I need to not do but I can't influence it (advice needed)

Aleksandar Bozic, modified 1 Year ago at 4/20/23 7:55 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 4/20/23 7:52 AM

I need to not do but I can't influence it (advice needed)

Posts: 17 Join Date: 8/25/21 Recent Posts
I have been meditating for 7 years doing various different methods. Gone through many cycles. Realizing again and again how empty things are. I have felt shifts closer and closer to nothing in particular. Just sensations of relaxation which are obviously more pleasant than clinging onto things.

Now it feels like I'm on on the verge of knowing the unknowable. Settling into everything. There is just this one issue. Me trying to not do anything. I realize that is something that has to happen. The watcher (me for now emoticon ) is starting to vibrate. This causes tremendous amounts of stress. I can't be both nothing and something, I don't feel like there is a self although there is obvious clinging. When I engage the clinging it all goes downhill. Intense sadness and anger and fear. I feel as though I can not overcome it. I can't find the root. The root is the sense of I but when I engage it I feel as though I can't dissolve it.

This is now influencing my everyday life. I find it hard to work, hard to talk, feel, walk, anything really. I still am trying to find what it is I don't get. I felt the observer, nothing (which seems not to be felt but implied), everything, self, conciousness and so on. Every time I tune into impermanence there is a sense of relief but then the psychological backlash is immense.

It seems like I have to give up on giving up. Give up on nothing and something. Give up on me. Give up on everything which can be felt. But I don't know how to do that.

Cessations don't let the watcher fall away, impermanence goes through the watcher and it resolidifies. Meditation seems to worsen it emotionally.

If anyone has any advice and how I should proceed I would be extremely grateful.
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Stirling Campbell, modified 1 Year ago at 4/20/23 10:01 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 4/20/23 10:00 AM

RE: I need to not do but I can't influence it (advice needed)

Posts: 634 Join Date: 3/13/16 Recent Posts
Now it feels like I'm on on the verge of knowing the unknowable. Settling into everything. There is just this one issue. Me trying to not do anything. I realize that is something that has to happen. The watcher (me for now emoticon ) is starting to vibrate. This causes tremendous amounts of stress. I can't be both nothing and something, I don't feel like there is a self although there is obvious clinging. When I engage the clinging it all goes downhill. Intense sadness and anger and fear. I feel as though I can not overcome it. I can't find the root. The root is the sense of I but when I engage it I feel as though I can't dissolve it.

This is now influencing my everyday life. I find it hard to work, hard to talk, feel, walk, anything really. I still am trying to find what it is I don't get. I felt the observer, nothing (which seems not to be felt but implied), everything, self, conciousness and so on. Every time I tune into impermanence there is a sense of relief but then the psychological backlash is immense.

This is now influencing my everyday life. I find it hard to work, hard to talk, feel, walk, anything really. I still am trying to find what it is I don't get. I felt the observer, nothing (which seems not to be felt but implied), everything, self, conciousness and so on. Every time I tune into impermanence there is a sense of relief but then the psychological backlash is immense.

From my perspective (which is very much Vajrayana, Mahayana) trying to precipitate awakening is like trying to hold on to a wet bar of soap. The more you grasp at it the more likely it is to evade you. I would lean on the old Tibetan instruction on how to do meditation - "Awake, awake, but then relax, relax". 

Let go of the idea that "you" are responsible for awakening - you AREN'T. 

It seems like I have to give up on giving up. Give up on nothing and something. Give up on me. Give up on everything which can be felt. But I don't know how to do that.

There is a lot of thinking here that is clouding your perspective. It sounds like you think "giving up" is an action YOU are going to take, or something YOU have to do. It isn't. It is simply dropping the "doing", including the discursive mind that generates all of this noise, and just being present. What you are looking for isn't complicated. Now would be a great time to read (or listen to) Michael Singer's book "The Untethered Soul". There is a lot there on surrendering, which is a key skill in my experience. 

Cessations don't let the watcher fall away, impermanence goes through the watcher and it resolidifies. Meditation seems to worsen it emotionally.

​​​​​​​This is the kind of thing you need to drop - your dialog about how things work. The watcher, impermance, meditation, emotions - these are all things that arise and pass. YOU solidify them in your mental dialog. In between your thoughts of them is the simple spaciousness of awareness.

You haven't mentioned what your meditation type or skillset is, but I would recommend a practice that allows you to drop the thinking process and just rest in that spaciousness if you don't have one. This is the primary skill I recommend when students get lost in their dialog. I would lean toward having typical Mahayana meditation in your back pocket for when the mind is agitated. 
Aleksandar Bozic, modified 1 Year ago at 4/20/23 10:31 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 4/20/23 10:31 AM

RE: I need to not do but I can't influence it (advice needed)

Posts: 17 Join Date: 8/25/21 Recent Posts
At this point I am really unsure what my practice is. I have done Dzogchen, using breath as object, metta, body scan, even just emotionally experiencing what the clinging wants me to feel. The line now is significantly blurred as I feel practice reinforces doership and I am unsure how or why. Funny thing is even when I am not feeling like I am doing the doership is somehow implied. "I am relaxing". I have no better way of explaining it. I feel that relaxing is a doing. Might be that I'm just not relaxing fully but that is the issue I sense.&nbsp;<br />Thank you for your reply. I will check the book out.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 4/20/23 2:29 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 4/20/23 2:07 PM

RE: I need to not do but I can't influence it (advice needed)

Posts: 1766 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Aleksandar Bozic
...

If anyone has any advice and how I should proceed I would be extremely grateful.


Maybe your expectation are not really aligned with what normally happens and that is why you are not experiencing what you expect to experience?

You wrote:
"I don't feel like there is a self although there is obvious clinging." and "Cessations don't let the watcher fall away, impermanence goes through the watcher and it resolidifies." So you kind of see that what is supposed to happen doesn't always happen the way they said it would. 

Feeling like you don't have a self didn't make much difference, cessation didn't make much difference. Are you confident "not doing" is going to do something helpful?

What I find does work is to learn to observe dukkha and then learn to let go of dukkha (attachments, and aversions). The effect is less suffering. It's not mystical but it's real and it starts with the first meditation session.

There is much more on this in a post I just wrote in another thread, here is an excerpt:

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/c/message_boards/find_message?p_l_id=10262&messageId=25277986

I would measure progress by how you feel in daily life (not by ability to concertate or by insights). Do you have more equanimity? Are there situations that give you particular problems that seem to be getting easier to deal with?

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

On Enlightenment – An Interview with Shinzen Young
...
When it [enlightenment] 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”) [attachments and aversions], 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.

Of course, it’s not just samurai in sixteenth century Japan. The same things apply to twenty-first century North Americans. Maybe they’ve been practicing for ten, twenty, or thirty years and it doesn’t seem that much has changed. And then something big happens like a major bereavement, a major illness like cancer, a serious injury, or their life is somehow threatened. Then they notice how everyone around them is freaking out and how much less they’re freaking out.

I’ll give you an example that happened just a few weeks ago. Someone who has been coming to retreats for quite a while went to have a biopsy to determine whether they had a serious cancer or not. While waiting for the results, this person noticed they weren’t worried. Anyway, it turned out that the biopsy was negative. So all the unnecessary suffering that would’ve happened but didn’t, that was the effect of that person’s years of practice.

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Stirling Campbell, modified 1 Year ago at 4/20/23 5:46 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 4/20/23 5:46 PM

RE: I need to not do but I can't influence it (advice needed)

Posts: 634 Join Date: 3/13/16 Recent Posts
At this point I am really unsure what my practice is. I have done Dzogchen, using breath as object, metta, body scan, even just emotionally experiencing what the clinging wants me to feel. The line now is significantly blurred as I feel practice reinforces doership and I am unsure how or why. Funny thing is even when I am not feeling like I am doing the doership is somehow implied. "I am relaxing". I have no better way of explaining it. I feel that relaxing is a doing. Might be that I'm just not relaxing fully but that is the issue I sense.&nbsp;<br />Thank you for your reply. I will check the book out.
Alexander,

Have you worked with a teacher on your Dzogchen meditation, or had pointing out instructions? Dzogchen would be a great space to look at where the "doer" is being formed. Where thoughts are dropped, self is dropped. Where self-referential thought arises, self is constructed. 
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Dream Walker, modified 1 Year ago at 4/21/23 5:47 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 4/21/23 5:47 AM

RE: I need to not do but I can't influence it (advice needed)

Posts: 1759 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Aleksandar Bozic
I have been meditating for 7 years doing various different methods. Gone through many cycles. Realizing again and again how empty things are. I have felt shifts closer and closer to nothing in particular. Just sensations of relaxation which are obviously more pleasant than clinging onto things.

Now it feels like I'm on on the verge of knowing the unknowable. Settling into everything. There is just this one issue. Me trying to not do anything. I realize that is something that has to happen. The watcher (me for now emoticon ) is starting to vibrate. This causes tremendous amounts of stress. I can't be both nothing and something, I don't feel like there is a self although there is obvious clinging. When I engage the clinging it all goes downhill. Intense sadness and anger and fear. I feel as though I can not overcome it. I can't find the root. The root is the sense of I but when I engage it I feel as though I can't dissolve it.

This is now influencing my everyday life. I find it hard to work, hard to talk, feel, walk, anything really. I still am trying to find what it is I don't get. I felt the observer, nothing (which seems not to be felt but implied), everything, self, conciousness and so on. Every time I tune into impermanence there is a sense of relief but then the psychological backlash is immense.

It seems like I have to give up on giving up. Give up on nothing and something. Give up on me. Give up on everything which can be felt. But I don't know how to do that.

Cessations don't let the watcher fall away, impermanence goes through the watcher and it resolidifies. Meditation seems to worsen it emotionally.

If anyone has any advice and how I should proceed I would be extremely grateful.
Start over without all the 'word salad'. 
Do you know what the stages of the "progress of insight" are? You use the word "cessations" as if you know something.
you are in the dark night area of the POI (stages 5-10). 
https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-iv-insight/30-the-progress-of-insight/read up on that.

Or define what you mean by  knowing, unknowable, everything, doing, everything, something, watcher, me, stress, self, clinging, downhill, feeling, inpermanence, resolidify, meditation, emotions, gratefulness.

Good Luck
​​​​​​​~D
Adi Vader, modified 1 Year ago at 4/21/23 12:53 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 4/21/23 12:53 PM

RE: I need to not do but I can't influence it (advice needed)

Posts: 327 Join Date: 6/29/20 Recent Posts
Hi. Please see if this helps.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Arhatship/comments/11z7cyn/when_practice_becomes_tough/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=android_app&utm_name=androidcss&utm_term=1&utm_content=share_button
B B, modified 1 Year ago at 4/21/23 1:42 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 4/21/23 1:42 PM

RE: I need to not do but I can't influence it (advice needed)

Posts: 43 Join Date: 9/3/16 Recent Posts
So relatable. I recall a few years back, a phase in my practice where I would just sit and do nothing, and yet there would be a sufficient level of delusion going on whereby the cycling would be exacerbated, and I would end up in these very heavy, contracted dark night stages. This was the most challenging phase of practice I ever had and probably ever will have, because it seemed like there was absolutely nothing that could be done or not done which would alleviate the painful contracted states of mind. I spent a couple of months going through this while trying to hold down a full time job and living alone.

At a certain point I took up a more active, investigative form of practice following Dagpo Tashi Namgyal's Clarifying the Natural State (occasionally recommended on this forum). I found it liberating to practice mindfulness of the mind. It's possible to trigger a (non-)experience of all thoughts and concepts suddenly vanishing as one gently observes the mind and notices the non-locatibility of thought. This then serves as an excellent basis for achieving a deeper realization of emptiness, as one can repeatedly observe how all phenomena, no matter how subtle (e.g. time, space, existence), are dependent upon thought. Then one can carry this practice off the cushion - in particular the mindfulness of mind element, where one is not merely swept along by thought, one is instead having experiences while aware of how one is effectively creating the whole experience in one's mind.

I also found it liberating to contemplate the conditioned nature of concepts, noticing how they all lack inherent meaning. E.g. the concept of a tree in the absense of all other concepts or phenomena is totally meaningless. The meaning comes from the concept triggering other associations, memories, etc. One can combine this contemplation with the mind-vanishing practice to cut through the mind over and over. It can be very powerful. This gave me another approach with which I could reinvigorate my practice.

Note the Watcher is one side of a duality, the other side being the Watched. I recall there is a big shift that occurred around this time where one realizes that awareness and appearance are non-dual. This is dependent upon an insight that can arise from the above mindfulness of mind practice in which one realizes that there is no actual sensation upon which one is apparently focusing - there is an apparent concept of a sensation, dependent upon other apparent concepts, and on and on. A series of events or mental impressions without there ever being actual things.

I did settle back into the non-doing practice again eventually. Sometimes a tendency towards analysis or vipassanizing can arise out of non-doing in a much less effortful, clingy way than it would if one intended to practice in this manner at the outset. This then enables effective vipassana towards subtler levels of delusion.
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Stirling Campbell, modified 1 Year ago at 4/21/23 11:01 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 4/21/23 11:00 PM

RE: I need to not do but I can't influence it (advice needed)

Posts: 634 Join Date: 3/13/16 Recent Posts
Aleksandar Bozic At this point I am really unsure what my practice is. I have done Dzogchen, using breath as object, metta, body scan, even just emotionally experiencing what the clinging wants me to feel. The line now is significantly blurred as I feel practice reinforces doership and I am unsure how or why. Funny thing is even when I am not feeling like I am doing the doership is somehow implied. "I am relaxing". I have no better way of explaining it. I feel that relaxing is a doing. Might be that I'm just not relaxing fully but that is the issue I sense.&nbsp;<br />Thank you for your reply. I will check the book out.

​​​​​​​Dzogchen, properly understood and done is practice free. Resting in the nature of mind is "self"/doer free. I would guess that you need some guidance about how to do it correctly? I am also thinking that pointing out instructions might be useful if your concentration ability is sufficient.  Feel free to PM me (if it is still working here?).

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