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Favorite Threads Daniel M. Ingram 3/30/12 5:33 AM
RE: Favorite Threads tom moylan 4/6/12 6:26 AM
RE: Favorite Threads tom moylan 2/9/13 10:25 AM
RE: Favorite Threads Tarver  4/6/12 10:14 PM
RE: Favorite Threads Adam . . 2/2/13 12:10 PM
RE: Favorite Threads carolin varley 4/29/12 10:08 AM
RE: Favorite Threads Adam . . 4/29/12 2:32 PM
RE: Favorite Threads Stian Gudmundsen Høiland 4/13/12 7:25 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/22/13 5:12 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/22/13 5:13 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/22/13 5:15 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/22/13 5:17 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/22/13 5:19 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/22/13 5:21 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/22/13 5:22 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/22/13 5:24 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/22/13 5:43 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/22/13 6:20 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/22/13 6:23 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/22/13 6:25 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/22/13 6:27 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/22/13 6:30 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/22/13 6:31 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/22/13 6:35 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/23/13 10:39 PM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/22/13 10:40 PM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/23/13 8:08 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/24/13 8:43 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/24/13 8:45 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/24/13 12:11 PM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/24/13 12:14 PM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/24/13 12:17 PM
RE: Favorite Threads Christian Calamus 9/23/13 1:42 AM
RE: Favorite Threads jer mur 10/2/13 10:13 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/25/13 5:10 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/25/13 5:12 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/25/13 5:13 AM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 2/25/13 9:06 PM
RE: Favorite Threads Liam O'Sullivan 3/29/13 11:06 AM
RE: Favorite Threads tom moylan 7/10/13 7:14 AM
RE: Favorite Threads M N 7/15/13 1:49 AM
RE: Favorite Threads Daniel M. Ingram 8/15/13 5:38 AM
RE: Favorite Threads Christian Calamus 8/19/13 1:14 AM
RE: Favorite Threads Adam . . 8/30/13 4:22 PM
RE: Favorite Threads Richard Zen 9/14/13 11:25 AM
RE: Favorite Threads No-Second-Arrow Z 12/24/13 5:17 AM
RE: Favorite Threads Cedric . 2/13/14 6:39 PM
RE: Favorite Threads PP 4/22/15 2:02 PM
Favorite Threads
Answer
3/30/12 5:33 AM
Hey, this is a place to post your favorite threads of all time on the DhO.

Top contenders will be added to the wiki.

I was inspired by Ian And's recent listing of Theravada Readings, so that one is:

Essential Books from Theravadan Resources

I would love to hear yours,

Daniel

RE: Favorite Threads
Answer
4/6/12 6:26 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/751591

RE: Favorite Threads
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4/6/12 10:14 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
A little technical tip:

DhO, sadly, doesn't automatically make links out of text that happens to be a URL. You have to click the little icon in the bar above the editing window that looks like two links in a chain, and enter the URL and the text you want the link to display.

http://dharmaoverground.org <--- a link
http://dharmaoverground.org <--- NOT a link

If both of the above URL's look like links, then you are likely unaware of this because your browser is making the URL text into a link.

I just thought I would call attention to this before this thread fills up with "links" (URL text) that need to be cut-and-pasted into the address bar before they can be followed.

Thanks, and looking forward to the "best of".

RE: Favorite Threads
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2/2/13 12:10 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/2397337

definitely TJ Brocoli's post on this thread and the other posts of her's which she links to in it.

RE: Favorite Threads
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4/13/12 7:25 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
RE: blend pure intent via attentiveness

More specifically the 9th reply, by Tarin. Amazingly accurate!

RE: Favorite Threads
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4/29/12 10:08 AM as a reply to Adam . ..
Hi,
Just letting you know that I clicked on that link and scrolled through but couldn't find Jill's post. Did she remove it or is it the wrong link?

RE: Favorite Threads
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4/29/12 2:32 PM as a reply to carolin varley.
when i click that link it goes to "Dark Night, Upcoming Goenka - What to do?" by Bagpuss the Gnome and TJ Brocoli's (everyone always seems to call her jill and she signs 'jill' at the end of posts so i assume that's her name =D) post is the 5th one down

RE: Favorite Threads
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2/9/13 10:25 AM as a reply to tom moylan.
tom moylan:
http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/751591


Man! What a dissapointing fizzle this very promisingly titled thread has turned out to be.

And a sticky fizzle at that!

And a sticky fizzle started by the illustrious founder at that!

@Daniel - If you restart this sticky fizzle again, I promise not to deaden the momentum with a non-link.

RE: Favorite Threads
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2/22/13 5:12 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Noting / Noticing

Tarin Greco: re 'noting' / 'noticing' the funny thing is, mahasi specifically advised that mental naming *not* be used in noting practice. on page 4 of my BPS copy of 'practical insight meditation', he writes, 'never verbally repeat the words rising, falling, and do not think of rising and falling as words. be aware only of the actual rising and falling movement of the abdomen'. it's u pandita that recommended people mentally say the words to themselves in noting.

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RE: Favorite Threads
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2/22/13 5:13 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Words used for noting

Daniel Ingram: short is clearly better, with one syllable words being best most of the time. When things get fast, I have tended to strip it down to just "dat" or even some basic thought pulse that is even more primitive and basic than that. For longer sensations: every time you notice a new pulse of it, repeat the note, as fast as possible. That said, one can sometimes get the longer note to pulse with the sensation, so you would get "i i i i i t ch", and this has an effect similar to shorter notes.

If you notice a new sensation that is not what you are noting, there are different schools of thought. One says to just stay with the main object unless the other object begins to intrude a lot. Another says note every little thing you notice as accurately as you can. I tended to prefer the first school when beginning to build concentration and the second when I am a bit stronger and starting to expand that base of concentration out a bit. If you can directly perceive each one come and go rapidly, you are beginning to move to the point where the question of dropping the notes in favor of direction perception comes up, and that too is a judgment call as to exactly when to do this. Noting just helps you get to the place where you can do it faster and more completely than notes could ever go.


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RE: Favorite Threads
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2/22/13 5:15 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
When to quit noting in favor of bare perception

Daniel Ingram:

-If things look solid, or you are lost in thought, or you are feeling ungrounded, or you don't yet have the ability to perceive things vibrating: Note! Also, when in doubt, noting is better than floundering.
-If you are able to perceive vibrations of your object: do so as completely and consistently as possible.
-If you are feeling that you can perceive vibrations of not only your object but also other things simultaneously: do so.
-If you can perceive vibrations of not only your object but broad things like space, consciousness, thought, memory, intention, investigation, effort, suffering and the like: do so.
-If at any point you find that you can't perform at the level you were functioning at, drop back down the heirarchy as far as you need to, perhaps back to noting.

More stage specifically: when you enter the second vipassana jhana, aka the Arising and Passing Away (A&P), most people can drop the noting, as it is just too slow. However, after this stage fades, many will need to go back to noting until they stabilize, as Dissolution can cause regression as we get used to its wider, more out of phase field. When the Dark Night arises, many will need to note at points to keep from getting lost in their stuff. In Equanimity, people may need to note to keep from spacing out at points until they get used to how panoramic and complete things are.

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RE: Favorite Threads
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2/22/13 5:17 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Confusion by Mahasi Sayadaw´s sentence "Never verbally repeat the words rising, falling and do not think of rising and falling as words."

Chris Marti: … I had that same confusion. Some of it stems from the word "noting," which you can easily take to mean "verbalizing." But by verbalizing mentally we are invoking that part of the mind that engages with concepts and stories. I've taken to not expressing my experience in mental words and images as much as I possibly can, but that's terrifically difficult to do because the mind automatically goes there - we want to name everything and then wrap it in a story. Naming objects and making stories is what human beings do! To a large degree I think this is exactly what noting practice is meant to reveal to us.


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RE: Favorite Threads
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2/22/13 5:19 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Clarification on “the theory tells me that it is definitely not possible to perceive both fingers simultaneously”

Daniel Ingram: If you think you can perceive both fingers at exactly the same time then you can't perceive the sensations as precisely and rapidly as you need to in order to distinguish each one arise and vanish, because when you can you will notice interference patterns between them, with one arising and vanishing extremely rapidly and then the other arising and vanishing extremely rapidly, back and forth, with all sorts of other sensations interspersed with these, all arising and vanishing, and while one is there, the other is not.

On Noting

Daniel Ingram: Attention doesn't even need to be that focused from a certain point of view, just consistent, meaning it is there second after second, and in fact the wider you can get the thing and still stay with this activity of sensate chaos and its Three Characteristics, the better, as when you can perceive this of the whole field simultaneously, that'll do it. It typically takes some time to allow the mind to get to that point, but it is worth knowing that this is what you are working towards.


Same Thread

RE: Favorite Threads
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2/22/13 5:21 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
What is meant by “no-dog”?

Kenneth Folk: What is the common denominator of all experience? Since all experience is by definition known, knowing must be present in all experience. Knowing is a very simple thing, not complex at all, and it's always here. But knowing is so often turned outward, toward the world. Even the knowing of thoughts and body sensations requires turning the knowing mind outward, away from itself. What happens when you "turn the light around," and let knowing know itself?

Knowing is really only at rest when it knows itself. When it knows itself, it doesn't want anything else. It's just happy and complete. This is the no-dog. It has no stake in whether Dan lives or dies, goes to hell or to heaven, gets enlightened or not.

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2/22/13 5:22 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
The Mirror exercise

Kenneth Folk: Imagine your own face hovering in space just a few inches in front of you, at eye level. It is looking back at you, like a mirror image. Invest the mirror face with your identity and intelligence. Let yourself be confused about which one is really "you." Who is looking at whom? Notice that it's not so easy to tell. That's good. Now, gently invite in a third point of view, as though being observed by awareness itself.

… you don't have to get a stable image at all. The idea here is just to get a sense that someone is looking back at you, and that that someone is you. It can be a very transparent image, just the vague sense of your own intelligence peering back into your face. Relax into it. It's happening anyway. The sense that the locus of awareness is inside your head is an illusion created by the fact that that's where your eyes are. Awareness could be anywhere (or everywhere). Let your mind be completely filled up with these three perspectives of knowing, i.e. me, other me, and third party watcher. In this way, there is no processing power left to project a phony universe. What a relief!

… As Yaba (and J. Krishnamurt) have pointed out, "the observer and the observed are one." When you imagine a face staring back at you, what's really happening is that consciousness has created a structure and is now looking at it. "Consciousness is looking at consciousness," as Hokai describes it. It's valuable to notice how the mind gets confused about who is looking at whom. This confusion is good. Both the "fake I" that you are imagining in front of you and the "real I" that you imagine yourself to be are fictions. They are actually interchangeable.

But the real value of this exercise, in my opinion, is that after you invite in the third party watcher, the mind is so full that it doesn't have anything left with which to create the dualistic universe. There is only the unitive sense of "I," "I." This is what mystical phrases like "I AM that I AM" point to. It is also the quintessential advaitist exercise (not the two faces, etc., but the pure dwelling as "I.") This is the no-dog, as in "it doesn't have a dog in this fight." It is not primordial awareness, but it is the last thing that can be done by a doer. When even that is let go of, primordial awareness, which is the simplest thing, is revealed.

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2/22/13 5:24 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
"Who am I" enquiry

Trent: This technique is deceptively simple, but you have to play with how it's asked, it must be asked like you mean it, and asked like you are really looking for something (not just waiting for something to show up). There are 3 basic ways to approach this: focus on the question itself (the words/sounds in your mind), asking the side that "isn't yours" currently (if you close your eyes and you sense "the back of my eyes"), or "your side." A good way to ask your side "who am I" is to focus on the outline of the limits of your visual field, then ask in a way that implies you have no face and that you're asking "through" the face. Try not to cross your eyes, but ask in a way that would be like asking THROUGH the visual field and TO the back of your skull. As you use this method, simply realize that these 3 routes exist. First focus on the "other side" and "the question itself," after you've done that for a few minutes, switch it onto "your side." You'll feel whether or not it's working and what you should continue to do. You'll intuit whether your should stick to "your side," wander around the others, or so on.

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RE: Favorite Threads
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2/22/13 5:43 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Tarin’s (solo) retreat remainders:

1) don’t indulge in your crap!
2) when in doubt or struggling: note/hit and accept pain.
3) if you have a question, the answer is in the three characteristics.
4) be mindful during transitions between activities.
5) analysis is not the same as practice.
6) practice at all times when awake.
7) stick to the schedule!
8) remember how precious these moments are and how much the dark night sucks.
9) when alone, practice just as hard; this is for you.

Here's a KFD 2.0 link, haven't found it yet in DhO

RE: Favorite Threads
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2/22/13 6:20 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
How to complement Noting

Hokai Sobol: A nice complement to noting is asking, especially when facing "a brick wall". I used both "Resisting?" and "Avoiding?" to challenge and open myself to enter places where attention seems to implode on itself or simply bounce off. There's an affective component to attention, a source of curiosity and openness, vulnerability and acceptance.


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RE: Favorite Threads
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2/22/13 6:23 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
A simple technique that can be applied to many other techniques

Trent: (This is sort of a response to Martin's post on "No-self," wherein he said: "Do you think it helps to have different strategies depending on if it's a sensation which makes up a feeling of subject, or a sensation which seems like object?") This is a simple technique that can be applied to many other techniques. A few premises: Subject and object are not separate entities, but often we must use tactics to sort of catch the subject off guard. Essentially, we cannot just will our self concept away, but pointing a technique to that sense of self can often be useful; but when is it appropriate to do so?

Give this a shot: …Apply your technique to something that is not on your side of the split. Something completely "not you," that does not have any sense of you about it. For example, use vipassana to deconstruct the rhythmic sounds of your clock. Break down every component little part of a compounded "external" sensation. After you have done this for 10-15 minutes, FLIP the technique onto "your side" of the split. Use the same technique on the sensations that make up the sense of "watching" the darkness behind your eye-lids, or your thoughts themselves, or the sensations that create your forehead. Do this for 10-15 minutes and alternate again.

That is all it takes. You are deconstructing the same empty, causal, transient phenomena regardless of what side you are currently focused on, but by doing it in this way, it creates a massive synergy each time it's flipped back onto your side. I'm not sure why, to be honest, but perhaps it is because the mind can see fundamentally that the two things are not separate, and it sees this exemplified in a way that makes this knowledge impossible to resist.

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RE: Favorite Threads
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2/22/13 6:25 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
On the utility of Altered States

Ona Kiser: Having exciting (or unpleasant) states of consciousness is, ultimately, rather irrelevant. can be entertaining or scary, but doesn’t really make a difference. If you apply insight/investigation to it, then that is beneficial. But you can get the same benefit applying insight/investigation to your sensory experiences in normal consciousness all day long and it’s just as effective and less complicated, cheaper, and more practical. Potentially more effective, too, because you don’t build up a concept around altered states having special meaning, which is just another thing you have to let go of.

KFD 2.0 Thread

RE: Favorite Threads
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2/22/13 6:27 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Why is it that with progress in insight (attainment of paths) that concentrations abilities (attainment of jhanas) tend to increase concomitantly. What is the mechanism behind this? What is increased as a result of progress in insight?

Ian And: The short answer is mindfulness (sati). As insight into the mediums that facilitate greater awareness of what causes one's dukkha begin to take place, one realizes that lack of mindfulness is the key element that has caused one to devolve down into dukkha (dissatisfaction), to experience unsatisfactoriness from life.

Mindfulness is concentration's older brother, so to speak. Mindfulness brings into focus a much wider range of phenomena than concentration, which itself has a narrow focus upon only one object at a time. Mindfulness can be translated as "presence of mind" about objects, having "recollection" of their meaningful elements. Mindfulness is an all-encompassing activity. It encompasses a whole panorama of objects and therefore results in an increased ability to stay in the present moment and thus to avoid causing oneself dukkha!

Mindfulness, coupled with insight, helps in the increase of concentration abilities in terms of one's being able to improve ones level of concentration to the level of dhyana. The insight lets one know what he is doing right (in terms of meditation) so that he can repeat those actions in order to enter dhyana at will. And dhyana (at least in my experience) helps one to develop and to be able to sustain deeper levels of concentration for longer periods of duration, which in turn helps one to increase mindfulness in areas outside of meditation practice (meaning normal waking life). Think of dhyana as reaching deeper and deeper levels of calm and tranquility such that the mind can become more easily established in appana samadhi or "fixed concentration."

It is from this level of samadhi (this calm and tranquil state that feels "rock solid" as though one could go on forever) that one can make progress in the "progress of insight."

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RE: Favorite Threads
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2/22/13 6:30 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
On Emptyness

Hokai Sobol: I just wish to comment briefly how the word "empty" has caused a lot of trouble for many people in the West. You (Tarin Greco) give several good alternatives here, like open and clear and transparent. Spacious and limpid and free also work, while sharp is another aspect that comes along. Although "shunya" (pali sunna) indeed means empty and zero, the connotation is quite different in original languages, as it is with Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese renderings and alternatives. The negative and almost nihilistic semantics of "empty" still haunts many meditators, especially when realizing not-self is defined as emptiness (as in the three doors of liberation).

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RE: Favorite Threads
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2/22/13 6:31 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Self / No-Self

Alan Chapman: Nothing that is experienced is self, and so every single sensation that arises is regarded as such. Now invariably sensations will arise that are self, and the practice of recognising these sensations as not-self is applied. This has the curious progressive effect of ‘unsticking’ those sensations previously considered self, but instead of finding nothing, you find more sensations, somehow buried deeper and usually not in the field of awareness, that are still identified with and considered self. Should the practice persist, yet more new sensations will become included in the field of awareness that were once hidden (and this can be a very strange experience indeed and may even be considered ‘not-self’ itself), and eventually this ‘pushing back’ (which engages the stages of insight) leads to the one thing that is not not-self, which is emptiness. Of course, all three characteristics are also perceived during the practice, but I didn’t want to confuse the issue. I would hesitate to consider any sensation outside of fruition to be ‘not-self’. Rather, this seems to be identifying a self made out of sensations of ‘selflessness’ or ‘there is nothing behind the ‘I’’, if you see what I mean.

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2/22/13 6:35 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Not disembedding from mental states (Throwing Away the Ladder)

Fitter Stoke: One of the common mistakes yogis going for stream entry make is not disembedding from mental states regarding practice. I call this the "throwing away the ladder" problem after a passage in Wittgenstein's philosophy, but the problem is really simple and tends to progress through three stages:

(1) The yogi is embedded at the level of mental states about practice. So the yogi is going along, dutifully noting bodily sensations, thoughts and feelings about this or that, mental images, etc., but there's a running narrative about where they are on the map, when the hell is stream entry coming, how they compare with other meditators, etc. Only part of the mind is devoted to vipassana while another part is merrily analyzing things.

(2) The yogi realizes that thoughts about progress, maps, and meditation are distracting from actual progress, meditation, etc. These practice-thoughts are considered a nuisance, so the yogi attempts to push them away. This usually causes practice-thoughts to arise with more frequency. When the yogi catches themselves having these thoughts, they get pissed. Meditating becomes a bit like being bitten repeatedly by swarms of green flies. No individual bite is that bothersome, but especially if you're on retreat, this can become absolutely maddening. This corresponds with a full-throated dark night.

(3) The yogi realizes there is nothing special about practice-thoughts. Thoughts about meditation, maps, progress, other meditators, and whatnot are no different from thoughts about the weather, an itch, or what's for lunch. It's just more grist for the vipassana mill. They neither push nor pull these mental states. This corresponds with late Reobservation.

(4) Practice-thoughts are mostly disembedded from and don't arise that much. This often starts in low Equanimity.

Another, subtler, more difficult version of this arises in Equanimity, though. Now the problem is that there doesn't seem to be much left to do. One can feel as though all that is left is a vipassana-izing observer. The task is now to vipassana-ize that vipassana-izing observer, to disembed fully from the process of disembedding. The last thing to do is to throw away the ladder, but the yogi is still standing on the top rung of it. This is confusing and frustrating in its own right and can easily cause the yogi to fall back to dark night.

It's important to realize that there is nothing you can do about this. The instinct is to want to master something else, but there's literally nothing left to master. You have to overcome mastery itself. At this point, the only thing you can really do is to cultivate as much dispassion as possible. You need to treat stream entry like the coy lover who only takes interest in you when you ignore them. Considering how much effort you've had to put in so far, this can seem insane. But it's really the only option you have left.

The wrong thing to do here is to bear down on the practice. "I'm going to master surrendering." That doesn't work. What you need to do is to pay extremely close attention to any mental state regarding practice that comes up - the desire for mastery, the desire to be enlightened, the desire to show up for the sit - and develop dispassion toward it.

"But how can I have dispassion for enlightenment? I wouldn't meditate if I didn't want to get enlightened."

That's true, but keep in mind, your concept of nibbana isn't nibbana itself. You don't know what nibbana is, because you're not a stream-winner yet. :-) So whatever your concept is, it's meaningless. So cultivate dispassion toward it. Cultivate disinterest and equanimity. It's really only once "your" back is turned that fruition shows up.

So for those of you who are stuck at Equanimity or who are sliding back and forth between Equanimity and dark night, try looking more closely at those practice-thoughts (map-thoughts, progress-thoughts, DhO-thoughts, enlightenment-thoughts, enlightenment-desire, etc.) and see what happens.

Addendum: If you're below the A&P, none of this applies, because you're not even on the ladder. Your job pre-A&P is just to blast the primary object with noting until reality breaks. You don't need to be like Wittgenstein, you need to be like Rambo. Completely different game.

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RE: Favorite Threads
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2/23/13 10:39 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
On doing vipassana to Jhanas

Kenneth Folk: Samatha practice is for those who also practice vipassana. We are not impugning vipassana here, just clearly differentiating the two techniques. In order to gain insight, Path and Fruition, and developmental enlightenment, you must at some point "find the flaw" in the jhana via the vipassana technique. By finding the flaw, I mean that you have to see where it is impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not happening to anybody. Practically speaking, that means that you have to see it change or notice that while there are all these pleasant phenomena going on, there are also unpleasant phenomena. If you focus on the change or the unpleasantness, you "bust" the jhana. Busting it doesn't mean you can't return to it at will. It just means that now you own it as opposed to it owning you.

When to stop noting

Kenneth Folk: As a general rule, note until things become very subtle. At that point I would let go of noting as it is unnecessary and can disturb subtle states of concentration. Think of it a gearshift. (I think I originally heard this idea from Shinzen Young.) When the going gets tough, and you are having trouble noticing clearly, downshift to 1st gear. This would mean lots of noting. Once you get some momentum, but still want a reminder to keep yourself on track, shift up to occasional noting, just to "frame the picture" (that one is from Joseph Goldstein). When you are really cruising, and objects are effortlessly appearing and being noticed clearly, abandon the noting; it's just a distraction at that point.

And if you are practicing the samatha technique, don't note. You can use a mantra to gain access concentration, but once you enter jhana stop all self-talk and take the jhana itself as object. That might mean physical sensations or mental phenomena depending on the jhana and how deeply you have dived into it.

Indicators for improvement? Hmmm... This is tricky as there is a tendency to think that if you are accessing pleasant or subtle states you are doing it right. Sometimes it will be pleasant and/or subtle, sometimes it will be unpleasant and/or coarse. You are doing it right if you are clearly seeing whatever arises. There is a large element of trust required here, as it is not always obvious that you are making progress. Sometimes you may feel that you have regressed when in fact you have accessed a new stratum of mind that just happens to be unpleasant by nature. If you trust the process and apply the vipassana technique consistently you will certainly make progress over time. Don't look for any particular sensation, and certainly don't look for visions. See whatever is there. Whatever is in front of you now is the door to the door to the door, etc. You can't open the door that you haven't yet reached.

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2/22/13 10:40 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Something like “false traps” and the error of “playing safe”

Tarin Greco: it irks me to see this blatant misunderstanding of the 'direct' techniques perpetuated, and especially when
'constrasted' from vipassana. i think its because i've seen it so many times, and to me it doesn't sound any different from 'you shouldnt try to get samatha jhana because you'll get trapped in it' or 'dont try to observe the mental sensations just stay with the body', which are just boogie man stories and artificial dualities to get hung up on instead of actually practising.

Have you ever actually tried doing whats recommended? self-inquiry, or staying with the i am, or taking awareness as the 'main' object, or looking at the subject/object tension.. have you ever tried any of these things? what happened? what went wrong? what on earth is inherently unworkable about these ways? is it perhaps that they go too fast, they open too far, they invite in unwanted things like uncertainty, insecurity, doubt, worry, distraction, confusion, despair, unknowing, intellectualising, self-condemnation.. and the list goes on? what exactly is it that happens that makes you so certain it doesn't work for people who put in the exact same gumption and sincere effort that the so-called 'bottom up approaches' also require?

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2/23/13 8:08 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Getting to Stream Entry through the heart/chest area

Tarin Greco: the chest/heart is a volatile area and skilful training on this region can produce expedient (or possibly merely long-overdue) results. there is much ignorance/confusion bound up in many of the sensations that constitute the heart region; as such, a deep understanding of these sensations can be sufficient to cause release (path-moment).

think of it as an expedient means, similar to kenneth's (and sayadaw u kundala's) technique of paying especial attention to how sensations disappear both immediately and completely, in that it is for advanced practitioners who are able to reach equanimity stage (and probably with some degree of maturity in that stage already). it doesn't do much for all people, but it will do something sufficient for enough of the population to be considered a tool worth transmitting, either as the tool that does the trick to win the path or as a strong support for it.

attention to the chest region (sometimes as low as the solar plexus) is a common theme in thai and burmese insight practice, found not in all styles but in large enough number to be note-worthy. my teacher when i was a monk, ajahn ratt, teaches several methods of vipassana he developed himself (all of which i can vouch for in regard to their efficacy toward developing insight into the three characteristics), and several of those methods involve pounding it out at the chest. ive been meaning to write up something about his uncommon methods, as they are the sort of stuff you dream about your very own mister miyagi or whatever telling you to do. in place of that for now, i'll spell out one in brief:

the technique of turning/revolving attention

attention to any phenomena/sensation. then attention to the knowing of it, at the heart/chest. then attention back out to an 'external point' in the world (pick anything, a thought, a sound, a bodily sensation, etc), then attention back to the knowing of it, at the heart/chest. again and again, faster and faster, whipping around and around like a supercollider or a centrifuge or a vortex, or an orbit. your sitting body may or may not rock with it too, thats ok, dont worry about it and dont interfere with it (the idea being of course to only give importance to the meditation itself so as to energise it as much as you can, cos you need all the momentum you can get).

eventually it will either get so fast and so intense it becomes unbearable and shhhhripp!, (entrance through suffering door), or it will eventually fade into a tiny pulse, or perhaps not even that, and eventually, bloop! (impermanence or no-self door). the first case ajahn ratt described as 'the mind being torn from the heart'; the second, he commented that 'the mind has become weary of the gravity-pull of desire, and wearing down its attachment, is finally severed from it.'

i know 'the mind and the heart being torn apart' might sound appalling to some folks' sensibilities, but what can i say. sometimes language sucks, and sometimes its the truth itself that doesn't match our expectations. he's actually not talking about anything different from the true self coming out of the illusion of the false self, or your face before you were born, something of that sort. to make it clear, he's talking about path-moment.

actually, another one i could recommend that i got from ajahn ratt is the method (not that uncommon, and actually rather intuitive imo) of just staying with pain exactly where it occurs, *and nothing else*. this means not disappearing into impermanence, not playing 'guess who' with no-self, but only pinning your attention to the reality of suffering (which is so viscerally distressing who cares if its coming or going or self or no-self or what), again and again, until something-finally-gets-the-point. imagine if it were that pain in your chest/heart/etc that were completely unbearable? highly recommended. do it, slip, do it, slip, do it, slip ... eventually profit.

my personal experience with both those methods has played a large part in my progress and i whole-heartedly endorse them to anyone wishing to experiment with literally heart-wrenching techniques.

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2/24/13 8:43 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Equanimity Common Traps

Daniel Ingram: If one can cross the A&P once, it will be much easier again. Same for Equanimity. Thus, once in Equanimity, one simply must avoid the common traps of resting, spacing out, solidifying peace or spaciousness or the like, and instead simply concentrate moment to moment on exactly what is going on in the wide field of awareness with a lot of engagement, continuity, openness and precision as to just what is occurring, particularly things like effort, expectation, doubt, joy, peace, spaciousness, and the like, including the standard bodily and mental sensations that arise, along with anything else.

While this may sound difficult, it actually may be strangely easy and natural with the right attitude.

Thus, don't underestimate yourselves or what may be possible. All of us were surprised when we actually got anywhere also.

Jackson Wilshire: The shift of perspective where it seems that you're doing auto-pilot vipassana is very, very common. As I think I've said before in the forum, the first time this happened I thought it was stream entry, as I no longer felt identified with much of the mind-body process.

I agree with the advice given by prisoner and yaba (as usual). The pleasant feelings can be tricky, because being in the dark night teaches us to be OK with our dark stuff but not the light stuff. When I started getting hung up on whether or not I was dwelling in pleasant feelings too much, I asked myself three questions: 1.) Will grasping this bring liberation? No. 2.) Will pushing this away bring liberation? Again, no. And 3.) Will ignoring this bring liberation? No, because I need to stay with my present reality for this to work.

This practice sounds rather cumbersome, but it really helped me what I got stuck. Whether the feelings are pleasant or painful, the point is to be present with it, the way that you would be present with your best friend regardless of what they had to say to you. Just hang out with whatever arises and let it do what it does.

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2/24/13 8:45 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Two Ways to Develop Pureland 1

Kenneth Folk: Jackson, your experience of "lots of activity at the brow chakra" is consistent with my own experience pre-3rd Path. I told Bill Hamilton that it felt like something was hatching out up there. It kind of pulsed and itched and rooted around.
So... here's some really provocative stuff: Pre-3rd Path is the best time to discover and explore the Pureland jhanas. The circuit hasn't yet been completed from the level of the brow/3rd eye chakra, so you can focus on that chakra without fear of going beyond the Pureland territory and thereby missing it. There are two ways to develop Pureland 1, and they work together.

1) Recite "Namo Amitabha," understanding that Amitabha Buddha *promised* you a place in the Pureland if you sincerely invoked his name. I know, it's lame and irrational, but it worked for me.

2) Focus on the brow chakra with the samatha technique. You are looking for exquisitely pleasant sensations that make all prior jhanas pale in comparison, as well as a palpable sense of gratitude. (You might even find yourself feeling grateful to Amitabha Buddha...hmmm, weird.)

By the way, the brow chakra activity isn't just due to improved concentration. You are building the circuitry. It's physio-energetic growth. Psychic anatomy. What a trip!

… Jackson, The chakras within chakras/fractal chakra model has its merits. Another, more linear way to model is as follows:

-A linear, vertical development up through the chakras for both 1st and 2nd Paths.

-A completion of a circuit in which every chakra connects with every other, from the level of the brow chakra/third eye chakra. This web effect, parallel to Indra's net, in which every chakra is connected to every other, is why 3rd Path is a quantum leap development beyond the first two Paths, which are simply linear growth.

-Completion of the circuit, including all of the web-building of 3rd Path, but from the level of the crown chakra, resulting in 4th Path.

Lately, I favor non-fractal models (although as a sakadagami I was crazy for them), just because they are easier to conceive, and probably serve the purpose of creating a conceptual framework just as well as a more complicated model. The important thing to keep in mind when modeling is that all models eventually break down. And by the way, there is nothing wrong with being a model nut as a sakadagami. It's not even a hindrance. It's just the nature of the beast for those indoctrinated into the four paths/Progress of Insight model. If you weren't obsessing about models, you'd be obsessing about American Idol or the state of the economy. Pas de probleme. Just note it. Above all, concentrate your behind off.

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2/24/13 12:11 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
When to note

Daniel Ingram: When my practice was very weak and I could barely find my feet or the breath, I noted strongly so as to try to yoke my mind to the present moment and those sensations.

When my practice improved, I was able to shift to more attention to those sensations themselves, and then to letting the notes largely happen on their own.

As things got faster, the notes had to be stripped down, finally to just little mental blips that would track close behind vibrations, and finally those were too fast and then the notes got dropped in favor of bare investigation in very strong A&P territory.

When the Dark NIght set in after the A&P, I suddenly found that even with noting, staying present in Dissolution was hard, and then to stay out of the content, notes such as "Fear", "Suffering", and the like became of value, while the complex vibrations were too wide and buzzy to note except generally.

In Equanimity, I found noting didn't matter much, and that staying with larger things, like awareness and space synchronizing, or attention and phenomena, or effort and reality, were more compelling, but for including things such as "expectation" and a few broad aspects like that, noting had some limited place at times.

In Review, I found it useful in some stages, but post stream-entry it wasn't as helpful most of the time except when starting a new path from scratch, and then only briefly with rare exceptions. As one teacher said, "Now you know that C A T spells cat, and so just read."

I don't use it now except in the rarest moments, but it got me a long way, and I am very grateful for it.

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2/24/13 12:14 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hindrances are your friends

Tarin Greco: the hindrances are your friends. insight meditation doesnt often feel like good concentration practice - its not supposed to be steady and peaceful, with perfect attention and balance of mind. its about seeing impermance, things happening relentlessly and out of your control (no-self), which can be annoying and edgy at times, or even downright painful (suffering). note all these things and keep going.

this is just a hunch, but i think you should note faster. go as fast as you can and dont worry if you're noting 'correctly' - it doesnt actually matter what the label you note with is as long as its training your attention in experiencing the sensations directly and quickly (experience it and move on, experience it and move on.... fast! faster!)

ps my mind wanders pretty often when i sit, but that didnt stop me from going through this thing successfully. dont let it fool you into thinking thats the problem!

[ In the thread there’s also a lot of interesting talk about Mind & Body, Cause & Effect and The Three Characteristics’ symptoms. ]

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2/24/13 12:17 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Bhante Vimalaramsi’s Critique of Noting and Fixed Concentration Practices

Bhante V: …Real personality change occurs when one opens and expands their mind and let go any kinds of hindrances, pain, suffering and tension even in their daily lives. This means that one opens and expands their awareness so that they observe everything with a silent mind which is free from tightness and all ego-attachment. One gradually leads a happy and calm life without a lot of mind chatter, especially during their daily activities. When one practices "concentration meditation", one will feel very comfortable and happy while in the deep meditation but when they get out of these exalted stages, their personality remains the same (this means that the hindrances attack them but they do not recognize and open their mind. Thus, they contract their mind and become even more attached!). They might even tend to be prideful and critical! This is because whenever a hindrance arises during the meditation, the meditator lets it go and immediately goes back to the object of meditation again. They do this without calming and relaxing the tightness caused by the distraction. Instead, their mind tends to close or contract and tighten around that experience (while in sitting meditation) until the mind becomes more deeply 'concentrated'. As a result, this suppresses the hindrance. Thus, they have not completely let go of the ego-attachment to that distraction. Their mind is also tight and tense because they are not seeing clearly that they are not opening and allowing, but closing and fighting with that distraction. This explains why nowadays meditators complain that they have huge amounts of tension in their head. Actually, when one truly lets go of any distraction, there will not ever be any tension in the head. As a result of this suppression, there is no real purifying of the mind and thus, personality change does not occur.

…Many meditation teachers tell their students to put their attention right in the middle of the sensation and see its true nature. This will cause a few different things to occur. Firstly, the students will develop a stronger pain and this becomes a distraction instead. It is because these meditation teachers tell their students to stay with that pain until it goes away. Unfortunately, this can take an unbelievably long time. In addition, the students need to tighten and toughen the mind in order to observe the tension. Actually, this tightening and toughening of the mind is not being mindful. The students begins to develop a mind that hardens itself when pain arises. It is only natural that this happens as it take a lot of courage and fortitude to watch pain in this way. A type of aversion is naturally developed at that time, and this hardening of mind is not being noticed as anicca, dukkha, anatta. Consequently, even when one is not meditating, this suppression can cause personality hardening, and that causes true problems to arise. The mind has a tendency to become critical and judgmental and the personality development of the meditator becomes hard. Many people say they need to do a loving-kindness retreat after doing other types of meditation because they discovered that they do and say things which are not so nice to other people. When this happens, there appears a question, "Is this really a type of meditation technique which leads to my happiness and to the happiness of others? If the answer is yes, then why do I need to practice another form of meditation to balance my thinking?"

Matt’s summary on Bhante V:

1. Enlightenment is the elimination of the 10 fetters. This would certainly imply a limited range model.
2. The key to nibbana is seeing the chains of dependent origination forward and backward. He says seeing the 3Cs is not enough.
3. Ven. Vimalaramsi is very big on development. He repeats that this practice should make one happier.
4. He is very much against fixed concentration. Anything that tends to suppress, ignore, etc. he indicates is moving away from mindfulness.
5. The main point is to relax and expand the mind. Mahasi-type noting seems to be about concentrate and dissect. Ven. U Vimalaramsi identifies the main culprit as tension, resistance, and non-acceptance of sensations. He says that all this is going against the dhamma, the truth of the present moment. He also says this method simultaneously develops metta.
Sutta practice seems to be very yin: being gentle and expansive. Mahasi-style seems yang: develop concentration and dissect reality. In theory and from my own practice, I can already see the weakness of the sutta model: dullness, sinking, not moving along. I can also see the weakness of the Mahasi-style model: too much tension, competition, very powerful releases beyond one’s ability to handle them. At worst, I can see the sutta practitioner not getting anywhere, and the Mahasi practitioner burning themselves out, cracking their psyche, or various other problems.

Triple Think: [ Bhante V states that he "had experienced all the stages of meditation that a Vipassana practitioner is supposed to experience" but still wasn't satisfied. ] I think probably it is reflective of what we see here, which is mainly that initially the stricter noting practices and fixed concentration practices are best as they provide very reliable guidelines for establishing a good practice and gauging progress. Somewhere around mid-way in the process they start to be less effective and a more expansive approach is increasingly called for. However even then these techniques are frequently very useful. So while he may well have found as well that this alone was not enough to move beyond a certain point I think we see a fairly widespread agreement that the stricter and more narrow focus is very effective for the better part of at least the first and second paths and even beyond that the techniques and the experience gained thereby is more or less invaluable.

Daniel Ingram: Regarding insight practices making one tight: every technique has its down sides and unfortunate effects. Most of the practitioners I know who have gotten somewhere have used a flexible approach and utilized many techniques to balance themselves and their minds. I personally did and do many different practices with a wide range of goals and results, and I think this just makes sense.

I did very hardcore, very fast, sometimes very tight, but then progressively wider and more inclusive insight practices, and the side effects were sometimes harsh, but progress was very fast. I also did all sorts of practices with a very different feel, from choiceless awareness practices to pure hard concentration practices of many kinds to brahmaviharas and energetic practices as well as many others. Many did very different things to my mind and body. Nearly all helped in some way.

It is just like food. Broccoli is good for you, but I would never tell someone to just eat Broccoli. While I do advocate that for some period of time people Take the One Seat, as it were, and dedicate themselves to mastering some good foundation practice or practices, there is lots to be said for developing broad competence. When I practice medicine, I use different medications depending on the patient's condition. Nearly all of the medications I use have known and sometimes bad side effects, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be used in the right context. The same is true of meditation practices.

Sometimes really hard-edged practices can really cut through to something good, and at other times a wider, more spacious and peaceful approach is needed. It makes sense to learn to be able to do both and more, but more fundamental than that is whatever works for the practitioner.

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2/25/13 5:10 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Kenneth Folk’s Long Post: Path and Fruition (Nibbana)

Let’s briefly review what we’ve seen so far:

Theravada Buddhism identifies Four Paths of enlightenment. The first of these Four Paths can be subdivided into 16 “insight knowledges” or ñanas. These ñanas arise one after the other, in invariable order, as a result of balancing insight (vipassana) and concentration (samatha). Most of the heavy lifting is done in the first three ñanas; taken together, the first three insight knowledges can be thought of as the pre-vipassana phase. During this first phase of practice, it’s as though the yogi is rubbing two sticks together in an effort to start a fire. When the fire takes hold in earnest, the 4th ñana, the all-important Arising and Passing of Phenomena (A&P) has been attained. From this point on, the practice is more about constancy than heroics. The focus becomes concentration rather than insight. Patience and trust are important; at times it is necessary to avoid the temptation to push too hard, understanding that just as you can’t force a young plant to grow by pulling on its stalk, you can’t force yourself to develop through the ñanas.

This process of development is hardwired into the human mind/body system. Everyone has the potential to develop along this particular axis, and in order to do so one must simply follow the instructions for accessing and deconstructing each new layer of mind as it arises.

We now continue to track the progress of our idealized yogi. It’s tempting to make a big deal out of the Path moment. So much emphasis is put on attaining First Path that we imagine there is some secret to it; surely there is some special bit of knowledge or some extra bit of effort required to “get us over this last hump.” In fact, it’s not like that at all. Just as all the previous insight knowledges arose, in order, on cue, the Path moment shows up out of nowhere when you least expect it. It’s a little bit like chewing and swallowing; when you put food into your mouth, you begin to chew. At some point, when sufficient chewing has taken place, you swallow. It’s an involuntary reflex. You don’t have to obsess about whether swallowing will occur or try to control the process. If you do, chances are you will just get in the way. Similarly, when you meditate according to the instructions, the various strata of mind are automatically accessed, the apparently solid phenomena are automatically deconstructed, the information is naturally processed, and you automatically move from one insight knowledge to the next without having to orchestrate the process at all.

In just this way, our yogi is sitting there one day (or walking, or standing), and there is a momentary discontinuity in his stream of consciousness. It’s not a big deal. But, immediately afterward, he asks himself, “Was that it?” It seems that something has changed, but it’s very subtle. He feels lighter than before. Maybe he begins to laugh. “Was that it? Ha, ha! I thought it was going to be a big deal. That was hardly anything. And yet...”

Something is somehow different. It would be very difficult to say exactly what. In almost every quantifiable way one could imagine, things feel exactly the same. And yet...

As the days and weeks go by, it becomes ever clearer that the experience was indeed First Path. First of all, the practice is different now. Instead of having to sit for a few minutes in order to work himself up to the 4th ñana, every sitting begins with the 4th ñana or A&P. From there, it takes just a short time to get to equanimity. Second, our yogi may suddenly find that he has access to four or more clearly delineated jhanas, or “realms of absorption.” He may find that he can navigate these states simply by inclining his mind toward them, jumping between them and manipulating them at the speed of thought. Third, there is the possibility of re-experiencing the 15th ñana, frution; a yogi can learn to call up fruition, which is said to be the direct apprehension of nibbana (nirvana) at will. There are three doors to nibbana, namely the dukkha (suffering), anicca (impermanence), and anatta (no-self) doors. Each of these modes of accessing cessation leads to a slightly different experience of entering and exiting nibbana. The fascinating exploration known as fruition practice is only available to post-First Path yogis and consists of systematically calling up, becoming familiar with, and comparing these phenomena.

And finally, there is the 16th ñana, “knowledge of review.” It is possible to learn to call up each of the ñanas 1-11 in addition to the 15th ñana of fruition and re-experience them as a kind of laboratory for understanding what the insight knowledges feel like and what insights they bring. (Ñanas 12-14 are one-time events marking the attainment of Path and will not happen again.) The ability to review previously attained ñanas is especially helpful for those who plan to become meditation teachers, but is interesting and useful for everyone because the ñanas will continue to cycle throughout a yogi’s lifetime and it’s very empowering to be able to identify them as they arise. This ability to see sensations, thoughts, and mind states from the outside rather than identifying with them is part of the larger process of awakening. When we objectify (take as the object of awareness) something that was previously seen as self, we move to more and more subtle forms of identification and ultimately come to the place where there is nothing left to identify with; there is only pure, non-local awareness, which can never be taken as object and can never be mistaken for "me." This Realization of primordial awareness is the happiness that does not depend upon conditions.

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2/25/13 5:12 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Kenneth Folk’s Long Post: The 16th Ñana: Knowledge of Review

… A high level of concentration is required in order to complete the 16 ñanas and attain First Path, but I wouldn’t say that concentration is the deciding factor in whether a yogi recognizes and can effectively review the territory; it would seem that attitude and training are more important. Here is an example that might help to make the point:

A Zen student attains First Path. This happens in spite of the fact that neither ñanas nor Paths are mentioned in Zen training and is not surprising given that the ñana/Path model is just one way to describe and map a natural, organic process of human development. Having traversed the territory, though, the Zen student has no meta-perspective that will allow him to conceive of what he has been through. In fact, throughout the Zen training, the various phenomena that arise during meditation are actively invalidated by the teacher; all of the pleasant and unpleasant experiences are considered “makyo” (hallucination). A good Zen student learns very quickly not to attempt to make sense of meditative phenomena for fear of incurring the ire of the teacher. In this case, both attitude (the belief that thinking about or assigning importance to meditative experiences is dangerous) and a lack of training in identifying and systematically accessing various states conspire to prevent the Zen yogi from mastering this aspect of practice even though he has shown that he has sufficient concentration to access them.

In cases like this, a bit of remediation is in order for those who would like to understand and master the mental territory that has become available with the advent of Path. This is the situation you now find yourself in, so I’ll bring this back to specifics and offer a prescription that is tailored to you.

You have already taken several important steps toward understanding your experience; you have begun to educate yourself about the phenomena by reading about the maps, you have identified fruition as a recurring phenomenon in your own experience, and you have made a commitment to learning more. The next step is to notice patterns in how your experience manifests both during a sitting and over a period of hours and days. Notice, for example, that a sitting will often follow a predictable pattern; beginning with very little concentration, you become more and more concentrated until you reach a climax of concentration, sometimes culminating in a fruition or series of fruitions, after which you become less concentrated again and have to work your way up to a concentrated state again.

Using more technical language, a stream-enterer’s sitting begins with the 4th ñana, progresses through ñanas 5-11, then leaps to nibbana with the 15th ñana, fruition. After that, it resets to the 4th ñana and repeats the pattern. You can enhance your ability to notice the various states as they arise by keeping a journal of each sitting. Over time you see a pattern.

For example:
I started the sitting with my mind a jumble (the mind is not yet settled enough to access any Insight Knowledge).
As soon as my mind settled down, I felt pleasant tingling and vibrating in my leg, along with a feeling of well-being and lightness (4th ñana, Arising and Passing of Phenomena).
Next, there were subtle, cool tingles all over my skin and I felt bliss (5th ñana, Dissolution).
Next, I heard a sudden noise and was startled, frightened, and disoriented (6th ñana, Fear).
Next, my jaw and neck started to tighten and writhe, and I felt itches on my skin (7th ñana, Misery).
Next, I began thinking about snails and worms and ugly people, and my face pulled involuntarily into a sneer (8th ñana, Disgust).
Next, my chest became tight, my breathing shallow, and I started thinking “Let me out of here!” (9th ñana, Desire for Deliverance).
Next, my mind was full of all kinds of negativity, my concentration went to hell, and I began thinking I was wasting my time and I might as well get up and have another cup of coffee or watch some television. I started thinking about the argument I once had with someone, and how I had definitely been in the right (10th ñana, Knowledge of Re-observation).
Finally, my mind settled down, the field of awareness expanded, and sitting was effortless. There was a pain in my leg, but it was no problem; I experienced it as a flow of sensations, some pleasant, some unpleasant, but none of it was a problem (11th ñana, Knowledge of Equanimity).
I became more and more calm. Then, when I wasn’t expecting anything, there was a momentary discontinuity in my awareness, followed by a deep breath and a feeling of bliss (15th ñana, Knowledge of Fruition).
After that, I sat up straight, feeling energy returning to my body and mind and realized I was back at the beginning of the cycle (4th ñana, Knowledge of The Arising and Passing Away of Phenomena).

Sometimes these stages go by very quickly. You may get just a momentary taste of each ñana as you quickly move through it to the next. Nonetheless, with repeated observations, you can see that the mind is moving through a series of layers or strata as it becomes more concentrated throughout the sitting. Also remember that “concentrated” does not mean “focused on one small area or object.” Rather, it means “remaining undistracted with the mind resting in the object or objects of awareness.” In fact, as concentration deepens throughout the sitting, the movement is toward an ever-more-diffuse field of awareness.
Once you have a feeling for what each state or stage entails, you can make a resolution (Pali “adhitthana”) to call up each state and review it in isolation. You can call up any state in any order in this way. This becomes your laboratory for really understanding and identifying each of the ñanas. The formal resolution does not have to be elaborate; it can be as simple as “May I review the 4th ñana now,” or “OK, I wanna do some fruitions.” The more you work with adhitthanas (resolutions) the more confidence you have in them, until it becomes clear to you that all these states are available to you instantaneously by simply inclining your mind toward them. Finally, the answer to the question “how do you get to such-and-such a ñana or such-and-such a jhana”? becomes as simple as the question “how do you get to the kitchen from the living room”?
You just go there. You don’t even think about it. That level of proficiency with jhanas and ñanas is a realistic goal for anyone who has the interest and the willingness to train systematically toward it. Taken together, this kind of training is called adhitthana practice, and is usually undertaken during the 16th ñana (Knowledge of Review), but can be done any time after First (or any other) Path.

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2/25/13 5:13 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Some Instructions for and Descriptions of the Three Doors

Kenneth Folk: Roll your eyes up into your head and let them flicker. Is the flickering continuous, or does it come in pulsing waves? Watch for the end of a cycle of flickers. There's just a tiny bit of tension as you focus on the end of the wave. Ftrrrp, ftrrrrp, ftrrrp. At the end of each wave of strobing there is a stop. Sometimes, there is also a little blip of nothingness, followed by a brief wave of bliss. The quick, clean blip is a dukkha (suffering) cessation. The smoother, slippery ones are anatta (no-self). No-self cessations can be extended to long periods of time. Dukkha cessations are always momentary as far as I know. The third door to nibbana is the anicca (impermanence) door. It also might show up while rolling your eyes up and fluttering them. And it can be extended for several seconds at a time, possibly more. But it is unlike the other two types of cessations in that it feels like you are being quickly and smoothly vibrated in and out of nibbana. Once you identity it and get the hang of it, you can call it up on cue just like the other two, although for me it's the trickiest of the three doors to review. It takes a slight amount of tension in the body and mind to make all of the mental vibrations sync up properly, and if you overdo the tension, you overshoot the cessation and just get tense! But, like all of these reviewed phenomena, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

For those who have just tuned in, the ability to experience cessation is evidence of having attained 1st Path. Put another way, if you can't do it yet, that's expected unless you are already a "stream-winner." Don't make yourself crazy trying to do something that can't possibly happen for you yet, just keep doing your vipassana and samatha practices and let the mind ripen naturally.

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2/25/13 9:06 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
The Dark Night is simply withdrawal symptoms of ego addiction…

Richard Zen: Letting go is often the part of the practice that is neglected yet it's the most important part. The sooner you get good at letting go the sooner you will notice how clear your automatic senses are and find that a place to dwell (equanimity). The Dark Night is simply withdrawal symptoms of ego addiction. That's why when people have bad habits that hurt them they may still find it comfortable to continue them. Then you will have to do the hard work of breaking down the sensation of self in thoughts by paying attention to the different types of projections (images, verbal, sound, etc).

I would recommend Strength to Awaken by Rob McNamara which talks about weight training in a Zen context but has some of the best descriptions of how the ego wants homeostasis and no real growth or change. To break that down you often have to stop thinking about doing things and just do them while being in the now with your senses and thoughts. Any rumination is a sign of resistance.

Understanding the first four ñanas progression

Fitter Stoke: One way you can understand the first four ñanas - and I've never read it described this way, but it seems to be true - is that they're in a sense embedded in one another. Mind and body arises whenever the field of experience as a whole - both subject and object - become conspicuous as phenomena. Right now, do choiceless noting as fast as you can for about 30 seconds. I guarantee you'll enter Mind and Body. People naturally enter this state all the time without doing any meditation, but they tend to pop back out and re-embed with ordinary experience, because they're not trying to stay in it. Mind and body will give you a quick, intuitive, but partial feel for anatta, because consciousness and the self pull apart a bit here. There's a slight dissociated quality to it, because you're watching your mind.

If you hang out in Mind and Body for a bit, Cause and Effect naturally follows. It's just how Mind and Body shows itself if you watch it long enough: things are interacting with other things. This gives rise to that. In fact, if you're in Mind and Body for more than a few seconds, I can't see how you can fail to notice Cause and Effect. There's a sound in the other room; a quarter of a second later there's a sensation of arousal in the chest; it's immediately followed by some mental impressions. If Mind and Body is seeing that experience is nothing other than these sorts of things, then Cause and Effect is just seeing that they interact in this fashion.

Very closely related to the this-and-that of Cause and Effect is the underlying irritation or frustration in the thing. The second ñana introduced anicca; now we've got dukkha. So there's all three characteristics now, hence the name. (Anicca and anatta "support" dukkha.) You cannot perceive the source or the totality of the dukkha, obviously. But it's evident at this point. It usually manifests as physical pain that drops away quickly once you stop meditating. But it's common to perceive temperature changes, too. A lot of this stuff is probably there in experience anyway, but because you're focusing so much on it, it's really becoming conspicuous.

But there's a phase change at the 4th ñana, like when water suddenly starts to boil. Third ñana is an aspect of the second ñana which in turn is an aspect of the first. Keeping things in the same abstract terms, 4th ñana arises when one perceives the essence of the field of experience that first arose in the 1st ñana. The full name of it in the Vissudhimagga is "Deep Insight into the Arising & Passing". And that's basically the way it feels, regardless of how differently it can manifest for different people. There's an "A-ha" moment - much bigger than the "A-ha" in 1st ñana - where all of a sudden a big chunk of the Buddha's dhamma will suddenly make sense. The anatta and anicca intensify and shrug off the dukkha, and that's why people think they're enlightened here.

Why this stage does not constitute enlightenment and why it's followed by the dark night and the further task of stream-entry is a whole nuther can of worms.

So the point you may take from my self-indulgent monologue here is that moving up and down the first three ñanas really isn't all that complicated or difficult. Your challenge here isn't to understand or master or nail down "everything". Your challenge is to comprehensively disembed from your experience, whatever it is, so that these phases naturally show up and do their thing and allow deep insight (4th ñana) to occur. This doesn't require you to keep with the breath to the exclusion of everything else for any fixed period of time. What it requires you to do is to see experience itself. One of the best ways to get this going - though it's by no means necessary nor everyone's cup of tea - is to note your ass off.

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3/29/13 11:06 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Steph's highly motivating post on momentum and priorities

Florian describes a meditator's movement through the ñanas succintly and clearly

Tommy points out no phenomenon is unworthy of investigation, with welcome levity for the dharma questors amongst us, in his 'Dog Farts' thread

RE: Favorite Threads
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7/10/13 7:14 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
another fascinating link:

http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4446026

RE: Favorite Threads
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7/15/13 1:49 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.

RE: Favorite Threads
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8/15/13 5:38 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.

RE: Favorite Threads
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8/19/13 1:14 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
A great thread on how to investigate anatta through noting.

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8/30/13 4:22 PM as a reply to Christian Calamus.
Dan From Virginia:
You don't have any normal 'life relationship dramas' do you?,,,so instead you have to *pretend* to be a normal person...

You can't say to her 'babe there's nothing to worry about, you just have to awaken your consciousness to live in the profound peace of mind that is your true birthright and true self'. Your biggest problem is a problem of how to effectively hide your level of attainment, so that you can still get laid, socialize with a large group of friends, and in general make those around you feel comfortable.


Dear HS, life has presented you with a perfect arising of self, but instead of *seeing* the arising, you're believing your mind's false questions. Whenever the mind presents you with such a question as above, get to the root of it.

Enlightenment is like a sea of calm obviousness...sure the mind talks to you, just like other people talk to you, but when you take it to be *your mind* suddenly it isn't obviousness. Then *you have a choice* appears and with choice a *sticky question* with which to get wrapped back up into mind about.

The answer of course isn't *to not do something* or *to do something*, the answer is that when what appears to be a sticky *choice* appears in the mind, take the opportunity presented to get to the root of the stickiness that's making you think this is *your thought* then it will become just "a thought" and what to do (or not do) will be obvious again.

The rest will take care of itself, best of luck, and if at all possible, have fun with it!

Dan


from http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4594093#_19_message_4626850

RE: Favorite Threads
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9/14/13 11:25 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.

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9/23/13 1:42 AM as a reply to PP.
Here is a somewhat related thread with many practical hints on how to relax subtle tensions in the body and how that relates to practices on and off the cushion. Bathe V's methods, which focus around active relaxation of tensions, are also discussed.

An excerpt (by EiS):

"Dualistic tension is felt in various places in the body. For example, Kenneth's Witness practice involves generating and fixating upon a kind of tension in the head, which (when not seen clearly) is mistaken for a kind of transpersonal consciousness that observes experience. But when seen clearly, it is observed to be a quasi-physical tension with a particular spatial location that (nonetheless) is co-incident with the inclination to believe that there is a transpersonal consciousness that observes experience.

When one "tries" to concentrate, or "tries" to hold attention in a certain way or on a certain object, this produces a similar dualistic tension in the head. The same goes for many other experiences.

When dualistic tensions are dropped, it is experienced as if there is something that one was actively doing, which one has stopped doing. Hence, "letting go"...one lets go of the action one appeared to be doing, and poof, less suffering.

This is most easily seen in the case of dualistic tensions associated with the head. If one observes such a tension, one can relax "effort", one can find a way to stop "holding on", and, if successful, there will be a palpable sense of relaxing and not-doing (almost as if the muscles of the face have relaxed), along with the lessening of whatever kind of dualistic experience there was that was co-incident with the tension."

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10/2/13 10:13 AM as a reply to Christian Calamus.
This was recently posted in the middle of a thread by Richard Zen. It real helped me understand how meditation can help to bring about changes in ones daily life
New paths

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12/24/13 5:17 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Sister Khema about dependent origination

I read this a couple of weeks ago, while browsing older topics. Hope this is not mentioned already.
This was very inspiring to read, showing how that topic is applicable to daily life.

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2/13/14 6:39 PM as a reply to No-Second-Arrow Z.
very valuable

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4/22/15 2:02 PM as a reply to Cedric ..
Hi fellows, Iet's try to keep this thread in the first pages of Recent Posts, while Simon works on the technical problem. There are lots of excellent threads waiting to be rediscovered! Feed the thread! 

Here's one about Rigpa, that Bill F recently linked in another thread:

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/188392/en