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Dealing with the Dark Night

Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.

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Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. dat Buddha-field 4/1/14 12:38 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. dat Buddha-field 4/1/14 3:11 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Dada Kind 4/1/14 3:34 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Jake 4/1/14 6:08 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. dat Buddha-field 4/2/14 12:07 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. FM Cetin 4/2/14 1:59 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. dat Buddha-field 4/2/14 12:14 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. dat Buddha-field 4/2/14 1:40 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. dat Buddha-field 4/3/14 1:18 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Nikolai . 4/3/14 3:31 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Mike H. 4/3/14 5:00 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Nikolai . 4/3/14 8:54 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Jake 4/2/14 6:43 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Dream Walker 4/1/14 6:42 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. dat Buddha-field 4/2/14 12:10 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Dream Walker 4/2/14 10:54 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. dat Buddha-field 4/2/14 11:54 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Eva Nie 9/3/14 2:03 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Eric M W 4/1/14 7:35 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. FM Cetin 4/1/14 11:18 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. dat Buddha-field 4/2/14 12:08 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Jenny 9/4/14 8:37 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. . Jake . 4/3/14 9:14 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. dat Buddha-field 4/3/14 1:07 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Jenny 9/2/14 8:21 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. dat Buddha-field 9/2/14 9:26 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Jenny 9/2/14 11:43 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. dat Buddha-field 9/3/14 11:17 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Jenny 9/3/14 7:17 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. dat Buddha-field 9/3/14 11:20 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Jenny 9/4/14 7:28 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Eric M W 9/4/14 7:51 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Eva Nie 9/4/14 10:23 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. x x 9/5/14 9:36 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Jenny 9/5/14 9:55 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. x x 9/6/14 6:47 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Eva Nie 9/6/14 9:40 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Eva Nie 9/5/14 10:31 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. x x 9/6/14 6:57 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Eva Nie 9/6/14 10:00 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. x x 9/6/14 12:11 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Jenny 9/6/14 9:23 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Eva Nie 9/7/14 12:23 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Jenny 9/4/14 7:56 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. . Jake . 9/4/14 9:10 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Jenny 9/5/14 8:45 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. . Jake . 9/6/14 7:48 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Jenny 9/6/14 9:16 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Eva Nie 9/7/14 12:01 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. x x 9/7/14 7:53 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. . Jake . 9/7/14 12:19 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Jenny 9/7/14 5:24 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. . Jake . 9/7/14 6:05 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Eva Nie 9/7/14 10:01 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Eva Nie 9/9/14 7:43 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. John Wilde 9/7/14 6:11 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. . Jake . 9/8/14 12:16 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Jenny 9/9/14 1:05 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Matt 9/9/14 1:36 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Eva Nie 9/8/14 11:12 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Jenny 9/9/14 12:40 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Eva Nie 9/10/14 12:31 AM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. dat Buddha-field 9/8/14 3:59 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Jenny 9/9/14 12:58 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Eva Nie 9/9/14 11:36 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Eva Nie 9/7/14 12:24 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. . Jake . 9/7/14 12:03 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. ivory 9/20/14 1:42 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Nicolas 3/18/15 7:42 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. Tyler Durden 9/14/14 12:32 PM
RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it. dat Buddha-field 9/14/14 4:12 PM
People around here seem to talk an awful lot about how horrible the dark night can be. It's true, it is inherently unpleasant. Most people also tend to spend the majority of their pre-stream entry practice as Dark Night Yogis. To me, this is very indicative of the general mindset here.

If you're busy stressing about how awful the Dark Night is, you're missing the point! Aversive circlejerks about the DN are supremely unskillful.

This is a perspective on the practice that Daniel has mentioned, but I don't see discussed often and I don't feel gets enough recognition.

If your Dark Night seems to be some eternal, hellish nightmare you're not approaching it in a skillful way. The primary reason you are in the DN is because you need to learn it's lessons. The DN is a powerful teacher. Listen to what it has to say. Aversion to the DN is understandable, but an unskillful approach. Don't turn away from reality.

You're going to be in the DN until you learn what it is trying to teach you. There are difficult but important lessons to be had. Note and release your aversion to the DN. More than that, become the dark night! Revel in all it's horrific, frightening, and terrible glory. Let the Dark Night flow through you! Attain it's evil bliss.

If you can do that, it will likely be far easier than you have been led to believe. Be mindful of the 3Cs and don't turn away from reality, it's as simple as that.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
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4/1/14 3:11 PM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
It's the realization that got me out of it.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
4/1/14 3:34 PM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
Paweł K:
it's so easy to say those things when not really in DN, is it?

Pretty much this. OP is right, but it's not always that easy.

The DN is like a Chinese finger trap. That one has been floating around in my head lately, figured I'd take my chance to get it out there

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
4/1/14 6:08 PM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
Its hard to be mindful of the 3C's when you can only really understand them with the mind based on reading and not with direct experience/insight. Actually, it isn't hard to be mindful, just hard to really KNOW them. This just means I need to meditate more.

The direct knowing of the 3C's is (or 2?) is a recipe for stream entry right? I think I saw that on this board somewhere..

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
4/1/14 6:42 PM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
dat Buddha-field,You're not wrong, you're just being callous. Most likely to elicit a response.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
4/1/14 7:35 PM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
dat Buddha-field:
People around here seem to talk an awful lot about how horrible the dark night can be. It's true, it is inherently unpleasant.

No it isn't. Third jhana is inherently pleasant, but the murky center and complex harmonics can bring up our dark stuff in a hurry. If you stick with body sensations or a rarified object such as a candle flame, you will probably be all set, but it is very easy to get caught up in our dark stuff and have a difficult time.

The DN has positive aspects, for example it is a great time to cultivate compassion, the second sublime abode.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
4/1/14 11:18 PM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
You're going to be in the DN until you learn what it is trying to teach you


I see this mentioned but I don't know exactly what is meant by it. Could you elaborate? Could you give some examples from your experience if it's not too personal, so we have a better idea of what kind of lessons are to be learned and what to look for?

Are you referring to something along the lines of not making rash decisions that have strong and irreversible outcomes as mentioned in MCTB, and the things that can be learned from those irreversible outcomes?

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
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4/2/14 12:08 AM as a reply to FM Cetin.
@Trial and Error

In the DN, for me, noting impermanence and unsatisfactoriness was easy.

Reality got pixely, was warpy at times, and deep meditation made reality feel much less solid. It seemed tissue paper thin at times. I recognized impermanence.

I had many unpleasant sensations while sitting such as intense itching, intense sharp needle-like sensations. Recognizing unsatisfactoriness was extremely clear.

Recognizing not-self was much tougher, and was where I was stuck. From my perspective, it seems like many here suffer the same issue.

My DN had intense states of fear, existential angst, and doubt. My stuff came up frequently. I strongly identified with all my states and stuff. I had fear. I had angst. I had doubt. I couldn't separate myself from these, and I lived in hell.

These states are not-self. Your "stuff" is not-self. This is the message many seem slow to realize. Seeing fear as not-self gives you space from it. Having fear arise and being the scared one are very different things.

Understanding not-self gives you space from what arises while simultaneously allowing you to be more intimate with it. If you're stuck in a seemingly endless dark night you have failed to realize this. Quit identifying with your shit and start noting it. That's the practice.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
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4/2/14 12:07 AM as a reply to Jake.
@Jake WM

Yes, understanding the 3Cs is the whole practice. It's what will take you to stream entry.

If you can't recognize them, you're not in the Dark Night. Nonetheless, I bet you can recognize them and you don't even realize it.

Feel a sensation, like an itch, arise and pass away. Boom, impermanence.

Recognize pain. Boom, unsatisfactoriness.

Realize that you are not your thoughts. Boom, not-self.

That's how understanding of these things starts. As you traverse the territory your understanding of them will get subtler and subtler.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
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4/2/14 12:10 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
dat Buddha-field,You're not wrong, you're just being callous. Most likely to elicit a response.


It's a perspective that's needed around here. People get caught up in the dark night and forget the practice.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
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4/2/14 1:59 AM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
Recognize pain. Boom, unsatisfactoriness


Could you give more examples to unsatisfactoriness that are less obvious?

I have more trouble with this than the other Cs.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
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4/2/14 6:43 AM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
dat Buddha-field:
@Jake WM

Yes, understanding the 3Cs is the whole practice. It's what will take you to stream entry.

If you can't recognize them, you're not in the Dark Night. Nonetheless, I bet you can recognize them and you don't even realize it.

Feel a sensation, like an itch, arise and pass away. Boom, impermanence.

Recognize pain. Boom, unsatisfactoriness.

Realize that you are not your thoughts. Boom, not-self.


Hmm.. I have recognized them before but only on the surface level if you know what I mean.. I have been meditating and watched many sensations arise and pass away, even thoughts. I have felt pain, disgust, depression, anxiety, and these are incredibly unsatisfactory. The realization that I wasn't my thoughts is what triggered my a&p and I am completely aware of this (although sometimes they still trap me).

dat Buddha-field:

That's how understanding of these things starts. As you traverse the territory your understanding of them will get subtler and subtler.


I understand them but I haven't been able to get deep enough into meditation yet to see them on a truly microscopic level, such as actually feeling tiny little atoms whizz in and out of reality. This is not something I go into meditation expecting by the way, just an example i've read on this board before.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
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4/2/14 10:54 AM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
dat Buddha-field:
Dream Walker:
dat Buddha-field,You're not wrong, you're just being callous. Most likely to elicit a response.


It's a perspective that's needed around here. People get caught up in the dark night and forget the practice.

A callous perspective is what is needed? Have you considered that each persons dark night can be subjectively better or worse than another's? Could your experiences be twice as bad as anothers? what about 10X as easy?
The message of practice well with skillfulness and diligence is always useful...As the dude say's "You're not wrong Walter"
~D

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
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4/2/14 11:54 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
A callous perspective is what is needed? Have you considered that each persons dark night can be subjectively better or worse than another's? Could your experiences be twice as bad as anothers? what about 10X as easy?
The message of practice well with skillfulness and diligence is always useful...As the dude say's "You're not wrong Walter"
~D


The practice is to recognize emotional stuff as not-self. Like I said elsewhere, being able to recognize something as not-self gives you space from it and allows you to engage it in a more skillful way.

Moral support during the DN is great and all, but it's meaningless if people forget the practice. Even advanced practitioners needed to be reminded sometimes.

If saying that makes me an asshole, then I'm glad to be one.

The people with the worst of the worst DNs are the people who need to hear this message the most, because they are the ones clinging the hardest. The less you cling, the less you'll get burned.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
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4/2/14 12:14 PM as a reply to FM Cetin.
Trial And Error:
Could you give more examples to unsatisfactoriness that are less obvious?

I have more trouble with this than the other Cs.


Sure. Like I said in my last comment to you, I experienced intense needle-like sensations that were very unpleasant. Intense itching, and getting hot during meditation which was unpleasant. The emotional and mental states such as fear, doubt, and angst were all unpleasant.

Sometimes I felt myself grasping at sensations with awareness in a way that felt jarring. I think Daniel has described something similar in his practice, as "feeling out of phase with objects" or something like that.

There's no super secret magick trick to discerning the 3Cs. It's all right there in your experience. You might be over-thinking things and expecting the 3Cs to be way more profound than they actually are. The 3Cs are extremely ordinary, it's just a matter of teaching yourself to experience reality through the lens of them.

Also, the 3Cs are all linked to each other. For example, I had attachment to self-image. Thus recognizing aspects of my identity and attachment to it, as not-self, was difficult/jarring/unsatisfactory.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
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4/2/14 1:40 PM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
You seem to not understand what I'm saying so I will clarify for you.

Paweł K:
Recognize pain. Boom, unsatisfactoriness.
wow, that's some really deep insight you have there dude emoticon


I was explaining 3Cs at their most basic level for someone who claimed to not be able to have mindfulness of them, and only have an intellectual understanding. It would behoove you to read in context before you decide to be a dick.

Pawel K:
but seriously realizations of 'actually I am fine' are kinda like realization that headache ended. When it lasted you could do nothing to stop it but the moment it ends is almost like it was your choice to end it. Its illusion.


I'm not teaching realization of "I'm fine". I'm saying remember the practice and note phenomena as not-self. Of course you have the power to end your own headache silly, that's why enlightenment is possible. Getting through the dark night is not about toughing it out, it's about maturing your wisdom.

Pawel K:
mind will experience dukkha of clinging, aversion and ignorance for many times before it finally give it up


Yes, and finally giving it up is a matter of being mindful of the Dharma.


Pawel K:
BTW. there might be some value to this topic after all because after reading it I had insight about real source of my current DN. As valid as it was it's not solving anything yet but I have feeling that when time comes it will. Though I do not really see what part of your advice was relevant, probably just mere thinking about DN made me realize I might be in one and my struggle to integrate some part of me was causing it and it was not working cause it is already integrated. Kinda like trying to catch own tail won't ever work for dogs emoticon


So you're saying you looked into the nature of your Dark Night and had insight? Miraculous!

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
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4/3/14 9:14 AM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
Thanks OP, this is an important perspective that I agree is not emphasized enough in the culture of this community. While similar advice is often given by the more elder practitioners here, it does seem that the culture of this community often obscures this. Part of the reason may be that many folks find their way here as DN yogis who stumbled into an A&P event with little preparation and hence don't have solid practices established by the time they find themselves in the dark night.
This being the case an emphasis on the practical approach to the dark night is just what the doctor ordered I think.

All too often folks-- especially those who have the longest and most dramatic (as judged by posts anyhow) DN-- are either overemphasizing the content of their DN as opposed to merely noticing the arising and passing of content on subtler and subtler levels, or else, trying to power through the DN through aggressive practice which conveniently reinforces the felt sense of being a solid practitioner-self.

The above isn't bad because those kids aren't cool enough or whatever else bullshit, it's bad because folks are getting stuck in their practice and are hindering their own natural unfolding of insight and liberation. Some of the reactions to your post seem like they are trying to project a judging mindset onto what you are saying but that's not what I am reading in your OP. It is not an issue of shaming folks or judging folks which also would reinforce their sense of being a solid separate self, but rather of a wake-up call that good practice will facilitate the unfolding of the stages of practice resulting in liberation and awakening and that anyone can do this if they simply come back to the basics again and again on subtler and subtler levels as the latter naturally arise in awareness and so thanks for bringing up this topic and trying to help folks out. This community could use more firm and clear voices like this as that might result in newcomers spending less time indulging in either wallowing in their content or trying to aggressively power through the DN stage, both of which conveniently avoid the basic lessons of equanimity and emptiness and letting go that the DN so generously offers us.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
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4/3/14 1:07 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
@Jake:

Yes. Thank you for reading me clearly. I'm definitely not trying to shame or judge anyone. We are all guilty of wallowing in our content at times. Even advanced practitioners need an occasional reminder of the basic practice.

From the Satipatthana Sutta:

"Here, O bhikkhus, a bhikkhu understands the consciousness with lust, as with lust; the consciousness without lust, as without lust; the consciousness with hate, as with hate; the consciousness without hate, as without hate; the consciousness with ignorance, as with ignorance; the consciousness without ignorance, as without ignorance; the shrunken state of consciousness, as the shrunken state; the distracted state of consciousness, as the distracted state; the state of consciousness become great, as the state become great; the state of consciousness not become great, as the state not become great; the state of consciousness with some other mental state superior to it, as the state with something mentally higher; the state of consciousness with no other mental state superior to it, as the state with nothing mentally higher; the quieted state of consciousness, as the quieted state; the state of consciousness not quieted, as the state not quieted; the freed state of consciousness as freed; and the unfreed state of consciousness, as unfreed."

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
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4/3/14 1:18 PM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
Paweł K:
Still I am not really convinced stopping all pain and suffering is possible because its part of conditioned reality we are in. Many folks here at DhO think that way too including overlord emoticon


Stopping pain and stopping suffering are two different things.

The escape from suffering is the definition of Enlightenment.

If you don't think you have control over your suffering, then we have little to discuss.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
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4/3/14 3:31 PM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
It may help to question the way one terms and perhaps unwittingly scripts experiences into being something that resembles what the term 'Dark Night' linguistically and culturally represents. 'Dark' doesn't have the best of connotations and 'Night' isn't usually seen as the brightest and jolliest part of the day, in the west at least.

Perhaps it may be wise to see two differing paths of experience. The 'Dark Night' VERSUS the dukkha ñanas. The dukkha ñanas are stages of knowledge. And when there is knowledge of what is arising and passing, that is when there is fast progress towards cultivation of equanimity towards the very formations that take the mental shapes that make things seem 'dark'. In my experience a 'dark night' ceases to be 'dark' in nature and neither carries the negative connotation of 'night' if one's practice approaches practice as a trigger for knowledge rather than a particular experience, ñana means knowledge after all.

We love to use/create terms that define and thus give mental shape and weight to our 'experiences'. Dependent Origination in action. It is only dark like the night because one wallows in the content, concepts, formations that take shape in the shadow of not knowing how they take shape (and how they cease to take shape). Such experiences cease to take such shape when knowledge of dukkha replaces blind reaction.

A good idea is to familiarise oneself with the term 'dukkha', all the different interpretations/translations of it, and hold all of them lightly.

No single English word adequately captures the full depth, range, and subtlety of the crucial Pali term dukkha. Over the years, many translations of the word have been used ("stress," "unsatisfactoriness," "suffering," etc.). Each has its own merits in a given context. There is value in not letting oneself get too comfortable with any one particular translation of the word, since the entire thrust of Buddhist practice is the broadening and deepening of one's understanding of dukkha until its roots are finally exposed and eradicated once and for all. One helpful rule of thumb: as soon as you think you've found the single best translation for the word, think again: for no matter how you describe dukkha, it's always deeper, subtler, and more unsatisfactory than that.



Even the most refined and light 'formations' such as those that present in high equanimity can be seen as dukkha. And when seen in such a light, the mind ceases to lunge and grasp at such light formations (and the grosser unpleasant ones that helped define the 'dark night'). How else will one see the cessation of a lunging, grasping mind?

Nick's cent.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
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4/3/14 5:00 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai .:
In my experience a 'dark night' ceases to be 'dark' in nature and neither carries the negative connotation of 'night' if one's practice approaches practice as a trigger for knowledge rather than a particular experience, ñana means knowledge after all.


Nikolai - I fully agree. When I was in the dark night, it was very helpful to think of the various symptoms as the 'knowledges of suffering'.

It was more proactive and positive in a sense, because the term itself points to the question "'what am I supposed to learn here?" And it is also affirming, in that "I am at an important stage of the practice, learning about duhkka". So in that sense it was like meeting a challenge.

I sometimes think the 'dark night' term is more appropriate to the christian tradition. However, I will say that it has been helpful to hear some of the very negative accounts in MCTB and elsewhere, and the use of the term 'Dark Night' itself can be a helpful warning about some of the negative symptoms one might not expect. I myself struggled with dark night symptoms like anxiety, fear, etc. and quite simply, the only teachings that really spelled this out for me were in the pragmatic dharma community.

Responding to some of the earlier posts, I'd sort of disagree that there needs to be a 'firmer hand' with those who are relating dark night symptoms. If someone is misattributing their suffering to a "dark night," that is really for them to figure out (or not). You can't do that on a forum in a broader sense. You can encourage someone not to get lost in the content during meditation, but think that is a relatively limited statement.

Also, someone can make a very simple statement in a post about 'how you handle' the dark night or 'what the lesson is'. Those statements might be largely true, but really, if someone is in these stages of insight they might need to read statements like that multiple times, read books, meditate , and struggle some. You can give someone advice but really that is probably going to be only a little encouragement in the right direction.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
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4/3/14 8:54 PM as a reply to Mike H..
An interesting discussion on what where the term dukkha possibly comes from.

Nick

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
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9/2/14 8:21 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
I reject the notion that a particularly rough Dark Night is somehow the fault of the practitioner or a matter of bad practice. How do you or anyone else know what someone else is going through?

Moreover, why do people here keep saying that one has to learn the lessons that the DN has to teach or SE won't happen? That was not true in my case. MY DN was horrific, I never learned anything from it except that it sucked, and I never developed equanimity toward it, not one iota. Nonetheless, I emerged from the Dark Night within a few months, without even practicing much at all (maybe once a week), and reached stream entry. As Simon T. recently said on another thread, we have not clearly theorized what the Dark Night is really (good) for. I've not even seen anyone here specify what those "lessons" are that we are supposed to learn from Dark Night. If it is just disenchantment with samsara, well, duh . . . yeah, got that lesson, all right!

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
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9/2/14 9:26 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen Pearly:
I reject the notion that a particularly rough Dark Night is somehow the fault of the practitioner or a matter of bad practice. How do you or anyone else know what someone else is going through?

Do you reject the notion that you have power to end your suffering?  If you have any ability to liberate yourself, then it's only because you were blocking it to begin with.  Just because someone is having a rough DN doesn't mean they're "bad" as a practitioner or should be blamed.  It merely means they're not looking at things in a wise way.  We're all deluded and we all need help sometimes.  No one is casting blame.  

Moreover, why do people here keep saying that one has to learn the lessons that the DN has to teach or SE won't happen? That was not true in my case. MY DN was horrific, I never learned anything from it except that it sucked, and I never developed equanimity toward it, not one iota. Nonetheless, I emerged from the Dark Night within a few months, without even practicing much at all (maybe once a week), and reached stream entry. As Simon T. recently said on another thread, we have not clearly theorized what the Dark Night is really (good) for. I've not even seen anyone here specify what those "lessons" are that we are supposed to learn from Dark Night. If it is just disenchantment with samsara, well, duh . . . yeah, got that lesson, all right!
You create your own suffering in your mind.  Is that such a radical idea here?  

Let me make sure I'm understanding correctly... You stopped feeding the perceptions you call the DN energy and attention, and they went away?  No offense, but if the whole process of traversing the Dark Night and becoming a Stream enterer taught you nothing about the nature of mind, I would venture to say you haven't attained all that you claim to.  If one holds their labels and attainments in higher esteem than what they've learned about the mind, then that may be a lesson to some that they're not really taking the curriculum.   

The stages of insight are intended to give knowledge into certain types of formations/fabrications for the purpose of attaining release from them.  Recall that nana means something like knowledge.  They are exercises in discernment and release.  This isn't some radical new theory, I'm not re-inventing the wheel.  This is straight out of the Burmese insight tradition.  As a so-called stream enterer have you read at all into your lineage?  

I apologize if I seem like a dick.  The culture here requires an abrasive attitude to get through to many people.  But like I said before, I'm not trying to cast blame or tell anyone they're a bad practitioner.  It's just that we all need to see things from a different perspective sometimes.  

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/2/14 11:43 PM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
dat Buddha-Field:
Just because someone is having a rough DN doesn't mean they're "bad" as a practitioner or should be blamed.  It merely means they're not looking at things in a wise way.

I just about ended up on a psych ward--that's how horrific my last Dark Night was. There was no way that I could find to get on top of it or look at it any particular way, let alone some loftily unspecified "wise way." Frankly, I think that the Dark Night is simply to be survived. And the "lesson" is that suffering sucks. That's frankly all I got from it. And you never answered my question. Since I presume that you are enlightened, please tell me what other "lesson" the Dark Night has to teach. People keep saying this phrase, "You have to learn what the Dark Night has to teach," without giving the slightest hint what they mean by repeating that pretty hollow admonishment. What lesson did you learn? I've explained what I learned from it: disenchantment with samsara, or, in other words, "Suffering really, really sucks and I want the dealthless." That's it: Desire for Deliverance.
You create your own suffering in your mind.  Is that such a radical idea here?  

Let me make sure I'm understanding correctly... You stopped feeding the perceptions you call the DN energy and attention, and they went away? 
I don't have the foggiest what you mean by saying that "I" created my suffering in my mind. If the Dark Night is self-induced and then so easily overcome, then is it actually the Dark Night? The dark suggests to me being lost for a while: fear is fear, misery is misery, disgust is disgust--as MCTB says. This means these horrific stages are experienced as horrific stages through and through. The reality of them is the "lesson." If the encounter with the Dark Night translates into some other experience than this, then from my perspective you haven't experienced the Dark Night, just as you say I haven't entered the stream.
No offense, but if the whole process of traversing the Dark Night and becoming a Stream enterer taught you nothing about the nature of mind, I would venture to say you haven't attained all that you claim to.  If one holds their labels and attainments in higher esteem than what they've learned about the mind, then that may be a lesson to some that they're not really taking the curriculum.   

Well, the mind isn't even a thing, and so it has no "nature." And I'm fine with your confidence that I haven't attained stream entry. I'm not here to vet the cessation and dramatic aftermath that happened to me August 8 as "stream entry." All I care about is the difference that whatever it was has indeed made. You seem to think and say that the mark of attainment is the ability to recite a curriculum. So, again, if you know it, please recite it: Let's hear it. I would suggest, on the contrary, that if the so-called lesson is easily translatable into "curriculum," that ain't it.
The stages of insight are intended to give knowledge into certain types of formations/fabrications for the purpose of attaining release from them.  Recall that nana means something like knowledge.  They are exercises in discernment and release.  
So the Dark Night is a series of "exercises" in a "curriculum." Do you realize how odd this sounds and why? The Dark Night comprises the "knowledges of suffering." I attained that "knowledge": I suffered. As for the "release," that happens in and by Equanimity, which breaks through when suffering is thoroughly known--meaning simply experienced, lived through, survived. Equanimity arises. As the Dark Night inevitably follows the A&P, so Equanimity follows the Dark Night. It is not a matter of deciding,"Oh--no more dukka for me!" If release were that much a matter of sheer will and decision, why wouldn't one do that right from the beginning and bypass the DN altogether? Why? Because then one wouldn't have the deep experience of suffering, one wouldn't have the knowledge of suffering at all. So if you can just decide to see the Dark Night with "equanimity," I reiterate: that ain't the Dark Night, and that ain't Equanimity.

Jenny

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/3/14 11:17 PM as a reply to Jenny.
That's frankly all I got from it. And you never answered my question. Since I presume that you are enlightened, please tell me what other "lesson" the Dark Night has to teach. People keep saying this phrase, "You have to learn what the Dark Night has to teach," without giving the slightest hint what they mean by repeating that pretty hollow admonishment. What lesson did you learn? I've explained what I learned from it: disenchantment with samsara, or, in other words, "Suffering really, really sucks and I want the dealthless." That's it: Desire for Deliverance.

Of course I don't know what thoughts you were having.  Yet, you told me you were suffering and you told me you didn't learn anything.  That's enough for me to know that you don't know what a formation is.  The insight stages are knowledges into certain types of formations.  Knowledge into formations that we tend to perceive as misery, disgust, etc.  Formations are volitional.  

A huge lesson of my insight practice was that it taught me what formations are.  I learned how my intention functions in the experience of shaping my consciousness and creating my perceptions.  I learned to see how people create suffering for themselves in many instances.  For example, how feeding unhelpful perceptions can lead to a bad time.  It seems like you are on the brink of understanding that one which is why I'm pushing you.  

I am definitely not fully liberated, for the record.  

I don't have the foggiest what you mean by saying that "I" created my suffering in my mind. If the Dark Night is self-induced and then so easily overcome, then is it actually the Dark Night? The dark suggests to me being lost for a while: fear is fear, misery is misery, disgust is disgust--as MCTB says. This means these horrific stages are experienced as horrific stages through and through. The reality of them is the "lesson." If the encounter with the Dark Night translates into some other experience than this, then from my perspective you haven't experienced the Dark Night, just as you say I haven't entered the stream.
I say 'you' created your suffering because formations are volitional.  That means subtle levels of intention function in their arising.  That's why when all formations pass away cessation occurs; our intent stops and we stop creating new karma in that moment--that's what a cessation is.  

The arising of volitional formations shapes your conscious experience, eventually causes you to reify those perceptions, and leads one to take birth as a 'dark night yogi'.  The 'dark' refers to the common conception of those types formations and the subsequent becoming they tend to lead to.  I would suggest you look into the teachings of the five-aggregates and co-dependent origination (aka 12 nidanas).    
And I'm fine with your confidence that I haven't attained stream entry. I'm not here to vet the cessation and dramatic aftermath that happened to me August 8 as "stream entry." All I care about is the difference that whatever it was has indeed made. 

I'm happy to hear that you are suffering less.  For the record, I care little about whether anyone is a 'stream enterer' or not.  Where it becomes a problem is in causing someone to think they've accomplished all that they need to while simultaneously have quite large blind spots in experience.  
So the Dark Night is a series of "exercises" in a "curriculum." Do you realize how odd this sounds and why? The Dark Night comprises the "knowledges of suffering." I attained that "knowledge": I suffered. As for the "release," that happens in and by Equanimity, which breaks through when suffering is thoroughly known--meaning simply experienced, lived through, survived. Equanimity arises.

It's not just the dark night, it's all stages of insight.  They are the practice of discernment into formations.  How did you suffer differently in the stages of fear, misery, disgust, and equanimity?  What causes and conditions caused equanimity arise?  Why did equanimity pass away?  Those are the types of questions you might ask yourself.

Zach

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/3/14 2:03 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
dat Buddha-field:
Dream Walker:
dat Buddha-field,You're not wrong, you're just being callous. Most likely to elicit a response.


It's a perspective that's needed around here. People get caught up in the dark night and forget the practice.

A callous perspective is what is needed? Have you considered that each persons dark night can be subjectively better or worse than another's? Could your experiences be twice as bad as anothers? what about 10X as easy?
The message of practice well with skillfulness and diligence is always useful...As the dude say's "You're not wrong Walter"
~D
I don't know if it being callous or not callous is the thing we want to consider the main issue, IMO the main issue is if something is true and/or if it works.  At times, you do need tough love with yourself and others.  There is a time when you have to say 'quit whining and start working harder on it' or put out the truth even if it's painful to hear it.   There are also times when kindness, loving, and forgiveness of self are very much needed.  IMO, you will need both to get through the hardest lessons.  IMO, the dark night is the bringing up of all your dark stuff.  Every bit of crap swept under the rug comes out onto the front porch.  IMO, the lessons of dark night are to learn how to deal with all your dark stuff, anger, resentment, fear, anxiety, insecurity, weakness, etc. That means learning to understand yourself better and where and how all that stuff has been hiding in your psyche.  Any of that which is not dealt with will keep coming back until it's defanged and in the end, each of us has to do that for ourselves.  Others can help with pointers and support but we have to do the work inside.  Thinking we are a victim will not help (I tried that method for a long time and it sure didn't get me anywhere), in the end it is your stuff and your challenge, you can't truly be the victim of yourself.  Wherever it came from, childhood, another life, genetics, whatever, now it's your work to do.  The past is gone, right now is only right now. 

I also thinking learning to step back from it with a 'not you' attitude is very helpful for getting an objective look at it and seeing what you need to do and change to deal with it, but on the flip side, I don't think just trying to get farther away from it, all by itself, is the most effective way to defang it or it will always be under there seething and churning.  If something is noisy, you can either see what is causing the noise or try to get further from the noise. Ideally, you could walk where you want without loud noise in the background  but to do that, you'd have to deal with the noisy places.  Maybe that is why we see some of those claiming to be enlightened still being immoral jerks sometimes or often.  Unless you deal with your crap, it will still always be under there seething and churning and affecting you on some level.  Some people may well have taken on a lot of crap to deal with now, and that IMO just means that person will have to work much harder, but also IMO, that person will accomplish much more.   Comparing yourself to others also IMO does not work for anything good.  Only you are in your exact circumstances, all those other people have different loads to carry and so fair comparison is not possible anyway.
-Eva

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/3/14 7:17 PM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
dat Buddha-Field:
Of course I don't know what thoughts you were having.  Yet, you told me you were suffering and you told me you didn't learn anything.
No. I said that I learned that suffering really, really, really sucks. I bathed in suffering in its various equisitely painful flavors: Fear, Misery, and Disgust. I knew them intimately, for months. I knew them so well that Desire for Deliverance arose. I knew Desire for Deliverance and Reobservation so well that Equanimity arose. I knew the Equanimity Conserning Formations so well that cessation happened. The "lesson" that you would recite (if you could, I guess--I'm still waiting) is what I actually experienced. Experiencing reality as reality, not as some conceptualized "lesson," not as some other transcendental signified, is precisely the knowledge. Release comes from closely observing the whole field of sensation that constitutes reality--not from willing it into something else, which seems to be what you are advocating. You are advocating that we all stop wallowing in the Dark Night and simply whip up some instant equanimity to change it. If you are seeking to change it, then that ain't it--it ain't knowledge of suffering and it aint Equanimity.
That's enough for me to know that you don't know what a formation is.  The insight stages are knowledges into certain types of formations. 
So now you know that I don't know what a formation is? Really? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! That's pretty funny! Can you describe for me your experience of a formation? Since you are deigning to give us all a teaching here. I'm still waiting to learn what recitable lesson dukka imparts. I'm waiting to hear you describe your experience of formations so I can cancel out and correct my own experience of formations with your correct version. That's how this works, right? You correct my perceptions for me, because obviously I'm an idiot and my stream entry, cessation, and formations were false ones. 'Cause you just know this!

Given that you don't know me from Eve and obviously haven't even searched this forum for my posts concerning formations, equanimity, and cessation, don't you think it is a wee bit presumptuous of you to know it all?
Formations are volitional. 
So, let me understand you. You think that "volitional formation" means a formation that you created all by yourself? Okay, so I'm now going to assert some knowlege I have actually experienced: If the formations that arise in your practice include, originate, and pass away from only the pole known as a self, then those are not what we mean by formations, let alone equanimity concerning them.
A huge lesson of my insight practice was that it taught me what formations are.  I learned how my intention functions in the experience of shaping my consciousness and creating my perceptions.  I learned to see how people create suffering for themselves in many instances.  For example, how feeding unhelpful perceptions can lead to a bad time. 
This sounds like a pre-A&P stage "insight" to me. Just sayin'. . . . 

It seems like you are on the brink of understanding that one which is why I'm pushing you.  
Wow. See above.

I am definitely not fully liberated, for the record. 
I asked you if you are enlightened, not "fully enlightened." Just "enlightened." since you presume to teach me and others here, I'd like to know your qualifications to teach down to us. So please answer the question. Have you attained third path, second path, first path? A&P?
Where it becomes a problem is in causing someone to think they've accomplished all that they need to while simultaneously have quite large blind spots in experience. 

Um, exactly! I for one know that I'm very far from having accomplished all I need to. And I think of stream entry as something that happened, not something I "accomplished." For the record and all.
It's not just the dark night, it's all stages of insight.  They are the practice of discernment into different formations. 
Yes, they all involve discernment, but that's not what you said. You said that the Dark Night, and that stage specifically, involved both discernment and release. In fact, you think and say that if only we would sufficiently will ourselves to have equanimity during the Dark Night, then we could get to stream entry. With all due respect, that's not quite right.

I don't know how many more ways I can say the same thing over and over again. But I would suggest, for starters, that you might want to look into your own presumptions concerning the power of your self's intention and sheer will and how thoroughly that pole really sums up the universe of phenomena . . . formations.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/3/14 11:20 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Hi Jen,No offense, but you are still waiting for the lessson because you aren't yet understanding me.  I will repeat it again for clarity.  All stages of insight are knowledges of formations.  In Mind & Body, A&P, Dark Night, etc., formations are present.  If there are no formations, you are experiencing a cessation.  Formations involve the intentional element we bring to bare on experience.  This doesn't mean you "whip up equanimty" through sheer force of will.  Intention works on far subtler levels than that.  Passing through the stages of insight is similar to passing through the Jhanas in that progressing is a process of inclining the mind and letting go.  However, with the stages of insight first we discern the aspect of formations that we have inclined the mind towards, and then we incline the mind towards release.     

Formations do not originate from the 'pole of the self' as you said.  They are one of the 5 aggregates we cling to as being the self, due to ignorance. 

I encourage you to look into the 5 aggregates and the 12 nidanas.  

Part of the reason that Samadhi is usually developed before insight practice is so that we can purify the mindstream.  Purification is important because it allows us to deal with 'our stuff' prior to getting into the 'dark night'.  In addition, it creates a more focued/tranquil awareness that has the capacity to discern aspects of mentality and materiality on extremely subtle levels.  When 'our stuff' overpowers our ability to discern what the teachings are pointing to, we may lose sight of things and begin to manifest problems in our lives.     

Thank you for listening and good luck. 

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/4/14 7:28 PM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
No offense, Zach, but you didn't answer any of the questions I so painstakingly (repeatedly) asked you to answer--just simple, straight-up factual questions. I don't understand why you assume that I am not already very familiar with the aggregates and the 12 links. I am. I have no idea why you "know" that I don't know what a formation is, when I've perceived them into cessation. Don't you think it is presumptuous to come onto a forum and dispense teachings without first making at least some minor attempt to understand whom you are addressing and without making clear what qualifies you to teach that person? You just evaded yet again my question whether you are enlightened. I assumed so since you set yourself up high to teach. If you are proposing to be my teacher, then according to the suttas I have a duty to assess the qualifications of my teacher.

Most people here on the DhO don't talk down to others. They present a hypothesis or ask a question, gently, with understanding that we all want the same things and face the same basic challenges. We are dharma friends here, fellow adventurers trying to support each other toward awakening. There are many here much further along on the Path than I, but they don't come blustering on here to tell everyone why they are stuck, what's wrong with everyone on the DhO, that one's attainments are false (without even trying to understand the basis of one's claims to the contrary), that one doesn't know what formations are, and what dharma we need to go read to rise up to your level. This is all complete presumption on your part. You may mean well, but you need to do your homework before you set yourself up as a guru on a forum whose guidelines involve nonhierarchal models of communing and sharing.

Jenny 

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/4/14 7:51 PM as a reply to Jenny.
I just about ended up on a psych ward--that's how horrific my last Dark Night was. There was no way that I could find to get on top of it or look at it any particular way, let alone some loftily unspecified "wise way." Frankly, I think that the Dark Night is simply to be survived. And the "lesson" is that suffering sucks. That's frankly all I got from it. And you never answered my question. Since I presume that you are enlightened, please tell me what other "lesson" the Dark Night has to teach. People keep saying this phrase, "You have to learn what the Dark Night has to teach," without giving the slightest hint what they mean by repeating that pretty hollow admonishment. What lesson did you learn? I've explained what I learned from it: disenchantment with samsara, or, in other words, "Suffering really, really sucks and I want the dealthless." That's it: Desire for Deliverance.

I think "suffering sucks" is really the only "lesson" of the DN. But it's a bit more subtle than that, at least in my (admittedly limited) experience.

It's tempting in the A&P and EQ, where suffering is subtle, to not pay attention to how much suffering sucks. The DN "shows" that all of samsara sucks.

The reason people get stuck in the DN is because they stop investigating the sensations that suck. The primary reason for this, I suspect, is because they still believe that they will suffer less if they do something else. They think they'll suffer less if they stop meditating, or quit their jobs, or end their marriages, or take LSD for some kind of spiritual experience. But that's not what the Dark Night teaches. The Dark Night teaches that everything sucks without exception. Nothing you can possibly do will lessen fundamental suffering in any way. There is nowhere you can go, no experience you can have that will save you. Reality is a screaming, suffering wall of pure suckage and there's nothing you can do about it. Nothing short of complete and utter cessation will bring it to an end. That is the lesson.

People talk about cultivaing equanimity with the DN, but I think just accepting that reality sucks and sitting with the sensations of suckage is a powerful form of equanimity in and of itself. It's almost like the DN if a chinese finger trap. Try to run away, and you're stuck. Note the sensations and you will be free.

Then again, maybe it's just some weird chemical imbalance that crops up in the higher stages of vipassana. Who knows. The bottom line is: simply keep practicing. Don't make any major life decisions, don't try to switch spiritual practices or drop acid to "save" you, only realize that reality sucks and you're stuck with it. Equanimity shows up on its own soon enough.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/4/14 7:56 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
Jake (and Nik),

I'm having a hard time with this thread, obviously. I just can't buy the notion that my DN was so bloody awful because I "wallowed" in the content. I certainly did not. Why would anybody "wallow" in such shit? "Wallow" means "to spend time experiencing or enjoying something without making any effort to change your situation, feelings." It is insulting to say that people struggling in the DN are "wallowing." It reminds me of people who claim that people who are clinically depressed should just "snap the hell out of it." Not helpful!

I would suggest, instead, that those of you who had an easier time were just damned lucky, and that's all. I made it to stream entry, but it was not because I finally stopped "wallowing." I was nearly out of my mind with suffering, but I was not "wallowing in content." And stream entry was definitely not borne on a realization that I was needlessly "wallowing." Again, I conjecture that anyone who says others are wallowing, enjoying suffering, has zero idea what those people are going through--at least to the extent that I was one of those people.

As for developing equanimity toward the dukka nanas--didn't happen that way for me. Knowlege in this case means "thoroughly knowing," as in experiencing. That's how it was for me. Now maybe at subsequent paths, I'll change my tune, but first path was definitely not a matter of knowledge in the sense you two are suggesting. MCTB agrees with my viewpoint: "Fear is fear, Misery is misery, and Disgust is disgust." That's it.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/4/14 8:37 PM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
dat Buddha-Field:
Seeing fear as not-self gives you space from it. Having fear arise and being the scared one are very different things. 

Understanding not-self gives you space from what arises while simultaneously allowing you to be more intimate with it. If you're stuck in a seemingly endless dark night you have failed to realize this. Quit identifying with your shit and start noting it. That's the practice.

One more time--I would suggest that if one can willfully "create some space" around fear, then that fear isn't really thoroughgoing fear at all. And until one thoroughly "knows" fear as FEAR, then one will not emerge into Equanimity, and one will not emerge into Equanimity because one has not yet learned what the dukka nanas "teach." And all they teach is that samsara is suffering and suffering is not equanimity. The way I experienced and reflected on the progress of insight, with regard to the dukka nanas, was this: The suffering has to be extreme, has to be extremely nothing but itself, and has to basically wear itself out. There are no shortcuts. You can't just skip over the hard parts. I didn't "note" at all through the DN, incidentally, barely ever even meditated, but then I never do "noting" so much as "noticing," without the slow labeling bit. Once Desire for Deliverance arose, I got back on the practice horse.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/4/14 9:10 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Hi Jen!
First of all, I want to say, thanks for your response above; I think you make a great point r.e. we can't really know how easy/hard someone else's experience of any given stage is. I think that is well worth everyone remembering; and I am taking it on board because it helps to check the impulse to blindly use my own experience as an imaginary standard to evaluate others with, which while it can have some limited validity, is a slippery slope particularly when it comes to things where individuals will vary greatly (length, intensity etc of various stages... specific phenomena at each stage... etc). 

That said, I want to clarify a few things. First, I re-read my post, and unless I did a poor job of re-reading (which is possible-- a few glasses of wine, tired, lazy ;)) I don't think I used the word 'wallow' nor do I think my post had any tone of blaming or shaming at all; quite the contrary. I stand by what I wrote above. 

Second: by addressing me (and Nik) you seem to be implying that I had it easy or lucked out with the dark night (maybe I am misreading your post above- if so, I applogize). I don't know whether that's true. I sure experienced a lot of suffering in my life; not all of that was dark night related, which I'll address in my third point in a minute, but first to finish this one: at least a hefty portion of the suffering I've experienced since I went through my first memorable world-exploding A&P when I was 14 was DN-related, and a lot of that was some heavy disturbing shit. SO who knows whose DN is worse... and you know what? I still don't think it really matters. Because...

Third: there is a crucial difference between the DN as Dukha Nanas and the DN as all the ways we might react to those insights. There's a big difference between dukha, and insight into its nature!! This has to be made clear. This is what some in this thread, as I see it, are trying to make clear. Again: the point is, there is a HUGE difference betwen dukha, and insight into the nature of dukha- huge.

I say this from personal experience. I think Nik's post above may have touched on this too if I remember correctly but basically this, as I see it, is THE point of this thread: there is a difference between Dukha, and the Dukha nanas. Obviously. Regardless of how intensely each one experiences either (and especially regardless since: how do we know how 'bad' or 'easy' it was for anyone else??) they are still crucially essentially different. 

To answer your main question (what is the lesson of the DN?): I probably actually disagree with lots of others on this forum who have more affinity with the Therevadan world-view. I would say the "lesson" specific to the DN is that dukha is NOT a basic mark of all phenomena. ALL phenomena (consciousness, thoughts, volitions, feelings, perceptions, sensations...) are impermanent and empty of a solid-seperate-essence. When we cling to/resist/ignore them as if they/we were solid, continuous etc THEN they are dukha (unsatisfactory, suffering, 'off' in a fundamental sense, like a wheel that is bent).

So the lesson I learned was how to let go of some deep deep subtle grasping/aversion/ignorance (at least temporarraly). It was also (because that lesson can be learned outside the context of the DN) to really see just how profoundly deep that tendency to resist/cling/ignore goes, how subtle it is, how pervasive it is, AND to see how it is an ACTION, karma, volition, some kind of conditioned glitch in the way this mind-body organism interprets/relates to itself and everything else. So for me, the 'three marks' that actually characterize phenomena are emptiness, impermanence, and PEACE/truth/simplicity/whatever you want to call the absence of dukha. I say: you absolutely do not need to stop experiencing in order to taste the deathless, unconditioned, peace, freedom: but instead it is absolutely available in the midst of experiencing WHEN we drop resistance/clinging/ignorance. 

Anyhow, to tie this into the DN convo, in my own experience, the DN was incredibly painful at first. But I learned to see it as the surfacing of my own bodymind's tendencies to cling/block/ignore. And I learned eventually to drop those reactions, here and there. Eventually, probably when my baseline had shifted into EQ before stream entry, I was able to breeze through the dukha nanas (and the earlier nanas) like going down a river. The first three nanas were like paddling to get moving, the 4th nana like cruising along in a strong but clear current, the fifth nana like losing control and being sucked into a faster broader current, the DN like going through rapids exhilerating! exciting! assymetrical unpredictable interference patterns of vibes crashing over each other without a center!) and EQ like free fall over the waterfall... But getting to the point where all those stages could be seen as just sensations (including sensations of thinking, perceiving, feeling, to buddha field's point on another thread) flowing arising and passing dissolving rising crashing flowing-- smoothing out and deepening-- just floating along aimlessly in the wide open- BAM What the heck?-- where did everything just go? wow things are somehow different....

getting there took a lot of work, for me. Work discerning the difference between insights, and the reactions to them. Discerning the difference between dukha, and insights into how dukha functions and how it can end.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/4/14 10:23 PM as a reply to Eric M W.
"The reason people get stuck in the DN is because they stop investigating the sensations that suck. The primary reason for this, I suspect, is because they still believe that they will suffer less if they do something else. They think they'll suffer less if they stop meditating, or quit their jobs, or end their marriages, or take LSD for some kind of spiritual experience. But that's not what the Dark Night teaches. The Dark Night teaches that everything sucks without exception. Nothing you can possibly do will lessen fundamental suffering in any way. There is nowhere you can go, no experience you can have that will save you. Reality is a screaming, suffering wall of pure suckage and there's nothing you can do about it. Nothing short of complete and utter cessation will bring it to an end. That is the lesson."

--When I started reading this, I felt some of it was pure genius or really right on, but then I did disagreed a bit at the end.  The part I really like is the part where you remind us that we have to look at the bad stuff too.  I think that too is a lesson of DN.  Seems natural to want to run away from the bad parts, to try to not look at it, to distract oneself from it by doing other things, etc.  People will do all kinds of things to avoid it and I can certainly see why! There is usually a subtle or not so subtle resistance to all that sucks.  But I think it's important to look at that stuff with as much intensity and attention as we look at the better seeming stuff.  I think that is part of what they say when they say to accept it.  It's hard to describe, it's not like self defeating acceptance but more like you stop fighting and let it be, change attitude, and handle it.  At least that's my general conception of it.  Not saying it's easy!  It wasn't for me anyway, but the more I really looked at that which sucked with a strong desire to understand it instead of running away or even just surviving but instead with a determined attitude of inquiry, that is when I got out of it I think this time for good (although only time will truly tell I guess but this time I feel very different about it and no longer fear the bad things the way I once did)  And in typical zen like irony, once I stopped fighting it as much, it was like it stopped fighting me back.  Things just got much better all the way around but things around me and my attitude about things around me. 

The place where I disagree is I do not believe the lesson of DN is that all things are a massive wall of sucking.  Ironically, that was an attitude I had for a long time though, the old 'life sucks and then you die' mantra I used to like so much and repeated for so long to myself over and over.  I think Buddhism uses the term 'unsatisfactory' and I think that is more accurate from my viewpoint these days.   But the great wall of suffering, I think that is not a lesson to learn but more a stage that you eventually, sometimes with a great wall of work, can eventually get out of and I do not think you need to make it all the way to arahat to do that, you just need to make it to plain old 'unsatifactory' instead of misery, or to the equanimity regions.  When you think about it, the stuff around you does not change that much compared to your attitude about it which can make the same things seem very different.  Chop wood, carry water, both before and after, but your attitude about it changes. 

I remember this one time, I went hiking with friends, we explored new trails, lost the trail, and so decided to just wade through the river all the way back to the cars since we knew the river would take us there.  It was a warm day so we were enjoying ourselves going on an adventure and cooling off with a bit of water.  On the way, we met some marines that were being ordered to slog through the river as part of their training.  They hated it but we who were doing it voluntarily and not even getting paid were having a good time.  Same activity, different attitude.  A lot of what I have learned over time has to do with understanding small details of my thoughts, emotions, and attitudes.  Once you really grok those details better, then your attitude changes..  

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/5/14 8:45 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
Thanks, Jake, for taking the time and trouble to respond. I'm going to read it again and come back when I'm less sleepy and exhausted from work.

About the "wallow" word, here is the quote:
This community could use more firm and clear voices like this as that might result in newcomers spending less time indulging in either wallowing in their content or trying to aggressively power through the DN stage, both of which conveniently avoid the basic lessons of equanimity and emptiness and letting go that the DN so generously offers us.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/5/14 9:36 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva M Nie:
The place where I disagree is I do not believe the lesson of DN is that all things are a massive wall of sucking. 

...you just need to make it to plain old 'unsatifactory' instead of misery, or to the equanimity regions.  When you think about it, the stuff around you does not change that much compared to your attitude about it which can make the same things seem very different. 


I agree with you Eva.

A big problem in DN is that we take the suffering personally, as "my" problem. The suffering of the dark night are actually experienced where they arise, but those yucky self sensations cut too close to home and "I" paradoxically feels like it owns them and recoils from them at the same time. Regardless of how they feel, one thing is for sure, the DN feels personal. A personal hell or just a personal bummer, whatever winds up happening. It isn't until low eq that they are seen for what they are... "over there". And with enough trips through DN and EQ you start to really get that. Then full on EQ arises because nothing can shake it anymore. EQ is equanimous with anything. When EQ is even seen as a conditioned state, then high EQ blossoms.

Fear can be fear but kind of thrilling too. Misery can be misery but kind of luscious too. Reobservation can be unsettling but kind of wacky too. That is a a pretty full clear knowledge of the suffering and confusion of the DN. There really isn't anything to be feared about the so-called dark night in a particular sense... even though like just about everyone else it kicked my ass pretty bad and several times. But it can be known for what it is and it isn't pure suffering.

But sometimes it takes many runs through DN and post-SE runs through DN. Not everyone gets all aspects of a nana at the same stage and some people hit the really bad DN in early paths, others hit them in later paths. It's a wacky world.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/5/14 9:55 PM as a reply to x x.
Yeah, X X, I'm only 3 weeks out from SE, so I've not integrated any of what I just went through. It is all still unsettled, raw, and is remembered as "pure experience" rather than any of that within the perspective that time and repetition would, I guess, confer. So, really, on this thread is the first time I've grappled with turning this last DN into concepts/words/descriptions.

What you say about DN's being personal until EQ, and its being known as other than pure suffering only from within EQ--that rings true to my sense of it all. That is why I have been rather stubbornly insistent on this thread that the DN didn't teach me any transcendent lessons about suffering: EQ did.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/5/14 10:31 PM as a reply to x x.
x x:
Eva M Nie:
The place where I disagree is I do not believe the lesson of DN is that all things are a massive wall of sucking. 

...you just need to make it to plain old 'unsatifactory' instead of misery, or to the equanimity regions.  When you think about it, the stuff around you does not change that much compared to your attitude about it which can make the same things seem very different. 


I agree with you Eva.

A big problem in DN is that we take the suffering personally, as "my" problem. The suffering of the dark night are actually experienced where they arise, but those yucky self sensations cut too close to home and "I" paradoxically feels like it owns them and recoils from them at the same time. Regardless of how they feel, one thing is for sure, the DN feels personal. A personal hell or just a personal bummer, whatever winds up happening. It isn't until low eq that they are seen for what they are... "over there". And with enough trips through DN and EQ you start to really get that. Then full on EQ arises because nothing can shake it anymore. EQ is equanimous with anything. When EQ is even seen as a conditioned state, then high EQ blossoms.

Fear can be fear but kind of thrilling too. Misery can be misery but kind of luscious too. Reobservation can be unsettling but kind of wacky too. That is a a pretty full clear knowledge of the suffering and confusion of the DN. There really isn't anything to be feared about the so-called dark night in a particular sense... even though like just about everyone else it kicked my ass pretty bad and several times. But it can be known for what it is and it isn't pure suffering.

But sometimes it takes many runs through DN and post-SE runs through DN. Not everyone gets all aspects of a nana at the same stage and some people hit the really bad DN in early paths, others hit them in later paths. It's a wacky world.
I didn't really take the 'not me' method to get out of it, I didn't know about that teaching then.  Even now, I don't feel like I fully grok what 'not me' is supposed to mean.  But if it's just that the perception of me as I am now is a conglomeration of numerous temporary forces, well then I can handle that concept. 

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/6/14 6:47 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen Pearly:
. That is why I have been rather stubbornly insistent on this thread that the DN didn't teach me any transcendent lessons about suffering: EQ did.


You may be unique, but usually people learn that they can't "fight" DN experiences during the DN. That is the transcendent lesson. You can't fight with experience. (Yes you can behave skillfully, but you can't represses, deny, fight, resist, stop what arises. What arises is already too late.)

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/6/14 6:57 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva M Nie:
But if it's just that the perception of me as I am now is a conglomeration of numerous temporary forces, well then I can handle that concept. 


Yes, that's the essence of it, plus all those temporary forces aren't essentially you, so there is a little bit of separation from the experience and who you are. A really mundane way of saying it is sometimes you realize, "oh I might be feeling angry, but I don't need to lash out. This reaction doesn't need to be acted on by me." That's pretty much the same thing as being in misery and not being miserable. The sensations are there, but you don't really need to act out or wallow (there is that word, I'm not trying to be provocative, it just seems to work) in them.

Thankfully we don't need to be 100% perfect about seeing the non-me or lack of need for reacting to get to EQ. This is where the personal variation occurs. Some people go through the DN slowly and learn a lot of aspects of this along the way. Some people go through fast and it's kind of a blur. Over >years< this all just kinda gets beat into your head and even still we still buy into it every so often.

That's why I wanted to mention there is more in the DN... those lessons keep coming back to haunt and educate us, for better or worse. It's good to be forewarned and have a bit of plan, even though we usually only recognize it after we've been bought in for a while.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/6/14 7:48 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen Pearly:
Thanks, Jake, for taking the time and trouble to respond. I'm going to read it again and come back when I'm less sleepy and exhausted from work.

About the "wallow" word, here is the quote:
This community could use more firm and clear voices like this as that might result in newcomers spending less time indulging in either wallowing in their content or trying to aggressively power through the DN stage, both of which conveniently avoid the basic lessons of equanimity and emptiness and letting go that the DN so generously offers us.
Thanks!  I agree 'wallow' is loaded language and not the best way to get the point across, and I apologize. I stand by everything else in that quote and stand firmly by it. I think this community gets swamped occassionally by inexperienced practitioners and a culture forms around that which is less than helpful-- and I think much of that circles around the issue of the dark night, the difference between suffering and insight into the nature of suffering, and the need for discernment in relation to this issue. Again, I think this is because (as I allude to somewhere on this thread) this community attracts a lot of folks who are disposed to have insight and who stumble into DN stages without a solid grounding in practice (or probably theory) and so, entering these stages, often there is not a solid foundation in the basics which really helps in difficult stages. So pointing folks back to practice basics is often good advice when they are either stuck in the content of the DN or trying to aggresively power through it with brute force. Also I think it's good general advice to make sure that the 'DN' is actually the DN and not just: shitty life circumstances; a chemical imbalance; some other medical condition; a stage of life transition; etc. Because then the way to address it is going to be different from hardcore meditation practice. 

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/6/14 9:40 AM as a reply to x x.
x x :
(Yes you can behave skillfully, but you can't represses, deny, fight, resist, stop what arises. What arises is already too late.)

Yes I do agree with that, I definitely tried all those things and they didn't work.  What did work for me though was understanding the sources of the emotions better.  Just learning to understand them without self judgement helped a lot.  To do that, paying sharp and consistent attention to both emotions and thoughts (verbal self scripts) went a long way in that direction.  There is so much that we think and feel that we are strangely also quite blind about noticing or realizing.  That's why I think noting is so powerful, it helps you to become more aware of all that stuff that was operating almost in secret in the background and also helps keep you from getting sucked into them as much.  It puts that which was hidden into the light of day.  I also found that over time, shifting my attitude and way of looking at those things that I saw also changed the course of those things that I saw.  I would not call it 'fighting' but more like learning how to work better together, that the direction of the emotions could be slightly shifted to be more useful.  Like if I feel anxious, I can get all sucked into the feeling or I could notice the anxiety and that the anxiety seems to be a mix of excitement plus insecurity about ability to accomplish goals that I have set for myself.  Lots of goals and short period of time causes excitement at getting important goals done but insecurity about not getting enough or all of them done.  If I notice that I have set the goals for myself, I may then decide that it was a self induced stress situation and that I need to set more realistic goals for the time available.  One of the things I realized overall my problems were self induced by ways of thinking that were both illogical and not useful.  There were a lot of those not useful habits that were well entrenched like a giant tangled ball of string so it took a lot of work to unerstand and sort the majority of it out and I am still noticing and learning things every day it seems.     

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/6/14 10:00 AM as a reply to x x.
x x:

The sensations are there, but you don't really need to act out or wallow (there is that word, I'm not trying to be provocative, it just seems to work) in them.
For the majority of it, I think of it like getting sucked in.  Like if you watch an exciting movie, you could easily end up on the edge of your seat worried that so and so could die any minute if he can't get his car off  the tracks before the train comes (or whatever other script is playing at the time).  But if you are paying attention to your options, you realize to watch the movie and your responses to the movie were always your choice.  You always had the choice to not get sucked in but in the excitement of the movie, you sometimes or often forget about that choice and get carried away, especially if that movie is your kind of movie, ie it syncs more with your own mental scripts and mindset.  But in regular life, the movie ALWAYS syncs with our mindset.  Every day we make decisions according to how we see the world and what kind of person we think we are and those decisions always reflect our mindset.   Every day, we are creating our own movie.  When our mindset changes, our internal scripts change, our decisions change and the movie we create changes.  Things changed for me a lot when I finally accepted responsibility for my own movie  instead of blaming it all on outside forces. 

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/6/14 12:11 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Nice Eva!

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/6/14 9:16 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
Well, Jake, I still disagree completely. Equanimity is simply not available in a true Dark Night, and the lesson of the Dark Night is not equanimity at all but the three characteristics of suffering. If one pretends to jump to equanimity through fiat of will while in the DN, then that in itself will guarentee more cycling before the path comes to its goal. I can't state this strongly enough. 

Since my own thread asking people to discribe formations was highjacked by dat Buddha-field and others (including, finally myself emoticon ), I'm going to have to take the lazy way here and repeat here what I said there:

Hi Psi Phi and dat Buddha-field:

It so happens that I've currently been reading Thanissaro Bhikkhu's The Wings to Awakening, which is one of the most brilliant dharma books I've ever laid eyes on. It is extremely clear, but it is also not an easy read, simply because the Buddha's system is complex, with many layers of subtlety and feedback loops. In fact TB incorporates not only the ancient analogies in this work, which is both a translation of and commentary on core teachings from the Pali Canon, but postmodern analogies with chaos theory, among other things. 

Anyway, I'm not only a fan of TB, but a devotee of his meditation methods. His body of work on how to meditate basically is my meditation practice. I do not "note" after the Burmese tradition and never have. Interestingly, TB, in this work I'm currently reading talks about noting practice as one currently popular in the West, and he sees it as a fine practice. He talks about investigating the Three Characteristics, and there are a number of meditation methods, or "themes," for doing so. I happen to follow TB's breath meditation instructions. I also do not treat samatha and insight as completely separate practices; instead, after the manner of TB, in my practice I enter jhana and then pull a bit out and above whatever jhana I enter to "investigate" the three characteristics of its factors, those characteristics being (1) inconstancy/instability, (2) unsatisfactoriness, and (3) insubstantiality (not self).

What I have been trying, so far without success, to convey to dat Buddha-field is that, despite the way jhana and vipassana can be combined in a single sit, and really should be according to the Thai Forest teachers, there remains a difference between states of jhana and stages of insight. This difference exists just as much according to TB as according to Daniel M. Ingram. Your apparent confusion, dat Buddha-field (Zach), is in thinking that each separate stage of insight progess involves a will-to-release, or else one remains "stuck." This is simply not so. When release really does come, it comes automatically. And it comes in a specific stage, at the end of the path: High Equanimity nana. 

So, dat Buddha-field, when on your other thread you say that people stay stuck in the Dark Night because they don't  learn its lesson, and you say its lesson is that they should incline toward release right then and there, I say this: No, that is not at all the "lesson" of the Dark Night. The knowledge of suffering is simply discernment of the phenomenology of suffering, its three characteristics. Release is not possible in DN territory. If it were, then it would not be the DN at all, and you would have moved on without learning the knowledge of suffering--which is to say, you would not have moved on at all. 

Psi Phi to dat Buddha-field:
So , you seem to be asking a tricky, entrapping,  or mis-leading question, implying that I feel craving to attach self to fabrications and what-not.  When actually what I was pointing to was that the self concept and the fabrication concept both stem from not seeing the true impersonal nature of phenomenon.  So I was basically refuting the teaching that the mind requires effort to think and fabricate, for, from my view thinking and fabrication is due to cause and effect of an impersonal nature, and that, from my view:

The mind does not require effort to fabricate, but does require delusion(ignorance) to fabricate, as you have also stated earlier, that fabrications do arise from ignorance.  And to sum up, the self, if taken as a concept that stems from ignorance and delusion, is also just a fabrication.  And if it is just a fabrication, why all the fuss and bother of taking a mere fabrication so seriously, as we mostly do as humanity.  In essence we are the fabricators of our own suffering.  Let go of the fabrications, let go of dukkha.

Now this discussion is going to get wild. Psi Phi, yes, fabrications/formations are, as MCTB1 says, "what, from a high dharma point of view, is happening all the time." In other words, where there is dependent co-arising, there is fabrication/formations. What is very subtle and complex about TB's--which is to say, the Buddha's--treatment of all this is that, while dependent co-arising involves the entire cosmos, phenomenology, and all of time, in addition to involving our individual personalities and wills, so to speak, the noble path does consist of Right Fabrication, if you will. So long as we have to participate in fabrication, and we do, we should do so skillfully. And here is a tasty morsel of things to come: Daniel connects insight in this way, in MCTB2, with the Four Bases of the Powers (ie, Magick)--meaning that, as I read him, much like Thanissaro, he addresses the necessity of the individual will (Power) into arriving at release!

Now, problematically, Dat Buddha-field, on the thread he started about how people remain stuck in the Dark Night because they are not inclining to release while there, seems to be mistaking path (stages) for the end of the path (release). When one is in the Dark Night, for example, one is discerning the characteristics of suffering in its many combinations of the aggregates. But "release" absolutely does not occur in the stage of the path known as Dark Night, Knowledges of Suffering, dukka nanas. On this level of path, release from fabrication/formation is not available at each moment; only discernment of the three characteristics of phenomena of that stage is available in the present moment of the stage. 

When discernment of the three characteristics of the sufferings (Fear, Misery, Disgust) is sufficiently thorough, EQ emerges, and when discernment of the three characteristics is discerned even in EQ--thence cessation. Cessation is automatic. It is not fabricated--not by any self or otherwise. It cannot be willed from the place of Equanimity. It certainly cannot be willed from the place of the Dark Night. In fact, it is an oft-repeated truism on this forum that cessation/path/fruition comes during moments in High EQ that one is not even on the lookout for release. It arises from a kind of forgetfulness of all except the formation/fabrication one is currently investigating from within.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu, from The Wings to Awakening:
Thus, for instance, in the practice of meditation, as with any skill, it is important not to focus desire too strongly on the results one hopes to get , for that would interfere with the minds' ability to to focus on giving rise to the causes leading to those results. If, instead, one focuses desire on putting the causes in proper order in the present moment, desire becomes an indispensable part of the process of mastery.
These qualities [of desire, exertion, effortful/skillful fabrication] are necessary for anyone who pursues a path, but are automatically abandoned on reaching the goal at the path's end. The image of the path [incremental stages of insight] is important here, for it carries important implications. First, the path is not the goal; it is simply the way there, just as the road to the Grand Canyon should not be confused with the Grand Canyon itself. Even though many stretches of the road bear no resemblance to the Grand Canyon, that does not mean that the road does not lead there, just as neither the road to the Grand Canyon nor the act of walking to the Grand Canyon can cause the Grand Canyon to beThe goal at the end of the Buddhist path is unfabricated, so no amount of desire or effort can bring it into being. Nevertheless, the path to the goal is a fabricated process, and in that process desire, effort, intent, and discrimination all have an important role to play, just as the effort of walkng plays a role in arriving at the Grand Canyon.
Here is TB again, and this is pretty heavy-duty stuff; everyone should read this book:
The fluid complexity of dependent co-arising means that it is inherently unstable, and thus stressful and not-self. Although some non-Theravadin Buddhist texts insist that happiness can be found by abandoning one's smaller, separate identity and embracing the interconnected identity of all interdependent things, this teaching cannot be found in the Pali Canon. The instability of conditioned processes means that they can never provide a dependable basis for happiness. The only true basis for happiness is the Unfabricated. The Pali discourses are quite clear on the point that the fabricated and Unfabricated realms are radically separate. In MN 1 the Buddha strongly criticizes a group of monks who tried to develop a theory whereby the fabricated was derived out of the Unfabricated or somehow lay within it. Stress, he says, is inherent in the interdependent nature of conditioned phenomena, while the Unfabricated is totally free from stress. Stress could not possibly be produced by absolute freedom from stress. Because the nature of conditioning is such that causes are in turn influenced by their effects, the Unfabricated could not itself funtion as a cause for anything. The only way the Unfabricated can be experienced is by skillfully using fabricated, condition processes . . . to unravel the network of fabricated, conditioned processes (dependent co-arising) from within.

The entire pattern of dependent co-arising is a map showing how the different aggregates group, disband, and regroup in one another's presence in a variety of configurations, giving rise to stress and to the cosmos at large. . . . One of the the most basic features of the Buddha's teachings is his confirmation that the knowable cosmos, composed of old kamma, is made up of the same factors that make up the personality; and that the interaction of the aggregates, as immediately present to awareness in the here and now, is the same process that underlies the functioning of the knowable cosmos as a whole. As a result, descriptions of dependent co-arising slip easily back and forth between two time scales--events in the present moment and events over the vast cycle of time.
This is where I think dat Buddha-field is coming from, but with the one mistaken notion that release is available before the end of the path; again from TB's text right after the passage quoted just above:
It is important to remember, though, that the Buddha discovered the principle by observing events in the immediate present, which is where the individual meditator will have to discover them as well, Thus the practice takes the same approach as phenomenology: exploring the processes of conditioning from the inside as they are immediately experienced in the present moment. This is why the pattern of dependent co-arising lists factors of consciousness--such as ignorance, attention, and intention--as prior conditions for the experience of the physical world, for if we take as our frame of reference the world as it is directly experienced--rather than a world conceived somehow as separate from our experience of it--we have to see the processes of the mind as prior to the objects they process.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/6/14 9:23 PM as a reply to x x.
Please read my lengthy response to Jake above. It is a huge and widespread mistake in Western Buddhist circles to think that one can fabricate any kind of release from within the Dark Night. An even grosser mistake is to think that this is actually the "lesson" that the Dark Night teaches--that progress to cessation is something one achieves simply by stopping "Bad Thoughts" and instead thinking "Good Thoughts." That is pop psychology, but not the way the path to liberation works. Thanissaro Bhikkhu, whom the OP relies on as authority, says as much throughout his work. I provided ample quotes above. 

Peace,
Jenny

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/7/14 12:01 AM as a reply to Jenny.


Thanissaro Bhikkhu, from The Wings to Awakening:
Thus, for instance, in the practice of meditation, as with any skill, it is important not to focus desire too strongly on the results one hopes to get , for that would interfere with the minds' ability to to focus on giving rise to the causes leading to those results. If, instead, one focuses desire on putting the causes in proper order in the present moment, desire becomes an indispensable part of the process of mastery.
These qualities [of desire, exertion, effortful/skillful fabrication] are necessary for anyone who pursues a path, but are automatically abandoned on reaching the goal at the path's end. The image of the path [incremental stages of insight] is important here, for it carries important implications. First, the path is not the goal; it is simply the way there, just as the road to the Grand Canyon should not be confused with the Grand Canyon itself. Even though many stretches of the road bear no resemblance to the Grand Canyon, that does not mean that the road does not lead there, just as neither the road to the Grand Canyon nor the act of walking to the Grand Canyon can cause the Grand Canyon to beThe goal at the end of the Buddhist path is unfabricated, so no amount of desire or effort can bring it into being. Nevertheless, the path to the goal is a fabricated process, and in that process desire, effort, intent, and discrimination all have an important role to play, just as the effort of walkng plays a role in arriving at the Grand Canyon.

--Well now I totally do agree with that.  He is not saying not to try, not to have effort, he is not even saying not to have desire, he's just saying don't have TOO MUCH desire.  Too much desire and you are not focusing on the now.  He is also saying the path is not the goal.  Yes, I agree with that too.  No conflict there with any of my current opinions. 

This is where I think dat Buddha-field is coming from, but with the one mistaken notion that release is available before the end of the path; again from TB's text right after the passage quoted just above:
---Is that what he was saying?  I just took it to mean that getting past the dark night was the issue of getting past the part that sucked really bad to just a state of regular unsatisfactoriness at least, if not equanimity.  No I don't think you can 'fabricate' it, but I don't how self inquiry and the knowledge gained from it (if you don't likes 'lessons' then how about knowledge?) would be considered unskillful. 
-Eva

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/7/14 12:23 AM as a reply to Jenny.
An even grosser mistake is to think that this is actually the "lesson" that the Dark Night teaches--that progress to cessation is something one achieves simply by stopping "Bad Thoughts" and instead thinking "Good Thoughts." That is pop psychology, but not the way the path to liberation works. Thanissaro Bhikkhu, whom the OP relies on as authority, says as much throughout his work. I provided ample quotes above. 

Peace,
Jenny
Did someone in this thread say to stop thinking bad thoughts and only think good thoughts?  If they did, I missed it.  Yeah, I agree I don't think that way will work.  Actually, I can't even think off hand of a way that one could even plan how to accomplish such a thing, other than many pounding ones head against a wall and even then, probably a few of those nasty buggers, aka bad thoughts, would probably still get through the cracks anyway!   What I suggested was self inquiry of all kinds of thoughts and emotions, including both bad and good, and the bad just as much as the good, no hiding from it or trying to ignore it!, also with an attempted nonjudgemental attitude, which would already be going a different path from assigning labels of 'bad' and 'good.' I also think that that once you make new observations and learn about self more, it's likely going to change you.  Would kind of suck if we went through all of life never changing even one iota despite anything we may experience. Is it even possible to go through intense experiences and not learning anything at all?  I think I learned a ton of things in DN, just many of them smallish or exciting to me but likely boring to others.  I can't say there was any one big lesson I learned during DN, but there was likely a jillion little ones, probably even many that I did not even notice, about myself and my life and about other people.  When I really bent my head to learn those lessons about myself is when I got out of the dark night, when I slowly decided I wanted to see all my bad and all my good sign as clearly as possible.  Maybe the timing was all just a giant coincidence, but I think not!  ;-)

There are many paths advocated by many gurus.  I know I have read in the past that self inquiry is considered to be one of them by some.  If those concepts do not resonate at this time, maybe your path will not be much that way right now.  I can only tell you what worked for me.  But Buddha suggested that everyone not take his word blindly but instead to look for oneself, which sounds like good advice to me!  ;-)
-Eva

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/7/14 7:53 AM as a reply to Jenny.
(My understanding is TB doesn't use the Stages of Insight the same way it's used in Mahasi/noting traditions. I'm pretty sure he applies the Stages of Insight to the entire path, where release in this case is awakening or 4th path. Cessation is also used to describe 4th path.)

For what it's worth, each individual >sensation< of suffering >does< release. It releases right there in the moment. This is very important to understand and a useful and practical piece of advice/understanding which applies to even the pre A&P meditator. It can be a real lifesaver when getting barraged by difficult sensation in the DN.

(By the way, I agree with what someone said earlier. We're blurring the distinction between the Dark Night and the Dukka Nanas. The Dark Night is basically having a lot of problems with the Dukka Nanas. It is entirely possible to experience the Dukka Nanas without having lots of problems. It's possible to actually have a sense of joy that they are arising because they are evidence of good practice. There can also be a strong sense of compassion during the Dukka Nanas because we see what the human mind has to deal with and we can imagine what is like for people without a meditation practice to go through this without any support or sangha. There isn't a single script that everyone follows during any given Stage or Jhana or Path. There is a lot of variation within the similarities.)

There is some common tonality to sensations during different stages, but each and every sensation is releasing. Even the tonality is changing. There isn't one flavor of fear or misery or desire for deliverance --- even that is made up of different flavors. If the sensations of suffering are moving, changing, or flowing -- they are releasing. It's worthwhile in the DN to look very closely at the sensations themselves, as close to the actual sensations themselves, in order to see this.

This can be difficult to do, because we tend to look at how much we like, dislike, or don't care about a sensation. We tend to focus on the primal feeling of it and forget to look at the sensations that cause that feeling. It is entirely possible, and recommended even, to investigate the difference and the co-arising of sensation and feeling during the DN. This distinction, seeing that there is a sensation and there is a primal emotional reaction can further help someone see that the DN sensations are fabricated --- created in an unconscious way. And because there is a level of objectivity, it becomes clearer thatthese things are arising on their own, so they aren't personal in the way we usually think of it. Someone moving slowly through the DN can really tease all of this out.

(It's also possible to intentionally decide to return to, or stay in, a Nana to really investigate it. It's a strange almost magickal act that is both intentional and self-occurring, but very possible by almost anyone who has gone through a nana already. You make the intention and release it, then let practice go there, then when the nana arises you can look around from within it. It really helps if your intention is to better understand the nana for the benefit of yourself and all beings, so that you may act more skillfully and reduce the suffering of others.)

All of this gives a little space to the experience, even in the worst of the DN. Doesn't make it easy or provide "complete release" ---- but the important thing is provides a string of mini-releases that provides the possibility of moving the stages forward. Practice can feel like a purification if you pay attention to how all the sensations release themselves.

Purification has it's own unique feeling of release. In the same way that there is the "momentary concentration" of vipassina vs. pure Jhana, there is the momentary release of purification vs. the release of EQ or cessation/fruition. The latter come during distinct times, but the former can make practice workable at any time.

Meditation is a weird combination ---- a paradox, really ---- of not-doing and intentional cultivation. We need to not-manipulate the experiences which arise (we can't anyway, but that doesn't mean we won't try!). AND We need to intentionally cultivate mindsets which are conducive to practice (which is what the maps and theories help us do, even though those maps and theories are useless unless we actually practice, and are useless if just think about maps during practice instead of looking at the sensations themselves).

I tried to write this in a generic way, because I'm not interested in debating so much as putting some ideas out there that might be useful. May this be useful to someone.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/7/14 12:03 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen Pearly:
Well, Jake, I still disagree completely. Equanimity is simply not available in a true Dark Night, and the lesson of the Dark Night is not equanimity at all but the three characteristics of suffering. If one pretends to jump to equanimity through fiat of will while in the DN, then that in itself will guarentee more cycling before the path comes to its goal. I can't state this strongly enough. 
JAKE: (Apologies for not getting the formatting with the quote right now) Jen, I think I see where you and I are talking past each other. (I don't have any comment on your exchanges with Zach or others; for one thing, just because I agree with some of what he writes in the OP, doesn't mean I agree with everything Zach says, to be clear. I've expressed my own experience on the topic above and will try again.) 

A distinction needs to be made between 'equanimity' as a quality of attention and equanimity-with-regards-to-formations as a stage of insight. No you can't be in a different stage of the path than you are in (although, that said, my experience is that the stages can refract through the dominant lens of a current stage-- for example, baseline can be A&P and the stages can cycle from that point of view; baseline can by EQ and the stages can cycle from that point of view.. etc. So not quite an absolute-- but I get what you are saying).

Anyhow, the fact is, equanimity as a quality of mind can definitely be present in any and all of the stages. This is simply an element of solid practice. There is nothing to argue about here. It is simply the case. Equanimity can be present in the dukha nanas. Absolutely. If you are saying that it can't, I'm sorry, that has not been my experience nor that of anyone with whom I've communicated in depth about these things. Actually I can't imagine that you didn't experience equanimity and other positive qualities of mind while in the dark night/dukha nanas, I just don't beleive it, not yet, so I think we must be misunderstanding each other. 

So equanimity definitely can be present throughout the path, in my experience. As for 'release' well I am not going to get into a huge technical discussion about this nor have I followed your exchanges with Zach closely, but, for me the issue is certainly not one of 'willpower'; if anything, I critique that clearly in my first response to the OP! Release as letting go of grasping/resistance is totally available here-and-now whether or not one is even in the stages of insight much less what stage one is in. This is a fact of experience for many practitioners myself included. It's worthwhile discovering what this means but if you choose to beleive it isn't possible, well, ok, it's your choice. Seems like something worthwhile to know for oneself! So yes, release, according to one sense is definitely available on a momentary basis completely without regard to what stage of insight one is in or even whether one is in the progress of insight. Letting go. It's the opposite of 'will' in most everyday senses of the term. It's dropping resistance/clinging. 

JEN: "Please read my lengthy response to Jake above. It is a huge and widespread mistake in Western Buddhist circles to think that one can fabricate any kind of release from within the Dark Night. An even grosser mistake is to think that this is actually the "lesson" that the Dark Night teaches--that progress to cessation is something one achieves simply by stopping "Bad Thoughts" and instead thinking "Good Thoughts." That is pop psychology, but not the way the path to liberation works. Thanissaro Bhikkhu, whom the OP relies on as authority, says as much throughout his work. I provided ample quotes above."

JAKE: So again, I am trying to be very clear: what you write in this quote is completely disconnected from what I am trying to say, and maybe it isn't meant to be, in which case: good! In case it is supposed to be somehow related to what I have been saying: I may be doing a poor job of saying it-- but I'm willing to try to clarify. It is absolutely not about replacing bad thoughts with good thoughts, not remotely, I didn't say that, I've never really tried that nor am I inclined to. Equanimity and clarity and openness are what are required in all stages. They aren't thoughts. They are attitudes to take to experiences positive negative and neutral. They are required in the dark night as much as in other stages. This means being equanimous about the contents of the DN, clear about how they arise and function and dissolve, open to their arising and ceasing and how they do so. Of course it would be superhuman to expect this in any moment-- it's just a standard of solid practice.  Close attention shows that even deep, disturbing painful sufferings are impermanent. Clinging and aversion are impermanent. Equanimous and clear vivid attention to dukha shows that it is impermanent. Reacting to it and interpreting it as if it were permanent does not enact progress on the path. Being open to it, equanimous with it, clear about it; being kind to oneself, these things are totally possible in the DN. And then one sees that these sufferings actually have gaps in them and release is right there, momentary glimpses of it. 

One thing is clear from being on these boards a while. People get very different depths and kinds of 'insight' out of their progress through the stages of insight. All I can say is, I am trying to describe my experience, and it appears to me that you may be making some dogmatic statements about what is or isn't possible which go directly against my experience. I'm not saying it hasn't been such and such a way for you-- why would I?-- but I am suggesting you have little to lose from listening to and considering what others are saying on the matter. And it may turn out we are saying similar things in different ways.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/7/14 12:19 PM as a reply to x x.
x x:


For what it's worth, each individual >sensation< of suffering >does< release. It releases right there in the moment. This is very important to understand and a useful and practical piece of advice/understanding which applies to even the pre A&P meditator. It can be a real lifesaver when getting barraged by difficult sensation in the DN.

Bingo! You said that a lot more clearly than I did. Equanimity, clarity, kindness are all available at any stage of insight or on no stage of insight and they are very helpful and worthy of cultivation here-and-now. The thing is you can 'bang out a few paths' or whatever but if you aren't getting this simple truth you are not really getting anywhere, as far as I can see. Some folks even make it very far along the 'technical' paths and claim their suffering is even worse than pre-SE. I've seen a lot of folks on these boards make a kind of progress that appears almost totally irrelevant to their total lives because they are not getting this in-the-moment stuff. We need to progress through the stages AND cultivate these qualities as we go. But if you could only do one or the other, I would say cultivate the in-the-moment stuff (as you'l make progress anyway as a side effect). 

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/7/14 12:24 PM as a reply to x x.
x x:


Meditation is a weird combination ---- a paradox, really ---- of not-doing and intentional cultivation. We need to not-manipulate the experiences which arise (we can't anyway, but that doesn't mean we won't try!). AND We need to intentionally cultivate mindsets which are conducive to practice (which is what the maps and theories help us do, even though those maps and theories are useless unless we actually practice, and are useless if just think about maps during practice instead of looking at the sensations themselves).

I think what I do that worked is notice the emotions that arise and then I notice what my reactions to those emotions are.  What I work on is my reactions and things I say to myself all day about those emotions.  I look at every little assumption and reaction to those emotions and how those assumptions affect me.  If I do not try to change the emotion itself but instead change my reactions and assumptions about the emotions, then over time the emotions also changed.  I would not say I 'controlled' the emotions though, the changes were often a bit of a surprise to me as well but the energy of the emotions did morph over time to overall something much less disruptive.

What I realized eventually was that my reactions and assumptions were always my choice, just a choice I had not previously been fully aware of.  Even in pain there are elements of pleasure, familiarity of old habits and feelings, which I think is why people seem to keep going back to that which seems painful.  There is a certain undercurrent to thinking one is a victim, maybe it is because it takes away the pressures self responsibility, and I although I was not the ultimate poster child for that tendency, I realized it did often affect me and my decisions.  There was something both liberating and terrifying when I realized it was all my responsibility and no one (or thing) else's and that I was never actually a victim but always a will participant, even if I did not fully realize it at the time.  When I stopped thinking about myself as a victim, I stopped being a victim.  I think that is why some people like to use the word 'wallow' because I realized that for a long time I was sort of flopping around in self perpetuating, 'unskillful' if you will, ways of thinking but that I always had the choice to stop if I could just understand the situation enough to do so.  The term 'wallow' carries a lot of rather insulting undercurrents though, so I think people tend to use it more when they want to stir up controversy and get attention, but I think also it can kind of backfire if it stomps on egos and causes people to turn away emotionally before putting time in to think about it more.  Or who knows, maybe the ego needs a kick in the nads once in a while to get it's attention in the first place.  At least for me, the ego screams loudest when the arrow flies true to the most hidden places.  ;-) 

Call it pop pychology or self exploration or whatever, labels themselves carry huge tons of built in assumptions and can even be used as verbal weapons, what I call it is something, one of the few things really and I tried a lot of things, that worked for me quite nicely to get out of the trap.    

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/7/14 5:24 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
Jake, Eva, XX, and dat Buddha-field,

I think we are getting very far afield from the OP statements that I was refuting in the first place. I never said that "we" aren't involved in fabricating our experiences, although from what Daniel and Thanissaro both say, that postulation of a "self" as agent is not the "high dharma point of view." It is a useful point of view, I understand, particularly for novice practitioners trying to gain access concentration.

That I agree "we" are involved as conditions of fabrication is why I took the trouble to quote Thanissaro at such length. I was trying to lay out what I think our common ground is. Thanissaro tends to stress in his meditation manuals and talks purposeful adjustment of the breath and bodily comfort. I totally totally get where Thanissaro is coming from, so much so that I consider him my meditation teacher via his works! My embrace of his methods is not some new "evolution" of my understanding, as the OP has suggusted (I think on the other thread I had started "From the MCTB2 Editor).

I also agree with you that anyone bent on being perverse can make the Knowledges of Suffering worse--but even that "choice" is impersonally "causal" as Daniel says, "from a high dharma point of view." In the moment-to-moment, we cannot really make much use of the high dharma point of view, and I think that is what you all are saying, what Thanissaro definitely says. I agree. But I think how all this plays out, individual by individual, varies widely, which is something Jake is trying to stress to me, which I agree with. One person may get "stuck" for years or decades in the Knowledges of Suffering cycles, and this being stuck in an prolonged dukka is likely due to ignorance, to not understanding skillful practice (a fabrication), or due to not even realizing that there is a path to the end of suffering or that cycles happen.

So from this common ground, let's take a giant step back a second. What I was originally refuting is the notion that one will not move on to High Equanimity and Conformity/Change-of-Lineage/Path/Fruition until one learns a "lesson" or "knowledge" from the dukka nanas, that lesson or knowledge being that we are fabricating the stage and can stop fabricating it thus if we only choose to. Jake suspects that I'm being dogmatic--I guess because I'm pointing to Thanissaro and Dan Ingram as textual authorities for what I'm trying to say. But, please, make no mistake: I'm speaking from what I experienced in the dukka nanas February till the second week in June. I emphatically did not learn while in that stage the lesson you all speak of, not at all. Instead, I had to just "take" what that stage threw at me. It was so bad that I really had a nervous breakdown and went on antidepressants.

I was not "wallowing." I was in extreme pain that I could not get on top of, though I tried, I really tried. I finally stopped practicing altogether and sought medical help, which is one of the contingencies MCTB recommends, if all else fails. Again, all else did fail. And for this reason--that people on this forum are prone to speak of the DN "lesson" you speak of--I fully did not expect to make it to High EQ, let alone Path, this year. I fully expected to fall back down and recycle until I "got" this lesson everyone keeps saying is absolutely required for High EQ and Path to emerge.

Well, what happened even though I never learned this lesson? High EQ and Path happened anyway. So I'm questioning the "dogma" (lovely word, that) that there is one required lesson to be learned in the Knowledges of Suffering and that this one lesson is that we fabricate our suffering and can fabricate otherwise if we incline that way instead of "wallowing in our stuff."

Of course you have already hinted that you can next say that I did not get stream entry, but that is simply not true. I did. And if you doubt it, then you can read my practice log and the other thread where I ask the forum whether cessation can knock one out of High EQ. I tend to second guess myself rather than jump to conclusions. I'm sure stream entry happened August 8, 2014, and it did so without my ever having learned this lesson that is supposedly required for EQ and Path to happen. I've conversed with Daniel about the events of that day.

So next I guess any of you can say that, well, I achieved something merely "technical" and that I haven't "really gotten anywhere" because I did not learn your truth. I don't know what to say to that, except that it sounds like you are saying that, until I have a conceptual understanding of First Path, I haven't "really" even attained it. Note well, this isn't what I understand Daniel to be saying in MCTB, when he says people will have the benefit of stream entry, regardless of what they notice and articulate about what happened. So I'm not being merely stubbornly dogmatic. I'm saying that, experientially, I didn't get this supposedly required lesson, but I did get stream entry nonetheless, with so-far lasting dramatic changes, again documented in my DhO practice journal if anyone cares to go there and assess my phenomenology. Now maybe whatever it is you all are talking about is a higher-path lesson. I don't know. I guess I'll have to wait and see. The common ground I reference above is something I got from much earlier stages, guided by Thanissaro and the Tibetans.

In closing, I'll offer a quote from MCTB wherein Daniel speaks of the high-dharma point of view that stages are not manipulatable by an independent self; I do so to suggest that this, and only this, was the "lesson
" that I happened to learn from the DN, and I wasn't able to artculate even that until EQ emerged with "me" carried along in it:
As Review sets in, it can seem that one can control these cycles and stages. It may seem after we have mastered a path somewhat that we can call insight stages up in order (just say the number or name them and see what happens) and stay in them as long as we wish or even call them up out of order, with some traditions and teachers emphasizing this more formal version of Review practice. From one point of view, enlightened beings can learn to master and manipulate the stages of insight, though such practices can take on much more of a samatha feel than an insight feel. From another point of view, perhaps a more thoroughly insight-oriented point of view, even such a notion is erroneous. Stages, cycles, and the empty intentions to manipulate them occur in a causal fashion, and if there is a sense that there is an independent self that is controlling them, then there is obviously more work to do. Now, there’s a high standard, and worthy standard, indeed! These cycles, as with everything else, simply belong to the nature of things.

Again, as a Thanissaro-esque practitioner, I know what it is to purposefully adjust practice and examine emotional reactions and assumptions. Yes, nice when that works. But this was not "the lesson" that the dukka nanas taught me. I would say almost the opposite: the dukka nanas taught me what folly it was to think that a self can tweak anything. 

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/7/14 6:05 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen, I have zero invested in affirming or refuting what you did or didn't acheive and am happy to take your word for it. The biggest point that in my view needs clarifying here is there is a difference between the dukha nanas and *all kinds of other things* such as dukha itself or medical problems of various kinds. Can medical problems such as depression or fibromyalgia or schizophrenia co-occur with the dukha nanas? Of course. But they shouldn't be conflated with it. Meditation won't (at least, at these levels) cure medical problems. 


Also I'm not sure there is actually consensus among those you are responding to what "the" lessonof the DN is but I for one am happy to agree the only lesson to learn from medical problems is seek help on the medical level.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/7/14 6:11 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen Pearly:

Again, as a Thanissaro-esque practitioner, I know what it is to purposefully adjust practice and examine emotional reactions and assumptions. Yes, nice when that works. But this was not "the lesson" that the dukka nanas taught me.
I would say almost the opposite: the dukka nanas taught me what folly it was to think that a self can tweak anything.


My personal slant on what others are saying in this thread: the "lesson" of the dark night is not so much that you should be tweaking or fabricating your way out of it (with the implication that if you're not doing that, you're wallowing). Rather, the "lesson" is that the intense personal suffering of the DN is contingent upon a certain identification that is not being thoroughly understood at the time. Release from that identification could be purely organic, in which case cognitive / analytical insight only comes in retrospect (and could be called the "lesson of equanimity"). But perhaps for some people, the cognitive insight into identification during dark night is the very thing that enables equanimity to arise, and that's the "lesson" it has for them.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/7/14 10:01 PM as a reply to . Jake ..


Also I'm not sure there is actually consensus among those you are responding to what "the" lessonof the DN is but I for one am happy to agree the only lesson to learn from medical problems is seek help on the medical level.

For me it was a whole bunch of smaller lessons that built and built on eachother until there were some overall changes in perspective that you could summarize in a few general words, but repeating the few general words I think would not be able to impart the knowledge of all those little lessons that brought me to the general knowledge in the first place.  I think everyone would have to go through the little steps themselves, although I would imagine there would be considerable variation in the smaller details across individuals. 

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/8/14 11:12 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Oh and speaking of Thanissaro, you guys got me to go and listen to some of his youtube videos and ironically he has one that deals with similar topics to what we are discussing here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMSzLZi6mt0 and ironically, he even uses the wallow word. 

"You are not simply content to wallow in the greed, anger, and delusion.  You realize you should do something about them."

"Accepting the fact that there is craving, you're not denying that it is there, but you don't stop with the acceptance, there's a further duty to be done.  In terms of the suffering, you try to comprehend where is this coming from, why is it happening.  When you see it is coming, you look for any possible craving that might be coming with it because the craving is what underlies it.  The craving together with the ignorance.  That's something you want to abandon.  You want to let go, you want to stop it.  (few words I could not hear)  Put it simply, craving is something you are doing and you learn how to stop doing the craving."

"Meditation is not simply a matter of sitting here and watching things come and go."

"One of the best ways of learning something in the meditation is if something comes up to the mind it seems this is this and that's that, ask yourself what if the opposite were true.  Take that as a hypothesis for a while."

"Remember it's a doing, you don't have to just sit here and put up with whatever comes along....As for what you are doing in the mind, don't just sit here and accept it, realize there are further duties, things to be done...you don't simply accept things, you learn how to shape things in a positive direction"

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/8/14 12:16 PM as a reply to John Wilde.
John Wilde:
Jen Pearly:

Again, as a Thanissaro-esque practitioner, I know what it is to purposefully adjust practice and examine emotional reactions and assumptions. Yes, nice when that works. But this was not "the lesson" that the dukka nanas taught me.
I would say almost the opposite: the dukka nanas taught me what folly it was to think that a self can tweak anything.


My personal slant on what others are saying in this thread: the "lesson" of the dark night is not so much that you should be tweaking or fabricating your way out of it (with the implication that if you're not doing that, you're wallowing). Rather, the "lesson" is that the intense personal suffering of the DN is contingent upon a certain identification that is not being thoroughly understood at the time. Release from that identification could be purely organic, in which case cognitive / analytical insight only comes in retrospect (and could be called the "lesson of equanimity"). But perhaps for some people, the cognitive insight into identification during dark night is the very thing that enables equanimity to arise, and that's the "lesson" it has for them.
John, thanks for chiming in. I think this is pretty close to what I'm talking about. I also really like the distinction between an insight that is explicitly cognized when it occurrs (i.e., one can say, "this is what the insight is/means") and one that happens more subteraneonly and only later, if ever, is explicitly cognized. And then, there is another element that will be different for each of us, which is: how it is then explicitly cognized-- within what framework (Therevada? Mahayana? Eclectic? etc..), with which words, etc.

Part of the undertone to my own responses on this thread has been much more along the lines of "I wonder if some of the posters here are articulating a similar insight differently, or if they had an 'unconscious' or implicit insight during the DN which was never consciously articulated?" than along the lines of "well they must not have attained X Y or Z then because they are articulating their experience differently than me". My sense of how these things work is that, in the context of the Progress of Insight, there are definite (families of) "insights" that one has in each stage which are exactly what allows one to move to the next stage. These insight-families seem to correspond pretty well, in general, with clinging aversion and ignorance as the themes that one gains existential insight into before moving on to the next broad stage. A&P has a lot of low hanging fruit and seems like it's chock full of stuff to cling to; so much so that we can spend years trying to get *back* to it even though that would actually be regressive. The Dn has lots of phenomena which are easy to resist. EQ can be EXTREMELY boring and pointless-seeming. The only insight needed to progress is the existential insight whereby the clinging, aversion and ignorance are dropped; and good practice emphasises clear stable inclusive seeing that drops those attitudes. But the thing is, "insights" are really more existential-emotional than cognitive: the cognitive component is good for reflecting on it later or communicating about it later-- but that's not the 'insight'.

 I have had a lot of breakthroughs which I *never* have had a clear cognitive understanding of, even though they left my experiential continuum transformed. Simply one day something stopped arising or something unravelled after months of paying clear attention to some funny highly unpleasent energetic thing in the solar plexus; I never would have even known that it was more than just an unpleasent sensation in that region which was present for a long time and then suddenly dissolved if a situation hadn't arisen many months later which ususally triggered a whole set of identities to function and they didn't show up. That whole raft of neurotic identities with all its attendant emotional reactions and counter-productive behaviors was just gone. And in that moment it became clear that that was what that whole solar plexus thing had been about: becuase that very (and extremely disturbing) sensation that I had sat with for literally months earlier in the year till it dissipated always used to come up when those identities were triggered too: they were a package. And somehow they had been worked through and released on a completely sensate level, and later this breakthrough was seen to have had profound affects on the psychological level and was finally cognitively understood at that time. If that particular trigger had never occurred again I would have never known that those identities had dissolved during those months of meditating on the strange energetic sensations!

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/8/14 3:59 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen Pearly:

So next I guess any of you can say that, well, I achieved something merely "technical" and that I haven't "really gotten anywhere" because I did not learn your truth. I don't know what to say to that, except that it sounds like you are saying that, until I have a conceptual understanding of First Path, I haven't "really" even attained it. 

Hi Jen, 

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter to me whether you're a stream-enterer or not.  It's up to you to decide whether that's a helpful concept to identify with.  What we can say unequivocally about 'stream-enterers' and 'englightened' people though, is that they understand the Four Noble Truths.  Understand experientially, and at least to some extent, conceptually.  (1) Dukkha... no one doubts there is any confusion there.  (2) The cause of dukkha - What was going on in the mind that was causing you to suffer?  How does Thanissaro Bhikku talk about the 2nd noble truth in Wings?  If I remember correctly, he talks about this/that conditionality.  He talks about understanding the workings of cause and effect.  How did cause and effect function in your DN?  

Perhaps unfortunately, there is a certain degree of conceptual understanding that is necessary for liberation.  The Buddha called this Right View.  It's also the first step on the Noble Eightfold Path.  It's important to always be clear about what we're doing and why we're doing it.  

You probably recognize that the practitioners you look up to, TB and Daniel, seem to posses a high degree of conceptual understanding and technical knowledge.  Coincidence?  I think not.  This is why they don't just tell us to all go meditate without instruction, and is why we should feel fortunate to hear the Dharma.  

There is a Dzogchen Tantra called Buddhahood Without Meditation.  At this level, meditation is left in the dust and practitioners attain liberation by spending their time contemplating reality and their View of it.  Now that is high Dharma.  It is most profound how much our view of things affects our experience of reality.      

Zach  

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/9/14 7:43 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva M Nie:

For me it was a whole bunch of smaller lessons that built and built on eachother until there were some overall changes in perspective that you could summarize in a few general words, but repeating the few general words I think would not be able to impart the knowledge of all those little lessons that brought me to the general knowledge in the first place.  I think everyone would have to go through the little steps themselves, although I would imagine there would be considerable variation in the smaller details across individuals. 
I actually ended up spending a lot of time dreaming about this concept last night from an abstract sense.  It's something like that big plans/ideas/intentions if built up from many small realizations and understandings will likely work well.  But if the plan/idea/intention is not built up from a bunch of smaller understandings, it won't work/survive.  I think that is why people often have desires and plans that seem heartfelt and strong at the time but don't go far.  It's not that the desire is not strong, but because they haven't yet built up all the little understandings inside that would give it a more substance and momentum to work.  And also why gurus can say wise things and most of us just won't be able to understand it deeply just from that.  Although we can hear the words, we can't easily understand the depth of them, it's the difference between understanding the words from a superficial perspective vs truly 'groking' it.  Because what they tell us is a summary of a hundreds or thousands of little insights some of them not even really well understood or some of them not easily put in words, but they all built up over time and worked together until there were larger understandings that could eventually be summarized into more sweeping kinds of wise statements and concepts.   But when we hear the summaries, if we haven't built up the smaller insights and knowledges yet, the wise words won't have much power for us and we won't understand it deeply until we do.  Since the little realizations that make up the wisdom are often very personal and so many and in many cases not even verbally understood well, that is why we have to do all this internal work instead of just listening to some nice words/summaries from gurus and understanding it easily from doing that.  It would also be why those so called easy get rich quick power of attraction new age systems don't generally work well for most, because also for those systems, the map is not the territory, you have to understand the territory really well and the only way to do that is to travel the territory personally, reading the map summary is not even nearly good enough to get the job done.  You have to travel the territory intimately and build up all those little lessons and insights before you can truly understand and use the summarized wisdom that comes from it. 

Yes, I guess this thread has wandered as many of they do, but I'm not sure that is a bad thing.  Human discussion often wanders and sometimes or often, will go in strange looking directions to look for answers.  But one point I am trying to make is I think I agree with others that have already said it that just because knowledge is not easily verbalized or summarized does not mean nothing has been learned at all.  Experiences do change you.   
-Eva     

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/9/14 12:40 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva, quoting Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
"Accepting the fact that there is craving, you're not denying that it is there, but you don't stop with the acceptance, there's a further duty to be done.  In terms of the suffering, you try to comprehend where is this coming from, why is it happening.  When you see it is coming, you look for any possible craving that might be coming with it because the craving is what underlies it.  The craving together with the ignorance.  That's something you want to abandon.  You want to let go, you want to stop it.  (few words I could not hear)  Put it simply, craving is something you are doing and you learn how to stop doing the craving."

"Meditation is not simply a matter of sitting here and watching things come and go."

If you want to glean TB's entire take on this topic of "abandoning craving" (aka the "letting go" school) versus the "investigating sensations as sensations" school, and not just one half of it, I highly Richard Shankman's interview of TB in The Experience of Samadhi. It is a brilliant talk on TB's part. The short version is that TB has one foot in each camp, having been taught himself by masters of both.

In this connection, I found it really interesting in one of this forum's posts that Richard Zen was discussing with me the need to abandon clinging (or craving?), and Daniel Ingram joined in and basically indicated that he wasn't even sure what "abandon clinging" even means. Instead, unsurprisingly, Daniel advised simply "investigating the sensations that arise" in terms of the three characteristics. 

I think that it may be entirely possible that some people are enlightened by somehow just cognitively understanding very deeply what "abandoning clinging" involves and then, somehow by means of that understanding, being able to "let go." And I think that there is always some kind of value in trying to do so, even if it is only fully apparent later on in Review or integration. However, I suspect that most of us have to do some hard time on the cushion, investigating the nature of sensations themselves, before something in us fully "gets" the Second Noble Truth well enough to see clinging abandoned, or at least made more infrequent and milder.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/9/14 12:58 PM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
dat Buddha-field:
(1) Dukkha... no one doubts there is any confusion there.  (2) The cause of dukkha - What was going on in the mind that was causing you to suffer?  How does Thanissaro Bhikku talk about the 2nd noble truth in Wings?  If I remember correctly, he talks about this/that conditionality.  He talks about understanding the workings of cause and effect.  How did cause and effect function in your DN? 

To be clear if not reiterate: During my last Dark Night cycle, I didn't even meditate, except every Friday for a half hour with my meditation group at work. And on those Fridays I practiced samatha, actually doing all I could to avoid insight meditation. I actually avoided insight so as not to further destabilize myself. So, if you asked me this then, while I was reeling from the suffering, not investigating it, I couldn't have answered you except to parrot what I had read in dharma books. This is why I'm so, so emphatic that I didn't learn any lesson from the Dark Night except what suffering is, that there is suffering. I could not get on top of it well enough to articulate experientially  while in it the Second Noble Truth. To do that, I had to get to Equanimity, which I did, somehow. . . .  This said, maybe even though I wasn't formally meditating and was actually trying to avoid insight, maybe on some pre-linguistic level I did have those insights. It is probably too soon for me to say.

Maybe I should also mention that my emergence into Low EQ happened during the same week that my antidepressant medication kicked in. I was suddenly able to meditate again, and my desire to was keen because of the horror I had just gone through and did not want to ever repeat like that again. In short, my experience of the Dark Night + medication = Desire for Deliverance. From there the path completed as the maps would indicate.

Jenny

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/9/14 1:05 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:
John Wilde:
Jen Pearly:

Again, as a Thanissaro-esque practitioner, I know what it is to purposefully adjust practice and examine emotional reactions and assumptions. Yes, nice when that works. But this was not "the lesson" that the dukka nanas taught me.
I would say almost the opposite: the dukka nanas taught me what folly it was to think that a self can tweak anything.


My personal slant on what others are saying in this thread: the "lesson" of the dark night is not so much that you should be tweaking or fabricating your way out of it (with the implication that if you're not doing that, you're wallowing). Rather, the "lesson" is that the intense personal suffering of the DN is contingent upon a certain identification that is not being thoroughly understood at the time. Release from that identification could be purely organic, in which case cognitive / analytical insight only comes in retrospect (and could be called the "lesson of equanimity"). But perhaps for some people, the cognitive insight into identification during dark night is the very thing that enables equanimity to arise, and that's the "lesson" it has for them.
John, thanks for chiming in. I think this is pretty close to what I'm talking about. I also really like the distinction between an insight that is explicitly cognized when it occurrs (i.e., one can say, "this is what the insight is/means") and one that happens more subteraneonly and only later, if ever, is explicitly cognized. And then, there is another element that will be different for each of us, which is: how it is then explicitly cognized-- within what framework (Therevada? Mahayana? Eclectic? etc..), with which words, etc.

Part of the undertone to my own responses on this thread has been much more along the lines of "I wonder if some of the posters here are articulating a similar insight differently, or if they had an 'unconscious' or implicit insight during the DN which was never consciously articulated?" than along the lines of "well they must not have attained X Y or Z then because they are articulating their experience differently than me". My sense of how these things work is that, in the context of the Progress of Insight, there are definite (families of) "insights" that one has in each stage which are exactly what allows one to move to the next stage. These insight-families seem to correspond pretty well, in general, with clinging aversion and ignorance as the themes that one gains existential insight into before moving on to the next broad stage. A&P has a lot of low hanging fruit and seems like it's chock full of stuff to cling to; so much so that we can spend years trying to get *back* to it even though that would actually be regressive. The Dn has lots of phenomena which are easy to resist. EQ can be EXTREMELY boring and pointless-seeming. The only insight needed to progress is the existential insight whereby the clinging, aversion and ignorance are dropped; and good practice emphasises clear stable inclusive seeing that drops those attitudes. But the thing is, "insights" are really more existential-emotional than cognitive: the cognitive component is good for reflecting on it later or communicating about it later-- but that's not the 'insight'.

 I have had a lot of breakthroughs which I *never* have had a clear cognitive understanding of, even though they left my experiential continuum transformed. Simply one day something stopped arising or something unravelled after months of paying clear attention to some funny highly unpleasent energetic thing in the solar plexus; I never would have even known that it was more than just an unpleasent sensation in that region which was present for a long time and then suddenly dissolved if a situation hadn't arisen many months later which ususally triggered a whole set of identities to function and they didn't show up. That whole raft of neurotic identities with all its attendant emotional reactions and counter-productive behaviors was just gone. And in that moment it became clear that that was what that whole solar plexus thing had been about: becuase that very (and extremely disturbing) sensation that I had sat with for literally months earlier in the year till it dissipated always used to come up when those identities were triggered too: they were a package. And somehow they had been worked through and released on a completely sensate level, and later this breakthrough was seen to have had profound affects on the psychological level and was finally cognitively understood at that time. If that particular trigger had never occurred again I would have never known that those identities had dissolved during those months of meditating on the strange energetic sensations!

Jake, all that you say here so well makes perfect sense to me. I do think that it is entirely possible that whatever I was going through during this most recent, especially terrible, DN was dropping "seeds" of insight that sprouted and saw the light of day only later, in EQ. In fact, by all signs and most accounts, I'm in Review now and am only beginning to sort out conceptually what has happened. Oddly, enough, my reading and writing on this thread is helping me do so now.

Thanks,
Jenny

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/9/14 1:36 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:
 I have had a lot of breakthroughs which I *never* have had a clear cognitive understanding of, even though they left my experiential continuum transformed. Simply one day something stopped arising or something unravelled after months of paying clear attention to some funny highly unpleasent energetic thing in the solar plexus; I never would have even known that it was more than just an unpleasent sensation in that region which was present for a long time and then suddenly dissolved if a situation hadn't arisen many months later which ususally triggered a whole set of identities to function and they didn't show up. That whole raft of neurotic identities with all its attendant emotional reactions and counter-productive behaviors was just gone. And in that moment it became clear that that was what that whole solar plexus thing had been about: becuase that very (and extremely disturbing) sensation that I had sat with for literally months earlier in the year till it dissipated always used to come up when those identities were triggered too: they were a package. And somehow they had been worked through and released on a completely sensate level, and later this breakthrough was seen to have had profound affects on the psychological level and was finally cognitively understood at that time. If that particular trigger had never occurred again I would have never known that those identities had dissolved during those months of meditating on the strange energetic sensations!
this is a beautiful passage, it encapsulates a 'world view' that has been rattling around in my head.  The idea that an experience is worth a thousand words.  Sure, we need a few words to get us to practice, but more than a few words are often a hindrance.  That we renaissance types need words to get out of the bed in the morning is unfortunate, but not an insurmountable obstacle on the the path.

It's of tremendous value that people try to find the right words to describe, but only to the degree that some of us are lacking in faith.

I think its the experiences that people of deep attainment have that enable them to write helpful books, not the other way around.

How to practice depends on how many words we need to do it the right way.  I curse emoticon the need in me to follow this thread all the way to this point.

I think experience vs didactic examples abound: which is more effective way to pick up a language: cultural immersion or a classroom and text books?  How much physics training do you need to strike out the batter?  How many books does it take to accomplish a 1 hour/day sitting practice?

I think I lost (can't say it's permanent yet) much of my tendency to react unhelpfully to social stress through mindful experience of dukkha and anicca while involved in sports type activities, long before I started sitting.  I just wanted to be better with a ball, but I found my whole life experience had changed.

I like the way Goenka put it (not that he gets the credit): Listen, analyze, experience and repeat.  Finding the right balance is why good teachers are invaluable.  I run from teachers that would rather sit around and talk way beyond my needs.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/9/14 11:36 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen Pearly:

To be clear if not reiterate: During my last Dark Night cycle, I didn't even meditate, except every Friday for a half hour with my meditation group at work. And on those Fridays I practiced samatha, actually doing all I could to avoid insight meditation. I actually avoided insight so as not to further destabilize myself. So, if you asked me this then, while I was reeling from the suffering, not investigating it, I couldn't have answered you except to parrot what I had read in dharma books. This is why I'm so, so emphatic that I didn't learn any lesson from the Dark Night except what suffering is, that there is suffering. I could not get on top of it well enough to articulate experientially  while in it the Second Noble Truth. To do that, I had to get to Equanimity, which I did, somehow. . . .  This said, maybe even though I wasn't formally meditating and was actually trying to avoid insight, maybe on some pre-linguistic level I did have those insights. It is probably too soon for me to say.

Well I am personally not a  big rule person myself.  Even if there is a strong trend for certain things to happen at certain times, I am not going to go so far as to say that I know for sure that any one exact thing has to happen at any one exact time for all people on Earth no matter what.  Plus as you say, there seems to be a lot of shifts that happen below the totally conscious level.  There is a lot going on that we don't understand it seems, kind of like an iceberg, we mostly on see a little piece of it at the conscious level.  I also think quite strongly that anything that can be done on the mat can be done off the mat.  Meditation is meant to focus one strongly in one direction and block distraction and escape so it's meant to make for faster progress.  But it's not like humans can't and never learn anything or have insights at other times as well.  Stopping meditation can slow down progress, but I don't think it can stop it completely.  You've probably heard the saying that once you open the door, it stays open.  ;-)
-Eva  

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/10/14 12:31 AM as a reply to Jenny.
If you want to glean TB's entire take on this topic of "abandoning craving" (aka the "letting go" school) versus the "investigating sensations as sensations" school, and not just one half of it, I highly Richard Shankman's interview of TB in The Experience of Samadhi. It is a brilliant talk on TB's part. The short version is that TB has one foot in each camp, having been taught himself by masters of both.
I'm not sure if I see those schools as that SUPER different from eachother, especially if you look at the words 'attachment' and 'craving' as potentially being synonyms.  In order to experience new things or to notice new sensations, you will IMO still need to let go of old opinions in some cases.  For instance, in order to perceive reality as being gappy, seems to me you will need to let go of your atttachment to your belief in a more solid world.  Personally, I was quite attached to a nice solid world I thought I already knew!  So even to 'only' investigate sensation, seems to me you will be doing some letting go attachment as well .  Then another school is IMO saying something like to look for the more complex sensations/thoughts that are attachment/craving first, try to get those out of the way, and then move forward.  But to me, the variation in emphasis between the two does not seem to be that huge, but then again, seems I am a type that sees commonality in things very easily.  Anyway, I think I'll pick up that book, sounds interesting!
In this connection, I found it really interesting in one of this forum's posts that Richard Zen was discussing with me the need to abandon clinging (or craving?), and Daniel Ingram joined in and basically indicated that he wasn't even sure what "abandon clinging" even means. Instead, unsurprisingly, Daniel advised simply "investigating the sensations that arise" in terms of the three characteristics. 
Yeah, I guess if you stick with one school and one teacher, that can simplify things but where's the fun in that!  ;-)  IME, all teachers in any field tend to identify very very strongly with the way that seems easiest to them.  That way worked for them and they trust it.  The way they chose often plays to that's person strengths and that is why they chose it in the first place, because it seemed easiest and more right to them.  Whereas for many of the other methods, that can't so easily tell how well they might work.  How many people, once they know of a seemingly easier way, still want to hear about another way that sounds harder to them? 
I think that it may be entirely possible that some people are enlightened by somehow just cognitively understanding very deeply what "abandoning clinging" involves and then, somehow by means of that understanding, being able to "let go." And I think that there is always some kind of value in trying to do so, even if it is only fully apparent later on in Review or integration. However, I suspect that most of us have to do some hard time on the cushion, investigating the nature of sensations themselves, before something in us fully "gets" the Second Noble Truth well enough to see clinging abandoned, or at least made more infrequent and milder.
Or maybe some things that are harder for you are easier for them and the reverse.  What is obvious and easy to one person may seem very confusing to another.  
-Eva 

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/14/14 12:32 PM as a reply to dat Buddha-field.
dat Buddha-field:


If your Dark Night seems to be some eternal, hellish nightmare you're not approaching it in a skillful way. The primary reason you are in the DN is because you need to learn it's lessons.


I agree with this.

You're going to be in the DN until you learn what it is trying to teach you. There are difficult but important lessons to be had. Note and release your aversion to the DN. More than that, become the dark night! Revel in all it's horrific, frightening, and terrible glory. Let the Dark Night flow through you! Attain it's evil bliss. 

That's only part of it. Yes, you have to open up to all of experience, including the Dark Night's horrific mental, emotional, and physical states.

That's not all of it. And it certainly isn't easy.

If you can do that, it will likely be far easier than you have been led to believe. Be mindful of the 3Cs and don't turn away from reality, it's as simple as that.

Again, this is only part of it. And it's only simple IF one has worked through their emotional shit and proper self-care habits have been implemented (sleep, eat healthy, drink loads of water, exercise, etc). Self care will give you the mental clarity to see stuff as it arises.

I've been stuck in Dark Night since April 2013. It hit me like a freight train. I did not see a way out. Since then, most of the side effects have lifted (nasty states, horrific feelings of meaninglessness, lack of energy and motivation, intense emotional states, etc). 

I went on vacation, visited a Zen Center just for the hell of it, and was lucky enough to have a chunk of time to talk with the main teacher. He was awesome. I told him about my experience and how long I'd been stuck in DN.

He said to me, "Six months is common. You've been stuck in DN for way too long. However, the awakening process is slow for most (for me it was rapid). Meditation isn't going to do anything for you. You are going to have to inquire and find out what your core beliefs are. The beliefs you've had since childhood. Where there is fear, there is a belief. And you are going to have to look at that."

I had long held the belief that I couldn't "do it". That I was incapable. I'd shy away from challenges. I had a fear of standing up for myself and setting boundaries. I had a tendency to quit or bail on everything once things got challenging.

I bailed on my career (a new job in the field I had been working in for 9 years) right in the midst of Dark Night despite being advised not to. It was "too hard."

I intended on going on a big spiritual journey, which I did attempt, but got nowhere, and did nothing but indulge and spin in circles of confusion.

When you say, "Don't turn away from reality," this is true. However, one's avoidance patterns have to be made conscious or they are going to keep playing out. Seeing thoughts and images as "not-self" may give you some space to be present and open up to emotion, but you do have to see through some of those beliefs that keep you trapped in your patterns.

There IS a personal element to this. And that is going to be unique to everyone.

Ultimately what we are looking at is acceptance. But acceptance isn't a doing, it's the result of seeing through one's patterns. Once you open up to the thing you're avoiding, thoughts such as "I don't like" or "I don't want" will cease to arise. That is acceptance. Here we reside in equanimity.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/14/14 4:12 PM as a reply to Tyler Durden.
Tyler Durden:

When you say, "Don't turn away from reality," this is true. However, one's avoidance patterns have to be made conscious or they are going to keep playing out. Seeing thoughts and images as "not-self" may give you some space to be present and open up to emotion, but you do have to see through some of those beliefs that keep you trapped in your patterns.

There IS a personal element to this. And that is going to be unique to everyone.

Right, I agree for the most part.  All I'm trying to do is give people a different perspective that has the potential to be empowering.  

Our perceptions regarding experience are fluid, and we have the power to shift them, irregardless of how challenging that is in each individual case.  

You're not going to see through what's keeping you trapped until you face your experience, plain and simple.  Being able to make that shift can be helped by a shift in perception regarding the nature of the dark night.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
9/20/14 1:42 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:

All too often folks-- especially those who have the longest and most dramatic (as judged by posts anyhow) DN-- are either overemphasizing the content of their DN as opposed to merely noticing the arising and passing of content on subtler and subtler levels, or else, trying to power through the DN through aggressive practice which conveniently reinforces the felt sense of being a solid practitioner-self. 

I believe that this was my problem. It's getting clearer now. I was trying to dance around DN, thinking that if I did A -> B -> C, that DN would cease to arise.

No.

The way out is through it. It has to be welcomed and felt fully, as do all emotions and states.

RE: Why the Dark Night Sucks and Why You're Stuck in it.
Answer
3/18/15 7:42 PM as a reply to ivory.
This is a highly useful thread, and I'd like to particulary thank Zach; I've rarely read things in here that made so much sense. Cheers!