Message Boards Message Boards

Miscellaneous

AugustLeo

Toggle
AugustLeo
Answer
11/21/09 2:01 PM
Hello to Daniel, and everybody at The Dharma Overground.

I just found and joined this forum a few days ago, and I thought I would initiate this thread as an introduction and also as a place for me to post my personal practice notes (assuming that's allowed).

Here's a little bit of my background

I've been meditating for 47 years.

I started at 12 years old with Advaita Vedanta self-enquiry. Self-enquiry didn't feel "right", so I quickly moved to Patanjali's dharana-dhyana-samadhi model coupled with the kundalini physio-energetic model. I stayed with this mix for 12 years, and got quite adept at what in the Theravada Buddhist community are called the samatha jhanas.

After 12 years with the dharana-dhyana-samadhi-kundalini model it seemed that I wasn't really making any "progress", so I switched to mantra meditation for a couple of a year. But mantra meditation didn't feel right, so I switched to the Taoist physio-energetic model, and again got quite adept at accessing various states of concentration and manipulating and circulating "physio-energy."

I stayed with the Taoist physio-energetic model for about 20 years, but made little "real" progress (with respect to Insight or Wisdom). About 10 years ago I found myself spontaneously shifting back to the dharana-dhyana-samadhi model with the addition of Advaita Vedanta self-enquiry. This mix felt just right to me, and I've stayed with it since, adding in some spontaneous qigong a couple of years ago. The spontaneous qigong somehow sparked my practice and I found myself meditating with this mix for many hours a day, which I still do.

Just last week, during a lengthy walking meditation, I realized that for the last 10 years I had been unconciously evolving a "Vipassana-style" meditation practice for myself.

Rather than continuing to unconsciously re-evolve Vipassana Meditation, I've decided to "consciously" undertake Vipassana Meditation. That's why I'm here.

I look forward to learning from all.

Michael emoticon

PS: I'm also a member of and post at The Taobums forum and Kenneth Folk's Dharma forum.

RE: AugustLeo
Answer
11/23/09 9:13 AM as a reply to AugustLeo.
Hello and welcome :].

RE: AugustLeo
Answer
11/23/09 4:31 PM as a reply to Trent ..
Trent H.:
Hello and welcome :].

Thank you Trent.

On an unrelated noted, is there a way to donate to the support of this site? I like to do that with the sites I frequent.

Thanks.

Michael

RE: AugustLeo
Answer
11/24/09 2:15 AM as a reply to AugustLeo.
Hey, good to have you here. Thanks for your practice background and for showing up. I am sure that you will help others here, given your long background. At some point I will get around to developing a place where people can have their little bio, but until then...

There is currently no way to donate to this site and this is intentional. The money works like this: I pay for the place, development, server time, etc. and that's it. No donations, no complexities with money, no temptation to water things down, no temptation to have mass appeal, no possible difficulties over keeping track of it or taxes or any of that stuff. I work as a doctor so I do pretty well and don't really notice what this place costs, which is $50/month+development time.

Who would the money go to? So many people help here and volunteer their efforts to help. How would it be distributed? I can't think of any fair way. By posts? By words? By votes? By seniority? By favoritism? Should I keep it all for myself as I pay the bills? All those solutions are absurd.

I say, keep the money and do something useful with it, such as buy a good dharma book or two or give it to some starving teacher next time you go on retreat.

I will add this caveat: if you just happened to be completely loaded and can't help but give some massive donation that you can easily afford and that I would be a complete fool to say "no" to, OK, you win, and I'll build a hut for people to come sit in here with it, ;) but beyond that, I would just as soon keep money out of all this. It is one of the perennial temptations that lead to stupidity, conflict and downfall.

RE: AugustLeo
Answer
11/24/09 2:37 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel,

It's good to be here.

Some forums take donations, some don't. Either way is fine, but I always ask, and if they do then I donate what I can afford.

Thank you for MCTB, for this site and discussion forum, and for everything else that you do.

Michael

FWIW, I did buy a hard copy of your book as soon as it became available. Maybe you'll autograph it for me some day. emoticon

RE: AugustLeo
Answer
11/27/09 4:00 PM as a reply to AugustLeo.
Practice Note 11/27/09
Daily practice usually occurs during three periods throughout the day: 1 am-5 am (1-3 hours reclining), 8 am-11am (1-3 hours sitting), 1 pm-5 pm (1-4 hours walking). I’m probably *averaging* about 1-1.5 hours for each practice period. Right now the reclining session and the walking sessions tend to run a little longer than the sitting session.

Been practicing running up and down through the jhanas with the Witness as the object of absorption as Kenneth suggested. So far I’m running up to 6 and then back down again, rather quickly. So far they seem to occur in order (moving up or down). Am paying more attention to what is going on while I’m doing it. Will try to note the physio-energetic phenomena. Interesting that I’m (apparently) able to split my mind and be both the observer, the observed and the witness all at the same time).

In addition to practicing, I'm spending some time trying to familiarize myself with terminology. Coming from a practice background more familiar with the Patanjali model, the Taoist model, and the Advaita Vedanta (self-enquiry) model, I feel the need to learn this new "Buddhist language."

Don’t know if it’s the new “language” or what, but it feels like I’m past wherever I was, because I feel like a beginner again with respect to insight, if that makes any sense – efforting to make sense of something new. I can easily review where I’ve been, but it seems relatively uninteresting and unimportant.

Received Bill Hamilton’s book today, Saints & Psychopaths – looking forward to reading it.

Have thought about the need for a detailed example focused on the practice/progress/results of the ideal Vipassana cultivator (got this idea from reading Kenneth’s “Progress of Insight” writings. Would like to see it focused on and expanded. Would act as an ideal map of the territory (of course, the map is *not* the territory).

RE: AugustLeo
Answer
11/28/09 4:42 PM as a reply to AugustLeo.
Practice Note 11/28/09, 10:45 AM
Practiced from 1 am-4 am, then 7 am-8 am, reclining, Witnessing the sense of “I Am”. Times are approximate because I wasn’t watching the clock.

This practice felt totally different from any in the past. Rather than moving quickly through the levels of absorption, it took a while to stabilize focus on the sense of “I Am” as the object. The sense of “I Am” felt different, “solid” and “cohesive”. Once focus stabilized tightly on the sense of “I Am”, stayed there a while, Witnessing the sense of “I Am”. Breathing became very slow and deep – very deep inhales, long slow surrendering exhales, long period of time before the next inhale. This went on for what seemed a long time, still Witnessing the sense of “I Am”.

After awhile (don’t know how long), a surge of energy shot up my spine, causing my back to arch. Then sensation of energy in the brow and crown areas. Not much visual phenomena. Noticed that focus on the “I Am” was widening and deepening, like ripples moving out from the source .

With movement into this new focus, noticed that there were 3 senses of “I Am”: in the head, in the chest and the belly. The belly sense of “I Am” was the weakest. The sense of “I Am” in the head and chest were equal. After a while the sense of “I Am” in the head and chest started to merge into one sense, neither in the head nor in the chest, until eventually they were one. The sense of “I Am” in the belly also started to merge, but not fully. . .

. . . Felt a sense of exhilaration, then happiness and then relaxed bliss. After a while, focus expanded outward to the periphery of awareness, dimming a bit in the center. A tinge of fear, thoughts of doubt about what was happening, itching in a number of places on my skin, thoughts about past practices – then quickly past that.

Focus on the sense of “I Am” felt wide and deep and diffuse. Deep feeling of surrender to whatever. Nothing mattered but the merged sense of “I Am.” After some time, noticed that the sense of “I” and the sense of “Am-ness” weren’t the same. The sense of “I” diminished while the sense of “Am-ness” remained but became even more non-localized.

The sense of “I” kept shrinking, while the sense of “Am-ness” expanded along with awareness. As I was observing this, I think I fell asleep.

I woke up at 7 am and immediately focused on the sense of “I AM”. Focus quickly widened and deepened until it was diffuse and homogenous to the edges of awareness. Nothing had changed while I was asleep. The sense of “I” was gone, while the sense of “Am-ness” filled awareness.

After a while, what can only be described as a “discontinuity in awareness” occurred. After the discontinuity, concentration on “Am-ness” narrowed briefly, then quickly became wide and deep and diffuse, and another discontinuity occurred. This cycle occurred two more times, then I slowly allowed my focus to become narrow and shallow and ended the practice.

As I write this, the sense of “I” is still very much diminished.

Later: Just got back from a 1 ½ hour walking meditation Witnessing the sense of “Am-ness”. The sense of “I” is still very much diminished. It feels as if a knot has been loosened or untied.

Later: Reading “Saints & Psychopaths by William L. Hamilton. Mentions Kenneth Folk in the acknowledgements. The whole book is interesting, but the chapter on “The Embarrassment of Enlightenment” is especially interesting.