Message Boards Message Boards

Practice Logs

Practice log

Toggle
Practice log
Answer
6/1/12 5:31 AM
Hullo. This will be my new practice log. My old one is here.

I have hit a kind of felicitous plateau that has proven stable for about two weeks. I used to complain of depressions and such, but not any more.

There has been a long process of integrating different practices,motivations, and habits into my life, and some moderate legal drug manipulation (which I will describe, hopefully), and it has finally stabled out with the addition of a few practices I've added lately.

Thanks again to everyone on the Dho. You all are great and provided fantastic support, brilliant ideas, and rigorous testing of different claims and practices. Its amazingly inspirational. Its so phenomenally rare to find a group dedicated to the truth, and in real life it is the people who are dedicated to the same self awareness and improvement that are worth being around.

Aypsite.org also gets a great thanks. It is the practices labeled there that have provided fantastic support and health benefits that allow me to walk around in waking continuous felicity. I do nearly all the practices listed here at about the middle of the page.

I kind of had an amazing time with Kechari Mudra and I described it a lot in my old practice thread. I still think it is one of the most amazing practices and building blocks of my life and it still provides amazing results. I rest in kechari for several hours a day at a minimum. It feels like a brain cleanse, and that it releases some sort of neuro-chemicals. I will never stop touting its potential.

The other practice that has made the biggest difference and provides the stability I've had for the past week is nauli and dynamic uddiyana . Its helped my digestion dramatically, and hunger is much easier to not respond to. There is a greater consistency of energy, hunger becomes a pleasant feeling instead of an empty grasping one. This is the practice that provides me with the consistancy and will to be happy and present all day now and I think has made my depression go away more than any drug I've taken. Its as great as kechari but in a more physical way. I will also be touting this practice often too.

I've slowly been adding other practices from aypsite.org, until now I'm doing pretty much all of them except formal meditation, samayama, spinal bastrika, and Crown to root bastrika.

These I do to help me physically and for felicity. I work in a very stressful environment, but it hardly phases me now. I am so happy with how everything is going. My relationships are improving too, which just makes me incredibly happy too.

I still practice sensuousness frequently since it seems to let me reside in a place where I am not accumulating karma or building self-narratives. If the above practices are my physical practices, then this is the cornerstone of my mental practice. The practices and parts of the teachings of the AFers on this site are profound. Thank you so much. There was such a little chance that I would run across them, and I did, so I feel so blessed and grateful.

Loving-kindness meditation has also been very helpful to me to improve felicitous feelings and help my relationships ( usually just focus on my mum and dad when doing loving-kindness. if depth psychology has and reality to it, then this should effect all my relationships, since we project our mother and father onto everyone) . And nothing helps relationships or breaking up negative chains of karma better than being cordial, articulate, exact, and empathically attuned to every situation, and being mindful.


Best of luck to everyone's endeavors here! Thank you again
Oliver

p.s. if anyone wants to private message me to talk or ask questions please do so! I would love any kind of dharma conversation or anything like that. I don't have a computer with skype otherwise I would offer that.

RE: Practice log
Answer
5/20/12 8:20 PM as a reply to Oliver Myth.
i particulary respect your use of physical practices to complement sensuousness.

RE: Practice log
Answer
6/1/12 5:36 AM as a reply to Jon T.
Haha! So very interesting insights coming up lately.

By asking myself questions like "What is the meaning of this situation?" and "What am I doing?" and noticing my inward perception and sense of self, I see how my simply relating to the world nearly every time has an identifiable desire/aversion. Which is great, because I can see how I am using a perspective or orientation or conceptual overlay - which is the point of such questions -, and how it almost seems intrinsic to the mind to be one of these perspectives.

But the brilliant part? What if one is sensuous? What if one is aware of unconditioned phenomena (such as sounds hitting the ear for the first time or sight hitting the eye)? When one is aware of these unconditional phenomena simultaneously as being aware of a perspective, or being aware of the self imposed "meaning" of this moment, ... then the mind will sort of automatically move towards a unity between them. This movement towards unity of unconditional and conditional (I believe this is the same mental movement used in "actualizing jhanas") is unintentional (because when it becomes intentional that is a new perspective to be aware of). This movement of "actualizing" seems to bring my "self" to be unconditional and the unconditional side of awareness reminds me of being in a PCE.

Thus is the value of sensuousness, me thinks.

Thank you DhO. Let me know what you think
Oliver

RE: Practice log
Answer
6/1/12 5:15 AM as a reply to Oliver Myth.
I have been devoting a lot of time to loving kindess lately. Its very soothing.

RE: Practice log
Answer
6/2/12 7:05 AM as a reply to Oliver Myth.
Actually, I think two posts ago I was just rephrasing Nickolai's Juxaposition blog post.

I love this stuffs emoticon

I guess its just a matter of momentum now- of clearing off defilements faster than they attach themselves and/or getting the mind used to thinking/being a new way.

This seems to be the case- but is it really so? I'm not entirely sure.

RE: Practice log
Answer
6/20/12 8:01 AM as a reply to Oliver Myth.
I have been doing some purification from the yoga site, and a heart mantra, fasting, and staying out of kechari for a day or two. I stuck the tongue up there this morning and I could feel the nerve endings in my toes and fingers starting to curl up, deaden and awareness retract and a bit of the same sensations in the third eye area.

It seems there is a limit to purifying. I got the distinct impression that I had to wait for some part of my mind/body ecosystem to catch up with the purification process I was doing.

Despite being perfectly happy and healthy, I keep my eye very restfully and calmly on little places on the body where I am becoming sensitive too fast - like my sinuses, or in a slightly weakened nervous system, or my eyes being sensitive to light. I'll let my body catch back up.

I think it is this exact mode of limitation which is presenting itself to me which has always held me back from progressing the way I wanted in the past (due to overdoing practice) or has caused me the uncountable burnouts I experienced in different spiritual practices. I was always gung-ho in my spiritual practices and it caused a lot of harm many times. Burnouts had been the story of my life for the longest time. I really relate to Carian in this post about how he was extreme in everything he did.

I am grateful I have balanced out a little more with a better understanding and functioning.

What a blessing to have this gift of awareness.

Oliver

PS There was no harm in the initial experience described, after taking the tongue down, I continued feeling better than I had for days. Is very Good.

RE: Practice log
Answer
7/5/12 3:25 AM as a reply to Oliver Myth.
Officially getting my Jhanas figured out. I've gone into them and out a lot. I still don't know which ones are which exactly, but I know how each is different and they have each unique subtle tensions as they arise. I bet I could figure them out if I sorted them by levels of tension, but I'm usually just looking at my visual object. 4th seems more different than the others due to how volition cancels it out. Even third has some sort of "I can still interfere and it works" feeling to it even tho its hard to explain cause its different.

I think that if I got into them more often my life would be a bit happier. If I could go about my life with the jhanic factors involved my life would be a lot happier. There are certain issues in my life that I may need to work out first. Maybe its just a matter of training the mind

Ironically, I didn't really know for sure that what I was exploring were the jhanas until I was exploring the 3rd one and had been up and down them a few times. Also, any kind of catharsis beforehand with a sympathetic ear makes going into them 150% easier due to clearing out the karmic cache. Does that make sense?

Oliver

RE: Practice log
Answer
7/5/12 11:23 AM as a reply to Oliver Myth.
Jhana seems a little different.
I wrote some other stuff on jhana here too. Ready those books very g
Help with the best chance for stream entry

RE: Practice log
Answer
7/5/12 2:45 PM as a reply to Oliver Myth.
Oliver Myth:
Officially getting my Jhanas figured out. I've gone into them and out a lot. I still don't know which ones are which exactly, but I know how each is different and they have each unique subtle tensions as they arise. I bet I could figure them out if I sorted them by levels of tension, but I'm usually just looking at my visual object. 4th seems more different than the others due to how volition cancels it out. Even third has some sort of "I can still interfere and it works" feeling to it even tho its hard to explain cause its different.

I think that if I got into them more often my life would be a bit happier. If I could go about my life with the jhanic factors involved my life would be a lot happier. There are certain issues in my life that I may need to work out first. Maybe its just a matter of training the mind

Ironically, I didn't really know for sure that what I was exploring were the jhanas until I was exploring the 3rd one and had been up and down them a few times. Also, any kind of catharsis beforehand with a sympathetic ear makes going into them 150% easier due to clearing out the karmic cache. Does that make sense?

Oliver
I went through two weeks recently of "wanting 4th jhana". So, this wanting fourth jhana prevents it, because it is just "wanting" again, part of the addictive cycle of gratification a self creates on non-real bases. Complete equanimity is found in receptive, non-reactive awareness. That is sati. (Actualism has some similarities by looking at mind and body arisings and helps one see how one is habitually creating oneself.)

Gotama identified the addictive component causing stress/dissatisfaction. Here is the video that Jean-François posted a few weeks back, "TEDxGlasgow - Gary Wilson - The Great Porn Experiment" . Once one sits in the presence of one's own cravings and does not gratify a craving for 24 to 48 hours, one starts to know exactly what is a physical need arising (water, the habitat of our evolution: sun, air, open sky, etc) and what is mental craving arising: more novelty, more excess, more jealousy, more hatred - a din that pressures the head. Once one recognizes that pull and pressure of mental craving, then one knows that unpleasant pull of mind (addiction-and-compulsion) where ever it arises. Is gratification occurring in winning an argument? When getting the last piece of pie? When getting the seat? When being the meekest/most powerful, etc Each person know their own gratification sources.

Anyway, after I let go of "wanting" fourth jhana (only last week) I came across the Salayatana sutta: it also indicates to drop this exact kind of wanting: "By depending & relying on non-fashioning, [4] abandon & transcend the equanimity coming from singleness, dependent on singleness. Such is its abandoning, such its transcending."

And tranlator Thanissaro notes "This discourse counters another misperception as well: that equanimity is the goal of the practice. In actuality, renunciation equanimity serves a function as part of the path of practice — as a tool for letting go of renunciation joy — and then it, too, is transcended by the state called "non-fashioning" (atammayata), in which there is no act of intention, not even the intention underlying equanimity, at all."

So, one (re-) commits to letting go of any interest in fourth, training always in sati.

It is like the marathon runner: the body that arrives at the ribbon finish line that is sweating, exhausted, muscular, fit did not arise because it is at the finish line (factorial nibbana of fourth jhana), that body and mind, that calm, that state occurred at a ribboned line as a result of training, not moving about thinking, "If I could be at the ribbon line, my life would be happier." That was my mistake and I hope if anyone relates to this, they too resume sati.

RE: Practice log
Answer
7/7/12 4:07 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Wrote this to Katy in This thread.


Thanks for all that Katy. I think you are right about me needing to reword your post before giving it to friends. I think I got excited like a little kid who wants to show his new discovery to his parents.

I have no issue desiring 4th jhana. I remember way-back-when when Kenneth Folk talked about riding the Jhana arc without manipulating it. That is what I'm doing. I go up as high as my mind wants to, then come back to 1st jhana, then go back up again. By the third/fourth time I might be stable enough to hit 4th.

When I talk about thinking that my life would be better with jhanas frequently, I meant to say that it would be the right action to take according to every logical reason I can think of. I lack a bit of initiative sometimes, but once I'm in jhana there is no issue with desiring. Curiosity takes over. My mind seems sucked into getting involved with the positive qualities of the jhana and that suction power works all on its own. Its quite a happy experience. My issue is sometimes just getting into the first jhana!

And I am also amazed how I can write 4 lines in a post and get 3 expansive and elegant posts back, lol. Thats pretty good dividends.


Wishing the best
Oliver

RE: Practice log
Answer
7/7/12 4:09 AM as a reply to Zyndo Zyhion.
Thanks neem. I'll need to take the time to read those link more carefully

RE: Practice log
Answer
7/7/12 4:33 AM as a reply to Oliver Myth.
Katy wrote this. I appreciate it and I think it belongs in my practice log

katy steger:
HI there Oliver -

I think you are right about me needing to reword your post before giving it to friends.
Your direct experience of that jhana and your direct friendship and your own practice --- those provide the body-authenticity detectable by your friends and the custom tailoring that you probably convey best. Then each friend, as they go along their practice, becomes independent through their own practice and experience.

I have no issue desiring 4th jhana. (...) but once I'm in jhana there is no issue with desiring. Curiosity takes over.
I apologize to you for not writing clearly here: it's just a general caution about where simple curiosity even can go. But this doesn't make me avoid curiosity (that would be unskillful), now I just more cautious that my curiosity can turn into a a slight-to-growing longing. This "wanting" (tanha) "fourth to be my experience of life" was my two-week experience and arose from my initial curiosity, "Why do I not live in this jhana always? What holds that mental capacity back?", this questioning just slipped over the edge into "wanting". It's ok, too, because a person is experimenting directly, personally, in all of this practice. My practice is probably 95% mistakes sometimes! So, I hope to put my own mistakes are helpful to anyone else.

My issue is sometimes just getting into the first jhana!
After seeing a presentation by a monastic who presented sensual bas-relief images of enjoined couples on stupas with bas-relief Buddhas carved above or below those couples (separated by bas-relief 'walls'), it is hard for me to ignore the role of salabhanjikas and yakshi, of fertility prominent in ancient cultures, and how one begins to choose to train in pīti (joy and/or rapture) and how one begins to choose to seclude oneself from kāma (sensual gratification, sexual longing).

How literally close sensuality is to pīti is clear in the suttas, how pīti is described after seclusion from sensuality "...The pain & distress dependent on sensuality do not exist at that time...." and "...rapture & pleasure born of seclusion..." , etc, that, to me, first jhana is capturing the sensation that one may detect in sexual arousal (pīti, alert happiness) and which one might normally have the habit of converting that pleasant sensation right away into longing for its escalation in sexual fullfilment. Instead of fulfilling it through exhausting the genitals, 1st jhana trains one to take up the sensation in mind, learning to sit in the pure sensation, secluded from sensuality, and, when separated from craving-fulfillment, can be seen to be a tremendous, energetic happiness, "pīti"); maybe it is like 'capturing' the brilliant shine on a fish's scales and never touching, even forgetting the fish. Maybe you experience this with your kechari practices.

Even the five-fold classification of pīti 'signs' is, to me, so clearly paralleling (but secluded from) sensual arousal-and-gratification: the practitioner is in first jhana learning they can experience this pure sensation and that in its refinement there is rapture without any contact whatsoever to sensuality, let alone sexual gratification. The volition in first jhana is to sustain that sensation, independent (secluded from) the sensual trigger.

This occurs in several non-buddhist practices (like taoist and vedic sexual "continence" (avoidance of ejaculation)), and, to me, one reason pīti starts the jhana training is that a person who is just starting on their jhana training journey is naturally going to compare their training states to the most wonderful gratification they may know up to that point: erection and orgasm. So, pīti, to me, is harvesting the sensation and showing the practitioner some thing like, "Hey, that gential orgasm is really small stuff in comparison to what the mind can do with that sensation when it is distilled by the composed mind...and it won't cause STDs, relationship fights, compulsion and violation, deadly mating rivalries, etc". This is also why I think some mahayana traditions actively have the practitioner imagine a consort during some concentration practices.

A brain well-trained in first jhana does has a refuge for mental sloth that may arise in later jhanas: well-formed first jhana (again, it is free from sensuality and is this tremendous joy) causes alertness. (Though eventually a person develops alertness in the other jhanas without going back to first).

So, the sensuality of stupas associated with early buddhism also indicates (and here I borrow from the monastic lecturer) that sensuality/sexual gratification was not shunned in itself nor absolutely (though monastics aspire to a fully adept practice and renounce sexualism, depending on the tradition). The suttas are clear that sensation is sensation, but that craving-gratification-willfully-grown-from-sensation leads to corrupt behaviour.


So, back to craving. I liked this essay, especially the detailed suite of actions following craving. Maybe four months ago I started asking in regards to my posts, "Why so many edits? This reflects my practice." So, after a several weeks of food modification, I began to color-font some edits to bring this habit more to my attention. Seeing craving, I can now see myself better in careless posting, acting in gratification of impatience (a form of agitation/excitement (chandaraga, below)). There are actual troubles that arise from even that gratification.

*sigh* There's so much "telegraphing" by what we do and see done, detectable by the senses, but it's hard to be alert to what is actual when blinded by craving.
The fruits of craving

Ananda Pereira

Gentleness, serenity compassion, through liberation from selfish craving-these are the fundamental teachings of the Buddha.
"Thus it is, Ananda, that because of sensation (vedana) comes craving (tanha); because of craving, pursuit (parlyesana); because of pursuit, gain (labha); because of gain, decision (vinicchaya); because of decision, excitement (chandaraga); because of excitement, clinging (ajihosana); because of clinging, enclosing (pariggaha); because of enclosing, avarice (macchariya); because of avarice, guarding (arakkha); and because of guarding there come to be the seizing of stick and weapon, disunion, strife and quarrelling slander, lying and many other unskillful things", (Maha Nidana Sutta, Digha Nikaya).
A man sees a block of land (vedana), and desires to own it (tanha). He finds out who the owner is and negotiates for a transfer (pariyesana). He buys the Land (labha) and decides exactly what he is going to plant (vinicchaya). Having so decided, he thinks about the money he will make, and the things he will be able to do with the money, and his thoughts excite him (chandaraga).


Thus excited, he clings to these pleasant dreams and to the land that will make them come true (ajihosana). He encloses the land with a wall or fence (pariggaha) and having so enclosed it he becomes selfish, feeling intensely and personally the intrusion of outsiders (macchariya). He employs security guards, buys a gun, and prepares to protect his property from the rest of the World (arakkha). And this, as we know, leads to strife of various kinds, from civil litigation to murder.
It is the same with other possessions. We cannot help perceiving things, but when we desire them the other consequences follow inevitably. There is no point in telling the owner of an estate that he should not protect it with fences or employ watchers to guard it. Having committed himself by acquiring it, he must do these things in order to ensure his profits. It is 'common sense," and the lawrecognizes his rights. This is the man-made Law. Its roots lie deeply bedded in craving. Men accept it as "common sense" because craving is common to all men, and they have no sense.


To the Buddhas and the Arahats, who did have sense, all this is stark lunacy. They say the truth clearly, all the time. Some of us may glimpse it now and then, hazily. The trust is that it is impossible to hold things, and that the effort to do so is both foolish and dangerous. The only thing that a man can be said to own is his character, even this is not an unchanging entity, but at least he has the power to conduct its changing, so that it changes for the better. Here there is no need of fences, watchers and guns: for there is no external force, however powerful, that can affect a man's character against his will. When a man is set on evil, as Devadatta was not even a Buddha can swerve him from his purpose. So also is the character of a man who is set on good. Opposition only strengthens such character.

But, there is always sensation (vedana): and so long as we are not Arahats, there is always craving (tanha). Craving and its inevitable results are man's real enemies, not otherrnen. If there was no craving there would be no pursuit' no gain, no decision, no excitement of desire, no clinging, no enclosing, no selfishness, no guarding, no seizing of weapons, no strife and no bloodshed. Craving is like the root of a long creeper whose fruits are deadly poison.
The Buddha and the Arahats saw this truth dearly, all the time. That is why they urged the utter destruction of craving, as the only means of deliverance. It can be destroyed utterly, never to spring up again. Buddhas and the Arahats were living examples of this supreme achievement, even though to us the task may seem impossible. Enmeshed as we are in craving, its deadly tendrils woven into the very texture of our being, the destruction of craving may seem like the destruction of all that is worthwhile. For, in our insanity, we have created false ideals out of it.

A man is said to tie worthless unless he has ambition. The pursuit of beauty is encouraged as wholesome and right. Poets have even confused beauty with truth. Parents tell their children that they must work hard and "get on inthe world", What is behind it all?

The Buddha's teaching may seem cold and alien, suicidal even, especially when we are in the act of pursuing, holding, enclosing or guarding something that we desire very greatly. It is the coldness of truth. If it seems alien, it is because we are sstill lunatics, and the teaching is same. If it seems suicidal, it is because craving forms the greater part of our being. In our rare and hazy glimpses of the truth we must admit that the teaching is true.

Such a glimpse may come on a Vesak day, because of its associations. On this day, so significant to all followers of the Buddha, there is, for a while, a turning away from false, craving-born ideals, and an attempt to see the true ideal. May that vision be clear, and may the memory of it linger. It is the only thing that counts. Until such time as craving is destroyed, this glimpse of truth may serve as 'guide'. It may help us least to control that which must ultimately be destroyed. Seeing "desirable" things, we may at least curb the tendency to pursue them, knowing where that pursuit will lead.


Anyway, again, I find if where I have chosen for myself, with sincerity and gentleness, to watch a craving for an extended period like 24-hours (such as in following Gotama's recommendation to eat once a day and/or before noon), that the feeling "craving" is well isolated (just as pīti is isolated and well-known in first jhana): tanha -- the stress in the head, the obscuration of actuality, the alienation from what it as it is. Craving is detected as anything from it's simple unpleasant pull (such as aversively craving to get out of a simple conversation) or the "locking on" and massive din of addiction.

I definitely see why buddhist meditation is called "science of mind" and why Gotama addressed a number of religious questions of his time as "unanswerables".

And I am also amazed how I can write 4 lines in a post and get 3 expansive and elegant posts back, lol. Thats pretty good dividends.
That is kindly put... emoticon

RE: Practice log
Answer
7/15/12 6:52 PM as a reply to Oliver Myth.
Hi Oliver,

I hope you're well.

I just wanted to add that sometimes harvesting the alertness and vibrancy of the body as it becomes aroused can also be a straining and a stressful source (sex is often laden with tons of craving, as with food), but I wanted to speak to it because, as the excerpt above goes, I see evidence for using arousal alertness and sensation as a source for piti when one is cultivating first jhana and does not want to continue with sexually-oriented arousal. And because the seated meditation posture, in conjunction with the mind's own periodic tendency for certain mental objects (such as attractive, sensual form), can conduct sensation to the groin. So, knowing to "harvest" the brightness and whole body alertness that comes with arousal can be very useful, especially when arousal occurs during meditation and one wants to support first jhana instead.

There are many other personal sources for "harvesting" piti for initiating first jhana. I worked in a cubicle for a few years, nowhere near natural light. When my eyes would meet natural sunlight at the end of the day I would feel the whole body come alive with vibrant sensation - like cells leaping up for the naturalness of the sky and the light and the breeze. Knowing this sensation got me to the ramparts of first jhana, and gave me an understanding of the piti to become suffusive. Same as when it rains and things haven been dry: there is a visceral pleasure in the rain and knowing plants are being restored; that sensation is another source of piti. So, I think there are many sources of piti.

RE: Practice log
Answer
8/7/12 3:54 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.

There are many other personal sources for "harvesting" piti for initiating first jhana. I worked in a cubicle for a few years, nowhere near natural light. When my eyes would meet natural sunlight at the end of the day I would feel the whole body come alive with vibrant sensation - like cells leaping up for the naturalness of the sky and the light and the breeze. Knowing this sensation got me to the ramparts of first jhana, and gave me an understanding of the piti to become suffusive. Same as when it rains and things haven been dry: there is a visceral pleasure in the rain and knowing plants are being restored; that sensation is another source of piti. So, I think there are many sources of piti.


Beautiful, and thanks. Kechari works wonders for piti. Maybe it even isolated exactly what piti was for me (altho the particular pleasure may have another sanskrit word I don't know). I have my thoughts on the sex thing. Being able to laugh seems like a wonderful cure for desire while in the act and keeps it light hearted and enjoyable.

I hopefully got a retreat set at Cloud Mountain Retreat Center from the 10th to 23rd on Jhana. Just waiting to hear back. Very good timing in my life and concentration is a bit of a weakness sometimes.

Wishing the best to all here.
Oliver