Long time since an update

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Daniel Johnson, modified 7 Years ago.

Long time since an update

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
Hi everyone,
It's nice to see that there are still a lot of the same people posting here and some new ones too. It's been a while since I posted an update, so here it goes.

I've been working on the phone with Ron Crouch trying to make some progress on the path of insight. For the last few years, I've been practicing on average about an hour a day or more. Sometimes it's been more like two hours, but also sometimes I skip a day. Working with Ron has been very interesting as I've gotten a much different perspective on the stages of insight and started to recognize some of them in my daily sits from time to time. It seems that I am still sort of breaking into the lower stages of equanimity from time to time, still spending quite a bit of time in reobservation, and still unsure of where I am for much of the sits.

I think the interesting thing worth noting is that from my best estimate I probably first got into equanimity somtime around 2009, so that's about 5 years of very diligent practice and I'm still working to get to stream entry. It took me about 8 years to get through the dark night, so I guess it's reasonable if it takes another 8 to get through equanimity.

This progress through stages and the time frames has often been a theme of my posts here, and perhaps to an unhealthy and obsessive degree. But, I still think it's worth talking about and a valuable topic, mostly because I assume there are other people like me in the world who are also curious about timeframes and stages, etc. When I first joined this site, I got the impression that it was possible for anyone to make very rapid progress so long as they put the effort in and followed the instructions. Now, I think it is probably more nuanced than that. I am a very high achiever in the other fields of daily life, so for me it has been quite a shock to discover my rather lacking capacity to achieve in this endeavour as well. Maybe there are correlations between skillful achievement and meditative progress, and maybe I am an outlier. Or maybe there is no correlation. I think this would be an interesting area for research.

Nonetheless, if I put the insight stages aside and focus on other yardsticks of meditative progress, such as clarity of mind, frequency and intensity of peak states, metta, equanimity, joy, dissolution of self...  it seems that I continue to make more and more progress. It's an incredible journey and I hardly recognize the person I was when I started intensely pursuing meditation about 5 years ago.

As for the meditation, it is still so much of a struggle so much of the time. As Ron has pointed out to me, much of my sits seem to be directly sitting in reobservation for 20-30 minutes at a time with breif dips into higher or lower stages.

As I think about my meditations and what I could possibly say about it or what to report, it still just seems like a jumbled mess of confusion. I guess what I do is just sit down and try to do my best for that sit - whatever my best is at that time. There is still quite a lot that doesn't make sense, and still quite a bit of suffering.

It's been over 6  months since my last retreat, and I definitely want to go back on retreat as soon as I possibly can. For years, my life has really revolved around finding ways to get back on retreat. This remains my number one priority.

Anyway, I wish I could write more, or say something useful. I'm not sure if this is a useful post or not, but I'm throwing it out there in the hope that maybe somehow it is for me or for someone.

So good to be here and saying hello again. Hope everyone is doing well.

- Daniel
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katy steger, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Long time since an update

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Hi Daniel,

It is very good to read you again.

I love your report here. And I excerpted this because I think, too, there's something to this.
I think the interesting thing worth noting is that from my best estimate I probably first got into equanimity somtime around 2009, so that's about 5 years of very diligent practice and I'm still working to get to stream entry. It took me about 8 years to get through the dark night, so I guess it's reasonable if it takes another 8 to get through equanimity.

This progress through stages and the time frames has often been a theme of my posts here, and perhaps to an unhealthy and obsessive degree. But, I still think it's worth talking about and a valuable topic, mostly because I assume there are other people like me in the world who are also curious about timeframes and stages, etc. When I first joined this site, I got the impression that it was possible for anyone to make very rapid progress so long as they put the effort in and followed the instructions. Now, I think it is probably more nuanced than that. I am a very high achiever in the other fields of daily life, so for me it has been quite a shock to discover my rather lacking capacity to achieve in this endeavour as well. Maybe there are correlations between skillful achievement and meditative progress, and maybe I am an outlier. Or maybe there is no correlation. I think this would be an interesting area for research.

So I have mentioned this to friends with high, long-term equanimity: that they are really skilled and accomplished and level-headed, thorough(I love their company and of course try to have them rub off on me). Sometimes, when I speculate in Thervadin typology,  I am clear with them that I don't think they are working on sotapanna, but 2nd or even third. But I also tend to think these friends are best in knowing for themselves; that's just my tenacious perception-conception of the matter. I often feel they, again to use Thervadin typology and cosmology, have previous supporting conditions causing them to work on so-called after 1st path. I write this rowing alla sensile from the low and rabblerousing galley emoticon But some risky rabblerousers can cut through some personal B.S. perhaps in less "time" simply due to some all-in, nothing-to-lose mind. To each their own. 


Glad to read you : )
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Long time since an update

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
The transition from Re-Observation to Equanimity often involves things that feel to many like bad practice, like the wrong thing to do, such as really feeling the frustration and anxiety, such as giving up entirely, such as doing nothing, such as getting really tight and reactive and deeply and honestly going there to a degree that would seem somehow "unspiritual" or something.

It also often involves a greater degree of honesty than most people are willing to engage in.

It also involves seeing Re-Observation clearly, on its own terms, as it is, which is generally pretty dysphoric, meaning really wrong-feeling.

Also, plenty of people just don't have enough concentration skills, which sounds contradictory, but the ability to stay with what is going on, fraction of a second after fraction of a second, in all its very rich and harmonic, rapid complexity, naturally tracking all the crazy stuff the mind is doing as it tries to wriggle out of Re-Observation, is really helpful.

Glad to hear you are still practicing. Think about trying some other approach, such as something a bit more Dzogchen, or a bit more Achaan Chan, a la "A Still Forest Pool". There is this thing people can get into that I call the Analogy of the Bicycle: if you are riding up a long hill, you may need to pedal hard, as, if you stop, you will start rolling backwards, but, at some point you may cross the top of the hill and start rolling down the other side, and so you don't really have to pedal much unless you want to, but plenty won't realize this and just keep pedaling as hard as they can, exhausting themselves and not enjoying the long coast down the other side. It can be hard to determine if you have crossed the top of the hill sometimes, but still, if you have been hitting Re-Observation that hard for that long, you probably are in this category, and some recognizing of the No-Self aspect of things, that they happen on their own all the time, that nothing is required to perceive things clearly as they already being inherent in things, that all sensations naturally perceive themselves, that space perceives itself, that all the things that are pretending to be this side and that side are just naturally, causally, easily occurring, and there is a way to rest in that natural, empty transience.
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Jen Pearly, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Long time since an update

Posts: 566 Join Date: 7/28/13 Recent Posts
What you say, Daniel, is helpful to me. I feel that this place between Reobservation and Eqanimity is where I blow it, and I supect backsliding has something to do with my directed pushing as opposed to simply recognizing what you say is there simply to be acknowledged. I'm think that Choiceless Awareness may be a good option for me at this stage. 

One question: Can the return of hard bodily pain and swaying/restless posture be Reobservation? Or is it almost certainly from a slide back to 3Cs? I find that the 3Cs seem to be implied in all experience without my having to think about them conceptually. So I am intuiting that Choiceless Awarness may be better right now than noting. 
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Long time since an update

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Dear Jen,

Sorting out 3C and Re-Obs is really tricky: they can look a lot like each other, very easy to confuse them, so I would just assume that you are in one of them if things sort of suck and don't worry about it. Luckily, similar advice applies, as 3C is too effortful and A&P is not, so the letting-things-happen advice and the see-the-fine-details advice work well in either place, though the space thing is more helpful for Re-Obs, as the A&P is not as much about that, but it doesn't hurt either.

Helpful?
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Richard Zen, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Long time since an update

Posts: 1635 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
It's good to see you're still sticking with it.

Best of luck!  It's definitely worth it.

Richard
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tom moylan, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Long time since an update

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
howdy DJ,
nice to read you again.  your post is VERY helpful as are the responses.  i too am a multi-year pre-pather.  i wonder sometimes whether that is truly the case of not but as a working assumption its good enough.

as much as i would like to believe Katy's presumptions to be true, the fact that my experiences do not include the non-experience of fruitions and the subsequent "cycling storm" precludes the possibility of SE for me, at least as it is mostly understood here.

enjoy the ride

tom
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Daniel Johnson, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Long time since an update

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
Hi everyone,
Thanks for all the advice and comments. It took me a while to read through and digest the posts here.

I just saw this article today that seemed somewhat relevant and interesting:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/10000-hour-rule-not-real-180952410/

Basically, the amount of time practicing may not be as important as some people suggest. This makes sense for me. They didn't study meditation, it was things like sports and music, but I would guess meditation would have similar results.

I'm going on a 10 day retreat this week. I'm looking forward to it. I feel like I have a good idea of what I need to do, and so it's time to do the work.

I'll update again when I return.
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Jason Snyder, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Long time since an update

Posts: 186 Join Date: 10/25/13 Recent Posts
I am generally in the Equanimity stage, and what really works for me when I feel stuck is alternating between Vipassana and Direct Inquiry. Asking "Who am I?" "Who/what is suffering/craving?", "who sees/hears?", "where am I?", etc and then deconstructing the sensations that make those up, usually in the face/chest areas for me. Another trick that helps is to imagine that God/universe or whatever is looking out through my eyes, that I am a window of universal mind. Whether or not this is true, it sure produces some interesting states.
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Eric M W, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Long time since an update

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
Daniel Johnson:
Hi everyone,
Thanks for all the advice and comments. It took me a while to read through and digest the posts here.

I just saw this article today that seemed somewhat relevant and interesting:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/10000-hour-rule-not-real-180952410/

Basically, the amount of time practicing may not be as important as some people suggest. This makes sense for me. They didn't study meditation, it was things like sports and music, but I would guess meditation would have similar results.

I'm going on a 10 day retreat this week. I'm looking forward to it. I feel like I have a good idea of what I need to do, and so it's time to do the work.

I'll update again when I return.

The time spent practicing vs. actual attainments has always been something that has baffled me, it seems like some people spend decades plugging away and don't have the slightest hint of insight, and others can tag a path with minimal practice.

Dipa Ma got first path in six days, and that's just one example. I personally made it all the way up to Equanimity a few years ago with minimal sitting, not even realizing what was happening. It seems to be the opposite now, I can sit till the cows come home and not much happens.

If you've been kicking around Re-Obs for as long as Ron thinks you have, you have the potential to make great progress on this retreat, because now you truly understand fundamental suffering.

Best wishes, may you attain stream entry!
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Teague, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Long time since an update

Posts: 104 Join Date: 8/1/11 Recent Posts
If we believe the whole buddhist cosmology, then this is a multi-life path.  Some of us may be finding the dhamma for the first time in this life and have a whole crap-load of karma and defilements to purify before we're ready to transcend.  Others people may have been a stream-enterer or once-returner in the last life, so progress is totally natural.  Remember how long the Buddha worked toward becoming the Buddha.

Assuming I've been around before, I have a notion that I've practiced this stuff before.  I remember when I went on my first retreat and learned "real" vipassna (not just watered down mindfulness) I thought, "Oh my god, I've found it!"  It felt so obvious and neccesary.  I made pretty quick progress, then got stalled, then made some more quick progress post MCTB, then got stalled again.  Now my motivation is in another waxing phase.  So you're not alone in spending years to get stream entry.  Lets git 'er done!!!

-T