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Re-observation - Equanimity
Answer
11/21/11 7:33 PM
Many times I have caught myself attempting to intellectually manipulate my experience to make it match up with something I had read. Time and time again I have deluded myself into some false understanding of where I was. This led to doubt about both the truth and usefulness of the"stages" of insight in the past, but after re-reading MCTB section of re-observation and equanimity, I can't help but see how perfectly it matches up with my experience. It has also given me new confidence in both my ability to earnestly reflect on my experience in relation to the path of insight as well of the usefulness in doing so.

I first hit re-observation during a Goenka retreat mid July. It was a huge shock to me and I there was tons of resistance to my views being peeled away. After that run-in, I figured I had entered equanimity and my drive to practice sort of dropped away. I spent July and August slacking off on practice (1-3 hours of half-hearted meditation each day). In the beginning of September, I began residency at Great Vow Zen Monastery. The first retreat at Great Vow, I reencountered re-observation, but there was much less resistance than the first time. Since then, I have encountered it two or three more times, with continually less resistance. This last week we had a 5 day retreat in which I gave more effort than I have on any previous sesshin and on the last full day I hit re-observation again. I was just sort of sitting trying to observe the agitation and resistance within myself. After sometime of doing this, I thought something along the lines of "fuck it", with the understanding that I really had to just let go and accept this reality.
Since I began practicing, it has always been something I have been doing for "me" so that I can become something, but in order to really go down this path, I have to die, to surrender this self. With that I was drawn to vow to awaken, not for me, but for the sake of all beings. Even with this, there was internal resistance to that vow, but it was what had to be done.

Any advice on what to do now, further explanation of my experience and the path, or just general words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Garrett

RE: Re-observation - Equanimity
Answer
11/22/11 2:04 AM as a reply to Garrett E.
Hi Garrett!

Your description of your practice made me smile. The attitude you have is pretty similar to mine before I got fruition in December, 2009. I personally attribute that fruition solely to my commitment. I was 100% entirely, unequivocally, and with no close seconds, commited to achieving that fruition. It got to the point where my commitment was iron steel, and I didn't care so much about when or whether I got it because I knew, without doubt, that I would be present in the moment and doing the practice until it was achieved, even if I had to die and be reborn first. Present in the moment, doing it now.

I practiced for hours a day and every spare moment I had. I just got so sick of falling back into dark night that I told my dharma friend that I refused to fall back again, no matter what. What was interesting is that even with an emaculate practice and commitment, I still fell into states that could have been considered dark night once or twice, but I downright refused to accept or even admit it to myself and I continued with my equanimity practice.

What is noteworthy about equanimity is that I always imagined there was some sort of mental muscle in my mind, which, when I could find it, I could just barely tense it and it would drop this peacefulness/awareness on me. This was my domininent practice and what the term "concentration" means to me in the 11th nyana. It was a very personal find. Maybe there is something similar to you?

Hope you find something useful in this : )
Oliver

RE: Re-observation - Equanimity
Answer
11/22/11 12:15 PM as a reply to Garrett E.
Hi Garrett,

Garrett Evans:
Many times I have caught myself attempting to intellectually manipulate my experience to make it match up with something I had read. Time and time again I have deluded myself into some false understanding of where I was. This led to doubt about both the truth and usefulness of the "stages" of insight in the past, but after re-reading MCTB section of re-observation and equanimity, I can't help but see how perfectly it matches up with my experience. It has also given me new confidence in both my ability to earnestly reflect on my experience in relation to the path of insight as well of the usefulness in doing so.


I think this is a great thing to recognize as a meditator. Yes, one's experience can be manipulated through intention, whether conscious or unconscious. This isn't always a bad thing, though. It depends on how this skill is used. If you use this skill to fabricate mental states that resemble stages of insight, you're probably just getting sidetracked. But, if you use intention in a way that changes your relationship to what you're experiencing, so that you are more capable of allowing things to do what they do, then that's a skillful kind of fabrication. An example of this would be switching from a reflexive attitude of resistance to a conscious attitude of acceptance. In this way you shape how you respond, rather than what you experience. The stages of insight arise organically (I presume) when we practice in a certain way, and this does involve a kind of skillful change in the way you relate to thinks. It's still fabrication, but it's the helpful kind. Does that make sense?

Garrett Evans:
Since I began practicing, it has always been something I have been doing for "me" so that I can become something, but in order to really go down this path, I have to die, to surrender this self. With that I was drawn to vow to awaken, not for me, but for the sake of all beings. Even with this, there was internal resistance to that vow, but it was what had to be done.


Yes, "dying before death" is a common theme at this stage. The Dark Night (including Re-Obs) shows us just how futile it is to try and control everything. And what is selfish behavior if not controlling? One must learn to release control, but also to watch out for falling into indifference as opposed to cultivating equanimity. Indifference says, "Whatever, I can't do anything anyway. I just sit here and wait. Let's get this stupid stage over with." Equanimity also surrenders, but in a way that turns toward experience and says, "Yes, this too. This too." The latter approach can be applied to any and everything comes up in practice, even those moments of indifference. "Ah, yes. Indifference. This too."

It sounds like you're doing great. Keep it up!
-Jackson

RE: Re-observation - Equanimity
Answer
11/25/11 7:23 PM as a reply to Garrett E.
Garrett Evans:
Since I began practicing, it has always been something I have been doing for "me" so that I can become something, but in order to really go down this path, I have to die, to surrender this self. With that I was drawn to vow to awaken, not for me, but for the sake of all beings. Even with this, there was internal resistance to that vow, but it was what had to be done


I have often struggled with this same issue, and it has been helpful to remember that the "self" that must die, or be surrendered -- it does not exist. It never has. What we are giving up is delusion. Nothing will change. The self never existed, and we have lived our whole lives without it. Since it truly does not exist, we are losing nothing.

RE: Re-observation - Equanimity
Answer
12/11/11 7:13 PM as a reply to Oliver Myth.
Thanks for your replies everyone.

We were in Rohotsu Sesshin all last week, and though I wasn't able to muster the level of resolve Olyver described, I definitely took my moment to moment practice to a level I haven't before. I was sort of nervous about committing to that kind of continuous practice but I figured "Hey, worst case scenario: I get frustrated/start trying to force it and make myself miserable for a few days." As it happened, I only found myself in that sort of frustration/forcing mode for a few hours before I was able to bring it back. Anyway, back to the retreat: during the last couple days I experienced two obvious formations which made it obvious that when emptiness is encountered and stream entry is attained, it will not be anything outside of the reality I am experiencing at that moment. I also finally understand what is meant by "Awareness of space" thanks to the explanation of one of the teachers, though at this point I am having trouble integrating it into my practice. Finally, the theorizing and intellectualizing about high equanimity and further progress that I knew I would have to deal with was not a significant point of struggle; it definitely came up, but it wasn't particularly hard to not buy in to. Coming out of the retreat, I am definitely feeling empowered about my practice and ability to actually attain.

I guess this leaves me somewhere in equanimity territory. Once again, any advice on how to use this "awareness of space" or just general words of wisdom would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Garrett