Confused about necessity of Jhana practice.

thumbnail
Piers M, modified 11 Years ago at 5/20/13 4:55 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 5/20/13 4:55 AM

Confused about necessity of Jhana practice.

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/7/10 Recent Posts
I have just recently completed a 5+1/2 month retreat at a center/monastery in Malaysia (Buddhist Hermitage Lunas) which teaches the Mahasi method. This was my first serious attempt to practice Mahasi style after dabbling on a couple of short retreats (2 and 3 weeks respectively) a couple of years ago. Prior to this I used to practice in the Goenka tradition a number of years.

In the Goenka system for those who don't know, a typical 10-day course start with 3 days of anapanasati, then switching to a "body sweeping" awareness of sensation Vipassana style. So, although there is mindfulness of breathing for first 3 days, there is no emphasis on trying to attain Jhanic states of absorption. Goenka, does mention the Jhanas in his dhamma talks (but these are only on longer courses of 20 + days if memory serves me correctly) but more explaining their limitations in terms of their attainments being unable to permanently liberate you from the defilement's of the mind.

Whilst at BHL, mention of the word Jhanas to my teacher there at the time was practically akin to a swear word. He is so totally against them. I wasn't that bothered because I went there to practice Mahasi method anyway and not Jhanas. However, I was a bit taken aback by his vehement opposition to them (especially when I witnessed one Yogi questioning him about it).

I recently started re-reading MCTB and in it D.I. says "...one's concentration skills may improve rapidly and easily after attaining the first jhana and tend to basically flounder until one has attained the first jhana. Thus, attaining the first jhana is really, really important". (On P.140, Chap. 21 on Concentration States).

So, my question is really as to why no emphasis is given to attaining at least first Jhana in some traditions, and indeed why is there even outright opposition to them in others? Especially, as they are seen by others to be an important part of the path, an aid to be able to progress successfully with insight practices. (At BHL I can't speak for the other sayadaw's currently there, because I only dealt with one of them, but they ALL without exception only come from the main Mahasi Meditation Centre in Yangon (so are likely to have the same view), and 2 years ago when briefly at BHL, the previous Sayadaw, now departed, also said that they were not teaching them, although in his books he does mention their benefits but also their limitations).

I'm a bit confused about whether to start now trying to practice to attain at least first Jhana or whether to continue practicing Mahasi style. Comments/advice would be appreciated.

With great interest, I have started reading the long thread "A General, All Purpose Jhana Thread" set up by Ian And

Thanks, Piers
thumbnail
Ian And, modified 11 Years ago at 5/20/13 11:13 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 5/20/13 11:11 AM

RE: Confused about necessity of Jhana practice.

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi Piers,

The question you pose is more one about personal preference and one's ability and inclination to spend the time necessary in order to learn and master the practice of dhyana (absorption) meditation. It is not that difficult to learn once you get an idea what it is (how to recognize it) and how you, personally, are able to achieve it. From there, it is just a matter of practicing it (preferably under some sort of supervision from an experienced practitioner) and mastering it in order to help increase levels of concentration, which can then be used to deepen one's practice during contemplation and eventual realization.

Those meditation systems that decry the use of dhyana meditation typically become set in their ways (mentally conditioned) with regard to how they view dhyana, and therefore one may want to be cautious about accepting any of their arguments in opposition to its development and use. For some people (myself included) dhyana development and practice is an indispensable tool to have in one's arsenal of meditation skills.

If your mind has a tendency to be undisciplined (i.e. active and wandering), developing dhyana meditation will greatly assist you in being able to reign in the mind so that it will be able to settle on one thing for as long as you intend to pay attention to it, rather than having a tendency to wander off the object (or subject), thus distracting you away from making an important discovery (coming to a realization).

If you first learn to understand why Mahasi Sayadaw developed his system of teaching meditation, then you can understand his reasoning for seeking a system that didn't play up the importance of being able to achieve absorption states while seeking realization. From what I have been given to understand about this, Mahasi developed his system for laypeople (many of whom came to him for instruction) who did not have the time necessary to practice and develop deep states of absorption in the same way that dedicated monastic practitioners did. Can you see here where he was attempting to fill a void and address a problem that he could see was holding back many of his lay practioner students?

Therefore, if one has the time, inclination, and dedication to learning and develping absorption states, it would be very beneficial for one to continue doing so, as this will help to speed up one's development of the path as a whole.

Piers Mackeown:
I recently started re-reading MCTB and in it D.I. says "...one's concentration skills may improve rapidly and easily after attaining the first jhana and tend to basically flounder until one has attained the first jhana. Thus, attaining the first jhana is really, really important".

While I may have my differences in various areas with Daniel in approach to practice, this is one area wherein we both wholeheartedly agree.

Piers Mackeown:
...but more explaining their limitations in terms of their attainments being unable to permanently liberate you from the defilement's of the mind.

This idea is one that can be fraught with misunderstanding. While it is true that achievement of dhyana meditation alone, in itself, may not permanently liberate one from defilements of the mind, it nevertheless does help and assist one in this endeavor, contrary to the impression given by the statement above. The development of concentration, and hence the subsequent improvement in mindfulness that follows, is not to be understated or underrated in the development of the practice. Once the mind is able to see its misunderstandings, those misunderstandings (defilements) are more quickly corrected within a mind that is able to acknowledge them with wisdom (i.e. direct knowingness).

I hope this helps give you some perspective about dhyana meditation and why its development and use can be a tremendous assist to one's development of the path (the noble eightfold path, that is).

In peace,
Ian
thumbnail
Dream Walker, modified 11 Years ago at 5/20/13 1:47 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 5/20/13 1:47 PM

RE: Confused about necessity of Jhana practice.

Posts: 1746 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Piers Mackeown:


So, my question is really as to (1)why no emphasis is given to attaining at least first Jhana in some traditions, and indeed (2)why is there even outright opposition to them in others?

I'm a bit confused about whether to start now trying to (3)practice to attain at least first Jhana or whether to continue practicing Mahasi style. Comments/advice would be appreciated.


1) If you meditate in almost any style you will get to first jhana. You might say first jhana is meditating.
2) If you feel like it will impede peoples progress to experience the jhanas then you would discourage it. Altered states are more fun than insite practice and make you feel like you are really "doing" something even if it turns out to be somewhat masturbatory (second jhana is fun emoticon )....also they will naturally reveal themselves along the insite path as needed.
3) If you can meditate you are probably at first jhana. You just call it meditating vs sitting on your ass.

check out Daniels map of which jhana goes with what insite if you have yet to look at it Nanas and Jhanas
thumbnail
Piers M, modified 11 Years ago at 5/23/13 2:42 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 5/23/13 2:42 AM

RE: Confused about necessity of Jhana practice.

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/7/10 Recent Posts
Hi and thanks for your responses.


Ian And:


If your mind has a tendency to be undisciplined (i.e. active and wandering), developing dhyana meditation will greatly assist you in being able to reign in the mind so that it will be able to settle on one thing for as long as you intend to pay attention to it, rather than having a tendency to wander off the object (or subject), thus distracting you away from making an important discovery (coming to a realization).


Makes sense

Ian And:
Can you see here where he was attempting to fill a void and address a problem that he could see was holding back many of his lay practioner students?


Yes of course.

Ian And:
Therefore, if one has the time, inclination, and dedication to learning and develping absorption states, it would be very beneficial for one to continue doing so, as this will help to speed up one's development of the path as a whole.


It could be that circumstances are such that I may not have the time to attend long retreats for a while (who knows how long, as I'll be caring for my elderly mother). For me a long retreat is 3-4 weeks or more (preferably more because in my case I think I'm more at the 7 years end of the scale than 7 days........ I'm referring to the end of the Satipatthana Sutta of course when the Buddha suggests timescales for attainment.

Realistically, I should still have a minimum of 2 hours per day (sometimes more) for formal practice, as well as try to maintain mindfulness as much as possible throughout the day using mainly noting. Do you think this is enough for jhana practice?
Obviously different peoples abilities to make progress varies wildly.

I wonder if you or anyone else out there reading this has much experience with Kasina practice. It is something that appeals to me (I'm not sure why as I know next to nothing about it) but I have a feeling it might be easier to enter concentration states for some people using a kasina object rather than just simply bear breath (which is what I've used for last 10+ years). Does it matter what you use and if using a coloured disc for example, does the chosen colour make any difference?

Ian And:
I hope this helps give you some perspective about dhyana meditation and why its development and use can be a tremendous assist to one's development of the path (the noble eightfold path, that is).


Yes absolutely. Thanks again for your response and also for your other post A General, All Purpose Jhana Thread which I've still to finish reading.
Regards,
Piers
thumbnail
Fitter Stoke, modified 11 Years ago at 5/23/13 8:47 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 5/23/13 8:47 AM

RE: Confused about necessity of Jhana practice.

Posts: 487 Join Date: 1/23/12 Recent Posts
Ian And:
Once the mind is able to see its misunderstandings, those misunderstandings (defilements) are more quickly corrected within a mind that is able to acknowledge them with wisdom (i.e. direct knowingness).


In my opinion, this is the essential point, Piers. More important than saying, "I got into this state" or "I got into that state" or "Jhāna is the only way to liberation" or "Not doing Jhāna is the only way to liberation" or "I only note" or "I never note", is "What are the conditions of dukkha, and how do I overcome them?"

The difficulty with answering questions about the necessity of "jhāna" is that it's not automatically clear what's meant by the term when someone utters it. You'll find almost as many criteria and methods as you will teachers. Buddhaghosa gives the wild statistic that something like one in a million will be able to enter and remain in first jhāna. Obviously the tradition he was working in has a very different idea of what jhāna is than even Pa Auk Sayadaw (who himself has a pretty high standard).

When Daniel makes first jhāna a prerequisite for moving forward with insight, he does not have in mind a rock-solid state of absorption. I know, because he talks about this somewhere in a thread here. He means something much closer to the first ñana as described in the Progress of Insight. This is a state characterized by direct perception of both physical and mental states as objects and as not constituting a self. One can enter this state just by noting (not doing anapanasati). Indeed, Mahasi's assumption was that by doing the noting practice, you will develop enough tranquility (samatha) to do the work of insight. They develop in conjunction.

The point you need to take home is that all these practices are intended to be vehicles by means of which to attain a direct perception of reality exactly as it is. This perception is a knowing which undoes suffering. It's the end of suffering which is the gold standard of this practice. If you can bring together enough tranquility and insight to accomplish that, then you've realized the purpose of this practice, regardless of any teacher's dogmatic pronouncements.
thumbnail
Fitter Stoke, modified 11 Years ago at 5/23/13 8:50 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 5/23/13 8:50 AM

RE: Confused about necessity of Jhana practice.

Posts: 487 Join Date: 1/23/12 Recent Posts
Piers Mackeown:
I wonder if you or anyone else out there reading this has much experience with Kasina practice. It is something that appeals to me (I'm not sure why as I know next to nothing about it) but I have a feeling it might be easier to enter concentration states for some people using a kasina object rather than just simply bear breath (which is what I've used for last 10+ years). Does it matter what you use and if using a coloured disc for example, does the chosen colour make any difference


Kasina works, too. Don't obsess over it, though. You stare at the kasina for a few minutes until your mind is relatively settled, and then you close your eyes and focus either on the after-image or the feeling of the body as a whole (in which case the body is now the kasina). It's just another tool, like feeling the breath at the abdomen (which itself is like a kasina).
thumbnail
tom moylan, modified 11 Years ago at 5/23/13 9:17 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 5/23/13 9:16 AM

RE: Confused about necessity of Jhana practice.

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
Howdy,
do you feel comfotable sharing your experience(s) from your retreat? for example, did you progress along the typical progress of insight? did you attain any path (s) ? how would you grade your experience there, even without dedicated jhana focus?

thanks

tom
thumbnail
Fitter Stoke, modified 11 Years ago at 5/23/13 9:40 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 5/23/13 9:40 AM

RE: Confused about necessity of Jhana practice.

Posts: 487 Join Date: 1/23/12 Recent Posts
Fitter Stoke:
When Daniel makes first jhāna a prerequisite for moving forward with insight, he does not have in mind a rock-solid state of absorption. I know, because he talks about this somewhere in a thread here. He means something much closer to the first ñana as described in the Progress of Insight. This is a state characterized by direct perception of both physical and mental states as objects and as not constituting a self. One can enter this state just by noting (not doing anapanasati). Indeed, Mahasi's assumption was that by doing the noting practice, you will develop enough tranquility (samatha) to do the work of insight. They develop in conjunction.


Here's Mahasi Sayadaw in his own words on this very point:

Mahasi Sayadaw:
Insight meditation and absorption have some characteristics in common. When the practice of mindfulness is well established at the exploratory stage, i.e. knowledge by comprehension (sammasanañāna), there are initial application (vitakka), sustained application (vicāra), joy (pīti), bliss (sukha), and one-pointedness (ekagattā). Thus, whenever the meditator observes any phenomenon, his insight meditation is somewhat like the first absorption with its five characteristics.


You can read the rest of it here. It's worth reading as Mahasi gives his considered opinion on the relationship between the states of absorption and the stages described in the Progress of Insight.
thumbnail
Ian And, modified 11 Years ago at 5/24/13 12:19 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 5/24/13 12:19 AM

RE: Confused about necessity of Jhana practice.

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Piers Mackeown:

Ian And:
Therefore, if one has the time, inclination, and dedication to learning and developing absorption states, it would be very beneficial for one to continue doing so, as this will help to speed up one's development of the path as a whole.

Realistically, I should still have a minimum of 2 hours per day (sometimes more) for formal practice, as well as try to maintain mindfulness as much as possible throughout the day using mainly noting. Do you think this is enough for jhana practice?

That should be plenty. More might be better at times, but you should rely on your intuition to tell you when to add more. Remember, though, that what you came to do is to drain the swamp (gain insight into the Dhamma), not to be concerned (distracted) by the gators nipping at your backside.

Realize that concentration focuses your attention; meditation deepens awareness; and contemplation invites insight. The combination of the three increases general mindfulness throughout the day. What you want to accomplish is the latter of these three, once you've been able to bring the mind to unification (samadhi, in what may be perceived to be the fourth dhyana).

Realize, also, that you may have insight realizations outside of formal meditation. It is just that such insight is more likely when cultivating states of contemplation, wherein one is able to hone in on an area of study and examination in a relatively undisturbed frame of mind. Therefore, meditation is used as a tool for developing insight.

Piers Mackeown:

I wonder if you or anyone else out there reading this has much experience with Kasina practice. It is something that appeals to me (I'm not sure why as I know next to nothing about it) but I have a feeling it might be easier to enter concentration states for some people using a kasina object rather than just simply bare breath (which is what I've used for last 10+ years). Does it matter what you use and if using a coloured disc for example, does the chosen colour make any difference?

You should use whatever appeals to you when pursuing the development of concentration, mindfulness, and insightful contemplation. If you need to experiment around, feel free to do so. Some people respond better to visual stimuli (the use of kasina disks), while others prefer more tactile stimulation (like the breath). I fall into the latter category. Although I now appreciate how others may fall into the former. The point is: to be able to bring on a sensation that one can use to deepen concentration. It doesn't matter whether it is developed using the breath or a kasina meditation.

Piers Mackeown:
Ian And:
I hope this helps give you some perspective about dhyana meditation and why its development and use can be a tremendous assist to one's development of the path (the noble eightfold path, that is).


Yes absolutely. Thanks again for your response and also for your other post A General, All Purpose Jhana Thread which I've still to finish reading.

Realize that that thread is written so that readers may return to it time and time again in order to freshen their memory about the subject matters that it discusses. There is a lot in there to take in. And if you develop a rigorous practice you may bump into quite a few of those insights mentioned. It's not meant to be digested in one big gulp. Rather, savored over time as one makes progress up the ladder towards realization. It is a compilation of all the things (questions and concerns) that were important to me on my climb up that ladder. Perhaps it may help stimulate some recognition and insight in others who may stumble upon some of these same experiences.
thumbnail
Piers M, modified 11 Years ago at 5/25/13 11:36 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 5/25/13 11:36 AM

RE: Confused about necessity of Jhana practice.

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/7/10 Recent Posts
Hi Tom,
No, I don't mind sharing.

Actually I was "umming and ahhing" about whether to go into the whole retreat experience, so I'm glad you prompted me. I wasn't sure whether to do it in this section as its moving away from what I was originally asking about but looking at the other categories I'm not sure where else to put it apart from maybe miscellaneous:

I'm wondering how much or how little to say and specifically, how much of it is really relevant and how much is just my own content based crap, that I was unable to deal with effectively. Thus I cannot say as to whether the progress I made (because I feel I did make some) was "worth it" for trying almost six months as it doesn't seem like much of a return, especially when compared to all the "big hitters" out there on this and KFDs site. But there is little purpose served in comparing.

However, I feel there were some mitigating circumstances. Quite how much they affected me to the point of serious disruption to the progress on the path of insight and how much was "my issues" and perhaps I wouldn't have gotten much further anyhow is difficult for me to know. So, as not to be too abstract about this, there was a "rogue yogi" there with serious anger issues, who almost attacked me towards the end of my stay there (which FINALLY prompted me to leave and spend my last week on retreat at MBMC. Wish I'd gone there sooner). He also got up to plenty of other disruptive forms of behaviour during my stay there (and not just directed at me).
It is difficult enough to try and deal with your own crap let alone have someone elses issues poured into the mix as well. You might well ask why I didn't leave before. I actually thought to leave several times (not just because of that man, but also because of my fragile emotional states viz. anxiety, panic, depression and all manner of other... but decided to stay just simply because of something I read a long time ago, Q & A from Ajahn Chah:

Q: What about other methods of practice? These days there seem to be so many teachers and so many different systems of meditation that it is confusing.

A: It is like going to town. One can approach from the north, from the southeast, from many roads. Often these systems just differ outwardly. Whether you walk one way or another, fast or slow, if you are mindful it is all the same. There is one essential point that all good practice must eventually come to. That is not clinging. In the end, all meditation systems must be let go of. Neither can one cling to the teacher. If a system leads to relinquishment, to not clinging, then it is correct practice.

You may wish to travel, to visit other teachers and try other systems. Some of you have already done so. This is a natural desire. You will find out that a thousand questions asked and knowledge of many systems will not bring you to the truth. Eventually you will get bored. You will see that only by stopping and examining your own mind can you find out what the Buddha talked about. No need to go searching outside yourself. Eventually you must return to face your own true nature. Here is where you can understand the Dhamma.


However, I now think that sometimes some places really are not that conducive to good practice.

There's something else I should add before starting as it could be relevant. First I wish I had re-read Daniel's book just prior to going because I had forgotten most of it from first read over 2 years before. I had forgotten he mentioned that any retreat center that you go to has it's shadow side and it seems to me that some places have bigger shadows than others. I would not recommend anyone to retreat at BHL for that reason. However, I also wonder whether I have a "very big" shadow side, which was the cause to "attract" me to go somewhere else with huge shadow issues. Having mentioned that "rogue yogi" who is just one aspect of BHL's shadow (after all, the management there have allowed that situation to develop because they let the guy practically live there, which is unhealthy in and of itself. Especially as he is not practicing properly, and is certainly not coming out of greed, hatred and delusion). Indeed very few people in the world, even very acomplished practitioners, could retreat almost indefinitely? Surely.

Aside from the shadows, and from a very practical point of view, BHL is very poorly designed. It's worse for the men because their quarters are stuck in amongst the agitated energies of all aspects of non-retreatants. From all the visitors, the regular lay-devotees, non-practicing monks, near the kitchen and dining area. At least for the females they are removed and are located next to the meditation hall. However, the sayadaw's kuti's are also over there and so, in the retreat area, you still get a constant stream of visitors from the outside, coming by (to see visit the Sayadaw's), sometimes on the mobiles or talking etc. It's worse at weekends. Also not to mention the inner road they built right up to the retreat area, which being Asia means that cars often drive right up there just simply to turn around (something they could do elsewhere but being Asia, they just don't think about the noise and pollution ie exhaust fumes coming right into the hall as you sit. Nice.).
On the plus side, it was because of all those annoyances, that I was able to accept them more and more over time, by the simple practice of noting them. But why put in 'extras' to deal with. Still, by the time I reached MBMC, I wasn't in the least disturbed by the city noise outside, which some meditators complain about there.

Okay, so on to the retreat itself: First it took me a while to start practicing continuously, without resting, for example, after breakfast and lunch.
I only realized that I needed to put in more effort when the Sayadaw gave a Dhamma talk after I'd been there about 3-4 weeks already in which he said that to "guarantee" stream entry you need to be sitting and walking for 16 hours per day [ie 8 each as he thinks you should do it in a balanced way 50/50 - and he stressed this quite often. However, only after I'd been there a few months another Sayadaw contradicted this, citing that one could sit for longer 2-3 hours, IF you've already attained 6th nana]. In fact much later I came to realize that different teachers can have quite different approaches even if they are from not just the same tradition, but the same monastery/school within a given tradition. He also said that if you practice 14 hours/day you have a chance to gain stream entry, but it's not certain. Anything less than that is pretty unlikely in his opinion.
I managed most days about 12 hours. I had 5/1/2 to 6 hours sleep per night and even that was a struggle at times. I tried 5 hours for a 3 week period but it was too exhausting, so the Sayadaw also suggested I go back to 6. It's worth mentioning that he is 74 years old and still only sleeps 3 + 1/2 hours per night he told me.

As a side note, personally I would have found it helpful/beneficial if there had been at least a few other yogi's around who were also trying their damndest to gain some insight. However, the vast majority, you cannot even say were on retreat really (so little time did they spend in the retreat area. Many were also talking and well beyond just a very short exchange of say 5 mins.) Although the Sayadaw would stress the need for continuous practice and how if you weren't, then there was little point even being there, during my stay only very few were diligently striving. And of those probably at best some managed 10 hours of solid sitting/walking and then at most they were there about 1 month or so. I had to continually "push myself" to keep going because they are very relaxed there with no enforced discipline.

For what it's worth having looked at the interesting map chart (link provided by "dream walker", thanks for that) it seems that I reached somewhere in the 4th nana range. Possibly 4.3 I base that primarily on the super bright white lights I was experiencing a lot. And after a time, told to pretty much ignore. It took me 3 months of mostly frustration and seemingly thinking I was never going to get anywhere in the practice (but I was still determined to continue because I kept thinking "what if..")
ie what if I do continue something might happen eventually and it did because literally overnight and just after I'd been there about 3 months and a week, suddenly my concentration was better than I've ever known it. Every time I sat, I had virtually no wandering mind. Sit after sit I was able to stay with the rising and falling, except when noting the bright lights and also at the same time I was starting to experience extremely violent shaking such that after each sitting I felt like I was coming out of a 12 round boxing match. I am not kidding. This continued for 6 days and became so extreme it was actually dangerous ( I had had to move my cushion well away from the walls lest I bash my head or hands/arms which were flailing wildly at times - it also felt like I might strain or sprain one of various tendons/muscles particularly in the groin area) and the Sayadaw told me that I had to stop forcibly stop it happening. This I did, but I still wonder why, after intensely noting what was happening, as it was happening at the time (viz. "shaking, writhing, contorting, nodding, swaying, rocking, swinging, jerking etc. etc) I was unable to note my way out of it as it were (as I thought this was the whole point, to keep noting what was happening at all times). But in this instance, it was too dangerous to allow it to continue.

[There are, however, still a lot of aspects to Daniel's maps or rather the descriptions that I don't fully understand or particularly relate to even if it seems that I may have passed through that area. In particular, I have no idea about the vibratory qualities given in terms of Hz.]

This period of excellent concentration lasted around 3-4 weeks. Then, it started to fizzled out as I entered the 5th month, along with my own abilities to "keep going". It was also around this time, that I made the fatal mistake of being "sucked in to talking" and perhaps some boredom set in and I started to read some Dharma books. As soon as these things happened, I just couldn't ever seem to re-discover my initial mojo. I was also having a lot of thoughts about the outside world, and things back at home etc. I think I bit off more than I could chew with regard to aiming at a six month retreat. In future I shall probably limit it to around three months should I get the opportunity again.
thumbnail
tom moylan, modified 11 Years ago at 5/26/13 12:42 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 5/26/13 12:42 PM

RE: Confused about necessity of Jhana practice.

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
Hi piers,
man you get an "A" for effort and a plus for tenacity. i too am a long strggling yogi and can relate to your efforts, frustrations and intermittant successes. i have been very fortunate to be able to retreat at my own home where all of the distractions you mention are completely absent. that said, my last retreat was two weeks long. it sounds short in comparison to your great effort but was almost enough to do it. i used tarin's slackers guid schedule which is also a 50/50 sitting walking schedule 18 hours a day. at first i wondered why there was so much walking (being used to a more goenka style schedule) but after a few days i was really glad for the mix. the walking provided energy for the sitting as wel as some really unexpected subtle physical object upon which to note.

really sorry to hear about the hostile yogi etc. but find it admirable and inspiring to imagine you, amoung the many, as the sole striver in the meditation hall. that is a great image and one to be proud of. don't give up. in my moments of despair i like the description of the monk eho, going on alms rounds, geets lost. while he is going down one wrong street after another everyone seeing him fills his collection bowl. when he at long last gets back to the monastary he has so much alms food he doesn't know what to do with it. we "non heavy hitters" are coolecting a lot of rice (wisdom,experience, humility) and potentially can help others since we know all of the wrong streets and have lots of rice.

thanks for sharing.

tom

Breadcrumb