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RE: Recovering Bliss-Bunny looking for advice getting through Dark Nig

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Hi Colette,

Welcome to DhO,

I really would appreciate feedback from anyone who understands how to get past this, hopefully from someone with understanding of the accidental bliss-bunny trap - I am getting beaten up enough - from my Guru and Sangha projecting thier anger ideas for venturing outside to get some clarity and myself for being in such denial

I want to mention this point first, even though it’s the last part of your post; it would be worthwhile if you could find a way to completely get away from that entire group of people. I have no wish to judge the others involved, but for your own wellbeing, based on what you’ve said about their apparent projections, it may be advantageous to permanently part company with them in all aspects of your life.

I’d also suggest taking a look at your own “projections” in this situation; how much of the suffering occurring, mentally or emotionally, is down to your propagating these internal stories about the situation, and the people involved? In a situation like this, there’s likely to be resentment, bitterness, anger, but also hurt and sadness, this is something you once held as being “special” in your life. Have you also considered whether or not profession help, for example a counsellor or therapist of some sort, would be more effective in the long-term?

As far as being angry at yourself, it makes no sense whatsoever since all you’re doing is kicking your own arse around in circles; it’s happened, it’s gone. Learn from it, drop it, forgive yourself, go easy on yourself and see how you don’t need the validation of some imagined superior to simply be happy right here and now.

Appears I passed the A&P event the first time about eight years ago, and it happened again two more times, but I grasped to the state and moved to be with the teacher that I associated with knowing the way to stabilize in bliss - whoops.

I know Daniel mentions something about that in MCTB, it’s fair to say that it’s not uncommon and it’s no reason to beat yourself up. The important thing is that you’ve now recognized that those blissful states don’t lead to enlightenment, sure they’re useful and can be awesome but they won’t lead to insight without seeing the true nature of the sensations which make them up!

One good thing to come from your previous practice should be strong concentration, the ability to stay with the entire arising and passing of any sensation, seeing their impermanence and the inherent push/pull stress of attraction and revulsion; the simple fact that, no matter how hard or how long you look, there’s nothing but the experience; no “you”, no “that”, just this as it is it.

Having been knocked out of my bliss-absorption on retreat earlier this month, I seem to more directly be in and out of Dark Night and early (as in very early) equanimity (new to me), and having stumbled to this level, I lack meditation practice & stability and am thus swimming in confusion and all manner of states flickering and vanishing...I find I can't remember anything, not even what I was about to do or make a plan of any sort...I don't intend to forget, but just about as soon as I resolve to do something the idea is gone...and I forget why I am where I am physically and have no sense of anything...from local, self-reflection identity, thoughts, presence, nada...
In this moment I feel balanced, yesterday I though my head was going to explode. At least I am fairly nice about it now...

I can sit for hours unfocused and can also watch what arises and relinquish for hours too - but that leads to a lot of proliferation and seems unproductive. I can distinguish bodily & mental sensation but my focus jumps so fast and I seem to have zero control. My joke lately is if I don't like my state, I just need to weight 10 seconds. Now maybe it's more like 5 minutes - but you get the idea. The tension in my head and misery & sorrow is way less than it was, I don't associate with the body much (that broke about a months ago), I am very 'blank' internally as to where and who I am - though I am less destructive about it(don't know days of the week etc - background: I don't have a job), I'm trying not to fuck up my life any more than I already have. The main hindrances as I see them that I keep encountering are a fear that literally shakes me (like hitting something at a fast speed, but at least now I don't proliferate about it other than to say "shit") and being really really lost as to what to focus on or the way out.

It definitely sounds like you’re going through Dark Night, hitting Re-Observation and possibly early-Equanimity, which can still be pretty rough if you’re coming at it in the wrong way. The flash of fear is something I’d associate with the entry to Re-Observation, it’s like a mini-Dark Night but the best way to deal with is to let it happen. If you fight it, it’ll fuck you up; let it happen, it’s a wave that passes before you even know it.

Try to perceive the Three Characteristic as clearly as possible, all of the time, in any phenomena which is occurring at any time; is there a “you” there? Does it last any more than an instant? Does a thought leave any trace after it passes? Can you cling to a constant process of flickering, transient phenomena? What happens if you try to do so?

Look at your direct experience of reality as it happens in this very moment, the only moment you’re ever truly alive and here.

My questions are how can I move through this as quickly as possible (back off practice? - or step on the gas)

Stop fighting it, stop trying, stop doing anything other than sitting there and observing your ongoing experience. Be attentive, be present and aware of what’s happening but don’t try to force attention to be any other way than it already is right now. Trying to push it back towards the center will just cause it to bounce back and you’ll get frustrated; see the endings of sensations clearly, look at where they go when they vanish.

and what can I use as a mediation object when the center of my focus is so undefined/blurry and jumpy

This is perfectly natural for the stage you’re currently passing through, you don’t need to “do” anything or use anything else as an object other than your bare sensate experience. Look at the sensation which make up “focus”, “attention”, whatever presents itself is looking to be examined.

should I keep trying to focus, is this a time of discipline? - or relax and just let it process with awareness?

Have you tried just working with breath counting?

Sit more or less - I'll do ANYTHING.

Sit more, but try to consistently and accurately observe the true nature of any sensation that appears, however it appears; whether it’s out-of-focus or right there in front of you, investigate the sensations which imply “distance” and “space”. Stay attentive, let the focus take care of itself.

Should I focus on work and sit when I can or focus on sitting and work as little as necessary, or go into an intensive retreat (which I can do either at my house or go to a center) - I am fortunate enough to have options, because I already lost everything financially and have friends support to get out of this if I get a clear idea how best to proceed.

If you feel up to it psychologically, i.e. having come out of an emotionally demanding relationship with a “Guru” and the fallout from such an experience, then a retreat would probably be your best bet.
Just know for certain that this, like all things, will pass of it’s own accord; “you” aren’t involved, all “you” can do is to be here and live skilfully, without harm to yourself or others, and the universe will take care of itself.

Sounds like you’ve had a pretty rough time of it, but if you’re willing to commit to seeing things as clearly as possible then you’ll move on and have learned more from the experience that you’re even aware of yet. Be attentive to what’s happening right here and now, what’s occurring at the six sense doors and how effortlessly perfect it is; don’t get caught up in the mental chatter and narratives, focus on what’s actually happening here, in the world through the senses.

Hope that’s of some use to you, I have no idea how it must feel to be in a situation like that but I know that it’s possible to deal with difficult circumstances while still pursuing the end of suffering.

RE: Recovering Bliss-Bunny looking for advice getting through Dark Nig
Answer
6/23/12 9:36 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Thanks for your thoughtful feedback. Very helpful and appreciated...I can do that.

I'll see if others agree about going in for an intensive right now and then see how things are looking from there.

In terms of your comment about getting away from my Guru relationship, I would like to add however, for anyone who ever reads this going through the same experience with a Guru, I encourage you to stay with your sangha and not leave the Guru if there is real love. It's hard, but they don't have to accept your choice. If your Guru won't kick you out, as mine won't because I am not absuive and I am earnest in my love and interest, there is much to be gained by not walking away if you can stand on your own (I mean if your Guru really is love, really is enlightened, and really has benefited you).

No, she couldn't help me in a very important way, but she has helped in others. Yes, her path is confusing, at least to me. But she is not that - just as I am not this. My plan is to return and return and grind down my own desire to be accepted and have it 'be nice'. If I get trapped again or feel myself turning, then I'll leave, but not because their letting off a bit of their own deal in my direction. My request to not take more heat from people online was simply because I know people scoff at Guru's, and I really don't need that right now. It's not helpful.

My Sangha can't help thier reaction any more than can a person who reacts with anger at getting cut off in traffic...that I couldn't conform, that it did resolve my confusion, and that I made a commitment that I couldn't keep because I made it out of ignorance which has caused the upset is my deal. I truly did beat myself up at one point, but that's coming to an end now.

As hard as it's been, being present in each conversation and relationship and allowing it to be what it has been is one of the most intense training I've taken on so far. Everyone's ideas about it were quite strong, and sticking to my experience and honesty and kindness though uncomfortable is waring me down in a good way. I am resolving the fight within with them. So from someone with experience (with a loving Guru and sangha) - I'd say only leave your group if they are abusive (which is not the same as angry) or if you are too senstive to handle some heat - because the benefit (at least for me and maybe for them) has been enormous.

They are an honest earnest bunch of people, and I respect their willingness to show up...but of course, everyone has to make there own assessment. It's just really really easy to lay blame and try and get aways from 'those people'. Beware.emoticon

Eventually, I may leave. But one doe not take on leaving ones family lightly.

RE: Recovering Bliss-Bunny looking for advice getting through Dark Nig
Answer
6/24/12 9:17 AM as a reply to Colette Evans.
I agree with Tommy. You've just woken up from an addiction, a particularly pernicious one because you will need the quality you're addicted to to dig yourself out of the reesulting hole. Avoiding the community which fostered and supportedthe addiction is a really good idea.

BTW, I think Guru yoga is a valid path, but all paths have have to emphasize some apect of practice and give short shrift to other aspects as a result, providing certain personality types with an opportunity to hide in familiar but currently unproductive territory. For instance, MCTB-type meditation emphasizes mastery and attainment, which draws people who build identities around control and achievement, and sometimes they get stuck in those identities and the methods they've developed to manipulate mental states. Guru yoga emphasises devotion and metta, which inherently has the risks you've seen in your own life. Neither approach is better or worse for these risks, they're just something we all have to watch for. I think a healthy way to practice is to emphasise whatever you can currently work with but have a weak connection to. It sounds like you have moved in that direction and although the resulting experiences sound painful and confusig, they also, for that very reason, sound like terrific progress achieved by dint of impressive courage.

RE: Recovering Bliss-Bunny looking for advice getting through Dark Nig
Answer
6/24/12 1:08 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
Oh, and you may find these two articles helpful. Sorry for the long quotes here, but I think the relevant bits are a bit buried in the essays:

Many students feel that they are violating the relationship if they leave their teacher. What are your thoughts on this?

Pawo Tsulak Trengwa was clear on this issue, too. A point may come when you feel you can learn no more from a teacher. You might not have learned everything he or she has to teach but the relationship has broken down in some way. You don’t have to have your guru’s permission to leave. You thank him or her and make offerings and say goodbye. Atisha did this with one of his teachers. He got to a certain point and said, “Thank you for everything. Now, I’m off.” His teacher wasn’t pleased, but Atisha didn’t violate the relationship.

But it is important not to denigrate your teacher after you leave. Remember, he or she is an aspect of your own mind and your awakening and if you denigrate this you are shutting the door to your own enlightenment. Why would you do this? Even a bad teacher may have moved something in you. Maybe he or she abuses money, power, sex, the usual stuff, but because this person opened something in you, respect that and cherish what was opened for you.


Initially, a system develops for a specific purpose. But as a system evolves, it increasingly tends to organize around beliefs, perspectives, activities and taboos that serve the continuation of the system. Awareness of the original purpose fades and the system starts to function automatically. It calcifies. The beliefs, perspectives, activities and taboos shift in subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) ways, to ensure continuation. And those beliefs, perspectives, activities and taboos are trained into the people that comprise the system.

For example, the purpose of a family is to provide a nurturing environment that protects the children from the vicissitudes of the world while they are developing the physical, emotional and intellectually abilities to function on their own. Love, compassion, joy and equanimity are vital: love so that the child opens to the world; compassion so that the child learns not to fear suffering; joy so that the child feels confident in his or her own abilities; and equanimity so that the child can be free to go when he or she has matured.

All too often one or more of these aspects is distorted by the family system. Instead of love, the child experiences a demand for affection; instead of compassion, a fear of suffering; instead of joy, derision of his or her abilities; instead of equanimity, judgement.

And whenever the child says, “Hold on, there’s something wrong here,” the power of the family system comes into play:

“What? You don’t love your mother! Shame on you.”

“You can’t do that, you might get hurt.”

“You think you’re hot stuff, huh? Let me show you a thing or two.”

“”You must be evil to even think that.”



Similar conditioning mechanisms operate in most systems. The system uses shame and the withdrawal of attention to instill a fear of survival. Simultaneously, the system presents the view that power resides in the system, not the individual. The combination creates a dependence on the system for survival. Gradually, the system is internalized and the person identifies with it — he sees himself the way the system sees him. His sense of who he is is defined by the system. (We see this tendency very clearly in the professions — “I’m a doctor, so I do x, y and z” or “I’m an attorney, so I do x, y and z.”)

One of the primary characteristics of learned helplessness is that the person feels passive with respect to the system. The passivity, however, is only half the story...

RE: Recovering Bliss-Bunny looking for advice getting through Dark Nig
Answer
6/24/12 3:16 PM as a reply to Colette Evans.
You're welcome, but in all honesty it doesn't sound as though you're actually interested in exploring anything outside of your comfort zone. The reason I suggested distancing yourself from this group of people is because you implied that there was "anger" being directed at you by them, but your response sounds like you're trying to justify their behaviour and make apologies for them rather than actively seeking liberation through your own practice.

My request to not take more heat from people online was simply because I know people scoff at Guru's, and I really don't need that right now. It's not helpful.

At no point did I "scoff at" or criticize your "Guru", what you do is up to you; you came here asking for advice, I responded with relevant information and made it clear that I had no interest in judging the individuals involved.

My Sangha can't help thier reaction any more than can a person who reacts with anger at getting cut off in traffic

This is nonsense! Why? My own experience, and that of plenty of others, suggests that such reactions can indeed be helped, and their emotional tone eradicated entirely through clear seeing of those sensations.

I'll leave my response at that, I don't think I have anything worthwhile to suggest and I don't want to be construed as just criticizing you or your group of friends. Hopefully you'll get yourself sorted out and realize that no one's going to do this stuff for you.

RE: Recovering Bliss-Bunny looking for advice getting through Dark Nig
Answer
6/24/12 3:37 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
I really like that part about the system and the way it usurps power - and yes, those in the system begin to become dependant on it...I honestly appreciate the quotes and the perspective. I had the thought after I wrote the last response of how someone will defend the bad relationship etc that they have been in telling others "you don't understand the benefit I've received too..."

I get that. And I have lived the fear of having a different perspective "outside the system", so I get that too. I guess I have more belief in my teachers enlightenment because I've lived with it -

My tendency is to cut and run - so not so long ago I would have used all this advice to get out. I have been disrespectful of the love and support of other people, taking what I can get and then when it doesn't work for me, I'm out of there. So maybe I'm nuts to try and become relational for the first time in my life with a bunch of Guru-hopped-up-bliss-bunnies, but I've seen our sangha change before. Maybe that change will be me leaving, maybe it'll be us all moving through this.

I'm going to post a new thread to see if can get this subject back on track. But I really really do appreciate the comments and have taken stock of the advice so far and I realize I gave too much background info for responses to stay on point with my questions.

So thank you, thank you! -

RE: Recovering Bliss-Bunny looking for advice getting through Dark Nig
Answer
6/24/12 3:42 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
That's funny. Talk about taking it personally.

RE: Recovering Bliss-Bunny looking for advice getting through Dark Nig
Answer
6/24/12 4:26 PM as a reply to Colette Evans.
That's funny. Talk about taking it personally.

Are you referring to me? If so, I think you've gotten the wrong end of the stick; there's certainly nothing personal happening at this side of the monitor!

I re-read the response I left you, I can see how you might have construed it as being somewhat abrupt. Let me clarify, while I have no interest in the ins and outs of your relationship with your "Guru", the fact that you have come to this site and posted an extensive report of how you're suffering at present gives me reason to be interested in your wellbeing and offer whatever advice I can relevant to the specific questions asked. Perhaps my way of speaking/writing is more direct than you're used to, but that's not likely to change any time soon, which is actually part of the reason I said I wouldn't contribute any further to your thread. As far as taking things personally, I can only assure you that this certainly isn't the case.

I notice you've removed your initial post, would you like me to remove the entire thread?

RE: Recovering Bliss-Bunny looking for advice getting through Dark Nig
Answer
6/24/12 6:45 PM as a reply to Colette Evans.
You're welcome. I hope you're not removing your post because you construed the second paragraph of the first quote as an implicit criticism. I think your initial post was entirely appropriate.

In any case, I still agree with Tommy. It has nothing to do with the intentions of the group, your association with them is likely to hinder your progress just like hanging out in a bar is likelf to hinder an alcoholic's, and for the same reasons. That you would benefit from cutting the association has nothing to do with whether you or they are good or bad people, it's just the way all of your karma is likely to interact.

RE: Recovering Bliss-Bunny looking for advice getting through Dark Nig
Answer
6/25/12 2:42 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:
You're welcome, but in all honesty it doesn't sound as though you're actually interested in exploring anything outside of your comfort zone. The reason I suggested distancing yourself from this group of people is because you implied that there was "anger" being directed at you by them, but your response sounds like you're trying to justify their behaviour and make apologies for them rather than

actively seeking liberation through your own practice.

My request to not take more heat from people online was simply because I know people scoff at Guru's, and I really don't need that right now. It's not helpful.

At no point did I "scoff at" or criticize your "Guru", what you do is up to you; you came here asking for advice, I responded with relevant information and made it clear that I had no interest in judging the individuals involved.

My Sangha can't help thier reaction any more than can a person who reacts with anger at getting cut off in traffic

This is nonsense! Why? My own experience, and that of plenty of others, suggests that such reactions can indeed be helped, and their emotional tone eradicated entirely through clear seeing of those sensations.

I'll leave my response at that, I don't think I have anything worthwhile to suggest and I don't want to be construed as just criticizing you or your group of friends. Hopefully you'll get yourself sorted out and realize that no one's going to do this stuff for you.


Hi Colette -

Welcome to the DhO. Many contributors here have practiced in several areas (tibetan, theravadan, zen, pure land, forms of yoga, forms of tai chi, theistic mysticism, etc). So, there's often an understanding here that any skillful, wholesome practice practiced sincerely and effortfully allows a person to become independent, skillful, aptly benevolent and without dependence on a teacher. The teaching becomes the instruction, then the personal experience of a good teaching becomes the guide. One ends up being their own teacher (this arises with utmost candor and right effort within themselves to keep testing and training in the teaching).

Some teaching fits better than others at different times. You may be well aware of this.

If you're not being exploited, then a useful reason not to leave a community can sometimes be to allow time to get your wits about you. Perhaps a person understands that although the community is imperfect one's own interior tumult and restlessness would not be able to move skillfully outside of the community either. Thus, if there are good teachings to have and to train in, one refuges their own behaviour in the direct teaching, not the teacher. One just monitors closely themselves and makes gentle but firm effort to change their mind according to the teaching they find to be good.

I can understand guru, Ishvarapranadana, etc. There is a lot of useful symbolism and effort therein. This works for some people. Other people take other courses. Other people take several courses.

If you think something rotten is happening in your community, then try to go to some place of clear ethical standing as the first stop upon exit from the community: truly, monastic centers can be very helpful in this regard, too. If you are a women, it can be helpful to go to a nun-facility, simply because the monk-facility is distinctly not set up to host females. Apply ethical discipline constantly, also. Ethical discipline is a tremendous ally in hard times.

In excerpting Tommy's comments and agreeing with his points here, it may seem to you like you've entered a familiar group of alliances, a DhO "club". If that could be your thinking, I would assure that I am not here to back up Tommy. I am captioning what I take to be someone's sound consideration for and originations of your stress.

It has been said before that this group functions something like the debates that occurred in Gotama's time, in the forests outside of Sarnath. In the absence of a buddha and in the presence of sincere practitioners, I think this site serves a skillful purpose to its coming and going sincere practitioners.

So, however you do it, if you find the true end to your stress/dukkha, that which occurs in your head and heart, then it helps everyone and becomes a great asset to any community.