"Under no circumstances attach..."

thumbnail
Nickolas Grabovac, modified 10 Years ago at 5/3/12 1:49 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/3/12 1:49 PM

"Under no circumstances attach..."

Posts: 19 Join Date: 2/10/11 Recent Posts
"Under no circumstances attach to anything as me or mine"

I've come across this sentence a few times as supposedly a concise summary of the Buddha's teaching. I always used to interpret it to mean "don't attach to things", as in, "don't crave that piece of chocolate cake", etc. More recently, while going about my daily life practice of trying to pay attention to every sensation with curiosity and allowing each sensation to show the three characteristics to me, I recalled this sentence and it's meaning seemed very different:

"Under no circumstances, attach to any sensation as me or mine", or "don't mistake sensations for a self"

This is probably really obvious for most of you, but I thought I'd share my little "ah-ha" moment in case it was helpful to someone here at the DhO.

Cheers,

Nick
thumbnail
Florian, modified 10 Years ago at 5/3/12 3:15 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/3/12 3:15 PM

RE: "Under no circumstances attach..."

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Yeah, good one. Nice!

So, how is this attaching or mistaking thing going on, how would you describe it (provided you wanted to)?

Cheers,
Florian
thumbnail
Daniel M Ingram, modified 10 Years ago at 5/14/12 4:37 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/14/12 4:37 AM

RE: "Under no circumstances attach..."

Posts: 3231 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Dear Nickolas,

Good to hear from you.

I heard that your practice was going well.

What is life like these days? What happens in practice? What are you working on? What is catching your attention these days?

I hope the conference went well. Were you there?

Daniel
thumbnail
Nickolas Grabovac, modified 10 Years ago at 5/18/12 12:46 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/18/12 12:46 AM

RE: "Under no circumstances attach..."

Posts: 19 Join Date: 2/10/11 Recent Posts
Hi Daniel,

I wasn't at the conference, but from what Andrea told me, it sounds like it was a good one.

I'll try to give you a concise =) update on where I'm at. In early March, 2011, about three weeks after getting Stream Entry, I got 2nd path - It started while I was doing am evening yoga class, and the path was completed the next day during a 1 hour sit. It was after getting 2nd path that I started to see 'emptiness' in real time, during daily life. After 2nd path, I started to focus more on concentration practice. I played around with jhana-lite for a few months, and then got more serious about concentration practice and started following the instructions in Upasaka Culadasa's booklet "Progressive Stages of Meditation in Plain English" (PDF link), which I've found very helpful. During this time, I experienced several EE's of varying duration (usually 1-2 hours) and one full-blown PCE that lasted about 20 minutes, which actually derailed my practice for a while until I read about them on the DhO and understood what they were!

Then in July of 2011, I did a 2-day self retreat, mixing concentration practice with vipassana, with a focus on careful examination of the "watcher". During this retreat, I had what seemed to be another, new, full progress of insight culminating in a fruition, the afterglow of which felt like a path fruition, with a really nice bliss wave that lasted all night and well into the next day. My review fruition afterglows never last that long; the bliss wave is mild and usually finished after a few hours.

In Sept, 2011, I did another 2-day self retreat and spent most of the retreat in and out of seeing emptiness real-time. Interestingly, I had lots of corpse imagery while doing vipassana (as though I was a corpse - my usual mental image of myself was replaced by a corpse). While penetrating any sensation that suggested a self or centre, the mental image was one of flesh being ripped off of my corpse face and eyeballs being pulled out of their sockets. Normally, I don't get this kind of stuff, so that was kind of different =).

After the retreat, I continued with mostly concentration practice of 1-2 hours a day during sitting practice, with daily life mindfulness practice trying to penetrate any sensation that seemed to be associated with a sense of self. I find that the concentration practice helps greatly with this daily-life practice.

In Jan of this year, I started doing vipassana again as part of my sitting practice, usually following after about an hour of concentration practice. After a few days of this, I had a sit that ended in a big fruition, that left me feeling different, clear and super relaxed. This was right before I went to sleep. When I awoke the next morning, things were different. Here is the entry from my journal for that day:

"So, whats different? I can see not self without even trying. It’s just there all the time in whatever sensations I observe. A lot of tension, especially tension related to feeling awkward in social situations is gone. Totally gone. Even going to the insurance place to renew the car insurance today was a pleasant experience. I used to experience my mind racing and trouble hearing people speak when in a social situation that I was uncomfortable in. That is gone too. I have no trouble asking for something to be repeated (no sense of feeling awkward about it) and my mind no longer races or blanks out with anxiety. When Kai [my 5 year old son] was getting angry and yelling at me today, I could feel the bodily sensations that I would normally feel in this kind of situation, but they were attenuated and so obviously not-self that in just observing them, they quickly dissipated with no effort and I could talk with him normally as if nothing had happened. The mind seems much freer, more relaxed, fluid. So much less tension! There is definitely still an image of a self that the attention bounces back to repeatedly. But it is ephemeral - comes and goes and not given any special importance. It feels pretty much like any other mental impression that follows a sensation. I have a real feeling of relief, of being done, and just wanting to relax and live and walk around and be amazed by the changes. I don’t have a burning desire to practice anymore. In that way, it feels similar to after getting stream entry. It will be interesting to see if this lasts and how it changes over time."

The above "state" lasted for two and a half days, before slowly going back to "normal". Since then, I am continuing with mostly concentration sitting practice, with some vipassana at the end if my intuition tells me to, combined with daily life mindfulness practice. During the day, I am doing my best to maintain a relaxed mindful awareness of all sensations.  My success with this varies day-to-day, but when It's going well, the sense of a watcher or center drops away effortlessly ("in the seeing, just the seen", etc.).  Some days, I spend almost the entire day seeing emptiness in everything, other days, I only see it a little. It seems to follow a cycle all on it's own. I find my mindfulness getting gentler and gentler - I no longer need or want to 'force' the three characteristics to show themselves =). Often, the lightest touch of mindfulness is all that is required for duality to dissolve away.

So, that was a bit long winded, but hopefully catches you up on what's been going on for me. I'd really appreciate any advice, practice instructions, etc you feel would be helpful. Also, any sense for where I'm at? Where I am now is so different from what things were like for me after second path, that I just assumed I'm probably third, but I haven't tried getting NS and haven't done a lot of vipassana (to see if there are lots and lots of cycles going on), so this guess is only based on "daily life" criteria.

Cheers,

Nick
thumbnail
Nickolas Grabovac, modified 10 Years ago at 5/18/12 12:52 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/18/12 12:52 AM

RE: "Under no circumstances attach..."

Posts: 19 Join Date: 2/10/11 Recent Posts
Hi Florian,

That is such a good question! I can't really say at the moment exactly how the attachment happens, or what causes it to happen. What I observe is that I experience a sensation or cluster of sensations in an around the face, especially the eyes and lips, which is then followed by a mental impression which is an image of my face, which has some 'quality' to it that results in my taking the mental image as "me". When I feel sensations in other parts of my body, such as my hands, I also have a mental impression that follows the sensation, usually an image, but it lacks that 'quality' that tells me it is 'me'. What, exactly, that 'quality' is, I have not been able to clearly see yet. Any hints?

Cheers,

Nick
thumbnail
Nickolas Grabovac, modified 10 Years ago at 5/18/12 9:30 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/18/12 9:30 AM

RE: "Under no circumstances attach..."

Posts: 19 Join Date: 2/10/11 Recent Posts
Actually, there is also a physical tension in the diaphragm area that goes along with the sensations I interpret as "me", which, upon further reflection, may be the 'quality' I was talking about (or at least part of it).

Nick