Richard's insight practice

Richard's insight practice Richard Zen 5/15/12 12:10 AM
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Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 5/15/12 12:10 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/15/12 12:10 AM

Richard's insight practice

Posts: 1656 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Just organizing what I've done so far and creating a practice thread.

Okay I've been doing many different practices: Noting "arising of thoughts", "gone", staying as "shinkantanza" (do nothing), "viewing all senses at the same time", "jhana jogging", "no-self" 2nd gear KFD concentration practices. They all work in their own way.

I started off with horrible concentration and after months of practice with audiodharma.org audio streams and in 2008 I got a first jhana. I started insight practice after that but it was weak and more like concentration instead. I started noticing that 2nd and 3rd jhanas with piti and sukkha while I was attempting vipassana. Once I got to noting more consistently (after being recommended to this site:grinemoticon, I could just let go of the noting in the later part of the mediation sittings and hook up with the vibrations of the senses. Once that happened there was a shift where I thought my head would explode (probably A & P). Continuing to note I still didn't feel any dark night symptoms until I noted more accurately the 3 characteristics. The noting was too much focused on impermanence and ignoring not-self, and especially dissatisfaction. Once I started noting dissatisfaction after every mental striving a lot of my habitual enjoyments and negative mental habits were appearing obsolete due to the obvious dissatisfaction. This dissatisfaction lasted at least 3 weeks earlier this year. Once I started noting at work more, shifts happened and there was a gradual feeling that I could get relief while noting the most unpleasant emotional arisings. This became more confident even when dealing with difficult people (Cluster B typesemoticon ).

This site helped with understanding no-self along with 2nd gear practices:

Anatta

Once equanimity started appearing it was like bursting for air in a sunny ocean after being down in the murky depths. The feeling of sanity was very encouraging. It was so encouraging that I started getting lazy. The equanimity was literally vibrating in my skull and the reactive part of the mind loved to go dormant giving the senses more vibrancy. The equanimity left me satisfied before, during and after fun activities. Yet this equanimity fades and has to be regenerated. I fell into reobservation which was 10 times worse than the dark-night experiences I had before. Thankfully they only lasted a couple of nights and equanimity would return again and again feeling more natural. Reobservation still happens but it's more like a vague unease or restlessness that reappears but with less force than before.

Now more recently looking at Nick's blog and some of his comments plus Tommy's experiment and I was getting a little confused while using Shinzen Young's instructions for Shinkantanza "just sitting" (which are similar but slightly different in approach) to just staying with all your senses at the same time. Both of these practices have been a help. With Shinkantanza I can let habitual thoughts go where they please and I ended up concentrating up to equanimity instead. I knew that wasn't really the practice because there's still too much habitual concentration intention. Now with applying the same practice but allowing all the senses to appear as they are at the same time it's easier to see the meditative striving for meditative states being similarly stressful as any other mental striving.

So yesterday I decided to return to basic noting (despite wanting to avoid it as too much striving) with the knowledge in the prior paragraph. Before I noted I just easily let go of any striving and stayed with all the senses (including taste) and then started noting. As I started noting I could tell when a new thought was arising but as the thought started it was very weak and then I noticed that the senses were still clear in awareness during this arising. When the thoughts made more thoughts and got more intense then they would start obscuring some of the senses. While noting the arising and the passing away a sense of elation started coming back again. So my practice now will be focused on staying with the senses first and then noting cessations or allowing shinkantanza. The noting nudges me in the right direction despite some interference with awareness.
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Nikolai , modified 10 Years ago at 5/15/12 1:57 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/15/12 1:54 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Richard Zen:

Now more recently looking at Nick's blog and some of his comments plus Tommy's experiment and I was getting a little confused while using Shinzen Young's instructions for Shinkantanza "just sitting" (which are similar but slightly different in approach) to just staying with all your senses at the same time. Both of these practices have been a help. With Shinkantanza I can let habitual thoughts go where they please and I ended up concentrating up to equanimity instead. I knew that wasn't really the practice because there's still too much habitual concentration intention. Now with applying the same practice but allowing all the senses to appear as they are at the same time it's easier to see the meditative striving for meditative states being similarly stressful as any other mental striving.



Nice insight.

Just a clarification. I may have talked using those words before : "staying with the senses'. Although helpful to see it as action of forced 'staying' in the beginning to a degree, but ultimately there may be a linguistic trap here. The word 'staying' can subtly manifest into 'trying' to stay with the senses and that is actually the opposite of what one does when triggering recognition of apperception in my experience. With 'trying', the mind then selectively segregates the field of experience into 'parts' to pay attention to, when apperception has no segregating going on at all. The 'trying' aspect is the mind trying to grasp at some aspect /part of experience. Aaaaaah, apperception, I want to perceive you!

Apperception does not have that grasping quality, so to cultivate recognition of it, pure sense contact as it arises should be simply 'recognised' as it arises, rather than 'stayed' with. This word is less likely to lead the mind into 'trying', although it could....'trying to recognise' may occur. Being aware of the 'trying' overlay is useful as it arises.

Nick
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Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 5/15/12 12:09 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/15/12 12:09 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

Posts: 1656 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
I agree. "Stay" would be the wrong word. After last night it's clearer to me that what we normally look at as the self is like you say: a zooming in on phenomena to look for what is to like or dislike. All thoughts feel like they have a wanting behind them and it's clear how pervasive habituation really is and how impersonal many decisions are and how foreign some reactivity is when you're clearly looking at it. emoticon Just allowing the reactivity to subside and let the senses (which are already working) come to the foreground on their own illuminates the remaining tension that's there. That remaining tension just feels like wanting without any particular object which is quite dangerous in the wrong environment. I have more respect for how much of a dark veil strong emotions are. Just thinking about a hateful person in my past and exacting revenge is a perfect way to blow mindfulness out of the water. That book by Thich Nhat Hanh "Understanding our mind" and how he uses gardening as a metaphor for developing new habits is the key. Developing a habit of a peaceful mind and making choices and actions based on a clear mind over and over again will atrophy the old habits (probably not completely) and strengthen the new habits. There are only two ways I can see now. You have to either develop a strong desire to change habits (which is exhausting mentally) or conserve energy from wasted mental movements and use them towards those same worthwhile goals.

There's still enjoyment in noting and it's important to note with more subtlety so one is not in a "meditation practice" but just getting on with life. Relax the body fabrications and then relax the mind fabrications to allow the clear seeing. At this point I don't see wanting disappearing so it makes sense to then find something that's worth wanting:

Yogi toolbox Good Practice

* Noticing the difference between superficial feelings and core drives.


Venerable Ayya Khema

Since each one (feelings-pleasant, painful and neutral) disappears to give room to another one, could we then say that each time one disappears and gives rise to another one that the “me” has disappeared as certain entity and arises as new one? It never occurs to us to say a thing like that but that would be logical, wouldn't it?


Yogi toolbox Lifestyle Approach

"This is where the Buddha ran into the central paradox of becoming, because the craving and clinging that provide the moisture do not have to delight in the field or the resultant becoming in order to bear fruit. If the mind fastens on a particular set of possibilities with the aim of changing or obliterating them, that acts as moisture for a state of becoming as well. Thus the desire to put an end to becoming produces a new state of becoming. Because any desire that produces becoming also produces suffering, the Buddha was faced with a strategic challenge: how to put an end to suffering when the desire to put an end to suffering would lead to renewed suffering.
His solution to this problem involved a paradoxical strategy, creating a state of becoming in the mind from which he could watch the potentials of kamma as they come into being, but without fueling the desire to do anything with regard to those potentials at all. In the terms of the field analogy, this solution would deprive the seed of moisture. Eventually, when all other states of becoming had been allowed to pass away, the state of becoming that had acted as the strategic vantage point would have to be deprived of moisture as well. Because the moisture of craving and clinging would have seeped into the seed even of this strategic becoming, this would eventually mean the destruction of the seed, as that moisture and any conditioned aspects of consciousness the seed might contain were allowed to pass away. But any unconditioned aspects of consciousness—if they existed—wouldn’t be touched at all." Thanissaro Bhikkhu: The Paradox Of Becoming.


Never mind! That answered my question. emoticon Wow what an embarrassment of riches.
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Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 5/16/12 5:32 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/16/12 5:32 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

Posts: 1656 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Shinkantanza 1 hour: Allowed all the senses to be as they are. It seems to work in a reduction of mental stress. The trick is to avoid intending or trying to stop automatic thoughts. The only weird thing was that in a diffuse focus I couldn't feel my hands. Once you focus on them they come back. emoticon I'm noting all day. Noting is improving by staying with the vibrations of experience (95%) and then noting 1Hz (5%).
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Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 5/17/12 10:09 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/17/12 10:09 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

Posts: 1656 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Noting Vanishings 1 hour: Getting used to this is difficult but I can see the value of it. I used the breath as an anchor to note "gone" when the breath changes from in to the out breath and if sounds like traffic subside I note that as well. When thoughts pass away I note the vanishing. The challenge is not to note arisings and allow them to be in the background. I find this practice is better at showing no-self vs self for me. When a thought arises or a scenario is imagined (like conversations with others) the sense of self is quite strong. When thoughts are gone it's back to the senses. There's a sense of clinging to thoughts when focusing on noting vanishings. It's like I'm impatient to wait for the thoughts to vanish but the Papanca is addictive and forceful. As I got used to it there was a powerful jhana and plenty of tranquilizing restfulness. The thought interruptions still had a agitated quality like they were interfering with the pleasing restfulness. With more practice this will get smoother.
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Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 5/18/12 5:53 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/18/12 5:53 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Noting Vanishings 1.5 hours: Trying to note "vanishings" from fine vibrations in the body and vision. Had to note "frustration", and "dissatisfaction" along the way. The thoughts intervened regularly but were noted and abandoned. There were some drop outs 1/2 an hour into the meditation. That was rough. The vibrations were so fast I tried too hard. The face was tense and had to be relaxed a couple of times to reduce strain.
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Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 5/19/12 12:31 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/19/12 12:19 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Did a little bit of retooling.

1 hour Great perfection (let senses appear in foreground)/Shinkantanza (let go of intentional noting)/HAIETMOBA (only note total experience):

Big relief. As I started with the above instructions in order the jhanas started appearing on their own with no object other than awareness. My brain likes to talk about the dharma and describe the experience so mental noting was replaced with HAIETMOBA which is like noting all sensations at the same time and that pure equanimity that first blew my mind a month ago came again except with little effort necessary and a feeling of normality like I'm getting used to it. The only concentration necessary is to ask "How Am I Experiencing This Moment Of Being Alive?" when the mind wants to describe the experience. The beauty of HAIETMOBA is the computation power needed to do it is less than basic noting. Of course when noting is done properly then I expect all the practices lead to the same result. My vision was a little distorted like having doors warp and melt. I was blinking but it happened even then because the concentration was so spot on. Once attention is allowed to include all senses the vision returned to normal. HAIETMOBA sends you into the senses much like quick noting so the brain feels a little bit of concentration tension but much less than with individual noting. The sense of self is still there but it feels like it's erroding. I'm just going to do this all day and as much as possible to see if there is any tiredness.

EDIT: This was a help also:

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Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 5/20/12 4:21 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/20/12 4:21 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Yesterday the HAIETMOBA practice worked well but it must be constantly applied to keep the relief going. Anger disappears faster than when using mindfulness but it can also return fairly quick when the practice stops. There isn't much tiredness in this practice but when returning to conceptualization for conversations one has to remember to recultivate the practice to avoid more papanca.
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Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 5/23/12 11:53 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/23/12 11:53 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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1 hour cessation noting practice: Just allowed the natural senses to be in the foreground. I inclined the mind towards all vibrations and inclined the mind towards the gaps between vibrations and felt very restful throughout the day. There's still a little bit of addictiveness to the waves which may have to do with dopamine. The withdrawal symptoms are still less than in the past and despite feeling a little like...



...the mind lets go into tranquillity.emoticon
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Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 5/28/12 12:18 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/28/12 12:18 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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HAIETMOBA during hiking: I'm starting to understand how to equate thoughts as automatic along with the 5 senses. When thoughts and emotions arise there's less of a sense of trying to stop them. Once I'm rooted in the present moment the question HAIETMOBA isn't needed but just the answer. As emotions and thoughts happen automatically they quickly vanish and I don't identify with them as a self. Sometimes it's funny when an old mental habit or rumination appears. By feeling like those automatic thoughts are just fine there's no need manipulate anything. You don't add fuel but you don't stop thoughts.
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Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 6/1/12 5:17 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/1/12 5:17 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Noting cessation practice this past week: The only difference now is that I can notice strong waves all over my body and especially in my head. They are pleasant but one almost feels like one's face is warping in and out.
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Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 6/11/12 2:56 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/11/12 2:30 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Great perfection/Shikantaza/HAIETMOBA daily practice:

I find I get tired of this mindfulness a little less now and I can see the value of continuing to plow through the tired parts of the day with the same acceptance. It makes you reverent towards the power of habitual tendencies and to develop more dispassion for them. When doing this as a sitting practice I find that sitting with the vibrations as they get thicker and thicker the hindrances pull me in physical tension but let go almost like some external force is nudging me one way or another and I'm just looking at it instead of reacting to it. The labeling part of the noting is feeling more coarse now and I just want to drop it now and just see clearly with the senses what's there. I suppose "riding the wave" is a good metaphor.

When looking at thoughts it's like investigating the automatic senses and looking from that vantage point at thought habit tendencies. The feeling of "I" is very related to the thoughts for me. The practice relieves the stress via acceptance over anything that is there but the dispassion comes from finding the repetitive tensions annoying. If I eat enough but still get some cravings to eat more than I need to, I can also enjoy the pleasantness of feeling lighter and knowing that more fat will be burnt over night because I didn't indulge. I will notice at any uncomfortable sensations when I do fall off the wagon which is much better than judgment and guilt. It's always good to look at the pleasant ignored from the unpleasant and unpleasant ignored in the pleasant. There's more to the reality and desire and aversion is just zooming in on aspects and ignoring others.

I'm also losing a little weight because drinking water in place of just eating is often enough to kill the craving. When you're thirsty sometimes you can think you're hungry as well. This tactic is similar to the book The Power of Habit involving the habit cue. I learned to control nail biting by simply clipping my nails as soon as possible before I start gnawing on them. The habit tendency isn't gone but a healthy replacement ends the problem. If I drink water before I eat more carbs then the need to consume more carbs is greatly reduced.

There's also a subtle stress when the mindfulness lapses so getting in touch with the senses ASAP ends any papanca tendencies with mapping and meditation striving.
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Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 6/15/12 6:44 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/15/12 6:44 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Shikantanza "do nothing" 1 hour: This is the practice I needed now. I think I have been repressing the thought process still too much with noting. By allowing all automatic thoughts and all natural senses without trying to add or subtract from anything from the experience was greatest relief for me so far. It was like watching a a kaleidescope of phenomena arise and passaway on its own. There is still a little bit of clinging left but that's because I haven't mastered this practice yet. The sense of self is retreating from the whole back of my head to just my top of the spine connected to my head.
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Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 6/16/12 9:03 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/16/12 9:03 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Feeling great all day to day. The entire Shikantanza process is pervading my life. Aversion is down. Sanity is up. Thoughts (even bad ones) are okay. Everything seems okay. Tonight did another 1 hour of it. There was a pop in the back of the top part of my skull where time very briefly disappeared but I didn't get any bliss wave and I feel pretty good just like yesterday and today. My brain revved up some major 3rd eye pressure without any attempt to concentrate. Otherwise just more of the same which is just fine by me.
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Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 6/22/12 11:12 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/22/12 11:12 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Shikantanza "Do nothing" practice: Allowing thoughts to naturally pass away along with everything else has been very powerful for me. I was house sitting recently and had nothing to do so I played a video game. You know when you suck at a level and you have to redo the entire level again and again? Normally that would cause agitation but by not repressing any thoughts (negative or positive) I could feel the tension like a muscle start to tense up but then I found it easy to get out of the way and let it let go automatically. There's nothing that needs to be "done". I've been allowing this to happen all day everyday and it feels like there's nothing for "me" to do. Desire seems so obvious now. I can just bring up images of something desirable and thinking about desirable details just creates increased desire. Then I think of some responsibility I'm procrastinating on and bring the desirable details of positive benefits of dealing with this responsibility and a new healthy desire replaces it. All that's left of the dukkka nanas is some chest anxiety or fear but it's much more attenuated now. Much of it is from thinking if there is anything more I should be doing. It's just more stuff that arises and passes away naturally.
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Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 6/24/12 11:26 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/24/12 11:23 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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2 hour vipassana noting: Trying to note and not stop thoughts was the goal for today. I got intermittent jhanas along with bright results in the retina, and the noting naturally dismantled the jhanas. The self definitely feels like thoughts. I will see an image of a future self and it feels totally fake. The self feels more like a dream than reality. I'm finding that gentler noting is the way to go and sometimes slower noting (like every 3-4 seconds) to really soak in the experience is helpful. I've also been doing some concentration practice on the sensations of the spine/neck/back of skull to zero in on the location of the self. It seems to loosen things up in that I'm able to notice my experience shake and vibrate with every heart beat, but I got strong 3rd eye pressures in the forehead that really distracted the practice. I need to relax the facial muscles a little more. Still the result is a nice warm vibrating feeling the mind with little stickiness.
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Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 6/26/12 11:11 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/26/12 11:11 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I'm just walking around letting experience (including thoughts) arise and pass away. There's no real meditation. The only doing is making sure to pay attention to the senses while not stopping thoughts I'm also not allowing thoughts to proliferate so much that I check out of the present moment.
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Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 6/27/12 11:23 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/27/12 11:23 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Just for fun I decided to do pure samadhi practice for an hour. I found that it was easy to stay with the breath and any cognitive interruptions didn't last long. It was like a teflon brain. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I got no jhana factors at all and I could tell the brain felt like it didn't need the practice and it just hurt my head with large 3rd eye pressure in the forehead. Even relaxing the tension while still practicing was painful (hello 3 characteristics!). The closest thing to a "jhana" now is simply doing the Shikantanza/Great perfection/HAIETMOBA (whatever you want to call it) practice and enjoying the vibrations in the senses. I can get the same results with quick light noting practice. Even those nice feelings are not something to attach to. They are starting to feel a little crude. It's almost like your brain likes basic table wine, but then when you try above average wine the basic won't do. I'm assuming when I try outstanding wine then the above average won't do either. emoticon

The next step is to keep presence in the senses all day and especially when on the computer, reading, working, and talking to people. I can still "checkout" and attach to thoughts in those activities so more clear seeing is needed to get back to reality.
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Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 7/1/12 10:14 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 7/1/12 10:14 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Reading test with Shikantanza: I had a novel that I started some time ago that I didn't get very far into. I decided to pick it up again. There was a little avoidance but I just remembered how the present moment is just that, whether I'm reading or doing anything else and the aversion naturally came and went. Then I started. In the past I would use concentration practice to repress thoughts and try and read but of course repressing thoughts makes the reading very sterile and lifeless. At the time it seemed necessary to block out thoughts because the mind could go on a tangent which would also reduce the quality of the reading.

This time I just allowed thoughts to gently arise and pass away. This allowed more depth of understanding and more patience to look up unheard of vocabulary (I was reading a Patrick O'Brian novel with lots of nautical terms). When I did get caught up in thoughts it was usually when I read something that reminded me of myself or people I know (self-referencing). I allowed those thoughts to come and go but I didn't add to them so I was able to get back to it pretty quickly. Some aversion sometimes comes in because the mind likes to start something but not to finish it. Just letting that aversion come and go on its own relieves it. After about 1 1/2 hours I could feel the tiredness coming in. The aversion picks up and here I can see taking a break makes sense and then returning replenished I'm able to continue. The aversion I think comes from not accepting limitations but also not testing the limitations to see how much further one can go before one is truly tired. If one is throughly engrossed in an easy reading novel I can see them go on for hours reading but at the same time some difficult books can reward patience if one is willing to stick with it.

Next I want to apply the Shikantanza practice to actual intense studying and memorizing. In the past I would probably have to syke myself up and power through it despite the reactivity (very painful). Or study with no breaks and bash the self-image if I didn't continue farther. It'll be fund to try/not try while studying. To study without a goal would be valuable.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 7/5/12 9:34 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 7/5/12 9:34 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Note on old habits: I used feel sorry for myself a lot in the past and just recently I tried going in that same direction again. This time my tears were a lot less, the pain was less and the clouding of experience reduced. It lasted maybe 30 seconds and then I'm back to normal again. It seems freakish but at the same time quite healthy. This makes getting into a positive mood much easier. For those just starting on the practice after around 4-5 years (sooner if you do retreats) it really does get better. emoticon
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 7/11/12 10:55 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 7/11/12 10:55 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Shikantanza: It's getting easier and easier to dwell in the senses. Some recent troubles with family members that recur regularly are now feeling less of a bother. I get less worked up. The drama is less engaging. I'm also noticing that fear and inhibition is starting to weaken in a more noticable way. I seem to care less and less what people think of me, and (even better) I care less and less what "I" think others think of me. emoticon In the past I could feel a harsh reactivity in the chest when thinking about the judgments of others and now I'm identifying less and less with it. The rest and elation is becoming less explosive and more normal. When I think about things I would like to achieve in the future, I'm more interested in what I'm doing about it now. I need less instant gratification.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 7/13/12 11:03 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 7/13/12 10:44 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Shikantanza: I think I had a turning point last night. I continued the practice as usual but I noticed that letting go is becoming much easier. I saw non-conceptually that 99% of my internal thinking and talk is about likes and dislikes even in indirect ways. By letting go of having to like or dislike anything it led to a jhana like experience except with no effort. The experience was so beautiful I was crying tears of joy with gratitude and relief. It was like the best clear indication of the three characterisitcs except with this practice there was nothing to do and nothing to achieve. Just let go. Unfortunately the experience was so overwhelmingly good that my brain wanted to conceptualize it and rehearse the results. Of course I let that go to and I want to keep letting go all day. I have to be careful because this letting go wasn't something that had to be done it was done all by itself simply by clear seeing. This was just a beautiful taste but the new habit has to take time to settle. The only real effort in this practice is to use willpower to keep seeing just for the sake of it. The concentration object (if I can even call it that) is just awareness or nothing. I didn't have to "concentrate" on it. It just happens on it's own. The last layers of fear and inhibition are starting to crack.

The experience is like AUTOMATICALLY letting go of something painful simply because it isn't necessary to function normally. The letting go also has a refreshing feeling of "there is nothing to need". Of course the "I" wants to feel like this all day but the "I" must be reminded that it is not needed to do this. emoticon There is also something deathlike in that I feel more and more accepting of death and imperfection in life. The near feeling before this nice experience is "I'm okay in just dying right here" except it's not suicidal but just deep acceptance that death is a natural part of life.

EDIT: This might be 4.2/4.3/4.4 Equanimity according to Daniel's Jhana/Nana table. At least the descriptions feel right.
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Tommy M, modified 9 Years ago at 7/14/12 7:58 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 7/14/12 7:58 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Richard, your thread is excellent and packed with good information and insights. Your descriptions are spot-on, and your practice looks really strong.

Try just turning that lens of investigation back on that sense of "I", see how it's not present in that instant of clarity, how it only happens after the fact and how it can be seen to go into cessation the same as anything else.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 7/14/12 9:28 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 7/14/12 9:22 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I'm probably still enjoying the equanimity to the point of distraction. Scanning the entire skull makes the location of the self move but not really dissolve, but with that clarity in a higher equanimity it's hard to "do" anything like looking at the self behind the eyes when less doing is what gets you to equanimity in the first place. I still have to reconcile this with what AEN's book states regarding realization versus experience. Also that post above from Thanissaro Bhikkhu on how to not let desire to eliminate desire and aversion also become a point of moisture of craving. It leaves me to do nothing but on the other hand there is still a doing in just paying attention.
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Tommy M, modified 9 Years ago at 7/14/12 10:26 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 7/14/12 10:26 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Scanning the entire skull makes the location of the self move but not really dissolve, but with that clarity in a higher equanimity it's hard to "do" anything like looking at the self behind the eyes when less doing is what gets you to equanimity in the first place. I still have to reconcile this with what AEN's book states regarding realization versus experience.

Try the self-enquiry method and, rather than "scanning" just observe, in the cool ease of Equanimity, how the mind seems to bring all these different sensations together to create this idea of a self; there's no such thing as a self to be found anywhere, it's just the aggregates coming together to create an imagined, continuous and permanent "I". Rather than looking for it to "dissolve", see how there's nothing solid to it in the first place, just more of the same transient dance of sensation as everything else seems to be made from. As you're already aware, there's no "doing" as such but don't get complacent while in Equanimity 'cause what you need to see clearly is already happening with spacious, crystal clarity 'in front' of you right here and now. Use it to your advantage!
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 7/24/12 10:01 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 7/24/12 10:01 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I've been really busy with work but what you said is how I'm slowly progressing. I find that when I get caught up in thoughts now the senses can be even more of an anchor and the thoughts are passing away now and I feel more identified with the senses as opposed to identified with the thoughts. It's like I think a series of thoughts (including mildly negative self referencing) and I just let it run out of it's own steam and and my senses return to the foreground. Sometimes I return to the senses with a smile at what was being thought. I even returned to a bit of noting as a reminder to let the senses be the foreground.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 8/4/12 2:07 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 8/4/12 2:06 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Current practice is still developing more dispassion and disenchantment. I'm starting to get to what Nick was talking about in not zooming in to subjects. I feel like the 2 modes of "self" are credulity and incredulity. I'm incredulous to a "self" when I allow all the senses to be the foreground, and credulous to a self when I'm describing my experience or being lost in thoughts. The best description I can give is that when I notice the granular structure of my vision I feel more hemmed in like slightly 2 dimensional, and reality doesn't seem so real. The reality is hitting my senses in the present moment and is not distant at all and the feeling of expansiveness and reaching out in distance to the 3 dimensional sensual world is my conceptual self doing it's usual dwelling and searching for likes and dislikes. I'll just keep on with this Shikantanza practice because it's still yielding more insights. There's still a little more pain left when I start enjoying the present moment and the self wants to dwell on likes and dislikes as I try to reach out via projections. Of course I just let it go on it's own steam. I'm not sure if my practice is still too repressive. I feel less repressive than before though, which is encouraging. When I go for a jog and just be with my automatic senses my experience is a little "strobing" and "movie like" in my vision. There's also a feeling that I can just stay closer to thoughtless for longer periods of time. The elation of being just in the senses is getting more normal but still quite exquisite.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 8/29/12 6:07 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 8/27/12 9:08 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I went on vacation recently and it helped a lot. Getting out into nature helps to atrophy old day to day habits so when you come back you start making some changes. During long drives I listened to the Happiness Advantage by Achor and it helped out with one problem I had with the depletion of willpower for changing habits. I've been wanting to exercise more but always fail to do so. The example to change that scenario by Achor was to sleep in your gym clothes. The problem with willpower is that it drains but what I got from that famous willpower book was that you were supposed to strengthen it. The problem with that is while you're doing it what are you supposed to do in the meantime?

By sleeping in my gym clothes the path of least resistance is to go exercise as opposed to changing into other clothes. The author wanted to learn guitar but in order to do that he had to use his 20 second rule by removing the TV controller batteries and moving them 20 seconds away to make it painful to watch TV and then by putting the guitar and stand in the living room the path of least resistance was to practice guitar playing. I currently have added an RSS feeder program to news so I just open the program and quickly see the headlines and only read what I want to and it's saved a lot of time. I used to be addicted to reading tons of news I didn't need to. Make it easier to do the new habits by removing obstacles and add obstacles to old habits. One shouldn't have to rely on willpower alone.

On the meditation front I found a larger realization that the I really am just the senses and that the sense of I in the past was just concepts arising and passing away. It feels more natural and normal now to just be in the senses and then to pick and choose which arising thoughts are worth following and letting the rest just drop away. It's almost like my skull is feeling hollow of self while still feeling okay. The less "I" do about it the better.

EDIT: Shinzen Young's explanation on how the sense of self behind the eyes in equanimity is also conceptual is starting to make more sense now.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 9/5/12 8:08 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/2/12 4:08 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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2 hours of Shikantanza/some noting "gones": Some of the last realization (which happened more with presence during daily life) is filtering into my meditation practice. Equanimity is starting to get boring. Even if mental interruptions and dispassion is handled easily my brain is seeking out more clarity by looking at the endings of thoughts in particular. When the thought ends I'm back into the senses with lots of presence. This is similar to what Eckhart Tolle says about viewing the pauses between thoughts. Yet it's better if the brain finds this true because it desires to relieve pain than to simply follow a meditation practice. Any prior mental talk about meditation gets dropped as well. The suffering is still there in equanimity but because it's much less than before it requires more consistent comparision between being lost in thoughts and being here now with all my senses. The constant comparison shows the brain the subtle pain that's there that should be let go of. Even though I feel damn good the small dark night reminders (old weakened mental habits returning etc.) tell the brain that more refinement is possible. It really is that question that Tarin used for his AF chart. "Do I want to think about this or be in the present moment?" Except this question is asked without words or concepts. It's just feeling subtle agitation while lost in thoughts and letting go into the senses over and over again and getting that little bit of relief over and over again.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 9/5/12 6:14 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/5/12 6:14 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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There's definitely more of a shift that's becoming habit and being introduced into work. I find that dependent origination is easier to notice. When my brain is thinking about something really interesting the addictive part of the amygdala starts up and the mental talk/clinging gets revved up and the attention focus feels solid. Now that it's easier to let go more often my work patience has gone up a lot. The self referencing feels ridiculous and the brain can now see it isn't necessary to do that constantly. Rote work is becoming less boring. By being in the senses more the separation between me and the atmosphere feels a lot less. Sometimes when driving home it feels like I'm watching someone else's hand on the wheel. As soon as the brain starts getting caught up in thoughts I can detect the slight pain of likes or dislikes and it makes more sense to just come back to the natural senses. The most important part of this is that it's feeling more normal and not a mind state.
Adam , modified 9 Years ago at 9/5/12 6:32 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/5/12 6:32 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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well said
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 9/18/12 12:21 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/18/12 12:20 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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This particular quote from AEN's book is really helping me to get away from subtly manipulating thoughts. There's more room to allow thoughts without feeling guilt if there's a lot of thoughts. Less pain is good. emoticon

11 th December 2010
We often think that thought is obscuring our 'experience of Nowness' or 'experience of
Presence'...
As if the present moment is what is actually present in the absence of thought.
But have we actually look at thought itself... the actuality of thought.
Isn't thought itself an arising happening now? If we look nakedly at the manifestation of
thought... we discover it to be of the similar vivid intense presence as that which is
experienced in the absence of conceptual thoughts.
Thought too is Presence, is Nowness, is Awareness, whatever you want to call it (they
aren't an inherent substance but merely words pointing to the vivid and insubstantial
arisings of the moment)... it is vivid, bright, clear, though insubstantial (like anything
else). It is non-dual: there is no separation of a thinker and thought... there is just the
vivid appearance of thought.
Maintaining awareness, 'living in the now', presence, and so on, therefore does not
require getting rid of thought or 'remaining in the gap of no-thought' like what many
teachers teach.

Maintaining presence can be done 'within' thought itself... by dropping all striving (to
maintain any particular state of presence), resistance and clinging, and simply and
mindfully letting all experiences including thoughts to arise and subside in its own
luminous and empty nature.
Remember as I said before: thoughts aren't the problem, clinging is.
By being awake 'within' thoughts, we stop ourselves from getting lost in our thought
stories... we are present to the entire field of experience rather than narrowing our
focus on our mental chatter. Whatever arises is allowed to unfold and then subside on
its own without clinging or rejecting.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 9/18/12 10:45 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/18/12 10:45 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Also instead of asking myself "Who am I?" I find it better to watch my mind get lost in thoughts, then let go of clinging and then ask "was that a me?"
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 9/20/12 7:37 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/20/12 7:37 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Richard Zen:
Also instead of asking myself "Who am I?" I find it better to watch my mind get lost in thoughts, then let go of clinging and then ask "was that a me?"


This is really working. Today I felt just present and coreless for most of the day. I can let go of my "self" as just being more thoughts while feeling completely normal and not in any state. If there's clinging it's easier to let go now. Staying with people and their conversations is easier and when my mind does get lost there's no guilt because it just arises and passes away because of conditioning, and also it isn't a me. Thoughts aren't an interference. Concentration is vastly superior this way.

Awakening to reality quote:

Also, the fact that you know you were distracted means awareness is present in the
distraction, otherwise you will never know it.
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Brian Eleven, modified 9 Years ago at 9/20/12 8:18 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/20/12 8:18 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

Posts: 221 Join Date: 9/14/10 Recent Posts
Richard,
Sounds Great!
I think I've had similar experiences by the sound of your descriptions. AEN pointed me to a Shinzen Young video which has been helpful:Do Nothing meditation
I can really relate to the feeling of no guilt when the mind wanders, since starting with the "do nothing" meditation I've been shocked at how much I try to manipulate my experience and suppress thought. When it works and I "do nothing" I feel incredibly open, light, energetic, and free, experiencing what AEN refers to as "I Am".
Unfortunately it's been peaks and valleys with this. I really "let go" and feel great then I try to re-create it and the mental constriction returns trying to force an experience. The longer I meditate the more aware I become that I'm really uptight! lol! Whatever you're doing, keep it up!
My only suggestion would be to keep it relaxed and fun.

Metta,

Brian.

And thanks for the updates, it's nice to know someone else is in a similar spot.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 9/21/12 8:34 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/21/12 8:34 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

Posts: 1656 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Brian Eleven:
Richard,
Sounds Great!
I think I've had similar experiences by the sound of your descriptions. AEN pointed me to a Shinzen Young video which has been helpful:Do Nothing meditation
I can really relate to the feeling of no guilt when the mind wanders, since starting with the "do nothing" meditation I've been shocked at how much I try to manipulate my experience and suppress thought. When it works and I "do nothing" I feel incredibly open, light, energetic, and free, experiencing what AEN refers to as "I Am".
Unfortunately it's been peaks and valleys with this. I really "let go" and feel great then I try to re-create it and the mental constriction returns trying to force an experience. The longer I meditate the more aware I become that I'm really uptight! lol! Whatever you're doing, keep it up!
My only suggestion would be to keep it relaxed and fun.

Metta,

Brian.

And thanks for the updates, it's nice to know someone else is in a similar spot.


Once that's done it's all about continued self-inquiry mixed with consistent mindfulness and letting go when clinging arises. The self-inquiry reminds you that there's no non-conceptual self and mindfulness lets you see the wisdom of letting go.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 9/22/12 10:07 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/22/12 10:07 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Where I am now with no self is that experiences and thoughts are known. This knowing doesn't have a substance or location. You can't grasp at it or conceptualize it. It just is. It's not solid. A thought of a "thinker" is just another thought. The "thinker" thought doesn't conceptualize other separate thoughts. It's just another thought. This is pretty fun, though there are deeper realizations. emoticon
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 9/30/12 10:40 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/30/12 10:40 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I've finished An Eternal Now's book. I'm definitely impressed. Reminding myself to look at the self concept as only a thought has got me to look at my Shikantanza practice further. Focusing on experience can be tiring and does require more realization to make the practice more effective. I feel that there's still a little too much aversion to thoughts, but less so than before. Reminding myself during the day there's no self by actually viewing the self-referencing as simply more thoughts kind of hems you into the present moment while allowing thoughts in. It's comfortable without being disconcerting. There's of course still clinging but there's more temptation to let go of it to get the relief. I'm still a little worried about rashly pursuing "letting go" involving a self-concept. If realization of dependent origination (DO) (basically everything including yourself breaks down into smaller objects ad infinitum) is what is necessary to remove clinging then reminding myself of this throughout the day will be necessary. When clinging arises I'll have to remind myself of DO to see how the realization unfurls the clinging to then avoid repressing the clinging with a fabricated "letting go". Reminding myself about DO during aversion will be an interesting experience. To be disatisfied with activities or scenarios because of DO is more natural than to feel guilt and repress desire/aversion.

Awakening to reality:

They may cling to an awareness even without engaging in labels or conceptualization, due to a subtle belief in an inherent awareness, for example. Telling these people to cease conceptualizing isn't going to help as they already had ample non conceptual experiences of reality and yet
are unable to overcome their inherent view. Therefore it is not non conceptuality in and
of itself that liberates... It is realization that liberates you from extreme views... And in
fact all views, hence called the viewless view.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 10/2/12 8:35 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/2/12 8:35 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Okay my Shikantanza practice has been changed with ruthless dependent origination reminders thoughout the day and during meditation. When sitting and doing nothing it's easier to get a handle on the vibrations in the senses and especially on the skin. When clinging/stress appears I just look at that as a sign that deep down the body believes in an inherent self. By understanding universal impermanence and letting go it's almost like instant relief and jhana factors start to rev up. The body sense appears to focus here and there while other parts of the body seem to disappear while the focus is somewhere else. In my sittings I'm feeling tingling sensations deeper in the throat and the back of the head. The sense of self appears to be a little version of me mimicking meditation while I meditate and is mimicking what I do throughout the day. This is definitely like the Wizard of Oz and pulling back the curtain. Similar to stories of the Buddha the brain assulted me with violent and super lusty female sexual images and movements doing it to me every which way and I just barely saw through them and didn't get lost in them. Psycho people were trying to shoot me with ridiculously scary smiles. Wow that was hard! You have to let go of everything. The Amygdala is packed with shit, lust, and over the top fears. That was almost overwhelming at times emoticon What's cool though is that there's more hope now that sexual desire and paranoid fears can be overcome with more practice. I can also see that with diligent mindfulness dieting might be more doable. You have to feel the aversion and craving and start letting go ASAP before the action takes place.

There was a point where the mind felt like it went into overdrive and the sense of self started to shrink like a collapsing star. Unfortunately there was some fear residue and the self narrowed to a singularity but didn't completely collapse. Seems like a near miss. Still I feel like I have replaced my butter knife with an exacto knife so I'll be continuing with this practice.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 10/2/12 7:26 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/2/12 7:26 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Day practice: After yesterday I've continued with the viewing of dependent origination on everything. Even viewing how my computer screen is made up of small parts helps with the letting go. As soon as any clinging starts appearing I remind myself of the impermanent nature of the object and it's easy to let go. Letting go repeatedly eventually leads to strong concentration and a peak experience but when the experience returns to normal a few hours later it's still a good experience. I can see how it can normalize. When I ran out of work I was given some extra work and coworkers were shocked at my lack of complaining. emoticon It's been the smoothest normal day in my life so far. No reason to stop letting go.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 10/3/12 11:22 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/3/12 11:17 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Similar smooth day today. The difference is that when old mental habits wanted to come back they weren't as powerful and I actually caught some wrong speech developing in my mind and some quick compassion came out that was unexpected and beautiful that prevented me from saying something unskillful. It's almost like even the thinking of it was unpleasant and it needed to be dropped. A couple of days ago my normal equanimity felt more like driving on a good solid road but with a few bumps and potholes. Now it's like driving on a newly paved road. Less sticky in DhO parlance.

I definitely recommend introducing dependent origination reminders before letting go of clinging. It smooths it out with small doses of dispassion. It works pretty quickly. Just think about the impermanence of everything in you and around you and see how everything is built from tiny particles and realize that clinging to anything that isn't permanently solid leads to the same result. I'll still have to see how this plays out at work. Right now people are projecting stress on my facial expressions that I don't feel. emoticon I'm also trying to fabricate some smiles which I can see (like Shinzen's focus on the positive) magnifies the enjoyment so I can savour the results of letting go of clinging. This is definitely a nice shift. The confidence comes from knowing that I know what to do if old negative habits come back. I can see there's still more room for dispassion to continue. Staring out of the window at work and it was natural to feel more non-dual. The scalp and facial muscles are relaxed.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 10/5/12 11:42 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/5/12 11:42 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I've definitely seen why the realization is necessary to be used as a reminder. As the peak experiences of concentration and mindfulness fade it's necessary to remind the mind when it clings that the impermanent nature hasn't suddenly gotten solid. It's like a little check that can be done that throws you back into a effortless mindfulness. As this is done the thoughts arise and pass away and can be clearly seen to not be a self. Also today I noticed that clinging is like layers. As you let go of different kinds of clinging the experience improves. I noticed that clinging to thoughts about meditation was something I could let go of and the ease and the effort to keep mindfulness during work improved. The senses get a little quiet or sleepy when it happens so I can see how the lights can go out when you let go of everything.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 10/7/12 11:55 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/7/12 11:55 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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When practicing Shikantanza it's clear the impermanence side of things and letting go when there's clinging is also clear. The problem is no self. I find that there is endless commentary even in a subtle ninja creeping way. I'm good at mindfulness for the most part but the weakness is THOUGHTS. So I found some more techniques that will help me parse out the ME inside into more dependent origination.

This talk was very helpful in shining a light into the murkiness of thoughts. They are so fast and there are so many types.

Andrea Fella - Working with thinking and thoughts in meditation

Basically I will focus on this foundation of mindfulness to hopefully penetrate further. The preliminary step is to just count the thoughts as they occur (including thinking about the practice or thinking there are no thoughts) and as the clarity of which type of thoughts appear I'm going to label them. Eg. Sub-vocal (talking to myself or other repetitive commentary on anything, seeing (for projections), hearing (audio thoughts). If there are any rememberances of taste or smells (quite rare for me) I'll note them too. I also want to note my emotional reactions to the thoughts because that's often how they manifest for me and locate them on the body. Some craving or aversion starts up and quickly thoughts move around them but sometimes it's so quick that it's only the thoughts I'm noticing first.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 10/8/12 3:18 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/8/12 3:18 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I did about three hours of noting practice. It was still like Shikantanza but I started off looking at thoughts. Throughout the day yesterday I became more aware of the different kinds of thoughts specifically with counting and then noting the different types. Areas of weakness were very clear. I like to be "right" in mental arguments with people almost as a rehearsal and you can see a fake "me" projection practicing and rehearsing. Lots of angry results there but now I can note thoughts without stopping them. I just stop adding to them. This is a much better result. The clarity I've developed from previous vipassana practices make it easier. This morning during my longer sit I was actually just laying bed and started with the body vibrations even to the point of losing feeling in some body parts. Strangely the hands felt like a body "self" in that my mind could invent different locations for the hands to rest than they actually were. It's just another mental "self" that mimics reality but after some meditation time can do other things. I quickly moved up jhanas. The vibrations were nice because the letting go just makes it easier. It got to the point where the vibrations were so fast that it seemed solid. I was paying attention to thoughts of wanting results and thoughts of frustration but it was easy to let go. I can tell that I need to let go further. As I did it I got to a kind of equanimity that's a little "meh". It's very restful but the annoyance comes from expecting something to happen. Reminding myself of the Bahiya Sutta where senses are what they are and thoughts are what they are can show you how impersonal senses are and noting thoughts can vividly show how you can narrate your experience with a sub-vocal "self" which wraps around the senses. This is what I'm looking for. I could let that go and just try and let go of everything to develop a deeper rest.

Much more to come I'm sure. Letting go towards you-know-what isn't easy and requires time to get used to.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 10/11/12 6:52 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/11/12 6:52 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I think I'm getting back to normal again. I'm finding it hard to get more meditation in because I'm changing jobs and things are getting busy. The best part of the last few days is that reactivity is being seen more clearly. It's like dependent origination but basically the amygdala is blowing air into a thought bubble balloon that checks you out of reality. So I let go but I'm not in any mental state. I'm just normal. I just keep letting go and getting on with my day and activities. The mental desire and aversion is feeling more obsolete like it is just getting in the way with fear or useless distractions related to desire. If the reactivity is not intellegent enough to make good decisions it's because it's more equipped to a different lifestyle than in the concrete jungle. If I need to take risks then too much fear is just getting in the way.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 10/15/12 4:21 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/15/12 4:21 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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The only change recently is that when reading my mind was very quiet on its own. Like "graveyeard quiet". It coincides with letting go. With attachment the brain is noisy and with letting go it's less noisy.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 10/15/12 11:35 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/15/12 11:35 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Just re-reading an article on the AEN blog which I didn't fully understand before but I do now, in regards to thoughts. BTW I recommend reading all of it:

Dialectic of reflection and presence

The ultimate practice here is learning to remain fully present and awake in the middle of whatever thoughts, feelings, perceptions, or sensations are occurring and to appreciate them, in Mahamudra/Dzogchen terms, as Dharmakaya -- as an ornamental display of the empty, luminous essence of awareness. Like waves on the ocean, thoughts are not separate from awareness. They are the radiant clarity of awareness in motion. In remaining awake in the middle of thoughts -- and recognizing them as the luminous energy of awareness -- the practitioner maintains presence and can rest within their movement. As Namkhai Norbu (1986) suggests:

"The essential principle is to ... maintain presence in the state of the moving wave of thought itself ... If one considers the calm state as something positive to be attained, and the wave of thought as something negative to be abandoned, and one remains caught up in the duality of grasping and rejecting, there is no way of overcoming the ordinary state of the mind.”


It is a dualistic fixation, the tension between "me" -- as self -- and "my thoughts" -- as other -- that makes thinking problematic, tormenting, "sticky," like the tarbaby to which Brer Rabbit becomes affixed by trying to push it away. Thoughts become thick, solid, and heavy only when we react to them. Each reaction triggers further thought, so that the thoughts become chained together in what appears to be a continuous mind-state. These thought-chains are like a relay race, where each new thought picks up the baton from the previous thought and runs with it for a moment, passing it on again to a subsequent thought. But if the meditator can maintain presence in the middle of thinking, free of grasping or rejecting, then the thought has nothing to pass the baton on to, and naturally subsides. Although this sounds simple, it is advanced practice, usually requiring much preliminary training and commitment.


"It's possible to make thought itself meditation... How do we go into that state? The moment you try to separate yourself from thought, you are dealing with a duality, a subject-object relationship. You lose the state of awareness because you reject your experience and become separate from it.... But if our awareness is in the center of thought, the thought itself dissolves... At the very beginning... stay in the thoughts. Just be there... You become the center of the thought. But there is not really any center -- the center becomes balance. There's no 'being,' no 'subject-object relationships': none of these categories exist. Yet at the same time, there is... complete openness... So we kind of crack each thought, like cracking nuts. If we can do this, any thought becomes meditation... Any moment, wherever you are, driving a car, sitting around, working, talking, any activities you have -- even if you are very disturbed emotionally, very passionate, or even if your mind has become very strong, raging, overcome with the worst possible things and you cannot control yourself, or you feel depressed... if you really go into it, there's nothing there. Whatever comes up becomes your meditation. Even if you become extremely tense, if you go into your thought and your awareness comes alive, that moment can be more powerful than working a long time in meditation practice.


My experience of the above even while typing and thinking is that it's like the thought bubble fills in the gap of a lack of mindfulness. That's why it's hard to do because it's about maintaining it all the time but at the same time not blowing tons of energy with noting or fabricated concentration. Thinking while mindful feels so different than thinking without mindfulness.

So this connects the noters and non-noters with the same prescription to be present to all phenomena. As soon as the practice is objectified and attached to it's just another divide being created.

I would like to close with a few final considerations for Western students of the further reaches of contemplative awareness. From anecdotal evidence, stabilizing the pure presence of rigpa in the ongoing realization of self-liberation appears to be quite rare, even among dedicated students of Dzogchen/Mahamudra. This tradition flowered in Tibet, a far simpler and more grounded culture than ours, which also provide a social mandala, or cohesive cultural context, that supported thousands of monasteries and hermitages where meditation practice and realization could flourish. Yet even there, years of preliminary practice and solitary retreat were usually recommended as the groundwork for full nondual realization which was sometimes described as the golden roof that crowns the entire spiritual enterprise.


In the meantime if it's hard to keep being present during thoughts because of the speed of mental activity in work or other emotionally turbulent situations then proceed as follows:

The question for modern Westerners, who lack the cultural support found in traditional Asia and who often find it hard to spend years in retreat or even to complete the traditional Tibetan preliminary practise, is how to build a strong enough base on which this golden roof can rest. What kind of preliminary practices or inner work are most relevant and useful for modern people as a groundwork for nondual realization? What special conditions may be necessary to nurture and sustain nondual presence outside of retreat situations? And how can this spacious, relaxed quality of presence be integrated into everyday functioning in a speedy, complex technological society like ours, which requires such high levels of mental activity and mental abstraction?

Since unresolved psychological issues and developmental deficiencies often present major hurdles to integrating spiritual realizations into daily life, spiritual aspirants in the West may also need to engage in some degree of psychological work, as a useful adjunct to their spiritual work, and perhaps as a preliminary practice in its own right. (Welwood, 1984, 2000). Perhaps for Westerners genuine nondoing and letting-be can only be fully embodied in a healthy, integrated way once one has learned to attend to bodily feelings and grapple with one’s personal experience in a Focusing-style reflective manner.[Link] That is why it is important to understand the uses and limitations of psychological reflection, and to study its role as a stepping-stone both toward and “back” from nondual presence – as a bridge, in other words, that can begin to unlock deeper qualities of being and help to integrate them more fully into everyday life.


Yet cognitive therapy will still have a sense of separation so one should keep going in the practice while not avoiding responsibilities:

While psychotherapy and meditation both led to a freeing of mental and emotional fixations, the meditative approach struck me as the more profound and compelling of the two, because it was more direct, more radical, more faithful to the essential nature of awareness as an open presence intrinsically free of grasping, strategizing, and the subject-object split altogether. At the same time, the reflective dialogical process of psychotherapy provided a more effective and accessible way to work on the issues, concerns, and problems of personal and worldly life – which meditators often tend to avoid dealing with. Yet I had doubts about the ultimate merits of an approach that did not address, and was not designed to overcome, the subject-object struggle that lay at the root of most human alienation and suffering.


And I can stay present in all this typing. I don't have to "own" the knowledge. The confidence comes from doing which is similar to the jhana factors in dealing with laziness & doubt. emoticon
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 10/21/12 11:36 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/21/12 11:36 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Okay so I tried the new approach to let go of the past thoughts, future thoughts and even the present projections in a 2 hour meditation. I felt very good after this. Whatever negative mood I was in vanished. By squeezing myself down to the present moment as close as I could the mental formations were very jumpy and obvious to note. The jhanas didn't really appear and could barely start but that was okay. The concentration was enormous anyways. I could see how my mind was quickly (and quietly) moving into subtle thoughts on progress and analysis along with the usual interruptions. My eyes were open and some of my senses like vision and hearing were very clear. Any ear worms (which I get lots) vanished during this practice. To expand on the practice I started noting the aggregates I understand and I did this at a much slower pace. Just allowing the commentary to be there and to remind myself that the thoughts aren't a "me" which removes the stickiness of clinging.

With Tommy's suggestion I'll look into dependent origination in further detail and Greg Goode's Direct Path user guide which looks really meaty. emoticon
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 10/22/12 4:22 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/22/12 4:22 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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This current practice is changing already. I'm starting to get some fading with the letting go so some of the clarity is reducing. I remind myself wordlessly if what's happening is a "me" and the stickiness disappears. Also when adding the letting go I sometimes go up the jhanas but they don't last long because I don't lock into them. The letting go also creates a strange reaction with my eyes like they want to reverse with my skull and then a new jhana starts up and then fades.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 10/27/12 2:16 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/27/12 2:16 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I haven't been doing much meditation recently. I have lots of projects on the go. Reading The Direct Path by Greg Goode just keeps pointing back to the same consciousness that knows the senses and thinking. The clinging is going away more naturally. Watching Cloud Atlas just hammered in the point of interdependence and conceptual barriers but a movie only goes to the surface. Just the questioning of enlightenment and most phenomenal questions lead to that they are known. This creates a sense of wanting to abandon the questions (clinging). emoticon
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 11/12/12 10:30 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/12/12 10:29 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I'm still continuing with the above practice and just switching between methods when I need to. Basically I just let go of mental preoccupation over unimportant thoughts and relax in awareness. When I get caught up I remind myself whether being caught is a "self", which of course it isn't. I try to see how my sense of time decreases as I let go. I sometimes go back to noting but I don't do it out loud and often don't use subvocalization or pictures of words. As soon as I feel any clinging or squeezing I just let go and surrender. I also let go faster because during meditation the body likes to move lots and the senses and desire/aversion components quickly want to zoom in on something.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 11/14/12 7:57 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/14/12 7:57 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Yesterday for the first time I meditated all evening. There were other things I could do but I just didn't want to do anything. When my brain is not zooming on anything my facial and cranial muscles are relaxed with no object to focus on. It's just relief. I didn't even get any jhanas but that was just dandy.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 11/18/12 10:43 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/18/12 10:43 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Okay my practice is still refining. I find when I lose mindfulness it's not just the lack of letting go but also the lack of concentration and metta. I've separated them for too long. When I meld the three together like under the Vimalaramsi method it can seem to include great anger and other dark emotions and flip it on it's head. I don't feel guilt when there's anger. I just let go because there is always some task that needs to be done. It's so practical it should be used constantly. When clinging just pay attention to emptiness and the let go. After that one should concentrate on a task and if there is enough relief one should smile and develop some basic metta. I'm so thankful. emoticon I still use the Gendlin Focusing method here and there when I feel there's a some procrastination going on. The subtle bits of clinging are so deep. They are like brain imprints that are waiting to manifest when mindfulness and concentration end.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 11/19/12 11:02 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/19/12 10:55 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Well I've changed from what I was like only a few months ago. I've just tried a basic concentration practice and found it easy to follow the instructions but I can't seem to get beyond the 1st jhana and even when that happens it's very light and my chest feels yucky and irritated. My arms can feel this way as well. With mindfulness I find that I just don't need jhanas and this means any attempt at classical cessation will have to be let go of since it needs deep samadhi to fade the senses. Even this 1st jhana I cultivated today, the left overs of this is slightly unpleasant and even remind me of when I loved the 4th jhana but could tell that I wasn't benefiting from it as much as I should have. It feels like the opposite of letting go. I just want to let go further and make it the only practice. I just want to sit there and do nothing.

Yet paradoxally I feel better than I have before. Even when dealing with difficult people and their judgmentalness I can tolerate it better than before. My presence sometimes softens their stance when I just take the instructions or corrections and just get on with the work. I sometimes feel like giving up on work but I just let that thought go and by the end of the day I feel totally different as my learning at work continues. emoticon Much of my improvement comes from disidentifying from any experience as a self and letting go to the point where the zooming in of my craving and aversion functions retreats back into my skull like a turtle back into it's shell. It's like I'm getting on with the day but brow is relaxed and there's no object to leap towards. This allows me to create more dispassion that I can continue to develop. I still have some food cravings that I indulge in but when I'm sitting in the restaurant I feel like "what the fuck I'm I doing here? Enough already! All you can eat is stupid!" emoticon

My experience is telling me "fuck cessation" and "direct path all the way baby!" emoticon

I guess if I keep declinging from all experiences as "self" that's all that matters. Even questions like HAIETMOBA and "Who am I?" felt overly compounded sometime ago. Real concentration to me feels like thoughts have to be allowed in and any manipulation or solidfying is terrible. I'm also enjoying having normal sleep without jhana after affects keeping me awake.

I don't know if anyone has gone through this and feels this is bad practice or good practice. I would appreciate some feedback.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 8:01 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 8:01 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I think the last post is an example of enlightenment attachment. I really do need to let go of everything. There's going to be habit blowback and that's just a part of the ride.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 9:32 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 9:32 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I really tested my willpower on food today. I don't believe in low carb diets etc but just to have less snacks. Basically the craving hits on cue about an hour after dinner. It is often triggered by watching TV or just a sense of comfort. The craving arises and then it passes away and you feel like "great that's all I need to do." But then it comes back again and then it goes away, BUT THEN IT COMES BACK AGAIN and so on for hours. There's no special trick. One has to tolerate cravings until they become less strong. If anything. Food cravings will be a good test of letting go.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 11/22/12 8:06 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/22/12 8:06 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Okay that experiment worked well. I didn't cave and was perfectly okay. The cravings stopped and you just get on with some other task. I want to do this everyday.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 11/22/12 6:54 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/22/12 6:52 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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With a little help from The Direct Path from Greg Goode (Mind chapter) I got back to the "I AM" stage but this time it's more of a habit and less disassociative. It feels really good. I just basically brought the answers to the HAIETMOBA and "Who am I?" questions back but I didn't ask them. I just move to the answers. Throughout the day I found myself wanting to listen to people more and dig into the details without craving or aversion. The elation wasn't as big as in the past because it feels more normal and even more restful and nonchalant. I'm going to have to dig into this and keep being in my body and senses and letting go as the days go on. There's of course a tendency to attribute consciousness (the thing that stuff happens to that you can't detect :grinemoticon as a big self and I want to avoid pushing expectations on the "Self" to make arisings better. Choices/attention/mindstates are all known to the consciousness.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 11/24/12 1:08 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/24/12 1:07 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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How this "I AM" stage is helping me is when I have mental interruptions I already know it's not a self and let go. So when I do work or other activities those hindrances do arise but they fall off quickly and there is no need to assess anything or feel bad that it arose but just to continue on with whatever activities are going on. Much better result than trying to stop thoughts. Any analysis like I'm doing now with this post is treated the same way. It is not a thinker or analyzer. It's just thinking or analysis. Clinging isn't necessary. So many of these problems don't need to be solved or will be dealt with in the future so large mental plans don't have to be outlined here and now.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 11/29/12 8:26 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/29/12 8:26 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Desire test: For the past few days I've eaten mainly fruits at lunch to improve my diet. The result was the usual cravings for fat and carbs. The feeling of desire has the way of taking you into thought bubbles and your body is already starting to move to the restaurant. Smells at work from other people's lunch pull you away again. By basically forcing myself to eat my lunch required some effort but once I got into it I felt full and perfecly okay because I wasn't bloated with greasy foods. I also brought a book along so I could get into something else.

Aversion test: Because I have to get up earlier to work my morning exercise routine got smashed to pieces. I forced myself to get back in the saddle by not using lack of time as an excuse. Even 20 min of exercise is better than nothing. I focussed on the aversion which appeared as cringing in the face and body. I relaxed it and continued noticing the exercise and tired feelings in the body change and move. In the end I can see how jhana factors are similar in mindfulness except it only took a few seconds to get rid of laziness and doubt. When trying to finish books that you have abandoned due to laziness. I also just stay with reading the words (no matter how slow) with no skipping until the story starts grabbing me again. It results in the same jhana factors. The speed of the reading starts increasing and you are in there again. If you finish a chapter and feel the laziness to start another one, you continue doing the same thing.

I'm going to focus on aversion now and add more aversive (but useful activities) to the day.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 12/2/12 7:44 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 12/2/12 7:44 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Exercise was fun this morning. I can see how something like exercise could be done without a self image or pride boosting. You have more energy to do work but it's more about the result. The ego doesn't get the reward but it's okay.emoticon Interesting...
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 12/7/12 8:22 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 12/7/12 8:22 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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The day before yesterday was great in that I could see myself disliking craving and aversion and letting go of both. It required constant mindfulness with an attitude of being ready for the next reaction. When the thought bubbles drop it's like it wasn't a self and then I can just enjoy the senses. Then yesterday it was more of the dark night and old habits returning. I'm really having trouble with aversion. I still like to stay comfortable in old habits even if it isn't the right thing.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 12/8/12 12:03 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 12/8/12 12:03 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Yes there is definitely a residual fear of what people think of me that is still quite strong despite the practice. It's improved a lot but I'm going to focus on noting it where possible. It's really limited my life for too long.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 12/9/12 2:19 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 12/9/12 2:19 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Currently facing the above fear and I had some dreams (I don't get them too often) that include being on small thin flat plateaus jutting out of a mountain and seeing some of them crumble killing some friends (faceless non-entities). Then the dream turned to my teeth reverting to before they were straightened.

Dream moods - places

To dream that you are standing at the edge of a cliff, indicates that you have reached an increased level of understanding, new awareness, and a fresh point of view. You have reached a critical point in your life and are afraid of losing control. Alternatively, it suggests that you are pondering a life-altering decision.

To dream that you or someone falls off a cliff, suggests that you are going through some difficult times and are afraid of what is ahead for you. You fear that you may not be up for the challenge or that you cannot meet the expectations of others.


To dream that your teeth has fallen out and you try to refit them back into the mouth signifies a lack of self-confidence and embarrassment. You are afraid that others will know of your short-comings. If you acted calmly in your dream, then it may point to how can make the best out of any situation. You are able to rise above unfavorable circumstances.


Thanks dreams...for stating the obvious. emoticon
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 12/10/12 6:43 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 12/10/12 6:38 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Richard Zen:
How this "I AM" stage is helping me is when I have mental interruptions I already know it's not a self and let go. So when I do work or other activities those hindrances do arise but they fall off quickly and there is no need to assess anything or feel bad that it arose but just to continue on with whatever activities are going on. Much better result than trying to stop thoughts. Any analysis like I'm doing now with this post is treated the same way. It is not a thinker or analyzer. It's just thinking or analysis. Clinging isn't necessary. So many of these problems don't need to be solved or will be dealt with in the future so large mental plans don't have to be outlined here and now.


I've gotten back to the above post today. It's getting easier. Just let the thoughts do what they do and don't stop them but don't cling to them. As it passes away there's a feeling that you're back to reality with quietude and basic vision, tactile sensations and sound and there's a corelessness that seems effortless. I think what Fitter Stroke said in another post is good. "What would an enlightened person do?" It's a good reminder to bring back mindfulness when it's lost.

I'm also being very aware of any sense of I and realizing I'm already clinging and need to let go.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 12/19/12 10:34 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 12/19/12 10:34 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Okay after an unexpected flu (despite getting the flu shot) I've gotten back at it. As per usual my practice is mainly a daily life version of Shikatanza. To deal with the above fear I was feeling I continued to not worry about it and just let it go. I've noticed that by just dropping all thoughts during these fear moments (what do people think of me, etc?) the hum of sounds, present moment visuals, and skin sensations put the lie to mental notions. It's also VERY helpful to do this when there is aversion. Just to not analyze it at all. To do this almost to the point of being just an animal curiously moving forward. If I don't feel like taking out the trash in the cold or do that extra errand I just let go ALL thoughts and don't add to them when they stop and just carry on with it. The experience is never as bad as the thoughts make them out to be. Just checking in with experience when I'm really lost in a "self" is enough to pop me out of it and the mild suffering drops.

It's really hard to gauge my practice at this point but I feel like I'm becoming more normal but at the same time, old frustrations and angry memories seem to have less hold than ever before. Sometimes I'm lost in thoughts but any anger has so little heat to it. Any doubts are just doubting thoughts and any questions of enlightenment are just more questions. Daily life goals are more in the forefront now.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 12/24/12 8:17 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 12/24/12 8:17 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I decided to try some noting for a couple of hours. It got to the point that when anger on thinking about the past or possible future could just be noted and let go of. The relief is paying attention to the senses. I think I went into the first jhana but I didn't add anything to it. The more mindfulness and concentration the more the mental assertions and possible scenarios seem ridiculous and neurotic.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 12/26/12 9:47 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 12/26/12 9:47 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Nice reminder of the three characteristics:

3 Characteristics Guided Meditation
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 12/30/12 12:04 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 12/30/12 12:03 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I'm reading Namkhai Norbu's Cycle of Day and night and it's helping my Shikatanza practice greatly. With Rigpa I feel I'm tampering with thoughts not at all. I just let them drop and enjoy the presence. When I look at a commercial with an interesting useless product I just let it go and look at the senses as reality and the thoughts as illusion and also not a self. The seeing without a seer (etc) is becoming more possible. It's easier to distinguish thinking based on likes and dislikes versus straight thinking. One doesn't have to prevent likes or dislikes but just understand them based on the 3 characteristics. Also practice related thoughts can be treated the same way.

(27) As for progressing in the practice (which is the third topic to be considered): in an uncorrected, spontaneously selfperfected state, this initial instantaneous awareness remains present and unmodified. It is a nondiscursive pure presence which is lucid and vivid. Thus our continuity of awareness remains stable and undistracted. (28) While continuing in a period of contemplation, neither influenced by drowsiness nor by agitation, everything manifests itself as emptiness, which is the real condition of existence. Then, after having concluded a period of contemplation, without being conditioned by thoughts, we should continue in the state of the nature of mind, just as it is in itself.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 1/3/13 8:12 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/3/13 8:12 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Okay I finished the book and am applying it. It's a great manual that focusses on that extra subtlety needed to liberate. In some ways it's like noting except without labels but in other senses it points you right where you need to go. The book helps me understand what Nikolai has been talking about on his site. When I wake up I try to let go into apperception (if this is the right term). I have some anger I have been dealing with and this basic practice has helped me let go of it faster and for the first time the sense of self with the anger is weakening. It's again the focus of just being aware of the reality in the senses and doubting the reality of the imagination but also feeling zero guilt for getting lost in thoughts. It's easier to let go this way. I still need to make dependent origination a project for deeper study because what I've read on forums and some books I have is not doing it for me.
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Nikolai , modified 9 Years ago at 1/3/13 9:25 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/3/13 9:25 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Richard Zen:
Okay I finished the book and am applying it. It's a great manual that focusses on that extra subtlety needed to liberate. In some ways it's like noting except without labels but in other senses it points you right where you need to go. The book helps me understand what Nikolai has been talking about on his site. When I wake up I try to let go into apperception (if this is the right term). I have some anger I have been dealing with and this basic practice has helped me let go of it faster and for the first time the sense of self with the anger is weakening. It's again the focus of just being aware of the reality in the senses and doubting the reality of the imagination but also feeling zero guilt for getting lost in thoughts. It's easier to let go this way. I still need to make dependent origination a project for deeper study because what I've read on forums and some books I have is not doing it for me.


Best not to equate it to what richard calls apperception. I will eventually get round to updating or deleting past opinions, but if you are interested in apperception/pce as defined by the aft and richard, best to go to the source for instruction.


http://actualfreedom.com.au/richard/articles/thismomentofbeingalive.htm


Best to stick to one or the other and use the advertised approaches rather than try and see them as the same thing. Waste of time in my experience. Though whatever works for ya.

My current subject to change 2cents
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 1/3/13 11:18 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/3/13 11:18 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I guess I'm thinking more of the Great Perfection. What you said about not zooming in certainly helps with letting go. A perfect example would be riding a bus and not getting caught in tons of interests and just letting the senses be. Relaxing your facial muscles and body muscles is a reminder of how quick the tension appears. Of course with practice it's easier now than when I started trying it.

It is easy mixing up terms and I can see what Ian And means by getting things from the horses mouth. I think the dabbling is necessary for beginners and at some point you pick a focus.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 1/3/13 11:21 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/3/13 11:21 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Double post
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 1/6/13 11:22 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/6/13 11:21 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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The Cycle of Day and Night has a good quote I think is quite helpful:

It is important to understand what we mean by not being distracted' in the Dzogchen teaching. It does not involve a mental policeman who keeps coming up inside one, saying, 'Pay attention!'


This helps by allowing the mind to wander but when the mind understands that it's wandered off you're already back. No need to fabricate a "pay attention" meme. Just keep looking at the 3 characteristics and let go.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 1/8/13 10:46 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/8/13 10:46 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I'm starting to clear up my sense of "I". Ironically with Dzogchen practice, the subtlety of awareness makes it easier to drop it quickly, but has now tempted me with renewed noting practice. Nick's post on the Khemaka Sutta is just what I need. With letting the sense of self arise and pass away I was still looking for no-self (which doesn't make any sense) and manipulating my experience to suss out insight. By using the basic noting "urge", "aversion", "desire" I could start breaking down what feels like the self. What surprised me was that some of the feelings of self often didn't have a self involved. For example I would see a person flashed in a mental projection and it wasn't me or anyone I knew. Other times it was obviously vedana related things like desire or aversion. Sometimes that desire or aversion would be covered up by quick mental stories, scenarios and especially rehearsing to protect the self in future conversations that might never happen. By zeroing in on the self and breaking it down I could see that sweeping around like spotlight with intention on finding a self that vibrates has it's downside. The mere search or intention to pay attention could solidify a self due to aversion or desire related to insight outcomes. By doing this practice I could tell I still needed concentration because it took quite a bit to keep at it and the third eye pressure would come up again. I was probably going up the nanas but without that interest I had in the past. In truth I feel better than I did when I was playing with equanimity of formations and thought it was so fantastic.

By also reading some more of Strength to Awaken by Rob McNamara and his insight into how the ego wants to keep you in the comfort zone I can now see how to break that. By finding something aversive (exercise:grinemoticon I can keep the noting from the meditation session and bring it out during the day. Basically if the ego doesn't want to do something but you are noting anything that feels like a self and you let the desire or aversion pass away on it's own the relief is enough for you to get on the wagon again as long as you are paying attention to details of what's going on. During exercise you just keep attention on the details of the burn and pain like an interested scientist as opposed to an ego that just wants comfort. I remember what exercise used to be with lots of highs and crashes with pride falling. It ruins the experience yet if I tune into exercise as it is and less as a goal oriented thing where I imagine a fitter self in futuristic projections, the mental stress is far less.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 1/13/13 2:10 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/13/13 2:10 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I'm in the middle of The Direct Path of Realization by Analayo and mulling some helpful quotes:

Clearly, for the Buddha the mere absence of concepts does not constitute the final goal of meditation practice. Concepts are not the problem, the problem is how concepts are used. An arahant still employs concepts, yet without being bound by them.


[Labels] should be kept to an absolute minimum, only "to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and continuous mindfulness". Labelling is not an end in itself, only a means to an end. Once knowledge and awareness are well established, labelling can be dispensed with.


...sati operates in combination with clearly knowing. The same presence of knowledge also underlies the expression "he knows", which occurs frequently in the individual satipatthana contemplations. Thus to "know", or to contemplate "clearly knowing", can be taken to represent the conceptual input needed for taking clear cognizance of the observed phenomena, based on mindful observation.


This re-cognizing aspect inherent in the quality of clearly knowing or in the expression "he knows" can be further developed and strengthened through the practice of mental noting. It is this "knowing" quality of the mind that brings about understanding.


The fact that [noting] undertaken in ths manner has the sole purpose of enhancing mindfulness and understanding points to an important shift away from goal-oriented practice. At this comparitively advanced stage, satipatthana is practised for it's own sake. The practice...becomes an "effortless effort", divested of goal-orientation and expectation.


...the arising of consciousness "in dependence" on sense organ and sense object, with contact being the coming "together" of the three...Thus realization of dependent co-arising can take place simply by witnessing the operation of conditionality in the present moment, within one's own subjective experience.


Volition itself is under the influence of other conditions such as one's habits, character traits, and past experiences, which influence the way one experiences a particular situation. Nevertheless, in as much as each volition involves a decision between alternatives, one's volitional decision in the present moment is to a considerable degree amenable to personal intervention and control. Each decision in turn shapes the habits, character traits, experiences, and perceputal mechanisms that form the context of future decisions. It is precisely for this reason that systematic training of the mind is imperative.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 1/15/13 11:28 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/15/13 11:26 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Had a good exercise this morning. The complacency stops when I stop thinking about complacency and stop thinking about results. emoticon

I have been mulling throughout the day on how dependent my consciousness is to objects and sense perceptions. It's still sinking in as I plow through my Great discourse on causation book.

I continued my meditation tonight (2 hours) and decided to merge Rigpa with noting but without labels. I guess this would be like bare attention with noting. I started hitting jhanas again (I haven't done this since last summer) and didn't feel the nausea or extreme boredom as I have recently. I shot up to the 3rd jhana with noting and slammed hard into the 4th jhana. I saw strong circular colourful objects like Christmas ornaments in front of me (pretty interesting and useless)emoticon. The noting wasn't entirely consistent but it didn't stop for too long either. I never really got lost in absorption. In the 4th jhana my clarity of senses was all pervasive. Quiet mind and clear senses. This seems to be a wall for me as vibrations thin out and are hard to penetrate but I did manage to let go more than I have before. As soon as stories appeared regarding enlightenment or any neurotic analysis I started labeling again and more importantly LETTING GO!emoticon Noting to me is just more of reminding the mind "Do I KNOW what is happening now?" I started feeling better and got more out of this equanimity. Chasing desires and stories about enlightenment is annoying. LOL! What I also noted is disatisfaction with my mastery of thoughts. The thinking part of my mind doesn't seem as mastered as all other phenomena. The sense of self is still tied to thoughts and I can tell I haven't had any experiences like others have had where the self is just gone. I also need to revisit labeling different thought forms as Fella describes in my older posts. Just break it down. My next goal is to do just that when I get to equanimity. I may have to go beyond 2 hours though.

Still I'm pretty happy.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 1/17/13 8:24 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/17/13 8:24 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I only managed 2 hours again this sit. I focused on thought formations and also the sense of "I" as it manifested. I was probably in the 2nd jhana most of the sit but the clarity was good. I remembered earlier posts from Tommy M and a talk by Andrea Fella in this thread and just noted how the thoughts appeared and the sense of "I". The sense of "I" seems to appear only when lost in stories and especially about likes and dislikes. The fact that all this happens and is known by consciousness means there can't be two selves (consciousness and thinking). The feeling of separation is the difficult knot to untie because I think it's based on not letting go enough. Clinging seems to be the sense of self, therefore this clinging is repeatedly going on even when I don't think it is. Treating it like just another sensation is something I'll have to continually work on all day to make it sink in. "One sensation cannot sense another". Taking a shower this morning I was annoyed with mental stories and I just let go and took in all the details of the water on my skin and sounds and still keep letting go. Now I know why this sense of self feels permanent. It's because in weak concentration it keeps coming back like a bad horror movie ending. emoticon
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 1/19/13 12:19 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/19/13 12:15 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I had a strange 3 hour sit yesterday. I continued noting without labels (though I did some where it felt necessary) and I just stayed noticing the 3 characteristics during thinking and anything else. I would get lost in thoughts but come back with no jolt or analysis and the relief was a little better than what I'm used to. I didn't even go into a jhana of any kind I could tell. The only difference is the noting I'm doing I'm emphasizing the consciousness knowing aspect of each experience.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 1/20/13 7:29 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/20/13 7:15 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I did another 3 hour sit this morning. I went up through the jhanas I can do. I think touched on infinite space briefly but I'm still analyzing the 3Cs too much to absorb in them. By letting the thoughts go without fanfare or manipulation I'm starting to enjoy noting with only occasional labels. By sticking with my consciousness (knowing) as the guide I can see the small bits of striving and chasing that intensive labeling might conceal. The attempts to do MORE than just note are seen. By reminding myself of Bhante Gunaratana's instructions to be aware of when hinderances aren't present helps you to enjoy what can be ignored right now. He seems to concur that likes and dislikes are where the strength of the sense of self is from, so I could extrapolate that letting go is the only way to shrink interruptions. I still get lost in thoughts but it's less often. I also have more appreciation for concentration practice and how it supports good mind states. There is also a sense of wanting to let go of everything and just be like this.

Just keep going.

EDIT: I'm also keeping in mind not to make Dzogchen practice into a concentration practice. The impermanence has to be looked at.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 1/23/13 11:12 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/23/13 11:12 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Throughout the day I'm feeling good even when I normally should be frustrated (work related). By depersonalizing reactive thoughts it's like I'm "doing" even less. emoticon When I get caught up in thoughts and then turn to it as a sensation and watch it pass away it's like not-self. emoticon

I agree with Jake. Live life fully engaged.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 1/28/13 8:13 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/28/13 8:12 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Finished Analayo's Direct Path to Realization. (Thanks Ian!) This book was helpful in pointing out the 7 factors of awakening with good descriptions. I found that joy was something I wasn't getting into as much. It was more about letting hindrances go but these factors are a lot like jhana factors as follows:

Mindfulness leading to investigation leading to energy leading to joy leading to relaxation leading to concentration leading to equanimity. The joy is in noting when hindrances aren't there. The concentration helps to keep them at bay and calm the mind. It was also interesting in that the Buddha mentions these factors as to why people can forget well remembered information and remember other information with less effort.

The investigation is of the 5 aggregates: Matter, cognition, feeling, volition, consciousness.

With practice in daily life I can feel how manipulated volition is by pleasant and unpleasant sensations so I can definitely understand that aggregate as not self. Cognition needs to be tested by observation to avoid misinterpretation. It happens quickly after the memory is used to compare experiences so it can label objects. It's definitely more about experience and habit than a "me". Matter is obvious to me. Feeling is definitely out of control for me if it's based on external objects I can't control. Internally the mind throws all kinds of thoughts that create unwanted feeling (no self again). The difficulty for me is consciousness. I know that consciouness relies on an object but other than knocking myself out with cessation I'm not sure what a direct path version of experiencing impermanace of consciousness would be. Do I have to get into the ring with a boxer and get beaten unconscious? emoticon

My recent practice was pretty intense. I quickly moved up and down jhanas 1 to 4 and felt the letting go more deeply but also in a more violating way (probably a good sign). I had the dream of going towards a suffocating void. Hahahah! Resistance.emoticon
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 1/29/13 8:28 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/29/13 8:28 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Yesterday morning on the bus I kept thinking about consciousness and it made sense to me to see what is "mine" in consciousness and what is "mine" in senses and of course they just work on their own. Some more relief came just from attention to what can't be controlled with senses and consciousness. There was also a slight move to let go of senses when I did this but just briefly, kind of like a dry heave.

1 hour meditation yesterday: I made a resolution to do as little as possible and to not even "let go" as Daniel would say in MCTB. The letting go happens on it's own, just get out of the way. Whatever emotions (positive or negative) I would just watch arise and pass away and it was like everything was just happening on it's own and it didn't matter what arose. Such a relief. The thought sensations that created any emotion just came and went like waves and any normal blocking of these experiences with analysis was not used so the experience was smooth instead of bumpy.

God it seems so good but it seems so far from being like this all the time.emoticon
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 2/2/13 11:09 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/2/13 11:09 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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1 1/2 hour meditation: Really sticking with the same practice as last time. Just see things as they are and when daydreams start just note them and watch them go and continue looking at the 3 Cs. This was a more painful result and I relaxed my facial muscles as the 3rd eye was getting too tight. I noticed that whenever any big problem arose in my mind to interfere with the concentration the mind went through dissatisfaction. It's pretty clear when thinking about likes and dislikes that there's nothing that I can obsessively think about and get permanent satisfaction. Nothing satisfies permanently. Mental arguments (even good ones) can leave an annoying residue in the mind. It's important to look at core values and to pick your battles. There was definitely some more dark night symptoms, though I've seen them before and they pose less of a problem than they did the first time. I was mainly looking at the changes in the visual field with eyes closed and noticing hearing at the same time (this is getting easier) and I would ask the question when an obsessive thought arose: Is this going to permanently make me happy? Of course NO is the answer and the thought would drop and I was back paying attention to the senses. It's almost like the senses are irritating white noise to the clinging aspect of mind but when that aspect is let go of there is peace. I would crack a smile when that happened.

Towards the end of the practice I started looking more at the aggregates (especially consciousness) and really trying to find a self in any of it. I can start to see the mind imputing a self onto vision yet vision by itself is just vision. I can see how this practice is helpful in that when you don't find a self it's a little bit of a realization but at the same time fleeting so repetition is necessary. My next practice will be to look for self in 5 aggregates with more detail.

1. Is this aggregate a self?
2. Does the self own this aggregate?
3. Is this aggregate inside a self?
4. Is the self inside the aggregate?


5 aggregates x 4 types of attachments = 20 forms of attachment (no wonder it's so hard).emoticon
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 2/3/13 10:54 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/3/13 10:54 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Continued this morning with investigation of aggregates. I looked at consciousness. It is definitely in need objects to be conscious of. By looking at all my senses I asked:

1. Is this aggregate a self?
2. Does the self own this aggregate?
3. Is this aggregate inside a self?
4. Is the self inside the aggregate?

The only answer I get is sensing. No self. The result of that is it plunges you right into the senses and going up jhanas seemed faster. Because consciousness is intertwined with perception it's easier to see how nama-rupa is dependent on consciousness and consciousness needs something to be conscious about. This is really reminiscent of Heidgger's "Being-in-the-world" concept (except hundreds of years before him emoticon ).

Being-in-the-world

Being-in-the-world is Heidegger's replacement for terms such as subject, object, consciousness, and world. For him, the split of things into subject/object, as we find in the Western tradition and even in our language, must be overcome, as is indicated by the root structure of Husserl and Brentano's concept of intentionality, i.e., that all consciousness is consciousness of something, that there is no consciousness, as such, cut off from an object (be it the matter of a thought, or of a perception). Nor are there objects without some consciousness beholding or being involved with them.emoticon

At the most basic level of being-in-the-world, Heidegger notes that there is always a mood, a mood that "assails us" in our unreflecting devotion to the world. A mood comes neither from the "outside" nor from the "inside," but arises from being-in-the-world. One may turn away from a mood, but that is only to another mood; it is part of our facticity.emoticon Only with a mood are we permitted to encounter things in the world. Dasein (a co-term for being-in-the-world) has an openness to the world that is constituted by the attunement of a mood or state of mind. As such, Dasein is a "thrown" "projection" (geworfen Entwurf), projecting itself onto the possibilities that lie before it or may be hidden, and interpreting and understanding the world in terms of possibilities. Such projecting has nothing to do with comporting oneself toward a plan that has been thought out. It is not a plan, since Dasein has, as Dasein, already projected itself. Dasein always understands itself in terms of possibilities. As projecting, the understanding of Dasein is its possibilities as possibilities. One can take up the possibilities of "The They" self and merely follow along or make some more authentic understanding. (See Hubert Dreyfus' book Being-in-the-World.)


Unfortunately there are some hindrances with other aggregates so I'll look into those next.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 2/4/13 10:43 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/4/13 10:41 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I was going through dukkha nanas (probably desire for deliverance) all this morning. Really shitty. It affected my work and memory and it felt like nothing satisfies. By the end of the day I felt better, go figure (anicca). I continued looking at thoughts and again the answer is shimmering senses and thoughts that naturally lose centre stage. On a more personal note I find that sexual stimulation is more like a choice now and much easier to control. Some women at work are SO enticing and until recently it was easy to get caught up in sexual papanca (mental proliferation). It was a perfect example of craving tying consciousness and object together. I walk past this woman and she's got PERFECT skin! Beautiful raven hair! My neck turned instantly like I discovered a long thought extinct species. She looked at me like this has happened to her 50 times a day.emoticon You just let go and get on with your life. It's pretty simple. If you think about something enjoyable or something fearful both craving and aversion increase intensity. I think what did it for me was disatisfaction in the lack of thinking about a more wholesome (I don't know if it's a good word) form of love. Just simply noting lust with total acceptance that it's there can prevent it from escalating. Also some of the really attractive women are so attuned to their attractiveness that their conceit ruins it. Attractive people don't have to be nice and are often imbeciles so all they have to do is say something totally stupid or politically correct to shatter the illusion.emoticon Also the fear of letting go of sexual arousal and turning impotent is just superstition. All I have to do is think....and it's back.emoticon Whoops there goes the mental clarity.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 2/6/13 7:37 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/6/13 7:35 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I felt coreless today. Really smooth experience. It's easy to see how a good portion of thoughts can be let go of. Looking at thoughts as "Is that a me?" helps loosen the clinging grip.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 2/8/13 6:44 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/8/13 6:43 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Today was interesting. Just paying attention to everything at once and life looks like a hologram including thoughts. The feeling of the continuity of mindfulness was delicious and has that similar thawing of tension I had when I first got equanimity.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 2/24/13 9:41 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/24/13 9:41 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I've been going through a big move recently and practice has suffered somewhat from it. I'm also getting into the samsara of the dating world. It's already throwing me for a loop. Some women are so smart and attractive I don't want to let them down. I always feel like I need more money and more status. Stuff like this will probably always test me. I've gotten some massive dark night symptoms where I want to crawl into bed and just die. As soon as I start noting everything I get better. It's seesawing back and forth. I just feel like shit part of the day and then feel better later on wondering why the fuss. Each time it happens though I feel the need to note what's happening in my senses and I'm being convinced that noting in intervals is more useful to me in reducing stress.

Most importantly: Once an emotional mood catches hold it takes a longer period of noting to reduce clinging.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 2/25/13 8:19 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/25/13 8:19 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I got much better results with consistent noting today. Even small reminders like "did I notice that?" or "did I truly see that?" for thoughts and senses can bring you back to reality. Noting thoughts is getting easier. It's like I'm okay being how I am and noting is just impassively seeing what that is. No more no less. Relief.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 2/27/13 6:28 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/27/13 6:28 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Something seems to be changing in me. As I note I find basically every daydream to be some small form of torture. The brain is naturally inclining to bare attention to the senses. There are times when noting thoughts there seems to be a flattening and tightness in the location of the self in the back of the head and it then disappears. Noting throughout the day seems to be weakening anger in a major way and it needs this acknowledgement of what's here. "Yes that's here." Self-pity and mild irritation are now noted with ease and even thinking about the practice doesn't cause pain either. It's like the brain just wants to get back to what's happening now even if it's mundane. The big test is when there's a big issue but otherwise it's okay.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 3/2/13 11:02 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/2/13 10:58 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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I tried noting while listening to some exquisite classical music (Bach Gamba Sonatas - Casals) and the experience was extremely relaxing. When the mind wants to wander onto different topics the consistent noting keeps you on track. I haven't fallen in love with noting like I am now. emoticon Every note needs a dose of acceptance of what is to really soften negative mindstates. Noting while talking about the practice in my mind or just thinking about practice is like a reinforcement that demolishes doubt.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 3/11/13 6:36 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/10/13 12:58 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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My latest meditation has been very different. By focusing on sanna and seeing how the mind Recognizes things I can zero in on suffering more accurately. It's like I don't do much with the meditation except pay attention to what's happening and just sit there and when stress comes in it's because of some memory of something good or bad and I can see how there's not enough wisdom and I have to deliberately think of the 3 Characteristics and it let's go on it's own. There's also an understanding now that I should be purposely seeing what causes stress for me and start seeing the obsession over details and how more detailed you go the more stress is created.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 3/11/13 6:40 PM
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RE: Richard's insight practice

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Today was very light and blissful. Because I'm looking at perception/recognition I'm seeing stress start up and I'm able to let go of it before it gets full blown. Instead of paying attention to the body everything is normal like I'm not meditating and I'm not in any state. I just notice stress and start looking at what perception caused it. It's like diffusing a bomb before it goes off. Very cool.
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Ian And, modified 9 Years ago at 3/11/13 7:15 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/11/13 7:15 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Richard Zen:
I just notice stress and start looking at what perception caused it. It's like diffusing a bomb before it goes off. Very cool.

Very cool, indeed! Way to go, Richard.

Richard Zen:
Because I'm looking at perception/recognition I'm seeing stress start up and I'm able to let go of it before it gets full blown.

Are you able to see how your affective response (vedana) plays a part in helping you to recognize the stress? Especially if it is unpleasant vedana. If so, then you're seeing more and more of the mental process (dependent co-arising).
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 3/11/13 7:55 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/11/13 7:53 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Ian And:
Richard Zen:
I just notice stress and start looking at what perception caused it. It's like diffusing a bomb before it goes off. Very cool.

Very cool, indeed! Way to go, Richard.

Richard Zen:
Because I'm looking at perception/recognition I'm seeing stress start up and I'm able to let go of it before it gets full blown.

Are you able to see how your affective response (vedana) plays a part in helping you to recognize the stress? Especially if it is unpleasant vedana. If so, then you're seeing more and more of the mental process (dependent co-arising).


Yes vedena is something I didn't see too well before because of how fast it is. It's REALLY fast! In the past it would be feeling tone and then action right away. emoticon Willpower was dominated by feeling tone. What I found with noting is that my willpower is heavily affected by feeling tone, however I realized that accepting the feeling tone with noting I can see it pass away. I knew I was starting to get somewhere when I could do the same thing with lust. It feels more like a choice. I could also note disatisfaction with practice or just about anything. I understand now what Shinzen Young was talking about when he says to let go when there's stress but knowing that perception colours feeling tone and how perception is also heavily affected by memories of past experiences I can look at the reductionist and simplistic labeling of perception and how narrow it is.

What I felt today was a different kind of freedom. It was like I was getting closer to being "done" like the meditation may seem too ritualistic and isn't needed as much but I want to just use this freedom to act in a more conscious way, if that makes any sense. Lightness and normality at the same time is what I didn't expect. The speed bumps are when the perception goes off but now I actually KNOW what's happening. emoticon It's not just something to let go of but something to understand. I sometimes laugh when a speed bump happens. Even when I write this there is some tension to grasp at the practice but it's just another perception that can be seen.

I'll just keep looking at the aggregates and steady myself kind of like walking a tight rope wire. "Oh here comes some more stress. What perception happened before it?" I think noting feeling tone more consistently is the next step. Noting thoughts and treating them like sensations was very helpful.
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PP, modified 9 Years ago at 3/13/13 7:56 AM
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RE: Richard's insight practice

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Richard Zen:
Yes vedena is something I didn't see too well before because of how fast it is. It's REALLY fast! In the past it would be feeling tone and then action right away. emoticon Willpower was dominated by feeling tone. What I found with noting is that my willpower is heavily affected by feeling tone, however I realized that accepting the feeling tone with noting I can see it pass away.

I think noting feeling tone more consistently is the next step. Noting thoughts and treating them like sensations was very helpful.



That's my practice nowadays. Noting only body sensations for the first 10-15 minutes, and the switch to note feeling-tones only, while noticing the body sensations and thoughts. By noting endlessly feeling-tones, not only I see body sensations and thoughts arise and pass away, but also triggering (pre) jhana. I noticed aversion whenever I feel solidity of body sensations or stream of thoughts. My mind wants a break! (The thing I don't get is that this is like the opposite of steadiness of jhanas). And when noting attraction to the body sensation, I noticed unpleasant sensations at the periphery.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 3/14/13 6:33 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/14/13 6:33 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Pablo . P:
Richard Zen:
Yes vedena is something I didn't see too well before because of how fast it is. It's REALLY fast! In the past it would be feeling tone and then action right away. emoticon Willpower was dominated by feeling tone. What I found with noting is that my willpower is heavily affected by feeling tone, however I realized that accepting the feeling tone with noting I can see it pass away.

I think noting feeling tone more consistently is the next step. Noting thoughts and treating them like sensations was very helpful.



That's my practice nowadays. Noting only body sensations for the first 10-15 minutes, and the switch to note feeling-tones only, while noticing the body sensations and thoughts. By noting endlessly feeling-tones, not only I see body sensations and thoughts arise and pass away, but also triggering (pre) jhana. I noticed aversion whenever I feel solidity of body sensations or stream of thoughts. My mind wants a break! (The thing I don't get is that this is like the opposite of steadiness of jhanas). And when noting attraction to the body sensation, I noticed unpleasant sensations at the periphery.


I think feeling tone will be a tough nut to crack. How do you get disenchanted with pleasant and painful feeling tones? More withdrawal symptoms on the horizon I'm sure. emoticon
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PP, modified 9 Years ago at 3/15/13 9:30 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/15/13 9:27 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Richard Zen:
I think feeling tone will be a tough nut to crack. How do you get disenchanted with pleasant and painful feeling tones? More withdrawal symptoms on the horizon I'm sure. emoticon


Quick answer: you cannot get disenchanted pointing at them BUT you do get disenchanted by pairs (feeling-tones + body sensations, or feeling-tones + thoughts) or triplets (feeling-tones + body sensations + thoughts). Those two drag the feeling-tone away, its a co-dependent arising & passing.

Later today I'll try to explain in a one or two paragraphs the method I "discovered".
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PP, modified 9 Years ago at 3/15/13 4:05 PM
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RE: Richard's insight practice

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I don't try to get disenchanted from feeling-tones right away, but indirectly. First I let my mind to be full on body sensations, say 10 to 20 minutes noting them only. Out-loud or whispered, as needed. Then I switch to note feeling-tones only. As my mind have already been focusing in body sensations, both of them will appear together (arise co-dependently). Sort of a Yin-Yang thing. Before, when I focus in a particular body sensation noting it repeatedly, it loses solidity and starts to vibrate, sometimes fading others with bigger gaps in the wave. When I note repeatedly a feeling-tone, it happens the same as with body sensations. So, they arise together and pass together as well.

As body sensations are on the background, noticed but not noted, you/I need to be aware of this background thing in order to see it. Otherwise, it just happens and you/I don't know why.

This same thing happens with thoughts. In my case, thoughts arise when doing the feeling-tone/body-sensation noting. These thoughts are not complex (planning, remembering, fantasizing, etc) but simple (a word, a short sentence, a non-sense string of syllables that are form by coping outside sounds, etc). It's easy to see them as not-self, they are just phenomena, like body sensations in some way. And when something is seen as unpleasant & not-self, it passes away too.

As you may see, the 3C's are at display, by pairs. And the funny thing is that when you connect two of them, the third is implied ( as Daniel wrote in MCTB ). I like to think of feeling-tones as the pivot which connect them three. (*)

How that third Characteristic happen, I can't say. I'm still exploring it. But what I found so far is that when noting feeling-tones repeatedly, there's a "seeing" or "hearing" that must be acknowledge. When this happens, the body sensation + feeling-tone, or thought + feeling-tone just vanished. This may be is reinforcing the body-sensation noting, or reinforcing the not-self noting, what is applicable.

What do you think?


(*) So far, I have nothing to say about mental-states. Perhaps, this may come later in High Equanimity, when noting is sparse, and there's room enough for them to show up. I'm not there yet.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 3/16/13 11:03 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/16/13 10:57 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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To be perfectly honest I'm still enjoying paying attention to sanna which has recently improved my standard of living to the point of mass gratitude. It's like equanimity without meditation. That Boisvert book is highly recommended. As Ian And points out it's vedana (especially negative vedana) that pushes you to bad sanna (recognition) then obsessive thoughts (papanca). Like Boisvert says recognition recognizes details of an object like color or other properties but it also recognizes "this is worth craving", and "this is worth hating". LOL! Looking at the 3 Cs to correct distorted or reductionist recognition is just that and you can't rush the dispassion because it comes eventually. His description of panna is similar to how the Dalai Lama queries perception. He wants you to see if you noticed what is unpleasant in what is superficially pleasant and what is pleasant in what is superfcially unpleasant. It's seems simple but it's hard because we avoid doing this to our favorite things.

I'm probably going to keep it simple for now but yes the co-dependent arising of things will probably become more apparent as I go along since there always is a feeling tone happening at all times. I'll use this for now:


Vedana

A) One dwells observing the phenomenon of arising.
B ) One dwells observing the phenomenon of passing away.
C) One dwells observing the phenomenon of arising-and-passing-away.



Unless these three levels of anicca are experienced, we will not develop panna (wisdom) - the equanimity based on the experience of impermanence - which leads to detachment, to liberation. Therefore to establish awareness and for our observation to be total and holistic we have to develop (effortlessly-choicelessly) the constant thorough understanding of impermanence which in pali is known as sampajanna (Sampragyan in sanskrit or hindi)


Sampajanna has been often misunderstood. In the colloquial language of the day it also had the meaning of "knowingly." For example, the Buddha has spoken of sampajanamusa bhasita, (9) and sampajana musavada (10) which means "consciously, or knowingly, to speak falsely." This superficial meaning of the term is sufficient in an ordinary context. But whenever the Buddha speaks of Vipassana leading to purification, to nibbana, as here in the Mahasatipatthana Sutta, the sampajanna has a specific, technical significance.


To remain sampajano (the adjective form of sampajanna) , one must meditate on the arising and passing away of phenomena (anicca-bodha), objectively observing mind-matter without reaction. The realization of samudaya-vaya-Dhamma (impermanence) cannot be by contemplation, which is merely a process of thinking, or by imagination or even by believing; it must be performed with paccanubhoti. (11) (direct experience), which is yathabhuta-nana-dassana (experiential knowledge of the reality as it is) (12). Here the observation of vedana plays its vital role, because with vedana a meditator very clearly and tangibly realizes samudaya-vaya (arising and passing away). Sampajanna, in fact, is directly perceiving the arising and passing away of vedana, wherein all four facets of our being are included.


It is for this reason that the three essential qualities - to remain atapi (ardent), sampajano, and satima (aware) - are invariably repeated for each of the four satipatthanas. And as the Buddha explained, sampajanna is observing the arising and passing away of vedana. (13) Hence the part played by vedana in the practice of satipatthana should not be ignored or this practice of satipatthana will not be complete.


My advice for you if you want to see "suffering" (I prefer to call it stress) then look at this site:

Dhamma Sukha - Anatta

"Clinging" yet another word with a variety of definitions that seem kind of unclear. Many teachers stress that we must let go of "clinging" [meaning to hold on to] because that is where our attachment is, and everyone knows we don't want to be attached. However, I found that the word "clinging" actually referred to all of the thoughts about why we like or dislike the "craving". So "clinging" is the thoughts about... or the mind that makes up the story about why we like or dislike the "craving".


As I began experimenting with this new/old form of meditation I began to see that every thought or feeling [no matter what kind of thought it was - wholesome or unwholesome] caused tightness to arise in my head, it was a subtle tightness that 20 years of "Vipassana" had never addressed or even noticed.
Seeing this I began to relax that tightness in my head and body as well. Then I began to see that even when there was no tightness in my body or head I could still relax even more.


When the "craving" arises in the mediator's head [as tension or tightness] it also arises in their mind [as tension or tightness], and this tightness is the subtle way our false idea in a "self" or "ego" arises. It is "the I like it or I don't like it mind"! Then the "clinging" mind arises full of thoughts about the like or dislike, but even that doesn't explain it very well. Let's go back to the 3 characteristics and change the definition of some words. Anicca - change... Dukkha - unsatisfactoriness... Anatta - the impersonal nature of whatever arises. The tightness or craving or the " I like it or I don't like it mind" has this idea that it is "mine" or "me". When the meditator lets go of this tightness, what happens in mind?

As with the letting go of any tension or tightness in body, it relaxes. Mind becomes open, as opposed to tight and closed, and body becomes loose and tranquilized. There is a feeling of expansion and openness. There is a very clear observation of the present moment and this is where mind is free from that personal belief that all of the thoughts, feelings and sensations that arise are ours. So the impersonal nature of all existence is seen for what it is, just a passing show or part of a process that isn't personal. The meditator doesn't ask for thoughts or feelings to arise, they arise by themselves, so it really is an impersonal process . What we do in the present moment dictates whether we suffer or not.


Hopefully that helps! The stress or tension you feel in the body or skull is based on clinging/thinking about likes or dislikes. It's hard to see because people are so conditioned to be used to it that when they get the different levels of relief from meditation practice it's like discovering a new planet because they've never experienced it before. Concentration states relive tension up to a point and vipassana (when done properly) can relive tension even further.

EDIT: Oh BTW if you want to note mind states a good experiment is to note moods throughout the day.
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PP, modified 9 Years ago at 3/16/13 2:46 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/16/13 2:44 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Richard Zen:
To be perfectly honest I'm still enjoying paying attention to sanna which has recently improved my standard of living to the point of mass gratitude. It's like equanimity without meditation. That Boisvert book is highly recommended. As Ian And points out it's vedana (especially negative vedana) that pushes you to bad sanna (recognition) then obsessive thoughts (papanca). Like Boisvert says recognition recognizes details of an object like color or other properties but it also recognizes "this is worth craving", and "this is worth hating". LOL! Looking at the 3 Cs to correct distorted or reductionist recognition is just that and you can't rush the dispassion because it comes eventually. His description of panna is similar to how the Dalai Lama queries perception. He wants you to see if you noticed what is unpleasant in what is superficially pleasant and what is pleasant in what is superfcially unpleasant. It's seems simple but it's hard because we avoid doing this to our favorite things.

I'm probably going to keep it simple for now but yes the co-dependent arising of things will probably become more apparent as I go along since there always is a feeling tone happening at all times.


Hey, thanks for your thoughtful response. I read a few pages of the Boisvert book, hopefully I'll have more time to read it when my move to another flat ends. I can relate my practice with what you wrote above. It's hard to know between superficial and deep layers of (un)-pleasantness. It's probably like tension in the jhanas progression. So far, I can only explore pleasantness in unpleasantness in the same level: center vs periphery.

Hopefully that helps! The stress or tension you feel in the body or skull is based on clinging/thinking about likes or dislikes. It's hard to see because people are so conditioned to be used to it that when they get the different levels of relief from meditation practice it's like discovering a new planet because they've never experienced it before. Concentration states relive tension up to a point and vipassana (when done properly) can relive tension even further.


Before starting with Mahasi Noting, I did 6 months of Bhante Vimalaramsi's 6Rs and Metta practice. I noticed the tension at the skull linked to thoughts, and found some relief of tensions. Nevertheless, this method with minimal pointers is not for me. I already come from a Taoist background were there's minimal references, and I hate it. Instead, the Four Foundation Noting I'm doing right know, let me easily be aware of the 3Cs and their co-dependence.


EDIT: Oh BTW if you want to note mind states a good experiment is to note moods throughout the day.


Yes, that's what I need to add! emoticon Also, I'm planning to do 10' noting rounds of body sensations, feeling-tones and thoughts in my daily activities.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 3/16/13 6:27 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/16/13 6:27 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Pablo . P:
Before starting with Mahasi Noting, I did 6 months of Bhante Vimalaramsi's 6Rs and Metta practice. I noticed the tension at the skull linked to thoughts, and found some relief of tensions. Nevertheless, this method with minimal pointers is not for me. I already come from a Taoist background were there's minimal references, and I hate it. Instead, the Four Foundation Noting I'm doing right know, let me easily be aware of the 3Cs and their co-dependence.


Then you know the suffering characteristic. If you're not attached to any aggregate while you're practicing then you're okay. That's why meditation when you're in daily life helps because a lot of the time you're okay when you sit and meditate but during life when you get hit with attachment and pain it's because we are on automatic pilot off the cushion. Practicing during daily life (especially during challenging times) can be like a radar for when suffering is likely to happen. As I pointed out before, noting moods during the day helps a lot but after awhile you want to see that perception/recognition before the mood even starts. emoticon

If you look at my earlier part of the thread I mixed it up with HAIETMOBA/Rigpa/Shikatanza to relieve the mechanical noting I was doing before because striving for concentration states or any state was just another form of pain I was ignoring. I came back to noting after that and started up concentration again because I wasn't addicted to it anymore so it could support me instead of being a false refuge. The period of just sitting non-dual with what was happening was still noting but without too much labelling covering up the actual experience. That's why I like the instruction make sure that what is looked at is really looked at and comprehended before I label it. Noting can be very mechanical. Sticking to the 4 foundations of mindfulness/3 characteristics/5 aggregates/7 factors of awakening should be sufficient, I hope! LOL!
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PP, modified 9 Years ago at 3/16/13 11:10 PM
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RE: Richard's insight practice

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Ha Ha! I hope so!! emoticon I'll read your early reports, it's interesting what you say because things are not straight forward, there are many things to be address before one can jump to stream-entry. And yes, noting can be mechanical sometimes, or even disturbing when done out-loud (my voice do like ripples in the body or are felt like harsh), so I have to periodically change how sensations are noted and which should I focus on.

Best!
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 3/20/13 9:45 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/20/13 9:45 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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1 hour feeling tone practice: It definitely feels like hitting close to home. It's also very ephemeral. It also can help with the dark night in my opinion. When getting dukkha nanas, noting feeling tone brings you back to which recognitions/perceptions/thoughts that get you off track. I'm going to be continuing this for quite a while.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 3/23/13 5:26 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/23/13 5:23 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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More feeling tone meditation 3 hours: Noted any discomfort in body and thoughts. Noted pleasant thoughts and sensations. Suffering disappears on its own as expected but understanding the perceptions that rest on feeling tone helps to keep the pleasant tones from running away with thoughts and the same for unpleasant thoughts. Watching feeling tones arise and pass away on their own without interruption is really important. Willpower is heavily affected by feeling tone when you're clinging to any of it. A good reminder that really illustrates no-self and the three characteristics:

Everything is an experience including meditation and thinking about meditation or thinking about anything or doing anything or craving anything or wanting to change anything on ad infinitum is just more ephemeral experiences.

Consistently reminding myself of this really hits home in an uncomfortable way. There is no self. It's as clear as it could possibly be. No self is not a thing it's the absence of finding something permanent let alone a permanent self. The search itself is empty of permanence and attachment to the search hurts as bad as any attachment. There is no searcher. It's just searching. Feeling a little discombobulated. Anatta is unsettling and freeing at the same time.

Questions for myself: "When I'm asking a question is it a questioner?" (Most likely it's anxiety.)

"Can I stop searching now?""Can I stop chasing my tail?" (Waves white flag)emoticon

I don't feel like doing anything, which means I'm not clinging.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 3/26/13 8:14 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/26/13 8:14 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Okay back to work. I paid attention to vedana throughout the evening and can see this is an area that noting with labels is not helping. It's preferrable for me to just watch it arise and pass away and just recognize that it's pleasant, neutral and unpleasant. It's also important to pay attention to how the skin feels because that's where most of the feeling tone is. The other senses seem to affect thought more and that goes back to sanna again which I've already looked at. When I started doing this I could see so many embryonic thoughts arise and pass away quickly because the recognition is so tied to the feeling tone.
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Ian And, modified 9 Years ago at 3/27/13 12:41 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/27/13 12:41 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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Richard Zen:
Okay back to work. I paid attention to vedana throughout the evening and can see this is an area that noting with labels is not helping. . . .

The other senses seem to affect thought more and that goes back to sanna again which I've already looked at. When I started doing this I could see so many embryonic thoughts arise and pass away quickly because the recognition is so tied to the feeling tone.

Richard,

Has it not yet occurred to you to connect vedana and sanna up with paticca samuppada? To see how the impression of self arises in connection with feeling and perception according to various sense base consciousnesses? To be mindful of this process throughout the day in order to preempt any false views of self? Has the import of this not yet occurred to you? And how you can use this mindfulness to capture the beginnings of dukkha arising so that it can be stopped in its tracks before it has opportunity to bloom and blossom?

As in being aware (mindful) of the arising of body phenomena, feeling phenomena, mind state phenomena, and mind object phenomena in order to see these as they actually are?

In peace,
Ian
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 3/27/13 8:32 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/27/13 8:32 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

Posts: 1656 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Ian And:
Richard Zen:
Okay back to work. I paid attention to vedana throughout the evening and can see this is an area that noting with labels is not helping. . . .

The other senses seem to affect thought more and that goes back to sanna again which I've already looked at. When I started doing this I could see so many embryonic thoughts arise and pass away quickly because the recognition is so tied to the feeling tone.

Richard,

Has it not yet occurred to you to connect vedana and sanna up with paticca samuppada? To see how the impression of self arises in connection with feeling and perception according to various sense base consciousnesses? To be mindful of this process throughout the day in order to preempt any false views of self? Has the import of this not yet occurred to you? And how you can use this mindfulness to capture the beginnings of dukkha arising so that it can be stopped in its tracks before it has opportunity to bloom and blossom?

As in being aware (mindful) of the arising of body phenomena, feeling phenomena, mind state phenomena, and mind object phenomena in order to see these as they actually are?

In peace,
Ian


It has occurred to be me but I think I may need more concentration. The great discourses of causation says that you need all 8 jhanas. Daniel Ingram's mind map has fruition after the 8th jhana.

Even KFD points this out:

Meditating with a Kasina

I can access 4 jhanas but have never attained the immaterial jhanas. I'm a householder and have too many responsibilities to have long retreats so I do the next best which is meditating at home and daily mindfulness.

In your opinion should I cultivate all 8 jhanas and develop dispassion for them or is that not really necessary? I just need to cultivate dispassion for all five aggregates? Yet consciousness to be seen impermanent from understanding it's leaning on objects may need strong concentration to fade the senses enough so consciousness stops briefly (stream-entry?)?

Thanks for your input

Richard
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Ian And, modified 9 Years ago at 3/28/13 1:32 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/28/13 1:32 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi Richard,
Richard Zen:

It has occurred to be me but I think I may need more concentration. The great discourses of causation says that you need all 8 jhanas. Daniel Ingram's mind map has fruition after the 8th jhana.

Even KFD points this out:

Meditating with a Kasina

You may be right (for the approach you have in mind). Only you really know for sure. No one else can take that decision for you. (That is, if you gather what I mean by implication.)

Yet, who knows if the Mahanidana Sutta was an accurate portrayal of Gotama's instruction, or whether the compilers took some liberty and inserted the standard formula for jhana thinking, "Well, this is probably what the Buddha meant to say." Or whether it was inserted for ease of memorization's sake. (For clarification here, I'm just speculating about that comment, so don't take it too seriously.)

What I do know from my own direct experience is that even though I had attained the eight and then the ninth level of dhyana, that that wasn't necessarily the basis for the realization moments I experienced outside of meditation practice. Yes, I had accomplished all that, but it was during my reading and contemplation of Katukurunde Nanananda's book Concept and Reality that I experience some really useful breakthroughs. Realizations that helped me personally to see things that I had not seen before about how the mind works. In the end, that is really all a person can ask for of the teaching, in whatever manner it manifests itself.

What I was mainly referring to with regard to the reference to dependent co-arising was following the middle eight factors in one's experience of the twelve factored paticca samuppada in regard to any experience you may have. That means: consciousness makes > contact with one of the > six sense bases > and recognizes name and form > conditioning volitional formations > from which feeling arises > giving rise to craving > and clinging. Seeing the last four factors in this series provides one with the opportunity to develop dispassion toward them. Does that make any sense to you?

Richard Zen:

I can access 4 jhanas but have never attained the immaterial jhanas. I'm a householder and have too many responsibilities to have long retreats so I do the next best which is meditating at home and daily mindfulness.

In your opinion should I cultivate all 8 jhanas and develop dispassion for them or is that not really necessary?
I just need to cultivate dispassion for all five aggregates? Yet consciousness to be seen impermanent from understanding it's leaning on objects may need strong concentration to fade the senses enough so consciousness stops briefly (stream-entry?)?

My opinion (which may change; but as it stands right now...) is that what is very helpful, if not outright necessary, is at least the first four dhyanas and a good insight practice, whether or not that insight happens during meditation or outside of meditation (as in my case). On the other hand, what I gained from having experienced sanna-vedayita nirodha (or the cessation of perception and feeling) was the direct realization that the processes of mind really can be shut completely down. It was kind of a corroboration all its own. Although it was not a state that I wanted to enter very often. In other words, I didn't develop any clinging to it.

I somewhat agree with Ajahn Chah in the following quotation, which obviously is saying that developing the 8 dhyanas is not necessary for awakening. And to that extent, he may be correct. However, after awakening occurs, there is the problem of maintaining it through mindfulness, which dhyana attainment can help assist and condition the mind in cultivating an ongoing state of mindfulness.

"The renowned meditation master, Achaan Chah, was asked during a Questions and Answers Session: 'Is it necessary to be able to enter Absorption in our practice?'

"The Master replied: 'No, Absorption is not necessary. You must establish a modicum of tranquillity and one pointedness of mind. Then use this to examine yourself. Nothing special is needed. If Absorption comes in your practice this is OK. Just don't hold onto it. Some people get hung up with Absorption. It can be great fun to play with. You must know proper limits. If you are wise then you will know the uses and limitations of Absorption, just as you know the limitations of children versus grown men."
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 3/28/13 8:25 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/28/13 8:25 AM

RE: Richard's insight practice

Posts: 1656 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Ian And:
Hi Richard,

Yet, who knows if the Mahanidana Sutta was an accurate portrayal of Gotama's instruction, or whether the compilers took some liberty and inserted the standard formula for jhana thinking, "Well, this is probably what the Buddha meant to say." Or whether it was inserted for ease of memorization's sake. (For clarification here, I'm just speculating about that comment, so don't take it too seriously.)

What I do know from my own direct experience is that even though I had attained the eight and then the ninth level of dhyana, that that wasn't necessarily the basis for the realization moments I experienced outside of meditation practice. Yes, I had accomplished all that, but it was during my reading and contemplation of Katukurunde Nanananda's book Concept and Reality that I experience some really useful breakthroughs. Realizations that helped me personally to see things that I had not seen before about how the mind works. In the end, that is really all a person can ask for of the teaching, in whatever manner it manifests itself.

What I was mainly referring to with regard to the reference to dependent co-arising was following the middle eight factors in one's experience of the twelve factored paticca samuppada in regard to any experience you may have. That means: consciousness makes > contact with one of the > six sense bases > and recognizes name and form > conditioning volitional formations > from which feeling arises > giving rise to craving > and clinging. Seeing the last four factors in this series provides one with the opportunity to develop dispassion toward them. Does that make any sense to you?

Richard Zen:

I can access 4 jhanas but have never attained the immaterial jhanas. I'm a householder and have too many responsibilities to have long retreats so I do the next best which is meditating at home and daily mindfulness.

In your opinion should I cultivate all 8 jhanas and develop dispassion for them or is that not really necessary?
I just need to cultivate dispassion for all five aggregates? Yet consciousness to be seen impermanent from understanding it's leaning on objects may need strong concentration to fade the senses enough so consciousness stops briefly (stream-entry?)?

My opinion (which may change; but as it stands right now...) is that what is very helpful, if not outright necessary, is at least the first four dhyanas and a good insight practice, whether or not that insight happens during meditation or outside of meditation (as in my case). On the other hand, what I gained from having experienced sanna-vedayita nirodha (or the cessation of perception and feeling) was the direct realization that the processes of mind really can be shut completely down. It was kind of a corroboration all its own. Although it was not a state that I wanted to enter very often. In other words, I didn't develop any clinging to it.

I somewhat agree with Ajahn Chah in the following quotation, which obviously is saying that developing the 8 dhyanas is not necessary for awakening. And to that extent, he may be correct. However, after awakening occurs, there is the problem of maintaining it through mindfulness, which dhyana attainment can help assist and condition the mind in cultivating an ongoing state of mindfulness.

"The renowned meditation master, Achaan Chah, was asked during a Questions and Answers Session: 'Is it necessary to be able to enter Absorption in our practice?'

"The Master replied: 'No, Absorption is not necessary. You must establish a modicum of tranquillity and one pointedness of mind. Then use this to examine yourself. Nothing special is needed. If Absorption comes in your practice this is OK. Just don't hold onto it. Some people get hung up with Absorption. It can be great fun to play with. You must know proper limits. If you are wise then you will know the uses and limitations of Absorption, just as you know the limitations of children versus grown men."


Yes I want to read concept and reality next since your book recommendations do help. It's nice to know that dependent origination is what a person needs to see and dispassion from consistent investigation. I've seen so many posts from people where they talk about how they are able to disembed from "space" and are able to note everything it can be hard to understand at times yet this idea of being disenchanted from ALL the jhanas is the direction so many choose because they find it less painful. Though I know you're point of view on that. emoticon Certainly looking at sanna versus panna gave me the same flavour of equanimity without a concentration state. I look at things as just more experiences now. The 1st jhana feels that way now. Just another ho-hum experience.

I'll continue with the investigation of vedana in daily life (because you can get a lot of hours out of the day just for that) and add some concentration to my practice to help with consistent mindfulness (which is the crux of the problem).

One question. When you put consciousness leading to volitional formations, what you mean is that you can't have volitional formations without consciousness? This is to mean that craving and clinging affect volitional formations but you're trying to point out what leans on what?

BTW that's cool you could let go of vedana in that way but I can understand how you may not want to get into that state because from what I read in Boisvert's book is that it's death like and not awakening.
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Ian And, modified 9 Years ago at 3/29/13 7:39 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/28/13 12:05 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Richard Zen:

One question. When you put consciousness leading to volitional formations, what you mean is that you can't have volitional formations without consciousness?

Yes. That is only common sense, when you stop to think of it, yes? Do you see that?

Richard Zen:

This is to mean that craving and clinging affect volitional formations but you're trying to point out what leans on what?

Okay. Let's go through this progression the way I came to see it. I goofed up last night (tired and sleepy) in going through this in my mind. I switched around vedana and sankhara in the example below to correct my mistake.

[indent]Ian And:
What I was mainly referring to with regard to the reference to dependent co-arising was following the middle eight factors in one's experience of the twelve factored paticca samuppada in regard to any experience you may have. That means: consciousness makes > contact with one of the > six sense bases > and recognizes name and form > conditioning feeling > from which volitional formations arise > giving rise to craving > and clinging. Seeing the last four factors in this series provides one with the opportunity to develop dispassion toward them.[/indent]

Let's look at a practical example from reality, okay. You are walking along and suddenly you come upon an orange tree. Consciousness (in the form of grabbing an object, which is vinnana, and recognizing the object, which is sanna) makes contact with the orange through the sense base of vision (eye-consciousness). It recognizes namarupa (name and form of the object) which conditions vedana (feeling) about the object which conditions sankhara (volitional formations) with regard to the object, giving rise to tanha (craving) and upadana (clinging). Is this making any more sense?

Now, notice how sankhara (a volitional idea – "I must have this orange right away") is conditioned by vedana (a pleasant affectation, lets say, with regard to the orange in the present example). Having noticed this sequence up to this point in the process, the owner of the mind now has a decision to take: either grab the orange and eat it, or not grab to eat it. In Pavlovian conditioned response scenarios, the conditioned mind will do whatever it has been conditioned in the past to do, which if the owner is an untrained child, let's say, he might grab the orange and eat it to satisfy a sudden urge or craving. See?

Let's further say that the social situation in which this particular mind finds itself in is one where grabbing the orange would be seen as self-serving and a social faux pas. He then circumvents his own conditioning by becoming dispassionate about the orange, and does not grab it, understanding the social consequences of not doing so.

Don't over-read things into this. It is just a simple example from a practical, hypothetical life situation that serves to illustrate the points I'm endeavoring to get across.

Richard Zen:

BTW that's cool you could let go of vedana in that way . . .

but I can understand how you may not want to get into that state because from what I read in Boisvert's book is that it's death like and not awakening.

But I didn't do anything (let go of anything). The mind went there all on its own. I may have put forth a resolution (to enter the cessation of perception and feeling), but that is all. All I did was set up the condition for it to occur. Having been there once, I've never had the desire to return, for the very reason that Boisvert states, "it is not awakening."

In other words, when a person experiences awakening, they still have the remainder of their life to live out (unless they are considering committing suicide – heaven forbid)! So sanna-vedayita nirodha is a useless achievement as it has no practical use in living one's life (other than as a state, for example, that one might enter as an anesthesia during a medical procedure or operation).

Yet, even so, it is still comforting to realize that the mind can be shut down, that it is possible to shut down perception and feeling so that no sankhara can be executed (or rather, be suppressed via dispassion toward formations). But, please, don't conflate (or mistake) from this statement that shutting down perception and feeling is equal to dispassion toward formations. That's not the point I intend to make. Dispassion is something to be DEVELOPED and CULTIVATED consciously, not unconsciously. It's just plain common sense.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 3/29/13 1:30 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/29/13 1:30 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

Posts: 1656 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Yes that is very clear. I'm going to focus on vedana on unpleasant sensations in particular. It's been good in the past when doing work outs. It's painful but it's not permanently solid.

I'm also reading Concept and Reality. There are similarities between papanca and mindstates. Strong papanca leads to moods. I recently did a meditation where I just noted papanca and when I let go of it I note FREE emoticon to make it even more obvious to my brain.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 4/10/13 11:07 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 4/10/13 11:06 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

Posts: 1656 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
I've just finished reading Psycho-Cybernetics and it is definitely going to be my "focus on the positive" practice. The key to it is that desire is often based on what you imagine and dwell on in your mind. If you dwell on successful actions and positive actions (especially in great detail) the desire will propel you along and over time those actions will develop into new habits. Thinking about the negative aspects of responsibilities will only force you to use willpower to achieve goals but if positive details are dwelled upon in the mind until the desire takes over then willpower isn't needed.

Eg. If you're shopping for something you want it doesn't take willpower to buy it (even if the weather is inclimate or there are other obstacles) but if you need to do some responsibility that has unpleasant elements dwelling on the positive results will make you tolerate a lot more the obstacles to your goal because you're not dwelling on the negative aspects. It may be cold outside when taking out the garbage but if I dwell on the pleasant results of a cleaner smelling home and more space and keep dwelling on it at some point I'll get off my seat and start taking out the trash. emoticon

When you add years of meditation the desire is not something that has to be clung to as permanent and it's energy that can be used.

With vedana practice I can see the need to be disenchanted with it. There's a pleasant relief of letting go of typical habits (come home from work and watch TV or surf the net). Then when you pay attention to annoying things but look at the pleasant parts in the main ("It will be nice when the taxes are done") there's no need to note things and let go you just like the results of responsibilities being taken care of being put behind you.

I'm also starting to notice my mind wanting to withdraw more and "do nothing" in an even deeper way than my typical Shikatanza practice. Combining both practices is making life much better and clearing out any repression of normal desires.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 4/15/13 9:26 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 4/15/13 9:26 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

Posts: 1656 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Another shift walking home today. Just by letting go of repressing desire I was able to see the vedana connect with stress but it was more like my mind let go into the senses somehow DEEPER. Any repression of the present moment (including subtle things like light daydreams) is let go of because of the small stress that is there. It's hard to explain but it's like your head is inside a car and you stick your head out the window. It feels naked and interdependent with the world and it's more relief again. Everytime I think there can't be more relief I find there is more. Being in the senses is almost like holding a camera and videoing the world with your eyes and you can sense the small vibrations in vision simply from walking.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 4/16/13 11:43 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 4/16/13 11:43 PM

RE: Richard's insight practice

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