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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 1/14/23 3:12 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/24/21 1:39 AM

Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1294 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
This is volume 2 of my practice log. Volume 1 is here:  https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/22843214#_com_liferay_message_boards_web_portlet_MBPortlet_message_8496517

In various posts on these forums I have mentioned a kind of "transition" I experience when doing relaxation exercises and I think it may be of interest to other members of the forums so this post will be about how to experience it and what I think it is. I find it effectively relieves unpleasant emotions, so it is useful regardless of how one classifies it. (UPDATE, I should add that the transition effectively relieves unpleasant emotions that arise due to cognition. Some emotions might be due to purely biological factors such as some forms of anxiety and depressions and I would not expect mental techniques like meditaiton or relaxation exercises to be able to relieve them.)

At one time I asked if what I called the "transition" could actually be cessation. After considering this for some time, I am pretty sure that it is. In my experience it is fairly easy to produce through the process I will explain below. It doesn't take much concentration. The relaxation exercises quiet mental turbulence and that produces the necessary focus.

When I experience what I call the transition, I sometimes hear a tone, my mind then becomes very clear, it seemed like I lost focus for a moment, any unpleasant emotions I may have been having disappear, I am in a pleasant mood, and I can easily enter the jhanas.

The two sources that have led me to think this is cessation are MTCB2
https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-iv-insight/30-the-progress-of-insight/15-fruition/
and Ron Crouch's web site (which seems to have been deleted but continues to exist on the internet archive):
https://web.archive.org/web/20150315043206/http://alohadharma.com/2011/06/29/cessation/
  • Ron says that "What it feels like is that there is “click”, “blip”, or “pop” that occurs for an instant." This is similar to what I experience. I often hear a tone.
  • When I say any unpleasant emotions disappear and I am in a pleasant mood, this seems like what Ron calls the "bliss wave" and Daniel calls an afterglow. Others say cessation is a taste of nibbana which would be consistent with unpleasant emotions being absent.
  • When I say I lost focus for a moment, I think this is what Ron is describing when he says that "In that instant everything disappeared, including you". At first I couldn't understand why it only happened when I "lost focus" but if this is cessation then it actually makes perfect sense.
  • Daniel also says:
    All that said, there are those who won’t recognize it, particularly those who chance upon it outside of a meditative tradition that can recognize it. There will also be those for whom it happens within the context of their practice tradition, who can recognize it, but who fail to identify it as being what it is.
    Which I think accounts for my delay in recognizing this is cessation. I have no tradition telling me about cessation I only learned of it from this forum. Another factor may be that I am experiencing this without strong concentration, not even access concentration.
  • UPDATE 11/28/21: I also have a vibratory type experience before the transition. According to Ron Crouch perceiving vibrations is a characteristic of high equanimity which precedes cessation. 

    https://web.archive.org/web/20141019102026/http://alohadharma.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/equanimity/
    In high equanimity the meditator moves from “just sitting” to noticing a subtle and pervasive sense that the objects of meditation are vibrating.
    Below where I describe how to produce the transition I mention a feeling of tingling in the body which could also be described as vibrations in the object of meditation.
    Then I do a hypnotic induction where I mentally relax each part of my body noticing a relaxed, heavy, tingling or numb feeling in each part of my body as I relax it.
    ...
    ​​​​​​​I find it is easiest to experience the transition if I first start the pulsing relaxation through the visualization and than make my whole body tingling/numb/heavy with the induction. 
    ...

Here is how I produce the "transition":

First I do physical relaxation exercises like progressive muscular relaxation where I move each part of the body ten times. Other types of physical relaxation exercises that also work well include tai-chi, qigong, and yoga, etc. This step is not optional, if I don't start with physical relaxation I don't get to the deeper states described below. The form of progressive muscular relaxation I do takes only a few minutes - you don't need to do a 30 minute yoga or tai-chi routine.

Next I do mental relaxation exercises, either lying down or sitting in a chair. First I visualize colors of the spectrum where I name each color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet) and at the same time visualize either just the color or something (or several things) of that color (fruits, flowers, and vegetables work well but it can be anything).

While visualizing colors, if you name each color (and or object) as you visualize it, you might notice a feeling of relaxation as you name each color. This can happen if your breathing becomes synchronized with your heartbeat and you exhale as you name each color (even though you are just thinking the name not saying it aloud). As you do this you may notice a feeling of relaxation in your body pulsing along with your heartbeat and/or exhalations.

Then I do a hypnotic induction where I mentally relax each part of my body noticing a relaxed, heavy, tingling or numb feeling in each part of my body as I relax it.

I repeat these two exercises, visualization and induction, alternately until I reach a state of deep relaxation where I feel like I am floating. Then, very often the transition will occur.

I find it is easiest to experience the transition if I first start the pulsing relaxation through the visualization and than make my whole body tingling/numb/heavy with the induction. 

There are links on my blog post to more information on the relaxation techniques:
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/08/preparing-for-meditation-with.html

I am pretty sure I am experiencing what other people call cessation. However I am not saying anything about the significance or meaning of it. It seems to me like it should be relatively easy for others to do what I do and have the same experience since it does not involve deep meditation or strong concentration. However I had been meditating regularly for a long time before I stumbled onto this so I can't say for sure if it will work for others the way it does for me.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago at 11/24/21 2:16 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/24/21 2:16 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 2459 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
That sounds more like either Access Concentration or A&P. 

However it's less important if this was or wasn't THE cessation and what could benefit you more is to use that calm relaxed state you have mastered and is the base of your sits and build a noting practice on top of it. Plug the attention into the fast mind stream with applied effort based on that relaxing calmness you already have. 

Best wishes to you Jim! May all beings be free from suffering, may all awaken, may all be happy. 
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 11/24/21 2:34 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/24/21 2:33 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1294 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Papa Che Dusko That sounds more like either Access Concentration or A&P.  However it's less important if this was or wasn't THE cessation and what could benefit you more is to use that calm relaxed state you have mastered and is the base of your sits and build a noting practice on top of it. Plug the attention into the fast mind stream with applied effort based on that relaxing calmness you already have.  Best wishes to you Jim! May all beings be free from suffering, may all awaken, may all be happy. 


If I remember correctly Daniel describes access concentration as being with the breath for an hour without interruption. I never had that, never even came close.

I have A&P type experiences very frequently. The transition is not in that class.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago at 11/25/21 3:57 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/25/21 3:57 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 2459 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Ok. Maybe it indeed was THE cessation. In that case what next? Is there anything else "there" to be observed? 

Do I want to have more experiences "by the book" or can I look at all "this" in a more intimate way? 

What else is going on? Any urges, any desires, any aversions, any ill will there ? ...  
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 11/25/21 3:00 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/25/21 2:33 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1294 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Papa Che Dusko
Ok. Maybe it indeed was THE cessation. In that case what next? Is there anything else "there" to be observed? 

Do I want to have more experiences "by the book" or can I look at all "this" in a more intimate way? 

What else is going on? Any urges, any desires, any aversions, any ill will there ? ...  



The transition eliminates craving, ill will, anxiety, pride, greed, anger, etc while the "afterglow" lasts - until my mind gets distracted and tricked by the koan that is ordinary householder life. When I've tested the transition on strong emotions it worked well - better than expected. 

So my strategy for practice continues to be the same strategy I had before I knew the label other people put on the experience: Continue to practice the way I do because the practice produces a continual gradual reduction in suffering that I experience. Mainly that means using meditation and relaxation exercises to produce a pleasant relaxed state of mind and then watching mindfully in daily life how the mind produces dukkha as it arises and then try to train the mind not to do that. Before I started recognizing the transition I used the jhanas. Now I have something better, this transition, so I use that. (Before I learned to enter the jhanas I used samatha meditation. Metta works too.) If I had to summarize my practice I would say using samatha in sitting meditation and vipassana in daily life. I think this works well for a householder.

And by "training the mind not to produce dukkha" I don't mean suppressing emotions. I mean being open to myself about thoughts, emotions, and impulses, and letting go of them. Not suppressing, not obsessing. It doesn't mean one ignores problems it means one can better react with compassion and reason rather than out of control emotions.

(According to Shinzen Young, suppressing (rejecting thoughts and emotions emotions - sensory experience) causes the sense of a separate self (separation) and getting pulled into them generates a sense of solid self. So there is some mainstream support for my approach. Also Bhante Vimalaramsi uses relaxation in the way he teaches meditation). 

I am interested in "books" because I want to communicate with others to share information about practice so I need to know what they are thinking and what terms they use.  That's why I'm posting here about this, in case others might want to try the way I practice. I haven't seen it in any books.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago at 11/25/21 4:38 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/25/21 4:38 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 2459 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Ok I see. Thank you for such detailed reply Jim. I will move out of the way now in case others might want to ask more about this kind of practicing. 

Best wishes! 
George S, modified 1 Year ago at 11/25/21 5:34 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/25/21 5:32 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 2752 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Hi Jim,

Interesting practice update. A couple of things I noticed:

'I find it effectively relieves unpleasant emotions, so it is useful regardless of how one classifies it.'

'It doesn't mean one ignores problems it means one can better react with compassion and reason rather than out of control emotions.'

A couple of ideas you could explore, if it seems helpful:

- Are certain emotions actually "unpleasant", or is that a reaction to the emotion?

- Can emotions actually get "out of control", or is that again a reaction to the emotion? (Maybe a fear of loss of control and a consequent attempt to control)

An interesting experiment you can do in meditation is to take an emotion which is generally considered unpleasant like anger say. Think of something which makes you feel angry! Set the intention to have a completely open experience of the emotion - let go of the judgement of unpleasant and the fear of losing control. You can think of allowing the emotion to do whatever it "needs" or "wants" to do, and just observe with curiosity what's actually going on in the body with the physical sensations of the emotion. Are they unpleasant? Are they out of control?
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 11/25/21 6:16 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/25/21 6:16 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1294 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
George S
Hi Jim,

Interesting practice update. A couple of things I noticed:

'I find it effectively relieves unpleasant emotions, so it is useful regardless of how one classifies it.'

'It doesn't mean one ignores problems it means one can better react with compassion and reason rather than out of control emotions.'

A couple of ideas you could explore, if it seems helpful:

- Are certain emotions actually "unpleasant", or is that a reaction to the emotion?

- Can emotions actually get "out of control", or is that again a reaction to the emotion? (Maybe a fear of loss of control and a consequent attempt to control)

An interesting experiment you can do in meditation is to take an emotion which is generally considered unpleasant like anger say. Think of something which makes you feel angry! Set the intention to have a completely open experience of the emotion - let go of the judgement of unpleasant and the fear of losing control. You can think of allowing the emotion to do whatever it "needs" or "wants" to do, and just observe with curiosity what's actually going on in the body with the physical sensations of the emotion. Are they unpleasant? Are they out of control?


I'm just trying to explain things concisely in a way most people can relate to.

When people read the anapanasati sutta and the Buddha says "I am breathing in a long breath". No one asks him "who" is breathing. No one objects to the inventor of the doctrine of no-self for using the word "I".
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 11/26/21 2:45 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/26/21 2:24 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1294 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I posted the reply quoted below on another thread. I'm crossposting here because it relates to my way of practicing.

When I say "watching mindfully in daily life how the mind produces dukkha as it arises" I am talking about a practical method of studying dependent origination. My feeling is that the full doctrine of dependent origination is somewhat overly technical and for practical use you only need to try to develop the habit of noticing (#6 ) sensations that arise in the body (through the sense organs or those that accompany emotions including tensing or tensions), notice if they are (#7) pleasant unpleasant or neutral, notice if you react by (8) liking or disliking (try to notice the similarities in all liking and in all disliking no matter what the cause - it helps to show you the problem is not the situation outside you, the problem is how you react to the situation and it helps you cultivate detatchment), (9) notice if your thoughts begin to run away from you, and (#10) Do you react or have the impulse to react in certain ways. As you make these observations over and over you begin to see that thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensations are the result of unconscious processes. They are not objective reality. "You" don't produce them, you observe them. They are not about "you". You have the option of being detatched, non-attached.

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/c/message_boards/find_message?p_l_id=10262&messageId=23409503
Jim Smith
[Ian Pitchford]
Coincidentally, I recently discovered a really delightful and practical exposition of paticcasamuppāda by Sister Khema on YouTube, which you can find here: https://youtu.be/FN1vhgGpfDY



57:18
She learned this process. She began to see a man who was in pain, who saw something, read it, and was in pain. So his eye[5=sense doors] met something with color and form. Eye consciousness arose[6=contact]. He made contact with the information on the report. It went into his mind and what happened was he had a painful feeling [7=feeling]. And when the painful feeling came up, he didn't personally like it [8=craving]. She could see him change with the tension and tightness in his body and knew that he was about to ... he didn't like it because of some reason and he pulled out the reactive habitual tendency[10=habitual tendencies] where he was going to yell at her and walk out of the room[11=birth of action]. And she said "well wait a minute". And he said "what"? [And she said] "Why don't we go get some coffee and talk about this report because honestly you don't like it and I don't like it the point is we could change it so we both like it and you don't get upset on Monday morning anymore." So it gave her the courage to see him without reacting to him and getting mad back at him at all as more compassion it opens the doorway by understanding how this works is how the Buddha was opening up the doorway so that compassion can begin to operate.

She practiced by watching dukkha arise in her own mind and she learned to let go of it and it allowed her to respond to problems with compassion and reason instead of out of control emotions.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 11/28/21 1:12 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/28/21 12:57 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1294 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
This is volume 2 of my practice log.

...

Then I do a hypnotic induction where I mentally relax each part of my body noticing a relaxed, heavy, tingling or numb feeling in each part of my body as I relax it.
...
​​​​​​​I find it is easiest to experience the transition if I first start the pulsing relaxation through the visualization and than make my whole body tingling/numb/heavy with the induction. 

...

Tingling =  vibrating. A characteristic of high equanimity which preceeds cessation.

https://web.archive.org/web/20141019102026/http://alohadharma.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/equanimity/
In high equanimity the meditator moves from “just sitting” to noticing a subtle and pervasive sense that the objects of meditation are vibrating.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 12/6/21 8:54 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/6/21 8:24 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1294 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I have been reading "ANAPANASATI - MINDFULNESS WITH BREATHING" by BUDDHADASA BHIKKHU.
http://dhammatalks.net/Books3/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_Anapanasati_Mindfulness_with_Breathing.htm

I think it is very good.

In the book, Buddhadasa Bhikkhu describes how to meditate in accordance with anapanasati sutta.

He explains that in the first 12 steps you prepare the mind, and in the last four steps you put the mind to work by observing impermanence (and since the three characteristics are interrelated this is equivalent to observing the three characteristics) which leads to letting go of attachments and (by interrupting the sequence of dependent origination) ending dukkha.

He also says ordinary people can practice just the first four steps and the last four steps. (Every meditation session should start at the first step and the following steps should be practiced in order.)

And he says awakening this way is a gradual process.
Coolness also can be the nibbana that happens due to "that factor." In Pali it is called "that factor," which means something like "coincidental." For example, when there is sati on the breath, the citta is cool. Anapanasati is "that factor," the agent, the cause, that affects the coolness here. This is tadanga-nibbana, coincidental nibbana. This coolness occurs because when there is no defilement the citta is cool. When there is no fire, there is coolness. Here, Anapanasati gets rid of the fires, the defilements. Although it is only temporary, the fire goes away and there is coolness for a while. There is nibbana for a while, due to "that factor," that tool, namely Anapanasati. Although momentary, not yet perfect and perpetual, the flavor of nibbana is savored as a sample or taste. Anapanasati helps us to sample nibbana little by little, moment by moment, dur­ing this very life. And nothing has to die. Then, coolness's duration is lengthened, its extent is broadened, and the frequency is increased until there is perfect nibbana. This is the benefit which I consider most satisfying or most positive. If you can do it. (182)
...
​​​​​​​The Lord Buddha himself declared that he realized Perfect Self-Awakening (anuttara sammasambodhi) through practicing Anapanasati. Consequently, we are pleased to recommend it to you, and to people everywhere, so that all human beings will know of it and be able to practice it. The Lord Buddha became a Buddha while practicing Anapanasati. Thus, he offered it to us as the best system of all to practice. He advised us all to use this practice for our own welfare, for the welfare of others, for the welfare of everyone. There is no better way to practice Dhamma than mindfulness with breathing. May you all give careful attention to it. 


In another work, "Nibbana for Everyone", Buddhadasa explains Nibbana is an ordinary state that everyone experiences from time to time whenever they are not experiencing an attachment or aversion.

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Articles/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_NIBBANA_FOR_EVERYONE.htm
The word "Nibbana" means "coolness." Back when it was just an ordinary word that people used in their homes it also meant "coolness." When it is used as Dhamma language, in a religious context, it still means "coolness," but refers to the cooling or going out of the fires of defilement (kilesa, reactive emotions), while in the common people's usage it means the cooling of physical fires.
...
Any reactive emotion that arises ceases when its causes and conditions are finished. Although it may be a temporary quenching, merely a temporary coolness, it still means Nibbana, even if only temporarily. Thus, there's a temporary Nibbana for those who still can't avoid some defilements.

Kilesa or reactive emotion is an attachment or aversion.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/glossary.html#k
kilesa:
Defilement — lobha (passion), dosa (aversion), and moha (delusion) in their various forms, which include such things as greed, malevolence, anger, rancor, hypocrisy, arrogance, envy, miserliness, dishonesty, boastfulness, obstinacy, violence, pride, conceit, intoxication, and complacency.


According to Buddhadasa when you are not in the grip of an attachment or aversion you are experiencing nibbana. Anapanasati helps you let go of attachments and aversions which ends dukkha, and you can gradually perfect letting go.


In "ANAPANASATI - MINDFULNESS WITH BREATHING", Buddhadasa also discusses how studying the three characteristerics breaks the sequence of dependent origination:
In practice, it all boils down to having sati [mindfulness] in the moment of phassa (sense contact) and that is all. Phassa is the meeting of an internal sense organ, a corresponding external sense object, and the appropriate type of sense consciousness (vinnana). Merely having sati in the moment of phassa solves all the possible problems of paticca-samuppada [dependent origination] completely. That is, before condi­tioned arising can develop have sati right there at contact. Do not let it be ignorant phassa. Then that contact will not lead to ignorant feeling and ignorant feeling will not lead to foolish craving (tanha). It all stops there. This is another advantage of training in Anapanasati. It makes sati sufficiently abundant and fast, qualified enough, to perform its duty in the moment of phassa and stop the stream of paticca-samuppada just then and there. This is an enormous benefit of practicing Anapanasati.
A convenient reference on dependent origination can be found in this .doc file:
https://web.archive.org/web/20151129101834/https://www.dhammasukha.org/uploads/1/2/8/6/12865490/107b-jul-2013-_dependent_origination_chart_in_color.doc

When the mind is prepared through meditation it is capable of being mindful and noticing sense perceptions that could cause attachments and aversions. If the mind is sufficiently aware of the three characteristics it will not form attachments and aversions and the steps of dependent origination that might otherwise produce dukkha will not occur.

Buddhadasa describes a way of practicing that is very similar to the way I practice.
I wrote:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/c/message_boards/find_message?p_l_id=10262&messageId=23409011
So my strategy for practice continues to be the same strategy I had before I knew the label other people put on the experience: Continue to practice the way I do because the practice produces a continual gradual reduction in suffering that I experience. Mainly that means using meditation and relaxation exercises to produce a pleasant relaxed state of mind and then watching mindfully in daily life how the mind produces dukkha as it arises and then try to train the mind not to do that. 


Letting go is still something of a skill you need to devleop even if you understand the three characteristics. Some of the techniques I find helpful for letting go are:
Relaxation Exercises (turning off the sympathetic nervous system)
Samatha Meditation 
Piti, Sukha Meditation
Metta Meditation
Surrendering
Quieting mental chatter with meditation - turning off the default network in the brain
Digging through layers of emotions
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 12/7/21 4:54 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/7/21 3:06 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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In my previous post I wrote:

Letting go is still something of a skill you need to develop even if you understand the three characteristics.


I should have mentioned that Buddhadasa instructs one to look at the 3 characteristics in the context of anapanasati, that is, in the breath, body, feelings and mind.

When you do that, you weaken your attachments to body, feelings, and mind so the attachments and aversions you are dissolving are not attachments and aversions to external things. The attachments and aversions you are dissolving are attachments and aversions to internal things like the body, sensations, emotions like craving, hating, fear, liking, and disliking, thoughts, and impulses etc. So you end craving to external things by seeing that craving is pointless (empty), you end aversion to external things by seeing that aversion is pointless (empty). It is pointless to take your cravings and aversions seriously when they are impermanent, uncontrollable (not self), cause you such suffering (dukkha). When you weaken your attachments and aversion to internal things, you also weaken the attachments and aversions to the objects or events outside you which your attachments and aversions are directed to.

There are a few subtle consequences to this way of using the 3 characteristics:

It is much more effective (practical) to convince myself that my craving for ice cream, chocolate, money, or status is the problem than it is to convince myself that those things are not actually very nice.  Ice cream is melts (impermanent), makes me fat (dukkha), etc, but it stillt tastes good and gives me a sugar high. This contradiction weakens the force of the argument (makes it ambiguous). However, my craving for ice cream and the enjoyment I get from it however are also impermanent, unsatisfiable, and arise from unconscious biological processes. No contradiction there, deliciousness is an integral part of the argument so craving is weakened more effectively. 

External things are not the problem, the are what they are (thusness) the problem is internal things.

It also explains how anatta helps to end suffering, as you weaken attachments to internal things you strengthen your sense of anatta and that coincides with weakening attachments to external things.

You can watch the activity of the mind and see that thoughts, emotions and impulses arise from unconscious processes and that produces a sense of detachment, but consciously recognizing mental formations are impermanent, unsatisfactory and not self gets right to the point and is very effective in producing that sense of detachment.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 12/9/21 4:42 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/9/21 4:11 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/23406645#_com_liferay_message_boards_web_portlet_MBPortlet_message_23406442

First I do physical relaxation exercises like progressive muscular relaxation where I move each part of the body ten times. Other types of physical relaxation exercises that also work well include tai-chi, qigong, and yoga, etc. This step is not optional, if I don't start with physical relaxation I don't get to the deeper states described below. The form of progressive muscular relaxation I do takes only a few minutes - you don't need to do a 30 minute yoga or tai-chi routine.


I want to reemphasize the importance of physical relaxation exercises. Today I was stressed out about something and I thought I would try Shinzen Young's strategy of sensory clarity. I tried to analyze exactly what I was feeling. When I tried to understand the physical sensations of being stressed I noticed the feelings of muscle tension.

If an emotion changes your facial expression you will have muscle tension in your face in the muscles producing that facial expression.

If an emotion changes your posture, you will have muscle tension in your spine (neck and back) in the muscles producing that posture.

If an emotion changes your tone of voice, you will have muscle tension in your throat in the muscles that control speech.

If an emotion changes your breathing making it shallower or faster you will have muscle tension in your chest and or diaphragm in the muscles that control your breathing.

I tried to relax the muscles in my face, my back and neck and my chest and diaphragm.

When I did that the emotion went away. I was still in the situation and I still needed to do something about it, but I wasn't suffering.

I am not claiming this is panacea for all suffering, but it might help in some situations.
George S, modified 1 Year ago at 12/10/21 7:56 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/10/21 7:55 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 2752 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I think you're right, that's a huge component of reducing suffering - seeing the difference beteeen the emotion (physical sensations) and the reaction (feeling compelled to do something about it, or obsessing over it). And maybe something does need to be done, or maybe it doesn't, or maybe the situation is not quite what you thought it was, but yeah creating that sense of space around emotions and allowing them to have their natural expression ... HUGE emoticon
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 12/11/21 5:32 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/11/21 5:32 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Buddhadasa taught a form of visualization to help the meditator relax:

http://dhammatalks.net/Books3/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_Anapanasati_Mindfulness_with_Breathing.htm#APPENDIX%20D

In practicing step four, we have various methods or skillful means - we could even call them tricks - to use in calming the breath. Whether we call them techniques or tricks, these are a higher order of things which we use over things that are more crude and foolish. We call them "skillful means." We have some tricks to use on the breath and these tricks come in five stages. These five tricks or skillful means are:

1. following the breath;

2. guarding the breath at a certain point;

3. giving rise to an imaginary image at that guarding point;

4. manipulating those images in any ways that we want in order to gain power over them;

5. selecting one of these images and contemplating it in a most concentrated way until the breath becomes truly calm and peaceful.

Step 4 in the anapanasati sutta is:
(4) He trains himself: calming the body-conditioner I shall breathe in. He trains himself: calming the body-conditioner I shall breathe out.18
...
18. As the breath is calmed and refined, the conditioning of the body is calmed, and the mind becomes calm and concentrated to the extent, finally, of jhana.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 12/11/21 6:52 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/11/21 6:50 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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I posted this somewhere else but it was a bit off topic so I moved it here with a few changes ...

I think it is best to focus your attention on the origin of dukkha and the ending of dukkha. Let the stages and milestones worry about themselves - they are just bait for the ego. Let the busybodies worry about who has attained what. Calm yourself with meditation, then watch what happens in that instant when dukkha arises. The problem is not things outside your mind, the problem is things inside your mind. The problem is not the thing you are attached or averse to (they are what they are), the attachment or aversion itself is the problem. The three characteristics apply to ice cream and head aches but you will profit more by looking for the 3 characteristics in your attachments and aversions (thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensations) to ice cream and headaches. How are attachments and aversions triggered? Where do thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensations come from? What happens in that instant when they are triggered? The answer is not a true or false fact you can tell someone, don't try to figure it out, the answer is an observation, an experience. The more you bring the light of consciousness to an unconscious process the more freedom you gain to indulge or abstain from it. If life is too quiet and peaceful on retreat or the mind is too quiet in meditation, and you can't find dukkha arising, look for dukkha in daily life, that's where the dukkha is.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 12/16/21 11:38 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/16/21 11:37 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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The reason physical movements can help dissipate emotions, I think, is that when you bend a joint, the muscles used to straighten it receive a nerve impulse to relax, and when you straighten a joint, the muscles that are used to bend it receive a nerve impulse to relax. Since emotions often express themselves through muscle tension (changes in posture, facial expression, tone of voice, rate of breathing, etc.), movements can relax muscle tension and that can help dissipate emotions.

Jim Smith https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/23406645#_com_liferay_message_boards_web_portlet_MBPortlet_message_23406442
First I do physical relaxation exercises like progressive muscular relaxation where I move each part of the body ten times. Other types of physical relaxation exercises that also work well include tai-chi, qigong, and yoga, etc. This step is not optional, if I don't start with physical relaxation I don't get to the deeper states described below. The form of progressive muscular relaxation I do takes only a few minutes - you don't need to do a 30 minute yoga or tai-chi routine.
I want to reemphasize the importance of physical relaxation exercises. Today I was stressed out about something and I thought I would try Shinzen Young's strategy of sensory clarity. I tried to analyze exactly what I was feeling. When I tried to understand the physical sensations of being stressed I noticed the feelings of muscle tension. If an emotion changes your facial expression you will have muscle tension in your face in the muscles producing that facial expression. If an emotion changes your posture, you will have muscle tension in your spine (neck and back) in the muscles producing that posture. If an emotion changes your tone of voice, you will have muscle tension in your throat in the muscles that control speech. If an emotion changes your breathing making it shallower or faster you will have muscle tension in your chest and or diaphragm in the muscles that control your breathing. I tried to relax the muscles in my face, my back and neck and my chest and diaphragm. When I did that the emotion went away. I was still in the situation and I still needed to do something about it, but I wasn't suffering. I am not claiming this is panacea for all suffering, but it might help in some situations.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 12/17/21 12:13 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/17/21 12:11 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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I have been noticing how emotions influence one's attitude. What is interesting is that attitude is an aspect that is possible to let go of. Emotions can change the "color" of reality. If you can let go of the changed attitude it helps to remove the influence on your mind. It's possible to let go of an attitude if you want to. If you have not been carried away by the emotion bur remain mindful, and have not bought into the new perspective as real or justified or "right". You can change your attitude without ignoring the situation or the thoughts and emotions produced. You can be aware of all that but with a more neutral attitude. We intentionally change attitudes naturally during daily life. If you are introduced to someone new, you might put on a friendly welcoming attitude. If you have to deal with someone you expect to get an argument from, you might put on a stren attitude. If you are meeting an old friend or a romatic partner you might take on different attitudes for those situations too.  In a way, these different attidutes are different selves. They are impermanent and not the real "you".

Noticing and letting go of attitudes combined with what I wrote above about relaxing muscle tension seems to be a good combination for letting go of attachemnts and aversions that arise.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 12/27/21 3:22 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/27/21 3:17 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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When you study your experience of consciousness closely, in time you learn to perceive through your nervous system at deeper levels, closer to raw unprocessed data, below the solid continuous reality the brain normally serves to the conscous mind.

​​​​​​​At that lower level of awareness, self doesn't make sense.

It's like if you thought Atlas supports the world on his shoulders, and then you left the earth on a spacecraft and looked out at the earth through viewport while experiencing zero gravity. You would see there is no up or down, there is no place to stand, there is no gravity to press the earth down on Atlas' shoulders. The idea of Atlas holding up the earth wouldn't make any sense.

Even if you only spent a few seconds in space, you would probably be permanently affected by your experience, you can't unsee what you saw. But with only a short glimpse, when you came back to earth the old habitual ways of thinking might come back to you after a little while. So the more time you could spend in space, the more the new worldview would become integrated into your thinking and the better you would understand Copernican cosmology.

When your awareness gets closer to the raw data coming into the brain, self doesn't make sense. You see that self is a qualia. It's like the color blue. In the brain there is nothing blue, there are only nerve cells and nerve impulses, yet we see blue and think it is a real property of the sky. There is no self in the nerve cells, there is no self in the nerve impulses, there is only a self in the virtual reality the brain serves to our conscious mind.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 12/27/21 5:58 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/27/21 5:58 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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When your instincts and habitual behaviors are urging you to raise barriers and reinforce your boundaries to awareness of sensory input and mental activity, you should do the opposite, lower your barriers, open youself to and welcome awareness of sensory input and of mental activity. Don't separate your self from what you don't like. Rejection of reality (cognitive dissonance) is suffering.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 12/29/21 12:20 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/28/21 9:54 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
When you study your experience of consciousness closely, in time you learn to perceive through your nervous system at deeper levels, closer to raw unprocessed data, below the solid continuous reality the brain normally serves to the conscious mind.
...


This could also explain why meditating can produce siddhis. The brain filters consciousness. That explains why we can be spiritual beings but not realize it while incarnated. If meditation allows one to perceive below the level of filtering, closer to the raw data coming from the senses, that is like poking holes in the filter. In addition to the perception that self and separation are not in the data but created by the filter, those holes might also let our spiritual capabilities like clairvoyance through the filter.

The connection between meditation and psychic experiences seems to support the belief that meditation is giving people access to consciousness with less filtering by the brain. Models of awakening and teaching and practice methods should take this into account.

It also could explain why some people develop psychiatric disorders from meditation. Poking holes in the filter is literally a form of brain damage.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 1/2/22 5:50 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/2/22 5:46 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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It is interesting to watch the mind and notice sense perceptions arise into consciousness and consider that consciousness (of the thing) arises because of the thing perceived.  That mind is a mirror.  Musical sounds work well for this exercise.

There seems to be a kind of disconnect when we are suffering.

What we think is happening is not what is really happening. 

We think "something bad/wrong is happening to 'me' or 'mine'"

What is really happening is we (consciousness) come into existence because of sensory perceptions.
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Stefan Stefan, modified 1 Year ago at 1/2/22 7:38 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/2/22 7:38 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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The mind is really quick at writing fictions but slow to recognise reality. But reality is peaceful, regardless of how it feels. 
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 1/10/22 1:22 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/10/22 1:07 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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I find I get a lot of benefit from examining resistance. 

What I mean by resistance is that If some unpleasant emotion arises one might notice a feeling that they don't want to think about it or look at it too deeply.

It might seem like the way to deal with unpleasant thoughts and emotions it is to force one's self to to think of the situation and look at the feelings that come out despite the feelings of reluctance to do so.

What I find is that it is very useful to look at the feeling of resistance, let that come fully into consciousness. Let it sit there and see what associations pop up. I am not saying not to look at the situation and feelings, I just mean I find it useful to look at that resistance, being clear about the resistance can have a large effect on how I feel about the situation. Being clear about the resistance seems to help to let go of the other stuff. 

The resistance is the obstacle to letting go, it is what needs to be dealt with. But it's easy to over look when thoughts of the situation is what comes to the forefront of your mind.
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Jim Smith, modified 10 Months ago at 5/12/22 4:59 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 5/12/22 4:57 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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If you practice metta meditation, or you learn to produce sukha (tranquil happiness), or you practice relaxation exercieses that are also forms of meditation, or you do a type of meditation that is relaxing, and you practice these to the extent you have some familiarity with them, then when dukkha (unpleasant emotions: craving and aversion) arises you will recognize that you are making a choice not to feel metta, or not to feel sukha, or not to relax. 

So before you became familiar with these practices, dukkha seemed to be involuntary, but after you become familiar with one of those practices, dukkha seems to be voluntary - something you do intentionally out of habit - a habitual reaction. But if you watch the activity of the mind carefully in meditation and in daily life you can see when you make the choice to produce dukkha and you can change your chioce, relax, - without suppressing anything.

I am not claiming everyone can learn to do this to perfection, but I think most people can experience significantly improved well-being from it.
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Sigma Tropic, modified 10 Months ago at 5/12/22 7:53 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 5/12/22 7:46 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith is clearly Sakadagami. 

The transition Jim is describing is what you all call POI stage transitions. He described a clear effect on dukkha and a clear process whereby he stops the dukkha and how the fruition is involved. 

*I am an Arhat. I was asked to teach by Arhat teacher. He was a monk in the Thai forest tradition for 17 years before seeing through Buddhism/ 3C's and everything = Arhat deluxe
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Sigma Tropic, modified 10 Months ago at 5/12/22 9:12 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 5/12/22 7:56 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Yeah, clearly these are cessation/fruition. But these things you're having and from what I've observed there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that you have at least Sotapanna. More people should be taking advice from Jim,  he knows what he's talking about.  
​​​​​​​

You want to learn all you can about these moments- the before/after, bringing it about - you want to watch your mind's activities in and around this state. The sudden release of dukkha - that is pretty obvious in the moment to me- most fruitions are (In fact I get a lot of the type where I hear a tone of some sort while I'm working or doing anything really). 

I think you could bring the clarity of your awareness up a bit. You said you have buzziness, that's good, maybe you're not a vibratory type of yogi but it seems like you get how to calm the mind which is good. You want to look for the signposts of phenomena that are related to cessation, and the insight into craving that it gives you. It takes a lot of repetition, but if you notice there are different types of experience that happen right before cessation (this is for spontaneous* cessations: confusion, visual strobing, or sense of falling or being violenty pulled/pushed/sucked into something - those correspond to impermanence, non-self, dukkha. (These are half-second to 0.25 second moments) You might also have a visual lights out phenomena that superficially gives a cessation-like impresssion, but I think those are just falling into the 7th and 8th jhana. There are also moments around that territory with little partial break-downs that aren't complete cessations and feel like the above, but they don't go all the way, there seems to be some mechanism in the mind that stops it - and then when the cessation of everything occurs, there is the clear shift from high eq to A&P. Do you notice anything like these phenomena? It feels like the missed cessations are missed because of some subtle reservation or fear in the mind, and when that's gone, it's almost like you have to be caught off guard almost. Then there is a discontinuity and a wave of bliss/contentment. 

The misssed cessations in high EQ are kinda like what people call "reality synching up" but I just notice these moments where the missed cessations happen. Then there is a tension of sorts and the mind ceases completely and releases everything. 

What's important is to notice the relationship between object contacts, craving, clinging, and liking/disliking. You want to develop a higher level sublety with regard to knowing the mind's activities and trends. Kinda like the news for your mind. You have to notice the way the mind reacts to objects in predicatable ways and what those basic mind states feel like. 

I got the sense that you already get this Jim, but you want to look at how craving cuts a link in the chain and you get cessation- there is always a sense object perception and a moment where there is no reaction of craving or aversion or ignorance.

And you also want to look at how after the cessation moment you are without a big sticky self-image and that hasn't really formed yet so you have a moment without that sense of self- and seeing how that directly stops dukkha in the moment is good. 

You can watch your mind in jhanas do dependent origination it's a easy way to see it. If you have 4 jhanas I would start trying to get 5th jhana, keep things jhanic and as long as sense perceptions are buzzy you're good. 

<I was asked to teach by my teacher> 
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Jim Smith, modified 10 Months ago at 5/13/22 4:18 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Sigma Tropic
...
​​​​​​​
You want to learn all you can about these moments- the before/after, bringing it about - you want to watch your mind's activities in and around this state... 

... 


Thanks for all the suggestions.
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Jim Smith, modified 10 Months ago at 5/16/22 4:27 AM
Created 10 Months ago at 5/16/22 4:27 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
If you practice metta meditation, or you learn to produce sukha (tranquil happiness), or you practice relaxation exercieses that are also forms of meditation, or you do a type of meditation that is relaxing, and you practice these to the extent you have some familiarity with them, then when dukkha (unpleasant emotions: craving and aversion) arises you will recognize that you are making a choice not to feel metta, or not to feel sukha, or not to relax. 

So before you became familiar with these practices, dukkha seemed to be involuntary, but after you become familiar with one of those practices, dukkha seems to be voluntary - something you do intentionally out of habit - a habitual reaction. But if you watch the activity of the mind carefully in meditation and in daily life you can see when you make the choice to produce dukkha and you can change your chioce, relax, - without suppressing anything.

I am not claiming everyone can learn to do this to perfection, but I think most people can experience significantly improved well-being from it.


And if you watch the activity of the mind, you can also see your sense of self arising and passing away, changing from thought to thought. In one moment your sense of self might be you as a child of your parents, in another moment it might be you as the parent of your children, or someone who owns a car, or who works at your job, or goes to your school, or someone who is brave, or is afraid, or is happy, or sad, or angry, or successful or a failure, or proud or humble.

And you also might notice when dukkha arises in response to a thought or a sight or a sound, your sense of self is part of the dukkha. You put yourself in the center of the universe, everything is about you. Your mental anguish is about you and yours. You crave things for yourself. You don't like things because of their relation to yourself. It's all about you.

But just like with dukkha arising, if you watch your mind carefully, you realize your sense of self is something you are creating voluntarily. At first it seemed involuntary but after observing it so many times you now see it as voluntary. You see how it happens, you see how you do it, you see that you can chose not to do it - without suppressing anything. You can let go of your sense of self - you see it arise and pass away and you are not attached to it, not clinging to it, not obsessed with it. You stop putting yourself at the center of the universe, you stop believing that everything is about you. You stop taking things personally, you stop experiencing anguish over yourself and what happens to you. You suffer much less.

This is not something that happens in an instant, it is something you develop over time. At first, your awareness of your senses of self might be vague and subtle and nebulous. But over time, after repeatedly looking at the activity of your mind and watching for your senses of self, they begin to clarify and your awareness improves and detachment develops.

It might be hard to understand how all this could be true. The logic might not make sense. The facts might not be evident. But the point is to show one way it can be done. Calm the mind with meditation and watch dukkha arise and pass away in response to thoughts and sensations, notice your various senses of self arise and pass away. Continue calming the mind and observing it in daily life. Observe dukkha, impermanence, and anatta.
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Jim Smith, modified 10 Months ago at 5/23/22 10:52 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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One of the hardest things about letting go of fear is the tendency to think fear helps us prepare for the feared event, or that being afraid helps us respond appropriately if the event occurs, or that fear magically prevents the it from happening. This makes it very hard to give up the fear and relax because we think fear is helpful, that it serves a purpose, that it protects us, that if we are not afraid we are more vulnerable. But in many situations in modern life, fear is counterproductive and our natural tendencies only cause needless suffering. Yet those tendencies are hard to counteract even if we know intellectually fear is not necessary or helpful in that situation.

It is a kind of standoff, you may want to relax to let go of the fear, but the fear itself creates resistance to relaxing.

To let go of fear, you have to let your guard down.

Somehow that phrase seems to help where logic doesn't. It means in order to relax and let go of the fear, you have to be willing to accept the possibility of the feared event occurring when you are not prepared for it by being on high alert. This makes sense because when fear is not helpful, if you can experience the event without fear, without reacting with unpleasant emotions, without mental anguish, then there really is much less to fear, much less to be averse to.
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Jim Smith, modified 10 Months ago at 5/25/22 4:18 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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I posted this in another forum but it seems relevant here:

I meditate during daily activities by breathing in a relaxing way and noticing the pleasant feeling of relaxation. Every few breaths I remind myself that I am "Aware in the present moment" and notice what I'm seeing and doing. The practices (relaxation and mindfulness) keep me relaxed and present, it keeps my mind from becoming lost in thought or carried away by emotions. The effect is that every movement becomes a pleasure, every step when I walk, every motion when I'm watching the dishes, every thing I see, hear, feel. It changes boring chores or unpleasant tasks into opportunities to experience bliss.

And when each moment, action, or sensation is a pleasure, the trivial obsessions that we upset ourselves over seem a million miles away. Why get drawn into the delusions that cause suffering when there is an alternative that is so much nicer? It's a kind of positive reinforcement that trains you let go of attachments and aversions, to become non-attached. When you notice an unpleasant emotion arising and you know you have an alternative to be relaxed and happy the choice is obvious.

​​​​​​​
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/08/preparing-for-meditation-with.html

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/10/easy-meditation.html

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/10/a-quick-guide-to-producing-bliss-with.html

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/10/metta-meditation.html
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Jim Smith, modified 9 Months ago at 6/14/22 8:52 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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The more I observe dukkha arising and fading in my own mind the more I see that the present moment is a refuge.

When you are mindful, when you are aware of what you are doing as you are doing it, in the present moment, you are not making dukkha.

But the concentration necessary is a very light touch. It isn't an intense concentration that drives away (suppresses) thoughts and emotions. It's a relaxed noticing (of everything including thoughts and emotions) like noticing a flower, or a landscape, or a sunset.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 9 Months ago at 6/16/22 2:17 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Nice.
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Jim Smith, modified 9 Months ago at 6/18/22 8:54 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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The venerable Jumsithmis was staying in Hattaman in Konwery. In the shade of an ancient tree, he spoke thus to the mendicant yogi Berram:

"Thoughts, emotions, impulses, and sensations seem to arise into consciousness from nowhere. Their source is various unconscious processes. The unconscious processes (aggregates) don't like to lose, they don't want to lose, they are afraid of losing. They like to win, they want to win."

The mendicant yogi asked the venerable one:

"What is losing?"

The venerable one replied, paraphrasing the great one:

"Birth is losing, aging is losing, death is losing; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair are losing; association with the unbeloved is losing; separation from the loved is losing; not getting what is wanted is losing. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are losing."

Berram asked:

"What am I?"

The venerable one replied:

"The unconscious processes discuss themselves, they observe themselves."
George S, modified 9 Months ago at 6/19/22 8:46 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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That's interesting. Where is it from?
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Jim Smith, modified 9 Months ago at 6/19/22 1:53 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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George S
That's interesting. Where is it from?


I made it up.
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Jim Smith, modified 9 Months ago at 6/19/22 5:14 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
George S
That's interesting. Where is it from?


I made it up.


I don't know why, but I thought it would be better to explain this in the form of a sutra. Maybe I should have just said it in plain language:

Recently whenever I notice dukkha arising in my mind I remind myself:

"The unconscious processes are afraid of losing."

And

"The unconscious processes discuss themselves."

The point of the first sentence is to remind myself that thoughts emotions impulses and sensations arise from unconscious processes, they are not me, or mine, they are not self. The result of this is that the self seems to be only an observer.

The second sentence explains that the first sentance is not "me" being an oberver it is really just the unconscious processes disucssing themselves. The purpose of this is to remind myself that the feeling of self is just one more thing that arises from those unconscious processes. This observer or feeling of being an observer is also not self.

Together they produced in me a clear sense that everything is not self (there is nothing that is self) and in a way that is effective in furthering equanimity and non-attachment (reduces suffering). I thought this was a little bit unusual because getting the concepts arcross is not hard, but what is hard is to get them across in a way that actually has an effect that reduces suffering. 

I chose to describe dukkha as "fear of losing" because it seems to cover many different situations, death is losing, getting injured is losing, getting sick is losing, losing social status is losing, etc etc.  When something "bad" happens we feel the same way we do when we lose in a game. Life is like a game. When something bad happens it is like losing in that game.
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Sigma Tropic, modified 9 Months ago at 6/20/22 6:26 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim good stuff I like your log ​​​​​​​
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Jim Smith, modified 9 Months ago at 6/20/22 8:25 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Sigma Tropic

Jim good stuff I like your log ​​​​​​​


Thanks!
George S, modified 9 Months ago at 6/21/22 8:52 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Thanks. It's a nice way to explain it emoticon
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Jim Smith, modified 9 Months ago at 6/29/22 4:23 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Mantra of the day: "Nothing's a problem unless the mind makes it a problem."
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 9 Months ago at 6/29/22 4:41 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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What mind? 

​​​​​​​emoticon 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 9 Months ago at 6/30/22 3:43 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Dear friend, tranquility can be used for bypassing issues. Just like drugs and alcohol. 
So as soon I'm experiencing Dukkha (problems) I take my feel-good drug. 

Also you seem to talk about "mind" as an opposition to you. Almost as if mind is the troublemaker over there and I'm being tranquil and mindful over here. 

I must say that you sound like me back in 2010 when I was high on A&P. I've spoken exactly the same and the agenda was to top up the tranquility and then all was ok. Just had to go back to the cushion to get some more good stuff and the day was saved. 

This luckily changed when Dissolution kicked in. DN made sure I could not talk like that anymore. emoticon Anicca is great at this! 

Best wishes Jim!
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 7/18/22 1:29 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
Jim Smith
Mantra of the day: "Nothing's a problem unless the mind makes it a problem."

I think I need to explain how to experience this. The literal meaning of the words is simple to understand and I think most people understand it. But that intellectual understanding doesn't change much. 

What does cause change is to experience the truth of this statement. To do that, you have to start from a state of non-attachment, of tranquility, where you are not experiencing any unpleasant emotions or cravings. Then, if you are observing the mind mindfully (the "mantra" can help with this), when dukkha starts to arise, you have the opportunity to observe the mind creating a problem, and you can make a choice whether to stay tranquil or let the dukkha take over your mind. Starting with a tranquil mind lets you see/feel the contrast between attachment and non-attachment. If your mind is not tranquil you don't really experience the same contrast, you don't see/experience the difference between non-creation and creation. 

(This is a practical way to study dependent origination, impermanence, dukkha, and anatta.)

When you experience this contrast between tranquility and dukkha, you see why it is nice to cultivate tranquility, how non-attachment improves your well-being, you see you can refrain from making problems for yourself with your mind. This experience makes a difference in well-being that an intellectual understanding alone does not provide.
...


It's a way to change your habitual tendencies (step 10 of dependent origination) by intervening before they become triggered.
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Chris M, modified 9 Months ago at 7/1/22 4:30 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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So as soon I'm experiencing Dukkha (problems) I take my feel-good drug. 

Isn't this avoidance, another form of bypassing?
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 9 Months ago at 7/1/22 4:48 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Yes. Hence me mentioning it. 
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Chris M, modified 9 Months ago at 7/1/22 5:24 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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You used the present tense so I assumed you are doing this now.
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Jim Smith, modified 9 Months ago at 7/2/22 12:16 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Chris M
So as soon I'm experiencing Dukkha (problems) I take my feel-good drug. 

Isn't this avoidance, another form of bypassing?


Regarding what I wrote, I am not saying to cultivate bliss because it feels good.

My point is to use tranquility as a background against which you can clearly see dukkha arising, and as a state in which you can exist in the absence of dukkha. I am trying to explain a way to reduce dukkha in your mind. The primary benefit of the practice comes from the reduction of dukkha. That is the whole point of Buddhism. Ending dukkha.

My practice is very similar to what Buddha taught in the anapanasati sutta calm the body, feelings, and mind, and study 3 characteristics in the mind. Calming the mind to reduce the production of dukkha is orthodox Buddhism.

People habitually produce dukkha because of a lifetime of letting their nervous system follow it's natural tendencies. How do you change those habitual tendencies? You learn to watch for dukkha and learn not to do that with your nervous system - just like Buddha taught when he taught about dependent origination - "because of this, that arises; when this ceases, that also ceases". It is a way to observe and let go of the causes of dukkha not suppress them.

It seems to work very well in my experience.

I don't have faith in any teacher or practice or event that might happen at sometime in the future during meditation. I assume there are other people like me who would like a practice that is logical and the way it works is understandable, and that you can do it as much or as little as you want and get results in proportion to your effort. That is what I have written about above.
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Jim Smith, modified 9 Months ago at 7/2/22 1:32 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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The point of the mantra is not to act as a focus of concentration to the exclusion of all thougths and emotions.

The purpose is to act as a reminder to a more complex set of instructions, to aid in mindfulness.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 9 Months ago at 7/2/22 1:46 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Oh emoticon yes I see what you mean! No hablar englez so good mon senior Kris! emoticon 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 9 Months ago at 7/2/22 1:58 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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That's a very valid practice indeed. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 9 Months ago at 7/2/22 3:29 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
Chris M
So as soon I'm experiencing Dukkha (problems) I take my feel-good drug. 

Isn't this avoidance, another form of bypassing?


Regarding what I wrote, I am not saying to cultivate bliss because it feels good.

My point is to use tranquility as a background against which you can clearly see dukkha arising, and as a state in which you can exist in the absence of dukkha. I am trying to explain a way to reduce dukkha in your mind. The primary benefit of the practice comes from the reduction of dukkha. That is the whole point of Buddhism. Ending dukkha.

My practice is very similar to what Buddha taught in the anapanasati sutta calm the body, feelings, and mind, and study 3 characteristics in the mind. Calming the mind to reduce the production of dukkha is orthodox Buddhism.

People habitually produce dukkha because of a lifetime of letting their nervous system follow it's natural tendencies. How do you change those habitual tendencies? You learn to watch for dukkha and learn not to do that with your nervous system - just like Buddha taught when he taught about dependent origination - "because of this, that arises; when this ceases, that also ceases". It is a way to observe and let go of the causes of dukkha not suppress them.


Yes, this is essential to the Buddhadharma, as I understand it, and I think you explained very well how to not make this into spiritual bypassing. Thanks for that! 

Delson Armstrong talks about this in an interview by Guru Viking:  https://youtu.be/Vs2egF5idv8. In the interview he also shares a figure that sums it up:

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Papa Che Dusko, modified 9 Months ago at 7/2/22 10:33 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim you seem to talk about tranquility-bliss as the very weapon against Dukkha. The very way to end Dukkha. Without it there is no "background" to clearly see the Dukkha etc ... 

Instead ... 

What if the end of Dukkha is the very beginning of the 4 Brahmaviharas? I see no mention of "tranquility/bliss/calmness/relaxation" in the 4 Brahmavihharas. 

I'm not saying your method is false or bad, just not to see it as the very end of this journey. 

Tranquility needs to be maintained, needs lots of energy to protect "me" from Dukkha. 
It has its uses for a while but at some stage I see it as a hindrance, if clinging to it as the solution (maintaining the background). 
Tranquility too is subject to Anicca. 

Of course I might be wrong. But there you have my view which is subject to change. 

Best wishes to us all. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 9 Months ago at 7/2/22 12:42 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Papa Che, you have made your take on this very clear. Do you think you could let it go now? After all, this is not a discussion thread, but a practice log. Jim's practice log. 

Linda Ö,
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 9 Months ago at 7/2/22 3:52 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 9 Months ago at 7/2/22 11:41 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Thanks!
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 8 Months ago at 7/5/22 6:45 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Hi Jim! It's quite a nice practice you have going on. I'm curious about that nihilistic territory you were asking about in another thread. Is that still happening? Have you decided how to approach it? How has it been going? I'm asking because all the layers of the practice can be rather confusing sometimes, and I'd like to learn from your reflections. 
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 7/5/22 10:51 PM
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
Hi Jim! It's quite a nice practice you have going on. I'm curious about that nihilistic territory you were asking about in another thread. Is that still happening? Have you decided how to approach it? How has it been going? I'm asking because all the layers of the practice can be rather confusing sometimes, and I'd like to learn from your reflections. 
What I am thinking now is that there are many dimensions to meditation. That "nihilistic" feeling is composed of several different qualities. I think I can keep the stuff I think is beneficial (non-attachment feeling) without the stuff I think is not beneficial (lack of all emotions). There are various ways to add back emotion: piti, sukha, metta, afterglow.

In the sturas in places  there are phrases like "neither pleasure nor pain". There are different feelings that fit that description, numbness is one, but there are others feelings that fit that description which are nicer than pleasure. I was wondering if there are any systems of practice that cultivate the numbness aspect.

I don't think awakening should be numb. The saying is "chop wood, carry water", not "chop wood, carry water, being numb".
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 7/5/22 10:47 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
Papa Che, you have made your take on this very clear. Do you think you could let it go now? After all, this is not a discussion thread, but a practice log. Jim's practice log. 

Linda Ö,
DhO moderator


Thank you Linda.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 8 Months ago at 7/6/22 3:25 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Sounds good. Yeah, I don't doubt that you can add back emotion. Thanks for sharing! 
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 7/6/22 7:54 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
Sounds good. Yeah, I don't doubt that you can add back emotion. Thanks for sharing! 


It seems to be sort of analogous to the jhana factors where the different jhanas share some of the same factors but also have differences. The various factors can be present or absent independently of each other.

http://the-wanderling.com/jhana_factors.html

I mentioned a bunch of different factors in the original post. Some overlap, some are independent.
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/24016572

Sometimes when meditating, my mind just feels like shutting down and ignoring everything, like letting go of responsibility, like not caring about anything, almost nihilistic. If I go with that, after the meditation session, my mind is very quiet and I feel emotionally numb. In a way it feels like letting go, like anatta, like no one's there.

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 8 Months ago at 7/6/22 8:50 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Interesting. I was wondering whether you were actually talking about a strong absorption into fourth jhana. Were you? Words are so futile when it comes to this. I would never personally choose the word nihilism to describe that exquisite jhana factor, but I can see why someone would. I can't think of any word that would do it justice. I haven't experienced strong absorption into fourth jhana for quite some time now, but if I had the opportunity, I would jump at it without hesitation. And yet, I remember it as being exceptionally clean from anything close to "normal" human emotion. I still can't wrap my mind around how something so detached and neutral can at the same time be so unfathomably beautiful and pleasant. Pleasant beyond pleasant. I guess that's it - I can't wrap my mind around it. Not any narrow individual mind. And while there is no attachment to that state, or to anything, while I'm in that state, there sure is attachment to that state when I'm not in it. However - and this is important - this does not mean that I would wish to transcend human emotions. I think that the times that I have spent in that chrystal clear detachment have, if anything, opened me up more to the beauty of human expressions in all their nuances. And I needed that. Badly. Hm, perhaps bathing in that chrystal clarity once in a while brings out the sacred in what used to seem dirty too. Gosh, I need another bath like that. 

Innocense, perhaps? Uh, I don't know. Words really are futile. And yet they are the state of the art. It's pristine, like a snow chrystal. 

Thankyou for sharing further, and for sharing that awesome resource! Reading that page caused some interesting sensations around the medulla oblongata. 
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 7/6/22 9:41 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
Interesting. I was wondering whether you were actually talking about a strong absorption into fourth jhana. Were you?


I'm not sure. I don't really know how to compare other people's experiences to my own, often different people mean different things when they use the same terms. And I don't experience the jhanas in the order they are supposed to go in, and there are other stages not typically mentioned that come up too.


Words are so futile when it comes to this. I would never personally choose the word nihilism to describe that exquisite jhana factor, but I can see why someone would. I can't think of any word that would do it justice. I haven't experienced strong absorption into fourth jhana for quite some time now, but if I had the opportunity, I would jump at it without hesitation. And yet, I remember it as being exceptionally clean from anything close to "normal" human emotion.


I still can't wrap my mind around how something so detached and neutral can at the same time be so unfathomably beautiful and pleasant.
Yes. ^^^


Pleasant beyond pleasant. I guess that's it - I can't wrap my mind around it. Not any narrow individual mind. And while there is no attachment to that state, or to anything, while I'm in that state, there sure is attachment to that state when I'm not in it.


However - and this is important - this does not mean that I would wish to transcend human emotions.
Right. ^^^


I think that the times that I have spent in that chrystal clear detachment have, if anything, opened me up more to the beauty of human expressions in all their nuances. And I needed that. Badly. Hm, perhaps bathing in that chrystal clarity once in a while brings out the sacred in what used to seem dirty too. Gosh, I need another bath like that. 

Innocense, perhaps? Uh, I don't know. Words really are futile. And yet they are the state of the art. It's pristine, like a snow chrystal. 

Thankyou for sharing further, and for sharing that awesome resource! Reading that page caused some interesting sensations around the medulla oblongata. 


Thanks and thanks for sharing too.
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 7/6/22 10:30 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
Interesting. I was wondering whether you were actually talking about a strong absorption into fourth jhana. Were you?


I'm not sure. I don't really know how to compare other people's experiences to my own, often different people mean different things when they use the same terms. And I don't experience the jhanas in the order they are supposed to go in, and there are other stages not typically mentioned that come up too.

...



I am not looking for experiences that require deep states of meditation. I am interested in what I can find in meditation that I can bring into daily life. There were times when I was interested in the deeper states and I don't think there is anything wrong with practicing them, but that is not what I am interested in right now.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 8 Months ago at 7/6/22 1:15 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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I understand. Comparisons are very tricky. I get really nerdy sometimes in trying to triangulate different kinds of experiences and approaches to make sense of the different axes at play in the practice. It is helpful for me to get that overview over the broader field of tensions, so to speak, but I need to keep myself from getting lost in the details. 

It sounds like a very sane approach. I wish you all the best with it. Once again, thankyou so much for sharing!
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 7/8/22 10:46 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Clinging affects the mind and body.

When we are upset we experience muscle tension. Emotions influence many muscles through effects on facial expresion and posture. Stress hormones have other effects we can feel such as elevated heart rate, elevated rate of breathing etc. 

Also when we are upset we may become carried away by our thoughts, we may become fixated on the thing upsetting us.

Letting go, being non-attached, means reversing these effects or not producing them to begin with. That requires handling the effects on the body and the effects on the mind.

For the effects on the body, physical relaxation is effective. For the effects on the mind mindfulness is effective.

(A physical relaxation exercise, done mindfully, will provide both effects.)

Relaxation and mindfulness work well together to help with letting go and preventing clinging.

To practice in daily life, try to be relaxed and mindful throughout the day. If you pay attention to your level of relaxation, you will notice dukkha arising and dukkha fading which is a practical way to study dependent origination and the three characteristics.
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 7/13/22 1:56 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 7/13/22 1:53 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1294 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
Clinging affects the mind and body.

When we are upset we experience muscle tension. Emotions influence many muscles through effects on facial expresion and posture. Stress hormones have other effects we can feel such as elevated heart rate, elevated rate of breathing etc. 

Also when we are upset we may become carried away by our thoughts, we may become fixated on the thing upsetting us.

Letting go, being non-attached, means reversing these effects or not producing them to begin with. That requires handling the effects on the body and the effects on the mind.

For the effects on the body, physical relaxation is effective. For the effects on the mind mindfulness is effective.

(A physical relaxation exercise, done mindfully, will provide both effects.)

Relaxation and mindfulness work well together to help with letting go and preventing clinging.

To practice in daily life, try to be relaxed and mindful throughout the day. If you pay attention to your level of relaxation, you will notice dukkha arising and dukkha fading which is a practical way to study dependent origination and the three characteristics.


When you notice dukkha arising try to surrender.

That means to not resist the emotion. To "let go" not by shifting awareness away from it or suppressing it, but by allowing and accepting, relaxing without resisting it. Accepting what it means, accepting the unpleasant truth of the situation, the truth about yourself - sometimes you have to dig through layers to find the full truth.

Letting go of an emotions doesn't necessarily mean getting rid of it forever, it means for the moment. It might be triggered again later.

With very strong emotions it might be too hard to surrender, so just try to relax and be mindful. In time relaxation and mindfulness may soften the emotion to the point where surrender is possible.

Relaxation, mindfulness, surrender. 
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 7/15/22 4:20 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 7/15/22 4:20 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1294 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
Jim Smith
Clinging affects the mind and body.

When we are upset we experience muscle tension. Emotions influence many muscles through effects on facial expresion and posture. Stress hormones have other effects we can feel such as elevated heart rate, elevated rate of breathing etc. 

Also when we are upset we may become carried away by our thoughts, we may become fixated on the thing upsetting us.

Letting go, being non-attached, means reversing these effects or not producing them to begin with. That requires handling the effects on the body and the effects on the mind.

For the effects on the body, physical relaxation is effective. For the effects on the mind mindfulness is effective.

(A physical relaxation exercise, done mindfully, will provide both effects.)

Relaxation and mindfulness work well together to help with letting go and preventing clinging.

To practice in daily life, try to be relaxed and mindful throughout the day. If you pay attention to your level of relaxation, you will notice dukkha arising and dukkha fading which is a practical way to study dependent origination and the three characteristics.


When you notice dukkha arising try to surrender.

That means to not resist the emotion. To "let go" not by shifting awareness away from it or suppressing it, but by allowing and accepting, relaxing without resisting it. Accepting what it means, accepting the unpleasant truth of the situation, the truth about yourself - sometimes you have to dig through layers to find the full truth.

Letting go of an emotions doesn't necessarily mean getting rid of it forever, it means for the moment. It might be triggered again later.

With very strong emotions it might be too hard to surrender, so just try to relax and be mindful. In time relaxation and mindfulness may soften the emotion to the point where surrender is possible.

Relaxation, mindfulness, surrender. 


Mantra of the day (for practice during daily activities):

"Relaxed and Mindful"
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 7/18/22 2:25 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 7/18/22 1:30 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
Jim Smith
Mantra of the day: "Nothing's a problem unless the mind makes it a problem."

I think I need to explain how to experience this. The literal meaning of the words is simple to understand and I think most people understand it. But that intellectual understanding doesn't change much. 

What does cause change is to experience the truth of this statement. To do that, you have to start from a state of non-attachment, of tranquility, where you are not experiencing any unpleasant emotions or cravings. Then, if you are observing the mind mindfully (the "mantra" can help with this), when dukkha starts to arise, you have the opportunity to observe the mind creating a problem, and you can make a choice whether to stay tranquil or let the dukkha take over your mind. Starting with a tranquil mind lets you see/feel the contrast between attachment and non-attachment. If your mind is not tranquil you don't really experience the same contrast, you don't see/experience the difference between non-creation and creation. 

(This is a practical way to study dependent origination, impermanence, dukkha, and anatta.)

When you experience this contrast between tranquility and dukkha, you see why it is nice to cultivate tranquility, how non-attachment improves your well-being, you see you can refrain from making problems for yourself with your mind. This experience makes a difference in well-being that an intellectual understanding alone does not provide.

This is why I think samatha and vipassana work well together.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/onetool.html
Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
But if you look directly at the Pali discourses ... they almost always pair it [vipassana] with samatha — not as two alternative methods, but as two qualities of mind that a person may "gain" or "be endowed with," and that should be developed together.
...
Another passage (AN 10.71) recommends that anyone who wishes to put an end to mental defilement should — in addition to perfecting the principles of moral behavior and cultivating seclusion — be committed to samatha and endowed with vipassana.



Above I wrote: " ... when dukkha starts to arise, you have the opportunity to observe the mind creating a problem, and you can make a choice whether to stay tranquil or let the dukkha take over your mind."*

I explained this in more detail in another thread:

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/24074970
Consciously what seems to happen is that watching the mind allows emotions to arise freely into consciousness, many of which might have been suppressed. As you first become aware of these emotions, you see they cause suffering but you can't let go. But in time as you observe these emotions again and again, and as you learn not to push them away or change your focus of attention away from them, as you learn to let them flow freely without interfering with them, you learn more and more about the subtlties surrounding them, how they arise, how they fade, other thoughts, emotions, impulses, ideas of self they are masking etc. And eventually you see that in fact you are actually making these unpleasant emotions (dukkha) through a deliberate act of will. You might think, "Why am I doing this, it is only making me unhappy." It's like you were trying to tolerate something unpleasant until finally you had enough and you would not tolerate it any more. (The study of dependent origination and the three characteristics, consciously or unconsciously has now borne fruit. The "self" is not worth defending, thoughts, emotions, impulses etc. are not "mine".) At that point it becomes possible to just stop doing that which creates the dukkha and without suppressing anything. The strongest emotions are the hardest to let go of so this process will start with simple things and extend over a period of time taking longer for the more complicated emotions. It happens gradually. Progress occurs through almost imperceptable increments. What you do notice is that over time more and more things which used to bother you not longer do, or they bother you less and less.


*As always, when I write about emotions that arise, I mean emotions that arise due to cognitive activity, the activity of the mind. Some emotions such as some forms of depression and anxiety are not really due to cognitive factors but are due to purely biological factors such as unhealthy brain chemistry.
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 7/23/22 10:17 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 7/23/22 10:04 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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In another thread I wrote:
Letting go for minor issues can sometimes be easy, you just recognize you are feeling an unpleasant emotion and it is not necessary and you can just stop. For bigger issues it can be hard to let go, in those cases relaxing can help, for some things you can just find the tension in your mind and body and just relax and you let go. For bigger issues you might need to do relaxation exercises to let go. Doing relaxation exercises (which are actually just relaxing forms of meditation) can help you develop "relaxation power" increasing your ability to relax in more and more difficult situations as you learn the skill of relaxing.

What is interesting is that for non-trivial attachments, letting go is not a straightforward mental action. You don't notice yourself clinging and stop clinging through an act of will. What I find works is to relax, sometimes even doing physical and visualization relaxation exercises is the most effective thing to do. Relaxing is a physiological thing not a mental thing. I think that is why letting go can be so hard - the thing you have to do to end the suffering seems unrelated to the actual problem - the solution is far from obvious, it's in a different direction.

It's like if you're in a video game world and you want to move to the left so you try to move left but it doesn't work, and after a long frustrating time you finally figure out that in order to go left you first have to move backwards and that takes you to the left.

Problems capture our attention, we become focused on the problem and think the solution to our suffering is with the problem.  However the solution to the suffering is not dealing directly with the problem yet, but to first notice our physiology and change our physiology, to relax.  Then once you are relaxed you will find a much better solution to the problem (using logic and compassion) than when you are reacting out of uncontrolled emotions.

The solution to "I don't like this" or "I want that" is not to stop "this" and get "that",  it is not to just stop disliking and stop wanting.
The solution is to be mindful so you notice when emotions arise and then to relax - using meditation like relaxation techniques when necessary. Dislike and craving go away when you are totally relaxed.

​​​​​​​Be relaxed and mindful.

I am not claiming this is easy in every situation or that I have perfected it in myself.
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 7/24/22 6:31 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 7/24/22 6:30 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
...

What is interesting is that for non-trivial attachments, letting go is not a straightforward mental action. You don't notice yourself clinging and stop clinging through an act of will. What I find works is to relax, sometimes even doing physical and visualization relaxation exercises is the most effective thing to do. Relaxing is a physiological thing not a mental thing. I think that is why letting go can be so hard - the thing you have to do to end the suffering seems unrelated to the actual problem - the solution is far from obvious, it's in a different direction.

It's like if you're in a video game world and you want to move to the left so you try to move left but it doesn't work, and after a long frustrating time you finally figure out that in order to go left you first have to move backwards and that takes you to the left.

Problems capture our attention, we become focused on the problem and think the solution to our suffering is with the problem.  However the solution to the suffering is not dealing directly with the problem yet, but to first notice our physiology and change our physiology, to relax.  Then once you are relaxed you will find a much better solution to the problem (using logic and compassion) than when you are reacting out of uncontrolled emotions.

The solution to "I don't like this" or "I want that" is not to stop "this" and get "that",  it is not to just stop disliking and stop wanting.
The solution is to be mindful so you notice when emotions arise and then to relax - using meditation like relaxation techniques when necessary. Dislike and craving go away when you are totally relaxed.

...


The reason letting go is so different from what we expect is because of our fundamental misunderstanding of self.

We think our thoughts and emotions are "mine" or "me". If they were, would be able to control them. Letting go would be straightforward.

But thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory input, ideas of self, are not "mine" they they are not "me", they just appear in consciousness arising from some unconscious processes.

Since we don't really control them, we can't just let go of attachments by an act of will, we have to manipulate those unconscious processes that produce them through indirect means - by relaxing.
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Jim Smith, modified 7 Months ago at 8/8/22 11:37 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 8/8/22 11:37 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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A lot of the time suffering is not so much an emotion as our attitude to the emotion. Somewhere mixed in with the brain chemistry, the stress hormones, muscle tension, is an idea: "I don't like this", or "I want that". Sometimes the thing we don't like or that we want is an emotion. If you can look in your mind and find that idea, see how it is causing suffering, and let go of it, then the emotion might become "uninteresting". You don't really care anymore because it was never the real problem anyway. The emotion if it isn't due to a biological cause, might even start to fade or fade faster.
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 9/10/22 7:04 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 9/6/22 9:50 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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I've been thinking about some of the different kinds of practices that I do, trying to get a high level understanding of how they fit together. And it does seem to make some sort of sense. Some of the practices are samatha and some are vipassana. Buddha taught both should be cultivated.

Samatha - helps to let go of attachments and aversions and prepares the mind (makes it fit for) vipassana.
​​​​​​​
  • Relaxing meditation - helps to let go of attachments and aversions (eases unpleasant emotions), also calms mental turbulence, and elevates the mood. When you practice relaxing meditation, over time relaxation becomes a skill and a habit that carries over into daily life.
  • Quieting the mind - calming mental turbulence helps in letting go and makes the mind capable of observing (vipassana) without too many distractions (mindfulness).
  • Elevating the mood - helps in letting go, and eases some of the unpleasant emotions that have to be faced during vipassana. Different types of meditation that can do this include relaxing meditation, samatha, metta, soft jhana.

Vipassana - (in meditation and in daily activities when possible) - observing the activity of the mind (arising and fading of): thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensations, ideas of self, which is a practical way of studying dependent origination (how dukkha arises and how it fades) and 3 characteristics (impermanence. dukkha, and not-self). Everything we know and experience about the physical world is filtered through the mind so the activity of the mind is the only thing we can observe. 
​​​​​​​
  • Noticing how unpleasant emotions are related to one's ideas about self. Noticing that the source of dukkha is ideas about ourselves.
  • Noticing how unpleasant emotions are something we do to ourselves - at first emotions seem to be involuntary but from 1) observing the activity of the mind you see more and more of the subtleties surrounding emotions and from 2) practicing relaxing meditation which develops your ability to relax as a skill, emotions begin to seem intentional at which point you have the option to not make them - not by suppressing them but by relaxing and deciding to do something else like deciding to go to one place rather than another. Like a habit you can decide to give up.
  • Letting go - relaxing and acknowledging and accepting unpleasant emotions.
  • Surrender - relaxing and acknowledging and accepting unpleasant truths about reality and ourselves.
  • Letting go and surrender do not mean ignoring problems, they allow us to respond to situations with reason and compassion instead of out of control or suppressed emotions.


Practice in daily life -
  • Samatha like: Trying to remain relaxed and mindful (aware of what you are doing while you are doing it) - provides a background against which any dukkha arising is easily noticeable.
  • ​​​​​​​Vipassana like: Observing the activity of the mind as described above.
  • Neuroplasticity - the brain is constantly rewiring itself, reinforcing and strengthening pathways that are used most by recruiting neurons away from pathways that are used least. Most people have spent many years reinforcing the dukkha habit - it takes a lot of effort undo that. But the more you practice relaxed mindfulness, letting go, and surrender in meditation and daily life, the stronger those pathways become and the weaker the dukkha pathways become. If you practice enough to make a significant difference, it becomes easy and natural to abide in relaxed mindfulness, to let go, to surrender, and you spend much less time suffering. For most lay people, practice in daily life is the biggest opportunity to practice enough to make a significant difference.

Diet - Trying to eat right is a big part of my practice. My mental state is affected by what I eat which affects my practice. I don't write much about this because everyone is different and what works well for me might not work for someone else. I would suggest that people try to research for themselves, reading and experimenting. 

Perfection is elusive. In the meantime, do not be attached to perfection, making progress, being in a good mood, being relaxed, being mindful, practicing well, etc. Do not have an aversion to imperfections, unpleasant emotions etc. These attachments and aversions are the opposite of non-attachment. You get closer to perfection by acknowledging and accepting imperfections, by surrendering to imperfections.

​​​​​​​And by emotions I mean emotions that arise from awareness - sensing or thinking. Some emotions are have a biological origin like some kinds of anxiety and depression and those might not be affected very much by mental techniques.
shargrol, modified 6 Months ago at 9/7/22 7:01 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 9/7/22 7:01 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 1932 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
A lot of the time suffering is not so much an emotion as our attitude to the emotion. Somewhere mixed in with the brain chemistry, the stress hormones, muscle tension, is an idea: "I don't like this", or "I want that". Sometimes the thing we don't like or that we want is an emotion. If you can look in your mind and find that idea, see how it is causing suffering, and let go of it, then the emotion might become "uninteresting". You don't really care anymore because it was never the real problem anyway. The emotion if it isn't due to a biological cause, might even start to fade or fade faster.

Another related way to think of it is that experiences are naturally/inherently positive, negative, or neutral and that's no big deal. The positiveness, negativeness, or neutralness is simply information for survival and life. However, very quickly there is greed for the positive, aversion to the negative, and indifference to the neutral --- this is the seed of suffering. With increasing sensitivity, it's possible to distinquish +,-,0 from greed, aversion, and indifference. In other words, distiguishing the information from the poison. And with practice, it's possible to notice at a visceral level that greed, aversion, and indifference doesn't help with survival or having a good life. It's extra. It's a short-cut that was useful while the brain was developing, but it's inherently more crude then being mindful of actual experience. So the mind naturally drops greed, aversion, and indifference and pays more attention to the raw information of this moment. 

A good practice is to sit and see how + is different than greed, - is different from aversion, and 0 is different from indifference. (This is basically the one practical application of the idea of dependent origination.)
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Jim Smith, modified 5 Months ago at 10/20/22 3:09 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 10/20/22 3:09 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Something I've noticed that correlates with increased freedom from ill will is giving up viewing people in black-and-white or all-or-nothing terms. We like to sort people into opposing groups, good / bad, smart / ignorant, generous / selfish, kind / mean etc. But most people have a mixture of good and bad traits. Most people are knowledgeable about some subjects and ignorant or misinformed about others. Most people are good at some tasks and not good at others. People might be generous with some things but selfish with others.

When you look beyond the duality of either/or, in other people and in yourself, you stop thinking in terms of us and them or self and other because you no longer have convenient groups in which to categorize people, you just have people. This recognition helps to reduce the attitude that self is a unique thing that is separate and distinct. We are all fumbling around going through life, sometimes getting things right, sometimes getting somethings wrong. The differences between us are not as great as we might think.
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Jim Smith, modified 3 Months ago at 12/7/22 9:01 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 12/7/22 8:56 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Mantra of the day:

"You don't have to take everything so seriously."

Sometimes we get caught up in the details of life and forget we don't have to be so intensely immersed in everything (including mindfulness and other practices), sometimes a reminder to step back, lighten up, let go of the intensity, and relax (relax the body, breath in a relaxed way, and do things in a relaxed way) can be helpful.
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Chris M, modified 3 Months ago at 12/8/22 7:39 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 12/8/22 7:38 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Absolutely! Life should trend toward being fun.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 12/31/22 12:29 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 12/30/22 10:27 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Metta (good will) is a specific preventative for or antidote to ill will (one of the fetters that must be overcome for awakening).

Relaxation is an adjuvant (assistant) for metta. If you are relaxed it is easier to produce more metta. If you can relax in an unpleasant situation, it makes metta possible in that situation.

I've found that relaxing meditation exercises followed by metta meditation is a very powerful combination.

I am going to try adding metta to my practice in daily life which will now include:
Trying to be relaxed and do things in a relaxed way, relaxing muscle tension and breathing in a relaxed way and adding a bit of sukha and metta.

I've also been thinknig about how to combine samatha and vipassana in the same practice.

What I've come up with is that relaxation, sukha, and metta are samatha practices and mindfulness of those states, noticing their presence or their absence when they are interrupted by dukkha is vipassana (observing the arising and fading of dukkha is also oberving dependent origination and the three characteristics).
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago at 12/31/22 6:58 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 12/31/22 6:58 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith

What I've come up with is that relaxation, sukha, and metta are samatha practices and mindfulness of those states, noticing their presence or their absence when they are interrupted by dukkha is vipassana (observing the arising and fading of dukkha is also oberving dependent origination and the three characteristics).

Really truly well said! 
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 1/1/23 11:47 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 1/1/23 11:23 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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This might be a bit off topic but I know there are some folks here interested in this subject ... I recently watched a video about someone who had a Near Death Experience and I read his book after seeing the video. He spoke about the need to raise your "vibrations" and avoid negativity in order to go to a higher level in the afterlife. He discusses how the news media and politics are very negative and how they can lower your vibrations, and how the internet makes it too easy to get caught up in it. Internal negativity - attitudes toward yourself, your past and future, can also lower your vibrations. I have heard this quite often in the past but now for some reason I made the connection that Buddhist practices, which help us to let go of attachments and aversion, are doing pretty much what he is recommending. Letting go of various types of negativity has the effect of raising your "vibrations". (I think it's important to be conscious of your thoughts and emotions so suppressing them is not good but you also have to have some balance and letting go is important too.) Buddhist practices can be directly relevant to, and a part of, this type of spirituality. 

The video is here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAcOotg4RLg

The book is "The Light After Death" by Vinney Tolman.

His 10 principles are:
1. Be authentic - Let go of your different personas you take on in different situations. Learn to accept your real self, you won't believe anyone else can love you if you don't love yourself.
2. The purpose of life (is to learn and develop).
3. Love everyone
4. Listen to your inner voice
5. Use technology responsibly (don't use it it drag yourself into negativity or negative places)
6. Release prejudice
7. The power of creation (Fill your mind with positive thoughts because you create what you think of. If you want to fix something, think of what you want to replace it with.)
8. Avoid negative influences (The news media and political parties are a big source of negativity.)
9. The purpose of evil - is to strengthen our spirit (like weights strengthen our muscles)
10. We are all one

He had an interesting analogy to explanain the purpose of evil (which also applies to suffering): just like weights strengthen your muscles, experiencing unpleasant things in life strengthens your spirit.

He also had a good explanation for the power of thought, every creation starts with an idea, what you think about creates your reality. This is another reason to keep yourself apart from negativity.

My spiritual beliefs are based on my own experiences

https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/psi_experience

as well as empirical evidence

https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/summary_of_evidence

including mainstream scientific observations as interpreted by well respected scientists including many Nobel Prize winners:

https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/eminent_researchers

I'm not posting these links to persuade anyone, I just want to provide information to people who are interested and to show why some people may have these kinds of spiritual beliefs.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 1/8/23 3:26 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 1/7/23 11:45 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Mantra of the day:

"Humility is good. Non attachment is good."

Some people will object to using the word "good", they can have a cup of tea.

We are brainwashed by voices coming at us from every direction to be assertive and not let anyone take advantage of us or to be competent and to have things always work out the way we want. It makes us hypersensitive to situations where we think someone is being inconsiderate or things are not going exactly right for us. But often the situation is not really a problem the problem is our reaction to the situation. So when we are triggered if we can remember that the brainwashing is just an opinion, that there can be a different opinion (humility is admirable, non-attachment is our goal), we can try to deprogram ourselves to break the habit of making ourselves suffer because of what someone else might think, we might suffer less and be less attached to someone else's idea of "self".

Not every situation can be ignored, but if you are non-attached to things and to self you can respond to situations with wisdom and compassion rather than with selfish emotions.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 1/9/23 6:46 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 1/9/23 6:19 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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On the surface, Ill will seems to a problem with a person you don't like, but often it is really about some attachment of our own that the person threatens. So to be free of the ill will, we have to figure out what our attachment is and let go of it.

I suspect this is repugnant to most people. If someone is doing something we don't like, we want to blame them for our suffering. However the solution to suffering is not to stop them but to give up our attachment. (That doesn't mean you ignore the situation that might need some intervention, it just means the solution your own emotional reaction (suffering) is not what you think.)

It seems that a lot of dukkha works this way and that is why it is so difficult to get rid of (really really difficult so don't blame yourself or engage in self-recrimination that just makes things worse). We blame the "situation" when the direct source of the suffering is within us - we do it to ourselves (and hide it from ourselves!). Again, that doesn't mean we should ignore every problem, it just addresses how to handle our own subjective reaction to the problem. When you are non-attached you can address problems with wisdom and compassion rather than selfish emotions.
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Chris M, modified 2 Months ago at 1/10/23 7:55 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 1/10/23 7:55 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Hi, Jim -

It seems that a lot of dukkha works this way and that is why it is so difficult to get rid of (really really difficult so don't blame yourself or engage in self-recrimination that just makes things worse). We blame the "situation" when the direct source of the suffering is within us - we do it to ourselves (and hide it from ourselves!).

All dukkha works that way. It's not the first arrow, but the second.

​​​​​​​emoticon
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 1/15/23 6:52 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 1/15/23 6:31 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
...
I've also been thinking about how to combine samatha and vipassana in the same practice.

What I've come up with is that relaxation, sukha, and metta are samatha practices and mindfulness of those states, noticing their presence or their absence when they are interrupted by dukkha is vipassana (observing the arising and fading of dukkha is also oberving dependent origination and the three characteristics).
The anapanasati sutta gives meditation instructions that take the student through four stages that parallel the four establishments of mindfulness. The first stage calms the body, the second stage calms the emotions, and the third stage calms the mind. The fourth stage investigates the mind but it depends on the first three stages which prepare the mind to make it able to investigate effectively. This is an example from the Pali canon on how the Buddha combined samatha and vipassana.

Another way to combine samatha and vipassana is to do noting in daily life in a way that is relaxing, in a way that produces tranquility. This means moving in a relaxed way, breathing in a relaxed way, mentally not being too intense or attached to progress, and being in an open friendly relaxed frame of mind. (A similar practice can be done as sitting meditation.)

Vipassana and Samatha are not different techniques which you can only do one at a time. Vipassana and Samatha are qualities of mind both of which should be developed together.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/onetool.html
In the few instances where [the Pali discourses] do mention vipassana, they almost always pair it with samatha — not as two alternative methods, but as two qualities of mind that a person may "gain" or "be endowed with," and that should be developed together.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 1/16/23 3:05 PM
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I frequently link to an article on my blog about relaxing meditation exercises. If anyone has found that helpful they might be interested in a recent update I made to that article:
https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/08/preparing-for-meditation-with.html

After you become familiar with experiencing the transition described above, you might find the following streamlined technique works very quickly. As usual, start with the physical relaxation exercises. Moving each part of the body five to ten times takes only a few minutes. Then lie down and do the visualization a few times to see if you feel the relaxation that comes from synchronization with the heartbeat. If not try to autogenic relaxation once and come back to the visualization. Once you get the relaxation synchronized with the heart during the visualizations, apply that synchronization during the autogenic relaxation which should quickly get your body feeling like it is tingling and floating. Then breathe in a relaxing way counting to three as you exhale (to slow down and prolong your exhalation - which has a relaxing effect), pause for a moment and then inhale and repeat this mode of breathing until you experience the transition.

This adds a fourth relaxation technique - slow exhalations. The original three techniques are physical relaxation, visualization, and autogenic relaxation.

Combining these techniques together is more effective than any one of them used by itself.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 1/20/23 10:49 AM
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https://www.insightstate.com/quotes/dogen-zenji-quotes/
40 Dōgen Zenji Quotes

#2 ”Do not think you will necessarily be aware of your own enlightenment.”

#8 ”Above all, don’t wish to become a future Buddha; your only concern should be, as thought follows thought, to avoid clinging to any of them.”

#32 ”The Buddha meditated for six years, Bodhidharma for nine. The practice of meditation is not a method for the attainment of realization – it is enlightenment itself.”
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Chris M, modified 2 Months ago at 1/20/23 1:38 PM
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Jim, if Doegen truly interests you, I suggest this book. It's a translation of his most influential works: Moon in a Dewdrop
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Chris M
Jim, if Doegen truly interests you, I suggest this book. It's a translation of his most influential works: Moon in a Dewdrop


#37 ”Your search among books, word upon word, may lead you to the depths of knowledge, but it is not the way to receive the reflection of your true self.”
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Chris M, modified 2 Months ago at 1/20/23 4:02 PM
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And yet the man wrote all that wonderful stuff for us to read and ponder. Go figure, eh? Seems like a context issue.
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago at 1/20/23 4:47 PM
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"#32 ”The Buddha meditated for six years, Bodhidharma for nine. The practice of meditation is not a method for the attainment of realization – it is enlightenment itself.”

Make up your mind Dogen.
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Chris M, modified 2 Months ago at 1/21/23 7:52 AM
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This is the definition of "inscrutable." Those darned Zen masters. First it's this, then it's that, then it's not this, and then not that.
George S, modified 2 Months ago at 1/22/23 9:16 PM
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The interesting thing about Dogen is the Chan school whose teachings he  borrowed thoroughly rejected the idea that meditation has anything to do with enlightenment.
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Jim Smith
https://www.insightstate.com/quotes/dogen-zenji-quotes/
40 Dōgen Zenji Quotes

...

#32 ”The Buddha meditated for six years, Bodhidharma for nine. The practice of meditation is not a method for the attainment of realization – it is enlightenment itself.”


The way I would interpret this definition of awakening (or relate it to my own practice) is that when I am relaxed (parasympathetic nervous active, sympathetic nervous system inactive) and my mind is focused (default network inactive), I am not experiencing any stress or unpleasant emotions or attachments or aversions, I am non-attached, in a state of nibbana in a mundane sense. Abiding in this state allows my skill at being attached or averse to atrophy and my skill at being non-attached (letting go) to improve (neuroplasticity). It fits my views that awakening is a gradual process without discrete steps.

I don't know if this is the right definition of enlightenment or if there is one right definition, or if there is a "best" definition, but I like this definition of awakening because you can measure it yourself, you can tell if you are not experiencing stress or unpleasant emotions and so you don't need milestones on the path or special states in meditation which can become false goals and distractions. There are no mystical or mysterious aspects to it. A beginner can understand it from their own experience.

People can interpret #32 however they want, but in my opinion, there are different ways to meditatie and individuals may use the same technique in different ways, so not everything that is called meditation is necessarily enlightenment. 
George S, modified 2 Months ago at 1/23/23 7:50 AM
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What you are describing in the first paragraph still sounds like a special meditation state.
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Chris M, modified 2 Months ago at 1/23/23 11:04 AM
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"Nibbana in a mundane sense" sounds like equanimity.

JMHO
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Chris M
"Nibbana in a mundane sense" sounds like equanimity.

JMHO


In the link Buddhadasa says we all experience nibbana when there is nothing going on that would bother us. Equanimity lets us be unbothered in a wider number of situations.
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George S
What you are describing in the first paragraph still sounds like a special meditation state.

Well it isn't unique to meditation like the higher jhanas or cessation/fruition (which seems to be accepted as a meditative state that is a taste (experience) of nibbana), after sitting meditation I get up and feel exactly the same for quite a long time if I am mindful ... until I get distracted/fooled by life and start making dukkha again.

I was at a dharma talk when a Zen master said, "Enlightenment is easy to get, keeping it is hard."

I think what Dogen is saying about awakening is like what Buddhadasa is saying about nibbana.

https://dhammatalks.net/Articles/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_NIBBANA_FOR_EVERYONE.htm

Any reactive emotion that arises ceases when its causes and conditions are finished. Although it may be a temporary quenching, merely a temporary coolness, it still means Nibbana, even if only temporarily. Thus, there's a temporary Nibbana for those who still can't avoid some defilements. This indeed is the temporary Nibbana that sustains the lives of beings who are still hanging onto defilement. Anyone can see that if the egoistic emotions exist night and day without any pause or rest, no life could endure it. If it didn't die, it would go crazy and then die in the end. You ought to consider carefully the fact that life can survive only because there are periods when the defilements don't roast it, which, in fact, outnumber the times when the defilements blaze.

These periodic Nibbanas sustain life for all of us, without excepting even animals, which have their levels of Nibbana, too. We are able to survive because this kind of Nibbana nurtures us, until it becomes the most ordinary habit of life and of the mind. Whenever there is freedom from defilement, then there is the value and meaning of Nibbana. This must occur fairly often for living things to survive. That we have some time to relax both bodily and mentally provides us with the freshness and vitality needed to live.

It isn't a special state. It is something mundane that everyone knows. It's why I think everyone has some level of enlightenment that they can increase through meditation and mindfulness practices and that milestones like stream entry are arbitrary and confuse the issue and are more of a harmful distraction than a helpful guide.

Shodo Harada Roshi says awakening is mundane too:
https://enlightenmentward.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/man-on-cloud-mountain-shodo-harada-roshi-segment-4-of-7-transcript/

Often enlightenment or kensho or satori is considered to be some kind of unusual experience or something external or some kind of special phenomenon. But it’s not like that. There may be some kind of sudden revelation or some kind of sudden perception, but its not something that is that unusual or that strange or foreign that we come upon or that comes upon us. What it is, is the ability to see without any interruption of the ego, without any filtering of the ego. And since we are all walking around seeing things through our ego filter almost all the time, to suddenly be able to see without that filter is a surprise. But it is nothing that we have ever not had.

They say that the mind of a baby is something that we can compare this to. A baby isn’t seeing things from an egoistic place. It is seeing directly and clear. It is the exact same kind of thing when we are seeing without the ego filter. We see that there is nothing to be analyzed in it. When you are seeing a flower you are not thinking that it is red or seeing a bird you are not thinking what its name is. You are just seeing directly. When we talk about enlightenment we are talking about that mind which is perceive at every moment without the obstruction of an egoistic filter. The experience of that mind and realizing where it is and realizing where it is coming from is what is called enlightenment or kensho or satori. It is not some kind of supernatural state of mind that we are able to enter or that comes upon us. It is not like some kind of altered state of consciousness to think that we are trying to do this practice for some kind of narrow experience for the individual. Thinking that we are going to come upon some big experience some day. This is a very low level understanding of what this enlightenment is.



Being free from identity view is not a supermundane experience according to what Shodo Harada Roshi said. It is a mundane experience that everyone knows. 

​​​​​​​Shinzen Young says it too:
​​​​​​​
https://www.lionsroar.com/on-enlightenment-an-interview-with-shinzen-young/
The only difference between an enlightened person and a non-enlightened person is that when the feel-image-talk self doesn’t arise during the day, the enlightened person notices that and knows that to be a clear experience of no-self. The non-enlightened person actually has that experience hundreds of times a day, when they’re briefly pulled to a physical-type touch or an external sight or sound. For just a moment there is just the world of touch-sight-sound. For just a moment there is no self inside that person but they don’t notice it! But just because they don’t notice it doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.


What do you think awakening is?
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 1/23/23 6:23 PM
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Jim Smith
...
Being free from identity view is not a supermundane experience according to what Shodo Harada Roshi said. It is a mundane experience that everyone knows. 

​​​​​​​Shinzen Young says it too:
​​​​​​​
https://www.lionsroar.com/on-enlightenment-an-interview-with-shinzen-young/
The only difference between an enlightened person and a non-enlightened person is that when the feel-image-talk self doesn’t arise during the day, the enlightened person notices that and knows that to be a clear experience of no-self. The non-enlightened person actually has that experience hundreds of times a day, when they’re briefly pulled to a physical-type touch or an external sight or sound. For just a moment there is just the world of touch-sight-sound. For just a moment there is no self inside that person but they don’t notice it! But just because they don’t notice it doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.


...


Experiencing no self is not difficult, but knowing you are experiencing it is. How do you know something is absent? You have to know the thing so you can recognize it's absence. I think that is the difficulty. People don't understand self so they don't recognize when it is absent. If you want to be aware of the experience no-self you have to start examining what self is. That is why "what am I" can be so helpful. When you start looking at self you become familiar with it and you develop the ability to recognize when you aren't thinking in terms of self.

​​​​​​​If you practice watching the sense of self arising and fading you come to know when it arises and you know when it fades.

Reposting what I wrote in another thread:

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/c/message_boards/find_message?p_l_id=10262&messageId=24835609

Jim Smith
You can do this on the cushion or off.

Observe your sense of self.

Sense of self could mean different things, Sometimes we take on different persona's in different situations, at work, with family, with friends. It could be if you are experiencing your inner child, or your inner adult etc. If you are feeling a particular emotion, pride, anger, love, fear, we have different persona's or self images for those too. Do you see yourself as a parent of your children, the child of your parents, a student, an employee, a supervisor, someone who is driving a car, or who owns a house? A cat person or a dog lover? A sports fan? Are you just awareness observing mental activity? That is a sense of self too no different from the others. Even if you are too hot or too cold you might think of the self as relating to that. Where do all these feelings of self come from? Who creates them? 

Ultimately each moment of consciousness, each thought, emotion, impulse, sensory experience has a different feeling of self that arises unbidden from some unconscious process. Actually each self is identical with the moment of consciousness. The song of a bird gives birth to the self that perceives it - that self would not exist without the bird's song.

Anatta, means no permanent unchanging self. When you experience self as something that changes from moment to moment that you don't control it's harder to be attached to self because by the time you recognize dukkha arising, that self is gone and a new one is operating. All those selves coming and going, what do they have to do with you? What are you?

It's good to practice this while doing formal meditation because it requires attention and practice. But to have a useful effect you have to experience it in daily life. You can wait until you get so good at it from sitting meditation that it naturally carries over into daily life but you will make progress faster if you also try to be mindful of it in daily life.

And the practice should be done with a relaxed frame of mind, don't get too intense or let it make you tense. If you are tense you will be irritable and that is not what most people are looking for from their practice. Try to keep your body relaxed, your breathing relaxed, and your mind friendly, open, not defensive, not competitive, not craving, not averse, let go of those unhelpful attitudes, allow the mind to be relaxed.
George S, modified 2 Months ago at 1/23/23 6:27 PM
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What do you think awakening is?

Here are some tentative thoughts based on observations of myself and others:

- It’s a memorable experience. I know the argument that some people might not notice it, but it seems to me that most people who talk about it as if they have actually experienced it usually have an often quite dramatic story about when and where it happened, and what it was like.

- There aren’t degrees of awakening, it’s a one-time event. Of course there insights and experiences leading up to it, and there is probably unlimited potential for post-awakening personal development and concentration etc, but when the fundamental realization lands it sticks. You can’t unsee it.

- People who have experienced it might not be able to tell you exactly what it is (often a red flag), but they don’t have doubts about it any more, and they know what it isn’t. They are no longer looking for it because whatever it is to them, it’s always there by default.

- Being awake doesn’t require any special conditions to maintain. If it’s not a special state then it’s what the zen folks call “ordinary mind”, which is when you are no longer confused about the relationship between special states and enlightenment.

If I had to point to one difference between enlightened people and unenlightened people, I would say that enlightened people no longer feel the need to try to find or maintain a special state called “enlightenment”. But given that the fundamental realization of awakening is usually some kind of deep insight into not-self, even talking of “enlightened people” is an oxymoron!

"Enlightenment is easy to get, keeping it is hard."

My experience was pretty much the opposite. Awakening was extremely hard because I had to deconstruct all my familiar frames of reference about who I was and what I expected. Post-awakening on the other hand has been mostly downhill. There have been difficult and painful experiences, but they have been easier to navigate. There is no sense that I have got hold of something which has to be kept, which would be antithetical to the liberating nature of the realization.
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George S
What do you think awakening is?

Here are some tentative thoughts based on observations of myself and others:

- It’s a memorable experience. I know the argument that some people might not notice it, but it seems to me that most people who talk about it as if they have actually experienced it usually have an often quite dramatic story about when and where it happened, and what it was like.

- There aren’t degrees of awakening, it’s a one-time event. Of course there insights and experiences leading up to it, and there is probably unlimited potential for post-awakening personal development and concentration etc, but when the fundamental realization lands it sticks. You can’t unsee it.

- People who have experienced it might not be able to tell you exactly what it is (often a red flag), but they don’t have doubts about it any more, and they know what it isn’t. They are no longer looking for it because whatever it is to them, it’s always there by default.

- Being awake doesn’t require any special conditions to maintain. If it’s not a special state then it’s what the zen folks call “ordinary mind”, which is when you are no longer confused about the relationship between special states and enlightenment.

If I had to point to one difference between enlightened people and unenlightened people, I would say that enlightened people no longer feel the need to try to find or maintain a special state called “enlightenment”. But given that the fundamental realization of awakening is usually some kind of deep insight into not-self, even talking of “enlightened people” is an oxymoron!

"Enlightenment is easy to get, keeping it is hard."

My experience was pretty much the opposite. Awakening was extremely hard because I had to deconstruct all my familiar frames of reference about who I was and what I expected. Post-awakening on the other hand has been mostly downhill. There have been difficult and painful experiences, but they have been easier to navigate. There is no sense that I have got hold of something which has to be kept, which would be antithetical to the liberating nature of the realization.


After awakening, did you continue to practice meditation and mindfulness? If so why?
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 1/23/23 7:03 PM
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According to Shinzen Young the sudden epiphany type of awakening is not the way it happens for most of his students.

It seems to me that a few people with these types of anomalous experiences are confusing the hell out of everyone else setting them out on a wild goose chase looking for something they already have. 

https://www.lionsroar.com/on-enlightenment-an-interview-with-shinzen-young/

The sudden epiphany that’s described in many books about enlightenment, that has definitely happened to some of my students. And when it happens, it’s similar to what is described in those books. I don’t keep statistics, but maybe it happens a couple times a year. When someone comes to me after that’s happened I can smell it. They walk into the room and before they’ve even finished their first sentence I know what they’re going to say. You remember, right…? Your own case.

When it happens suddenly and dramatically you’re in seventh heaven. It’s like after the first experience of love, you’ll never be the same. However, for most people who’ve studied with me it doesn’t happen that way. What does happen is that the person gradually works through the things that get in the way of enlightenment, but so gradually that they might not notice. What typically happens is that over a period of years, and indeed decades, within that person the craving, aversion, and unconsciousness—the mula kleshas (the fundamental “impurities”), get worked through. But because all this is happening gradually they’re acclimatizing as it’s occurring and they may not realize how far they’ve come. That’s why I like telling the story about the samurai.

This samurai went to the Zen temple on the mountain and lived there for many years. He didn’t seem to be getting anything out of the practice. So he said to the Master, “I think I need to leave. Nothing’s happening as a result of this practice.” So the master said, “Okay. Go.” As he was coming down the hill one of his former comrades, a fellow samurai, saw him in the tattered robes of a Buddhist monk, which is equivalent to a glorified beggar from a samurai’s point of view, and he said, “How could you be so undignified to join the counter-culture of Buddhist beggars?” and he spit on him. Now in the old days the samurais were extremely proud. Any insult to their personal dignity meant a fight to the death. So the monk who had formerly been a samurai just walked on and after he’d walked a certain distance, it occurred to him that not only did he not need to kill this guy, he wasn’t even angry.

​​​​​​​As the story goes he turned around and bowed toward the mountain three times where he had practiced. He bowed in his recognition of all that he had worked through. He recognized he no longer needed to kill someone that had offended his dignity. He noticed how fundamentally he had changed as a human being.


Evidently this problem has been known at least since Samurai times.

I think it is unfortunate that more isn't done to project a more balanced view.
George S, modified 2 Months ago at 1/23/23 6:52 PM
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After awakening, did you continue to practice meditation and mindfulness? If so why?

I continue to meditate because I find it intensely enjoyable (as well as painful at times). I'm still motivated by basic curiosity about the mind and how experience is constructed, as well as whatever weird and wonderful experiences are on offer. I don't formally practice mindfulness, but if something sucks enough then I will get round to looking at it eventually.
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George S
After awakening, did you continue to practice meditation and mindfulness? If so why?

I continue to meditate because I find it intensely enjoyable (as well as painful at times). I'm still motivated by basic curiosity about the mind and how experience is constructed, as well as whatever weird and wonderful experiences are on offer. I don't formally practice mindfulness, but if something sucks enough then I will get round to looking at it eventually.


Doesn't awakening end suffering (dukkha)?
George S, modified 2 Months ago at 1/23/23 9:36 PM
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Well I agree it’s a wild goose chase to go looking for something you don’t already have. Mounting a donkey to go looking for a donkey is what Foyan called it.

Another common theme in awakening stories is that it marks the end of the student-teacher relationship. Shinzen Young is professional meditation teacher who depends financially on having a sticky body of students (which includes managing the competition dynamics present in any group surrounding a famous teacher …)
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It removed a huge chunk of dukkha in the sense of resistance to pain (second arrow) but not the pain itself (first arrow). If anything I feel pain more deeply now, but it passes quicker. It didn't remove all resistance but my threshold is much lower now, I'm just less willing to tolerate dukkha (which means I'm more willing to tolerate pain!)
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George S It removed a huge chunk of dukkha in the sense of resistance to pain (second arrow) but not the pain itself (first arrow). If anything I feel pain more deeply now, but it passes quicker. It didn't remove all resistance but my threshold is much lower now, I'm just less willing to tolerate dukkha (which means I'm more willing to tolerate pain!)
I looked up the sutra as far as I can tell the two arrow analogy is used to distinguish physical pain (first arrow) from dukkha (mental pain - second arrow).

Just before using the arrow analogy, Buddha makes the distinction between physical pain and mental pain so it looks to me like the sutra and the arrow analogy are about mental pain in reaction to physical pain. 

This is how I have understood awakening, it doesn't stop physical pain but it does end mental anguish.  But awakening doesn't occur all at once it develops over time so only someone who has perfect enlightenment would feel no mental anguish ever.  I know it is controversial whether it is possible to have such a perfect enlightenment.  I don't know if it is possible but I don't rule it out for other people. 

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn36/sn36.006.than.html
The Blessed One said, "When touched with a feeling of pain, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person sorrows, grieves, & laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught. So he feels two pains, physical & mental. Just as if they were to shoot a man with an arrow and, right afterward, were to shoot him with another one, so that he would feel the pains of two arrows; in the same way, when touched with a feeling of pain, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person sorrows, grieves, & laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught. So he feels two pains, physical & mental.

Before making the arrow analogy Buddha says "So he feels two pains physical and mental." so the analogy must be about physical pain as the first arrow and mental anguish as the second arrow.
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George S
The interesting thing about Dogen is the Chan school whose teachings he  borrowed thoroughly rejected the idea that meditation has anything to do with enlightenment.

Sometimes when you investigate the context of seemingly contradictory statements you find that they are not really contradictory, so if you have any type of reference for this could you please post it? I would like to look into it.

Personally, I think sometimes people confuse perfecting the meditation technique with awakening so in that way I agree with the sentiment you posted but it is not inconsistent with what Dogen said.

My point about my own practice is that I experience nibbana in a mundane sense and that seems to me to make sense of what Dogen was saying about meditation being awakening. I don't believe I have ever claimed to have attained any type of milestone, only that I think everyone has some level of enlightenment just like everyone has some level of equanimity, some more, some less.


Here is a quote from Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, by Shunryu Suzuki who practiced Soto Zen.

http://www2.hawaii.edu/~freeman/courses/phil302/26..%20Zen%20Mind%20Beginner%27s%20Mind.pdf
Enlightenment is not some good feeling or some particular state of mind. The state of mind that exists when you sit in the right posture is, itself, enlightenment. If you cannot be satisfied with the state of mind you have in zazen, it means your mind is still wandering about. Our body and mind should not be wobbling or wandering about. In this posture there is no need to talk about the right state of mind. You already have it. This is the conclusion of Buddhism.


As far as I can tell, he is saying enlightenment is not a special (particular) state of mind, it is an ordinary state of mind, "you already have it".
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 1/24/23 8:56 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
According to Shinzen Young the sudden epiphany type of awakening is not the way it happens for most of his students.

...

https://www.lionsroar.com/on-enlightenment-an-interview-with-shinzen-young/

The sudden epiphany that’s described in many books about enlightenment, that has definitely happened to some of my students. And when it happens, it’s similar to what is described in those books. I don’t keep statistics, but maybe it happens a couple times a year. When someone comes to me after that’s happened I can smell it. They walk into the room and before they’ve even finished their first sentence I know what they’re going to say. You remember, right…? Your own case.

When it happens suddenly and dramatically you’re in seventh heaven. It’s like after the first experience of love, you’ll never be the same. However, for most people who’ve studied with me it doesn’t happen that way. What does happen is that the person gradually works through the things that get in the way of enlightenment, but so gradually that they might not notice. What typically happens is that over a period of years, and indeed decades, within that person the craving, aversion, and unconsciousness—the mula kleshas (the fundamental “impurities”), get worked through. But because all this is happening gradually they’re acclimatizing as it’s occurring and they may not realize how far they’ve come. That’s why I like telling the story about the samurai.

This samurai went to the Zen temple on the mountain and lived there for many years. He didn’t seem to be getting anything out of the practice. So he said to the Master, “I think I need to leave. Nothing’s happening as a result of this practice.” So the master said, “Okay. Go.” As he was coming down the hill one of his former comrades, a fellow samurai, saw him in the tattered robes of a Buddhist monk, which is equivalent to a glorified beggar from a samurai’s point of view, and he said, “How could you be so undignified to join the counter-culture of Buddhist beggars?” and he spit on him. Now in the old days the samurais were extremely proud. Any insult to their personal dignity meant a fight to the death. So the monk who had formerly been a samurai just walked on and after he’d walked a certain distance, it occurred to him that not only did he not need to kill this guy, he wasn’t even angry.

​​​​​​​As the story goes he turned around and bowed toward the mountain three times where he had practiced. He bowed in his recognition of all that he had worked through. He recognized he no longer needed to kill someone that had offended his dignity. He noticed how fundamentally he had changed as a human being.

...


I think part of the disconnect between epiphany and gradual awakenings is language.

When someone has an epiphany, they call that experience awakening. And as I understand it, many people then continue on with their practice to deepen their enlightenment. But for them awakening is the epiphany, awakening is not meditation.

But when someone doesn't have an epiphany but awakens gradually for them awakening is a process that continues over time. For them awakening is meditation and mindfulness practice and daily life as well. For them deepening their enlightenment is just a continuation of what they have been doing from the beginning: awakening.

So if you ask each type of experiencer what awakening is, you get two different answers. One will say awakening is an epiphany, the other will say meditation is awakening. But what they are doing with their practice it is still very similar, they are both deepening their awakening through continued meditation and mindfulness practices.
George S, modified 2 Months ago at 1/24/23 6:03 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 1/24/23 5:29 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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He’s contradicting himself. If you already have it then why do you need to sit in the right posture? Post awakening it should be apparent whatever you are doing, otherwise it is dependent on conditions.

‘Our body and mind should not be wobbling or wandering about.’

He’s talking about concentration practice – stilling the mind, jhana – that’s a special state requiring special conditions to maintain. It’s not just Chan masters who warn about special states, here is Maha Bua:

When that nature [the radiant citta of jhana] which we imagine to be so awesome and amazing finally disintegrates, something that is impossible to describe arises in full measure. That nature is Absolute Purity. When compared to that state of purity, the avijjã that we once held in such awesome regard resembles cow dung; and the nature that was concealed by avijjã appears to be pure gold. Even a baby knows which is the more precious between cow dung and gold; so we needn’t waste time and proclaim our stupidity by making comparisons.

That passage has the ring of authenticity – someone talking about their own experience of awakening in their own words – gold turns out to be shit, and shit turns out to be gold.

Sometimes when you investigate the context of seemingly contradictory statements you find that they are not really contradictory, so if you have any type of reference for this could you please post it? I would like to look into it.

​​​​​​​Here is Mazu:

    During the K'ai-yuan period of T'ang Dynasty (713-742) he [Mazu] was practicing samadhi at Ch'uan-fa Monastery in Heng-yueh There he met Venerable Huai-jang, who immediately recognized him as a Dharma-vessel. Huai-jang asked him, "Why are you sitting in meditation?"
   The Master [Mazu] replied, "Because I want to become a Buddha." Thereupon Huai-jang took a brick and started to polish it in front of the Master's hermitage. The Master asked him, "Why are you polishing that brick?"
    Huai-jang replied, "Because I want to make a mirror."
    The Master asked, "How can you make a mirror by polishing a brick?"
    Huai-jang said, "If I cannot make a mirror by polishing a brick, how can you become a Buddha by sitting in meditation?"
    The Master asked, "Then what shall I do?"
    Huai-jang asked, "When an ox-carriage stops moving, do you hit the carriage or the ox?" The Master had no reply. Huai-jang continued, "Are you practicing to sit in meditation, or practicing to sit like a Buddha? As to sitting in meditation, meditation is neither sitting nor lying. As to sitting like a Buddha, the Buddha has no fixed form. In the non-abiding Dharma, one should neither grasp nor reject. If you try to sit like a Buddha, you are just killing the Buddha. If you attach to the form of sitting, you will never realize the principle."

​​​​​​​You can find similar sentiments in the records of most Chan masters. It’s pretty much the opposite of what Dogen & Suzuki are saying.
George S, modified 2 Months ago at 1/24/23 5:33 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
Before making the arrow analogy Buddha says "So he feels two pains physical and mental." so the analogy must be about physical pain as the first arrow and mental anguish as the second arrow.

​​​​​​​Right the mental anguish is resistance to physical pain. When I started meditating I thought that emotions were mostly in my head and that’s where the anguish was. Over time I got more used to feeling emotions in my body, less mental resistance, less anguish. That’s a gradual process involving both concentration and insight practice, and it’s ongoing. I doubt that “perfect enlightenment” is possible or even desirable, other than recognizing that experience always evolves “perfectly” according to some causal/karmic process like dependent origination. The Buddha continued to practice jhana post awakening, which suggests that he still experienced hindrances (otherwise he would have been in a permanent jhana, which he knew was impossible because if you calm the mind down enough it will eventually pass through the jhanas and fall into cessation, then reboot for another go round)
George S, modified 2 Months ago at 1/24/23 6:08 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Ok so let’s use different words for different things. On the one hand you have the epiphany, the sudden realization which is typically described in such words as making sense of it all, resolving the great matter, concluding the search, seeing your original face, mind recognizing mind, the watershed moment etc. On the other hand you have ongoing practice which involves stuff like deepening concentration, psychological insight, personal development etc.

Post-epiphany people may continue to practice for overall wellbeing, but they are not looking to deepen the epiphany or have another epiphany because it’s always already there whatever they are doing. It would be like trying to turn the lights on when they are already on, or worrying about the lights turning off when there’s no switch and unlimited electricity. That’s the nature of an epiphany, it’s different from ongoing practice. Pre-epiphany practitioners typically expect/hope that an epiphany will come about as a result of practice, but post-epiphany they will often say stuff to the effect that their practice was actually obscuring the epiphany, because the epiphany was like seeing something which was already in their field of vision but being overlooked in favor of their practice goals.

If you are happy in your practice without an epiphany then that’s all that matters. But if you are trying to convince yourself that the practice brings about the same result as an epiphany, then maybe you are still curious about having an epiphany and your practice is not satisfying that curiosity?
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 1/27/23 1:48 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Factors_of_Awakening
In Buddhism, the Seven Factors of Awakening (Pali: satta bojjhaṅgā or satta sambojjhaṅgā; Skt.: sapta bodhyanga) are:
  1. Mindfulness (sati, Sanskrit smṛti). To maintain awareness of reality, in particular the teachings (dhamma).
  2. Investigation of the nature of reality (dhamma vicaya, Skt. dharmapravicaya).
  3. Energy (viriya, Skt. vīrya) also determination, effort
  4. Joy or rapture (pīti, Skt. prīti)
  5. Relaxation or tranquility (passaddhi, Skt. prashrabdhi) of both body and mind
  6. Concentration (samādhi) a calm, one-pointed state of mind,[1] or "bringing the buried latencies or samskaras into full view"[2]
  7. Equanimity (upekkha, Skt. upekshā). To accept reality as-it-is (yathā-bhuta) without craving or aversion.

Just reviewing the seven factors of awakening and I noticed Piti and relaxation of mind and body are in there.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 1/28/23 10:16 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Factors_of_Awakening
In Buddhism, the Seven Factors of Awakening (Pali: satta bojjhaṅgā or satta sambojjhaṅgā; Skt.: sapta bodhyanga) are:
  1. Mindfulness (sati, Sanskrit smṛti). To maintain awareness of reality, in particular the teachings (dhamma).
  2. Investigation of the nature of reality (dhamma vicaya, Skt. dharmapravicaya).
  3. Energy (viriya, Skt. vīrya) also determination, effort
  4. Joy or rapture (pīti, Skt. prīti)
  5. Relaxation or tranquility (passaddhi, Skt. prashrabdhi) of both body and mind
  6. Concentration (samādhi) a calm, one-pointed state of mind,[1] or "bringing the buried latencies or samskaras into full view"[2]
  7. Equanimity (upekkha, Skt. upekshā). To accept reality as-it-is (yathā-bhuta) without craving or aversion.

Just reviewing the seven factors of awakening and I noticed Piti and relaxation of mind and body are in there.


Thinking about this a little more I think it supports my contention that you should practice today for the benefits you get today, and the longer term benefits will take care of themselves.

I like to start a practice session with relaxation (relaxing meditation exercises) which require mindfulness and concentration. In my experience relaxation makes piti and sukha accessible so relaxation produces happy tranquility. I find that this kind of happy tranquility is the only state from which it is healthy to go into deeper concentration. Concentration produces to equanimity, and equanimity in the longer term leads to awakening.

During daily life you can continue practicing trying to stay relaxed, doing things in a relaxed way, moving in a relaxed way, breathing in a relaxed way, being mindful, being aware of what you are doing as you are doing it, maintaining tranquility and concentration.

Buddha taught that tranquility (samatha) and insight (vipassana) are two qualities of mind that should be both be cultivated. Insight can be cultivated by observing the activity of the mind during meditation and daily life and noticing dukkha as it arises and interferes with relaxation, happiness, tranquility, concentration etc. As you observe the activities of the mind (thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experiences, and self concepts)  you will gain insight. Observations include noticing the physical sensations in the body that accompany emotions, how the self concept varies and is intricately involved in dukkha, and how dukkha is something one does to oneself that you can choose not to do. Observing dukkha as it arises and fades you study dependent origination and the three characteristics. (Dukkha is a very specific types of suffering, it is not physical pain, it is the emotional anguish that comes from cognition - this excludes emotions that have a purely biological basis such as some types of anxiety and depression).

So from the first day of practicing this way most people will get the benefit of relaxation, and some increased equanimity. Piti and sukha might take a while to access but I think it is much easier than beginners think if they prepare for it with relaxation. So by practicing relaxation, mindfulness, and concentration, today you can get the benefits of relaxation, happy tranquility and improved equanimity today in a fashion that leads longer term toward awakening. And the more you practice each day the more you benefit each day.

Actually in my view, awakening is a gradual process that starts from the first day, stages and milestones are arbitrary and unnecessary, every one has some level of enlightenment and awakening is the process of increasing that level - so from the first day of this practice, you are also awakening and increasing your level of enlightenment. You can measure your progress by noticing whether you are suffering less, whether you are gaining freedom from the ten fetters which include: sakkāya-diṭṭhi (identity view), māna (conceit, pride, arrogance), and vyāpādo or byāpādo (ill will, doing harm) among others.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 2/12/23 4:38 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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I am cross posting a couple of posts here so I can find them more easily if I want to refer to them in the future. And I have a comment about epiphanies at the end.

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/24835609

You can do this on the cushion or off.

Observe your sense of self.

Sense of self could mean different things, Sometimes we take on different persona's in different situations, at work, with family, with friends. It could be if you are experiencing your inner child, or your inner adult etc. If you are feeling a particular emotion, pride, anger, love, fear, we have different persona's or self images for those too. Do you see yourself as a parent of your children, the child of your parents, a student, an employee, a supervisor, someone who is driving a car, or who owns a house? A cat person or a dog lover? A sports fan? Are you just awareness observing mental activity? That is a sense of self too no different from the others. Even if you are too hot or too cold you might think of the self as relating to that. Where do all these feelings of self come from? Who creates them? 

Ultimately each moment of consciousness, each thought, emotion, impulse, sensory experience has a different feeling of self that arises unbidden from some unconscious process. Actually each self is identical with the moment of consciousness. The song of a bird gives birth to the self that perceives it - that self would not exist without the bird's song.

Anatta, means no permanent unchanging self. When you experience self as something that changes from moment to moment that you don't control it's harder to be attached to self because by the time you recognize dukkha arising, that self is gone and a new one is operating. All those selves coming and going, what do they have to do with you? What are you?

It's good to practice this while doing formal meditation because it requires attention and practice. But to have a useful effect you have to experience it in daily life. You can wait until you get so good at it from sitting meditation that it naturally carries over into daily life but you will make progress faster if you also try to be mindful of it in daily life.

And the practice should be done with a relaxed frame of mind, don't get too intense or let it make you tense. If you are tense you will be irritable and that is not what most people are looking for from their practice. Try to keep your body relaxed, your breathing relaxed, and your mind friendly, open, not defensive, not competitive, not craving, not averse, let go of those unhelpful attitudes, allow the mind to be relaxed.


https://www.dharmaoverground.org/c/message_boards/find_message?p_l_id=10262&messageId=24970195
The three characteristics are interrelated, so that is a clue that the sense of self is impermanent (in this case constantly changing, arising, passing) and intricately woven into the characteristic of dukkha - notice how the sense of self is at the root of so many unpleasant emotions (aversions and cravings - jealousy, envy, hatred, ill will, conceit, defensiveness, etc etc). 

You can observe the sense of self or dukkha and it's pretty much the same thing. At first it can be easier to notice dukkha because emotions are things you feel in your body (physical sensations that accompany emotions) so you can learn to sense them, be mindful of them, very easily whereas the sense of self can be very subtle and easy to miss. But once you notice the dukkha it reminds you to notice the sense of self too. The emotions act like a signal to remind you to notice your sense of self. 

​​​​​​​When you do this you are also studying dependent origination.


https://www.dharmaoverground.org/c/message_boards/find_message?p_l_id=10262&messageId=24972972

Learning to notice the physical sensations in the body that accompany emotions helped me to become more aware of emotions. I remember being at work once, noticing I was in a bad mood, and trying to think of why, and figuring out it was something that happened three hours ago. So I had a long way to go. But when I learned to notice the physical sensation it changed things completely. With practice you can learn to notice the instant emotions arise, noticing the change from the tranquil state produced by relaxing meditation, and a lot of the time you can just decide to stay relaxed without suppressing anything. What used to seem to be involuntary now seems to be just a habit  you can give up, you realize dukkha is something you are doing to yourself.



https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/24889214

chris mc
With respect, I don't like Nyanamoli's videos, he comes across to me as angry and a bit arrogant.  i've read comments saying that he's from serbia and this is just how some people from Serbia communicate, that I'm imposing a western view on an eastern style.  ok, fair enough.

But, I really like his writings.  ...
 


I think the difficulty with the video is that looks like he is enduring suffering ... rather than ending it.

I think both views have their place enduring/surrendering/accepting/welcoming/embracing and letting go. You have to endure dukkha to observe it objectively, you have to let it out, you can't observe it objectively if you are suppressing it, or denying it, or judging it, but when you observe it, in time you see it is something you are doing to yourself and you can see that you don't have to do it. This is the lesson of dependent origination. And if you don't let go you can over do the observing and get into territory where you are just reinforcing it by focusing on it. And you can even set up a feedback loop that makes it worse and worse - analogous to the first jhana but with misery rather than joy. Another pitfall could be to let out too much too quickly. Sometimes if a person has a lot of baggage they have been keeping bottled up, taking the cork off all at once might be too much. Some people would be better off at times going gradually, limiting their practice.

Finding the right balance between letting out and letting go is not easy. I think samatha has it's role (relaxation and tranquility and joy are among the seven factors of awakening), as well as vipassana (seeing how you do it to yourself (the lesson of dependent origination), seeing how the constantly changing sense of self is at the root of dukkha (a lesson of the three characteristics - impermanence, not self, dukkha)).

I don't know if it is possible to prefect 100% letting go of dukkha, but I think in theory it is possible, it's hard for me to imagine perfecting it myself but I don't rule it out for other people. There is a huge variability among humans so I can't comfortably say it is impossible for everyone.

And I don't want to judge Thero because I don't really know his exact situation so I will just say, not about him, but in general there are some emotions that have a biological origin like some types of anxiety and depression that are not going to be helped by mental techniques like Buddhist practices so that could explain why someone might be suffering even though they have the practice right. Someone could be awakened and also have a disorder like that and might not fit our expectations of someone who is awakened.


In the post above I mention the lesson of dependent origination is that dukkha is something we do to ourselves and we can choose not to do it. And a lesson of the three characteristics is that the constantly changing sense of self is at the root of dukkha.

Sometimes people see these lessons suddenly, experience that as an epiphany, and call that awakening or enlightenment.
Other people learn these lessons gradually or are not overwhelmed by the insight for other reasons (maybe they are stoical by nature and not easily moved, or they have read a lot about it and are expecting it), and never experience it as an epiphany, but are just as awakened.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 1/31/23 8:57 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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cross posting...

I think Kumara Bhikkhu is a genius (someone who I agree with a lot).

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/c/message_boards/find_message?p_l_id=10262&messageId=24894101
Jim Smith
Nick Chab Chab
Hey guys, 
here is the link : https://justpaste.it/jbook
the book is very instructive and a good food for thought. It tends to support Thanissaro and Ajahn Nanamoli's take on the matter.


I like the chapter where he writes that full awakening is a gradual process and the way to measure progress is by reduction in attachents and aversions.
Therefore, if our way of practising the Dhamma is indeed correct and suitable for us, it should cause us to gradually know and see things as they are, and witness the gradual letting go of craving and clinging and the corresponding gradual release from dukkha.


We should also compare our practice with the Buddha’s instructions for the second and third noble truths. Does it bring about abandonment of craving for sensuality, for being and for non-being? Does it lead to witnessing the cessation of dukkha: the “remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very craving.” 154 This is the purpose for which we practice. And so we ask: Has this been the result of our jhāna (meditation) practice?

 This way of evaluating tallies with this passage from Satthusāsana Sutta (AN7.83):

 
“… those things which you might know thus: ‘These things lead exclusively to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to nibbāna,’ you should definitely recognize: ‘This is the Dhamma; this is the discipline; this is the teaching of the Teacher.’” (NDB, p1100)
 
As it speaks of Nibbāna, the ultimate liberation, it can seem like a criterion too demanding to go by, but it’s not really so. We just need to understand what Nibbāna is. “The evaporation of passion, the evaporation of aversion,the evaporation of delusion—this, friend, is called Nibbāna.” (Nibbānapañhā Sutta, SN38.1)

 And so we should check: With my present way of practice, have I become freer from mental defilements: passion, aversion and delusion? This, for me, is the litmus test of spiritual progress. Through our practice, has desire lessened in us? In meeting undesirable situations similar as before, are we less angry, less afraid, less hurt? Have we become less jealous, less conceited, less stubborn, less vain, less muddled, less attached (e.g. to views)? To evaluate the trueness of our way of practice, we need to answer these questions honestly.

 In addition, bear in mind that all our problems—worldly and spiritual—consist of mental defilements. Our practice should bring about their evaporation at all levels and in all aspects of our lives, not only when we’re on the meditation cushion or in a retreat.
 
Considering that the strength of noticeable defilements fluctuates, one teacher suggests comparing between the recent period and five years ago. If that’s too long for you, how about three years? If, after more than that, nothing has changed for the better, then something is wrong somewhere, and it’s good to step back and re-evaluate our way of practice, and make the necessary changes. If defilements have grown instead, then surely we should do something immediately!

 There’s another list of criteria in Saṅkhitta Sutta (AN8.53). You may find the following advice from the Buddha to his step-mother more concrete and immediately experiential:

 “As for the qualities of which you may know, ‘These qualities lead

 •  to dispassion, not to passion;
 •  to being unfettered, not to being fettered;
 •  to shedding, not to accumulating;
 •  to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement;
 •  to contentment, not to discontent;
 •  to seclusion, not to entanglement;
 •  to aroused persistence, not to laziness;
 •  to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome’:

 You may categorically hold, ‘This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher’s instruction.’” 155
 
So, we can also compare our practice with these eight points, and see if it is the Dhamma, the Vinaya, the Teacher’s instruction.
 
Back to the cessation of dukkha due to the relinquishment of craving, we needn’t limit our thinking to en bloc cessation. As the Buddha said in Uposatha Sutta (Ud5.5 & AN8.20),
 
Just as, bhikkhus, the great ocean is gradually sloped, gradually slanted, gradually inclined, with no abrupt drop-off; even so, bhikkhus, in this Dhamma-Discipline, there is gradual training, gradual practice, gradual progress, with no abrupt gnosis-penetration.
 
Therefore, if our way of practising the Dhamma is indeed correct and suitable for us, it should cause us to gradually know and see things as they are, and witness the gradual letting go of craving and clinging and the corresponding gradual release from dukkha.
In the past I have seen that quote from the sutras about the ocean dropping off. unfortunatel the vesion I saw said there is a sudden drop off after a long stretch. When I saw this different translation I checked with what I consider to be the most authorative site and found this:

https://www.themindingcentre.org/dharmafarer/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/59.2a-Atthaka-Uposatha-S-1-a8.20.pdf
Even so, bhikshus, just as the great ocean slopes gradually, slides gradually, inclines gradually, not abruptly like a precipice — so, too, in this Dharma-Vinaya, penetration into final knowledge occurs by gradual training, not abruptly
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 2/6/23 12:55 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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When you worry about the future, you are creating a story, a work of fiction. It's not just a story about a situation that has not happened, it's also a story about a character. Notice how often you create such characters for your stories. Not just stories about worrying, but stories about anything in the future. And stories about the past. And stories about the present. Can you abide any other way than with your mind filled with story after story and character after character? Without all those stories and characters what is there?
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 2/18/23 7:54 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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This might be somewhat of a draft. I'll take this line out if I decide I have nothing more to add or change. It's not really possible to make a short discussion complete so it will necessarily be incomplete, but sometimes brevity has advantages.
                                                                             

Relax, let go
Don't take things too seriously, be in the moment.
Accept, surrender

Stop doing it to yourself
because of your sense of self

Nothing can harm you
                                                                             

  • Relax, let go - I believe this, in itself, is sufficient. Everything that follows in this post is supplementary. Being non-attached means letting go. Letting go is something that is physical. Dukkha is a physical thing. Letting go is the physical act of relaxing. If you want a simple practice give this a try.
​​​​​​​
  • In daily life try to be relaxed, move in a relaxed way, breathe in a relaxed way, don't take things too seriously, be in the moment - mindful of sensory experience - aware of what you are doing as you are doing it - observing the activity of the mind. You will get more out of your practice by integrating it into your daily activities.

  • Accept, surrender - This adds a mental component to the relaxation aspect of letting go. Acceptance is the mental reminder, the understanding, that the problem is not the situation, the problem is your reaction. It gives you a reason to let go, it justifies letting go. It doesn't mean you ignore problems, it means you deal with them with reason and compassion not out of control emotions. Surrender is similar, it means you stop resisting reality, you stop resisting your emotions. Until you have perfection, you will have attachments and aversions that produce unpleasant emotions. If you resist your emotions, you just make the problem worse.

  • Stop doing it to yourself - Dukkha is something we do to ourselves. We learn this from observing the activity of the mind and the corresponding physical sensations in the body. Any type of meditation involves studying the activity of the mind. Any time one is distracted from the focus of meditation the distraction shows us our own mental activity and that we do not really control our own mind. By observing the activity of the mind indirectly through any type of meditation or directly as a focus of meditation or mindfulness in daily life, we see how dukkha, impermanence and the sense of self are involved in our mental activity. We see how dukkha arises and how it fades. This is the study of the three characteristics and of dependent origination.

  • Because of your sense of self - As we study the activity of the mind, indirectly through any type of meditation or directly as the focus of meditation or mindfulness we see from learning about the three characteristics and dependent origination that the constantly changing sense of self is at the root of dukkha.

  • Nothing can harm you - Non-attachment ends dukkha. I don't know if it is possible for anyone to perfect this, and I don't know if it is impossible for anyone to perfect this. But it is the ideal that practice aims toward - to let go no matter what. Not to ignore problems but to deal with them, to experience life, through reason and compassion rather than out of control emotions. There might be a bit of a sense of ... of ... something ... in this that helps you to let go, that helps you to be non-attached, that helps you to be above what other people think, what you have been socialized to believe, to be above the dualistic mindset of winning/losing better/worse right/wrong correct incorrect. It justifies everything preceding it in this post.
(Some emotions are due to biological factors such as some types of depression and anxiety. These types of feelings might not be eased by mental techniques such as meditation and mindfulness.)
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 2/23/23 5:39 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith

...

  • Accept, surrender - This adds a mental component to the relaxation aspect of letting go. Acceptance is the mental reminder, the understanding, that the problem is not the situation, the problem is your reaction. It gives you a reason to let go, it justifies letting go. It doesn't mean you ignore problems, it means you deal with them with reason and compassion not out of control emotions. Surrender is similar, it means you stop resisting reality, you stop resisting your emotions. Until you have perfection, you will have attachments and aversions that produce unpleasant emotions. If you resist your emotions, you just make the problem worse.

  • Stop doing it to yourself - Dukkha is something we do to ourselves. We learn this from observing the activity of the mind and the corresponding physical sensations in the body. Any type of meditation involves studying the activity of the mind. Any time one is distracted from the focus of meditation the distraction shows us our own mental activity and that we do not really control our own mind. By observing the activity of the mind indirectly through any type of meditation or directly as a focus of meditation or mindfulness in daily life, we see how dukkha, impermanence and the sense of self are involved in our mental activity. We see how dukkha arises and how it fades. This is the study of the three characteristics and of dependent origination.

​​​​​​​...
(Some emotions are due to biological factors such as some types of depression and anxiety. These types of feelings might not be eased by mental techniques such as meditation and mindfulness.)​​​​​​​

This might look like a contradiction - in practice the way it works is that if you can notice the emotion the instant it beings to arise, often you can refrain from producing it without suppressing anything. It's kind of like (not exactly like) if you notice you are upset over something trivial you can just drop it when you realize how trivial/silly it is. For example one time I was frying eggs for breakfast and I tried to flip them over by tossing them in the air but they came down folded over not flat in the pan and I was disappointed/annoyed, until I realized it was trivial, silly, unnecessary to feel that way, and it was easy to let go.

But other times if a strong emotion is in full bloom, you can't easily let go of it, you may recognize that the resistance is the major component of the suffering you experience. If you can let go of the resistance, allow (give permission for) the emotion to exist, embrace it, it can seem like something interesting, not necessarily some thing very bad, - as Shinzen Young describes this a being like enjoying spicy food. Some spices feel "hot" because they bind to pain receptors, yet we may enjoy the experience. (Like when sometimes people enjoy what are usually considered unpleasant emotions - like sad movies or scary activities like sky diving.)
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 2/23/23 4:36 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
Jim Smith

...

  • Accept, surrender - This adds a mental component to the relaxation aspect of letting go. Acceptance is the mental reminder, the understanding, that the problem is not the situation, the problem is your reaction. It gives you a reason to let go, it justifies letting go. It doesn't mean you ignore problems, it means you deal with them with reason and compassion not out of control emotions. Surrender is similar, it means you stop resisting reality, you stop resisting your emotions. Until you have perfection, you will have attachments and aversions that produce unpleasant emotions. If you resist your emotions, you just make the problem worse.

  • Stop doing it to yourself - Dukkha is something we do to ourselves. We learn this from observing the activity of the mind and the corresponding physical sensations in the body. Any type of meditation involves studying the activity of the mind. Any time one is distracted from the focus of meditation the distraction shows us our own mental activity and that we do not really control our own mind. By observing the activity of the mind indirectly through any type of meditation or directly as a focus of meditation or mindfulness in daily life, we see how dukkha, impermanence and the sense of self are involved in our mental activity. We see how dukkha arises and how it fades. This is the study of the three characteristics and of dependent origination.

​​​​​​​...
(Some emotions are due to biological factors such as some types of depression and anxiety. These types of feelings might not be eased by mental techniques such as meditation and mindfulness.)​​​​​​​

This might look like a contradiction - in practice the way it works is that if you can notice the emotion the instant it beings to arise, often you can refrain from producing it without suppressing anything. It's kind of like (not exactly like) if you notice you are upset over something trivial you can just drop it when you realize how trivial/silly it is. For example one time I was frying eggs for breakfast and I tried to flip them over by tossing them in the air but they came down folded over not flat in the pan and I was disappointed/annoyed, until I realized it was trivial, silly, unnecessary to feel that way, and it was easy to let go.

But other times if a strong emotion is in full bloom, you can't easily let go of it, you may recognize that the resistance is the major component of the suffering you experience. If you can let go of the resistance, allow (give permission for) the emotion to exist, embrace it, it can seem like something interesting, not necessarily some thing very bad, - as Shinzen Young describes this a being like enjoying spicy food. Some spices feel "hot" because they bind to pain receptors, yet we may enjoy the experience. (Like when sometimes people enjoy what are usually considered unpleasant emotions - like sad movies or scary activities like sky diving.)


Surrender = not resisting = relaxing

​​​​​​​"refrain from producing it without suppressing anything" = relaxing

Those two points are actually the same idea but applied to different links in the chain of dependent origination.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 2/24/23 1:19 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith


Surrender = not resisting = relaxing

"refrain from producing it without suppressing anything" = relaxing

Those two points are actually the same idea but applied to different links in the chain of dependent origination.


This is why I wrote:


Everything else is just an explanation of why relaxing is solution to dukkha.

This may be why Thanissaro translates dukkha as "stress".
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.011.than.html
"Now this, monks, is the noble truth of stress:[1] Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful, separation from the loved is stressful, not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.

"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of stress: the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming.

"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of stress: the remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very craving.

"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress: precisely this Noble Eightfold Path — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.


The cessation of stress = relaxation = letting go/equanimity/non-attachment (upekkha)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upeksha_(Indian_thought)
​​​​​​​Upeksha in Sanskrit or Upekkha in Pali means equanimity, non-attachment, even-mindedness or letting go.
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Jim Smith, modified 26 Days ago at 3/3/23 9:21 PM
Created 26 Days ago at 3/3/23 9:13 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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In another thread I wrote about feeling like you don't have a self:

...
How people feel with regard to the self is not so important as how their sense of self affects their thinking and behavior. If they feel like they don't have a self but act like they have/are a self or think like they have/are a self then the feeling of no self is just a delusion. However, when the sense of no-self permeates their being so deeply that it affects how they think and how they act and they never experience or act out of ill will, conceit, attachment to pleasures, attachment to their body, or any kind of attachment to self,  or irritability when attachments are threatened (because they have no attachments), when they don't experience or demonstrate any preference for themselves ahead of other beings even to the point where compassion and right speech are natural and automatic, at that point "no-self" means something and it is very rare. ...


The feeling of no self doesn't necessarily mean that there is no attachment to self. Buddhist practice should be focused on removing attachment to self not just producing a feeling of no-self. When there is no attachment to self, all those impossible conditions will be realized. I'm not sure if this can be perfected but I don't rule out the possibility. And short of 100% perfection it is still a beneficial path that one can pursue.

Repeatedly observing that one's sense of self is constantly changing (there isn't a fixed permanent self) and that attachment to self is at the root of suffering can reduce attachment to self.

If you observe the activity of the mind and notice when dukkha arises during meditation and in daily life, you can see how the self or the ego is involved in causing dukkha and how the sense of self is constantly changing. Over time you notice more and more subtleties to the phenomenon. The more you practice this way, the weaker your attachment to self becomes, because:
  • by observing self you learn to see it as something outside you that causes suffering,
  • this leads to disenchantment that motivates you to try letting go of attachment to self. With practice you can develop the ability to let go of it - starting with weak attachments, developing familarity with how letting go works, and moving to stronger and stronger attachments.
The more you are able to let go of your attachment to self, the more you move along the path I described in the quote above. The benefit that comes from this practice is not to create a feeling of no-self, the benefit is understanding not-self because that understanding makes possible letting go of attachment to self.
shargrol, modified 26 Days ago at 3/4/23 6:11 AM
Created 26 Days ago at 3/4/23 6:03 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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The feeling of no self doesn't necessarily mean that there is no attachment to self. Buddhist practice should be focused on removing attachment to self not just producing a feeling of no-self. ...  Repeatedly observing that one's sense of self is constantly changing (there isn't a fixed permanent self) and that attachment to self is at the root of suffering can reduce attachment to self. ... The more you are able to let go of your attachment to self, the more you move along the path I described in the quote above. The benefit that comes from this practice is not to create a feeling of no-self, the benefit is understanding not-self because that understanding makes possible letting go of attachment to self.
First of all, well said. The thing people often miss is that clinging to developing a "pure self" is a form of greed, clinging to "no self" is a form of aversion, and ignoring the way a clinging to self creates suffering is indifference. The goal is not "no self" or a feeling of "no self". And the spiritually ambitious people who want to create a "pure self" will also suffer. 

However, I would also say that to really get "done" with this stuff, it's really important to notice that technically it's impossible to actually be attached to self --- even if we wanted to. As you point out, the first hint is that the self keeps changing. The second hint is the suffering that happens when we try to control if/how it changes. The third hint relates to the "who" relaxes(?) and "who" is able to let go of the attachment of self(?). This is seeing the tautological nature of self, the endless self-referentiallity of it. This takes it way outside of the realm of psychology and into the realm of awakening. Really getting the third hint radically changes how the whole entire domain of self, including the assumed problem caused by the self, is understood. We may not have the problem we think we had.

It's a lot like realizing what money is and it's tautological nature. Money is real and the most important thing... in the world of money. Self is real and the most important thing... in the world of the self. 

Being "reborn" is basically existing again within another tautological worldview, it's a samsaric world. (A practice method for seeing this is the 6 realms teaching, where we reduce all the complexity about a situation and just look at it's fundamental worldview. Am I trying to oppose, take, endure, enjoy, achieve, or maintain? That is being reborn as a hell being, hungry ghost, animal, human, powerful god, heavenly being, respectively.) When the belief in the reality of the tautology falls apart, that's an extinguishing of the world, nirvana litterally means extinguishing.

There is a lot of work to be done on seeing the tautologies of samsaric worlds and having them extinquish. If this work isn't done, then we're just lying to ourselves and we're just a bunch of philosophers that are great at looking backward and rationalizing, but unable to manifest our philosopies in real time.

But the last step is seeing that the samsaric world never "stays" except for our beliefs about holding it here. The samsaric world is always already extinquishing itself, too. The recursive nature of selfing and it's assumed link to causation is the last little knot that needs to be untangled. Right in this moment, nothing can make anything arise and nothing keeps anything here. There isn't even such a thing as "this moment". 

This is the radical and catalytic insight that allows for awakening, but again, unless a critical mass of fixations has been cleaned away this will just be a philosophical idea. All of our psychological/philosophical work in meditation is to get us light enough so that when we have an insight into the actual nature of self and this moment, the whole thing tips over like a balance scale that finally tips to the other side... or the whole thing falls apart like a house of cards... or some other metaphor. 
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Jim Smith, modified 26 Days ago at 3/4/23 7:01 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Martin, modified 25 Days ago at 3/4/23 11:29 AM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Beautiful!
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Jim Smith, modified 25 Days ago at 3/4/23 6:44 PM
Created 25 Days ago at 3/4/23 4:46 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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shargrol
...
The third hint relates to the "who" relaxes(?) and "who" is able to let go of the attachment of self(?). This is seeing the tautological nature of self, the endless self-referentiallity of it. This takes it way outside of the realm of psychology and into the realm of awakening.
... 


I am seeing a difference among opinions on how important this insight is.

The Buddha saw this and called it a migician's trick.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.095.than.html
"Now suppose that a magician or magician's apprentice were to display a magic trick at a major intersection, and a man with good eyesight were to see it, observe it, & appropriately examine it. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in a magic trick? In the same way, a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any consciousness that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in consciousness?

"Seeing thus, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with fabrications, disenchanted with consciousness. Disenchanted, he grows dispassionate. Through dispassion, he's released. With release there's the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"

Yet this wasn't the main thrust of his teachings. One could argue that he was trivializing it by calling it a trick. The four noble truths are not the four noble truths of magic tricks. They are the four noble truths of suffering. They explain how to eliminate suffering ... totally. The eightfold path includes right speech and right action and right livelihood, and the six stage graudal traing includes generosity which if practiced leads to becoming a nicer person. Yet there seems to be agreement among people practicing today that awakening doesn't end suffering or make you a nicer person.

Why do their practices fall short of producing the results Buddha sought? Maybe it's because they are focused on no-self and consider that the end goal of practice. When it is a focus on letting go of attachments and aversions - eliminating dukkha that leads to emotional and behavioral changes. The seventh and last factor of awakening according to the Buddha is not the insight into self, it is letting go (upekkha)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upeksha_(Indian_thought)
Upeksha in Sanskrit or Upekkha in Pali means equanimity, non-attachment, even-mindedness or letting go.

I've also posted frequently about Shinzen Young's observation that most of his students awaken gradually maybe not even recognizing their awakening. That could not happen if recognizing the self referential nature of consciousness was important for awakening because it is logically impossible be ignorant of a necessary insight. Shinzen explains:
https://www.lionsroar.com/on-enlightenment-an-interview-with-shinzen-young/
What typically happens is that over a period of years, and indeed decades, within that person the craving, aversion, and unconsciousness—the mula kleshas (the fundamental “impurities”), get worked through. But because all this is happening gradually they’re acclimatizing as it’s occurring and they may not realize how far they’ve come.
Insight into self is not part of this explanation.

So I understand a lot of people think the insight into self is important and the final step even though it does not end suffering, but others think the emotional work is the key and Buddha at least thought letting go did end suffering. 

Bhante Vimalaramsi also had insight into self but he didn't believe this was what Buddha was teaching.
https://web.archive.org/web/20180621093536/https://www.dhammasukha.org/ven-bhante-vimalaramsi.html
Bhante practiced Vipassana very intensely his first 20 years under an American teacher and in Burma, under U Pandita and U Janaka. Finally around 1990 he was told that he had achieved the endpoint of the practice, as it was taught by the Sayadaws, and now he should go teach.  He didn't feel comfortable that he had really found the end of suffering. He felt he did not have the true personality change that awakening should bring, even after going through the 16 levels of Insight or knowledges, as outlined by Mahasi Sayadaw in Progress of Insight.


He felt insight into self did not end suffering or bring about changes in personality but went on to study the pali canon and develop a practice that involved relaxation which did.
https://www.dhammasukha.org/the-6rs
WHAT ARE THE 6Rs?

The 6Rs are steps which evolve into one fluid motion becoming a new wholesome habitual tendency that relieves any dis-ease in mind and body. This cycle begins when mindfulness remembers the 6Rs which are:

1. Recognize

2. Release

3. Relax

4. Re-Smile

5. Return

6. Repeat


This practice is not about understanding self, it is about letting go of dukkha (working through kleshas as Shinzen puts it, or watching the activity of the mind and observing dukkha as I put it) - which is want ends suffering and changes personality.
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Pepe ·, modified 25 Days ago at 3/4/23 5:06 PM
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RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Regarding Bhante Vimalaramsi's teachings, it's interesting Oleg Pavlov's critique to TWIM:

My name is Oleg Pavlov, I am a former teacher of the TWIM Suttavada method. By now I have quitted from the Suttavada, and I consider its activities harmful. In this video I will try to explain my point of view.

I do this for two reasons. Firstly, to help people avoid the harm that awaits them in the Suttavada. And secondly, out of respect for my former teachers in Suttavada - Bhanta Vimalaramsi, David Johnson and Khanti Khema. I believe and want to believe that they are good people who, although mistaken, have the best motives.

First of all, I would like to describe how the TWIM practice proceeds according to my observations. These observations were made by me on the example of several hundred practitioners who studied not only with me, but also with other teachers. I have not met any exceptions to the results described below.

So, the essence of the practice of meditation in the Suttavada, as far as I understand it, is to learn how to gradually slow down the work of your mind. The complete, close to zero, slowing down is called the nirodha in the Suttavada.

They say that their goal is to study how our mind works, but we will see that this goal is essentially ignored in Suttavada.

So, all practitioners can be divided into two groups: the first is those who fail to slow down to zero, and the second is those who succeed in this.

The first hang in their practice, and the second is announced that they have reached one or another stage of awakening.

I was one of those who managed to learn to slow down their mind to zero. The trick here is to maintain awareness until the very end and not fall asleep, because sleeping is an active state, and a person who has fallen asleep will not be able to slow down his or her mind to zero.

I will describe this state: I am sitting, there is no drowsiness, I gradually calm down more and more, letting go of everything, and then at some point there is a complete shutdown. After a while, I turn on again, for the first few moments I don't understand where I am and how much time has passed, the world seems to be reloading. Even if a few minutes have passed in this state, I feel completely rested.

My teachers testified that as the nirodha. For me now, this is quite a normal, daily state. The problem is that it is not the nirodha. This is some kind of sleep, something like a direct entry into the phase of slow sleep. I even know a trucker driver who also can enter this state and uses it to quickly refresh his mind on the way. Needless to say, he is far from enlightenment and from Buddhism in general.

When I tried to go another way than this falling asleep still staying in TWIM, I was faced with tension, which in the TWIM method inevitably arises in this case.
 
The Suttavada declares that a person can face mental or psychosomatic problems only in the practice of so-called one-pointed concentration. I will not go into the thesis now that this very dichotomy - the one-pointed concentration vs TWIM, in my opinion, is false. But I can assure you that these problems occur in TWIM no less often than in other methods. I have seen such situations both among my students and those who studied in the USA in Dhammasukha. In this case, Suttavada teachers usually state that a person simply does not do what he or she is told, deviating from the method. But so-called one-pointed concentration schools say the same thing in the same cases.

Now let's talk about the doctrinal basis of the Suttavada. The method is based on the thesis that the craving or tanha has a physical correlate in the form of tension or tightness in your head.

However, this is not mentioned anywhere in the suttas. We can see the description of craving for example in the Dhammachakkappavattana Sutta or in the Mahasatipatthana Sutta. There is not a word about tension there. There are words in Pali that describe tension. The Buddha clearly spoke better than Bhante Vimalaramsi. However, the Buddha does not use this word.

Bhante also links the tension in your head with the bodily formations mentioned in the practice of Anapanasati, but in many suttas we see a clear indication that the bodily formations are breath in and breath out.

The Buddha does not say anywhere about staying in your head and dropping your body, as Bhante Vimalaramsi advises. Again, the Buddha knew all these words, but did not speak like that. To think that he expressed himself clumsily means not to believe in him.

All these are obvious contradictions to the suttas.

From the original idea that the craving is tension stems the thesis about the importance of relaxation and 6R’s method. The Suttavada declares that the 6R’s method is nothing but the Right Effort (or, as they translate this term, a Harmonious Exercise, I will also tell you about how wrong these translations below).

However, if we read the definition of the Right Effort, for example, in the same two suttas, in the Dhammachakkappavatta Sutta and in the Mahasatipatthana Sutta, we will see that the Right Effort is not relaxation, namely effort, diligence, which, moreover, is applied not episodically, but CONSTANTLY.

There are also words in Pali for relaxation, and these are not passambayati or passadhi. However, the Buddha does not use them in this case. In the case of describing the Right Effort, in fact, he does not even use passambayati and passadhi. The Buddha used the words of effort and diligence. And again let’s remember he was absolutely skilful in using the words.

Further. The Mindfulness is defined in the Suttavada as remembering to observe what your attention is directed at and how it moves from object to object. But the suttas say that the Right Mindfulness is Satipatthana.

And what is Satipatthana? This is the practice of investigating emerging phenomena, in particular suffering, pain, dukkha. Buddha calls it The Only Way to the Awakening (ekayano maggo). However, what are we doing in the Suttavada? We use 6R’s, that is, in fact, we turn away from emerging phenomena and states.

The Buddha says that our purpose is to realize the Four Noble Truths and the first truth must be known, he said. That is, you need to know the nature of pain, that pain is an all-pervading phenomenon. However, we simply turn away from it, that is, we do the opposite. The middle path (not harmony) here dictates that we do not deviate into self-torment, but nevertheless, it is necessary to study pain. Turning away from pain means consciously practicing ignoring. Bhante Vimalaramsi himself said that ignorance, avidja, is fundamentally ignoring. That is, in the Suttavada we consciously practice ignorance. We don’t realize the Four Noble Truths. We go the opposite way.

And here I have to say with an inner shudder that yes, the Suttavada is a conscious practice of ignorance, that is, the path opposite to what the Buddha taught. Not just deviant, but the opposite.

Bhante says that Dhamma is pleasant at the beginning, pleasant in the middle, pleasant at the end, obviously referring to the Pali adjective kalyana. But this word is translated not as pleasant, but as morally good, beneficial. Dhamma can be painful for some people, as is explicitly stated in many suttas. For example, in the Madjhima Nikaya sutta 45.

But Bhante Vi presents Dhamma as pleasant. He calls the points of the Eightfold Path Harmonious. Dalson Armstrong calls them Effective. But in the Pali language there is both the word harmonious and the word effective. The Buddha used the word "samma", which means exactly right or righteous. In one of the suttas, he calls a righteous person "samma Ghatikara".

The difference between the concepts of "correct", "harmonious" and "effective" is significant. "Right" has to do with Good and Evil. Buddha says, "Avoid Evil, cultivate Good, purify your mind." This is uncompromising adherence to the Law of Dhamma. If a rock gets in our way, we must make every effort to cut through the rock. That what is Right.

Harmonious way of doing in relation to the path means that we make compromises all the time. If we meet a rock, we sit down and sit peacefully in front of it. The Buddha would not have left home if he had acted harmoniously.

Effectiveness is devoid of any moral meaning at all. A murderer can also be effective. At the face of rock, an effective person would try to pass by the rock. But in our case, there is no any roundabout way.

This distortion of meaning leads to moral ambivalence. Prescriptions are needed only to make our meditation pleasant. A man whom Bhante Vimalaramsi himself called anagami starts a spiritual business by teaching the 6P method (this is a real case). Or another person, who was also called anagami, smokes, drinks, and likes to eat delicious food.

I am afraid that in the course of this practice, if we succeed, and we stay more and more in the state of quasi-nirodha, we go deeper into what Buddhism calls the world of unconscious gods. This is absolutely not the liberation. After your life in this world ends up, you fall into the lower worlds inevitably. That is, instead of salvation, we get something opposite. At the same time, people are easily told that they are already enlightened. And now let's try to imagine what awaits someone who passes off such a path as the Buddha's Dhamma?

I could give many more arguments, both on the doctrine, and on the jhanas, and on the suttas, and on the forgiveness practice, but I will stop anyway, because it seems to me that what has already been said is enough. Finally, I will consider only one question that arises for most people who have been trained in the Suttavada. Why, then, does their practice still have a beneficial effect?

There are two reasons for this. The first is that the skill of relaxation is in principle useful in therapeutic terms. This is also done, say, by psychotherapy in the method of self-hypnosis. But reducing the level of tension makes sense only to some extent, and it has nothing to do with liberation from suffering as such.

Secondly, the practice of brahmaviharas is now being used in TWIM, and it is so beneficial in itself that it is difficult to spoil it with anything. This practice is not invented in the Suttavada, it is also occured in other schools of Buddhism. Moreover, there are no first two stages in the suttas, they are taken from the Visuddhimagga. And the stage of directions in the suttas looks somewhat different (without "radiation"). Currently, the Dhammasukha has stopped teaching TWIM through breathing. This is my guess, but I think that without brahmaviharas, the unworthiness of TWIM sooner or later becomes too obvious.
shargrol, modified 25 Days ago at 3/4/23 5:13 PM
Created 25 Days ago at 3/4/23 5:10 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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"even after going through the 16 levels of Insight or knowledges, as outlined by Mahasi Sayadaw in Progress of Insight."

That would just be first path, right?

"This practice is not about understanding self, it is about letting go of dukkha"

What holds on to dukka?
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Jim Smith, modified 22 Days ago at 3/7/23 9:23 PM
Created 22 Days ago at 3/7/23 3:44 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Mantra of the day:

"Resistance is futile."

I'm not sure if I can explain this one because it is very subjective - words might not be able to convey what is going on with any clarity. But what I mean by it is that it is better not to resist emotions and situations. The larger part of suffering is really the resistance we put up to situations and emotions, and by resistance I mean that "I don't want" or "I don't like" feeling/intention that seems to be common to all dukkha. If you can isolate that in your mind it can be possible to let go of and if you do that, "unpleasant" emotions and situations are much easier to endure - the suffering is a lot less.

On another topic, I think it is useful to point out that there are three of the three characteristics. Different people find a different one to be the most useful to focus on. Also it seems like most teachers have their own unique way of teaching the darmah. They generally teach what worked for them. So some people might think one characteristic is the most important but others might think a different one is most important. And just like each teacher teaches what worked for them, each student needs to figure out what works best for them. Some students might learn fastest by focusing on one instead of another.  

That's one reason I like to describe my practice as: to relax and quiet the mind an then watch the activity of the mind (thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experience, and senses of self) and notice dukkha arising and fading and notice how the sense of self is constantly changing and involved in dukkha arising - during meditation and in daily life. This way of practicing includes dukkha, anatta (self constantly changing, and a subject of observation just like other thoughts, emotions and impulses) and impermanence (dukkha arising and fading and sense of self changing). This way of practicing is compatible with with most forms of meditation because even if the activity of the mind is not the direct focus of meditation, every time you get distracted when meditating you have an opportunity to notice the activity of the mind, and it offers all three characteristics to study so if someone wants to focus on any one of the three they can do that.
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Jim Smith, modified 15 Days ago at 3/15/23 3:09 AM
Created 17 Days ago at 3/12/23 8:49 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith


  • Relax, let go - I believe this, in itself, is sufficient. Everything that follows in this post is supplementary. Being non-attached means letting go. Letting go is something that is physical. Dukkha is a physical thing. Letting go is the physical act of relaxing. If you want a simple practice give this a try.



When you practice some type of samatha meditation and it puts you in a calm peaceful mood, you become very sensitive to dukkha because dukkha disturbs your pleasant mood.

Because you are sensitive to dukkha you will notice dukkha arising and you will see what causes dukkha to arise.

If you like your pleasant mood, you will try to return to it, and that will tell you something about dukkha fading.

Noticing dukkha arising and fading shows you impermanence.

And when you notice dukkha, and try to get back to tranquility, you may want to understand what it is that is interfering with your tranquility and you will often notice that it is your sense of self, your "ego" (wanting to win, to be better, to succeed, to be right, to be smart, to be strong, to get what you want, to keep what is yours, to be admired, respected, and other attachments to "me" and "mine") that is causing the dukkha. If you begin to notice your sense of self, you will notice it is frequently changing (more impermanence). And if you notice your sense of self, you will recognize that if you can observe it, it is outside yourself.

Noticing the "self" changes and is not you is noticing anatta (not-self). Noticing the sense of self is the source of dukkha leads to disenchantment and letting go of all those attachments.

So just by practicing samatha, even if you just want to wallow in bliss through mindfulness, you will inevitably study the three characteristics (dukkha, anatta, impermanence) and dependent origination, and you will have to begin to let go of attachments to keep your bliss.

Therefore, you can't really "wallow in bliss". If try to, and you have just a little bit of curiosity (damma vicaya) and put in a little bit of effort (viriya), samatha will naturally lead to vipassana, and letting go, and it will wake you up.

Samatha is a kind of booby trap for craving. You think it is something nice you are getting for yourself, but the more you want it, the harder you strive to maintain tranquility, the more you investigate what interferes with it (because you want to end the interference), the more insight you develop, the more you let go of, the faster you wake up.
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Jim Smith, modified 10 Days ago at 3/19/23 11:51 AM
Created 10 Days ago at 3/19/23 11:47 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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https://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Early_Buddhist_Texts
Early Buddhist texts (EBTs), ... are parallel texts shared by the early Buddhist schools. The most widely studied EBT material are the first four Pali Nikayas, as well as the corresponding Chinese Āgamas. However, some scholars have also pointed out that some Vinaya material, like the Patimokkha (monastic rules) are also early.

Besides the large collections in Pali and Chinese, there are also fragmentary collections of EBT materials in Sanskrit, Khotanese, Tibetan and Gāndhārī. The modern study of early pre-sectarian Buddhism often relies on comparative scholarship using these various early Buddhist sources.

Various scholars of Buddhist studies such as Richard Gombrich, Akira Hirakawa, Alexander Wynne and A. K. Warder hold that Early Buddhist texts contain material that could possibly be traced to the historical Buddha himself or at least to the early years of pre-sectarian Buddhism. According to the Japanese scholar Akira Hirakawa, "any attempt to ascertain the original teachings of the historical Buddha must be based on this literature."
...
EBTs in the Pali Canon (Tipitaka)
  • Digha Nikaya
  • Majjhima Nikaya
  • Samyutta Nikaya
  • Anguttara Nikaya
  • The following books of the Khuddaka Nikaya: Dhammapada, Udana, Itivuttaka, Sutta Nipata, Theragatha, and Therigatha
  • Patimokkha from the Vinaya
Plus the Mahayana pre-cursor parallels to the Pali Canon EBTs
  • Dirgha-Agama (Dharmaguptaka; Chinese)
  • Madhyama-Agama (Sarvastivada; Chinese)
  • Samyukta-Agama (Sarvastivada; Chinese)
  • Ekottara-Agama (Mahasamghika; Chinese)

The sutras are EBT's:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pali_Canon


The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language.[1] It is the most complete extant early Buddhist canon.[2][3] It derives mainly from the Tamrashatiya school.[4]
...
Sutta Pitaka
The second category is the Sutta Pitaka (literally "basket of threads", or of "the well spoken"; Sanskrit: Sutra Pitaka, following the former meaning) which consists primarily of accounts of the Buddha's teachings. The Sutta Pitaka has five subdivisions, or nikayas:
  • Digha Nikaya (dīghanikāya) 34 long discourses.[82] Joy Manné argues[83] that this book was particularly intended to make converts, with its high proportion of debates and devotional material.
  • Majjhima Nikaya 152 medium-length discourses.[82] Manné argues[83] that this book was particularly intended to give a solid grounding in the teaching to converts, with a high proportion of sermons and consultations.
  • Samyutta Nikaya (saṃyutta-) Thousands of short discourses in fifty-odd groups by subject, person etc. Bhikkhu Bodhi, in his translation, says this nikaya has the most detailed explanations of doctrine.
  • Anguttara Nikaya (aṅguttara-) Thousands of short discourses arranged numerically from ones to elevens. It contains more elementary teaching for ordinary people than the preceding three.
  • Khuddaka Nikaya A miscellaneous collection of works in prose or verse.

This article discusses some differences between the EBT's and Theravada. It looks to me like it involves some interpretation about what is actually in the texts so it is not necessarily definitive - it identifies areas of differences but what those differences actually are might be open to interpretation.

https://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=How_early_Buddhism_differs_from_Theravada
https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/how-early-buddhism-differs-from-theravada-a-checklist/23019
Martin, modified 9 Days ago at 3/20/23 9:56 AM
Created 10 Days ago at 3/19/23 4:07 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 540 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Doug Smith has a talk on this, which I liked.

​​​​​​​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQ832y7n1bc&ab_channel=Doug%27sDharma
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Jim Smith, modified 10 Days ago at 3/20/23 12:44 AM
Created 10 Days ago at 3/20/23 12:42 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Jim Smith
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
Sounds good. Yeah, I don't doubt that you can add back emotion. Thanks for sharing! 


It seems to be sort of analogous to the jhana factors where the different jhanas share some of the same factors but also have differences. The various factors can be present or absent independently of each other.

http://the-wanderling.com/jhana_factors.html

I mentioned a bunch of different factors in the original post. Some overlap, some are independent.
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/24016572

Sometimes when meditating, my mind just feels like shutting down and ignoring everything, like letting go of responsibility, like not caring about anything, almost nihilistic. If I go with that, after the meditation session, my mind is very quiet and I feel emotionally numb. In a way it feels like letting go, like anatta, like no one's there.



I think what is going on is that the mind is not focused on anything in particular and I am not letting it latch onto anything in particular to focus on or cling to. It's not like using intense concentration on something (or nothing) to keep it still but like staying relaxed rather than being drawn toward any "magnetic" pulling or attractions of the mind. Like I'm watching a sunset and the people around me are talking politics and I don't get drawn into it.
Martin, modified 8 Days ago at 3/21/23 12:07 PM
Created 9 Days ago at 3/20/23 10:04 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

Posts: 540 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Whoops! Sorry, friend. "Doug Smith", "Jim Smith", it's an easy typing slip to make, but I should have been more careful. While you and Doug are both great guys, I don't think anyone could actually mix the two of you up. 

In any case, I hope you enjoy the video.  
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Days ago at 3/28/23 5:00 AM
Created 2 Days ago at 3/28/23 5:00 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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Cross-posting a couple of posts I made to the Shinzen facebook group ....

https://www.facebook.com/groups/shinzenyoungmindfulnesscommunity/posts/5898792470168780/
I think I understand why Shinzen says to note emotions as "feeling" rather than to note the name of the emotion. I don't have a logical explanation like a proof, just what I experienced. ... When I consciously identify the emotion, it has a tendency to reinforce and validate it. If I think "anger" it calls to mind anger and it's more like being distracted by anger than just observing it. But when I just recognize a "feeling", even though I know what it is, it is a dispassionate recognition that something happened that I didn't intend - like something external. Even if I note 'feeling-in' it is much more similar to feeling-out than if I name the emotion.

So if you are seeking nibbana (to cool down passions), it is more effective to note "feeling" rather than the specific emotions.



https://www.facebook.com/groups/shinzenyoungmindfulnesscommunity/posts/5898828986831795/
I was looking at this article on brain networks.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large-scale_brain_network

And as I understand it meditation gets you to stop using the default network by causing you to use the dorsal attention network instead.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Default_mode_network
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorsal_attention_network

And one of the things that can happen during meditation, when labeling and also counting the breath is that instead of using the dorsal attention network you can get caught up in just saying the words and not paying attention to what you are supposed to be noting or to the breath. And I think if one is aware of the brain networks, it makes it easier to recognize that there is a real difference whether you are paying attention to your experience and when you are just repeating words.

When labeling one shouldn't lose awareness of the experience one is noting. If you are trying to develop clarity you need to be focused on the experience of seeing hearing or feeling.

You can pay attention to repeating words - mantras - the experience of "hearing in" if you want, but you need to recognize there is a difference between paying attention and just repeating. It's possible to be thinking of a mantra, labeling, or counting the breath while the mind wanders in the background. So I think it is helpful to understand the physiological basis for paying attention and it is a "thing" that is different from just repeating words.

I am not a big fan of intense concentration I find it leads suppressing thoughts and emotions and leads to irritability which is the opposite of the purpose for meditation. So I am not advocating that - just pointing out that paying attention is not the same as repeating words.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Days ago at 3/28/23 5:34 AM
Created 2 Days ago at 3/28/23 5:13 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #2

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I have been noticing a connection/similarity between the facts that 1) you can't control your own mind and body and 2) you can't control other people.

Thoughts and emotions come from unconscious processes that we don't control, they just appear in consciousness, emotions influence our posture, facial expression, and muscle tension. Stress can make us sick.

Actually we can't really control anything. Not ourselves, not other people, not nature.

And this relates to anatta. If everything is not-self, if there is nothing we can find that is a self, then it makes sense there is nothing to exert control over anything.

If there is nothing that is a self there is not so much difference between our own mind and body and the minds and bodies of other people.

(I am not trying to convince anyone of this through logic, I am trying to communicate a feeling and I can only do that using words, so it resembles a reasoned argument when it isn't really.)

And it relates to dukkha, often we want to be able to control other people, we want them to do what we think is right or what they "should" do. When people don't do what we want we become upset. But understanding you can't control yourself ought to make it easier to let go of wanting to control other people.

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