Introduction

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Mary Thomas, modified 8 Years ago at 1/30/14 10:07 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/30/14 10:07 AM

Introduction

Posts: 5 Join Date: 11/29/13 Recent Posts
So this is my first post. I'm going to try to keep this short and not create a novel. I started meditating about Febuary 2013. What led me to it I can't say for sure, freedom from suffering I imagine. I began reading everything I could get my hands on, which led me to Buddhism.

Once I began reading the teachings of the Buddha I was hooked. I quickly saw the truth in his words. Within weeks I was ready to leave my family and join a monastery. I only wanted quiet and seclusion and a teacher. Having read a lot of posts here I see this is fairly common. I thought Buddhism was all I could ever ask for.
Well I didn't join a monastery, but I spent pretty much all my time either meditating, reading spiritual books or watching Dhamma talks. There was no interest in anything else. This hasn't changed.

I was doing anapanasatti mainly, but also vippasana. I had so much trouble. I thought something must be wrong with me. I felt I was terrible at meditating, but I stuck with it and learned not to beat myself up.

Things started to improve and I started experiencing bliss quite often. I was always going around in a joyful state, everything was wonderful and beautiful. I would weep with joy sometimes just from walking through the woods and seeing the beauty in nature. Having suffered severe anxiety and depression most of my life this was pretty awesome.

Before I started meditating when feelings of depression would come I would feel helpless to stop it. I would be taken over by depression and stay that way for days, weeks sometimes months. After beginning meditation I learned to stop this from happening. When the feelings came up I was able to observe them and see them for what they are. Not to say I will never feel anxious or sad again, but it is rare and the feelings pass quickly.
During this period I was often dreaming of the Buddha. I even woke up after a medical procedure and said to the nurse with a huge smile on my face " I was meditating with the Buddha under the Bodhi tree." She looked at me like I was a screwball. I often dreamt I was meditating.

During this time while meditating I saw clearly how separate each thought is. I also saw very clearly that I am not who I always took myself to be, there are only thoughts, not a separate self. I felt a mourning as though someone had literally died. I saw how I habitually reacted to things. I had other such insights.
Upon waking every morning I was able to stay in a state where I wasn't quite awake, the world was held off and there were no thoughts only peace.

I became a vegetarian, lost 50lbs, quit drinking which I have been doing since I was twelve. I quit playing games (WoW) gave up 90% of tv watching and made every effort to be moral. All was good... For awhile.

Then I don't know what happened. The blissful state was gone. The wonderful dreams were gone. I couldn't hold off the world in the morning, it always came rushing right in. I didn't want to meditate, I mean I knew I should, but it wasn't the same. I had to force myself. Still I only had interest in spiritual things. I continued spending all my time on reading and Dhamma talks. I questioned my motives. Am I only doing this to appear a certain way to people? Do I just want to be admired? Thought of as good, maybe better than others? And yes there is a part of me that feels these things, but that is only normal. It is a part of conditioning.

I became slightly disillusioned with Buddhism I thought there could be no wrong in It, how silly I am. I saw how members of one tradition put down members of other traditions and how each professes to have the true teaching while the others are wrong. I saw monks wearing gold watches and acting foolish. I've come to realize its not about religion, not at all, not for me anyway. Though I still read and follow the teachings of the Buddha.

In the beginning I thought becoming enlightened would take lifetimes. I thought there were no enlightened beings anymore. I didnt ever believe it could happen to me in this lifetime. Now I know it can. I already am what I'm trying to become. Finding the teachings of Nisagadatta, Maharshi, Papaji, Ajahn Chah and many others has made it clear that it is possible.
I started studying other religions and realized that all the enlightened masters say the same thing. They use different words and different methods, but it all comes down to the same thing.

I found the teachings of Ramana Maharshi and began self enquiry. Pretty quickly things started to change for me. I found joy in meditation again. I realized how I've spent most of my time completely absorbed in stories in my head.
I had a couple experiences that staggered me. During meditation I was contemplating feelings and the complete uselessness of worry when suddenly all worries dropped away. I felt a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. I felt peace as I've never known it. It was clear there is no good or bad, it only is as it is.That lasted only moments.
That was completely different from the usual peace during meditation like when I'm concentrated and just not having thoughts. Completely different.

Another time I experienced absolute stillness. I had no idea how much movement/vibration there is until then. Movement in the body, in the mind and outside the body. For an instant everything was absolutely still, literally stilI. I can't explain better than this. I feel like maybe this is something all meditators experience but I never did till then and not again since.

I finally understood how knowing something and totally believing it is different from the actual experience of it. Some times I feel im going crazy. I want to scream and tear my hair out. I feel I can't go another day living this illusion. I feel like everything I say is a lie. Not like I'm intentionally lying, but everything is just a lie. But then the urgency passes.
I find myself craving the blissful states and I know this is not good. My goal is freedom from samsara, nothing less. If I was given the option of becoming a realized being but only under the condition that I would lose the body the next day, I would have absolutely no problem with that. Not that I'm unhappy, not at all, but my only purpose is realization.

I think I need to build my concentration. Self enquiry is doing wonderful things for me, but maybe doing the jhanas will be beneficial. I'm not sure though, sometimes I think I'm filling my head with to much and I should stop reading and just sit.
I've looked over some of the jhana stuff and it looks complicated like there is so much to learn. I don't have any spiritual friends. I don't talk to anyone about this stuff except posts on G+ or Facebook which no one gives a rats ass about. I've never had an actual teaching in person or been on retreat. But this is my life now, this is what's important to me.

I would love some advice. Any pointers or tips are very welcome. Is it necaassary to have a teacher? There is so much I didn't say, but look I did end up writing a novel after all.
For those of you who have read this far thank you.

With metta, Mary.
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Florian, modified 8 Years ago at 1/30/14 11:45 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/30/14 11:45 AM

RE: Introduction

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Welcome to the Dharma Overground, Mary.

Teachers... there's the slightly cheesy "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear". In a sense it's true, but in my experience it's a matter of the student learning to recognize the teachers. Thus, someone who knows how to push all my buttons might turn out to be a "teacher" at some point, because of their ability to teach me about my buttons... On the other hand, more formal student-teacher setups are not discussed here so often; DhOers seem to be more into DIY practice. The people over at awakenetwork.org have a quite a bit of collective experience with long-term spiritual teachers, so you might ask them, too (but don't go away!).

So what kind of advice are you looking for, apart from the teacher thing?

I hope you'll like it here, and that you get a lot out of participating.

Cheers,
Florian
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Jake , modified 8 Years ago at 1/30/14 1:03 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/30/14 1:03 PM

RE: Introduction

Posts: 695 Join Date: 5/22/10 Recent Posts
Hi Mary, I second Florian's welcome emoticon

Until you find a teacher (and soliciting opinions and experiences on that could be its own thread, perhaps) you could always share more detail about your current practice in a practice thread and you may find a lot of helpful feedback that way. You have some great desfiptions of your practice in your post, so maybe take a look at some of the practice threads here and start you own?
-Jake
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Mary Thomas, modified 8 Years ago at 1/30/14 3:54 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/30/14 3:54 PM

RE: Introduction

Posts: 5 Join Date: 11/29/13 Recent Posts
Hi and thank you both for the welcome. I've got a lot more reading to do on this site, there's so much. When I was a kid and I received a game for Christmas, I drove everyone nuts because I refused to play until I read the instructions over and over and understood completely. I guess I'm still that way.

Mary
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Dream Walker, modified 8 Years ago at 1/30/14 7:19 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/30/14 7:19 PM

RE: Introduction

Posts: 1454 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Mary Thomas:
Hi and thank you both for the welcome. I've got a lot more reading to do on this site, there's so much. When I was a kid and I received a game for Christmas, I drove everyone nuts because I refused to play until I read the instructions over and over and understood completely. I guess I'm still that way.

Mary

Welcome.
Well the rules of this game are in the book MCTB. <---[click link] MCTB is the abbreviation for the title of a book called Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, an Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book by Daniel Ingram. Lots of people here play that game. Some play for a while and move on to other games and some have never played the game that way. I recommend reading the book twice at first...then again later as you change. After you finish the book I think your questions might change, evolve and be more succinct
Good luck
~D
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Ian And, modified 8 Years ago at 1/31/14 1:46 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/31/14 1:46 AM

RE: Introduction

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Welcome to the DhO.

And pay no attention to Dream Walker's "rules of the game" comment. There are no rules here other than a sincere interest in hardcore practice of the Buddhadhamma which results in an awakening. Most people who arrived here did so on the back of having read Daniel's book, but it is by no means a necessity. If it helps, fine. An interest in getting the practice done and experiencing the benefits is the only ticket of entry needed.

You mentioned in your initial post:
Mary Thomas:
I think I need to build my concentration. Self enquiry is doing wonderful things for me, but maybe doing the jhanas will be beneficial. I'm not sure though, sometimes I think I'm filling my head with to much and I should stop reading and just sit. I've looked over some of the jhana stuff and it looks complicated like there is so much to learn.

Improving one's concentration is a necessity for building a successful practice and garnering the benefits of mindfulness. However, you should know that (at least in my experience) the goal dhyana meditation is to help one become better able to enter samadhi more easily. Samadhi, where the mind is able to rest pointedly on one object of observation, undistracted, in order to accomplish the necessary insight for awakening. Once you know this meditative terrain (samadhi), then the goal becomes using these tools to assist you in your goal of awakening (realization).

Dhyana meditation itself is not complicated. But it may be difficult to pick up unless you've had some concentrative experiences that will help you to better relate to it. Once you get the feel of it, then you know how to enter into it effortlessly. I no longer use it with any regularity, and much prefer to go straight into samadhi and contemplation.

I, too, for a while, practiced using Ramana Maharshi's method of self inquiry. But I used it in order to learn how to quieten and still the mind. Once I achieved that and then obtained a clearer idea of what Gotama taught (through reading the discourses and about the teachings), that became the main focus of my practice. It is not good to do too much jumping around in the spiritual pool if what you want to accomplish is final release of the mind from its conditioning.

Best of fortune to you in your endeavors.

In peace,
Ian
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Mary Thomas, modified 8 Years ago at 1/31/14 12:36 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/31/14 12:36 PM

RE: Introduction

Posts: 5 Join Date: 11/29/13 Recent Posts
Thanks to you both and especially for the link. I'll begin Mr. Ingrams book when I finish Bhante Gunaratana's Mindefulness In Plain English.
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Dream Walker, modified 8 Years ago at 1/31/14 3:12 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/31/14 3:12 PM

RE: Introduction

Posts: 1454 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Ian And:
And pay no attention to Dream Walker's "rules of the game" comment. There are no rules here other than a sincere interest in hardcore practice of the Buddhadhamma which results in an awakening. Most people who arrived here did so on the back of having read Daniel's book, but it is by no means a necessity. If it helps, fine. An interest in getting the practice done and experiencing the benefits is the only ticket of entry needed.


O come now, we make rules all the time. Example -
1) Have a sincere interest
2) Hardcore practice
3) Buddhadhamma
4) results in an awakening

That is just one sentence chock full of rules. Even if you don't have a sincere interest, don't care about hardcoreness or Buddhadhamma or awakening I still welcome you. Make your own rules or adopt what you will of any presented...I still recommend the book as the vocabulary and concepts are used here very often and you will feel lost in some topics until you have some of the vocab down at least.
Have fun,
~D