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Foul insights Bruno Loff 5/30/10 11:00 AM
RE: Foul insights tarin greco 5/30/10 11:09 AM
RE: Foul insights Julius P0pp 5/30/10 12:34 PM
RE: Foul insights Trent . 5/30/10 6:20 PM
RE: Foul insights Jeff Grove 5/31/10 4:41 AM
RE: Foul insights This Good Self 5/30/10 9:23 PM
RE: Foul insights Trent . 5/30/10 10:27 PM
RE: Foul insights This Good Self 5/30/10 11:05 PM
RE: Foul insights Bruno Loff 5/31/10 2:30 AM
RE: Foul insights Trent . 5/31/10 3:24 AM
RE: Foul insights Bruno Loff 5/31/10 7:24 AM
RE: Foul insights Brian . 5/31/10 11:52 AM
RE: Foul insights Bruno Loff 5/31/10 12:56 PM
RE: Foul insights Anon Anon 5/31/10 1:24 PM
RE: Foul insights Brian . 5/31/10 1:27 PM
RE: Foul insights Graeme M. 5/31/10 2:11 PM
RE: Foul insights Julius P0pp 5/31/10 2:35 PM
RE: Foul insights Trent . 5/31/10 5:24 PM
RE: Foul insights Bruno Loff 6/2/10 7:26 PM
RE: Foul insights Anon Anon 6/1/10 5:02 PM
RE: Foul insights Anon Anon 6/1/10 4:55 PM
RE: Foul insights Julius P0pp 6/2/10 12:09 PM
RE: Foul insights This Good Self 6/3/10 9:22 AM
RE: Foul insights Pavel _ 6/3/10 10:18 AM
RE: Foul insights Pavel _ 6/3/10 10:24 AM
RE: Foul insights Daniel M. Ingram 6/12/10 7:41 PM
RE: Foul insights Bruno Loff 6/19/10 2:05 PM
RE: Foul insights go back to the breath 6/21/10 10:56 AM
RE: Foul insights Bruno Loff 6/21/10 12:27 PM
RE: Foul insights Pavel _ 6/21/10 12:44 PM
RE: Foul insights This Good Self 6/21/10 9:17 PM
RE: Foul insights J Adam G 6/22/10 12:17 AM
RE: Foul insights This Good Self 6/22/10 5:54 AM
RE: Foul insights J Adam G 6/22/10 9:39 PM
RE: Foul insights Bruno Loff 6/23/10 4:01 AM
RE: Foul insights This Good Self 6/23/10 9:41 PM
RE: Foul insights go back to the breath 6/24/10 2:58 AM
RE: Foul insights Bruno Loff 6/24/10 3:11 AM
RE: Foul insights This Good Self 6/24/10 6:34 AM
RE: Foul insights Bruno Loff 6/24/10 11:55 AM
RE: Foul insights J Adam G 6/24/10 4:02 PM
RE: Foul insights Bruno Loff 6/22/10 2:28 AM
RE: Foul insights Julius P0pp 6/3/10 11:58 AM
RE: Foul insights Bruno Loff 6/3/10 2:25 PM
RE: Foul insights Tom Smith 6/12/10 9:54 PM
RE: Foul insights Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 12/12/10 9:37 AM
Foul insights
Answer
5/30/10 11:00 AM
Dear all,

I am not finding it at entirely positive to come to an understanding of my internal processes. For instance, I've recently realized that the greatest source of motivation for doing my PhD (in math) was related to the need to fulfill some sort of self-image of an "intelligent Bruno." Somehow, the need to think myself to be intelligent, and to have other people thinking so, was the greater part of the fuel driving my efforts towards a PhD.

I have come to this conclusion by doing some serious vipassana like introspection of my own internal processes.

As I did this exploration, the whole thing seems to have dissolved. I no longer care whether I am seen as intelligent or not, be it by myself or by others. And now it seems I am left with a PhD to do, and no motivation to do it... Also I seem to be unable to get any satisfaction from it whatsoever.

And not only with my PhD, but plenty of other things seem to be easily seen as "being unable, in themselves, to give any satisfaction." Let's say that the "non-satisfying" aspect of experience seems to have become an obvious triviality... This seems to be slowly warping out my curiosity for anything in life. Yet happiness is supposed to be the point of the whole meditation thing, no?

What's happening?! Did anyone get this post-stream entry?

I don't know if it is just a phase, but if desire is apparently and eventually going to be eliminated, I would really like to understand: how is it that curiosity is maintained? Why is it that "ending desire" doesn't turn one into a amorphous blob... ? Thus all my questions to tarin and trent: how are you able to feel interest for anything without desire?! You seem to retain curiosity, but how? You seem to be happy, but how?

I do seem to have less and less desire as time goes by... but it seems to translate more like a "I don't give a shit" than a "I feel happy."

Bruno

RE: Foul insights
Answer
5/30/10 11:09 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:

I don't know if it is just a phase, but if desire is apparently and eventually going to be eliminated, I would really like to understand: how is it that curiosity is maintained? Why is it that "ending desire" doesn't turn one into a amorphous blob... ? Thus all my questions to tarin and trent: how are you able to feel interest for anything without desire?! You seem to retain curiosity, but how? You seem to be happy, but how?


simple - by having decided to be happy (and then letting the leaves fall accordingly).

Bruno Loff:

I do seem to have less and less desire as time goes by... but it seems to translate more like a "I don't give a shit" than a "I feel happy."


how it translates is up to you homie, the ball is in your court.. feel the sweat, hear the dribble..

(go for a walk..)

RE: Foul insights
Answer
5/30/10 12:34 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Hi Bruno,

At some point I decided not to do stuff for the end result, so I started studying maths (and physics) because it looked interesting and because I valued the way in which a scientist thinks.

The initial motivation I had for physics (since I was a teen) to get meaningful answers and to expand my horizon is gone now. Nothing replaced it.

I don't seem to need much effort to keep going now (esp. with maths), but I wonder what the point is and where that will lead me. I'll try some different things out as well, e.g. music. Maybe now I am simple enough for it. Let's see...

RE: Foul insights
Answer
5/30/10 6:20 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
Thus all my questions to tarin and trent: how are you able to feel interest for anything without desire?! You seem to retain curiosity, but how? You seem to be happy, but how?


Hi Bruno,

This is your only moment of being alive, and it will always only be this moment of being alive. Having that in mind, this is the first time you are doing this, whatever "this" is happening now, and whenever that "now" may be. Try maintaining that thought as a general approach to life...to see as if seeing for the first time, to hear as if hearing for the first time, to feel as if feeling for the first time, to taste as if tasting for the first time, to smell as if smelling for the first time.

I've eaten one of four flavors of instant-cheapo oat meal each morning for the past three weeks and although I know I've eaten "strawberry" before, it tasted, smelled, and felt as ambrosial as if it was the first and last meal I'll ever eat; and in a way, it is... until next time. While eating, I have no idea when I might smell the strawberry, or taste the cream, or notice the general consistency of the oats...it is an adventure, and all I'm doing is eating breakfast. While eating, I was standing outside...it is a partly-cloudy day with a light, cool wind which periodically rustled the tree leaves just a couple of feet outside of the balcony ledge I was learning against. I remember watching the recently formed leaves rustle in the wind, fluttering upward and downward in a way which reminded me of the graceful meandering of a butterfly. Each little green leaf had a different tint-- which meant a different shade of green-- and nearly every moment each leaf's color changed as its position to the light-sources changed due to the wind. Such a surprisingly delightful show to compliment the breakfast time...this, surely, is such an interesting world we live in.

Trent

RE: Foul insights
Answer
5/31/10 4:41 AM as a reply to Trent ..
Hi Bruno,

I have a similar background to you Physics and Maths. We live in a real world and I would look at it from the opportunities and doors that PhD will open if that is what you have always aimed for.
For me there was no looking back and it was my ticket to the world
The trick is to be happy in what you do.
One thing that I have noticed in relation to suffering and practice, I am more aware of the suffering now. You will question the point in everything (dark night) the more you become aware of what makes up the self. These are all important insights but there are many more to come. Enjoy what you do


cheers
Jeff

RE: Foul insights
Answer
5/30/10 9:23 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
I'm usually the one asking questions in here, but this looks like a simple one so I'll answer. You understood your motives and then realised: "I was doing it all for the wrong reasons".

Just like some women who marry for money. When the husband loses it all, the woman suddenly feels a lot less attracted to him.....hmm, why is that? If she has any idea of her subconscious motives, she will see that it was about the money (or fame or status or looks). But more likely she will say something like "oh we just grew apart" to protect her ego. It all happens unconsciously. And of course men do all the same weird behaviours.

What would be wrong with ditching the PhD and just doing what made you feel good?

One day soon I'm going to complete the "CCC model of enlightenment" and post it here for feedback and criticism. It will be the first model ever constructed by someone who has no level of insight attainments!! LOL. But it will be a model that will make sense to me, and that's important because I can't adhere to any model that just doesn't feel right. In part it will attempt to resurrect some of the models roundly critisized in Daniel's book (and fairly so, I just disagree with the conclusions drawn, that's all), in particular the 'psychological model' and 'love model' (see MCTB p. 327).

RE: Foul insights
Answer
5/30/10 10:27 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
that's important because I can't adhere to any model that just doesn't feel right.


Hello,

Has your model guided you or been modeled after the ending your suffering? If so, then great, I would like to see it very much. If not, I wonder if you'll answer this question:

Would you rather end your suffering entirely even if it feels wrong, or would you rather continue adhering to a model that perpetuates your suffering because it "feels right?"

As I assume that you are still suffering, based on your other posts on the forum, you may find the quoted section below to be particularly helpful. Or not. More on this (not below): http://actualfreedom.com.au/sundry/commonobjections/CRO26a.htm#4

AFTrust site:

RESPONDENT: Yes I am interested in becoming free of human condition and I cannot help but do it ‘my’ way.

PETER: Why?

Once I realized ‘I’ was in no way unique and in no way an individual it was easy for me to give up ‘my’ pride, prejudices and preconditions and follow someone else who had become free of the human condition and do it his way. There was a slight variation to Richard’s way in that I avoided becoming Enlightened on the path – as I was well forewarned by Richard – but the way or method I used was identical to Richards.

Everybody is socially conditioned and programmed and there is very little essential difference in this programming as there is little essential difference between the various human tribal cultures, their religions, beliefs, morals and ethics. The instinctual passions are also universal and common-to-all – there is no difference between German anger or Indian anger or Australian anger nor is there in any difference between French sadness, Chinese sadness or Lithuanian sadness.

Once I understood the fact that no one is unique or special in that everybody is entrapped within the same human condition, I was then able to gaily abandon doing things ‘my’ way and get on with being sensible. I gave up doing what didn’t work to make me happy or harmless and I started to become really curious about actualism and how to become free of the human condition in toto. Besides, trying to ‘be’ an individual and ‘be’ unique is such an effort that it was a tangible relief to head off down the path to becoming an anonymous ‘nobody’ – a non-identity.


Note: I do not recommend following someone else, and also make sure you key in to where 'I' is used with quote marks, as each human is a unique individual, it is the identity that is the same 'me' as all the other seven billion 'mes,' eg: not unique.

Best,
Trent

RE: Foul insights
Answer
5/30/10 11:05 PM as a reply to Trent ..
Trent, I don't think anyone would take me seriously if I hadn't first practiced it myself and achieved a level of happiness and freedom that is real, so in that sense I've probably opened my big gob too soon. And so I won't post it until I can demonstrate that - no point. The model's main difference is in the way it views and treats desire. But I am also trying to make it as natural and flowing as possible, trying to eliminate any unnecessary strain and struggle. I also want to incorporate what Daniel would call a psychological model. The huge schism between one's personal psychology (commonly referred to in here as "stuff" and "crap" - aversion or what?!!) and real insight bothers me a lot and I think they need to be properly integrated.

I keep thinking of the story about the monk who went into the mountains, meditated for years to attain great insight and decided he would now come back to his village and teach the dharma. Word got out of his visit and a huge crowd gathered in anticipation because the Great Masters had confirmed his attainments themselves. The monk only got to the outskirts of the village before he was mobbed by people wanting to see and touch him and be near him. He was jostled and pushed around and yelled at. It took only a few minutes to see that he was infuriated by this raucous and unruly crowd. He admitted that he hadn't attained anything worth sharing with the world, and headed back to the mountains!

So...I want a model that fixes that situation!

But as you point out, what I'm saying is all heresay and hot air until i can prove it to you. That's my work, and i really should have kept quiet in the first place. I just got a bit excited when i saw Bruno's post!

RE: Foul insights
Answer
5/31/10 2:30 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
What would be wrong with ditching the PhD and just doing what made you feel good?


Nothing, it's just that I can't, by anticipation, think of what that might be. You see there is a mechanism in the brain that makes a little image of "what would that be like?" before deciding to do things. Some of the things are classified as "good" and some "bad." When something is classified as "good," the brain somehow imagines that doing it causes satisfaction, and strives for doing it (there's desire).

But I have observed, time and again, that this simply isn't true. You go and do the thing, and in the end you feel as lame as when you started. At least that's how it's been for me in the last few months. And I find motivation to do anything dwindling down... why should I be with people if they can do well without me and I get nothing out of it?, why do a PhD if it's such a trouble (regardless of meaning I go to africa or wherever)?, etc, etc?

Tarin I guess you mean following your flowchart... hun? I guess I can try that. Given that trent claims he maintains family bonds, be it for whatever reason, I am a bit beyond caring for anything else.

Trent, yes, nature is beautiful, I get that all the time, due to improvements in visual perception. But beauty does not necessarily entail joy or motivation, or curiosity. The sensation I get with nature's beauty is that it is so perfect that I have absolutely nothing to add (and we're talking about a walk in the city park, not the Niagara falls). So why bother doing anything?

what happened to my sense of fun? I remember some things used to be fun... :-(

RE: Foul insights
Answer
5/31/10 3:24 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
Given that trent claims he maintains family bonds, be it for whatever reason, I am a bit beyond caring for anything else.

Trent, yes, nature is beautiful, I get that all the time, due to improvements in visual perception. But beauty does not necessarily entail joy or motivation, or curiosity. The sensation I get with nature's beauty is that it is so perfect that I have absolutely nothing to add (and we're talking about a walk in the city park, not the Niagara falls). So why bother doing anything?

what happened to my sense of fun? I remember some things used to be fun... :-(


Trent has never claimed to maintain family bonds-- I have none at all; I have a friendly association with my progenitors.

I have also never said that nature is "beautiful," I have said that it is perfect, vivid, ambrosial, interesting, and a number of other things, though. "Beauty is in the eye of the (subjective) beholder," after all.

You mention that you have "absolutely nothing to add," and also imply that there may be nothing to do...but you also talk about the various ways that you are suffering. What this suffering suggests is that 'you' are adding things to life's otherwise 'perfect' experience all the time, and perhaps 'you' would thus find 'motivation' or 'curiosity' in 'bothering' to do '(some)thing' about that so that the 'perfect(ion)' you sense would then be lived 24/7 as an actuality.

And finally, you ask a question that is probably very important to reclaiming your delight-for-life-- perhaps it is worth discussing, if you want. Indeed, where has Bruno's fun gone?

Trent

RE: Foul insights
Answer
5/31/10 7:24 AM as a reply to Trent ..
Trent has never claimed to maintain family bonds-- I have none at all; I have a friendly association with my progenitors.


Basically I don't want my parents to suffer because I've "eliminated suffering." If you where to report to me, for instance, that you have stopped maintaining the relationship with your parents, or that you don't care anymore whether they are happy or sad (and please tell me if that is the case), because everything is "perfect" to you, then I would conclude that the longer I take to reach this perfection, the better, and would try to hold out at least until my parents' death. If the fact that life is oh-so-enjoyable that nothing can really make you sad etc etc would imply, in your behavior, that you would act unconcernedly towards those whom, not having a "perfect" experience, still feel affectionately towards you, then I would hold out, suffer some more, for these people's sake.

But since I AM suffering quite a lot, to the point I have so little enjoyment, so little sense of fun, and since from what I can ascertain, you seem to maintain the relationships with your friends and family, then I might consider putting some effort in moving forwards with the whole meditation thing.

Summing up:

1) My ascertainment is that, behaviorally, whether you feel "bonded" or not, however it is you value things, or in general choose a course of action, it seems that you find "good reasons" to maintain these relationships, and "no reasons" to break them. Is this correct?

2) How on earth it is you are able to make any sort of judgement between good reasons and bad reasons or no reasons, given that you also say everything is perfect, is still a mystery to me. This mystery holds me back tremendously, with fear, not so much for myself anymore, as I have hinted so many times, pretty much since my first post that you answered so long ago. To make it concrete, using the eating a baby thing as a metaphor: although I see that you won't eat a baby (you even "almost spill orange" juice at the thought, as if shocked though of course you're not "feeling shocked"), it is unclear to me "why not?" I think this might even be unclear to you.

3) Please, if you have any insight on what this sense of fun and discovery is, what originates it, and how to bring it about, please share. I hate this sensation of "disenchantment," and I hate the utter lack of enthusiasm that I've been having the past few months. Maybe the ball is in my court, but now what, how do I swing?

RE: Foul insights
Answer
5/31/10 11:52 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
hi Bruno,

Some stray points of consideration that might be useful launching points...

1. you've undoubtedly thought of this already, but what if you're just stuck in a bad dark night period? Following MCTB, consider that it might be a bad idea to e.g. get caught up in your depressive state and do drastic things like ditch your PhD, etc.

2. so you've found, in a way, that desires and their underlying perspectives are arbitrary. This insight doesn't need to be purely destructive though. You can use it to rebuild your world too. Perspectives are arbitrary, so you are not beholden to any of them-- but on the flip side, you are free to choose whichever ones you want. You seem to be stuck on the kind of perspective that emphasizes the unsatisfactoriness and pointlessness of things. This perspective, just like the perspectives of your former self that have fallen away, is arbitrary and you are not obligated to hold it. Why not try out some other perspectives and see which ones seem to work well for you? That's not to say that you can just snap your fingers and change everything, but practice in bringing your mind in line with a certain kind of perspective will bring about a change of experience. Belief and expectation play a massive part in shaping experience, and it seems right now all your beliefs and expectations are of the 'foul' sort. But they need not be.

RE: Foul insights
Answer
5/31/10 12:56 PM as a reply to Brian ..
Yes of course we can call it dark night. But it is very different from what it used to feel like. I am in no way depressed, and despite all this furious angst, I remain very calm. I am able to remain calm through anxiety attacks, through sadness attacks, through feeling I'm not there, through feeling that nothing satisfies, and, finally, through the panicky amazement that I can remain so utterly calm through all of this! Could I remain calm if a friend was brutally tortured in front of me? etc...

Yes, well, but although I know of many techniques to "remove" stuff, I know of no technique to "add" stuff. Does that make sense? It seems that most meditative techniques put so much more emphasis on getting rid of stuff... I know very well how to remove "that feeling of insecurity," but I have no experience with adding "the feeling of universal curiosity." So I know how to ditch perspectives (and many of these are being ditched...), but adding new ones? Also, how can you come to believe something if you so clearly saw that you implanted this belief yourself?

RE: Foul insights
Answer
5/31/10 1:24 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
Yes, well, but although I know of many techniques to "remove" stuff, I know of no technique to "add" stuff.


A little bit of (hard) jhana in the mornings goes a long way towards restoring a positive attitude towards life...try the 2nd or 3rd.

RE: Foul insights
Answer
5/31/10 1:27 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Presumably you have some core set of beliefs that you hold to be more or less true. You're right to point out that changing those core beliefs would be a big undertaking. You can try instead to see the self and world through different perspectives that may be rather diverse but nonetheless do not contradict with your core beliefs. You could think of that as choosing to emphasize certain aspects of things in the process of perception and cognition. You already have some experience doing this, as for example focusing on the three characteristics of experience is an example of what I would call adopting an experiential perspective, i.e. emphasizing certain features of things in the process of perception and cognition. Focusing on the three characteristics does dissolve previously held perspectives, but is itself not a pure "subtraction" because it does add things to experience as well-- namely, a heightened experience of not-self, unsatisfactoriness, and impermanence, as well as whatever experiences arise during the progress of insight. Metta meditation is another example of adopting a perspective in order to add something to experience.

The sorts of perspectives you could adopt are limited only by your core beliefs and your imagination. It's something to play around with and see what works for you.

In my own case, I find I can cultivate a kind of "universal curiosity" by emphasizing the bare and mysterious existential quality of all perceived things, i.e. I draw attention to the fact that there is something (stuff exists) rather than nothing, and to the fact that how it is the case that there is something rather than nothing is a complete mystery to me. (this does not require installing new core beliefs, because I believe strongly that things exist and that I cannot know the fundamental mechanism by which this is the case.) Cultivating this perspective, dwelling upon it in a disciplined way and filtering all perception and cognition through the lens of this perspective, I come to experience profound mystery and awe, one effect of which is to induce curiosity to investigate into all this mysteriously existing stuff.

RE: Foul insights
Answer
5/31/10 2:11 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Hi Bruno,

Here's another perspective worth considering.

How about a little loving kindness? (Metta)

IMHO, the whole point of Metta practice is to address the issue you raise.

A quote from Gil Fronsdal :

"The practices of mindfulness and loving-kindness support one another. Metta practice complements mindfulness by encouraging an attitude of friendliness toward our experience regardless of how difficult it may be. Mindfulness complements loving- kindness by guarding it from becoming partial or sentimental. Metta can foster a closeness in our relationships to others; mindfulness can help keep us balanced in those relationships. Mindfulness can bring freedom; loving-kindness ensures that our path to freedom is not aloof from others."


Compassion (Karuna) is not a delusion, it is what you get when you apply non-dualistic perception to interpersonal relationships.

RE: Foul insights
Answer
5/31/10 2:35 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
So I know how to ditch perspectives (and many of these are being ditched...), but adding new ones? Also, how can you come to believe something if you so clearly saw that you implanted this belief yourself?

I guess you can learn it with try and error emoticon Magicians call it believe shifting. If you're interested, you could have a look at the ebooks on The Baptists' Head.

But what I first thought of, where you could get your motivation back from, is a devotional practice. If you believe in something, live for that, act for that, have fun for that. The only devotional path I know is Integral Yoga. The psychic transformation starts with the consecration of all your actions towards the Divine and ends with surrendering your life. Other tantric paths, hindu or buddhist, or the Western Tradition, might appeal to you as well. But I guess you'd have to practice and build an intimate relationship with an embodiment of whatever you happen to believe in to see whether it's fulfilling for you and whether it can provide you with a sense of meaning, exploration, growth and joy. Here's Alan's take on metaphysical love from the point of view of a magus (anagami) in progress. Start with the last link, it's good!

RE: Foul insights
Answer
5/31/10 5:24 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Hi,

Bruno Loff:

Basically I don't want my parents to suffer because I've "eliminated suffering." If you where to report to me, for instance, that you have stopped maintaining the relationship with your parents, or that you don't care anymore whether they are happy or sad (and please tell me if that is the case), because everything is "perfect" to you, then I would conclude that the longer I take to reach this perfection, the better, and would try to hold out at least until my parents' death. If the fact that life is oh-so-enjoyable that nothing can really make you sad etc etc would imply, in your behavior, that you would act unconcernedly towards those whom, not having a "perfect" experience, still feel affectionately towards you, then I would hold out, suffer some more, for these people's sake.


I choose to continue speaking with my progenitors mainly due to this; which is why I mentioned it as a favor to them. It is my choice whether to do this or not because I do not exist in relationship to other people, things and events but rather I am actually alive as a body in the world of people, things and events. To put it simply, I care about people, and a relatively short phone call every month or so is a small thing to do, especially given how much care and time they put into me.

Bruno Loff:
But since I AM suffering quite a lot, to the point I have so little enjoyment, so little sense of fun, and since from what I can ascertain, you seem to maintain the relationships with your friends and family, then I might consider putting some effort in moving forwards with the whole meditation thing.


Part of 'my' motivation was in seeing the suffering of 'my' friends and family and knowing that the only way 'I' could help myself or them end such suffering was to free myself and lead via example. This can be a great source of altruistic motivation.

Bruno Loff:
1) My ascertainment is that, behaviorally, whether you feel "bonded" or not, however it is you value things, or in general choose a course of action, it seems that you find "good reasons" to maintain these relationships, and "no reasons" to break them. Is this correct?


Correct, I choose to maintain the association with them for the simple reasons above and because they are friendly people whom I enjoy the company of.

Bruno Loff:
2) How on earth it is you are able to make any sort of judgement between good reasons and bad reasons or no reasons, given that you also say everything is perfect, is still a mystery to me. This mystery holds me back tremendously, with fear, not so much for myself anymore, as I have hinted so many times, pretty much since my first post that you answered so long ago. To make it concrete, using the eating a baby thing as a metaphor: although I see that you won't eat a baby (you even "almost spill orange" juice at the thought, as if shocked though of course you're not "feeling shocked"), it is unclear to me "why not?" I think this might even be unclear to you.


Perfection does not mean physical perfection. For instance, I have a stomach ache right now, which is uncomfortable, and which if it persist may lead to the administration of some sort of medicine. But regardless, I am experiencing this moment as perfect just as much as it will be perfect if my stomach no longer aches. This moment is without opposite, complete, whole, and so forth; not infallible, not physically perfect, or whatever.

Hah, I almost spilled the orange juice because it was in my mouth when I read the statement and laughing when there are liquids in the mouth can lead to, in this case, orange juice being all over the place. I held it back though, in one of those moments where a person can suspend their laughter for the sake of quickly swallowing the aforementioned liquid, often followed by some coughing, followed by laughter or whatever.

Bruno Loff:
3) Please, if you have any insight on what this sense of fun and discovery is, what originates it, and how to bring it about, please share. I hate this sensation of "disenchantment," and I hate the utter lack of enthusiasm that I've been having the past few months. Maybe the ball is in my court, but now what, how do I swing?


'I' began having fun again when 'I' discovered 'my' dormant naivete and thereby successfully quelled 'my' resentment for being alive. This allowed me to freely enjoy the inherently interesting aspect of life as well. As for lack of enthusiasm, perhaps you would find it beneficial to turn on the television, flip to a news web site, or to view something else reporting the world news. A vast majority of what you read or watch will tell the tales of the suffering of humans all over the world, which is only the tip of the ice berg. Further realizing that the only person you can change is yourself and that the suffering and cause for that suffering both personally and impersonally is 'you' (I am not implying that you directly cause the suffering of the world) may lead to a motivation that perpetually gains momentum until it becomes enthusiasm, and from there, perhaps enthusiasm leads to "obsession" and by then you will be well on your way.

Best,
Trent

RE: Foul insights
Answer
6/2/10 7:26 PM as a reply to Trent ..
Trent that still doesn't answer the question :-) I understood that not everything is physically perfect, you still get stomach aches, cramps, and head lice :-) But surely not all your motivations are "eat when hungry, take pill when in pain...." Example, you say
"To put it simply, I care about people, and a relatively short phone call every month or so is a small thing to do, especially given how much care and time they put into me. "

Is that not gratitude you are feeling by any chance? Oh, that's right, it can't be that... it's purely rational... Bah, I'm very close to not caring either way, I'll probably find out sooner or later...

Well, it seems that I hover between dark night and equanimity (which is more like indifference than anything else)... maybe 2nd path is just around the corner. If that is the case, I'll certainly take the opportunity, during review, to try and get some of that fun for life I so sorely miss.

Thank you all for your advice, and your patience with all this bitching and moaning:

Julius I thought of devotional practice, but it seems like such a foolish fairy tale - basically I don't believe or disbelieve "the divine," I find it a question which one can't answer either way without compromise. I wonder if there is some other way of getting motivated.

I never was able to achieve hard jhana, things always move around for me, always flickering, ever since that infamous first dark night. I can get unstable weak jhanas, maybe working on that is a good idea... loving kindness could also be a good idea...

Bruno

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6/1/10 5:02 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
I never was able to achieve hard jhana, things always move around for me, always flickering, ever since that infamous first dark night. I can get unstable weak jhanas, maybe working on that is a good idea...


Hard jhana is a skill that can be learned, but because it's a learnable skill, it tends to be difficult to get it unless you put some effort into practicing. Try 30 minutes of pure concentration practice 2x each day, and play with different jhana objects until you find one that suits you.

It's possible to get instances of jhana 2 or 3 that are so hard that the bliss is otherworldly, but still notice objects flicker. (Remember, concentration makes vipassana easier; especially post-stream entry, concentration tends to make flickering more obvious all by itself.) The goal isn't to get the jhana-object not to flicker, but to get your attention to move as little as possible from the sequence of flickers. If you can get your attention to be very very steady, then the experience sucks you in, and all the flickering goes mostly ignored.

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6/1/10 4:55 PM as a reply to Anon Anon.
The way that this is supposed to be helpful is just that hard jhana tends to have enough of a "mood hangover" to shift you into a basically positive state for a long time after it ends. This won't help you figure out whether to continue your PhD or not, for instance, but it is likely to give you a sense that life is interesting, full of valuable experiences, and worth living, regardless of how your immediate future goes.

It's also good for your insight practice, which in my opinion is also ultimately good for your mood and psychological health, though you may disagree with that at the moment.

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6/2/10 12:09 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:

Julius I thought of devotional practice, but it seems like such a foolish fairy tale - basically I don't believe or disbelieve "the divine," I find it a question which one can't answer either way without compromise.

The answer is that what you experience is the truth. (paraphrasing Alan)
How could the truth be anything else?
Now you can figure out whether devotional practice, e.g. to Kali or Jesus, leads to results (=experiences of a growing, intimate, helpful, fulfilling, surprising and fun relationship) or not by making the experiment and following instructions.

I know that awakening is possible. And I know with even certainty that this universe is intelligent. You can chose with either of these two statements whether you want to believe them _and_ act accordingly (otherwise it's an opinion) or whether you prefer to live without them. I guess we agree on the first one. So about the second claim: Many people chose to be(come) happy in a materialistic, random and deterministic world. You have the power to experience it otherwise (magick). Or both ways and in other ways that contradict these two as well (believe shifting from chaos magick). Would that be naive? Or interesting? Or maybe fun?

Three years ago I was quite averagely naive. Two years ago I was a spiritual materialist, believing in the possibility of awakening. MCTB was my favourite book at that time. One year ago I reconciled this with the naivity from my childhood and started to learn from this intelligent universe. Everything, or many things when paying attention, were experienced as "alive" and potentially meaningful. A dialogue started and will continue that is my way of learning about life, the universe and my self.
My current favourite book is Advanced Magick for Beginners by Alan Chapman, the ebooks on the Baptists' Head hint at the direction it takes. If you want to do any experiments in any "magickal" tradition, I warmly recommend this book as a starter, written for the Western mind, and as the source for a framework that can contain any experience. You could downscale to a non-magickal experience of life afterwards, I doubt it works the other way round.

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6/3/10 9:22 AM as a reply to Julius P0pp.
Bruno I don't know why you say you're not depressed. Anhedonia (the inability to derive pleasure from previously fun activities) is the main marker of depression, according to many sources.

The fact that you have attained 'stream entry' and yet are in this state of *no motivation, no enjoyment, no purpose* is a real worry. I'm beginning to seriously question what this whole process of meditation has to offer anyone. Those who have high attainments seem to be just as wrapped up in their egos as everyone else on the planet.

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6/3/10 10:18 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
The fact that you have attained 'stream entry' and yet are in this state of *no motivation, no enjoyment, no purpose* is a real worry. I'm beginning to seriously question what this whole process of meditation has to offer anyone. Those who have high attainments seem to be just as wrapped up in their egos as everyone else on the planet.


If I am not mistaken the path towards awakening is not linear, if you take Daniel Ingrams model, it states that the practitioner will move through up/down pleasant/unpleasant cycles pretty much forever from the first A&P. This counts for Stream Enterers too (ie. they will be going through dark nights on and on, the first hit presumably being the heaviest). Up and down ad infinitum. Judging the whole process by one of those stages (the one that is most unpleasant and makes people act/feel/think/experience very strangely indeed at some points) seems rather strange, just as strange as judging the process by one of the very pleasant stages (ie. A&P). I think that its up to you to figure out whether the process has anything to offer to you.

As for a general feeling of apathy, I remember reading somewhere that apathy is the near enemy of equanimity in terms of (results of) meditation practice, ie. they are not the same. I would venture a guess that while equanimity will naturally grow throughout someones practice, apathy should only be (an observable) stepping point.

I am certain that it must be very painful to feel this way (and be intensely aware of it) but I doubt that its there to stay. I do not have the knowledge to offer a cure but time and practice should do it. (you may have to muster up some motivation even if it appears as if there is none there)

Best of luck!

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6/3/10 10:24 AM as a reply to Pavel _.
One other thing comes to mind, I think that there is a part in MCTB that states that no life changing decisions should be made in the Dark Night. I do not know whether it is accurate to say that you are in the Dark Night, but regardless it could be said that no big decisions should be made from a point of sadness/apathy (I have, for sure, been more prone to making bad decisions while upset and good decisions while experiencing more clarity and happiness). You will probably change your mind about a lot of things with time so give it a while.

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6/3/10 11:58 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
@C C C: Maybe have a look here, especially the table at the bottom: Realisations, any one of which alone can confer Liberation. I think it's likely that "this whole process", as you put it, is more than one-dimensional, and that it has to offer quite a bit to those who feel like pushing in all directions; and this thing brings healing every now and then. For healing, you have to experience, to suffer, from the cause of the illness. Then you change naturally. It's not about alleviating symptoms. Paths don't make you a better human in one instant. You pay attention, suffer, change and heal. You come out as a better human if you like, but healing won't stop, not even at fourth path. Doubt can be powerful, use it well!

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6/3/10 2:25 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
CCC I have been depressed before: this is clearly not depression. I feel energy, I am capable of doing things and dealing with situations which used to paralyze me during depression. My statement "this is not depression" was not innocent, I know what depression is, as I have been most terribly depressed for a whole year.

You didn't understand: it is not that I don't feel pleasure, I can feel tons of pleasure. It is that I realize that pleasure won't leave me satisfied. This happened as soon as i understood how "attachment" works (of the attachment/aversion/ignorance trio). Attachment moves you to action by making you believe (non-conceptually) that a certain preselected set of perceptions (usually of the pleasurable kind) will give you satisfaction. But then they don't: phenomena aren't satisfactory, even very pleasurable phenomena.

Also, I am less wrapped up in my own ego than I have ever been in my life --- simply because I know exactly what the "ego" is (it is the dynamic caused by the three mental processes called attachment, aversion and ignorance). If by "wrapped up in my own ego" you mean "frequently worried about my own shit," then you might be right. Although I am, as Pavel mentioned, very much aware of this (unlike the typical ego maniac). I am certain that this will eventually stop happening, as I move closer to wherever this is going.

Whether you should continue to meditate or not, don't let yourself be patronized by anyone else: it's your own choice, and I subscribe to Daniel's attitude of non-advertisement. Meditation is not a golden-pink "product", it is a very powerful mental tool.

You can choose to either be controlled by the pleasure/pain conditioning (which is the "ego", which is attachment/aversion/ignorance), or not. If you choose to get rid of it through insight meditation, you will be completely free from conditioning (this means that you will be able to do what you decide to do).

If you make the first choice, you will still be conditioned, which might be a bummer sometimes, but at least you still believe "santa claus", or, more precisely, you will still believe that satisfaction is just around the corner, "if only I can get what I want then I will feel satisfied." But this is not true. For instance, if you got everything you wanted you would just want more stuff, out of habit; if you where continuously and uninterruptedly and always given what you wanted, it would be obvious that no satisfaction would come, and you would as grow as bored and resentful as a princess in the castle.

Furthermore, desire is painful (it causes tension, which matures into pain, psychosis, etc), and if you can't see that, it is because this fact is hidden from you by the mental process called "ignorance" (which is here used as a technical term, not in the usual sense). The mind mechanism of conditioning is superbly well designed, almost perversely so. Attachment and aversion whisper the lie of "satisfaction" and ignorance makes sure you don't see what A&A are really doing: they are sticking a knife in your mind which they won't take out until you "get what you want."

So you understand CCC, what I feel is precisely this: disillusionment. I used to believe something which became very obvious that it simply isn't true. The phenomenal world, in all its magnificent vistas, fractal patterns, blissful immanence, and mystical brilliance, simply doesn't satisfy. And then what is one to do with one's goals and ambitions? They were based on a lie!

It is like not believing santa claus anymore. On one hand, it's a big disappointment (it was such a nice story!), but on the other hand, I will no longer wait at night for the big man in red, hoping in vain that I will be awake when he falls down the chimney. He never came, since he never was.

Of course, this disillusionment will pass --- I know for a fact, from my own experience, that meditation is particularly powerful at removing stuff. The whole issue is "what will be left?!" I was told many times now that the end result is, at least, fun. I was reassured that I would still find "good reasons" to be with my family and friends, and would do my best to make them happy. That was a relief, since I seriously doubted I could, at this point, stop the whole thing from happening.

Have fun, and wish me luck :-)

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6/12/10 7:41 PM as a reply to Pavel _.
Yeah, probably a mix of a few things:

1) Maybe you really are doing it to look smart. People do this sort of thing all the time. You saw that part of it, saw through it, and deflated the balloon. It happens.

2) There is probably some part of math you really like and was fun and that means it might be fun again if you figured out that part of math that is fun for you.

3) PhD's can really burn people out on things they liked: very common. As some female commedienne whose name I have forgotten once said regarding child-birth, "Labor can go on for 24 hours. I don't want to do things that feel good for 24 hours!" Graduate studies are like that.

4) Don't discount Dark Night and 3 Characteristics of further progress cycles: they can really kick one's ass.

My thoughts, anyway.

Daniel

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6/12/10 9:54 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
I'm 60. I dropped out of college and went to India to seek truth when I was 23. I'm glad I went to India, but I wish I had stayed in school that last year and gotten the basic degree. I never went back to college. I got into writing software and enjoyed it and made a pretty good living, but if I had at least finished the 4 year degree, it would have opened some other doors. If I had gotten a Phd I think my work life would have been more interesting.

If you have a certain personality, then math, physics, software, engineering and so on can be loads of fun. You can go to work feeling like you are a kid being paid good money to play with wonderful toys. I was very luck to get to do what I did without getting a degree. You might not be so lucky.

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6/19/10 2:05 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thanks for the down-to-earth advice.

Yes, I feel my ass is being severely kicked. General interest in any phenomena seems to be dwindling down... including people and things. I hope I will come through OK.

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6/21/10 10:56 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Hey,
I'm sorry to be chiming in at this late date here, but wanted to chime.

I spent much of may in a suicidal phase the left me sometimes curled up in a fetal position just wanting to die, die, die. It was excruciating. At some point, fortunately, I realized, wanting to die, suicide, would be redundant! emoticon

Luckily I remembered what so many say, that awakening is death! I felt like dying because so much 'self' IS dying. This fairly obvious realization cheered me up considerably. I realized I just needed to ride it out, like bad flu.

When I began to relax around the pain I began having insights about my whole life as a total disaster. These came as huge, sweeping panoramic vistas of patterns of behavior, bad effects manifested over years and years that have undermined every stage of life. Years of blame I've heaped on 'other people' etc. just fell clear away. Seeing these 'vistas' hurt like hell, brought me to my knees, yet it was no longer the perpetual and sharp wanting to die. I soon started to get the whole thing as a tremendous gift! All that passing away, not me anyway, in it's place, a lot more space.

And the negative stuff--still manifesting! Practice now I've seen it, is to stare back into it with persistent awareness, acceptance, deep compassion for my own suffering. (Made me wonder if this might just be how/why metta originated in the 1st place???)

At all cost, not to shut down pain of 'foul insights' into self-blame contraction!

I relate to your lack of interest in pretty much everything and everyone. Awkward because we humans are supposed to keep ourselves pretty active and engaged in the game of life, getting ahead, being someone, making money, prestige, etc.

Anyway, some comfort in knowing that all this is fruit of practice, and strangely, without really knowing it (because I might not have started) why I began practice in the 1st place.

Your posts here really helped me, so thank you so much! I wish you all best on the journey, fellow traveller.

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6/21/10 12:27 PM as a reply to go back to the breath.
go back to the breath:

I relate to your lack of interest in pretty much everything and everyone. Awkward because we humans are supposed to keep ourselves pretty active and engaged in the game of life, getting ahead, being someone, making money, prestige, etc.


Yes, at this phase in my life all this feels horribly absurd. I feel like I suffer less, I am becoming more serene, but also more withdrawn. It's like "people can't give me satisfaction anyway, so why bother...?"

Also, more relevantly, I seem to have become so obsessed about my own internal processes that I can't talk about almost anything else. So being around me is a drag --- either someone is happy to talk without a lot of response from my part, or we'll be talking about the mind, meditation, or something like that. So I've slowly become a very isolated person...

You know in some days I can't even feel compassion ("what's the point?"), but I guess I should invest a bit more in that, lest I loose my compassion for others also...

Thank you, for chiming in!

Bruno

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6/21/10 12:44 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Hey Bruno,

for what its worth, what you describe here pretty much perfectly coincides with my experience of the Dark Night(s). The only part that surprises me is this:

I feel like I suffer less, I am becoming more serene, but also more withdrawn.


In my experience the Dark Night brings about a lot of suffering, even if my prior definitions of what suffering may be do not necessarily coincide with the definition that I find through going through the process. (I have spent the first 3 or 4 days of my current Dark Night convincing myself that I was not suffering)

If you do not suffer, what is the problem? How could there be one? (is there any suffering in/around/within being withdrawn?, would it be more accurate to say that you are /passively/ withdrawn or that you are /actively/ averting? - is aversion/attraction something that you are aware of in your sits?)

Hope this is of some help. All the best!

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6/21/10 9:17 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno, I've read your posts in detail and I respect what you're saying about depression, but I still disagree. "Less suffering" is the brain's adaptive response to suffering - ie. depression. Add in "withdrawn and serene" and you're diagnosed! You say "people can't satisfy me anyway", but my experience is that intimate connection with another person is the one and only foundation of great personal satisfaction and comfort. I'm not talking about connecting with family, friends or colleagues, but romantic and sexual connection with a woman - your 'Ten'. Makes life worth living and brings you back to earth. Instant cure. Meditation won't get you there. You know I'm useless at meditation, but one thing I am reasonably good at is picking up women, so shoot me a message if you are interested in my thoughts. I know it's not suitable for a meditation forum.

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6/22/10 12:17 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
I dislike challenging other people's opinions, but this one is important enough. Are you throwing out all the words and experiences of people who have said that they were legitimately happy and fulfilled while not in romantic relationships? Please tell me you aren't, and I've just misunderstood you. If I haven't, then please explain more about what you're saying. The way I see it, just as mindfulness practice has its foundations of the body, the sense gates, and mental stuff, happiness has foundations other than satisfying relationships. Not that satisfying relationships can't be wonderful, but are they really essential to having an amazing life?

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6/22/10 2:28 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
I guess if you define suffering as feeling pain, fear, disilusionment, etc, I would say I am suffering. If you define suffering as "not wanting to be where you are right now," or "feeling aversion or attraction," I am certainly suffering a lot less. For instance I was able to remain mostly calm during a succession of anxiety attacks.

----

The basic reason I don't fight the present so much is because there is something my mind used to do, to fool itself, which it is slowly unlearning. That is the following

Desire: When in pain, the mind will sometimes imagine that there is some situation X, sometimes about getting something in the near future, sometimes involving romantic relationships, professional success, social interaction, etc, (*), and believe that in situation X, there will be a sense of satisfaction

(*) the thing which is imagined is usually whatever is lacking at the time. When I had a lot of social interaction and professional success (which was the case a couple of years ago), I dreamed about having a romantic relationship, and thought that would satisfy me.

But during this second dark night, I have come to the impression that the Desire itself, the idea that satisfaction can be obtained by getting X, is false. I concluded this by repeated experimentation, I would feel like having food, for instance, go and do it, and it would not satisfy. I imagined having a relationship, and the idea itself wasn't appealing, because I could no longer abstract from the practical realization of it. I would go out with people, and it would be fun, but in the end I wasn't fulfilled. The other day I was applauded by my peers and told I did a great job, and that turned out not to bring me any fulfillment either. etc, etc, etc

Eventually this culminated in the following thought experiment: I would imagine I was the most awesome, super-intelligent, <fill your deepest, most wild, erotic and emotionally fulfilling complete experience here>, sparing no literary artifices, really the absolute BEST thing I could phantom getting, including living forever and all that shit.

Still that wouldn't satisfy. You can try the experience yourself, see how the mind stretches to convince itself that this would be fulfilling. But when I really investigated deep down, it turns out that this is just some part of the mind screaming "satisfaction" as an abstract goal, and trying to associate it with some concrete circumstance, which in itself is not satisfying at all. That was kind of the turnover point, after which I can't really say I want things, except as a matter of mental habit...

I think this is what buddhists call "knowledge of disenchantment."

So while my take on life used to be: know what you want, get it the best you can, thus being happy.

Now it's more like: have as much fun as you can with whatever is available.

This might sound positive in itself, but of course if people are hard to come by, or if I really don't make very good company at the moment, then I will simply become more withdrawn.

Pavel, so if I had to answer "what is the problem" I would probably choose "bad concentration," which the only thing preventing me from "having fun."

C C C: I've had depression, this is entirely unlike it. Basically the reactive component is incredibly diminished. I have energy to do things, rather than stay in bed all day. etc. Also, regarding your take on "love," I find that relationships in the real world are usually a matter of compromise between what you REALLY want, and what you can get. If that's not your experience, then I guess that you limit your desires to something you know you can reliably have (e.g. your girlfriend, one night stands, the occasional flirt). This is just a matter of limiting your desire to what your current circumstances can give you (i.e. having as much fun as you can with whatever is available).

So first you feel desire for something you can have, then you go and have it, and then you don't feel desire anymore and thus you're OK. So your experience (quote) is that intimate connection with another person is the one and only foundation of great personal satisfaction and comfort.

I'm afraid the buddha got it completely right, he really understood the mechanism of suffering. Desire is suffering, or at least that's the way it seems to me right now. I suspect that eventually the whole mechanism is going to disappear from my mind, simply because I can see so clearly that it is painful. I am somewhat worried about what the consequences of this might be. Hopefully I will be happy, and be able to have a lot of fun, be interested in life and others, and be able to care for those around me and make them happy also.

But it seems that it will take a while to get there...

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6/22/10 5:54 AM as a reply to J Adam G.
Adam your challenge makes sense. However, my feeling is that those people you mention who are happy and without a romantic relationship, have probably used romantic relationships in the past as a way of opening and energizing lower energy centers in the body. So while it may not be necessary to have an ongoing relationship in order to be fully happy, I do see it as a foundation. In other words, I think you have to satisfy basic needs before higher needs, sort of like Maslow describes. If the sex and heart centers are still dysfunctional in any way, then romantic relationship is the natural way to get them fully open and functional. Ideally the romance and lust will give way to commitment, sacrifice and eventually, love - the type of unconditional love that fully energizes the heart centre (about as rare as stream entry I would hazard a guess - you just don't see it nowadays). Then I would argue that meditation practices flow naturally and effortlessly from that state.

Bruno, I have never thought the quote: "desire is suffering" does anyone any good. Desire is such a central part of being human, it motivates everything we do, including the search for enlightenment. I take your point about not feeling like you can get exactly what you want in a woman. What guy hasn't felt that?! You look at some lingerie model who you know you'll never have and that is certainly suffering! However I reckon people can get close enough to what they think is the ideal woman/man for them to be able to properly satisfy the normal desires. So you satisfy it, over and over! Nature has a built in mechanism to limit the lust/romance phase. It lasts a certain time then fades, without fail, and that's when you start the work on love. Nature uses desire to lead us along a natural path. The same process can apply to money and power - they have natural built-in limits, which you can feel IF (and only if) you pay attention to how much they are really satisfying you. Not every rich person is addicted to money. Some actually realise, by paying attention to the body, that it has limits on its ability to create pleasure, then they look elsewhere...eventually they get to the desire for enlightenment. But along the way they have satisfied all the lower energy centers. They are not skipping ahead 5 steps. That's how I see it.

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6/22/10 9:39 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
I think I see your point much more clearly now, CCC. Start with lust, build it into love, and get the lower chakras (or whatever work is represented by the first few parts of the chakra model) before working on the higher chakras, or whatever they represent. I'm of the opinion that it's skillful to think of the chakras as a model or metaphor rather than as something that necessarily literally exists, though I of course have no proof one way or the other. At any rate, love would form a highly effective basis for insight and concentration practices, as Dipa Ma would say.

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6/23/10 4:01 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
CCC (what's your name btw? emoticon ), first and foremost, let me tell you that your point of view is not alien to me. Of course it is natural and common to think of human life as a sort of game of pursuit. You desire one thing after the other, and pursue each the best you can. This is samsara.

But do you really understand how desire works? Do you really understand what it does? I mean, have you ever closely observed the Gesture which your mind does when you desire something?

Because the way you seem to describe it is: we in our baseline condition have a desire, a lack of something, a sort of "natural baseline need." Then we go and get what we desire and then we have something more, we GAIN something more.

When in fact what happens, if you pay attention, is the following: we, in our baseline condition, are happy, it's good being alive (just look at children playing). Then the desire process is triggered, it HURTS LIKE HELL, and so we are forced into seeking the object of desire because that is the only way we know how to extinguish it. Finally we get what we want, and the desire diminishes (something is LOST instead of gained), making us once again closer to happiness.

That's how it works. Years and years of this process going on (craving/attachment) causes massive amounts of pain and damage ("impurities"). It disrupts the normal functioning of your nervous system strongly and thoroughly. If you doubt this, do meditation and see the mess for yourself.

Of course most people don't see this. This is partly because their concentration has deteriorated to the point that they can't sustain focus on any object for more than half a second, partly because there is a third process (ignorance) which actively masks other mental processes behind the feeling of self, and partly because people are so busy chasing after their desires, believing this is the sure way to be happy (like you do), that they never stop to look inside.

This is, in three paragraphs, my understanding of what buddha meant, to which I have arrived by systematic observation of my own mind.

I'm not asking if you agree, but I suggest you see for yourself how desire works (moment by moment, with sustained focus), and if you reach a different conclusion, please let me know. All in all, the whole point of starting this thread is to bitch about the fact that I have reached this conclusion and I am not really sure what is left afterwards. So I do agree with you, when you say that this conclusion never did anyone any good. That's why I called it a "foul insight."

I hope that, in the end, even if I am left with no desire, I am still able and willing to be happy and have fun.

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6/23/10 9:41 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Our baseline condition is a condition of need, from the very moment we are conceived. And this need creates desire. To be able to play happily, a child must first desire food, milk, cuddling, soothing voice, human warmth, love. Not only must it desire these things, the desires must be met. A new born baby is FULL of desire; it is not a blissful bundle of awareness. The first thing a baby does when born is cry because it wants stuff. And it can only progress through life by meeting each of those desires. The children playing happily can only do so if certain basic needs have been met. If these needs are unmet or partially met, the child develops a needy personality. The child from a foster home will not play happily in the park with the other kids...he will always be the odd one out. This same child will in later years escape into his head for answers. This then creates an early and abnormal stimulation of upper chakras, and then an early and abnormal interest in spiritual pursuits. It's not desire that causes suffering, it's unmet desire that causes suffering. Spiritual people try to get around the idea of having a desire for enlightenment by say they have a strong "intention" for it. That's self deception.

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6/24/10 2:58 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
I can't help thinking, as I read this thread, about the teachings of carlos castaneda. admire or revile him, he wrote elegantly about the debacle of physical 'love'/desire. An extended metaphor--something about energetic 'worms' men and women leave in each other's energetic bodies (in sex) which bind them to what he called 'the band of man.' Scary stuff.

I am no expert on Castaneda, but the very gross (as in icky) feeling of this metaphor really got to me.

It may just be that we do eventually lose that desire when we get sick of its truly unsatisfactory--ness. There is no shortage of monastics and sages to attest to the validity of this event. It happens! And it's a tremendous relief. And the capacity for awareness and compassion increases--in fits and starts, in between bouts of madness and despair. emoticon

Castaneda also wrote about Don Juan telling him to go and find a seedy, old motel room, in an unfamiliar place, and to stay there, without a phone, until he no longer wanted ANYTHING. He called it 'going off to die.' Gautama did this too, when he left the palace.

Isn't suffering not seeing the futility of our pathetic anthill existence? It is said that we're asleep. Waking up may be excruciatingly painful--but it is awakening from the samsaric bad dream that our life has the meaning we've mistakenly given it. Hurts really bad, but not suffering, at least not in buddhist terms of ignorance.

Right?

If this is an acceptable definition of suffering (and maybe I'm wrong) then Bruno is NOT suffering. Bruno is waking up.

B: The writings of Krishnamurti have really been helping with this dying process. i.e. it's not the end, just the beginning.
(Does a pupa ever imagine itself one day a butterfly?) etc.

RE: Foul insights
Answer
6/24/10 3:11 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
CCC: By baseline condition I didn't mean the "normal," usual condition people find themselves in. If you're telling me people normally have desire, well...

For a baby to survive it doesn't need to desire milk, touch, etc, it just needs to have milk, touch, etc...

A fullborn baby is full of desire, yes, but
1) when he desires something he cries, and suffers, and tenses up
2) this tension causes long term trauma; this is why psychologists emphasize so much the importance of the first few years;

You say: It's not desire that causes suffering, it's unmet desire that causes suffering.

But observe your mind CCC, desire that is MET just simply vanishes. It is no longer "desire," it just vanishes without a trace.

A child is mostly happy, except when they desire something. When the desire vanishes, be it because the desire was met or because they simply forgot, the child is again happy.

In adults this is not the case most of the time. Above, I have given my conjectural explanation (which I believe was buddha's) as to why that is the case.

gobacktothebreath: Isn't suffering not seeing the futility of our pathetic anthill existence?

I don't know, calling it futile or magnificent just seems to be a result of being in bad or good mood (indeed it is simply the verbal expression of these things). I've always liked the following definition of suffering: wanting to be somewhere else.

RE: Foul insights
Answer
6/24/10 6:34 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
I'm definitely a fan of Castaneda, goback. I don't recall that bit about the motel room, but if you had a paragraph or two for further explanation that would be appreciated. Is it the same sort of parable as sitting under the bodhi tree?

If Bruno is about burst into buddhahood (or some other great state) then that would be wonderful, for him and everyone who visits this site. I'm quite capable of discarding a view that is proven wrong, if or when it happens. My view is that something else is going on (as described in previous posts), but I'll never be able to live what he is living now, and so he will (and should) always have the last word.

Bruno - what have you learnt from starting this thread? Have you been able to formulate a better way of attacking this current problem?

RE: Foul insights
Answer
6/24/10 11:55 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
That's a very helpful question CCC. I think that if anything positive came out of it was a general feeling that: if nothing satisfies, one might as well have as much fun as one can, and not make a big fuss over things. (can you guess which stage of insight I am at currently? emoticon )

RE: Foul insights
Answer
6/24/10 4:02 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Yay! Now to keep the momentum up and avoid falling back into Reobservation...

RE: Foul insights
Answer
12/12/10 9:37 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Oh after reading enough of this thread I realize that I was in the same exact state of mind shortly after Stream Entry! "Disillusioned" is a perfect way to describe it. I was just, kind of... really, really bored, except not in the "oh my god I am so bored I want to drill my eyes out or do something exciting" way, more in the... "well here I am. Nothing is really unpleasant. Nothing is really pleasant." kind of way. It was almost like all the things my mind was doing, like getting annoyed at certain things, or desiring other things, were gone, so what was left was... nothing, really. I almost wondered if I mistook contentment for boredom, but then I thought "if I can barely tell the difference, this really isn't a state I want to be in."

I didn't think of it in terms of your insights into desire, but I guess that would be pretty accurate.

Since then, my mind has started doing things like run through thoughts about the future and the past, and be dissatisfied and satisfied about various things, so I guess it wasn't permanent, and we continue to cycle regardless =P.

Looking back it was probably a Review of Dissolution. It sucks how Review Dark Night still affects you, though... and I guess all the ones in the future will, too, unless we become Actually Free or figure out something else to do.