Freedom! ;)

Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

Freedom! ;)

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
Hi,

So here is a little update in my practice... this is something of a continuation of "the 'unknowable'" thread here.

So that started on wednesday night and now it is Saturday morning and it seems like there are some highly relevant and interesting updates to be made on what has been going on with me since.

In hindsight, I would describe that event as a questioning of the absolute core beliefs from which I operated. Despite total fear and doubt I was so utterly fed up with cycling around within this realm of "I am a meditator, i'll keep meditating (or practicing Actualism) and in the future I will achieve FREEDOM!" For the past three years leading to this point I had kept up a really dedicated and serious practice of various techniques. Sometimes it was actualism, sometimes Buddhism, for a little while it was Taoism, then for the past year or so it was a form of 'choiceless awareness' or something like that wherein I tried to simply keep the entire perceptual field in mind without efforts to manipulate.

It seemed that there was an inevitable cycle. I would find a new practice, strongly provide myself evidence for it and do my best to commit to it and invest in it. After (usually a very short period) I would find myself back in really strong doubt about the very nature of my life. See "why not just die" for the basic flavor of my doubts which continued for the next 2.5 years. I just learned that people will react to me with some form of scorn if I am so open about what I am doubting. My doubts generally turned into "this practice doesn't really work what should I do instead?!?!" But I more or less held on to something I heard from a practitioner who seemed very advanced and happy and calm which was "the worst way your practice messes with you is by making you think it isn't working" Btw, this advice likely would help at certain stages.

About two weeks ago I got to the point where I was literally thinking about practice and practicing continuously. Almost every night my dreams would be about dharma, me teaching dharma, me hearing dharma, me realizing dharma, me practicing dharma. Every time I got into any situation i would view it in terms of dharma, like "this is embarassing how do i meditate on it" "I am anxious about going back to college how do I meditate on it." My entire view on the world was basically a view through that lens.

So on Wednesday I was like "what if that lens is wrong" and nothing could be more terrifying than that thought. For a while I sat in my room, with the thought that "a freedom that ignores anything is not freedom" what I meant by that was that if my freedom was dependent on me ignoring the possibility that I was actually just deluded and practicing wrong, it was not freedom. So I had to look there rather than ignore it. I kept looking and after a bit my mind went totally silent and I was just kind of staring at the ground. I didn't really think it seemed anything like freedom so I kept looking to see if it was still a delusion. At this point I went outside and started walking in the city where I go to college. It was about 10:30 and very dark out and I started getting EXTREMELY scared. Every fear seemed to be a mask for the real fear which was that I actually didn't know anything at all. I actually didn't know how to practice, quotes from the Pali Canon couldn't be trusted, joko beck couldn't be trusted, ajahn chah couldn't be trusted, the AFT couldn't be trusted, tarin couldn't be trusted etc.

I recall looking right at the moon and it seemed that I was so, so tiny. I thought to myself that I would go totally insane and the thought of my parents and all my friends being really sad and confused about it was a very real future. The unknown terrors I would experience as a crazy person in a straight jacket after they picked me up wandering the city seemed like a totally possible future. Somehow I kind of calmed down but I still didn't have the beliefs, I still didn't have ground to stand on.

I went back to my room and got on Skype and talked with an advanced yogi who had helped me many times before. I thought to myself as I was doing this that I didn't really want to relate to him as if he were a teacher here because it would just limit me. It would jus be another case of dropping a previous worldview and replacing it with a new one that I could more easily get excited over haha. I really just wanted to ask him if this was familiar territory. He more or less said it was and he agreed with me that it would be really crazy to talk about this with people in real life because it would genuinely scare them. Then he sort of prescribed me an extremely subtle practice with an extremely subtle way of manipulating experience. I didn't really buy it or try it and said bye and thank you.

I went to bed and turned the lights out and listened to music. There was still a good deal of fear but I was actually now trying to track it down as much as possible (as opposed to escaping it or eliminating it).. I wanted to find more fear and doubt, to find the ground I was standing on still. I asked again and again whether this was another delusion, considered all the evidence for it but all I could find was genuine wonder. It was as if in asking "is this true" to anything which seemed like it might be a belief there was no force on either the "Yes" side or the "no" side. The "is this true" was asked with absolute openness and honesty and fearlessness rather than dismissively assuming the belief as false or fearfully thinking it is true.

I fell asleep and woke up the next morning and my main thought was "WHAT THE FUCK?" "Did I really just fucking abandon all of everything that made me me?" The thoughts questions began again and I hunted for any more beliefs. I considered every scenario I could think of that would terrify or depress me or make me resentful or angry. I considered people close to me dying, I considered that that was a terrible thing for me to think, and all I could find was a big silly joyful "?" A totally open "is that true?".

I continued questioning though, all throughout the day. There was no mind silence I will tell you that haha. I found myself suddenly without a shred of social anxiety. An overnight radical shift unlike anything I have ever seen before. Whenever it seemed proper for me to engage in a conversation with someone I totally dropped the investigation and my attention went so fully to them and our relationship in this moment that it was staggering. There was simply no hiding at all. Normally in a conversation a good part of the attention goes inward and one considers ones interests in the situation, suddenly I truly had no interests other than understanding them and providing them with anything they asked (directly or indirectly) for that met my integrity.

So that continued, alternating between total involvement with other people to total involvement in the investigation (though the only thing I could find was wordless fear that oscillated into excitement). I really could hardly do my homework though more or less I eventually got through it. The investigation was just so torrential.

Friday I woke up and the investigation seemed to be petering out. I was like "not so fast" and I questioned whether I was just retreating from some other fear or doubt. I was just hit by more delicious "?" it was like even if that were the case it would such an incredible world where this thing is happening. So i kind of let the investigation soften and slow. I found myself more in the present moment world around me. The questions still came, but slower. My thoughts were now not directed investigation but more just curious meeting of absolutely whatever this moment was. There was truly boundless joy in it no matter what was going on. Sometimes a curious question seemed to hit something and I felt a tad afraid but it would be transformed immediately into curious excitement. Anything that could possibly happen would be a radically amazing adventure.

I walked out the door of my dorm to go to class, someone I didn't know held the door for me and I looked into their eyes and said thank you and thought that I had never been closer to anyone. After class I played frisbee with a few transfer students I had met. I took my shirt off because it was hot and thought that I had never been more exposed for all the world to see. After playing for a couple hours I went back to my room and chilled for a bit. I watched a youtube video where some people discussed MLK and I thought that with his fearlessness and his comment that "a lie cannot live" he must have experienced quite the same thing. More than anything this experience seems like honesty and vulnerability.

I texted a friend of mine and he said that he was going to dinner with a bunch of Chinese international student freshmen. I asked if I could come and he said yea. We walked into the middle of the city to a Chinese restaurant, me (white and can barely speak any chinese), about 25 Chinese and other asian international students speaking Chinese and Japanese to each other, and my friend who couldn't speak Chinese either and who was just very quiet, apparently feeling a bit awkward and out of place, not talking to anyone. I would look right at them and didn't feel like an outsider at all. When they laughed I would laugh with them (though i didn't know what they were laughing about) and sometimes ask "what did you guys say?" sometimes I just smiled at them, sometimes I would talk to one or two in English in a way more open than how I would have previously talked to my friends who i knew for years, sometimes I would look at the amazing mountains and blue sky and I wouldn't even remember where I was or what I was doing.

We went to the restaurant and the constant chatting in Chinese continued I continued doin the same stuff and I truly was so joyful. I went out to a party with some other friends later. A big party and it seemed like everyone was out that night as it was the first Friday of the school year. It seemed like basically everyone was really drunk and yelling and running around and whatnot emoticon. Normally I would totally dread this situation and I even thought to myself going into it am I going to feel totally awkward and terrible like usual? I truly wasn't sure but I just went anyway. The same attitude as before came and I was so open.

At one point at a house party that was just starting up, me and the 5 or so people I was out with (they were all quite drunk I hadn't drank or smoked) were basically kicked out of the party apparently for not being cool enough haha. I think it was just that we were the only ones there other than the poeple who lived there and we weren't fulfilling their dreams of what a party should be. One of the dudes who lived at the frat house was telling all of us that he was really tired and wanted to go to sleep in a totally unconvincing way, all of my friends bought it and started to leave (my friends were really drunk and didn't realize what was happening). Someone else said "hey we are about to really start throwing down in a second" to one of the people I was with who he knew well, the guy who was kicking us out kind of kept ushering the other people there out the door and it had become obvious to everyone what was happening. I looked back at the frat guy as he was pushing us out the door and he said "that guy is lying" and I said "it's ok" and laughed. I thought to myself that he had absolutely every single right I could ever imagine him having to do that to us, I couldn't find a shred of resentment or hurtness. I kind of consoled my friends and they went to where they lived and I went back to my room and just sat for a while then went to sleep.

This morning I woke up and it was so much the same sort of like being on molly and shrooms while also being totally clear headed and I was so open to any doubt or fear or depression or anger or confusion and in this moment I am so open for that still. Still the only thing that arises is some wordless fear and excitement as well as sheer joyful curiosity "what is this life?". I am so open to anything that comes next including just 'staying' this way (although there is nothing concrete or shaped to this state of mind really). I would not put any label of this being the end of something. It is more like a free-fall. I am open to hitting something or not.

Wow I really went into detail about all the totally inconsequential things going on if you read it all you are a real trooper!
-Adam
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Freedom! ;)

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Reminds me of my euphoric phases.
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Freedom! ;)

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
After I read that bruno I started to come down a bit and I am not really sure what that means.. but thank you... I am still in some sort of free fall.

There is some sense of having deluded myself again (somehow..?) but it isn't very clear. I am trying to be open to it and i am a bit afraid.
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Freedom! ;)

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
OK, good luck emoticon
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Freedom! ;)

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
haha thanks

the down-ness sort of vanished through me being really vulnerable to it. "is it really true that this is just another delusion? just a euphoric phase?" i felt that for a bit and was pretty scared. very negative thoughts flashed in and I sort of tried to increase them and be vulnerable to them. it was just like "damn just another delusion? is there any way out?" so i really opened up to those two questions (rather than asking them with a fearful assumed "yes", which in a way is more scary than the assumed "yes") and am finding myself back in "don't know." it is dark but i am not projecting into the darkness right now perhaps.

i appreciate your comments lately bruno they manage to hit my nerves. this is kind of why i am making the inquiry public, to avoid self-deception so thank you again.
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katy steger, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Freedom! ;)

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
So on Wednesday I was like "what if that lens is wrong" and nothing could be more terrifying than that thought. For a while I sat in my room, with the thought that "a freedom that ignores anything is not freedom" what I meant by that was that if my freedom was dependent on me ignoring the possibility that I was actually just deluded and practicing wrong, it was not freedom. So I had to look there rather than ignore
(...)
and I truly was so joyful. I went out to a party with some other friends later.
I like this very much, Adam.
It's okay if it was a joyous moment, no?

(...) as well as sheer joyful curiosity "what is this life?". I am so open to anything that comes next including just 'staying' this way (although there is nothing concrete or shaped to this state of mind really). I would not put any label of this being the end of something. It is more like a free-fall. I am open to hitting something or not.
There are lots of ways to support this, and not cling/miss it/crave it, too.

Speaking for myself, I keep exercise and diet right in there with meditation (sometimes with boosts from friends).

Best wishes, sounds like a nice turn of events, not unlike and not less than jhana funk.
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Freedom! ;)

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
Katy thanks for your comments.

yes I think it is ok if it was a joyous moment. though I don't really know what you mean!

edit: ok i think i know what you mean about it being ok if it was a joyous moment. i.e. that it was just a joyous moment and not a signal of some new understanding or something. Is that what you intended? I am struggling with whether that is ok or not. and i think that means that something is at stake for my identity in understanding things at a deeper level and finding some sort of permanence. if this is just a euphoric phase what am i going to return to or go to? this i don't know and i am trying to be open in that not-knowing rather than projecting my fears into it.

as for supporting it, I am not really sure. it is just not clear to me whether I should support this, retreat from it or move past it. diet and exercise are still bein taken care of though emoticon

I am not sure what you mean by jhana funk but again thanks for your comments.
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katy steger, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Freedom! ;)

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
edit: ok i think i know what you mean about it being ok if it was a joyous moment. i.e. that it was just a joyous moment and not a signal of some new understanding or something. Is that what you intended? I am struggling with whether that is ok or not.
(...)
this i don't know and i am trying to be open in that not-knowing rather than projecting my fears into it.
Yes, I agree completely with you. "Don't know" as they say in zen. In the Pali canon, Maha-niddana sutta (dependent co-arising) existence is compared to a tangled skein--- that it is hard to untangle. So without too much ado, your experience certainly sounds like a therapeutic new window onto what you think you are, some untangling.

I am not sure what you mean by jhana funk but again thanks for your comments.
I was being silly; I should have just said "Jhanas".

Jhanas are also therapies, deliberate techniques to treat and unbind one from the mental hindrances for a moment. And your investigation seems also deeply untangling at least for a moment (Again, one keeps in mind that jhana therapies are similarly temporary states, not a reliable source of happiness, nor end of stress either); "The investigation was just so torrential."

So I don't want to augment the experience, but I would not trivialize it either. It sounds like it was useful. And there's great "don't know".

You'd know later if that experience has untangled and to what relative extent, but --- just me --- it sounds like it contributed usefully and in a really nice way. (Also, while I love buddhist studies, I love that you're investigating, not asserting perhaps a buddhist frame... maybe you are. That's okay, too, but I like that you're investigating, seeing for yourself (which incidentally in Pali is "ehi-passiko".) emoticon


Wow I really went into detail about all the totally inconsequential things going on if you read it all you are a real trooper!
Bah! A good read!!

Clear-ish?