"Original mind" and path?

Tom R, modified 6 Months ago at 11/19/21 4:08 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 11/19/21 3:46 PM

"Original mind" and path?

Posts: 10 Join Date: 7/28/21 Recent Posts
Hi All,

In the last weeks I went through an experience and I have a couple questions (at the bottom of my post). I was hoping some more experienced members could provide insight into this as I don't have a teacher at this point. I am wary of using these concrete terms that follow as I am stumbling my way through this process.

I had what I had called my "stream entry" moment in this post:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/23049888

My "honeymoon" for that experience only lasted about a week. I didn't get much review experience in there due to a new job and the length of time it was presented. I continued to use a similar practice structure. Since then I have been working through a bunch of new material that came up, paying particular attention to thoughts, perceptions, and worldviews that arise from them. After going through a period that I would call EQ for a few weeks, I had a moment on 11/6.

Samatha jhana seemed particularly deep this session and I was able to cycle through the 8th (I was able to before). I sat with no expectations in vipassana, watching all phenomena arise and fall away with an open awareness. I was able to begin seeing formations clearly and the "views" that were included within them. It was almost like one of those old slide show projectors showing the "views" as the formations passed.

This is when I had the idea that if there are all these "views" of everything else, then there must be a "me/self" view. I started watching for it and seeing it come up when formations included something I could associate with and pass for other things such as France on a map. This is when there were several cessation-like experiences or the dat-dat-gone fruition. Leading up to this there was almost like what I would describe as a synesthesia type experience where the senses blended.

Immediately there was a change in everything. There was no grasping to the concept of self. I could just incline towards letting go and the mind would juts drop everything. I kept meditating and found that I couldn't actually stop letting go into these blank mind (original mind?) or cessation experiences. It felt good to just go with it so I did.

In subsequent meditations the jhanas were much much deeper. In walking around daily life this change originally manifested as a confusion where upon close inspection there was a dropping of thoughts a fraction of a second to a second after they initiated. A lot of unnecessary thoughts were just let go. I had a huge drop in stress almost like I was on a drug, but naturally. I felt more like I could just watch the body do it's thing as well. This change is still present almost 2 weeks later; however, I have to be mindful throughout the day to make it really pop. I've started to really notice all my thoughts and actions throughtout the day, but it has dawned on me that the really deeply rooted ones drop me out of awareness into my old patterns.

My meditations have changed since then. I've found out how to cultivate this experience by flowing into this "keyhole" of the mind. Not too much relaxation, not too much concentration, watch the thoughts pass with the "teflon mind" as I've heard somewhere before, and use Daniel's spinning sword technique to bat away at the traces of the self. This leads to the dropping out, or cessation like experience. I work on cultivating this experience and practicing the jhanas in their now deeper state.

For this cultivation my mind goes through this process:
Relax/concentrate -> Blank w/ traces of self -> Self dropped immediately into unknowing moment -> Reboot into clinging to self and start over.

I can get these experiences down to about 1 per minute with a good amount of effort.


Is this "rigpa" or the "original mind" that I am cultivating? What is the difference between this "original mind" and a cessation? Or have I finally just learned to cultivate cessation experiences?

Is this a good practice to focus on? Should I be doing something else at this point?


Anyway, kind of lost with the labels or where I am. As always, I deeply appreciate any clarity or advice.

Thanks,
Tom
shargrol, modified 6 Months ago at 11/20/21 5:46 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 11/20/21 5:37 AM

RE: "Original mind" and path?

Posts: 1747 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
That all sounds very good. 

As you can imagine, language around this stuff is difficult. If you say you are cultivating some thing (rigpa, orginal mind, source of mind, emptiness) and then that tends to create a kind of metaphysical thinking that is eternalist in framing. Like, all of life is an illusion but somewhere out there is the true self, big mind, rigpa, etc.  Yet this supposidly true thing is never right here, it's always out there, why would it be like that emoticon 

The other way to talk about it is you are getting rid of illusion and there is no thing at the center of it and then that tends to create a kind of metaphysical thinking that is nihlistic in framing. Like, all of life is a complete illusion and meaningless and everything is empitness, nibbana, cessation. Yet grilled cheese sandwiches taste good and even the buddha said it's good to have friends, so is everything really no thing and meaningless? emoticon

It's okay to loosely hold those views and use them as a motivation for exploration (what is the limit of rigpa, what is the limit of nibbana?)... but hold them loosely and as a hypothesis, as a question, as an exploration.

You could say ultimately things are both real yet never exactly as they seem. Everything is vividly real, yet everything is only mind nature. Everything is emptiness and yet infused with compassion. Everything is always inadequate but completely workable. Everything is exactly as it is, but only so far as it goes. Everything is true, but only to some extent. (You can see why "Idon't know" mind is so highly prized by Zen masters and why Ajahn Chah would always remark "it's uncertain". There is a certain humility and acceptance when reality is seen as it is.)

But that's all very abstract and frankly a waste of time to think and make a philosophical decision about.

More practically, there is still dukka, right? Okay, that's the important thing! Now we got something work work with.

Lots of ways to explore and understand and release subtle dukka:

You could study/practice 6 realms, which is how our prejudices color our view of the world in a self-fullfilling way. If we go into a situation with an opposition mindset, we'll see opposition, and we will live as a hell being. There are 5 other realms which we are continously being born into. (This is very useful in real life and a great one to have "in case of emergency".)

You could study study/practice 5 elements, which is how our we just a few ways of maintain the self by using subtle reactive patterns when we are overwhelmed by emptiness. If we are overwhelmed by emptiness and "grab" for something solid, then we've manifested the confused form of the earth element. If we allow grabbing to fall away and allow reality to display itself without resistance, like sparkles coming off a rotating diamond, then we are seeing the unconfused display of the earth element. There are four other elements which can manifest or become confused. 

You could focus on the three poisons -- clinging, aversion, and indifference --- and how those three arise as a way that the self clings/identifies with positive, negative, and neutral sensations. This is an investigation of dependent origination, how the raw sensations of experience grow and become confused to ultimately become a sense of self that is born, lives, and dies, moment after moment.

You could focus on just the sense of "ill will", is there any "not good enough" prejudice in the moment? Notice how selfing is related to this habit of ill will. This is useful to do in real life, on the cushion, and even while in jhana --- to what extent are jhanas slightly imperfect despite the immense relief they provide? Where is there any dukka in jhana? What if I hold this sublte sense of dukka in my mind/heart and welcome it as a friend with something to teach? I'm a simpleton, so this was one of my main practices for a long while. Only one thing to remember and ask of the moment: ill will? emoticon 

Those are my general thoughts. My experience is that it is very helpful to use a structure/frame for practice that helps us explore subtle suffering. Of course all of these framing approaches are not 100% true, but they are very useful. 

Like all meditation practice, they are meant to help get us further down the road, rafts that help us cross the river. 

Lots of good practice ideas in the book "Wake Up to Your Life" by Ken McLeod.

​​​​​​​Hope this helps in some way.
Tom R, modified 6 Months ago at 11/21/21 7:26 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 11/21/21 7:26 PM

RE: "Original mind" and path?

Posts: 10 Join Date: 7/28/21 Recent Posts
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for your shared wisdom, shargrol. Your posts around the DhO community have helped me immensely, and I'm sure many others as well. 

As you can imagine, language around this stuff is difficult. If you say you are cultivating some thing (rigpa, orginal mind, source of mind, emptiness) and then that tends to create a kind of metaphysical thinking that is eternalist in framing. Like, all of life is an illusion but somewhere out there is the true self, big mind, rigpa, etc.  Yet this supposidly true thing is never right here, it's always out there, why would it be like that emoticon 

The other way to talk about it is you are getting rid of illusion and there is no thing at the center of it and then that tends to create a kind of metaphysical thinking that is nihlistic in framing. Like, all of life is a complete illusion and meaningless and everything is empitness, nibbana, cessation. Yet grilled cheese sandwiches taste good and even the buddha said it's good to have friends, so is everything really no thing and meaningless? emoticon

It's okay to loosely hold those views and use them as a motivation for exploration (what is the limit of rigpa, what is the limit of nibbana?)... but hold them loosely and as a hypothesis, as a question, as an exploration.
How did you know I have been bouncing around these concepts? emoticon I had just discussed with a CBT the flavors of nihilism peppering some of the ways of looking at the new territory. The way you describe it fills in many of the gaps that I have not worked through yet.

You could study/practice 6 realms, which is how our prejudices color our view of the world in a self-fullfilling way. If we go into a situation with an opposition mindset, we'll see opposition, and we will live as a hell being. There are 5 other realms which we are continously being born into. (This is very useful in real life and a great one to have "in case of emergency".)

You could study study/practice 5 elements, which is how our we just a few ways of maintain the self by using subtle reactive patterns when we are overwhelmed by emptiness. If we are overwhelmed by emptiness and "grab" for something solid, then we've manifested the confused form of the earth element. If we allow grabbing to fall away and allow reality to display itself without resistance, like sparkles coming off a rotating diamond, then we are seeing the unconfused display of the earth element. There are four other elements which can manifest or become confused. 

You could focus on the three poisons -- clinging, aversion, and indifference --- and how those three arise as a way that the self clings/identifies with positive, negative, and neutral sensations. This is an investigation of dependent origination, how the raw sensations of experience grow and become confused to ultimately become a sense of self that is born, lives, and dies, moment after moment.

You could focus on just the sense of "ill will", is there any "not good enough" prejudice in the moment? Notice how selfing is related to this habit of ill will. This is useful to do in real life, on the cushion, and even while in jhana --- to what extent are jhanas slightly imperfect despite the immense relief they provide? Where is there any dukka in jhana? What if I hold this sublte sense of dukka in my mind/heart and welcome it as a friend with something to teach? I'm a simpleton, so this was one of my main practices for a long while. Only one thing to remember and ask of the moment: ill will? emoticon 

Those are fantastic ideas and just what I was looking for. I realized that my practice may have to change a bit due to the cyclical pattern it seemed to be taking. I have purchased the book to dig deeper into all the new practices suggested. There is plenty of the subtle dukkha left, and now many new questions to explore, so I will focus on working through this. 

All the best.
Tom R, modified 5 Months ago at 12/3/21 12:54 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/3/21 12:44 PM

RE: "Original mind" and path?

Posts: 10 Join Date: 7/28/21 Recent Posts
I began with the more simplistic practice while I learn the other more complex ones. Taking your practice, shargrol:

You could focus on just the sense of "ill will", is there any "not good enough" prejudice in the moment? Notice how selfing is related to this habit of ill will. This is useful to do in real life, on the cushion, and even while in jhana --- to what extent are jhanas slightly imperfect despite the immense relief they provide? Where is there any dukka in jhana? What if I hold this sublte sense of dukka in my mind/heart and welcome it as a friend with something to teach? I'm a simpleton, so this was one of my main practices for a long while. Only one thing to remember and ask of the moment: ill will? emoticon
I realized that ill will is derived from feelings of superior/inferior. I also realized that in one of the insight stages (maybe A&P?) I tend to get a peak of what is to come later down a path. I think this just happened over the course of a couple meditations. I'll start from the root realization.

I can tell that my sensations and thoughts make up my experience. The meditation helped me objectify "the self" further. The self is generated from past memories of events and causes me to cling to my 6 senses out of sheer terror of the unknown. I can sense the sheer terror of the unknown, so I begin asking "who is terrified?" This allows me to get pretty deep in a state of concentration about all existence in an open awareness. 

I watched all existence being created by the underlying waves (now at a deeper level) which dominates every sense. It came in this time like an old TV static-y fuzz where senses bleed together sometimes. This lead to a bunch of questions to explore: 

If everything is coming into and out of existence moment by moment in this expansion and contraction, does the self just "glue" the moments together to help process this information into an entity? Am I just a meat computer of independent systems that doesn't want to see this is all just a patchwork of processes that has built up a system of physical and mental events to propagate existence of other similar systems (aka life/humans)? Is the meditation process meant to show us the collapse and birth of each moment so we can be comfortable living in total chaos and unpredictability? Is life one of the only things (or only) thing that seemingly defies entropy? What is awareness and who is aware?

The continuation of this meditation lead on. Jhana greatly reduces background suffering by promoting equanimity and seeing past gross hindrance. I worked out of 4th jhana, where I noticed that (at least in mine at this point) there is still a sense of self, but why? Finding pieces of the self and tracing them back through the process above, I realized that there is still "past reference" present which is creating subtle "self."

Focusing on resting in purely the expansion and contraction of all sensations, and releasing all traces of the past/self, brings the experience to the bleeding edge of presence. If I had to describe this, it is almost like touching a numbness of the senses, and a watching of them assemble. Almost as if you can sense the sense organ's refresh rate. There is a golden light and a bliss of letting go, but an underlying terror of unknown. When touching this bleeding edge of presence and losing the self, duality immediately collapses into the non-duality of just the present moment's creation. I can sit in this for several seconds at a time, but eventually the self creeps back in. 

I gather from here I will need to ramp up the skill necessary to allow this to be prolonged and during waking life. I suppose this could also be looked at as the same place as before but with a deeper understanding of what the self represents. There is also not an unknowing moment when the self is dropped, but a short lived repeatable experience. I've never seen this process clearly unfold to this depth before this moment. I am considering moving this onward to a practice journal.
shargrol, modified 6 Months ago at 11/22/21 5:54 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 11/22/21 5:54 AM

RE: "Original mind" and path?

Posts: 1747 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Best wishes for your practice!
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Dream Walker, modified 6 Months ago at 11/22/21 6:46 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 11/22/21 6:46 AM

RE: "Original mind" and path?

Posts: 1414 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
By the way, you can get path while asleep but don't tell anyone, it will make them lazy. (awakening is so easy I do it in my sleep!) hahaha

Shargrol has good advice, I'm still trying to follow the parts i like.
reread
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5800908
stuff about 3rd path. Its just my take on things but maybe useful.
You dont got rigpa, trust me. what you got is just less crap making a selfing problem and less fight or flight system creating stress.
enjoy where you are and look for more me making while going open and wide in each sense door til they stick open.
notice the mind door too and see if you can speed up your mind with clear brightness.
Good luck,
~D
Tom R, modified 5 Months ago at 11/28/21 10:18 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 11/28/21 10:18 PM

RE: "Original mind" and path?

Posts: 10 Join Date: 7/28/21 Recent Posts
By the way, you can get path while asleep but don't tell anyone, it will make them lazy. (awakening is so easy I do it in my sleep!)
That was quite an experience. I was very perplexed when it happened since it was from dreaming to waking when whatever transition it may have been occurred.

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5800908
stuff about 3rd path. Its just my take on things but maybe useful.
An excellent resource to orient one's self on the bigger picture. It can get tough and I really appreciate you putting this out there.

You dont got rigpa, trust me. what you got is just less crap making a selfing problem and less fight or flight system creating stress.
enjoy where you are and look for more me making while going open and wide in each sense door til they stick open.
notice the mind door too and see if you can speed up your mind with clear brightness.
This actually makes me excited that there are much deeper layers to this cake. emoticon I've really enjoyed investigating through this process since I've figured out my initial DN problem. I have been getting this very intense golden brightness lately. I could kind of describe it as a deeper jhanic state with metta flavors and a lot of rapid letting go and unknowing/cessation moments. Perhaps it is what you are referring to or some new depth of piti that I'm not used to yet. Either way I will keep working through the selfing that is going on.

Thanks Dream Walker. Best regards.
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Dream Walker, modified 5 Months ago at 12/4/21 10:28 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/4/21 10:28 PM

RE: "Original mind" and path?

Posts: 1414 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
What I'm working on now is clinging and aversion as the current mental problem. Neutrality is the focus to stay on in a clear thoughtless way. Just being in a silent calm quiet still place of neutrality. That's it.
good luck,
​​​​​​​~D
Tom R, modified 5 Months ago at 12/14/21 10:51 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/14/21 10:51 AM

RE: "Original mind" and path?

Posts: 10 Join Date: 7/28/21 Recent Posts
Thanks Dream Walker. I have been working with clinging and aversion to detect these selfing processes as well, along with some of the others that shargrol has mentioned. When I detect these processes, I've found that sliding into an emptiness meditation - Vipashyana helps to really start to turn them into a dreamlike state that dissolves attachment to the self. The following Michael Taft meditation really resonated with me and helped me to get into working from awareness:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=gXLMfoaLhO4&feature=youtu.be

Not sure if I'm going about this the best way, but this seems to be gaining traction as I learn more.

Good luck as well,
Tom
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 5 Months ago at 12/4/21 3:56 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/4/21 3:56 PM

RE: "Original mind" and path?

Posts: 2402 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Maybe this Shinzen talk might be of interest emoticon best wishes to you and may all be free from suffering and be happy! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vI4seVg0xjk
Tom R, modified 5 Months ago at 12/14/21 10:55 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/14/21 10:54 AM

RE: "Original mind" and path?

Posts: 10 Join Date: 7/28/21 Recent Posts
Thanks Papa Che, this is something I really have to keep in mind throughout the process. I realize now this is one of my biggest struggles that I did not see directly.

​​​​​​​Best wishes.