Can someone help me, or point me in the right direction?

Victor L, modified 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 1:06 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 1:06 PM

Can someone help me, or point me in the right direction?

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First post and a new member. I'm kind wandering aimlessly in terms of a practice at this point. I've been meditating for a few years, daily, and I can't shake the feeling of having no direction. 

I've done enough reading to know that both "this is all there is" and also that I need some kind of roadmap/guidance/advice on where I am and how continue. So, I guess I feel kind of stuck. 

I also have never been to a retreat, had a meditation teacher or been part of a community. I find that incredibly difficult because I think I'd need to know that the person has actually attained what they claim? 

Anyway, just hoping someone can help me here, and apologies if I've put this in the wrong section. I couldn't decide where it would best belong! 
Martin, modified 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 1:32 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 1:32 PM

RE: Can someone help me, or point me in the right direction?

Posts: 423 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Nice to meet you, Victor. 

What books have you read that you liked? What kind of meditation do you do, and what do you like about it? Why do you meditate?

I'm asking these questions because my guess is that the answers will lead to better responses from the people on this forum.
Victor L, modified 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 2:08 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 2:08 PM

RE: Can someone help me, or point me in the right direction?

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My meditation is still pretty basic I guess. I focus on my breath and sit. Sometimes I think about topics from the books I've read and things like that, but it's not really structured or anything like that. 

As far as books, it's a pretty diverse range. I've read things by Kornfield, Pema Chodron, Dalai Lama and others. In that kind of area I've also enjoyed Sogyal Rinpoche. 

I feel like my "issues" started when reading Jed Mckenna though. The "many buddhists, no buddhas" issue became apparent to me and I really realized I wasn't progressing. I think this has caused me a number of issues including in my meditation practice. To try to put this into words, I "know" that "I" don't separately exist, but I don't I don't think I actually have "realized" that...if that makes sense?

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Martin, modified 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 2:42 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 2:42 PM

RE: Can someone help me, or point me in the right direction?

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Sure, that makes perfect sense to me. Would that be the answer to the question about why you meditate, because you want to close the gap between intellectual understanding and experiential knowing of not-self? 

I'm asking this question because it seems to me that people meditate for different reasons. Some like the experience, some like the way it affects their life, some are looking for a way to deal with immediate suffering, some want to improve their concentration at work, and so on. 
Victor L, modified 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 2:55 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 2:55 PM

RE: Can someone help me, or point me in the right direction?

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Well in a simplistic sense, I meditate because I want to attain enlightenment.  That's definitely the longer term goal for me. I definitely think there are other benefits that come along with that, but those aren't my primary reasons. 
Martin, modified 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 3:11 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 3:11 PM

RE: Can someone help me, or point me in the right direction?

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That makes sense to me too. Now I will bow out and let other people chime in. I'm not very far along the path and many people here can give better advice than I can but I thought I would get the ball rolling with some basic questions. 
Victor L, modified 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 3:15 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 3:15 PM

RE: Can someone help me, or point me in the right direction?

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Thank you for engaging and taking an interest! I definitely appreciate that!
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Stefan Stefan, modified 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 5:02 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 5:02 PM

RE: Can someone help me, or point me in the right direction?

Posts: 238 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Start a log on DhO or even just a personal journal, they really do help sharpen your attention. 

As for direction, what do you mean?
1. Step-by-step instructions for your meditation sessions?
2. Principles, framing, etc., to help guide you along the path of insight?

If it's (1), find a very basic instructional guide for your meditation and work on that. 

If it's (2), you may need to be more specific. What particular aspect of your meditation do you feel lacks direction? You say in your OP that you know that "this is it" if that's the case, why are you feeling dissatisfied with what is here now (and therefore, it)? 

This is my rough crash course on meditation, and what it's about. It may help give you some directionality or at least a framework to help settle the feeling of ungroundedness you seem to have. 

Short answer:
• Investigate each hindrance to enjoying the present moment as it arises.
OR
• Learn to enjoy breathing, and making friends with the obstacles as they present themselves each moment they arise.

Longer answer:
• Set a straightforward intention: "I would like to practice being satisfied with this present moment."
• Then playfully and ruthlessly investigate each barrier that hinders the mind from being satisfied with the observation of the body breathing.
• As each hindrance arises, do not fight it, instead understand what it is for
• There is a wholesome or benevolent root to our erroneously deployed hindrances, which created vicious habits hindering our ability to be satisfied with what is happening now.
• Recognise, release, and relax into these obstacles as they arise, and then go about practising satisfaction with the present moment

Lifestyle things:
• You have to devote a significant portion of your life to developing this skill and practice it intently, with joy, anger, sorrow, grief, fear, misery, equanimity, hunger, pain, pleasure, and comfort.
• Find Suttas, Zen Koans, sayings, wisdom, folksy self-help-quotes, that speak to you and reflect on them, see how they can help you become more satisfied and engaged with the present moment.
• Learn and memorise the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, they are extremely powerful tools and very good to remember in daily life and in meditation (especially right thought, right view, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration). 
• Read books that also help with the psychological end of things; I'd really recommend the book "Contentment" by Robert A. Johnson; it has a fantastic outlook, and can help clear out the cobwebs with regard to the hindrances and how we can make friends of them
• Eat a balanced and healthy diet, exercise, and do some light stretching with foam rolling daily
• Keep a journal, it's a very valuable sidekick, spew out all your thoughts, dark, light, evil, good, bad, politically incorrect, politically overcorrect, etc... Just write anything and everything that comes to mind, start with a theme that psychologically resonates with you
• Don't make the mistake of thinking that meditation ends off the cushion; this skill you're developing can be practised anywhere, in fact, the whole point of it is to get to the point that the skill is deployed at all times regardless of conditions. Keep in mind the Noble Eightfold Path in daily life, especially right action, right speech, right livelihood, and right effort. 
George S, modified 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 6:04 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 6:04 PM

RE: Can someone help me, or point me in the right direction?

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What is it about enlightenment that appeals to you?
Victor L, modified 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 8:27 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 8:27 PM

RE: Can someone help me, or point me in the right direction?

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Thank you!  This is actually very helpful and I probably do need to "get back to basics" in some ways. I think that I used to spend a lot more time and focus on some of those basic concepts and it's probably kind of gotten away from me. I should try the journal and maybe even the log as well!
Victor L, modified 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 8:31 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/8/22 8:31 PM

RE: Can someone help me, or point me in the right direction?

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This is a really difficult question and I'm not even sure that I can formulate an answer to that. I might have to come back that, or at least think abou that for a while.  I guess I've never really thought about it before!
Adi Vader, modified 4 Months ago at 1/9/22 1:14 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/9/22 12:48 AM

RE: Can someone help me, or point me in the right direction?

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Hi, I am giving you pointed suggestions basis what has worked me personally. You have to see what makes sense to you within your own practice and accordinngly take what is useful and simply leave the rest. 


It is good to break up practice in 3 parts - Skill cultivation, Wisdom, Conduct as we go about our business

For skill cultivation

Pick up the rubric of the 7 factors of awakening. Use an object - the breath is fine. Using the object of meditation cultivate the 7 factors of awakening in a set sequence: Mindfulness, Relaxation and energy in conjunction, Concentration and Investigation in conjunction, Equanimity and Joy in conjunction. To the 7 factors add one more immportant skill of Samprajanya or Meta cognitive introspective awareness. To this add one more important skill of vipashyana or being aware of the awareness that has taken an object - this is like a bidirectional arrow of attention.

This skill cultivation includes jhanas but they are not necessary to be chased - they will likely happen either due to the skill cultivation or once you accumulate sufficient wisdom. This skill cultivation has to continue in some form through out the awakening journey.

Given a consistent daily practice of an hour everyday - devote 80% of your time to skill cultivation and 20% towards wisdom
If you move up to 2 hours everyday on average then - devote 50% of your time to skill cultivation and 50% towards wisdom

For Wisdom

Use the practice of developing familiarity, juxtaposition and seeing precedents and consequents of objects in the 6 sense doors. What I mean by precedents and conseuqents is also called Specific Conditionality (or idaṃpratyayatā in sanskrit). This is very useful after Stream Entry since it naturally flowers into practice in Dependent Origination (or Pratitya Samutpada) which is required for Sakrdagami and Anagami attainments.

The following is a suggested rubric to use: 

  1. Touch of hands as an anchor
  2. Mindfulness of movement of attention to six sense doors
  3. Familiarity with sounds
  4. Familiarity with body sensations: head to toe
  5. Familiarity with body sensations: toe to head
  6. Familiarity with body sensations: spontaneous movement of attention
  7. Familiarity with body sensations: four elements in body sensations
  8. Familiarity with thoughts: visual, vocal, meaning based
  9. Familiarity with thoughts: past, present, future
  10. Familiarity with thoughts: categories like regretting, worrying, reminiscing, planning, fantasizing, etc.
  11. Familiarity with thoughts: driving moods like anger, revulsion, concern, fascination, curiosity, love, etc.
  12. Familiarity with thoughts: thinking process as an inner experience involving all the senses unfolding with time
  13. Familiarity with emotions and other mental states
  14. Juxtaposition of sounds with bodily sensations
  15. Juxtaposition of thoughts with sounds and other sense doors
  16. Juxtaposition of emotions and other mental states with five sense doors
  17. Juxtaposition of thoughts with emotions and other mental states
  18. Juxtaposition of five sense doors, thoughts, emotions, and other mental states collectively
  19. Precedents and consequents of thoughts and sounds
  20. Precedents and consequents of thoughts and bodily sensations or other sense doors
  21. Precedents and consequents of emotions or other mental states and bodily sensations or other sense doors
  22. Precedents and consequents of thoughts and emotions or other mental states
  23. Precedents and consequents of the whole conscious experience as it unfolds
'Familiarity' may initially begin with a label, this may move on to noting but it has to move on to thorough attention (or yoniso manasekara). For example initially when familiarizing with the sense door of hearing - you may label 'sound', 'harsh', 'soft' etc. - later on you may note the same (like creating a mindful pause) without using a label - later on it has to move on to simply tracking the sound from the point you catch it to its cessation. This tracking of phenomena in the sense doors uncovers characteristics of objects thus uncovering characteristics or marks of consciousness itself.

For conduct in every day life (Sila), use the following:

My view regarding sila is that that sila is not 'rules', the practice of sila is as experiential as the practice of Shamatha Bhavana or of Vipashyana Bhavana. And if one approaches it as a rigorous practice of learning about the mind then it becomes an insight practice as well as a Sila Bhavana practice. towards that objective in my own practice I have approached it in the following way and often recommend it to people while knowing that such an approach may not appeal to everyone.Build some samadhi using meditation techniques and the objective is not just to build samadhi but to fully experience it and remember what it means to have samadhi. This doesn't have to be a very high grade of samadhi, but needs to have enough of a difference so that the mind remembers what it means to be calm, collected, tranquil, centred, clear, energetic. Induce this using concentration practice.As you go about your day, your week, your month .... just simply use that samadhi as a canary in a coal mine, or as a barometer ... to see the value of your own views, attitudes, thoughts, speech and actions.Once you frame the practice of sila like this then vichikitsa (or perverted problem solving) does not arise. One doesn't spend too much time hassling one's self abbout eating meat or drinking alcohol or killing mosquitos. Do what you have always done and let the practice make the adjustments to behavior (internal and external)

Recommended resources:
​​​​​​​

  1. midlmeditation.com - The MIDL system is by far my strongest recommendation and in its own custome designed way covers both concentration and wisdom practices - but not necessarily in the way I have written
  2. 52 guided MIDL meditations on soundcloud - https://soundcloud.com/user-677685629/sets/52-guided-midl-mindfulness?utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing
  3. For pure skill cultivation - The Mind Illuminated by Culadasa (John Yates)
  4. For Jhanas - Right Concentration by Leigh Brasington

​​​​​​​Good Luck.
Adi Vader, modified 4 Months ago at 1/9/22 1:07 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/9/22 1:07 AM

RE: Can someone help me, or point me in the right direction?

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Generally basis limited interactions that I have had with people online, I have come to the conclusion that many people want to be Buddhists, they dont want to be awakening practitioners or yogis. I may be completely wrong, but people seek solutions to problems in one more identity, one more label, one more set of beliefs, one more social membership, one more in-group, one more idol, one more ideal, one more way of genuflecting. And this is a very human thing to do! But in that process awakening practice gets put on the back burner. It is suboptimal! .... lets just leave it at that emoticon

In my 'limited' experience I have come across three broad categories of people. The devotional folks, the mystics and the people who seek relief from suffering. No one is purely in one bucket, but one of these things are typically dominant. 

I myself came to this practice solidly placed in the third category. I had a dagger stuck deeply in my heart, and I needed to extract it.

My suggestion to you, I am not assuming any kind of authority over you - simply offering a suggestion as a friendly fellow practitioner, is that you should spend some time clarifying your motivations. Knowing fully well that motivations change. But at any point of time having a goal and a plan to achieve it is important.

​​​​​​​I think your desire to chase the actual thing rather than the concept or the identity of it is admirable and very valuable. I have written a reply to your OP, and I hope it helps you. 
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Dream Walker, modified 4 Months ago at 1/9/22 5:50 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/9/22 5:49 AM

RE: Can someone help me, or point me in the right direction?

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Victor L
Well in a simplistic sense, I meditate because I want to attain enlightenment. 
Awesome!

Read MCTB1 or 2
https://www.mctb.org/
That is pretty good at getting you to second path and for some, beyond that.

I defined my ideas about what awakening is in a post- 'framework of awakening' that may or may not speak to you.
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5800908
It also has some direct recipes of what to do to get certain awakening as there are many overall if you include subawakenings.
Good luck,
~D
Patsy J Moore, modified 3 Months ago at 2/25/22 4:55 PM
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RE: Can someone help me, or point me in the right direction?

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Just visit Google
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Ni Nurta, modified 3 Months ago at 2/25/22 5:07 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 2/25/22 5:07 PM

RE: Can someone help me, or point me in the right direction?

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Patsy J. Moore
Just visit Google
...WOW
Solution to all life's issues has been finally found!!!1

You won life emoticon
Jack R Woodyard, modified 3 Months ago at 2/25/22 8:12 PM
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RE: Can someone help me, or point me in the right direction?

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That feeling comes with the territory. I’ve certainly felt it many times, and still do, but I try to pay attention to what that feeling does: where is it? What other feelings rise because of it? Is the confusion expansive or does it rest somewhere? My experience with the “wandering aimlessly” feeling is that it provides some direction if I can slow down and experience it. 

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