probably not very far hehe. the only stages i'm aware of are the paths and i definitely haven't got stream entry. I think i may have just barely gotten first jhana before switching to actualism


You should read the MCTB chapter(s) about this.

Also, read tarin's guide to stream entry.

josh r s:
I'm not sure i really get the inclining thing, I tried to just sort of interpret those words and what i ended up doing is just shifting attention towards the physical senses, trying to do the "seeing with the eye" rather than "seeing through the eye" is this inclining towards sensuousness?


What "inclining towards sensuousness" means on a practical level will depend on where you are on the path. What you're describing sounds reasonable to me.

What happens if you ask HAIETMOBA? Is it the same or different? I, personally, hold HAIETMOBA in very high regard as a way to incline towards sensuousness.

josh r s:
edit: also you mentioned the arupa qualities, would i need to have been through the 8 jhanas to actually get these? when i'm doing the wide attentiveness thing and i try to perceive the qualities of space, consciousness, nothing, signlessness just from the words I'm pretty much just lost


Stream entry will help here, too. For now I wouldn't worry; I'm not sure that they can be perceived at all until one first gets to the Equanimity nana, or gets those jhanas.

josh r s:
you keep mentioning the sensations of being, I'm not sure if i really perceive these at all, is seeing this sensation clearly necessary to make progress with this method?

hm... maybe I am seeing it though, I sort of feel myself to exist on the outside of the face and in my head, and sort of everywhere my attention shifts to. Like if my attention shifts to my arms i sort of feel "me" on the outer skin layer of the arms. I do feel something definitely recognizeable as affective, all over the place, and it changes when i make myself feel a specific emotion, is this the feeling of being?


Everywhere 'you' exist, everything 'you' perceive, all 'your' feelings, that is 'being'. Feelings = 'you' = 'you' perceiving = 'being'. They are all the same in this regard (there is no separate feeling of 'being' apart from particular feelings, particular instances of 'you', etc.)

It's good that you notice that 'you' exist where your attention shifts to (i.e. 'you' exist where 'you' attend).

As you keep practicing, more and more levels of 'being' will become clear to you. See what you can see now; you won't be able to see what you haven't developed your perception enough to see, so don't sweat it. (Think of this method as a kind of perceptual training; the more you do it, the more there is that will become clear.)

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/21/11 5:08 PM as a reply to josh r s.
Alright, I seem to be drawn away from attention whenever anything happens that 'i' deem as important, whenever i feel like something is necessary or needs to be done, or that i have responsibility, or i in some way am invested i lose the attention. also if i'm honest with myself, the attention never stays static or improving for more than around 30 seconds before devolving, and it keeps getting worse until i notice.

on the other hand i've been very felicitous and it looks like malicious and sorrowful reactions are already losing some of their "convincingness" when i have them i have sort of a more stable base from which to view them they're there and they're unpleasant but they aren't being expressed or taking over.

my access to felicity seems a bit better, whenever I try to "become the physical senses" and just look at everything with equanimity i seem to drift towards felicity as long as i do my best to stay with the senses and investigate what comes up.

example story: I left my kindle sitting around and a friend of mine picked it up and saw the book "blackjack: how to play like the pros" which is something mortifying around my group of friends. they also looked at this list of books like plato's republic, man, economy, and state and other philosophical books. although they didn't say anything explicitly, my identity told me that my worst fear had been realized and i was now thought of as a pseudo-intellectual who goes around posing as someone who enjoys reading plato but actually would prefer to cherish fantasies of becoming a blackjack player.

this thought immediately ripped my attention from here and now and i entered the timeless realm of identity in which "i" am the only thing that exists and the only thing that makes sense is defending and attacking other identities in order to assert 'my' dominance. after around 5 seconds of thought spinning i tried to do several things.

1. simply bring attention back to experience (in the only way i can which i refer to in different terms but is just haietmoba) and trying to change my perception of the emotion into the same as my perception of the actual so that my embarrassment may as well be heartburn.

2. think about how silly it is to feel bad about something when the only effect of this feeling is my own suffering

3. think about the universe as a whole and how it is all just physical, dust in the wind etc.

4. think about how this body was just imagining me, and how a physical flesh and blood body wouldn't care about what was thought of it any more than i rock would.

not until the fourth one did anything really change, so i kept contemplating this line of thinking and pulling the rubber band of attention outwards from my chest/stomach core so that it encompassed all my experience. eventually i pulled out to felicity and took some time to think about specific beliefs that caused this and how it would be nice not to have to deal with all that sort of identity crap.

i was able to see very clearly that the physical world is delightful without affective filter, so hopefully i'm making some progress towards disenchantment with the emotions as i see how the world is fine without them

question: should i just do vipassana and get stream entry? should i keep doing this kind of practice? my guess is the latter type is more pleasant, but which is quicker? i suppose that's variable.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/21/11 5:55 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
Alright, I seem to be drawn away from attention whenever anything happens that 'i' deem as important, whenever i feel like something is necessary or needs to be done, or that i have responsibility, or i in some way am invested i lose the attention.


This is a key insight. If you continue to follow up on this, you will begin to see all the places where 'you' have something at stake, all the little 'you'-feelings that scamper around moment-to-moment and are usually not noticed.

The most important thing when doing this kind of observation (apart from keeping attention up all the time) is to be willing to be very open and honest, because there is a lot of 'you' hidden everywhere, and it can be psychologically difficult to confront or admit to.

When I was still working on AF, Nick advised me to quit posting on KFD (as I posted quite a bit), but I didn't take his advice at first...mostly because 'I' was not willing to face the extent to which doing such a simple act as typing a post about my opinions (about topics that 'I' deemed important, things that 'I' thought needed to be said, etc.), would dredge up a lot of 'me'. It took a few weeks to understand why he was right and I was wrong.

I would not advise quitting posting (as that is more suited for periods which you are looking to devote more exclusively to practice), but merely seeing these kinds of things in your own experience will prove extremely helpful to you both now and in the future.

josh r s:
also if i'm honest with myself, the attention never stays static or improving for more than around 30 seconds before devolving, and it keeps getting worse until i notice.


Have you considered repeatedly asking HAIETMOBA (or equivalent), say once every few seconds?

The task of continuing to repeat the question is a very good way of keeping one's attention steady.

josh r s:
question: should i just do vipassana and get stream entry? should i keep doing this kind of practice? my guess is the latter type is more pleasant, but which is quicker? i suppose that's variable.


Well, one possibility is that if you do this practice, you'll get stream entry anyway. In fact, I would be surprised if you didn't. You might want to ask Jill about whether she got stream entry, when, how, etc. as she used a practice like this one from the very beginning, whereas I did not.

As for whether you should aim for SE or not, it might depend on how much time you have to devote to practice. If you have a good block of time that you could set aside for it (say a retreat or just a lot of spare hours each day to dedicate to practice), a very "focused" approach oriented towards SE might be good. If not...many people find it much harder to get SE outside of formal, dedicated practice (but it can of course be done).

Another way to evaluate this is, how close are you to being attentive for most of the day? During what portion of the day would you estimate you have attentiveness going? If it's very low, and you see that as not likely to change soon, SE might help you. If it's very high, or you think you can make it very high in a reasonable amount of time, it will probably only take a tweak to how "precise" your attention is during that period in order to get SE in a reasonable amount of time.

One final thought is, this practice is compatible with "hard" vipassana. You can do hard vipassana for however long you want, and immediately go back to attentiveness, with no problem. But, hard vipassana may not be compatible with cultivating felicity (as hard vipassana makes you likely to feel all kinds of unfelicitous things, whether positive or negative). If you are especially good at cultivating felicity, or you find cultivating felicity gives you a better perspective from which to investigate your identity and goals (as you described), you may want to stick with that for a bit.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/21/11 6:13 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
hmm, i think i'll stick with what I'm doing and make progress. does attentiveness take away from self incrementally no matter what like drops from a bucket? or is that bucket being refilled constantly such that the only way to make net progress is to get really continuous attentiveness?

it really wouldn't make sense that i wouldn't improve my attentiveness/day time as long as i keep trying to do it all the time. so yes, i think i'll stick with panoramic mode and investigation mode without adding vipassana. I'm going to just do this practice for about a month solid. compare my experience then with what I just wrote, if I made progress i'll keep it up, if not i'll start vipassana.

I guess I'lll seeya on october 21st.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/21/11 6:47 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
hmm, i think i'll stick with what I'm doing and make progress. does attentiveness take away from self incrementally no matter what like drops from a bucket? or is that bucket being refilled constantly such that the only way to make net progress is to get really continuous attentiveness?


My experience was that it reliably and continually effaced 'me' until, one day, the whole illusion fell apart.

It is possible that one's self might regenerate, but I suppose this is only likely to happen if one quits practice for a while. (If you get into the dark night, it will likely seem that this "regeneration" has happened, even though it hasn't.)

The best metaphor I can think of is weight training for the perceptual faculties. Keep doing it and you keep improving (while 'you' recede bit by bit).

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 4:51 PM as a reply to josh r s.
interesting experience, not totally sure how to proceed.

right now if i maximize effort and try to see as much as possible i get to this point where whenever i try progress, wherever "forward" is, I feel intense pleasure all over the place. it is similar to what i take to be the feeling of being but it is very pleasurable. when i keep inclining towards this feeling it gets even more intense but somehow not enjoyable at all, it sort of climaxes and i often involuntarily jerk some part of my body like i might when i'm falling asleep in the car.

i'm sure the feeling is affective, and although it is sweet it is not really satisfying. it's like being really hungry and being offered a sugar topped icing cupcake with sugar bread. it's too sweet xD

when i do the little climax, jerk awake thing there is an afterglow of the feeling all around (thinking this is feeling of being) the afterglow is more pleasant because it is more subtle, less intense. i've tried mashing this feeling with the actual, focusing on it alone, and excluding it from attention. none of this does anything really, I'm going to try one more thing which is just sitting with it, relaxing, observing, and not trying to change.

there is a definite feeling that it is "i" making this, and a feeling that it is somehow a hump i have to cross to get into the actual world... it's somehow fearful, but has an aspect of pleasure, and an aspect of thrillingness.

if anyone knows what i'm talking about and has any insight, it'd be appreciated.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 5:05 PM as a reply to josh r s.
Pleasure + involuntary body jerking + thrilling + "sickly-sweet" = A&P

That's a good rule of thumb, anyway. Do you notice any vibrations?

Anyway, it doesn't matter what it is, so long as you pay attention. (If it's the A&P, you should be prepared for the dark night, which will come afterwards, perhaps intensely, perhaps mildly.)

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 5:33 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
i actually don't think this is A&P, although i don't know a ton about the A&P. mostly because the experience is totally repeatable given a few seconds of effort and inclining in this direction.

i can make it come up right away, and then it stops as soon as i stop trying. centered in stomach area, also head, if i hold it for a while or try to increase it my limbs kind of jerk away from it and i can't keep it up

also, i'm actually thinking the physical sensations themselves aren't thrilling, maybe it's just the thought that I'm somehow close to PCE.

other things:
I force it to happen in the head area and it sort starts with smiling, if i keep myself from smiling it doesn't go (weird.)
then it shoots down into stomach, above belly button below rib cage

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 5:34 PM as a reply to josh r s.
Do you notice any vibrations?

josh r s:
also, i'm actually thinking the physical sensations themselves aren't thrilling, maybe it's just the thought that I'm somehow close to PCE.


'You' are thrilled, the sensations are merely what they are. Such is affect.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 5:38 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Anyway, keep doing the thing that's bringing up the pleasure + jerking + whatever...if it's A&P, eventually there will be a BIG climax, and then it's dark night all the way down the hill.

If it isn't A&P...keep doing it, eventually you'll figure out what it is, or eventually it will stop, and then you won't have to worry about it anymore either way.

Really, honestly, the details don't matter if you're willing to keep paying attention no matter what.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 5:48 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
sorry, i don't know exactly what virabtions are, i looked through all mentions of vibrations in MCTB but couldn't find exact defintion... is it sort of like a flickering of sensation rather than single solid sensation?

nvm, i found the definition, and i can sort of experience like that if i try to, but it's not like it's happening of its own accord. also, when you say keep paying attention, should i keep trying to make this happen and pay attention to it? or just keep paying attention? if i just do my normal wide/precise awareness i don't experience this, or anything very interesting.

hm, i was hoping i could just find the right way to incline and these affective sensations i could see clearly now would just go away

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 5:52 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
also, when you say keep paying attention, should i keep trying to make this happen and pay attention to it? or just keep paying attention? if i just do my normal wide/precise awareness i don't experience this, or anything very interesting.


You get to figure this one out for yourself. As long as you're paying attention, you're doing fine. Think of this as an experiment in varying the ways you can pay attention, to see what effects different ways have.

Not being you, the best that anyone else can do is speculate. Try what you like, and report back if you want feedback.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 6:52 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
hey, endinsight, what do you think of one on one direct pointing, i was thinking i'd do that in addition to attention throughout the day

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 7:07 PM as a reply to josh r s.
I have no experience with it. I would say that it is far from validated (in terms of helping people to attain paths as MCTB defines them, in terms of helping to get AF).

To the extent that it encourages discursive thinking, it is not compatible with what you're doing, though perhaps you can split up your time somehow.

Is something about your current method unsatisfying?

If you do it, let us know what it gets you.

EDIT: Apart from whether direct pointing is helpful, people into direct pointing do not understand that 'I' am 'my' feelings and 'my' feelings are 'me'...that understanding may not be compatible with their methods. To the extent that you understand it, you may have to put it aside in order to interface with them and with what they mean by self.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 7:12 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
meh, i just sort of feel like I'm seeing all these components of the self but they aren't really doing anything. i'm seeing this feeling, i'm seeing affective components in experience that telling me that there is a self. i'm sort of able to see the not-self in all sensations. but idk it's not appearing to change. also, i'm just not able to keep the attention up consistently enough.

would it actually take away from the attention practice if i did the talking back and forth and just did attentiveness all throughout the rest of the day when I'm not by my computer?

i think i'd just sit in my room all day if i didn't have to go to school >.<, then maybe i would be able to keep up attentiveness..

EDIT: Apart from whether direct pointing is helpful, people into direct pointing do not understand that 'I' am 'my' feelings and 'my' feelings are 'me'...that understanding may not be compatible with their methods. To the extent that you understand it, you may have to put it aside in order to interface with them and with what they mean by self.


i plan to answer based purely on my own experience, which is what they ask for i think, rather than on anything i've read. unless there is some reason to believe that I'll come out of this in some delusion, unable to go anywhere, i think i'll go for it, see what happens, and keep up as much attentiveness as possible when not in the actual process of the 1 on 1 stuff.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 7:17 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
meh, i just sort of feel like I'm seeing all these components of the self but they aren't really doing anything. i'm seeing this feeling, i'm seeing affective components in experience that telling me that there is a self. i'm sort of able to see the not-self in all sensations. but idk it's not appearing to change. also, i'm just not able to keep the attention up consistently enough.


And how long have you been practicing so far?

In order to benefit from this method, you need a lot more commitment than you appear to have. Perhaps that's worth investigating.

would it actually take away from the attention practice if i did the talking back and forth and just did attentiveness all throughout the rest of the day when I'm not by my computer?


When you're doing that, you're thinking discursively and not doing this. Only you can say whether the extra discursive thinking would affect paying attention the rest of the time.

josh r s:
i plan to answer based purely on my own experience, which is what they ask for i think, rather than on anything i've read. unless there is some reason to believe that I'll come out of this in some delusion, unable to go anywhere, i think i'll go for it, see what happens, and keep up as much attentiveness as possible when not in the actual process of the 1 on 1 stuff.


The only possible delusion I imagine one might obtain from the proccess is no longer seeing that feelings = 'self'.

Let us know whether / how this sort of thing helps. Most people at the DhO have no real idea about it.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 7:21 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Hey. You were all excited about some pleasant thing that was happening to you. Now you appear to be bored and somewhat demoralized. Mild A&P --> dark night? What just happened?

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 7:27 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
And how long have you been practicing so far?

In order to benefit from this method, you need a lot more commitment than you appear to have. Perhaps that's worth investigating.


i've been asking haietmoba for 9 months, yes it's true that i haven't been so focused on attention alone for very long at all, but the fact remains that overall it's been 9 months, and throughout that whole time i've made effort, recently more than before, to be attentive all the time.

When you're doing that, you're thinking discursively and not doing this. Only you can say whether the extra discursive thinking would affect paying attention the rest of the time.


depending on what you are meaning by discursive, i've always thought of it as just wandering thoughts (dictionary agrees), I accidentally think discursively very often, and am somewhat forced to do it on purpose when formulating essays etc.

the thinking doesn't seem to have effect on me when i'm not in the midst of actually thinking though.


The only possible delusion I imagine one might obtain from the proccess is no longer seeing that feelings = 'self'.

Let us know whether / how this sort of thing helps. Most people at the DhO have no real idea about it.


i don't think of myself as the type of person who would just engage in conversation and then suddenly lose my ability to perceive that feelings are self. it doesn't seem possible that i could actually lose that perception. so, while i don't think that direct pointing will get me anywhere near AF, i'm interested to see if there is some illusion which it will help me get rid of and thus bring me that much closer.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 7:31 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
so, while i don't think that direct pointing will get me anywhere near AF, i'm interested to see if there is some illusion which it will help me get rid of and thus bring me that much closer.


If you're eager for a "shortcut", going straight for stream entry will be helpful.

Why not make a specific plan, such as

(Try direct pointing for X amount of time)
(If unsuccessful, do "hard" vipassana until stream entry)

Stream entry makes everything easier.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 7:39 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
ok, current plan:

try direct pointing and attention thing at same time. i won't set a specific time parameter but i'll just say that i'll go until i decide it's b.s. or i get what they have gotten (whether that is worth anything i'll soon see)
if i realize it's been a couple months though i'll replace direct pointing with dry vipassana

here is my one on one thread.
http://liberationunleashed.com/nation/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=39

can't wait to meet that liberator! (oops, gotta get rid of my cynical assumptions and doubts if this is to have any chance)

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 7:54 PM as a reply to josh r s.
I suggest setting a time limit, so you take the process seriously and put 100% into it. If you only have X amount of time for direct pointing, you had better look hard and get some results.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 7:55 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Also, what happened just before that made you suddenly go from talking about this pleasurable experience to your new take on things? Anything?

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 8:30 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
I guess i just reflected on how for nine months i'd been seeing stuff but it hadn't been changing. so i figure either i'm not seeing as much as i think, or i need to do something more than see it.

over 9 months i have seen great changes in my affective range. whether this is due to psychological investigation which is the one thing at which i've really excelled, or just simply paying attention i don't know. it seems like i'm just changing myself into a better self rather than getting rid of the self, so i think i'm going to look at some of these other non-actualist things. first i'll try this direct pointing, if that doesn't get me anywhere i'll do noting, if that doesn't get me anywhere i'll maybe try jhanas. all the while though i'll continue this psychological investigation and attentiveness, i have a definite aversion to quitting those, they have removed lots of suffering.

so that's where i am i guess. I'll report the details of the direct pointing, maybe it just helps people see that there is no-self intellectually? if that is the case it won't help, but it won't hurt.

this is a little writing from a "liberator"


So you expext that all feeling of aliveness/being to vanish? hm, I'm sure it will once the body is dead.
Rather than trying to get rid of feeling of being, look at what is that feeling itself. Observe it and tell me, is the center personal?


they aren't getting to AF of course, maybe not 4th path, i don't really know, but i'd love to be able to see the anatta in the sense-of-being clearly as my natural state rather than searching for that perception

you know, maybe i have actually had some major shift in the past few days, because i have been feeling so great, and my decision to look into "shortcuts" has come from a pure rationalist perspective rather than my normal "oh-my-god-im-so-depressed-get-me-out-of-this" perspective. i'm feeling so grounded in just the attention and investigation, i know that if something happens it may induce affect but i'll be able to quickly perceive this for what it is and quickly return to felicity and attention. i can imagine my older self writing this same stuff and thinking about all these different practices, but i can tell he's really stressed about it, i'm not at all.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 8:36 PM as a reply to josh r s.
How was your previous practice of HAIETMOBA different or similar from constantly paying attention?

I agree, stick with psychological investigation until you're very very deep into this. And attentiveness as much as possible when not doing something else.

As for noting...it works. There is a reason most people at the DhO, KFD, etc. do it. Perhaps you will find out in the future.

Most of us recommend against trying for jhana until after stream entry (or at least against trying for jhana for its own sake, instead of jhana to support vipassana). Stream entry makes it much easier.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 9:11 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
How was your previous practice of HAIETMOBA different or similar from constantly paying attention?


now that i think about it like that, maybe i was basically doing the exact same thing, but thinking about it differently, and recently, like this last week, doing it more assiduously. although maybe I'm doing something slightly different from what you talk about, because i definitely still investigate things causing suffering and they definitely go away from that, I only temporarily find myself being attentive to suffering.

edit:
so to sum all this stuff up
, I've seen progress from actualist method[1]. this progress has manifested in the form of less suffering, but i don't know that i'm actually going towards having no self. so i'm going to start trying a few methods.. my plan is this: direct pointing, noting (assuming i get stream entry from one, i'll do jhana), if at any point i have a PCE and see life without self, i'll probably go back to purely actualist methods from the new perspective. all the while i'm doing those other practices (jhana, direct pointing, noting) I'll try and combine in some actualism unless it is an obvious hinderance.

[1] by actualist method i mean attentiveness/haietmoba and investigation, aiming to maximize felicity and minimize good/bad

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 9:20 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:

I've seen progress from actualist method[1]. this progress has manifested in the form of less suffering, but i don't know that i'm actually going towards having no self.


As 'you' are 'your' suffering, how is this not actually going towards having no self?

If you believe there is a self apart from feelings (such as suffering), look harder. 'You' are always a feeling of one kind or another, including the feeling of observing other feelings. (There's some direct pointing for you.)

About HAIETMOBA, if you are not satisfied with your 9 months of it, and are not satisfied with the constant attention method, try varying the quality of your attention and see if you get different results. For instance, try looking "closer" (more noticing the little fluctuations, more noticing per second).

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 9:32 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
well, I was thinking more along the lines of the fact that although i lost some of this suffering, it was just the self changing rather than going away, this may be a rationalization, i'm having trouble putting into language my experience of self now vs. before. i figured that if i was actually losing the self i'd have either some awakening moments, realizations, maybe seeing sensations of being as just any other sensations...

so yes, I am this suffering, but i also am this felicity, and when I am felicity, it's not that I'm not there, it's just that i'm different...
ah whatever, i don't feel as if i'm not understanding the way i used to feel, i think i'll be alright, i'll start the direct pointing, relate my experience, keep up the actualism and report back in.

i think the issues in perception you think that i am having may just be a failure in my ability to communicate. i feel great right now, i'm excited for whatever the direct pointing will bring. i hope to keep going down the road of changing the self from good/bad to felicitous and equanimous, maybe this is actually the same thing as getting rid of the self, again just failure in communication... seeya in a bit.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/23/11 9:40 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
well, I was thinking more along the lines of the fact that although i lost some of this suffering, it was just the self changing rather than going away,


There is no self to change. There is just a feeling now, a feeling in a moment from now, another feeling shortly after...

This is not theoretical. This is something you will need to see to fully understand 'I' am 'my' feelings and 'my' feelings are 'me'.

If you investigate it very carefully, in a direct, perceptual, matter-of-fact way, you may get stream entry.

In any case, good luck with what you're doing, and have fun!

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
9/26/11 3:58 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
well i did the direct pointing thing, turns out i already got as far as they go. i see the sense of being clearly, and if i look at it i can attribute the quality of not-self to it very naturally, and that's as far as they go.

so now, i either just use actualist methods and keep goin or i start noting. will i turn into a jerk to everyone around me and become very unhappy from this? hm, even if it means i'll get to the final thing a little faster, there's no difference once i'm there. i'll devote myself totally to actualist methods.

last few days were pretty great, but today i had a few glitches, beliefs i couldn't perceive clearly right away such that they start causing pain and i forgot what the source was. as a result i was much less inclined towards sensuousness because the "real" world seemed actual and the "real" problems seemed significant.

reminding myself that all this was going on to support some dudes my mind was dreaming up helped.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/1/11 8:11 AM as a reply to josh r s.
for some reason i decided i'd start doing the buddhist-type practice rather than actualism. now i feel really shitty and can't get out of it, and almost dont want to. what ive been doing is just mindfulness to everything i can see at once, and for a while just trying to see where stress was arising and what its cause was. i realized that there was stress here that i couldnt discern clearly. so i just started seeing everything as not-self. and then i started feeling really bad... great.

so now what, just keep seeing everything as not-self until i feel even worse and eventually i feel better? i guess i should read mctb in full.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/1/11 8:28 AM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
for some reason i decided i'd start doing the buddhist-type practice rather than actualism. now i feel really shitty and can't get out of it, and almost dont want to. what ive been doing is just mindfulness to everything i can see at once, and for a while just trying to see where stress was arising and what its cause was. i realized that there was stress here that i couldnt discern clearly. so i just started seeing everything as not-self. and then i started feeling really bad... great.

so now what, just keep seeing everything as not-self until i feel even worse and eventually i feel better? i guess i should read mctb in full.


How about going back to felicity practice? How was your felicity practice before? Perhaps hold off on the insight practice and stick with concentration practice combined with felicity. Can you do this?

Nick

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/1/11 8:36 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
ok yea im trying the felicity thing but i can't pin down the suffering/its cause. there is definitely somethin goin in my chest/gut/everywhere area, normally i could go back to the place where i started feeling bad, but now when i go back i just see that there was a change when i started trying to see not-self. doesn't fit into normal categories of stuff i can investigate. ill keep trying

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/1/11 8:50 AM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
ok yea im trying the felicity thing but i can't pin down the suffering/its cause. there is definitely somethin goin in my chest/gut/everywhere area, normally i could go back to the place where i started feeling bad, but now when i go back i just see that there was a change when i started trying to see not-self. doesn't fit into normal categories of stuff i can investigate. ill keep trying


Have you tried the 'hacking vedana' approach? I did this myself when i had shitty sensations in those areas you describe to great effect. Eventually i was able to cultivate felicitous mind states regardless of the unpleasantness going on in the body.

You could also try this approach as well to deal with those 'twangs': http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com/2011/09/yogi-experiment-stop-fighting.html

Try dedicating a couple of weeks just to felicity practice and forget about all other practices. Then when you get good at cultivating felicity when you want, you will have a firm base to practice triggering PCEs. Coupling it with other actualist practices will aid you in moving forward. The path doesn't need to suck.

Nick

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/1/11 9:53 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
hm thought i already had that firm base in felicity. the hack thing actually worked really well, although i only did it just now after an hour of just trying to 'let the senses be' which helped too.

yea i think im going to stop trying to do other stuff, im not sure why i tried to just now oh well. not feeling 100% better but im out of the real shit for now

maybe because i keep reading stuff about buddhism and listening to dharma talks i keep getting interested, tryin to cut that out

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/1/11 4:04 PM as a reply to josh r s.
damn, feeling so discouraged idk what happened
i keep thinking that there is no point in trying to feel better because this will just come back.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/1/11 4:10 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
damn, feeling so discouraged idk what happened


I thought you said your base of felicity was strong? Seems like it wasn't?

Perhaps leaving aside all 'resentments' for the moment might be a wise move. Focus once again on felicity exclusively. Stop getting stuck in the negative thought loops. Question the beliefs behind them. Release them due to seeing their silliness. And get back to a practice that leads to being happy and harmless. Pull your pants up and stop feeling sorry for your (illusory) 'self'. It's illusory, compounded phenomena, and that is why it is not seen with the direct pointing as there is nothing to pinpoint and say, 'that is self'. But there is a reason for the notion that 'you' are your feelings and your feelings are 'you'. The compounding process continues regardless of whether one sees a self in it or not and so does the misery inherent in it. The flow of 'being' sucks regardless. PCEs make this clear. Felicity is the bridge to PCEs and AF and no more malice and sorrow (feeling sorry for yourself). Turn back towards the bridge!

Nick

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/1/11 4:16 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
I thought you said your base of felicity was strong? Seems like it wasn't?


yeh, that's why i said that i thought it was, not that it was

Pull your pants up


this is the only part of all that i feel like i can actually do

Stop getting stuck in the negative thought loops.


not really thinking, just looking at experience, sort of just bewildered by it

The flow of 'being'


ok well now im seeing the flow of being but i feel like there isnt anyway to do anything about it

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/1/11 4:27 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:


Stop getting stuck in the negative thought loops.


not really thinking, just looking at experience, sort of just bewildered by it

The flow of 'being'


ok well now im seeing the flow of being but i feel like there isnt anyway to do anything about it


This is not an unquestioned locked in thought loop (belief) conditioning your current predicament? I was in a similar situation my whole life. I investigated it: http://nickdowntherabbithole.blogspot.com/2011/07/conversations-breakthrough.html


Try felicity practice! Try it with resolve and it actually might work. Try it half heartedly because "but I feel like" etc etc, and it won't. Set aside one hour to dedicate your entire being (the flow of being) to become a felicitous mind state. See what happens when you actually try instead of, according to current impressions, not trying.

Nick

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/1/11 4:28 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
you're right im not really trying

Felicity practice!


ok, here is what i plan to do for an hour

1. physically locate stress
2. find its cause
3. let go of its cause/incline towards sensuousness keeping silliness of cause in mind
4. ??? improvise

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/1/11 4:44 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
you're right im not really trying

Felicity practice!


ok, here is what i plan to do for an hour

1. physically locate stress
2. find its cause
3. let go of its cause/incline towards sensuousness keeping silliness of cause in mind
4. ??? improvise


When I found myself in similar situations here is what I'd do:

1. I would ask myself why I was not feeling happy?

2. I would find the physical component of the mental disturbance. It usually was a crappy sensation in the chest or throat. It would be overlayed with a lot of mental tension.

3. I would accept that there was mental tension there. The acceptance of the tension would lighten it a little.

4. I would then see how the sensations were being read automatically as unpleasant and the mind was reacting automatically with aversion towards it giving rise to an unpleasant manifestation of 'me'.

5. I would then shift the way the mind was reading the sensation with aversion and instead (faked it till I made it) saw it as pleasant as opposed to unpleasant. As soon as I did this, I saw how the mind dropped the tense aversion for it for the moments the sensation wasn't automatically being read as 'bad for 'me'. Once I was able to do so, the moments of seeing the flow of sensations without aversion towards them grew longer, and I noticed the mental mood would shift to a more calm and collected one.

6. I would then ignore the sensations and focus purely on the mental calm that had begun to arise and will the mind towards an even calmer state of wellbeing, by sometimes remembering the last time 'I' had felt that wellbeing, or just fake it till it just happened. It became a purely mental exercise when I stopped allowing the sensations at various points in the body from being conditioning factors for unpleasant mental disturbances.

7. Once I was able to just shift the mental mood to an open restful state of wellbeing, I then would attend to sensuousness with greater ease non-stop unhindered by the push and pull of a gross manifestation of 'being'.

Nick

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/1/11 6:55 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
ooookay

thought alot and played around with some of these ideas, trying to remember all of it

"what is stress here?"

"throat stuff, chest stuff, sort of all around skin stuff"

tried just looking at each one

"why are they bad?"

"just are"

then i kept almost asking this other question, but i saw all this aversion just pushed it away before i could voice it. eventually i figured out it was something like: "what would make experience good?"

for some reason this question was painful, tried to figure out why. shifted to asking "is this experience good?" that was even more painful. why was that painful? because i looked at my experience further and further back and kept seeing, or seeming to see that nothing had ever shown up in experience saying that this experience was good. so was all my enjoyment some sort of delusion? was i actually not happy?

that line of question set off some retardation alarms, feeling happy is being happy, you can't feel happy and not actually be happy, being happy is feeling happy!

so then i was thinking about all the "hacking" and realized that that it was just my attitude towards experience, i was the one who decided whether it was good or bad. very clearly seeing that it was actually me, rather than "the self" which was some other thing going on (i imagined).

so, do i want to like this or do i want not to like it? there isn't ever going to be anything telling me for sure which one to do. i just gotta choose whether im gonna like it or not.

thanks, now whenever i ask dumb questions like "is this experience good?" the obvious answer can be, well it's you who judges it, you idiot!

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/1/11 5:39 PM as a reply to josh r s.
well shit, lets keep liking it even more! fuck yeah!

emoticon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDwODbl3muE

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/1/11 8:31 PM as a reply to josh r s.
maybe "hacking" implies something a little bit not-true because you are always "hacking" one way or another, nothing is really natural or artificial

man, feeling bad seems so silly now, and feeling good felt so impossible then, i gotta stop believing these things

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/1/11 9:44 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
maybe "hacking" implies something a little bit not-true because you are always "hacking" one way or another, nothing is really natural or artificial


One is essentially playing with the perception of the sensations. The perceptions are either tinged with aversion, craving or dullness. 'Being'/affective feelings will manifest tinged with those tones. The sensations remain sensations. One person may enjoy pain and another person may feel a lot of aversion towards it. But pain is pain. The perception and mental reaction towards the feeling tone is what is being hacked.

Seems like it has helped?

Nick

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/1/11 10:16 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
man, feeling bad seems so silly now, and feeling good felt so impossible then, i gotta stop believing these things

This seems to be something that most people who practice the AF method report experiencing, but I'm not gonna go hunting for quotes. It seems like a classical AF "insight". josh, you might want to read (I think it was) End In Sights practice thread (I think it's on "Kenneth Folk Dharma"), and see if you can recognize when he had this same insight and also what happened afterwards for him (that sounded a bit ominous - it isn't though).

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/2/11 9:43 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai .:
josh r s:
maybe "hacking" implies something a little bit not-true because you are always "hacking" one way or another, nothing is really natural or artificial


One is essentially playing with the perception of the sensations. The perceptions are either tinged with aversion, craving or dullness. 'Being'/affective feelings will manifest tinged with those tones. The sensations remain sensations. One person may enjoy pain and another person may feel a lot of aversion towards it. But pain is pain. The perception and mental reaction towards the feeling tone is what is being hacked.

Seems like it has helped?

Nick


yep it was good, it works whenever i can't tell what the source of the emotional pain is. now im trying to use this same type of thing to neither like nor dislike stuff

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/2/11 9:57 AM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
Nikolai .:
josh r s:
maybe "hacking" implies something a little bit not-true because you are always "hacking" one way or another, nothing is really natural or artificial


One is essentially playing with the perception of the sensations. The perceptions are either tinged with aversion, craving or dullness. 'Being'/affective feelings will manifest tinged with those tones. The sensations remain sensations. One person may enjoy pain and another person may feel a lot of aversion towards it. But pain is pain. The perception and mental reaction towards the feeling tone is what is being hacked.

Seems like it has helped?

Nick


yep it was good, it works whenever i can't tell what the source of the emotional pain is. now im trying to use this same type of thing to neither like nor dislike stuff


One could bypass the liking and disliking as well as the possible disassociating indifference towards said sensations by going directly to apperceiving them in their bare pristineness (before they are filtered through affective judgement tinged and coloured by craving, aversion or dullness).

Nick

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/2/11 6:02 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
One could bypass the liking and disliking as well as the possible disassociating indifference towards said sensations by going directly to apperceiving them in their bare pristineness (before they are filtered through affective judgement tinged and coloured by craving, aversion or dullness).


that sure sounds nice!
emoticon

...


recently the gross emotion is very rare, but the tensions, if i am very careful, are constant. hopefully this means i am just aware of more suffering

i can see that i could try and be more content with what there is, but i'd rather not settle for less, i don't think this is unskillful, just a different balance of present/future happiness

...

shifting from minimizing stress as my focus to maximizing enjoyment

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/2/11 8:46 PM as a reply to josh r s.
forgetting everything but enjoying my experience as much as possible has gotten me to an major EE for the first time in a while. i keep doing this thing where i sort of "plateau" on enjoyment. maximizing how much "i" like the experience until there is nowhere else to go, felicity sensations rise and plateau and then a sort of pull back. other people talk about fear here, but i'm not really feeling afraid its just like "i" dont have anymore capacity to keep going in this enjoyment... trying to figure out how to jump off right now.

it's like me enjoying this is what is keeping it from being here in its entirety, gotta figure out how to let go

if i start trying to do any other instructions other than just "enjoy" i start coming back, so i dont know what im posting for lmao

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/3/11 3:08 PM as a reply to josh r s.
kept up same EE for almost the whole day, occasionally tried to get into PCE by shifting to sensuousness, but that was always worse than just enjoying as much as possible. probably im just doing the whole sensuousness thing wrong, and so im gonna just enjoy until it becomes natural and my 24/7 experience

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/4/11 6:02 PM as a reply to josh r s.
today lost the EE but was continuously attentive and almost continuously happy/harmless.

couldn't really figure out how to get from just above neutral in the low-medium felicity range back to intense feelings of constant felicity. i couldn't figure out what issues were bringing me down. AFT seems to indicate that whenever there isn't maximum felicity, there is some sort of desire holding you back, this make sense to me in theory but somtimes i just can't figure out what i'm desiring or believing or pushing away (aversioning?!)

in other people's experience is there always some issue, but it is just not obvious? I went through my whole bag of tricks but couldn't back to EE for more than a few seconds with anything... "hacking" (even though i wasn't feeling anything in particular), sensuousness, wonder, contemplating, just relaxing, thinking about my whole day to try to figure out the moment in which felicity decreased a little, tuning into the ideal qualities... just couldn't find it. ah well, i'll go back to relaxing mode for now.

edit: listened to a thanissaro bhikkhu dhamma talk and he talked about the enlightenment factor of rapture and how it feels intense after the body has been starved for a while (of rapture). it feels more refined when you are used to it. this seems exactly like how i'm feeling. i've often noticed in my experience that i get some really intense felicity, and then the intensity dies down although it is still very pleasant, just more refined, and then i make a big deal about it, start whining about how long it's taking, how i'm not doing it right etc. then i gather my confidence back up and start feeling the intense felicity again. and the cycle repeats. hopefully now i can just be happy with the

btw, practice as he describes it seems to be somewhere between actualism and buddhism (as i've known it). he talks about the eventual need to let go of the feeling of compassion. looking for every little bit of stress (and not just seeing it as it is), and the progression of stress perceived and let go of eventually ending with the last bit of stress - disturbance (attention wave?)... countless other things i've noticed listening to his talks make me think that he is in fact AF.

anyway, not really important, but i'm pretty sure that he is AF/arahant, and that the kammatthana tradition as he explains it likely ends with an actual freedom/arahantship

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/5/11 7:08 PM as a reply to josh r s.
everything is feeling natural. and i like it, feel much safer. no responsibility so nothing big can happen. everyone is a "non-entity" every event is a "non-issue"

i like this, im dropping everything, keeping nothing as a responsibility, nothing that "must" be done

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/5/11 8:54 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:


btw, practice as he describes it seems to be somewhere between actualism and buddhism (as i've known it). he talks about the eventual need to let go of the feeling of compassion. looking for every little bit of stress (and not just seeing it as it is), and the progression of stress perceived and let go of eventually ending with the last bit of stress - disturbance (attention wave?)... countless other things i've noticed listening to his talks make me think that he is in fact AF.


Hey Josh,

Can you point me to the link where Thanissaro talks about the feeling of compassion etc ? I would very much appreciate listening/reading about it.

Nick

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/5/11 9:59 PM as a reply to josh r s.
Your thoughts about Thanissaro Bhikkhu are indeed very, very interesting. As I've said earlier, this is a very exciting time to be a part of this "movement/scene/community"!

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/6/11 7:31 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai .:
josh r s:


btw, practice as he describes it seems to be somewhere between actualism and buddhism (as i've known it). he talks about the eventual need to let go of the feeling of compassion. looking for every little bit of stress (and not just seeing it as it is), and the progression of stress perceived and let go of eventually ending with the last bit of stress - disturbance (attention wave?)... countless other things i've noticed listening to his talks make me think that he is in fact AF.


Hey Josh,

Can you point me to the link where Thanissaro talks about the feeling of compassion etc ? I would very much appreciate listening/reading about it.

Nick


I've been looking for that specific one, it was a talk i heard a while ago in which he talks about skillful desires like skillful conceit (i.e. "if others can free themselves from suffering, i can too") He talks about compassion and then ends as he often does with something like "in the end even that is let go of." Can't find it right now and don't plan to look through the hundreds of talks, sorry ;-P

Here are some things that I could find, though none of them say it explicitly they definitely point to it. In the following talk he tells a story about Ajahn Fuang who tells a woman on retreat who is worrying about her family back home (something that might be painted by other buddhists as skillful, and good compassion) He goes on to talk about how the worry doesn't help the person who is being worried about, and it is even selfless to give up the worry.

(nvm, couldn't find it, you get the idea though.)



Here is another one called "equanimity isn't nibbana" which basically disputes "seeing things and leaving them as they are"

http://dhammatalks.org/Archive/090616%20Equanimity%20Isn't%20Nibbana.mp3

at the end he mentions something like intentions that are like seeds which are burned and don't sprout. of course it is ridiculous for me to speculate about this, but i thought this could either be non-stickiness or "shadow-being" emotions as EiS described here

http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/thread/4641050/first+ever+practice+journal%21?offset=280&maxResults=20 (14th post)

i don't really have alot of time just now to look through all the talks/writing to try and prove anything about thanissaro, and for the most part i can't as i don't have an experience of AF/PCE to compare his explanations to. also i'm not super-interested in it, so i'm not going to look any farther than just finding that talk about his teacher telling the woman not to worry and him talking about emotions being unhelpful

also, my proof doesn't seem quite as solid as i thought it was ;)

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/6/11 3:51 PM as a reply to josh r s.
What is it i want?
completion, peace, freedom

What is keeping me from what I want?
desire, aggression, fear, nurture

How do I stop fearing, desiring, agressioning, nurturing?
by no longer believing that they are sensible

Why do I believe they are sensible?
because i have been conditioned to believe that they are

How do i stop believing they are sensible?
by showing myself they are silly

How do I show myself that they are silly?
by seeing that they have no positive effect, are felt on the behalf of something imagined, and are painful

How do I see that they have no positive effect, are felt on the behalf of something imagined, and are painful?
by paying attention and noticing these things

Thanks, that is all
no problem

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/6/11 4:21 PM as a reply to josh r s.
hehe there you have it: there is suffering. such is its cause. such its cessation. such the path to its cessation. nicely laid out!

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/6/11 4:48 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
hehe there you have it: there is suffering. such is its cause. such its cessation. such the path to its cessation. nicely laid out!


Seconded!

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/6/11 11:21 PM as a reply to josh r s.
Hi Josh,

I've been listening to a lot of Thanissaro for some months. I cant reference where he says this but in a talk from I think 2007-2009(it was in one of his retreat/conference talks I think and not his pre-meditation talks at the monastery) he said something to the effect of "I'm not an Arahant by the way". So, while he may now be a Arahant, he wasn't not to long ago and therefor is unlikely to be "af". Which(in my mind) begs an interesting question: how is it that a brilliant Buddhist scholar and monk who has trained with actual Arahants and been practicing for decades has not gotten Arahantship/AF(if they are the same) and a growing number of lay people are getting AF(possibly Arahantship) in a matter of months? Thanissaro is working with a very powerful and effective breathing meditation method that does seem to have some very similar effects to actualist "attentiveness to sensuousness"(in my direct experience). Yet the deed is still not getting done. I don't presume to know the answer to this question but here would be my tentative take on the matter: Richard's clear presentation of the PCE as a guiding light can function for some as a very stripped down(pure and effective) and direct way to the ending of becoming(the simple and direct pointer to attentiveness to sensuousness is pure gold as well). Developing concentration via mediation can be very helpful to actualist practice for some and getting at least stream entry is even more helpful. Which is why the hybrid actualism/meditation method has worked so well for some. Nonetheless this conversation would not even be happening if not for Richard's pointers. Even if Arahantship is the same or similar to actual freedom, it seems to have only have been happening to a rare few monks(mostly Asian). Lay people are now reporting freedom from all suffering and getting it done amazingly quickly even at young ages. That path to complete(or actual if you will) freedom has been laid open and bare now and it's quite a opportunity for us living in these times.

aaron

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/7/11 6:32 PM as a reply to aaron ..
yes, all good points. i think i may have been a bit biased, and attached to the view that buddhism (as the buddha intended it) leads to actual freedom so i've been grasping for something to prove me right. it may, it may not, i don't really care, i'm practicing actualism. emoticon

i'm dropping jhana practice for a few days to see if i can maintain the same consistency of attention, if not i'll go back to it. i'm currently finding myself less reactive and more felicitous than my cynical, depressed self ever could of imagined. the experiencing of consistent felicity acts as a positive feedback mechanism. as you are more felicitous your belief in the sensibility of reactivity is diminished and it is easier to nip reactions in the bud, allowing you to be more felicitous and further diminishing your opinion of reactivity emoticon. now investigation is presenting as a simple

"oh i'm reacting and its causing suffering? why not just stop doing that? oh ok."

literally just a few seconds of reactions causing suffering (that my attention is precise enough to perceive) today

i think i'm going to chill with the posting until i have bad news and need help, as the strongest reaction i've had today has come from reading/posting.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/8/11 2:35 PM as a reply to josh r s.
ok, i just have to break my silence of a few hours to relate some information, i finally had a PCE, and i'm going to try to answer all the questions that i always had about it

1. how do you make one happen? you get out of the way. seriously. to be more specific, I always wondered what the exact commands and dialogues and all that shenanigans going on in my head would be when i would finally get to PCE. would some specific combination of thoughts trigger it? it doesn't really seem like it. i'll try and give a complete description of what i was doing leading up to the PCE.

I was very felicitous [1], i just decided i'd walk outside, not really for any specific reason. i just started walking around my house, and the command that was going through my head was just "bask in the freedom" i didn't try to make any "wide-eyed wonder" or "let go of the controls" i just simply basked in the freedom and noticed the total ridiculousness of anything at all opposed to the freedom. as i kept walking around my house with my dog walking next to me, i was just basking in the freedom, that's really my best advice of what to do. just bask in the freedom and investigate any desire, aggression, fear or nurture that comes up. this goes for anything, have no blindspots, i always had a blindspot for the desire to get into a PCE like "this has to be a good desire" but no, i just basked in the freedom. i didn't try to groove on anything, didn't try to wonder at stuff, just basked in the freedom and it all came naturally.

actually that was the only question i cared about..

i won't describe the PCE itself because i feel like those descriptions kind of messed me up. the PCE is what happens as a result of allowing the freedom, just keep putting in that cause for its own sake, you can't make the effect appear any sooner or later, just keep putting in the cause. the cause is investigating any desire/fear/aggression/nurture. oh and to be specific about what you are free from, it's just free from responsibility, you don't "have to" do anything. also, i was worried my attention wasn't precise enough to understand all these things about attention waves and shadow beings, that all just sounded like unicorns and leprechauns to me, but that wasnt a problem. anyway, i think i'm going to go take a walk in the woods, i've already stirred up desires and all that with posting.

[1] being very felicitous doesn't have anything to do with intensity of sensation, just with how pure the sensation is, untainted with desire, and not dependent on specific conditions

edit: i had written this in a document because i wanted to wait a little while and see if it still seemed like it made sense, and when i came back i copy+pasted twice... so edited to get rid of writing everything twice lol

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/8/11 11:00 AM as a reply to josh r s.
it feels like i must be breaking some law... such nakedness, enjoyment without having done something "Right" first. do i deserve this? did i forget to pay my normal debt of misery? did i skip some fine print?

it's a wonder i haven't been arrested

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/8/11 2:03 PM as a reply to josh r s.
Congratulations! And, thanks for the thread!

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/8/11 2:26 PM as a reply to Brian Eleven.
Brian Eleven:
Congratulations! And, thanks for the thread!


yea, i'd been obsessed with the idea of having the experience for so long that i felt very giddy after having it... something to be investigated. i have to stop congratulating and thus confining myself, but thanks, i hope some of that can be useful

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/8/11 3:05 PM as a reply to josh r s.
rather than wanting nothing, this feeling being is wanting everything such that it isn't getting disappointed, because everything it gets is just what it wanted. i guess this is the main difference between the buddhist and actualist path, rather than dispassion for everything leading to a happiness not depending on conditions, the actualist has a sort of passion for all situations that could occur, also leading to a happiness not depending on conditions. in both cases the mind state of the practitioner becomes more and more solid, and nothing can shake it, until there are no conditions left which the self can identify with.

sorry if i'm not making sense, still a little giddy

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/10/11 8:43 AM as a reply to josh r s.
Great to hear that you finally got to see what you wanted to see!

josh r s:
rather than wanting nothing, this feeling being is wanting everything such that it isn't getting disappointed, because
everything it gets is just what it wanted.


Yes, something like that. I think the way people explain it will vary, depending on the way they think about the world, and whether they're steeped in this tradition or that tradition or no tradition or whatever.

Keep in mind that one of the key features of the PCE is no tension. "Passion", or wanting, in the normal sense (the actualist / Buddhist sense) is tension. But, as you see, there is another sense of passion, like a kind of wonderful overflowing of awesomeness throughout the universe, which is what tension stands in the way of. I myself had PCE-like experiences that are mixed (mostly awesomeness, but some residual tension in the background in relation to that awesomeness).

So, are you certain your experience was completely tension-free?

If so...isn't it amazing? Why live any other way?

If not...isn't it amazing that there could be a kind of experience even better than what you described? Isn't that possibility mindboggling?

Either way...what is your practice going to be now?


i didn't try to groove on anything, didn't try to wonder at stuff, just basked in the freedom and it all came naturally.


Can you relax 'yourself' away in order to hold this attitude more often?

If you ever decide to restart jhana practice, and you do it with this attitude (and you can do it successfully), it should prove interesting.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/10/11 8:46 AM as a reply to aaron ..
aaron .:
I've been listening to a lot of Thanissaro for some months. I cant reference where he says this but in a talk from I think 2007-2009(it was in one of his retreat/conference talks I think and not his pre-meditation talks at the monastery) he said something to the effect of "I'm not an Arahant by the way". So, while he may now be a Arahant, he wasn't not to long ago and therefor is unlikely to be "af".


I would be interested in knowing which talk it was, if you manage to remember in the future.

I read an interview with him where he expressed interest in finding out what "full enlightenment" was. I was not sure whether he was describing an interest in attaining arahantship or in parinibbana.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/10/11 10:02 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
Yes, something like that. I think the way people explain it will vary, depending on the way they think about the world, and whether they're steeped in this tradition or that tradition or no tradition or whatever.

Keep in mind that one of the key features of the PCE is no tension. "Passion", or wanting, in the normal sense (the actualist / Buddhist sense) is tension. But, as you see, there is another sense of passion, like a kind of wonderful overflowing of awesomeness throughout the universe, which is what tension stands in the way of. I myself had PCE-like experiences that are mixed (mostly awesomeness, but some residual tension in the background in relation to that awesomeness).

So, are you certain your experience was completely tension-free?


i was talking about afterwards and before, not during, the "feeling being" was wanting everything

If so...isn't it amazing? Why live any other way?


for love... for humanity... no, just kidding

Can you relax 'yourself' away in order to hold this attitude more often?


that's what i've been trying to do, but if i think even a little bit about it as an effort to get a PCE it fades so it doesn't seem like i can really analyze it or anything, just doing it until i happen to pop over into the actual

If you ever decide to restart jhana practice, and you do it with this attitude (and you can do it successfully), it should prove interesting.


so far i think i'm fine without jhana, if not better. after jhana the focus is really inwards for a couple hours, if i try to pay attention i just am looking in... at least when all i can get is the first jhana. i'm not having any problems at all with keeping attention, maybe this is just a big boost in pure intent or it's just nicer here so i'm more inclined to look here.

that focusing inwards is a type of confinement that i'm trying to release from to get back to the freedom - to use all the words that are working for me right now

in terms of what proves interesting, i think it would be good if there was another data point of someone who went pre-path straight to AF using strictly attention+investigation. that's what i'm doing at the moment.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/10/11 10:13 AM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
i was talking about afterwards and before, not during, the "feeling being" was wanting everything


My bad, should have read closer.

josh r s:
so far i think i'm fine without jhana, if not better. after jhana the focus is really inwards for a couple hours, if i try to pay attention i just am looking in...


"Not trying" at a very deep level may lead you to a different kind of experience (not looking "in" at 'you', not looking anywhere, seeing actuality everywhere because of that, not having a "looking in" hangover afterwards).

However, it was not a practice suggestion (as you seem to be doing well as it is), just a thought for the future in case you decide tor revisit jhana.

josh r s:

in terms of what proves interesting, i think it would be good if there was another data point of someone who went pre-path straight to AF using strictly attention+investigation. that's what i'm doing at the moment.


Follow your heart! emoticon

These kinds of data-points will be quite useful to others.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/10/11 9:22 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Follow your heart!


right now my heart is split into multiple camps. fortunately the freedom-section figured out how to make himself relatively stronger and when he gains total control he's gonna go kill himself. emoticon

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/11/11 8:22 PM as a reply to josh r s.
today and end of yesterday i've had a significant drop in attentiveness, several instances of gross suffering when not paying attention. when i went back to attention though everything was as nice as before. but there are still a lot of other members of my mind's "committee" who are sure that status is the way to true happiness. when i can pay attention though, and the freedom loving self is presented with the evidence he needs to prove the others silly, i'm just as good as before. so it looks like it's a matter of maintaining constant, precise, wide attention, i can think of two factors that affect these levels of attention.

1. desire to be attentive
2. capability to be attentive

both of these might have gone down recently, the first because i've gotten a little complacent since having the PCE, thinking i'd figured it all out and just needed to coast. the second because i stopped jhana. I'm going to try to get rid of the first, if the problem remains i'll start up jhana again.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/12/11 2:02 PM as a reply to josh r s.
i started jhana again. i realized that my attention was dying because my hunger which was being satiated by jhanic pleasure was left untended and thus went looking for other apparently viable food, namely status. i notice that during this period i started making harsh posts and being lame, oops. jhana is a great replacement food for the self's voracious appetite.

upon reintroducing jhana i thought about trying to shift my thinking into a buddhist paradigm... very tempting. right effort and right mindfulness combined seems to be no different from haietmoba, right view/resolve have their counterparts in actualism, and what are right speech/action/livelihood if not harmlessness? but no, there is definitely a difference. actualist haietmoba and investigation looks to increase happiness while mindfulness/effort guard against stress. the former seems much more pleasant and effective. the lack of specific effort to monitor behavior keeps one from the trap of repression, and right view/resolve are spelled out really clearly in actualism, not so much for buddhism.

actualism + actualizing jhana (as the buddha intended?) seems to be the ideal method to get to actual freedom (arahantship?)

so that's where i am in practice and thought... jhana + attentiveness/investigation

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/12/11 10:35 PM as a reply to josh r s.
When you practice jhana, do you notice that the pleasure involved is bipartite...an actual component (the part that is genuinely pleasant) and an affective component (the part that is agitating, "prickly", "dirty", or with a sense of I-feel-this attached)?

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/13/11 8:22 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
When you practice jhana, do you notice that the pleasure involved is bipartite...an actual component (the part that is genuinely pleasant) and an affective component (the part that is agitating, "prickly", "dirty", or with a sense of I-feel-this attached)?


honestly, i dont. i suck too much at jhana right now, have to get more stable before i can look at stuff like this. my current plan is to get up to 5th jhana stabilized, then start "actualizing" them or doing whatever im supposed to with them, i'll ask about that when i get there.

i might start posting more about jhana experience when i feel like i have a better handle on it. right now just focusing on breath, maybe getting into 1st/2nd.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/13/11 9:07 AM as a reply to josh r s.
I would recommend figuring out how to concentrate on your breath in a way that is pleasurable, and then see if you can notice what is actually pleasurable in that experience, and what is affective in that experience...if so, you can ignore what is affective and pay attention to what is actually pleasurable. If you can get the pleasure to be strong enough, I think it will be really obvious what part of the experience is "pure", "clean", or wonderful (i..e. what is really pleasant about it), and what part of the experience is affective and a form of suffering masquerading as pleasure.

In my opinion this is more like what the Buddha taught. Also, it is about a million times more enjoyable than not doing it (which was one reason you decided to re-start jhana practice). Finally, it will keep you from getting lost in affective experiences, which are what generally (in my experience) cause the "looking in" hangover afterwards.

If you can figure out how to concentrate in a pleasurable way, and you can distinguish between actual pleasure and "fake" affective pleasure, you will not need to worry about which jhana you're in.

The suttas offer this simile for the first jhana:

"Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again and again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within and without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal...


If you are not experiencing significant pleasure of some kind in the first jhana (to say nothing of the second), I would say you are not experiencing the first jhana, no matter what MCTB says or what other criteria people use for jhana. This distinction (between what the suttas say and the attentional criteria some people use on the DhO) may not matter for basic insight practice, but in my experience it matters a lot if you are looking to use jhana to reach your goal of AF.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/13/11 2:14 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
this is exactly how i used to practice, which is how Thanissaro Bhikkhu describes it. but then after coming to this website i tried to just focus on breath at nose no matter what happened since that is how alot of people here talk about doing it.

i sat down in the library at school today after reading your post and actually had one of the best sessions i've had ever doing the pleasure spreading type thing, despite a far amount of noise/distraction.

when you say it doesn't matter what jhana i'm in, how does that translate to what i actually do. i think i got to first jhana, because there was definitely that pleasure and i definitely spread it to all parts of the body, like even on the surface of my feet, i was happy to just stay there with the pleasure.

there was still thought, that i would expect to not be there like "oh, this does work, too bad i wasted all that time doing other stuff." so, from this position of thought+all-over pleasurable sensation what should i do? keep watching the sensation? try to make it more intense?

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/13/11 2:48 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
this is exactly how i used to practice, which is how Thanissaro Bhikkhu describes it.


Interesting (and perhaps unsurprising). Reference?

josh r s:
but then after coming to this website i tried to just focus on breath at nose no matter what happened since that is how alot of people here talk about doing it.


The DhO's final understanding of what jhana is about is still evolving.

josh r s:
when you say it doesn't matter what jhana i'm in, how does that translate to what i actually do. i think i got to first jhana, because there was definitely that pleasure and i definitely spread it to all parts of the body, like even on the surface of my feet, i was happy to just stay there with the pleasure.


I mean, the only think you should be figuring out how to do is how to get more pleasurable sensations. (If you get to the 4th jhana or nearby, the sensations will be "nice" and you should figure out how to get "nice" sensations).

The jhana you're in is irrelevant as far as I can see...what is relevant is your level of concentration, which is related to the amount of pleasurable sensations. So your goal should be to max out your concentration, not get to any arbitrary jhana. You will get to higher jhanas whenever it happens.

Don't forget to work on spreading the pleasurable sensations to the inside of your body (inside your feet, inside your torso, etc.). There may be a lot of 'you' in those areas, so make sure to ignore 'you' and pay attention to the pleasure only.

josh r s:
there was still thought, that i would expect to not be there like "oh, this does work, too bad i wasted all that time doing other stuff." so, from this position of thought+all-over pleasurable sensation what should i do? keep watching the sensation? try to make it more intense?


Figure out how to make it more intense. (You will have to figure it out for yourself, it may be individual to some extent. For example, watching it instead of the breath may make it more intense. Or not.) The only goal is intensity. More intensity = more concentration. After a certain point, to get it really intense, 'you' and 'your' discursive thinking will have to start disappearing...

I gave some advice and tips on the recent part of the KFD thread "Compassion isn't an affective feeling: Discuss" which you may want to check out. If you are interested in relating AF to Buddhism, you should read it.

If you continue with this practice, please post details, the records will be useful to others.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/13/11 4:38 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
here is one of the many, many places where he goes on about how to do breath meditation the right way:
from his one of his five books of about 50 dhammatalks focused on jhana meditation, the talk entitled three levels of concentration is from his second book of dhamma talks on meditation

this one is really worth a read, here is an excerpt explaining the basic method.

So the important thing in this stage is to give the mind work to do in the
pleasure. Just as with momentary concentration you focus directly on dealing
with the problem—its weakness in the face of pain or displeasure—here the
problem is the mind’s weakness in the face of pleasure, so you focus on the
pleasure. This is why Ajaan Lee has you spread the breath throughout the body:
both to give you work to do within the pleasure and to enlarge your frame of
reference. Normally, as you get more settled down, and the breath gets softer,
more refined, it gets harder and harder to keep track of. So you need to expand
your frame of reference to include the whole body. That you can keep track of,
even if the in‐and‐out movements of the breath grow still.
There are lots of ways of working with the breath in the body. One is to stay
focused on the same spot you’re always focused on, and just broaden your sense
of awareness—the range of your awareness—so that it encompasses the whole
body. Then you allow the breath to adjust so that it feels good, as good as
possible, throughout the whole body. Another way is to go through the body,
section by section, working on the breath energy in each section until it feels
pleasant, and then letting the pleasure in all the sections connect. This way you
get used to working with your pleasure.  


his teachings seem to come from ajahn fuang and ajahn lee who learned from ajahn mun, ajahn lee wrote two books as far as i am aware, and they are both good, and seem to encompass the entire path from the perspective of pure pragmatic stuff.

frames of reference

keeping the breath in mind - the section labeled "method 2" is the section in which the actual method is clearly explained

the thai forest tradition seems pretty simple; stay alert, avoid and abandon the unskillful, develop and maintain the skillful, when you can go do jhana.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/14/11 2:43 PM as a reply to josh r s.
anyone know of anything interesting to investigate while smoking weed? probably going to be a one time thing

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/14/11 3:01 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
anyone know of anything interesting to investigate while smoking weed? probably going to be a one time thing


try doing what you usually do, but put extra effort into remaining mindful (not getting distracted)

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/14/11 3:22 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
anyone know of anything interesting to investigate while smoking weed? probably going to be a one time thing
Try listening to good music, preferably something reasonably complex (eg. classical). Weed's ability to increase one's capacity to see patterns really shines here.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/14/11 4:45 PM as a reply to josh r s.
Josh,
Just wanted to say thanks for a great thread! I'm getting a lot of good pointers, as we seem to be in similar places.

Brian.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/15/11 3:28 PM as a reply to josh r s.
thanks for the advice but i forgot i even asked the question, still pretty high lol

brian thats good im glad you liked the thread

edit: brian not brain emoticon

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/14/11 9:04 PM as a reply to josh r s.
i'm gaining some deep insights into "trick the bridesmaid"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehYoIKTsiV0&feature=related

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/15/11 8:42 AM as a reply to josh r s.
wow, being high was actually very useful. i am way less attached to my intelligence and my view of my intelligence after being so clearly without it. i think there's been a major shift, but i'll wait a while, maybe i'm still a little high lol

i don't think ill try it again though

RE: josh practice thread
jhana piti
Answer
10/17/11 7:00 AM as a reply to josh r s.
Another helpful Jhana Quote:

"At this point you can let go of the sensation of the in-and-out breath — the coarse breath, the obvious breath — and focus more on the subtle breath flow in the body. As you work through all the different parts of the body where it feels tense or blocked or sort of squeezed out, you let the breath sensations fill all those little nooks and crannies, and there comes a greater and greater sense of fullness, refreshment. That's what piti means. It's the drinking-in of the good sensation. We normally translate piti as rapture, but it's also related to the word for drinking, pivati. You drink-in this nice sensation. It feels full, it feels refreshing all the way through the body because you've opened up all the little cells in the body and allowed the breath to enter. When you get that sense of fullness, it's easier to relax.

This may not be a pretty image, but the mind at this point is like a mosquito when it's finally hit a big vein in your body. It sticks its little proboscis in and just stays right there, bathed in bliss. Its wings go weak, its feet go weak, and no matter how much you try to brush it away, it just doesn't want to go. It's just drinking-in what it wants. The same with the mind: As soon as that refreshing breath sensation begins to fill up in the body, you let go of everything else. No matter what other disturbances come, you're not the least bit interested because you've got something really satisfying. You could almost say that it's a sensation to die for. You let down your guard, let go of everything else, because this sensation is so totally absorbing. You've opened up every part of the body, every part of your awareness for this sensation to come in.

As you stay there and the mind grows more and more still, you become aware of a deeper sensation of absolute fullness with no sense of flowing back and forth — a real stillness in the body. There's a slight sense of air exchange on the very surface of the body, the surface of your awareness, but deep down inside there's a great stillness. There's no longer the sense of drinking-in because you're absolutely full. Ajaan Lee uses the image of an ice cube: There's a vapor coming off the cube — a very vaporous movement around the edge of your awareness — but everything else is solid and still.

And then finally even that vapor stops, and the solidity fills your whole awareness. It's accompanied by a sense of brightness, even though you may not sense this brightness as a light. It's a peculiar quality: a physical sensation, a feeling tone, of brightness, clarity, filling the whole body, and you're just sitting there in the middle of it.

There's no need to rush through these stages, no need to go jumping through hoops. In fact, it's best if you not try to rush. Just find one sensation you can tune-in to. Stay right there and it will develop on its own, simply because of the consistency of your focus. When you finally reach that sense of solid stillness and stay there, you begin to realize that you can choose to give a shape to it or not. You can focus on the sensations that give you a sense of the shape of the body or you can choose to ignore them. This is where you really see the principle of kamma coming into play in the meditation. It's almost as if the various sensations of the body have turned into a mist. There are these little breath droplets just shimmering there, and you sense the space in between them. The whole body is filled with this space, which also extends outside the body in every direction. Instead of focusing on the little droplets, you can focus on the space. This gives you a really clear lesson in how much choice you have in how you experience the present moment. Just the simple sensation of having a body here comes from subconscious shape-giving choices you've made. You realize there are lots of different sensations you can focus on, and there's a skill in how you choose your sensations, in how you magnify the ones you want, and how you just put aside the ones you don't.

So even though this is just training in concentration, there's also a lot of discernment involved. As the Buddha once said, both tranquillity and insight are required for getting good strong states of absorption. And he never talked about insight without framing it in terms of kamma, in terms of the skillfulness of what you're doing."

- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/meditations.html

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/17/11 5:38 PM as a reply to MuMuWu MuMuMuMu.
yes. very nice, just what im doing now. i've had so much more motivation to do samadhi because it's so much more pleasant. i did seven sits today about 40 mins each, at no point was a forcing myself to do it, maybe i'm becoming a jhana junkie 0.o but that's better than most types of junkying at least.

i've shifted a bit from thanissaro/lee's exact instructions. now right when i sit i just conceptualize the breath as a single fluid entity and let the natural refreshing aspect of the breath sensations to soak through every cubic millimeter of body. it's so great, we have a hunger for oxygen which is satisfied with each breath, a constant source of refreshing sensation (as long as you perceive the in and out breath as not having a separation).

after filling up the body i've just been trying to connect all of the pleasant aspect of full body breath sensations rather than working with the sensations in and of themselves. connecting them, staring at their pleasant aspect. they intensify, shit gets nice. thinking i'm at second jhana, going to spend a few more days there and then figure out where next to focus the attention.

planning to master all 8 emoticon, but i'm curious, does insight come totally naturally? is it just a matter of establishing mindfulness within these jhanas? if so i am really lovin the path right now.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/17/11 5:45 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
planning to master all 8 emoticon, but i'm curious, does insight come totally naturally? is it just a matter of establishing mindfulness within these jhanas? if so i am really lovin the path right now.


I say, if you notice the pleasant aspects (instead of the affective parts), and if you exaggerate the pleasant aspects, you are paying attention quite closely to something that is actual, so you have already established mindfulness.

I think that some basic goals could be:

1) Getting pleasantness (however you conceive of that) throughout the whole body.

2) Noticing pleasantness in the whole body at once.

3) Increasing pleasantness beyond previous levels, letting go of more layers of discursive thinking and selfing.

4) Distinguishing pleasantness from affective experience more precisely.

I would make worrying about which jhana you're in quite secondary to these things. My guess is that you will gain access to new jhanas when your mind is ready (just as you would move to the next part of the progress of insight when your mind is ready). I would also say that progress in these four things is highly likely to get you to the next jhana sooner.

Anyway, good to hear that this is working for you. Are you "hung over" afterwards or does it segue smoothly into paying attention during the day?

josh r s:
maybe i'm becoming a jhana junkie 0.o but that's better than most types of junkying at least.


An addiction that ends all addictions...

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/17/11 7:06 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
1) and 2) seems to be something i am accomplishing at every sit
3) seems to be something i am beginning to really get a firm grip on
4) seems to be something i am getting hints of

inwardness hangover severely diminished when the object of meditation is breath throughout the whole body rather than at a specific point. usually at 5 minutes of really really strong effortless attention accompanied by receding pleasant sensations throughout the whole body. a bit later just the attention remains although it becomes less wide, then later i'm heedless with alternating minutes of attention and no-attention. then later i'm doing jhana again.

also, not really worrying, my meta-attitude towards the practice is good as it has ever been, the evaluation of which jhana i'm in is always just an afterthought. the process is what i'm focusing on.

spread refreshment to everything, transform refreshment to intensified pleasantness, chill like a bawce (hoping to replace this part with something when i figure out what next to do)

by the way, thanks so much, you've helped me a lot, whenever i have a moment's confusion about where to go next you let me know the next step... awesome

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/18/11 12:39 AM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
1) and 2) seems to be something i am accomplishing at every sit
3) seems to be something i am beginning to really get a firm grip on
4) seems to be something i am getting hints of

inwardness hangover severely diminished when the object of meditation is breath throughout the whole body rather than at a specific point. usually at 5 minutes of really really strong effortless attention accompanied by receding pleasant sensations throughout the whole body. a bit later just the attention remains although it becomes less wide, then later i'm heedless with alternating minutes of attention and no-attention. then later i'm doing jhana again.


Let's add

5) Longer and longer stretches of being mindful of the breath without significant distraction (whether or not that mindfulness produces jhana or a state preliminary to jhana or is just watching the breath without much pleasantness).

What would you say is the cause of the stretches of heedlessness you mention? Apart from giving it more time (which is probably the main thing), thinking about whether there are any specific causes you can identify may help you improve in this way.

josh r s:
spread refreshment to everything, transform refreshment to intensified pleasantness, chill like a bawce (hoping to replace this part with something when i figure out what next to do)


Working on 3) will probably be what to do next (pleasantness increases as thinking / conceptualizing / trying / feeling decreases).

As for 4), I wonder...do you think you could recognize what the experience of your body was like during your PCE if it were presented to you in some form again? If so, can you recognize that quality in your experience in some way once you've gotten the pleasantness reasonably high?

Also, how is your attention during the day?

josh r s:
by the way, thanks so much, you've helped me a lot, whenever i have a moment's confusion about where to go next you let me know the next step... awesome


My pleasure.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/19/11 8:19 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
I seem to have picked up a new way of paying attention reading awareness itself, a book by ajahn fuang the (deceased) teacher of thanissaro bhikkhu. it's been so satisfying that every time i close my eyes to go to jhana i decide i'd rather just sit there and pay attention like this. some kind of shift when reading this:


§ “Whatever you experience, simply be aware of it. You don’t have to take after it. The primal heart has no characteristics. It’s aware of everything. But as soon as things make contact, within or without, they cause a lapse in mindfulness, so that we let go of awareness, forget awareness in and of itself, and take on all the characteristics of the things that come later. Then we act out in line with them—becoming happy, sad or whatever. The reason we’re this way is because we take conventional truths and latch on to them tight. If we don’t want to be under their influence, we’ll have to stay with primal awareness at all times. This requires a great deal of mindfulness.”


and this:

§ “Whenever anything hits you, let it go only as far as ‘aware’. Don’t let it go all the way into the heart.”


§ “All you need to do is keep your sense of simple awareness solid and strong, and nothing will be able to overwhelm you.”


somehow i'm now dealing with awareness of "xyz" instead of just "xyz"

i'll see how long this stays satisfying

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/19/11 7:42 PM as a reply to josh r s.
jeez... random suicidalness, not considering acting on it but ugh.. don't know how this came up at all. atm anything having to do with felicity seems full of effort, ineffective, temporary, and more painful than anything else. anything with equanimity is just crushing depression, just sort of feeling like there is no point to this, why be "ok" with this stuff when if i was dead i wouldn't have to deal with it at all. it all started with some really light questioning about "am i doing this right?"... that one always gets me.

what exactly do i take refuge in? what aspect of experience isn't just a bunch of dissatisfaction flopping around? it's really apparent that there isn't anything to hold on to, but rather than bringing any release that's just like a depressing grim fact, you can't hold on so you'll just have to flail around forever or die

edit: i think i pulled out of this one after rereading... how about instead of because there's nothing to hold on to, you must flail around... because there's nothing to hold on to, you don't try to hold on

i'd been holding on to some impermanent qualities of that attention i mentioned earlier, and as soon as they weren't accessible i started flipping out... ok ok i think i got this one

a matter of having equanimity as to whether equanimity is present. which sort of doesn't make sense but i dont care :o

right now it's sort of like im in a car and stuff is just flying past when i look out the windows

ha, this is actually pretty great, a very clear moment of seeing myself trying to take refuge in an utterly unsafe place and then realizing that i might as well not go through all that taking refuge when it's no more safe than not taking refuge

very still right now, every movement 'i' begin to make is clearly stressful and clearly silly.

"isn't this just seeing things and leaving them as they--" (no point in trying to take refuge in progress)

"am i making myself seem--" (no point in trying to take refuge in status)

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/19/11 8:37 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
jeez... random suicidalness, not considering acting on it but ugh.. don't know how this came up at all. atm anything having to do with felicity seems full of effort, ineffective, temporary, and more painful than anything else. anything with equanimity is just crushing depression, just sort of feeling like there is no point to this, why be "ok" with this stuff when if i was dead i wouldn't have to deal with it at all. it all started with some really light questioning about "am i doing this right?"... that one always gets me.


Not an actualist answer, but if you're open to seeing things another way:

Trying to be happy works no better than leaving it to chance. On days when happiness comes easily, you think your efforts are working. On days when it doesn't, you think your efforts are failing. You change your approach slightly and the whole cycle repeats. Have seen this over and over again, with many different people.

Imagine you're told that it's entirely your choice whether there will be sunshine or rain, and your daily practice is to cultivate a pure intent to increase the sunshine and minimize the rain. Imagine you put sincere effort into this over a long period of time.

Sunny day today? Great, all that Sunshine Practice is really starting to pay off; it's all so simple really; all you have to do is blah-blah-blah; why didn't I see that before?

Rainy day today? Hmmm, my Sunshine Practice seems to have stalled; maybe I need more pure intent; maybe I need more attentiveness; maybe I should try for stream entry first; can anyone suggest...?

Would it feel much different from how you're feeling now? All you'd be doing is adding strain to the situation.

Despite the analogy, I'm not saying there is nothing anyone can do change the way they feel, or even that that it's not possible to just choose happiness. But judge for yourself whether the above is true in your own experience.

josh r s:

what exactly do i take refuge in? what aspect of experience isn't just a bunch of dissatisfaction flopping around?


What is it in which the dissatisfaction arises and subsides?

Whatever it is, it's not dissatisfied and it isn't flopping around.

It's not exactly an "aspect of experience" it is experience itself (describable in a myriad of ways), which is ultimately unaffected by any of its contents.

If you get a taste for that, rather than any of its contents in particular, the stress of misguided effort subsides, and good feelings tend to flourish naturally as a consequence.

Not an AF answer, but might help anyway.

John

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/19/11 10:22 PM as a reply to John Wilde.
I really like that thought experiment. And noticing "the box" as opposed to "its content" is the advice. Good stuff.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/20/11 6:44 AM as a reply to John Wilde.
But judge for yourself whether the above is true in your own experience.

yes definitely

it is experience itself

sounds just like that book i had been reading of ajaan fuang quotes/anecdotes. instead of experience itself he says awareness itself, the title of the book. so maybe i was doin it wrong. when i try and think about it, i can't see a way to "take refuge" in awareness/experience without "taking refuge" in some specific quality of awareness/experience... is there a how-to guide somewhere? o.o lol

what exactly is experience itself? it's obviously not some object in consciousness because it is consciousness, but how can you look at it or do anything to it when it's everything... nyah

maybe this is what i was doing when i had a PCE like two weeks ago before i started doing buddhist stuff again... i definitely thought of it very differently

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/20/11 7:55 AM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:

sounds just like that book i had been reading of ajaan fuang quotes/anecdotes. instead of experience itself he says awareness itself, the title of the book. so maybe i was doin it wrong. when i try and think about it, i can't see a way to "take refuge" in awareness/experience without "taking refuge" in some specific quality of awareness/experience... is there a how-to guide somewhere? o.o lol

what exactly is experience itself? it's obviously not some object in consciousness because it is consciousness, but how can you look at it or do anything to it when it's everything... nyah


Hard to know how best to point to it. The first time I grokked it (in a truly useful way) was after having a conversation with a guy about PCE's several years ago. He knew nothing about actualism; he was coming at it from a mainly Advaita perspective. He thought about it for a while and said "for me, all experience is pure consciousness experiencing". My first reaction was no, no, you don't understand what I mean by "pure" (which indeed he didn't). But then later I got to pondering what he said, and it opened some doors for me.

(Will get back to you on this later; bit pressed for time right now).

John

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/20/11 7:57 AM as a reply to Stian Gudmundsen Høiland.
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland:
noticing "the box" as opposed to "its content"


Yeah, that's a nice and concise way of putting it.

John

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/20/11 3:39 PM as a reply to John Wilde.
that was the third major "rock bottom" type experience i've had, i think i've come out a tad wiser and a tad more resolved to actually do this each time, each time it's been shorter and i've learned more from it, i can really see some progress from when i started. had a great practice day today, i think i'm just going to check in in a couple weeks, currently just cultivating a panoramic/still awareness, that's my whole practice. seeya in a bit

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
10/28/11 6:51 AM as a reply to josh r s.
neural pathways wither away or strengthen due to use. attention to processes involving them = use. attention naturally falls on perceiving fabrications such as power, status, connection, conflict, red, pain, cold, hot, self etc. paying attention to actual experience of sensations, thoughts, and consciousness allows the neural pathways used in the process of fabrication to weaken and wither while the space they take up is colonized by processes of perceiving thoughts, sensations, and consciousness, creating a more detailed experience of actuality as the suffering of the natural responses to fabricated phenomena goes away

if you pay attention to actual experience continuously enough, "asking haietmoba each moment again" you enter a PCE. it is convenient to sit and close eyes while focusing on actuality if you want to do it rapidly/continuously enough.

you can shape the moment by paying attention to different things. than. bhikkhu often talks about sleeping on the floorboards that aren't rotten as a metaphor. realizing this i feel like i am absolutely speeding down the path, i'm not trying to strain to do impossible things (anything that isn't shifting attention) and i am utilizing the one possible thing to its maximum (paying attention to actuality and ignoring fabrications)

note: this doesn't mean ignore affective perception, just ignore its cause

edit: in case anyone gets curious, i'm not going to post again unless i have some big problem, i am doing really good, just paying attention to the senses without any other instruction. trying to pay attention to their "raw" subjective irreducible unit of consciousness form, it's been producing lots of felicity with no effort, probably because i'm judging practice by how sensuous i am instead of how pleasant experience is. i've had some big change and stuff is just working out really well. i'll seeya when im either done or have a big issue.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/3/11 5:39 PM as a reply to josh r s.
2 questions

1. i realized recently i've been doing vipassana for quite a while but thinking about it differently. i always thought i was just paying attention to the fact that "i" can't control stuff, and thus should shut up and stop trying. but i recently realized that the only way i knew i didnt have control was through seeing impermanence, and seeing that i dont have control is seeing not-self right? anyway, on realizing this i was curious about how exactly seeing the other characteristic, dukkha, plays in. actuality doesn't seem to be dukkha, at least as i understand dukkha, which is that it means inherently unsatisfactory. i've had one PCE and it sure seemed that actuality was satisfying (even in terms of each individual sensation).

2. are you supposed to change your practice if you think you have stream entry? my best guess is no, and i should keep doing what i'm doing, but wanted to make sure.

ah, and what i'm doing now is paying attention to everything at once and trying to still push/pull by seeing that pushing/pull is painful and gives only the illusion of control

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/3/11 6:03 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
anyway, on realizing this i was curious about how exactly seeing the other characteristic, dukkha, plays in. actuality doesn't seem to be dukkha, at least as i understand dukkha, which is that it means inherently unsatisfactory. i've had one PCE and it sure seemed that actuality was satisfying (even in terms of each individual sensation).


I don't have the final doctrinal answer about this, but in practical terms, you can think of things this way: every single experience you have is either affective or actual. All the affective experiences are dukkha. And, in your non-AF, non-PCE-having (maybe) state, all the actual experiences are the things that cause the mind to generate the affective experiences. So all the actual experiences are causes of dukkha.

So it all sucks, directly or indirectly. Seeing this, one may lose all personal investment in having any type of experience...which, coincidentally is the attitude that is crucial to becoming free of it.

EDIT: Another take (which I am personally leaning towards) is that, in PCE-like experiences, it is the reduction in or absence of craving that is what makes them so good, not the sense-experiences themselves. Was it actuality that satisfied you, or simply the absence of a 'you' that could feel dissatisfied by sense-experiences?

josh r s:
2. are you supposed to change your practice if you think you have stream entry?


No.

Do you think you have MCTB stream entry, or something else? (Just curious, it doesn't matter much.)

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/3/11 6:35 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
ah ok that makes sense about dukkha

and i didn't know there were different types of stream entry o.o i'm sure i had some A/P stuff around 9 months back, can definitely recognize dark night and equanimity up and down up until october 24 when i had what i thought was a flash of PCE, but i've experienced a pretty solid change in baseline since. i had just been sitting around all day and doing that practice (choiceless awareness?) and i turned on my computer and looked at my background which is Tarin's flowchart and tried to "find perfection here and now" and stilled everything really really fast and had either a flash of a PCE really short or got stream entry.

idk if it is at all possible to determine from that description, but i am sure i've had change in experience since, attention has been easy and low level felicity near-constant.

Was it actuality that satisfied you, or simply the absence of a 'you' that could feel dissatisfied by sense-experiences?


i dont know lol. the second one makes more sense of course, if i have another PCE i'll try and investigate.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/3/11 6:06 PM as a reply to josh r s.
I have no idea if there are different types of stream entry, but some people here have played around with the idea or are still playing around with it.

The way to check for MCTB stream entry is to see if you can have a cessation without (much) effort.

The moment after cessation seems to be PCE-like (but I can't see it clearly enough to describe it accurately beyond that).

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/3/11 7:14 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
The way to check for MCTB stream entry is to see if you can have a cessation without (much) effort.


ok, how? :o

just notice not having control, getting more and more still in terms of mental push/pull?

edit: probably not stream entry, can't seem to do fruition, or maybe it is, i don't care emoticon

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/5/11 7:14 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
The way to check for MCTB stream entry is to see if you can have a cessation without (much) effort.


ok, how? :o

just notice not having control, getting more and more still in terms of mental push/pull?

edit: probably not stream entry, can't seem to do fruition, or maybe it is, i don't care emoticon


I'm not sure how to explain it. If one recognizes what cessation is, one can resolve to have one, and see if it happens.

Otherwise, one can simply sit around and wait for it to happen spontaneously. It is likely to happen sooner if paying attention, but will eventually happen even if not.

These are the MCTB standards as I understand them.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/6/11 7:11 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
should i be equanimous to equanimity? just watching reactions or trying to calm reactions

are there limitations to using the breath as an object of mindfulness? i am able to be more continuously aware of the breath than just everything at once, but i feel some level of stress which is too subtle to fully comprehend (for me) going on when i switch from panoramic to breath.

these stem from the same basic question of minimizing stress vs. maximizing attention, the two seem to have a little conflict for me.

edit: to be specific the conflict is between minimizin stress and maximizing continuousness of attention

edit: i'll try one for a week and another for another week unless someone has a good way of solvin my problem

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/6/11 8:47 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
neural pathways wither away or strengthen due to use. attention to processes involving them = use. attention naturally falls on perceiving fabrications such as power, status, connection, conflict, red, pain, cold, hot, self etc. paying attention to actual experience of sensations, thoughts, and consciousness allows the neural pathways used in the process of fabrication to weaken and wither while the space they take up is colonized by processes of perceiving thoughts, sensations, and consciousness, creating a more detailed experience of actuality as the suffering of the natural responses to fabricated phenomena goes away


This is the crux of it to me, my understanding is that every day our brain cycles through 90min sine wave like learning loops, whatever it predominant during the learning phase gets imprinted in the relaxation phase.

Options
1) being happy at the senses and attentive to what ever pleasantness can be found.

2) can't find pleasant feelings, be attentive anyway.

3) refer to number 1 or 2. If you can't go to 4)

4) work out what silly thought or belief or whatever is getting you stuck, then back on the happy train. Stress is us believing the world should be other than it is most of the time, for me anyway. It is what it is, stay happy.

Do that for enough cycles and what you are talking about happens. that's what my money is on anyway...

Regarding equanimity to equanimity, sounds like a loop to me. Aversion to aversion, bored of being bored, mindful of being mindful, not sure where they would stop.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/6/11 11:08 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
should i be equanimous to equanimity? just watching reactions or trying to calm reactions


Experiment.

I ultimately found, in my own case, that watching them is the best way to calm affective stuff that had no obvious cause, whereas affective stuff that had a circumstantial cause could be better dealt with by trying to confront / distract / disarm / calm the reaction.

josh r s:
are there limitations to using the breath as an object of mindfulness? i am able to be more continuously aware of the breath than just everything at once, but i feel some level of stress which is too subtle to fully comprehend (for me) going on when i switch from panoramic to breath.


Not exactly sure what the problem is, but I had a similar-sounding problem at one time, so here are two thoughts about that:

1) Check to see if you're controlling the breath in some subtle way instead of just watching it. If so, work on not doing that. (For me it took practice.)

2) Check to see if, when you focus on the breath, you're subtly or not-so-subtly pushing away other parts of your experience. Paying attention to the breath shouldn't mean excluding anything; it should mean making the breath the main thing, and continuing to see it more and more clearly, while letting the rest of experience be in awareness to the extent that it can be. (Pushing things out of awareness is inherently stressful; not seeing panoramically is a form of pushing things out.) Even if you think you're not doing this, see what happens if you expand the range of your awareness while sticking with the breath.

As a concentration practice, there are no limits to mindfulness of breath for jhanas 1-4.

As a moment-to-moment practice during life, I see advantages and disadvantages to mindfulness of breath, but see no fundamental limitation if your attention remains panoramic enough.

josh r s:
these stem from the same basic question of minimizing stress vs. maximizing attention, the two seem to have a little conflict for me.

edit: to be specific the conflict is between minimizin stress and maximizing continuousness of attention


If paying attention causes stress, just live with it (as not paying attention isn't going to help you) while simultaneously trying to find ways to pay attention that are less stressful, if you can find any.

I have paid attention in very stress-causing ways for very long periods of time, and it seemed to work out pretty well, so paying attention seems to me to be the fundamental thing.

Furthermore, the monk notices this: 'When I live according to my pleasure, unskillful mental qualities increase in me & skillful qualities decline. When I exert myself with stress & pain, though, unskillful qualities decline in me & skillful qualities increase. Why don't I exert myself with stress & pain?' So he exerts himself with stress & pain, and while he is exerting himself with stress & pain, unskillful qualities decline in him, & skillful qualities increase. Then at a later time he would no longer exert himself with stress & pain. Why is that? Because he has attained the goal for which he was exerting himself with stress & pain. (MN 101)


If the continuity of your attention is better when attending in a more stressful way, and this is the only way of developing skillful qualities such as mindfulness at some particular moment, then it is better to suffer at that moment for the sake of developing those qualities.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/7/11 10:16 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
thanks EiS

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/7/11 10:20 AM as a reply to josh r s.
An excerpt from Than. Bhikku's essay in his book purity of heart - "A verb for Nirvana"

sure sounds like PCE

Just as all phenomena are rooted in desire, consciousness localizes itself through passion. Passion is what creates the “there” on which consciousness can land or get established, whether the “there” is a form, feeling, perception, thought‐construct, or a type of consciousness itself. Once consciousness gets established on any of these aggregates, it becomes attached and then proliferates, feeding on everything around it and creating all sorts of havoc. Wherever there’s attachment, that’s where you get defined as a being. You create an identity there, and in so doing you’re limited there. Even if the “there” is an infinite sense of awareness grounding, surrounding, or permeating everything else, it’s still limited, for “grounding” and so forth are aspects of place. Wherever there’s place, no matter how subtle, passion lies latent, looking for more food to feed on.
If, however, the passion can be removed, there’s no more “there” there. One sutta illustrates this with a simile: the sun shining through the eastern wall of a house and landing on the western wall. If the western wall, the ground beneath it, and the waters beneath the ground were all removed, the sunlight wouldn’t land. In the same way, if passion for form, etc., could be removed, consciousness would have no “where” to land, and so would become unestablished. This doesn’t mean that consciousness would be annihilated, simply that—like the sunlight—it would now have no locality. With no locality, it would no longer be defined.

This is why the consciousness of nirvana is said to be “without surface” (anidassanam), for it doesn’t land. Because the consciousness‐aggregate covers only consciousness that is near or far, past, present, or future—i.e., in connection with space and time—consciousness without surface is not included in the aggregates. It’s not eternal because eternity is a function of time. And because non‐local also means undefined, the Buddha insisted that an awakened person— unlike ordinary people—can’t be located or defined in any relation to the aggregates in this life; after death, he/she can’t be described as existing, not existing, neither, or both, because descriptions can apply only to definable things.
The essential step toward this non‐local, undefined realization is to cut back on the proliferations of consciousness. This first involves contemplating the drawbacks of keeping consciousness trapped in the process of feeding. This contemplation gives urgency to the next steps: bringing the mind to oneness in concentration, gradually refining that oneness, and then dropping it to zero.

The 78 drawbacks of feeding are most graphically described in SN XII.63, A Son’s Flesh. The process of gradually refining oneness is probably best described in MN 121, The Lesser Discourse on Emptiness, while the drop to zero is best described in the Buddha’s famous instructions to Bahiya: “‘In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized.’ That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bahiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress.”

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/7/11 1:37 PM as a reply to josh r s.
Weird ongoing experience atm. I am suddenly perceiving a tension that has a tinge of pleasantness all around my perimeter, it seems like the feeling of being not manifesting as anything in particular, but it is different because it is now like a flexing a muscle rather than something just "there" or somehow coming from outside. it's as if i was cold and tensed up against the cold, but i'm totally unable to relax, and unable to see what exactly i'm tensing against. it's as if i was tensing and through my tension creating a sort of dirty pleasant feeling, it's not very nice, much rather relax.

anyone recognize this? if so what approach did you take?

my rationalization is that i am recognizing that i am making this affect, being, happen. but not able to understand it well enough to stop.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/9/11 7:25 PM as a reply to josh r s.
"the reality of emotion" - from thanissaro bhikkhu excerpt

There’s a passage in T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets where he raises an important
question: Suppose you have a feeling of deep spiritual contentment, of oneness
and connectedness with all the universe. To what extent is that feeling
meaningful? Is it a sign that you’ve attained a heightened spiritual state? Are you
in touch with some transcendent reality? Or is it simply a sign that you had a
nice dinner and you feel rested, physically satisfied? This is an important
question for people who want to read deep meanings into their feelings. They
want to believe that their feelings constitute their true identity, and that their
feelings tell the truth. But feelings can lie. A warm sense of interconnectedness
may indicate simply that your digestion is good, and physically you’re well
provided for.

One way of getting around that conundrum is to look not at what feelings
really mean, but at what you can do with them. This is the Buddha’s approach.
As he points out, our feelings are fabricated. Although the happiness of nibbana
is not a feeling, every other form of happiness is a feeling, and every feeling is
fabricated. This means that all feelings have an intentional element. We put them
together for a certain purpose. We want a particular feeling if for nothing else
than to establish who we are and what we want. There is a purpose—many times
blind and unknown—that shapes what we feel.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/9/11 8:44 PM as a reply to josh r s.
Cool quote josh.

I have read your thread and really appreciated you sharing your PCE lead up experience. I've been mulling over the meaning of 'no responsibility' from the perspective of 'no self' and 'benevolent and benign universe' for all of yesterday arvo and it really builds a type of equanimity to the fact that like John Wilde pointed out, feeling happy deliberately seems to go just as well as leaving it to chance! That the ups and downs of our feelings are almost predictable and like your quote, not to be taken as confirmation 'I am doing it right!'

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/10/11 4:06 PM as a reply to josh r s.
hi peeps, is it better to try and see specific things like impermanence, or just to look (at six senses)? when i "just look" i'm definitely gaining some insight, and it seems to be doing fine, but im not quite sure.

also, does the buddha instruct people to look for three C's? i know he instructs us to look for stress + its cause + it's cessation + path to its sensation... and that's what i seem to naturally tend to bring to my attention

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/10/11 5:21 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
hi peeps, is it better to try and see specific things like impermanence, or just to look (at six senses)? when i "just look" i'm definitely gaining some insight, and it seems to be doing fine, but im not quite sure.


As "impermanence" just means that sensations change, how are you not seeing that if you're alert and attentive?

MCTB "impermanence" means the rapid interchange of sense-experience and affect ("vibrations")...going out of your way to observe this will get you MCTB paths.

As for whether you need to do this at all or not, keep in mind that most (all?) people here who are in a place to answer your question would only be speculating, as they have all observed MCTB impermanence and gotten MCTB paths.

The bit of speculation that I have the most doctrinal / empirical evidence for, which is what I'd stand by, is what I told you some months ago: if this practice is reducing the amount of affective stuff in your experience over the medium-term, then it's working. (Which it seems to be.)

Are you unsatisfied with the rate of your progress?

What portion of the day are you paying attention during?

josh r s:
also, does the buddha instruct people to look for three C's? i know he instructs us to look for stress + its cause + it's cessation + path to its sensation... and that's what i seem to naturally tend to bring to my attention


Most discussion of the 3Cs is in context of "introductory" stuff. Anyway, what would you be looking for? The 3Cs aren't dangling on the ends of sensations, hidden unless one looks...they are (supposed to be) self-evident facts about sensations.

I would say, if you think some sensation is permanent, if you think some sensation is desirable, if you think some sensation is self, then you should investigate in terms of the 3Cs.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/10/11 5:46 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
As "impermanence" just means that sensations change, how are you not seeing that if you're alert and attentive?


I am seeing it, just not "trying" to see more of it, or focusing on it

Are you unsatisfied with the rate of your progress?


never been more satisfied with it, just so focused on maximizing more and more equanimity that i wanted to make sure i wasn't missing some important step... and that doesn't even fully describe how happy i've been with the practice recently, because i've also been having alot of fun with it, outside of just the minimizing of stress, figuring out how to minimize it is fun.

What portion of the day are you paying attention during?


i've been probably doing formal sits 5 hours/day, the rest of the time probably around 70% aware, only time it's not solid is intermittently while reading/attending classes, putting no effort into "refining becoming" other than calming reactivity

This was brought on by looking more into Goenka, since what i'm doing essentially seems to be body scanning, except the scanning isn't continuous, i'll focus in on areas of affective stress, doing various things with attention to calm it, mostly stay panoramic on the body. stuff I read seems to indicate that you should be really focusing on seeing impermanence, but i guess seeing actual sensations in and of themselves is in effect seeing impermanence.

my doubts will manifest themselves even when they make no sense i guess.. hehe.

i've been doing this type of practice for about 3 weeks with some brief forays into jhana, felicity, and other ways of conceptualizing it.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/10/11 7:32 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
i've been probably doing formal sits 5 hours/day, the rest of the time probably around 70% aware, only time it's not solid is intermittently while reading/attending classes, putting no effort into "refining becoming" other than calming reactivity


If you could describe your experiences during your sits, that might be helpful.

Do you notice vibrations when sitting? If so, how distinct are they? Constant or occasional? Also, do you notice them when not sitting?

josh r s:
This was brought on by looking more into Goenka, since what i'm doing essentially seems to be body scanning, except the scanning isn't continuous, i'll focus in on areas of affective stress, doing various things with attention to calm it, mostly stay panoramic on the body.


This worked for me, albeit late in my practice...but, I don't see why it wouldn't work for everyone, as I notice no aspect of the practice that requires any special insight, beyond what it takes to do it effectively.

Could you describe how the affective stuff arises and how it eventually goes away and re-arises?

josh r s:
stuff I read seems to indicate that you should be really focusing on seeing impermanence, but i guess seeing actual sensations in and of themselves is in effect seeing impermanence.

my doubts will manifest themselves even when they make no sense i guess.. hehe.


My best guess is that, if you're very alert at all times, and your attention doesn't lapse so that you rest in 'being' more than infrequently, you're seeing impermanence just fine...the only thing that "trying" will do beyond this is to conjure up more vibrations / affective stuff, which may get you MCTB paths sooner, but may also just mess up your practice for no good reason. So it's your call.

(If you don't know what "resting in 'being'" means, just ask...I think it's an idiosyncratic phrase.)

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/10/11 9:10 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
If you could describe your experiences during your sits, that might be helpful.


ok, i just sit eyes closed, still as possible because it seems to help... i pay attention to all the physical sensations at once for a while, trying to calm down any aversion/craving. after calming down i look for areas of stress generally focusing on either throat or chest where there is always a little bit of affective tension. i just watch it, trying to "ground' any of that tension to the physical and just be equanimous to the physical pain. then i expand attention back out to everything and just try and max out four ideal qualities of attention that you mentioned in some post a while back. width, precision, equanimity, not resting in being-ness. if serious tension pops up i'll focus there and ground + be equanimous.

Do you notice vibrations when sitting? If so, how distinct are they? Constant or occasional? Also, do you notice them when not sitting?


i think that i notice constant vibrations while sitting, if vibrations = tingling as a solid sensation is broken up into a billion little thingies. if by distinct you mean that they are clear and intense then they are in some areas. i sit with one hand on top of the other in my lap and in my hands they get really really intense and my hands feel like they are turning into tingly balloons or something. i notice them much less intensely when not sitting and can turn up and down the "volume" on them by focusing in on specific areas.

however, i don't really see the vibrations in torso/head/gut mostly legs, feet, arms and hands... maybe it's just some blood flowing. i'll try and see vibrations throughout body next sit.

Could you describe how the affective stuff arises and how it eventually goes away and re-arises?


the affect seems to be fear/excitement in the gut, tension or even sort of nausea in the throat/chest, and then just all the little affect that coats+solidifies sensations throughout the body. i can't really do anything with the fear/excitement, it arises and just dies back down usually in response to some half-formed thought. the tension i stare at and dare it to make me react to it, which turns it into just sort of a block and from painful to neutral. the coating sensations seem to just be there and i can only do anything when i get very concentrated and try and separate the cleaner and impermanent actuality from the solid coating.

idk if this is the type of answer you are looking for, i kind of just spilled out any little observation i've had recently

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/10/11 10:39 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
If you could describe your experiences during your sits, that might be helpful.


ok, i just sit eyes closed, still as possible because it seems to help... i pay attention to all the physical sensations at once for a while, trying to calm down any aversion/craving. after calming down i look for areas of stress generally focusing on either throat or chest where there is always a little bit of affective tension. i just watch it, trying to "ground' any of that tension to the physical and just be equanimous to the physical pain. then i expand attention back out to everything and just try and max out four ideal qualities of attention that you mentioned in some post a while back. width, precision, equanimity, not resting in being-ness. if serious tension pops up i'll focus there and ground + be equanimous.


This all sounds basically good.

How do you decide when to focus on stress / affect and when to focus on everything?

Some random thoughts...you can try doing different things to eliminate the tension, to see what works best / fastest. I occasionally found that paying attention with the idea that my attention could "drain" affect away was helpful. Also, I found that there was a sort of finesse involved in deciding how much attention to pay to the tension itself vs. how much to pay towards sense-experience (as the tension is not a sense-experience)...there can often be a "sweet spot" that works especially well.

Breathing some pleasure through those regions can also help. In context of this sort of practice (not jhana) It doesn't need to be much. And, if you do this, it is possible that the pleasure can highlight spots on your body that have affect which you weren't paying to (as the contrast between the pleasure and the affect is so great), which is an easy and pleasant reminder to pay attention to them.

i think that i notice constant vibrations while sitting, if vibrations = tingling as a solid sensation is broken up into a billion little thingies. if by distinct you mean that they are clear and intense then they are in some areas. i sit with one hand on top of the other in my lap and in my hands they get really really intense and my hands feel like they are turning into tingly balloons or something. i notice them much less intensely when not sitting and can turn up and down the "volume" on them by focusing in on specific areas.


OK.

however, i don't really see the vibrations in torso/head/gut mostly legs, feet, arms and hands... maybe it's just some blood flowing. i'll try and see vibrations throughout body next sit.


Do you notice that, in the experience of affective stuff in your throat or chest, that it seems as if your attention is constantly being dragged from wherever it may be, back to those locations, in a way that is not clearly under your control? In other words, if you decide to pay attention to your foot, there is a constant bouncing of attention between your foot and whichever region has prominent affective stuff? Similarly, if you decide to pay attention to the region that has prominent affective stuff, there can still be this "reverberation" of attention (though it may not be clear where the movement of attention is from / towards)?

Looking at this kind of thing can exaggerate affect, so it's not necessarily a recommendation, but it would be good to know whether you're seeing it already or not.

the tension i stare at and dare it to make me react to it, which turns it into just sort of a block and from painful to neutral.


And then what?

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/11/11 5:00 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
How do you decide when to focus on stress / affect and when to focus on everything?


i get into these little microfeedback things where i'll do something, if there is any movement the way i want i stay with that as constantly as possible for a little, then try other things and stay with those if they work etc.

Looking at this kind of thing can exaggerate affect, so it's not necessarily a recommendation, but it would be good to know whether you're seeing it already or not.


i've been seeing it for a little while and tried to make it more pronounced sometimes with a little success

And then what?


well, sometimes i've tried finding a neutral or slightly pleasant sensation to sort of juxtapose with the once-painful tension, or try to juxtapose this sense i get sometimes where the body is just the center of the awareness but the awareness extends further out past it.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/11/11 7:07 AM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
How do you decide when to focus on stress / affect and when to focus on everything?


i get into these little microfeedback things where i'll do something, if there is any movement the way i want i stay with that as constantly as possible for a little, then try other things and stay with those if they work etc.


Good.

Looking at this kind of thing can exaggerate affect, so it's not necessarily a recommendation, but it would be good to know whether you're seeing it already or not.


i've been seeing it for a little while and tried to make it more pronounced sometimes with a little success


If / when you can see it clearly, that will max out the "preciseness" quality of attention in the main way that is relevant.

I think this phenomenon is what MCTB paths give clarity about, as, when it's seen, it's just some weird phenomenon, whereas when it isn't, there can be a powerful inclination to take the movement of attention away from (say) your foot to an affective area as 'you' looking at your foot.

And then what?


well, sometimes i've tried finding a neutral or slightly pleasant sensation to sort of juxtapose with the once-painful tension, or try to juxtapose this sense i get sometimes where the body is just the center of the awareness but the awareness extends further out past it.


I found that if one keeps paying attention to the tension when it becomes neutral, it can be reduced even further (to the point that it barely exists and is hard to find), and then (if one keeps paying attention) it goes away and is replaced by another full-strength affective thing. I was curious if you noticed the same thing.

If so, I suggest trying to make the affective stuff cycle in this way and see how that works.

***

In general it sounds like you don't need to do anything special regarding impermanence unless you're specifically aiming for MCTB paths.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/11/11 12:44 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
there can be a powerful inclination to take the movement of attention away from (say) your foot to an affective area as 'you' looking at your foot.


i'm unsure what exactly you mean, do you mean that there is an inclination to somehow view your foot "from" an affective area, or simply that the attention wants to look at the affective area? the "as 'you' looking at your foot" is confusing me

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/11/11 1:41 PM as a reply to josh r s.
Sorry, I wrote it in an unclear way.

What I meant was, seeing the process clearly, one sees a rapid cycling between an experience of seeing your foot, and experience of some affective thing.

Seeing the process unclearly or not at all, the rapid cycling may be experienced in a "blurred" way...these two types of experiences (affective 'you' and actual "seeing your foot") get mixed up into some composite experience of 'you', standing behind your senses, looking at your foot.

The more clearly the cycling between these two things is seen, for every type of affective experience, the more intuitively obvious it is that 'you', in whatever guise 'you' take, are just some strange illusion. (My best theory of MCTB paths is that they are moments in which this kind of clarity is "locked in" in a permanent way.)

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/11/11 1:52 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
ah, thanks

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/11/11 1:56 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:
I found that if one keeps paying attention to the tension when it becomes neutral, it can be reduced even further (to the point that it barely exists and is hard to find), and then (if one keeps paying attention) it goes away and is replaced by another full-strength affective thing. I was curious if you noticed the same thing.


Still curious!

I should say that I found that the experience that replaces the first is not exactly full-strength, but a tiny bit less intense. Pursuing the practice, eventually the replacement sensations are very muted...when they get muted enough, this leads to some kind of meaningful shift...and new, strong affective things pop up...cycles and cycles and cycles...after enough shifts, you get "early" AF and all that's left is shadow stuff.

If this cycling of affective stuff matches your experience, if it isn't idiosyncratic to me, you may be able to do something useful with this information. I found that recognizing these cycles makes practice simple and mechanical, because e.g. I was able to judge exactly how effective every little modification of my attention was in terms of the speed at which I went through these cycles and shifts and etc.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/11/11 3:09 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:
End in Sight:
I found that if one keeps paying attention to the tension when it becomes neutral, it can be reduced even further (to the point that it barely exists and is hard to find), and then (if one keeps paying attention) it goes away and is replaced by another full-strength affective thing. I was curious if you noticed the same thing.


Still curious!

I should say that I found that the experience that replaces the first is not exactly full-strength, but a tiny bit less intense. Pursuing the practice, eventually the replacement sensations are very muted...when they get muted enough, this leads to some kind of meaningful shift...and new, strong affective things pop up...cycles and cycles and cycles...after enough shifts, you get "early" AF and all that's left is shadow stuff.

If this cycling of affective stuff matches your experience, if it isn't idiosyncratic to me, you may be able to do something useful with this information. I found that recognizing these cycles makes practice simple and mechanical, because e.g. I was able to judge exactly how effective every little modification of my attention was in terms of the speed at which I went through these cycles and shifts and etc.


ok, take one of just looking straight at the throat tension in its changing form approx 30 minutes
1. no throat tension, go panoramic, hands turn into one single blob of tingles
2. slight throat pain, stare intently at it
3. pain fluctuates a little getting slightly stronger
4. pain fluctuates a little getting slightly weaker
5. pain fluctuates between being pain in the throat and being (weak) nausea in the top of the esophagus with a tip of pain in the throat
6. then it went back to pain that went up then fluctuated back and forth into a more stable disappearance.

i'll try this again for as many cycles as i can sit through, if it actually cycles

edit: thinking of the pain as dissolving even when it was getting worse seemed to help, also focusing on it exclusively

edit: ah. looks like i won't be able to do another sit for approx 4 hours, but at that time i'll try.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/12/11 9:33 AM as a reply to josh r s.
i tried it and it didn't quite follow the same pattern, or maybe it did, i lost interest on focusing on that one thing. so much other stuff coming up, all these other cause and effect things, they seem to make sense to me more atm. i'm basically just paying attention to sensuousness as clearly, equanimously, precisely, and totally as possible keeping in mind[1] the 4 noble truths in question form.

what is dukkha
what is its cause
what is its cessation
what is the path to its cessation

along with some idea of what the answers should be at the end
everything
desire
oblivion
seeing experience of any type as not worth craving

so i suppose focusing attention on those cycles might make sense later as i start to see their role in the answer to the fourth noble truth question, but for now i don't quite see it.

[1] the keeping in mind is not really the result of conscious effort but those 4 things result from a desire for the end of suffering.

oh and i should mention that the desire for the end of suffering was and is always there but just often uneducated such that the answers to the implicit questions look like this:

this experience now
not having that experience
having that experience
pulling towards that experience

RE: josh practice thread
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11/12/11 2:51 PM as a reply to josh r s.
hm, there is this column of solidity from sex center extending to just below the crown, how exactly do you break that? i ended up somehow behind the column, and for a moment i thought that it was now "broken" but it was as if i was standing back there projecting on to it. not really stressful in a way that i can yet understand, but i recognize that it isn't clear, and so as part of the duty regarding the fourth noble truth i feel naturally interested.

should i pursue this sense of being back behind it and looking forward at the column? i was alternating back and forth between that and not-that as fast as i could for a while and although there is still a sense of self in the body when i'm behind it, it appears to be a slight improvement in clarity.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/12/11 6:41 PM as a reply to josh r s.
I have no idea, but if you keep practicing, something will probably change. emoticon

There are many idiosyncratic or hard-to-describe experiences that can occur, and I found that the best way to approach them was simply not to worry about them and keep going. If you manage to figure out something about them or what to do about them, you can make a mental note in case something similar occurs in the future.

I found that breathing some pleasure "under" the solidity could be helpful, but that's just me.

If anything, ask yourself: what is the sense of being behind this solid thing? Is there another solidified body experience corresponding to that in an unexpected region of the body?

RE: josh practice thread
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11/12/11 7:23 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
yea point taken lol. i understand the path to more awareness of suffering+its cause+the letting go of its cause, i can use it to figure this stuff out for myself (which has been happening already).

RE: josh practice thread
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11/13/11 6:08 PM as a reply to josh r s.
just had a 30 minute sit (sadly interrupted), towards the end something interesting started happening. i had been playing around with focusing on areas of stress, including the panoramic but keeping the sensations somehow more in focus, and then eventually turning everything into equalized sensation soup, which i think is the most effective thing for me. anyway, i started seeing vibrations on two levels, within the soup meat and vegetables were vibrating, but then the soup itself started vibrating. my best guess is that this is extremely powerful, because coming out i had some seriously peaceful dispassion, close to PCE. plan to keep trying that one.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/15/11 4:38 PM as a reply to josh r s.
bunch of sits today, all accessing the "vibrating soup." look at consciousness as a single object, such that there is nothing outside of this single object, then just pay attention to the noticing of this object each moment, and you'll see what i mean. also, besides just seeing it, focus on just relinquishing it.

btw, if anyone sees some delusion that could arise from glomming all of the field of the experience together like this, and noticing how it is noticed each moment let me know ;P

RE: josh practice thread
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11/17/11 5:00 PM as a reply to josh r s.
From Ajaan Lee - Keeping The Breath In Mind

Another, even briefer way to express the four Noble Truths is this: The in and-
out breath is the truth of stress. Not being aware of the in-breath, not being
aware of the out-breath: This is the cause of stress—obscured, deluded
awareness. Seeing into all aspects of the breath so clearly that you can let them
go with no sense of attachment is the disbanding of stress. Being constantly
mindful and alert with regard to all aspects of the breath is the path to the
disbanding of stress.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/18/11 8:54 AM as a reply to josh r s.
i got into some 1st jhana by accident, just trying to be aware of the breath + whole body, so for the last few sits i just figured i might as well think of it as jhana practice and incline myself in that direction purposefully. once i get there, to the stage where the entire body is suffused in some medium-strength physical calmness+refreshing pleasure, i sort of get lost. not really sure what to do so i just maximize awareness.

should i try to keep climbing jhanas? however that is done...
should i focus on inconstancy?
should i just be aware?

in daily life i am just working on constant mindfulness and equanimity of the breath [1], currently no "room" to focus on inconstancy, although i may be gaining some insights in that direction just via awareness.

[1]as far as i can tell awareness of the breath goes into all four frames of reference, i'm seeing the actual body move, actual sensations move, awareness move, and craving+aversion move

RE: josh practice thread
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11/18/11 9:30 AM as a reply to josh r s.
If you want to do jhana-practice, just cultivate the physical pleasantness. You would be surprised how high it can go. Go for "relaxed + alert" and don't think or analyze or do anything (except whatever may be necessary to increase pleasantness).

Extreme pleasantness = extreme alertness = good practice

When the pleasantness gets extremely high, you might forget that 'you' exist.

If you just try to be alert + aware in context of moderate pleasantness, that is fine too, but it's a hybrid practice.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/18/11 9:34 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
Another thing is, it sounds like you're bouncing around between different practice ideas with some rapidity. In principle this is fine (as paying attention is paying attention), but some practices benefit from strict commitment. In my experience, the ability to generate pleasure is one of those. So if that's the direction you want to go, you should stick with that practice, and that practice only, during all formal sitting, for a long period (say at least two weeks). That way, you can go deeper and deeper over time.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/18/11 9:41 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
yess i am not good at believing things work. i'll try stickin with the jhana pleasantness alone for two weeks, for reals. and i've said that before and not followed through but i am making a pinky-swear with myself this time.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/18/11 10:16 AM as a reply to josh r s.
Good.

Stick with mindfulness of the breath during the day, as you're doing.

If you need advice about how to cultivate more pleasantness (after trying for a number of days), make sure you have a clear idea of the mechanics of what you've been doing so that we can talk about it. (The mechanics of cultivating pleasantness are harder to describe than e.g. hardcore vipassana, but they exist and can be talked about just the same.)

RE: josh practice thread
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11/19/11 6:42 PM as a reply to josh r s.
hmmmmmmmmm managed to get myself into some serious dark night... no equanimity to be found... every interaction with people around me as negative as i can make it... trying to just maximize equanimity+awareness. the strange thing is there are no obvious painful sensations just medium-strength throat tension. there is sort of a general, subtle feeling of ill-being which doesn't rreally seem to hurt but just sucks some other way. can't seem to summon up any motivation to filter my actions or actually stop feeling bad.

i think what set it off was like 10 failed jhana attempts all day today, too much noise. kept building frustration to the point where it could live on its own without any support from outside events... they grow up so fast.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/19/11 8:03 PM as a reply to josh r s.
did some long sits, broke my pinky swear, just maxing out equanimity, low level wellbeing is back. i picked up on these moment-moment gaps in my mindfulness, like every 5 seconds there would be a second of lack of mindfulness, connecting it up really seemed to drop the hinderances. like each breath cycle setting the intention to be fully aware of the next one.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/19/11 11:47 PM as a reply to josh r s.
Is it a bona fide Dark Night, or just moodiness? Do you notice any specific difference (in vibrations etc.) that make you think Dark Night?

RE: josh practice thread
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11/20/11 7:25 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
huh.. well i've been tentatively mapping myself in equanimity, because i have been feeling fine, and the only other place i could be feeling fine would be pre-A&P.. i think.i've had 2 things i think were A&P events, one just like a few seconds and the other a day long, and looking back there seems to be a period of months with constant negative stuff up till pretty recently. so i thought i must have switched to equanimity, right around that thing i thought might of been stream entry.

as for different vibrations, i'm still not sure whether what i think are vibrations are actually vibrations... is the thing that is vibrating attention? thee was a switch when i stopped feeling as bad when attention stopped bouncing from thing to thing as much.

maybe i should just forget about trying to map stuff out, i haven't even thought about it recently besides last night. but if it was just moodiness, where would i be on maps? pre-A&P?

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/20/11 8:48 AM as a reply to josh r s.
If you're not sure whether what you're calling "vibrations" are actually vibrations, what are you describing here?

just had a 30 minute sit (sadly interrupted), towards the end something interesting started happening. i had been playing around with focusing on areas of stress, including the panoramic but keeping the sensations somehow more in focus, and then eventually turning everything into equalized sensation soup, which i think is the most effective thing for me. anyway, i started seeing vibrations on two levels, within the soup meat and vegetables were vibrating, but then the soup itself started vibrating.


As for what vibrations are, at first it is more likely to seem that objects of perception of vibrating ("reality strobing in and out of existence"), but ultimately it is more likely to seem that attention is bouncing around uncontrollably ("attention wave"). Depends on how you look at it, and also depends in some way on right view.

My question about the DN wasn't doubting or not-doubting your experience, but asking for whether there was an experiential correlate beyond feeling bad. The main characteristic of the DN is a change in the way that experience vibrates. The simplest description of the change is that 'I' becomes more prominent and sense-experience becomes less prominent. Since 'I' is suffering, the DN tends to suck.

I don't know how to map where you are, but I really doubt you're pre-A&P.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/20/11 8:55 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
ok well what i was describing was definitely strobing, although now it has started to seem like only one sensation can be there at a time so rather than things disappearing im just jumping between them. and "i" was way more prominent. back to sitting...

RE: josh practice thread
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11/20/11 9:28 AM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
ok well what i was describing was definitely strobing, although now it has started to seem like only one sensation can be there at a time so rather than things disappearing im just jumping between them.


A good way to judge the magnitude of your concentration is that (at a moderate level) it starts to seem that attention (or, incidental perceptions of 'being', however you want to conceive of it) is jumping around "on top of" a static sensory experience.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/20/11 1:41 PM as a reply to josh r s.
alright so some mechanics of cultivating pleasure, it usually goes like this

- mindful of the breath until it is clear the body wants less air and the breath naturally gets more refined
- connect sensations of breathing throughout the body and think of it as one single thing
- turn air into energy
- let the energy come in through my skin rather than nose
- connect all the energy
- try and yield to it, it wants to intensify a bit by itself

i can't seem to get the energy/pleasure to get into my back and legs, so that's my focus for now. also, there is alot more affective pleasure than actual pleasure, i try and focus on the actual underneath the affective to try to make it more prevalent. i'm good with experimenting with these things for a while, but if there are any other ideas i can work with them as well.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/21/11 6:27 PM as a reply to josh r s.
had some really strange thoughts today, like about whether i should even continue practicing. this is way more surprising than any other negative thoughts i've had including suicidal thoughts, murderous etc. i don't think i've ever really thought about not continuing this from the very beginning (admittedly that was a bit less than 1 year ago heh). i'm attributing this to a sort of burnout from trying to sit so much, and maybe just a lack of the sorts of motivation other people talk about, traumatic stuff, clear stable long PCEs, i don't think i've ever actually met anyone who meditates... hm.

it could also be that i've simply never thought about this specific question, i've never considered living without this stuff. if i think about it with some objectivity it seems like this is the pretty obvious path, but absolutely everything i have contact with around me besides the actual DhO forums is shouting that i should be living in basically the exact opposite way.

i'm feeling pretty happy, which sort of seems to be the problem heh... maybe too much super-depressing than bhikkhu dhammatalks, the last one i listened to was called "preparing to die well," compared to a society of radically different people who seem pretty happy (not that he isn't). maybe i've just diminished my desire for non-becoming to the point where it doesn't totally outstrip desire for sensuality and becoming. i think i've somehow gotten to associate meditation strongly with depression and negativity... i dont really know how this problem would be solved, because it doesn't actually feel like a problem.

i'll probably relax on the formal sits, if i did them just when i felt like it i probably wouldn't be doing them at all, i'll drop it down to like an hour a day. it could also be because concentration practice doesn't directly link to a PCE or anything permanent/worthwhile in my mind unlike dry vipassana and actualism which i could tell were going towards the end of craving. ah well, me and my stuffs. i lingered a bit before posting because i don't really feel like i need help or know what anyone could do, but i'll put it up there for the practice thread record.

another thought is that it could be because i was pretty unpleasant to people who disturbed my isolation and my all important progress in concentration, which i'm sort of a ashamed of - analyzing this thought further just now, it seems to be the main cause

RE: josh practice thread
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11/27/11 1:58 PM as a reply to josh r s.
ahggggggg basically stopped practicing for several days, led to feeling like shit of all yesterday and today. accompanied by a period of absolute rage more intense than anything i've ever experienced with a nice afterglow of heavy, confused depression. restlessness, boredom, dread, self-reproach, resentment of everything at once, etc. etc. it's all here in my nonsense-mind. can't even get myself to pay attention, every time i try everything just explodes my mind becomes totally scattered. entire body extremely tense.

attention to breath, intense aversion, stop paying attention, let my mind drift because it really wants to, repeat. i'm pissed off at myself for letting this happen and embarrassed, and other stuff. i really just want to disappear... ahhhhh sorry, i dont even know what i am posting about :|

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
11/27/11 3:00 PM as a reply to josh r s.
attention to breath, intense aversion, stop paying attention, let my mind drift because it really wants to, repeat. i'm pissed off at myself for letting this happen and embarrassed, and other stuff. i really just want to disappear.



This intense aversion is completely normal. Don't let it lead to a neurosis. There isn't any good reason for that. If the intense aversion is too strong to continue the sit then do something more enjoyable but continue to pay attention.


edits: i wrote a short response then thought about it and added a lot more to it then re-read your posts and wrote the above. After rereading everything, i decided the above is the most useful and in the name of keeping it simple, I deleted the other stuff.


i can be pm'd if you deem a dialogue would be helpful. Many other posters are also available if you reach out.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/27/11 3:59 PM as a reply to josh r s.
You described a bunch of vibratory stuff, and then this. A&P --> Dark Night?

If so, the best advice is, keep practicing even if you feel like it isn't working or if you feel like you can't effectively pay attention anymore.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/27/11 5:59 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
edit: nvm, im just gonna go practice

RE: josh practice thread
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11/29/11 6:17 PM as a reply to josh r s.
back to equanimity if my mapping is correct, keeping up same practice of anapanasati, with the same intensity as before my nonsense-episode where i stopped practicing. i have been having some issues with jhana and pleasure the past few days. i haven't once gotten into what i thought of as first jhana, although that state seemed to be mostly affective pleasure, and i what i am getting into now seems to be a definitely actual, but much less intense state of pleasure which is mostly focused around the chest area. i also had an interesting session in which there was no pleasure, but it seemed more strongly concentrated than anything i'd gotten into and seemed to match descriptions of infinite space/consciousness but to a lesser degree. so, pretty-big-space and pretty-big-consciousness emoticon. there was the sense of a "mind" but it was an object, and it was very small within this very large arena of awareness, also when i thought of "where" i was in location relative to the physical world the question just seemed strange, not that i was "nowhere" or "everywhere" just nowhere in particular.

but, back to the issues with getting into jhana, i think what is causing me not to get into what i was previously thinking of as jhana (maybe it is) is that i am focusing on relaxing tension, and the way i was breathing to produce pleasure and "squeeze" it out was tense. without doing that i am getting a more relaxed and more refined sense of pleasure that has only once extended beyond the chest. i think that this second type of thing is better, and maybe i had previously been getting into some sort of absorptive, being-aggrandized type of concentration, despite my attention being fairly panoramic.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/29/11 7:33 PM as a reply to josh r s.
I think you should go in the direction of what you think is most awesome. I consider affective pleasure felicity and you can go for that without "trying." Effortless affective pleasure is good to explore how pleasure works as well as what stops that pleasure from happening. You want to find the intricacies of felicity so you can produce it on a whim.

The intense concentration is great but your clinging to that focus so felicity/pleasure cannot arise. When you intensely concentrate, you have the sensations of that concentration. The intense focus is the attention wave trying to discern "where and on what to focus" and whenever you focus no matter in what degree, that attention wave produces sensations that block/cover actuality. You can focus without the "effort" but it may feel strange (but more relaxed) because this is not the habit of the self. You have to "fight" the habit of clinging to concentration when paying attention and then enjoy the felicity that arises.

Basically don't try to focus at all and notice how some "thing" is always trying to get you to focus somewhere and when you do focus sensation increases. Those sensations are affective and cover actuality. With this said, you still need to stay present or else your mind will wander, which is why you concentrate in the first place lol.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/29/11 7:44 PM as a reply to Adam Bieber.
The intense concentration is great but your clinging to that focus so felicity/pleasure cannot arise.


when i said intensely i just meant that i was practicing alot, also i used intense to describe the sensations of pleasure, but not to describe how narrow of a focus there is, i'm practicing with a very relaxed and wide focus, it's really not a "focus" at all, just looking at breath throughout the whole body + cultivating pleasure

Basically don't try to focus at all and notice how some "thing" is always trying to get you to focus somewhere and when you do focus sensation increases. Those sensations are affective and cover actuality. With this said, you still need to stay present or else your mind will wander and thats the point of concentration in the first place lol.


i think this practice is good, but not what i'm aiming for atm. i have done some of this but i decided to try out jhana practice because i dont think i was getting subtle enough.

You want to find the intricacies of felicity so you can produce it on a whim.


i am doing some of this in daily mindfulness, mostly i think it has to do with the mental conception of the body, the location where "you" are "being" within the body and the degree to which you are labeling things as self

You have to "fight" the habit of clinging to concentration when paying attention


when you say this do you mean the habit of blocking parts of experience out? or do you mean the pleasure that comes from strong concentration? or something else?

RE: josh practice thread
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11/29/11 7:44 PM as a reply to josh r s.
Oh, I thought you meant that when you increased concentration there was less felicity so I thought that your increased concentration state could be improved by letting go of the necessity to concentrate at that new level of depth, which would then allow for more felicity.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/29/11 7:47 PM as a reply to Adam Bieber.
Oh, I thought you meant that when you increased concentration there was less felicity so I thought that your increased concentration state could be improved by letting go of the necessity to concentrate at that new level of depth, which would then allow for more felicity.


it's not necessarily increased concentration, just one with tension rather than a broad relaxed one. and it seems to decrease an affective pleasure, but not the same thing as felicity. i'm not sure whether doing the relaxing is creating actual pleasure, or if the actual pleasure is only evident when attention is paid without the affective stuff coming up from "squeezing" attention.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/29/11 7:54 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:


You have to "fight" the habit of clinging to concentration when paying attention


when you say this do you mean the habit of blocking parts of experience out? or do you mean the pleasure that comes from strong concentration? or something else?


I mean that when one pays attention they may pay attention with the intent to pay attention. That intent produces affect and when letting go of that intent, the self tries to cling onto the diminishing sensation of that intent rather than letting it go completely. One should be mindful of that tendency to cling to a diminishing sensation so it does not increase again and more actuality can be uncovered.

I find it difficult to explain this over the internet so my words may not be any use.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/29/11 8:09 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:

it's not necessarily increased concentration, just one with tension rather than a broad relaxed one. and it seems to decrease an affective pleasure, but not the same thing as felicity. i'm not sure whether doing the relaxing is creating actual pleasure, or if the actual pleasure is only evident when attention is paid without the affective stuff coming up from "squeezing" attention.


That tension is the sensation of concentration that I am talking about. "You" are focusing more to concentrate more, which is what your supposed to be doing but that focus produces tension. To turn this new level of concentration into a broad relaxed one, make again concentration effortless. Feel the weight drop off your shoulders when you stop paying attention but your still paying attention lol just without an agenda or the attention wave focusing.

I think affective pleasure might be the same thing as felicity. Its hard to tell whats actual pleasure versus affective pleasure so I would stir up the pleasure you find most enjoyable and easy and learn to do it as a skill. I'm pretty sure both relaxing and attention paid without affective stuff causes actual pleasure. There both paying attention and relaxing.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/29/11 9:19 PM as a reply to Adam Bieber.
In general, I agree with Adam about concentration.

Two steps to jhana:

1) Generate pleasure,

2) Stop trying ("trying" being tension of some kind), but keep paying attention.

The steps can happen in pieces and out of order, and you often have to go back and forth multiple times between them (generating a bit more pleasure, releasing a bit more trying-tension) to see the full power of this stuff.

However...the more pleasure, the easier it is to stop trying (and eventually that will start happening automatically). So, generally, the main thing is to maximize pleasure, and the rest will follow. But, if you're willfully generating some kind of tension in the process of paying attention (i.e. to keep your mind from wandering), it's good to figure out when it's safe to let up on this.

Strong concentration is "transparent"; it has no apparent width of focus, neither wide nor narrow. Experiences just happen during it. Like a PCE.

RE: josh practice thread
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11/29/11 10:06 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
And from this point, if I "eliminate" the attention wave, it would be a PCE?

RE: josh practice thread
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11/30/11 4:42 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
had a great sit just now, finally managed to stop tensing up and produce pleasure at the same time. there had been a really strong pressure on the chest constricting all my inbreath, and my throat was tense to the point where i could feel the sides of the throat rubbing up against eachother with each breath. this had been going on for a couple days pretty much all the time and i seemed to have stopped tensing in that way after the sit i just did.

it came from really getting absorbed into figuring out how to generate pleasure from the breath in the present moment, rather than what i normally do which is creating a "grand theory of creating pleasure through breathing" while i sit there, and sort of doing it on the side. basically i would just "ask" myself each breath cycle "how do i maximize pleasure with this particular in/out breath as a mind+body process" after getting some pervasive pleasure sensations i found it alot easier to relax my "trying" in terms of paying attention which finally made my throat and chest muscles relax.

anyway, what i learned is that it's best not to force a strategy onto the jhana practice, but rather look at it as a puzzle to be solved in slightly different ways each moment, "how do i create pleasure now? and now... and now?" which is literally exactly what thanissaro bhikku suggests, but as usual i ignore good advice until i realize it myself >.<

RE: josh practice thread
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11/30/11 7:21 PM as a reply to Adam Bieber.
Adam Bieber:
And from this point, if I "eliminate" the attention wave, it would be a PCE?


If there is no attention wave at any particular moment, then there is no 'you' at that moment.

In context of concentration, it is a variation of a PCE. (The AFT would probably object to that application of its terminology to a state attained via meditation; however, no attention wave is no attention wave...)

RE: josh practice thread
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12/1/11 6:06 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:

I read an interview with him where he expressed interest in finding out what "full enlightenment" was. I was not sure whether he was describing an interest in attaining arahantship or in parinibbana.


i just read that interview, and i recalled this post, he also says he feels irritated and proud on occasion, just thought i'd mention it ;)

Some people assume monks have transcended human feelings and never have "negative" feelings such as anger and greed. Do you ever get pissed off?
Occasionally there are irritations. A woman I taught became convinced I was sending her subliminal messages. She thought I wanted to leave the monastery and marry her. I tried to make it clear I wouldn't, but she kept insisting I was giving her subliminal messages. I said, "Look, you're not my student anymore. I'm sorry, this is not working out." She thought I just said that because there were other people around. So she started coming back. I must admit I was irritated. But she finally got it.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/2/11 7:27 PM as a reply to josh r s.
i like this, a quote from dhammasukha on this page

The simple explanation given in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta tells us to relax on the in-breath and to relax on the out-breath, this simple act of relaxing both mind and body is following the entire 8-Fold Path all at exactly the same time and this is the key to unlocking the door to the deathless.

Every time mind has even the slightest movement in it the craving is the cause of this. So whenever the meditator relaxes and lets go of the tightness caused by this slight movement – they are purifying their mind and this leads directly to the final cessation of all suffering! In other words, the Path that leads to the Cessation of suffering is none other than this very 8-Fold Path when it is used and practiced often!

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/2/11 9:25 PM as a reply to josh r s.
i had an interesting sit just now. i tried a different interpretation of the anapanasati sutta than what i've been using, bhante vimalaramsi's of dhammasukha rather than thanissaro bhikku's. the primary difference (at least in the introductory instructions) is that he interprets the third part of the first tetrad as being aware of the whole "breath body," meaning from the beginning to the end of each in&out breath, rather than being aware of the breath throughout the whole physical body. he suggests that you dont use any specific point at which to be aware, instead just be aware of the breath wherever it is felt.

so, i tried this, basically just following the anapanasati sutta word for word but translating it as breath-body and thus not doing what i normally do where i try and feel the breath throughout the whole body. several things were much, much better using these instructions. i had no trouble with tension because somehow i caused alot of physical tension trying to spread the sensations of breath throughout the body, also as i only was alert to the breath and relaxing the body+mind rather than adjusting breath, spreading breath, thinking of breath in different ways etc. i could much more easily stay on task. it took me maybe 2 minutes to get into a first-jhana that was much more concentrated and intense in pleasure than normal. it was certainly different, could this have been mctb jhana instead of sutta jhana? or was it just that i've been doing something wrong in sutta-jhana practice? i think probably the latter.

what exactly is the difference between sutta jhana and mctb jhana?

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/2/11 10:21 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
i had an interesting sit just now. i tried a different interpretation of the anapanasati sutta than what i've been using, bhante vimalaramsi's of dhammasukha rather than thanissaro bhikku's. the primary difference (at least in the introductory instructions) is that he interprets the third part of the first tetrad as being aware of the whole "breath body," meaning from the beginning to the end of each in&out breath, rather than being aware of the breath throughout the whole physical body. he suggests that you dont use any specific point at which to be aware, instead just be aware of the breath wherever it is felt.

so, i tried this, basically just following the anapanasati sutta word for word but translating it as breath-body and thus not doing what i normally do where i try and feel the breath throughout the whole body. several things were much, much better using these instructions. i had no trouble with tension because somehow i caused alot of physical tension trying to spread the sensations of breath throughout the body, also as i only was alert to the breath and relaxing the body+mind rather than adjusting breath, spreading breath, thinking of breath in different ways etc. i could much more easily stay on task.


Experimentation is good! Whatever works.

Maybe the big thing that made a difference for you was relaxing.

it took me maybe 2 minutes to get into a first-jhana that was much more concentrated and intense in pleasure than normal. it was certainly different, could this have been mctb jhana instead of sutta jhana? or was it just that i've been doing something wrong in sutta-jhana practice? i think probably the latter.


Can you describe your experience this time with respect to specific ways it differed from your normal experience? (Not how you got into it, but what it was like.)

what exactly is the difference between sutta jhana and mctb jhana?


You can think of MCTB jhana as being "samadhi with defilements as the object" or something like that.

MCTB 1st jhana has a strong sense of narrow focus and of focus being attached to a particular object
Sutta jhana has no sense of focus, but experiences present despite that

MCTB jhana has "vibratory" or grandiose pleasure (i.e. sparks, fizzles, tingles, emotional bliss)
Sutta jhana has pleasure that is completely still and unassuming (and *never* emotional or affective)

MCTB jhana is often exhilarating (exciting, sexual, "wow")
Sutta jhana is tranquil

The two forms do share jhana factors; it is as if MCTB jhana is what you would get if you were in the process of cultivating sutta jhana, but decided to embrace and exaggerate all your desire and craving for those jhana factors before you got the sutta jhana off the ground.

You can use these distinctions to clarify which is which if you can't see the attention wave clearly enough. To some extent your experience will have MCTB jhana features while your concentration is still building and pleasure is still being cultivated, but they should not be too exaggerated, and the process of building concentration and increasing pleasure will reduce these features: you should be actively ignoring them, actively tuning into their opposite, and the more you do that, the more concentration you get.

Other signs: MCTB jhana often has a "dissociating" affective hangover (because the attention wave stays exaggerated after sitting is over), MCTB jhana often seems boring or unsatisfactory after awhile, MCTB jhana feels like you entered an altered state of consciousness, MCTB jhana has a sense of focus (wide or narrow), MCTB jhana allows you to "focus on the jhana" (= focus on the sense of focus, focus on the attention wave).

A dead giveaway for MCTB jhana is the ability to do the following sort of thing:

MCTB:
As before, if the student wishes to go on to the fourth jhana, then they just cultivate the third jhana and begin to pay attention to the fact that even the bodily bliss is somewhat irritating or noisy.


Only the attention wave is irritating or noisy; the jhana factors (piti / sukha / upekkha) are wholesome in every way that a normal experience can be. Higher sutta jhanas are more "refined" and so may be thought of as better or more enjoyable for that reason, but none of the sutta jhanas, and none of the jhana factors, will be experienced as actively unpleasant. (What is being observed in the MCTB case is that craving for pleasure is unsatisfactory; when one gets tired of craving for pleasure, one will move on to craving for something else.)

Does that help clarify your experience?

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/3/11 11:37 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
hm, so is it sort of a spectrum? you can go from one side which is more MCTB-like to the other side of more sutta-like? the pleasure was affective i think, it first presented as a charge which felt like an urge to move my arms in all directions at once that sort of canceled itself out, but was still sort of restless, although the sensation would be classified as pleasure i guess. then it moved to my chest, sort of just a layer right at the skin all over the front of my torso and arms. i was still aware of my butt+legs+back+head but the attention definitely tended towards the chest+arms, and it felt like i should focus in further if i wanted to go deeper

You can use these distinctions to clarify which is which if you can't see the attention wave clearly enough. To some extent your experience will have MCTB jhana features while your concentration is still building and pleasure is still being cultivated, but they should not be too exaggerated, and the process of building concentration and increasing pleasure will reduce these features: you should be actively ignoring them, actively tuning into their opposite, and the more you do that, the more concentration you get.


i don't quite understand this part^ does this mean tend towards panoramic rather than narrow, if i'm doing that how could i ignore the MCTB feature of affective pleasure? and then just calm it down more and be more equanimous about the affective pleasure? i'll give that a try.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/3/11 12:03 PM as a reply to josh r s.
did a short sit and i think i got into mctb jhana then moved over towards sutta jhana. it was a lot calmer and the pleasure felt more solid and less "warm" more panoramic attention, pleasure started creeping into legs but not head, less intense and wow-ish but sort of better i spose. i think this is the right direction and i'll keep workin with it.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/3/11 1:33 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
hm, so is it sort of a spectrum? you can go from one side which is more MCTB-like to the other side of more sutta-like?


At the beginning (cultivating jhana factors) it is like a spectrum, but the two part ways very quickly: sutta jhana is PCE-like, MCTB jhana is not. That's probably why Nick and Owen and Antero claim no access to these jhanas, apart from the residual experience of "focus"...not enough attention wave left to generate them.

the pleasure was affective i think, it first presented as a charge which felt like an urge to move my arms in all directions at once that sort of canceled itself out, but was still sort of restless, although the sensation would be classified as pleasure i guess.


You guess?

"Sukha" is the opposite of "dukkha", so when you experience it, you will be sure.

This an opportunity to be clear about right view: if it is actively unpleasant in some way, it is affective, and you are better off regarding it as a disease, a cancer, an arrow...

i don't quite understand this part^ does this mean tend towards panoramic rather than narrow, if i'm doing that how could i ignore the MCTB feature of affective pleasure?


You should tend towards not tuning out sensory experiences. "Narrow" is a tuning out of sensory experience. So is "wide". The sense of focus is a tuning out of sensory experience...it is affective...ignore it and all the other affective things.

If you have to stick with a focus, stick with wide.

and then just calm it down more and be more equanimous about the affective pleasure? i'll give that a try.


Be so equanimous that you forget to pay attention to the affective pleasure.

Also, keep in mind that sutta jhanas can have extremely intense pleasure, it's just that, no matter how intense it is, it lacks grandiosity.

(The grandiosity is suffering, of course.)

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/3/11 7:13 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
ok thanks for your help with this, i believe i am now aware of how to get into sutta jhana, just had another couple sits which seem closer to sutta style than mctb style. one more question, after sutta style is there some residual pleasure that lingers around for a little while after you stop sitting? or is that a characteristic of mctb only

edit - actually one other question - can actual pleasure cause some involuntary twitches/reflexes when it intensifies? i had a few experiences where there would be a little pleasure jump and my stomach would suck in a little automatically.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/3/11 11:05 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
ok thanks for your help with this, i believe i am now aware of how to get into sutta jhana, just had another couple sits which seem closer to sutta style than mctb style. one more question, after sutta style is there some residual pleasure that lingers around for a little while after you stop sitting?


I found that, and Villium seems to have also.

Can you describe your new jhana experience?

edit - actually one other question - can actual pleasure cause some involuntary twitches/reflexes when it intensifies? i had a few experiences where there would be a little pleasure jump and my stomach would suck in a little automatically.


I never experienced that, I have no idea.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/4/11 12:36 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Can you describe your new jhana experience?


the 'farthest' i've got into (what i'm taking as) sutta-style jhanas is almost full-body pleasure, not totally immersed in lower body and nothing really in head, the pleasure was solid and without any "charge," very calm. i'm pretty sure it was actual not affective. also there wasn't focus that i could directly discern but it wasn't PCE so i guess there was focus in there somehow.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/8/11 8:14 PM as a reply to josh r s.
recently i've been experiencing some extremely strong concentration and i believe i can get into a concentration-affectlessness or
near-concentration-affectlessness reproducibly. simply by keeping constant effort entirely on releasing and relaxing the tensions that seem to form a solid line from my lower stomach through the top of my head i achieve a very PCE-like experience from which i can relax all sense of 'trying' and get into super-clear very affectless experience. i seem to be doing this on the edge of the first jhana. so much of my attention faculties are going into relaxing tension though that there isn't quite enough to also cultivate pleasure. i often alternate breaths, one breath relaxing and releasing effort/tension/clinging and another breath focusing on the pleasantness of the relaxation and magnifying it.

there seems to be tension with each breath of pleasure and this tension which can clearly be seen as unproductive as it is painful and preventing pleasure makes a very palpable center of 'being' which i can relax. i've been getting some strong 4nt insights and was wondering about the EiS v. AEN debate over whether awakening could be attained without direct insights into anatta. where i currently am it is abundantly clear that if i lost mindfulness and forgot, i would go back to normal affect-filled experience, and i can't quite see how if one had understood the causes of affect clearly enough to entirely stop creating it, one would be unable to produce it at will. strangely, i am sort of answering my question right now because it seems that, rather than being incapable of producing affect, i can't summon the intent necessary to do it, but this seems pretty flimsy, perhaps it is only because i am attached to the peace i am experiencing.

does anyone free of affect have ideas about why they can't produce it? it's sort of theoretical for me, but also it would be helpful to know that this skill of letting go and relaxing which i am really beginning to understand is all that will be necessary.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/8/11 8:25 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
and i can't quite see how if one had understood the causes of affect clearly enough to entirely stop creating it, one would be unable to produce it at will.


Seeing it ultra-clearly as a manifestation of dependent origination (as Bhante V seems to also have talked about) is a unique experience and seems to have uniquely powerful consequences...consequences which have more power and influence over the mind than one would think they ought to, merely based on description.

As for why this is, I don't have any definitive ideas.

it would be helpful to know that this skill of letting go and relaxing which i am really beginning to understand is all that will be necessary.


My best guess at this point is that if you let go of enough tension, you run into a "critical tension threshold", and passing under it automatically gets you the experience above.

I believe that Nick has talked about having had the same experience. Not sure about anyone else.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/8/11 9:42 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
I have been thinking for a bit about the issue you brought up...though I see many references in the suttas to the idea that comprehension of suffering leads to the abandonment of suffering, I have never found a detailed explanation of why.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/thig/thig.06.02.than.html:
All griefs have been cut off,
abandoned,
brought to this end,
for I've comprehended
the grounds from which griefs
come into play.


The best I can come up with is, you only produce suffering because you are in some sense confused (not knowing what you're doing), so when you see what you're doing, you recognize how pointless it is, and stop fueling the process. And you cannot restart the process, insofar as you have abandoned it, because you have somehow permanently renounced the craving that would fuel the process. (You cannot will yourself to crave; you can incline your mind in whatever way you like and discover that there is no way to incline it that would generate the same craving as before.)

But, this is really just speculation, and not important unless you find some benefit in it.

EDIT: As a related point, the foundation for my practice for a significant period of time was simply paying ultra-precise attention to craving and affective experience...I found that if I looked at it closely enough, it would eventually be subdued (sometimes coincident with getting a glimpse of the non-affective experience underlying it, sometimes not). I was not trying to relax tensions while doing this...in fact, I generated quite a few of additional tensions in the process of paying attention, and yet they ultimately went away. (This is the basis for my "just pay attention!" advice.) So, there is something to the idea that seeing leads to comprehending leads to abandoning, but there is some sort of gap in terms of explaining the mechanics.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/8/11 10:20 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
i think i understand, ignorance both causes and is caused by all the other parts of DO. fabrications are caused by craving, craving is caused by ignorance, ignorance is caused by fabrication. either penetrate 4nts and stop craving or penetrate 3Cs and end ignorance.

in the first case, the end of craving-> end of fabrication-> end of ignorance

in the second case, the end of ignorance -> end of craving -> end of fabrication

in both cases, ignorance is ended, so you can't go back to believing in santa, but the second one is maybe more direct, though not necessarily faster.

i guess the "santa" analogy fails because it doesn't take into account that you are the one fooling yourself, and you are fooling yourself because you want to be fooled, if you realize that by fooling yourself you are hurting yourself you wont want to anymore, you don't, suddenly there is no reason to believe in santa because no illusion is presenting itself.

we are pretty fucking sick if we are making ourselves believe we exist and thus create the desire to make ourselves believe we exist. i guess this is why DO is a big circle and not a line.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/8/11 10:57 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:

we are pretty fucking sick if we are making ourselves believe we exist and thus create the desire to make ourselves believe we exist. i guess this is why DO is a big circle and not a line.


You like loops, do you?

Try this one:

The effort to preserve 'your' existence is the only existence 'you' have.

EDIT: Actually, let's make 'you' a bit more versatile without changing 'your' fundamental nature:

The effort to preserve and improve 'your' existence is the only existence 'you' have.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/8/11 11:27 PM as a reply to josh r s.
Ignorance is defined as not having developed the eightfold path, and the eightfold path is more about subduing craving than generating insights (though you get lots of insights as a side effect of subduing craving), so I can't say I get it yet.

My best attempt for now is, either see the gory details of the process by which suffering is generated so that you become disenchanted with the whole mess and crave less...or, just crave less. (Or some combination of the two.)

(I think it may not be possible to subdue craving sufficiently without insight into the process...but, beyond whatever basic level is required, it seems that one could go either way. And I'm confident that subduing craving makes insight into the process more forthcoming.)

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/13/11 2:24 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
im trying to figure out how to create permanent change, because right now it seems that tension is getting relaxed temporarily and just coming back. i guess it's probably just continuing to be mindful of the breath and to relax tension when possible, but i'm still interested in exactly what creates an actual change. vimalaramsi says that stream entry can be triggered by going up the sutta-jhana arc and into NS and as you come out you get insight into DO. i'm not even getting into 1st jhana doing what i'm doing right now, just relaxing tension, and even getting into some PCE or near-PCE states pre-first jhana which i like more than the jhanas i've gotten into. do i have to change my strategy?

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/13/11 3:55 PM as a reply to josh r s.
*since edited for clarity x 3

First things first get into 1st jhana and worry about 'change' after you master getting to 1st, 2nd 3rd and 4th at least. Then...

What got the path like shifts for myself (not MCTBpaths but later ones) was doing what you are doing, but then also integrating some of the actualising jhana approach.

When in the 1st jhana do you sense a sense of 'being' there? a sense of existing? A sense of me-ness? A mental one?

In the 1st jhana sutta style, pleasure should be maxed out so that pleasure is the main theme throughout the whole body. If so, then let the mind fall on the grossest vibration/sensation in the field of experience. Somewhere in the body there may be one area of sensations which may be a conditioning factor int he arising of that 'me-ness'.

Now when it is found, forget about the mentally felt sense of 'me-ness' and focus on mashing those particular sensations with all the pleasure already maxed out in the 1st jhana. This can be done in any of the rupa jhanas. Let those particular sensations (the ones seemingly being a support for a mentally felt sense of 'me-ness or tension) drown in the pleasure till they just become part of the pleasure. If there is still a sense of me-ness, just rinse and repeat. Locate any 'out of the norm' sensations which may have some mental tension overlayed, and then let those sensations mix in with all the pleasure one has maxed out and is aware of throughout the body.

Consider the sensations overlayed with 'me-ness' or tension etc as a disturbance.

Emptiness as a meditative dwelling is most fully discussed in MN 121. Essentially, it boils down to the ability to center the mind in a particular mode of perception, to maintain it there, and then to notice the absence and presence of disturbance within that mode. The process starts with perceptions of one's external surroundings — village, wilderness, the earth property — and then moves internally to the four formless states, the "themeless concentration of awareness," and finally to release from all mental fermentation. Each step is compared to the one preceding it to see how its more refined perception engenders less disturbance. For instance, if you move from a perception of the wilderness to a perception of earth, the first step is to settle and "indulge" in that perception. Then you notice what types of disturbance have been abandoned in the move from the perception of wilderness to the perception of earth — for example, all thought of the dangers of wilderness are gone — and then to see what disturbances remain based on the latter perception. Then you abandon the perception causing those disturbances and move on to a more refined level of perception. This process is pursued until it arrives at the "themeless concentration of awareness." When noting that even this refined level of concentration is fabricated, inconstant, and subject to cessation, one gains total release from all mental fermentations and the disturbances that would arise based on them. This is the level of emptiness that is "superior and unsurpassed," and is apparently what the Buddha is referring to in this sutta when he says that by "not attending to any themes, he enters & remains in internal emptiness."
[url=
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.122.than.html]
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.122.than.html


This will interfere with the attention bounce which may be bouncing rapidly and perhaps indecipherably, unless discerned with a careful eye, from the 'out of the norm' sensations in the body somehwere to the middle of the brain giving off a sense of 'me-ness' or being or mental tension or existing or location or presence which may lead to mental proliferation. Keep doing this, interfering with this process of craving and clinging (the attention bouncing from vedana to within the head resulting in an evaluation and mental reaction resulting in craving/aversion, which may give the 'out of the norm' sensations a 'twangy burniness or tense feel that makes the mind wrestle with it, which the mind can't not keep looking at i.e. attention clinging to that spot continuously, which then gives rise to becoming-'me-ness').

Do this untill it will suddenly stop the arising of 'me-ness' and all that will be experienced is the arising and passing of that pleasure. No 'out of the norm' sensations will be apparent, only the factors of the rupa jhana. When this happens, change may happen. Do this within any rupa jhana for as long as possible back and forth. See what happens.

One can also do the same with the arupa mental aspects and any 'out of the norm' sensations as I explained in the actualizing jhana approach. Try and approach all the looking and discernment from an unfabricated pay attention approach. This will help bypass aggravating the attention bounce and causing more tension via 'trying too hard'. The idea is to release the tension, dealing with DO resulting in path moments of the fetter kind (in my opinion).

Experiment!

Nick

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/13/11 4:45 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
im trying to figure out how to create permanent change, because right now it seems that tension is getting relaxed temporarily and just coming back. (...) do i have to change my strategy?


I asked you before whether your practice was reducing affective stuff over the medium-term and you said yes; at what point did it stop working?

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/13/11 5:05 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
the last four or so days stuff seemed to just come back in full force. every time i lose mindfulness there is constant negative narratives about basically every bad thing i've ever done and everything bad that's happened to me. the thoughts are clearly the direct cause of the tension, and often i'll sit to meditate and get rid of tension, but there seems to be some sort of underlying depression and bad attitude that just leads to more tension as soon as it can.

i've been doing my 6r's as best i can, relaxing tension and dropping all the negative thought, but i haven't felt the underlying depression lift once in the past 4 days. it seems like i am either depressed with major throat+chest+head tension+negativity or depressed without all that tension+negativity. the relaxing of the tension has felt very artificial and as if i am just messing around with the surface layer. the theory of course tells me that the depression is tension but somehow it is so constant and unchanging that i can't really seem to get a grip on it or affect it. looking back on what i wrote i know it is a very negative narrative/cognitive elaboration, but still even if i can drop it and relax the apparent tension i am feeling down. it could be that i haven't really dropped the negativity for long enough and really relaxed the tension, and i am just in another ignorance<->craving loop, but i have definitely experienced some good near-PCE relaxation with an icky sublayer of depression a few times.

i'm sure i've made some progress over all, but looking at my experience right now sets alot of doubt on that. craving and clinging breed more craving and clinging in many ways.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/13/11 10:01 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
it seems like i am either depressed with major throat+chest+head tension+negativity or depressed without all that tension+negativity. the relaxing of the tension has felt very artificial and as if i am just messing around with the surface layer. the theory of course tells me that the depression is tension but somehow it is so constant and unchanging that i can't really seem to get a grip on it or affect it.


This (the inability to see the tension fueling your mood) is really important to address. Maybe you could focus 100% on this for awhile. Look "around" the points on your body that you think would be associated with it, look "behind" them, look physically "inside" your body...look everywhere.

One thing that I found to be helpful was to generate a large tension associating with "holding attention on the body" (i.e. "grounding emotions")...if the tension is large enough, it can help to make smaller tensions associated with other things, such as mood, really obvious, by preventing attention from moving off the body to an apparently undefined "inner" space where moods happen...if attention still moves to the undefined "inner" space, you can try forcing it back onto the body by increasing the tension you generate, and if you do this quickly enough, you may be able to see the previously-hidden region of your body that was associated with the mood.

About progress and changing practices...I'd like to see if you have any success identifying where your depressed mood is before offering an opinion.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/14/11 3:13 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
yea i managed to drop it, i sort of knew it was just plain tension the whole time but some willful ignorance was in play. which is pretty stupid looking back on it. no change of methods was necessary just some willingness to stop what was clearly a feedback loop that was totally intentional.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/16/11 4:58 PM as a reply to josh r s.
i am having some serious trouble with relaxing tension, i just can't seem to do it. i have limited temporary successes and then just cant do it. like right now my throat is so tensed that i can feel the sides of it rubbing against each other and it is just so frustrating. so i try to be equanimous to the original tension and relax the frustration but the same thing happens.

i just am not really getting relaxed. the whole column of head+throat+chest+solar plexus+stomach is just shitty, and trying and failing to relax it just makes it worse. my best guess is that i am just going through the motions and trying to "relax" this thing which i am not seeing as an intentional process, rather than seeing it as intentional and then no longer intending it. but no matter how much i stare i can't figure out how the fuck i am intending these shitty sensations or why the fuck i ever would intend them.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/16/11 5:12 PM as a reply to josh r s.
It's really, really hard to stop intending those sensations if you have nothing pleasant to pay attention to, instead. Cause 'trying to stop intending' is just another intention that then gets sucked into the mass. And the mass is likely a large part of 'wanting to stop intending this mass' - at least it has been for me.

This might work: just breathe in and out, focusing on the breath, paying attention to whether it is currently an in-breath or an out-breath, currently a long breath or a short breath, with the intention just at the very back of your mind, not in the forefront or a recurring thought at all, "I will breathe in relaxing... I will breathe out relaxing..." Just try that for a few minutes and see what happens.

What also works well is jhana... then you focus on the jhanic pleasure instead of that stuff and it is a lot easier to let go.

RE: josh practice thread
Answer
12/17/11 1:04 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
i'm done with jhana, i just can't do it reliably or well and i generally get frustrated. also it's just so damn noisy i can't really get good concentration. i think i am going to go with the thing i have had the most success with which is just sort of equanimous awareness to the senses, whenever i try to introduce new things on top of that, whether it's relaxing all the tension or getting into jhana i have some initial success but soon focus only on getting jhana/relaxing tension and just ruin it for myself. so i'm just going to stick with the basics.

RE: josh practice thread
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12/17/11 3:03 PM as a reply to josh r s.
ugh.. cant even start to meditate. every time i sit down there is just an overriding thought of "there's no way this will work" no matter what i try to do. i haven't made it past the five minute mark in a sit all day, can't even see that this stuff is craving/tension. it's a little worrying that i said the same thing a couple weeks ago, then got out of it, and fell right back in. this time i've basically been in it for a full week instead of just a few days. i don't even know where to start, i can't do much with my mind other than feel sorry for myself, judge myself, or imagine somehow smashing my skull or some windows or something valuable. emoticon

and now people are coming to my house and i don't know how i am going to not act like shit with them.

RE: josh practice thread
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12/17/11 6:38 PM as a reply to josh r s.
I know the feeling... I would go to the bathroom, sit down, and imagine smashing my body through the glass that separates the bathtub from the rest of the bathroom.

This is most likely Re-Observation. You might want to read the MCTB Chapter on it.

RE: josh practice thread
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12/17/11 8:54 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
looks like i survived another round. i ended up just trying to ground everything and be equanimous towards it all for several hours. this practice seems "safer" than other things for me, maybe i just can't handle anything that aims to increase pleasantness of experience in the present moment because i'll just always get super reactionary/judgmental and then make everything shitty. so i think i'll try grounding everything and being equanimous to it all, and just leave it at that till something happens. is this viable as a practice aimed at ending affect?

RE: josh practice thread
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12/17/11 9:11 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
looks like i survived another round. i ended up just trying to ground everything and be equanimous towards it all for several hours. this practice seems "safer" than other things for me, maybe i just can't handle anything that aims to increase pleasantness of experience in the present moment because i'll just always get super reactionary/judgmental and then make everything shitty. so i think i'll try grounding everything and being equanimous to it all, and just leave it at that till something happens. is this viable as a practice aimed at ending affect?


It might help to recognize that you might need to do different things at different times. Suppose there are roughly 5 levels: extremely shitty, kinda shitty, neutral-ok, kinda good, wonderful. If feeling extremely shitty, you want to aim for 'kinda shitty'. If feeling kinda shitty, you want to aim for neutral-ok. If neutral-ok, train your sights on kinda good. And if it's going kinda good, go for wonderful.

What actually works is the same at all levels: observing everything equanimously, opening the mind up, not being aversive to experience. That is much easier to do at the feeling-better levels than the feeling-shitty levels, though, cause the mind is already more opened up at feeling-better than at feeling-shitty. When feeling really shitty the mind is incredibly constricted and, like you said, trying to do something as innocent as 'increase pleasantness' can cause massive reactions that just makes things shittier.

So, do whatever works at any given stage to get to the next one. Try to think of it like a puzzle: it's this complicated/intricate system, where the only input you can put into it is your intention. Given a particular state (e.g. "kinda shitty"), what does this intention do (e.g. "increase pleasantness")? Does it lead to a more fruitful state (e.g. "neutral-ok") or a less fruitful one (e.g. "extremely shitty")?

Then again, in the state you're in now, trying to look at it that way might just make it worse...

If grounding and being equanimous works for the moment, then do that. Just be open to the possibility of refining/changing that later.

RE: josh practice thread
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12/17/11 11:57 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Hey Josh,

What helped me in this stage of my practice was doing 30 minute timed sits three times a day without any pressure to accomplish anything but last the 30 minutes. Then I just sat back, relaxed, and noted sensations(I was doing Vipassana practice at the time). With no pressure for any outcome, your just looking at whats happening and then you figure out what leads to to equanimity type sensations and what causes increased stress. For the first fifteen minutes of the sit, it usually sucked and then after that, I became used to the sucking and then for the last five minutes, I would make some type of headway into how to alleviate the annoying sensations.

These tension filled sensations are very sticky and theres nothing "you" can really do, IMO, but ride them out and once you ride them out, you figure out how to lead into more equanimous sensations. See where the sensation takes you instead of grabbing control of the sensation even if the sensation seems to be getting worse and worse. You'll get through this. It took me only two weeks of thirty minute three times a day sits to pass a spot seemingly similar to this and for me its was relatively easy because I knew that this was going to happen due to MCTB and the only way to "improve" was to ride it out and note what was happening in a very calm objective manner. I felt like i was a third person noting these stressful sensations but at the same time experiencing them; this is being dispassionate and purely observing the irritation. Theres no getting somewhere and in my case, it was a waiting and watching until the irritation cleared and softly developing a skill to be equanimous.

RE: josh practice thread
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12/21/11 12:42 PM as a reply to josh r s.
strange thing happened last night. i woke up around 3am with a super-headache and i started trying to relax some of the tension around my chest, keeping in mind what i learned recently about not getting frustrated with being unable to relax, and yet after around 15 seconds an affective pain more intense than any pain, affective or physical i've previously experienced just started in a very small area around my sternum. i just lay there grounding it, staying with the sensations for around 30 minutes, then when i was feeling somewhat more up to it i just started relaxing it, i had some sort of insight which im trying really hard to remember and was able to relax to near-PCE levels for a few seconds and it kept coming and going for about an hour before i fell asleep. anyway, i woke up feeling great, but it was such a strange thing i decided to post... didn't realize affect could be so intense.

RE: josh practice thread
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12/21/11 3:40 PM as a reply to josh r s.
This might work: just breathe in and out, focusing on the breath, paying attention to whether it is currently an in-breath or an out-breath, currently a long breath or a short breath, with the intention just at the very back of your mind, not in the forefront or a recurring thought at all, "I will breathe in relaxing... I will breathe out relaxing..." Just try that for a few minutes and see what happens.


thanks for this one beoman, it helped me realize what i was doing wrong that made me so averse to anapana meditation. my practice evolved over a few days due from a couple really successful days in which i was nailing near-PCE experiences in every sit, but what started happening is that i was aiming for those states and trying to figure out how to get there fastest. specifically i'd look at individual tension spots and spend like 10 minutes just trying to relax that one spot, which would create tension in the rest of my body. so i'd sort of chase around the tensions and my overall tension level would grow instead of shrink.

so instead, following the actual sutta and part of your advice, i did a few sits today in which i just relaxed "in general" with each in&out breath and got to that near-PCE level tranquility. although im not actually aiming for jhana, just relaxing "in general," this seems productive and is certainly more pleasant than my experience with jhana, i'm going to stick with it, even if i hit another road block i won't even consider switching practices.

edit: another part of what i was doing wrong was that i was practically ignoring the breath, just trying to relax those tension spots, but when i keep up a sort of rhythmic relaxation of the whole body with each breath it seems to work much better.