Agency

Robin Woods, modified 1 Month ago.

Agency

Posts: 170 Join Date: 5/28/12 Recent Posts
So - my sense of agency is rapidly starting to unravel now when I'm walking around in the world. (My hand goes through my hair by itself, I turn around to look behind me and it unfolds naturally etc)

​​​​​​​Are there any specific practices recommended for this stage? 
thumbnail
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Agency

Posts: 5878 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Could you give us a bit of background? What kind of automaticity is it, habitual or driven by the union of wisdom and compassion? And how do you know?
Robin Woods, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Agency

Posts: 170 Join Date: 5/28/12 Recent Posts
I've been practicing (on and off) a looong time and have completed multiple insight cycles. 

My perception is largely non-dual, so I'm hoping this is the latter kind of Automaticity - which Daniel writes about. 

In my current formal sits (very quiet mind) I'm mainly observing intentions arise by themselves- in the way I used to watch thoughts.
thumbnail
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Agency

Posts: 5878 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Cool! I hope you'll get qualified advice in this thread from those who have truly gone beyond the beyond. All the best wishes!
SigmaTropic, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Agency

Posts: 146 Join Date: 6/27/17 Recent Posts
Try going outside and staring at a tree for a while. See how the tree just "trees". Nature doesn't think about non duality or non agency, it just does its thing in perfect harmony with the rest of nature. That's what you're going for.  A tree when obstructed will simply grow around the obstruction without a fuss. It doesn't get offended by the obstruction, it simply carries on. If you try going about your meditation in the same way, you will get a sense of being in harmony and flow with your environment. Humans are capable of just humaning. But what gets in the way is all this attachment to narrative thinking and possessing trophies like non dual perception and taking ownership of things and past and future scheming. 

In other words. Just be present to your experience and you will naturally feel in harmony with your environment. If you can't do that then learn how to be joyful, then it is much more natural to be present. When that happens "non dual perception" is a given and you wont need hacks to acquire agent less perception.  
shargrol, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Agency

Posts: 1609 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
One classic off-cushion practice for this stage is a kind of gentle noting that says "look at it brush it's hair" "look at it walk itself" "look at it pick up a spoon" "look at it brush it's teeth".

The idea of the "look at it..." practice is not to force some perception, but just to give a little bit of a framework to these experiences. It can get spooky when agency drops away or we can sometimes need just a bit of mental framing of it so that we don't freak out. So the "look at it..." practice gives just enough of a guiderail to let people enter this domain of non-agency and get used to it.

The caution for this practice is it should be done by someone well established in practice. If someone gets too neurotic or obsessive or forceful or dissociated or catatonic then this is definitely NOT a good practice for them. 

It should feel like a game, simply enjoying and noting the many times during the day when the sense of agency has weakened. You're not trying to "make non-agency happen" or push in any way. It will simply become more and more obvious that we have tended to "blink out" non-agency in the past because it was too scary for our mind to really see it. 

You can also start exploring the 5 Elements practice in Ken McLeod's Wake Up To Your Life book, which focuses on the flip side of this, which is the subtle ways we cling to agency through very subtle reactive patterns of holding, avoiding, intensifying, becoming busy/frantic, or spacing out... which are symbolized as the earth, water, fire, air, and void elements. 5 Elements practice is about noticing the subtle ways we create a sense of agency through a nearly unconscious reaction. There's a more detailed description and ways to practice through "active imagination"... which then eventually allows us to do it in real life in real time.

Hope this helps.
thumbnail
Ni Nurta, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Agency

Posts: 761 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
 For me this type of experience where I could say my hands moved by themselves was just a passing stage.
At one point as this type of experience (I called it 'no-self mode') reached its peak I made radical decision to integrate it with essence of sense self to understand self from this new perspective and this caused collapse of both. Since that happened I consider my sense of self completely fixed. No longer any action feels like happening by itself but never by any doer. I do not call this as no-self experience however because self is this whole nervous system and by extension mind and by extension all of reality, at least if we want to go as deep as to go in to non-duality.

No-self experiences are either good if neurons are controlled in such a way to allow switching to new pathways - they are put to deep sleep preventing further activation, or alternatively if they are re-used right away this lead to dukkha and terrible experiences of psychosis. I keep them mostly in range I call half-active in which recalling experiences is very easy but otherwise they do not recall anything by themselves - recalling anything is an activity after all and doing it too much necessitates putting neurons to deep sleep so this process also needs to be optimized. Such half-activation states prevent further activation (of normal activity) thus nervous system is forced to use different pathways. Normal sense of self was supposed to work like that but assumption that this is experience of doer and trying to make it happen threw default calibration off. In other words I use pretty much mind that feels like I was a child. Just with jhanas and stuff because I can invent different signalling schemes.

The different ways neurons work present itself as a form additional sense. The practices I did was to make myself more sensitive to it and being able to experience it I learned how to control my mind on the level of its signalling. This might not be strictly necessary but makes everything easier. Just an idea for possible practice.
 
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Agency

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Ni Nurta

No-self experiences are either good if neurons are controlled in such a way to allow switching to new pathways - they are put to deep sleep preventing further activation, or alternatively if they are re-used right away this lead to dukkha and terrible experiences of psychosis


It still resolves though.
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Agency

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
  • This topic frustrates me to know end, because I have already experienced agency loss many times since I was a child. Why doesn't it stay? one might ask.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Agency

Posts: 2019 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Because like any mental state, it comes and goes. It's possible to get fixated on agencylessness as a kind of false refuge of the ego - 'I (me me me!) need to be completely free of experiencing agency.' Really it's only necessary to see the experience of agency for what it is - conditioned, not me, transient & unsatisfactory - and thereby stop clinging to it or resisting it.

 
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Agency

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
George S
Because like any mental state, it comes and goes. It's possible to get fixated on agencylessness as a kind of false refuge of the ego - 'I (me me me!) need to be completely free of experiencing agency.' Really it's only necessary to see the experience of agency for what it is - conditioned, not me, transient & unsatisfactory - and thereby stop clinging to it or resisting it.

 
Thanks, did you like what I did there. "frustrates me to 'know' end"
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Agency

Posts: 2019 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I assumed it was a Freudian slip emoticon