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Upasaka Culadasa

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Upasaka Culadasa Daniel F Connor 11/2/11 8:54 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Ian And 11/3/11 12:56 AM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Daniel M. Ingram 11/30/11 12:23 AM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Ian And 1/26/12 12:55 AM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Tommy M 11/3/11 6:45 AM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Daniel F Connor 11/3/11 8:14 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa George A Cutter 11/29/11 4:42 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Stian Gudmundsen Høiland 1/24/12 2:07 AM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Eric B 1/24/12 11:08 AM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Psi 8/15/15 12:59 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa chris mc 8/15/15 1:50 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Darin 11/25/15 3:50 AM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa John Power 12/2/15 4:00 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Jinxed P 12/2/15 9:27 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Teague 12/3/15 7:42 AM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa John Power 12/3/15 10:22 AM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Jinxed P 12/3/15 2:26 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Teague 12/4/15 9:48 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Jinxed P 12/5/15 1:18 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa John Power 12/5/15 2:30 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Daniel M. Ingram 12/6/15 2:27 AM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Jinxed P 12/6/15 1:50 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Daniel M. Ingram 12/6/15 2:13 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Jinxed P 12/13/15 1:31 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Daniel M. Ingram 12/13/15 10:11 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Marek Mark 12/23/15 4:04 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Jack Hatfield 2/18/16 1:49 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Lewis James 2/19/16 4:56 AM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Jack Hatfield 2/19/16 1:14 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Pucchaka 2/27/16 1:26 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Jinxed P 2/28/16 7:45 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Pucchaka 3/11/16 8:43 AM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Jinxed P 3/11/16 5:08 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Pucchaka 3/18/16 5:15 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Jinxed P 8/2/16 5:50 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Jinxed P 8/2/16 5:54 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Pucchaka 8/12/16 6:47 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Jinxed P 8/31/16 10:43 AM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Dada Kind 12/14/15 3:26 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Joakim Bobbetibob 12/15/15 6:42 AM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Teague 12/5/15 5:24 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa tom moylan 3/14/16 5:15 AM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa elizabeth 5/14/17 4:02 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa C P M 5/12/17 7:47 AM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa : ladyfrog : 5/12/17 9:14 AM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Andrew K 5/14/17 2:20 AM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa elizabeth 5/14/17 4:07 PM
RE: Upasaka Culadasa Jeff Wright 5/25/17 10:03 AM
Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
11/2/11 8:54 PM
I first discovered Culadasa while reading the yahoo jhana_insight forum, and found his meditation manual available there immensely useful. It is also available on his website at http://dharmatreasure.com/ I'm surprised to see relatively little mention of him here.

The manual covers starting a practice and extends to access concentration. It's written and structured in a clear fashion I found refreshing.

He also runs some retreats in arizona, and this feb/march will be doing a 10-day retreat in masachussetts.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
11/3/11 12:56 AM as a reply to Daniel F Connor.
[quote="Daniel F Conner"]I'm surprised to see relatively little mention of him here.
I've had dealings with Upasaka Culadasa (aka John Yates) while I spent some time at the same yahoo group list service. He indeed knows what he's talking about and is well worth listening to and reading. He has a very good way of describing the experiential stages of development that many people might find to be not only eloquent but uncannily accurate. His writing etcetera is well worth looking into, especially for people just starting out.

As to why he may not be mentioned much here, I don't think he's into the Dharma hardcore movement in the way that Daniel Ingram defines it. He is doing his own thing, so to speak. Each to his own.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
11/3/11 6:45 AM as a reply to Daniel F Connor.
Apparently Shinzen Young speaks very highly of him too, and having read his take on things he really knows his stuff. His descriptions are, as Ian mentions, incredibly accurate and well phrased, there's no doubt whatsoever that he's a highly skilled dude.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
11/3/11 8:14 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
That's funny- I actually had a conversation with Shinzen about Culadasa- a couple of years ago. Same impression.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
11/29/11 4:42 PM as a reply to Daniel F Connor.
I've studied on and off with Upasaka Culadasa (John Yates) for about 10 years. He is a well-kept secret. He is extremely knowledgeable, and has a gift for making the dharma remarkably clear, even self-evident. He is an expert in jhana practice. All of his teachings that have been recorded are available for free on his website (http://DharmaTreasure.com). Check out the "Teaching Retreats" section.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
11/30/11 12:23 AM as a reply to Ian And.
@Ian: I haven't heard of him. What would you say were his basic differences from what we are interested in doing here?

I will post a link to his stuff on the Links section.

D

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
1/24/12 2:07 AM as a reply to Daniel F Connor.
Bumping this, as I am currently finding Culadasa's descriptions very helpful.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
1/24/12 11:08 AM as a reply to Stian Gudmundsen Høiland.
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland:
Bumping this, as I am currently finding Culadasa's descriptions very helpful.


There's also some great stuff of his to be mined over on the Yahoo group Jhana Insight. It requires some digging to find it but is well worth the effort.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
1/26/12 12:55 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
@Ian: I haven't heard of him. What would you say were his basic differences from what we are interested in doing here?

Sorry for the late reply, I haven't been monitoring this thread.

He's more of a traditionalist in terms of Dhamma practice, not nearly as "out there" in terms of giving credence to questionable practices such as the Actual Freedom crowd. As one should be able to tell by the religious name he chooses to be known by.

I should say that I haven't had contact with him for several years now, so I'm not certain which direction he may be going in, other than the one posted on his website.

Although I must say, he's right there with you in terms of your hardcore approach to the meditation technology and diligence in its practice. He had quite a few good things to say about your approach to meditation, as I recall, a few years back when you first appeared on the E-sangha scene and were first becoming known and talked about in more traditional circles.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
8/15/15 12:59 PM as a reply to Daniel F Connor.
Daniel F Connor:
I first discovered Culadasa while reading the yahoo jhana_insight forum, and found his meditation manual available there immensely useful. It is also available on his website at http://dharmatreasure.com/ I'm surprised to see relatively little mention of him here.

The manual covers starting a practice and extends to access concentration. It's written and structured in a clear fashion I found refreshing.

He also runs some retreats in arizona, and this feb/march will be doing a 10-day retreat in masachussetts.
Just FYI, Culadasa is having a booked released October 6, 2015

http://www.amazon.com/The-Mind-Illuminated-Meditation-Integrating/dp/0990847705


And this is a link to a meditation manual, which I have not read yet, again FYI

http://dharmatreasure.com/wp-content/uploads/LightOnMeditationHandout.pdf


Psi

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
8/15/15 1:50 PM as a reply to Psi.
Thanks for posting the link.  I skimmed through the "Look inside" preview on the Amazon page.

Culadasa's 'style' of meditation seems to be samatha (calm abiding/tranquility instead of absorption) and vipassana yoked together, similar to the TWIM that Ven Vimalaramsi teaches.  Which is, according to my limited understanding of the suttas, what the Buddha taught - instead of separate concentration and insight practices. 

From what I've read, it's supposed to be a more pleasing practice, easier to live with off the cushion, with less of a dark night element.

I'm going to order the book.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
11/25/15 3:50 AM as a reply to Daniel F Connor.
I'm working my way through The Mind Illuminated. I've benefited greatly from the techniques aimed at improving concentration, including techniques aimed at warding off dullness and agitation to keep the mind in the sweet spot for sustained periods of time. My plan is to return to noting once my concentration is sharper. The other thing that I like about the book is the neuro scientific explanations (with diagrams) of the workings of the mind.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
12/2/15 4:00 PM as a reply to Darin.
In this video Culadasa talks about giving a talk at the Buddhist Geek Conference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5He0q5u5yY

But I can´t find this talk ´Here Comes the Sun: Achieving Awakening Without the Dark Night´.
Can anyone find it?

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
12/2/15 9:27 PM as a reply to John Power.
John Power:
In this video Culadasa talks about giving a talk at the Buddhist Geek Conference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5He0q5u5yY

But I can´t find this talk ´Here Comes the Sun: Achieving Awakening Without the Dark Night´.
Can anyone find it?


He never gave it due to health reasons. Lyme disease iirc.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
12/3/15 7:42 AM as a reply to Jinxed P.
I sat a 10 day solo retreat at his Cochise Stronghold ranch last year.  He's open (or was at the time) to letting people come and practice at his land and will give interviews and feedback if you like.  He's aware of Dan and MCTB and thinks that it's legit, but probably not for everyone.  I would say that his approach is just as hardcore as what we're used to, but just different.  

He is much more samadi oriented and has his own (or assimilated) stages of concentration that correspond directly with vipassana jhanas, and his stance is that when you rise through them with concentration, then the dark night is just a blip.

When I returned from that retreat, I tried to follow just his method of practice exclusively, but without good results.  I stopped getting into EQ for 9 months :-(  But that shouldn't deter people from trying.  His book is out now and has lots of great info.  He has a PHd in phsychology or something, so has lots of great insights into what's actually (or maybe) going on with consciousness.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
12/3/15 10:22 AM as a reply to Teague.
I hope that his health will improve.

@Teague: Do you know why the method didn´t work when you got back home? Because you could not sit enough or because daily life?

Is there a place were you can buy the book in € instead of $?

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
12/3/15 2:26 PM as a reply to Teague.
Teague:
I sat a 10 day solo retreat at his Cochise Stronghold ranch last year.  He's open (or was at the time) to letting people come and practice at his land and will give interviews and feedback if you like.  He's aware of Dan and MCTB and thinks that it's legit, but probably not for everyone.  I would say that his approach is just as hardcore as what we're used to, but just different.  

He is much more samadi oriented and has his own (or assimilated) stages of concentration that correspond directly with vipassana jhanas, and his stance is that when you rise through them with concentration, then the dark night is just a blip.

When I returned from that retreat, I tried to follow just his method of practice exclusively, but without good results.  I stopped getting into EQ for 9 months :-(  But that shouldn't deter people from trying.  His book is out now and has lots of great info.  He has a PHd in phsychology or something, so has lots of great insights into what's actually (or maybe) going on with consciousness.
Did he let you stay for free? How did your organize that? Did you just shoot him an email?

Are you familiar with his 10 stages? How far along did you get when you tried to practice just his methods? What were your biggest hurdles etc?

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
12/4/15 9:48 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
@ John:  I think my raw concentration power is not that great.  It can get decent when I sit a course, but otherwise it's just middling.  But that's just concentration on its own.  I've experienced profound concentration, but its come as a by-product of doing vipassana.  I think that vipassana is something that you can do with brute force (at least sometimes), whereas concentration is more finessed.  I've found that when my mind is very scattered I can still do really coarse scanning or noting and it's enough to propel me up the progress of insight, whereas if I just try to do concentration I will space out for hours at a time.  I did have a few sits at that retreat and others where I strictly followed the breath and found that I move up through the same territory, so that sort of proves to me that Culadasa method would work.  It's like vipassana and samadi are ladders up against the same wall, but the vipassana ladder is easier for me to climb and it leads a bit higher: awakening.

You can read about my experience leading up to and coming back from the retreat here:
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5571895

It was a little strange.  I had great momentum leading up to the retreat, and I had great sits during the retreat.  And then the next day after getting home, I started trying to simply follow Culadasa’s teaching, and I felt like I had never meditated before.  I accepted not getting to EQ for a few weeks, but I eventually started doing vipassana again, and I felt like a beginner in that too.  Only recently, nine months later, have I been regaining steam.

@ Jinxed:  The hallmark of the 8th or 9th stage (I can't remember which) is that you can let go of effort.  I could do that.  I can't remember the other symptoms of those stages, but they sounded familiar to me, and Culadasa verified what I described in my sits.  It's been awhile since I read the stages, but I remember that stage 10 sounded pretty crazy.  Like, I wasn't there.

My biggest hurdle is that pure concentration is really hard.  It gets so insanely subtle that sometimes its hard to tell if your mind has actually wandered or not.  When I wasn’t using Vipassana to get up to a point where concentration becomes easy, it took me herculean effort to stay concentrated.  This is probably a reason why this technique may not be for everyone, and why so many people have had success with noting.

I heard about Culadasa from a friend at Buddhist Geeks.  I checked out the website (http://dharmatreasure.org/retreats/)  and filled out a thing for a solo retreat.  An assistant teacher got back to me and eventually approved my stay.  They charge a fee for staying at the ranch to cover their basic costs, and then the teachings/interviews are based off donations.  His land is totally gorgeous.  Excellent environment for a retreat, but it can get chilly in the winter.  There is a kitchen there, and you cook your own food.  His wife makes grocery runs and can buy supplies.  Also, there is a hot tub.  I took a hot tub every night I was there :-)

-T

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
12/5/15 1:18 PM as a reply to Teague.
Thanks Teague,

I have his book and I absolutely love it. Although it stops short of how to do insight practices. Do you know what Culadasa would recommend for doing insight once one has reached his stage 10 of samatha? Is he a proponent of noting?

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
12/5/15 2:30 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Thanks for your answer Teague.

To refer back to the subject Culadasa was about to speak about ´Achieving Awakening Without the Dark Night´. Does he write about this in his book? Or speaks about this some place else?

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
12/5/15 5:24 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P:
Thanks Teague,

I have his book and I absolutely love it. Although it stops short of how to do insight practices. Do you know what Culadasa would recommend for doing insight once one has reached his stage 10 of samatha? Is he a proponent of noting?

I'm a little hazy on the specifics of his teaching cause it's been a little while, but I think that he sees his teaching as a hybrid of vipassana and samadi and that if you follow his method then by the time you've reached stage 10 then you'll have passed through the dark night and are in equanimity.  I remember reading a chapter which gives instructions for moving your attention through the body, which is essentially the same vipassana technique they teach in Goenka courses.  I can't remember if the book gives instructions to pay attention to the 3 characteristics or not.  I did talk with him about this stuff, but like I said, my memory is hazy.

I do know that he thinks that noting is a valid technique, but he thinks that the reason people have such difficult and long dark nights is because they move quickly up the progress of insight using a technique like noting and don't have a strong foundation in samadi.

My personal opinion is that once you know the essentials of viapassana, and have made some progress in the progress of insight, then it's almost impossible to do pure samadi.  I can focus entirely on the breath and eventually find myself in the equanimity ñana.  Maybe it's the fourth jhana, but jhanas have always been murkier for me, whereas ñanas present themselves relatively clearly.

I really wish my concentration powers were greater, because his decriptions of hard jhana sound awesome.

@ John:  I don't recall reading about the dark night in the book, but the version I read was printouts in a three-ring binder at the center.  It was still being added to and revised so there may be a section on it that I didn't see.  Last year he was going to give a talk at Buddhist Geeks on that subject, but wasn't well enough to travel.  If you haven't already gotten the book, I'd say just go for it.  It has excellent material not found in any other dharma books (that I know of).

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
12/6/15 2:27 AM as a reply to John Power.
I talked a lot with Culadasa (heck of a nice guy with very deep insight) back in June at Omega at the dharma teacher's conference, and his basic point about the Dark Night was that a sufficiently concentrated and properly tamed mind need not go into that territory.

It is definitely true that, if one has very strong and stable concentration, and then one uses that as a basis of insight while still maintaining that high degree of attention control and regulation, then one (or, I should say "some") can traverse the stages of insight, including the Dark Night, without any obvious Dark Night effects. See my descriptions of fire kasina practice for more on this.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
12/6/15 1:50 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel,

In Culadasa's book, he does not go into great detail on how to do insight practices. He does mention Mahasi noting though..did you guys discuss insight practices? Any idea what kind of insight practice he would recommend once someone has traversed his 10 stages of samatha. The only downside to his otherwise excellent book is that he doesn't mention this.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
12/6/15 2:13 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
We did talk about insight practices, concentration practices, attainments, how those attainments field-tested, and other things. I guess that he would say that he is saying how to do insight practices, just a version fused and integrated with concentration, as he advocates for strong concentration and also strong clarity about what that directed and trained attention is revealing. 

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
12/13/15 1:31 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
We did talk about insight practices, concentration practices, attainments, how those attainments field-tested, and other things. I guess that he would say that he is saying how to do insight practices, just a version fused and integrated with concentration, as he advocates for strong concentration and also strong clarity about what that directed and trained attention is revealing. 
What did you guys discuss with regards to attainments? One of the things that it would seem you guys diverge on is that Culadasa does mention in his book that the end of suffering (not pain) is possible. Did you guys get into that?

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
12/13/15 10:11 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
We actually had a great conversation about attainments in their phenomenological particulars and how they field-test in reality, but the problem is that I didn't have the sense at the time to ask him how public that knowledge was and the degree of privacy of that conversation, as those sitting around that particular table were some pretty heavy cats and so the question didn't come up. Thus, you should ask him yourself, as I can be sure that he would want me talking about it. My apologies for not being able to say more.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
12/14/15 3:26 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
But I thought one of the takeaways from that kasina retreat was that strong concentration can bring up serious stuff. MCTB says this also. So the idea that one can just concentrate to bypass the Dark Night doesn't seem consistent with ^ if we're defining the Dark Night broadly.

For your "some", could you conjecture some conditions?

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
12/15/15 6:42 AM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Droll Dedekind:
But I thought one of the takeaways from that kasina retreat was that strong concentration can bring up serious stuff. MCTB says this also. So the idea that one can just concentrate to bypass the Dark Night doesn't seem consistent with ^ if we're defining the Dark Night broadly.

For your "some", could you conjecture some conditions?

I'm not the most advanced on this forum. But I think the answer here would be that a concentrated mind is a happier mind, and being in a joyous state helps when your stuff comes up - it is easier to see the reality of the experience. That's why it is recommended to start insight practice after some concentration is developed. Sometimes when you're happy and a dark memory comes up you can just laugh it off, because you see how ridicilous it was to have such thoughts and feelings about it, you see the story from a different perspective and is able to simply drop it. Whereas if you're taking up issues from an agitated state, you are more likely to add to the story.

I wanted to add to this thread saying that his book "The Mind Illuminated" is simply incredible. It's the best book about meditation I've ever read. More than anything I would recommend it because it's so easy to read without shying away from difficult topics.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
12/23/15 4:04 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P:
Daniel,

In Culadasa's book, he does not go into great detail on how to do insight practices. He does mention Mahasi noting though..did you guys discuss insight practices? Any idea what kind of insight practice he would recommend once someone has traversed his 10 stages of samatha. The only downside to his otherwise excellent book is that he doesn't mention this.

Culadasa describes stages of progress of insight with samatha-vipassana mindfulness technique here:
https://soundcloud.com/buddhistgeeks/culadasa-on-the-stages-of-meditation

I mainly practice mindfulness of breath instead of choiceless awareness noting so this kind of progress of insight sounds much more familiar to me than progress of insight described in MCTB.

The biggest difference I can see is that first insight into emptiness (i think it's Mind and Body from MCTB and sixth stage of Culadasa's progress) happens when you have clear (bare) awarness of sensations and see them as they realy are, but you can't recognise them conceptually so you can't label them. You can distinguish bare sensation from mental concept by ability to see only bare sensation. This is why I can't understand idea of noting technique.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
2/18/16 1:49 PM as a reply to Marek Mark.
A quote from Culadasa's book:""It’s possible to achieve exclusive attention by just focusing over and over on the breath at the nose and ignoring subtle distractions until they fade away, but that can take a very long time. Experiencing the whole body with the breath is a faster and more enjoyable method that makes it much easier to completely ignore distractions." Here he describes whole body breath meditation: "When the perception of the breath at the abdomen is well-established, choose an isolated area of the body far from the abdomen, one where you wouldn’t expect to feel sensations related to breathing. Shift your attention to this area while at the same time keeping the sensations of the breath at the abdomen in your peripheral awareness. Consider the foot as an example. Shift the attention to the front half of one foot. Thoroughly examine all the sensations in that part of the foot without losing awareness of the breath. Investigate the foot sensations to see if any of them change with the in- or the out-breath. (When you first start, you will probably not notice any changes.) Repeat this with the back half of the same foot. Then, move to the calf and lower leg, again examining all the sensations while looking for any specifically connected to the breath.”

In my meditations I sometimes use the breath as it affects either my nose or abdomen as an anchor and then expand my attention to my whole body. Above Culadasa adds a wrinkle that eludes me. He is saying be aware of “the breath-related sensations occurring simultaneously throughout the whole body.”

Has anyone tried this meditation?

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
2/19/16 4:56 AM as a reply to Jack Hatfield.
Jack Hatfield:
In my meditations I sometimes use the breath as it affects either my nose or abdomen as an anchor and then expand my attention to my whole body. Above Culadasa adds a wrinkle that eludes me. He is saying be aware of “the breath-related sensations occurring simultaneously throughout the whole body.”

Has anyone tried this meditation?

I've been practicing using the book for a couple of months now. It's pretty much exactly as he describes - you're looking for tingling sensations that seem to shift with the in and out breath. Sometimes they're in sync, other times out of phase. If you don't feel anything, it's probably best to go back to focussing on the breath at the nose until you're in a calmer, higher state of concentration. For me, it's easiest to spot at the feet first. Once you get attuned to it, you can start to expand the attention outwards from the point you've located the sensations - so if you start at the feet, then try the lower legs, upper legs, hips, abdomen, etc, until you have the whole body in attention with these shifting sensations.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
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2/19/16 1:14 PM as a reply to Lewis James.
Lewis,

Thanks for your replay. It is very useful.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
2/27/16 1:26 PM as a reply to Jack Hatfield.
Hi! I'm a student of Culadasa's. On a long retreat with him, at one point I was in his Stage 6 but could not for the life of me find the "subtle breath sensations" (i.e., prana, chi, whatever) that you're supposed to use in his whole-body breath practice. I'd looked intensely for maybe a month. Finally, Culadasa pointed out that my stability of attention and intensity of perception had become more than adequate for Stage 6 practice, just through the concerted act of looking for the sensations, and that using the subtle breath sensations wasn't actually necessary. His theory was that I just wasn't allowing myself to see them -- that there was some mental block. He said to do the whole-body practice just using normal body sensations. I did, and it worked fine to move me through Stage 6 and into 7.

I wish Culadasa had mentioned in his book that actually finding and using the subtle breath sensations is optional. That could be an unnecessary roadblock for some people.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
2/28/16 7:45 PM as a reply to Pucchaka.
Pucchaka:
Hi! I'm a student of Culadasa's. On a long retreat with him, at one point I was in his Stage 6 but could not for the life of me find the "subtle breath sensations" (i.e., prana, chi, whatever) that you're supposed to use in his whole-body breath practice. I'd looked intensely for maybe a month. Finally, Culadasa pointed out that my stability of attention and intensity of perception had become more than adequate for Stage 6 practice, just through the concerted act of looking for the sensations, and that using the subtle breath sensations wasn't actually necessary. His theory was that I just wasn't allowing myself to see them -- that there was some mental block. He said to do the whole-body practice just using normal body sensations. I did, and it worked fine to move me through Stage 6 and into 7.

I wish Culadasa had mentioned in his book that actually finding and using the subtle breath sensations is optional. That could be an unnecessary roadblock for some people.

Hey, I'm considering doing a retreat with Culadasa later this year. How long did you go on retreat with him for? And how much progress did you make? I.E, you started at stage X and ended at stage Y..

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
3/11/16 8:43 AM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P:
Pucchaka:
Hi! I'm a student of Culadasa's. On a long retreat with him, at one point I was in his Stage 6 but could not for the life of me find the "subtle breath sensations" (i.e., prana, chi, whatever) that you're supposed to use in his whole-body breath practice. I'd looked intensely for maybe a month. Finally, Culadasa pointed out that my stability of attention and intensity of perception had become more than adequate for Stage 6 practice, just through the concerted act of looking for the sensations, and that using the subtle breath sensations wasn't actually necessary. His theory was that I just wasn't allowing myself to see them -- that there was some mental block. He said to do the whole-body practice just using normal body sensations. I did, and it worked fine to move me through Stage 6 and into 7.

I wish Culadasa had mentioned in his book that actually finding and using the subtle breath sensations is optional. That could be an unnecessary roadblock for some people.

Hey, I'm considering doing a retreat with Culadasa later this year. How long did you go on retreat with him for? And how much progress did you make? I.E, you started at stage X and ended at stage Y..
My bad about the delay! To answer your questions:

-I was on retreat with Culadasa for seven months. Two months, then a short break, then five months.
-In terms of raw Culadasian stages: to grossly oversimply, I went in at Two and came out at Eight. Two caveats about that: (1) I have pretty severe ADHD, so your mileage may vary. For me to experience stage 8, given the attentional abilities I'm used to having, was miraculous. (2) A lot of the lasting changes I got from the retreat weren't just about raw progress through the stages. I came in with a huge and problematic amount of striving around progress, and it ironically and unsurprisingly hamstrung the progress I was so obsessed with. The retreat loosened that up enormously, which has permanently changed the quality of my meditation practice and just moment-to-moment consciousnes. I also had some pretty groovy insight experiences into suffering and not-self.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
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3/11/16 5:08 PM as a reply to Pucchaka.
Thanks Pucchaca! A few more questions if you don't mind..

1)Did you get a discount for staying for 7 months? 7 months at 40 bucks a night adds up..

2) I have ADHD too, although I've done a ton of stuff to work on it, enough that I don't feel it necessary to take meds anymore. Before all the meditation, cognitive exercises, diet changes my ADHD was severe as well. Would you say your ADHD has been cured? Or greatly reduced? Were those attention abilities lasting? Did Culadasa tailor your meditation at all to account for having ADHD?

3) Anything else you can think of that I should take into consideration before the retreat that would helpe me decide to do it there? Or anything I should keep in mind while on the retreat?

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
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3/14/16 5:15 AM as a reply to Daniel F Connor.
yahoo!  just got my english copy of "the mind illuminated" and can't wait to crack it after the work day winds down.  should be just the ticket to help me focus for an upcoming self-retreat.  thanks for the post

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
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3/18/16 5:15 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
1. I didn't ask for a discount -- the retreat cost less on a monthly basis than my rent, and I gave up my apartment to go on the retreat, so the pricing seemed like a good deal to me. I suppose you could ask about discounts for longer stays, but honestly I don't know many retreats that are more affordable (Goenka, of course), especially where you have frequent one-on-one access to a great teacher.
2. No, I wouldn't say my ADHD has been cured. ADHD is a bunch of traits besides just inattentiveness -- it's woven into the matrix of my personality, and I think the idea of "curing" it is almost nonsensical, although I used to think of it that way myself. Most definitely certain ADHD symptoms are vastly improved, in the ways you'd expect: I'm less impulsive because I see my impulses before reacting, I can focus better, etc. Culadasa didn't really tailor the practice to my ADHD, and he confided toward the end of retreat that his secret plan for me was that I would figure that stuff out for others. SHRUG.
3. Good things: the land is incredibly beautiful. You have basically at-will access to one of the finest meditation teachers alive. Culadasa's wife Nancy is an angel, and John (Culadasa) himself is an extraordingary human being. Developing a personal relationship with these people is very gratifying. Bad things: solitude is hard. You have to stick to the retreat schedule through your own efforts, since it's self-directed. Culadasa's style is pretty analytical, and you need to be careful not to let your meditation get too conceptual.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
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8/2/16 5:50 PM as a reply to Pucchaka.
Pucchaka,

Hi, I hope you are still checking the forum?

How long did it take you to progress through each stage. In the book Culadasa mentions that it takes someone with ADHD a long time to traverse through stages 2-3, but then the following stages come quicker. Was this true in your experience?

What made you stop at stage 8? Or should I say, what kept you from reaching nine and ten? Just not enough time, or did you get stuck?

What were the insight experiences that you had?

What did you eat for food on the retreat?

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
8/2/16 5:54 PM as a reply to Pucchaka.
Pucchaka,

Hi, I hope you are still checking the forum?

How long did it take you to progress through each stage. In the book Culadasa mentions that it takes someone with ADHD a long time to traverse through stages 2-3, but then the following stages come quicker. Was this true in your experience?

What made you stop at stage 8? Or should I say, what kept you from reaching nine and ten? Just not enough time, or did you get stuck?

What were the insight experiences that you had?

What did you eat for food on the retreat?

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
8/12/16 6:47 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed PPucchaka,

Hi, I hope you are still checking the forum?

Hi! I don't check the forum very often, but I get an email ping when someone responds to a post of mine. You have summoned me, and lo! I do appear.

How long did it take you to progress through each stage. In the book Culadasa mentions that it takes someone with ADHD a long time to traverse through stages 2-3, but then the following stages come quicker. Was this true in your experience?

It was the opposite for me. I whipped through stages 2-4, then stages 5 and 6 in particular dragged like a muhfuh. I think I know why, though. Less importantly: I'd been up and down stages 2-4 many times before, in and out of retreats, so they were familiar territory for my mind. More importantly: I applied Culadasa's instructions in overly literal ways that bottlenecked my progress and kept me stuck in Stage 5, and then Stage 6, for silly amounts of time. Disclaimer: I am not sure if Culadasa would fully agree with my interpretation here. I'll send this post to him and get his take.

At Stage 5, I was unable to detect the "subtle breath sensations" aka prana/qi/lung/etc that Culadasa tells you to look for during the body scan. And because of that, I refused to move on to Stage 6 practice. So I did concerted Stage 5 practice for literally months, looking and looking for these pranic sensations that I just could not find. Eventually, Culadasa concluded that it was more than time for me to move on. His suspicion was that I just wasn't letting myself see the subtle breath sensations -- it was a mental block, and looking harder would not make them appear. More importantly, the main purpose of Stage 5 is not to notice these pranic sensations; it's to overcome subtle dullness and increase the vividness/sharpness of perception. I'd stayed in that Stage for so long, looking for the breath sensations, that my vividness of perception was way beyond what was needed to move on to Stage 6. Fair enough -- on to Stage 6. My one remaining concern was that Culadasa's Stage 6 practice "Experiencing the Body with the Breath" or "Whole-Body Breathing" makes use of the subtle breath sensations that I hadn't found. But Culadasa said that you can do the practice using normal body sensations instead of pranic sensations. And that did turn out to work fine.

The reason I was stuck at Stage 6 for so long was again due to slavish adherence to the instructions as written. For this Stage, the book suggests that you hold the intention to stabilize attention exclusively on the breath AND to make your introspective awareness metacognitive, i.e., aware holistically of the mind's state and movements rather than of specific mental objects. Trying to hold two intentions simultaneously totally effed up my meditation. It just didn't work. To be honest, and with love and respect to my teacher: if I could, I would change these instructions in the book.

Everything clicked when I stopped trying to juggle multiple intentions — I’ll do THIS with attention, and at the same time I’ll do THAT with peripheral awareness. Instead, I dropped all that complexity and just held the single intention to stabilize on the breath. What happened was that my awareness naturally became metacognitive and continued to play its appropriate role of alerting me to distraction, dullness, or agitation. What I realized was that stabilizing your attention on the breath requires you to use both attention AND awareness, but that doesn’t mean you need to deliberately cultivate two separate, rigid intentions, one for attention and one for awareness. Just hold the one intention to achieve stability, and your mind will figure out how to use its various faculties to bring that about, especially if you have some intellectual understanding of the attention/awareness distinction.

Culadasa gave me some advice to that effect, but it didn't click until after I left retreat. I was in high Stage 6/low Stage 7, but as soon as I dropped the multiple intentions and simplified my practice, it was like I was doing pull-ups and someone removed a 100-pound weight from my ankles. I jumped straight to Stage 8 or possibly 9, according to Culadasa's assessment. I also had my first nonconceptual insight into no-self.


What made you stop at stage 8? Or should I say, what kept you from reaching nine and ten? Just not enough time, or did you get stuck?

Pretty simple: I left a long-term silent retreat, switched coasts, and started looking for a job and apartment in New York City while living with my parents and also going through a breakup. Life just kicked my meditation in the ass and knocked it down a few rungs.

What were the insight experiences that you had?

I had a pretty powerful and surprisingly blissful insight into the nature of suffering during retreat. The bliss faded after, I think, like four or five days.

As I said above, once I tweaked my meditation practice in the way that shot me into the higher Stages, I had insights into no-self. I'm not sure if these were cessation events or not. My experience was that consciousness persisted, just shorn of a sense of self or any conceptual reference points, but that might just be my brain retroactively experiencing cessation as a pure consciousness event.


What did you eat for food on the retreat?

Every few weeks or month, Culadasa's wife Nancy -- basically my retreat mom -- would go into Tucson and pick up groceries. I'd give her a written list. So I'd have fruit, milk, and other perishables for the first week or so, and then it would be non-perishables. They have a full kitchen for meditators, with fridge, freezer, airtight dry storage, stove, oven, microwave, and blender. I ate a lot of oatmeal and a lot of PB&J. At first, a lot of frozen Trader Joe's stuff too, but I learned to cook a little during the retreat and switched to more home-cooked food. Freezer cooking was good so that I didn't waste too much time preparing food -- like, I'd make a week's worth of burritos one evening and then freeze them.


RE: Upasaka Culadasa
Answer
8/31/16 10:43 AM as a reply to Pucchaka.
Pucchaka,

Thanks for your very detailed breakdown.

How did your insights into no-self change your day-to-day experience? Would you say you are a stream-enterer? Did it help with the break-up? What stage are you at now? Are you still meditating?

If you could quantify your well-being as a whole (your emotional/mental state)prior to going on retreat, what would it have been on a scale of 1-10, and what would it be now?

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
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5/14/17 4:02 PM as a reply to Daniel F Connor.
I’d planned to do another retreat with Adyashanti starting this weekend but then my cousin decided to get married this Saturday so I needed a new plan.  I’d read Culadasa’s book then gone to NYC earlier this year when he did a weekend at New York Insight.  Very intrigued by his discussion and focus on attention vs awareness. Not quite sure why but it seemed like there was something in that that opened up new territory and a new way of looking at something.   Was able to talk to his wife Nancy about the possibility of doing a retreat.  We were able to work out a dates so that was the plan.
 
I just got back from a solo retreat at Cochise Stronghold – 10 nights there - 8 full days in silence plus partial days on either end.
 
One of his students got me at the airport.  You cook for yourself  so I had brought some things and we stopped in the way in at Trader Joe’s for more supplies.  Kept it to pretty simple, Cereal, yogurt, fruit, cheese, bread, sandwich with veggies or soup for breakfast and lunch, I tended to cook once a day some sort of stuff in a pan (e.g. veggies, rice, tofu with something for flavor ) and then put it in a container to heat up for dinner. I stayed in a room in their house (separate entrance).  It had a small fridge, microwave, coffee and hot water pots, plus my own full bathroom!  I had access to the cook-shack with a full kitchen (oven, gas range, full fridge and freezer blender, rice cooker). The logistics were fantastic.  (Note there is wifi, but no AT&T cell signal and only some for Verizon)   I was able to get online and send out the last – I’m going offline with no phone service if there is an emergency call this number emails.
 
The site is amazingly, strikingly beautiful.  At least for me, some of his instruction was to power up both attention and peripheral awareness. It was great to have so much to try to take in.   The scenery and also at times wildlife: deer, lizards, many kinds of birds, plus a chicken and two cats that took turns trying to surprise me when I was out early in the morning doing standing meditation and tai chi. There were an amazing variety of sounds, wind, birds which I found incredibly useful.  They were so new and different enough from what I was used to that is was relatively easy to put attention on the sounds while keeping awareness on the breath.
 
Culadasa encourages walking meditation and I stayed close by mostly keeping to a couple of nearby paths  (an elliptical path up on the hill above the meditation yurt, one going up the hill behind the house to a tiny clearing and often just walking back and forth between my room the cook shack and the yurts. 
 
I had a short interview with him the night I came.  He asked what I wanted to work on, how much I planned to meditate, where I thought I was in his system. I said somewhere in the upper stages. He was very gracious about my presumption and we talked about what was going on in my sits that afternoon  – becoming aware sense of relaxation in the body that I thought might be be the beginning of what he talked about as pacification.  We settled on 6,7,8 ish with a plan to start sits with of the things like close following and my variation of body scanning and then focus on the stage 8 practices. When I couldn’t remember what those were he was kind enough to outline for me.  (momentary concentration, meditating on arising and passing away, choiceless attention. And I was able to reread again the next morning)
 
It worked amazingly well, at least from my point of view.  First two days were really getting a feel for those practices.  Trying to crank up attention and awareness. Trying for some sort of balance between bodily and mental relaxation and tension as the reality of hours on the cushion began to dawn.  Gradually seemed like it started coming together.
 
Had a short interview with him  after two days, his suggestion was keep going. Was able to ask about the stronger versions of that walking around in a silent wonderment thing that happens to me  and that finding strategies to cope with it was part of the deal.  ( iPhone, alarms, notes etc  ) I was amazingly relieved that he had had similar experiences in airports of realizing that was / is my plane minutes repeated boarding announcements. It was an incredible relief to talk about shared experience.  Incredible waves of gratitude and relief then and the next morning up in the yurt.
 
At that point things started to get really interesting.  The next days were what I called the piti party.  A wide range up possible physical effects, jerks, rocking, heat, prickling, niacin like flush with no niacin, a couple different cranial nerves letting me know their precise locations, weak vertigo and then one sit with strong vertigo and mild nausea.  I’d run into some of that before, some was new, all of it was much more frequent and intense. Lots of the usual sort of odd stuff with the breath - stretches of time barely breathing in variety of ways. There was also some of the good stuff, meditative joy, just walking around in wonderment and staring at almost anything in fascination.
 
 
My mind served up some interesting images.  One after a really nice sit of moment from the recent Dr Strange where the ancient one blasts him and he comes back saying “Teach me”.  Another, when it felt attention was stretched to the limit, from Star Trek of Scotty complaining to Captain Kirk  about the Enterprise giving it all she’s got.  But somehow like the Scotty’s beloved engines my mind kept it the attention and awareness thing going… .
 
About that time I also started getting into jhana territory. Somewhat different from what I had experience before.  Using his terms I thought it might be more of a pleasure / maybe luminous entry than bodily breath sensation. At least there was lots of light and it felt amazing and some of the overlays and imagery I used to tell one from another what had were different but still recognizable.
 
 
A note to come for the next meditation interview appeared. We talked about my piti party and he said it was expected, keep going.  I mentioned the jhana like experiences and nimitta like effects. He suggested trying resolutions for how long to be in jhana starting with 10 minutes. We also talked about what he’d written about a sense of stillness in the midst of motion and the witness and a variation of that I knew in part from Adya with stillness as no relative motion and something akin to witnessing but that felt less separate. He suggested  working with one or both variations.
 
The next few days were eventful.
 
I found out I’d had no clue what luminous hard jhanas were.  Toward the end of one sit was getting lots of nimitta light worked with the breath until it seemed like the nimitta would accept attention it did. Wow, nice got to 4th  really nice maybe as good as it had ever been then someone turned on the floodlights, totally I lost any sense of  anything else, any sense of control or agency, any sense of my overlays of what jhana was what,  the jhanas were running the show. Think “we”  went on sort of a tour back down out sort of showing me what 4,3,2,1 could be but who knows.  Then got an image of the other meditator  that was in the yurt having brought Culadasa back and both of them looking at me.  Popped out of jhana, opened my eyes, to realize that hadn’t happened but the other yogi had ended his sit and was actually leaving the yurt. It took about 6-7 minutes for me to move off the seiza bench and stop my timer.  Another 8 sitting frozen there before I could move and get up.   Made it to my room and basically froze again staring with awareness but not attention at the bush outside the glass doors.  It took the sight something slowly moving down from the bush to the ground and a curiosity / fascination of the anomaly that became a snake then disappeared to draw me back. 
 
 
That vivid lesson of how that curiosity can draw me into the present moment was fantastic especially as this was about when the piti party broke out the good stuff.  It felt like each time I was able to some how ‘stretch’ some part of my awareness and/or attention a bit more something else would come together and there was this incredible sense of relief.  Sort of like a massage that is just at the edge of too much but it feels so damn good.
 
I also followed Culadasa’s suggestion I spend some time with stillness and that sense of  something more.  That had been the focus of my last retreat (with Adya) when I saw it over and over again, in so many variations that eventually somehow it clicked that it was subset of sensation.  I felt my way back into that again and again as well as trying for that other sense of stillness and witness sometimes and then something happened. There was a thought perhaps about how arbitrary any possibly way of dividing up sensation was in general and then it seemed like perhaps there was consciousness and passage of time but mostly if felt like some how something was percolating through to deeper and deeper places and setting off a cascade of some sort
 
Off cushion walking around, sitting here or there, walking again,  Some sort of odd review. One insight moment after another coming back and being seen almost from a new vantage point or with new information.  Many of mine have an image of sorts something I saw or that captured the moment.  There was a new one and for most of the old ones them a new image came and was associated with the old one.   At one point walking just stopped visual went to golden brown, no idea how long, it felt like no time at all then I moved again.
 
Had another interview.  Talked about hard jhanas.  Said the other did sound like an insight experience. Suggestion basically keep going including the jhana and later stage 8 practicies…
 
A couple more days.  A few more rounds of piti and at least for me really hard jhana  and some more reviewing and revisiting of insight stuff. One a time more of a stillness set up maybe then off into something that felt almost harder than jhana, at least I just suddenly dropped into sense of barely anything.  Whatever it was I came out of that in the sort of deliciously slow computer slowly powering up and coming back online mode.
 
Also with some of the lines seen as totally arbitrary there was a dawning sense of somehow more connected thing.  Maybe what I’d set out to find in the first place letting go of the illusion of separation  No real lines to be drawn – No blaze of glorious UNITY but some how more and deeply satisfying all the same.
 
One of the practices where I listened to sounds or sensations arising and passing away and felt the reverberations of that seemed to change – hard to find words for it but the description that came was that somehow the ‘echo’ that had been there was gone.
 
I felt like I was over full of stuff to work with.  Then it was the day I needed to leave.  Had another really good  meditation/exit interview and my retreat was over.  Nancy drove me back to town and I spent a quiet night before an early morning flight the next day.
 
 
Aftereffects:
 
Made it through the airport.  The pull of attention strong but metacognitive awareness stronger too so more possible to stay present and not get lost.  Noticing details and getting pulled into them writing on fastenters, copper diacrhomic glass embedded in floor, pull, the stretch of attention and awareness, joy, and awareness enough to move on. 
 
Mild wonder joy amazement about everything.  Imax 3D like effect even fully online than usual at times. Seems like there is more of a slider now.  Used to be more of a bang suddenly I would notice it being really on, now as I put more attention it can strengthen.
 
Dealing with the work and home backlogs. Grateful to have had a few days to transition before heading off tomorrow for that wedding and working on site.
 
I’m already plotting ways to make time to back for another retreat there, even longer if possible.

edit - typos

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
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5/12/17 7:47 AM as a reply to elizabeth.
Wow, what a great opportunity.  Thanks for the report, very interesting.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
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5/12/17 9:14 AM as a reply to elizabeth.
Yes thanks for sharing this Elizabeth.  It was very interesting to read about your adventure.

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
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5/14/17 2:20 AM as a reply to elizabeth.
v interesting report Elizabeth, thanks for sharing!

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
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5/14/17 4:07 PM as a reply to elizabeth.
Culadasa retreat in July. I hope to be there.

https://www.shambhalamountain.org/program/science-meditation-buddhist-wisdom-meets-brain-retreat/

RE: Upasaka Culadasa
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5/25/17 10:03 AM as a reply to elizabeth.
Thanks for taking the time to write up this incredible description of your retreat. I'm only recently acquainted with Culadasa and his new book, but it rings true to me, particularly his brain science background. I also really appreciate the fact that he has familiarity with the suttas. I get no sense of dogma with him, just solid Buddhist teaching backed up by decades of meditation experience.

My own experience has been with the TWIM method as taught by DSMC (Bhante Vimalaramsi), only for the last couple of years. I love the feeling that metta meditation gives me, and I did a coupl online meditation retreats with them, but I always had a hard time staying with the object of meditation, and recenlty began to feel that I needed to focus more on samadhi. So I've been working with Culadasa's method (currently in early Stage 2) for the past several weeks. Daily sits of 45m each early in the morning, after I go to the gym. I haven't even begun to develop stable attention at this point [as with others above I have some moderate ADD], but it is great to see how his teaching plays out in actual student experience.

Metta, Jeff