Report: Dark Kamma Results (a.k.a. Trials) / Heart Release

thumbnail
Florian, modified 9 Years ago at 10/10/12 3:51 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/10/12 3:51 PM

Report: Dark Kamma Results (a.k.a. Trials) / Heart Release

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
The next instalment of the Soap Opera is here! (For context read: Integration and then Revelation. Also, my wife is well, she did all the treatments, all that remains are routine check-ups at closer intervals than previously.

What I'm about to report is not really about meditation practice, but rather, how the configuration change in perception described in the "Integration" post interacts with challenging life situations, such as health problems of a loved one, family issues, and personal psychological baggage.

After all, it's received wisdom here on the DhO that awakening is not a cure for sickness, will not make horrible nasty people act reasonably and agreeably, and will not sanitize your personality.

So: health problems. My wife was diagnosed with a serious illness in January, and up until a few weeks ago, we were almost fully engaged with coordinating the various treatments modern medicine fortunately has in store for this. Then there was housework to do and a child to be there for, during her emotional upheavals as well, and pets to take care of, and a job to hold down. I'm happy to report that we had help from many good friends, and so we got here with relatively few difficulties.

What, if any, were the effects of my spiritual practice and development in these circumstance? I can't really tell, because I can't compare it with anything. There was a similar situation earlier in my life, but I was an adolescent then, and it was a parent who had health problems. Also, I had a spiritual practice back then. So it's not easy to draw parallels. Something I noticed was the complete absence of worrying about the future (but see below), but I can't really tell if this is a psychological thing where there is simply so much to do all the time that being afraid of what may happen yet is a luxury, or gets buried under everything else. Jhana was a good refresher, and I was glad I had this skill. Centerlessness? It didn't matter one bit. I hardly thought of it during this time, except when discussing it here on DhO or on other forums or in mail.

Family problems: a part of my extended family was behaving in such overtly bizarre and inappropriate ways towards my wife, my daughter, and myself, that we eventually decided to cut off all contact for good. It turns out that this relationship with them has always been deeply rotten and we'd been fooling ourselves for decades regarding their motivations. This was very painful for all of us. Seeing through the mental tail-chasing I'd previously mistaken as "my self" was not directly useful in this instance, but it provided a good model for what was going wrong. There are personalities out there who identify with even more than just their bodies and thoughts: they incorporate other peoples bodies and minds as well, and that grasping causes a lot of suffering all around. With this understanding, and a more mainstream psychological vocabulary, we were able to express our situation and see it more clearly. A kind of large-scale labeling practice done with a partner, if you will. So again, centerlessnes was no silver bullet at all. But I was able to learn from my previous experience with spiritual practice.

Personal psychological issues: So after the end of all the medical treatments, when normality mostly returned and more time became available, I had a depression lasting for some days. Luckily, I was warned that this would probably happen (many people experience this when the strain suddenly stops), and there was a therapist available, both of which helped. It absolutely sucked while it lasted. Centerlessness: this is interesting, at least in retrospect. The emotional pain started to generate that loop, that tail-chaser, just as mental processes used to do. The fear hurts, then the pain causes fear... and so on. The weird thing was that the cessation of the mental tail-chasers revealed the centerlessness (and continued to reveal it), and the arising of the emotional tail-chasers was very much like a reverse of the mental side, only it didn't form a new center. It certainly seemed like it could become a new center, it was very intense and insistent, but something was missing. This is not to say that the depression was not affecting me, or that centerlessness is some kind of cop-out or hiding-place. It isn't. There's nowhere to hide. Depression, even self-luminous depression, sucks, just like any continuous pain sucks.

More personal psychological issues: Just as there was nowhere to hide from the pain of the depression, there was nowhere to hide from certain nasty horrible personality traits of mine. I saw a large number of really unpleasant behaviors deeply ingrained in me, ranging from bad habits to really deeply rooted things like how I react to criticism, and why. None of these are noticeably affected by centerlessness, they are very autonomous, and they have a lot of momentum. They've been with me most if not all of my life, after all. Some of them tend to fade away nowadays, others keep going stronly and have to be uprooted (yes, that imagery from the Pali Canon is really apt). Discussing this with someone a few weeks ago, I was talking about these tendencies mechanically coming on at the touch of a hair trigger, and she thought about it for a while, and told me, "I don't know if this is the same, but I get these experiences I call 'Trials' now and then, you know, when I think I finally got over something, and a situation crops up and I get all tense because it might happen again, or even because it really is happening again? I tell myself then that it's a test, a trial." For some reason, I really resonated with this way of putting it.

All of this is not taking place in the intellect as much as in the heart. In March, I experienced a big "heart release", some grip on my emotional life has been released and there is a sense of free fall or free flow now which is very similar to the "mental equivalent of falling backward" associated with centerlessness. And this is why I'm posting this in the "Maps" section: the entire spiritual progress mapped out on the insight maps doesn't really cover this. So where does it fit? Some days, I think this is just plain good Morality/Sila practice. Some days, I really appreciate the emphasis on compassion found in traditions such as Mahayana or Christianity. Some days, it feels like this is almost like another insight path, only "further down".

I'd be interested in learning your opinions and views on these matters.

Cheers,
Florian
thumbnail
Nikolai , modified 9 Years ago at 10/10/12 4:10 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/10/12 4:10 PM

RE: Report: Dark Kamma Results (a.k.a. Trials) / Heart Release

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Florian Weps:

After all, it's received wisdom here on the DhO that awakening is not a cure for sickness, will not make horrible nasty people act reasonably and agreeably, and will not sanitize your personality.

Some days, it feels like this is almost like another insight path, only "further down".

I'd be interested in learning your opinions and views on these matters.


Good to hear your wife is doing ok. I think practice, progress and 'further down' baseline shifts at least well past the tipping point (MCTB 4th) has led to great changes in personality, which i would say 'sanitizing' is a good term for those changes. I have noticed a great improvement in dealing with situations I have previously had trigger all sorts of mental madness.
thumbnail
Florian, modified 9 Years ago at 10/11/12 2:52 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/11/12 2:52 AM

RE: Report: Dark Kamma Results (a.k.a. Trials) / Heart Release

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Nikolai

yeah, those changes are there, and in the sense that they are no longer motivated by the urge to protect a centerpoint, they occur in such a way that it is enticing to say, "MCTB 4th did it". But it didn't: all the qualities and abilities which were already there prior to that tipping point did, with the help of conditions arising after the tipping point. And yet, as you say, "sanitizing" is a very nice term for these changes.

So, the "further down" shifts sound familiar to you?

Cheers,
Florian
thumbnail
Nikolai , modified 9 Years ago at 10/11/12 6:14 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/11/12 3:14 AM

RE: Report: Dark Kamma Results (a.k.a. Trials) / Heart Release

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Florian Weps:
Hi Nikolai

yeah, those changes are there, and in the sense that they are no longer motivated by the urge to protect a centerpoint, they occur in such a way that it is enticing to say, "MCTB 4th did it". But it didn't: all the qualities and abilities which were already there prior to that tipping point did, with the help of conditions arising after the tipping point. And yet, as you say, "sanitizing" is a very nice term for these changes.

So, the "further down" shifts sound familiar to you?

Cheers,
Florian


I think I've had 2 or 3 (can't remember at the moment) considerable baseline shifts since the tipping point in July 2010 and a number of more refining-like shifts that are a little subtler to talk about but still did some sort of 'damage'. The big shifts left quite a bit changed. In fact, I may have had a further refining-like shift after a clean out of the blue fruition yesterday, but it may be too early to tell. I expect further shifts to occur. The last one occured while doing a noting practice in the spirit of the khemaka sutta. All of today, I've noticed a difference in what the mind is pulled towards and not. We'll see where it goes once again. The changes have all led to massive reductions in mental stress.
Ona Kiser, modified 9 Years ago at 10/11/12 6:11 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/11/12 6:11 AM

RE: Report: Dark Kamma Results (a.k.a. Trials) / Heart Release

Posts: 66 Join Date: 1/18/10 Recent Posts
Florian Weps:
Hi Nikolai

yeah, those changes are there, and in the sense that they are no longer motivated by the urge to protect a centerpoint, they occur in such a way that it is enticing to say, "MCTB 4th did it". But it didn't: all the qualities and abilities which were already there prior to that tipping point did, with the help of conditions arising after the tipping point. And yet, as you say, "sanitizing" is a very nice term for these changes.

So, the "further down" shifts sound familiar to you?

Cheers,
Florian


Florian, I'm so glad to hear your wife is better and the other dramas seem to be settling out. I sometimes think the "journey to awakening" is like a river - there is so much in common in people's journeys, as if we are all swept along by a rushing river. And then after that it's more like the water that spills out from the mouth of the river into the ocean and everyone drifts in their own directions, perhaps depending on their own "karma" or "destiny" or just their personality? who knows? In my own case this year has brought about a sense of connection to infinite love that just keeps deepening. The first really hard shift into it came after a very painful period of dark-night-like stuff in February. It doesn't seem to go away, that sense of infinite love that is nothing to do with me, but just pervasive, as if it's the very stuff of the universe. Where things go in the future I don't know and no longer really care - it seems to take care of itself. For me the Christian mystics so well expressed these things that my practice has gone entirely Christian. The emphasis on surrender practice and on love of God and love for others suits my current experience. If one day things change and that no longer fits, I'll take that as it comes. (Hey, I could become a lapsed Catholic like everyone else! emoticon ) All the best to you and thanks for the update.

Breadcrumb