Talk series on practicing the jhanas

Talk series on practicing the jhanas Adi Vader 7/4/22 7:39 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/4/22 7:41 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/6/22 3:31 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Adi Vader 7/6/22 4:46 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/6/22 4:53 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/7/22 8:21 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Adi Vader 7/7/22 1:32 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Chris M 7/7/22 1:52 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/7/22 4:07 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/7/22 9:17 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Adi Vader 7/8/22 8:52 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/8/22 9:39 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Chris M 7/8/22 9:54 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/8/22 10:31 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Noah D 7/8/22 10:49 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/8/22 10:57 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Olivier S 7/8/22 1:06 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Noah D 7/8/22 4:22 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Olivier S 7/9/22 5:34 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Olivier S 7/9/22 5:57 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Noah D 7/9/22 10:27 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Olivier S 7/9/22 12:12 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Noah D 7/9/22 7:54 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Olivier S 7/10/22 7:07 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Noah D 7/10/22 10:52 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Olivier S 7/10/22 12:03 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Olivier S 7/11/22 5:29 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Chris M 7/8/22 11:46 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/8/22 12:48 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Noah D 7/8/22 3:57 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Chris M 7/8/22 4:02 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Chris M 7/8/22 2:10 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/8/22 2:21 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Chris M 7/8/22 2:26 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/8/22 2:45 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Chris M 7/8/22 2:56 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Niels Lyngsø 7/9/22 7:17 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Chris M 7/9/22 8:19 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Gus Castellanos 7/9/22 12:18 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Adi Vader 7/17/22 3:14 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/17/22 4:09 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Adi Vader 7/17/22 6:11 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/17/22 6:37 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/17/22 5:22 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Adi Vader 7/19/22 8:16 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/19/22 4:46 PM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas John H 7/18/22 12:29 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/18/22 12:40 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas Adi Vader 7/19/22 8:25 AM
RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas John H 7/24/22 3:54 AM
Adi Vader, modified 5 Months ago at 7/4/22 7:39 AM
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Talk series on practicing the jhanas

Posts: 182 Join Date: 6/29/20 Recent Posts
This is a series of three talks/discussions on practicing the jhanas.
#1 - prerequisite skills / practices that make access to the jhanas possible
#2 - The development of access concentration - what to expect as attention stabilizes
#3 - The rupa jhanas - the first 4 jhanas

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1z7aO-aG5czo9gJa-RCZggdzKbMrAn2gY

I held these talks on two different servers on discord with members/friends attending. I plan to do one final talk on this topic covering the formless realms / arupa ayatanas (the last 4 jhanas) and hopefully also covering nirodha sampatti. The talk will be hosted on the 'Arhatship' discord server. Here is the invite in case someone would like to join the discussion. I will be sharing the recorded audio in any case. The date and time of the discussion is yet to be decided.

https://discord.gg/CPyZyA28
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago at 7/4/22 7:41 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Awesome! Thankyou for sharing! I look forward to listening. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago at 7/6/22 3:31 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Hey, I love it. Very pedagogical. Also, you sound incredibly nice. 
Adi Vader, modified 5 Months ago at 7/6/22 4:46 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Hi Linda. Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I do thoroughly enjoy teaching especially when I have an interested and engaged audience. emoticon
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago at 7/6/22 4:53 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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That joy shines through beautifully. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago at 7/7/22 8:21 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Adi, can I ask you? When I practice following your recommendations for getting into jhana, I can feel that it works. Energy starts to build up the way it used to before when I was more concentrated. However, it makes it obvious that I have energy blockages. It hurts when energy tries to make its way through them. Sometimes when I relax into it, the energy just blows through them, intensely, and that actually feels good (although my entire body jumps up). Other times it doesn't, and instead pain builds up. Is this something that I should ignore in the session or do something about?

The blockages are located on the left side of my body. The worst one is on the top of my left foot, coming from  the ankle (it seems to radiate further into the toes and to the point under the foot where the arch ends and the ball of the foot begins, at the center). The others are in my left hip and a small one in my left wrist (radiating out to the fingers through the back of the hand). What I have been doing so far, when just relaxing doesn't seem to work, is to stretch the joints a bit (which makes cracking sounds) and then change to a position that seems to allow for more of a free flow. Is that what you would recommend? Off the cushion, I address the blockages with joint warm-ups and gentle yoga as well as a strict diet and lots of tulsi tea as well as occasional magnesium baths. I also stay grounded. 
Adi Vader, modified 4 Months ago at 7/7/22 1:32 PM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Hi Linda in my understanding, the energy blockages that we experience as yogis/yoginis are most probably due to an imbalance between attention and awareness.

We can get into detailed theory of the definition of these terms the way I am using them and associated phenomenology, in case you are interested.

But what I suggest is you take a look at this post (link at the bottom). Pick up the exercises I have described and execute them like sets and reps in a gym. Plan to engage with these exercises for a specific duration - say 10 half an hour sits for example. Log very precisely what happens vis a vis instructions and see if they lead to a correction of balance. Then also see if they lead to a dialing down of the blockages.

Once you confirm for yourself that these exercises have worked, then remember the configuration of power balance between attention and awareness. Maintain it using your memory and then do samadhi practice geared towards jhanas.

The post talks about head pressure, but for 2 people this worked for blockages of the kind you describe.

https://www.reddit.com/r/streamentry/comments/ekrscz/samatha_practices_to_balance_attention_and/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 7/7/22 1:52 PM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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...  in my understanding, the energy blockages that we experience as yogis/yoginis are most probably due to an imbalance between attention and awareness.

I would really like to have this discussion, Adi. Your comment makes me curious about what you mean and how this imbalance works/doesn't work.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/7/22 4:07 PM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Interesting. I do know the difference between attention and awareness. As I have ADHD, my mind isn't as pliant as I would like it to be, but I know exactly what awareness feels like. It's pretty much the opposite of ADHD hyperfocus. I have tried a few times now, when pain has been building up in the foot, to incline my mind towards awareness, which succeeded. Today is a good day, and I have just been out in the forest, picking flowers and berries while listening to your recordings, so awareness was and is relatively close at hand. Miracle of miracles - it actually dissipates the pain! It doesn't feel like it covers it up or something, but like the stagnation dissolves. It feels so good!

I'll do the exercises even though I already know how to get into awareness, because obviously I tend to slip back, and that might be one of the factors that are holding me back. Thankyou! 

Also, this means that this kind of pain might be a tell for the need to adjust that particular balance. That can be very useful in daily life too. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/7/22 9:17 PM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Wow! Redirecting the energy into awareness instead of attention is the most amazing fix! Not only does the blockage dissolve; jhanic factors increase proportionally. This seems to be the piece of the puzzle that I had misplaced. You're good! 
Adi Vader, modified 4 Months ago at 7/8/22 8:52 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Hi, thanks for trying it out and giving your feedback. I am very happy to know that my writing has added value to your practice emoticon.

@chris will write back later, on attention/awareness balance and how it plays out in various practices. Currently a bit pressed for time.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/8/22 9:39 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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I just did the first of the exercises for the first time, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Notes are in my log. I intend to follow through with your recommendations. Many thanks!
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 7/8/22 9:54 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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@chris will write back later, on attention/awareness balance and how it plays out in various practices. Currently a bit pressed for time.

​​​​​​​Sure! 

My curiosity is mostly in regard to how you're using the word "awareness." In my experience from talking to many advanced practitioners, there seems to be no commonly held definition. The word seems to mean many things to many people. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/8/22 10:31 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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That's very true. My own usage of it is influenced by Culadasa and Michal Taft as well as my own experiences, so I can't be sure that I'm understanding it as intended here. I have seen and heard Adi refer both to TMI and to Michael, so I guessed that the distinction would be somewhere in that ballpark. For me personally, what I call awareness feels more holistic and spacious and much less tense. It also feels like it is much less prone to getting entangled with selfing. It might be the case that my relationship to attention is particularly strained due to my ADHD. I suppose that it has to be possible to use attention without getting caught up with selfing. I mean, arhats seem fully capable of employing attention. However, I still trip on it. 

Anyway, I look forward to your exchange too, as it might shed some further light to issues that are holding me back. 
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Noah D, modified 4 Months ago at 7/8/22 10:49 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Chris M
@chris will write back later, on attention/awareness balance and how it plays out in various practices. Currently a bit pressed for time.

​​​​​​​Sure! 

My curiosity is mostly in regard to how you're using the word "awareness." In my experience from talking to many advanced practitioners, there seems to be no commonly held definition. The word seems to mean many things to many people. 

Like Linda said below, I also like Culadasa's definition, as it is clearly defined.  I know others such as Ken McLeod also have outlined the distinction in a similar manner.  To ground a bit in source language, Culadasa associates sati with awareness & samadhi with attention, I believe.  

Some people use the term "awareness" to refer to aspects or practices in Mahamudra, Dzogchen or Zen.  Amongst the many problems with this explanation, 2 stand out to me: 1) conflating the practices Mahamudra, Dzogchen & Zen; 2) At least in Dzogchen, "awareness" is a very misleading translation for the term Rigpa (knowledge).  
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/8/22 10:57 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Hm, I understood the instruction from Adi as eventually doing the jhanas with the balance tilted much more towards awareness, something that Michael Taft recommends too, so I'm hoping that samadhi will still be involved even though I mainly use awareness. 
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 7/8/22 11:46 AM
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When we say "balanced toward awareness" what does that mean in practice? We have to turn attention to something. So what is that something? Is it an object or is it a state, or?
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/8/22 12:48 PM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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The way I interpret it, it means partly that the mind puts less of its processing power into the kind of very selective and "binary" focus that is attention, and more into another system that situates our experience into enough of context for our current purpose, so that we can be mindful of what we are doing without being caught off guard by something. That would be the Culadasa definition, filtered through me; he says that they are different processes in cognition. At the same time, it seems like there is less of separation, so sure, also a state. Probably more of a right brain state, and more of a nondual experience (the simple form of nonduality). Michael Taft would refer to it as being in "the view". To me it feels like dropping the assumptions of being the doer, the subject that sees or hear or touches the object. However, there can still be focus. I'm not sure that it's possible to explain that entirely with a model of cognition as occurring in the brain, and I'm not sure where Culadasa's and Michael Taft's usages match and diverge from each other. I believe there is an overlap but also differences in their usage of the term. There are different paradigms employed here, one that explains something based on how the brain works and one that is... well, less brain-centered. 

So I for one can't give a clear definition of exactly what is going on, but phenomenologically, it makes sense to me to make a distinction. It helps. It helps me to find a focus that is less strained and that builds upp less tension. I have seen you, Chris, recommend less of a lazer beam focus. Maybe that's how you would phrase this, I don't know. 
Olivier S, modified 4 Months ago at 7/8/22 1:06 PM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Noah D

​​​​​​​Some people use the term "awareness" to refer to aspects or practices in Mahamudra, Dzogchen or Zen.  Amongst the many problems with this explanation, 2 stand out to me: 1) conflating the practices Mahamudra, Dzogchen & Zen; 2) At least in Dzogchen, "awareness" is a very misleading translation for the term Rigpa (knowledge).  

Hi Noah,

I am curious to know how you would describe the precise actions and "inner gestures" which characterize each of the practice schools you mentionned, ie the "archetypal" practice schemes of mahamudra, dzogchen, zen ; and how these differ from one another in your view ?

Also, do you think that individual practitioners, when they are engaged in one of these traditions, successfully integrate these archetypal practice schemes to a point where if one were able to know exactly what individual practitioners are actually doing when they are doing the practice traditions they engage with, we would get something coherent and reflecting the ideal model well ?

Finally, if you had the time to take a look at this article, which aims precisely at providing a general framework to phenomenologically describe specific meditative practices in terms of series of mental actions, and in particular figure 2 as well as the supplementary material - do you think it would be possible to use this system to describe the various practice routines of the traditions you mentioned ? Totally cool if you don't have the time, as this is a rather dense article emoticon

All the best,

​​​​​​​O
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 7/8/22 2:10 PM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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So I for one can't give a clear definition of exactly what is going on, but phenomenologically, it makes sense to me to make a distinction. It helps. It helps me to find a focus that is less strained and that builds upp less tension. I have seen you, Chris, recommend less of a lazer beam focus. Maybe that's how you would phrase this, I don't know. 

Well, I wouldn't use the word "awareness" for any of these things. Rather, these are different types of focus or attention: narrow focus honing in on one particular object, and a focus that is broad and diffuse. In my experience, it's difficult to develop jhana factors and enter the jhanas with a laser beam narrow focus. This leads to headaches and tension - energetic phenomena that are distractions or worse. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/8/22 2:21 PM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Yeah, I think that was basically the point of the instructions. For me, distinguishing between attention and awareness points me to how to let go of that lazer beam, but I imagine it feels like a detour for you, Chris. 
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 7/8/22 2:26 PM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Actually, Linda, I think this is a very useful conversation. Like I said before, I'm very interested in what Adi Vader has to say. I'm no doubt making more of the distinction between attention and awareness than the vast majority of meditators but this kind of subject fascinates me because this topic can reveal a lot about how the human mind process information. The primary driver of my practice has long been to understand the mind.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/8/22 2:45 PM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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It fascinates me too. emoticon And I very much look forward to learning more about what it is that I don't get yet. emoticon

And I'm sorry if it sounded like I didn't think you found the conversation useful. That's not what I meant. 
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 7/8/22 2:56 PM
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No worries!
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Noah D, modified 4 Months ago at 7/8/22 3:57 PM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Chris M
When we say "balanced toward awareness" what does that mean in practice? We have to turn attention to something. So what is that something? Is it an object or is it a state, or?

"Intention" may be helpful term/concept here as well.  The intention can be for consciousness power to lean more towards peripheral awareness or central attention.  Of course these are all just relative terms & models that break down fairly quickly...
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 7/8/22 4:02 PM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Of course these are all just relative terms & models that break down fairly quickly...

Hi, Noah.

There are experiential and phenomenological angles to this discussion, too. We can sit down and carefully examine what attention is and does, and what awareness is and does. That investigation can be quite revealing.
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Noah D, modified 4 Months ago at 7/8/22 4:22 PM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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I am curious to know how you would describe the precise actions and "inner gestures" which characterize each of the practice schools you mentionned, ie the "archetypal" practice schemes of mahamudra, dzogchen, zen ; and how these differ from one another in your view ?

Well most important is to clarify that I'm no expert on any of this. But this is the DhO and we love to play with ideas and experiment here, so I'll take a stab at it anyway.  My understanding is that Dzogchen and Mahamudra (in most cases) are both tantric practices which take the end result of Buddhahood as the basis of the path and in doing so, utilize a specific understanding of subtle anatomy on the path.  Both of them also require an initiatory experience in which the nature of one's mind is pointed out by someone else who is consciously in that state at the time.

Dzogchen differs in that it does not involve stages on the path. Even in the "lowest" teachings of Dzogchen, the method is understood to be pointing out simultaneously occuring aspects of the nature of mind.  In Mahamudra however, there are stages, such as the 4 yogas of Gampopa. In these stages, one uncovers aspects of the nature of mind in a somewhat more sequential manner.

In contrast, Zen is a sutric practice and thus does not literally take the end result of Buddhahood as the basis of the path. Zen is part of the "sudden" sutra Mahayana schools (as contrasted with "gradual" sutra Mahayana schools like Pure Land). These "sudden" schools understand the potential for Buddhahood to be currently present in a conceptual-symbolic way, but they do not have literal/actual methods of direct introduction to this knowledge.  Rinzai Zen also does utilize an understanding of subtle anatomy on the path, but once again, the significance of this is not as "top-down" or "immediate" as is present in tantra.

From a pragmatic point of view, these differences matter. Meditating on the stages leading up to Mahamudra is not the same experience as glimpsing rigpa is not the same experience as "just sitting" Shikantaza at whatever stage of the path one is on. I know that many would like to conflate these things, but I believe this to be false.

Also, do you think that individual practitioners, when they are engaged in one of these traditions, successfully integrate these archetypal practice schemes to a point where if one were able to know exactly what individual practitioners are actually doing when they are doing the practice traditions they engage with, we would get something coherent and reflecting the ideal model well ?

My guess is that the differences between practitioner experience in Zen vs Dzogchen/Mahamudra would be greater than the difference between practitioners within the Zen tradition.

Finally, if you had the time to take a look at https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.795077/full this article, which aims precisely at providing a general framework to phenomenologically describe specific meditative practices in terms of series of mental actions, and in particular figure 2 as well as the supplementary material - do you think it would be possible to use this system to describe the various practice routines of the traditions you mentioned ?

I skimmed some parts of the article.  I don't personally find it very meaningful to try to describe and compare different meditative methods outside of the conceptual frameworks and ontological views that they have been nested in originally. This is my understanding of what the article is trying to do. So in my opinion, this attempt would not be "accurate." That's not to say that this wouldn't be provisionally helpful for some practitioners at some points on the path, but for me it would not be helpful or accurate. 

Edit: I wanted to add something about figure 2 of the article, which is that I don't find the lexicon helpful.  They seem to be using the term "awareness" as an umbrella category for conscious experience.  However, it is very important to distinguish different types/levels/depths of conscious experience.  For instance, my understanding is that in Dzogchen it is very important to distinguish between ordinary mind & being in the knowledge of the nature of one's mind.  The phenomological subjective experiences of these are said to be like night & day, complete suffering vs complete freedom from suffering.  So to paint Dzogchen (for example) as an "awareness" practice misses the point that it is a practice which utilizes glimpses into the very nature of all conscious experience as the path.  
Olivier S, modified 4 Months ago at 7/9/22 5:34 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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I agree that soteriology, metaphysics, conceptions of the path, of the meaning and goals of practice, and the intentions formed in relation with these frameworks of interpretation are crucial. In fact, I would agree with phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty and others (such as Burbea) in considering that perception itself is always alrady meaningful and is full of meanings that have deep cultural roots and are not unrelated with cosmological beliefs and the rest. Thus, the differences you point out are indeed not to be brushed aside lightly.

Interpretations and worldviews are, in fact, part of the layering of experience.

That being said, I do believe that at the pre-reflexive level and beyond the ideal descriptions of meditation practice provided by each tradition, there are commonalities which are not cultural. For instance, if one were to ask a dzogchen practicioner "What do you do when you sit in rigpa ?" and skilfully brought the person to describe the actual gestures they perform and not their evaluations or interpretations of what they do (which will usually involve mobilizing pre-conceptions of the prctice, path, and whole cosmologies with which the meaning of what they are doing is intertwined for them), one would get a very different picture of many actions that are perhaps not even indicated in the instructions. "Focus on the breath at the tip of the nose" - What do you do when you focus on the breath at the tip of the nose ? - I move my attention to my nose - How do you do that ? - well, ..., I actually start to feel my back more strongly, and it seems that my feet relax in some way ... etc., etc.

Accessing this level of experience through guided introspection is usually very revealing and touching, both for the interviewer and interviewee, and this is the essence of the microphenomenological method, or explicitation interview. 

The differences between these traditions in terms of inner gestures, attentional acts, subtle bodily adjustments, etc., that they involve - I posit -, would be less big if one were to "suspend" the conceptual frameworks which serve to traditionally inform the practices.

In any case, it seems to me that things are not that neat anyways and that individual practice schools have great variations in their instructions and conceptions : for instance, I was taught Dzogchen based on Dudjom Lingpa's system, which has stages, 8 limbs in fact, to full enlightenment. I was not given pointing out but still had something happen which seemed to be the goal of the practices we were doing. Conversely, I received pointing out from a dzogchen master which didn't seem to impact my practice at all. I was once doing a mahamudra retreat and instead of using visualisations of a traditional tibetan deity, some people, who were christians, used Jesus as the "master" to be integrated, and the results they got, although they expressed it through a different lense, seemed quite similar on some levels at least - sensate, affective, spatial, temporal, various other things.

In terms of this article : thanks for your feedback, it is always interesting to hear a different perspective and appreciated. I don't think it is meant as something supposed to help people with their practice, but as a way to conduct research about the effects of practice in general, using a common framework which would allow more meaningful investigation to be conducted. One may of course question the aim of such a project, but it seems to be the goal here.

Regarding the awareness of awareness thing : Ultimately, imo, the very stuff that all experience is "made of", the "nature of mind", the "essence of manifestation", as Michel Henry called it, is "self-affectivity". I don't personally believe that there is more than one "nature of mind", so that would be the basis of practice for any living being, as far as I can tell. Placing awareness of awareness, then, which could be construed as a synonym of what I just mentioned, as the ultimate "thing" within and as which all practice happens, does not seem that far fetched. In fact, adopting this view is quite nice for me, as it also seems to point to some common aspect to all religions, such as christianity.

I don't understand why you say that "to paint Dzogchen (for example) as an "awareness" practice misses the point that it is a practice which utilizes glimpses into the very nature of all conscious experience as the path." What does one do when utilizing glimpses into the very nature of all conscious experience as the path ? How does one get such a glimpse ? I suspect asking these questions would yield series of actions, such as subtle bodily adjusment, lowering of attention "into the body", relaxation, opening, etc....

Also, what you said seems on the contrary like a good argument for making awareness of awareness (the very nature of all conscious experience) the foundations of a classification system - have you noticed that the various specific gestures which are at the bottom of the thing, are not proposed to be "different" from awareness of awareness, but to be various forms of awareness of awareness when the experience is in dualistic mode ? This model is based on a holisitc logic which does not separate between parts and whole. Thus, perhaps one could construe "using glimpses into the very nature of awareness as the path" as the action of someone who is able to directly jump into a space where subject and object (and thus individual actions of a subject on an object) are not lived as separate and thus bypassing the need for such gestures ? Furthermore, this model is also very influenced by the experience of microphenomenological interviews and the surprising fact that, when people are asked about the subtle actions they do in certain contexts, oftentimes structural invariants appear. As an example : Claire Petitmengin's work on experiences of intuition.

Still though, I suspect that one would fine upon close examination that jumping into rigpa, even for a dzogchen master, involves internal gestures which may well be similar to the types of gestures listed here, although in a specific sort of way emoticon This could be explored if someone were interested, as this is what the explicitation interviews like micropheno were initially developed : to help expert nuclear engineers make conscious the pre-reflexive actions that they have come to embody into a very specialized know-how which is difficult for them to transmit to others ; thus, these interviews are initially meant as pedagogical tools.

However I do agree that beyond these specific levels of inner gestures and nature of experience, various practice traditions will produce tremendously different results, especially at the intersubjective and symbolic and mythical and ritual and .... all these levels beyond the individual's experience and into the collective. In fact they are what ends up shaping civilisations, and in the long run these symbolic forms, language, shared references, etc., are what institutes the "everyday consciousness" and psyche of individual members of a culture through the developmental years, childhood etc. : thus, from a collective perspective, they are even more important than any given individual's special experiences and insights.

And yet, in the end, in terms of practice and experience, if conceptions of practice and path made a categorical difference in all cases, then that would logically mean none of us here on this jhana thread (perhaps) is practicing the jhanas, as they are rooted in sutric culture, and I suspect none of us believes the full "ethnoepistemological" package associated with that, no ?

To me it's a little bit like saying that various traditional forms of cooking make a categorical difference and that it is necesary to fully embody the worldview and cultural context that gave rise to a particular dish to be able to taste it and appreciate it or find nourishment in it. 

More generally, I would qualify all this by saying that in my view no two experiences are the same even for a single individual, and that any attempt at classification (which is what we are doing here) into "types" is only pragmatic and has no "ultimate" validity. But it is what we do...

Any thoughts ?

Thanks emoticon 
Olivier S, modified 4 Months ago at 7/9/22 5:57 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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ps : I have a more specific question. Take this tantric author :

Rongzom Chökyi Zangpo's concise treatise, Establishing Appearances as Divine, sets out to prove the provocative point that everything that appears is actually the deity manifest. Transformation of both one's identity and the environment is an important principle of Tantric Buddhist philosophy. In Tantric scriptures, one is instructed to visualize oneself as a deity, a divine identity who resides in a perfect sphere. By repeatedly training in this visualization, one perfects the transformation and ultimately becomes the deity itself.

​​​​​​​Now take an excerpt of St Francis of Sales' book "Introduction to the devout life" :

A Short Method of Meditation, and First, the Presence of God, the First Point of Preparation
Part II, Chapter 2
It may be, my child, that you do not know how to practise mental prayer, for unfortunately it is a thing much neglected now-adays. I will therefore give you a short and easy method for using it, until such time as you may read sundry books written on the subject, and above all till practice teaches you how to use it more perfectly. And first of all, the Preparation, which consists of two points: first, placing yourself in the Presence of God; and second, asking His Aid. And in order to place your self in the Presence of God, I will suggest four chief considerations which you can use at first.First, a lively earnest realisation that His Presence is universal; that is to say, that He is everywhere, and in all, and that there is no place, nothing in the world, devoid of His Most Holy Presence, so that, even as birds on the wing meet the air continually, we, let us go where we will, meet with that Presence always and everywhere. It is a truth which all are ready to grant, but all are not equally alive to its importance. A blind man when in the presence of his prince will preserve a reverential demeanour if told that the king is there, although unable to see him; but practically, what men do not see they easily forget, and so readily lapse into carelessness and irreverence. Just so, my child, we do not see our God, and although faith warns us that He is present, not beholding Him with our mortal eyes, we are too apt to forget Him, and act as though He were afar: for, while knowing perfectly that He is everywhere, if we do not think about it, it is much as though we knew it not. And therefore, before beginning to pray, it is needful always to rouse the soul to a stedfast remembrance and thought of the Presence of God. This is what David meant when he exclaimed, "If I climb up to Heaven, Thou art there, and if I go down to hell, Thou art there also!"And in like manner Jacob, who, beholding the ladder which went up to Heaven, cried out, "Surely the Lord is in this place and I knew it not" meaning thereby that he had not thought of it; for assuredly he could not fail to know that God was everywhere and in all things. Therefore, when you make ready to pray, you must say with your whole heart, "God is indeed here."The second way of placing yourself in this Sacred Presence is to call to mind that God is not only present in the place where you are, but that He is very specially present in your heart and mind, which He kindles and inspires with His Holy Presence, abiding there as Heart of your heart, Spirit of your spirit. Just as the soul animates the whole body, and every member thereof, but abides especially in the heart, so God, while present everywhere, yet makes His special abode with our spirit. Therefore David calls Him "the Strength of my heart;"and Saint Paul said that in Him "we live and move and have our being."Dwell upon this thought until you have kindled a great reverence within your heart for God Who is so closely present to you.The third way is to dwell upon the thought of our Lord, Who in His Ascended Humanity looks down upon all men, but most particularly on all Christians, because they are His children; above all, on those who pray, over whose doings He keeps watch. Nor is this any mere imagination, it is very truth, and although we see Him not, He is looking down upon us. It was given to Saint Stephen in the hour of martyrdom thus to behold Him, and we may well say with the Bride of the Canticles, "He looketh forth at the windows, shewing Himself through the lattice."The fourth way is simply to exercise your ordinary imagination, picturing the Saviour to yourself in His Sacred Humanity as if He were beside you just as we are wont to think of our friends, and fancy that we see or hear them at our side. But when the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar is there, then this Presence is no longer imaginary, but most real; and the sacred species are but as a veil from behind which the Present Saviour beholds and considers us, although we cannot see Him as He is.Make use of one or other of these methods for placing yourself in the Presence of God before you begin to pray;--do not try to use them all at once, but take one at a time, and that briefly and simply.

​​​​​​​Would you be against the idea that someone engaged in this latter set of practices, might experience results which are very similar to the former type of practice, admittedly from a very different time and place ?

Certainly, systematic comparison of both treatise would yield substantial differences. Yet I feel the potentials are similar and how this potential is put into practice and expressed largely depends on context and individual proclivities. 
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 4 Months ago at 7/9/22 7:17 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Thank you Adi for this contribution. I look very much forward to listening to your talks!

Regarding the definitions of attention and awareness, my understanding is, like Linda's, informed by Culadasa. Back when I read Culadasa, I did a little reasearch, and it turned out that the distinction attention vs. awareness in many respects correlates with the distinction between left and right brain hemisphere functions.

Ian McGilchrist's book The Master and His Emissary goes into much detail about this, he has explained about his ideas on Sam Harris' podcast, and this little video sums them up quite nicely.

To summarize:

Attention (left hemisphere) is specific, narrow, and detail oriented. It focuses, distinguishes, analyzes, and it is preoccupied with purpose, prone to manipulation, and always involves a self. Attention is often experienced as something you can control and direct.

Awareness (right hemisphere) is general, open, holistic, and inclusive. It is preoccupied with context, coherence, connections, and it observes rather than analyzes, and does not (necessarily) involve a self. Awareness is often experienced as something that is just there, outside of intentional control.

Mindfulness, in Culadasa's definition, is the optimal balance and cooperation between these two functions.
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 7/9/22 8:19 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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We don't have to take others' versions of attention and awareness as our own. We can find out for ourselves what these things are if we sit down, get quiet, and observe carefully.

emoticon
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Noah D, modified 4 Months ago at 7/9/22 10:27 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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I don't know if I have much more to add but I appreciate your inputs.  My view(s) on practice used to be similar to the ones your describing here.
Olivier S, modified 4 Months ago at 7/9/22 12:12 PM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Why not say more about the evolution of your views ?
Gus Castellanos, modified 4 Months ago at 7/9/22 12:18 PM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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A paper by Antoine Lutz, Amishi Jha, John Dunne, and Clifford D Saron offering a hypothetical model (per the article, "as conveyed in the figure, points plotted in the model’s multidimensional space are thus hypothetical, in that they are not yet supported clearly by phenomenological data gathered from practitioners") from a neurocognitive perspective. Open monitoring might be what some call awareness, at least when it comes to practice-derived experiences.  Investigating the phenomenological matrix of mindfulness-related practices from a neurocognitive perspective

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Noah D, modified 4 Months ago at 7/9/22 7:54 PM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Olivier S Why not say more about the evolution of your views ?
Okay.  Well I think the main thing has just been a growing confidence in Buddhadharma specifically.  But it's hypocritical for me to reject a perennialist approach because I found one helpful for most of my life & for my practice path from 2013 to around 2019.  It's not that I felt all the traditions are saying the same thing, but rather that they are pointing to different facets of the truth of reality. 

I've benefited greatly (& continue to) from a range of healing modalities including psychotherapy, medication & supplementation, integral theory, new thought, etc.  But the main thing that has shifted is that I index much higher on the importance of how "Interpretations and worldviews are, in fact, part of the layering of experience" as you described nicely above.  I realized that for me to continue deepening my path, I had to bring my worldview to the fore, rather than allowing a kind of agnostism with some eternalist & some physicalist leanings pull the strings in the background.  EDIT - Also, reality is actually one way & not the other way, so there is a "right answer."  Like either heaven or hell are psychological metaphors (physicalism), or permanent end points for static continuums (Christianity), or impermanent points for non-static continuums (Buddhism), or impermanent points for static continuums (Hinduism), etc.  While agnosticism can claim to truly just not ask the question, I think in all cases there will be some type of belief about reality that is deeply coloring one's life experience & if one just goes with the "factory settings" in the modern globalized world, it will be not only depressing (i.e. physicalist capitalism) but also inaccurate (i.e. the irrationality of physicalism).

​​​​​​​So over the years of study I've become more aligned around traditional Buddhist ontology.  I personally think it makes the most logical sense, for instance, that the primary cause for subjective experience would be prior subjective experience & not brain chemicals.  For me, it doesn't make sense to group world mysticism into a unified contemplative toolbox, as Shinzen Young does.  All the different religions (including things like scienticism & modern-consumption/capitalism) have different goals in the end.  Sure, there can be similarities in the direct, phenomonological experience of mystics from different religious traditions.  But so what?  They are optimizing for different things at a macro level.  We can zoom really far into the micro level which is what the article is trying to do, but even then I still don't think the similarities between traditions would be that striking.
Olivier S, modified 4 Months ago at 7/10/22 7:07 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Noah D
So over the years of study I've become more aligned around traditional Buddhist ontology..

​​​​​​​What would you say is the essence of Traditional Buddhist Ontology ? I tend to think that there are many contradictory official traditions within buddhism, and then sub-traditions, and then that even amongst practicioners of one tradition we find conflicting views, etc., so I'm curious if you've managed to find the underlying ontology.

To you points : I understand what you are saying. In the end, faith in metaphysical views with which one wholeheartedly agrees with through various modes of reflection, or commits to engage with, is the surest way for a meaningful existence aligned with the truth someone has come to recognize and is now seeking to embody in all areas of existence. Is that a fair summary ?

If so, I would tend to agree with that, actually.

However, realize that there are two very different perspectives operating here. And it doesn't have to be just one or the other.

Looking for universals in contemplatives from across traditions is rooted in an entirely different set of assumptions and goals, which are much more modest in metaphysical terms, but more complex in other ways, more nuanced perhaps, yet less personally satisfying. At least for me. Ie, I don't have much romantic projections about finding some perfect and higher truth about spirituality through scientific methods : not the slightest.

Simply put, I personally see this article as inscribed in a perspective which does not seek the deepening of one's personal practice, or some form of universal ideal perennial tradition stripped of its spiritual context and history that could be applicable to everyone without changing anything to their latent metaphysical views or whatever, but rather about creating a universal social consensus around some of the rather basic facts.

It's more of a communication project, a project to change some things in contemporary society, and not (only) about personally finding out the truth.

In some ways, whether one adopts one standpoint or the other, relies on one's relationship with the sociopolitical world and existing institutions.

Realizing that the world is what it is, one can be tempted to give up on the crookedness of the current mainstream institutions and develop in alternative ways - including deepening one particular tradition, living off the grid, etc. A valid perspective and one which my heart sometimes leans towards.

There is also the possibility of recognizing that it is impossible to escape the world barring more extreme choices such as monasticism (and this is why there are monastic institutions, in fact, so it is also a perennial and valid perspective but much less socially valued nowadays than it used to be emoticon), and accept to somewhat get dirty and try to make modest but potentially useful changes to the disappointing world which exists around us. 

I personally ride a sort of ragged edge of agreeing that there is something deeply problematic in the axiological orientations of most existing institutions and political structures, and wanting to live my life in truly non-conventional ways, but yet I acknowledge that institutions such as the modern medical and psychiatric world, or other ideologically influencial institutions, have a power that is such that it affects everybody on the planet, almost.

So for instance, to you, it is obvious and even uniteresting that there are universals of spiritual developments - peak experiences, spiritual crises, existential conversions, metaphysical questions and subsequent engagement in self-transformation, etc., etc., old news for people like you and I, since we know full well that all these developmetns can be accompanied by sometimes strange momentary or chronic side-effects which may vary depending on who is experiencing them, but some of which are fairly common and seemingly cross-cultural in the sense that not everyone in every culture goes through that, but some people in all cultures do. Perhaps it may seem there is little personal value to be derived from exploring these commonalities to someone whose interest is in deepening their individual path and getting closer to the truth which one feels drawn to.

That's cool, but have you ever tried to go see a doctor, a psychologist, or even a teacher at your school, though, and tell them about what was happening to you in the earlier stages which started this whole process of seeking and self-transformation for you ? Was it helpful ?

The crux here is to realize the level of ignorance of majorly infulential institutions such as the psychiatric establishment in terms of spiritual experiences and metaphysics. They do not know about even the most basic facts, such as the one that rather cross-traditional psychosomatic events and developments exist, are normal, not pathological and probably good signs of something bigger happening.

Some people still get pathologizing diagnoses which cripple their life instead of being given the basic information they need. Perhaps one day this will lead them to chose one tradition to deepen in, and that is fine, but in the mean time, the distance between their current condition and this possibility may be too big.

So, developing some sound but basic knowledge about some of the universals of spiritual developments so that it can become more widespread in a cross-cultural way - thus the interest in focusing on the non-tradition specific and universal aspects of the thing - is certainly valuable, although not particularly glamorous.

And the question is, how do you do that ? 

Anyways, I would not brush aside so lightly the idea that there is value in such an orientation. In fact, paradoxically, I think the other perspective is easier and more likely to succeed than contemporary societies giving up on the technical developments of these past centuries and the worldviews and orientations which allowed them to arise - although perhaps they should.

In a way, I perceive my own engagement in such pursuits as a form of sacrifice to my own personal comfort - I would rather not engage with the existing institutions I mentioned, although I do get compensated for that, so... - hoping to help others in what is a narrow and rather hard-to-see yet potentially effective and influential course of action on the shitshow that is our world.

Thanks !

Best,

O
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Noah D, modified 4 Months ago at 7/10/22 10:52 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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​​​​​​​What would you say is the essence of Traditional Buddhist Ontology ?

For this I think one needs to look broadly at source texts such as the sutras & tantras in the Pali canon, Agamas, Kangyur, etc.  In many cases in this type of discussion, one hears how different commentarial Theravada is from Pure Land or Tibetan Buddhism.  As Bhante Sujato outlines in this essay on how Early Buddhist Texts Differ From Theravada, there are many ways that Theravada commentaries add to the Pali Canon to create divisions with "later" Buddhist systems (i.e. denying the bardo).  Additionally, I have heard Dzogchen teachers emphasize how, if one looks closely enough, descriptions of the nature of mind can be found in the Pali Canon (i.e. the sutra  that I can't find right now, where the defilements are described as marching in & out of the mind, which stays unstained).  The point of these 2 specific examples is that convergence can be found at the self-proclaimed "earliest" teachings & the self-proclaimed "highest" teachings.  But I would also include that convergence can be found with everything "in between" (Mahayana sutras, Vajrayana tantras).  The broader point here is that regardless of the tenet system one uses, the most basic things like non-self, karma, rebirth, 6 realms, buddha(s), bodhisattvas, pure lands, etc are either affirmed or at least not denied by the source texts of all the major Buddhist traditions I've done some study of.  

Looking for universals in contemplatives from across traditions is rooted in an entirely different set of assumptions and goals, which are much more modest in metaphysical terms, but more complex in other ways, more nuanced perhaps, yet less personally satisfying. At least for me. Ie, I don't have much romantic projections about finding some perfect and higher truth about spirituality through scientific methods : not the slightest.

That's fair. I support any project that ultimately reduces suffering, particularly if it explicitly acknowledges it's goal & what is out of scope (i.e. attempting to represent mystical traditions the way they describe themselves).  

Regarding the rest of your post, that all sounds good.  I enjoy participating in dialogue in the effective altruism movement & have come across some overlap between those ideas (i.e. how to pragmatically maximize human happiness as much as possible) & groups founded by Daniel Ingram & other from prag-dharm.  
https://thequaliaresearchinstitute.org/
https://theeprc.org/the-team/
https://qualiacomputing.com/

Are you involved in any of these orgs?  There definitely seems to be a lot of promise on converging on universal language for the sake of improving healthcare & maybe even promoting secular meditation practice at scale.
Olivier S, modified 4 Months ago at 7/10/22 12:03 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/10/22 11:55 AM

RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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 Re: the eprc etc. : ha, yes, sorry, I should have made it clear from the start that I've been hired by Emergence Benefactors to work on the foundational EPRC projects (phenomenology, theoretical foundations, coordination, strategy...) for almost exactly a year now, as my main gig - yes ! So this is the perspective I've been speaking from : simply put, this is my day job. Good on you to spot the similarities emoticon During this time most of my higher cognitive energies have gone to trying to help figure out how to do the EPRC project, basically, working closely with Daniel, and other really interesting people emoticon. I probably shouldn't spend my sundays discussing the same topics that I spend the week working on, but here I am... 

These past weeks, I have been trying to update a very promising 1985 model from anthropology which has the potential to serve as a broad, coordinating heuristic map for our purposes, and that has proved very interesting but complex and challenging : I include the figure summarizing the thing, as it actually resonates quite a bit with our conversation here. This will probably end up being a publication, perhaps co-authored with Terje and Matthew who btw have written the article I refered to earlier, which sort of started this whole discussion. They are also EPRC members.


Re:QRI and EA :funny you should mention these, as many people in EPRC circles are somewhat also loosely connected to this. Ofne of my colleagues at EB, Marcin Korwygo, has been very involved in QRI for a long-time and has told me a lot about it : I'm not personally a huge fan of their general metaphysical assumptions and esthetics, but I've enjoyed the conversations around that. EA I know less well but there has been a lot of speculations that they might be a good likely candidate as a funding source for EB/EPRC at some point. We also have a new volunteer, from india, interestingly, who has been very involved with them.

Anyways, best of luck with your practice, and cheers !

O
 
Olivier S, modified 4 Months ago at 7/11/22 5:29 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Noah : You rock ! This discussion has proven very helpful and has contributed to some personally important breakthroughs for me. Thank you.

It is actually making me consider starting some sort of research log here to discuss what's going on, and sort of crowdsource the thing, if people would be interested (?), as there is an unusual concentration of deep thinkers and practitioners here... Gonna give that some serious thought...
Adi Vader, modified 4 Months ago at 7/17/22 3:14 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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This google drive folder contains all 4 jhana discussions - from Pre-requisite skills and practices, to access concentration and its deepening, to the 1st 4 jhanas, to the arupa ayatanas (formless realms/Jhana 5 to 8)

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1rtLrOyfiHzq_Ed0Go2B_zqxExa-Q49IJ?usp=sharing

We did this 4th discussion on the arupa ayatanas today on the arhatship discord server.

Invite to the server:
https://discord.gg/tFG2PGWYa5
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/17/22 4:09 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Great! Thankyou!

About the discord server: is it intended for those who are already arhats? 
Adi Vader, modified 4 Months ago at 7/17/22 6:11 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Hi Linda. The Arhatship discord server is for everybody who is convinced that Arhatship is possible in this very life, and wishes to apply themselves in that direction and/or wishes to help others by sharing their knowledge.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/17/22 6:37 AM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Good to know! Then I dare to join. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/17/22 5:22 PM
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RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

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Great discussion in this latest recording too! Thanks Adi, Sam and all the other participants whose names I didn't catch!

This resonates a lot with my own experiences from being in review and being able to go through the entire arc. I wish I had kept that practice up. I guess the last time(s) I went through the arc freaked me out a bit. I went deep into it without having developed the skill to stop it at will, so I just kept getting drawn into it over and over again, for the entire night, and every time it ended in a suffering door fruition. While I was in these states, there was no suffering, so that was awesome, but getting back to access concentration here and there, the strong pull and the gradual gravitating towards that black hole at the end of each cycle frightened me. And then I would just have a few seconds with my senses and my thinking intact before it all would vanish again.

​​​​​​​It was the nada sound that kept drawing me in (the breath automatically transformed into energetic vibrations that then auto-transformed themselves into the nada sound very fast) and then it would "distill" itself into light, and there was just no stopping to it. The entire arc would just unfold by itself, taking away layer after layer. The light would go away, leaving just lots of space. Then there would be awareness everywhere, without anything to be aware of really (even the space). Then the sense of there being awareness would go away, leaving what seemed like absolutely nothing (and yet, apparently, somewhow there was awareness of that "nothing", without that awareness being experienced as being there, which defies logic but yet was the experience). And then the "nothing" went away too, which was the weirdest thing. Somehow it was a very discernable step, everytime, but there is no way I could describe it except for that difference: first there was nothing there, and then the nothing went away too. And then, after that, what remained after even the nothing had gone away (the raw naked consciousness itself, I guess), was gradually drawn into a black hole. All of this over and over again, for hours. I think it was maybe two years ago? Describing this, I still get freaked out, even though I know that while I was in it, I didn't suffer at all. 

Do you think I can learn to get into 4th jhana again without necessarily also getting sucked into the formless realms? I love 4th jhana! 

Edited to add: Actually, it must have been more than three years ago. Time flies. And there was a persistent depression during that time interval as well, due to a very dark winter. 
John H, modified 4 Months ago at 7/18/22 12:29 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/18/22 12:27 AM

RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

Posts: 31 Join Date: 4/17/18 Recent Posts
Adi, I tried clicking on the link for the Discord and it said that the link is invalid. I'd like to hear your presentations.

I don't know much about sutras and the like but to me the difference between awareness and attention is the difference between seeing (or maybe perceiving) and looking. Or in kinesthetic terms between sensing and feeling. In the one, the self and intention is necessarily present in the other self is not necessary. Can looking or feeling happen without a looker or a feeler? Is that related to your distinction between awareness and attention?

BTW, years ago I spent a weekend investigating "what is awareness" in dyads. What I came from that experience with is that if I treat awareness as a thing that doesn't work wheras if I relax into it then awareness or perhaps if you prefer, the nature of mind, becomes clear at least to the extent that I've perceived it clearly
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/18/22 12:40 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/18/22 12:40 AM

RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

Posts: 6847 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
I got the message that the link was invalid too, but I tried again and then it worked. 

Meanwhile, you don't need to get into discord to download the recordings. emoticon 
Adi Vader, modified 4 Months ago at 7/19/22 8:16 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/19/22 8:16 AM

RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

Posts: 182 Join Date: 6/29/20 Recent Posts
Hi Linda

In doinng very strcutured vipashyana exercises based on flexible attention and momentary concentration, I would get concentrated enough to land into very strong first jhana. It was such that I would start practicing and within minutes if not seconds I would just be in the first jhana. My practice was a wisdom practice and it wasnt optimized to teach or use the jhanas

At the time I didnt know what this was, through some asking around I got recommended resources to learn the jhanas. The first resource was Leigh Brasington's book. I used the book to teach myself the first 4 jhanas and the first 2 arupa ayatanas - in doing this regularly, the breath nimitta started to appear and I then did the nimitta jhanas. After having spent a couple of months simply givinng the mind what it wanted, what it needed to do, I was able to do vipashyana again.

There are minds that are geared to do the jhanas and those minds unless trained to do them 'well' and given enough of them, will keep returning clumsily to the jhanas. Having deeply familiarized the mind with the jhanas, letting it feast on the jhanas, it was then possible for me to have some degree of intentional control. In this period of time I would enter the jhanas at random, while going to sleep, in my dreams, waking up in a jhana .... it was delightfully freaky.

My suggestion to you would be to let the mind do the arupa ayatanas - build a lot of skill in doing them and simply let the mind do them all it wants. It is a freaky stage in practice in case 'the mind' as it presents to you insists on doing the jhanas/arupa ayatanas. But the only way to regain intentional control is to surrender to the need of the mind to do this. If you learn how to do them very very systematically, then the freakyness can be handled. Prepare the mind for some freaky times and dive in. Keep an eye out on depression, anxiety, any other mental disturbance and take a break from the jhanic practice if for any reason your symptoms come back. Be very very gentle, don't push, incline the mind in the direction of the jhanas / arupa ayatanas and wait. Let the mind learn at its own pace.

After a period of time (maybe a couple of weeks/months) I think intentional control will return.

This is my opinion, please evaluate this with discernment because when it comes to your practice, you know best.

Also the rebalancing exercises you are doing - remember to manage the balance between attention and awareness as required. Really really powerful awareness and a precise sliverful of attention is generally a good fit ... for any kind of practice, inn my opinion.
Adi Vader, modified 4 Months ago at 7/19/22 8:25 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/19/22 8:25 AM

RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

Posts: 182 Join Date: 6/29/20 Recent Posts
Hi John, I don't know why that link isnt working. I am pasting here another link. The earlier was a link that wouldnt expire. This one expires in 7 days, maybe it will work.

​​​​​​​here: https://discord.gg/z9V2TyVf

Regarding the distinction between attention and awareness - I have not written anything yet in detail on that particular topic, but a post I had written on nirvikalpa samadhi or choiceless awareness talks about that distinction ... the context for the writing is different but it does address the topic somewhat. Please check it out.

https://www.reddit.com/r/streamentry/comments/patiw3/samatha_vipassana_the_midl_practice_of_nirvikalpa/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

@chris Marti - I will soon write something up on the topic, but meanwhile if  you have the patience, then please read the above.

 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/19/22 4:46 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/19/22 4:46 PM

RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

Posts: 6847 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
This resonates, sounds like excellent advice. Feels like it, in my entire being. I have woken up in jhanas many times, had jhanas in my dreams even more often, and gotten into jhana while trying to go to sleep many times as well. There have been periods when the jhanas would just take over. And I miss it when it's not like that. 

So now I have lots to play with! Yay! Thankyou!
John H, modified 4 Months ago at 7/24/22 3:54 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/24/22 3:54 AM

RE: Talk series on practicing the jhanas

Posts: 31 Join Date: 4/17/18 Recent Posts
Adi, the link to reddit is interesting and helpful, and I was able to get into your discord. Thanks.

Cheers!

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