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Practices Inspired by Actualism

Straight-up Sutta Style

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Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/1/11 5:22 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style m m a 12/1/11 6:00 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/3/11 4:10 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Villum (redacted) 12/1/11 6:28 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Bagpuss The Gnome 12/1/11 6:36 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/1/11 3:14 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Villum (redacted) 12/1/11 3:40 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/3/11 3:41 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Villum (redacted) 12/4/11 2:26 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/4/11 3:17 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/4/11 4:19 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style josh r s 12/4/11 4:30 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style bill of the wandering mind 12/5/11 12:35 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style End in Sight 12/5/11 1:17 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style bill of the wandering mind 12/5/11 1:37 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style End in Sight 12/5/11 1:52 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style bill of the wandering mind 12/5/11 2:01 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style End in Sight 12/5/11 2:51 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/5/11 4:38 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style End in Sight 12/5/11 5:09 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/5/11 6:07 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style End in Sight 12/5/11 6:07 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style bill of the wandering mind 12/5/11 6:41 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/6/11 9:53 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style End in Sight 12/6/11 3:28 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style John Wilde 12/6/11 3:49 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style End in Sight 12/6/11 4:58 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style John Wilde 12/6/11 5:19 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style End in Sight 12/6/11 5:32 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style John Wilde 12/6/11 5:50 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style End in Sight 12/7/11 8:06 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style John Wilde 12/7/11 9:03 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style End in Sight 12/7/11 9:22 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style John Wilde 12/7/11 9:47 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style End in Sight 12/7/11 10:03 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style John Wilde 12/7/11 5:49 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style End in Sight 12/7/11 9:39 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style End in Sight 12/7/11 10:26 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style John Wilde 12/7/11 6:36 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style John Wilde 12/7/11 7:04 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Steph S 12/7/11 8:01 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 12/7/11 8:23 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Steph S 12/7/11 8:49 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style John Wilde 12/7/11 9:09 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 12/7/11 10:04 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Steph S 12/7/11 10:54 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 12/8/11 9:47 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Steph S 12/8/11 11:13 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 12/8/11 11:28 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style bill of the wandering mind 12/9/11 10:18 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Steph S 12/9/11 4:07 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 12/9/11 4:20 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Steph S 12/9/11 4:56 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 12/9/11 5:43 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style John Wilde 12/9/11 6:27 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style John Wilde 12/9/11 6:34 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style John Wilde 12/7/11 8:53 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style John Wilde 12/6/11 5:27 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/6/11 5:42 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/6/11 5:29 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Nikolai . 12/6/11 5:14 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Steph S 12/6/11 6:02 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style End in Sight 12/6/11 6:21 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Steph S 12/6/11 6:31 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style . Jake . 12/1/11 3:23 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/2/11 3:12 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 12/1/11 4:16 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Florian 12/1/11 4:37 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/1/11 4:40 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Eric B 12/2/11 9:30 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style John Wilde 12/2/11 6:41 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/3/11 4:03 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style John Wilde 12/2/11 2:47 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/3/11 3:44 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/2/11 4:56 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style End in Sight 12/2/11 5:18 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/3/11 4:34 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style End in Sight 12/3/11 10:58 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Bagpuss The Gnome 12/4/11 5:45 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style End in Sight 12/4/11 8:55 AM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/4/11 3:40 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style End in Sight 12/5/11 6:11 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Steph S 12/2/11 6:24 PM
RE: Straight-up Sutta Style Tommy M 12/3/11 3:31 PM
Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/1/11 5:22 AM
This will be a thread for recording notes on my return to formal meditation practice using the techniques in the anapanasati sutta, inspired by End in Sight's sterling work on the subject and the outstanding dhammasukkha.org, with the aim still being addressed in a combination of actualism and dharma terms i.e. I'll call it "AF" and use terms like felicity, naivetè and PCE but with the understanding that I am not using AFT-endorsed methodology, hence my posting in this category.

Why return to hardcore meditation practice? A combination of factors, mainly because I still haven't gotten AF and am now dubious of my self-diagnosis along the way with regards to being "close" to it. By returning to formal practice I will be able to get back to a more disciplined approach and also be able to analyze the results more clearly. I've also stopped taking anti-depressants and haven't taken any at all for around seven days now, this in itself has brought a lot of unpleasantness and imbalance, and have found that mindfulness of the breath has helped a lot when used during daily life. Recent exchanges on here have brought up a lot of stuff too, an underlying doubt in my own abilities and the fear that perhaps I actually am a fake, deluding myself and lying to people for self-aggrandizing reasons has become apparent. In part, this worry and doubt is down to coming off of anti-depressants but I now see that I still have some issues with self-confidence, which is made even more annoying by knowing that the "me" I'm not confident about doesn't even exist!

Last night I had the most horrendously intense burst of anger, for about an hour or so I was incandescent with rage and ended up walking the streets, ranting away to myself like a lunatic and verging on psychosis. After it subsided, I decided that, regardless of how strong I thought pure intent was, regardless of "where" I am along the way, regardless of anything I've ever done prior to this point in life, I refuse point blank to ever feel that way again and, even though I've said this before it's obviously not been enough and I've been bullshitting myself, I am utterly, completely and totally fucking done with this and want out. Now.

Anyway, enough preamble. I'll start the practice part of thread tonight.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/1/11 6:00 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Have you read rosenberg's 'Breath by Breath'?

It really breathed new life into my anapana (sorry for the pun) when I had a similar, albeit less intense, feel of self-delusion and 'fakeness'. Its easy to get sucked into making hardcore dharma practice more complicated than it has to be, it can be nice to go back to basics.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/1/11 6:28 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Sounds like a plan, Tommy.
After a period of very irregular practices, i've decided to take up the jhana practices EndInSight have been describing myself as my primary daily sitting practice, until further notice. Started yesterday.

I've been noticing the afterglow of the practice involves a sort of aura of stillness/coolness that i can keep going. This "aura" is disrupted by habitual impulses and self-contractions, an these can be abandoned by returning to feeling the "aura" above the contracting spot.
Does this sound familiar?

Mucho Metta
Villum

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/1/11 6:36 AM as a reply to Villum (redacted).
Thanks for posting this as a practice thread Tommy. I've just read the Anapanasati Sutta in full for the first time. It the technique I feel most intuitively comfortable with and the one I always fall back on. So your comments will be of great value.

Good luck.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/1/11 3:14 PM as a reply to Villum (redacted).
I've been noticing the afterglow of the practice involves a sort of aura of stillness/coolness that i can keep going. This "aura" is disrupted by habitual impulses and self-contractions, an these can be abandoned by returning to feeling the "aura" above the contracting spot.
Does this sound familiar?

I've been trying to see if I can pick up on something similar to this, I think I see what you're getting at with the stillness thing but I can't pick up on any aura-like radiance or sense of it having an 'edge' in that way. It's probably just down to how we're describing it, more than likely it's the same thing. emoticon

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/1/11 3:23 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Cool! My main formal sitting practice (i.e., perhaps 50% of sits... I'm a hopeless eclectic ;-)) for the past few months has been based off of the anapanasati sutra approach to breath meditation* plus felicity, and I like it. I look forward to your reports! Also, your honesty and forthrightness is damn refreshing and inspiring, Tommy-- as usual :-)

*with the understanding that I have little or no interest in concentration or jhanna of an "absorbtive" nature, but rather allowing the senses to function naturally with no attempt to withdraw from them.

-Jake

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/1/11 3:40 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:

I've been trying to see if I can pick up on something similar to this, I think I see what you're getting at with the stillness thing but I can't pick up on any aura-like radiance or sense of it having an 'edge' in that way. It's probably just down to how we're describing it, more than likely it's the same thing. emoticon


What i mean is that it is felt as a coolness that has no part of the "inner life", and is felt as something outer. What i meant by aura is that the sensations seem to be felt just outside where the skin would be felt in more ordinary (contracted) experience. I have experienced some people describe what i call coolness as brightness.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/2/11 3:12 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Trying to balance locking in to the breath with not becoming absorbed in it and losing contact with the whole body, maintained alert attention on the breath staying mindful in the way described in the anapanasati sutta. Over a few minutes, the entire body became suffused with the breath and the visual field brightened considerably, clear and bright joyful feelings but not buzzy or vibrating in the way I normally associate with 1st jhana. Observed a few things:

- While mindful of the breath, following it as "I inhale long", "I exhale long" noticing the natural fluctuation and emphasis shifting from inhale to exhale I could see the mental image of the body inhaling or exhaling long/short/medium. I could catch it forming as it tried to line up with the experience, how it was forming "me" from this impersonal cycle of breath every time the thought of "I exhale..", "I inhale.." arose. Seeing this, it stopped and only inhale/exhale could be observed, I perceived no "me" in the breath and noticed a characteristic tension in the mid-chest and throat was absent when "I" didn't arise. When there is breathing, there is only the breath.

- Hearing. Noticed how quickly the overlay of sound happened in some location is, the sound is heard but right now there is still a distinct vibration/fluctuation between ear-location-sound happening. "I" know there is no "hearer" since I could never find a self in any phenomena prior to this point, but there is still that back and forth, a high-speed bounce accompanied by a tensing in the head.

- Every bit of effort, of trying, of intending as "me" to do this is just recycling the same thing and it always, always feels the same: craving and clinging, holding onto the thought that "I" need to do something then mental proliferating all the reasons why this is, why all the "there's nothing you can do to become enlightened" Advaita stuff still bugs me...then I realize that the only thing "I" can do is surrender, to submit "my" will to the will of the universe or however you want to phrase it.

- Feelings seem to have become simplified, by this I mean that there is a very limited range of emotional tones but even these share an underlying structure (belief) I haven't quite got to the bottom of. Yet.

I'm going to try avoiding tradition specific terminology so as to make these notes as practically useful as possible. This is now about going back to basics, stripping everything back and forgetting what I thought I knew so I can approach this as a beginner. As always, if anything need further explanation just let me know.

[Edited for correction]

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/1/11 4:16 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:
then I realize that the only thing "I" can do is surrender, to submit "my" will to the will of the universe or however you want to phrase it.


Hey, I don't think 'surrender' is a good way to put it. Cause 'surrender' implies giving power to something else unconditionally. And what will be waiting to take the power but 'me' (perhaps masquerading as 'the will of the universe')? And then 'I' will surely run rampant...

You might have the right idea; just pointing out a potential pitfall with calling it 'surrender'.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/1/11 4:37 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Tommy M:
then I realize that the only thing "I" can do is surrender, to submit "my" will to the will of the universe or however you want to phrase it.


Hey, I don't think 'surrender' is a good way to put it. Cause 'surrender' implies giving power to something else unconditionally. And what will be waiting to take the power but 'me' (perhaps masquerading as 'the will of the universe')? And then 'I' will surely run rampant...

You might have the right idea; just pointing out a potential pitfall with calling it 'surrender'.


Surrender to emptiness, or to the emptiness aspect of something, such as the will of the universe. There is no masquerading as emptiness.

Good practice, recommended.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/1/11 4:40 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Hey, I don't think 'surrender' is a good way to put it. Cause 'surrender' implies giving power to something else unconditionally. And what will be waiting to take the power but 'me' (perhaps masquerading as 'the will of the universe')? And then 'I' will surely run rampant...

You might have the right idea; just pointing out a potential pitfall with calling it 'surrender'.

Ah, I didn't think about that. I'm looking at that just now and I see the tension for me is more related to the idea about "the will of the universe" rather than what I'm describing as being "surrender". It's hard to put it into clear words, by which I mean non-affective, but something like "releasing" or "dropping" seems similar enough to avoid potential misinterpretation.

"I" can drop away?

Damn my overly flowery writing!

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/2/11 2:47 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:

- Every bit of effort (...) of intending as "me" to do this is just recycling the same thing.


I'm surprised more people don't mention that. ;-)

Tommy M:

and it always, always feels the same: craving and clinging, holding onto the thought that "I" need to do something then mental proliferating all the reasons why this is, why all the "there's nothing you can do to become enlightened" Advaita stuff still bugs me...then I realize that the only thing "I" can do is surrender, to submit "my" will to the will of the universe or however you want to phrase it.


Actually, traditional Advaita can be a process of surrendering skillfully through practice. It sounds contradictory or paradoxical, but it needn't. It's based on sublation of views. You provisionally adopt a series of views that are not necessarily absolute truths but are meant to have a tangible effect; they release you from an assumption, a mental habit or identification that has been keeping you locked in place. Each view is then sublated by another, and the overall effect is to skillfully, gradually, disentangle yourself from the bondage of your hidden/implicit beliefs and wrong [suffering-inducing] views.

I mention this because your comment suggested that you've only been exposed to neo-Advaita teachers whose repertoire of teaching methods is extremely limited. There is better stuff out there... for example, the so-called "Direct Path" of Atmananda (Krishna Menon). If you're not a literal-minded blockhead but know how to use ideas / attitudes / orientations as skillful means rather than strictly metaphysical truths (which clearly you do), there is some really good stuff in Advaita. (A good place to start is http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/downloads/some_teachings.pdf).

You might be beyond the need for teachings like these. It's hard to say. Different practices resonate at different times. All I can say is, I found these very helpful, very beneficial in practice at a time when I felt that :

Tommy M:

- Every bit of effort (...) of intending as "me" to do this is just recycling the same thing.


And I found it much more deeply refreshing and soothing than anapanasati ... but maybe that's just the way I'm wired up.

Not exactly "straight-up sutta style", but I figured it can't hurt to mention it anyway.

John

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/2/11 9:30 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:
Hey, I don't think 'surrender' is a good way to put it. Cause 'surrender' implies giving power to something else unconditionally. And what will be waiting to take the power but 'me' (perhaps masquerading as 'the will of the universe')? And then 'I' will surely run rampant...

You might have the right idea; just pointing out a potential pitfall with calling it 'surrender'.

Ah, I didn't think about that. I'm looking at that just now and I see the tension for me is more related to the idea about "the will of the universe" rather than what I'm describing as being "surrender". It's hard to put it into clear words, by which I mean non-affective, but something like "releasing" or "dropping" seems similar enough to avoid potential misinterpretation.

"I" can drop away?

Damn my overly flowery writing!


Good points about "surrender". I like "releasing" and especially "droping". I've tried "relinquishing" bit I think it suffers from the same drawbacks as "surrender". I've gone with just plain old opening "opening", although it as a standalone it needs a taste of "opening" in it.

Is there a Pali or Sanskrit word that encompasses all of this? A word like "piti" captures something that no single english word manages to accurately and adequately nail.

Eric

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/2/11 4:56 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Spent about two hours on the bus meditating tonight, making the most of an unexpected journey and noticing any tensions associated with having been called away as they arose. Ended up having to stand at the bus stop for half an hour in the freezing cold, rain lashing across my face and a bitter wind roaring through the streets...an interesting opportunity to watch how "i like/i don't like" would appear in response to the various stimuli, this turned out to be very practical as i was not at all bothered by the cold or having to wait 20 minutes more than necessary on a bus i didn't even want to get anyway.

Already this practice feels like tearing up insight territory in double-quick time, there are ñana-like phases to the breath and some body-stuff happening but they're nowhere near as bare as they are in vipassana. One really interesting thing has been the number of major "Ah ha!" moments, deep insights into things and some unexpected shifts including a path-like fruition last night (not AF/3rd path/whatever but more on this later) as they seem much more stable than the often fleeting insights of dry vipassana. This might just be something specific to me but i though it was worth mentioning.

Anyway, notes...

- My take on the attention wave...The attention wave can be seen clearly by just focusing on one of the sense doors and trying to stay there, I've been experimenting with this more. In my experience, visually it can be noticed as something external or internal; externally, objects may begin to shimmer or vibrate when focused on intently. Internally, i notice a wiggling or quick vibration in the area immediately behind the eye, occasionally accompanied by a sense of tension in the area above the eyeball similar to where and how the eyes are drawn in the arupa jhanas. Aurally, i can perceive the same sort of flickering (which is the same as being in (commentary/absorbed) 3rd jhana, now I think about it.) right at the ear. Tactile sensations can be perceived in this way too. This was the same sort of practice I used to get insight into anicca when doing vipassana which may be why those of us who've done MCTB/Mahasi noting practice and dry insight can notice this so clearly.

- There's a tension involved in thinking as "I" and writing it with a capital letter, the same tension as underlies everything i've been able to observe so far but running as a 'fractured' tone playing over everything else.

- At some point, the bodily aspect of tensions stopped happening and only their mental manifestation could be observed. The absence of these tensions, as EIS pointed out, do reveal PCE-like qualities without fail.

I had been lying meditating last night for an hour or so before going to sleep, sticking with anapanasati and Sister Khema's directions. There was an insight into anatta[1] which has led to a shift similar to the one that happened before the five-day PCE from before, things became very EE-like (eyes still closed but a very blissful stillness) although i stuck with it, ramping up the concentration but ending up blanking out into NS. There has been a change in baseline since that point but not Path, interesting new sort of attention to things with a less noticeable bounce happening, part of this may still be to do with having stopped taking anti-depressants and the readjustment of brain chemistry and I'm not ruling anything out.

Fun times ahead, fun times indeed.

I'll get the chance to reply to the other comments left since the last post tomorrow, just wanted to get the practice notes down 'cause i'm working at 6am tomorrow.

[1] Realized how holding either view, "there is self" or "there is no-self", is false and why this is. Something felt like it untied but in a different way to MCTB 4th path, i'm not even going to try lining this up with anything as it's of no use to me. Interesting nonetheless.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/2/11 5:18 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:
Aurally, i can perceive the same sort of flickering (which is the same as being in (commentary/absorbed) 3rd jhana, now I think about it.) right at the ear.


Purely theoretical side note...

This might be a mindfuck to realize, but I think the evidence suggests that "pragmatic dharma" 3rd jhana is probably unrelated both to what the suttas say and what the commentaries (here meaning the Visuddhimagga) say.

If the commentary jhanas were the pragmatic dharma jhanas, I would expect that the commentaries would talk about obvious features such as the width of attention, etc., which they don't.

Similarly, if the commentary jhanas were the pragmatic dharma jhanas, I would expect that some advanced practitioner would claim to have attained a "maximal" jhana with the attention wave, since the commentary is always talking about that ("maximum" appears to be the only kind it recognizes). But I have never heard such a claim, and actually recall reading Daniel saying that he has some skepticism about whether "maximal" jhanas are possible. (I may be mistaken about this.)

It seems to me that focusing on manipulating the attention wave is either an idea that is unique to us, or which originated in the modern Burmese Theravada tradition.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/2/11 6:41 PM as a reply to Eric B.
Eric Bause:

Good points about "surrender". I like "releasing" and especially "droping". I've tried "relinquishing" bit I think it suffers from the same drawbacks as "surrender". I've gone with just plain old opening "opening", although it as a standalone it needs a taste of "opening" in it.


Those are closer, but even they connote an action of sorts. I think the key is to understand that stillness is always present, actually inescapable, no matter how much you act or don't act. You don't do anything to construct it, or contact it; it's there, despite your efforts. It isn't an action. It isn't an intentional surrender, but when you see it you tend to naturally relinquish whatever was (or seemed to be) obscuring it. (And a deeper understanding is that nothing ever really does obscure it).

John

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/2/11 6:24 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
tommy

when you say you're using the instructions on the dhammasukha page... are you using primarily the mn 118 sutta at this link:

http://dhammasukha.org/Study/breath.htm

or are you also using bhante's book (second edition pdf on that same page)?

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/3/11 3:31 PM as a reply to Steph S.
when you say you're using the instructions on the dhammasukha page... are you using primarily the mn 118 sutta at this link:

http://dhammasukha.org/Study/breath.htm

or are you also using bhante's book (second edition pdf on that same page)?

MN 118 for the main practice, Bhante's book for reference and specific details.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/3/11 3:41 PM as a reply to Villum (redacted).
What i mean is that it is felt as a coolness that has no part of the "inner life", and is felt as something outer. What i meant by aura is that the sensations seem to be felt just outside where the skin would be felt in more ordinary (contracted) experience. I have experienced some people describe what i call coolness as brightness.

Right, gotcha. I tried this last night and got a much better idea of what you're describing, i see why you'd use the term 'aura' actually...do you find that it gets easier to 'push it back', as in the affective overlay, and maintain EE-like perception for longer?

I don't mean that there's effort involved in "pushing" something away, just that noticing it prevents it from covering the stillness.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/3/11 3:44 PM as a reply to John Wilde.
Actually, traditional Advaita can be a process of surrendering skillfully through practice. It sounds contradictory or paradoxical, but it needn't. It's based on sublation of views. You provisionally adopt a series of views that are not necessarily absolute truths but are meant to have a tangible effect; they release you from an assumption, a mental habit or identification that has been keeping you locked in place. Each view is then sublated by another, and the overall effect is to skillfully, gradually, disentangle yourself from the bondage of your hidden/implicit beliefs and wrong [suffering-inducing] views.

I mention this because your comment suggested that you've only been exposed to neo-Advaita teachers whose repertoire of teaching methods is extremely limited. There is better stuff out there... for example, the so-called "Direct Path" of Atmananda (Krishna Menon). If you're not a literal-minded blockhead but know how to use ideas / attitudes / orientations as skillful means rather than strictly metaphysical truths (which clearly you do), there is some really good stuff in Advaita. (A good place to start is http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/downloads/some_teachings.pdf).

Thanks for that, John. I chose my words poorly there, i understand the skillful surrender thing as being what they're actually pointing to but it'd be good to hear more of the teachers in the tradition discuss the practicalities. I'll definitely download that pdf and give it a read as i'm always interested in different approaches to the thing, and your advice is always useful in unexpected ways... emoticon

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12/3/11 4:03 PM as a reply to Eric B.
Good points about "surrender". I like "releasing" and especially "droping". I've tried "relinquishing" bit I think it suffers from the same drawbacks as "surrender". I've gone with just plain old opening "opening", although it as a standalone it needs a taste of "opening" in it.

Is there a Pali or Sanskrit word that encompasses all of this? A word like "piti" captures something that no single english word manages to accurately and adequately nail.

Good to hear other viewpoints on this, so thanks for your input. I have no idea which Pali or Sanskrit words would really encompass what we're talking about, it'd be nice to hear something from someone more well versed in the original terminology on this as it'd maybe provide a useful angle to view it from. Skimming through a list of Pali terms, words like nibbidā, "the skillful turning-away of the mind from the conditioned samsaric world towards the unconditioned"[1] seem nice but i have no knowledge of Pali or Buddhism as a whole to say whether that's even appropriate.

[1] Access to Insight - A Glossary of Pali and Buddhist Terms

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12/3/11 4:10 PM as a reply to m m a.
Have you read rosenberg's 'Breath by Breath'?

It really breathed new life into my anapana (sorry for the pun) when I had a similar, albeit less intense, feel of self-delusion and 'fakeness'

I haven't read that but i'll check it out, thanks. Lovin' the pun btw... emoticon

Its easy to get sucked into making hardcore dharma practice more complicated than it has to be, it can be nice to go back to basics.

Well said, and a point well made.

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12/3/11 4:34 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
This might be a mindfuck to realize, but I think the evidence suggests that "pragmatic dharma" 3rd jhana is probably unrelated both to what the suttas say and what the commentaries (here meaning the Visuddhimagga) say.

Dude, you've given me so many mindfucks lately i'm expecting a proposal and a ring. emoticon

If the commentary jhanas were the pragmatic dharma jhanas, I would expect that the commentaries would talk about obvious features such as the width of attention, etc., which they don't.

Very true! I've been re-reading the VM lately as well as the suttas just to see how they differ and this is what i was wondering about last night after reading your comment. the idea occurred to me that perhaps, and this is a wild/funny idea which probably has no basis in fact, but what if the "attention wave" is something unique to the structure of the Western mind? Unlikely, i know.

It seems to me that focusing on manipulating the attention wave is either an idea that is unique to us, or which originated in the modern Burmese Theravada tradition.

Interesting. Maybe the Buddha noticed it but didn't consider it worth using? Maybe it really is unique to us! Ha!

Something i was thinking earlier tonight was that perhaps people like us have accidentally created our own Ingram-inspired map based on his technical descriptions, reading MCTB again i can't help but think that he's talking about the same practices that we're discussing now. The possible misunderstandings between what we're calling MCTB attainments and commentary attainments (leaving the suttas out of it for a second) might just be down to a lot of us having self-diagnosed or had our attainments (educated-ly)"guessed" based on forum postings. Interesting to think about and having developed a complete lack of interest in lining these things up anymore makes it just a fun thing to do, the sutta stylee is the way forward without a doubt anyway. Ha!

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12/3/11 10:58 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:
This might be a mindfuck to realize, but I think the evidence suggests that "pragmatic dharma" 3rd jhana is probably unrelated both to what the suttas say and what the commentaries (here meaning the Visuddhimagga) say.

Dude, you've given me so many mindfucks lately i'm expecting a proposal and a ring. emoticon


Or a bill...

If the commentary jhanas were the pragmatic dharma jhanas, I would expect that the commentaries would talk about obvious features such as the width of attention, etc., which they don't.

Very true! I've been re-reading the VM lately as well as the suttas just to see how they differ and this is what i was wondering about last night after reading your comment. the idea occurred to me that perhaps, and this is a wild/funny idea which probably has no basis in fact, but what if the "attention wave" is something unique to the structure of the Western mind? Unlikely, i know.


Dependent origination!

It seems to me that focusing on manipulating the attention wave is either an idea that is unique to us, or which originated in the modern Burmese Theravada tradition.

Interesting. Maybe the Buddha noticed it but didn't consider it worth using? Maybe it really is unique to us! Ha!


I sort of remember finding a sutta that describes concentration with desire as its basis, and doesn't endorse it. If I find it again I'll post it.

Something i was thinking earlier tonight was that perhaps people like us have accidentally created our own Ingram-inspired map based on his technical descriptions, reading MCTB again i can't help but think that he's talking about the same practices that we're discussing now.


Interesting. I had the opposite impression, that MCTB is very very different from the current theory and practice that is being talked about nowadays. (However, it's true that some of its chapters are underappreciated.)

As a side note, observing the attention wave in the precise MCTB way is a good idea if you're into that style of practice, but I'm not sure that it will lead to learning about dependent origination all by itself. I think I might not have been able to get that insight if I hadn't attained Kenneth's 6th stage.

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12/4/11 5:45 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
Interesting. I had the opposite impression, that MCTB is very very different from the current theory and practice that is being talked about nowadays. (However, it's true that some of its chapters are underappreciated.)


What is the current theory and practice being talked about?

I only really read here, most else I've found has not been useful.

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12/4/11 8:55 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
In brief, self-perceptions are caused by tension (craving), and one ends them by removing tension, and the end of that is similar to one or more of the models of enlightenment that MCTB rejects.

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12/4/11 2:26 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:
What i mean is that it is felt as a coolness that has no part of the "inner life", and is felt as something outer. What i meant by aura is that the sensations seem to be felt just outside where the skin would be felt in more ordinary (contracted) experience. I have experienced some people describe what i call coolness as brightness.

Right, gotcha. I tried this last night and got a much better idea of what you're describing, i see why you'd use the term 'aura' actually...do you find that it gets easier to 'push it back', as in the affective overlay, and maintain EE-like perception for longer?

I don't mean that there's effort involved in "pushing" something away, just that noticing it prevents it from covering the stillness.


It does seem to get easier, though i don't have enough practice with it to really say. I would say i just remain attentive to the aura, not push something back emoticon And the ideal use seem to remain attentive to the aura of the entire body, and not just try to use it at specific spots. Seems to make things easier.
Two further notes. There is a part of the aura on top of the eyes that seem to correspond to (mostly?) nonaffective vision, and one at the ears that respond to hearing. Similar for smell and taste. Remember to attend to those too.
Secondly: The aura is subtly present at all times, and can be tuned into with a little concentration. The state is less stable this way, but the trick still seems potentially very useful.

I'm not sure how much use this is yet, but seems promising so far. Do say if you find it useful.

Mucho Metta

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12/4/11 3:40 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Or a bill...

You dirty little dhamma-pimp...cash or cheque? Worth every penny. emoticon

Interesting. I had the opposite impression, that MCTB is very very different from the current theory and practice that is being talked about nowadays. (However, it's true that some of its chapters are underappreciated.)

I think my complete lack of knowledge regarding Buddhism prior to finding MCTB contributes to my general support of it, it was the book that changed the game for me. Since picking it up again and reading it in the light of current practice, the first chapter as a whole has been the most useful and chapter three now seems to be where the issues begin.

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12/4/11 3:17 PM as a reply to Villum (redacted).
to use it at specific spots. Seems to make things easier.
Two further notes. There is a part of the aura on top of the eyes that seem to correspond to (mostly?) nonaffective vision, and one at the ears that respond to hearing. Similar for smell and taste. Remember to attend to those too.

Good stuff, thanks for the reminder!

I'll definitely work with the other bits you've mentioned too and update you with how it goes.

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12/4/11 4:19 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
i'm going to experiment with using all lower-case typing, something which i would have found nigh on impossible a few months ago, to see how my writing style changes. on investigating the way i write and the words i tend to choose i find a certain formality filter being applied, a tension related to wanting to be seen as intelligent, when in reality, as anyone who's spoken to me on skype knows, i swear like a trooper, often talk really fast or mumble (another confidence thing) and laugh out loud a lot. i'm going to see how doing this affects the way i report and see if i can write more like i speak, sans the string of swear words and Mutley-like laughter.

so, tonight i sat for an hour. after watching a really good dharma talk with Sister Khema last night the way anapanasati is done makes more sense and i could tweak what i was doing more effectively in terms of balancing energy with concentration. avoided becoming absorbed completely which made that really still bliss (sukkha?) more obvious, turning attention towards that brings about the same feelings as what i'd associate with generating felicity only more refined. in doing this i now see how felicity is the same springboard for investigating the arising of unwholesome mind states/unpleasant affective states and why this works so well. a few other noteworthy points:

- the thing about "tranquilizing bodily formations" makes more sense now, when bodily formations are released the affective aspects of things are more easily observed as they're left 'floating'. this is just what i've noticed so far and may just be something unique to me in the way i describe it.

- recurring weird tension at the base of the skull which doesn't seem to stop when attention is placed on it. i recall Nick mentioning something about this too but i'm still curious as to what it is, it doesn't seem related to the sense of agency as those sorts of sensations usually happen at the front of the throat for me. anyone else know any more about this? i know the amygdala is found here too so maybe something related to this and the fight/flight response? there's no fear or sense of readiness to it, it's persistent and very noticeable but continued investigation of it in practice hasn't revealed anything practical yet.

there was other stuff i meant to mention but my mind's gone blank for the moment. interesting shift happening. hmmm. not af.

emoticon

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12/4/11 4:30 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
- the thing about "tranquilizing bodily formations" makes more sense now, when bodily formations are released the affective aspects of things are more easily observed as they're left 'floating'. this is just what i've noticed so far and may just be something unique to me in the way i describe it.


i know just what you mean with this, also when the tension is released the thoughts don't want to stay either

- recurring weird tension at the base of the skull which doesn't seem to stop when attention is placed on it. i recall Nick mentioning something about this too but i'm still curious as to what it is, it doesn't seem related to the sense of agency as those sorts of sensations usually happen at the front of the throat for me. anyone else know any more about this? i know the amygdala is found here too so maybe something related to this and the fight/flight response? there's no fear or sense of readiness to it, it's persistent and very noticeable but continued investigation of it in practice hasn't revealed anything practical yet.


is this somehow 'consciousness as a whole?' i don't really know what that means but it sort of seems to make sense when i look at that tension

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12/5/11 12:35 PM as a reply to josh r s.
While we are talking 'sutta style' - There is another form of 'insight' which comes from MN 111 - where one enters and exits jhana for the sole purpose of seeing the causes of the jhana arising and passing (if I interpret this correctly).

I cannot do this practice yet but I assume that it could lead to some understanding of how certain mental processes arise, some insight into D-O perhaps? Has anyone done this to see what happens? I believe this is what Culadasa says to do with the jhanas.

EDIT - also occurs to me that if there is value in seeing the entry and exit from jhana over an over then this could explain the whole idea of Kenneth's dynamic jhana. emoticon

just throwing this out there..

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12/5/11 1:17 PM as a reply to bill of the wandering mind.
Kenneth claims that jhanic experiences are "embedded" and one should disembed from them (by breaking them up into vibratory stuff?) which probably doesn't match the experiences of jhana that come from this practice.

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12/5/11 1:37 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
hmm - will have to see for myself then.

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12/5/11 1:52 PM as a reply to bill of the wandering mind.
For what it's worth, I agree that jhanas as have been practiced here (with an exaggerated attention wave) are "embedded" and problematic.

I recall asking Kenneth whether he thought that jhana (implicitly, with an exaggerated attention wave) had any value for a yogi not working on the technical model paths. He said "no", and gave the metaphor of a person who lifts weights (jhana) in order to perform better athletically (enlightenment / perhaps attention in general)...the gist, as I understood it, was that once you're in shape, you'd better stop messing with the weights and start doing the thing you were training for.

In my experience, the "jhanic arc" is something that can be done easily with the "attention wave jhanas" but would be very difficult with this style of jhana (as this style has a special stability to it). So, it's hard to translate that practice to this.

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12/5/11 2:01 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Interesting - so then getting into a 'non-embedded' jhana and seeing how it falls apart could be similar in a way to seeing how a pce fall apart... ? - curious.

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12/5/11 2:51 PM as a reply to bill of the wandering mind.
This is an interesting idea.

In my experience of the "non-attention wave jhanas" that are not maximal, there is no sense of getting into them (they don't "feel" like altered states), and getting out of them is just the return of the grosser form of the attention wave. That could be very useful to observe, in all kinds of ways, in terms of solidifying an explicit understanding of what's going on, and in terms of right view.

As for the maximal ones, the first thing that arises in my experience when they end is "reflection" (one might think: "pleasure"). But, reflective thinking isn't something that I would think requires insight applied to it...reflective thinking is not the problem (as the PCE shows), just a coincidental thing that happens not to exist exist in these maximal jhanas. But, there could be something else that I haven't yet discerned.

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12/5/11 4:38 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Decided to drop the lower-case writing, it's just more aesthetically pleasing and it's less time consuming.

Sat tonight for an hour and also maintained practice through the day, a practice which seems to be straddling HAIETMOBA and TWIM as the first step is whole-body awareness/attentiveness to sensousness moving into releasing any tensions. I just read a lovely wee breakdown that Claudiu posted here which describes it better than I can and also ties the whole thing back into Sister Khema's instructions.

- During the sit I was going into really hard jhana, complete immersion only realizing upon coming out of it, with ease even though I didn't really want to. Still practicing balancing concentration.

- A lot of fruition-like expansions of awareness most noticeable, not like a sequential increase a'la attention-wavey-increasy-type-jhana, more like going up and down the jhanas without catching the transitions between them.

- Bodily sensation vanishes quite quickly at first leaving just the mental aspect of things. I think I mentioned this before but I'll note it down anyway.

- [Edited to add] Releasing everything kept resulting in this incredible PCE-like stillness for periods of 2-3 minutes, I say PCE-like as my eyes remained closed but all the bodily sensations were exactly like the PCE. There was something specific I figured out at this point that made it easy to do but I need to work on it more before I can say for certain that it's doing what I think it's doing.

- I'm really quite shit at keeping notes on this meditation practice. emoticon

I'll leave updating this for a few days and see if I can find a better way of describing what's going on as the vast majority of it right now is just tension being released, increase in wellbeing, back to the breath. I could talk about how the breath changes in a ñana-like fashion but it's of no practical use as far as I can tell. Anyway, practice continues...

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12/5/11 5:09 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:

- During the sit I was going into really hard jhana, complete immersion only realizing upon coming out of it, with ease even though I didn't really want to. Still practicing balancing concentration.


Details!

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12/5/11 6:07 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Details!

Details it is!

I've been trying to ramp up concentration levels without becoming absorbed, doing the release and relax thing generally does this pretty well but tonight I was going for it concentration-wise and sticking with the breath. In 3rd jhana I was trying to avoid the habitual tendency to watch the attention wave shifting out but I got caught out by a big rapture which threw me completely, returning to the breath with a hazy, affective bliss left me less alert and vigilant so, rather than relaxing, I ended up tightening the focus around the breath. My jhana skills beforehand were strong and I had pretty quick access to all 15 (pragmatic model), also I had been using NS (super-cessation version) quite a lot in the few weeks before my AF mistake so inclining towards that way of doing jhana is still there. (This happened in 5th and 6th too and I think it's because I shifted the focus to the mental aspects, tightened the focus again rather than relaxed it.)

Right now, I'm trying to stick to the instructions Sister Khema and Ven. B are giving and not going for one-pointedness. One-pointedness, for me though, seems suited to entering 1st jhana but the way the focus moves in (MCTemoticon jhana doesn't line up with that which is causing me a bit of confusion.

Any advice on avoiding this sort of thing, or would you suggest utilizing it?

[Edited to add] Disregard my mention of "hard" jhana, after reading EIS's descriptions I realize that I'm talking out of my arse again.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
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12/5/11 6:11 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
It seems to me that focusing on manipulating the attention wave is either an idea that is unique to us, or which originated in the modern Burmese Theravada tradition.

Interesting. Maybe the Buddha noticed it but didn't consider it worth using? Maybe it really is unique to us! Ha!


I sort of remember finding a sutta that describes concentration with desire as its basis, and doesn't endorse it. If I find it again I'll post it.


And here we are:

Gopaka Mogallana sutta:
It wasn't the case, brahman, that the Blessed One praised mental absorption of every sort, nor did he criticize mental absorption of every sort. And what sort of mental absorption did he not praise? There is the case where a certain person dwells with his awareness overcome by sensual passion, seized with sensual passion. He does not discern the escape, as it actually is present, from sensual passion once it has arisen. Making that sensual passion the focal point, he absorbs himself with it, besorbs, resorbs, & supersorbs himself with it.


The heavily vibratory MCTB jhanas seem to be fairly well characterized by this, though some cases (i.e. the early rupa jhanas that have exhilaration, emotional rapture, quasi-sexual qualities, etc.) match this much better than others.

MCTB:
If the meditator decides to go on to the third jhana, then just cultivating the second state more deeply and noticing that the rapture or emotional “wow factor” of that state eventually becomes annoying can cause the mind to eventually abandon this state and shift into the third jhana.


Abandoning the passion that was fueling the 2nd MCTB jhana.

MCTB:
As before, if the student wishes to go on to the fourth jhana, then they just cultivate the third jhana and begin to pay attention to the fact that even the bodily bliss is somewhat irritating or noisy. Eventually, the mind will abandon the third jhana and shift into the fourth jhana, which is the height of equanimity.


Abandoning the passion that was fueling the 3rd MCTB jhana.

I'm not really sure what to think of 4-8, apart from noting that they're vibratory, and so based on some kind of passion.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
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12/5/11 6:07 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:
Details!

Details it is!

I've been trying to ramp up concentration levels without becoming absorbed, doing the release and relax thing generally does this pretty well but tonight I was going for it concentration-wise and sticking with the breath. In 3rd jhana I was trying to avoid the habitual tendency to watch the attention wave shifting out but I got caught out by a big rapture which threw me completely, returning to the breath with a hazy, affective bliss left me less alert and vigilant so, rather than relaxing, I ended up tightening the focus around the breath. My jhana skills beforehand were strong and I had pretty quick access to all 15 (pragmatic model), also I had been using NS (super-cessation version) quite a lot in the few weeks before my AF mistake so inclining towards that way of doing jhana is still there. (This happened in 5th and 6th too and I think it's because I shifted the focus to the mental aspects, tightened the focus again rather than relaxed it.)

Right now, I'm trying to stick to the instructions Sister Khema and Ven. B are giving and not going for one-pointedness. One-pointedness, for me though, seems suited to entering 1st jhana but the way the focus moves in (MCTemoticon jhana doesn't line up with that which is causing me a bit of confusion.

Any advice on avoiding this sort of thing, or would you suggest utilizing it?


I'm a bit confused, so let's go back for a second..

What do you mean by "one-pointed focus"?

When you attain e.g. 3rd jhana, what is it like? Does the pleasure vibrate or is it still?

1st jhana, according to the suttas, is a whole-body experience, i.e. doesn't match MCTB's "narrow focus", which may be related to the discrepancy you're mentioning.

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12/5/11 6:41 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
"1st jhana, according to the suttas, is a whole-body experience, i.e. doesn't match MCTB's "narrow focus", which may be related to the discrepancy you're mentioning."

- the explanation for this may be in the post I made in the sister K thread about culadasa's four levels of jhana (based on four strengths of concentration needed to eneter them). Not sure if anyone saw that as it got swept away by posts fairly quickly.

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12/6/11 9:53 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
What do you mean by "one-pointed focus"?

I'd describe it as fixed, tight attention to one object which requires effort to maintain, but I'd emphasize the tightness and effort involved in keeping the focus. It's something I had learned while doing stuff like tratak and dharana, which, now that I've read some more of Bhante V.'s "Anapanasati Sutta" on the dhammasukha site where he mentions the Hindus using jhana/dhyana to mean "concentration" in a fixed sense, were both solid concentration practices, not like TWIM.

When you attain e.g. 3rd jhana, what is it like? Does the pleasure vibrate or is it still?

I'm not 100% sure on the sutta jhanas yet now I've looked more closely at this today, I'm definitely still accessing MCTB style jhana with vibrations happening. 3rd, for example, has a shifting into it wherein the attention moves outwards towards the edges really quickly but smoothly. The pleasure is very much of the coarse, vibratory kind but without the cloying heaviness of 1st and with more of a refined mental aspect than 2nd. I definitely need to work on the TWIM method more, I'm planning a mini-home retreat in the next day or two which should help to clear this up a bit. Apologies for any confusion I've introduced here, my brain was a bit frazzled last night.

1st jhana, according to the suttas, is a whole-body experience, i.e. doesn't match MCTB's "narrow focus", which may be related to the discrepancy you're mentioning.

Aye, I'm definitely getting too focused on the breath rather than, as I'm doing right now as I type, using the sutta instructions and permeating the whole body with the breath. I think I've just caused myself more stress and worry by trying to line up things I don't fully understand. Doh!

Thanks for your help by the way, I really appreciate it.

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12/6/11 3:28 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:
Aye, I'm definitely getting too focused on the breath rather than, as I'm doing right now as I type, using the sutta instructions and permeating the whole body with the breath.


The main thing that I'd say you're doing wrong is not realizing that the sense of focus is an illusion generated by the attention wave, and that you can pay attention to the breath without "focusing" on it (by exaggerating the illusion, by resting your mind on the illusion).

The goal is "zero-pointed concentration". Like a PCE. Everything is observed without a sense of focus (which is the same as a sense of effort, which is the same as a sense of an observer). Try paying attention to your breath and actively ignore the sense of focus...see if you can recognize that your experiential field is there *independent* of the way you appear to be focused on it (= see the experiential field "through" the haze that the sense of focus is).

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
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12/6/11 3:49 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:
Tommy M:
Aye, I'm definitely getting too focused on the breath rather than, as I'm doing right now as I type, using the sutta instructions and permeating the whole body with the breath.


The main thing that I'd say you're doing wrong is not realizing that the sense of focus is an illusion generated by the attention wave, and that you can pay attention to the breath without "focusing" on it (by exaggerating the illusion, by resting your mind on the illusion).

The goal is "zero-pointed concentration". Like a PCE. Everything is observed without a sense of focus (which is the same as a sense of effort, which is the same as a sense of an observer). Try paying attention to your breath and actively ignore the sense of focus...see if you can recognize that your experiential field is there *independent* of the way you appear to be focused on it (= see the experiential field "through" the haze that the sense of focus is).


Alternative phrasings for the same thing (correct me if I'm wrong, EiS):

- You don't need to generate awareness; it precedes 'you' and your efforts.

- You can put down the torch because the whole room is already illuminated.

John

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12/6/11 5:29 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
The main thing that I'd say you're doing wrong is not realizing that the sense of focus is an illusion generated by the attention wave, and that you can pay attention to the breath without "focusing" on it (by exaggerating the illusion, by resting your mind on the illusion).

Bingo. In fact, reading this led to reading this...

The goal is "zero-pointed concentration". Like a PCE. Everything is observed without a sense of focus (which is the same as a sense of effort, which is the same as a sense of an observer). Try paying attention to your breath and actively ignore the sense of focus...see if you can recognize that your experiential field is there *independent* of the way you appear to be focused on it (= see the experiential field "through" the haze that the sense of focus is).

Riiiiigggggghhhhhtttt!! Fuuuuuuuucccccckkkkk!!! emoticon I'm going to make a "Rage Face" cartoon of what just happened when I read that and then read John's alternative phrasings, I could slap myself silly. I read you using the phrase "zero-pointed concentration" in another thread and it struck a chord, followed by John's lit room analogy here it's just clicked exactly what I've been doing since coming out of that PCE...everything I can to make it happen thus running round in a strange loop and suffering through it.

The different practices, the detours into magick, the obsession with Daryl Hannah (thanks Nick) wearing an eye-patch in Kill Bill...well, maybe not that last part but certainly everything I've been trying to do to get back to the PCE since that point.

Gentlemen & Ladies (mainly Steph and Katy), I thank you.

Now, I think a period of not posting and just stopping everything, including stopping everything...

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12/6/11 4:58 PM as a reply to John Wilde.
John Wilde:
End in Sight:
Tommy M:
Aye, I'm definitely getting too focused on the breath rather than, as I'm doing right now as I type, using the sutta instructions and permeating the whole body with the breath.


The main thing that I'd say you're doing wrong is not realizing that the sense of focus is an illusion generated by the attention wave, and that you can pay attention to the breath without "focusing" on it (by exaggerating the illusion, by resting your mind on the illusion).

The goal is "zero-pointed concentration". Like a PCE. Everything is observed without a sense of focus (which is the same as a sense of effort, which is the same as a sense of an observer). Try paying attention to your breath and actively ignore the sense of focus...see if you can recognize that your experiential field is there *independent* of the way you appear to be focused on it (= see the experiential field "through" the haze that the sense of focus is).


Alternative phrasings for the same thing (correct me if I'm wrong, EiS):

- You don't need to generate awareness; it precedes 'you' and your efforts.

- You can put down the torch because the whole room is already illuminated.



That is correct, except, there is such a thing as concentration, and it can be cultivated (or not) once you start the process of putting out the torch.

Without concentration, you get PCEs, but you don't get the jhanic experiences I've described.

If you cultivate concentration, it helps you to put out the torch, both in the moment you're doing it (jhana), as well as in the long run (effacing defilements).

In general, people are too quick to give up formal practice once they realize that 'their' efforts are not helping...as if doing formal practice somehow implies that 'they' are making some effort...the suttas go on and on about jhana for a reason, and the reason, as far as I can see, is that it cleans out experience faster than anything.

EDIT:
- You don't need to generate awareness; it precedes 'you' and your efforts.


Substitute the word "experience" for "awareness" and I will agree completely.

Though we may have the same thing in mind here, I have found that "awareness" has a tendency to be unhelpful in a way that "experience" does not.

A person can look for "awareness" and generate a tension in their head that they call "consciousness" or "the Witness" (attention wave), but an attempt to look for "experience" is so much more ridiculous-sounding that such tensions are less likely to be generated.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/6/11 5:14 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:

The different practices, the detours into magick, the obsession with Kim Basinger wearing an eye-patch in Kill Bill...well, maybe not that last part but certainly everything I've been trying to do to get back to the PCE since that point.



Unfabricated (in a trying sense), trying-free, stress-free, natural, already-happening-without-'you' paying attention (to experience of sense doors and sense objects).

Correction: Darryl Hannah with eye patch.



:-)

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/6/11 5:19 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:

That is correct, except, there is such a thing as concentration, and it can be cultivated (or not) once you start the process of putting out the torch.

Without concentration, you get PCEs, but you don't get the jhanic experiences I've described.

If you cultivate concentration, it helps you to put out the torch, both in the moment you're doing it (jhana), as well as in the long run (effacing defilements).

In general, people are too quick to give up formal practice once they realize that 'their' efforts are not helping...as if doing formal practice somehow implies that 'they' are making some effort...the suttas go on and on about jhana for a reason, and the reason, as far as I can see, is that it cleans out experience faster than anything.


I'm pretty sure I experience what you're talking about, but let me just check.

When the torch is put down, it doesn't preclude concentration. Rather, the absence of what I call 'boggling' in the mind -- which probably corresponds to your "attention wave/bounce" -- allows the experiential field and object of interest to 'stay still', such that it reveals itself without distortion or distraction. And that's what you call "zero pointed" concentration?

If that's what you're talking about, I agree with your last paragraph that this can be a beginning point, not an end.

John

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/6/11 5:27 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:

EDIT:
- You don't need to generate awareness; it precedes 'you' and your efforts.


Substitute the word "experience" for "awareness" and I will agree completely.

Though we may have the same thing in mind here, I have found that "awareness" has a tendency to be unhelpful in a way that "experience" does not.

A person can look for "awareness" and generate a tension in their head that they call "consciousness" or "the Witness" (attention wave), but an attempt to look for "experience" is so much more ridiculous-sounding that such tensions are less likely to be generated.


Yes, "experience". Much better ... for reasons well understood.

Thanks.

John

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/6/11 5:32 PM as a reply to John Wilde.
John Wilde:
End in Sight:

That is correct, except, there is such a thing as concentration, and it can be cultivated (or not) once you start the process of putting out the torch.

Without concentration, you get PCEs, but you don't get the jhanic experiences I've described.

If you cultivate concentration, it helps you to put out the torch, both in the moment you're doing it (jhana), as well as in the long run (effacing defilements).

In general, people are too quick to give up formal practice once they realize that 'their' efforts are not helping...as if doing formal practice somehow implies that 'they' are making some effort...the suttas go on and on about jhana for a reason, and the reason, as far as I can see, is that it cleans out experience faster than anything.


I'm pretty sure I experience what you're talking about, but let me just check.

When the torch is put down, it doesn't preclude concentration. Rather, the absence of what I call 'boggling' in the mind -- which probably corresponds to your "attention wave/bounce" -- allows the experiential field and object of interest to 'stay still', such that it reveals itself without distortion or distraction. And that's what you call "zero pointed" concentration?


If one is *concentrated* during that experience (for example: in a formless jhana that excludes sense experience), then that appears to be what I'm talking about.

Otherwise, it's not zero-pointed concentration, it's merely less / no attention wave.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/6/11 5:50 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:

If one is *concentrated* during that experience (for example: in a formless jhana that excludes sense experience), then that appears to be what I'm talking about.

Otherwise, it's not zero-pointed concentration, it's merely less / no attention wave.


OK, got it. In that case, I probably don't have much experience with this kind of concentration. For me, practice has mainly been on-the-move, not on the cushion. But the stilling of the 'boggling' or the reduction or absence of the "attention wave" is definitely familiar. It's exactly the effect I stumbled upon some years ago, an outcome of the practice I mentioned just recently to Tommy. And Nick's article on non-fabricated experience nails it.

Seems there are many ways to get to that point, as well as different things to do with it.

(Have fun, Tommy!)

John

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/6/11 5:42 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
I know what you're getting at and perhaps my choice of words wasn't accurate, I'm thinking of this in terms of clearing out an already empty house and just sweeping up, checking the corners and underneath the floorboards. The bulk of the moving has been done and the last few weeks have been loading the stuff into the removal van, taking stuff to the dump and getting rid of what won't fit in the new house. Now that all the bulky stuff is gone, there's still bits and pieces to be done but not in the same way as before, it's just a matter of tidying up. Or something. Ha!

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/6/11 6:02 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:

Try paying attention to your breath and actively ignore the sense of focus...see if you can recognize that your experiential field is there *independent* of the way you appear to be focused on it (= see the experiential field "through" the haze that the sense of focus is).


is this the same thing as your previous advice to keep your back to the stillness while focusing only on the pleasantness of the breath/act of breathing itself?

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/6/11 6:21 PM as a reply to Steph S.
"Keep your back to the stillness" described part of my understanding of a more advanced practice that Thanissaro Bhikkhu talked about.

The basic practice is: tune into the stillness by ignoring the attention wave and sense of focus (as experience "behind" these things is still), and keep paying attention to the act of breathing or to pleasure or to both. The more you do one, the more you can do the other (but doing the latter should be first).

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/6/11 6:31 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
k thanks. was starting to get confused. lots of new practices floating around. emoticon

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/7/11 8:06 AM as a reply to John Wilde.
John Wilde:
Seems there are many ways to get to that point, as well as different things to do with it.


What are you doing with the lack of attention wave at this point? Are you sure you're distinguishing reliably between "less attention wave" and "no attention wave"?

Many advanced yogis seem to miss subtle manifestations of the attention wave, which is why I'm pointing this out.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/7/11 9:03 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:

What are you doing with the lack of attention wave at this point?


It always seemed to me that there are two main ways to go with this, one being to exclude/eliminate everything that can (seem to) disturb the peace and purity that one knows in a (pure, 100% sensate) PCE; the other being to continue learning that nothing really does, despite appearances, disturb the essential purity and peace that is the background to all experience, all the time. Some forms of apparent conflict and opposition are artifacts of the view. Sometimes they're reconcilable in unexpected ways. This has been my experience so far, enough to make me suspect that it continues in that way. For that reason, I favor inclusion and transcendence over elimination and rejection.

But I must add: I'm in no way positioning myself as someone who has The Answer (for everyone), or even necessarily the final answer for myself.

End in Sight:

Are you sure you're distinguishing reliably between "less attention wave" and "no attention wave"?


I'm not accustomed to thinking of my experience in terms of the "attention wave", but if you mean that "no attention wave" is strictly PCE, then yes, I'm reliably able to distinguish between them. I've had enough PCEs to know. And I don't claim to be (or intend to be) there permanently. For various reasons, it's no longer a compelling option for me. (I did go right to the brink at one time).

End in Sight:

Many advanced yogis seem to miss subtle manifestations of the attention wave, which is why I'm pointing this out.


There's a certain amount of irony here. Having cut my teeth on Richard/AFT's notions of what is, and isn't, pure consciousness ... my own definitions are stricter than yours :-)

But I can understand why you're saying this, based on our interactions so far. There can be too many lines blurred, too much readiness to assume everything's the same thing described in different ways; and I think the pendulum has swung a bit too far in that direction in the DhO lately. (Not that I'm complaining, just an observation and opinion).

John

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/7/11 9:22 AM as a reply to John Wilde.
John Wilde:

I'm not accustomed to thinking of my experience in terms of the "attention wave", but if you mean that "no attention wave" is strictly PCE, then yes, I'm reliably able to distinguish between them. I've had enough PCEs to know.


Since (as you point out) there are varying definitions with respect to what counts as a PCE, by "no attention wave" I mean "no attention wave".

So, if we could have a brief foray into discussing this, it might be useful.

(I am not accusing you of being unable to make the distinction I'm talking about.)

There's a certain amount of irony here. Having cut my teeth on Richard/AFT's notions of what is, and isn't, pure consciousness ... my own definitions are stricter than yours :-)


While my definitions for PCE are flexible (as there is a tendency for others to use the term in a flexible way, and I see no problem at all with going along with that, as I neither believe that PCEs are a "path moment" nor are required in their full-fledged form for there to be progress in practice), I think my definition for "no attention wave" is (by definition) as strict as possible with respect to there being no attention wave.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/7/11 9:39 AM as a reply to John Wilde.
John Wilde:
End in Sight:

What are you doing with the lack of attention wave at this point?


It always seemed to me that there are two main ways to go with this, one being to exclude/eliminate everything that can (seem to) disturb the peace and purity that one knows in a (pure, 100% sensate) PCE;


Perhaps this is a key point, at least for understanding each others' terminology; when there is no attention wave, there is no disturbance of the sort that you appear to be talking about left.

(It is interesting to note that, despite the lack of that kind of disturbance, it is still a more "refined" experience when there is no sensory experience during a formless jhana...which seems to agree with the Pali suttas.)

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/7/11 9:47 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:

Since (as you point out) there are varying definitions with respect to what counts as a PCE, by "no attention wave" I mean "no attention wave".

So, if we could have a brief foray into discussing this, it might be useful.


Sure. Always enjoy looking at experience through different lenses.

End in Sight:

(I am not accusing you of being unable to make the distinction I'm talking about.)


Yeah, I don't read one-upmanship in your words. There's none intended in mine either.

End in Sight:

While my definitions for PCE are flexible (as there is a tendency for others to use the term in a flexible way, and I see no problem at all with going along with that, as I neither believe that PCEs are a "path moment" nor are required in their full-fledged form for there to be progress in practice), I think my definition for "no attention wave" is (by definition) as strict as possible with respect to there being no attention wave.


Great, let's wipe the slate clean. Tell me about "no attention wave".

John

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/7/11 10:03 AM as a reply to John Wilde.
John Wilde:

End in Sight:

While my definitions for PCE are flexible (as there is a tendency for others to use the term in a flexible way, and I see no problem at all with going along with that, as I neither believe that PCEs are a "path moment" nor are required in their full-fledged form for there to be progress in practice), I think my definition for "no attention wave" is (by definition) as strict as possible with respect to there being no attention wave.


Great, let's wipe the slate clean. Tell me about "no attention wave".


Here are some salient characteristics in terms of low-level cognitive processes and experiences, according to my understanding:

* No imagination or volitional tuning-out of sensory experience is possible, due to...
* No experience of the sort of volition that would be required to do this is possible, which is related to...
* No ability to look for the attention wave, no ability to do MCTB-style vipassana

* No perception of a mental phenomenon of "attention"

* No vibratory tingling sensations; body experience is solid

* No perception of "movement" (apart from the changeableness of experience)

* Experience is "unlocated", but not in the same way as it might be seen to be for one who attains an MCTB path (not sure how to describe the difference)

That seems like a fair collection of statements that can be made.

In my limited experience, it is subtle phenomena such as vibratory tingling, or a residual sense of attention, which advanced yogis miss on occasion.

When there is no attention wave due to high concentration, there is an absolute suppression of all cognition, which is incidental. (It it possible that that this is the fundamental mechanism by which concentration yields these states; when cognition is completely suppressed, so is the form of mental reaction which *is* the attention wave...though that form of mental reaction can be suppressed in other ways.)

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/7/11 10:26 AM as a reply to John Wilde.
John Wilde:
I've had enough PCEs to know. And I don't claim to be (or intend to be) there permanently. For various reasons, it's no longer a compelling option for me. (I did go right to the brink at one time).


Also, I'd like to ask you about this...

At every point in my practice where I had some kind of developmental shift, it seemed impossible to go back, in the sense that there was apparently some permanent change in the functioning of the mind that could not be undone in any way that was obvious to me.

On the other hand, you claim that your practice led you to a point which was not "stable" in the sense that you could go back. This agrees with Richard, who claims (I believe) that his ex-wife reached out-from-control VF but ended up going back.

Can you clarify what this is about, from your own experience?

My best theory is that there is a "developmental" method of practice which is different from another method that leads only to a permanent change at the end, and that I only have experience with the former. But, who knows.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/7/11 5:49 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:

Here are some salient characteristics [of no attention wave] in terms of low-level cognitive processes and experiences, according to my understanding:

* No imagination or volitional tuning-out of sensory experience is possible, due to...
* No experience of the sort of volition that would be required to do this is possible, which is related to...
* No ability to look for the attention wave, no ability to do MCTB-style vipassana

* No perception of a mental phenomenon of "attention"

* No vibratory tingling sensations; body experience is solid

* No perception of "movement" (apart from the changeableness of experience)

* Experience is "unlocated", but not in the same way as it might be seen to be for one who attains an MCTB path (not sure how to describe the difference)

That seems like a fair collection of statements that can be made.


It does, and they're pretty familiar. The absence of vibratory tingling sensations and ability to do MCTB-style vipassana isn't a factor here because those haven't been much a part of my experience anyway, but the rest is clear.

Just now, as I was re-reading your list and composing this reply, it struck me that all these might be explainable in a fairly simple, non-technical way. I haven't had time to think this through, but I'll put it as naively as it just occurred to me.

Due to the cessation of some basic urge or impulse (affective in nature), the mind ceases all (habitual, instinctive) attempts to represent itself to itself. When mind (or 'self') is no longer a would-be-object unto itself, there is none of the usual jumping or bouncing around or 'boggling' that results from the mind trying to depict and represent its own state (and/or its own nature). This gives way to stillness and transparency. Items 1 to 4 on your list above are a natural consequence of this, as are items 6 and 7. (Dunno about 5).

Regarding 7, I do know what you mean about the "unlocated" nature of the no-attention-wave experience, but don't know how this relates to MCTB path. (Or maybe I do, but I don't know that I do). It seems to fit fairly snugly into the simple model above, because the lack of division (normally caused by self-representation) results in a 'zero-pointedness'... which of course has no particular location. Sensations remain perspectival, being sourced in the actual body -- but there is (in AF terms) no locatable 'being' in relation to anything...

End in Sight:

In my limited experience, it is subtle phenomena such as vibratory tingling, or a residual sense of attention, which advanced yogis miss on occasion.

When there is no attention wave due to high concentration, there is an absolute suppression of all cognition, which is incidental. (It it possible that that this is the fundamental mechanism by which concentration yields these states; when cognition is completely suppressed, so is the form of mental reaction which *is* the attention wave...though that form of mental reaction can be suppressed in other ways.)


That sounds feasible, but I wouldn't know.

John

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/7/11 6:36 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:

Also, I'd like to ask you about this...

At every point in my practice where I had some kind of developmental shift, it seemed impossible to go back, in the sense that there was apparently some permanent change in the functioning of the mind that could not be undone in any way that was obvious to me.

On the other hand, you claim that your practice led you to a point which was not "stable" in the sense that you could go back. This agrees with Richard, who claims (I believe) that his ex-wife reached out-from-control VF but ended up going back.

Can you clarify what this is about, from your own experience?

My best theory is that there is a "developmental" method of practice which is different from another method that leads only to a permanent change at the end, and that I only have experience with the former. But, who knows.


There have been some irreversible shifts in my way-of-being, some practice-related, some not. These would be difficult to describe without it becoming an autobiography. Just briefly though: A&P in childhood; seemed like an irreversible shift, although the contribution of A&P to this shift is hard to separate from life changes and other natural cognitive changes occurring around that age. Further irreversible shift in around 5.5 years ago, which I experienced as an awakening to something that had always been present. Didn't make a big deal of it (and still don't), but it opened a door (to a kind of peace and possibility of further development) that had been locked to me for years.

Further "shifts" have been of the nature of understanding/realisation, rather than (seemingly) neurological changes.

The abovementioned experience of going "to the brink" wasn't one of the transformational shifts. It was a long and seemingly permanent PCE of the kind that Tommy recently went through, after which I was pretty much back where I started.

John

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/7/11 7:04 PM as a reply to John Wilde.
John Wilde:

The abovementioned experience of going "to the brink" wasn't one of the transformational shifts. It was a long and seemingly permanent PCE of the kind that Tommy recently went through, after which I was pretty much back where I started.


Actually that's not quite true. I can remember what precipitated the PCE, and I know where/how to look in a way that induces them. A little while before Tommy had his big PCE, I could see exactly what he needed to do... and so could Stephany and Nick (judging by this: http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com/2011/10/yogi-experiment-riding-wave.html). A few hints posted by various people, and bingo, Tommy was away. That pathway is still open to me too.

John

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/7/11 8:01 PM as a reply to John Wilde.
John Wilde:

Actually that's not quite true. I can remember what precipitated the PCE, and I know where/how to look in a way that induces them. A little while before Tommy had his big PCE, I could see exactly what he needed to do... and so could Stephany and Nick (judging by this: http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com/2011/10/yogi-experiment-riding-wave.html). A few hints posted by various people, and bingo, Tommy was away. That pathway is still open to me too.

John


Out of curiosity, what did I say that you're referring to here (since I didn't comment on the post you linked)? I'd like to go back and re-take my own advice! HA! emoticon

It's interesting because despite being at a point where it seems I can will a very PCE like experience for extended periods, that is not always what happens in practice. There is still some very stubborn "being/wave" that totally resists the inclination and knowledge that this way of experiencing is seemingly easy to come by, which in turn, makes it not that easy to come by at points. Does that make sense?

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/7/11 8:23 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
It's interesting because despite being at a point where it seems I can will a very PCE like experience for extended periods, that is not always what happens in practice. There is still some very stubborn "being/wave" that totally resists the inclination and knowledge that this way of experiencing is seemingly easy to come by, which in turn, makes it not that easy to come by at points. Does that make sense?


I think you're just forgetting how to incline in that way. Then you remember... then you forget... then you remember... then you forget, etc. When you forget it can take who-knows-how-long until you remember again. But then it just doesn't quite seem to stick and you forget again...

Does that sound accurate?

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/7/11 8:49 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:


I think you're just forgetting how to incline in that way. Then you remember... then you forget... then you remember... then you forget, etc. When you forget it can take who-knows-how-long until you remember again. But then it just doesn't quite seem to stick and you forget again...

Does that sound accurate?


Hrrm... I'm not sure that's it. It has more of a flavor of not wanting to go there. Might be more along the lines of that thing you of Tarin's you quoted reccently about the attention wave "protecting" you from totally devolving... attention wave rearing it's ugly head so you don't slip too far into abeyance. Stubborn little fucker it is.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/7/11 8:53 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:

Out of curiosity, what did I say that you're referring to here (since I didn't comment on the post you linked)? I'd like to go back and re-take my own advice! HA! emoticon


Heh... it can be surprising, and scary, how smart we once were!

I'll look it up later, but from memory it was in Tommy's practice thread. He was talking about removing the last remaining vestiges of a perceptual filter. You posted something pointing to the fact that there really is no filter there, it's really just an artifact of the way he was looking. You said something like: between the eyeball and the object, what is there? You were drawing him out of the mind-created model and back to the immediacy of the moment.

Steph S:

It's interesting because despite being at a point where it seems I can will a very PCE like experience for extended periods, that is not always what happens in practice. There is still some very stubborn "being/wave" that totally resists the inclination and knowledge that this way of experiencing is seemingly easy to come by, which in turn, makes it not that easy to come by at points. Does that make sense?


Hell yeah. There are so many ways to get in your own way and trip over your own feet. The possibilities are limitless.

The key is always, in my experience, to tune in to what is already there, the immediacy of experiencing which precedes any of your efforts to find it. Once that becomes apparent (and it's never not there), you can more easily see how various effortful superimpositions obscure the view, and how they're really redundant. When that's clear, the compulsive process of chopping up the experiential field into observer-fragments and observed world comes to rest .... and then the experiential field itself becomes fully transparent (or absent, if you like) ... leaving a palpable stillness (that was present all along, and still is, even now).

Might be controversial to add this but: you don't even have to be in a PCE to see this. The PCE is, strictly speaking, apperception and nothing-but-apperception; but it's quite possible to sensitize yourself to the fact that apperception is happening all the time, as a substrate of all experience, regardless of whether there's affective content or not. (I'm not saying that PCEs or AF contain affective experience though).

John

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/7/11 9:09 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:

Hrrm... I'm not sure that's it. It has more of a flavor of not wanting to go there
.

With reasons attached, or just an automatic urge to dig in the heels?

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/7/11 10:04 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
Hrrm... I'm not sure that's it. It has more of a flavor of not wanting to go there. Might be more along the lines of that thing you of Tarin's you quoted reccently about the attention wave "protecting" you from totally devolving... attention wave rearing it's ugly head so you don't slip too far into abeyance. Stubborn little fucker it is.


What is the difference between when you can will a very PCE like experience for extended periods and when you can't?

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/7/11 10:54 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:


What is the difference between when you can will a very PCE like experience for extended periods and when you can't?


i've noticed that it tends to happen after there seems to be some sort of baseline shift... it's like "being" comes on really strong to try throw things off (usually only a day or two), then it's back to said new baseline. i could be wrong here and there could be something else going on, but this is a pattern i've noticed (and yes, it's likely that noticing/labeling this as a pattern is what's continuing it).

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/8/11 9:47 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
i've noticed that it tends to happen after there seems to be some sort of baseline shift... it's like "being" comes on really strong to try throw things off (usually only a day or two), then it's back to said new baseline. i could be wrong here and there could be something else going on, but this is a pattern i've noticed (and yes, it's likely that noticing/labeling this as a pattern is what's continuing it).


Hmm here are a few questions for your consideration...

What is a baseline shift? How does it differ from moments of relative clarity? How often do they happen?
Do you practice differently leading up to the baseline shift vs. after it?
If you had never gotten or even knew about MCTB paths and the same event happened, how might you react to it then?

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
Answer
12/8/11 11:13 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
a baseline shift seems to be a heightened level of clarity & equanimity. practice leading up to it is looking really closely at some aspect of the relationship btwn phenomena & suffering. for example, this last shift was a more subtle one, but seems to have occurred after looking really closely at the attention wave in action - from source point to object point - and seeing how suffering arises from that. afterwards i have practiced looking directly at the source point as much as possible because i noticed that doing that results in a reduction in attention bounce.

i wouldn't always classify the shifts as significant as path moments.. can sometimes be more like a mini-path, if you will. the subtle type of shift could be more like a realization, though, thinking about it now that you brought it up. i suppose it depends on what a baseline shift is.. i never qualified it as having to be very major. it can sometimes be a smaller shift, yet still has an impact, reducing suffering to a noticeable (albeit not huge) degree. i'm not certain what this really qualifies as or how accurate i am about it or what the practical implications are, so i'm totally open to finding that out (and would really like to know if the b.s. meters are going off here so i can adjust accordingly and learn something from it).

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
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12/8/11 11:28 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
i'm not certain what this really qualifies as or how accurate i am about it or what the practical implications are, so i'm totally open to finding that out (and would really like to know if the b.s. meters are going off here so i can adjust accordingly and learn something from it).

you indicated your practice is inconsistent (sometimes hard to get to PCE-like clarity, sometimes easy), so the purpose of my questions are to try to figure out what causes that inconsistency...

it's clear an event happens that you recognize as apart from other events. why do you think the event seems to correspond to lots of 'being' coming up that makes it hard to be attentive/sensuous? do 'you' react to it somehow, perhaps?

Steph S:
a baseline shift seems to be a heightened level of clarity & equanimity.

what distinguishes it from a moment of relative clarity/attentiveness, like what sometimes happens right after one asks HAIETMOBA? is it more a path-like shift (change of 'being') or more that you suddenly struck upon a way to incline the mind that leads to clarity, perhaps resulting from some insight? if it's the latter, what might cause you to forget the inclination (""being" comes on really strong to try throw things off (usually only a day or two)") until coming back to it ("then it's back to said baseline")? (if it makes sense to think of it that way...)

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
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12/9/11 10:18 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
EIS, I listened to this talk http://www.dhammasukha.org/Study/metta.htm#S-METTA-DAILY-GER-FEB08.mp3 - and in it Bhante V does talk about teaching powers and looking back into past lives to some of his students.

Im not sure if the 'zero pointed' jhana you are describing is the same as what his students get into but that clinches the debate for me concerning tension in the head being undesireable.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
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12/9/11 4:07 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

you indicated your practice is inconsistent (sometimes hard to get to PCE-like clarity, sometimes easy), so the purpose of my questions are to try to figure out what causes that inconsistency...

it's clear an event happens that you recognize as apart from other events. why do you think the event seems to correspond to lots of 'being' coming up that makes it hard to be attentive/sensuous? do 'you' react to it somehow, perhaps?

what distinguishes it from a moment of relative clarity/attentiveness, like what sometimes happens right after one asks HAIETMOBA? is it more a path-like shift (change of 'being') or more that you suddenly struck upon a way to incline the mind that leads to clarity, perhaps resulting from some insight? if it's the latter, what might cause you to forget the inclination (""being" comes on really strong to try throw things off (usually only a day or two)") until coming back to it ("then it's back to said baseline")? (if it makes sense to think of it that way...)


good questions. it's more like the latter. once in a while there's still some acting frustrated when attentiveness slips - frustrated at the fact that attention slipped and thinking i'm failing or not practicing well. blameguiltblameguilt. there's still elements of being a control freak about practice - when things are going really well it's all good, and then when for whatever reason attention starts slipping temporarily i feel like i have to be on top of it every second to make sure it doesn't keep slipping & slipping further away. so the problem occurs when it sometimes goes from applying equanamious attention to get back to ee or pce into control freak omg i need to fix this now.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
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12/9/11 4:20 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
good questions. it's more like the latter. once in a while there's still some acting frustrated when attentiveness slips - frustrated at the fact that attention slipped and thinking i'm failing or not practicing well. blameguiltblameguilt. there's still elements of being a control freak about practice - when things are going really well it's all good, and then when for whatever reason attention starts slipping temporarily i feel like i have to be on top of it every second to make sure it doesn't keep slipping & slipping further away. so the problem occurs when it sometimes goes from applying equanamious attention to get back to ee or pce into control freak omg i need to fix this now.


This might be a strange way of looking at it, but does thinking of it this way make sense?

When things are going really well, you are remembering how to incline the mind in a fruitful way. You then forget how to do it - something comes up which causes attentiveness to slip, and you then fight it ('have to be on top of it every second'; 'blameguiltblameguilt') in order to try to incline that mind fruitfully again (aka, trying to remember how to do it), which might take a day or two. Then for some reason you remember how to incline the mind in a fruitful way again (likely not due to the fighting for it), and all is good again. Until you forget again...

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
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12/9/11 4:56 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
sounds about right

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
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12/9/11 5:43 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
sounds about right


Then it's simple! All you have to do is remember how to incline the mind in the fruitful way. Here are a few of my thoughts on the matter which I wrote to Tommy earlier... let me know if any of them are helpful. (Comments by others are also welcome... especially if I am saying something inaccurate.)

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Notice how sometimes you come across a phrase, and it strikes you the right way, and suddenly you can be attentive/sensuous as a result of the phrase? Then that works for a bit, but then it slips, so you recall the phrase again, and it works... but then it diminishes in effectiveness until a day or two later, you remember the phrase and nothing happens - it stopped working. Or you're in a good state of mind and you want to remember it for later, so you make up a phrase of your own, but that, too, stops working before long.

I think the issue here is one of remembering at the wrong level. If you remember the phrase, you are basically remembering a concept and associating a 'feeling' with it... the type of conceptual construct that is not present in a PCE. I think the proper mental inclination conducive to attentiveness/sensuousness - aka when things are going well - is at a level 'under' concepts / coming before them. So, if you try to remember it with a concept, you will 'step out of it', form the concept, form an affective memory of it, then perhaps remember the inclination (since you only stopped a few seconds ago) and 'step back into it'. But when you try to recall it, you try to do so affectively, and thus you only get the affective stuff that was on top of the inclination... the inclination itself is forgotten. Two days later you'll wonder how it ever worked. This might also happen when you read a post that strikes you really well, and you can be really clear/sensuous for a bit as a result, but when you re-read it later it doesn't happen anymore. You're forming a memory at the wrong level.

So, what is the right way to do it? In a word: mindfulness. Mindfulness is strongly related to remembrance, in my experience. It's the ability to remember even that way to incline the mind that comes before concepts. In actualist terms, it is attentiveness/sensuousness. Or perhaps more accurately, the remembrance of attentiveness/sensuousness. Mindfulness is present still in a PCE, in a sense ("Apperceptiveness is its own attentiveness moment by moment") - it is what allows a PCE to occur ("in attentiveness, there is an observance of the ‘reality’ within, and such attention is the end of its embrace ... finish."). Thus mindfulness is more elemental than concepts, and more powerful as well. A 'self' cannot end a 'self', but mindfulness can.

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You need to get a taste for mindfulness... it's kind of like remembering a looooooooong train of thought (one that started when you first started looking for freedom, or perhaps at first PCE, or perhaps when getting close to EE for the first time.. or actually prob one that existed before 'you' formed in the infant brain, as it is the default state of the brain). Except, it isn't a concept-based, 'me'-based, train of thought - it isn't narrative thinking. It's just that touching of consciousness to itself (apperception).

Try asking yourself: will I remember this moment tomorrow? And see whatever is activated. I don't mean describing everything in your visual field, I mean just remembering the moment. I don't mean the particular feeling you are having, but remembering the moment. The same thing might be activated when you ask HAIETMOBA and nothing gross comes up (so just the experience itself comes up as the answer). Try to find the 'remembrance' aspect of it. After all, what better way to remember the present moment than to observe it in as attentive a way as possible?

Another pointer might be the state of mind in a good Equanimity nyana, when you are paying attention to everything yet not spacing out yet, especially High Equanimity as it gets further + further refined, right before a fruition/path-moment... which is similar to the feeling in the 8th jhana, that lets you stay in it and know it (to what extent it can be known at that point), before you come out of it due to some thought arising about the jhana itself.

When I first activate mindfulness in this way after not having done it, it feels like forgetting, because the conceptual-level processes have to stop (which feels like they are being forgotten), and because one of the first things I remember when starting to be mindful is for how long a period i hadn't been mindful prior to that. It kind of feels like going between two worlds - not mindful and mindful. When mindfulness kicks in I remember the previous times I was mindful and how great they were, and potentially feel ashamed that I had been lacking it so much before. I sometimes stop at the shame. Go through the shame - the other side is wonderful.

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For anything conducive to more mindfulness/attentiveness to settle in, to the point where it affects your practice effectively (i.e. moment-to-moment experience), it needs to sink in to the level of mind that comes before the 'self'. You have to remember it. It has to go from short-term to long-term to ingrained- memory. You can spin concepts about it all you want, but what will stick is the concepts (affective memory) and not the inclination (non-affective memory). The image I get is sort of like something filtering through a sieve - through 'me' - down to a deeper level of mind.

When you want to remember how you are experiencing the moment of being alive, if it is a productive way: Keep the intention or whatever you want to remember in mind. Do it now, if you are getting something out of reading these words. Really - don't keep reading until you've sincerely resolved it.

Then, activate mindfulness, as described earlier - that flavor of attending which is o-so-sweet and counter-intuitively simple. Don't attend specifically to the intention - directing your mind at it like that will turn on the conceptual brain. Yet it's not something to fight, either. Just be mindful. And when you find that conceptual mind has kicked in - that in itself is being mindful again, so just keep being mindful as before whenever that happens. It can feel kind of frustrating, cause it is (and
maybe this is a good pointer) like remembering something without being allowed to think about it. In fact you can think about it - pure thoughts - but unless you're in a PCE it'll likely be narrative thinking ('me'-based). Keep it in your mind, but don't spin thoughts about it.

Nothing else will work. Trying to remember inclination to mindfulness by writing reminders to yourself about it will not work, cause by the time you look at the reminder, you will have likely forgotten the inclination, and the words are unlikely to bring back that aspect of experience. Or they might, at first, but if you don't realize that it's the deep-level mindfulness that is the remembrance and think it's the words, it will grow less+less effective until you look at those words you wrote to yourself when you were so happy and harmless and wonder how they ever were of use to you.

And this can be really frustrating... cause nothing will work, except this moment-to-moment being mindful. But maybe that can also help, since you know not to put energy into anything else.

When I do this sometimes, what seems to happen is that there is a downward trend of actually forgetting what it was I am trying to remember. I will feel like it's forgotten and there will be an emotional reaction to it. But here, if I start going into thoughts again, it will definitely be gone, since I'll be distracted. On the other hand, if I keep the mindfulness going, it will pop back into my head relatively soon.

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Another take on it is that, the fact that you are suffering, indicates there is an attachment. The cause of it might not be in conscious memory... but it is accessible; if it were totally forgotten, then it wouldn't come up since 'I' wouldn't know how to react to 'it'. You can think of mindfulness as slowly and subtly and carefully digging down and remembering why you were suffering in the first place.

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In conclusion: If you just came across a great realization, or when you are being particularly mindful/(attentive/sensuous)... don't slack. Activate that mindfulness(attentiveness/sensuousness) even more. And understand that what helps keep it going is not thinking about it on a conceptual level, but just that very mindfulness... It is your best bet at remembering it.

And next time you notice you are trapped in a horrendous loop and things are painful, remember: spinning in thought about it or chasing it this way and that will not work. What will work is just this mindfulness. Activate it by remembering the activation of it in the past, and once it starts coming on-line, remember it even more, again at that subtle level of the mind that comes before conceptual thinking, and keep going, and going, and going, and do nothing else until there is nothing else to do.

What is the path if not remembering how not to suffer?

Richard:
This exquisite surprise brings with it ecstatic relief at the moment of mutation … life is perfect after all. But, then again, has one not known this to be so all along? At the moment of freedom there is a clear sense of ‘I have always known this’.

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
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12/9/11 6:27 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

All you have to do is remember how to incline the mind in the fruitful way. (...) I think the proper mental inclination conducive to attentiveness/sensuousness - aka when things are going well - is at a level 'under' concepts / coming before them.


Sounds about right to me, too. One other thing that might be helpful: every time you find it, pay particular attention to the fact that it's actually available all the time. (This will be obvious at the time). This will give you confidence that it's not something you have to make up / fabricate / generate ... ever.

Effort is surely needed in some ways, i.e., to cut through some crap and keep yourself from being distracted by things that aren't important or beneficial ... but what you're seeking is not a product of effort. If you make a note of that at the time, and clearly recognize why that's the case, you probably won't stay 'lost' so long next time.

John

RE: Straight-up Sutta Style
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12/9/11 6:34 PM as a reply to John Wilde.
OK, time for me to move on now. If anyone wants to contact me for any reason, send me a PM through the DhO leaving your email address, and I'll get back to you.

Thanks, and best of luck everyone.

John