RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 11/28/21 1:11 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 11/24/21 1:39 AM

Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1190 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
This is volume 2 of my practice log. Volume 1 is here:  https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/22843214#_com_liferay_message_boards_web_portlet_MBPortlet_message_8496517

In various posts on these forums I have mentioned a kind of "transition" I experience when doing relaxation exercises and I think it may be of interest to other members of the forums so this post will be about how to experience it and what I think it is. I find it effectively relieves unpleasant emotions, so it is useful regardless of how one classifies it. (UPDATE, I should add that the transition effectively relieves unpleasant emotions that arise due to cognition. Some emotions might be due to purely biological factors such as some forms of anxiety and depressions and I would not expect mental techniques like meditaiton or relaxation exercises to be able to relieve them.)

At one time I asked if what I called the "transition" could actually be cessation. After considering this for some time, I am pretty sure that it is. In my experience it is fairly easy to produce through the process I will explain below. It doesn't take much concentration. The relaxation exercises quiet mental turbulence and that produces the necessary focus.

When I experience what I call the transition, I sometimes hear a tone, my mind then becomes very clear, it seemed like I lost focus for a moment, any unpleasant emotions I may have been having disappear, I am in a pleasant mood, and I can easily enter the jhanas.

The two sources that have led me to think this is cessation are MTCB2
https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-iv-insight/30-the-progress-of-insight/15-fruition/
and Ron Crouch's web site (which seems to have been deleted but continues to exist on the internet archive):
https://web.archive.org/web/20150315043206/http://alohadharma.com/2011/06/29/cessation/
  • Ron says that "What it feels like is that there is “click”, “blip”, or “pop” that occurs for an instant." This is similar to what I experience. I often hear a tone.
  • When I say any unpleasant emotions disappear and I am in a pleasant mood, this seems like what Ron calls the "bliss wave" and Daniel calls an afterglow.
  • When I say I lost focus for a moment, I think this is what Ron is describing when he says that "In that instant everything disappeared, including you". At first I couldn't understand why it only happened when I "lost focus" but if this is cessation then it actually makes perfect sense.
  • Daniel also says:
    All that said, there are those who won’t recognize it, particularly those who chance upon it outside of a meditative tradition that can recognize it. There will also be those for whom it happens within the context of their practice tradition, who can recognize it, but who fail to identify it as being what it is.
    Which I think accounts for my delay in recognizing this is cessation. I have no tradition telling me about cessation I only learned of it from this forum. Another factor may be that I am experiencing this without strong concentration, not even access concentration.
  • UPDATE 11/28/21: I also have a vibratory type experience before the transition. According to Ron Crouch perceiving vibrations is a characteristic of high equanimity which precedes cessation. 

    https://web.archive.org/web/20141019102026/http://alohadharma.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/equanimity/
    In high equanimity the meditator moves from “just sitting” to noticing a subtle and pervasive sense that the objects of meditation are vibrating.
    Below where I describe how to produce the transition I mention a feeling of tingling in the body which could also be described as vibrations in the object of meditation.
    Then I do a hypnotic induction where I mentally relax each part of my body noticing a relaxed, heavy, tingling or numb feeling in each part of my body as I relax it.
    ...
    ​​​​​​​I find it is easiest to experience the transition if I first start the pulsing relaxation through the visualization and than make my whole body tingling/numb/heavy with the induction. 
    ...

Here is how I produce the "transition":

First I do physical relaxation exercises like progressive muscular relaxation where I move each part of the body ten times. Other types of physical relaxation exercises that also work well include tai-chi, qigong, and yoga, etc. This step is not optional, if I don't start with physical relaxation I don't get to the deeper states described below. The form of progressive muscular relaxation I do takes only a few minutes - you don't need to do a 30 minute yoga or tai-chi routine.

Next I do mental relaxation exercises, either lying down or sitting in a chair. First I visualize colors of the spectrum where I name each color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet) and at the same time visualize either just the color or something (or several things) of that color (fruits, flowers, and vegetables work well but it can be anything).

While visualizing colors, if you name each color (and or object) as you visualize it, you might notice a feeling of relaxation as you name each color. This can happen if your breathing becomes synchronized with your heartbeat and you exhale as you name each color (even though you are just thinking the name not saying it aloud). As you do this you may notice a feeling of relaxation in your body pulsing along with your heartbeat and/or exhalations.

Then I do a hypnotic induction where I mentally relax each part of my body noticing a relaxed, heavy, tingling or numb feeling in each part of my body as I relax it.

I repeat these two exercises, visualization and induction, alternately until I reach a state of deep relaxation where I feel like I am floating. Then, very often the transition will occur.

I find it is easiest to experience the transition if I first start the pulsing relaxation through the visualization and than make my whole body tingling/numb/heavy with the induction. 

There are links on my blog post to more information on the relaxation techniques:
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/08/preparing-for-meditation-with.html

I am pretty sure I am experiencing what other people call cessation. However I am not saying anything about the significance or meaning of it. It seems to me like it should be relatively easy for others to do what I do and have the same experience since it does not involve deep meditation or strong concentration. However I had been meditating regularly for a long time before I stumbled onto this so I can't say for sure if it will work for others the way it does for me.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 8 Months ago at 11/24/21 2:16 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 11/24/21 2:16 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 2459 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
That sounds more like either Access Concentration or A&P. 

However it's less important if this was or wasn't THE cessation and what could benefit you more is to use that calm relaxed state you have mastered and is the base of your sits and build a noting practice on top of it. Plug the attention into the fast mind stream with applied effort based on that relaxing calmness you already have. 

Best wishes to you Jim! May all beings be free from suffering, may all awaken, may all be happy. 
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 11/24/21 2:34 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 11/24/21 2:33 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1190 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Papa Che Dusko That sounds more like either Access Concentration or A&P.  However it's less important if this was or wasn't THE cessation and what could benefit you more is to use that calm relaxed state you have mastered and is the base of your sits and build a noting practice on top of it. Plug the attention into the fast mind stream with applied effort based on that relaxing calmness you already have.  Best wishes to you Jim! May all beings be free from suffering, may all awaken, may all be happy. 


If I remember correctly Daniel describes access concentration as being with the breath for an hour without interruption. I never had that, never even came close.

I have A&P type experiences very frequently. The transition is not in that class.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 8 Months ago at 11/25/21 3:57 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 11/25/21 3:57 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 2459 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Ok. Maybe it indeed was THE cessation. In that case what next? Is there anything else "there" to be observed? 

Do I want to have more experiences "by the book" or can I look at all "this" in a more intimate way? 

What else is going on? Any urges, any desires, any aversions, any ill will there ? ...  
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 11/25/21 3:00 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 11/25/21 2:33 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1190 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Papa Che Dusko
Ok. Maybe it indeed was THE cessation. In that case what next? Is there anything else "there" to be observed? 

Do I want to have more experiences "by the book" or can I look at all "this" in a more intimate way? 

What else is going on? Any urges, any desires, any aversions, any ill will there ? ...  



The transition eliminates craving, ill will, anxiety, pride, greed, anger, etc while the "afterglow" lasts - until my mind gets distracted and tricked by the koan that is ordinary householder life. When I've tested the transition on strong emotions it worked well - better than expected. 

So my strategy for practice continues to be the same strategy I had before I knew the label other people put on the experience: Continue to practice the way I do because the practice produces a continual gradual reduction in suffering that I experience. Mainly that means using meditation and relaxation exercises to produce a pleasant relaxed state of mind and then watching mindfully in daily life how the mind produces dukkha as it arises and then try to train the mind not to do that. Before I started recognizing the transition I used the jhanas. Now I have something better, this transition, so I use that. (Before I learned to enter the jhanas I used samatha meditation. Metta works too.) If I had to summarize my practice I would say using samatha in sitting meditation and vipassana in daily life. I think this works well for a householder.

And by "training the mind not to produce dukkha" I don't mean suppressing emotions. I mean being open to myself about thoughts, emotions, and impulses, and letting go of them. Not suppressing, not obsessing. It doesn't mean one ignores problems it means one can better react with compassion and reason rather than out of control emotions.

(According to Shinzen Young, suppressing (rejecting thoughts and emotions emotions - sensory experience) causes the sense of a separate self (separation) and getting pulled into them generates a sense of solid self. So there is some mainstream support for my approach. Also Bhante Vimalaramsi uses relaxation in the way he teaches meditation). 

I am interested in "books" because I want to communicate with others to share information about practice so I need to know what they are thinking and what terms they use.  That's why I'm posting here about this, in case others might want to try the way I practice. I haven't seen it in any books.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 8 Months ago at 11/25/21 4:38 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 11/25/21 4:38 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Ok I see. Thank you for such detailed reply Jim. I will move out of the way now in case others might want to ask more about this kind of practicing. 

Best wishes! 
George S, modified 8 Months ago at 11/25/21 5:34 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 11/25/21 5:32 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 2529 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Hi Jim,

Interesting practice update. A couple of things I noticed:

'I find it effectively relieves unpleasant emotions, so it is useful regardless of how one classifies it.'

'It doesn't mean one ignores problems it means one can better react with compassion and reason rather than out of control emotions.'

A couple of ideas you could explore, if it seems helpful:

- Are certain emotions actually "unpleasant", or is that a reaction to the emotion?

- Can emotions actually get "out of control", or is that again a reaction to the emotion? (Maybe a fear of loss of control and a consequent attempt to control)

An interesting experiment you can do in meditation is to take an emotion which is generally considered unpleasant like anger say. Think of something which makes you feel angry! Set the intention to have a completely open experience of the emotion - let go of the judgement of unpleasant and the fear of losing control. You can think of allowing the emotion to do whatever it "needs" or "wants" to do, and just observe with curiosity what's actually going on in the body with the physical sensations of the emotion. Are they unpleasant? Are they out of control?
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 11/25/21 6:16 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 11/25/21 6:16 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1190 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
George S
Hi Jim,

Interesting practice update. A couple of things I noticed:

'I find it effectively relieves unpleasant emotions, so it is useful regardless of how one classifies it.'

'It doesn't mean one ignores problems it means one can better react with compassion and reason rather than out of control emotions.'

A couple of ideas you could explore, if it seems helpful:

- Are certain emotions actually "unpleasant", or is that a reaction to the emotion?

- Can emotions actually get "out of control", or is that again a reaction to the emotion? (Maybe a fear of loss of control and a consequent attempt to control)

An interesting experiment you can do in meditation is to take an emotion which is generally considered unpleasant like anger say. Think of something which makes you feel angry! Set the intention to have a completely open experience of the emotion - let go of the judgement of unpleasant and the fear of losing control. You can think of allowing the emotion to do whatever it "needs" or "wants" to do, and just observe with curiosity what's actually going on in the body with the physical sensations of the emotion. Are they unpleasant? Are they out of control?


I'm just trying to explain things concisely in a way most people can relate to.

When people read the anapanasati sutta and the Buddha says "I am breathing in a long breath". No one asks him "who" is breathing. No one objects to the inventor of the doctrine of no-self for using the word "I".
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 11/26/21 2:45 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 11/26/21 2:24 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1190 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I posted the reply quoted below on another thread. I'm crossposting here because it relates to my way of practicing.

When I say "watching mindfully in daily life how the mind produces dukkha as it arises" I am talking about a practical method of studying dependent origination. My feeling is that the full doctrine of dependent origination is somewhat overly technical and for practical use you only need to try to develop the habit of noticing (#6 ) sensations that arise in the body (through the sense organs or those that accompany emotions including tensing or tensions), notice if they are (#7) pleasant unpleasant or neutral, notice if you react by (8) liking or disliking (try to notice the similarities in all liking and in all disliking no matter what the cause - it helps to show you the problem is not the situation outside you, the problem is how you react to the situation and it helps you cultivate detatchment), (9) notice if your thoughts begin to run away from you, and (#10) Do you react or have the impulse to react in certain ways. As you make these observations over and over you begin to see that thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensations are the result of unconscious processes. They are not objective reality. "You" don't produce them, you observe them. They are not about "you". You have the option of being detatched, non-attached.

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/c/message_boards/find_message?p_l_id=10262&messageId=23409503
Jim Smith
[Ian Pitchford]
Coincidentally, I recently discovered a really delightful and practical exposition of paticcasamuppāda by Sister Khema on YouTube, which you can find here: https://youtu.be/FN1vhgGpfDY



57:18
She learned this process. She began to see a man who was in pain, who saw something, read it, and was in pain. So his eye[5=sense doors] met something with color and form. Eye consciousness arose[6=contact]. He made contact with the information on the report. It went into his mind and what happened was he had a painful feeling [7=feeling]. And when the painful feeling came up, he didn't personally like it [8=craving]. She could see him change with the tension and tightness in his body and knew that he was about to ... he didn't like it because of some reason and he pulled out the reactive habitual tendency[10=habitual tendencies] where he was going to yell at her and walk out of the room[11=birth of action]. And she said "well wait a minute". And he said "what"? [And she said] "Why don't we go get some coffee and talk about this report because honestly you don't like it and I don't like it the point is we could change it so we both like it and you don't get upset on Monday morning anymore." So it gave her the courage to see him without reacting to him and getting mad back at him at all as more compassion it opens the doorway by understanding how this works is how the Buddha was opening up the doorway so that compassion can begin to operate.

She practiced by watching dukkha arise in her own mind and she learned to let go of it and it allowed her to respond to problems with compassion and reason instead of out of control emotions.
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 11/28/21 1:12 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 11/28/21 12:57 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1190 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
This is volume 2 of my practice log.

...

Then I do a hypnotic induction where I mentally relax each part of my body noticing a relaxed, heavy, tingling or numb feeling in each part of my body as I relax it.
...
​​​​​​​I find it is easiest to experience the transition if I first start the pulsing relaxation through the visualization and than make my whole body tingling/numb/heavy with the induction. 

...

Tingling =  vibrating. A characteristic of high equanimity which preceeds cessation.

https://web.archive.org/web/20141019102026/http://alohadharma.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/equanimity/
In high equanimity the meditator moves from “just sitting” to noticing a subtle and pervasive sense that the objects of meditation are vibrating.
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 12/6/21 8:54 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/6/21 8:24 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1190 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I have been reading "ANAPANASATI - MINDFULNESS WITH BREATHING" by BUDDHADASA BHIKKHU.
http://dhammatalks.net/Books3/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_Anapanasati_Mindfulness_with_Breathing.htm

I think it is very good.

In the book, Buddhadasa Bhikkhu describes how to meditate in accordance with anapanasati sutta.

He explains that in the first 12 steps you prepare the mind, and in the last four steps you put the mind to work by observing impermanence (and since the three characteristics are interrelated this is equivalent to observing the three characteristics) which leads to letting go of attachments and (by interrupting the sequence of dependent origination) ending dukkha.

He also says ordinary people can practice just the first four steps and the last four steps. (Every meditation session should start at the first step and the following steps should be practiced in order.)

And he says awakening this way is a gradual process.
Coolness also can be the nibbana that happens due to "that factor." In Pali it is called "that factor," which means something like "coincidental." For example, when there is sati on the breath, the citta is cool. Anapanasati is "that factor," the agent, the cause, that affects the coolness here. This is tadanga-nibbana, coincidental nibbana. This coolness occurs because when there is no defilement the citta is cool. When there is no fire, there is coolness. Here, Anapanasati gets rid of the fires, the defilements. Although it is only temporary, the fire goes away and there is coolness for a while. There is nibbana for a while, due to "that factor," that tool, namely Anapanasati. Although momentary, not yet perfect and perpetual, the flavor of nibbana is savored as a sample or taste. Anapanasati helps us to sample nibbana little by little, moment by moment, dur­ing this very life. And nothing has to die. Then, coolness's duration is lengthened, its extent is broadened, and the frequency is increased until there is perfect nibbana. This is the benefit which I consider most satisfying or most positive. If you can do it. (182)
...
​​​​​​​The Lord Buddha himself declared that he realized Perfect Self-Awakening (anuttara sammasambodhi) through practicing Anapanasati. Consequently, we are pleased to recommend it to you, and to people everywhere, so that all human beings will know of it and be able to practice it. The Lord Buddha became a Buddha while practicing Anapanasati. Thus, he offered it to us as the best system of all to practice. He advised us all to use this practice for our own welfare, for the welfare of others, for the welfare of everyone. There is no better way to practice Dhamma than mindfulness with breathing. May you all give careful attention to it. 


In another work, "Nibbana for Everyone", Buddhadasa explains Nibbana is an ordinary state that everyone experiences from time to time whenever they are not experiencing an attachment or aversion.

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Articles/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_NIBBANA_FOR_EVERYONE.htm
The word "Nibbana" means "coolness." Back when it was just an ordinary word that people used in their homes it also meant "coolness." When it is used as Dhamma language, in a religious context, it still means "coolness," but refers to the cooling or going out of the fires of defilement (kilesa, reactive emotions), while in the common people's usage it means the cooling of physical fires.
...
Any reactive emotion that arises ceases when its causes and conditions are finished. Although it may be a temporary quenching, merely a temporary coolness, it still means Nibbana, even if only temporarily. Thus, there's a temporary Nibbana for those who still can't avoid some defilements.

Kilesa or reactive emotion is an attachment or aversion.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/glossary.html#k
kilesa:
Defilement — lobha (passion), dosa (aversion), and moha (delusion) in their various forms, which include such things as greed, malevolence, anger, rancor, hypocrisy, arrogance, envy, miserliness, dishonesty, boastfulness, obstinacy, violence, pride, conceit, intoxication, and complacency.


According to Buddhadasa when you are not in the grip of an attachment or aversion you are experiencing nibbana. Anapanasati helps you let go of attachments and aversions which ends dukkha, and you can gradually perfect letting go.


In "ANAPANASATI - MINDFULNESS WITH BREATHING", Buddhadasa also discusses how studying the three characteristerics breaks the sequence of dependent origination:
In practice, it all boils down to having sati [mindfulness] in the moment of phassa (sense contact) and that is all. Phassa is the meeting of an internal sense organ, a corresponding external sense object, and the appropriate type of sense consciousness (vinnana). Merely having sati in the moment of phassa solves all the possible problems of paticca-samuppada [dependent origination] completely. That is, before condi­tioned arising can develop have sati right there at contact. Do not let it be ignorant phassa. Then that contact will not lead to ignorant feeling and ignorant feeling will not lead to foolish craving (tanha). It all stops there. This is another advantage of training in Anapanasati. It makes sati sufficiently abundant and fast, qualified enough, to perform its duty in the moment of phassa and stop the stream of paticca-samuppada just then and there. This is an enormous benefit of practicing Anapanasati.
A convenient reference on dependent origination can be found in this .doc file:
https://web.archive.org/web/20151129101834/https://www.dhammasukha.org/uploads/1/2/8/6/12865490/107b-jul-2013-_dependent_origination_chart_in_color.doc

When the mind is prepared through meditation it is capable of being mindful and noticing sense perceptions that could cause attachments and aversions. If the mind is sufficiently aware of the three characteristics it will not form attachments and aversions and the steps of dependent origination that might otherwise produce dukkha will not occur.

Buddhadasa describes a way of practicing that is very similar to the way I practice.
I wrote:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/c/message_boards/find_message?p_l_id=10262&messageId=23409011
So my strategy for practice continues to be the same strategy I had before I knew the label other people put on the experience: Continue to practice the way I do because the practice produces a continual gradual reduction in suffering that I experience. Mainly that means using meditation and relaxation exercises to produce a pleasant relaxed state of mind and then watching mindfully in daily life how the mind produces dukkha as it arises and then try to train the mind not to do that. 


Letting go is still something of a skill you need to devleop even if you understand the three characteristics. Some of the techniques I find helpful for letting go are:
Relaxation Exercises (turning off the sympathetic nervous system)
Samatha Meditation 
Piti, Sukha Meditation
Metta Meditation
Surrendering
Quieting mental chatter with meditation - turning off the default network in the brain
Digging through layers of emotions
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 12/7/21 4:54 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/7/21 3:06 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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In my previous post I wrote:

Letting go is still something of a skill you need to develop even if you understand the three characteristics.


I should have mentioned that Buddhadasa instructs one to look at the 3 characteristics in the context of anapanasati, that is, in the breath, body, feelings and mind.

When you do that, you weaken your attachments to body, feelings, and mind so the attachments and aversions you are dissolving are not attachments and aversions to external things. The attachments and aversions you are dissolving are attachments and aversions to internal things like the body, sensations, emotions like craving, hating, fear, liking, and disliking, thoughts, and impulses etc. So you end craving to external things by seeing that craving is pointless (empty), you end aversion to external things by seeing that aversion is pointless (empty). It is pointless to take your cravings and aversions seriously when they are impermanent, uncontrollable (not self), cause you such suffering (dukkha). When you weaken your attachments and aversion to internal things, you also weaken the attachments and aversions to the objects or events outside you which your attachments and aversions are directed to.

There are a few subtle consequences to this way of using the 3 characteristics:

It is much more effective (practical) to convince myself that my craving for ice cream, chocolate, money, or status is the problem than it is to convince myself that those things are not actually very nice.  Ice cream is melts (impermanent), makes me fat (dukkha), etc, but it stillt tastes good and gives me a sugar high. This contradiction weakens the force of the argument (makes it ambiguous). However, my craving for ice cream and the enjoyment I get from it however are also impermanent, unsatisfiable, and arise from unconscious biological processes. No contradiction there, deliciousness is an integral part of the argument so craving is weakened more effectively. 

External things are not the problem, the are what they are (thusness) the problem is internal things.

It also explains how anatta helps to end suffering, as you weaken attachments to internal things you strengthen your sense of anatta and that coincides with weakening attachments to external things.

You can watch the activity of the mind and see that thoughts, emotions and impulses arise from unconscious processes and that produces a sense of detachment, but consciously recognizing mental formations are impermanent, unsatisfactory and not self gets right to the point and is very effective in producing that sense of detachment.
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 12/9/21 4:42 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/9/21 4:11 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/23406645#_com_liferay_message_boards_web_portlet_MBPortlet_message_23406442

First I do physical relaxation exercises like progressive muscular relaxation where I move each part of the body ten times. Other types of physical relaxation exercises that also work well include tai-chi, qigong, and yoga, etc. This step is not optional, if I don't start with physical relaxation I don't get to the deeper states described below. The form of progressive muscular relaxation I do takes only a few minutes - you don't need to do a 30 minute yoga or tai-chi routine.


I want to reemphasize the importance of physical relaxation exercises. Today I was stressed out about something and I thought I would try Shinzen Young's strategy of sensory clarity. I tried to analyze exactly what I was feeling. When I tried to understand the physical sensations of being stressed I noticed the feelings of muscle tension.

If an emotion changes your facial expression you will have muscle tension in your face in the muscles producing that facial expression.

If an emotion changes your posture, you will have muscle tension in your spine (neck and back) in the muscles producing that posture.

If an emotion changes your tone of voice, you will have muscle tension in your throat in the muscles that control speech.

If an emotion changes your breathing making it shallower or faster you will have muscle tension in your chest and or diaphragm in the muscles that control your breathing.

I tried to relax the muscles in my face, my back and neck and my chest and diaphragm.

When I did that the emotion went away. I was still in the situation and I still needed to do something about it, but I wasn't suffering.

I am not claiming this is panacea for all suffering, but it might help in some situations.
George S, modified 8 Months ago at 12/10/21 7:56 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/10/21 7:55 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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I think you're right, that's a huge component of reducing suffering - seeing the difference beteeen the emotion (physical sensations) and the reaction (feeling compelled to do something about it, or obsessing over it). And maybe something does need to be done, or maybe it doesn't, or maybe the situation is not quite what you thought it was, but yeah creating that sense of space around emotions and allowing them to have their natural expression ... HUGE emoticon
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 12/11/21 5:32 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/11/21 5:32 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Buddhadasa taught a form of visualization to help the meditator relax:

http://dhammatalks.net/Books3/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_Anapanasati_Mindfulness_with_Breathing.htm#APPENDIX%20D

In practicing step four, we have various methods or skillful means - we could even call them tricks - to use in calming the breath. Whether we call them techniques or tricks, these are a higher order of things which we use over things that are more crude and foolish. We call them "skillful means." We have some tricks to use on the breath and these tricks come in five stages. These five tricks or skillful means are:

1. following the breath;

2. guarding the breath at a certain point;

3. giving rise to an imaginary image at that guarding point;

4. manipulating those images in any ways that we want in order to gain power over them;

5. selecting one of these images and contemplating it in a most concentrated way until the breath becomes truly calm and peaceful.

Step 4 in the anapanasati sutta is:
(4) He trains himself: calming the body-conditioner I shall breathe in. He trains himself: calming the body-conditioner I shall breathe out.18
...
18. As the breath is calmed and refined, the conditioning of the body is calmed, and the mind becomes calm and concentrated to the extent, finally, of jhana.
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 12/11/21 6:52 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/11/21 6:50 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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I posted this somewhere else but it was a bit off topic so I moved it here with a few changes ...

I think it is best to focus your attention on the origin of dukkha and the ending of dukkha. Let the stages and milestones worry about themselves - they are just bait for the ego. Let the busybodies worry about who has attained what. Calm yourself with meditation, then watch what happens in that instant when dukkha arises. The problem is not things outside your mind, the problem is things inside your mind. The problem is not the thing you are attached or averse to (they are what they are), the attachment or aversion itself is the problem. The three characteristics apply to ice cream and head aches but you will profit more by looking for the 3 characteristics in your attachments and aversions (thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensations) to ice cream and headaches. How are attachments and aversions triggered? Where do thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensations come from? What happens in that instant when they are triggered? The answer is not a true or false fact you can tell someone, don't try to figure it out, the answer is an observation, an experience. The more you bring the light of consciousness to an unconscious process the more freedom you gain to indulge or abstain from it. If life is too quiet and peaceful on retreat or the mind is too quiet in meditation, and you can't find dukkha arising, look for dukkha in daily life, that's where the dukkha is.
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Jim Smith, modified 7 Months ago at 12/16/21 11:38 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 12/16/21 11:37 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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The reason physical movements can help dissipate emotions, I think, is that when you bend a joint, the muscles used to straighten it receive a nerve impulse to relax, and when you straighten a joint, the muscles that are used to bend it receive a nerve impulse to relax. Since emotions often express themselves through muscle tension (changes in posture, facial expression, tone of voice, rate of breathing, etc.), movements can relax muscle tension and that can help dissipate emotions.

Jim Smith https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/23406645#_com_liferay_message_boards_web_portlet_MBPortlet_message_23406442
First I do physical relaxation exercises like progressive muscular relaxation where I move each part of the body ten times. Other types of physical relaxation exercises that also work well include tai-chi, qigong, and yoga, etc. This step is not optional, if I don't start with physical relaxation I don't get to the deeper states described below. The form of progressive muscular relaxation I do takes only a few minutes - you don't need to do a 30 minute yoga or tai-chi routine.
I want to reemphasize the importance of physical relaxation exercises. Today I was stressed out about something and I thought I would try Shinzen Young's strategy of sensory clarity. I tried to analyze exactly what I was feeling. When I tried to understand the physical sensations of being stressed I noticed the feelings of muscle tension. If an emotion changes your facial expression you will have muscle tension in your face in the muscles producing that facial expression. If an emotion changes your posture, you will have muscle tension in your spine (neck and back) in the muscles producing that posture. If an emotion changes your tone of voice, you will have muscle tension in your throat in the muscles that control speech. If an emotion changes your breathing making it shallower or faster you will have muscle tension in your chest and or diaphragm in the muscles that control your breathing. I tried to relax the muscles in my face, my back and neck and my chest and diaphragm. When I did that the emotion went away. I was still in the situation and I still needed to do something about it, but I wasn't suffering. I am not claiming this is panacea for all suffering, but it might help in some situations.
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Jim Smith, modified 7 Months ago at 12/17/21 12:13 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 12/17/21 12:11 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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I have been noticing how emotions influence one's attitude. What is interesting is that attitude is an aspect that is possible to let go of. Emotions can change the "color" of reality. If you can let go of the changed attitude it helps to remove the influence on your mind. It's possible to let go of an attitude if you want to. If you have not been carried away by the emotion bur remain mindful, and have not bought into the new perspective as real or justified or "right". You can change your attitude without ignoring the situation or the thoughts and emotions produced. You can be aware of all that but with a more neutral attitude. We intentionally change attitudes naturally during daily life. If you are introduced to someone new, you might put on a friendly welcoming attitude. If you have to deal with someone you expect to get an argument from, you might put on a stren attitude. If you are meeting an old friend or a romatic partner you might take on different attitudes for those situations too.  In a way, these different attidutes are different selves. They are impermanent and not the real "you".

Noticing and letting go of attitudes combined with what I wrote above about relaxing muscle tension seems to be a good combination for letting go of attachemnts and aversions that arise.
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Jim Smith, modified 7 Months ago at 12/27/21 3:22 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 12/27/21 3:17 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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When you study your experience of consciousness closely, in time you learn to perceive through your nervous system at deeper levels, closer to raw unprocessed data, below the solid continuous reality the brain normally serves to the conscous mind.

​​​​​​​At that lower level of awareness, self doesn't make sense.

It's like if you thought Atlas supports the world on his shoulders, and then you left the earth on a spacecraft and looked out at the earth through viewport while experiencing zero gravity. You would see there is no up or down, there is no place to stand, there is no gravity to press the earth down on Atlas' shoulders. The idea of Atlas holding up the earth wouldn't make any sense.

Even if you only spent a few seconds in space, you would probably be permanently affected by your experience, you can't unsee what you saw. But with only a short glimpse, when you came back to earth the old habitual ways of thinking might come back to you after a little while. So the more time you could spend in space, the more the new worldview would become integrated into your thinking and the better you would understand Copernican cosmology.

When your awareness gets closer to the raw data coming into the brain, self doesn't make sense. You see that self is a qualia. It's like the color blue. In the brain there is nothing blue, there are only nerve cells and nerve impulses, yet we see blue and think it is a real property of the sky. There is no self in the nerve cells, there is no self in the nerve impulses, there is only a self in the virtual reality the brain serves to our conscious mind.
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Jim Smith, modified 7 Months ago at 12/27/21 5:58 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 12/27/21 5:58 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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When your instincts and habitual behaviors are urging you to raise barriers and reinforce your boundaries to awareness of sensory input and mental activity, you should do the opposite, lower your barriers, open youself to and welcome awareness of sensory input and of mental activity. Don't separate your self from what you don't like. Rejection of reality (cognitive dissonance) is suffering.
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Jim Smith, modified 7 Months ago at 12/29/21 12:20 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 12/28/21 9:54 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
When you study your experience of consciousness closely, in time you learn to perceive through your nervous system at deeper levels, closer to raw unprocessed data, below the solid continuous reality the brain normally serves to the conscious mind.
...


This could also explain why meditating can produce siddhis. The brain filters consciousness. That explains why we can be spiritual beings but not realize it while incarnated. If meditation allows one to perceive below the level of filtering, closer to the raw data coming from the senses, that is like poking holes in the filter. In addition to the perception that self and separation are not in the data but created by the filter, those holes might also let our spiritual capabilities like clairvoyance through the filter.

The connection between meditation and psychic experiences seems to support the belief that meditation is giving people access to consciousness with less filtering by the brain. Models of awakening and teaching and practice methods should take this into account.

It also could explain why some people develop psychiatric disorders from meditation. Poking holes in the filter is literally a form of brain damage.
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Jim Smith, modified 7 Months ago at 1/2/22 5:50 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 1/2/22 5:46 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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It is interesting to watch the mind and notice sense perceptions arise into consciousness and consider that consciousness (of the thing) arises because of the thing perceived.  That mind is a mirror.  Musical sounds work well for this exercise.

There seems to be a kind of disconnect when we are suffering.

What we think is happening is not what is really happening. 

We think "something bad/wrong is happening to 'me' or 'mine'"

What is really happening is we (consciousness) come into existence because of sensory perceptions.
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Stefan Stefan, modified 7 Months ago at 1/2/22 7:38 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 1/2/22 7:38 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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The mind is really quick at writing fictions but slow to recognise reality. But reality is peaceful, regardless of how it feels. 
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Jim Smith, modified 7 Months ago at 1/10/22 1:22 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 1/10/22 1:07 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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I find I get a lot of benefit from examining resistance. 

What I mean by resistance is that If some unpleasant emotion arises one might notice a feeling that they don't want to think about it or look at it too deeply.

It might seem like the way to deal with unpleasant thoughts and emotions it is to force one's self to to think of the situation and look at the feelings that come out despite the feelings of reluctance to do so.

What I find is that it is very useful to look at the feeling of resistance, let that come fully into consciousness. Let it sit there and see what associations pop up. I am not saying not to look at the situation and feelings, I just mean I find it useful to look at that resistance, being clear about the resistance can have a large effect on how I feel about the situation. Being clear about the resistance seems to help to let go of the other stuff. 

The resistance is the obstacle to letting go, it is what needs to be dealt with. But it's easy to over look when thoughts of the situation is what comes to the forefront of your mind.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 5/12/22 4:59 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 5/12/22 4:57 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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If you practice metta meditation, or you learn to produce sukha (tranquil happiness), or you practice relaxation exercieses that are also forms of meditation, or you do a type of meditation that is relaxing, and you practice these to the extent you have some familiarity with them, then when dukkha (unpleasant emotions: craving and aversion) arises you will recognize that you are making a choice not to feel metta, or not to feel sukha, or not to relax. 

So before you became familiar with these practices, dukkha seemed to be involuntary, but after you become familiar with one of those practices, dukkha seems to be voluntary - something you do intentionally out of habit - a habitual reaction. But if you watch the activity of the mind carefully in meditation and in daily life you can see when you make the choice to produce dukkha and you can change your chioce, relax, - without suppressing anything.

I am not claiming everyone can learn to do this to perfection, but I think most people can experience significantly improved well-being from it.
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Sigma Tropic, modified 2 Months ago at 5/12/22 7:53 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 5/12/22 7:46 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith is clearly Sakadagami. 

The transition Jim is describing is what you all call POI stage transitions. He described a clear effect on dukkha and a clear process whereby he stops the dukkha and how the fruition is involved. 

*I am an Arhat. I was asked to teach by Arhat teacher. He was a monk in the Thai forest tradition for 17 years before seeing through Buddhism/ 3C's and everything = Arhat deluxe
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Sigma Tropic, modified 2 Months ago at 5/12/22 9:12 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Yeah, clearly these are cessation/fruition. But these things you're having and from what I've observed there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that you have at least Sotapanna. More people should be taking advice from Jim,  he knows what he's talking about.  
​​​​​​​

You want to learn all you can about these moments- the before/after, bringing it about - you want to watch your mind's activities in and around this state. The sudden release of dukkha - that is pretty obvious in the moment to me- most fruitions are (In fact I get a lot of the type where I hear a tone of some sort while I'm working or doing anything really). 

I think you could bring the clarity of your awareness up a bit. You said you have buzziness, that's good, maybe you're not a vibratory type of yogi but it seems like you get how to calm the mind which is good. You want to look for the signposts of phenomena that are related to cessation, and the insight into craving that it gives you. It takes a lot of repetition, but if you notice there are different types of experience that happen right before cessation (this is for spontaneous* cessations: confusion, visual strobing, or sense of falling or being violenty pulled/pushed/sucked into something - those correspond to impermanence, non-self, dukkha. (These are half-second to 0.25 second moments) You might also have a visual lights out phenomena that superficially gives a cessation-like impresssion, but I think those are just falling into the 7th and 8th jhana. There are also moments around that territory with little partial break-downs that aren't complete cessations and feel like the above, but they don't go all the way, there seems to be some mechanism in the mind that stops it - and then when the cessation of everything occurs, there is the clear shift from high eq to A&P. Do you notice anything like these phenomena? It feels like the missed cessations are missed because of some subtle reservation or fear in the mind, and when that's gone, it's almost like you have to be caught off guard almost. Then there is a discontinuity and a wave of bliss/contentment. 

The misssed cessations in high EQ are kinda like what people call "reality synching up" but I just notice these moments where the missed cessations happen. Then there is a tension of sorts and the mind ceases completely and releases everything. 

What's important is to notice the relationship between object contacts, craving, clinging, and liking/disliking. You want to develop a higher level sublety with regard to knowing the mind's activities and trends. Kinda like the news for your mind. You have to notice the way the mind reacts to objects in predicatable ways and what those basic mind states feel like. 

I got the sense that you already get this Jim, but you want to look at how craving cuts a link in the chain and you get cessation- there is always a sense object perception and a moment where there is no reaction of craving or aversion or ignorance.

And you also want to look at how after the cessation moment you are without a big sticky self-image and that hasn't really formed yet so you have a moment without that sense of self- and seeing how that directly stops dukkha in the moment is good. 

You can watch your mind in jhanas do dependent origination it's a easy way to see it. If you have 4 jhanas I would start trying to get 5th jhana, keep things jhanic and as long as sense perceptions are buzzy you're good. 

<I was asked to teach by my teacher> 
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 5/13/22 4:18 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Sigma Tropic
...
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You want to learn all you can about these moments- the before/after, bringing it about - you want to watch your mind's activities in and around this state... 

... 


Thanks for all the suggestions.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 5/16/22 4:27 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 5/16/22 4:27 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
If you practice metta meditation, or you learn to produce sukha (tranquil happiness), or you practice relaxation exercieses that are also forms of meditation, or you do a type of meditation that is relaxing, and you practice these to the extent you have some familiarity with them, then when dukkha (unpleasant emotions: craving and aversion) arises you will recognize that you are making a choice not to feel metta, or not to feel sukha, or not to relax. 

So before you became familiar with these practices, dukkha seemed to be involuntary, but after you become familiar with one of those practices, dukkha seems to be voluntary - something you do intentionally out of habit - a habitual reaction. But if you watch the activity of the mind carefully in meditation and in daily life you can see when you make the choice to produce dukkha and you can change your chioce, relax, - without suppressing anything.

I am not claiming everyone can learn to do this to perfection, but I think most people can experience significantly improved well-being from it.


And if you watch the activity of the mind, you can also see your sense of self arising and passing away, changing from thought to thought. In one moment your sense of self might be you as a child of your parents, in another moment it might be you as the parent of your children, or someone who owns a car, or who works at your job, or goes to your school, or someone who is brave, or is afraid, or is happy, or sad, or angry, or successful or a failure, or proud or humble.

And you also might notice when dukkha arises in response to a thought or a sight or a sound, your sense of self is part of the dukkha. You put yourself in the center of the universe, everything is about you. Your mental anguish is about you and yours. You crave things for yourself. You don't like things because of their relation to yourself. It's all about you.

But just like with dukkha arising, if you watch your mind carefully, you realize your sense of self is something you are creating voluntarily. At first it seemed involuntary but after observing it so many times you now see it as voluntary. You see how it happens, you see how you do it, you see that you can chose not to do it - without suppressing anything. You can let go of your sense of self - you see it arise and pass away and you are not attached to it, not clinging to it, not obsessed with it. You stop putting yourself at the center of the universe, you stop believing that everything is about you. You stop taking things personally, you stop experiencing anguish over yourself and what happens to you. You suffer much less.

This is not something that happens in an instant, it is something you develop over time. At first, your awareness of your senses of self might be vague and subtle and nebulous. But over time, after repeatedly looking at the activity of your mind and watching for your senses of self, they begin to clarify and your awareness improves and detachment develops.

It might be hard to understand how all this could be true. The logic might not make sense. The facts might not be evident. But the point is to show one way it can be done. Calm the mind with meditation and watch dukkha arise and pass away in response to thoughts and sensations, notice your various senses of self arise and pass away. Continue calming the mind and observing it in daily life. Observe dukkha, impermanence, and anatta.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 5/23/22 10:52 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 5/23/22 5:18 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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One of the hardest things about letting go of fear is the tendency to think fear helps us prepare for the feared event, or that being afraid helps us respond appropriately if the event occurs, or that fear magically prevents the it from happening. This makes it very hard to give up the fear and relax because we think fear is helpful, that it serves a purpose, that it protects us, that if we are not afraid we are more vulnerable. But in many situations in modern life, fear is counterproductive and our natural tendencies only cause needless suffering. Yet those tendencies are hard to counteract even if we know intellectually fear is not necessary or helpful in that situation.

It is a kind of standoff, you may want to relax to let go of the fear, but the fear itself creates resistance to relaxing.

To let go of fear, you have to let your guard down.

Somehow that phrase seems to help where logic doesn't. It means in order to relax and let go of the fear, you have to be willing to accept the possibility of the feared event occurring when you are not prepared for it by being on high alert. This makes sense because when fear is not helpful, if you can experience the event without fear, without reacting with unpleasant emotions, without mental anguish, then there really is much less to fear, much less to be averse to.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 5/25/22 4:18 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 5/25/22 4:18 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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I posted this in another forum but it seems relevant here:

I meditate during daily activities by breathing in a relaxing way and noticing the pleasant feeling of relaxation. Every few breaths I remind myself that I am "Aware in the present moment" and notice what I'm seeing and doing. The practices (relaxation and mindfulness) keep me relaxed and present, it keeps my mind from becoming lost in thought or carried away by emotions. The effect is that every movement becomes a pleasure, every step when I walk, every motion when I'm watching the dishes, every thing I see, hear, feel. It changes boring chores or unpleasant tasks into opportunities to experience bliss.

And when each moment, action, or sensation is a pleasure, the trivial obsessions that we upset ourselves over seem a million miles away. Why get drawn into the delusions that cause suffering when there is an alternative that is so much nicer? It's a kind of positive reinforcement that trains you let go of attachments and aversions, to become non-attached. When you notice an unpleasant emotion arising and you know you have an alternative to be relaxed and happy the choice is obvious.

​​​​​​​
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/08/preparing-for-meditation-with.html

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/10/easy-meditation.html

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/10/a-quick-guide-to-producing-bliss-with.html

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/10/metta-meditation.html
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 6/14/22 8:52 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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The more I observe dukkha arising and fading in my own mind the more I see that the present moment is a refuge.

When you are mindful, when you are aware of what you are doing as you are doing it, in the present moment, you are not making dukkha.

But the concentration necessary is a very light touch. It isn't an intense concentration that drives away (suppresses) thoughts and emotions. It's a relaxed noticing (of everything including thoughts and emotions) like noticing a flower, or a landscape, or a sunset.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago at 6/16/22 2:17 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Nice.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 6/18/22 8:54 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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The venerable Jumsithmis was staying in Hattaman in Konwery. In the shade of an ancient tree, he spoke thus to the mendicant yogi Berram:

"Thoughts, emotions, impulses, and sensations seem to arise into consciousness from nowhere. Their source is various unconscious processes. The unconscious processes (aggregates) don't like to lose, they don't want to lose, they are afraid of losing. They like to win, they want to win."

The mendicant yogi asked the venerable one:

"What is losing?"

The venerable one replied, paraphrasing the great one:

"Birth is losing, aging is losing, death is losing; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair are losing; association with the unbeloved is losing; separation from the loved is losing; not getting what is wanted is losing. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are losing."

Berram asked:

"What am I?"

The venerable one replied:

"The unconscious processes discuss themselves, they observe themselves."
George S, modified 1 Month ago at 6/19/22 8:46 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 6/19/22 8:46 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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That's interesting. Where is it from?
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 6/19/22 1:53 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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George S
That's interesting. Where is it from?


I made it up.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 6/19/22 5:14 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
George S
That's interesting. Where is it from?


I made it up.


I don't know why, but I thought it would be better to explain this in the form of a sutra. Maybe I should have just said it in plain language:

Recently whenever I notice dukkha arising in my mind I remind myself:

"The unconscious processes are afraid of losing."

And

"The unconscious processes discuss themselves."

The point of the first sentence is to remind myself that thoughts emotions impulses and sensations arise from unconscious processes, they are not me, or mine, they are not self. The result of this is that the self seems to be only an observer.

The second sentence explains that the first sentance is not "me" being an oberver it is really just the unconscious processes disucssing themselves. The purpose of this is to remind myself that the feeling of self is just one more thing that arises from those unconscious processes. This observer or feeling of being an observer is also not self.

Together they produced in me a clear sense that everything is not self (there is nothing that is self) and in a way that is effective in furthering equanimity and non-attachment (reduces suffering). I thought this was a little bit unusual because getting the concepts arcross is not hard, but what is hard is to get them across in a way that actually has an effect that reduces suffering. 

I chose to describe dukkha as "fear of losing" because it seems to cover many different situations, death is losing, getting injured is losing, getting sick is losing, losing social status is losing, etc etc.  When something "bad" happens we feel the same way we do when we lose in a game. Life is like a game. When something bad happens it is like losing in that game.
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Sigma Tropic, modified 1 Month ago at 6/20/22 6:26 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim good stuff I like your log ​​​​​​​
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 6/20/22 8:25 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Sigma Tropic

Jim good stuff I like your log ​​​​​​​


Thanks!
George S, modified 1 Month ago at 6/21/22 8:52 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Thanks. It's a nice way to explain it emoticon
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 6/29/22 4:23 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Mantra of the day: "Nothing's a problem unless the mind makes it a problem."
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago at 6/29/22 4:41 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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What mind? 

​​​​​​​emoticon 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago at 6/30/22 3:43 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Dear friend, tranquility can be used for bypassing issues. Just like drugs and alcohol. 
So as soon I'm experiencing Dukkha (problems) I take my feel-good drug. 

Also you seem to talk about "mind" as an opposition to you. Almost as if mind is the troublemaker over there and I'm being tranquil and mindful over here. 

I must say that you sound like me back in 2010 when I was high on A&P. I've spoken exactly the same and the agenda was to top up the tranquility and then all was ok. Just had to go back to the cushion to get some more good stuff and the day was saved. 

This luckily changed when Dissolution kicked in. DN made sure I could not talk like that anymore. emoticon Anicca is great at this! 

Best wishes Jim!
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Jim Smith, modified 23 Days ago at 7/18/22 1:29 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 7/1/22 4:24 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
Jim Smith
Mantra of the day: "Nothing's a problem unless the mind makes it a problem."

I think I need to explain how to experience this. The literal meaning of the words is simple to understand and I think most people understand it. But that intellectual understanding doesn't change much. 

What does cause change is to experience the truth of this statement. To do that, you have to start from a state of non-attachment, of tranquility, where you are not experiencing any unpleasant emotions or cravings. Then, if you are observing the mind mindfully (the "mantra" can help with this), when dukkha starts to arise, you have the opportunity to observe the mind creating a problem, and you can make a choice whether to stay tranquil or let the dukkha take over your mind. Starting with a tranquil mind lets you see/feel the contrast between attachment and non-attachment. If your mind is not tranquil you don't really experience the same contrast, you don't see/experience the difference between non-creation and creation. 

(This is a practical way to study dependent origination, impermanence, dukkha, and anatta.)

When you experience this contrast between tranquility and dukkha, you see why it is nice to cultivate tranquility, how non-attachment improves your well-being, you see you can refrain from making problems for yourself with your mind. This experience makes a difference in well-being that an intellectual understanding alone does not provide.
...


It's a way to change your habitual tendencies (step 10 of dependent origination) by intervening before they become triggered.
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 7/1/22 4:30 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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So as soon I'm experiencing Dukkha (problems) I take my feel-good drug. 

Isn't this avoidance, another form of bypassing?
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago at 7/1/22 4:48 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Yes. Hence me mentioning it. 
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 7/1/22 5:24 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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You used the present tense so I assumed you are doing this now.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 7/2/22 12:16 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Chris M
So as soon I'm experiencing Dukkha (problems) I take my feel-good drug. 

Isn't this avoidance, another form of bypassing?


Regarding what I wrote, I am not saying to cultivate bliss because it feels good.

My point is to use tranquility as a background against which you can clearly see dukkha arising, and as a state in which you can exist in the absence of dukkha. I am trying to explain a way to reduce dukkha in your mind. The primary benefit of the practice comes from the reduction of dukkha. That is the whole point of Buddhism. Ending dukkha.

My practice is very similar to what Buddha taught in the anapanasati sutta calm the body, feelings, and mind, and study 3 characteristics in the mind. Calming the mind to reduce the production of dukkha is orthodox Buddhism.

People habitually produce dukkha because of a lifetime of letting their nervous system follow it's natural tendencies. How do you change those habitual tendencies? You learn to watch for dukkha and learn not to do that with your nervous system - just like Buddha taught when he taught about dependent origination - "because of this, that arises; when this ceases, that also ceases". It is a way to observe and let go of the causes of dukkha not suppress them.

It seems to work very well in my experience.

I don't have faith in any teacher or practice or event that might happen at sometime in the future during meditation. I assume there are other people like me who would like a practice that is logical and the way it works is understandable, and that you can do it as much or as little as you want and get results in proportion to your effort. That is what I have written about above.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 7/2/22 1:32 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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The point of the mantra is not to act as a focus of concentration to the exclusion of all thougths and emotions.

The purpose is to act as a reminder to a more complex set of instructions, to aid in mindfulness.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago at 7/2/22 1:46 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Oh emoticon yes I see what you mean! No hablar englez so good mon senior Kris! emoticon 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago at 7/2/22 1:58 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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That's a very valid practice indeed. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago at 7/2/22 3:29 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
Chris M
So as soon I'm experiencing Dukkha (problems) I take my feel-good drug. 

Isn't this avoidance, another form of bypassing?


Regarding what I wrote, I am not saying to cultivate bliss because it feels good.

My point is to use tranquility as a background against which you can clearly see dukkha arising, and as a state in which you can exist in the absence of dukkha. I am trying to explain a way to reduce dukkha in your mind. The primary benefit of the practice comes from the reduction of dukkha. That is the whole point of Buddhism. Ending dukkha.

My practice is very similar to what Buddha taught in the anapanasati sutta calm the body, feelings, and mind, and study 3 characteristics in the mind. Calming the mind to reduce the production of dukkha is orthodox Buddhism.

People habitually produce dukkha because of a lifetime of letting their nervous system follow it's natural tendencies. How do you change those habitual tendencies? You learn to watch for dukkha and learn not to do that with your nervous system - just like Buddha taught when he taught about dependent origination - "because of this, that arises; when this ceases, that also ceases". It is a way to observe and let go of the causes of dukkha not suppress them.


Yes, this is essential to the Buddhadharma, as I understand it, and I think you explained very well how to not make this into spiritual bypassing. Thanks for that! 

Delson Armstrong talks about this in an interview by Guru Viking:  https://youtu.be/Vs2egF5idv8. In the interview he also shares a figure that sums it up:

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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago at 7/2/22 10:33 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim you seem to talk about tranquility-bliss as the very weapon against Dukkha. The very way to end Dukkha. Without it there is no "background" to clearly see the Dukkha etc ... 

Instead ... 

What if the end of Dukkha is the very beginning of the 4 Brahmaviharas? I see no mention of "tranquility/bliss/calmness/relaxation" in the 4 Brahmavihharas. 

I'm not saying your method is false or bad, just not to see it as the very end of this journey. 

Tranquility needs to be maintained, needs lots of energy to protect "me" from Dukkha. 
It has its uses for a while but at some stage I see it as a hindrance, if clinging to it as the solution (maintaining the background). 
Tranquility too is subject to Anicca. 

Of course I might be wrong. But there you have my view which is subject to change. 

Best wishes to us all. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago at 7/2/22 12:42 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Papa Che, you have made your take on this very clear. Do you think you could let it go now? After all, this is not a discussion thread, but a practice log. Jim's practice log. 

Linda Ö,
DhO moderator
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago at 7/2/22 3:52 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago at 7/2/22 11:41 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Thanks!
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago at 7/5/22 6:45 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Hi Jim! It's quite a nice practice you have going on. I'm curious about that nihilistic territory you were asking about in another thread. Is that still happening? Have you decided how to approach it? How has it been going? I'm asking because all the layers of the practice can be rather confusing sometimes, and I'd like to learn from your reflections. 
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 7/5/22 10:51 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
Hi Jim! It's quite a nice practice you have going on. I'm curious about that nihilistic territory you were asking about in another thread. Is that still happening? Have you decided how to approach it? How has it been going? I'm asking because all the layers of the practice can be rather confusing sometimes, and I'd like to learn from your reflections. 
What I am thinking now is that there are many dimensions to meditation. That "nihilistic" feeling is composed of several different qualities. I think I can keep the stuff I think is beneficial (non-attachment feeling) without the stuff I think is not beneficial (lack of all emotions). There are various ways to add back emotion: piti, sukha, metta, afterglow.

In the sturas in places  there are phrases like "neither pleasure nor pain". There are different feelings that fit that description, numbness is one, but there are others feelings that fit that description which are nicer than pleasure. I was wondering if there are any systems of practice that cultivate the numbness aspect.

I don't think awakening should be numb. The saying is "chop wood, carry water", not "chop wood, carry water, being numb".
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 7/5/22 10:47 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
Papa Che, you have made your take on this very clear. Do you think you could let it go now? After all, this is not a discussion thread, but a practice log. Jim's practice log. 

Linda Ö,
DhO moderator


Thank you Linda.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago at 7/6/22 3:25 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Sounds good. Yeah, I don't doubt that you can add back emotion. Thanks for sharing! 
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 7/6/22 7:54 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
Sounds good. Yeah, I don't doubt that you can add back emotion. Thanks for sharing! 


It seems to be sort of analogous to the jhana factors where the different jhanas share some of the same factors but also have differences. The various factors can be present or absent independently of each other.

http://the-wanderling.com/jhana_factors.html

I mentioned a bunch of different factors in the original post. Some overlap, some are independent.
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/24016572

Sometimes when meditating, my mind just feels like shutting down and ignoring everything, like letting go of responsibility, like not caring about anything, almost nihilistic. If I go with that, after the meditation session, my mind is very quiet and I feel emotionally numb. In a way it feels like letting go, like anatta, like no one's there.

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago at 7/6/22 8:50 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Interesting. I was wondering whether you were actually talking about a strong absorption into fourth jhana. Were you? Words are so futile when it comes to this. I would never personally choose the word nihilism to describe that exquisite jhana factor, but I can see why someone would. I can't think of any word that would do it justice. I haven't experienced strong absorption into fourth jhana for quite some time now, but if I had the opportunity, I would jump at it without hesitation. And yet, I remember it as being exceptionally clean from anything close to "normal" human emotion. I still can't wrap my mind around how something so detached and neutral can at the same time be so unfathomably beautiful and pleasant. Pleasant beyond pleasant. I guess that's it - I can't wrap my mind around it. Not any narrow individual mind. And while there is no attachment to that state, or to anything, while I'm in that state, there sure is attachment to that state when I'm not in it. However - and this is important - this does not mean that I would wish to transcend human emotions. I think that the times that I have spent in that chrystal clear detachment have, if anything, opened me up more to the beauty of human expressions in all their nuances. And I needed that. Badly. Hm, perhaps bathing in that chrystal clarity once in a while brings out the sacred in what used to seem dirty too. Gosh, I need another bath like that. 

Innocense, perhaps? Uh, I don't know. Words really are futile. And yet they are the state of the art. It's pristine, like a snow chrystal. 

Thankyou for sharing further, and for sharing that awesome resource! Reading that page caused some interesting sensations around the medulla oblongata. 
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 7/6/22 9:41 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
Interesting. I was wondering whether you were actually talking about a strong absorption into fourth jhana. Were you?


I'm not sure. I don't really know how to compare other people's experiences to my own, often different people mean different things when they use the same terms. And I don't experience the jhanas in the order they are supposed to go in, and there are other stages not typically mentioned that come up too.


Words are so futile when it comes to this. I would never personally choose the word nihilism to describe that exquisite jhana factor, but I can see why someone would. I can't think of any word that would do it justice. I haven't experienced strong absorption into fourth jhana for quite some time now, but if I had the opportunity, I would jump at it without hesitation. And yet, I remember it as being exceptionally clean from anything close to "normal" human emotion.


I still can't wrap my mind around how something so detached and neutral can at the same time be so unfathomably beautiful and pleasant.
Yes. ^^^


Pleasant beyond pleasant. I guess that's it - I can't wrap my mind around it. Not any narrow individual mind. And while there is no attachment to that state, or to anything, while I'm in that state, there sure is attachment to that state when I'm not in it.


However - and this is important - this does not mean that I would wish to transcend human emotions.
Right. ^^^


I think that the times that I have spent in that chrystal clear detachment have, if anything, opened me up more to the beauty of human expressions in all their nuances. And I needed that. Badly. Hm, perhaps bathing in that chrystal clarity once in a while brings out the sacred in what used to seem dirty too. Gosh, I need another bath like that. 

Innocense, perhaps? Uh, I don't know. Words really are futile. And yet they are the state of the art. It's pristine, like a snow chrystal. 

Thankyou for sharing further, and for sharing that awesome resource! Reading that page caused some interesting sensations around the medulla oblongata. 


Thanks and thanks for sharing too.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 7/6/22 10:30 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
Interesting. I was wondering whether you were actually talking about a strong absorption into fourth jhana. Were you?


I'm not sure. I don't really know how to compare other people's experiences to my own, often different people mean different things when they use the same terms. And I don't experience the jhanas in the order they are supposed to go in, and there are other stages not typically mentioned that come up too.

...



I am not looking for experiences that require deep states of meditation. I am interested in what I can find in meditation that I can bring into daily life. There were times when I was interested in the deeper states and I don't think there is anything wrong with practicing them, but that is not what I am interested in right now.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago at 7/6/22 1:15 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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I understand. Comparisons are very tricky. I get really nerdy sometimes in trying to triangulate different kinds of experiences and approaches to make sense of the different axes at play in the practice. It is helpful for me to get that overview over the broader field of tensions, so to speak, but I need to keep myself from getting lost in the details. 

It sounds like a very sane approach. I wish you all the best with it. Once again, thankyou so much for sharing!
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 7/8/22 10:46 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Clinging affects the mind and body.

When we are upset we experience muscle tension. Emotions influence many muscles through effects on facial expresion and posture. Stress hormones have other effects we can feel such as elevated heart rate, elevated rate of breathing etc. 

Also when we are upset we may become carried away by our thoughts, we may become fixated on the thing upsetting us.

Letting go, being non-attached, means reversing these effects or not producing them to begin with. That requires handling the effects on the body and the effects on the mind.

For the effects on the body, physical relaxation is effective. For the effects on the mind mindfulness is effective.

(A physical relaxation exercise, done mindfully, will provide both effects.)

Relaxation and mindfulness work well together to help with letting go and preventing clinging.

To practice in daily life, try to be relaxed and mindful throughout the day. If you pay attention to your level of relaxation, you will notice dukkha arising and dukkha fading which is a practical way to study dependent origination and the three characteristics.
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Jim Smith, modified 28 Days ago at 7/13/22 1:56 PM
Created 28 Days ago at 7/13/22 1:53 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
Clinging affects the mind and body.

When we are upset we experience muscle tension. Emotions influence many muscles through effects on facial expresion and posture. Stress hormones have other effects we can feel such as elevated heart rate, elevated rate of breathing etc. 

Also when we are upset we may become carried away by our thoughts, we may become fixated on the thing upsetting us.

Letting go, being non-attached, means reversing these effects or not producing them to begin with. That requires handling the effects on the body and the effects on the mind.

For the effects on the body, physical relaxation is effective. For the effects on the mind mindfulness is effective.

(A physical relaxation exercise, done mindfully, will provide both effects.)

Relaxation and mindfulness work well together to help with letting go and preventing clinging.

To practice in daily life, try to be relaxed and mindful throughout the day. If you pay attention to your level of relaxation, you will notice dukkha arising and dukkha fading which is a practical way to study dependent origination and the three characteristics.


When you notice dukkha arising try to surrender.

That means to not resist the emotion. To "let go" not by shifting awareness away from it or suppressing it, but by allowing and accepting, relaxing without resisting it. Accepting what it means, accepting the unpleasant truth of the situation, the truth about yourself - sometimes you have to dig through layers to find the full truth.

Letting go of an emotions doesn't necessarily mean getting rid of it forever, it means for the moment. It might be triggered again later.

With very strong emotions it might be too hard to surrender, so just try to relax and be mindful. In time relaxation and mindfulness may soften the emotion to the point where surrender is possible.

Relaxation, mindfulness, surrender. 
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Jim Smith, modified 26 Days ago at 7/15/22 4:20 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
Jim Smith
Clinging affects the mind and body.

When we are upset we experience muscle tension. Emotions influence many muscles through effects on facial expresion and posture. Stress hormones have other effects we can feel such as elevated heart rate, elevated rate of breathing etc. 

Also when we are upset we may become carried away by our thoughts, we may become fixated on the thing upsetting us.

Letting go, being non-attached, means reversing these effects or not producing them to begin with. That requires handling the effects on the body and the effects on the mind.

For the effects on the body, physical relaxation is effective. For the effects on the mind mindfulness is effective.

(A physical relaxation exercise, done mindfully, will provide both effects.)

Relaxation and mindfulness work well together to help with letting go and preventing clinging.

To practice in daily life, try to be relaxed and mindful throughout the day. If you pay attention to your level of relaxation, you will notice dukkha arising and dukkha fading which is a practical way to study dependent origination and the three characteristics.


When you notice dukkha arising try to surrender.

That means to not resist the emotion. To "let go" not by shifting awareness away from it or suppressing it, but by allowing and accepting, relaxing without resisting it. Accepting what it means, accepting the unpleasant truth of the situation, the truth about yourself - sometimes you have to dig through layers to find the full truth.

Letting go of an emotions doesn't necessarily mean getting rid of it forever, it means for the moment. It might be triggered again later.

With very strong emotions it might be too hard to surrender, so just try to relax and be mindful. In time relaxation and mindfulness may soften the emotion to the point where surrender is possible.

Relaxation, mindfulness, surrender. 


Mantra of the day (for practice during daily activities):

"Relaxed and Mindful"
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Jim Smith, modified 23 Days ago at 7/18/22 2:25 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
Jim Smith
Mantra of the day: "Nothing's a problem unless the mind makes it a problem."

I think I need to explain how to experience this. The literal meaning of the words is simple to understand and I think most people understand it. But that intellectual understanding doesn't change much. 

What does cause change is to experience the truth of this statement. To do that, you have to start from a state of non-attachment, of tranquility, where you are not experiencing any unpleasant emotions or cravings. Then, if you are observing the mind mindfully (the "mantra" can help with this), when dukkha starts to arise, you have the opportunity to observe the mind creating a problem, and you can make a choice whether to stay tranquil or let the dukkha take over your mind. Starting with a tranquil mind lets you see/feel the contrast between attachment and non-attachment. If your mind is not tranquil you don't really experience the same contrast, you don't see/experience the difference between non-creation and creation. 

(This is a practical way to study dependent origination, impermanence, dukkha, and anatta.)

When you experience this contrast between tranquility and dukkha, you see why it is nice to cultivate tranquility, how non-attachment improves your well-being, you see you can refrain from making problems for yourself with your mind. This experience makes a difference in well-being that an intellectual understanding alone does not provide.

This is why I think samatha and vipassana work well together.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/onetool.html
Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
But if you look directly at the Pali discourses ... they almost always pair it [vipassana] with samatha — not as two alternative methods, but as two qualities of mind that a person may "gain" or "be endowed with," and that should be developed together.
...
Another passage (AN 10.71) recommends that anyone who wishes to put an end to mental defilement should — in addition to perfecting the principles of moral behavior and cultivating seclusion — be committed to samatha and endowed with vipassana.



Above I wrote: " ... when dukkha starts to arise, you have the opportunity to observe the mind creating a problem, and you can make a choice whether to stay tranquil or let the dukkha take over your mind."*

I explained this in more detail in another thread:

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/24074970
Consciously what seems to happen is that watching the mind allows emotions to arise freely into consciousness, many of which might have been suppressed. As you first become aware of these emotions, you see they cause suffering but you can't let go. But in time as you observe these emotions again and again, and as you learn not to push them away or change your focus of attention away from them, as you learn to let them flow freely without interfering with them, you learn more and more about the subtlties surrounding them, how they arise, how they fade, other thoughts, emotions, impulses, ideas of self they are masking etc. And eventually you see that in fact you are actually making these unpleasant emotions (dukkha) through a deliberate act of will. You might think, "Why am I doing this, it is only making me unhappy." It's like you were trying to tolerate something unpleasant until finally you had enough and you would not tolerate it any more. (The study of dependent origination and the three characteristics, consciously or unconsciously has now borne fruit. The "self" is not worth defending, thoughts, emotions, impulses etc. are not "mine".) At that point it becomes possible to just stop doing that which creates the dukkha and without suppressing anything. The strongest emotions are the hardest to let go of so this process will start with simple things and extend over a period of time taking longer for the more complicated emotions. It happens gradually. Progress occurs through almost imperceptable increments. What you do notice is that over time more and more things which used to bother you not longer do, or they bother you less and less.


*As always, when I write about emotions that arise, I mean emotions that arise due to cognitive activity, the activity of the mind. Some emotions such as some forms of depression and anxiety are not really due to cognitive factors but are due to purely biological factors such as unhealthy brain chemistry.
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Jim Smith, modified 17 Days ago at 7/23/22 10:17 PM
Created 17 Days ago at 7/23/22 10:04 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1190 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
In another thread I wrote:
Letting go for minor issues can sometimes be easy, you just recognize you are feeling an unpleasant emotion and it is not necessary and you can just stop. For bigger issues it can be hard to let go, in those cases relaxing can help, for some things you can just find the tension in your mind and body and just relax and you let go. For bigger issues you might need to do relaxation exercises to let go. Doing relaxation exercises (which are actually just relaxing forms of meditation) can help you develop "relaxation power" increasing your ability to relax in more and more difficult situations as you learn the skill of relaxing.

What is interesting is that for non-trivial attachments, letting go is not a straightforward mental action. You don't notice yourself clinging and stop clinging through an act of will. What I find works is to relax, sometimes even doing physical and visualization relaxation exercises is the most effective thing to do. Relaxing is a physiological thing not a mental thing. I think that is why letting go can be so hard - the thing you have to do to end the suffering seems unrelated to the actual problem - the solution is far from obvious, it's in a different direction.

It's like if you're in a video game world and you want to move to the left so you try to move left but it doesn't work, and after a long frustrating time you finally figure out that in order to go left you first have to move backwards and that takes you to the left.

Problems capture our attention, we become focused on the problem and think the solution to our suffering is with the problem.  However the solution to the suffering is not dealing directly with the problem yet, but to first notice our physiology and change our physiology, to relax.  Then once you are relaxed you will find a much better solution to the problem (using logic and compassion) than when you are reacting out of uncontrolled emotions.

The solution to "I don't like this" or "I want that" is not to stop "this" and get "that",  it is not to just stop disliking and stop wanting.
The solution is to be mindful so you notice when emotions arise and then to relax - using meditation like relaxation techniques when necessary. Dislike and craving go away when you are totally relaxed.

​​​​​​​Be relaxed and mindful.

I am not claiming this is easy in every situation or that I have perfected it in myself.
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Jim Smith, modified 17 Days ago at 7/24/22 6:31 AM
Created 17 Days ago at 7/24/22 6:30 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1190 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
...

What is interesting is that for non-trivial attachments, letting go is not a straightforward mental action. You don't notice yourself clinging and stop clinging through an act of will. What I find works is to relax, sometimes even doing physical and visualization relaxation exercises is the most effective thing to do. Relaxing is a physiological thing not a mental thing. I think that is why letting go can be so hard - the thing you have to do to end the suffering seems unrelated to the actual problem - the solution is far from obvious, it's in a different direction.

It's like if you're in a video game world and you want to move to the left so you try to move left but it doesn't work, and after a long frustrating time you finally figure out that in order to go left you first have to move backwards and that takes you to the left.

Problems capture our attention, we become focused on the problem and think the solution to our suffering is with the problem.  However the solution to the suffering is not dealing directly with the problem yet, but to first notice our physiology and change our physiology, to relax.  Then once you are relaxed you will find a much better solution to the problem (using logic and compassion) than when you are reacting out of uncontrolled emotions.

The solution to "I don't like this" or "I want that" is not to stop "this" and get "that",  it is not to just stop disliking and stop wanting.
The solution is to be mindful so you notice when emotions arise and then to relax - using meditation like relaxation techniques when necessary. Dislike and craving go away when you are totally relaxed.

...


The reason letting go is so different from what we expect is because of our fundamental misunderstanding of self.

We think our thoughts and emotions are "mine" or "me". If they were, would be able to control them. Letting go would be straightforward.

But thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory input, ideas of self, are not "mine" they they are not "me", they just appear in consciousness arising from some unconscious processes.

Since we don't really control them, we can't just let go of attachments by an act of will, we have to manipulate those unconscious processes that produce them through indirect means - by relaxing.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Day ago at 8/8/22 11:37 PM
Created 1 Day ago at 8/8/22 11:37 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1190 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
A lot of the time suffering is not so much an emotion as our attitude to the emotion. Somewhere mixed in with the brain chemistry, the stress hormones, muscle tension, is an idea: "I don't like this", or "I want that". Sometimes the thing we don't like or that we want is an emotion. If you can look in your mind and find that idea, see how it is causing suffering, and let go of it, then the emotion might become "uninteresting". You don't really care anymore because it was never the real problem anyway. The emotion if it isn't due to a biological cause, might even start to fade or fade faster.

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