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Where am I?
Answer
1/28/14 6:55 PM
Good day.

I got to a strange point in my practice. I see everything coming and going; thoughts, emotions etc. When I wanna find the one experiencing this I only have a glimpse of awareness of something arising and vanishing. I feel like i'm losing ground to stand and i acknowledged this sensation. I have weird mindfulness, it is sharp, fast but random. Usually arises instantly with some sensation and then drops with it. Sometimes i only have a short moment to realize that something arose and instantly vanished. I also feel that all the sensations are mostly dukkha yet i know there is no way to stop it. i feel like my psyche is desperately trying to find hope in practice or enlightenment or some tool. Funny mood swings too. When i thought of factors of enlightenment i could see: appearance as terror, disgust, re-vision but i clearly lack equanimity because the sensations bother 'me' unless midnfulness is there. My last escape is shikantaza, when i do it all seems to calm down. I am lost. I don't know what it is. My only tool is to continue observing but im so disgusted with all the dukkha. I feel like dropping this tool to avoid seeing so much dukkha.
What is all this and where am i?

^__^

RE: Where am I?
Answer
1/28/14 7:12 PM as a reply to Gregory R. H..
Hello Gregory: It is common for people in what is referred to here as "the dark night" stages of practice to run into many neurotic and painful patterns. That being said, while the dark night may exacerbate underlying unresolved psychological issues, it can not create them. It is also possible that you are not in the dark night and may just be dealing with psychological issues having nothing to do with meditation.
If you want help discerning more of this stuff and teasing apart what is what, create a practice journal here, and update it frequently. In this way things should become more clear, and people reading it who have been where you are will be able to offer suggestions.

Bill

RE: Where am I?
Answer
1/29/14 10:51 AM as a reply to Gregory R. H..
Hi Gregory,
this all sounds very dark nightish to me. the previous answer stated very emphatically that the dark night cannot 'cause' such issue but just bring them up. i don't know about that but your description of how you got to where you are and your 'symptoms' while not pleasant sound within normal parameters. Do they disappear or reduce when practice is stopped or slowed down?

The advice about a log is good.

Tom

RE: Where am I?
Answer
1/29/14 12:27 PM as a reply to tom moylan.
Tom:

Are you suggesting that what we experience in the "dark night" is not unique and a result of our own conditioning and is a wholly external, impersonal force?

Bill

RE: Where am I?
Answer
2/1/14 5:32 PM as a reply to Bill F..
In my experience, what you need to get to equanimity is to realize that attachment and aversion are not useful in geting happiness. On the contrary: they only cause suffering. Once you realize that the bad sensations are not worth worrying about (they are just sensations, not suffering itself), you kind of open up. Things start arising and fading without much disturbance, because you know that their power to hurt you is only in your own mistaken view that attachment and aversion to them will improve the situation. It won't. Just let what has already arisen be. It has already arisen. Resistence is futile. ;)

RE: Where am I?
Answer
2/1/14 9:15 PM as a reply to Gregory R. H..
If everything calms down during Shikantaza, then why not do Shikantaza?

RE: Where am I?
Answer
2/4/14 7:46 AM as a reply to green tea.
green tea:
If everything calms down during Shikantaza, then why not do Shikantaza?


Very good question but as i said i can sense that my psyche is trying to find some way to escape, i guess if i calm things down the chance for insight will be minimal. Shikantaza will be just a tool to escape the dhukka, i guess it will keep the duality alive coz there will be 'me' using the tool and there will be dukkha which 'i' avoid. I believe the sense of absolute hopelessness is necessary. I even noticed slight liking towards the feeling of hopelessness a few times. I don't know…...

RE: Where am I?
Answer
2/11/14 10:21 PM as a reply to Gregory R. H..
You can have all sorts of insight while doing Shikantaza. It and similar practices have led to all sorts of profound awakenings. It's the pinnacle practice in some Zen traditions. Similar practices are very important in other traditions, like Dzogchen.

I know some people on this forum say it's slow or it can't lead to insight, but that has been contradicted by my own experience, reading, and contact with other practitioners.

It sounds like in the short term Shikantaza will help you calm down. In the long term, there is a very high probability it will lead to non-dual awakening.

You don't have to be afraid to escape dhukka. That's the whole point of the path.

RE: Where am I?
Answer
2/12/14 10:54 AM as a reply to Gregory R. H..
Gregory R. H.:
Good day.

I got to a strange point in my practice. I see everything coming and going; thoughts, emotions etc. When I wanna find the one experiencing this I only have a glimpse of awareness of something arising and vanishing. I feel like i'm losing ground to stand and i acknowledged this sensation. I have weird mindfulness, it is sharp, fast but random. Usually arises instantly with some sensation and then drops with it. Sometimes i only have a short moment to realize that something arose and instantly vanished. I also feel that all the sensations are mostly dukkha yet i know there is no way to stop it. i feel like my psyche is desperately trying to find hope in practice or enlightenment or some tool. Funny mood swings too. When i thought of factors of enlightenment i could see: appearance as terror, disgust, re-vision but i clearly lack equanimity because the sensations bother 'me' unless midnfulness is there. My last escape is shikantaza, when i do it all seems to calm down. I am lost. I don't know what it is. My only tool is to continue observing but im so disgusted with all the dukkha. I feel like dropping this tool to avoid seeing so much dukkha.
What is all this and where am i?

^__^

Have you read the book yet (MCTB The Progress of Insight )??? I linked to it in the other thread ..you may wish to read it, especially the parts on the progress of insite.
Your descriptions sound very a&P thru the dark night. You say you do shikantaza, please explain this as you may not may not be doing anything and calling it anything. Could shikantaza be getting you to EQ? Seems possible to me...but you would have to describe what you are actually doing and the results.
What are your goals?)

RE: Where am I?
Answer
2/15/14 9:23 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
Gregory R. H.:
Good day.

I got to a strange point in my practice. I see everything coming and going; thoughts, emotions etc. When I wanna find the one experiencing this I only have a glimpse of awareness of something arising and vanishing. I feel like i'm losing ground to stand and i acknowledged this sensation. I have weird mindfulness, it is sharp, fast but random. Usually arises instantly with some sensation and then drops with it. Sometimes i only have a short moment to realize that something arose and instantly vanished. I also feel that all the sensations are mostly dukkha yet i know there is no way to stop it. i feel like my psyche is desperately trying to find hope in practice or enlightenment or some tool. Funny mood swings too. When i thought of factors of enlightenment i could see: appearance as terror, disgust, re-vision but i clearly lack equanimity because the sensations bother 'me' unless midnfulness is there. My last escape is shikantaza, when i do it all seems to calm down. I am lost. I don't know what it is. My only tool is to continue observing but im so disgusted with all the dukkha. I feel like dropping this tool to avoid seeing so much dukkha.
What is all this and where am i?

^__^

Have you read the book yet (MCTB The Progress of Insight )??? I linked to it in the other thread ..you may wish to read it, especially the parts on the progress of insite.
Your descriptions sound very a&P thru the dark night. You say you do shikantaza, please explain this as you may not may not be doing anything and calling it anything. Could shikantaza be getting you to EQ? Seems possible to me...but you would have to describe what you are actually doing and the results.
What are your goals?)


Yes, I have read MCTB, it is a great work. To answer your question on Shikantaza this is what I do. I sit down, relax and then whenever i realize i lost the track i get back to here and now i.e. sitting posture. In at least half of my sessions I get calm and the only thing left is the sense of I am or awareness of my body and environment. Hope this helps.

RE: Where am I?
Answer
2/15/14 11:57 AM as a reply to Gregory R. H..
Gregory R. H.:
Yes, I have read MCTB, it is a great work. To answer your question on Shikantaza this is what I do. I sit down, relax and then whenever i realize i lost the track i get back to here and now i.e. sitting posture. In at least half of my sessions I get calm and the only thing left is the sense of I am or awareness of my body and environment. Hope this helps.

Hmm...reread the section on concentration vs insite. See if what you are doing in Shikantaza is concentration or insite. You will have the best perspective on this.
Have you perchance tried starting each sit with Shikantaza and then moved to, ummm whatever you do that causes you to experience dukkha? (you never said what you do). If Shikantaza is concentration based this will help in your progress to get a little concentrated before. Or try it the other way and do Shikantaza at the end to relieve the dukkha. If Shikantaza gets you to an Equanimous state then great; do it last and see what happens...
Good luck,
~D

RE: Where am I?
Answer
2/15/14 5:33 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Shikantaza develops both tranquility and insight. Indeed, in the Dzogchen tradition, there is a very similar practice that is called Shamatha-Vipassana.

One will experience dukkha while doing Shikantaza, and one will gain insight.

When dukkha arises, it's a mistake to try to push it away, pretend it isn't there, or to develop an aversive attitude towards it. I've also found it beneficial to purposely being certain afflictive emotions, like hatred and fear, into my practice. But it simply isn't necessary to cultivate the torturous states that noting seems to bring up for a lot of people.

RE: Where am I?
Answer
2/15/14 10:35 PM as a reply to green tea.
green tea:
Shikantaza develops both tranquility and insight. Indeed, in the Dzogchen tradition, there is a very similar practice that is called Shamatha-Vipassana.

One will experience dukkha while doing Shikantaza, and one will gain insight.

Well green tea, we don't really know now do we? Are you sure that your definition for Shikantaza is accurate? Does everyone agree with your definition? Could someone be "just sitting" and not doing concentration or insite and still think they are meditating? Could Gregory possibly be focusing on concentration exercises or insite or both or neither?
Perhaps by direct experience and a little reading this may become clearer to him.
~D

RE: Where am I?
Answer
2/16/14 7:33 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
green tea:
Shikantaza develops both tranquility and insight. Indeed, in the Dzogchen tradition, there is a very similar practice that is called Shamatha-Vipassana.

One will experience dukkha while doing Shikantaza, and one will gain insight.

Well green tea, we don't really know now do we? Are you sure that your definition for Shikantaza is accurate? Does everyone agree with your definition? Could someone be "just sitting" and not doing concentration or insite and still think they are meditating? Could Gregory possibly be focusing on concentration exercises or insite or both or neither?
Perhaps by direct experience and a little reading this may become clearer to him.
~D


To Dream Walker: Dukkha arises while labeling during the day so in shikantaza i haven't experienced it as much.
If i start shikantaza i finish shikantaza without switching to anything, i let stuff happen, i don't even label anything. it is usually equanimous.

I dont think the genuine shikantaza can be a type of concentration practice purely by definition, yet shamatha-vipassana would fit the definition you seem to be using. I don't really want to dive into semantics and stuff but in my understanding of shikantaza there is no other quality than pure mindfulness.

To clear things up a bit, i got back to shikantaza full time now and i dont experience dukkha as much as when i was full time on anapanasati. I don't know….. I am still lost but for now i am going to stick with shikantaza.

Very very much appreciate your comments guys.

RE: Where am I?
Answer
2/16/14 10:10 AM as a reply to Gregory R. H..
Gregory R. H.:
To Dream Walker: Dukkha arises while labeling during the day so in shikantaza i haven't experienced it as much.
If i start shikantaza i finish shikantaza without switching to anything, i let stuff happen, i don't even label anything. it is usually equanimous.

I dont think the genuine shikantaza can be a type of concentration practice purely by definition, yet shamatha-vipassana would fit the definition you seem to be using. I don't really want to dive into semantics and stuff but in my understanding of shikantaza there is no other quality than pure mindfulness.

To clear things up a bit, i got back to shikantaza full time now and i dont experience dukkha as much as when i was full time on anapanasati. I don't know….. I am still lost but for now i am going to stick with shikantaza.

Very very much appreciate your comments guys.

Well I think that if your current tool is working well for you then I'd stick with it for the present moment. I would add to the basic awareness just a little bit of the three characteristics. During shikantaza notice whatever comes up is not you, doesn't last, doesn't satify.
Good luck
~D