Message Boards Message Boards

Concentration

Brief flash of Jhana...I think

Toggle
Brief flash of Jhana...I think
Answer
5/16/12 10:35 PM
Hey all,

So I just got done meditating for about 2 hours when I started out intending to do 20 mins, and all due to an interesting brush I just had with a really transcendent experience.

I decided to toy around with christian devotional mantras, and really trying to feel the spirit of giving over control to God - the point being that whether I reach Samadhi or not is out of my personal control. Kinda suddenly I got this feeling of expansion, and my heart started pounding in my chest, and my body started moderately trembling, and I felt this brief flash of pleasure like I don't think I've ever felt before...sort of reminded me of the lead up to a really powerful orgasm, but not bodily pleasure exactly, that's just the closest corollary I can think of. Also, this mental sensation of being drawn up and into something. And, true to form, the slightest sense of wanting or the very slightest internal dialogue ruins it.

I finally gave up for now, given that I had neglected to eat this entire time. emoticon

I guess my question then, for future meditation: can increasing concentration on the breath (the object I've been using every night up until tonight) produce the same ability to break the ego, so to speak, or should this teach me that only serious work with devotional practice will break the ego and enable samadhi?

RE: Brief flash of Jhana...I think
Answer
5/17/12 1:47 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Mike Kich:

I guess my question then, for future meditation: can increasing concentration on the breath (the object I've been using every night up until tonight) produce the same ability to break the ego, so to speak,

It all depends on how focused your attention can become upon the breath and the pleasantness of the breath. It's completely up to YOU. But, yes, you should be able to accomplish this.

It sounds as though the variation of method you used was similar to meditating on metta or lovingkindness. In that case, that should accomplish the same (or very similar) effect to the object you used in the previous meditation. No question that both approaches can work to help concentrate the mind upon an object to the point of absorption.

Mike Kich:

. . . or should this teach me that only serious work with devotional practice will break the ego and enable samadhi?

Well, I've always been a proponent of: whatever works, works. However, at some point, I would think that you're going to want to transition from a devotion-based practice to a more objective and equanimously neutral object based on the pleasant sensation experienced. Doing so should keep you from developing a wrong view about the method you are using. That is, to expend one's psychic energy in the belief or idea of a divine all-powerful being seems to go against the stream of what is taught in the Dhamma. That is, if you can understand the gist of what I'm saying.

RE: Brief flash of Jhana...I think
Answer
5/17/12 3:53 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Mike Kich:


- the point being that whether I reach Samadhi or not is out of my personal control.


i think that is indeed the point. Setting 'your' intent and then completely letting go of expectation. Reminds me alot of Ajahn Brahms explanation of the 'gate keeper' in his book 'Mindfullness, Bliss, and Beyond'.

Pure intent./Devotional Surrender/Letting Go -all seem to point towards the same technology/core mechanism.

RE: Brief flash of Jhana...I think
Answer
5/17/12 11:12 AM as a reply to Ian And.
Mmm, I dunno. It definitely points to samsara, but I feel like the Christian approach (also similar to any devotional practice, so that extends too to the stuff talked about by Alan Chapman in the Holy Guardian Angel practice) is easier by far than most Buddhist meditative practices - especially when it comes to letting go of control, because that's the real issue for me at least. There's a sense all the way along with breath meditation, for example, that "I'm" cultivating this or that technique, and even when I try to suppress it, there's still the strong sense that "I'm cultivating this technique for this reason." I'm not thinking of God really in the Christian sense, at least not in the mainstream Catholic sense for example - not as a being or anything defined, but, if anything, the undefinable or the energy of the infinite. So, tuning into and really believing the sense (which has thus far actually proven true), that my ego cannot do this - higher consciousness, nibbana, whatever it might be - and maybe instead what is necessary is prayer and namely giving over the reins to that "something" else, God happens to be the easiest name.

So that's kind of the quandary: I don't believe almost any of the tenets of Christianity, and I don't believe in a "God" in the sense most Christians advocate, unless they're referring to God in an undefined spiritual sense, more similar to the Hindu idea of Brahman really, actually even less defined than that - both everything and nothing at all, you get the picture. However, culturally I live in a Christian society, and some of the lifestyle advocated by Christianity (ideally speaking) along with the potential of prayer seems very appealing. True, I don't technically need a particular path or religious approach, but it makes it a whole hell of a lot easier to pick a path and follow the yellow brick road rather than just traipse through the woods and hope to get to the Emerald City.

Who knows though, I'll keep you posted if this approach needs changing.


P.S.: as a response to the other post here, I also happen to be in the middle of reading that very book right now. emoticon

RE: Brief flash of Jhana...I think
Answer
5/17/12 2:03 PM as a reply to Mike Kich.
I have never personally used devotional practices or the idea of God in meditation, so my opinion on it will be more based on what it seems like God is to you from your descriptions.

You are right that letting go of control is necessary. So, if that's the case, here's where I could see some potential hangups or things to look out for when using a devotional object. Whether or not you are using God in any sort of Judeo-Christian context, and even if the idea of God is more like an infinite energetic force.... you are still meditating on a fabrication. The concept of God you have described here sounds like something personal to you and an idea that has been fabricated from whatever ideas, beliefs, disbeliefs, etc about what you think God may or may not be. So, in essence, you are probably not letting go of control as much as you might think by using a fabrication as an object (and may even be creating more of a sense of control in the process).

It's possible that using a God-like object as the thing you are handing control over to might get you going pretty well at first. It's also possible you will have to eventually drop handing control over to something. Do you see how "you" giving control to "something" might reinforce duality (you/other)?

Steph

RE: Brief flash of Jhana...I think
Answer
5/17/12 10:21 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Yeah...I've already encountered the flawedness of that today - that's how long ideas last for me nowadays, even the most powerful of them, atomized. 'Course, I've been volley-balling back and forth between traditions and techniques for some time, partly just out of genuine curiosity and partly out of profound confusion.

I just finished reading, "Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond" by Ajahn Brahm and I have to say I feel pretty unconvinced; he's dogmatic as fock for one thing, and he also ascribes to all these models of complete and utter self-perfection, the necessity of renouncing the world because everything else of course sucks, that anyone who doesn't agree with him (which is also inclusive of every other Buddhist tradition) is just a con-artist, all these transcendent views on being - kind of entertaining, but they end up so boring!! And what about the rest of the world? According to him, 6.5 billion people are busily leading confused and meaningless lives, which is mind-bogglingly elitist and just untrue. True, real experience of "truth" is hard to come by, but anyone who claims to have some kind of monopoly on truth just immediately is full of shit in my book, hahaha. He also claims that the Buddha was the very first human being to experience Jhana, and that everyone else excepting some Buddha from a previous world-system was just fabricating that they could attain anything, Jains, Hindus, the whole bunch. Apparently everyone's just wasting their lives until a Buddha shows up, and then only with his explicit endorsement. What bullshit. I really am most confused though, by how someone who spends their life as a professional meditator and who is obviously knowing what he's talking about in the meditation department itself can be so obviously uptight as far as their views are concerned; a quote I heard from a Buddhist Geeks podcast once, "You get what you optimize for" floats up.

Basically, every single tradition contains some grains of truth, some more than others, but they all end up being so, so dissatisfactory. But then eclecticism, while sort of appealing, also is just not doin' it for me. Basically, belief just isn't doing it, but without it in something, ANYTHING, I mean hell I'd believe in the power of ice cream by now if it led to jhana, well practice goes all over the place. Maybe belief isn't by any measure the so-called "end-game" in a practice, but it sure as hell is necessary for a sustained practice, and everything is to be honest fragments of truth..it's like someone smashed a huge vase of truth over the face of the world and every culture has spent the past few millenia pouring over their own shard. Religion is very pretty at first but quickly loses its appeal, and that goes for investing in every single technique I've come across so far too. True, just last night I experienced a little bit of something pretty snazzy, but none of them have actually paid dividends to the extent they should.

But then the world is boring and blows otherwise...I've no interest in anything conventional, perception is literally constantly painful, and it just furnishes fear and demands, nothing substantial. I understand why people become drug-addicts and alcoholics now. emoticon So basically, there's no-one and nothing to even really point the way, since every religion or even pseudo-spirituality is not adequately inclusive of everything else, and the post-modern world busily does not notice its own incompleteness. I dunno, so far this isn't a ringing endorsement for the human experience, I have to say.

On the bright side after all this, I did spend at least several hours today meditating. emoticon


Also, meditating in general has made me a better person thus far, despite the hardships, or maybe because of them.

P.S.: thank you Steph, and you were right. emoticon A lot changes in a day, that's for sure.

RE: Brief flash of Jhana...I think
Answer
5/18/12 2:12 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Mike Kich:
"You get what you optimize for" floats up....


On the bright side after all this, I did spend at least several hours today meditating. emoticon

Also, meditating in general has made me a better person thus far, despite the hardships, or maybe because of them.


Stick to the bright side I think...ideas come and go. Sound like you are going in the right direction. Personally, I think a similar thing about the buddhist cosmology, but I generally try (sometime unsuccessfully) to ignore that stuff and just find what gets me practising. If saving the world does it for you, great, you will need to go beyond those you feel have got it wrong and that has to be aiming high if ever I saw it.

good stuff mate.

RE: Brief flash of Jhana...I think
Answer
5/18/12 2:03 PM as a reply to Andrew ..
Yeah I just had an interesting conversation on this whole topic with a friend from work - it presents a really interesting dilemma. Sort of a koan - what if the whole world, and everything, every storied possibility of escape, and that includes Buddhism and all its promises too, what if it all leads to nothing. What if I never escape from this dissatisfaction, what if looking at it long and clear my whole life is at best mentally conditioning myself to believe I'm getting somewhere? It's weird because anymore that thought doesn't even produce a sad or depressed emotional response, which could either mean I'm making some kind of progress or that I'm depressed, hahahaha.

There's just this interesting paradigm in the world, same now as in the story of the Buddha, where conversations like I had with my friend inevitably boil down to, "life sucks! that's the way it is! Make the best out of it you can, and you'll get through it!", versus my intuition that, no, it's not unreasonable to aim higher than that. If it is that way after all, and evolution and universe just can't be accounted for, that suffering in all its forms is a fact of all existence for everyone, then why do I have such trouble settling down with that fact? What is it that makes me different from everyone else around me? Is it just a fluke of psychology perhaps? Is it that I've somehow deeply conditioned myself to think I'm suffering in this way, and that no conventional lifestyle choices can solve it? If that is the case, how does that account for the same difficulties being experienced years ago, way before I ever heard about Buddhism or ever knew anything about religion? I mean, if I were capable of sitting down every night with a beer and watching the basketball game, and having that nightly ritual be enough, really enough to carry me through life, why haven't I done that already? Why hasn't doing that done it for me? Why am I not the same as everyone for whom that does do it? Ther terms "Dark Night" and "Arising and Passing Away" come up, but those are stories, narratives - those also don't explain it, though they come closer than almost anything else. That's really what it is - all of life seems to be composed of stories and narratives, all heaped up one on top of another. And they're all missing something, every one of them, the Buddha's story too. Someone like Ajahn Brahm might respond, "well it's because all these things are thinking, and thought is suffering." That's a story too, a very cleverly reasoned story, but still a story. It also doesn't account for the why of things either - if desire is suffering, then what does any being do who hasn't ever been exposed to the dharma? Wait for some fortuitous encounter in the cosmology? No, that's a story too. Or, how about another tack - if you're someone like me, who naturally seems to gravitate towards thought and philosophizing, who intellectualizes too much, why is that there then? To treat the natural condition as inherently the result of a mistake is a story, and not satisfactory because it does not encompass enough. A cosmology is also ultimately a how answer, and not a why - to say I'm deluded by conditioned mind, and that's why I suffer, is ultimately also a how response to a why question. To then respond that asking why is fruitless, is not an answer, because the why question comes up as naturally as breathing.

This is all philosophizing, yes, and maybe the road to insanity to boot, but I still think it's the road I travel down whether I want to or not. After all, if I'm still travelling down it after all this time and effort, some years by now expended on trying to not travel down it, doesn't that point to something not being acknowledged? Doesn't that point to something not being adequate about the path?

RE: Brief flash of Jhana...I think
Answer
5/18/12 10:41 PM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Hi Mike - great post. "Dissatisfaction" is running high....

So, look: people get better at what they do because of repetition, repetition, repetition. Right: that's sounds boring and dissatisfying, no? You know that you are more likely to get what you optimize for (and, I presume, we're especially fortunate in this regard if living in a relatively free society with food and water and basic health), to get what the mind is repeating unchecked.


Sometimes dissatisfaction is arising just because it is an inherent part of the cycle of temporarily satisfying newness, which becomes oldness/boring/dissatisfying/dull (as opposed to, say, having no water, which is the last point of conscious dissatisfaction, causing fundamental dissatisfaction and consequent taṇhā).

When the cycle of dissatisfaction starts having a really high frequency, a constant din, then nothing satisfies anymore. There is even no satisfaction in avoiding dissatisfaction.

(Even the word "dukkha" has no satisfactorily translation; some translators do not wish to provide a translation for it.)


At this point, peak dissatisfaction (rock bottom, no exit) is a great time to think, "How are these thoughts and feelings skillfull?"

In peak dissatisfaction a person can adopt distracting habits, or can start to apply a method. Yes: when the mind is dissatisfied, any method will be seen for its dissatisfying aspects.You've observed how all sorts of paths are just stories and, knowing this, you are dissatisfied:

Why am I not the same as everyone for whom that does do it? Ther terms "Dark Night" and "Arising and Passing Away" come up, but those are stories, narratives - those also don't explain it, though they come closer than almost anything else. That's really what it is - all of life seems to be composed of stories and narratives, all heaped up one on top of another. And they're all missing something, every one of them, the Buddha's story too. Someone like Ajahn Brahm might respond, "well it's because all these things are thinking, and thought is suffering." That's a story too, a very cleverly reasoned story, but still a story. It also doesn't account for the why of things either - if desire is suffering, then what does any being do who hasn't ever been exposed to the dharma? Wait for some fortuitous encounter in the cosmology? No, that's a story too. Or, how about another tack - if you're someone like me, who naturally seems to gravitate towards thought and philosophizing, who intellectualizes too much, why is that there then? To treat the natural condition as inherently the result of a mistake is a story, and not satisfactory because it does not encompass enough. A cosmology is also ultimately a how answer, and not a why - to say I'm deluded by conditioned mind, and that's why I suffer, is ultimately also a how response to a why question. To then respond that asking why is fruitless, is not an answer, because the why question comes up as naturally as breathing.

This is all philosophizing, yes, and maybe the road to insanity to boot, but I still think it's the road I travel down whether I want to or not. After all, if I'm still travelling down it after all this time and effort, some years by now expended on trying to not travel down it, doesn't that point to something not being acknowledged? Doesn't that point to something not being adequate about the path?
Perhaps this is exactly what Gotama realized and which realization he kept when he began explaining his path with something of an advisory: life is dukkha...

Is it actual to be dissatisfied? Is it faithful to accept a dissatisfied mind state? [edit: i refer to your consideration for Christian devotion here and I think a fully faithful god-in-all-things is like a buddhist path and would depend on your sincere dedication to the aspect of it that you want/admire]. How fortunate to consider life in this way, not tormented by thirst or war or enslavement or humiliation. What thoughts and feelings are being allowed to repeat without srutiny, without consideration for the opposite thoughts and feelings, without gentle, friendly training in equanimity?


How to respond to dissatisfaction? It cannot be avoided and it is counter-intuitive to sit with it. To just sit with the mind being dissatisfied, to have no answers, to sit at the table, take deep breathes and start from there.


Peak dissatisfaction/unknowing can seem very overwhelming. It can seem like it has an unbearable tension that one just wants to break by taking any action. That action can be very small and safe: just sitting and breathing.

I think such mindfulness often is recommended before concentration. It trains in equanimizing the mind, transforming dissatisfaction into useful information.


You've got great perseverance despite your school schedule (grad student?). A dense work/study schedule can make it very hard for the mind to break free of its tension and dissatisfaction without a consistent, sincere practice, some wholesome, sincere repetition.

Perhaps you can practice devotion and mindfulness of eating and drinking. Not guilt-based, just savoring your sustenance. Friendly to you and your food, water. Friendliness to the grocer who sells these things to you. Friendly to the bus driver (public transit?) who drop you at the store. When you do something in relation to food and drink, perhaps give sincere devotional thanks for it, and then continue to express that thanks in mindfulness and friendliness of each bite and in each action in the course of obtaining those provisions. Maybe consider that for three weeks. See what happens. If you add concentration, it can start really simply: five really dedicated minutes is commonly said to be more effective than an hour of daydreaming.



Good luck.

[edits: to reduce!]

RE: Brief flash of Jhana...I think
Answer
5/18/12 11:27 PM as a reply to Mike Kich.
It took a long time for me to be able to say 'i don't know' and mean it. It is reasonable not to know when you think about it!

Here is a thought; Most of the world is aspiring to be a 'super animal' satisfied in all the desires that arise, powerful and undisturbed by external control. Very few accept that the life of such an animal is all but impossible to achieve, and they don't see they are are infact living a losing battle.

'Some' people aspire and practice towards 'complete humanity', free of the cognitive dissonance of, on one hand nodding allegiance to the ideals of goodness and peace, yet living in a way in line with the brutal ways of the 'super animal'.

At some stage one simply makes a choice. The better more fulfilling choice is one that others can follow without stumbling over the limitations of your intellect and remnants of your 'super animal' wishing to remain in control.

As I logged on just now I had the thought 'I aspire to be one of those yogis who never post much, they must be off somewhere doing there thing being done, living lives that, however ordinary, are part of the solution'.

i think really it is a matter of 'get it done'. see if the rest really matters later.

I like simplicity, so though 'I don't know' won't get you speaking engagements and book deals, it is a great place to be as it is for the most part true. I too have in the back of my mind those billions of others. but first things first, don't you think? As Nick said the other day 'We make it hard", when it really isn't that hard to practice at all. What is your off the cushion practice at the moment? (sorry I could search it, but it is also a reminder for you not to stop even when your mind is running, note it, ask a pointer question, smile, anything!)

RE: Brief flash of Jhana...I think
Answer
5/19/12 4:22 PM as a reply to Andrew ..
Well, I'll answer a couple things, though out of order (sorry!):

I had sort of a strange experience driving home yesterday, very hard to describe; I'd spent the past few hours before that just really in solid pain, it's pretty unbelievable to try and describe to ordinary people at work or whatever who haven't experienced the same thing, but it's literally like raw pain, just a mental sensation instead of a physical one. Anywho, I was just going about my business with it, watching how as usual it makes all music of all kinds just not ring any good bells, makes everything have no appeal at all. About an hour into my drive, as I was driving down the middle of the highway, I don't know what happened, but I was just sort of observing the pain with part of my mind while the other half drove, and it's like my mind just finally got tired of pain, and decided to turn it off for its opposite. I got this REALLY weird sensation in my perception then, kind of like zooming out or something, and I slowed down and prepared to pull off the road, my heart jackhammering in my chest for a few minutes. For the rest of the drive I had this strange sensation of being detached for the most part from thoughts, and what thoughts did arise seemed more distant somehow, quieter. Even the vague fear at the strangeness of this, sort of "watching" my body and awareness in general with this noticeably greater degree of detachment, felt sort of muffled or unimportant. It wasn't awakening, but it also wasn't just nothing either..so I'm not really sure what it was that happened. It's like my mind just decided it had had enough, and correspondingly detached to a certain degree. Weird stuff - it's hard to say if today's different or not, if it is it's very subtle. Maybe just what's called depersonalization in psych terms?

As for off-the-cushion practice, I've been walking around all day with general mindfulness for a long time, but in general awareness of the breath as I'm doing whatever is still sporadic (you can't drive after all with full attention on your breathing) but it becomes more and more prominent, and slowly more and more..contented I guess I'd say, kinda detached. I really hate to say this, but over the past few years I've been on a path of renunciation whether I wanted it or not, though not necessarily towards being a monk in particular. Basically, as I watch each breath over a long span of time, I go through my cycles of mental violence that is my DN experience, and then that and slow mindfulness of the breath causes me to give less and less of a shit about almost anything. Who knows, I might end up a robot at the end of this, but if that ends up being the case, it wasn't because I wanted to be a robot or because I knew of a lot of better options and chose to follow this path - like anyone else I've only ever done what seems to give me the most happiness for both the long and short-term. That's why there's nothing holy about spirituality; some people write, others take drugs, others hit the bottle, and I just happen to meditate.

I do worry about it still, though even that worrying is kind of robbed of its force - it's sort of like a small voice that I consider right now, more than a roaring tiger. One shortcoming of following a contemplative path (and thus kind of inexorably inclining towards renunciation) is that I don't think I can feel love the way I want to for others. I want to see people happy and I spend time trying to see to their happiness as I can, but it feels like I've already sailed for the other shore, to use a blatant metaphor, haha. There's something kind of bittersweet about that...it seems like the mind, with enough consideration, chooses a way of being that causes it the least suffering, and goes with that as being more efficient if nothing else. Not a more moral way, or necessarily a way of holiness and glowing love, instead a more optimal way to survive in. Who knows, these could be all head-games I'm playin' with myself, and I'll meet a girl tomorrow who I'll fall on my face for and who'll prove me really wrong; I honestly hope that's the case, because who wants to be right about their conclusions all the time?

RE: Brief flash of Jhana...I think
Answer
5/20/12 9:18 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Really interesting post Mike, I don't have anything to say about the car driving bit, sounds intense though, glad you where able to stay in control frankly.

that detached feeling , the one you feel unable to love, should be examined (contemplated, broken down, seen through, critically examined) in my opinion. It sounds a little 'bypassing' is there.

I think it is very easy and quite normal to conform to an image of what we imagine the end of our path will look like, but this isn't true practice. do you know what i mean? We assume certain things should happen, with out noticing they are not 'whole being changes', something is being contradicted, something not examined, and other things simply conformed to.

I'm not sure what I'm saying, other than keep challenging those assumptions about what this is meant to be like. It seems to me there is a sureness about what it is meant to be like.

Anyway this post seems far to instructive and critical from a complete stranger, I just notice alot of things you are saying being similar to what I was saying 10 years ago. I'm really encouraged though that you have such dedication to sitting and mindfulness, that is sure to help you avoid the needless spinning of intellectual stuff that kept me in the 'dark', to use another obvious metaphor. Though I think Jon T has it right, if you can't let it go, spin it to exhaustion!

In my opinion, renunciation is not the 'spiritual' path at all. that paradigm that it is as you say 'inexorable inclining towards renunciation' is the very reason none of the systems of thought put forward work for those billions you mentioned. People just don't get that humans are not here for any other reason than to be humans. Human are essentially pair-bonding primates with a shady past and high ideals, both those things need to be work out in practice, not just that later.

It is a piece of cake to be all peaceful and spiritual with an alms bowl and a nice set of limestone walls, far more useful to do it right were you are.

Maybe not relevant at all, probably just talking about myself again...

I'll bug out now!

RE: Brief flash of Jhana...I think
Answer
5/21/12 4:31 PM as a reply to Andrew ..
Yeah I contemplate the bypassing part - I actively try not to do that, to dive into suffering as much as I feel like I can relatively healthily tolerate, but I feel there's still some of that going on, the sense of some psychological numbness being there kinda points to that. The trick is, diving into it for me still has a really subtle element of escapism, I think. I mean I'm diving into it because at least part of me wants to eradicate it once and for all, which isn't really an open attitude.

I also do try to avoid envisioning what the 'end' of my path should look like, or what I should look like, but I have to wonder if what I tend to see as progress in not actively, consciously envisioning that is actually me having suppressed it into an unconscious process. Hard to honestly evaluate how much and where that's going on, and harder still to stop doing it!

RE: Brief flash of Jhana...I think
Answer
5/21/12 8:19 PM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Hmm...

I feel an urge to write to you and I'm trying to figure out why.

I think if I didn't write to you after having read what you have written, that would make me feel bad. Does that make this egoistic? And why would not writing to you make me feel bad?

Before you go on reading, you must read the warning at the bottom.

Are you mixing the relative and the absolute?

Check out the videos+lectures of Alan Watts on YouTube. That is a sincere and deep recommendation from me. This guy is special to me and that has never happened for me before - I've never actually been sad by the prospect of not being able to meet someone because they are dead, other than with this guy. Give it an honest go. I've done my background checks on him - he's the real deal. Get a beer (or a cup of tea - or both!); enjoy.

In my experience, you get through the shit by getting through the shit. There's no way around it, that's not how it works. The quantity of suffering does not matter, be it petty irritation or the-stuff-from-which-suicide-is-made-of. You get through it in exactly the same way.

You think too much. You're neurotic. Stop it. Unless you can't, then I don't know anything about it, and can only echo what I've seen others write in such situations: seek professional help.

It is useless to plan the future for one who does not have the capacity to appreciate the present. Don't just read that, understand it (seriously, read it again).

The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.

Stop what you're doing.

Isn't this enough?

Not in a THE-MEANING-OF-LIFE kind of way. But an oasis-of-calm-in-the-midst-of-chaos kind of way.

At some point I realized that I was human. I gave myself some slack. To me, that was the platform from which I could reach higher.

Your little wind-up tin soldier called your 'mind' has been wound up so much, isn't it about time you let it run itself out? Stop winding it up. Breath.

I wrote this just today:

(explaining a refined, calm and happy state of consciousness) You are free to consciously be aware / attentive (use conscious attention) to anything you like, but you don't have to; Your obsessive habits of scanning, scanning, scanning - looking for faults and errors and threats and generally being hyper vigilant - is relaxed and ultimately ceases.


My style has always been "buckle up, get it done", and it has worked for me. Maybe I'm blind to it, but it has never ever done anything but good, and I know that I impart this on others. It seems to be working for them as well. "Buckling up" is not some form of masochism; realize that sometimes the "get it done" part is fiercely crying it out or giving in to all kinds of soft and mushy emotions and naive wishes and dreams or inflicting oneself with all kinds of unnecessary sufferings, just to satisfy that impulse and learn that unnecessary suffering is unnecessary (OK, that last one does sound very masochistic, but I hope you get it).

Going by my own little, limited and subjective understanding of Daniels life, he was in pretty much the same place as you are right now. I'm sure the mighty, nay the Allmighty Arahant Dr., MD, prof. Sri Daniel M. Ingram, Sir (not to mention Founder, Owner and Supreme Overlord of the DhO) has a few tricks up his sleeve when it comes to this kind of mental manure that you're describing.

I better stop myself here. Phew, quite the stew (of mental masturbation).

I'd also like to recommend Dzogchen. And also check out AEN's blog awakeningtoreality.com - it's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But I think that that isn't going to help right now, so I didn't make the link a clickable one.

WARNING: Don't take any of this seriously... except all the honorary titles for Daniel.

EDIT:

I really like this reply to one of your previous threads (maybe worth re-reading to consider your own progress?):

tarin greco:
Michael For me to know and you to find out Kich:
(...) I find my mind seems to throw every conceivable distraction at me in an attempt to shy away from attaining true concentration, (...)

it's not your mind that is throwing distractions at you, your mind is you, and so it is you who are throwing yourself around.

realise this and gain intimacy with/mastery over what you feel to be yourself.


Grab something flexible, something which you can bend into a U-shape. Seriously, do it, it'll make the impact of the following much greater.

I'll wait...

Now bend it such that one end kind of looks over or at the rest of the thing like a 'head', like the 'Peh' in the phoenician alphabet (the third last letter on this image). The 'observing mind' is the end of that little bend, which seems to be 'looking at' the rest of the mind. Notice the bend: it is constructed such that the bend itself it out of sight of the 'observing mind', and so the 'observing mind' never realizes that it is connected to and in fact none other than the rest of the mind. This last thing is 'ignoreance'.

If you now take your flexible thing and straighten it out, that is one kind of definition of enlightenment.

The 'observing mind' is nothing but thoughts about thoughts. Thoughts about thoughts are exactly not different from 'ordinary' thoughts.

RE: Brief flash of Jhana...I think
Answer
5/22/12 9:39 PM as a reply to Stian Gudmundsen Høiland.
First of all, that little tin soldier w/ cymbals link is FULL of win. emoticon In fact, that whole website looks like it's probably overflowing with win, so I'm gonna have to check that out more, haha.

Also, I did check out this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJVChTnVHtA&feature=related , and I found it pretty, well, win as well. Maybe I should go watch it again, if for nothing else so that I stop repeating win. Seriously though, he's pretty win. It's too bad my daily work environment encourages living in abstractions, that part seems kind of hard to get around.

For my small but considerable collection of quotes from people on this site trying very hard to be helpful (seriously, I always get more input than I would've thought possible), this one deserves a place in that hallowed grouping:
In my experience, you get through the shit by getting through the shit. There's no way around it, that's not how it works. The quantity of suffering does not matter, be it petty irritation or the-stuff-from-which-suicide-is-made-of. You get through it in exactly the same way.


You should know, as well as everyone else, that if nothing else I always take away encouragement to keep pluggin' away at my practice from these posts though (like today, I meditated a couple hours, if using different techniques each time, though at least not different techniques during the same half-hour stretch).

That brings up another thingy which I've gotten plenty of advice about, but which I'm still toying with, and that's toying too much with different techniques, all of which are fascinating and all of which stop being fascinating when I try to make them THE technique (and associated tradition) for me. It'd be so easy if I could get hardcore into one tradition or another and find that tradition the bee's verifiable knees. However, that's not the way it is, so...woops.

Uh, oh this too: is there a good chance I'll start giving a shit about anything I'm doing at uni, assuming I my practice continues to take me onwards and sorta upwards? For that matter, is there a good chance I'll start giving a shit about anything I could do for work/studies? It's kinda hard to lie out my ass every once in a while like today when a professor sits down for an hour with me and intently questions me about what I want to do and the honest answer I have to keep from laughing out into the room with us goes something like, "well, it occurs to me I'd like to eat chocolate, masturbate, and then fall asleep." Ha, I have to say it does always strike me as kinda whack how people tend to emphasize that so much, SO HOW ABOUT YOUR PASSION BRAH, WE WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU'RE REMAINING 100% PASSIONATE WITH US, WE'RE CONCERNED YOUR PASSION WENT ON VACATION. Da da da da daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, frack it's a boring deal. I mean seriously, a job's for making the rent and living and not too much else most of the time if we're being really honest. It's too bad shoveling shit doesn't pay too well, especially not as a long-term setup.


Anyways, thanks for writin'.

RE: Brief flash of Jhana...I think
Answer
5/22/12 11:47 PM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Mike Kich:

That brings up another thingy which I've gotten plenty of advice about, but which I'm still toying with, and that's toying too much with different techniques, all of which are fascinating and all of which stop being fascinating when I try to make them THE technique (and associated tradition) for me. It'd be so easy if I could get hardcore into one tradition or another and find that tradition the bee's verifiable knees. However, that's not the way it is, so...woops.


You're not going to find any one technique or tradition that is entirely the bees knees. Every legit practice and tradition I've come across sucks in some ways and is great in other ways. Figure out what styles of paying attention are both fun and take some work, but don't seem super forced. A good clue is to look at what your sensate interests are. Find ways to meditate or traditions that use your natural style of intelligence/ways your brain seems to incline anyways and have fun with it. Find styles that are easy to incorporate into daily life so you can fool yourself into practicing automatically without it seeming like practice.

I'm more inclined towards sound & vision (yep, intentional David Bowie reference). So I started taking piano lessons recently. It's rad because I'm simultaneously practicing playing music and honing my ability to pay very sharp attention. Reason being is that things like recognizing notes on a sheet, fingers on the proper keys, and tempo all require a clear mind.

RE: Brief flash of Jhana...I think
Answer
5/23/12 7:53 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Mike Kich:
That brings up another thingy which I've gotten plenty of advice about, but which I'm still toying with, and that's toying too much with different techniques, all of which are fascinating and all of which stop being fascinating when I try to make them THE technique (and associated tradition) for me. It'd be so easy if I could get hardcore into one tradition or another and find that tradition the bee's verifiable knees. However, that's not the way it is, so...woops.


All insight techniques involve some kind of investigation of experience. (In Mahasi style, it's seeking the 3 characteristics.) When the practice seems dissatisfying, turn it to investigation of the experience of practice itself.

Mike Kich:
Uh, oh this too: is there a good chance I'll start giving a shit about anything I'm doing at uni, assuming I my practice continues to take me onwards and sorta upwards? For that matter, is there a good chance I'll start giving a shit about anything I could do for work/studies? It's kinda hard to lie out my ass every once in a while like today when a professor sits down for an hour with me and intently questions me about what I want to do and the honest answer I have to keep from laughing out into the room with us goes something like, "well, it occurs to me I'd like to eat chocolate, masturbate, and then fall asleep."


Whether practice will help with this really depends on what the basis of your dissatisfaction with school is. There is really no alternative but to explore this question until you come to an understanding of it. That's not so much a matter of dharma, but the practice can certainly help the exploration.

It sounds like you've become detached from your experience of life, which is a common effect of insight practice. You might try switching to metta practice for a while instead.

Also, the ethical side of Buddhism has a rich framework for questions like these, in the six realms as projected world views, the elements as emotional reactivity, and meditation on death. For instance, the response "I'll eat, wank and sleep" sounds like an animal world view of a fire reaction. Having classified it like that doesn't cut through the dullness by itself, but at least it helps you to disidentify from it by letting you see it as part of your karma, which is not you. (None of which implies, BTW, that that desire is in any way unethical. It is perfectly fine to want to do that.)

RE: Brief flash of Jhana...I think
Answer
5/23/12 5:24 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
That brings up another thingy which I've gotten plenty of advice about, but which I'm still toying with, and that's toying too much with different techniques, all of which are fascinating and all of which stop being fascinating when I try to make them THE technique (and associated tradition) for me.


The only thing that ever inspired me to practice was the example of the yogis here and on similar forums who were routinely attaining higher and higher paths. As far as I can tell, the vast majority of them do so by practicing the noting technique. If enlightenment is what you want, it seems like there is an abundance of data to suggest noting is the way to go. In any case, it's the practice for which you'll find abundant support and free instruction here.