Martin's Log 3

Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 5/30/22 4:13 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 5/29/22 9:14 PM

Martin's Log 3

Posts: 647 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
The last log was getting a bit long. For reference, here are the previous logs. 

Log 1:

Log 2:

On cushion:
Lots of dullness/torpor off cushion for several days previous to today, which made sitting unattractive. I did sit, and the sits were more or less ordinary but I cut some sits short either due to lack of energy or because of impatience. The impatience was kind of fun, actually, because it is such an inexplicable event. It makes no sense, so it's easy to look at without getting pulled into reasoning. That said, I got up before the bell several times. Energy levels were normal today. I saw something interesting. There was a small light (not a real one, just a mind phenomenon) and I saw the mind stitch it together with body sensations to give it a position in space, and to give the body sensations a position in space. It's doing stuff like that all the time, I assume, but I don't usually notice. 

Off cushion:
Several interesting things are going on together. One is a pronounced lack of attachment, or even desire. Another is random moments of nondual sound. Another is a strange visual thing, like there is a cameraman accompanying me wherever I go and zooming in and out and pulling focus for dramatic effect. It's fun. But I am still dull/tired a lot of time. I'm happy but kind of a happy zombie.
Jure K, modified 1 Year ago at 5/30/22 6:05 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 5/30/22 6:02 AM

RE: Martin's Log 4

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This sounds really interesting. The non dual sound you speak of, was or has it ever been magnified, like really in your face? I think I experience the same thing, it's not as pronounced now though, a lot more gentle. I never knew what it was, I just named it the weird sound thing, but recently I thought about it more and I realised there's no one there when it happens, I just hear sound and sense of self then comes back after. Haha also the camera man thing! It's so weird especially when I'm looking at someone and having a conversation everything kinda zooms in and it really catches me by surprise! I'm like ohhh shit I hope no one notices that I'm getting weird! Thanks for sharing Martin!
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 5/30/22 4:07 PM
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RE: Martin's Log 4

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Yes, on a few occasions the thing that I am currently calling nondual has been very pronounced and has lasted for several minutes. The characteristic that I am noticing here is that the sound, not only does not have me as a hearer, but also has a hearer in itself. It's kind of like a self-contained hearing entity. That's not a very good description <sigh>. I'm not sure if a more experienced practitioner would consider this nondual, though, as there is a witness to the event. It seems to me that there is a range of not-very-dual experiences, including things like this and, for example, the "big mind" experience, where there is not a clear subject-object split, which may be different from full-on, all-sense-door, no-witness, nonduality. I don't know. I'm spitballing. 

I'm totally with you on the "I'm like ohhh shit I hope no one notices that I'm getting weird!" thing. Sometimes I feel kind of like a teenager hoping my parents don't notice I'm buzzed. A realized person in an interview I once heard said something to the effect of: waking up is like having a secret, but it's a secret nobody else is interested in hearing. 
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 6/2/22 5:41 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 6/2/22 5:41 PM

RE: Martin's Log 3

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On the cushion: The jhanas are getting longer and more stable. I am having a lot of difficulty remembering what happened in sits.

Off the cushion: Something new has been happening. It started two days ago when I was visiting a park with my wife (curiously, the first nondual experience I had happened when I was visiting a different park with my wife). This is not a nondual thing. That is to say, this is not the same thing as the thing I called the nondual thing. It's something else. It's hard to get the phenomenology of was is going on. There is a spacial processing difference. I might say that the distances to things are dynamically changing.  There is a sense of being "inside" the world, in the way that one is inside a world in a computer role-playing game. It is also very beautiful. I find myself looking at stop signs and going, "Holy fucking shit, that's amazing!" Some colors are unnaturally bright, others are muted, but just extremely well-chosen. It comes and goes without completely fading and can be intense for an hour or so, but often is only there for minutes. It was very strong two days ago, it was mostly absent yesterday, and it is very strong again today. Nice stuff!
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 6/4/22 3:36 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 6/4/22 3:36 PM

RE: Martin's Log 3

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On the cushion: At the beginning of a sit. was an I-making thought. Specifically, it occurred to me that, if I joined a Zen sitting group, I might be asked about my practice, and a resume-like answer started to unfold. My usual practice is to abandon such thought streams once they are recognized because they are I-making, which is to say, that they build up the narrative self, and lead to clinging and suffering. On this occasion, I noticed a false assumption in this habit of thought. Up to now, I had been assuming that, each time I fabricate the narrative self, I am somehow adding to a thing (the narrative self) that sits in the background, and gets pulled out and used whenever circumstances call the narrative self into question. This is, of course, false. As I have noticed before, there is no "the background." But also, not even the narrative self is lasting. It is freshly constructed every time that it is referred to or imagined. There can be some components of the narrative self that are similar across multiple instances, but no two instances of the narrative self are the same. This is true not only from one day to the next, but from one mind-moment to the next. In plain terms, there is no narrative self. 

This seems to be a common error. The function of perception notices that some pattern of sensations is similar to a pattern in memory and announces a match. Bing! Some other part of the mind assumes that, because we got a match: a) the stimulus is created by a "thing" and b) the thing persists in time. This kind of processing works great for rocks, kitchen tables, dogs, etc. But the mind tends to treat, self, opinions, beliefs, desires, and so on in the same way, which is much less useful. Dumb-assed mind. 

Separately, I'm doing this sample and loop thing but, after I have looped a thought 20 or 40 times, it tends to fade, and I just sit there waiting for the next thought to show up, so I can use that for looping. It's often a really long wait. There aren't even what I usually think of as proto-thoughts, those bits of language-like stuff handled by auditory processing. And I essentially do not have visual thoughts (some people do, and some people don't, it turns out). But there is still something going on, and some of it has a conceptual handle. For example, intentions can form, including the intention to keep watching for any thought that might come along, the ability to recognize the lack of thought, and the sense of time. These things seem worth investigating. 

Off the cushion: The inside-the-world/beauty thing is still going strong. I've had quite a few passing periods of non-agency. 
George S, modified 1 Year ago at 6/4/22 9:00 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 6/4/22 9:00 PM

RE: Martin's Log 4

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It seems to me that there is a range of not-very-dual experiences, including things like this and, for example, the "big mind" experience, where there is not a clear subject-object split, which may be different from full-on, all-sense-door, no-witness, nonduality. I don't know. I'm spitballing.

​​​​​​​This reminds me of something shargrol said which had a big impact - what's to prevent you from seeing that apparent duality is actually already nondual?
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 6/5/22 7:56 PM
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RE: Martin's Log 4

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Thanks, George!
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 7/22/22 6:24 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/22/22 6:24 PM

RE: Martin's Log 3

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On the cushion: Mixed bag. There have been a lot of outside impacts like a visiting relative, a heavy work schedule, arthritis forcing me to sit cross-legged rather than kneeling, and the house next door being transformed into a construction site. On some days, I didn't sit, and I cut sits short on some other days. This slacking doesn't seem to have any impact on off-cushion life. It's like on-cushion experience and off-cushion experience both vary in a sort of wave-like fashion, but the waves are not in sync with each other. 

Oddly, now that various people have suggested that I let the jhana rip without fussing too much over sati, my concentration has been quite weak. I can barely get a stable 4th, let alone the arupa jhanas. At the same time, nimitta jhanas (fist/second) are showing up instead of body/pleasure jhanas. I would normally consider that contradictory, as nimitta-based jhanas have, in the past, required more concentration to get into. Who knows. And, for that matter, who cares. Nimittas come up in the ordinary way, as a disk some small distance from the face (almost always a cluster of blue jewels/stars) but now they quickly spread out three-dimensionally until I am either inside the nimitta or I am the nimitta with patches of space in me. The dispersed nimitta becomes the state that is the object of absorption. I had this happen while in the desist chair last week. Definitely improves the dentist-visit experience. 

I have not done much sample-and-loop for the past month because I find it often leaves me overly relaxed. So this kind of contradicts the first thing that I said, as this is a case of meditation having a short-term impact on off-cushion experience. Nonetheless, both descriptions are true. I think, basically, the sample-and-loop technique puts a brake on the internal voice for the rest of the day, which can leave me easily spaced out. 

For the same reason, I have not done much work with Adi's mantra investigation technique (assuming, as I do, that all matra work will have an effect similar to the sample-and-loop mantra technique). The little I have done, however, has been really interesting. There are only three places that the identity post-it note can be stuck to: the actor, the acted upon, or the observer of the action. The really interesting thing to notice, so far, is that it cannot be in two places at once (in part because there is, of course, no such thing "at once"). Work should be less busy for the next week, and I am really looking forward to exploring this technique.

Off cushion: Lots of quiet mind and bliss, as before. Less of the "Oh my god, this is amazing" beauty. A lot more of this way of seeing that I do not have a handy name for. I think it probably falls under "awake awareness." It shares a tone with the spacious/vast way of seeing that I had before the "container" was seen through, but it is not particularly spacious, and it is not non-dual, but it is delocalized, and it does look significantly visually different. While I am seeing in that way, there is no push/pull, no sense that anything could be threatening or could be improved. This state often shows up automatically or I can move to it at will. But it can be easily lost, too. Its comings and going remind me of the coming and goings of on-cushion mindfulness early in my practice, except with a much longer time scale. 

Non-duality occasionally comes up with sounds, even less often with other sense doors. Hey, I wonder what non-dual taste would be like!

Clinging to views has been weakened. Part of that is down to deliberately choosing to see things in terms of anekantavada, but my guess is that part of being able to see things through the lens of anekantavada is down to a reduced clinging to views. An argumentative relative visited us for a week. To date, I have never had a visit with this relative that did not include strained feelings. In the past, even when I refrained from arguing, they would get upset by my reticence. This time, for whatever reason, it just wasn't a problem. I still avoided arguments, but it was like, for example, avoiding arguments concerning a sports team I had never heard of. I could see the passion on their part, but there was no need to retrain my own passion in response because passion simply did not arise. I think that my relative, seeing both no ill-will and no restraint, lost some of their own passion. On the downside, I can't find much motivation to engage in a long-standing, just-for-fun political/philosophical email debate with some friends. I am also feeling lukewarm about a submission I am writing for a public policy consultation on an issue I have reasons to care about. 

Lastly, the energetics are still going strong. I thought that perhaps the warmth was migrating from the belly and heart to the spine and lower skull, but it's just showing up in all of those places now. Sooner or later I'll be one giant warm blob. It's nice, and all, but I still wonder what it is "for."

Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 8/7/22 5:12 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 8/7/22 5:12 PM

RE: Martin's Log 3

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On the cushion: Today's sit was interesting. I tried Adi's mantra exercise ( in earnest and was interested to note how easily the mind puts the Self post-it note on the objective awareness of what is going on. It quickly tires of being the producer of sound and of being the receiver of sound, and escapes to observer. Thing is, observer sucks. I don't think I have noticed the suckiness of observer like this before. 

Then I didn't sample-and-loop. There are actually some similarities in terms of maneuvers between Adi's mantra work and sample-and-loop, except that the post-it only goes on the producer of sound momentarily because, as soon as there is a producer, that sound produced is looped and listened to. When the sound peters out and there are those long stretches of silence, the post-it is on the observer. 

Next, I did jhanas. There, I noticed subjective and objective, which I think might have been the same thing that Pepe was talking about. If not, Pepe's observations were good inspiration for whatever it was that I was doing. I don't really see events with arising and passing aways in the jhanas, or at least in the way that I do when investigating outside of the jhanas, so I can't say if noticing endings would have biased me to the subjective, but what I noticed was that the jhanic experience appears to be foundationally subjective, but there are little gaps where objectivity arrises, and these objective gaps suck.

Pepe ·, modified 1 Year ago at 8/7/22 9:48 PM
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RE: Martin's Log 3

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Hi Martin! I guess it's the same, just seen from different angles. In my case it's say ~80% objective and ~20% subjective. In your case, entering throught the lenses of jhanas, perhaps it's 1% objective and 99% subjective. If objectivity is disonnant for me, it's because there's a gap between what actually happens versus what I unconsciously believe things ought to be. I see that I accept some fuzzy range of how experience should be (mix of thoughts and other senses, degrees of intensity, degrees of clearness, etc) but when that range is broken, then I reject reality and try to come back to safe territory (*).  

Some people can focus on certain experiences/senses, and that trigger jhanas for them. In my case it's the opposite, dismantling assumptions is what drive me there: "what phenomena/senses I'm cutting off as irrelevant to this present moment experience?" I tend to focus heavily in body sensations (and thoughts) while disregard images and sounds.

(*) I guess in the long run is all about understanding and accepting that we can only work with pet models 
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 8/8/22 5:04 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 8/8/22 5:04 PM

RE: Martin's Log 3

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That's interesting, Pepe. Thank you for writing it. I don't think I know why I don't like the objective view but I don't think it's because I see something that is dissonant. I think that, for me, it is more of a question of separation. In a case where there is a world and an observer, the observer is necessarily lonely. 

Not that long ago I read 'I' is a Door: The essence of Advaita as taught by Ramana Maharshi, Atmananda & Nisargadatta Maharaj, and these fellows had a lot to say about objects and subjects. Interesting stuff. Not, I don't think, exactly what we are talking about, but at least adjacent. 

Today, in second/third, I took a look at "experiencer of the jhanic state"/"fabricator of the jhanic state". This is very slippery and immediately paradoxical, in the way the playing with "speaker"/"listener" in the mantra exercise is not. It is more immediately obvious that neither could exist. 
Chris M, modified 1 Year ago at 8/9/22 7:38 AM
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If the subject/object duality is your thing and you want to delve deep, I recommend this:

The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 8/9/22 10:23 AM
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RE: Martin's Log 3

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Thanks, Chris! Downloaded and queued!
Martin, modified 9 Months ago at 2/5/23 3:02 PM
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RE: Martin's Log 3

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I have not updated this log in quite a while. Recently, I read through all of my meditation logs for the past three years (the ones on here and the ones not posted here). It took me months, mostly because it was so boring :-). It is, however, fun to see how many times I could arrive at the same insights before finally getting them. 

One thing that came out was that there is clearly very little overlap between the general shape of the changes in my experience and the POI mapping that is often discussed here. The closest thing is a pattern in which increases in understanding and abilities are generally interspersed with periods of sadness. This is interesting because, for me, sadness is a rare emotion. In my life (which has been going on for some time, I turned 60 this year) I have had moments of sadness when people died or I had my heart broken by a woman, as one would expect. So I have always known what it was like, but it has been rare. We are talking about maybe a few hours per decade, and maybe some decades with none. I've had plenty of negative emotions in other classes, but sadness was underrepresented. In fact, I would guess that I have done the majority of the crying in my adult life in the past three years. This sadness typically comes up when I see clearly that something that I have been clinging to for years (a story about myself or my life, a view that I have held, a goal that I have been working toward, etc.) is simply not there, and never has been. It's a feeling similar to realizing that I never had a chance with a girl I was dreaming of. But sometimes it just comes up on the cushion (weirdly, often when entering or exiting second jhana). That is not to say that sadness has in any way been the predominant emotion over the past three years. The default is equanimity and wonder, interspersed with contentment and joy. What I am getting at here is that people on the POI describe unpleasant stuff interspersed with insight, and in that sense, there is some similarity in my practice. Also, having learned from descriptions by people who are on the POI, I don't fret over these periods of sadness.

So as the POI is not what is going on for me, I might describe the changes that have occurred in this way. A person lives in a garden surrounded by a high, thick hedge. Never having been out of the garden, they never question the garden or the hedge. Then one day, there is a gap in the hedge. There are things out there that the person has never seen, and it feels both wonderful and weird/frightening to step outside the hedge, so they return to the garden. After that, sometimes they can find the gap in the hedge and sometimes they cannot. But as time goes on they remember where the gap is, they cut it a little wider, and they get used to going beyond the gap and exploring the outside world up to a newly found hedge, so the gap is not really a gap anymore, it's just part of the shape of the hedge. Gradually, more gaps appear and the garden becomes progressively larger. In this analogy, meditation/mindfulness can be seen as hedge work: trimming, thinning, and ultimately cutting away.

With that as the analogy, a pretty large section of hedge was cut down about five months ago. Following my teacher's instructions, I had been looking at the genesis of thoughts for some months, because some thoughts really felt like they came from me, or they were owned by me, or they were known by me. In this investigation, I noticed that the bulk of my thoughts could be classified into: social evaluation; conversational testing; survival concerns; and non-conversational verbal thought.

Social Evaluation: Actions currently engaged by Martin are perceived as an object, with another person, or group of people imagined as a perceived presence evaluating the current actions, thoughts, etc. (verbal thought is not necessarily involved).

Conversational Testing: A conversation occurs between Martin and another person or group of people. The conversation tests how a view or an emergent thought sounds when spelled out, and what kind of reactions (in particular, objections) are elicited from the interlocutor(s). 

Survival concerns: basically thoughts aimed at detecting and avoiding old age, sickness, and death :-) but can also be detecting and avoiding the worldly winds (is this pain a tumor? this twitch a sign of Parkinson's? this letter from the tax man an audit notice?)

Non-conversational verbal thought: Verbal exposition of a line of thought without an imagined interlocutor.

This is basically the old idea of a top-ten list for noting practice and I don't think there is anything special about the particular list I made. What happened, however, was that I became able to see the beginnings and ends and the transitions clearly, each time. A thought of one class would be there, and then another comes, without anyone making them or calling them forth. If you can see these (and particularly the beginning) it is obvious that there is no thinker, no owner, and no knower, only thoughts. To be clear, I had thought that I knew this for years, because I knew it intellectually, and I had seen it quite often. But it is different when it is seen every time. 

​​​​​​​This does not bring the log up to date, but it's an installment. Things are interesting at the moment, but the edges of what is going on are subtle and hard to perceive, let alone describe. Writing this was fun, though, so I may try to write some more.
Martin, modified 9 Months ago at 2/15/23 3:10 PM
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RE: Martin's Log 3

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The key feature of what is going on now could be described as a wider view, or a panoramic view without a central viewpoint. In the past, my ordinary way of seeing the world was as something happening "out there," which gave rise to reactions, feelings, urges, intentions, etc. "in here." A big difference between the two (in here/out there) being that the reactions etc. in here were not fully visible. Now the default view is wide enough to take in whatever happens, including the things happening in here, but without a need to attach "in here" and "out there" tags.

That also means that events in here don't seem so much like reactions. It's a bit like wind blowing through a tree. The branches move but that is not really what you would call a reaction, it's just something that happens. Also, at what point would we say that the wind is outside the tree or inside the tree? You could draw an imaginary border defined by the tips of the tree's branches and say that is the border between inside and outside. But that would be a conceptual add-on and not a natural way to look at wind blowing through a tree.

Now, seeing what is going on, it's often obvious that there is no ownership or agency to events in here. For example, my fingers land on the wrong keys, producing a typo. In the past, the default perception would have been a flash of frustration, a flash of judgment, a desire for control, and a sense of agency as I corrected the typo. Importantly, I would have identified with all of these reactions, making it very difficult to see them, and producing, in the overall, a sense of self. That is not happening now. All the events are just seen, and it is naturally and obviously seen that the most salient feature is that the unintentional typo was not the product of an agent. So events that produced a sense of self in the past now produce the opposite anatta sense. What would have been three seconds of indistinctly seen [frustration + judgment + desire + agency] is replaced by half a second of [frustration + oh look, neat].

For bigger/longer mental events, like thought trains with emotional components, it's similar to watching little dust devils spin up in an empty parking lot. They are dynamic things that come into being and disappear again (only without any specific location). It's not that they are not happening, it's just that they are doing their own thing, and that's fine.

The extent to which my view is panoramic fluctuates. Sometimes the lack of boundaries is very prominent and beautiful, other times it's more of a background thing.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 9 Months ago at 2/15/23 5:31 PM
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RE: Martin's Log 3

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Pepe ·, modified 9 Months ago at 2/21/23 9:12 AM
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RE: Martin's Log 3

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Awesome Martin!

Fluctuations aside, was it a gradual unfolding or more like a switch off-on?

A few months ago, you were investigating attachment to pleasant states, weren't you? In my case, I have been experiencing some of that but also a blurry zone of aversion/attraction to unpleasant states, related to the "I". Would you share what you got out of that?
Martin, modified 9 Months ago at 2/21/23 11:59 AM
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Hi Pepe,

The panoramic/borderless thing has been becoming more common and more pronounced for quite a while. I definitely could not point to a moment in the past and say it switched on then. On the other hand, the way in which thoughts appear changed in the course of a few days or a week in October and I think that once the mind stopped going back and identifying with thought, the panoramic/borderless view became more of a baseline. So perhaps I could say that though-identification switching off provided room for already the gradually unfolding nondual view to become more prominent. But even with regard to thought identification, it was more a matter of clearly seeing (groking) what thoughts are, and therefore no longer being fooled into identification, than a change in wiring (a software thing, I guess).

A few months ago, you were investigating attachment to pleasant states, weren't you? In my case, I have been experiencing some of that but also a blurry zone of aversion/attraction to unpleasant states, related to the "I". Would you share what you got out of that?

If you could quote something here, or just explain a bit more, it might jog my memory. Nothing about attachment to pleasant states immediately comes to mind. I probably was talking about what you are thinking of, but have it "filed" under some other heading in my memory. (Or I just have a poor memory right now :-))

We were talking about aversion to objective view before, and that is related to the "I." I could say a lot about that, but that is not really a state. 
Pepe ·, modified 9 Months ago at 2/21/23 3:57 PM
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RE: Martin's Log 3

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The panoramic/borderless thing has been becoming more common and more pronounced for quite a while. I definitely could not point to a moment in the past and say it switched on then. On the other hand, the way in which thoughts appear changed in the course of a few days or a week in October and I think that once the mind stopped going back and identifying with thought, the panoramic/borderless view became more of a baseline. So perhaps I could say that though-identification switching off provided room for already the gradually unfolding nondual view to become more prominent. But even with regard to thought identification, it was more a matter of clearly seeing (groking) what thoughts are, and therefore no longer being fooled into identification, than a change in wiring (a software thing, I guess).

Cool! Seems like the pieces of the puzzle falling into place at the right time.

If you could quote something here, or just explain a bit more, it might jog my memory. 

We had a brief exchange in the POI vs Just DOing it thread, back 6 months ago. So I just was wondering if that was fruitful or not, if it evolved into something else, etc.  
Martin, modified 9 Months ago at 2/22/23 5:24 PM
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Got it!  I was thinking of clinging to long-term states when I said I didn't remember but, yes, I remember now and, yes, I have been poking around at this.

It is not my main focus at the moment because my teacher has told me to focus on integrating the nondual stuff, and there is a ton of integration to be done there. Basically, I have things divided into two buckets, at the moment. One bucket contains emptiness, nonduality, time, etc., which I am actively working on, and the other bucket contains conditionality, dependent origination, desire, suffering, etc., which I am not making a formal focus right now but I am keen to get to soon, because I don't like suffering :-). 

The most interesting thing I did in the second bucket area was to use a practice described by Adi, which I believe he based on Stephen Procter's teaching. You can find it here ( in the part that starts at "Preparation:" Basically, in a formal sit, you deliberately bring up negative or positive vedena and watch what happens (vedena, tanha, upadana, bhava, etc.). For me, it works with both positive and negative vedena, but better with positive vedena than negative vedena. It seems to be the other way around for most people. In this process, you can notice the subtle effort required for the process to run its course and see what happens when it is withdrawn. 

I did quite a lot of that, before taking it off the formal practice roster based on teacher instructions. I also read Thanissaro Bhikkhu's The Paradox of Becoming. It had a big impact. It is basically about the mechanics of bhava and the ways in which becoming is nurtured by way of specific circumstances, including the underlying views of the person in which it is happening. 

for example: 
The choice of a particular focal point in which to take passion and delight often has less to do with what the point already offers, and more to do with one’s anticipation of what might be gained by focusing one’s efforts there. Even in cases where sensuality-clinging forms around a sensual pleasure, the motivation lies primarily in the hope that more sensual pleasure will be engendered through the clinging. In the case of view-clinging, a view can be clearly detrimental, but if one anticipates an advantage coming from expounding that view, one will submit oneself to it. The same principle applies to habit-and-practice clinging and self-doctrine-clinging. The passion and desire focus on anticipation of possible present or future results of present action. This anticipation is, in turn, based on a view—explicit or implicit—of how cause and effect work. One believes that the act of clinging in a particular way will cause a particular happiness to arise, and one draws conclusions within that framework as to which efforts will lead to a happiness worth the effort involved.  
In this way, every form of clinging starts with a type of view-clinging. And the actual prospects of happiness to be gained from an act of clinging will be determined by the accuracy of the view on which it is based. 

As a side note, at the moment, I find it helpful to think of upadana as "fuel" rather than "clinging," because clinging requires a clinger, which pushes the view of the process into a dualistic mold, but that's just a minor modification of the "raft" that I find comfortable at the moment, not a stance on translation or doctrine. 

Anywho…, although I'm not doing this stuff as a principal practice on the cushion at the moment, I am noticing it off the cushion. These things are the components of the "dust devils" that I mentioned earlier. I notice how a thought or a sight with pleasant vedena pulls on the attention and that locus of attention can be quite innocently and automatically fueled (fed) so as to grow into something more substantial before disappearing again when it runs out of fuel, often because the fuel is needed for some new locus, sometimes because fuel is withheld, sometimes there does happen to be more fuel because the locus has been reconfigured by the constantly changing circumstances. When I have the bandwidth, I can play with this, at the mind-moments level: seeing the vedena arising with a beautiful person, or a pleasing thought, or a shorter checkout line at the supermarket; noticing the extension of the moment; sensing the arising of a continuing future; feeling the effort of fueling; releasing the effort, and perhaps reapplying the effort. 

And this off-chushion noticing and playing often affords "first bucket" insights: noticing that there is no agency in the things that arise as a result of other things coming together, any more than there is agency in chemicals bonding when two substances have been caused, by something other than themselves, to be next to each other; noticing that the shorter line at the supermarket cannot be said to be outside if it is intimately playing a role in events that are said to be inside; and sometimes noticing that time is a projection that arises based on effort, and slips away when the effort is gone. ​​​​​​​
Pepe ·, modified 9 Months ago at 2/23/23 8:33 AM
Created 9 Months ago at 2/23/23 8:33 AM

RE: Martin's Log 3

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Thanks for the thorough answer! Good to see how your practice has evolved. I have tried in the past trigger practice regarding vedana, but Adi's framework looks like top notch. I downloaded Thanissaro's The Paradox of Becoming, thanks for the pointer! I can relate with the view-clinging. Actually, I'm discovering a whole new territory regarding clinging, as I was so focused in aversion. How clinging is so closed related to thoughts/views, energy flow, jhana factors and the sense of "I". How aversion triggers clinging to sensations constantly, to place a sense of I. Regarding upadana as fuel rather than clinging, that must be awesome to be able to practice off-cushion in a non-dualistic mode, without the I poking behind. Feels like an end-goal accomplished! Sure, there surely will be further insights in the "first bucket" to be seen, but looks like a great place to be...

Martin, modified 8 Months ago at 3/19/23 4:02 PM
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RE: Martin's Log 3

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On the cushion: For the past week or so I have been practicing a weird hybrid thingy. In my morning sit, I do it after going through j1-4, in the evening, I just dive in. Basically, it's fire kasina without a kansina. I just start from looking for the replacement image to appear, sometimes using the words "candle flame." The results are very odd. Photorealistic flames pop up here and there, sometimes briefly, sometimes durably. Sometimes there are burning landscapes, sometimes there are all-surrounding flames. It's definitely something that would have freaked me out when I was less used to weird shit. It invariably also gets incredibly blissful and quiet, punctuated with moments of impossible beauty, including tiny exquisite nimittas, and then back to the quiet, and then back to the flames and so on. I'm not sure it serves any purpose, but it sure is fun. 

Off the cushion: I am becoming more used to the idea that upadana can be consistently seen and abandoned before it leads to suffering. It's been about five months since I have felt stuck in suffering. This is not a claim of any sort. I do not know what will happen in the future but, for now, this is how the mind is operating. So I have become interested in the first movements of the mind upon contact, in the sub-one-second range, in daily life. What happens when I read a headline, or see a person, or see a traffic event, or hear a sound? Once the vedena is there, the way it plays out is largely determined, whether or not it goes all the way to upadana. Possibilities are cut off. The world is narrowed. Sometimes (very rarely) vedena comes up neutral for an object that usually gets positive or negative vedena, or a habitually negative object gets positive, etc. What makes that possible on some occasions and not others? I guess this may why sankhara comes before consciousness in the links, but I cannot actually see what is going on. So, I am watching this tiny window when I can. 
Martin, modified 6 Months ago at 5/14/23 2:55 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 5/14/23 2:55 PM

RE: Martin's Log 3

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On the cushion: Still doing the kasina-free fire kasina thing. 

Of the cushion:  I read, Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu's The Mind Like Fire Unbound, which really works for me as a framework for thinking about upadana (clinging/fuel). I just love this guy's writing. I am now 3/4 of the way through rereading The Paradox of Becoming.  This is where I am at: watching fueling (clinging) and becoming, and watching the collapse of becoming with the stopping of fueling. It's a beautiful thing to watch again and again. While I would not be indifferent to a punch in the face or a hottie in a hot tub, I do think that I would not be fooled into taking the things that arise as a result personally beyond a minute or two. 

It's nice to see the posts here. I read for a bit for inspiration and then to make note of what is going on in my practice by way of reciprocation. As things continue to deepen, my opinions of questions of framing and overarching structure are less important and less satisfactory, which limits my participation in some of the forum discussions but it's good to see them. 
Martin, modified 5 Months ago at 6/24/23 5:14 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 6/24/23 5:14 PM

RE: Martin's Log 3

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On the cushion: I'm done with the kasina-free fire kasina thing. Back to ordinary jhana and ordinary vipassana, plus some Shikantaza. 

Off the cushion: Nondual awareness is occupying more of the average day. It's rarely noticeable during work but it is increasingly noticeable during conversations and noticeable most of the time that I am alone and not working or consuming entertainment. The flavor at the moment is "I am that." Not necessarily in the strict Advaita Vedanta sense but in the literal sense being the person who is speaking to me, or the objects in view, or the source of the sounds in the air. This is a little different from the flavor when everything knows itself without any imputed owner or agent. At other times, I notice similar imputations going on with a broad range of "internal" mental activities. The mind has an automatic routine of triangulating back to a self. One only has to look to see that the sides of the triangle point at nothing at all, but the computation is run again and again, nonetheless. Not that there's anything wrong with that :-)

I think that there is a kind of expansion/contraction thing going on, at a time scale of maybe a couple of weeks for one in-and-out. There are stretches where things are so beautiful and vibrant and it's not really possible to imagine suffering, and then periods where things are ordinary and thoughts are dominant, and often there is sadness for a few hours, or crying during a sit, between the two phases. But there are no hard edges marking the end of one phase and the start of another. My takeaway is that things are fully capable of unfolding by themselves. 

For the past five weeks I've been going to sit with the Soto Zen people who took over the nearby center which had been Rinzai Zen. The Soto folks, it turns out, are much easier for me to mesh with. That said, the talks include quite a bit that is new to me or that, at first brush, brings up a disagreement response. It's nice to be nudged out of my comfort zone. In a few weeks' time, I will be doing a short retreat with them. 
Martin, modified 4 Months ago at 7/27/23 12:22 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/27/23 12:22 PM

RE: Martin's Log 3

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Report on Soto Zen retreat: It was very pretty. In addition to formal sitting, they gave us lots of time for aimless outdoor walking/sitting/standing/laying practice in a beautiful setting. With the quiet mind from all the zazen, it was easy to let nondual experience unfold. On the cushion was less fun. I am not used to having my eyes open and the mudra hurt my shoulder so I found myself dealing with the hindrances, which was a blast from the past. I even got drowsy. I never get drowsy! It was a good indicator to me that the strength of my mindfulness is dependent on causes and conditions. I'm a long way from eradicating the root of ignorance :-) That was also the longest I have gone without jhana practice in years, which would count as another condition. Other than that, and a long series of very detailed and beautiful closed-eyed hallucinations when I got into bed on the second night, which were probably due to so much staring at the door all day, the retreat was quite underpowered. It basically felt like a trip to a spa. It's funny, at a theoretical level, Soto Zen sounds very good to me but, in practice, it feels mostly like cosplay. A person who I shared a ride with said that she liked Zen retreats because, unlike Vipassana retreats, there was nothing mystical about them. I think she is right but, for me, that's a bug, not a feature. I like mystical.

On the cushion: I'm just playing these days. Mostly 45 minutes of samadhi, sometimes longer. My general pattern is 30 minutes of samadhi, followed by 15 minutes of looking at the mind. Last week I tried doing one sense door a day, instead of the mind. Taste was interesting. I didn't eat or drink anything but still there was quite a bit going on when I put attention there. Smell was amazing! It was a great object lesson in ignorance. For years I have been operating under the assumption that there are no smells in the garage where I meditate. But as soon as I put the attention at that sense door I realized there is a whole swirling world of changing odors being ignored all the time. So cool!

Off the cushion: Lots of beauty and joy and wonderment. I can relate to Christians who are enthusiastic about God's glory, but for me there is no God, just glory. My teacher's last instruction, several months ago, was to remember that all experience is inherently nondual and look for, not nonduality, but the interpretation that is supporting the illusion of duality. Of course, once looked at, duality has no support. It took quite a while to get the habit but I now see how excellent that instruction was. 

At the moment I am done with efforting. There is no fear or anger or frustration or worry, and world, with its people, and ecosystems, and airplanes, and farms, and supermarkets, and TV, and lakes, and ants, and weather, is ridiculously wonderful just as it is. For now. So, I'll keep meditating, just as I keep running and swimming and working and cooking but without trying to get anywhere. Hopefully, the unused intention can find an outlet that is helpful where help would be useful. I have not volunteered in years, and I think that could be a good next step. 
Pepe ·, modified 4 Months ago at 7/28/23 6:22 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/28/23 6:22 PM

RE: Martin's Log 3

Posts: 699 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
That Soto cosplay image really made me laugh  emoticon . Love the progression of your practice and how well written your posts are. Hey guys check this log! 
Martin, modified 3 Months ago at 8/27/23 12:46 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 8/27/23 12:46 PM

RE: Martin's Log 3

Posts: 647 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Woke up nondual this morning. Just sounds knowing themselves. That is, I think, the first time that has happened as the first consciousness of the day. 
shargrol, modified 3 Months ago at 8/27/23 2:01 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 8/27/23 2:01 PM

RE: Martin's Log 3

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The retreat and the one-sense-door-a-day and waking up non-dual all sounds great!
Martin, modified 18 Days ago at 11/13/23 7:51 PM
Created 18 Days ago at 11/13/23 7:51 PM

RE: Martin's Log 3

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On the cushion:
I listened to many of Rob Burbea's imaginal talks and tried doing the imaginal practice in seated meditation. I liked the theories but the practice didn't really work for me. On the other hand, as I sat there, post-samadhi, looking around for potential images, I kept seeing super bright, super beautiful baby nimittas. So, over a week or so I gave up on the imaginal and just played with the nimittas. As they expanded they tended to be so intensely bright and beautiful that the body would whimper, or move. This creates an unusual thing: there is the nimitta over there (in a place that does not share spatial coordinates with anything else) and there is the whimpering body (also without shared coordinates) and there is pleasure/joy/beauty (without any coordinates at all). They are separate, without anything stitching them together. That has been impactful. It does not make sense, and the lack of making sense seems accurate.

As a different, and nearly opposite, practice, I have been working with Adi's Nirvikalpa samadhi instructions, particularly in the evening, reclining. I cannot get to the end, where there are no objects at all, but I can get to where there is no arrow of attention and only a very few, greatly attenuated objects. This is nice, and has a long tail after the sit. 

Off the cushion:
Again, I am thinking in terms of two baskets: suffering and duality. There is quite a bit going on for both, but I will stick to describing the duality side of things, as this has really started to dominate day-to-day life. 

What I refer to loosely as "nondual perception," when talking to myself, is a continuum. At the shallow end, verbal thought disappears, and the sensory input from the other five sense doors (in particular seeing) dominates. This is just seeing, just hearing, etc. This is silent, even though there is sound. This is simple, direct. I take this to be what Angelo Dilulo calls presence and Loch Kelly calls awake awareness. There is a witness there, not of the sensory input, but of the awareness of the sensory input. There is an experiencer of the presence and an evaluator of the presence. It's not really "nondual" but it is less separated, and more intimate, that ordinary experience, and generally neat. 

As this intimacy deepens, spacial distance often becomes nonuniform/arbitrary. Things can seem any distance away. My hand can be 20 meters away, and a thing 20 meters away can be centimeters away. There can be a cubist effect in which different things in the visual field have independent and discontinuous angular perspectives and distances. This is in the same general class of perceptual phenomena as moving but experiencing that as staying still and having the world move past you, as well as super-3D vision and 2D (screen) vision. My interpretation of what is going on is that, as the routines in the mind that continuously reference everything back to "me" become less active and objects that are typically classed as "other" start to get more equal weighting, there are glitches in the rules of perspective.

Also, in this midrange, a lot of pronounced anatta experiences can come up. These are experiences in which an event that is typically accompanied by a sense of agency (such as drinking from a cup or walking) happens without agency or as if done by another agent. For example, at a poker game, I looked down and saw the cards using hands (technically speaking, my hands) to shuffle themselves. Again, my guess is that this is due to a failure of an explanatory mechanism to engage that would ordinarily attribute the actions to me. This is an odd area because it is obvious that most movements of the body happen without conscious control, and so there should not be anything remarkable in noticing that this applies to all movements of the body and mind, but it is the felt incongruity, the prominent sense of a component of the standard overlay being missing, that defines these experiences. 

In a general way, all of this perceptual stuff feels less like something I do and more like something the world does. There is a sense of standing to one side and letting the world do its own thing, unhindered by commentary and control, for once. It's a bit like when you see that you have been hogging a conversation and realize that the other person might like to talk too. 

At the deep end, which is rare for me and has only happened a handful of times, perspective no longer applies. The sense of a witness, which is strong at the shallow end, drops away and objects are just known, and are also not separate from other objects, so that, "object," is not really the right word (phenomena might be closer). Where there is an emotional element to the objects, the emotion is experienced by the object, rather than being attributed to an observer of the object. Thoughts appear as being neither inside nor outside or, in another way of saying it, both inside and outside. There is vast ease and naturalness (beauty) to this. This lasts for minutes (as long as about 15 minutes) and reshapes my experience in a lasting way when it stops.

The parts other than what I am calling the deep end can last a very long time. All day is not uncommon, with some level of ebb and flow, and this can be the predominant mode for several weeks. When it stops, it can be mostly absent for days or weeks. There is a clear trend, stretching back over the past four years, of an increased percentage of time being greatly different from ordinary perception. 

There is another variable, which I could call cool/warm. Particularly the shallow-end stuff can be quite sterile. There is always some level of equanimity involved and, especially with just presence, that can feel like detachment. But, for example, when I am out in nature, or talking to people, or in a crowd, the tone can be very warm. There can be a lot of samadhi-like sukha and physical warmth in the body. Critically, this does not seem to be "my happiness" or "my enjoyment" but rather the trees, or the friends, or the strangers are happy and that happiness encompasses me. Often it's more of a question of beauty. I can be talking to people and find myself in awe of how beautiful they are. It just pops, in a holly-shit! kind of way. Same goes for mountains and freight trains. 

You could probably put this variable in a totally different category, but the warmth/brightness/clarity/beauty stuff generally appears when the world is already being perceived in the midrange nondual way. Also, at the deep end, everything has this feel to it. So the two things appear to be, at least, associated. 

All of this could, in some ways of seeing, be included under the category of "states" and, as such, be disregarded as a kind of large-scale makyo. Earlier on, that was the approach I adopted. That way of looking made intuitive sense when the states lasted for just a few minutes. I considered them, at best, learning opportunities. But they could also be seen as sort of distracting or even dangerous because a person might cling to them. That is an argument that I have heard many times. That argument never really made sense to me, as there is nothing to cling to. It's not like jhana which you can call up and modulate at will. You can orient toward nonduality but you could not possibly say something like, "I'm going to keep this nonduality going for another fifteen minutes." Who would be doing the keeping? What would be kept? So basically, I see no need to avoid or dismiss it. 

That said, I also don't know where this is going. Will modes of perception just remain fluid, or will a particular mode lock in, or will it all just fade? I actually don't think the answer is very important, as I am not trying to gain or avoid any particular future, but I am curious to see how it plays out. 

I started my intended volunteering by joining the political party that I usually vote against. My hope is to learn more about other people's perspectives and possibly provide a middle-ground perspective at party meetings. 
shargrol, modified 18 Days ago at 11/14/23 5:46 AM
Created 18 Days ago at 11/14/23 5:39 AM

RE: Martin's Log 3

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This is really good stuff. Yeah the sense of separation/space is a really critical investigation.  "Where am I?" is one of the deepest and most profound dharma questions. Suffering and duality are very intimately tied to "where" the "I" is. (I could rattle on about it, but I'll spare you! emoticon I can tell you're really starting to see it for yourself. ) And the non-agency expereinces are a really good sign, even though it can be disorienting at first. There is a useful practice for cultivating and learning to accept these experiences and that is to say to yourself "look at it...", as in "look at it shuffle cards", and then keep watching the non-agency happen. Just saying "look at it..." gives the self a small sense of control, while still allowing the non-agency to occur --- it's sort of like a training wheels approach until you get very comfortable just letting the body/mind do it's thing. When non-agency starts becoming noticed, you'll start seeing it many many times a day. Look at it eat, look at it walk, look at it brush teeth, look at it type, look at it...
Bahiya Baby, modified 16 Days ago at 11/15/23 1:51 PM
Created 16 Days ago at 11/15/23 1:51 PM

RE: Martin's Log 3

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"I started my intended volunteering by joining the political party that I usually vote against. My hope is to learn more about other people's perspectives and possibly provide a middle-ground perspective at party meetings."

​​​​​​​I love it emoticon