What have I attained?

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Dannon p Flynn, modified 8 Years ago.

What have I attained?

Posts: 40 Join Date: 1/6/13 Recent Posts
Long story, forgive me.

For many many years I have been a seeker, but not necessarily a buddhist one. Since a child, I wondered about all the usual questions, but the localization of consciousness was the biggest puzzle.
I have a history of using magic mushrooms in a spiritual context. Usually alone, and investigating the nature of mind and experience. I also dabbled in DMT and LSD. Some groups judge me for this, but hear me out. All this getting high and coming back down requires a good view in order to transition smoothly. Over the years, this practice has given me a non-dualist view.
I also have a history of being very into lucid dreaming. I have attained skill in it. I had a non-dual map based off of lucid dreaming analogy. Basically the goal of my map was to be lucid in all states of mind. I should say that I have not consumed any psychedelics in years, don't desire it or feel the need for it.


Here is the story:

I got fed up with my lack of attainment. I became fed up with online folks who made claims that obviously were just ego trying to impress folks online. I got very very fed up with all the Neo-Advaita folks and their conceptual language tricks. This led me to adopting a working hypothesis that enlightenment is a bunch of bullshit and that this consciousness right here right now is where enlightenment is. I relaxed and proclaimed myself enlightened. Lol. Then I went and sat on my porch. I turned my attention to awareness, and the frustration of the enlightenment problem. But I was relaxed this time, and I saw through the emptiness of the frustration, and the relaxation. What happened is hard to put into words.

I saw that everything is the way it is. There is no me. There never was. Everything appears to exist because of awareness of it. I saw that awareness is nothing. I saw that there are no boundaries. There are no objects. The relief at realizing there was no me made me laugh uncontrollably at all my imaginary problems. I saw that there is no special state, but that awareness itself is a miracle in all states. I felt deep love and joy and that my heart was lighter than air, the bliss of non-existence. I felt like I had no head, that my eyes were bright like stars. There was no inner world or mental/emotional psyche. I was so utterly shallow, so utterly non-existent, so completely non-existent that it was so complete. There was nothing for a thought or a feeling to stick to. The whole world looked as if in bliss and ecstasy, except humans which brought up so much compassion. I could focus my attention on anything within my field of experience with dispassion, impersonality, and wisdom. There was a "knowing" as if I knew everything about the dharma in first-hand experience and could communicate it to anybody in a way they could understand. I felt like "I know" but it wasn't intellectual knowledge. "I know" the mystery firsthand, and know that it is unsolvable. There was nothing left for me to know, it was complete. Everything was light, everything was bliss, everything was knowledge. Awareness appeared bright, shiny, shimmering, but empty of any existence. It had "suchness". I realized that I can never ever lose this, I could only believe mistakenly that I have lost it. Actually, it abides, "I" comes and goes.

This lasted for a few days. Then I lost it. But then I came in contact with somebody claiming to teach Dzogchen. He helped me and I have been able to recover this at will..... but now there are doubts, especially after reading MBCT. I asked this teacher about my doubts that perhaps what I am experiencing is a jnana. He said that if it is present in all states then it is the truth.

Studying the map of Dzogchen leads me to believe that I should abide in "rigpa" as much as possible. But the maps presented in MCTB confuse me. The conflict between dualist teachings of purification and the non-dual teachings of Dzogchen lead me confused as how to progress, or if even I should progress with this "state" or whatever it is.

I have not had much spiritual training, I have always relied on my heart and my own ruthless honesty with myself. I have come to know that being completely honest is the best. I am very familiar with different states of mind via psychedelic mushrooms, and lucid dreaming. I have never confused any state of mind with enlightenment before. There is something different now though. I have no questions as to who I am, I am not seeking, seeking was seen to be a dream or delusion and that it was the ego or 'self' which was seeking enlightenment.

I became a member of some groups on facebook that is a support for folks who have "awakened" or "seen through the self". The group is made of individuals who mostly don't have much of a background of meditation. Some come from the neo-advaita school. There is an unspoken taboo in that group on "looking further". It seems that once they seen through the self that all is done, and the thought that one is not complete is just a thought or a belief that is empty and that all is already done. However, I don't feel like a Buddha. So I cannot seek advice from them, because most of them seem to be unwilling to take my questions seriously, accusing me of being delusional in thinking that perhaps there is more to do. I suspect that they are fooling themselves by adopting a conceptual "absolute" frame of reference which appears to be non-dual but actually is merely the subjective subsuming the objective. Everything, including morality, compassion, etc. is considered "merely thoughts". While this view is partially true in direct experience, the view is empty. As Nagarjuna says "The Buddhas have always taught that emptiness is the end of all views. Those who have emptiness as their view are said to be incurable."

Since my "awakening" I have continued to investigate this "state" and have been studying Buddhism, mostly Tibetan Mahayana and Dzogchen.

Much of my confusion comes from trying to figure out where I am on the insight maps and comparing that to where I appear to be according to Dzogchen maps. I think I could very safely say that I am at least a stream-enterer.

Personally, I am sure that non-duality is what this whole thing is about, and all dualistic views are less than ideal. Emptiness and non-duality. You might see that my experience is not scripted. I have come to Buddhism after discovering the dharma first hand. Trying to make sense of all of these maps is difficult.

I am willing to answer any questions if I am not clear enough. When I see such people as Adyashanti, or whoever, speak of their enlightenment, I can immediately relate and recognize what they are talking about. Sometimes I feel like I am enlightened and there is nothing left to do, at other times I feel like an ordinary dude and there is further to go. This is a paradox. I am used to paradox though.
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Dannon p Flynn, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 40 Join Date: 1/6/13 Recent Posts
I would like to speak a little about the map I was using, still use, for sake of understanding. The map is that this is all like a dream, and awareness is what wakes up when achieving lucidity. My map is based on perception. Any perception can be imagined to be like a bull's eye target. If your arrow is straight, and you have good aim, perception is pure and non-dual, and you see things for how they really are. You see "through" things. There is no subject/object in the center of perception. But the circles of perception that lay around the pure laser arrow bull's eye is tainted with time, conceptual mind, labels, etc. The arrow that one shoots at the target represents awareness in this analogy. But actually, it is more like attention. There is no arrow of awareness. This, being a dream, is self-aware. If a sense of self shows up, I can turn attention to it and it evaporates. My sight actually has a center of pure stillness, effortless, naked seeing, just the seen. What is that pure, still, naked, direct, non-dual, singularity? Of course, there is no singularity, rather it is everywhere and nowhere. How does that relate to the path system and stream enterers and arhats, etc.?
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. Jake ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 698 Join Date: 5/22/10 Recent Posts
Dannon p Flynn:
How does that relate to the path system and stream enterers and arhats, etc.?


Hi Dannon emoticon To keep things relatively simple I'm gonna just roll everything you wrote in the prior two posts into the 'that' of the quoted sentence and answer "I'm not sure".

What I do know is that there seems to be a dialectic in awakening between the kind of timeless perspective of 'already done' or the buddha nature insight on the one hand, and the progressive transformation of the flow of experience into a more and more empty impermanent mode where there is less and less belief in solid separate self.

Some people seem to teach that the already-awakened insight is IT-- and that every interest in progressive transformation is merely ego trying to get enlightened, or spiritual materialism. It sounds like you've seen through the way in which this paradigm can itself, ironically, be a big hide-out for ego games.

Some who favor developmental practice would relegate your experience to perhaps one stage of progress, such as the a&p.

Others might value the timeless perspective but deny that it can 'drive' development (such as Ken Folk, at least during the brief period of time I interacted with him).

But my experience is a bit different. It seems to me that doing what you are doing, returning to rest in a timeless view of primal purity, will in fact drive a developmental transformation of personality and the energetic system which underlies it. Basically there seems to be a dialectic between relaxing in the natural state, and the progressive adjustment of the body-mind system to operate in a way such that empty impermanence, spontaneity and kindness are more and more effortlessly obvious. BUT, returning and resting is not enough. The crucial extra ingredient is the willingness to let go of the beliefs and blockages which hold the deluded mode in place. This is a classically developmental process in that it involves ups and downs, as the body mind system is 'charged' with higher energy levels from releasing blockages and then, deeper blockages come up (purification, dark night).

However, this has been more evident and easier to hook into since going through a complete progress of insight cycle.

The five path system is good for modelling this; basically, the third path of seeing equals stream entry. The fourth path of 'cultivating what was seen' equals the process I'm describing. The fifth path or 'no more learning' equals buddhahood, when the natural state is fully optimized. Given where I'm at, what the natural state means to me, and how transformed my ongoing daily default experience is from before, I am happy to suppose that what is called 'fourth path' or arhatship in MCTB will come around somewhere in the fourth of the five paths, if it hasn't already. Because as those who have tasted it know, the natural state or rigpa (as it is defined in the Dzogchen traditions with which I'm familiar) is definitely beyond what is described in MCTB as fourth path.

So in short I have no idea where you are by the MCTB system but it sounds like you are on the path of cultivation, and all that is required for progress is allowing that process of transformation to carry you forward as you continue to practice and live your life, letting go of more and more of whatever seems to hinder the natural state's full expression. For instance, perhaps a fruitful line of inquiry would be "what is the difference between being an ordinary dude and being a buddha?" You might find that there are some subtle beliefs operating which are defining a standard by which the natural state is 'allowed' to be evident.

(In this connection it seems to be that there are simply no experiential markers of the natural state, as it is all inclusive clarity, and experience can show up in any way without obscuring it. It's really easy to confuse the natural state with a particular experience that arises co-incident with a moment of realizing it).

What do you think?
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Dannon p Flynn, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 40 Join Date: 1/6/13 Recent Posts
Thank you.

What do I think? I don't know. I am not familiar with these maps. I am not really sure how to tell the A&P from fruition, since it is easily confused apparently. I can relate to aspects of each of the nyanas. I definitely have experienced dark night. Since the "awakening" I have had ups and downs, times when the natural state wasn't evident and times when it was. Now, it feels completely normal. Kind of boring. Like I feel just like a normal dude but I know there is no self. I don't feel "enlightened". Yet there is no sense of self to investigate. But no unitive experiences either. Just ordinary. No miraculous awareness right now either.

To tell the truth, the nondual perspective makes so much sense to me and these maps are kind of strange. Like you said, it seems to be a delusion of trying to enlighten the ego. Really it is just about having insight into perception. Maybe I don't pay attention to all the levels, preferring to go to "the root". The question comes down to the fact that I don't feel the same intensity and completeness that I did, but I definitely deepened.

One of the points of confusion between me and the nondual things folks have tried to teach me is this: The nondual folks say that awareness and sensation are one thing. I know this also, but I see a point of being "mindful" and mastering awareness as it were. I believe that if there is a gap in awareness or mindfulness, that is a sign of something more I can do. But the nondual folks say that there is no gaps in awareness. As if the passage of missing time is just a story made of memories, and that if I pass out drunk that time of passing out and losing consciousness didn't really happen. And that awareness is always a continuum. This seems to me to be like burying your head in the sand. I think that mindfulness should be mastered.

The difference between an ordinary dude and a buddha is that a buddha knows that he doesn't exist as a self and that nothing does. The difference is a matter of knowledge (Rigpa) and lucidity.

Thanks for responding!
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Dannon p Flynn, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 40 Join Date: 1/6/13 Recent Posts
I kind of expected someone to come on here and tell me that I have not attained anything, or just A&P. Maybe equanimity. But I don't see how it could be anything less than stream entry. So confusing. Nondualism is so simple, but....vague.
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Jane Laurel Carrington, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 196 Join Date: 12/29/10 Recent Posts
You mentioned Adyashanti. Have you read The End of Your World? He describes this very transformation. He practiced Zen for about 10 years before awakening, but he seems to associate his attainment with a self-inquiry practice (Jed McKenna's books recommend self-inquiry as well). Not everyone does the kind of vipassana that so many of us do here.

I can't tell whether your experience qualifies as "non-abiding non-dual awareness" or "abiding non-dual awareness," but given your questions and sense of not being done, I'd say the former is more likely. I have had some experiences of what you describe but cannot access that way of seeing at will. So I'm in the non-abiding camp for sure. There's a chapter in Adyashanti's book, ":I Had it but I Lost It" that describes the way people begin to tune in and tune out for awhile before settling down for good. As for the 4 path attainments, I'd say you have at least Stream Entry if you're getting to this kind of place. Your mushrooms etc. took you to the A&P for sure, and you talk about Dark Night. But really, is that set of landmarks even relevant? Don't really think so.

Take a look at that book, though. It will help clarify things for you. Best to you, Laurel
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. Jake ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 698 Join Date: 5/22/10 Recent Posts
Jane Laurel Carrington:
You mentioned Adyashanti. Have you read The End of Your World?


Great recommendation and seconded. I also agree these maps may not be the best fit for you, but that shouldn't discourage you from posting here. Hopefully people will be a bit more open minded then that, as Laurel certainly was in her post! I think if there is one thing this community has learned over the past few years, it is that there are many paths and many mountains.... Pick one and make your way. Find resources that you resonate with and feel free to share your process here. Why not? emoticon
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Dannon p Flynn, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 40 Join Date: 1/6/13 Recent Posts
Thanx guys!

I am slightly obsessed with maps and paths and models. All of them are tools and all of them are conceptual. It is like having a workshop with all the tools. If I can't understand a map it is like not knowing how to use a tool. If it was just for me, I would stick with my non-dual map. However, I hope to be able to give tailored advice to folks that may need a different map, and so part of my thing is to be knowledgeable as much as possible from different angles. I have a analytic mind. I taught myself music theory and how to play many instruments, taught myself to solve the rubik's cube, taught myself lucid dreaming, meditation... etc... Just because I am so curious. I think that I should use this ability for enlightenment, and to help others. If I could just be able to recognize states and jnanas from the descriptions. But it seems to me like taking your eyes off the road when you are driving.

Thank you all for your warm comments!
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Akash K, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 164 Join Date: 4/21/13 Recent Posts
You should probably attend one of Goenkaji's 10 day Vipassana retreats near you.

It's free and will give you a better understanding of Dharma.

Personally I feel it's a waste to track onself using some model of progression as one is bound to get obsessed with where on is, and often overestimate where one is. It also serves no purpose to know where you are, since the practice remains the same all the way till the end.
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Nikolai ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Akash K:
You should probably attend one of Goenkaji's 10 day Vipassana retreats near you.

It's free and will give you a better understanding of Dharma.

Personally I feel it's a waste to track onself using some model of progression as one is bound to get obsessed with where on is, and often overestimate where one is. It also serves no purpose to know where you are, since the practice remains the same all the way till the end.


Hi Akash,

Not my experience. My many years in the Goenka tradition produced results, no doubt. Postive ones. But becoming aware of the maps and stages of insight (of which Goenka alludes to in a ten day course and Sayagyi U Ba Khin and others who followed his lineage talked about) and taking on mahasi's technique led to results beyond what I thought possible which the goenka technique, many courses, both served and sat, did not. I do though admit, if I had certain conditioning and view in place intially, perhaps those 'beyond' results would have come with the goenka practice. Maybe, maybe not. My own conditioning (conditioned by years in the goenka tradition sitting and serving courses after courses, living in dhamma centres, building pagodas and meditation salas, managing courses, being a pali student, living in Dhamma Giri, cleaning goenka's residence etc) shifted drastically to a more conducive one upon coming in contact with knowledge of stages of insight and the can do attitude and practice of those of the DhO years back.

Other practices, such as anapanasati as talked of in the anapana sati sutta and certain jhana practices, also led to further results not experienced in those years in the goenka tradition. I also got a better understanding of Dharma outside of the Goenka tradition of which I was heavily immersed for a number of years. Knowing the maps and stages served a purpose in my own experience. Though , due to your own conditioning, it may not serve any for yourself. Your statement (i.e. "It also serves no purpose to know where you are, since the practice remains the same all the way till the end") holds little weight in my own experience.

Your dismissal of that which is often taken for granted here on this site is as I see it, a common locked in thought loop (belief) of some dedicated goenka tradition practitioners ( I exhibited the same conditioning while one) that may well condition the outcome one wishes to avoid in the first place if the maps are taken on board as part and parcel of one's approach. Approaching the maps and knowledge of the stages of insight with appropriate conditioning in place (knowing that they are simply maps used for motivation to continue to notice all phenomena of the field of experience not just vedana), will make sure the maps are used simply to continue such a gap-free awareness and letting go of all phenomena, all the aggregates, not just one (vedana).

I found it (and still do) more rewarding and ultimately much more progressive in practice to question any self created high horses I had/have mounted.

From the DhO homepage:

The Dharma Overground is a resource for the support of hardcore meditation practice. It is a place where everything related to the support of practice may flourish, including where to go on retreats, what techniques may lead to what, an in depth look at the maps of possible states and stages, discussions about how to determine what experience was what, and in general anything that has to do with actually practicing rather than what typically occurs in standard meditation circles. Here you will find a robust and variable community of people with a wide range of experience levels, perspectives and interests, though all loosely bound by the same basic principles of empowering, helpful, engaged dharma and exploration of the possibilities of the mind.

In general our basic principles and attitudes favor:

pragmatism over dogmatism: what works is key, with works generally meaning the stages of insight, the stages of enlightenment, jhanas, freedom from suffering in what ways are possible, etc.
diligent practice over blind faith: this place is about doing it and understanding for yourself rather than believing someone else and not testing those beliefs out
openness regarding what the techniques may lead to and how these contrast or align with the traditional models
personal responsibility: you take responsibility for the choices you make and what you say and claim
a lack of taboos surrounding talking about attainments
the assumption that the various aspects of meditative development can be mastered in this life
the spirit of mutual, supportive adventurers on the path rather than rigid student-teacher relationships
and the notion that the collective wisdom of a group of strong practitioners at various stages and from various traditions and backgrounds is often better than following one guru-type.
There are lots of ways up the mountain, and many interesting skills and insights to develop using many traditions and paths. Make yourself at home. Discover the possibilities of how straightforward, down-to-Earth, and practical the Dharma can be. May all find something here that is of value and contribute to the wisdom represented and conveyed here.


Nick
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Akash K, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 164 Join Date: 4/21/13 Recent Posts
Hey Nick emoticon

I'm glad to learn that you have been devoted to the Goenka tradition in the same way as I am today. I would consider it a honor to do the stuff you've done. I still haven't served any courses but wish to do so after I reach Equanimity.

My second course was at Dhamma Giri and first course was at Global Vipassana Pagoda (Mumbai).

Infact, some Sundays when I feel like it, I travel 30-40 mins to take the Boat towards the beautiful Pagoda and sit for the half day meditation.

Becoming aware of the maps has lead me to realize where I am on the path. I learnt that I am in Re-Observation, and a part of me felt good about making steady progress since I started about 9 months back. A part of me felt frustrated about not being given any info relating to Dukkha nanas by Vipassana organization. Another part of me developed some unwholesome pride for making it so far. The most I have gained is motivation to push through towards Equanimity.

After my A&P event I felt deep gratitude towards Goenkaji for making it possible and I personally wished to meet and thank him. Even though my cousin uncle regularly meets him he refused to take me to him citing "There are 3 lakh students, how many can he meet." Anyhow I ended up meeting a Sr. teacher who is well in his 70s now and he has been my guide. When I told him about Re-Observation, he simply laughed and told me not to intellectualize this stuff.

Regarding the noting technique, I haven't tried to learn it yet. Somehow, Goenka's assistant teachers refrain from letting us try new techniques. Even Goenkaji has said several times it can be harmful to mix techniques. I certainly dont know the truth.
However, I can vouch that Goenkaji is an extremely good mediator of a caliber rarely matched. I have heard stuff about him that I cannot really disclose here.

However, the reason why I have so much confidence in body scanning is because I might have the wrong assumption that it gives more "beyond" results and works on the "deepest" level. TBH, I was under the impression that once someone becomes an Arahant the known and knower become one and he/she can know past/future lives at will along with other things like experiential knowledge of the 31 planes of existence. I was slightly disappointed when Daniel dismissed such things as bullcrap in MCTB. Perhaps I am too influenced by the Q&A's found here:

http://www.vridhamma.org/Question-and-Answers



Lokas

1. In your discourses you talk about thirty one lokas, but often this looks very speculative. Can this be understood at the level of sensations?

Certainly. The whole technique takes you to the stage where you will start feeling-some students, very few, have started feeling - " now what sort of vibration am I experiencing? What sort of vibration?" And according to that, they understand - a vibration of this particular loka, of this particular plane, is of this type. And later on, they can understand in greater detail also. But it is not necessary that one should first accept the reality of these thirty-one planes to progress in Dhamma. Nothing doing. Accept it only when you reach the stage when you can directly experience such very subtle realities.

Rebirth

1. Do you believe in re-birth?

My believing or not believing will not help you. Practice Vipassana, and you will reach a stage where you can see your past, and you can see your future. Then only believe. Don't believe something just because your teacher says so. Otherwise, you will be under the clutches of a guru, which is against Dhamma.



I wonder if anyone on this forum or in general, has reached similar attainments to what is described in the quoted text using the noting technique.

Perhaps I am indeed stuck in the thought loop as you describe, fueled by my own wrongly conceived notions. I would love to know more about your experience on the path, and possibly gain some insight towards shaping my own dharma journey.
I am still not "qualified" for the Sathipathana course which supposedly takes one deeper.

In some VRI publication I came across, Vedana is emphasized as the root caused of suffering. It is Vedana that gives birth to craving/aversion of sensationary phenomena and ultimately to delusion. Undoubtedly still, the impermanent nature of all phenomena must be acknowledged to reach the Vedana. I know you're way more experienced than me, but this is just my conditioned POV.

The main reason why I am against using maps, especially for people with no serious meditation experience is that they are bound to misinterpret where they are which will only cause more confusion. After my first course there was some mystical stuff going on in my field of experience which was never explained to me. I dabbled online for information and wrongly assumed I must have definitely crossed stream entry due to the glorious A&P event (All Hail wikipedia). How naive was I !

I wish there was one technique for householders that could temporarily "pause" the Dark Night while they engage in their worldly responsibilities, and resume it when they meditate or retreat. Perhaps I'm still being too naive.
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fivebells ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 563 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
Akash K:
I wish there was one technique for householders that could temporarily "pause" the Dark Night while they engage in their worldly responsibilities, and resume it when they meditate or retreat. Perhaps I'm still being too naive.


Hi, Akash. What Dark Night phenomena are disturbing your daily life?
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Akash K, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 164 Join Date: 4/21/13 Recent Posts
fivebells .:
Akash K:
I wish there was one technique for householders that could temporarily "pause" the Dark Night while they engage in their worldly responsibilities, and resume it when they meditate or retreat. Perhaps I'm still being too naive.


Hi, Akash. What Dark Night phenomena are disturbing your daily life?


Hey Fivebells.

I found this forum while searching detailed information for re-observation.

Here is the dramatic thread I started describing my problems:

http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4219645

Sorry to hijack the OP's thread.

The more recent problems I have described above such as swellings/severe itching have gradually mellowed out. Currently I dont have physical problems but it does return in less intensity from time to time. I am told by my guide that some deep Sankhara has arisen and will pass away in time.

Anyway, to cut it short, I can put my DN Phenomena in 2 categories :
1) Things that hinder productivity .
2) Things that erode quality of life.

As for #1, I have lost all motivation in materialistic pursuits. I have lost my creativity, sense of humor, interests, motivations, passion, etc. I dont feel the need to socialize anymore and I am very carefree in dealing with my office staff. I am not "driven" as I used to be. I work just for the sake of it without any motivation or effort, and would sleep the rest of the time if I could. I also lost interest in further education. I always wanted to be a big time business man but now I only want freedom. It's like the essence of my life is gone and there is no meaning anymore, just a sense of extreme dissatisfaction with everything.

As for #2
I was very active in sports/fitness, and now I have an extreme sense of aversion towards it. I loved music and could feel it deep down, and now I have become indifferent towards it and prefer silence. It feels just like chatter in the background and I have no connection. I lost interest in food and force myself to eat just for nourishment. I dont feel much attracted towards the opposite sex anymore (sexually or otherwise), and dont feel any need for a relationship. All the things I did for entertainment: Video games, movies, tv shows, etc, feel extremely mundane. Its like the juice is gone & I am left with the skin. There is basically nothing that appeals to me or to look forward to. You can send me to the most beautiful place on Earth and I'll feel totally indifferent. Feels like this world is fake & living is a chore. I used to laugh all the time and now I find nothing really funny anymore. I loved riding my motorcycle before and now I haven't touched it in 3 weeks (!) I can go on & on about it, maybe this is the only thing I love to do lol ! ..but you get the idea.
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fivebells ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 563 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
Akash, these don't really sound like Dark Night phenomena, to me. They sound like natural developments of an advanced practice. DN phenomena usually involve some kind of active suffering, which may well be there, but what you've described sounds more like detachment. Detachment is a problem in its own right, though, as it's a decayed form of equanimity. The solution for that is metta.

Ken McLeod:
DECAY IN THE FOUR IMMEASURABLES

[of which four equanimity is one]

Two dynamics undermine the practice of the four immeasurables: decay and corruption. Just as moss, fungi, and moisture break down a fallen tree, habituated patterns consume attention, causing the immeasurables to decay into reactive emotions.

Sooner or later, your practice of the four immeasurables shows up in your life... How much you have changed! You are convinced that the old ways are gone forever, and you pat yourself on the back, congratulating yourself on your achievement.

Then you notice that, instead of being equanimous, you are a bit more distant from people than you were before. You aren't reacting the way you used to. In fact, you're not only not reacting; you aren't even responding. You are disengaged, detached, ad distant. Nothing touches you. You are above reaction, but the vital awake quality of equanimity has gone. What happened? Equanimity decayed into detachment. Your work in equanimity was effective. It put you more in touch with the world, and being more in touch with the world triggered a pattern of detachment.

Detachment is a form of shutting down. To remedy the decay of equanimity, use loving-kindness to take apart the reaction of shutting down.

Wake Up To Your Life, pp. 294-5



I would try some metta. Maybe cultivate metta for the music or your co-workers, for instance. Cultivating joy for sports and for your work would probably help, too, if you have any experience for that.

Also, the thread has been dead for months. I'm not a mod, but I wouldn't worry too much about digressing from it a bit.
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Akash K, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 164 Join Date: 4/21/13 Recent Posts
fivebells .:
Akash, these don't really sound like Dark Night phenomena, to me. They sound like natural developments of an advanced practice. DN phenomena usually involve some kind of active suffering, which may well be there, but what you've described sounds more like detachment. Detachment is a problem in its own right, though, as it's a decayed form of equanimity. The solution for that is metta.

Ken McLeod:
DECAY IN THE FOUR IMMEASURABLES

[of which four equanimity is one]

Two dynamics undermine the practice of the four immeasurables: decay and corruption. Just as moss, fungi, and moisture break down a fallen tree, habituated patterns consume attention, causing the immeasurables to decay into reactive emotions.

Sooner or later, your practice of the four immeasurables shows up in your life... How much you have changed! You are convinced that the old ways are gone forever, and you pat yourself on the back, congratulating yourself on your achievement.

Then you notice that, instead of being equanimous, you are a bit more distant from people than you were before. You aren't reacting the way you used to. In fact, you're not only not reacting; you aren't even responding. You are disengaged, detached, ad distant. Nothing touches you. You are above reaction, but the vital awake quality of equanimity has gone. What happened? Equanimity decayed into detachment. Your work in equanimity was effective. It put you more in touch with the world, and being more in touch with the world triggered a pattern of detachment.

Detachment is a form of shutting down. To remedy the decay of equanimity, use loving-kindness to take apart the reaction of shutting down.

Wake Up To Your Life, pp. 294-5



I would try some metta. Maybe cultivate metta for the music or your co-workers, for instance. Cultivating joy for sports and for your work would probably help, too, if you have any experience for that.

Also, the thread has been dead for months. I'm not a mod, but I wouldn't worry too much about digressing from it a bit.


Are you telling me that I will never be able to enjoy the basic things in "modern life" the way I used to before ? I will never be able to fulfill the materialistic ambition I had before ?

I got into meditation infatuated by quotes of various masters such as Rumi. I wanted to experience the richness of life, and discover the meaning of life which I thought was so beautiful at the time. What has happened seems to be the opposite.

I do experience mental suffering related to disgust, lack of joy, etc and since last 3 weeks I am experiencing new forms of physical suffering I never encountered before (described in my original thread).

Can you give me some suggestions on how to cultivate metta towards Music ? I would really like to be able to enjoy Music again.

I'm certain my equanimity has decayed, generally due to frustration caused by detachment and lack of stable meditation practice. I have almost given up on this whole thing and just want to be "normal" again.

My practice of Metta is in the Goenka style, usually lasting for upto 10 minutes after a 50 minutes Vipassana session. Please elaborate if you can on whats the best I can do for my future/live in a more fulfilling manner/what lies ahead. Should I stop Insight practice altogether and focus only on Metta to regain my Emotional foundation ? I feel my mind has been stripped off of emotions and what's left is equivalent to the bark of a tree. I cannot cry in agony, cannot express joy/excitement when happy, and I dont really dig being a passively equanimous nobody at my age (I am 21).
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fivebells ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 563 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
Akash K:
Are you telling me that I will never be able to enjoy the basic things in "modern life" the way I used to before ? I will never be able to fulfill the materialistic ambition I had before ?


Nope, you'll come back, I'm just suggesting a way to make it happen faster and with less disruption. You won't enjoy them the way you used to, but there will be enjoyment of them.

Akash K:
I do experience mental suffering related to disgust, lack of joy, etc .


What happens if you do a body scan when these sufferings arise? These are sankharas, possibly the very ones your guide has been pointing you at (though I don't know.)

Akash K:
My practice of Metta is in the Goenka style, usually lasting for upto 10 minutes after a 50 minutes Vipassana session


I'm guessing you're doing the practice described in this video containing metta instructions from Goenka. The instructions are good, but a bit limited in my opinion.

His instructions connect the practitioner directly to the good will which remains when the mind is cleared of defilements after a long session. This is a very reliable approach, but unwieldy and inapplicable in many situations where metta is useful.

You don't have to restrict metta-bhavana to the end of successful vipassana sessions. There are many schools of practice which start each session with metta. You don't have to restrict the spread of metta to extant external beings. You can cultivate metta for yourself, or for some phenomenon which is arising in your experience. You might try playing around with this. I found the instructions in chapter 6 of Mindfulness Bliss and Beyond helpful for this.

This is a different kind of metta practice than Goenka recommends. In that case, you are connecting to what's already there after clearing away defilements. In this case, you are fostering a new personal identity which emphasizes metta. There is basis for both approaches in the scriptures. (See the snake chant for an example of the latter kind.)

Akash K:
Can you give me some suggestions on how to cultivate metta towards Music ? I would really like to be able to enjoy Music again.


Listen to some music and cultivate metta for the experience of it in the same way Brahm suggests cultivating metta for the breath in Bliss and Beyond (last paragraph.) If the reactions of disgust/lack of joy etc. come up, either do vipassana, or cultivate metta for them.

Initially, I recommend doing this after your usual 50 min vipassana + 10 min metta practice, so you have a good base of stable attention and metta to start from. (Assuming you are actually feeling good will during those 10 min metta sessions.)

Akash K:
I'm certain my equanimity has decayed, generally due to frustration caused by detachment and lack of stable meditation practice. I have almost given up on this whole thing and just want to be "normal" again.


It's worth noting that in the model I'm putting forward, the frustration and detachment is the decay, and the problem can be approached at that level by responding with metta. I.e., frustration arises, metta; detachment arises; metta.

It's clear that you are experiencing liking, disliking, craving, aversion and attachment. I am not criticizing as I experience these things too. However, this is in contradiction to the Goenka doctrine.

S. N. Goenka (roughly speaking):
But if we are aware at the point where the process of reaction begins—that is, if we are aware of the sensation—we can choose not to allow any reaction to occur or to intensify. We observe the sensation without reacting, neither liking nor disliking it. It has no chance to develop into craving or aversion, into powerful emotion that can overwhelm us; it simply arises and passes away. The mind remains balanced, peaceful. We are happy now, and we can anticipate happiness in the future, because we have not reacted.

The Art Of Living (free download) p. 92



The question this raises for me is whether you have developed some sort of subtle repression of liking, dislking, etc. If so, that is the sankhara you need to study.

Akash K:
Please elaborate if you can on whats the best I can do for my future/live in a more fulfilling manner/what lies ahead. Should I stop Insight practice altogether and focus only on Metta to regain my Emotional foundation ? I feel my mind has been stripped off of emotions and what's left is equivalent to the bark of a tree. I cannot cry in agony, cannot express joy/excitement when happy, and I dont really dig being a passively equanimous nobody at my age (I am 21).


First, meditate consistently. It needs to be among the top two or three priorities in your life, after eating and sleeping. You're at a point where you can't really go back any more. But don't worry, the way forward is not onerous, and yields great rewards.

Second, it sounds as though you have developed great skill with vipassana, and emotional disturbance is not keeping you from practicing it, so there is no need to drop vipassana. However, giving greater emphasis to metta and bringing metta into your daily life would be a very good idea.

Lastly, go over the role of equanimity in your vipassana-bhavana practice with your guide, and try to determine whether subtle repressive reactions have evolved in your attempts to cultivate equanimity.

This problem is not as big as it seems at the moment. You have developed exactly the skills you need to address it.

One last thing; having cultivated metta, you would benefit by going on to develop the other brahma-viharas. They are very useful.
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Akash K, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 164 Join Date: 4/21/13 Recent Posts
Well, firstly: thanks for taking out time to give me such a detailed response. It is much appreciated. emoticon
Your words were just the encouragement I needed. After reading your post at 5 in the Morning, I meditated & practiced metta after a 2-3 day break. I do feel good will when I give metta, but I also feel increasing amounts of impatience to complete my session and stand up. I observe the feeling of impatience and it dissolves, but keeps coming back slightly stronger as more time passes. I also have attention deficiency which I heard was common at this stage.

What happens if you do a body scan when these sufferings arise? These are sankharas, possibly the very ones your guide has been pointing you at (though I don't know.)



Honestly, I experienced the most vile thoughts/imagery possible in my second retreat which was in Jan. It got more severe because I was fighting it trying to manipulate it into something non-disgusting, not realizing this is progress. I thought I am just a deeply perverted human being who has no hope for redemption. Towards the end of the course I did the best I could to focus only on physical sensations and ignore mental thoughts/imagery. After the course I dont experience disgust anymore, but some other negative stuff like boredom, dissatisfaction, restlessness, etc.



I'm guessing you're doing the practice described in this video containing metta instructions from Goenka. The instructions are good, but a bit limited in my opinion.


Yes, that is exactly what I do, usually in two languages (English & Hindi) just to improve the mileage. Goenkaji says that Vipassana takes you to a slightly deeper level, and Metta originating from there is more beneficial.



You don't have to restrict metta-bhavana to the end of successful vipassana sessions. There are many schools of practice which start each session with metta. You don't have to restrict the spread of metta to extant external beings. You can cultivate metta for yourself, or for some phenomenon which is arising in your experience. You might try playing around with this. I found the instructions in chapter 6 of Mindfulness Bliss and Beyond helpful for this.

This is a different kind of metta practice than Goenka recommends. In that case, you are connecting to what's already there after clearing away defilements. In this case, you are fostering a new personal identity which emphasizes metta. There is basis for both approaches in the scriptures. (See the snake chant for an example of the latter kind.)


This seems like very useful information for me. I will go through this in detail and integrate it with my practice.



Listen to some music and cultivate metta for the experience of it in the same way Brahm suggests cultivating metta for the breath in Bliss and Beyond (last paragraph.) If the reactions of disgust/lack of joy etc. come up, either do vipassana, or cultivate metta for them.

Initially, I recommend doing this after your usual 50 min vipassana + 10 min metta practice, so you have a good base of stable attention and metta to start from. (Assuming you are actually feeling good will during those 10 min metta sessions.)


I will also go through this in detail and do as you suggest. My guide, who is one of the Senior Teachers of Goenkaji's organization told me that I have "dropped" my old habits/preferences and I am suffering because I am not able to digest/accept this as fact. Once I accept this and move on, my mind will be freed of it and I will be able to apply it as I want.
I contemplated what he said, and since that day 2-3 weeks ago I had been experiencing intense physical unpleasant arisings due to which I started "The price of awakening" thread.


It's worth noting that in the model I'm putting forward, the frustration and detachment is the decay, and the problem can be approached at that level by responding with metta. I.e., frustration arises, metta; detachment arises; metta.

It's clear that you are experiencing liking, disliking, craving, aversion and attachment. I am not criticizing as I experience these things too. However, this is in contradiction to the Goenka doctrine.


I agree entirely. After the A&P event in June last year, I was very enthusiastic and pumped up about the whole process of realizing the truth. As time passed I felt lost and confused at the results I was getting despite following the Dharma as best as I could. As more time passed, I felt like this isn't for me and I just wanted to go back to my old life which seems like a distant memory now. I thought maybe if I intentionally generate craving/liking I may be able to enjoy things as I used to, but alas things never went as I expected.

S. N. Goenka (roughly speaking):
But if we are aware at the point where the process of reaction begins—that is, if we are aware of the sensation—we can choose not to allow any reaction to occur or to intensify. We observe the sensation without reacting, neither liking nor disliking it. It has no chance to develop into craving or aversion, into powerful emotion that can overwhelm us; it simply arises and passes away. The mind remains balanced, peaceful. We are happy now, and we can anticipate happiness in the future, because we have not reacted.

The Art Of Living (free download) p. 92



This is a brilliant book. I have the hard copy. I suspect William Hart is talking about Vedana. I will go through the book again soon. So yeah, I realize there is no backing out and I must kindle my enthusiasm again and do my best to observe without generating reactions.


The question this raises for me is whether you have developed some sort of subtle repression of liking, dislking, etc. If so, that is the sankhara you need to study.


I probably have. I maybe trying too hard to enjoy things I dont enjoy anymore such as forcefully watch comedy/tv shows or play video games. I rarely do enjoy music and my sense of sound is always changing. Sometimes it has depth, richness and I can distinguish between/feel different sounds.. but most times it's just flat sound with no feel/life to it. Before my first retreat I really wanted to learn music production and also bought some new equipment which I haven't touched more than 3-4 times.. These 3-4 times I was just trying to force myself thinking I might start liking it again.



First, meditate consistently. It needs to be among the top two or three priorities in your life, after eating and sleeping. You're at a point where you can't really go back any more. But don't worry, the way forward is not onerous, and yields great rewards.

Second, it sounds as though you have developed great skill with vipassana, and emotional disturbance is not keeping you from practicing it, so there is no need to drop vipassana. However, giving greater emphasis to metta and bringing metta into your daily life would be a very good idea.

Lastly, go over the role of equanimity in your vipassana-bhavana practice with your guide, and try to determine whether subtle repressive reactions have evolved in your attempts to cultivate equanimity.

This problem is not as big as it seems at the moment. You have developed exactly the skills you need to address it.

One last thing; having cultivated metta, you would benefit by going on to develop the other brahma-viharas. They are very useful.


I understand what you're saying. Sometimes on this path our minds really delude us and we feel like this is the end of the world , and just a few weeks later we look back and think that was nothing.

I feel I have to work more on Empathetic Joy. I still feel jealous sometimes towards certain individuals who have always treated me in a selfish/greedy manner. If I meet them I feel like my mind's suddenly flooded with negative thoughts/competition/jealousy. Maybe they are my best teachers and will help me develop in this quality.

Equanimity seems the most challenging task due to the extremities of opposites that construct our reality. Deep down I know that the most ugly woman and the most beautiful woman have the same essence, and that form is deceptive. They are both impermanent and both are bound to suffer. Maybe the ugly one will be be reborn in a more beautiful form and the beautiful one will be ugly tomorrow. Yet, on the apparent level, if I meet them side by side my reactions wont be the same. This seems like some very strong conditioning that will take some time.
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fivebells ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 563 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
Akash K:
Well, firstly: thanks for taking out time to give me such a detailed response. It is much appreciated. emoticon
Your words were just the encouragement I needed. After reading your post at 5 in the Morning, I meditated & practiced metta after a 2-3 day break. I do feel good will when I give metta, but I also feel increasing amounts of impatience to complete my session and stand up. I observe the feeling of impatience and it dissolves, but keeps coming back slightly stronger as more time passes. I also have attention deficiency which I heard was common at this stage.


This sounds like a great point to experiment with more metta in your practice. Instead of just observing it, try observing it with metta. If that's too hard, cultivate metta for something easier, then cultivate metta for the impatience. At least then you won't be bored anymore. emoticon

Akash K:
I thought I am just a deeply perverted human being who has no hope for redemption. Towards the end of the course I did the best I could to focus only on physical sensations and ignore mental thoughts/imagery. After the course I dont experience disgust anymore, but some other negative stuff like boredom, dissatisfaction, restlessness, etc.


It's fantastic that you've developed vipassana skill to the level that you can do that. You did imply here that you have felt disgust, lack of joy etc. relatively recently, and if that's the case, I think it would be useful to do vippasana (observe the associated physical sensations as you described in the above quote) with those feelings.

Akash K:
Yes, that is exactly what I do, usually in two languages (English & Hindi) just to improve the mileage. Goenkaji says that Vipassana takes you to a slightly deeper level, and Metta originating from there is more beneficial.


I agree with Goenkaji. Other things being equal, that is the most reliable way to generate the most genuine sense of metta. However, it does have some tactical limitations, as I described.

Akash K:
My guide, who is one of the Senior Teachers of Goenkaji's organization told me that I have "dropped" my old habits/preferences and I am suffering because I am not able to digest/accept this as fact. Once I accept this and move on, my mind will be freed of it and I will be able to apply it as I want.
I contemplated what he said, and since that day 2-3 weeks ago I had been experiencing intense physical unpleasant arisings due to which I started "The price of awakening" thread.


It's possible he's right. You should discuss all of this with him carefully, maybe show him this thread. (But the senior Goenka practitioners I have met would tell you that my advice is heresy, ego-inflation, backsliding and Wrong View. emoticon)

Akash K:
I realize there is no backing out and I must kindle my enthusiasm again and do my best to observe without generating reactions.


I think this is a good commitment to make, but for clarity, it's not what I meant. I was suggesting that your practice up to this point has generated a new reaction of detachment (shutting down) from things that trigger like/dislike, because that is what the Goenka doctrine says should happen in the practice. I.e., because Goenka says craving/aversion should vanish, you are subtly and unconsciously pushing them away. Only you can judge whether or not this is the case.

Akash K:
I feel I have to work more on Empathetic Joy. I still feel jealous sometimes towards certain individuals who have always treated me in a selfish/greedy manner. If I meet them I feel like my mind's suddenly flooded with negative thoughts/competition/jealousy. Maybe they are my best teachers and will help me develop in this quality.


I think this is a great idea. As with metta, it's probably easiest to start cultivating mudita for people/things which don't trigger such reactions. You can do it in the same way as with metta. The wish I use is "May I enjoy the activities of life itself / May I enjoy things just as they are / May I experience the world celebrating my efforts / May I always know what to do." (Replace "I" with who or whatever.)

If the feelings of self-disgust ever come back, this is a good time to cultivate joy for yourself and for the disgust.

Akash K:
Equanimity seems the most challenging task due to the extremities of opposites that construct our reality. Deep down I know that the most ugly woman and the most beautiful woman have the same essence, and that form is deceptive. They are both impermanent and both are bound to suffer. Maybe the ugly one will be be reborn in a more beautiful form and the beautiful one will be ugly tomorrow. Yet, on the apparent level, if I meet them side by side my reactions wont be the same. This seems like some very strong conditioning that will take some time.


Yep, the fruits of this practice don't appear overnight. You are well on your way, though!
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Akash K, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 164 Join Date: 4/21/13 Recent Posts
fivebells .:

It's possible he's right. You should discuss all of this with him carefully, maybe show him this thread. (But the senior Goenka practitioners I have met would tell you that my advice is heresy, ego-inflation, backsliding and Wrong View. emoticon)

You're right. I came here is because I wanted to meet people with whom I could openly and freely discuss what was going on.
Goenka's teachers I have known are very hush-hush and hardly ever give us information beyond what is mentioned in the audio discourses. They feel this is for our own good and always stress on equanimity.

The one I am currently in touch with was one of the first teachers trained by Goenkaji. He is patient, kind & considerate but also talented at avoiding any direct answers. He already knows everything and said I'm doing well. I will be sitting in a 3 day retreat with him this weekend after which he is going to reveal more info. Meanwhile he wants me & my parents to visit him and do an exercise regarding mental qualities.


I think this is a good commitment to make, but for clarity, it's not what I meant. I was suggesting that your practice up to this point has generated a new reaction of detachment (shutting down) from things that trigger like/dislike, because that is what the Goenka doctrine says should happen in the practice. I.e., because Goenka says craving/aversion should vanish, you are subtly and unconsciously pushing them away. Only you can judge whether or not this is the case.


This is indeed the case. I couldn't have put it better myself. Even if consciously I would like to hold onto something, the insight process of letting go in my subconscious is stronger than my conscious desire to hold on.


I think this is a great idea. As with metta, it's probably easiest to start cultivating mudita for people/things which don't trigger such reactions. You can do it in the same way as with metta. The wish I use is "May I enjoy the activities of life itself / May I enjoy things just as they are / May I experience the world celebrating my efforts / May I always know what to do." (Replace "I" with who or whatever.)

If the feelings of self-disgust ever come back, this is a good time to cultivate joy for yourself and for the disgust.


I used to experience lot of disgust prior and during my second retreat. I would see images of everything I held up as remotely sacred (including the teacher) being defiled in the worst possible way. I was very confused at the time & felt so ashamed I wouldn't even put this question forward to the teacher. When I finally built the courage to do so, the teacher who was under training told me "all your dirt has to be cleaned", which IMHO was not as good a response as "You're making good progress", because it made me feel worse about myself. Anyway, I'm glad since the last 3 months I haven't felt disgust in such intensity.

Ajahn Brahm is one of my favorite western teachers. I read his discourse about Anatta which is one of the most profound works I have come across so far. I also watch him on youtube sometimes before bed. I read his advice about developing metta, and it seemed very useful to me. Last night I did it for 20-30 mins after a short Anapana/Vipassana session and it gave great results.
I got overloaded with awareness and had trouble trying to enter sleep. When I finally got sleep, I had a very strange dream.

Ever since I started Vipassana, I occasionally enter lucid dreams involuntarily. I generally dismiss these lucid dreams and always terminate them and come back to dreamless sleeping consciousness shortly after I realize it. I''ve also had mystical dreams, or intuitions about the next day which is also something I consider better to ignore.

However, sometimes, what happens is not only strange, but also disturbing. I become aware that I am dreaming, and I try to wake up but I cannot wake up. I cannot come back to ordinary reality. I may feel my physical body but I cannot move it.It feels like stone and I am stuck in the dream world with some hysteria. I cannot tell how much time passes before I come back, and feel relieved upon waking up. Once I met my mother in the dream & she helped me wake up. Although I realize it is a dream, it is not a lucid dream (ie. I have much less control over it). It feels like I am simply watching a movie from a spectator point of view and then generating opinions/reactions about watching the film, also aware that I am helplessly watching.

So after I was able to sleep last night, I entered 2-3 successive semi lucid dreams as described above. I only remember the first one. I met my grandfather who passed away in much suffering due to cancer when I was only 16-17. I was giving metta to him and telling him how much I love him and I wish he had stayed on longer with me, not suffered so much, etc. I dont remember him responding in words. I was watching this event happen from first person perspective, but it was like a POV movie. I felt like there is 2 of me (1 actor and the other who is the spectator). Shortly afterwards this dream dissolved and I felt my body being flooded with waves of pitta (raptures of bliss). It was in a way overwhelming/more than I can handle kind of bliss and went on until a while. The successive semi lucid dreams were slightly disturbing in content but I dont remember them. I was constantly trying to wake up, forcefully move my hand or something. I would actually wake up, but as soon as I went back into deep sleep it would start again and I just gave up trying to wake up.

I have had this bliss wave dream before but that time there was no prequel to it, and the flood of bliss was generating from my heart. My unconscious reaction was wishing to get over with it because it was so overwhelming.

So yeah, I still have to go through rest of the material you have provided. It's all greatly appreciated emoticon
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fivebells ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 563 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
Akash K:
Even if consciously I would like to hold onto something, the insight process of letting go in my subconscious is stronger than my conscious desire to hold on.


That's a little different than what I mean. Sorry I'm having trouble getting this across. Letting go of these things is the right approach, my hypothesis is that now a "system" of "letting go" has evolved from your practice as a way of manipulating experience, and now you have to let that go too, because that system is unconsciously shutting down harmless (unselfish) responses to positive or useful experiences.

You might try doing vipassana with the physical sensations associated with the process of vipassana itself. If I'm right, the experience might turn out to be unpleasant, perhaps even triggering some of the stuff you are glad to be rid of from before the last retreat. As usual, that will mean you're on the right track. In case it turns out that way, it would be a good idea to sandwich this practice between a couple of good doses of metta.

The only way to know for sure what's happening is for you to experiment with the causes and conditions. I encourage you to give my suggestions a good try, maybe come back here and ask more questions if things don't seem to be working, but ultimately it is up to you to critically evaluate the results for yourself.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them.

Kalama Sutta



Akash K:
Goenka's teachers I have known are very hush-hush and hardly ever give us information beyond what is mentioned in the audio discourses. They feel this is for our own good and always stress on equanimity.

The one I am currently in touch with was one of the first teachers trained by Goenkaji. He is patient, kind & considerate but also talented at avoiding any direct answers. He already knows everything and said I'm doing well. I will be sitting in a 3 day retreat with him this weekend after which he is going to reveal more info. Meanwhile he wants me & my parents to visit him and do an exercise regarding mental qualities.


It sounds like he and your parents are great people for whom your welfare is a very high priority, and you would benefit from being very honest and open about your exploration here, perhaps even showing them this thread (and the other) and asking them what they think, definitely giving serious consideration to any objections they have. On the other hand, if I were you, I would be keeping in mind that you are the one who has to live with the consequences of your practice, and any decisions about it are ultimately your responsibility. I don't know, though. I feel a bit uncomfortable suggesting that to someone from a culture whose family structures I know so little about. I don't want to stir up any further trouble or confusion for you.

Akash K:
I used to experience lot of disgust prior and during my second retreat. I would see images of everything I held up as remotely sacred (including the teacher) being defiled in the worst possible way. I was very confused at the time & felt so ashamed I wouldn't even put this question forward to the teacher. When I finally built the courage to do so, the teacher who was under training told me "all your dirt has to be cleaned", which IMHO was not as good a response as "You're making good progress", because it made me feel worse about myself. Anyway, I'm glad since the last 3 months I haven't felt disgust in such intensity.


He got his main job right, because the primary goal, particularly in insight practice, is to clean your dirt. emoticon Adding that you were making good progress would have been skillful, though. But keep in mind, the effect of this practice is to lower your defenses

Akash K:
When I finally got sleep, I had a very strange dream.


Sounds like a very interesting experience!

I keep coming back to this brief essay as something you might find helpful, but I can't quite put my finger on why. Anyway, can't hurt to include its conclusion:

Thanissaro:
So remember those three perceptions. And that's what the Buddha called them, "perceptions": the perception of inconstancy, the perception of stress, the perception of not-self. He never called them characteristics. He never talked about three characteristics. You do a search for the term, "three characteristics" in the Pali Canon, and you're not going to find it. The Buddha's talking about a way of perceiving that helps you see through your attachments, that helps you see through your delusions about where you can find happiness, so that the question that lies at the beginning of wisdom — What when I do it will lead to my true long-term welfare and happiness?" — finally gets its answer in the skills you've developed. And part of the strategy in mastering those skills is to master the tasks that are appropriate to the four noble truths. That's what we're doing: We're working on those tasks so that we can handle them skillfully. We want to skillfully comprehend stress and suffering, so we can understand why it is that we keep feeding on these things, even though they ultimately lead to disappointment. That helps us develop dispassion for the craving that keeps pushing us in that direction, so that we can let it go. At the same time, we're developing the path that puts the mind in a position where it can do this without feeling threatened, until it no longer needs that particular position, that particular center. Then you can take that apart as well.
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Akash K, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: What have I attained?

Posts: 164 Join Date: 4/21/13 Recent Posts
fivebells .:

That's a little different than what I mean. Sorry I'm having trouble getting this across. Letting go of these things is the right approach, my hypothesis is that now a "system" of "letting go" has evolved from your practice as a way of manipulating experience, and now you have to let that go too, because that system is unconsciously shutting down harmless (unselfish) responses to positive or useful experiences.

You might try doing vipassana with the physical sensations associated with the process of vipassana itself. If I'm right, the experience might turn out to be unpleasant, perhaps even triggering some of the stuff you are glad to be rid of from before the last retreat. As usual, that will mean you're on the right track. In case it turns out that way, it would be a good idea to sandwich this practice between a couple of good doses of metta.

The only way to know for sure what's happening is for you to experiment with the causes and conditions. I encourage you to give my suggestions a good try, maybe come back here and ask more questions if things don't seem to be working, but ultimately it is up to you to critically evaluate the results for yourself.


No need to apologize! These things are so intricate that language can hardly do justice in conveying them fully. Maybe I understand what you're suggesting. If such a system has been developed, I am not yet skilled enough to directly observe it. Perhaps it will dissolve on it's own accord or eventually I will skilled enough to notice it and work on releasing it.

Lately I am sometimes flooded with unpleasant vipassana like sensations. When this happens is very unpredictable but it can get so intense that I end up moaning & pitying myself. The mental agitation is so strong that I'm not able to create a distance between me and my identification with it. Last night it started itching in the groin at 2 am, and it kept getting stronger and stronger. Sometimes when I start to meditate and observe these things, they dissolve and I feel fine. However, this time when I tried, it got so increasingly intense that I cannot even describe it, with no indication of slowing down.

There was no way I could watch it with equanimity and I kept rolling around in bed hoping to find solace in sleep and forget the discomfort. Although right now I feel fine, at that moment it was like 3rd degree torture. After 2 hours it finally stopped to my relief and I tried to meditate again to release it fully. This time my armpits began itching, again too intense, and then my chest/back area. Again I gave up meditating due to the overwhelming intensity and I continued to feel deep itching sensations on the crown of my head, scalp area, back area, chest area, shoulders, etc. I kept scratching myself uncontrollably and finally fell asleep around 6 am and things have been ok since I woke up.

I will definitely follow your advice on metta from this moment forth. I realize it's something I haven't been doing as much as I should have been.


Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge. And how, Ananda, is a bhikkhu an island unto himself, a refuge unto himself, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as his island, the Dhamma as his refuge, seeking no other refuge? When he dwells contemplating the body in the body, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world; when he dwells contemplating feelings in feelings, the mind in the mind, and mental objects in mental objects, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world, then, truly, he is an island unto himself, a refuge unto himself, seeking no external refuge; having the Dhamma as his island, the Dhamma as his refuge, seeking no other refuge. Those bhikkhus of mine, Ananda, who now or after I am gone, abide as an island unto themselves, as a refuge unto themselves, seeking no other refuge; having the Dhamma as their island and refuge, seeking no other refuge: it is they who will become the highest, if they have the desire to learn.
Mahaparinibbana Sutta 2:33-35, as translated by Sister Vajira & Francis Story


I also love the above quote in addition to what you quoted from Kalama Sutta.

fivebells .:

It sounds like he and your parents are great people for whom your welfare is a very high priority, and you would benefit from being very honest and open about your exploration here, perhaps even showing them this thread (and the other) and asking them what they think, definitely giving serious consideration to any objections they have. On the other hand, if I were you, I would be keeping in mind that you are the one who has to live with the consequences of your practice, and any decisions about it are ultimately your responsibility. I don't know, though. I feel a bit uncomfortable suggesting that to someone from a culture whose family structures I know so little about. I don't want to stir up any further trouble or confusion for you.


Its true. He is a very good man and has been an affluent businessman in his time. He says our family is one unit and each one should develop good values for the benefit of each member. He also wants my parents to attend the weekend course with me. My dad is a simple & selfless man but he's very busy and isn't drawn towards meditation like me. My mom has attended several retreats and it was because of her that I gave it a try. I'm being honest with the teacher but not as open as I can be on an internet forum for obvious reasons. If I showed them this thread they would probably consider it heresy and ask me to avoid this forum entirely. emoticon

My own view is that breaking free of the cycle of rebirth is the only thing really worth doing in the grand scheme of things. All else is secondary for me, as it will all be gone the moment I leave my body.


fivebells .:


Sounds like a very interesting experience!

I keep coming back to this brief essay as something you might find helpful, but I can't quite put my finger on why. Anyway, can't hurt to include its conclusion:




Thanks, will contemplate in leisure. I am heading for the 3 day retreat on Thursday. Given what I have been experiencing this month, it might be the hardest one I have had so far but hopefully I will prevail and come out smiling.

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