A Long DN ...

Sanjay M, modified 11 Years ago.

A Long DN ...

Posts: 44 Join Date: 4/11/10 Recent Posts
Namaste

I need help with this

As I started reading the MCTB and the boards here my mind latched on the concept of Dark Night...
It seemed to me that I am stuck into this for a long long time... I am kind off sure, but funnily I don’t have a recall of being through the previous stages...

Currently I don’t have a formal sitting/meditating regime. Till now I have never considered enlightenment/nirvana as something to pursue. Every morning I do pranayama/yoga in a group environment for about one hour.

I have done one Goenka’s 10 days vippasana course, that was some 8 years back, from the 4th day at course I could get into the vipassana (the body scan and observing the vibrations that were rising all over the body). I also did a few follow up one day sittings with them. Then I moved on to other things, don’t know why but I seem to take up all sorts of these kind of courses that are offered in this part of the world... emoticon

Have done quite a few yoga courses (from BK Iyenegar to Baba Ramdeo and few more in between), few more courses that deal with spiritual ways like “The art of Living”, or the Bramaha Kumaries, few more on breathing techniques, but all the while have never been serious about this “E” thingy.

Imagine doing all this with a though, its ok it might help or may not but “what’s the harm, can’t have any negatives”. emoticon After reading the first few pages of MCTB and the boards here and learning about the DN, the first thing I wanted to know was, if there is any which way to turn back, but seems there is no reverse gear on this car emoticon

I hope to complete the book by the weekend and have decided to set aside 2 hours for daily practice but not sure what kind of practice it should be. I would take the guidelines from the book but now am worried about the ‘DIY’ aspect of all this . . . Meanwhile will continue with the yoga, plan to add extra 30 minutes for pranayama


I look forward to support and guidance from the community here.


Sanjay
J Adam G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: A Long DN ...

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Hi Sanjay! Welcome to the forum.

It's unfortunate how many people are left in the dark about the potential for a rough dark night. If vipassana were a medical procedure and doctors could get sued when the dark night fucks up people's lives, you know there would be consent forms and waivers out the wazoo! But who sues a meditation teacher? (Not that I'm in favor of being litigious -- quite the opposite.)

On to actual recommendations, people in your situation are usually advised to do vipassana practice until getting stream entry. I know the book says that you need the first jhana for enlightenment, but the Mind and Body stage of insight meditation is the first jhana anyway. Yes, that's wordplay, but the point is that you can get stream entry without any shamatha jhana at all.

While it's definitely advisable for you to learn the concentration states at some point, the best time to do that is after stream entry. Trying to learn concentration meditation in the dark night is really hard, and it wastes meditation time because it's so inefficient. If you can instead use your meditation time to make progress on the insight path, it turns out that it's way easier to learn the jhanas after stream entry. This is because the first four jhanas are "solidifications" of states that occur on the insight path. After stream entry, you'll be in the Review phase where you cycle through the insight stages over and over again. You'll be able to call up Mind and Body, which is the first vipassana jhana, and fixate on that until you're in the first shamatha jhana. Then you can quickly cycle up to exciting and blissful A&P and solidify that into second jhana. Same for the cool afterglow of late A&P and early Dissolution as third jhana, and Equanimity for the fourth. Boom! Jhana, the efficient way.

If you're worried about the DIY aspect, you don't need to be. In fact, the only option that really makes sense if you're stuck in the dark night is to do as much vipassana as you can until you reach equanimity at a minimum. It would be even better to keep the momentum going and push through equanimity to actual stream entry, because stream entry is the only true cure for your first dark night. Two hours of daily practice should be strong enough to get you through the dark night as long as you just follow the instructions for insight meditation, which are terribly simple. Just stay with sensations and watch them do their thing, very impersonally, without getting stuck in content, with as much concentration as you can steadily maintain. The book explains it quite well.

One thing to remember, and I can't recall whether or not the book mentions this: since it's been so long since you did the vipassana practice that got you into the dark night, it's very likely that you will start back at Mind and Body when you resume vipassana. Even though you're almost certainly already a dark night yogi, you will probably experience the first four stages of insight again, complete with another A&P. Then you'll hit Dissolution, and concentration will appear to go down the toilet (though I suspect it's actually just operating in a different mode), and the rest you'll already know about.

I'm telling you this so if you start experiencing weird body stuff like kriyas or feeling like your body is in a weird position or neck/backaches, combined with lots of mental unpleasantness, and you haven't had a recent A&P event, you'll know that it's likely to be the Three Characteristics stage instead of the dark night. 3C is said to respond well to very precise, technical practice that involves good concentration. Concentration shouldn't be too hard in Three Characteristics if you stay out of the content so the unpleasantness doesn't distract you.

After an A&P occurs, you need to expect a shift in the quality of attention. The kind of concentration that worked well in Three Characteristics and becomes strong up to the A&P event will not operate properly in the actual dark night stages. Trying to fixate like a laser onto your meditation object isn't likely to work -- but if you try it and it works for you, then more power to you! Otherwise, accept the more panoramic, perhaps irritating quality of attention that notices (or gets distracted by) sensations other than the meditation object. There's a reason for that shift.

Best of luck with this! Oh, and if someone who's actually gotten stream entry gives you advice that conflicts with mine, you'd probably be better off following theirs rather than mine.
Sanjay M, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: A Long DN ...

Posts: 44 Join Date: 4/11/10 Recent Posts
Hello

Thanks a lot Adam, for your warm welcome and great post with so many good pointers ...

Thanks
Sanjay
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: A Long DN ...

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Dear Sanjay,

Hey, welcome to the DhO.

Glad you are getting something out of the book and this place.

Yeah, no reverse gear, but the forward gear and the right here gear are the same, so this, this, this, this, again and again, as it is, directly, clearly, Three Characteristics, etc.

Stream entry is a very doable goal, not a pipe dream. Lots of people here have done it, and many other places as well. Lots of ways up the mountain, though obviously this place tends to have a tendency to prefer certain methods, usually those that worked for whoever, which is good and natural.

Keep at it. It is not so hard as it sounds once you know how to do it and what to look for.

Daniel
Sanjay M, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: A Long DN ...

Posts: 44 Join Date: 4/11/10 Recent Posts
Hello Daniel

Thanks for the welcome. I can't thank you enough for the book.

It’s such a wonderful community you guys have got here. Thanks everyone for making it so .....

By now I am starting to see what my practice should be ...

emoticon
Sanjay
Sanjay M, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: A Long DN ...

Posts: 44 Join Date: 4/11/10 Recent Posts
Hello

I am yet unable to get started on my meditation / practice. Although I have ample time available but somehow I am not able to sit beyond 10/20 minutes on a sitting. On a typical sit, I sit with intention to doing Anapan but within about 10 minutes the hands (palms) start throbbing and the attention shifts to them and they start melting into vibrations, and few minutes into that I tend to get up. The rest of the body remains solid . . .

So, today I decided to just sit for full 30 minutes, the intention is to just sit and not get up before 30 minutes are up. I had some what similar experience as above, but managed to sit through for near about 30 minutes. I intend to do 3 more sits of 30 Mins and then try 1 for 60 minutes

Thanks
Sanjay.

Edit: There are many questions that keep appearing but the answers also seem to show up as I read the old posts on the board, the wiki, the reference links and the book emoticon
J Adam G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: A Long DN ...

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Sounds like you may already be hitting Three Characteristics stage. (Though I wonder if it could also be the so called Waterfall, which I know nothing about aside from what's listed on Daniel's handout about the stages of insight.) If you can stay focused on sensations that aren't painful, like the breath, you might find it easier to stay out of the content of how suffering feels.

It can help you get past this stage if you keep up the effort to maintain precise, fast noting with good concentration. At some point, the concentration starts feeling easier and more natural, and vibrations may start to show themselves without needing to be watched for. That's often early A&P stuff, just so you know. When you start having those types of experiences, make sure that you're ready for the possibility of crossing the A&P event, which is sort of the point of no return for insight meditation. Make sure you prepare yourself for what comes after that, so you can deal with it skillfully.
Sanjay M, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: A Long DN ...

Posts: 44 Join Date: 4/11/10 Recent Posts
Hello Adam

Thanks for the message.

J Adam G:
Sounds like you may already be hitting Three Characteristics stage. (Though I wonder if it could also be the so called Waterfall, which I know nothing about aside from what's listed on Daniel's handout about the stages of insight.) If you can stay focused on sensations that aren't painful, like the breath, you might find it easier to stay out of the content of how suffering feels.

It can help you get past this stage if you keep up the effort to maintain precise, fast noting with good concentration. At some point, the concentration starts feeling easier and more natural, and vibrations may start to show themselves without needing to be watched for. That's often early A&P stuff, just so you know. When you start having those types of experiences, make sure that you're ready for the possibility of crossing the A&P event, which is sort of the point of no return for insight meditation. Make sure you prepare yourself for what comes after that, so you can deal with it skillfully.


This A&P stuff as you call it comes up quite easily but I am still struggling with the concentration. Also in the day 2 day affairs there has been some subtle shifts, positive changes. Noticing stuff, at times catching them early but mostly after the deed (harm) is done, but better to notice them, than not at all So the over all progress report would say going along ok with sila & panna and need loads of work with shamatha. Really, it’s so wonderful to have this kind of distinction, to be able to get this kind of clarity about the path and knowing how to go ahead. Thanks to the MCTB and all you great souls here who are giving a helping hand.

Going forward I will practice, keeping in mind your message above.


................

Yesterday night I was traveling (train journey) and just as I closed my eyes I had this vision, some kind of a third eye, it was very clear and prominent, jade blue color very soothing. It was nice to have it there but after a while i got a feeling/thought that i had to let it go, so i was ready to let it go (there was some struggle I guess) it faded and then came back (maybe to just show I was not controlling it after all). I accept it as a side show, but would like to know how/if there are any insights for me in this experiance

Thanks