RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
My first practice log can be viewed here if anyone wants to look at it: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/view_message/20033926#_19_message_20033926

I'm copying my last response in that thread over to here, in case Olivier or others wanted to reply.

I also think it's important to not crave or cling to the wow factors. As Chris said, we can cherish and appreciate them, but I find there can be a fine balance between appreciating them and craving them. There are lots of aspects of experience that are fascinating and can seem kind of showy. But, they're side effects of the practice. People, including me, use alot of the walking around in daily life effects of how their experience and perception presents as descriptors of where they're at, but again, these are side effects and fireworks. They're a result of some of the insights and not the insight themselves.

The fireworks lose their wow factor over time. They become integrated and part of the new normal baseline, so they don't seem as showy as they once did. This is important to take to heart. I'm saying this as much for you Olivier as I am for myself. We can't go reminiscing about the glory days of great experiences and ways of perceiving that we once did. Either its lost its wow factor because we're used to as a new part of experience now, or it was just another temporary mind state or way of experiencing that is now gone. Regardless, chasing fireworks is craving, which begets clinging, and the whole cycle of samsara continues. And that itself is what needs to be understood on a fundamental level.

This again gets back to chasing after certain sensations like the observer - it's yet another side effect and not the root issue. I'm truly appreciating how vital the root issues, the beliefs and views themselves, are right now. I think that the teachings on dependent origination are probably one of, if not the, most important thing to truly understand at the deepest level.
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Chris Marti, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Better?
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Yep. Thanks again!
Sam Gentile, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Steph S:
My first practice log can be viewed here if anyone wants to look at it: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/view_message/20033926#_19_message_20033926

I'm copying my last response in that thread over to here, in case Olivier or others wanted to reply.

I also think it's important to not crave or cling to the wow factors. As Chris said, we can cherish and appreciate them, but I find there can be a fine balance between appreciating them and craving them. There are lots of aspects of experience that are fascinating and can seem kind of showy. But, they're side effects of the practice. People, including me, use alot of the walking around in daily life effects of how their experience and perception presents as descriptors of where they're at, but again, these are side effects and fireworks. They're a result of some of the insights and not the insight themselves.

The fireworks lose their wow factor over time. They become integrated and part of the new normal baseline, so they don't seem as showy as they once did. This is important to take to heart. I'm saying this as much for you Olivier as I am for myself. We can't go reminiscing about the glory days of great experiences and ways of perceiving that we once did. Either its lost its wow factor because we're used to as a new part of experience now, or it was just another temporary mind state or way of experiencing that is now gone. Regardless, chasing fireworks is craving, which begets clinging, and the whole cycle of samsara continues. And that itself is what needs to be understood on a fundamental level.

This again gets back to chasing after certain sensations like the observer - it's yet another side effect and not the root issue. I'm truly appreciating how vital the root issues, the beliefs and views themselves, are right now. I think that the teachings on dependent origination are probably one of, if not the, most important thing to truly understand at the deepest level.
For one just tuning in, where are you doing for practices?
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Hey, Sam. I posted about my style of practice in my first practice log, which is at the link I put in the first post of this thread. But just as a quick summary so you don't have to go digging through almost 200 replies - right now I'm doing a mix of insight and jhana. For jhana, I've been using the brahma viharas and once I stabilize the mind quite a bit using that jhana, I'll move into insight with that more refined state of mind. For insight, instead of focusing in on every individual sensation, I've been working on insight incorporating the whole field of experience, and paying attention to that and how it presents. I know that maybe sounds vague. I also know that you were doing a metta retreat and realized I forgot to reply back to your questions you asked me in there. Since metta is one of the brahma viharas, and I've been doing jhana with brahma viharas, I'll go reply in your thread about metta with more details about how I practice this.
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Olivier, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Thank you for the reminder, nicely put.

The balance between craving and appreciating is indeed fine. I've found myself recently, doing the shargrolian "resistance ?" exercise, and having that come up as the dominant theme : is this my life purpose being seen clearly, or is it some egotistic fantasy, and where is the dividing line ? And some subtle identification and pride coming up.

As in, "We're getting seriously enlightened here, right ?"

Subtle, and vital, like you say, vital. 

Yes, but we needed, at least i needed, to cling to that, in order to know that that's not the best of ideas, right ? emoticon Could not have avoided it.

May I ask you to break down your understanding of dependent origination ? I get a sense there are many ways to understand this. The 12-link version, anyway, although I've composed a 25' long piece of music based on those, I've never fully grasped, and honestly always found really confusing, if you could help me out here. The more abstract because this is that is, when this ceases that ceases, I understand better... 
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Dependent origination is abstract AF. There are different ways to go about seeing it. Some people say you need to observe each of the 12 links as they occur in real time, and know what each of those links are as they occur, which I find doesn't always work that well when it comes down to it. I'm not that into that particular method. 

I tend to prefer the method of seeing sensations clearly for what they are and cutting through before it has a chance to get to the craving and clinging links. So weaken the initial links in the chain, basically. So it's cutting off the bonds of suffering earlier in the chain instead of trying to see the whole chain ride out.

We talked a bit about Mahamudra in my first practice thread, and I mentioned I went on a weekend Mahamudra retreat several years ago. I forgot most of what I learned on that retreat because honestly I think alot of it was over my head at that time. But one part that did stick with me and that I remembered again recently is how we hold sensations and view them. Essentially, they said to hold all sensations and view all sensations with a sense of unconditional love, in the way that a parent might look at their child. This is where my brahma vihara practice has been kicking ass lately, and is a side effect I didn't necessarily expect. In cultivating feelings of love and compassion towards myself and others, I've also naturally without at first realizing it, been cultivating those feelings towards my whole field of experience. It's basically like developing an attitude of unconditional love and acceptance for everything that happens in your experience. How this relates to dependent origination, is... if all sensations are met with love, compassion, and gratitude then it cuts down craving before it occurs. There's nothing to crave if all sensations are equally loved, equally viewed, and if you're all inclusive in that way - in other words, there's great equanimity towards them all. The same way a parent might have multiple children and love all of them unconditionally, or still love a child even when they're acting like a total brat. I'm not a parent, but I understand the sentiment. Does that make sense?
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Olivier, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Yeah definitely, i can resonate with that, what i dont get is the 12 actual links though. It doesn't seem to me like DO in the pali buddha's mouth is what i do when i deconstruct experience... But then again, this guy.......................... 

As for dependant origination in the way burbea puts it, it also seems to be something different different than anything we talked about here, more like : views create perceptions and vice versa.

I'm curious, if someone knows the fine points here.
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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I'd love to hear other people's takes on dependent origination. It really is a tricky one to fully understand. It's one of those things that with insight you probably have seen many times. That's the weird thing about these concepts, is you may have seen them in action, just without knowing all the terminology behind it. the Many of the explanations of it are hard to decipher, using what I think is convoluted language. This page has one of the easier to understand explanations of DO that I've found, though. I just re-read it again and it makes alot of sense. It describes all of the links and how they interact. https://www.buddhistinquiry.org/article/dependent-origination/

A quote from that article that's pretty interesting is:

"In classical presentations, this pro­cess of dependent origination is com­prised of twelve links. It is important to understand that this is not a linear, progressive, or sequential presentation. It’s a process always in motion and not static at all. It’s also not deterministic. I also don’t think that one link deter­mines the arising of the next link. But rather that the presence of certain fac­tors or certain of these links together provide the conditions in which the other links can manifest, and this is go­ing to become clearer as we use some analogies to describe how this interac­tion works.

It’s a little bit like a snowstorm—the coming together of a certain tempera­ture, a certain amount of precipitation, a certain amount of wind co-creating a snow storm. Or it’s like the writing of a book: one needs an idea, one needs pen, one needs paper, one needs the ability to write. It’s not necessarily true that first I must have this and then I must have this in a certain sequential order, but rather that the coming to­gether of certain causes and conditions allows this particular phenomenon or this particular experience to be born."

agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Hi Steph,

I'll chime in on DO. I'm by no means an expert, but I've been thinking about and meditating on it for a while. I agree that DO is the most important teaching of the Buddha, because it explains the mechanics of how we create dukkha out of our raw experience, which is the second noble truth. And understanding how dukkha is created gives you a chance to stop it, which is the third noble truth.

Every author seems to have their own slightly different take on DO. I think it's just one of those things that you study and meditate on and form your own understanding of how it works in your own experience, which is they only thing that is relevant to lessening your own dukkha at the end of the day. I like Bhikkhu Buddhadasa's book Paticcasamuppada - Practical Dependent Origination, which has some good worked examples.

I like Christina Feldman's explanation, however she does what a lot of authors do which is to say it's not strictly linear. I agree that DO operates on a lot of different levels - from instantaneous experience to whole lifetime - and that it contains multiple smaller feedback loops within each larger loop. However a breakthrough for me was trying to understand the links leading up to contact in their actual linear sequence. This is still a work in progress, and I may be completely off base here, but this is the way I see it. I think it helps to make sense of how consciousness is fabricated, which seems to be your question here:

The idea of paying attention to things seems a bit ludicrous, in that on some level you know there's nothing paying attention to things, but that knowing hasn't fully matured. Which is a bit mind-fucky and has tripped me up a bit. Because the observer is still operating, yet the way the observer is perceived hasn't quite caught up with the fact that there is still a knowing that there's nobody behind the curtain paying attention. This kind of manifests like, when I'm meditating or if I even thought "pay attention to X now" , it seems weird to think of myself as paying attention to an object. Or said another way, weird to conceive of attention as something that is applied to another thing. It doesn't quite add up anymore. But there's still the sensations of the observer and that subject/object duality happening, so again, not a fully matured insight on that front yet.

We have to be a bit careful about words here because you are using "attention" (manasikara) which is technically part of namarupa at the fourth link, but I believe what you are really talking about is consciousness (vinnana), i.e. the fact that I am aware of sense object X right now. As you say, it's a bit of a mystery - who decides to pay attention to X in the first place? You know there isn't really an observer behind the curtain making these decisions, and yet somehow the decision to meditate was made, somehow the decision to pay attention to the breath was made, somehow the dog barking didn't catch your attention but the firetruck passing did etc.

Well if you look at DO, the link before consciousness is sankhara, so the literal translation of that is preconscious activity of body, speech/thought, perception and feeling. If you're serious about DO I would read SN 12.2 and MN 44 on Sutta Central with the side-by-side pali word lookup activated. It might seem like a bit of a struggle, but once you know what the original pali terms are then you are much less likely to get confused by everyone's different translations and explanations, because you know they all point back to the same 20 key words and formulas in the original suttas.

So anyway, sankhara is all that stuff that's going on in your body and mind before you become conscious of X, and it's a result of your conditioning. Take two different people in the same room with the same incoming sense data and they will have different conscious experiences because of their different conditioning. Or as you see in meditation when you slow the mind down, there's all that bubbly vibrational stuff (sankhara) going on and only a specific subset of that forms into actual sense objects you become conscious of. My understanding is that sanna (perception) is the specific part of sankhara which is "choosing" object X over object Y to enter your stream of consciousness, and a big part of that "choice" is the feeling (vedana) tone of the object (I prefer X to Y so I'm conscious of it and happy, or else I don't like X and I can't ignore it so I'm unhappy). The conditioning here is a major feedback loop which is building and reinforcing your sankharas. The more you attach to cling to certain pleasant objects and reject others at step 8 (craving), the more those "choices" get reinforced in your sankharas and shape your stream of consciousness at steps 2 & 3.

The other step I found tough to understand is namarupa (mind & body) at step 4, because that is happening in between consciousness and contact (between X and the relevant sense organ) at step 6. But in my experience, if you really slow the mind down you can seem some physical and mental processing occurring between X first entering your awareness and X being fully established in your awareness. Like when you are "half aware" of a thought in meditation but you don't chase it and it fades away, that's step 3 (consciousness) which never made it to step 6 (contact). Or maybe you were talking to a friend and a dog passed through the room - you weren't fully conscious of it because you were listening to what your friend was saying, but if she asked you whether the dog passed you might be able to recall it - again consciousness without full contact. And that nama includes a lot of stuff - feeling (again), perception (again), intention, contact (before step 6!) and attention. Some people say it's because the DO list is an amalgamation of early lists with redundancies, but I think you really can observe that a lot of these things aren't digital and build incrementally if you watch slowly and carefully enough. The feeling tends to build and support the process, the contact builds and can be broken before completion, the intention builds etc.

Once you've got to contact (step 6) then I think the rest of DO is easier to understand. You are fully aware of X and the feeling (step 7) is either pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, in which case at step 8 (craving) you will either want it, reject it or ignore it. Step 9 (clinging) means nurturing the craving either revisiting the object or trying to avoid it. Step 10 (becoming) is turning the craving into an identity or an action (e.g. "X makes me angry", "X makes me happy", "I want some X", "I want X to go away" etc.). Step 11 (birth) is when you really assume the identity or do the action ("I am angry", "I am happy", "I am doing this", "I am not doing that"). Then step 12 (death) is when that identity falls apart or the action is over ("my anger didn't get the result I wanted", "I am no longer happy", "X is finished", "X has returned") and the end result is dukkha - dissatisfaction because you didn't get what you wanted or what you wanted didn't last or because what you wanted to avoid happened anyway.

The other really interesting thing about DO is that "you" the individual don't appear in there anywhere, it's just a bunch of processes which are conditions for other processes. Of course that's what you know, but really breaking it down step by step and seeing the mechanics of how the sense of self is created on the fly out of craving for sense objects is really helpful I think. Even the sense of self itself is just another sense object or collection of sense objects (the word "I", the idea of me, the bodily feeling of being me etc.) which is being created on the fly. Of course you know all this already so I'm probably being redundant here, but I found it really powerful to go back to the original suttas and see that it's all in there as the central teaching/realization of the Buddha after his awakening.

Anyway, that's my current understanding ... I would be interested to know what you or anyone else thinks. Sorry this post was a bit longer than I intended, I was already thinking about starting a separate thread on it and would be happy to do that if you would prefer not to clog up your log with a more technical discussion.

Cheers
agnostic
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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agnostic:

I like Christina Feldman's explanation, however she does what a lot of authors do which is to say it's not strictly linear. I agree that DO operates on a lot of different levels - from instantaneous experience to whole lifetime - and that it contains multiple smaller feedback loops within each larger loop. However a breakthrough for me was trying to understand the links leading up to contact in their actual linear sequence. This is still a work in progress, and I may be completely off base here, but this is the way I see it. 

This whole reply is awesome and alot to digest. I'll have to come back to it several times, but here are some thoughts to start.

The reason I quoted that part of Christina's article and thought it was interesting was because of what you say here. If others also say it happens out of order, maybe I missed it. When I've read about DO in the suttas before and in other places, they seemed to imply that it IS a linear process and that links happen one after the other. So reading her article again, I was like... wow, is this something I've misunderstood all this time? I get the idea that there are loops within loops, that makes sense. But I will say, as far as seeing it in real time as a linear process, and noticing every single link, that's what I've had trouble with. I also seem to recall that I've read that after coming back online after a cessation, all 12 links will appear in order. I don't know that I've really cognized all of that with extreme clarity after coming out of cessation - it implies that you'll perceive, yes, this is ignorance, yes this is formations, this is this, etc. Sometimes these old Buddhist texts and some of the monks who comment on them say you will automatically see something and automatically know its such and such in a way that I sometimes find unrealistic. Sometimes insight happens quickly, and yet it takes time for it to integrate and for you to really recognize what happened.

agnostic

So anyway, sankhara is all that stuff that's going on in your body and mind before you become conscious of X, and it's a result of your conditioning. Take two different people in the same room with the same incoming sense data and they will have different conscious experiences because of their different conditioning. Or as you see in meditation when you slow the mind down, there's all that bubbly vibrational stuff (sankhara) going on and only a specific subset of that forms into actual sense objects you become conscious of. My understanding is that sanna (perception) is the specific part of sankhara which is "choosing" object X over object Y to enter your stream of consciousness, and a big part of that "choice" is the feeling (vedana) tone of the object (I prefer X to Y so I'm conscious of it and happy, or else I don't like X and I can't ignore it so I'm unhappy). The conditioning here is a major feedback loop which is building and reinforcing your sankharas. The more you attach to cling to certain pleasant objects and reject others at step 8 (craving), the more those "choices" get reinforced in your sankharas and shape your stream of consciousness at steps 2 & 3.

I was just talking with Chris about this the other day in my original practice log. Here's the direct quote:

Steph (in my first practice log):

I sincerely don't think there's a predictable rhyme or reason to why certain sensations are obvious in the field of experience, while others aren't perceived. I think it's a bunch of causes and conditions momentarily colliding, the full extent of those causes and conditions being impossible to entirely ponder. That also goes for anything that could be conceived of as intent. You might think that you want something to happen, and even if it does happen, it's not because that thought was the intent of it or even because there might have been some craving for it. It's just one tiny part of a huge line of causes and conditions, which again, can't be entirely known.

So then, is it possible to see this conditioning in real time? What's the actual method for seeing the initial links in DO that come before contact?


I have more thoughts, but I'll stop there for now.
agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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I've found that a lot of authors pay lip service to the linear sequence, but when they do a worked example they tend to conflate steps or take them out of order.

I've only had one clear cessation (possibly) and afterwards I saw little "particles of experience" bubbling up and coalescing into bigger objects as reality rebooted and reassembled itself. I didn't know much about DO at the time and certainly didn't see 12 links. Possibly it is one of those scripted things that you see once you know about it. But before I ever heard of DO I was doing fast noting and seeing solid objects (sights, sounds, body sensations) breaking down into little "sensory quanta" which were devoid of their objecthood. My interpretation is that those are the sankhara before you start to become aware of the object at consciousness and then contact.

Another exercise to reveal pre-consciousness is to play with objects on the periphery of awareness. For example you are meditating with eyes closed and focus on the sounds. There's a sort of background of little noises which are all mixed up and then certain ones jump into consciousness as "the sound of X". Before you were conscious that it was X, your ears were still receiving the data and there was some preconscious processing going on (reptilian brain scanning for sounds of danger or food). Then ask why did X capture my attention? Maybe X was birdsong and it happened because you like birds or because you find it annoying.

Or try staring in front of you for a while absorbing the entire visual field without focusing on any particular object. Then say to yourself that you are going to allow an object into consciousness without choosing it first, just sort of open yourself up to the possibility of a visual object and see what happens. You can sort of see various shapes and colors "competing for your attention" until one of them captures your attention and then you are aware of "seeing X". If you slow it down enough you can find something coming into focus slowly and you know it's captivated your attention but you don't know what it is yet. Maybe I'm being too literal saying that is consciousness first followed by contact, but experientially I can definitely observe distinct steps leading from first awareness to full awareness of the object. Same exercise - why did I become aware of X? Maybe it was the color that appealed to you, maybe it reminded you of something etc. Sometimes you can find the association (conditioning) and sometimes not.

Final exercise, let yourself fall asleep slowly and watch your sense of self-identity and continuous thought stream breaking up. You start to lose track and "random" thoughts and images start popping into mind. Sometimes you see why and sometimes not. Either way, it gives you a glimpse of the preconscious activity going on inside your mind all the time. That's also the raw material of your dreams, where a sense of self-identity and consciousness is reimposed as your brain keeps up the preconscious processing.

There's also some interesting research evidencing preconscious mental activity. E.g. Benjaimin Libet's famous experiment which proved that people can initiate a "voluntary action of their own free will" but only become conscious of it after their brain has already started the preprocessing which leads to the action. This is explained well in Daniel Wegner's book The Illusion of Conscious Will. Another good read is Thomas Metzinger's book The Ego Tunnel which shows how sense of self is fabricated. Basically it seems like western science and philosophy is finally catching up with the realization that consciousness, agency & selfhood are fabricated out of preconscious experience - just 2,500 years after the Buddha was the first person documented to observe it in meditation!
agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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One last exercise (this is as much for me as you):- focus on the body and see which bits come into awareness. Normally it is familiar sensations which are pleasant or painful (this tingle here, that ache there). That is the habitually reinforced sankhara. Then there's the 95% of neither-pleasant-nor-painful sensations (sankhara) which we usually ignore - they are there, preconscious, but part of the brain is monitoring such activity for irregularities and they are available to be pulled into consciousness.

The main bodily sankhara the Buddha listed was breathing. It's obviously critical to stress and relaxation, but it's also interesting because it's normally preconscious but we can also (appear to) exercise voluntary control over it. But have you ever played the game of observing yourself deciding to breath "voluntarily"? I don't mean breathing on a counting schedule or taking a quick breath without thinking about it. I mean relaxing into really calm slow breathing and waiting for the voluntary impulse to breathe to arise. It's voluntary right? So is it going to be now? Or now? Or a couple more seconds? When exactly are you going to decide to breathe?

What I find eventually happens is that suddenly I'm conscious of being about half a second into a new breath without actually having been conscious of the moment when I decided to initiate the breath. Try as hard as I like, I can never capture the exact instant of deciding to initiate the new breath. Sometimes I feel myself sort of "mustering up the intention to breath", but if I look really closely at that it's more like intention waiting for the body to be ready to breathe. Unless I'm fooling myself, I think this is similar to Libet's experiment - breathing is a preconscious sankhara and conscious control is just an illusion. Obviously you can decide to breath every 10 seconds or something, but that's a different question and just pushing the illusion of control further up in the hierarchy of mental complexity - how did you decide 10 seconds rather than 15? etc.
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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This is a really cool real world as it happens when you practice explanation and I totally get what you're saying, so thank you for taking the time. Maybe I just have trouble with the comprehension of this terminology when I read about it and need it broken down like this to understand it. I tend to favor explanations that detail how things manifest in actual practice, versus the really academic takes on things. It's not that I don't appreciate scholarship or that I'm dense to that side of things, but you probably know what I mean. 

What you say about things being sort of fuzzy and then coming into focus - yes, totally. There absolutley is a perceivable and tangible moment when something goes from just barely in the field, can't quite make it out, to when it is shining forth at center stage. I do notice the habitual tendencies of narrowing into certain things. Funny that you mentioned the example of the bird chirping sound. It is spring and the bird sound does light up often these days when I'm practicing. And yes, I like the bird sound so that could be part of the conditioning. And why, say, the hum of random house noises or whatever are chugging along and not that obvious - they're tagged as neutral sounds, neither here nor there.

Related to the example of falling asleep and watching things break apart - Sometimes when I meditate I have dream like thoughts happen - thoughts that can get pretty surreal, choppy, and not like normal discursive thought. Other times it's abstract memory type thoughts. Like, the other day I was meditating and all of a sudden all these Korean words started manifesting in thought. I don't speak Korean, but earlier in the day I was watching a TV show with Korean speaking characters, so it must have been a thought memory of that. There's alertness when that happens while I meditate and I'm definitely not falling asleep, but it does remind me of how the mind functions when I'm falling asleep. I figure I'm getting into a more subtle strata of mind at that point. It can be very interesting for insights into not-self, specifically related to thought and how it occurs. Another good one is what I call proto-thought - it's the feeling of knowing that a thought is coming on, before the content gets expressed.
agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Ah yes, the old proto-thoughts :-) And then you realize that there's actually a ton of them - how does it get decided which ones make it into actual thoughts?

Since I've already dumped a load of stuff in your log, here's a passage I really like from Ajahn Maha Boowa's Arahattamagga Arahattaphala which I think illustrates this kind of process really nicely. His terminology is slightly different because he's talking about the khandhas (where sanna is separate from sankhara) rather than DO (where sanna is part of sankhara).

AS A WHOLE, THE WELLSPRING of thought and imagination is called sankhãra khandha. Each thought, each inkling of an idea ripples briefly through the mind and then ceases. In and of themselves, these mental ripples have no specific meaning. They merely flash briefly into awareness and then cease without a trace. Only when saññã khandha takes them up do they become thoughts and ideas with a specific meaning and content. Saññã khandha is the mental aggregate of memory, recognition and interpretation. Saññã takes fragments of thought and interprets and expands them, making assumptions about their significance, and thus turning them into issues. Sankhãra then perpetuates these issues in the form of incessant, discursive thinking. Saññã, however, is the principal instigator. As soon as sankhãra flashes up briefly, saññã immediately grasps it and defines its existence as this or that—agitating everything. These two are the mental faculties that cause all the trouble. Together they spin tales—of fortune and of woe—and then interpret them to be the reality of oneself. Relying on memory to identify everything that arises in awareness, saññã defines them and gives them meaning.

Sankhãras arise and cease with distinct beginnings and endings, like flashes of lightning or fireflies blinking on and off. When observed closely, saññã khandha is far more subtle than sankhara khandha. Bursting into awareness, sankhãras are the basic building blocks of thought. Saññã, on the other hand, is not experienced as flashes of thought. When the mind is perfectly still and the khandhas are very quiet, we can clearly feel the manner in which each khandha arises. Saññã will slowly spread out, permeating the citta like ink moving through blotting paper, expanding slowly until it forms a mental picture. Following saññã’s lead, the sankhãras, that are constantly arising, begin to form a picture and create a story around it that will then take on a life of its own. Thoughts about this or that begin with saññã recognizing and interpreting the ripplings of sankhãra, molding them into a recognizable image which sankhãra then continuously elaborates. Both of these mental factors are natural phenomena. They arise spontaneously, and are distinct from the awareness that knows them.
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Chris Marti, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 3875 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Stating what is no doubt obvious:

In my experience, in order to "see" we don't need to memorize the steps in the classic version of dependent origination, and need not (and likely cannot) observe the steps, in order, in real-time. It's more about grokking the nature of perception and experience, which is not an academic exercise. While there's nothing wrong with memorizing and codifying the steps, that and a dollar will buy you a cup of coffee. Truth is, through effective observation in meditation, we don't need to understand dependent origination from an intellectual perspective because we're going to experience it in a practical and, eventually, a deeply felt way.

Carry on!
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 1724 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"Truth is, through effective observation in meditation, we don't need to understand dependent origination from an intellectual perspective because we're going to experience it in a practical and, eventually, a deeply felt way.

Carry on! "

Hear hear! 
This was always the sense I had about this practice-path.Otherwise we could "think" ourseves to awakening. Seeing things as they arise and pass, showing ther 3C nature and their cause and effect, develops dispassion. This dispassion inevitably leads to stripping down of the Chariot perception as we start seeing its many components until there is no Chariot perception left.

Practice-realisation.
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Chris - yep, understood. emoticon That's what I'm trying to get at in a roundabout way when I say things like... I have a feeling I've seen this in practice many times, even though I find some of this confusing when I read it, partially because people write about it in ways that are over my head.

I've read my share of the countless numbered lists of Buddhism and suttas, but there are many more that I haven't read. You're both right that practice is realization. Hell, I even said it in Brandon's post about the 3C's, which Che is referencing I think. I don't need to become a Buddhist scholar to become enlightened, I just need to sit my butt down, and practice well and diligently. I somehow managed to get this far just by following some very basic, yet also extremely profound instructions. They truly do perform as prescribed. Imagine that.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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I was not referencing to that thread (will need to look it up). 

Kenneth Folk told me the very first time we met over Skype "you don't need to master these stages and Paths to awaken, but it's good to master them if you want to teach this to others". 
agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 1602 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Sometimes I feel that trying to understand the suttas is like debugging one of those computer programs that has a bunch of nested loops and you finally get to the inner loop and think you will have the answer and all you find is a "GOTO MN 44" statement and off you go again. Maybe that was the Buddha's intention, to frustrate the mind and force you to give up questioning and go back to your own experience ...
agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Hi Steph,

Nicky was too modest to point it out, so I will:- I just studied his Guided Meditation on Dependent Origination and it is excellent, both practical and faithful to the suttas. I probably should have read it before I went spouting off about DO! It really makes clear the distinction between pre-conscious vs post-conscious mental-physical activity in sankhara vs namarupa, which I was clumsily grasping at. I would defer to him on the details.

Best
agnostic
Martin, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 294 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
agnostic:


So anyway, sankhara is all that stuff that's going on in your body and mind before you become conscious of X, and it's a result of your conditioning. Take two different people in the same room with the same incoming sense data and they will have different conscious experiences because of their different conditioning. Or as you see in meditation when you slow the mind down, there's all that bubbly vibrational stuff (sankhara) going on and only a specific subset of that forms into actual sense objects you become conscious of. My understanding is that sanna (perception) is the specific part of sankhara which is "choosing" object X over object Y to enter your stream of consciousness, and a big part of that "choice" is the feeling (vedana) tone of the object (I prefer X to Y so I'm conscious of it and happy, or else I don't like X and I can't ignore it so I'm unhappy). The conditioning here is a major feedback loop which is building and reinforcing your sankharas. The more you attach to cling to certain pleasant objects and reject others at step 8 (craving), the more those "choices" get reinforced in your sankharas and shape your stream of consciousness at steps 2 & 3.

The other step I found tough to understand is namarupa (mind & body) at step 4, because that is happening in between consciousness and contact (between X and the relevant sense organ) at step 6. But in my experience, if you really slow the mind down you can seem some physical and mental processing occurring between X first entering your awareness and X being fully established in your awareness. Like when you are "half aware" of a thought in meditation but you don't chase it and it fades away, that's step 3 (consciousness) which never made it to step 6 (contact). Or maybe you were talking to a friend and a dog passed through the room - you weren't fully conscious of it because you were listening to what your friend was saying, but if she asked you whether the dog passed you might be able to recall it - again consciousness without full contact. And that nama includes a lot of stuff - feeling (again), perception (again), intention, contact (before step 6!) and attention. Some people say it's because the DO list is an amalgamation of early lists with redundancies, but I think you really can observe that a lot of these things aren't digital and build incrementally if you watch slowly and carefully enough. The feeling tends to build and support the process, the contact builds and can be broken before completion, the intention builds etc.

I know that I am replying a bit late but, damn, Agnostic, you give an excellent explanation of DO! I was particularly helped by "when you slow the mind down, there's all that bubbly vibrational stuff (sankhara) going on and only a specific subset of that forms into actual sense objects you become conscious of" and " Like when you are "half aware" of a thought in meditation but you don't chase it and it fades away, that's step 3 (consciousness) which never made it to step 6 (contact)." I have been struggling with links 1-5 for months and that concrete way of pointing it out really helps. Thank you!
agnostic, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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I hate to say it Martin but I think I was over-complicating it! I would refer you to Nicky's posts on the subject. Vaci Sankhara are "ignorant" thoughts which just bubble up from prior conditioning and then at namarupa intention decides whether to develop into more thoughts making contact with the mind at step 6.
Martin, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Thanks. I will read Nicky's posts.
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Nicky2, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Some people say you need to observe each of the 12 links as they occur in real time, and know what each of those links are as they occur, which I find doesn't always work that well when it comes down to it. I'm not that into that particular method. 

I tend to prefer the method of seeing sensations clearly for what they are and cutting through before it has a chance to get to the craving and clinging links.


Hello Steph

The Pali scriptures often teach Dependent Origination starting from feeling that occurs at sense contact, for example:

Dependent on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there arises a feeling felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant. When one is touched by a pleasant feeling, if one does not delight in it, welcome it and remain holding to it, then the underlying tendency to lust does not lie within one.

When one is touched by a painful feeling, if one does not sorrow, grieve and lament, does not weep beating one’s breast and become distraught, then the underlying tendency to aversion does not lie within one.

When one is touched by a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, if one understands as it actually is the origination, the disappearance, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in regard to that feeling, then the underlying tendency to ignorance does not lie within one.

That one shall here and now make an end of suffering by abandoning the underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feeling, by abolishing the underlying tendency to aversion towards painful feeling, by extirpating the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, by abandoning ignorance and arousing true knowledge—this is possible.

https://suttacentral.net/mn148/en/bodhi


Probably the shortest teaching in the scriptures about Dependent Origination is: 

Now this has been said by the Blessed One: “One who sees dependent origination sees the Dhamma; one who sees the Dhamma sees dependent origination.” And these five aggregates affected by clinging are dependently arisen. The desire, indulgence, inclination and holding based on these five aggregates affected by clinging is the origin of suffering. The removal of desire and lust, the abandonment of desire and lust for these five aggregates affected by clinging is the cessation of suffering.’ At that point too, friends, much has been done by that bhikkhu.”

https://suttacentral.net/mn28/en/bodhi

Therefore, the degree of practice you are doing appears sufficient. emoticon




agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 1602 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Nicky2:

Probably the shortest teaching in the scriptures about Dependent Origination is: 

Now this has been said by the Blessed One: “One who sees dependent origination sees the Dhamma; one who sees the Dhamma sees dependent origination.” And these five aggregates affected by clinging are dependently arisen. The desire, indulgence, inclination and holding based on these five aggregates affected by clinging is the origin of suffering. The removal of desire and lust, the abandonment of desire and lust for these five aggregates affected by clinging is the cessation of suffering.’ At that point too, friends, much has been done by that bhikkhu.”

https://suttacentral.net/mn28/en/bodh


Thanissaro Bhikkhu says of the first sentence "This statement has not been traced in any other part of the extant Pali Canon." Does that mean that this five aggregates version of DO is the original one, or somehow questionable? Why is there a separate twelve links version of DO as well?
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Thanks, Nicky, for that excellent post from 2016 (which nobody ever replied to) about dependent origination. It's very clear. It should probably be a pinned post somewhere.

The framing of dependent origination as the same thing as the 2nd Noble Truth is really helpful. Yes, totally obvious that they're the same thing now, but I somehow didn't connect those dots before. Because you're right, most places do list craving as the origin of suffering - not ignorance, which is the beginning link of dependent origination.

Nama & rupa operating skillfully as the actual practice of meditation - don't think I've heard it framed that way before either, so that's also way easier to understand now. The way I've misinterpreted writings about nama & rupa most of the time was probably thinking they were more like the sankharas.

So basically, The 4 Noble Truths in my own words:

1. There is suffering.
2. There is the cause of suffering - ignorance / the whole process of dependent origination.
3. There is the cessation of suffering - it is possible to extinguish the process of dependent origination.
4. There is the path which leads to the cessation of suffering - if you follow the Noble Eightfold Path, you'll eventually extinguish the process of dependent origination. Or said another way, if you practice well & according to the instructions, you'll automatically be cutting through dependent origination... and if you do all of that to the right degree (whatever that is), you'll become fully enlightened. Which is what Nicky, Chris, and others have said to people over and over and over. emoticon
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Nicky2, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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The framing of dependent origination as the same thing as the 2nd Noble Truth is really helpful. Yes, totally obvious that they're the same thing now, but I somehow didn't connect those dots before. Because you're right, most places do list craving as the origin of suffering - not ignorance, which is the beginning link of dependent origination.

Thank you Steph. If you are interested in more scripture, AN 3.61 literally says dependent origination is the 2nd Noble Truth, as follows:

These are the four noble truths”: this, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma taught by me that is unrefuted … uncensured by wise ascetics and brahmins....

Now it is for one who feels that I proclaim: ‘This is suffering,’ and ‘This is the origin of suffering,’ and ‘This is the cessation of suffering,’ and ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’...

And what, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering? With ignorance as condition,... activities come to be; with ...activities as condition, consciousness; with consciousness as condition, mind-and-body; with mind-and-body as condition, the six sense bases; with the six sense bases as condition, contact; with contact as condition, feeling; with feeling as condition, craving; with craving as condition, clinging; with clinging as condition, becoming; with becoming as condition, birth; with birth as condition, old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and anguish come to be. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering. This is called the noble truth of the origin of suffering

https://suttacentral.net/an3.61/en/bodhi

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Papa Che Dusko, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 1724 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Steph Im not sure if this will "talk" to you but have a listen to what Shizen in saying here especially about the infant and re-parenting it etc ... 
note what he sais about the moment of contaction and expansion and the space inbetween where some feeling forms etc ... and seeing this again and again ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cg-h_MSijDo
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Che - Shinzen talks about the heat of feeling being the beginning of birth. Interesting. Here's another interesting take on birth. The DhO user An Eternal Now has a blog called Awakening to Reality and a FB group of the same name. Many good insights on his blog. Today in the FB group he posted a blog post he made that has an excerpt from a book called "The Breakthrough" by Ajahn Amaro. It talks about birth in a profound way. Here's an excerpt of that excerpt (ha) with me emphasizing that point in bold:
Ajahn Amaro:

After a while, though, there was a strange feeling of being cramped, a quality of containment or limitation. I thought, ‘What is this about?’ There was clear seeing that things are anicca, dukkha, anattā, not self, empty of substance; but there was also this strange limitation, a strange kind of tension in the system. And it suddenly dawned on me and became clear, ‘Ah! It’s all happening here.’ I realized that it was the mind creating the feeling of locatedness, that everything was happening in ‘my’ mind, even though the usual crystallizations of the ‘I’ feeling were absent. I realized my mind was attached to the notion that it was happening ‘here’, at this spot.

At the risk of being too abstruse, I feel this is a helpful thing to look at. It was clear to me that until that point I hadn’t actually seen the attachment to the feeling of place or the feeling of location that the mind creates – the sense of ‘here-ness’, in this spot, this geographical centre where things are felt.

I don’t know if any of you have intuited or felt this but it was very striking to me at that time. I suddenly realized there was an attachment to the idea that awareness was happening in this place, this location. So I began to look at that very feeling of locatedness and the sense of things happening here. I used a very simple and straightforward reflection: bringing to mind the word ‘here’ or saying to myself, ‘It’s all happening here.’ By bringing the attention to it, the word ‘here’ began to seem absurd. Then a whole extra layer of letting go was able to happen.
Awakened awareness, knowing, is free from bondage to the realm of time and space as well. It is timeless and unlocated.

Shortly after that, I came across a sentence in a Dhamma talk by Ajahn Mahā- Boowa. He talked how this very insight had played a radical role in his own spiritual development. It was just after the time when his teacher Venerable Ajahn Mun had passed away. Ajahn Maha-Boowa was doing walking meditation, and out of nowhere this thought appeared in his mind: ‘If there is a point or a centre to the knower anywhere, then that is the essence of birth in some level of being.’ If ‘the knower’ considers itself to have a location or a centre, then that is the essence of birth in some level of being. This means that this is where the mind gets caught. Avijjā happens right there. Until that false locatedness is recognized as a quality of grasping, the heart cannot truly be free.

So along with things being impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-self, I find it is also helpful to recollect that Dhamma is essentially unlocated in the world of three-dimensional space. Location is a useful tool in the physical world, but in the world of mind location, place does not apply. Three-dimensional space only refers to the physical world, to the rūpa-khandha. Mind, the nāma-khandhā, does not have any relationship to three-dimensional space, because mind has no material substance. Mind has no physical form; therefore three-dimensional space has no fundamental relationship to the mind.

https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/12/the-breakthrough.html?fbclid=IwAR2cMLbBVc6Rl_sA8X6vv_PexOrCRcxXUs6ds46izs1_4LhhQIlrvNP7kW0
agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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I found Ajahn Maha Bua's book very powerful. The point you highlight is discussed at greater length on pp 56-62 and 69-74.
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Excellent. I'll keep reading then. You linked that book in one of your replies above. I already downloaded it back when I first read that reply. On page 30, so I'll get to the part you talk about soon and then probably have some comments.
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Paraphrasing some pointers that I got from a friend today:

  • The frustration, the visceral feelings of UGGGHHH, the confusion, the pure frustration. Look at those. Everybody wants to avoid looking at suffering, but that's exactly what this is all about. Follow these relentlessly, like a hound dog. Look at them over and over and over again. Getting to this level of frustration is good. Keep looking at the deepest most visceral feelings of suffering... the ones that you want to back away from.
  • Look at the mental processes of confusion, the tracking, everything in the mental sphere. Look at how impermanent they all are. Look at the impermanent nature of all attentional qualities. Clarity, focus, width, all of it.
  • The impermanence and suffering characteristics are perfectly valid. You don't have to crack not-self if you hit a wall with it. Looking at any of the 3 characteristics is great. Any of them will get you there.
  • Grasping is impossible. It's impossible to get away from anything that's happening, so it's not possible to grasp anything. THIS. IS. IT. Even the tracking sensations that seem like they're looking for something or trying to grasp onto something can't be escaped and are actually happening right then in experience. The lunging feelings that feel like grasping are just more bodily sensations that are happening in experience, and aren't actually getting to or obtaining something else. They're just impermanent sensations.
My added comments: I think there was a band in the 80's called Primal Scream. I'm re-dubbing the level frustration that feels like a really visceral form of suffering as Primal Squirm. Gotta get away, gotta get to here, wanna get to there, squirm, squirm, squirm. Pushsquirm, Pullsquirm. Can't actually make anything else happen. Squirm. Want to re-establish the sense of self. Squirm. Noble ones, it was said, keep looking at the Primal Squirm until there is no remainder.
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Chris Marti, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Those are great pointers.
shargrol, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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+1
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
On Friday an interesting shift occurred. I laid down after work to take a nap, but instead of sleeping, I just laid there with my eyes closed and meditated. So I started looking at all the feelings of deep frustration and also what was happening in the headspace. What that confusion and frustration do in the headspace. The feedback loop they create. I focused intently on every sensation happening there. All the panning, tracking, the mental images, the thoughts. And in the body, the bodily feelings of frustration, doubt, anger - the visceral guttural ones. 

In the headspace what I noticed particularly was the metaphoric wall I kept hitting. In looking at the observer, it felt like perception would keep hitting this wall... like it'd loop around, but instead of a circular loop, it'd hit this wall and bounce back the other way. So it became like this movement that I'd say is similar to a ping pong ball bouncing back and forth between two walls, the frustrating part obviously being that it has nowhere to go but back and forth endlessly. This has got to be the perceptual wall that is the deeply rooted feeling of wanting to get away from here and go to there. Directly seeing the chasm that creates - the bouncing back and forth and never being able to settle. That feeling itself is what I started seeing more clearly. It's like there's this stopping point in the center of the head. It feels like a very tiny tension. When looking at it that closely, the tension got intense, but it feels so small. I kept at it, looking directly at this, relentlessly. I even thought something along the lines of, I will keep looking at this even if my head explodes if that's what it takes. Feelings of both desperation and absolute determination to see it through. 

I continued to look at all the bodily feelings and other sensations in the head. All the mental movements. They started all flickering and I began to conceptualize each of them as little stars that appear, then just die. Some shine brighter than others, some are really subtle. But they all just seemed like little stars floating in space, not supported by anything, just floating, shining, then dying. Just to be clear, to explain what this metaphor was like in experience - it was a series of thoughts and I got some fun mental images of some stars while this was happening, but they were pretty brief and intercut with the other sensations happening. I wasn't actually visualizing the entire field of experience like a giant 3D star field in outer space or anything like that, although that does sound cool. haha. So then, I kept noticing every sensation in the headspace flickering, impermanent - all the mental movements, images, feelings. Every feeling tone, all bodily sensations, flickering, impermanent. Not tied together or grouped together in any way - that's a key piece there. Not conceptualizing the stuff in the headspace as sensations related to the observer, just seeing each individual sensation without qualifying or defining it as such. Each just flickering, with its own unique qualities, not tied or bound, doing its own thing.

As this continued, I kept looking at the tension in the center of the head and it became more and more intense, became more clear, until it.... went away. It stopped. There wasn't some big event and I didn't notice a fruition - so that's one reason why I think this was probably a deep insight and not a full-on realization. If anything, right after there was a milky/cloudy wash of whitish purple. And then all those little flickering sensations continued to do their thing, with no observer observing them. Nobody behind the curtain, and nobody making them happen, nobody experiencing them. No discernible vantage point. The sensations in the headspace and eye space, not conceptualized as lumped together. Just a bunch of flickering whatevers doing their thing. And the little stopping point tension simply wasn't there. It's like the stopping point just went away and perception started flowing uninterrupted, free, smooth, effortlessly, without hiccup, without that feeling of it endlessly bouncing back and forth on itself. The vague, unlocatable sense of presence in the headspace that I kept going on and on about in my practice log, well, it's not happening either.

I figure this was a profound insight into emptiness/not-self. I also want to say that there is also a huge diminishing of that urge to get away from here or go to there. I'm saying huge and not total because I'm not ready to confirm that those urges are 100% not happening. It's possible there is some of that urge/resistance that's happening at such a subtle level that I'm just not noticing it at the moment. Regardless, I'd say that experience seems whole, complete, just as it is. 

So-called negative feelings and happy feelings feel very interesting. Like I am able to experience all the little sensations of those feelings as dynamic, fascinating, and lively, and not be all hung up on them in the same way as before. It's like sensations are textures weaving together, layered together, in an intricate pattern. One example - I was laying down on the couch listening to some music on Saturday and the sounds of the music were weaving together with my other bodily sensations, like they were blending together and combining into a fabulously rich texture, where they felt like they bled into each other continuously, yet I could still make out that there was sound and bodily feelings (and a bunch of other sensations) happening.

The visual field - so I've had lots of experiences previously where the visual field has this quality where everything becomes very detailed and in stark relief. Ironically, stark relief means that one element stands out amongst everything else - but if you could apply that to basically everything in the visual field, that's what it's like. Ultra HD, vivid, sharp, full of life - full of life is a key part of it. People are probably going to think I'm high AF for saying this, but I'm not kidding when I say how noticeable this stark relief is in the visual field - I was outside on my back stoop last night, looking at those qualities in the sunset, clouds, trees, grass, a bunny in the yard... and then I was legit marveling and in awe of how majestic and dynamic a wooden telephone pole looked - as majestic as the clouds and sunset. LOL. Trust, me, I'm laughing as much as others probably are at that. Right now that's happening most of the time with the visual field, whereas before this shift happened it would happen fairly regularly, but be way more noticeable while cycling through A&P.

So far all of these changes are persisting uninterrupted and without effort, 3 days later. Anyway, we'll see how this plays out and what changes might come. Could be an incredibly awesome baseline shift, could be some temporary state, could evolve, could revert. Who knows. Either way, it's deeply relieving, wondrous, and chill so I'll take it while it's here.
Sam Gentile, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 1059 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Steph S:
On Friday an interesting shift occurred. I laid down after work to take a nap, but instead of sleeping, I just laid there with my eyes closed and meditated. So I started looking at all the feelings of deep frustration and also what was happening in the headspace. What that confusion and frustration do in the headspace. The feedback loop they create. I focused intently on every sensation happening there. All the panning, tracking, the mental images, the thoughts. And in the body, the bodily feelings of frustration, doubt, anger - the visceral guttural ones. 

In the headspace what I noticed particularly was the metaphoric wall I kept hitting. In looking at the observer, it felt like perception would keep hitting this wall... like it'd loop around, but instead of a circular loop, it'd hit this wall and bounce back the other way. So it became like this movement that I'd say is similar to a ping pong ball bouncing back and forth between two walls, the frustrating part obviously being that it has nowhere to go but back and forth endlessly. This has got to be the perceptual wall that is the deeply rooted feeling of wanting to get away from here and go to there. Directly seeing the chasm that creates - the bouncing back and forth and never being able to settle. That feeling itself is what I started seeing more clearly. It's like there's this stopping point in the center of the head. It feels like a very tiny tension. When looking at it that closely, the tension got intense, but it feels so small. I kept at it, looking directly at this, relentlessly. I even thought something along the lines of, I will keep looking at this even if my head explodes if that's what it takes. Feelings of both desperation and absolute determination to see it through. 

I continued to look at all the bodily feelings and other sensations in the head. All the mental movements. They started all flickering and I began to conceptualize each of them as little stars that appear, then just die. Some shine brighter than others, some are really subtle. But they all just seemed like little stars floating in space, not supported by anything, just floating, shining, then dying. Just to be clear, to explain what this metaphor was like in experience - it was a series of thoughts and I got some fun mental images of some stars while this was happening, but they were pretty brief and intercut with the other sensations happening. I wasn't actually visualizing the entire field of experience like a giant 3D star field in outer space or anything like that, although that does sound cool. haha. So then, I kept noticing every sensation in the headspace flickering, impermanent - all the mental movements, images, feelings. Every feeling tone, all bodily sensations, flickering, impermanent. Not tied together or grouped together in any way - that's a key piece there. Not conceptualizing the stuff in the headspace as sensations related to the observer, just seeing each individual sensation without qualifying or defining it as such. Each just flickering, with its own unique qualities, not tied or bound, doing its own thing.

As this continued, I kept looking at the tension in the center of the head and it became more and more intense, became more clear, until it.... went away. It stopped. There wasn't some big event and I didn't notice a fruition - so that's one reason why I think this was probably a deep insight and not a full-on realization. If anything, right after there was a milky/cloudy wash of whitish purple. And then all those little flickering sensations continued to do their thing, with no observer observing them. Nobody behind the curtain, and nobody making them happen, nobody experiencing them. No discernible vantage point. The sensations in the headspace and eye space, not conceptualized as lumped together. Just a bunch of flickering whatevers doing their thing. And the little stopping point tension simply wasn't there. It's like the stopping point just went away and perception started flowing uninterrupted, free, smooth, effortlessly, without hiccup, without that feeling of it endlessly bouncing back and forth on itself. The vague, unlocatable sense of presence in the headspace that I kept going on and on about in my practice log, well, it's not happening either.

I figure this was a profound insight into emptiness/not-self. I also want to say that there is also a huge diminishing of that urge to get away from here or go to there. I'm saying huge and not total because I'm not ready to confirm that those urges are 100% not happening. It's possible there is some of that urge/resistance that's happening at such a subtle level that I'm just not noticing it at the moment. Regardless, I'd say that experience seems whole, complete, just as it is. 

So-called negative feelings and happy feelings feel very interesting. Like I am able to experience all the little sensations of those feelings as dynamic, fascinating, and lively, and not be all hung up on them in the same way as before. It's like sensations are textures weaving together, layered together, in an intricate pattern. One example - I was laying down on the couch listening to some music on Saturday and the sounds of the music were weaving together with my other bodily sensations, like they were blending together and combining into a fabulously rich texture, where they felt like they bled into each other continuously, yet I could still make out that there was sound and bodily feelings (and a bunch of other sensations) happening.

The visual field - so I've had lots of experiences previously where the visual field has this quality where everything becomes very detailed and in stark relief. Ironically, stark relief means that one element stands out amongst everything else - but if you could apply that to basically everything in the visual field, that's what it's like. Ultra HD, vivid, sharp, full of life - full of life is a key part of it. People are probably going to think I'm high AF for saying this, but I'm not kidding when I say how noticeable this stark relief is in the visual field - I was outside on my back stoop last night, looking at those qualities in the sunset, clouds, trees, grass, a bunny in the yard... and then I was legit marveling and in awe of how majestic and dynamic a wooden telephone pole looked - as majestic as the clouds and sunset. LOL. Trust, me, I'm laughing as much as others probably are at that. Right now that's happening most of the time with the visual field, whereas before this shift happened it would happen fairly regularly, but be way more noticeable while cycling through A&P.

So far all of these changes are persisting uninterrupted and without effort, 3 days later. Anyway, we'll see how this plays out and what changes might come. Could be an incredibly awesome baseline shift, could be some temporary state, could evolve, could revert. Who knows. Either way, it's deeply relieving, wondrous, and chill so I'll take it while it's here.

Wow, don't know what to say other than it sounds like a pleasent shift. Good work!
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Brandon Dayton, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Very cool to read this.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 1724 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Steph S:
On Friday an interesting shift occurred. I laid down after work to take a nap, but instead of sleeping, I just laid there with my eyes closed and meditated. So I started looking at all the feelings of deep frustration and also what was happening in the headspace. What that confusion and frustration do in the headspace. The feedback loop they create. I focused intently on every sensation happening there. All the panning, tracking, the mental images, the thoughts. And in the body, the bodily feelings of frustration, doubt, anger - the visceral guttural ones. 

In the headspace what I noticed particularly was the metaphoric wall I kept hitting. In looking at the observer, it felt like perception would keep hitting this wall... like it'd loop around, but instead of a circular loop, it'd hit this wall and bounce back the other way. So it became like this movement that I'd say is similar to a ping pong ball bouncing back and forth between two walls, the frustrating part obviously being that it has nowhere to go but back and forth endlessly. This has got to be the perceptual wall that is the deeply rooted feeling of wanting to get away from here and go to there. Directly seeing the chasm that creates - the bouncing back and forth and never being able to settle. That feeling itself is what I started seeing more clearly. It's like there's this stopping point in the center of the head. It feels like a very tiny tension. When looking at it that closely, the tension got intense, but it feels so small. I kept at it, looking directly at this, relentlessly. I even thought something along the lines of, I will keep looking at this even if my head explodes if that's what it takes. Feelings of both desperation and absolute determination to see it through. 

I continued to look at all the bodily feelings and other sensations in the head. All the mental movements. They started all flickering and I began to conceptualize each of them as little stars that appear, then just die. Some shine brighter than others, some are really subtle. But they all just seemed like little stars floating in space, not supported by anything, just floating, shining, then dying. Just to be clear, to explain what this metaphor was like in experience - it was a series of thoughts and I got some fun mental images of some stars while this was happening, but they were pretty brief and intercut with the other sensations happening. I wasn't actually visualizing the entire field of experience like a giant 3D star field in outer space or anything like that, although that does sound cool. haha. So then, I kept noticing every sensation in the headspace flickering, impermanent - all the mental movements, images, feelings. Every feeling tone, all bodily sensations, flickering, impermanent. Not tied together or grouped together in any way - that's a key piece there. Not conceptualizing the stuff in the headspace as sensations related to the observer, just seeing each individual sensation without qualifying or defining it as such. Each just flickering, with its own unique qualities, not tied or bound, doing its own thing.

As this continued, I kept looking at the tension in the center of the head and it became more and more intense, became more clear, until it.... went away. It stopped. There wasn't some big event and I didn't notice a fruition - so that's one reason why I think this was probably a deep insight and not a full-on realization. If anything, right after there was a milky/cloudy wash of whitish purple. And then all those little flickering sensations continued to do their thing, with no observer observing them. Nobody behind the curtain, and nobody making them happen, nobody experiencing them. No discernible vantage point. The sensations in the headspace and eye space, not conceptualized as lumped together. Just a bunch of flickering whatevers doing their thing. And the little stopping point tension simply wasn't there. It's like the stopping point just went away and perception started flowing uninterrupted, free, smooth, effortlessly, without hiccup, without that feeling of it endlessly bouncing back and forth on itself. The vague, unlocatable sense of presence in the headspace that I kept going on and on about in my practice log, well, it's not happening either.

I figure this was a profound insight into emptiness/not-self. I also want to say that there is also a huge diminishing of that urge to get away from here or go to there. I'm saying huge and not total because I'm not ready to confirm that those urges are 100% not happening. It's possible there is some of that urge/resistance that's happening at such a subtle level that I'm just not noticing it at the moment. Regardless, I'd say that experience seems whole, complete, just as it is. 

So-called negative feelings and happy feelings feel very interesting. Like I am able to experience all the little sensations of those feelings as dynamic, fascinating, and lively, and not be all hung up on them in the same way as before. It's like sensations are textures weaving together, layered together, in an intricate pattern. One example - I was laying down on the couch listening to some music on Saturday and the sounds of the music were weaving together with my other bodily sensations, like they were blending together and combining into a fabulously rich texture, where they felt like they bled into each other continuously, yet I could still make out that there was sound and bodily feelings (and a bunch of other sensations) happening.

The visual field - so I've had lots of experiences previously where the visual field has this quality where everything becomes very detailed and in stark relief. Ironically, stark relief means that one element stands out amongst everything else - but if you could apply that to basically everything in the visual field, that's what it's like. Ultra HD, vivid, sharp, full of life - full of life is a key part of it. People are probably going to think I'm high AF for saying this, but I'm not kidding when I say how noticeable this stark relief is in the visual field - I was outside on my back stoop last night, looking at those qualities in the sunset, clouds, trees, grass, a bunny in the yard... and then I was legit marveling and in awe of how majestic and dynamic a wooden telephone pole looked - as majestic as the clouds and sunset. LOL. Trust, me, I'm laughing as much as others probably are at that. Right now that's happening most of the time with the visual field, whereas before this shift happened it would happen fairly regularly, but be way more noticeable while cycling through A&P.

So far all of these changes are persisting uninterrupted and without effort, 3 days later. Anyway, we'll see how this plays out and what changes might come. Could be an incredibly awesome baseline shift, could be some temporary state, could evolve, could revert. Who knows. Either way, it's deeply relieving, wondrous, and chill so I'll take it while it's here.


Nah, boring.
What else ya got? 




emoticon 
agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 1602 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I like your chilled approach to practice.
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Update: Might have been a temporary non-dual experience - based on a good insight. It seems to have reverted and I'd say something is probably either fully non-dual or it's not, and I don't think my experience right now could fully qualify as the same thing as it was for those 3 days.

Some observer-y type sensations started coming up this morning. Although, it does feel like there is still a big dent in the way the observer type sensations are happening. They seem pretty unstable, coalescing for brief moments into what seems like that fixed vantage point through which experience seems processed - but then they go away. And even when the observer type sensations come up, they seem weakened and pretty subtle overall. Sometimes it sticks around for minutes at a time. But it also goes away for long periods still. 

I noticed some subtle aversion happenign too. Like being a little disappointed that things reverted a bit, although even in those feelings of disappointment I'm still pretty chill about them and it's not some huge deal. They vanish pretty quickly. Either way, it's still pretty damn good and I'd say equanimity towards things is still very strong, so that's good.

I guess the trick now is to use my super powers of mindfulness to hone into this further. Any tips on this?

edit: DREAM WALKER - i see you posting again. I know you have tips on this so I'm giving you a shout out here. Anybody else is also obviously welcome to share.
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Chris Marti, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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I guess the trick now is to use my super powers of mindfulness to hone into this further. Any tips on this?

Well, yes.

I'd like to tell you try something completely different -- to relax. Chill. Take a break. Go outside and sit under a tree. Watch the world go by. Take it easy and just be. And... do that kind of thing for a while, like a few weeks.


emoticon
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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I like this one. Interesting thing with this is... my mind gives no fux about jhana right now. I tried hitting jhana over the weekend, and my mind was not interested and bored with the idea of it. It still inclines towards insight and is okay with that. But I suppose you're saying just chill entirely and don't formally practice at all for a little bit. 
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Chris Marti, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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I can't make the suggestion any clearer.

EDIT: at West Point when we do leader training we have this concept called "tactical pause." It means to stop all activity and re-evaluate your situation. In order to do that properly you have to STOP doing. The pause itself is both therapeutic and provides the space for much better evaluation. There's a huge value in this concept. I'm suggesting you use it, but for more than a few minutes to an hour. It's in the nature of the practice we do to keep seeking, but that's not always in our best interest.
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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I know. I was just re-iterating. I gotchu. 
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Siavash, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Chris Marti:
I can't make the suggestion any clearer.

EDIT: at West Point when we do leader training we have this concept called "tactical pause." It means to stop all activity and re-evaluate your situation. In order to do that properly you have to STOP doing. The pause itself is both therapeutic and provides the space for much better evaluation. There's a huge value in this concept. I'm suggesting you use it, but for more than a few minutes to an hour. It's in the nature of the practice we do to keep seeking, but that's not always in our best interest.



This is what I do when dealing with a complex problem at work. Either a bug or a design issue, that I can't find any angle to attack the problem. I just stop and try to forget it for sometime, and often after sometime (an hour, or a week or...), many ideas come.
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Yep, this is great both Chris and Siavash. I do design research work and do the same thing. Let it marinate and simmer, then something really good will naturally come up after a little while.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Gotta say that many logs of more advanced practicioners can be hard to follow, but this has been fairly accesible and fun to read. Really cool to see the progress from my vantage point as a newbie. It turns out meditation makes a great spectator sport.
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Sweet! That was by design. I'm writing this log to have a record of what happens, to get advice, and also in hopes that it will help others. I look at the Recent Posts page on this board and see that all the different threads get alot of views, which means lots of people are reading the board. How many people actually know how to decipher all this stuff that other people say happens in practice - especially true if they haven't experienced those aspects of practice yet or don't have a frame of reference for it. I'm not anti-being super smart or using advanced words or anything like that, but I also recognize that using advanced terminology can act as a form of gatekeeping... and I don't like gatekeeping, so there you go.
Tim Farrington, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Brandon Dayton:
Gotta say that many logs of more advanced practicioners can be hard to follow, but this has been fairly accesible and fun to read. Really cool to see the progress from my vantage point as a newbie. It turns out meditation makes a great spectator sport.
beautifully put, Brandon. +1, thank you Steph.
Sam Gentile, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 1059 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Tim Farrington:
Brandon Dayton:
Gotta say that many logs of more advanced practicioners can be hard to follow, but this has been fairly accesible and fun to read. Really cool to see the progress from my vantage point as a newbie. It turns out meditation makes a great spectator sport.
beautifully put, Brandon. +1, thank you Steph.

I also agree. There's a lot here for me to learn.
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Thanks, friends.

I'm just hanging out, chilling, based on Chris's advice. But up to 3 weeks seems like a long time to not practice. heh. I'm noticing some resistance to just hanging out doing nothing and not practicing because I feel like I built up all kinds of momentum and there's this feeling of like... yeah, buuuut maybe I should just practice. heh.

Not to say I'm not also enjoying just hanging out. It's a nice Midwest summer and I'm at peak chill when I can hang out on my porch swing, looking at the trees and birds, taking it all in.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 1724 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Maybe one can also be "chilling out" duirng activities like mowing the lawn or weeding out around your rose bushes, or sorting out your old post stamp scrapbook in need of some love emoticon Or you could try learning to play a mandoline or ukulele emoticon lots of practicing there emoticon and "chilling out" while practicing it and weeding and mowing and ... emoticon 

Its late here I should go to bed!
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Good tips, Che.. while I'm not formally practicing right now, I also understand that my mind is inclined that way, and so even when I'm not "on the cushion," attentiveness happens anyway. It's just the effort isn't as specifically directed or however you want to frame that. So thoughts of backsliding from not practicing... well they're just little fears, and so what? What's a little feeling of fear here and there? emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Steph S:
Good tips, Che.. while I'm not formally practicing right now, I also understand that my mind is inclined that way, and so even when I'm not "on the cushion," attentiveness happens anyway. It's just the effort isn't as specifically directed or however you want to frame that. So thoughts of backsliding from not practicing... well they're just little fears, and so what? What's a little feeling of fear here and there? emoticon

Or terror, even? And why stop at "now and then"? Why not, "they're just giant existential terrors, unrootable, indissoluble, searing my soul constantly, and so what? What's a vast burning sky full of helpless abject terror on a constant basis?" emoticon
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Chris Marti, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 3875 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
I'm noticing some resistance to just hanging out doing nothing and not practicing...

Why the resistance? Why can't you let it all go and just be? Who says letting go so you can just be isn't practice?
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Steph S, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
It was mostly because I was concerned about losing what I thought was really good momentuum. Thinking that sitting practice speeds things up or adds to that momentuum. Questioning why I should just stop doing sitting practice and chill out right now - like why this is the precise moment to do that in my practice. There was some impatience & fear, in thinking I'm close to flipping a switch and not wanting to mess it up.

That being said, I do see the point in chilling out and just being. That tendency to want to "do the practice", in a way that seems like formal practice, is part of the suffering. It's pretty graspy when you think about it. The funny thing is, I don't think of myself as being a hyper productive type that always feels like I have to be accomplishing something or doing something. If anything, I'd say I sometimes fall a little towards the lazy side of the spectrum. I do know how to chill out. For much of the pandemic, when I got furloughed, I was able to sit at home and not do anything productive. Felt no guilt about not accomplishing things and just hanging out. I actually settled into pandemic life pretty easily because I've been really appreciating not having to go out and about, not having anywhere to have to be, not having much obligation. Even being back to working from home, after coming off furlough, I'm taking it pretty easy at work and it's nice being there virtually with my coworkers, whom I really enjoy being around.

At this exact moment, I don't feel any stress of feeling like I should be meditating. I'm on my couch watching a re-run of the 2019 Roland Garros (French Open for tennis) with my husband and I don't feel like I need to go and do a sit. I agree with you (I think this is what you're saying, anyway) that it's good to have things settle and relax. I even said in someone else's thread not that long ago, I forget the topic, that periods of rest are really important for integration work to happen. Similar concept, if you want to use an athletic metaphor, you can't be lifting weights every day to build muscle. You gotta take a break to let things heal.
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Steph S, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
I started meditating again a little over the weekend and today. Nothing particularly interesting or new to report yet. In the break that I took for a few weeks, it was nice relax, but there were some times I missed meditating. I'm at a point in my practice where it's just really fun to meditate and it doesn't seem like a chore or obligation. During my mini-break I also spent alot of time on morality stuff - mostly in the realm of activism/social justice. 

I haven't had any more experiences like I had for those 3 days when I thought it was probably an extended non-dual experience, and have gone back to my normal baseline, which is a bit different from how awesome that was. Not that normal sucks because it's actually still really good, but ya know.
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Chris Marti, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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It's all the same, nothing's better than or worse than  emoticon
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Steph S, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Nice reminder, Chris. I remember telling Olivier something a while back about how we shouldn't try to re-live the glory days of past experiences we thought were really awesome. 

Tim - life off the zafu is good. I'm really conent in life in general. I feel happy and things are going smoothly. And I'm enjoying that summer is in full swing, being outside, going for walks, riding my bike. 
Sam Gentile, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Steph S:
Nice reminder, Chris. I remember telling Olivier something a while back about how we shouldn't try to re-live the glory days of past experiences we thought were really awesome. 

Tim - life off the zafu is good. I'm really conent in life in general. I feel happy and things are going smoothly. And I'm enjoying that summer is in full swing, being outside, going for walks, riding my bike. 

I'm glad to see see you back and meditating
Tim Farrington, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Sam Gentile:
Steph S:
Nice reminder, Chris. I remember telling Olivier something a while back about how we shouldn't try to re-live the glory days of past experiences we thought were really awesome. 

Tim - life off the zafu is good. I'm really conent in life in general. I feel happy and things are going smoothly. And I'm enjoying that summer is in full swing, being outside, going for walks, riding my bike. 

I'm glad to see see you back and meditating

Steph, Sam Gentile, despite that totally goyim name, has turned out to be a total mensch. That sincerity and innocence of heart and openness of spirit? Fucking freakishly authentic.

love, tim
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Steph S, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Thanks for the well wishes, Sam.


It's good to have mensches around.
Tim Farrington, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Steph S:
Nice reminder, Chris. I remember telling Olivier something a while back about how we shouldn't try to re-live the glory days of past experiences we thought were really awesome. 

Tim - life off the zafu is good. I'm really conent in life in general. I feel happy and things are going smoothly. And I'm enjoying that summer is in full swing, being outside, going for walks, riding my bike. 
i'm convinced content with life in general, between tragedies and fiascos, happy, things going smoothly for minutes at a time, etc., is pretty much as good as it gets.
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Steph S, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Maybe, Tim!

shargrol mentioned the 6 realms practice & 5 elements practice to me. There's instructions for these basically everywhere, but shar (I don't know if shargrol likes the nickname shar, but I just said it.. haha) recommended Ken McLeod's book in particular. I did some 5 elements practice a long time ago from a Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche book that I once had and can no longer find. It was called "Healing with Form, Energy, and Light: The Five Elements in Tibetan Shamanism, Tantra, and Dzogchen." I have alot of respect for Mahamudra and Dzogchen and I think they probably make more intuitive sense to me now than back then. I think one of the things that has kept me away from those traditions is that they are so thick with preliminary practices, having to go through seemingly endless stages of different practices with super intricate, ritualistic, and complicated instructions. It's a ton to remember and wrap your head around. Patience isn't a virtue I have an abundance of, so I never dove in that deeply. I've tended to like the simple, very direct instruction of Theravada for those reasons. 

This is a long way to say that given my respect for these traditions and that they do get RESULTS, I'm gonna shove it on the lack of patience front and just give them more of a chance. They're at the very least very poetic and beautiful to read about and visualize. And the creative in me can get with that. I found a series on the 6 realms that has been very fun to read. It's full of mythic lore, which you can take literally or metaphorically and regardless see very real parallels to practice. Starts on this page and there's links to the following lessons at the top. I read the transcript instead of listening to the podcast. https://zenstudiespodcast.com/sixrealms1/
Sam Gentile, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 1059 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Steph S:
Maybe, Tim!

shargrol mentioned the 6 realms practice & 5 elements practice to me. There's instructions for these basically everywhere, but shar (I don't know if shargrol likes the nickname shar, but I just said it.. haha) recommended Ken McLeod's book in particular. I did some 5 elements practice a long time ago from a Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche book that I once had and can no longer find. It was called "Healing with Form, Energy, and Light: The Five Elements in Tibetan Shamanism, Tantra, and Dzogchen." I have alot of respect for Mahamudra and Dzogchen and I think they probably make more intuitive sense to me now than back then. I think one of the things that has kept me away from those traditions is that they are so thick with preliminary practices, having to go through seemingly endless stages of different practices with super intricate, ritualistic, and complicated instructions.
Steph, I'm curious, are those preliminary practices Ngondro? In my Tibetan tradition you can't get to Mahmudra or Dzogchen without practicing Ngondro first,

It's a ton to remember and wrap your head around. Patience isn't a virtue I have an abundance of, so I never dove in that deeply. I've tended to like the simple, very direct instruction of Theravada for those reasons. 

This is a long way to say that given my respect for these traditions and that they do get RESULTS, I'm gonna shove it on the lack of patience front and just give them more of a chance. They're at the very least very poetic and beautiful to read about and visualize. And the creative in me can get with that. I found a series on the 6 realms that has been very fun to read. It's full of mythic lore, which you can take literally or metaphorically and regardless see very real parallels to practice. Starts on this page and there's links to the following lessons at the top. I read the transcript instead of listening to the podcast. https://zenstudiespodcast.com/sixrealms1/
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Steph S, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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I don't know the names of the preliminary practices. And honestly, if I haven't done them, in the eyes of the Dzogchen and Mahamudra folks I'm probably being a total hack by attempting any of their practices without having transmission from a Rinpoche or whatever is required. But, the information is still out there for everyone to see and use, so whaddya gonna do? That probably goes antithetical to me saying I have great respect for these traditions. Maybe they'd find this incredibly disrespectful. Or maybe not, who knows. I also wonder if alot of the preliminary practices are different ways of getting insight that I've already covered. Not that I'm the most l33t practitioner ever by a long shot, but it's possible I've already gained the insight that doing some of the preliminary practices is designed to get people.
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Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Concerning dzogchen, you have Alan b Wallace in your country, and his students, Doug Veenhof for instance. 

I'be done a retreat with veenhof, no preliminaries whatsoever, and it was rather good. Mushroomy, but i had great results !

Edit : prelimenaries imo are like 'cleaning up your act'. I feel like i did a lot of that when istarted meditating.
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Steph S, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Olivier:
Concerning dzogchen, you have Alan b Wallace in your country, and his students, Doug Veenhof for instance. 

I'be done a retreat with veenhof, no preliminaries whatsoever, and it was rather good. Mushroomy, but i had great results !

Edit : prelimenaries imo are like 'cleaning up your act'. I feel like i did a lot of that when istarted meditating.

I did a weekend Mahamudra retreat with a guy named John Churchill several years ago who was a protege of Dan Brown. It was very not mushroomy and pretty chill and open. Dan Brown & Gretchen Nelson do Pointing out the Great Way retreats for beginners too... although they are both teaching less these days because Dan has Parkinsons and she needs to focus on care for him. You have to go to the level one before being allowed to do the progressive levels with them. In the future when it's safe to go to retreats again I'd really like to do a longer Mahamudra retreat.
Sam Gentile, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 1059 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Steph S:
Olivier:
Concerning dzogchen, you have Alan b Wallace in your country, and his students, Doug Veenhof for instance. 

I'be done a retreat with veenhof, no preliminaries whatsoever, and it was rather good. Mushroomy, but i had great results !

Edit : prelimenaries imo are like 'cleaning up your act'. I feel like i did a lot of that when istarted meditating.

I did a weekend Mahamudra retreat with a guy named John Churchill several years ago who was a protege of Dan Brown. It was very not mushroomy and pretty chill and open. Dan Brown & Gretcn Nelson do Pointing out the Great Way retreats for beginners too... although they are both teaching less these days because Dan has Parkinsons and she needs to focus on care for him. You have to go to the level one before being allowed to do the progressive levels with them. In the future when it's safe to go to retreats again I'd really like to do a longer Mahamudra retreat.

So Steph, do you practice Mahamudra? Do you fold it in with the rest of your meditation? The only parts of Mahmudra I learnt from Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche was the pithy expression "Don't meditate but don't get lost." In other words, you were to just rest in the nature of mind doing nothing but at the same time your mind can't wander. Does this resonate with what you do?
Sam Gentile, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Steph S:
I don't know the names of the preliminary practices. And honestly, if I haven't done them, in the eyes of the Dzogchen and Mahamudra folks I'm probably being a total hack by attempting any of their practices without having transmission from a Rinpoche or whatever is required. But, the information is still out there for everyone to see and use, so whaddya gonna do? That probably goes antithetical to me saying I have great respect for these traditions. Maybe they'd find this incredibly disrespectful. Or maybe not, who knows. I also wonder if alot of the preliminary practices are different ways of getting insight that I've already covered. Not that I'm the most l33t practitioner ever by a long shot, but it's possible I've already gained the insight that doing some of the preliminary practices is designed to get people.
Just curious when you said preliminary practices. You probably have covered the insight needed.
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Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Fun fact : did you know shar grol is actually a tibetan dharma expression ?
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Steph S, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Olivier:
Fun fact : did you know shar grol is actually a tibetan dharma expression ?

 I did know this! 
Tim Farrington, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Steph S:
Olivier:
Fun fact : did you know shar grol is actually a tibetan dharma expression ?

 I did know this! 

wow, i didn't, and thank you for this.

what about the "Of Course" part of his name. as in "from Shargrol, Of Course."
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Steph S, modified 6 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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I didn't realize it's been so long since I last posted. I haven't really had much new to report, but at least wanted to check in and say Hi.

I tried some of the visualization practices in that book shargrol recommended and tbh, I thought I'd be good at visualizing, but I don't know that I am. I also find that patience isn't a virtue that I particularly have strong amounts of, so I have hard time getting with practices that require lots of steps to set-up the meditation or have prep work or involve lots of ritual. It just doesn't speak to me. I'm not into it. If that's your jam, rock out. Genuinely, no criticism here. I think maybe that's one of the reasons that despite the beauty of tantric & Tibetan practices, I've never really been able to make much headway with them or stick with them consistently.

I think I'm going through a little bit of a rut with my meditation where I was getting bored with the standard choiceless awareness and jhana, which is why I was wanting to try something new. (Yes, I looked at the feelings of boredom too. haha)
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Steph S, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Successfully kicked myself out of the rut. I've been going back into brahma vihara stuff, albeit with my own made up mantras that mean more to me than the standard ones teachers talk about. And combining it with the fire kasina. I don't expect to get really intense visualizations with the fire kasina just doing it an hour or so a day. I know it takes very consistent practice, for extended hours, to get to that point. But I'm still having fun with it. I do get really cool flashes of photorealistic images. I've set some intentions for wanting to see certain things and having it show up later on. One example, I wanted to imagine a field of gemstones—for some fun insight into reflectivity, clarity, mirroring, and the like. And quite a bit after I had ended my meditation session, when going to bed that night, I did see that briefly. 

I truly do see a difference with regular brahma vihara practice. I remember talking with a friend about this a while back and the interdependence of that and how it actually does work. I might have even posted it here, but just to re-hash it because I think it's valid enough to repeat - when you're wishing a mantra for others/all beings—and fully embodying that, really getting into, and feeling it genuinely—it will automatically start to shift the perception and attitudes towards sensations, moods, energies that you have within your own field of experience. This shit works, yo.
shargrol, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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nice!
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Steph S, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Hey shar! Good to hear from you.

So kind of following up on the stuff I said a couple posts back about the tantric visualizations not working out. I didn't get into more detail explaing this at the time.. but I think one reason is that it feels disingenious to me to practice in that way. I don't know much about Tibetan culture, especially with regards to deities, etc.

I don't know how others feel about this, but for me personally... I don't want to go about messing around with the deities of a culture that I'm not part of... especially given that I'm a white person from a settler colonist culture. It feels too much like cultural appropriation to me. I believe those deities are very significant and meaningful and real to the people in the cultures that they represent, so it feels wrong to play around with that. I don't know what kinds of long-range consequences it might have for me to enter into and set intents in that way, so I've stayed away from it.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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"believe those deities are very significant and meaningful and real to the people in the cultures that they represent, so it feels wrong to play around with that."

I like this and makes total sense to me emoticon We can visualize Elves and such instead emoticon btw, good to see you being well and bouncing around yo emoticon 
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Tommy M, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/1/20 Recent Posts
Hiya Steph, great to see you still on here and practicing!

If I may, I'd like to offer a few points re. cultural appropriation, etc. as the identitarian modality, focused on race or culture is very unhelpful. It reifies a subtle but pernicious identification with our immutable characteristics, which ultimately only binds us to this body and prevents the cultivation of release necessary for recognizing the natural state.

To be clear, I'm not speaking politically or socially here, nor am I trying to make an argument for colonialism, cultural appropriation et al. You know me; I'm as liberal as they come, so please understand that I'm speaking purely on the actuality of practice as a Buddhist.

It's ironic that anyone who practices the Buddhadharma - a non-Western tradition, regardless of how you cut it - should consider adopting practices from other cultures to be verboten. At the same time, I can understand the concern and I'm sure the people of those cultures would appreciate the respect for their traditions. My issue with this fear of "cultural appropriation" that so many Westerners seem to have is that it flies in the face of the necessary, joyous and wonderous synergy of cultures that allowed us to hear the Buddhadharma in the first place! 

Again, to be clear, I'm talking about the modern usage of "cultural appropriation" as "any white person who makes use of non-Western cultural artifacts" - whether it's spiritual systems or food, it's the same root ignorance at play. I understand the underlying concern regarding 'taking over' or 'trying to own' the cultures of others, but it's a concern rooted in ignorance of what is factual, and one propagated by those who seek to divide rather than unite. This is not an attempt to excuse the disgusting and abusive actions of some of our ancestors or current fellow human beings, whether through colonialism or the enslavement of others; on the contrary, part of this process is the understanding how, as Bodhisattvas, we are here to 'reverse the flow' of, or 'untie' those karmic patterns and bring the four immeasurables into the mindstream for the benefit of all sentient beings.

Whether we like it or not, all sentient beings include even the most 'evil' of human beings and so it would be a grave error to neglect working for their liberation too. Just as we work for the liberation of demons and angels, so too must we work for the liberation of those we love and those who have wronged us, and this goes far, far deeper into this 'thing' that words can convey.

As for adopting tantric practices and the methods therein, it's likely that you simply don't resonate with those forms. True, this may be related to a lack of cultural familiarity, but to frame it as being a fear of appropriating Tibetan culture, to me, seems like a rationalization of the 'signal' arising from deep awareness that's pointing you to other methods of practice.

It's very, very interesting that you've found yourself drawn more to the practice of the Brahmaviharas. I didn't fully appreciate their importance as the heart-essence until relatively recently, but a clarity arose with regards to this and I now see how special and beautiful these practices truly are. They aren't even 'practices' in the way we think of vipassana; they are the Path itself and to activate, cultivate and stabilize in the four immeasurables reveals much about this precious life.

On the subject of deities, and also related to the energetic systems of the mindbody 'interface', it may be worthwhile considering what it is that we're actually doing when we visualize these forms:

These practices are designed with a very specific goal in mind, which we could maybe simplify as "awakening the illusory body through the union of emptiness and form". In less abstract language, we unite our 'conscious awareness' (already activated through the balance of vipassana and samatha) with that of the deity for the purposes of penetrating the nature of what we mistakenly see as being 'heavenly abodes' that seem to exist 'beyond' the world of appearances. In seeing through this cognitive obscuration, the nature of what is factual becomes apparent and the real power of the four immeasurables is revealed.

If you feel uncomfortable, for whatever reason, working with tantric deities or other god-forms then there are many, many other ways forward. Active imagination, which is what these visualizations cultivate, combined with stability of mind and the understanding of appearances can be its own 'doorway'. The god-forms/deities are simply skillful means, so don't get too hung up on the whole cultural appropriation trip. They are real in the same way that the screen you're looking at right now is real, and they don't discriminate in any way, shape or form.

Your interest in Tibetan practices, but cultural discomfort with their forms, suggests that you might be naturally inclined towards the tantric models, so I heartily recommend diving into some of the texts. One of my favourites is "A Precious Garland For The Four Themes of Gampopa" [available here].

In closing, and to clarify that I'm not telling anyone exactly how or what to practice, nor speaking on social or political issues, I cannot stress the importance of the heart-essence as Path. Through cultivating the four immeasurables, drawing attention into the heart chakra and engaging in tonglen with compassionate ferocity and the pure desire for liberation for all sentient beings, things change in ways that I can't even express.

Practice well and thank you for sharing emoticon
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Steph S, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Tommy. What a lovely surprise!

Much of what you written here is stuff I've considered. The irony of someone using Buddhist methods being irked about cultural appropriation being first on the list. I've considered and thought about that many a time, and at some points in the past even wondered if I should continue practicing in this system. The reasons I continued are basically what you lay out here. That and I've never fully identified as a Buddhist, just someone who thinks the way they do things actually works. Is that a reasonable distinction, or the same thing, or a rationalization? Could be all, some of that, or neither. 

Identity and identification is an interesting subject and something I've worked with deeply in my practice over the course of many, many years. From the angle of examing and dismantling identities I held, and yes, seeing they're obscurations. Undercutting beliefs I had about who I thought I was and what I thought I believed about both myself and the world around me. Truly, it doesn't hold up under the microscope of direct, still, clarity. There's bound to still be some stuff kicking around in there that goes unexamined, though, which is to be expected.

As far as the cultural appropriation of deities - and the idea that maybe it's something that simply doesn't resonate with me and it's not really me taking issue with appropriation. I think a "Yes, and..." could apply here and that it doesn't have to be an either/or. Yea, the cultural appropriation bit does still bug me. And it should be no surprise to you that I march to the beat of my own drum in many ways and do things the way I want to - so yep, you're right, I'm also not that into the deity thing partly because deity/godwork isn't my jam. My practice this entire time has been using a Buddhist framework and methods, while applying my own aesthetics. I'm an unapolagetic glutton for the aestheics that I like. 

The brahmaviharas are one of those aesthetics that is very Buddhist that I can totally get with. Yes, they are the path and the whole fucking point as I see it. They are powerful. I can see a very obvious and meaningful difference in my experience/perception of reality and way of being in the world, direct knowledge & insight about what is possible for myself and others, simply through working with them. They are deep magick, and I know you can appreciate that, T. I love talking about them and am curious about what you're doing with them specifically.

Would love to continue this conversation. Good to see you back. emoticon
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Tommy M, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/1/20 Recent Posts
Wonderful! It's an absolute pleasure to reconnect!!

The way I see it right now, we've been fortunate enough to hear the Buddhadharma and to know that liberation isn't just possible, but necessary and, for some, our responsibility as human beings. My faith - which isn't 'blind' but comes from experiential realization - in the Three Jewels and the Buddhadharma as a whole cannot be shaken, moved or broken. It's due to this absolute faith in the teachings that I call myself a Buddhist, and not due to viewing the Buddhas as "gods" or anything remotely theistic. If anything, I've gone from being agnotic to being full-on atheist due to the impossible ways of being that theism posits.

The brahmaviharas are one of those aesthetics that is very Buddhist that I can totally get with. Yes, they are the path and the whole fucking point as I see it. They are powerful.
YES!!! It goes deeper too...right into this mindbody nexus, establishing connection to a 'Buddha-matrix' and the recognition of our Buddha-nature.

I love talking about them and am curious about what you're doing with them specifically.
Current practice has revolved around: accumulating bodhicitta, generating the four immeasurables, directly at the heart chakra and essentially stoking them to a roaring fire that fills the upper chest area and throat. From there, tonglen has proven to be the most efficacious way to send those energies outwards, while simultaneously absorbing and burning up the suffering of all sentient beings. "Blissful" barely even scratches the surface of what this seems to ignite internally, but I view that as just a very pleasant side-effect rather than any sort of specific outcome.

Thoroughly interesting times, Ms S!
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Steph S, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Buddha-matrix. Nice. Yea, that's what I was getting at in my post before my cultural appropration post. The very fabric of reality and the impact on the greater field through this practice... the web of interconnectedness. It feeds into itself - awakening to the field through the practice and in turn further awakening the field itself by transmuting energy, and back and forth.

Check your DM's on here. 
Sam Gentile, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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H'ya Steph. I just wanted to say I am really glad to see you posting here again.
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Steph S, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Hey Sam. I hope all is well with you and that your practice is going well too!!
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Steph S, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Me + brahma viharas. haha
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Tommy M, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Incline towards the periphery of that and push it out in the eight directions.

Sphere of awareness is boundless.

Place attention on the exhale and send 'you' with it.
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Steph S, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Tommy M:
Incline towards the periphery of that and push it out in the eight directions.

Sphere of awareness is boundless.

Place attention on the exhale and send 'you' with it.
Yep, been doing that. I just thought the pic of Baby Yoda was cute even though he's only pushing it in one direction. emoticon

I've tapped into the boundless aspect of things pretty easily going a long time now. And even more so after having a pretty fun extended non-dual thing happen that I posted about up above, a few months ago. Check it out: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/20832174#_19_message_21013057
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Steph S:
Successfully kicked myself out of the rut. I've been going back into brahma vihara stuff, albeit with my own made up mantras that mean more to me than the standard ones teachers talk about. And combining it with the fire kasina. I don't expect to get really intense visualizations with the fire kasina just doing it an hour or so a day. I know it takes very consistent practice, for extended hours, to get to that point. But I'm still having fun with it. I do get really cool flashes of photorealistic images. I've set some intentions for wanting to see certain things and having it show up later on. One example, I wanted to imagine a field of gemstones—for some fun insight into reflectivity, clarity, mirroring, and the like. And quite a bit after I had ended my meditation session, when going to bed that night, I did see that briefly. 

I truly do see a difference with regular brahma vihara practice. I remember talking with a friend about this a while back and the interdependence of that and how it actually does work. I might have even posted it here, but just to re-hash it because I think it's valid enough to repeat - when you're wishing a mantra for others/all beings—and fully embodying that, really getting into, and feeling it genuinely—it will automatically start to shift the perception and attitudes towards sensations, moods, energies that you have within your own field of experience. This shit works, yo.

Welcome back from your rut! So great to have you around again.

The brahma vihara seem to me to be close to the (manifest) heart of Buddhism, and also one of the most fruitful interfaces, vocabulary-wise and in spirit, with Judeo-Christianity. I've been taking baby steps in the Visuddhimagga, where they have their own chapter in Part II, on concentration, working back and forth, because I found a book comparing Buddhaghosa with John of the Cross. (I like to have enough of a working knowledge of one of the poles of these comparisons to be able to detect bullshit and appreciate the notes of truth, as far as possible.) The author of that book (a Catholic priest, duh) concludes that beyond a certain point it is fruitless to compare John's path to participatory union with God's love to Buddhaghosa's path to nirvana because the divine-abidings do not describe anything of ultimate value for Buddhashosa; they are meant to balance vipassana, soften the heart, and give one greater meditative clarity and pliancy. I tend to think that if what I take as ultimate value is merely a passing technique or phase for Buddhaghosa, then good for Buddhaghosa. But then, i can relate to the fourth brahma vihara of equanimity as constituting "the base consisting of nothingness as the highest," and have never had a real theological problem with the immaterial realms and the big zeros. The dark night from one point of view is basically God's gift, acclimatizing the soul to its own oblivion, nothingness, and emptiness, and that of all created things, that it may ultimately be free of all except love itself.

The engagement with the world implicit in the practice of metta, karuna, mudita, and uppekkha will definitely cure boredom, lol, though it may provoke despair and grief sometimes. It's just one fuck-up after another, on the way toward skillful means. But you will always have something to do, if only to take refuge in the measureless void of equanimity for an eon or two after compassion overload, the failure of all local joy, and loving-kindness fatigue. There is a T-shirt for that, too.

still, as you say, this shit does work, yo!

again, great to have you "back."

love, tim
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Tommy M, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/1/20 Recent Posts
A few pointers that might be helpful:

The Buddhadharma is the Base, the Path and the Fruit. No other system comes close.

Totally get where you're coming from re. comparitive approach though, so please don't misunderstand. It's useful to develop conceptual models that allow us to 'get a grip' on what these things point to, but it's only through the Buddhadharma that the nature of the thing will be revealed. I say this as someone who came up through the Western Mystery Traditions and worked a lot with more Judeo-Christian models.
The dark night from one point of view is basically God's gift, acclimatizing the soul to its own oblivion, nothingness, and emptiness, and that of all created things, that it may ultimately be free of all except love itself.
Great insight! I may be misunderstanding your use of words like "God" and "soul", but would suggest that these be seen as "impossible states of being". Also...

i can relate to the fourth brahma vihara of equanimity as constituting "the base consisting of nothingness as the highest," and have never had a real theological problem with the immaterial realms and the big zeros.
Nothingness is another example of an "impossible state of being". You might find value in looking into the practices of analytical deconstruction found in Dzogchen. Your skill with words and clarity of expression suggest to me that you'd benefit from looking into this, if you aren't already familiar.

Again, I may be misunderstanding your use of these words, so none of this is intended as criticism and I am more than happy to be wrong.
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 731 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Hi Steph,

Nice to see you back.

The greek Στέφανος - means a crown.

I understand your uneasiness in what you call cultural appropriation. I wouldn't call it that though, but rather, globalization/lack of cultural rooting.ignorance of own culture. When I reverse the thing and imagine a young tibetan Tenzin saying the pater noster every night before going to bed, it's the same effect : weird.

Food for thought, Tommy (thomas ? as in https://www.holybooks.com/wp-content/uploads/Gospel-of-Thomas-Scholars-Version.pdf ?): you might be interested in reading this http://www.hoye.de/theo/denistxt.pdf.

That's the definition of god which esoteric christianity used throughout the middle ages - in fact the gothic aesthetics is founded on the Areopagite's legacy. (I haven't read this translation and don't know if it's any good...)

Living in a foreign country is always easier.

About the "brahmaviharas" : I resonate with you guys about this and realized how natural of an arch it is to go from one to the next and how necessary it is to have all four of them for the practice to be balanced. Also, how much equanimity leads naturally towards emptiness contemplation, and how tonglen and taking suffering upon yourself leads strongly to unity type experiences.

However, I also realized that this taking the suffering of the world and taking it upon yourself to tranform it into joy, is the very meaning of crucifixion, isn't it. The heart essence of the path is love and compassion you say...

Cheers.
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Steph S, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Olivier - I did know that and I actually am Greek... 2nd generation Greek-American to be more specific. My parents are from the US, but all my grandparents and great-grandparents were from Greece. My mom's side is originally from Crete, but then lived in a small town a few km from Sparta. My dad's side is from a coastal town in the Pelopennese region. Not sure about the generation before that. 

The take on globalization - yes, totally. I try to be pretty conscious about that because of how much of that globalization & dominance the US is responsible for. Although, we're not the only ones responsible for that. You being from France, I'm sure you can relate to issues of being from a colonizer country, huh? And Tommy being from Scotland - well, I'm pretty sure the Scottish didn't enjoy being colonized by England. Regardless, I appreciate the intelligent takes on this from both of you and it's something I like to keep thinking about. 

As far as tonglen goes - the funny thing is, I've been practicing that too without necessarily realizing it. Take in suffering on the in breath, typically, then breathe out compassion, love, equanimity, joy or whichever one you're working with.. on the outbreath. I somehow manage to stumble upon this Buddhist magick tech without even trying lots of the times and figure it out myself, before I know there's even an established legit practice for that already. I'd love to be able to pat myself on the back for that and take credit for it.. haha.. but it's probably the path just revealing itself in subtle ways and becoming self-apparent and creating its own action because that's how it goes.
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Tommy M, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Food for thought, Tommy (thomas ? as in https://www.holybooks.com/wp-content/uploads/Gospel-of-Thomas-Scholars-Version.pdf ?): you might be interested in reading this http://www.hoye.de/theo/denistxt.pdf.

That's the definition of god which esoteric christianity used throughout the middle ages - in fact the gothic aesthetics is founded on the Areopagite's legacy. (I haven't read this translation and don't know if it's any good...)
"Doubting Thomas" probably sums up a lot about me and my approach to this whole spiritual shenanigans...hahaha!

I'm very much familiar with gnosticism and the various models used in esoteric Christianity, but I have no doubt that they are not talking about the same thing that the Buddhadharma reveals. I don't say this as a zealot or from blind faith. This is entirely based on experiential realization. Certain schools of mystical Judaism, particularly those discussing "Ain - Ain Soph - Ain Soph Aur" as existing beyond Kether, point to a profound realization beyond monotheistic models, but still fall short of the pristine wisdom of the Buddhadharma as they posit an impossible state of being.

Happy to discuss in a separate thread, rather than cluttering Steph's practice log. 
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Steph S, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Yea, take it outside!!  Kidding, you're fine, T.  It makes me smile that all these people hang out in my posts. It's a party in here and we're all having a blast. Want me to pour you a drink? What's your fancy?

In other news, speaking of Tibetan/tantric stuff, today I was digging through some old books and found "The Tibetan Book of the Dead," which I've had for years and somehow never got around to reading. Here's a really good passage from the background chapter (written by the translator/editor) that I can really, really relate to and that is beautiful to reflect upon:

"During the three centuries of Tibet's modern period, the national priority was on monastic education, literary and philosophical creativity, the practice of meditation, the development of ritual and festival arts, and so forth. Spiritual adepts were accepted as the highest level of Tibetan society, considered to have become perfected Buddhas through their practice of the Tantras (spiritual technologies) of Unexcelled Yoga (self-cultivation). They were inner-world adventurers of the highest daring, the Tibetan equivalent of our astronauts—I think it's worth coining the term 'psychonaut' to describe them. They personally voyaged to the furthest frontiers of that universe which their society deemed vital to explore: the inner frontiers of consciousness itself, in all its transformations in life and beyond death.

In Western culture, the last frontiers of our material conquest of the universe are in outer space. Our astronauts are our ultimate heroes and heroines. Tibetans, however, are more concerned about the spiritual conquest of the universe, whose frontiers are in the realms of death, the between, and the contemplative ecstasies. So, the Tibetan lamas who can consciously pass through the dissolution process, whose minds can detach from the gross physical body and use a magic body to travel to other universes, these 'psychonauts' are the Tibetans' ultimate heroes and heroines. The Dalai Lamas and the several thousand 'reincarnate' Lamas (also called 'Tulku', which means 'Buddha Emanation') are these heroes and heroines. They are believed to have mastered the death, between, and rebirth processes, and to choose continuously, life after life, to return to Tibet out of compassion to lead the Tibetans in their spiritual national life and to benefit all sentient beings."

Can't wait to get into the rest of this book. Super cool.
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Is this sogyal rinpoche ?
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Steph S, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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I think there might be multiple versions of it. The one I have is the version translated by Robert AF Thurman with a foreward by the Dalai Lama.
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Steph S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Copying and pasting something here from a chat I had with a friend because it might be fun for others to read.

Sometimes it feels like experience "out there" is fused or coming forward to me. I know there's a sense of locality in that, in that it seems like things are coming "forward". But I wonder if that's the best way to describe it. It almost seems like a fusion. I also keep getting this sense of wanting to reach out and like grab or hug random objects... like really mundane things like a brick column or a table. 
It's like I can recognize the magnificence of those utterly mundane objects, and that they have this love energy to them that I can sense and there seems to be this intimacy or closeness I feel with them. I talked about this in my non-dual description post, where a wooden light post in the street seemed just as awe-inspiring and glorious and beautiful as the sunset and clouds in the sky.

Right now I'm in this phase where it feels like the doors to my heart chakra have been flung wide open. It's basically automatic for that sense of love and smooth joy to be there... like experience or the universe itself, or however you want to frame it, is continously and endlessly regenerating them.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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I wonder now; I'm stuck at work with people that don't have much in common and seem to approach the job from different angles. The job is 8 hours of packing orders of all sorts, 5 days s week. It's a very physical hard work and stuff is being packaged very fast. We all get tired and mentally exhausted and yet we need to carry on and make decisions how and how much of it all needs to be packaged. People disagree and there is a push and pull in our relationship. Emotions arise and there be attitudes too emoticon One can feel intolerance and genuine annoyance and overwhelm. It's been 6 weeks now and pressure is rising with people getting more exhausted. 

I wonder if you think one can apply/experience what you desribe in such dynamic situations with people of all sorts and being involved yourself in it or if this needs solitude and enough alone space to get this relationship with bricks and trees and with people of all sorts emoticon 

Im trying to understand how permanent this experience/perception is emoticon and if it can hold in a more stressful situations. Or is it yet another experience that doesn't satisfy and is not permanent? 

I hope I'm not sounding too cocky emoticon 
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Steph S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Not sounding too cocky. It's cool.

I've definitely been in situations where I've been really annoyed with others - for example, some of my co-workers making really dumb decisions about deciding to travel. Even though one of them tested positive for COVID early last week (the rest of us tested negative, luckily) and they think it's fine to go on an airplane & trip now just because their symptoms have calmed down and they don't have a fever anymore - but they're not getting re-tested to make sure they're actually negative now. Whew. Stupid shit.

Regardless, through all of this, I can still feel that energy coursing around. Going more into the theme of "fusion" that I talked about above. It's almost like that love & joy are still fused and coursing through whatever sensations are happening. It doesn't mean the annoyance or stress goes away, if that makes sense at all. I don't know what it'd be like to be in a situation with repeated high stress over time, so it's a valid question you're asking.

So as you know, I've been practicing with the brahma viharas alot - two of which are love and joy. Another one of them is equanimity. The idea is that you need all 4 of them for things to truly be in balance. You can't go about having boundless compassion and love and joy, then get distraught when things don't work out in the way that you expect or wanted. And so, I have to make sure I keep practicing with the equanimity brahma vihara too so that when push comes to shove and if/when things get genuinely shitty, it won't entirely throw me off balance. Or like you said, so I don't attach too greatly to experiences that seem "pleasant". 

Does that make sense? Let me know if you need more detail.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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emoticon thank you Steph! 

Ok I see. So it comes down to this being a product of practicing the Brahmaviharas. Mind is pliable enough to get these set in as a sort of default ... state? ... stage? ... hm, ...? mode? emoticon Doesn't matter. It certainly is a conscious experience and one that clearly brings about good stuff for one experiencing/perceiving the Big 4 and for those around such a person (which then can have a wholesome domino effect on a large scale). Good stuff emoticon 

Would you share with me how exactly you practice the Brahmaviharas? Or is it too complex to describe using this forum format? If so you can link me to any source you find helpful. Thank you emoticon 
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Steph S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Yea, dude, the brahma viharas have been a game changer for me. People practice them in lots of ways. Here's how I do it. It's kind of like a hybrid of fire kasina & BV's. Feel free to do it without the candle flame - it'll still be really effective. I just like adding the element of fire.

1. I light the flame and set up some sort of intent for that session, like a particular insight I'm interested in working with lately.

2. Stare at the flame, then close eyes, look at the after image.

3. I start reciting a mantra that I came up with that relates to whichever of the brahma viharas I'm working with that day. So for you, you could come up with your own mantra that feels genuine to you, relating to any of the 4 BV's: lovingkindess, compassion, joy, and equinamity. I find it works better if you come up with your own mantra relating to them rather than using the standard script that many teachers provide in their instructions.

4. Continue staring at the after image while reciting the mantra as needed to keep  focused, while also generating the feelings associated with that BV.. like for joy, really tune into the sense of joy and amplify that as much as possible. Do this for quite some time, up to 20 minutes or more if you want. Then imagine sending that mantra/wish & energy & feeling out to all beings in all directions. You can do send it out in all beings going through each of the directions if you want, which are: North, NorthEast, East, SouthEast, South, SouthWest, NorthWest, Above, and Below.

5. Keep fine tuning that feeling until it gets really lucid and clear... then kind of dwell in whatever stillness arises. It's basically a do-nothing type of practice at this point, simply dwelling, and allowing the insight to arise on its own based on that dwelling. The noticing and the direct experience of it is the insight to me. As I'm sure you're aware, if it's noticed, stuff is happening and insight is working. Don't rely on immediate feedback from thoughts to confirm or deny whether you're understanding or gleaning insights. Many of the deepest insights are beyond what the monkey mind comes up with as thoughts. And insight can take a while to fully integrate before it becomes evident anyway.

6. When I feel like I'm pretty much done with the session, I'll seal the practice with some sort of wish.. maybe for all beings to be permanently liberated from suffering in their lifetime, which is kind of a standard wish I use. 

7. The very last step is something that came to me one day that I think is kind of cool so I kept with it. I'll blow out the candle flame and say "all phenomena are impermanent." Then I'll sit there until all of the smoke from the blown out flame entirely dissipates.

And here's a good article with a breakdown of how the brahma viharas relate to one another and why you do them in a certain order.
https://tricycle.org/magazine/head-heart-together/amp/
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Steph S:
Yea, dude, the brahma viharas have been a game changer for me. People practice them in lots of ways. Here's how I do it. It's kind of like a hybrid of fire kasina & BV's. Feel free to do it without the candle flame - it'll still be really effective. I just like adding the element of fire.

1. I light the flame and set up some sort of intent for that session, like a particular insight I'm interested in working with lately.

2. Stare at the flame, then close eyes, look at the after image.

3. I start reciting a mantra that I came up with that relates to whichever of the brahma viharas I'm working with that day. So for you, you could come up with your own mantra that feels genuine to you, relating to any of the 4 BV's: lovingkindess, compassion, joy, and equinamity. I find it works better if you come up with your own mantra relating to them rather than using the standard script that many teachers provide in their instructions.

4. Continue staring at the after image while reciting the mantra as needed to keep  focused, while also generating the feelings associated with that BV.. like for joy, really tune into the sense of joy and amplify that as much as possible. Do this for quite some time, up to 20 minutes or more if you want. Then imagine sending that mantra/wish & energy & feeling out to all beings in all directions. You can do send it out in all beings going through each of the directions if you want, which are: North, NorthEast, East, SouthEast, South, SouthWest, NorthWest, Above, and Below.

5. Keep fine tuning that feeling until it gets really lucid and clear... then kind of dwell in whatever stillness arises. It's basically a do-nothing type of practice at this point, simply dwelling, and allowing the insight to arise on its own based on that dwelling. The noticing and the direct experience of it is the insight to me. As I'm sure you're aware, if it's noticed, stuff is happening and insight is working. Don't rely on immediate feedback from thoughts to confirm or deny whether you're understanding or gleaning insights. Many of the deepest insights are beyond what the monkey mind comes up with as thoughts. And insight can take a while to fully integrate before it becomes evident anyway.

6. When I feel like I'm pretty much done with the session, I'll seal the practice with some sort of wish.. maybe for all beings to be permanently liberated from suffering in their lifetime, which is kind of a standard wish I use. 

7. The very last step is something that came to me one day that I think is kind of cool so I kept with it. I'll blow out the candle flame and say "all phenomena are impermanent." Then I'll sit there until all of the smoke from the blown out flame entirely dissipates.

And here's a good article with a breakdown of how the brahma viharas relate to one another and why you do them in a certain order.
https://tricycle.org/magazine/head-heart-together/amp/


I don't like quoting the whole quote like Terry emoticon emoticon but I gladly did this time emoticon That is very much my style. I like combining methods. My noting aloud practice is joined with open eyes Kasina and I find it to be rather potent. 

Back in my Shamatha days I would combine calm abiding with "trying" to see if eye balls can be still (they cant) which is something J. Krishnamurti suggested. 

This Fire Kasina joined with BV's is certainly my style and im sensing genuine interest when I read your description of it. 

Before I stumbled upon Buddhism I practiced Reiki both for myself and healing for others and all beings. Would do this daily for close to a year. Maybe this was my 1st training in morality ;) 

Then one year practicing only Ki-breathing which got me to 5th Jhana. 

And then I found Shamatha/Calm abiding which left to interesting stuff and ended in some nasty DN. Got stuck for 7-8 years then decided I can't take this suffering any longer and found Noting Vipassana (with open eyes kasina). 

Right now there is interest in This unfolding in daily lifeing. But I feel there could be another facet of This to be seen/developed/brought forth and BV with FK could be it. 

Will read that link. Thank you emoticon 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Let me add so you get my major point in all this stuff we call awakening; 

One thing is getting into minute details and getting experiences, states/stages, yogi stuff, and another how does this hold up in the "chop wood carry water lifeing with fellow humans and beasts on daily basis. 

You, as well as me and all others here and elsewhere practicing know that it's easy to get into a certain state when in solitude (any situation where one is not involved too much in social situation but can go inwardly and abide "there" even if on the train packed with people). 

I can notice this practice bringing about fruits of realization and can only hope it keeps doing that. These fruits seem to involve "all other beings" rather than just "my own happiness". This alone gives huge faith in this Path Stuff. Still I do hold the banner of Chop Wood Carry Water high up as the only way to gauge the "results". Daily lifeing with fellow humans and critters alike as well as trees and bricks emoticon Mingling amongst them on the busy market place. We ARE in this together. 

Ok nuf of me for now emoticon It's Friday after work so time to relax these old bones into this following weekend. 
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Steph S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Yea, totally and that's a good barometer. An old (yet cynical) quote a friend once told me, "Hell is other people." Or another one is, "Think you're enlightened? Go spend a week at your parent's house and see what happens." LOL.

What is actually happening, from a perceptual standpoint with things like the BV's, though is this... You extend the mantra to yourself, and then all beings to cut through that imagined barrier of "me in here" and "others out there."  Realistically what's happening is you're training yourself to have love/compassion/equanity/joy with the whole the field of experience in a raw data type of way, and also in a conceptual way when you're thinking about any of those people. So eventually the thing transmutes into honestly re-wiring how those sensations and people are perceived. With the cutting through of that imagined dualistic barrier, you start to directly realize that although in a relative reality way, there are people that aren't yourself in the world, there isn't energetically speaking a difference in the field within which you're all interacting... so feelings of love within you and within others are kind of this give and take or this free-flow that can't actually be exhausted because it is boundless and doesn't actually have barriers or duality. The whole field has that as its nature and you can tap into that with enough practice. Not that I'm entirely there or have it fully realized or anything, but I do see some really good glimpses of it.

Sometimes teachers include others between yourself and all beings.. like a person you feel neutral toward, someone you love dearly (they say not in a romantic/sexual way because they're all about dat puritanical life in many traditions.. lol), and then towards a difficult person. Anyway, you can choose whether or not you want to go through all those extra types of people. I don't always do that.. or maybe one day I'll focus entirely on compassion toward somebody that's been really difficult in my life.
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Steph S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Retreat Report: Lama Lena - Pointing Out Instructions (Inner Mind Rushen)

This isn't going to be incredibly detailed as far as what I learned. I'm not going to be able to describe the instructions. I'm not trying to be cagey but I want to respect the fact that Lama Lena and others in the Dzogchen tradition say they need to be transmitted either in-person or in realtime online face-to-face. I used to think this was some form of gatekeeping and kind of annoying, but apparently the Lama or whoever is transmitting does some telepathic stuff, and I have no idea what is involved with all that, so it makes more sense to me now why they call it transmission.

What I will talk about is her style of teaching. She has a very direct attitude and way of teaching that I super appreciate. She said it's a function of her autism that she's very direct and not all people like that, but I prefer it when people cut straight to the point. She transmitted 4 wangs, including instructions for tawa (finding & resting in the natural state). It's preferable to do many short sits instead of fewer long ones - again, another thing I appreciate. I will say that "resting in the natural state" isn't particularly new to me, as I've been incorporating that into my practice for some time. What was helpful was having the instructions come from her.

I asked her a question about that sense of presence I sometimes feel and she said it's a defense mechanism - part of the original habitual dualistic oops. She said neither repress it or get sucked into. Also helpful that she said, don't even give it a name like "presence" because that's making it into "something" - i.e. continuing the duality of it. Reminds me of a conversation I had with Daniel about the observer a while back. The next day during another Q&A, I asked what to do with the natural state - just kick it there? And she said yes. She told me I need to stop conceptualizing it, even after the fact. She said don't describe it or try to describe it. That's restricting it, I'm trying to define it which takes away from the immensity of what it actually is. So again, I'm not going to describe what the natural state feels like or is like in my practice log - sorry, tough luck, friends. She also explained the difference between vipassana & tawa which is helpful. Anyway, I'm not getting super detailed on purpose here. I have a habit of conceptualizing things after the fact, which I need to break. It was good stuff this weekend.  I'm curious enough to keep learning from her. 
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Olivier, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Sounds good Steph !

When did you say was the next session, again ?
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Steph S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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She didn't give an exact date and it's not up on her website yet, but she said it should be the beginning of January.

https://lamalenateachings.com/teaching-schedule/
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Olivier, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Thank you.
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Steph S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Not that long ago in a galaxy somewhere close to here, the Jedis shargrol & Chris advised about looking at the thing that's the most personal and feels the closest too you. What a great plot for a space opera.

And so I have, combined with the advice from Lama Lena. The sense of presence I asked her about that she said is a defense mechanism based in fear & duality. I told her this sense of presence had a very familiar quality to it. I didn't tell her this part, but it feels like the most "me" feeling there is. It's this really familiar feeling tone that has a very specific quality to it, and that I've tagged as "me" coming up at my core and responding to whatever arises. It's like a soft plume of smoke that puffs up from a tiny geyser. It's something I've looked at over and over. I've already seen long ago that it's impermanet, and it's not like I perceive it as some constant thing, but there's still an attachment to it.

Last week in practice I saw directly that I've been attached to it as my ultimate safety net. Since it feels like the most Steph thing, I've been keeping it around—since it's one of the most immediately recognizable things to me, it has made me feel safe. It comes into being after other sensations, especially thoughts, like a reaction to them. It sometimes feels like it's infused into other feeling tones or emotions, like an elixir that has them all mixed together. 

I understand that my thoughts and this feeling of presence essentially operate as a misperception that tricks me into thinking it's something I need to feel safe in the world. Like it's the one thing I can count on to come up as a reaction to the world around me, and to keep a feeling of security and comfort. Like the thoughts & presence feeling are acting together to pacify or reassure me about what's happening. But in seeing that clearly today, in real time, it became obvious how unnecessary it is. It's just some bizarre feeling that comes up here and there, even if it does have an edge of feeling familiar. The key now, I suppose, is to keep seeing it for what it is.. not trying to mess with it, repress it or anything, just see at as any other transient feeling that's no better, worse, or more neutral than any other feeling.

We'll see how this plays out. I posted in Linda's practice thread about habituated patterns and how they can still continue after you cut through certain aspects of them. It might take a while for this to really dwindle away, but it's good to have noticed it.
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Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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It's this really familiar feeling tone that has a very specific quality to it, and that I've tagged as "me" coming up at my core and responding to whatever arises.

Does it have a location? Where does it come from? If you were to point at it, where would you point?
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Steph S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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It doesn't have a definitive location. It seems to move around or not be located in one spot. Sometimes it feels like it's coming from the different chakras. It's not the same sensations that I would tag as the observer, btw, although they might be related somehow. 
Sam Gentile, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Looked at  that link and she has an impressive body of teachings. I am assumimg that you took the pointing out instructions for inner mind rushen or did you have them already? Is she teaching you Dzogchen? Very intersting. I'm intrested in this but don't know if I have enough experience,
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Steph S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Sam - yep, I did the inner mind rushen/pointing out instructions that were on december 19th-20th. She does teach dzogchen. I'd say she gears it pretty well to all levels, so I think if you were interested you could do it. Look at her schedule to see when she posts about the next one.
Sam Gentile, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Steph S:
Sam - yep, I did the inner mind rushen/pointing out instructions that were on december 19th-20th. She does teach dzogchen. I'd say she gears it pretty well to all levels, so I think if you were interested you could do it. Look at her schedule to see when she posts about the next one.

Awesome! Just so I can be clear, she gave the pointing out instructions online? You didn't need to go ao anyplace. Thanks
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Steph S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Yep, right now everything she's doing is online only.
Sam Gentile, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Thanks! I've finally found a source of pointing out instructions I can online! Mingyur Rinpoche refuses to give pointing out instructions without you beinmg physically present.
Sam Gentile, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Steph,

Sorry to interupt again. I listened to Lama Lena and her Begining Dzogchen. I understand I need to wait for the online pointing instructions before Dzogchen but I am extremely impressed with her, Is there any other classes or groups of hers I could get in? If it's not too personal, what are studying with her?
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Steph S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Hey Sam - I'm not sure what other classes she teaches, if any. The best resource for info would be her website or probably signing up for her newsletter to see if they send any info about upcoming events. I'm not formally a student of hers or anything. The only experience I've had with her was that one pointing out online session, and I sent her an email follow up afterwards to ask a question. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Steph S:
Hey Sam - I'm not sure what other classes she teaches, if any. The best resource for info would be her website or probably signing up for her newsletter to see if they send any info about upcoming events. I'm not formally a student of hers or anything. The only experience I've had with her was that one pointing out online session, and I sent her an email follow up afterwards to ask a question. 

Sam: She doesn't have newsletters. One has to check her website regularly. She has a forum too, available at her website. She does lots of public teachings and quite a few closed teachings via zoom. They are all announced on her website. For closed teachings there is usually a sign-up form. She does pointing out in all her Dzogchen teachings, but it might be more effective if done in a closed setting. She is currently teaching on The Flight of the Garuda each month, with pointing out each time. It is recommended that one first watches all the previous recordings for that series. You can find them both on Facebook live and on youtube. I don't know if she will do another closed teaching like the one Steph attended soon, but there are lots of recordings available for catching up with the content. Sam, the beginner's Dzogchen is part of a series of three videos (the others are called intermediate Dzogchen and advanced Dzogchen if I remember correctly) and I think that corresponds to the teachings that Steph attended. Those recordings were the first I saw from Lama Lena, and watching them in retrospect on youtube was enough to shift things for me. 
Sam Gentile, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Steph S:
Hey Sam - I'm not sure what other classes she teaches, if any. The best resource for info would be her website or probably signing up for her newsletter to see if they send any info about upcoming events. I'm not formally a student of hers or anything. The only experience I've had with her was that one pointing out online session, and I sent her an email follow up afterwards to ask a question. 

Sam: She doesn't have newsletters. One has to check her website regularly. She has a forum too, available at her website. She does lots of public teachings and quite a few closed teachings via zoom. They are all announced on her website. For closed teachings there is usually a sign-up form. She does pointing out in all her Dzogchen teachings, but it might be more effective if done in a closed setting. She is currently teaching on The Flight of the Garuda each month, with pointing out each time. It is recommended that one first watches all the previous recordings for that series. You can find them both on Facebook live and on youtube. I don't know if she will do another closed teaching like the one Steph attended soon, but there are lots of recordings available for catching up with the content. Sam, the beginner's Dzogchen is part of a series of three videos (the others are called intermediate Dzogchen and advanced Dzogchen if I remember correctly) and I think that corresponds to the teachings that Steph attended. Those recordings were the first I saw from Lama Lena, and watching them in retrospect on youtube was enough to shift things for me. 

Thank you so much Linda and Steph. Late in the night, listening to her Intermediate Dzogchen I did have a profound insight that I will try to type in later on a separate topic.
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Steph S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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I used to not know what people were talking about when they said that it actually takes more effort to stay up in the headspace and let that habitual pattern of selfing keep on ripping. Since it's so habitual, it felt easier to let that habitual pattern just ride out. But right now, I'm seeing in practice how it does actually take more effort to maintain that than to just rest openly. The selfing process and sensations associated with it feel like this weird foreign object and a massive tension compared to the rest of my body. Like it's not supposed to be there and it's this blockade. It's not that thinking it feels like a tension or that it feels uneccessary is anything new... but it's that combined with the understanding of how it seems more effortful to maintain when I know more deeply how much a facade it is.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Amen to that! When it drops away it feels like the most natural thing would be to never again get caught up in it, because not maintaining that effortful and tense and too tight overlay would be so simple. And yet, it sneaks back and I get caught in it again. I can see why it arises, and it's okay, but I would rather not be so caught up with it but just let it dissolve again as soon as it doesn't serve any good purpose. 
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Steph S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Right?? It's obvious that vision, sounds, and all the other senses can operate just fine without it... yet the tendency to keep going back to that reference point persists. Just go away! haha.

....


Today I'm trying a fun experiment. In the morning I did some jhana with the mantra of "May all beings be full of love and gratitude." And I let the mantra continue after I finished that sit. So I'm going to see if I can go all day letting that mantra just ride out. So far so good, obviously once you hit about 2nd jhana the effort it takes to make it run drops away, and even after sitting & not being in jhana anymore, it still gets a momentum where it continues. Even when there's a lapse it still automatically returns, which is cool. Lapses happen when I'm talking or reading - interesting that even outwardly verbalized talking to other people messes with the ability to keep the mantra going. I understand why reading would do that, because reading also uses subvocalization like the mantra does, but talking is a different mechanism. 

Another thing that's been interesting is that it's easy to keep presently focused with this mantra, not just because it can be a concentration tool. The way it starts with "May all beings..." seems like an intent or wish that might be future focused, a wish that this thing might happen.. but that's not necessarily the case because it's like a willing of that mantra into action in that very moment. One example is, I was reading something online that annoyed me and I wanted to respond to it in a snarky way, but the mantra was playing out, and it gave me pause. Being snarky/rude seemed at odds with the wish just expressed for love & gratitude, and so it gave me pause and allowed me to reflect and not respond at all instead. We'll see how it goes. So far I like it.
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Steph, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Earlier this week I had a video call with Abre, whom I know teaches several of the folks here. I've been wanting to get a formal teacher for a bit now. I've never had one - my entire practice so far has relied on books, posting on DhO, and chatting/getting feedback from friends (some of which are really highly realized). However, that's different than the one-on-one student/teacher relationship wherein a teacher will get to know your practice much more deeply than sporadic phonecalls, chats, or words on a forum. I think for a long time I've been stubborn, thinking I could mostly figure all this out myself and with my current approach - and the fact is, I can't. I need someone with expertise who can tell me which practices are most appropriate for where I am and where I want to go. Right now, I don't know. I've been tradition jumping and method jumping quite a bit and experimenting for a while now - mostly because I don't really know where I'm at on my path and what's best at this point - and while that's sometimes fun, I don't know how effective it is. 

Anyway, this is all to say that the call with Abre went super well. She had tons of insightful things to say and pointed out some areas of my practice where I might be getting stuck. We're going to start working together and honing in on my practice. Our first session might be either next week or the week after. Like I said, being really fucking stubborn is one of my quirks and so deciding to just get over it and ask for some additional help and admit that I can't do it mostly on my own is a pretty big deal for me. I'm really proud of myself for that. And I'm really looking forward to seeing what develops as a result of this.
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Olivier, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 731 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Well done emoticon
Curious to here what develops. Keep us posted if it feels like it doesn't take away from the liveliness of what's going on...

(However keep in mind it might well be that after some time working with her, you realize she doesn't know what you should being doing any better than you. Just a possibility. :p)
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Steph, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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haha thanks! I still value this board and plan to continue posting and all. 

It very well could be that she doesn't know any better than me, but we'll find out. I think you were saying that in a more meta sense than talking about her expertise or knowledge of the various practices/systems, so I get what you're saying. 
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Olivier, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Steph:
 I think you were saying that in a more meta sense than talking about her expertise or knowledge of the various practices/systems, so I get what you're saying. 
Of course
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Steph, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
I had my first session with Abre last week. She has me doing more of a Mahayana style vipassana - which basically feels like vipassana jhanas. In our session last week she took me on a guided meditation up through the jhanas, focusing first on bodily sensations, then on feelings, then on sounds, then on awareness being aware of itself. Within each sit that I've had since then, I've been going up and then back down and back up again. This has been great because with each pass through, you can see the body, feelings, etc. from a different vantage point (i.e. the way the body is perceived at higher jhanas is different than the way it's perceived in lower jhanas - and so you notice aspects of it differently).

Each successive practice feels like I'm continuing to go through bodily and mental formations with a fine tooth comb, seeing subtler and subtler levels of what's actually a physical bodily sensation and what's a mental image, thought, or feeling. With emotions especially. I'm seeing more clearly how much of what is perceived as an emotion is actually just a physical sensation of tension in the gut, heart, or other chakras. And the feeling tone itself is nebulous and not located anywhere. Before I perceived that the emotion/feeling itself came from the gut or other area of the body, that the emotion and physical sensation were in the same place, but that's not true. Just the physical tension comes from a location in the body, and the feeling tone doesn't appear to come from or be located anywhere, and it seems mentally fabricated. It's like I'm continuing to unlink them and each of them are becoming more empty. Same with the attentional width and how that seems to be just a mental image. The perception of space, location, and distance, and vantage point are all empty mental images. I feel like I can see all of these different bodily & mental sensations as each of their component parts, while at the same time seeing them holistically as a larger whole.
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Chris Marti, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Very cool!
Sam Gentile, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 1059 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
It sounds like you hit it off with Abre and made good progress. I'm happy for both of you
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Steph, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Yea! Thanks, Sam.

---

Something I find almost comical is that no matter how far along I get, it still kind of feels like I'm right back at the beginning, just from a different vantage point or level of understanding. You're never too advanced for the basics or the fundamentals and that's refreshing to me.
Sam Gentile, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Beginner's Mind
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Steph, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Kamala is officially VP and Joe is officially president now. Oh happy day!

A lot of work to do, but a major sigh of relief and I'm savoring in this moment.
Sam Gentile, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 1059 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Steph:
Kamala is officially VP and Joe is officially president now. Oh happy day!

A lot of work to do, but a major sigh of relief and I'm savoring in this moment.

Me too! Suddenly the darkness has been lifted
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Steph:
Kamala is officially VP and Joe is officially president now. Oh happy day!

A lot of work to do, but a major sigh of relief and I'm savoring in this moment.

I am shocked, shocked, at this blatant bit of political awareness! Thank you so much for it.

Definitely a major sigh of relief, and a moment to savor. God bless you, Steph.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Cool to hear you're working with Abre. I've been doing a similar Mahayana-style vipassana for the better part of the past year. I keep meaning to ask where she got the practice from. I can't find anything about it anywhere else, but it seems to do the trick for me (at least for now). It is some comfort to know that there will be at least one other human being on the planet who will know what the fuck I am talking about when I mention it.  

Interesting insights from practice. It gives me some ideas for where to focus my attention as I'm doing the same thing. State-of-mind and emotion is still something I can't quite wrap my head around. Clearly it can be felt very intensely but when I try to identify where it is happenning it can really be quite complex and elusive.
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Chris Marti, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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However keep in mind it might well be that after some time working with her, you realize she doesn't know what you should being doing any better than you. Just a possibility

Yeah. And even though it can be a difficult realization, there are times when we just "know" more than the teacher.
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Chris Marti, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 3875 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Anyway, this is all to say that the call with Abre went super well.

Great news.

Please tell Abre I said "Hello."
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Steph, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
She says Hi back! I told her you were the one I got her contact info from. Thanks again for putting me in touch.
Sam Gentile, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 1059 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Steph:
Earlier this week I had a video call with Abre, whom I know teaches several of the folks here. I've been wanting to get a formal teacher for a bit now. I've never had one - my entire practice so far has relied on books, posting on DhO, and chatting/getting feedback from friends (some of which are really highly realized). However, that's different than the one-on-one student/teacher relationship wherein a teacher will get to know your practice much more deeply than sporadic phonecalls, chats, or words on a forum. I think for a long time I've been stubborn, thinking I could mostly figure all this out myself and with my current approach - and the fact is, I can't. I need someone with expertise who can tell me which practices are most appropriate for where I am and where I want to go. Right now, I don't know. I've been tradition jumping and method jumping quite a bit and experimenting for a while now - mostly because I don't really know where I'm at on my path and what's best at this point - and while that's sometimes fun, I don't know how effective it is. 

Anyway, this is all to say that the call with Abre went super well. She had tons of insightful things to say and pointed out some areas of my practice where I might be getting stuck. We're going to start working together and honing in on my practice. Our first session might be either next week or the week after. Like I said, being really fucking stubborn is one of my quirks and so deciding to just get over it and ask for some additional help and admit that I can't do it mostly on my own is a pretty big deal for me. I'm really proud of myself for that. And I'm really looking forward to seeing what develops as a result of this.
Welcome to working with Abre! She really knows her stuff. She's the best. May your practice go well!
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Steph, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Thanks, Sam!! I hope your practice is going well. I saw that you're not formally working with her but she's still giving you guidance here and there. How's that going?
Sam Gentile, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Steph:
Thanks, Sam!! I hope your practice is going well. I saw that you're not formally working with her but she's still giving you guidance here and there. How's that going?

The only reason I am not formally working with her is financial reasons. She does give me help. To be truthful, its not working so well because I need the steady formal support. 
Sam Gentile, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 1059 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Steph - Thanks again. I found Lama Lena's You Tube videos on Beginning Dzogchen:

Beginner Dzogchen - Lama Lena in the Caves of Tso Pema - Bing video
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Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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A Dzogchen biology lesson!

"That which is alive has Buddha Nature." If only we had a Buddha Nature detecting device to give the scientists.

emoticon
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
It sounds like you have something interesting going on there with that presence. It gets so subtle at that level, and words get so vague. How does anyone get enough info from a word like presence to know that it's a defense mechanism? It seems to resonate with you, though, and I trust Lama Lena's intuition, so I'm very interested in following how this develops. 
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Steph S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Yea it was weird how she knew what I was talking about because the main identifying characteristic I told her about it was that it has this feeling of familiarity to it. I have no idea if anyone else in the world who reads this log knows the feeling I'm talking about. 

Also more in response to Chris - I don't even know that I want to try to pinpoint it to a specific location because I feel like that's the opposite of my aim. It seems like it would be an attempt to solidify it when I know it's not something solid. I think that goes along with what LL was saying about conceptualizing things too - making it into a big deal - like when I fell into the trap of being all obsesso about trying to find the observer - and so attaching to it further. I figure just treating it like any other no big deal sensation that I don't get hung up on might be the way to go.
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Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Also more in response to Chris - I don't even know that I want to try to pinpoint it to a specific location because I feel like that's the opposite of my aim. It seems like it would be an attempt to solidify it when I know it's not something solid. I think that goes along with what LL was saying about conceptualizing things too - making it into a big deal - like when I fell into the trap of being all obsesso about trying to find the observer - and so attaching to it further. I figure just treating it like any other no big deal sensation that I don't get hung up on might be the way to go.

I was just asking for comparison purposes - not trying to get you to change anything at all. Keep doing whatever feels appropriate and right to you.

emoticon
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Steph S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Cool, gotcha. Thanks as always for your input. For comparison purposes - do you know the sensation/feeling I'm talking about? haha. I can't be the only person who has experienced this.
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Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 3875 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Sure, there are many sensations that I can associate with "me." Some seem more important to identity and ego than others, some seem pretty solid and easy to identify, some are wispy and not easy to pin down, some end up being almost invisible... until they aren't. At this point, I can't really identify with what you've described except to say that when things finally resolved for me the sensation that I had to focus on was in the center of my head, right behind my eyes. That same location seems to show up in several ways; when invoking nirodha, in some jhanas, and as the final, most critical place where "I" seemed to reside. It's a conceived of place in space because it can't be touched, seen, tasted, heard, or smelled.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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I used to have something show up that felt so extremely familiar without having any other qualities to it, like a super-strong dèjá vy without any referent. I wouldn't call it presence, exactly, but I remember that Shargrol once did as I was trying to describe it. I think that was my first glimpse of tawa, but only on the threshold. Trying to catch it turned it into something else. That thing was bugging me for more than a decade. I even gave it a name: "having the center inside myself". Maybe it was a defense mechanism for me too, preventing me from fully seeing tawa. For a while I really thought it was tawa, but it seems to be gone now (?) so it couldn't be. Tawa now presents without that nagging dèjá vy sensation. 
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Steph S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Yea for a while I also wondered if it was something like tawa too, but realized it wasn't. Did you do anything in particular that made it go away, or did it just go away on its own by practicing trekcho and stuff?
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
It just went away on its own when tawa started to present itself in a more centerless way. If it is gone. I haven't had the experience for a while now, but it could very well come back. For a while I used it to tune into, as it felt like a threshold, but it sort of faded away as it required too much effort to maintain it, if that makes any sense. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Deja vy? You mean like you see something which you then see again or is it more like you see it and then you get a strong sense that you have seen that before exactly as it is, eventhough you know you haven't? I've had these happen to me very often in early teen years. I would hear my mates say something and move in a certain way and I would have that deja vy feeling as if I've experienced that very same scene before. I would even tell them about it in excitement. This was never on drugs or intoxicated just every day normal stuff. 

Btw, what is tawa? 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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I meant it as a metaphor. It had some similarity with it but wasn't it. 

Tawa is the mind being aware of itself as the Dharmakaya nature. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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So there is a slight "ripple" of sorts there? A slight "echo"? Slight "slap delay"? Slight "phantom movement"? 

As in very close and yet can never be "it". Like the meeting of same sides of the magnet which can get close to each other but inevitabely push each other away softly. This "almost contacting" is pillow like soft but that's all there is to it. 

Something like that? emoticon 


Btw, you two are killing me with these Buddhist words emoticon I have to look up word Dhamakaya now ...
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Olivier, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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(Dear scandinavian friends : it's déjà-vu. :p)
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Olivier:
(Dear scandinavian friends : it's déjà-vu. :p)
Yeah I know emoticon all those confusing Pali words emoticon emoticon 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Papa Che Dusko:
So there is a slight "ripple" of sorts there? A slight "echo"? Slight "slap delay"? Slight "phantom movement"? 

As in very close and yet can never be "it". Like the meeting of same sides of the magnet which can get close to each other but inevitabely push each other away softly. This "almost contacting" is pillow like soft but that's all there is to it. 

Something like that? emoticon 


Btw, you two are killing me with these Buddhist words emoticon I have to look up word Dhamakaya now ...

I just meant that it had a very strong sense of familiarity that I couldn't make sense of and couldn't let go of.

Sorry about all the terminology, Papa Che! You've got to admit that it's a beautiful term, though - and yet it's just a concept for the purpose of communicating something that can't really be communicated. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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I'm so glad you liked it! 
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Pepe, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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Shouldn't he be named Rang Grol by now? emoticon 
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Olivier, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 731 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Or perhaps even phan med gnod med du grol ba...
Although that would be harder to say.......
emoticon 
Tim Farrington, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Steph S:
I started meditating again a little over the weekend and today. Nothing particularly interesting or new to report yet. In the break that I took for a few weeks, it was nice relax, but there were some times I missed meditating. I'm at a point in my practice where it's just really fun to meditate and it doesn't seem like a chore or obligation. During my mini-break I also spent alot of time on morality stuff - mostly in the realm of activism/social justice. 

I haven't had any more experiences like I had for those 3 days when I thought it was probably an extended non-dual experience, and have gone back to my normal baseline, which is a bit different from how awesome that was. Not that normal sucks because it's actually still really good, but ya know.

and the quality of your life off the zafu?

love, tim
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Brandon Dayton, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
The frustration, the visceral feelings of UGGGHHH, the confusion, the pure frustration. Look at those. Everybody wants to avoid looking at suffering, but that's exactly what this is all about. Follow these relentlessly, like a hound dog. Look at them over and over and over again. Getting to this level of frustration is good. Keep looking at the deepest most visceral feelings of suffering... the ones that you want to back away from.
Been trying to run that stuff down, but it's so slippery. I guess that's the point. You try and look at it, and it's already gone. And then there is the meta-unease of having just seen something you didn't like and wondering if and when it'll pop up again.

I've also been noticing those "tracking" sensations, but I haven't had a name for it. It's good to have words for all the weird subtle stuff your mind does! 
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Steph, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
I hope one day I get the chronological view back because the reply directly above this says it's from 8 months ago and the ones from last week are somewhere in the middle of this whole thread. haha

Practice continues to go well and the Mahayana vipassana jhana practice is really working for me right now. I don't have any particularly new insights from the past week or so, just a deepening of some of the aspects of emptiness. I've practiced jhana and vipassana jhana for many years, but I really like this new take on it that Abre has taught me. Last night we did another guided meditation where she took me up the jhanas into boundless space. For this week she wants me to just focus on rising up to boundless space and also focus in daily life on when the self arises and how it arises. 

This is getting ahead of myself for what she wants me to practice this week, but I gather she'll take me up to 8th. I'm hoping she'll teach me some techniques for willing fruitions to happen because I've never been that good at that. They seem to happen more sporadically and more often that not, off the cushion. Although the other day I did have a pretty clear fruition while meditating and that was fun. I feel like I typically enter the impermanence door because I'll usually see 3 very quick pulsing white lights instantaneously one after the other, then come out of it with that distinct feeling that all is right in the world, synced up, cool bliss. This time I had some really dreamy violet washes of color. Sometimes there's a very cool blooming blissful sensation that rises upwards in the head.. metaphorically it feels like one of those time lapse videos of a flower's petals slowly opening up and blooming upward.
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Chris Marti, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 3875 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
I hate to say this but I think it's going to take a while to get this board's interface back to a semblance of where it was before the upgrade.  I find it almost unusable, so I'm thinking of taking a break from DhO until most of these conversion related issues are fixed. It's just difficult to use right now.

YMMV, of course.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 1724 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Same here! Can't make sense of the forum as is right now. Even getting to the last message is hard in some longer threads as you must load more messages and there is no indicator as how many more will there be  .... emoticon 

I guess see ya later aligator! emoticon 

​​​​​​​(hope stuff gets fixed soon)
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Steph, modified 3 Days ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
I've continued to work with Abre. I think it's been about 4 months now, and it's been massively helpful. Not that long ago we were having a good conversation about not-self, and she described it in a way that really totally clicked for me. I gather people have explained it this way to me before, but when she said, I was like, "Ohhhhhhhh. Got it." In the ultimate sense, she said, the Buddha never answered the question of whether or not there is a self. And that was on purpose. He didn't want people to bark up that tree. In the relative sense, all the sensations/phenomena we experience with our own mindbody are not a self, though. Again, that was the one-two punch I needed to knock something out. I'd say at this point, the question of whether or not there is a self in some ultimate sense... and integrating with the fact that I already basically knew that no particular/individual sensation/phenomena were a self, has for the most part been resolved... as in, I don't feel the need to ask the question. The nagging to have that question answered, that I obsessed over for a VERY long time seems to have lifted. It's so damn freeing. I'm saying "seems" because I deliberately don't want to make statements saying some tendency is entirely gone, nor about finality or absolutes - there's always something to be learned. Next week I have a week off work and I'm going to use alot of it for practice, so that should be fun.

I also have an idea. I want to do some sort of digital animation that shows what various aspects of experience related to and as a result of meditation are like. I'm a visual person. I always want to see what something looks like, even if it's metaphorical. I also happen to be a designer. Could be a cool way to combine a couple of my interests. One of my ideas is to show how our labeling/conceptualizing of beginnings, endings, arisings, and passings of phenomena are, in an ultimate sense, false. How cause & effect doesn't actually hold up under a microscope. I have ideas for how I want to visualize this, but it might take a bit of time before I finish it.


edited for formatting. i found the edit option. it doesn't show 3 dots anywhere on my reply... but i clicked on the blank space to the right of the flag icon and a dropdown menu came up. maybe the 3 dots gets hidden for some reason for some people.
Sam Gentile, modified 3 Days ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 1059 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Hey Steph,

I just wanted to say how glad I am that its working out great with Abre for you too. She really knnows her stuff. Also thanks for your support on the SE topic. May your practice flourish!
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Steph, modified 3 Days ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Where's the edit feature for your own replies? I can't seem to find it, and there's some formatting issues I want to fix above...  where the breaks didn't come thru cuz I copied & pasted my reply from another program.
shargrol, modified 3 Days ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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I think you click on the three dots at the top of your posts and there should be an edit option.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Days ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

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This forum is fucked emoticon but I would love to see that animation you are working on emoticon 
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Steph, modified 3 Days ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
sweet.. i'll let you know when i have something. then i'll probably upload it to youtube or something. i haven't even started on this yet. i might storyboard it out first with pencil & paper.
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Steph, modified 3 Days ago.

RE: Steph's Practice Log - #2

Posts: 661 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
In the meantime, here's some visual candy to reflect upon. My all-time favorite painting: "A Bigger Splash" by David Hockney (1967. Acrylic on Canvas. 95"x95")

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