RE: Stefan's Log

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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
If you want to know where I'm coming from, I've written out a pretty detailed summary of my journey so far

This will be a weekly practice log. I won't do it daily, for a few reasons:
  • I'm generally a very big-picture thinker, minute details are only relevant when they are relevant. 
  • Most progress happens for me on a weekly time scale.
  • I "measure" progress by insights, changes in perception, changes in perspective, and not by cool experiences, unless there's something insightful and/or perspective altering about the cool experience in and of itself.
I'm going to keep the weekly log fairly direct. I will discuss themes of inquiry. And I will discuss general emergent themes of the week, along with insights. 

My general motto is to keep meditation as simple as possible. I also have a personal motto of "lean into the chaos". 

Lastly, I want to say thanks for reading, and I genuinely hope this log may be of benefit to anyone that reads it. 
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Week Log. This is a general "catch-up" log, so that people who have read the "my path so far" can bridge that into what has been happening lately. Also for narrative continuity. 

I finished the Goenka retreat on the 7th of March. By the 11th of March, my meditation practice had become very slow and not fast. My general tendency was to have a default setting of "noting". However, the mind seemed to want to engage in expanded awareness, which I resisted for noting practices. However, it was difficult to fight the inclination where awareness naturally sat and pervaded throughout the entire field of experience. It was at this time I had a wonderful synchronicity of encountering Shargrol's collected posts, who advocates for more open awareness-type practices. I have leaned into this type of practice heavily. 

The next 10 or so days after the 11th was me fine-tuning this approach, feeling it out, and making it work. It was relatively easy because the mind was already inclining towards this mode of viewing. Distractions came in a little easier because the awareness was so diffuse. This was a triviality in comparison to the deep insights I was already seeming to generate at this depth. In this time I've been meditating 70 minutes per sit, a minimum of 2 sits per day, but averaging roughly 3.5. 

First things noticed:
  1. Awareness naturally "sits" on the sensation. Hearing, sight, and feeling are all part of a broad field. 
  2. Everything naturally arises as one giant dance. 
  3. The initial model of observer-observed was that of a piece of string, with one side lifting the other. 
After a few days, more depth ensued, and new insights came. 
  1. Awareness IS the thing being seen/heard/felt. They are the awareness.
  2. The awareness being distinct from sensation is a fallacy of the mind, which incorrectly partitions things. 
  3. Mental phenomena are slightly harder to integrate into the field of awareness. In fact, if there is mental phenomena, its harder to keep other phenomena awareness going. Some other times, it just happens naturally. It is a pure dualistic split the mind is manufacturing. But, the seams are already cracking at the edges. 
  4. Thoughts of future, ideation, or past, completely override all awareness of present/body mind. 
A few more days passed:
  1. Awareness of thoughts/feelings/sight/sound is integrated into a general amorphous field of awareness. Very difficult to find a non-fuzzy way to describe it. Just a big field of fuzz dancing. 
  2. The "self" is a kind of awareness by-product of assuming sensations are not imbued with awareness themselves.
  3. Thoughts of future, ideation, or past, completely override all awareness of present body-mind still. But there is something about time here that I'm missing. I think it may be the fact that awareness is itself time-bound, when thoughts of the future or past arise, they completely subsume or hijack awareness from the present to construct a time-bound awareness that may or may not have thought/feeling/sight/sound imbued with it. 
  4. The internal "talking voice". Who hears that? Oh right. It hears itself. It's kinda superfluous. Kind of the adult version of sucking your thumb, the unacknowledged ouroboros emoticon we just seek completion everywhere we are. Haha
The last week:
  1. Time is a really funny thing. We think we're in the present moment. But there is always very subtle craving or aversion. Why is this? I'm trying to see if I can gently incline the mind to be on the very cutting edge of the present moment. It's definitely a difficult thing to do. But when I do, it's a very sleepy feeling. 
  2. The illusory center point of awareness is fading. It knows itself to be an illusion right now. Whenever the feeling of a self arises within a sensation or without a sensation, I can basically spread or diffuse awareness to find the source. It's like having the Myer-Lyer illusion right in front of you; you know both lines are the same length, and anytime we're feeling convinced they're not, we just bring the lines closer together, or get our ruler to reveal the truth. Lots of ruler-getting lately. I can walk around, feeling centre-less, and I can do a lot of tasks with a kind of subtle awareness of unfolding and non-interference from this illusion of self. Things kinda just happen? Sensations have kind of like "programming" within them themselves that then unpacks a pre-planned/ingrained script that just happens.
  3. Sensations are kinda like crowns. They are hollow in the middle. No individual sensation of pain is painful. The sensations that make up self, likewise, don't have self in them. The crown assumes because it's hollow, it fits on a head. The mind extrapolates a use for the space in sensations by assuming a reference point (my pain). But it's all just relational interaction. 
Emotionally, things are kinda just fine. There's some happiness, some anticipation, some planning, etc. it's all kinda chill. The mind is pretty much past taking emotions very personally any more. It's more about unravelling the tornado of thoughts, along with the alleged "center". emoticon

Ok, this is about it so far. Hopefully, this is broad-strokes enough. 
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1775 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Hi Stefan, welcome on board :-)

Impressive journey you've had so far! Just some ideas you could play with ...

​​​​​​​The craving you feel relating to time might be because you feel that you need to make an effort to be in the present moment all the time! The logical way out of this trap is just to accept that thoughts of the present and past are only words and images arising in the present moment, so by definition you are always in the present moment, even when you think you are not! To convince yourself that this really is the case, just take some simple thoughts of past/future and see how they are made up of words/images in the present. Once you do that enough then you start to trust that this process is always happening, even for more complicated thoughts when you are not consciously aware of the process, so you stop worrying about it! It's a bit like once you've learned to ride a bicycle then you stop worrying about your balance all the time, although you can check it any time you feel unstable.

You could look at the center point in the same way. What's worse - the stress of wanting/expecting to be permanently free of the center point, or the stress of accepting that the appearance of the center point waxes and wanes depending on conditions?!

Experiences like "being on the cutting edge of the present moment" or "feeling centress" are really just states, and there's an intimate relationship between time, states, impermanence and dukkha. The only way you know that time is passing is because states are always changing! A lot of the subtle dukkha is caused by clinging to meditation states themselves - expectations of future states, nostalgia for past states, or trying to maintain or improve or get rid of the current state.

This all gets tied up in the personal story of the meditation journey - from crude starting states through to today's more refined states and on to ... an ultimate end state? Or not? What's worse - craving for an ultimate state, or accepting that all states are impermanent?! It's not that states don't matter at all, it's just the craving that's the problem. 

The other interesting consequence of accepting that you are always in the present moment, even when you think you are not, is that it's always been this way your whole life! That long procession of experiences in your memory bank, driven by the craving for better states ... where is it actually going? This is the idea of coming full circle ... :-)

Cheers
​​​​​​​George

PS: a lot of influences of shargrol in the above obviously! Probably I should have waited for him to reply, but I couldn't resist it XD
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
George S Hi Stefan, welcome on board :-)


​​​​​​​Thank you, friend! Your advice and wisdom is very valuable.  "Cutting edge of time" is a pretty awkward phrase, sorry, I have my own words for things and I guess this one would be more understandable. More like, the basically stupid idea of "this moment" which is indivisible, has no start point nor an end point. So being on the cutting edge of time is kinda just realising the moment. Hard to explain. I visualise it by seeing a clock ticking away at time, and then slowing down time so that a second lasts infinity, but then a half second lasts infinity, then a quarter second lasts infinity, and so on, etc.. there's just no end. It's actually related to a mathematical paradox whose name I forget, but basically states that the possible list of numbers between 1 and 2 is the same as between 1 and 1.1. Why? Because you can have infinite numbers between each with no end at all; despite the fact that we'd say that 2 should have more numbers between it and 1 than 1.1. Basically, it's very hard to reconcile that problem without imposing artificial restrictions to begin with, which is kinda the emptiness (perspectives) problem rearing its head up in something quite objective (math).  Right now, the way I see meditation is more like this: I'm being meditated. I tune in, and the mind kinda works out things on its own. The factors involved nudge things in certain ways, and there's a balacing phenomenon going on. So most insights are just disposable steps on a ladder to somewhere, or nowhere, IDK. My past experiences tell me that the grand equation of this whole thing is something like this: ​​​​​​​"is = is" emoticon 
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1775 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Sounds good. The only real metric any of us have is our relative level of craving-dissatisfaction, that plus any issues in our relationships and work etc. In my experience, it gets more subtle and hard to detect, but also more pervasive and sneaky ;-)
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Pepe, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 381 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Great reports Stefan, welcome to DhO!

George S
​​​​​​​The craving you feel relating to time might be because you feel that you need to make an effort to be in the present moment all the time! The logical way out of this trap is just to accept that thoughts of the present and past are only words and images arising in the present moment, so by definition you are always in the present moment, even when you think you are not!
...
You could look at the center point in the same way. What's worse - the stress of wanting/expecting to be permanently free of the center point, or the stress of accepting that the appearance of the center point waxes and wanes depending on conditions?!

Experiences like "being on the cutting edge of the present moment" or "feeling centress" are really just states, and there's an intimate relationship between time, states, impermanence and dukkha. The only way you know that time is passing is because states are always changing! A lot of the subtle dukkha is caused by clinging to meditation states themselves - expectations of future states, nostalgia for past states, or trying to maintain or improve or get rid of the current state.

This all gets tied up in the personal story of the meditation journey - from crude starting states through to today's more refined states and on to ... an ultimate end state? Or not? What's worse - craving for an ultimate state, or accepting that all states are impermanent?! It's not that states don't matter at all, it's just the craving that's the problem.   

Funny, yesterday I was kind of trying to articulate these insights. Thanks George, so good!
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
The mind is feeling very expansive, very open, very encompassing. There's a big shift going on.  Some things I've noticed. 
  • All sensations are empty, awareness is empty, but the emptiness itself is empty too. 
  • What does this mean? This means that each sensation has a kind of self-knowing, self-sustaining, and self-relating aspect to it. Think of a tesseract: self-emergence. As awareness encompasses all these things, it too is self-knowing, self-sustaining, and self-relating. In other words, seeing is seeing. Hearing is hearing. The feeling is feeling. The awareness and sensation are kind of melded, flowing through one another. 
  • E.g. hearing sounds, the sounds themselves are made up of tiny vibrations, not of the sound itself. They are collected and fabricated together to make a sound. But the formation gives awareness to the vibrations themselves; they are co-dependent (micro=vibrations, macro=sound). The awareness itself depends on sound to arise there and vice versa. 
  • However, there's an illusion here that remains. There are no things, only relationships. The mind assumes an end or start point because of this. It even assumes because there are relationships, there are things on either side. This cannot be true. Because the relationship arises, assuming one or another is a thing is an illusion. Our minds constantly place a limitation on what they see in order to make sense of things. This naturally assumes a centre point for perceiving and a thing being perceived. But there is no thing perceiving; there is no thing being perceived. There is only perception, that is, the relationship.
  • Only relationships means there is no ground, no reference point. All starting and ending points are assumptions.
  • How do I see this? Each sensation is kind of like a sleeve. Our mind thinks it's like an arm, wanting to complete itself by putting itself in the sleeve that it thinks it observes. This is Dukkha, the tension, the stress, existential dread, etc.. because it just can't seem to fit in the sleeve properly.
  • But whatever the mind is; it's a sleeve itself. And it's all tangled, trying to put itself through itself (because it's assumed it's an arm). It assumes because there are gaps, they need filling, and it's the one to fill it. 
  • Now it's beginning to untangle by seeing the simplicity of relationships. There's no stability. Stability is an assumption. 
  • This is a super convoluted analogy/metaphor. I'm sorry for putting us through this. I'm still working out how to word it more elegantly; I know there's no real way to actually express it comprehensively with words. 
  • PS: I realise that conceiving of "relationships" is itself empty and an assumption. It is another relationship too. However, it's the best thing I can think of. The relationship is the gap itself, where the mind is filling in blanks on either side [X]<---->[X] instead of [_]<----->[_].
  • Yikes, this is a lot of words to say that it's all a type of Gordian-knot-illusion. 
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1562 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Nice, yeah "worldviews" aren't necessarily true. They are more like tautologies - they seem real because they fit reality, but they frame reality to make it fit, so they are tautologies. Each moment is basically a hypothesis at best (and needlessly self-protecting delusion at worst). Formations are even more direct gestalt kind of interpretations. Direct and with basically no narrative layer. 

The last little tension is "the gap" between the observer and formations for visual material and between the hearer and thoughts for auditory material. Hope this gives a little hint of things to be curious about.   

  
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Thank you for the wise and kind words, it's definitely giving me confidence here. At the moment, I can see all the pieces of the puzzle kinda coming together. Actually a chat I had with another chap here definitely helped clarify the thoughts. I think analytical meditation definitely helps me; it might be because I'm an intuitive type, as concepts nicely filter into subconscious processing from rational contemplation.
​​​​​​​
Each moment is basically a hypothesis at best
This is so money.

"The gap" ugh. Yeah, I can sense it. I'm trying to really hone it. It's kinda hard to see stably and for very long. But when I do, this is how it appears/feels/thinks:
  • The notion that "reality" is "out there" and "I'm" "in here" is fundamentally flawed
  • This mind/this body is part of reality, which abides by the 3Cs
  • There is a feeling of being out on a misty dusk/or early morning, and you can see headlights up ahead. And through the mist, the headlights kinda disperse into the mist, so you can roughly see where it's coming from and where it is.
  • The mind thinks it's on the other end of the mist, observing the headlight
  • Turns out the mind is really part of the mist, through which the headlight is being dispersed/refracted through
  • The tension is the fundamental uneasiness of simultaneously being inseparable from reality, although not truly one with it.
  • So the mind is caught between "coupling" and "de-coupling" (Dukkha)
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
The last week has been a wild ride. Open awareness is just so freeing. It now seems so natural, so life-affirming, so pleasantly... home? It's a very childlike and honest way of meditating. It's like "wait, I was already living like this, but didn't take the time to realise it or appreciate it!" Obviously, I have tonnes more work to do, but it's been the juice for me.

Realising how awareness melds into and melds out of the perceptions with which it co-arises. It's kinda like that Mitch Hedberg bit: "my belt keeps my pants from falling, but the belt loops on my pants keep the belt from falling... I don't know which one is the real hero." emoticon Our minds are constantly looking for that very hero. 

I've noticed a few things:
  • Mind is like a dog chasing its tail. First, it convinces itself that it's a dog. Next, it convinces itself there's a problem. Finally, it says catching the tail is the only solution to the self-imposed problem. It's constantly just fluxing between problem and solution, never happy with either. 
  • At rest, it is just being itself. Inseparable from reality, but not truly one with it. Resting the mind is seeing its true nature. The expansive, pervasive, and self-knowing awareness that just frees up things when it's touched by this awareness. 
  • My dreams have been very... odd lately. My sense of self has changed in dreams. I'll elaborate when I have more data. But right now, there's like this pulsating/fluxing energy field where my body/awareness/mind should be. Most of my dreams are in this non-stop transition between 1st and 3rd person. Dreams feel very disconnected and not "mine". Never happened to me before. And while I'm not a lucid dreamer, I do remember them well and have studied enough Jung to know my dreamworld quite thoroughly. 
  • A bit of impatience in wanting everything to synchronise together, it's so close, I can feel it. I can feel the mind wanting to peter out and just burn up its fuel. It's no biggie, but just an interesting note in how the mind paints itself into a corner like that, then just like that, zip... it's out of the corner in a whole new room with a different colour of paint. New problem, new solutions, etc. emoticon Naughty mind!
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
My first 3 (75min) sits today were rubbish!!! Pure and total chaos, confusion, and anger. 
  • reality felt really heavy, burdensome, open awareness just felt like I was carrying a stone
  • it was hard to see no-self in the whole thing
  • it was hard to keep any sort of footing
  • so many distractions
  • it was like the mind was there trying to further expand the periphery, crunch what was still here, and find the faults in every single thing
  • that being said, it was somewhat amusing, a little annoying, and quite frustrating. I just kept going through it. When it's tough = meditate more. When it's easy = meditate more. 
My last (75min) sit was pretty okay.
  • awareness became a little shaper
  • I could see the start, middle, and end of things in the field
  • I could watch the mind literally lifting itself up by the bootstraps. The dog chasing its tail. The self-imposed system trying to solve itself. 
  • no-self was easier to see, and as I sat watching the empty fluxing field, I peered into the abyss. Not going to lie, it was very spooky. Chilling. I wanted to fall in, but something stopped it from happening...?
  • The body/mind felt completely empty, not flat, not shapeless. Like beyond a 3D conception of what flat and hollow would mean. Like a circle collapsing in on itself, and then re-emerging on the other side re-forming into a circle. 
Fun times ahead!
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Everything just seems so confusing lately. Like, it's just so close, yet so far. Every time everything gets nice and still, the mind is rested, and the awareness is open, something just peeks out of the corner and just throws a brick into it. 

Every time there's a sense of a deep appreciation for the inner workings of the mind, seeing it bootstrap itself, seeing it generate thought, etc. something just comes out and just ruins it. 

Feelings of annoyance. Frustration. Amusement. A general bothersome texture, like "how on Earth did I end up with a mind!? It's so revoltingly calamitous and clumsy... It can't even apprehend its own liberation"

Overall, it feels like there's some massive blind spot in the mind and as soon as it's found, it sends out a distraction squad and then makes a hasty getaway. 

I think I'm getting to the point where I've gone as far as I possibly can go by myself, and need a teacher. Any volunteers? emoticon Or does anyone know a teacher? 

I will investigate the matter further and see how things progress in the next few days. 
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1562 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
I'm not sure a teacher would help, honestly. Teachers are helpful when some aspect of practicing is misunderstood... but you have a good practice going. Teachers are simply not helpful when it comes to making the insight happen.

In fact, a good teacher will simply say: Continue to practice, continue to be curious about "what is mind?", and investigate the nature of unsatisfactoriness/ill will/lacking/dukka. Trust the natural intelligence of you mind. It got you this far, and you could have never "figured out" or been "taught" how to get here. It will get you to SE if you keep consistent practice going. If a meditation experience doesn't seem like "the right answer", investigate why it seems lacking. Chances are there is something going on with judgement, striving, ambition, egotism, pride, clinging that you are not seeing clearly. Experience itself is simply vivid and fleeting. Every situation that seems like it contains dukka, when seen clearly, merely contains useful information. Observe sensations as sensations, urges as urges, emotions as emotions, thoughts and thoughts. Notice how sensations are felt, urges are motivation, emotions are like a mix of sensations and simple thoughts, and thoughts are actually airy sounds that simply appear and disappear. Nothing in experience "hits" any other experience. How could there actually be dukka? Let the mind find the absence of dukka. Where is it?
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Thank you for the wise words, Shargrol. I'll never stop persisting ahahah that's out of the question. I just read a few chapters of Wake Up To Your Life, and the first thing he mentions is a teacher, and I felt like it was perhaps synchronicity... But if you say my practice is looking good based on the logs, I trust you. I won't lie, your collected posts have been somewhat of a surrogate teacher for me. emoticon

I guess I'd become habituated to having a good grasp on things, feeling like I was over a hill, cruising to the finish line. Also, there's some background annoyance that I can't even seem to accurately map myself onto the MCTB POI to even know where I am (confused about the confusion I guess). But those concerns are mostly off the cushion and don't show up in practice. 

The general feeling of the whole thing is "so close yet so far". I'm 95% certain I've had 3-4 "near misses" in the past day. Today I came the closest when I comprehended the co-arising empty nature of awareness and perception, the non-ground luminosity that pervades between and within them. And just as the mind began to realise it, I felt a surge of "this is it" and then fright and something literally "scared" the mind out of it. The feeling of having a finger on the trigger, aim in sight, but just not pulling. Naughty mind!
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1775 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Just a guess here, but "going public" with your practice can also have an effect. It certainly did for me. It's natural to put your best foot forward and summarize where you think you've got to, which can have the effect of temporarily suppressing any hindrances which you would otherwise have been working on (doubts, goals, pride etc.) It also seems to be common at a certain point to get confused/frustrated about mapping, as well as becoming harder to separate off cushion concerns from formal practice. This might be more a reflection of my practice though, so please ignore if it's not helpful.
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1562 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Stefan, near misses are good. Confusion is even better -- it means that you are confronting new material and new limits that are slightly beyond your current abilities. That's the only way progress happens. There is a Dzogchen book called "Confusion dawns as Wisdom" but, in terms of practice itself, wisdom first dawns as a state of confusion. emoticon

It can be helpful to understand that no one has ever known how to make SE happen, no one has ever known when SE was going to happen, and no one knows that SE has happened until after it's over. So basically any drama that comes up around SE is the little neurotic self trying to have control over something it doesn't have control over. If you are smart you will realize that now is a great opportunity to learn all about this little neurotic self so that it can't trick you into more drama in your life and practice. Welcome the confusion and frustration and put the spotlight of awareness on it. Let it do it's drama as entertainment for you, like putting it on a theater stage. Put the spotlight on the sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts that seem to arise out of confused sense of "being someone in control" of what happens during meditation. 
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1775 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I thought Stefan's previous "poof" and "zip" experiences sounded like cessations, but maybe I'm wrong ...
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1562 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Hmm, I see what you are saying. They do... and the plot thickens!

​​​​​​​Stefan, what do you think? Working toward SE or working toward 2nd path?
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
George, I think you're spot on regarding the public work, definitely sharpens a lot of things. And also puts some unconscious energy to work in the background to process experiences a little quicker.

Regarding where I am at... The only real thing that makes me unsure where I am is the fact that I had no "rapid cycling" post-experiences like what Ingram explained. I did have more cessation-like experiences after the first, but definitely not rapid (actually he never defines rapid so I'm not sure). And I didn't notice myself going from A&P to EQ in daily life while just doing things. But then again, after those experiences my stress levels dramatically dropped without any conscious effort on my part and everything felt way easier. Plus I was focused on study at the time. And the dark night I experienced before those experiences was pretty not fun and possibly traumatic if it weren't for the benefits the meditation provided, so everything after them in comparison have been relatively smooth and pleasant just by default lol

I can go into more detail about the phenomenology of everything before and after the experiences. I did have some mind-blanking-zip experiences after the first big one. But they were much coarser and didn't feel as smooth or as much of a mental reset as the first one. I basically have had 5 really good smooth mental blanks and about 4 dozen course blanks. The good smooth ones involved no real warning sign or lead up, just like being gently tipped over the edge; the mental blank feels like it's about 1 second or so in duration. The course ones had a lot of eyelid twitching, the eye rolls upward/back and at the top of the eye roll the breath goes away and there's a quarter/half second of blankness. 

After every single smooth mental blank events, the mind feels fresh, awake, like it's downloaded new software. Insights previously touched on become integrated or congealed into a single statement. Lots of mental clarity. Most of them involve wanting to laugh, wanting to hug someone, gratefulness, and appreciation for life. I can also remember most of what happened before and after them very clearly, they feel significant in memory.

The course mental blank events feel kinda meh, they're good but just like, "oh here we go" and they lost their pizazz after the first 2-3. Sometimes the course mental blanks happen when I'm just doing things. I remember having one during a space documentary and I contemplated the co-dependent arising or gravity and matter, thinking about how both arise. I had to pause the documentary and rest my mind for a minute to concentrate and then as I did I just felt my eyes shaking and "oh right yeah this is happening I guess".

So, this is the data I'm working with. Ingram says 99% of SE claims is just A&P. And I've heard noone else say otherwise.

Apparently 2nd path is meant to be straightforward. The last few days have felt anything but straightforward, despite feeling so close. 

I won't lie, I'm not really one to make bold claims about myself.
What do the data say here? 
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1562 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Well, first off, 2nd path is a mess. It isn't straightforward at all, mostly because jhanas come online in a much more powerful way and the body rewires itself. Most people report confusion and a difficulty mapping.

After your first round of blanks, how did your ability to go into jhana change or stay the same?
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Oh... Oh ok. I didn't know that. Ingram explained it as being pretty straightforward. Good to know.

As for Jhanas... I've never really practised them a lot. The only instructions I've gotten are from the book "Wisdom Wide and Deep" and the book wasn't very helpful in explaining things to me in a way I can understand, it came across as more of a textbook. That being said, I thought I had some Jhana experiences before the mental blank, but after the mental blank I definitely did (I think lmao), although mapping them, I can't definitively say "I got to # Jhana no problems" just because the phenomenology of them doesn't line up with the one source I have on Jhana practice. Basically, before the mind blank, I thought Jhanas were like a 10. Then I had the mind blank and it turns out it was a 10, but 10 out of 100... if that makes sense? But I can't verify that I even had Jhana in the first place because I haven't read any good descriptions that correspond to what I experience when in deep concentration states. 

I can get pretty deep absorption concentration, but I don't really recognise piti in the way it's mostly explained. As I recall, it's mostly described as a very gross bodily sensation, mostly felt on the outside of the body; as I recall, kind of like a shimmering feeling across the skin. For me, I think the piti I experience is like a cooling soothing feeling, like a minty freshness throughout my entire windpipe, and it kind of radiates a smooth cooling refreshing energy from the inside-out. When I get deep, there's just stillness. And there's no attention or effort required at all. I don't really recall any transitions between getting concentration, and then dipping into the cool windpipe feeling. It just happens in a space of 2-5mins. After I hit that there's just stillness; I'd love to describe it as being more than what it is, but that's all it is. Just really still and empty. Eventually, the mind "expands" and the object of meditation is simultaneously in the foreground and background of meditation. Overall, it's very pleasant, and when I leave the experience, I feel both refreshed and energised afterwards. The times I've done Jhana practice actively (maybe a half dozen times), getting the cool windpipe sensation takes about 2-5mins. The stillness takes another 5-10mins on top of that. And the mind expansion feeling maybe another 15-30mins after that. Prior to the mental blank, I'd only ever gotten to the mind stillness stage a few times and with great effort, and never past it (to the mind expansion stage). Sorry, my phenomenological descriptions are a bit of a mess. 

One thing about the cool windpipe feeling is that it comes around whenever I get concentrated on anything nowadays, be the breath, study, a book, etc.. However, to get it to radiate, I need to concentrate deeper, and with less dynamism, so with reading and study, it doesn't radiate as much. I'm getting it now, just writing this and wanting to pick good words. Does this correspond to a light piti? It may just be I'm not wired the same as others, or I've never gotten a harder piti (assuming I am in the first place)?

That's the best I can describe what Jhanas I've gotten (if I have at all). I haven't practised them much at all. Sorry, I can't be more helpful than that. Honestly, a lot of my phenomenology doesn't seem to correlate to what I read around the place. Like, descriptions of the 1st Jhana and piti don't resonate with me at all. 
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1562 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Cool and minty is fairly classic third jhana. That feeling is described as bliss, rather than piti. Piti is the more crude and rapturous feeling of pleasure, bliss is the cool, breezy, numbing feeling. Stillness is classically 4th. Expansion could be a deeper 4th or the beginings of 5th (boundless space). 

Would you consider doing an experiment and simply try to cultivate each jhana using these simple instructions/guidance?: http://www.leighb.com/jhana2do.htm

Or maybe follow along with this one?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRdiOoTZC3A 

p.s. the work toward 2nd path is straightforward (which is why the pointers I gave above would work for 1st or 2nd path when someone is teetering in High EQ at times)... but the _experience_ of working toward 2nd path is often much more confusing because the nanas are often experienced more as vipassina jhanas, less like the more gross nanas, which makes the mapping harder. There is a lot more jhana-ish aspects to 2nd path for most people. 
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

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Oh ok, thank you so much for clearing it up, really, Jhanas have been SO confusing for me. I've been reading about cultivating 1st Jhana and not having any experiences that lined up with it at all, and so I kinda put it on the back burner because I figured I wasn't doing it right, or that something was wrong with my practice. So I figured I'd leave practising it until after SE. Plus, I only learned about the Jhanas when I was already decently deep into the insight stuff, and (after a few seeming failures) figured I'd do it after consolidating the gains and working from a position of strength (as I read Jhanas become far more natural and easier to cultivate after SE). Thank you so much for answering a question that has been bugging me from the sidelines for a while. 

Yeah for sure, I'll do the experiment. I've definitely had multiple experiences in the past where my mind felt like it was filling up my room to the brim, so that's encouraging.
I'll do the experiment tomorrow and report back; is there anything in particular that I should look out for?
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1562 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Nothing in particular. 

EDIT: Ugh, I just realized that "nothing" is a loaded word when talking about jhana, so this collequial expression could be misunderstood! emoticon What I'm trying to say is that "nope there isn't anything in particular to look for, just do the experiement and have fun."
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

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0. Follow breath until access concentration is established:
- yep, did this no dramas. about 2-3 mins in, I had the cool minty windpipe

1. Switch attention away from the breath to a pleasant physical sensation:
- focusing on the minty windpipe felt good, initially very pleasant, which then subdued into a cool radiant feeling in the body. like taking a drag of a cosmic vape. very smooth. 

2. Focus on the emotional joy/happiness that is accompanying the intense physical sensations of the 1st Jhana:
- No real intense physical sensations or intense emotional sensations. It's all very cool. Not a wow factor, more like a just chilling/vibing factor.

3. Turn down the intensity of the joy/happiness to contentment/satisfaction.
- this happened about 10mins in, where the cool windpipe feeling just felt right. nothing more, nothing less. 

4. Let go of the pleasure of the contentment/satisfaction and drop down to a quiet, still equanimity.
- eventually, it all chilled out into stillness and calmness. like putting your head underwater. lasted about 20mins

5. Sense the "boundaries of your being" and begin expanding them outwards:
- yep, this naturally occurred after being in 4 for a while. just subtle expansion, and then whoosh, it's all there. Due to insights gained from my insight practice, there was a parallel awareness that to be aware of this expanding space, awareness would have to be there. After feeling like I was aware of the entire world, the dualistic split "switched over" and awareness became the focal point. 

6. Realizing that it takes a boundless consciousness to be aware of a boundless space, switch your attention to your consciousness of the boundless space.
- see above. it happened very effortlessly, once I saw the cue for it open up. Just a matter of nudging the mind, "hey look at that"

7. Switch your attention from the boundless consciousness to the content of that consciousness - it will be a sense of no thing - no-thing at all anywhere.
- ok this one is harder to explain how it happened. Eventually, the mind kinda got bored being as big as the galaxy. And it collapsed on itself. If awareness is what makes space/volume presence known, then the awareness itself has a gap between itself and space - they naturally cannot be one.
​​​​​​​The collapse happened into this gap, of sorts. How do you see nothing? Well it's not nothing really, just a feeling of nothing. A gap, a kind of void between co-arising sensations. Lasted about a minute, it wasn't very pleasant, and it didn't take long to realise there was still something, technically, being seen, it's very tension-ish.


8. Let go of all the previous outward sensing and come to rest in a small spot more or less between the eyes and a few inches from your face. Focus on being in a state that has no characteristics.
- this one is even harder to explain. I noticed my eyes naturally shift from where they were to the middle, almost kinda cross-eyed. Then the gap of 7 is known deeper. Feels like the lead up to the mental blanks, but more "tuned in", a less "freeing" feeling; there's definitely something further than this, I can sense it... but not sure how to verbalise it, there's a nudge needed for another breakthrough (is there something past this Jhana or am I imagining it?). But feels VERY close to how the lead-up of the mental blanks happen. How does it feel phenomenologically? There's just floating? It's very hard to explain. Because "no characteristics" is still a characteristic. I'd say it's like being suspended in disbelief lol; a very big tangible drop in the "something-ness" to the gap or void. It's a paradoxical state, awareness is collapsed, the gap/void is collapsed, and you're just watching the collapsed ruins of them both, no form or structure in there. Lasted maybe 20-30 seconds? Mind dropped back into expanded consciousness/space after this and quickly contracted back to stillness. 

What does all this mean? These instructions were very good and simple, the cues are explained very well and were easy to memorise. I'm still a little confused why I don't get the sexy 1st and 2nd Jhana feelings of orgasmic full body ecstasy, and just cool windpipe cosmic vape. But oh well. Them's the breaks, I guess. 
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

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So I did Jhana this morning and the whole day I've had really nice smooth minty cosmic vape windpipe feeling. First session was straight after waking up 80mins. Second session around 2pm, 80mins again, and I didn't do any Jhana, just insight, and it felt so much better. Had a really nice smile on me the whole day. Third session was around 4:30pm 80mins, and even smoother meditation than the 2nd session. This concentration stuff, wow. Braisington's instructions hit the nail on the head. Smooth as. 
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1562 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Great, thanks for doing the experiment. Obviously I'm not in your head, but based on your descriptions it sounds like you have jhana abilities that are more typically associated with a post SE yogi. 

Your inability for 1st and 2nd is probably because those states are so crude. It's sort of like being with a lovely girlfriend and someone offering you pornography, Your reaction is going to be "what are you crazy? I'm enjoying being with my lovely girlfriend." emoticon The bliss of 3rd jhana is wonderful, so why not dwell there if you easily can?  (Note: third jhana also seems to be a natural place for people who have been classic "dark night yogis" --- at least that's my experience. I was a dark night yogi for decades, so third jhana feels like home to me in a way.)

The typical pragmatic dharma instructions for someone with these skills is to mostly focus on dwelling in jhana.  "Monks, secluded from sense pleasure... He steeps, drenches, fills and suffuses his body with the rapture and happiness born of seclusion, so that there is no part of his entire body that is not suffused with this rapture and happiness. Just as a skilled bath-attendant or his apprentice might strew bathing powder in a copper basin, sprinkle it again and again with water, and knead it together so that the mass of bathing soap would be pervaded, suffused, and saturated with moisture inside and out yet would not ooze moisture, so a monk steeps, drenches, fills and suffuses his body with the rapture and happiness born of seclusion, so that, there is no part of his entire body that is not suffused with this rapture and happiness born of seclusion. "

You'll find that the mind will natually soak in a jhana for a while, it will grow a bit stale, and the mind will either want to pop out or will want to go to the "next" jhana. By intending (gently) to keep going to the next jhana, you are "riding the jhanic arc" as described by Kenneth Folk.  This is a _very_ good practice for conditioning the mind so that it is willing to fall into nibbana.

http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com/2011/01/yogi-toolbox-riding-jhanic-arc-via.html

It might be you go up slowly during a sit, it might be that you go up and down during a sit, it might be that it goes up and down many times and each time climbes a bit higher during the sit, it might be that you dwell in one jhana for an entire sit --- all of these are good. The natural intelligence of the mind seems to know where to go, so just sort of play around and enjoy being taken on a ride. 

Mapping of second path can be challenging for people with strong jhana ability and the ability to have repeat fruitions from 1st path. Lots of near misses and "old fruitions" can occur, but these are different from the 2nd path. So the best advice to really give up on mapping and just focus on dwelling in jhana. The mind will still naturally vipassina-ize things, too, but there is no need to focus on vipassina at this stage. Soak in jhana, ride the jhanic arc.

Congrats! This is a fun time for practice. New skills, new adventure.

Hope this helps in some way. 
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Woah that makes sense... My first dark night was crazy, not super long (9-12 weeks total) but very intense. This feels like a massive weight off my shoulders; I thought I was doing Jhana wrong for so long now... I cannot thank you enough for all this help and guidance, it is truly invaluable. My only hope is that one day I can pay the favour forward and help another as you have me. 

This has helped me immensely. I'm really going to practice Jhana heaps more once I attain the next path no matter what. This has given me so much more confidence to proceed, and exciting new avenues to explore. The Jhanic arc article looks fantastic. I can't wait. OK, I'm just gonna keep chugging along. 

I honestly can't thank you enough. 
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Just some thoughts I've had:
  • "Self" is just a sensation in the giant fluxing pool of experience. 
  • What we take to be the self is just a protected set of these sensations. Protected by what? More and more sensations, I presume, that are interacting with awareness. Kinda like signs or symbols pointing like this:
  • =====[PROTECT THIS]====>>>[SELF]<<<====[PROTECT THIS]=====
  • But the sensations of self also want to protect the protection sensations. Mutually co-dependent. That's the real tangle we're in here. That's what the suffering is all about. This is why we're here. 
  • =====[PROTECT THIS]<<<====[SELF]====>>>[PROTECT THIS]=====
  • These sensations are kinda "layered" on top of one another, just swirling away like a vortex
  • Just sitting there watching this vortex cyclone go round and around in the moment; one second its anticipating, next its bored, next its excited, next its sad, happy, etc.. just swirling about. Of course, in the middle of the cyclone there's literally nothing there, that's the funny thing. The sensations that are "self" protect nothing. The outer rings of the cyclone protect the inner rings, and the inner rings protect the outer rings. They're mutually arising, co-dependent. 
  • Watching each moment unfold, I see this cyclone going. Nonstop. The mind seeing its resting state (eye of the storm - emptiness) true nature in glimpses is very nice; outer rings and inner rings working together to protect this seemingly weak, scared, and petrified inner empty core. It's like a big scary guy who's got huge tattoos all over him. Inside, he's still got a heart, lungs, liver, some bad and good genes, maybe an ulcer or two, who knows? But the tattoos give off the impression that inside it's much more stable/stronger/sturdier than what it is, but it's not. It's just the same inside every time. Empty, conditions, no centre, no ground, no resting point, just a swirling neverending ouroboros that somehow can't manage to see that it's trying to bite its own tail. If it just rested, it'd see clearly that the thing it's chasing is its own tail. 
  • Heaps of near-misses I think today. Maybe 3 or 4. At the very last moment, something goes "no wait, you're meditating". And it just stops. Very amusing. The mind is locked onto seeing 3Cs, there's nothing in control, just pure observation/awareness/unfolding, and then out of nowhere, the mind puts up the barriers again. Like being woken out of a trance. Definitely a sense of fright in there, a sense that the mind has gone too deep. Naughty mind! Nothing to do but keep going. It's not frustrating at this stage, because even the near-glimpses have shown me so much, I've learned a lot in the last 2 days it's incredible. 
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1562 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Sounds really good. Straight ahead!
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Something definitely happened 2 days ago, which has changed how things appear. 

It feels like I've taken off a giant coat that I was foolishly wearing on a summers day.  

I will write back with how things feel once it's all stabilized. My brain and body the last day and a half have felt like they've been rewiring, there's a feeling of big transformation taking place. Stability in instability; a momentary acceptance of what is and where things are no exception. The feeling of effortlessness and a kind of natural wisdom in just awareness. The cogs of consciousness never resting and never being "it". It's all just a fleeting and inescapable sensation.
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

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Nice!
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

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"It" happened today... I think. I could feel a foreshadowing (as my previous post is a testament to). It happened about 1hr after the post. During a sit. 

Basically, just sitting in open awareness. Everything is so open. Just suspended in constant instability. Nothing still. It was very serene. It's like a helicopter trying to land on a helipad that's never still. There's a lot of beauty in this. 

Some thought popped into mind, and as the mind came back to rest in open awareness, it got sucked into a vortex. The feeling that awareness was getting pulled from inside to outside. And gone. Immediate snap back to reality. This mental blank didn't last as long as my previous ones. I was so engrossed in equanimity that I had to double-back to see if it really happened. Not sure if it's the real deal, but something feels new and comfortable. Just contentment. The overall sentiment is, so underwhelming... just another sensation/state. 

Just felt very light after it. Everything is very diffuse. My heart feels very tender and loving. Everything in its right place. 

I will report back to see if this is the real deal. Honestly, I'm not super concerned. I might do a wall of text write-up on what was experienced.
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

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Just speculating here based on my limited experience, but this sounds like a 3rd path type event, which could be possible if your poofs and zips were separate paths (which was the impression I got when I first read them). I could be totally wrong, but in any case it's excellent stuff :-)
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

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Sounds lovely. Glad to hear it.
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

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@Martin: thank you, my friend. Your log is looking great too!

@GeorgeS
If I may ask: what makes you say this? I'm not really all that clued in what each path actually means. Is there something 3rd path-y about what I wrote? 

In other news, I barely slept last night. My brain has been on fire the last 12-ish hours. Just churning nonstop, not in a bad way. More like I've just successfully memorised an encyclopaedia of knowledge and the mind is making all these crazy new connections between the info it learned. I'm going to take it easy the next few days, rest and regroup. emoticon
​​​​​​​
All the best to everyone on their journeys!
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1775 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
It was the awareness getting turned inside out and it seemed different from previous ones, but maybe it was a repeat or something else. Anyway, only one thing to do ... keep going! emoticon​​​​​​​
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Oh right, yeah that definitely was 100% new compared to the rest. We'll see how it all plays out. 

Nothing to it, but to do it!
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Another mental blank last night, as I was watching TV. Awareness kinda phased out of itself. Like wiping a slate clean, but you take the slate with you when wiping across it. Happened again today in my sits, pulsating/strobing lights and then zip. 

As for the experience of what's going on. Things are way way different. It's kinda awesome getting used to it. Feels like an operating system upgrade for sure. 

- thoughts are kinda nothing. I sensed it in conversation today with my friend. We were talking about things, and I said something like, "I am x" and automatically I could feel the mind gently tugging at the sensation"trying" to make more of it, and the awareness saw it, and the sensation just stayed in its place and never got thicker/stronger and awareness didn't coalesce or tighten around that sensation. 

- in conversation today, no real self-referential thoughts at all. Completely embodied in the conversation. No effort in conversation. No "thinking of what to say" came up. Things were just said. And it was so delightful.

- sensations are just in their place. This one is really groovy. I never realized it before, but the feeling of my hands used to be "up here" (in the head) and now they're "down there" (at the fingers). Similar for sounds, thoughts, sights. I never really realised how all these things were so bound up to a centre point as they were before. It's like being in a really spacious room now. 

- effort is almost entirely gone. This is very hard to get used to. The mind definitely used to identify highly with effort. Now things come and go along with their conditions. Effort was a sensation that the mind held onto and refused to let go of. But not any more. 
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

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Thanks for posting this! 
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SushiK, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

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That sounds...pretty amazing.
​​​​​​​
Longing to be there somedays :-)
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
 Okay, thought I'd check in with some more info, log the stats. Still doing 4hrs a day. 80min sits. 

Today I had a pressure test. An upcoming very nerve-wracking event. I won't go into details. During the ordeal, my anxiety/nervousness was severely down. My contriteness was definitely far higher than what it would have been previously. There was a bit of shaking, sweating, adrenaline, heart pumping, etc. and all just sat in awareness naturally and did its thing. There wasn't an overarching desire to "leap into" the sensations and make more of them. No doubt, it was a bad time to be Stefan. But the sensations just didn't hit the mind as hard as they used to. 

Last 3-4 sits have been meh. Very nothing about them. Just sitting. I will admit, the ordeal of unmasking/revealing and seeing through the illusion of self was very captivating (not that the job is done, but it feels 80% done). Now the mind is resting and there's no real goal. Not that I mind. It's just interesting noting how things are framed and how they unfold as time goes on. There's a natural clarity in awareness, and the mind is tuned into seeing awareness pretty easily, and untangling sensations as they appear, without interfering in them... If that makes sense? Like just a spacious being. I can see the appeal of rigpa/ground ideas, but they can't track here... There's simply no ground to it all. Just pulsating swirling chaotic beautiful sensations doing their thing with no resting point, no centre other than ones that are assumed. 

Meditation off and on the cushion has lost its distinction. Open eyes, closed eyes. Walking, running, writing, reading, etc. There's a spaciousness to it all. Less clutter around the sensations of the effort. Very easygoingness to it all. 

Had a nice... "tantric" kind of insight/view today. Deliberately tried to bring up anxiety feelings in preparation for my ordeal later. And it took about 5-10 mins. Once the sensations were there, it was interesting to note the depth and breadth of the sensations. Underneath the anxiety sensations are strong, brave, and fierce notes; revealing the "other side" of the fight/flight response, I think. It was very interesting. I'm definitely going to do this with more problematic/unwholesome emotions, and uncover their wholesome/productive side. I think this will be beneficial for all. 

The mind is just tuned into untangling the sensations as they arise. It's naturally self-liberating. Anything that falls into awareness (or awareness falls into the sensation - much of a muchness really) just gets "untied", and allowed to participate in the freeform chaotic jumble mess... Bless this mess! 

 
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

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Moved to 2 x 90min sits the last 4 days now and will stay like this for the foreseeable future. One in the morning right after waking. One at night. Had to change just because I'm getting to the pointy end of the semester, with exams, heaps of assignments, etc.. I think 3hrs a day is still good. And to be honest, it feels right even from a meditative point of view. The distinction between meditation and life is very little; when I'm meditating there's more presence in the moment, a kind of just appreciation for the spaciousness of experience. But in life, that presence is like 90-95% there, unless I'm doing something very mentally taxing. The good thing is the spaciousness can be "triggered" it's just a matter of pulling back; I did this with the anxiety-provoking experience the other day. 

Ok, so a few insights from the last 3 days that felt special. Maybe not. Who knows. 
  1. Seeing everything as a carousel. The ride never ends. Going up, going down. No real escape. Get rich, get poor, get some acid and trip the whole day, pig out on cheese all day, watch movies, meditate, diet, go to work, be jobless, study, achievement, failure, anxiety, happiness, triumph, boredom. It's all just the ride. The mind artificially makes the ups and downs. This feels like a Samsara insight. I don't really believe in literal Samsara. But I have believed it as a metaphor for the daily transitions we make through "mental postures" (my terminology). And 3 days ago I saw these postures working, cycling so quickly. If I recall correctly, I saw the mind go from happiness, to boredom, to grief, to panic, to engagement, to noticing pain, to distracting thoughts. All in the space of about 3-4 minutes. It was a sight to behold!
  2. So yesterday. This one was a doozie. Basically, just generally sitting in open awareness. And the thought popped in, "Why is this all happening?" and the answer immediately came back "There's no answer", and I just burst out laughing. That's truly abiding in the mystery of life. Nothing more to add. 
  3. Today meditating in open awareness. Just watching it all come and go. And the thought popped in: "what or who is really getting enlightened here?" And the answer came instantaneously, "There was nothing to enlighten. Sensations were always there, where they were. There was no going, coming, leaving, starting, or stopping." I kept the open awareness going. About 10 minutes later, a sharp electric jolt went up from the base of my spine to the bottom of my skull. It was not a "wow" but as if everything was refreshed. Just felt... content. Nothing special. Kind of like realising you're just fine. You ran a race, came in 5th, and that's good -- it's fine! No complaints here! Since then, things have seemed even more wispy, light, and sharper than before; thoughts during meditation were less distracting, less absorbing of all awareness. Awareness is even wider and more panoramic. 
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

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This is all good stuff. It's very tempting to try and turn states like spaciousness or open awareness into a kind of refuge, a place where you think you can take a break from being on the carousel. But if you are honest with yourself, you can see there's a subtle clinging involved, so it's still on the carousel! Even though your better judgement tells you there is no real escape from the carousel, a primitive part of your mind is still holding out for some kind of escape. The funny thing is, giving up all hope of an escape is the escape!
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

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Yep! That's it. There's no getting off the ride. But you can get off the horse, so you're not going up and down all the time, and just in a circle emoticon 

I guess this is a clumsy way of saying we can abide in contentment all the time if we realise where we are. It's just a ride! 
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

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Lovely! I like the carousel analogy. 
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
It's all just sensations playing in awareness. And awareness playing in sensations. Tranquil chaos. 

The mind plays a game of "proving to me that I exist" with these sensations. And that's all. It hoards experiences, memories, things, etc. to keep playing the game, or it projects itself into the future with rumination, planning, etc. But it's just bought into the paradigm of this game. But there was no paradigm. There was nothing to prove, no game to play, no solution, and no problem. Everything is just fine as it is, continually evolving/changing moment-by-moment. And I'm so grateful for it all. 

Not sure what all this means, but it feels very underwhelmingly insightful (y'know how people hate cliches, and they end up always being right, but we refuse to believe them because they're so obviously true). It's not an answer, because there was no question.

I'm finding it very fulfilling going on Reddit and helping people who may be stuck (on r/streamentry and r/TMI). Paying it forward, if you will. It's actually helped me better refine my own thinking. I enjoy helping where I can.

Just sending metta out to everyone here on DhO. We're so blessed. 
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1775 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Stefan R
y'know how people hate cliches, and they end up always being right, but we refuse to believe them because they're so obviously true
​​​​​​​

​​​​​​​This emoticon
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Had a really groovy dream last night
I was in a room, and the room was dark. Better said, I was suspended in this room. A room of just pure raw potential and voidness. And there was no start or end to the room, but it felt closed. During the dream I was fully aware of my body and my room and my consciousness filled my room and the dream. Infinite and boundless. The dream wanted me to figure out the mystery of life and the art of living. There were urges to "find an answer" and "create meaning", but I knew there was nothing more or less than what was already there. It felt like I was meditating in the dream and in my bed simultaneously. As I woke up, there was no felt transition from sleeping and waking consciousness. I just opened my eyes.

I tend to have these sorts of dreams at the precipice of a big insight, or just after. Hm.. let's find out emoticon
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Question for y'all that I've been meaning to ask but forgot because I've been so busy. And my meditation tends to be more focused on insight side of things than anything else. It's a question about Jhanas referring to 2 weeks' ago events that @shargrol asked me to do. But anyone with Jhana knowledge can help me out here! I'd greatly appreciate it! I have no idea about Jhanas, so forgive me if this is a nooby question. I tried googling, but nothing really hit. 

So remember when Shagrol asked me to do the Jhana activity (21 days ago)? When I did it, I basically had the "minty windpipe" (what Shargrol said was a typical 3rd Jhana feeling) feeling for about 7 days straight (and it collapsed when "it" happened). And now I can get the minty windpipe just by thinking about it; I can get it by concentrating on about 5 breaths. Is this normal? Does this mean I'm just non-stop vibing in the 3rd Jhana? It's not that I dislike it or anything, it feels really nice. Just curious if this is a real thing to happen with Jhanas? Does anyone else experience this? Does this mean anything relative to my practice? 

I'm a total Jhana noob and would like to learn more. Help me out! Thank you in advance to anyone who can share their time. 
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Dream Walker, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1333 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Stefan R

So remember when Shagrol asked me to do the Jhana activity (21 days ago)? When I did it, I basically had the "minty windpipe" (what Shargrol said was a typical 3rd Jhana feeling) feeling for about 7 days straight (and it collapsed when "it" happened). And now I can get the minty windpipe just by thinking about it; I can get it by concentrating on about 5 breaths. Is this normal? Does this mean I'm just non-stop vibing in the 3rd Jhana? It's not that I dislike it or anything, it feels really nice. Just curious if this is a real thing to happen with Jhanas? Does anyone else experience this? Does this mean anything relative to my practice?
So you focus upon the minty feeling, great. you can have 1st jhana with 3rd jhana mint, second jhana with minty, 3rd jhana with extra minty, 4th jhana with minty, because they are all constructed jhanas. If you spend a bit of time to move up the jhanas, see what happens with the minty thing.
good luck,
~D
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
That's a good idea! I will experiment with it. I can definitely amplify the feeling when running. And sometimes I'll get the minty sensation which is so pleasant that it hurts... So I'll just play around with it and see what's what. I will move up and see what happens! I'm going to have a guess and think that it'll disperse or meld into consciousness/awareness somehow... But I'll verify! Thanks for the great advice!
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 294 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Hi, Stefan. Yes, it's normal to be able to call up jhanas at will, or with a few breaths of concentration. I called up third while sitting on a rock waiting for a friend on a run today. Beats just sitting on a rock. For me, and apparently for many people, they are significantly weaker when just one is accessed directly as opposed to going through the normal order or going up and down from the one you start with. 
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Holy shit. That's awesome. OK, this is good to know! This information is shooting new confidence into my practice. This community is such a blessing.
​​​​​​​Thank you, Martin.
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
OK, so the practice has kinda stalled... Just a vague confusion. This is a normal part of my meditative cycle. There's some vague confusion, the mind seizes on it, and begins to work on it, a few weeks later, big insights flood in. However, this time, the confusion seems deeper, more visceral, and very faint - almost not there. Before the confusion was obvious and I kind of knew what the problem was consciously. This time, though, I'm not really certain what the issue is. However, armed with my new insights, the problem/issue shouldn't be so much of a thing. Just another sensation in need of being seen clearly in the field of awareness. 

I guess I have a few guesses what it is: 
- I can maintain open awareness throughout the day, and there's not much selfhood to any sensation. But sometimes it does arise in certain things. So the mind is taken aback when that happens. If I remain mindful and go back to open awareness, the sensation gets integrated. However, there's some deeper sensation or something that just isn't getting noticed. Hmmm
- some subtle aversion/clinging/ignorance that I'm not seeing well
- I guess, from reading everyone else's practice logs here, that everyone else is having so many emotional insights, etc. and I haven't. I guess there's some part of me thinking that I'm not doing it right. I've never been one to take my emotions so seriously, to begin with, so I'm not sure what to make of it.... 
- Some deep core part of suffering not being seen properly, the existential dread. That's been on my mind a lot lately. Not the fact of dying, or anything. But the deep uneasy feeling that there's no place to hide, no place to run, the mind is there, always. Even cessations or whatever, the mind is still there (after all, there is still a narrative attached to the non-experience experience). It's the ultimate accountability. 

Mysteries abound... 
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1775 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Just a guess what might be happening here. You saw “it” –  everything is just fine as it is, continuously evolving/changing moment-by-moment, no solution, no problem. It feels really nice, a bit of time passes, and then the mind starts to wonder ‘was that really it? is it really that simple? etc.’ It’s just the old urges to “find an answer” and “create meaning” starting up again! So you have to sort of go through a process of de-conditioning that seeking urge, continuously reminding yourself that there is nothing more or less than what is already here in the present moment. Basically the mind is playing the same old game of hiding the answer from itself, even although you know now the answer is that there never was any need to find an answer!

Of course there might be some more concrete emotional/psychological issues layered on top of that, but even those are really just more complex strategies for hiding “the answer” from yourself.

For anything that comes up, it might be helpful to ask yourself ‘how is this preventing me from seeing that everything is just fine as it is?’ E.g. you maintain open awareness during the day but then selfhood arises and the mind is taken aback. Maybe the only problem is the assumption that selfhood shouldn’t arise any more! Maybe there is a point where that stops happening altogether, or maybe not but, either way, assuming it shouldn’t be happening now prevents you from accepting the reality of what actually is happening now. Fragments of narrative still arise, same thing. Existential dread is another reality which takes a while to accustom to! (charnel ground contemplations can help here)
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Hmm this is a good take! I can see "it" when things get too self-y. Perhaps now it's just adjusting to getting that seen 24-7. And my mind is just trying to make it an issue when it can't or can see it... I mean, the sensation of a self is not a problem. The problem is when the mind thinks that sensation is all there will be, or something in need of protecting... Either way ​​​​​​​we'll see soon enough.

My sleeps have been super weird lately. Very lucid. Aware of my body and mind in the bed while dreaming and feeling my consciousness being on 'both sides' , so to speak. Just last night I was dreaming and during the dream I was fully aware of my position in my bed, aware of sounds in my room, and my feelings of the dream itself. But I had no control over things in the dream. Maybe this is the start of lucid dreaming for me? Is this part of the path? Is insight correlated to changes in the sleepworld? My need for sleep has also drastically gone down, I used to need 8-9hrs now I'm pretty good with 6-7.

Just last night I was sleeping. And I wasn't dreaming. My eyes were closed. But it was like my eyes were open, I was seeing through them into my mirror and in the mirror I could see someone scrolling and reading an iPad or something. Very mind-bending things like this. 

Perhaps this is the mind-brain starting to rewire? I feel as if in the last 6 months I've completely changed in my outlook, from day-to-day perspective, to compassion and the other positive immeasurables.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1775 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Sleep effects are pretty common. I've had periods of being aware during dreamless sleep, not as dramatic as that but I was on a lower dose of concentration. Re-wiring is something that probably goes on for years from what I've seen.
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
I just had a long chat with my father, who initially inspired me to get into meditation. I think he's been a Dark Knight for nearly 30 years from the sounds of it... Deceived by the cultish vibes of "meditation is all good all the time. It can fix anything." So I'm going to try and steer him to equanimity asap and perhaps to SE, if i can. He's a very resilient so I don't think it'll be too hard. He's doing a Goenka retreat soon too, that may help if I give him some pointers..?

My brother is starting with meditation too.. I'm going to make him my ginuea pig for teaching. I'm starting him out on basic shamatha practice. What's funny is how we're yin and yang. My early hindrance was restlessness, his is sloth/torpor. I've got him counting breaths to 10. 30 min sit per day.​​​​​​​Long term, I'd like to become a meditation teacher for serious practicioners and for psychotherapeutic reasons too.

Regarding my practice, I think after about 6 sits that were very agitation filled, quite grating, and not at all very insightful, yesterday I had a breakthrough. I call them "dreaming sideways" or a sideways approach. I'll be resting in open awareness, when some dream-like image pops into my mind. And it turns out the image is some archetypal representation of a narrative playing out in my subconscious; don't ask me how I know it, but I do. I see a entire archetypal narrative play out in half a second, there's a release of bodily tension, some deep breaths are had (involuntary), and more peace and quiet happens. It's very cool, and there's no real trigger for it other than just open awareness with a balanced 7 factors. I don't know why I haven't mentioned this until now, but this last one had my mind all bent for 4-5 days, and since seeing it, everything feels fine again. I think this is just deep subconscious mind and awareness coming into stronger contact and deep purification of any narrative/story/attachment, a deep unification of the mind.
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Steph, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
how are the dream-like images/thoughts different from other images/thoughts you have? what makes them seem more dreamlike as opposed to other thoughts? do other thoughts seem more real/tangible somehow, and why?
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Steph how are the dream-like images/thoughts different from other images/thoughts you have? what makes them seem more dreamlike as opposed to other thoughts? do other thoughts seem more real/tangible somehow, and why?
Good question! I'd say the only real difference is the depth from which they emerge. These images only really present when I am in a very deep tranquil, equanimous and concentrated state. All sensations feel dreamlike in this state (apologies for my ambiguous wording before!; what I meant by dream-like images was more the narrative/dynamic component). These spontaneous archetypal images/narratives that present feel very deep (not profound, but as in accessed from a deeper level of mind). Not only that, the entire story is known from a mere 1-2 second exposure to the snapshot of the image/narrative. The stories feel immense (epic narratives with love/confrontation/journeys/quests/etc) despite the mere exposure. After they flash up, bodily tension decreases further, some little "a-ha" moment, like "this was mind playing with mind" and the dance continues... I call them "sideways dreaming" because the mind seems to slip into them "from the side" ("from the side" indicating that mind is roughly on par with subconscious operation) and catches the subconscious playing out this story deep in the mind as an underlay to the normal field of conscious experience. I think it's just deeper layers of emptiness/no-self being untangled in a self-liberating, awareness-pervading way. Because, as soon as the story is seen, it ends, since the mind knows that no sensation can be "it" or "me", and so it continues chugging along! Well, that's my hypothesis anyways...  ​​​​​​​What do you think?
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Steph, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Interesting. I know what you're getting at with the dream-like, deeper mind strata thoughts/images/stories. Is it easier for you to see the emptiness of these thoughts as opposed to what seems like more surface level everyday run of the mill thoughts.. the typical mind loops that churn away while going about daily life? If so, why? Is it because the content seems more fantastical & epic, like what you normally think of as dreamy and somehow not as believalbe or obviously very personally tied to your sense of self?

What I'm getting at is, thoughts are thoughts regardless of content or how they appear. Are you able to see emptiness of everyday style thoughts too, and if not, what makes that harder? Do you make a distinction between what you think of as everyday thoughts and what you think of as "deeper strata" thoughts? If so, why?
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
 Ah yeah, I getcha. I'd say seeing regular everyday emptiness is easier, just because the thoughts are right there! These thoughts/images/scenes/narratives are so deep down, that accessing them is pure chance, there's simply no formula other than to be deeply concentrated and tranquil and wait for the mind to "hook one". Kinda like fishing I guess emoticon

The only real "special" thing about these thoughts is just how deep they seem to be (they only spontaneously arise during deep tranquil and concentrated states), how much info is condensed in such a small packet (entire epic narrative in 1-2 seconds of exposure), and the mind-body release of tension once the image is revealed/understood. 

I definitely am seeing a distinction here in shallow/deep mind. I don't think that's a problematic distinction to make though, no?
 
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Steph, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Well I guess my main point is to make sure you're not taking some thoughts more seriously than others - or thinking some thoughts are better than others. Not from a morality point of view or talking about some thoughts as wholesome or unwholesome... let's put that aside for a second. I suppose I get a little bit of a sense that you think the deep mind thoughts are somehow more interesting or something, because you're saying they seem special or different than everyday thoughts. Sure, there might be different qualities surrounding the situation of when you access them and how they present, or even different content, but the distinction could be more superficial than you're giving it credit for. Deep mind might put a different feel on them than shallow mind. The strata of mind that you're accessing things through makes certain qualities more obvious, sure. But the fundamentals of the phenomena are the same, all empty. Going scuba diving, the water at the surface might seem to reflect more turquoise, but diving deeper things look like they reflect a dark blue color. Still the water, still the ocean, though. 
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
 100% agreed. Definitely being mindful of that. 

I wish I could explain how I'm seeing it so perhaps it could be understood better. Of course, a thought is a thought. But the deep release and mental relief that comes from seeing these thoughts are, to me at least, a signal that there is something about seeing them that is good or healthy for the mind. It just feels archetypal in the Jungian sense, like a deep narrative the mind was playing out as an underlay or foundation of experience. Like, if my shallow day-to-day thoughts are ripples you'll see in the ocean, these deep thoughts are kinda like micro tectonic shifts in the surface of the earth containing the ocean below.

My hypothesis: it's a way-station between narrative wakefulness and unconscious emotional processing. The thoughts we have about who we are, it's their deeper narrative source. Not just "I am a happy person" but deeper, "I am a thinker of happy person thoughts which look like X Y Z"... If that makes sense? 

In the end, I 100% agree with you. I just wish I could explain what I'm observing a little clearer. But it does feel significant only for the fact that after being seen, there is a deep sense of a shift in the body-mind immediately, and days after. They're bringing deeper issues to light that weren't noticed so clearly before, or only believed to be shallower before... This is why I'm doing a lot of mental weeding/gardening and more daily mindfulness and open awareness in life. Deeper narratives were churning away influencing day to day thoughts, which may be unwholesome. Bringing more mindfulness. Working to supplant mindlessness, distractability, non-engagement with life, laziness, and a lack of joy with life. Bringing more wholesome qualities everywhere and anyway I can!
 
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Steph, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
When is chronological view coming back to the message board? LOL. 

Ohhhhh okay, now I get it more... good clarification then. I think I was misinterpreting part of what you were getting at. So, yeah agreed, it's good to weed through and see through those archetypal narratives. It's truly incredible the lies we believe about ourselves based on those more deep-seated narratives. Honestly, this territory is a gold mine for anatta insights. Look at which thoughts you believe, which ones you dismiss.. even with these deeper strata thoughts. Do you find that you have different thoughts that seem to represent different aspects of your identity (both surface level and diving deeper)? Like when you feel like one aspect of your identity is prominent, you have certain types of thoughts? Do you take some thought patterns more seriously... which types of thoughts do you correlate with different aspects of your identity? Then dig deeper, what is that identity? How do you feel about it? What's propping it up? What do you think you gain/lose by having it propped up?  Do you feel like some thoughts feel like they're your "voice of reason/ideal self" and other thoughts don't? Why?
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Yeah, the formatting here is a little awkward. I'm much more used to the Reddit format... 

I'm so glad I could finally explain it. I really suck at explaining how my mind works for the most part. Thanks for your patience, but also your questioning, the questioning helped so much! I'm so grateful for your time. I think this is where I'm at now: I've seen no-self, I've seen shunyata, anatta, etc. but now it's actually time to fix it all. Your questions here are SUPER helpful, I've transferred them to my diary to work on throughout the day. 

"I am a happy person" but "I am a thinker of happy person thoughts which look like [having X] and [being Y]"
/\ This pattern above is what I'm working on with the 7 factors, but more noticeably energy, concentration, and mindfulness. Just want to purify this entire being. A well-oiled machine. Fully present. Fully aware. No-self but the Now and no Now but the Self. There's really no hiding from the mind; it's always keeping score. Just like a garden is not just any single flower or plant, my Self is not any single habit/thought/emotion/factor, but a collection of all these moving cogs/parts etc and now it's about getting in there and radically purifying unwholesome thoughts/behaviours/emotions and putting in some work. 
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Last 3-4 days has been a lot of "weed cleaning" just cultivating energy, concentration, and mindfulness (along with the other 4 factors of awakening, but these 3 in particular, I feel). 

Just sitting in open awareness, and watching the mind move. Hyper-vigilant. Working in destroying any hindrances with diligent work. It's nothing sexy, but it feels right at this stage. The insights I have into my mind really gives me full confidence that I'm doing the right thing. 

Usually, in a 90min sit, I'll have 2-3 "big distractions" that'll pull me away for about 10-15 seconds, and lots of little niggly ones that just sit on the outside. Working hard to reduce it all to 0. Open awareness for me includes feeling, sight, sound, and thoughts. But lately, it's been very focused on thoughts, and watching how the mind moves, very diligently, and protecting good factors and weeding out bad ones. 

Why do distractions come up? Well, negative factors (craving, aversion, ignorance) gives rise to them. And in turn, the distractions feed them. Our mental factors and emotions are insatiable. By feeding them, they become stronger. By making them stronger, they bring more negative sensations to the fore. The relationship is entirely reciprocal. 

What is my method? I've been inspired by a lot of Tantric Buddhism lately, and looking at how deity yoga works to clear hindrances by channelling those strengths in our minds (after all, the deities are not "out there" they're "in here" and part of our mind) - Vajrakilaya comes to mind and Dorje Phurba. So I will work with strong determination, strong will, and using mindfulness to cut down hindrances as they appear, by supplanting them with wholesome qualities. This mode of thinking is inspired by Dhammarato's talk with Ingram "Magic in the Dharma"; where he says skilled meditators will immediately recognise unwholesome states and cut them down immediately, replacing them with good qualities. This is my aim. In general, this just means returning the mind to rest in open awareness, and being mindful of how the mind shifts, turns, wriggles and writhes about. It's not really a game of will. It is like tending a garden; weeds grow, and they are cut. We plant good plants. Sometimes they die because we forget to water them, but we plant them again. Sometimes it rains and we garden slower. Sometimes it is sunny, so we tend our garden more vigorously. Craving/aversion are replaced by equanimity and ignorance is replaced by wisdom (seeing clearly the nature of mind). It's really fun watching the mind twist itself, like a dog chasing its tail, probably not realising its part of him to begin with emoticon Today, it reminded me of one of those old-school 1950s telephone switchboards, where the mind is constantly like "hello, operator, it's me mind"... "hello mind, it's me mind"... "can you put me through to mind"... "oh of course mind, I'll connect you right away" and then the telephone operator just plugs the plug into itself... Confusing, but amusing. 
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
OK... So what have I learned?

That my concentration is rubbish without investigation anchoring it. I have a naturally curious mind, and it simply won't stabilise just for concentration practices, there has to be "something more" or "something deeper" going on to get the mind working. This is great, it means I have more grist for the mill, so to speak. So I think this'll be my project for the next coming months, just working on concentration for its own sake, with no vipashyana goals in mind in the direct moment of practice (obviously, long-term concentration will greatly benefit!). 

I also think developing intrinsic concentration will work to burn up some more latent defilements around sloth/restlessness and green/aversion. So that'll be good!
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1775 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Just be careful not to develop greed/aversion around concentration itself! Some people are more predisposed towards concentration than others, that's just the way it is. Absorption is beneficial and it will show up to the depth it needs to, but there's no hard prerequisite for what lies beyond. I would say that curiosity is more important :-)
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Thanks for the pointer, George. Much appreciated. I'll keep mindful of that. However, I think it should be alright (I hope!) because I'm looking to develop the concentration for morality reasons (supplanting defilements); sometimes the mind has a tendency to "sneak one in the back door" while "no one is looking" (so to speak) to get away with naughty things emoticon so good concentration will work on spotting that stuff before it manifests. That's been my reason for changing gears. I think I've achieved a considerable amount from my Vipashyana practice, and its time for some more meat-and-potatoes practice to help ground the insights. Plus being able to concentrate for intrinsic reasons is a good skill to have. 
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1775 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
That sounds right, trust your intuition. I was probably projecting my own concentration issues!
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
No no, never feel like you have to hold back with me emoticon 
Sharing is caring!
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Seems like I've triggered a nice little dark night nuna. My instincts were correct: more stuff to go over and properly understand. More defilements to weed out and replace with wholesome qualities. More of the 7 factors to cultivate. The ride never ends emoticon Hmmmmm.... Maybe this is what it was about all along '_' haha
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Something very path-y happened today. From just watching breath.

Basically caught the mind, "sweeping one under the rug". Just this kind of strong/weak dynamic with the mind. Constaly reacting "I'm better than this" or "I'm worse than this" to justify "getting away with it". Really, like this insight is very very subtle. Not like others. Nothing "wow" about it. More like, "I see now". Mind deceiving mind. But it could never run from itself anyways. All my insights before were very "reactive"-minded; meaning that insight is about how things present themselves. This is a more "pro-active"-minded insight; meaning that the insight is about the cultivation of wholesomeness. Tearing down reality is fine, but eventually, you're gonna have to replace it with something new. 

The mind paints the floor around it, then worries why it can't move. Buddy, you didn't have to paint, to begin with, you didn't have to stop once you started, and you're free to walk on the wet paint anyways! That's how it seems.

What does this mean? No idea. But it's very subtle and profound here. There's just this moment and what can be done about it is a product of our conditioning (wholesome vs unwholesome factors). 

Does anyone else care to elaborate with their own take on what this may be? 
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1775 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Dualities are a bit like worldviews, they tend to get fueled by fear of the opposite or some hidden assumption. Strong/weak and better/worse are obvious ones, but you’re already on top of those. Wholesome/unwholesome could be about some perception of lack or deficiency. Subtle/profound could be about a perceived need to keep having insights, or some assumed ordering of the world on a meaning spectrum from shallow to deep. What if the world is essentially flat?! There is nothing wrong with any of this, however it can fuel vague feelings of tension or restlessness. Did reality actually get torn down? Has anything actually changed? I’m just throwing out questions to think about, not to put you on the spot!
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Makes 100% sense. I don't mind being put on the spot emoticon

Nah, this isn't a dualistic thing, so much as just seeing how the mind makes it. Either trying to rise above reality, or drown itself in it. If that makes sense? In the sense that the only cure is complete radical open honesty and humility. There's no way for mind to run away from mind. It is truly accountable only to itself. It is profoundly freeing and frightening. 
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 1775 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Yes, it reminds me of what you were saying in another thread about the mind forgetting (or trying to convince itself?) that it's not part of the reality that it is modeling. Even if mind is in transcendence mode, it's just creating a different reality for itself ... truly no escape from samsara! But wait, is the mind actually a thing? Or just a collection of scenarios with an assumed underlying thinginess? (some of which are assumed to have already happened and some of which are assumed not to have happened yet)
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
"Or just a collection of scenarios with an assumed underlying thinginess? "

​​​​​​​this is so money
george, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 158 Join Date: 9/8/20 Recent Posts
Nice thread, not that I understand much, haha! Congrats on the progress, great motivation for me : )
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Stefan R, modified 21 Days ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Shamatha practice is a goldmine for Dukkha for me. Without the tether of insight, pure concentration practices are really unearthing a lot of stuff. Since doing it, I've noticed how "wrung out" my body-mind is. Like, I'm just exhausted all the time and a little queasy. Not sure what or why... I do have exams coming up and some important incoming news, so perhaps it's that? Either way, very interesting. 

Things of note:
  • Some anger arising here and there, but that has abated... 
  • Some weird psycho-somatic interactions like nervousness and general fear, with tinges of deep psychological and existential dread. Something is being torn apart at the seams in the deep mind. I can see little bubbles of it percolating up through weird and uncharacteristic behaviours...
  • The mind's desire to pacify or escape these sensations through eating, I'm really hungry all the time lately!
  • The mind's attention beginning to really sharpen up, seeing things before they happen, seeing things clearly as they happen, etc. 
  • Catching patterns unfolding and seeing their consequences and dukkha all the way through far clearer. However, I'm still developing more wholesomeness in order to actually catch and break the patterns clearly in day to day life; I have a lot going on and I'm trying to balance the need for discipline and for easygoingness... (e.g. is the hunger I'm feeling all the time real hunger or craving? Should I indulge in order to keep a bit of balance with the rigours of study in this crazy busy time of my life?)
  • Way more unravelling is happening; the fact that there is a lot of discomforts arising around these times is a sign I'm doing something very right. This is a very good thing in my opinion. I just hope that it doesn't affect me too much around exam time...
Peace out!
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Chris Marti, modified 12 Days ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 3934 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
I have just deleted a series of spam messages from this topic and banned the posters who put them here.

Chris Marti
DhO Moderator
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Stefan R, modified 10 Days ago.

RE: Stefan's Log

Posts: 90 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Thank you, Chris. Much appreciated. 

How is current practice tracking at the moment?
  • Working on untangling thoughts. Pesky thoughts. Not like I'll ever get them to shut up. But they're definitely way less sticky than in the past, a lot less sticky. They have less drawing power, that's for sure. Far more concentration in daily life is a net positive. 
  • Meditation is like a beautiful adventure. Set out to reach a goal, hmmm... What's the goal again? You forget it until you remember it. Or did you remember it, and realised you forgot? Probably both. I think without the crutch of investigation/Vipashyana my mind has a tendency to "crawl up" or become dull as a reaction, so working on Shamatha is going to be a really good thing in the long run. I'm already seeing more steadfast concentration in daily life on mundane things, which is what observing breath is all about -- right? Doing cool Vipashyana stuff, resting in open awareness and all that is easier, but also not super functional when you need to be, say, studying. But far easier when doing the dishes or something else. I think this assumption is right, and I think there's going to be a goldmine of insights doing something with such a deep reactive pattern built into it. 
  • Coupled with my insights so far, I think this is the way to go. After all, there's nothing that's really getting enlightened. No stable/continuous self to be enlightened. Just a bunch of habits, unconscious biases, personality traits, emotional patterns, etc., that work as a kaleidoscope of shifting patterns activated or brought into prominence by certain stimuli. Now they're being worked on and crafted into their wholesome aspects. And due to the empty nature of all these things, improving one improves them all. The old Aristotle line, "excellence is a habit" seems to ring true here. Just seeing the sensations as they are, when they are, how they are, and working forward. No central doer doing anything means this is the way things are working "under the hood", habits, energy, traits, etc., that all just do their thing, until they're properly seen. Then mindfulness is brought to bear on them, and they're unconditioned as a reactive pattern, and transformed into a menu of options. The difference between "top-down" and "bottom-up" processing models in cognitive psych seems to work here. Also ties into Jung's words about how "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate."
  • What themes are coming up in meditation? Just sticky thoughts. These are what I'm working on. Watching them appear, evolve, abide, then dissolve from whence they came. Sometimes there's a reaction, "oh I shoulda said THAT" or "Damn, I was such a silly young fool back then" or "Next time I'll just do X Y Z instead..." Etc... And sometimes there's no reaction. Just watching it all happen parallel to the breath is kinda fun, funny, sad, and frustrating all the same time. Not sure if people have noticed here, but I'm just prone to finding parallels, connections, and overlaps between ideas/concepts/thoughts etc., it's just my natural gift/curse and that happens a lot too. It's not the worst habit to have, it definitely helps in my scholastic pursuits. But hopefully making that less sticky will help too!
  • I'm finishing exams in 5 days! So I'll end up doing a home retreat of 8-10hrs of formal sitting per day for about 5-7 days depending on how life decides to pan out. Maybe even longer if things really line up. 
Peace!

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