DN more pronounced after stronger periods of EQ?

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Mind over easy, modified 7 Years ago.

DN more pronounced after stronger periods of EQ?

Posts: 216 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
I'm writing this to find out what people think of the notion that the longer you spend with your baseline at EQ, the more likely you are to have a pronounced DN (re-observation, I suppose).

I say this because since a retreat starting in late July, I was almost completely sure I was hanging out in EQ for a long time, keeping enough mindfulness up to stay there, but apparently I was missing something since in the past few days, there has been a clear shift back to repetitive, negative thoughts, a strong sense of despair which starts up almost right away when I wake up, intentions and volition to do things which disappears and leaves me frustrated about not being able to follow through with plans and actions, an immense sense of loneliness and isolation, and the feeling as though my person is agonizing, very vague and out of focus/form, and that nothing is stable. I'm glad that this territory is no longer a surprise, and although, to be sure, it SUCKS, at least I can (try to) navigate according to the territory rather than the content. Although, there is also the sad but true fact that many of us are not able to have the dark night discussion with others, besides using terminology that can be understood but lacks the fundamental problem of duality and the issues relating to the self. You can only tell people how your conventional self is hurting, not doing well, depressed or whatever, and most people will wish you happiness and all that, but still never really understand what these stages actually feel like and do to a person.

Contrast that to the time of retreat up to a week ago, where things were very open, calm, peaceful, easy, effortless, spacious, and lucid, like a silent field where life was silently dancing, where things were happening basically on their own terms, and life was filled with... well, equanimity.

It seems that even the deepest equanimity fades away. I'm wondering if this "falling from grace" or whatever is a necessary part in generating enough dispassion for EQ in order to move past it and get path.

Of course, this is a discouraging time, but it's not necessarily new. But it is nevertheless tough, and I just started the next semester at college. I completely understand why people renounce various aspects of their lives to focus on getting enlightened, although this isn't really a good option for me.

By the way, I hope there is no limit here on DhO on how many dark night threads you can post. emoticon

I've noticed that there are strong feelings in the heart during re-observation. On one hand, things can get very pissy, one can get frustrated with basically anything and everything, seeing everything as miserable. But on the other hand, it seems that after awhile, one gets the sense that we are all trapped in the same misery, and in that, there is this odd, motherly, heavy feeling in the heart, where one feels like giving anyone a hug, or just listening in a really heartfelt way. I'm not sure how much of this is just color from the nanas, but it truly does seem like there is a better capacity to feel and sympathize with the sadness of others. I'm not quite sure how to make use of this, but for better or for worse, the heart is very heavy during a time like this.

I was thinking about the Tibetan Buddhism practice of seeing life as a charnel ground yesterday. I was walking to the bus, with this intense sense of madness, but I decided to just let it grow and watch it. It was this sense that the whole earth was hell, that this is really an insane, chaotic, and merciless world. I felt very edgy as this sense grew. Then, for the sake of experimenting further, I took the feeling of compassion for others and imbued a lot of joy into the field. Feelings in my heart became strong, and I found that there was a strong sense of sympathy and compassion for others and myself. It was amazing and dizzying to see how pliant (suggestible?) the mind is, and how either of the extremes of joy or misery could be cultivated.

Better not to start. But if you start, better to finish. Forgive me if I slightly misquoted that, and for not knowing where it came from, but it is 100% true.
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Mind over easy, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: DN more pronounced after stronger periods of EQ?

Posts: 216 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
A poem written from this despair:

Weary souls,
lost in misery and doubt,
the waters of malaise carry him away,
yet the headwaters remain unseen

From where does this suffering seep in,
and to whom do these pains affix to?
With the overflowing of joy comes happiness,
from happiness comes calm,
from calm comes stillness,
from stillness comes dissolution,
and from dissolution comes misery, doubt, agony,
and finally, resignation

Deceptive equanimity, false peace,
wonderful, false rest,
from which one always wakes,
to find the waters agitated and furious
swept away once more, there is helpless wonder
what refuge can there be,
for one who cannot be rooted
in either joy, sorrow, or even equanimity?

What rest is there for the one
who has no head to rest?
What peace is there for the one
who realizes he has no capacity
to abide forever in any state?
Where is the insight of deliverance,
and who could there possibly be to gain such insight,
as the waters carry one from ever-great heights,
to ever-deep sorrows,
endlessly?

If there is a God,
he is surely mad.
If there is a terrace of peace,
then why why must it be hidden,
beneath the mires,
of ever-fading joy, sorrow, madness, and calm?
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: DN more pronounced after stronger periods of EQ?

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Here's one I wrote on another sad occasion... a bit merrier though.

It is entitled "To one arrived", and based on a poem by edgar alan poe "To one departed".

For while my passions do turn sour
And 'mid their hurricane I scour
For salvation; while I do grieve
Time's cruel, unrelenting power —
Along my path there is a flower
Source of much reprieve
And consolation.

A bright yellow rose
Does indeed grow
(So unlike Poe)
Along my otherwise lifeless route;
It is my only treasure-trove,
And why I know
A reason
Not to blow my brains out.

And those being rare as they are
If I have kept myself afar
In foolish absence,
Or wasted your precious company
With fits of apathy, dishonesty,
And pain intenseā€¦

Know nonetheless
That in my solitude and stress,
In the confusion I go through
Only you
Make perfect sense.

Thus, my friend, you are to me
Like an enchanted far-off isle
In some tumultuous sea,
Some ocean — vexed as it may be
With storms — but where, meanwhile,
Serenest skies continually
Just o'er that one bright island smile.
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: DN more pronounced after stronger periods of EQ?

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
I've been there, and I feel you, brother.

Here is one I have written in similar circumstances (translated from Portuguese). Sorry if it is a bit too gay for you ;)

If I am hungry and I eat, I am not satisfied.
If I want company and it comes along, I am not satisfied.
If I pass the time entertaining myself, it feels like a waste of time.
If I study my books, I am toppled by great waves of endless tedium.
If I romance a boy, it is an incomplete, maculate, unsatisfying experience.

I wonder, if it were possible...
If I was gifted with the most sublime sustainable intelligence,
Capable of penetrating the most beautiful unbelievable symmetry,
Capable of improvising the most blustering fabulous melody,
Capable of writing the most enticing and glorious poem,
(instead of this awful piece of shit)
If I had a harem with ten thousand boys,
Each more beautiful than the one before him,
Each interesting and fascinating in many ways,
All of them sweet and tender company,
And they were to massage my body with scented oils,
And they would all penetrate me simultaneously,
Exploding in an interminable row of magnificent orgasms,
Musical orgasms! with symmetric fractal patterns of ever-growing ecstasy,
Each bringing with it renewed understanding, renewed aesthetic appreciation,
With never-before-seen shapes!, stories!, Kaleidoscopic surprises! (in 3D, 4D, 5D, 6D...)
If I could feel all of that simultaneously,
And have More! And MORE! AND MORE! From an unending source...

Would that satisfy me? Would I then be happy and fulfilled?

The experience can not be made...
But as I described it now,
Or even better than that...
No, I don't think so...

Not even then...
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katy steger, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: DN more pronounced after stronger periods of EQ?

Posts: 1745 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
It seems that even the deepest equanimity fades away. I'm wondering if this "falling from grace" or whatever is a necessary part in generating enough dispassion for EQ in order to move past it and get path.
This was my experience. However, by no means did I "generate" dispassion. I experienced letting go in a kind of "<sigh>", in a tired sort of way. I just realized now that I was even tired being frustrated, generating frustration --- it offered no reward, no gratification, so my mind had no energy for that either. I think I was just tired and had no options.

If someone had told me some new approach/means/teacher then I probably would've tried it if they were charismatic enough to influence my mind to try something again. This may have been useful, too. But I was pretty tired of all teachers at that moment, too. I think that's a very, very useful, but very challenging "stage": one is alone in their practice. One's effort must stay patient, not get too despairing. One's conviction in the possibility of mental freedom from the three obscurations ("the three poisons", root kleshas) must exist to some degree more than one's conviction doesn't.

So sometimes it's really good to have no teachers, no one persuasive/charismatic approaching a "practitioner" at this time. Let the practitioner sit down without tools.

In this area, one may be able to feel the pleasure of breathing (if there's no illness/injury related to breathing). That's sort of the authentic, unasserted sukha--- comfort of each breath. There's no wanting being attached to each breath; each breath is not being asked to chauffeur some other expectations. The mind, too worn out with expectations that did not deliver the expected results, can finally just experience the comfort of the breath. This sukha is not inflated; it is utterly relaxed, automatic, this can go suffusively into the body without effort.


there has been a clear shift back to repetitive, negative thoughts, a strong sense of despair which starts up almost right away when I wake up, intentions and volition to do things which disappears and leaves me frustrated about not being able to follow through with plans and actions, an immense sense of loneliness and isolation, and the feeling as though my person is agonizing, very vague and out of focus/form, and that nothing is stable. I'm glad that this territory is no longer a surprise, and although, to be sure, it SUCKS, at least I can (try to) navigate according to the territory rather than the content. Although, there is also the sad but true fact that many of us are not able to have the dark night discussion with others, besides using terminology that can be understood but lacks the fundamental problem of duality and the issues relating to the self. You can only tell people how your conventional self is hurting, not doing well, depressed or whatever, and most people will wish you happiness and all that, but still never really understand what these stages actually feel like and do to a person.

(...)

But on the other hand, it seems that after awhile, one gets the sense that we are all trapped in the same misery, and in that, there is this odd, motherly, heavy feeling in the heart, where one feels like giving anyone a hug, or just listening in a really heartfelt way. I'm not sure how much of this is just color from the nanas, but it truly does seem like there is a better capacity to feel and sympathize with the sadness of others. I'm not quite sure how to make use of this, but for better or for worse, the heart is very heavy during a time like this.
If there's more beneficial understanding learned from the dukkha nanas, pleases spell them out for me. It seems to me like you've captured the understanding of the knowledges of suffering.

Otherwise there's knowledge of self's fear, misery, disgust, desire to be free of these mental states (as one of Bruno's poems points out in a familiar-to-many visual and/or actual urge of dispatching oneself); and then there is understanding that, "Hey, other people are wrestling with these mental states of being afraid, being miserable, being disgusted and wanting a way to be free of those conditions." In my opinion a) this understanding is a key final determining understanding of the dukkha nanas (each cycle, but especially the understanding preceding first path), and b) there's no way to come by that understanding and that care for others intellectually. Immersion in this area is extremely hard and some people do dispatch themselves/others here before they experience the compassion-insight for self and others by watching and understanding and feeling for one's own suffering..

I was thinking about the Tibetan Buddhism practice of seeing life as a charnel ground yesterday. I was walking to the bus, with this intense sense of madness, but I decided to just let it grow and watch it. It was this sense that the whole earth was hell, that this is really an insane, chaotic, and merciless world. I felt very edgy as this sense grew. Then, for the sake of experimenting further, I took the feeling of compassion for others and imbued a lot of joy into the field. Feelings in my heart became strong, and I found that there was a strong sense of sympathy and compassion for others and myself. It was amazing and dizzying to see how pliant (suggestible?) the mind is, and how either of the extremes of joy or misery could be cultivated.
Awesome. Without deciding, "I'll practice metta" and "insight" you found metta and insight. If not, what? Metta practice becomes very different when one penetrates the dukkha nanas. Metta can be very helpful to its practitioners and their effect on others for the better (developing joy and happy relief in others, deep non-judgmental listening ---- all skills that need practice and time, but which can start to take root with the penetration of the dukkha nanas as you've done.) I think that's excellent, this "you're doing this/discovering these tools for yourself". It's like all the prior learning (reading dharma, for example) collapses a little through lack of freedom, and what rightly comes up now is your own thinking and problem-solving due to some degree of confidence/trust that there is an authentic, living, peaceful, practical, functional freedom to be had in one's own mind and that that mind is going to be able to live and do someday without the obscuring coloration of aversion, craving-gratification and their constructing effects (the three poisons to mind). (To be clear, the three basic sensations --- pleasant, neutral and unpleasant sensations --- are not the same as the thee obscurations, aka "poisons").



And good luck with classes. I think school and work often work really well with dukkha nanas and the ardent practitioner: they compress one to use their time sincerely, to come up with great efforts like getting on a bus and taking up --- in the face of feeling insanity and mercilessness --- the antidotal feeling of sincere, suffusive compassion earned from watching, bearing, treating one's own mind care-fully despite it all.


[edited: grammar & clarification]
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Mind over easy, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: DN more pronounced after stronger periods of EQ?

Posts: 216 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
Thanks for the posts, guys. Bruno, I like your poetry! I definitely resonate with what you wrote. I feel like enough time in 3rd V.J. will almost permanently instill the sense that all pursuits of things to make me happy are basically doomed. While in 3rd V.J., this can be very depressing and a cause for getting stalled in life. But outside of it, there is just a general sense that none of the things I'm doing are really the source of happiness. I can see how this insight could lead one to find that elusive non-experience where there is no experiencer.


If someone had told me some new approach/means/teacher then I probably would've tried it if they were charismatic enough to influence my mind to try something again. This may have been useful, too. But I was pretty tired of all teachers at that moment, too. I think that's a very, very useful, but very challenging "stage": one is alone in their practice. One's effort must stay patient, not get too despairing. One's conviction in the possibility of mental freedom from the three obscurations ("the three poisons", root kleshas) must exist to some degree more than one's conviction doesn't.

So sometimes it's really good to have no teachers, no one persuasive/charismatic approaching a "practitioner" at this time. Let the practitioner sit down without tools.

In this area, one may be able to feel the pleasure of breathing (if there's no illness/injury related to breathing). That's sort of the authentic, unasserted sukha--- comfort of each breath. There's no wanting being attached to each breath; each breath is not being asked to chauffeur some other expectations. The mind, too worn out with expectations that did not deliver the expected results, can finally just experience the comfort of the breath. This sukha is not inflated; it is utterly relaxed, automatic, this can go suffusively into the body without effort.


As far as conviction goes, at this point, insight practice has already driven home the point that no pursuits in life are going to give me mental freedom or permanent peace. So in a way, all I have is the faith that there is actually release from fetters/permanent insight/fruition. It is fairly easy to have this conviction, given how my insight experiences match up with descriptions, and how people describe enlightenment after all this "junk".


If there's more beneficial understanding learned from the dukkha nanas, pleases spell them out for me. It seems to me like you've captured the understanding of the knowledges of suffering.

It seems to me like the knowledge of suffering is really intimate knowledge with the human condition, or the life condition, whatever. It is the sense that everyone is really dark-nighting, that the things that are clear in DN territory are always occurring to everyone, it's just that there is so much conceptual stuff that we convince ourselves of that we can avoid "the big issue" by revising thoughts, revising life, adopting new things, changing plans, etc... but DN leaves you with the raw truth of it- no one is getting the satisfaction that they really want.


Awesome. Without deciding, "I'll practice metta" and "insight" you found metta and insight. If not, what? Metta practice becomes very different when one penetrates the dukkha nanas. Metta can be very helpful to its practitioners and their effect on others for the better (developing joy and happy relief in others, deep non-judgmental listening ---- all skills that need practice and time, but which can start to take root with the penetration of the dukkha nanas as you've done.)


This reminds me of the retreat I went on. Naturally, there were very deep moments of DN stuff. At the end, when we practiced metta, I really just "lost my shit". I saw the vipassana jhanas (or jhanas, I don't know) occurring very clearly. First, I built up the feeling inside me, then, it really blossomed in the A&P, exploding throughout my body and mind. I just bawled... I've never really "used" the A&P in this way. I was just streaming tears, choking up, exploding with an odd kind of joy where I felt we were all one, all going through a kind of hell, unenlightened, mostly clueless as to how to fix things. It was so bittersweet, like having the great joy of epiphany (common A&P type thing, I guess), combined with the great sorrow of the state of things. Then, in 3rd VJ, everything dropped down to quietude, and I felt the deep, heavy feeling in the heart. I remember for the next few days, I had so much love and respect for every human I ran into, with utter tolerance and sympathy. Of course, this faded, but it was still insightful.



And good luck with classes. I think school and work often work really well with dukkha nanas and the ardent practitioner: they compress one to use their time sincerely, to come up with great efforts like getting on a bus and taking up --- in the face of feeling insanity and mercilessness --- the antidotal feeling of sincere, suffusive compassion earned from watching, bearing, treating one's own mind care-fully despite it all.


Thanks! Unfortunately, I find that stronger periods of practice and insight almost always have a deteriorating effect on my schooling. I don't really think I'd be at school if it wasn't what my parents wanted, but I'm still willing to be here and do it. But there is definitely a sense that it is relatively unimportant compared to solving this crisis of insight.

The last bit is very useful. I look back on my earlier days of insight practice, and I see how there was so much bleed-through into my life. At every new insight, I was convinced of a new ideology, a new mechanism to achieve path, a new way to live, a new way to help poor old unenlightened humanity. There is irony in the fact that after long enough, you learn to ignore the radical changes that insight can bring, seeing that the wisest thing to do is to essentially disregard insight and live in a calculated way. Be nice, don't impose ideas or beliefs or feelings, and watch it all without acting solely out of whatever mental/emotional state is present. Fresh insight seems to strike as a new mood or ideology or way of being, but after long enough, it becomes another dogma, another thing to attain, another point to feel some way about. But it also seems like it's really just seeing some new way that you're attached or invested in a way you shouldn't be. I get the impression that insight is not a thing to collect, but rather a way to see what you need to let go of.

I suffer socially and scholastically when I'm in that damn 3rd VJ, and I'm glad I don't stay in that realm for longer than a week or so.

I'm trying to find out what it takes to give up the idea of insight and attainment, yet still have enough fuel to get it done. I resonate with what you said about not having enough energy to buy into any of the positive or negative things that come about. None of these things are the thing...
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Mind over easy, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: DN more pronounced after stronger periods of EQ?

Posts: 216 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
Also, I am so grateful to Daniel Ingram and others for really driving home the notion that dark night can heavily influence your life. Interesting, how all the teachings seem to be about generating dispassion and equanimity towards whatever states arise, yet even after quite a few path moments, Daniel is still so adamant about a solely content based problem, and content based consequences. DN can leave so much room for doubt as to what is wrong with you, but it is very comforting to hear from higher level practitioners that these effects are extremely real and extremely able to mess up your life. That wisdom helped me minimize the impact on my life, and even when that impact is unavoidable, it at least gives me the knowledge that I'm not just plain crazy, depressed, or misguided. It also gives me fuel to keep going, knowing fully well that these DN issues are just that, and that only getting path can solve the problem. Otherwise I'd probably be cruising down millions of avenues of relief.
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katy steger, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: DN more pronounced after stronger periods of EQ?

Posts: 1745 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
The last bit is very useful. I look back on my earlier days of insight practice, and I see how there was so much bleed-through into my life. At every new insight, I was convinced of a new ideology, a new mechanism to achieve path, a new way to live, a new way to help poor old unenlightened humanity. There is irony in the fact that after long enough, you learn to ignore the radical changes that insight can bring, seeing that the wisest thing to do is to essentially disregard insight and live in a calculated way. Be nice, don't impose ideas or beliefs or feelings, and watch it all without acting solely out of whatever mental/emotional state is present. Fresh insight seems to strike as a new mood or ideology or way of being, but after long enough, it becomes another dogma, another thing to attain, another point to feel some way about. But it also seems like it's really just seeing some new way that you're attached or invested in a way you shouldn't be. I get the impression that insight is not a thing to collect, but rather a way to see what you need to let go of.
So nice, M.O.E., I want to break it into steps:

Paraphrasing...
"[1. watch it all without acting solely out of whatever mental/emotional state is present;
2. ignore radical change urges (presumably you mean outside of skillful new changes);
3. don't impose ideas, beliefs, feelings;
4. do not collect dogmas; insight is a way to see what to let go of]"

I left out "be nice". In my limited knowledge, there are a lot of beneficial changes in human and sentient history that were not approached nicely nor harshly so much as by people who transformed their frustration, anger, misery into a beneficial and attractive step-by-steps based in well considered conviction that civil society, equality, respect, care... are truly worthwhile to human societies and supporters of such conduct are more often attracted through winsome conduct (not lying, not stealing, not harming, not cheating, being composed over one's senses...and so on). Extremely tall order, but worthwhile.

Anyway, thanks much, M.O.E. Good luck in school. I also absolutely wanted to drop out and am, of course, now grateful to have been "pushed" through, if only for the sheer completion of the task.
This is not to say you will, of course, look back and see the same way. I am just telling you as a peer my experience.Best wishes.

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