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My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Buddhist Actual Freedom Practice

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EDIT: At a certain point in this I started talking to myself by saying "you" a lot.  Please note I'm not trying to tell anyone how to be or what to do, I'm actually addressing my future self when he comes back here to read, haha.

EDIT2: Since this has become my main practice log, I feel like I should link this thread talking about practice before I was on the DhO: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/view_message/5430222#_19_message_5560906

Hello forum,

I'd like to do a practice log on here to keep track of my thoughts and progress.  The core purpose of my practice is that I'm interested in "freedom" - whatever that term might mean as things change over time.  (This is the word I've used for a long time to describe my goal).  Right now, my main source of inspiration is the Actual Freedom Trust, so undoubtedly this thread will focus on that heavily.  This will probably read a bit differently from the meditation practice logs, but I hope some other people might find it useful, no matter what your practice might be.  If you see me working through an idea you've already figured out for yourself, I'd love to hear about it.

Right now I see myself in a phase of development where I'm unifying my beliefs and habits around the concept of trusting spontenaity by relying on tranquility.  As I go throughout the day, I keep an eye open for negative emotional reactions, and I challenge them with logic to justify themselves.  A lot of my methods have been inspired by cognitive behavioral theory.  I treat even the slightest mental disturbance as an "illness" that can be remedied through full understanding.

The way I've come to see the mind is that, for it to function smoothly and without stress, all beliefs and ideas need to be unified and complementary.  I believe emotional stress is a signal from the mind that two concepts are in conflict and need to be resolved.  Consider anxiety - it's a signal from the mind that we MUST remember something.  We must hold on to it or we'll lose track of it and then something bad will happen.  The logical resolution of this conflict is to find a way to trust ourselves and genuinely believe we have the ability to encounter any situation and deal with it appropriately in real time.

One of the ways I do this is through negative visualization.  When I feel like I'm grappling with anger or sadness or anxiety, I take some time to sit down with the cause and imagine myself encountering it calmly in real time.  I might imagine a group of people insulting me, or myself getting into a car accident, and I practice calming my reactions to these things.  As I've done this over time, I've seen that most of the things we see as specific problems are actually part of larger interrelated thought patterns that, once they are resolved, can remove whole chunks of stress from daily living.

Another way is what I was reffering to by relying on tranquility, where, as stressful situations present themselves, I allow myself to trust the spontenaity of the intellect to resolve things.  When emotions appear, I can usually see their cause fairly quickly, and I allow myself to accept the concequences of any failure.  I like to call this "throwing caution to the winds," or "living recklessly."  It works similarly to negative visualization in that the feelings are released by removing the concept of responsibility.  It seems reckless in real time because the emotions are there to remind us how we're supposed to act, but in hindsight the intellect proves itself, over and over, to be more caipable when it doesn't feel these reminders. This hindsight works directly to remove trust in emotional states and the intellect is free to function more and more without them.

********

So today I was thinking through a particular situation, and I was reminded of one of the important tennants of Actualism, which is that both nurture and malice are equally harmful in interpersonal relationships.  I was debating with a friend about an ethical dilema in a star trek episode (if you're interested, it was "Cogenitors" in the Enterprise series, haha), and I realized I was feeling an interesting mixture of malice towards him, since he was disagreeing with me, and the desire for him to understand, which was nurture.  I realized that this mixture was often present while I was explaining things to people, so I decided to give it a bit of an examination.

Thinking back, I can see that, not only was I feeling the emotions themselves, but I was also wishing I didn't feel them, and I had created a false tension in my mind that could only be resolved by a specific situation.  I had an imaginary scene that I was waiting for where he would suddenly understand what I was saying, and accept it in a deferential and grateful way.  Now, the interesting part to me is that this scene has never actually played out that way for me.  I can't remember a time where anyone has accepted an argument I was making at all, let alone in real time in a specific situation.  Obviously the only solution would be to remove that expectation.

So I set about considering how I might disable this imaginary scene, and I felt a ping-pong effect between both nurture and malice as I tried to make my mind understand that it could trust the actual moment of discussion, rather than expecting an imagined scene at the end.  The first idea it presented was to attempt to consider the wellbeing of the other person while talking.  This would diffuse the malice experienced due to my perception that the other person didn't understand.  The problem with this, though, is that it would still activate an urgency in the mind to teach other people my ideas, and this urgency is specifically what causes people to be defensive rather than open minded.  If my aim, in having a debate with someone, is to thoughtfully explain my own ideas and find the truth - even if I'm wrong, then all urgency and expectation must be removed.

From here my mind jumped to feelings of malice.  I realized I would have to "unilaterally disarm" myself because no one else could be expected to act this way, even if I had disabled my own offensive stance.  This malice was also directed at my own mind for being so sensitive to conflict.  Of course, both of these things are ridiculous.  There is no need for defence in a PCE because there is no malice in the mind.  Malice only needs malice to defend itself.  If there is none in the first place, there is no need for defense.

After this my feelings were resolved.  I realized that I could give myself permission to be wrong, and I could also give other people permission to be offensive towards me.  The mind wants to preserve its dignity and status, but those things have little value in the search for tranquility.  Most of all, I realized that the feeling that defense is needed in a conversation is absurd, and I can simply trust myself.  All of these things are obvious intellectually, of course, but the realizations themselves were more visceral.  I trusted I could end my thoughts about the situation because I no longer had any emotional reactions present.  I might practice later with some negative visualization - as this always "cements" these understandings.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
Answer
9/19/14 12:12 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
I think I'm beginning to understand something about what virtual freedom might be. It isn't really a phase of development so much as a decision that is made. Each time I examine my worries, I understand that the only way to be free of them is to accept the worst. It feels like a betrayal, or like I'm turning my back on all of my responsibilities. The issue at the center of all of it is: can I trust myself completely? Can I allow this emotional control center to go offline, and just drift on the wind like a spore? As much as I want to say yes completely, my mind isn't yet on board fully.

Anger is part of this too. I've already seen a remarkable difference in how I actually FEEL about things, but many reactions are still in place. Whatever phase I'm in right now, it's dominated by the need to constantly remind myself to a few specific things:

- I can decide that I have all the time in the world. There is no urgency in anything.
- I can allow myself to be demeaned, degraded, judged, even destroyed. There is nothing I need to protect.
- I am not responsible for anyone. I can fail to meet their needs, and I can allow other people to have malice and anger, as long as I don't add my own.
- The main reason I can allow these things is because, at my core, I know I will spontaneously do what I believe is correct. I don't need to remind myself in advance or rehearse situations.

I feel a bit like a badly tuned radio. I will resolve an issue, then find it springing up again minutes later. It isn't tiring though because each time I see it limping back a little heavier. It almost feels like it's only a matter of time.

I'm going to start sitting in the mornings again. Just sitting and enjoying what's happening. It seems so much easier now than it used to, and I think it could do a lot of good.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
Answer
9/19/14 1:23 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
I think I'm beginning to understand something about what virtual freedom might be. It isn't really a phase of development so much as a decision that is made. Each time I examine my worries, I understand that the only way to be free of them is to accept the worst. It feels like a betrayal, or like I'm turning my back on all of my responsibilities. The issue at the center of all of it is: can I trust myself completely? Can I allow this emotional control center to go offline, and just drift on the wind like a spore? As much as I want to say yes completely, my mind isn't yet on board fully.

Have you figured out yet what the term "pure intent" refers to, experientially? It should be experientially evident, in the PCE, what it is, and you should be able to tap into it even outside of PCEs, once you get a handle on it. Pure intent is vital to making that decision to allow the emotional center to go offline.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
Answer
9/19/14 6:21 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
I looked that up to refresh my memory, and I think I might know what it's referring to.  Lately I keep getting this funny feeling that it's a holiday.  Everything seems to be kind of special.  Not really in any logical sense...it just seems like there is something special happening.  It's fairly easy to access it if I examine the feeling of time (does anything seem urgent ATM), and whether or not I feel something should be different.  If I can diffuse those, it just feels like chirstmas eve.  It does seem to be related to the PCE now I think about it... How does that description sound to you (in terms of pure intent)?


I also wanted to report something unusual.  I've been having some anxiety register as tension in my throat.  I've never had it happen like that in the past.  It feels kind of sore and tense - the same way it would normally feel in the chest.  If I pick through the feelings, the tension will go, but old habits die hard, as they say, so its going to take some more work to dismantle them completely.  In some ways it's a slight improvement because the emotional component is very muted.  Dismantling the emotional cause feels more intellectual - in the heart area, it feels like I need to abandon something important.  In the throat it just takes a bit of logical reasoning.

This phenomena kind of reminds me of the chakras though.  They say all myths are based on reality.  The chakras seem to be representation points for emotions.  Hard to say if there's any use for them, though.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
Answer
9/20/14 12:15 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
I looked that up to refresh my memory, and I think I might know what it's referring to.  Lately I keep getting this funny feeling that it's a holiday.  Everything seems to be kind of special.  Not really in any logical sense...it just seems like there is something special happening.  It's fairly easy to access it if I examine the feeling of time (does anything seem urgent ATM), and whether or not I feel something should be different.  If I can diffuse those, it just feels like chirstmas eve.  It does seem to be related to the PCE now I think about it... How does that description sound to you (in terms of pure intent)?

Hmm I'm not sure but you might be headed in the right direction. The thing to keep in mind about pure intent is that it is actual, it is outside of 'me' - it is present in a PCE, and when actually free. What you describe above seems like it might more be a feeling - of something special about to happen or of a generally positive disposition - than something actual. However the act of noticing and tapping into and allowing pure intent does tend to lead to felicitous feelings as a result - or even perhaps that ambiance you relate above. So maybe you did tap into pure intent, but mistook the effect (everything seeming kind of special) for the cause (pure intent).

Something that might help is that felicitous feelings are the closest affective imitation to the PCE. The way Richard devised the actualism method was to imitate the actual as close as possible: "The ‘I’ that used to inhabit this body did everything possible that ‘I’ could do to blatantly imitate the actual in that ‘I’ endeavoured to be happy and harmless for as much as is humanly possible." [link]

Not Tao:
I also wanted to report something unusual.  I've been having some anxiety register as tension in my throat.  I've never had it happen like that in the past.  It feels kind of sore and tense - the same way it would normally feel in the chest.  If I pick through the feelings, the tension will go, but old habits die hard, as they say, so its going to take some more work to dismantle them completely.  In some ways it's a slight improvement because the emotional component is very muted.  Dismantling the emotional cause feels more intellectual - in the heart area, it feels like I need to abandon something important.  In the throat it just takes a bit of logical reasoning.

Hmm that's interesting. When did that start happening? Did anything change around that time? Maybe it's a new set of anxieties, or an old set that has resurfaced.

Not Tao:
This phenomena kind of reminds me of the chakras though.  They say all myths are based on reality.  The chakras seem to be representation points for emotions.  Hard to say if there's any use for them, though.

There is a clear link between chakras and emotions, and chakras can definitely be experienced... they disappear in the PCE though don't they?

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
Answer
9/20/14 4:29 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Interesting that the list in the link you posted puts sincerity at the top. I think that's what I was talking about with the idea that freedom is a choice rather than a stage. You just decide that nothing is worth upsetting the mind. So far it's been important to see, in real time, why each problem is not worth it, but as time goes by here, the reasons themselves are whittling down to what I think you would call Pure Intent. It's kind of like a memory of the PCE where I suddenly see the divide between the emotion and the reality of the situation, and the emotion seems tacked on and unhelpful. The holiday type feeling comes after this, so I must be talking about "felicity" with that. It is a feeling, definitely. I didn't realize pure intent was referencing something seen in the PCE.

As for chakras, I think the best definition of the PCE might be that they are finally gone without a trace (along with suddenly having all the time you'd ever need).

The ‘I’ that used to inhabit this body did everything possible that ‘I’ could do to blatantly imitate the actual in that ‘I’ endeavoured to be happy and harmless for as much as is humanly possible. This was achieved by putting everything on a ‘it doesn’t really matter’ basis. That is, ‘I’ would prefer people, things and events to be a particular way, but if it did not turn out like that ... it did not really matter for it was only a preference.


This is it for me - removing the urgency from things. Anything that could happen, be it I hurt someone else, they hurt me, I am insulted, I am angered, the world is ending, life is unstable - in the end, the only thing that makes these things stressful is the fact that they "matter". Once the mind is granted permission to be the worst, the lowest, bad, wrong, broken, etc, etc, then it can be free of the urgency behind any of the things it thinks, and it's free to be happy and harmless.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
Answer
9/21/14 3:29 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Hey Not Tao,

I originally posted a reply to your notes with some notes, I've decided to reproduce it here:


RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
Answer
9/23/14 3:12 PM as a reply to J J.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
Answer
9/24/14 11:30 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
This is a slight update to the list I posted earlier, but I've whittled it down to something snappier I can ask myself on a regular basis.

Do you feel a sense of urgency?
Are you comfortable in the space around you?
Does your social standing seem threatened?

I think these are the only things that stop me from being completely content all the time.  Urgency is the cause of impatience, worry, and boredom - it feels like there isn't enough time to do things.  Being uncomfortable is the cause of tenseness, agitation, anxiety - it feels like the body is physically cringing away from the world around it.  A threatened social standing is the cause of anger, jealousy, or malice in general - there's a strong motivation to put people in their place. EDIT: Social standing plays a big role in shame and guilt too. If I let go of my superiority, I can allow myself to be wrong or to look stupid.  I don't have to watch what I say because it doesn't matter what people think of me.

Each time these come up, there's a specific feeling that can counter them.  It feels a bit like giving up in a good way.  I think I can understand why Richard talks about "self-sacrifice".  I'm not a very altruistic person, so I didn't understand that turn of phrase before, but it seems more and more to be along those lines.  Like taking yourself out of the game, or slowly dying without losing your body.  There are very deep changes that seem to be possible in terms of directly modifying the personality.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
Answer
9/26/14 12:04 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
I am going to start going through the jhanas again each morning.  (I'm posting here to help keep myself honest, lol.)  If I'm looking back at the last year or so, at the time I was having the most PCEs, I was spending a lot of time in contemplation during the day.

I'll be more specific about what I was doing though.  I came to call what I was doing jhana because it seemed to fit the descriptions in the suttas, but I never spent much effort concentrating.  Mostly what I did was let go of everything, and allow myself to enjoy the moment as it was.  This would lead naturaly to the progression of altered states like bliss and equanimity. My main interest in practicing now will be to find the PCE, which I do think has a relationship to contemplation (Richard mentions this in a few places as well).  I'm considering this an experiment, so I'll keep notes here for myself (and whoever is reading this) to reference later. emoticon

EDIT: I think a better practice will be to commit to "sitting" each morning.  The jhanas, in particular, can come if they like, but I'm not too fond of sitting still, which always was a requierment in the past for me to reach them, haha.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
Answer
10/5/14 1:46 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Something interesting I've noticed about my three questions is that, when I am feeling seriously about one of them, it can be a huge relief to purposefully adopt an attitude that is negatively indulgent.  For example, when there is a sense of urgency, I let myself feel that it's impossible to succeed, and I have no hope.  When I feel uncomfortable, I let myself revel in the grime or the pain of a situation (a bit like picking a scab, I suppose, haha).  When I feel like someone is trying to cut me down to size, I take their side and treat myself like an opposing team in a sports match.  This way of thinking is incredibly cathartic.  When I remember to do it, there is an instant release of all seriousness.

I suppose I should emphasize that the main purpose is to see things humorously.  I think seriousness is probably the only enemy of contentment.  It's a trusting and humorous attitute that brings tranquility.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/7/14 1:35 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
I'm in the midst of the first PCE I've had in a long time.  I think I've been a bit off track trying to sort through the emotions on a logical level.  I've been playing with this idea of letting go of control, and just now, after just a few minutes of purposefully stopping my resistance to all emotions, thoughts, moods, and feelings, I dropped into the PCE.  I wasn't feeling very felicitous or even happy at the time, which is interesting.  It's more like the emotional center just disipated completely.  Everythig feels completely effortless - which is telling, I think, because the way I entered this state was by becoming effortless.  I'm going to try practicing this way exclusively for a while and see where it goes.  Back in May when I was spending almost every day in this state, I was basically doing the same thing.

If anyone reading this is interested in what I did exactly (I'm sure my future self will be highly interested, haha), the best way I can explain it is, I stoped trying to do anything.  Maybe you could call it radical acceptance, letting go...you know, I think my taoist is showing - this is probably wu wei.

EDIT: Here I am again today!  I think I lied a bit yesterday.  There were felicitous feelings before the PCE, but they were just a little blip as things flipped over.  Right now I just feel very happy and cheerful.  The key is definitely making peace with the emotions.  I was trying too hard before, all that's really required is to open up to them in a raw and naked way.  Dismantling the triggers is very important as well, as that's what causes the negativity to go.  I can't make it go, though.  It has to be that the mind finds peace with the belief.  Logic and observation really is key for that.  Back in May, my contentment was part of these dramatic emotional shifts, and I think the reason is that radical acceptance addresses the issue of control - you stop trying to suppress the emotions - but it doesn't address the issue of cause.  The PCE can still happen, but it's somewhat unstable because the triggers are only being ignored or dealt with subconsciously.

This feeling really is incredible, though.  Everything is just tingling with happiness. emoticon

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/8/14 2:39 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
I've noticed that, when the mind encounters something it doesn't want to think about, there's a snapping sensation and the mind puts a barrier around it.  This barrier seems to be the direct cause of the negative emotions.  Specifically recalling the thought that caused the process can diffuse the whole thing pretty quickly.

EDIT: Actually, this is kind of an interesting practice.  I spent some time narrating every feeling that came into my head.  This might be similar to noting, ha!  It went something like this, "I should be working.  It feels good to relax, though.  I shouldn't agrue with myself.  I like this idea.  I'm good at coming up with ideas.  I shouldn't be so conceited.  It's good to have self esteem, though."  As each one came up, it had a little voice.  It felt like empyting a queue to let them each say their piece.

EDIT2: I just had a major breakthrough!  I've been dealing with a lot of uncertanty about my job lately, and I've had a little bubble of anxiety about it reappearing over the last month or two.  I've been able to let go of it somewhat, but it's been persistent.  Just now, I realized that my fear of driving has been the actual anxiety.  I'm not afraid of trying to find a new job, I'm afraid I might have to start driving regularly in the near future.  Right now I work at home, and my partner does all the shopping, so it's been easy for me to avoid working through the phobia.  I think it's time to conquer this thing, though.

This is interesting...  I was using the pathway toward the anxiety - uncertainty about work - to block myself from having to think about the problem itself - my fear of driving.  It's amazing how tricky the mind can be!

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/9/14 3:15 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
When that snapping sensation occurs (it's suppression, really), and I intentionally think about the thought that caused it, there is a point in there where I've seen I can intentionally pluck the emotion from the thought and get rid of it.  The snapping sensation is a kind of recoil, where the "guts" or "heart" almost feel like they're trying to run away from the thought. Sometimes I need to rethink the thought a few times because the recoil is so automatic. The recoil manifests as a really wide range of negative emotions, so I'm almost tempted to say it IS the emotional center itself.

Plucking the emotion off is basically just a decision. It's very important that the true cause is seen clearly, though. In the past I think I've tried to do this when I haven't seen the causes clearly, and it just ends up making the feeling worse. Some of the emotions are very sneaky. The most difficult one for me to detect is a physical tension that seems to build up over time and I slowly recoil from the environment I'm in.  It's related to two things, I think - one is that I don't want to damange anything, and another is that I don't want to make anything dirty.  I'm pretty sure this one has been with me since childhood, and I'm always amazed how easy it is to get rid of it when I remember to check for it.  I need to keep a close watch on that and also whether I feel like I'm pressed for time.

A list of things I'm currently working through and how I'm working on them:
- Fear of driving - negative visualization / plucking the emotion from it's cause
- Fear of spiders - essentially cured, but occasional negative visualization to reinforce the good habit
- Sense of urgency - simply noticing it is usually enough to diffuse it (if it goes on, I look for hidden causes)
- Physical Discomfort - I try to embed myself within my environment, touching surfaces and occupying space
- Anger - this is where plucking off the emotions is very effective - it's easy to see anger coming.

EDIT: It's interested, there's always been this dichotomy in my practice.  On the one side, there is the letting go of control, and on the other side, there is this intentional modification of beliefs to affect mood.  Sometimes it's difficult to know which one to work with at what time.  For example, surrendering to anger does not seem to work for me, but I've had lots of success specifically changing habits. My anxiety has causes, but they're more difficult to understand sometimes, and in these instances, simply letting go seems to work better. Perhaps that's telling though. If the anxiety is caused by vigilance - trying to see the mind-state clearly - then stopping that vigilance is more useful.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/10/14 7:13 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Aha!  I think I'm finally getting a grasp on this.  This "plucking" I mentioned must be what Richard refers to as "nipping in the bud".  Actually, it seems a lot of things are coming together today.  As I keep a watch on how I feel right now, I can see these emotions starting up.  They're very insistent.  But each time I see them starting, I just decide not to keep going down that path.  I wish I could find a better way to explain this, I just know I'm going to forget how to do it, haha... Maybe it's like this, the emotion feels like a little bubble starting. It's a pressure somewhere in the body. When it starts inflating, pop it. Think the thought that caused the emotion a few times, and remove the emotion manually. It's exactly the same thing that I used to deal with my fear of spiders. I would look at pictures of spiders, feel the fear rising, and then stop the fear dead because I didn't want to feel that way anymore.

As a note to my future self, if you're having a hard time of things, don't sit around trying to accept your anxiety.  Go distract yourself and get out of the emotion ASAP.  Then, when it comes back, you can see it forming and figure it out there.  In the end, it's all about deciding that, even if it seems completely justified to feel an emotion, you simply aren't going to accept living that way anymore. You have to change your mind about these things, they're not going to go away until you no longer see a need for them.

Maybe using that "escape hatch" a la Earhart Tolle is good for this - come back to the present and ignore the emotional quality. Then when it's toned down, face the cause and remove the emotional judgement from it. The method is to be happy and harmless right now, no other time.

EDIT: As a side note, I've been getting strange pressures in different "chakra areas" of the body as I work through these things.  It almost feels like the pressure from the heart area moves into the throat and then up into the third eye area. It can get very strong there if I pay any attention to it. The funny thing is, if I rub my forehead to make the feeling go away, the lump appears in my throat again. I've had some success treating it as an emotion and nipping it in the bud when I see it coming on, so I think it must be some kind of emotionally related habit.

EDIT2: I should mention that this thing I'm talking about is definitely not a kind of suppression. I think the initial clenching that happens when an unwanted emotion appears is the suppression. When I ease the clenching, the emotion arises along with the thoughts that trigger it, and that's when I stop the emotion and allow the thought to continue. It's really as simple as making the decision not to continue it - I think that's the best I can do for explanation.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/11/14 7:03 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
If something is a legitimate concern or reason to be angry, Instead of trying to reason it away as not serious, it's better to accept that it is seen as serious and allow that, itself to be the thought that gets through. It isn't the urgency or even the importance of a thing that causes the problem, it's the feeling of responsibility or ownership that goes with it. The weight of any thought comes from how much I wish it didn't exist. Allowing discordant thoughts to come through will relieve the tension because they don't need to be avoided.

It's a tricky thing, though, separating the emotion from the thought. Letting them both through can mire me in a feeling until I purposefully distract myself. Distraction really does work though - I need to use that more when things get tough.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/11/14 6:18 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Here's a thought: try to feel the emotion with the notion in mind that it signifies nothing, and that it doesn't really matter whether it is "legitimate" or not. it is just a bit of energy that is "trapped outside of life." it doesn't need to be seen as wrong and it doesn't need to be seen as right, it is just a superfluous disturbance. the feeling sticks around if you effortfully try to move away from it in the direction opposite it (because you think it is illegitimate), or if you cling to it and believe it is important (for keeping you motivated to deal with xyz). the emotion fades if you don't even consider whether it is leading you in the right direction or not, and you simply stay focused on the idea that it is unnecessary (because you can just act however the situation requires without it there) and unpleasant. i wouldn't even necessarily think that perception out in your head, i would rather just stay steady in the knowledge that that is true and thus be aware of the emotion without concerning yourself with its legitimacy.

trying to reason away stuff is basically just expressing the emotion i have found, better to not even give it a hint of importance which would be given to it by asking the question of whether it is legitimate or not. ultimately emotions may very well be leading you to the action that you would have taken if you were unemotional, or they may be leading you to do the opposite, but you don't really know which is the case with this particular emotion (and it is only by ruminating more that you can attempt to find out, and fail to do so.)

I have found myself oscillating between either trying to get rid of emotions by reasoning them away or trying to get rid of them by simply giving them 0 significance. for a while i didn't even realize these were two different things, but lately i think i have been mostly using the second option to good effect.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/12/14 1:04 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
Some good points.  I think you're right to point out that the legitimacy isn't so important sometimes.  The fact is, there's a feeling, and the feeling is sucky.  Knowing where it comes from is helpful if it really is somethign silly (like a phobia) because you can drop it very quickly.  Those aren't so difficult to get rid of with a little practice, though.

I think the goal is to become very receptive without dwelling.  Trying to logic the feelings away is just fighting with yourself if you really do see it as something important, and that's just as bad as sitting around  trying to accept the thing for hours.  Instead, it seems like you can go around the whole thing by just giving it as little attention and importance as possible.

That said, if it really is something silly, you can save a lot of time by letting go of it right away.  I have a physical tension that builds up over time that I can just let go of if I realize it's happening - same with fear of spiders or driving.  I just need to understand what it is and then it drops away instantly.  I've been able to get ot this same place with more legitimate fears as well, if I can really see that they aren't useful.  This is one of the reasons I spent time going down that route.  Maybe it's more effort that it's worth, though.  It hasn't given me consistent results.

EDIT: Actually, this is good, I don't think there's such a big difference.  You're basically saying to treat the whole emotional package the way I've been treating the phobias.  I can look at emotions themselves as the unnessicary component - just like with spiders, I didn't need to figure out if some spiders were poisonous and others were harmless, I just dropped the whole thing because it's the FEAR that's silly.  I can still run away from a poisonous spider without being afraid of it

So I don't need to reason out if this emotion is justified and that isn't, I simply need to realize that the whole emotional core is beyond help and toss it all out.  Basically what Richard says - we're rotten to the core, haha.  I'm staring to see how this could work. emoticon

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/12/14 9:21 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
Some good points.  I think you're right to point out that the legitimacy isn't so important sometimes.  The fact is, there's a feeling, and the feeling is sucky.  Knowing where it comes from is helpful if it really is somethign silly (like a phobia) because you can drop it very quickly.  Those aren't so difficult to get rid of with a little practice, though.

I think the goal is to become very receptive without dwelling.  Trying to logic the feelings away is just fighting with yourself if you really do see it as something important, and that's just as bad as sitting around  trying to accept the thing for hours.  Instead, it seems like you can go around the whole thing by just giving it as little attention and importance as possible.

That said, if it really is something silly, you can save a lot of time by letting go of it right away.  I have a physical tension that builds up over time that I can just let go of if I realize it's happening - same with fear of spiders or driving.  I just need to understand what it is and then it drops away instantly.  I've been able to get ot this same place with more legitimate fears as well, if I can really see that they aren't useful.  This is one of the reasons I spent time going down that route.  Maybe it's more effort that it's worth, though.  It hasn't given me consistent results.

EDIT: Actually, this is good, I don't think there's such a big difference.  You're basically saying to treat the whole emotional package the way I've been treating the phobias.  I can look at emotions themselves as the unnessicary component - just like with spiders, I didn't need to figure out if some spiders were poisonous and others were harmless, I just dropped the whole thing because it's the FEAR that's silly.  I can still run away from a poisonous spider without being afraid of it

So I don't need to reason out if this emotion is justified and that isn't, I simply need to realize that the whole emotional core is beyond help and toss it all out.  Basically what Richard says - we're rotten to the core, haha.  I'm staring to see how this could work. emoticon

Your journal is very interesting, I'm looking forward to future posts. There were some issues that I was able to absolve completely using methods like just not going there with an emotion and essentially accepting whatever. For instance, for a while I had issues with my girlfriend talking to her male friends or other guys in general. Eventually I just dropped the need to go down that path and the emotions dissolved over time (a few years later, I never have any of those issues). Unfortunately this hasn't seemed to work for all sorts emotional pain for me as of yet. For example, I have a phobia of public speaking that is very sticky because the feelings are simply so strong that I know if I just forced myself to do it unmedicated (I take propranolol for this) the outcome could be legitimately embarrassing.  

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/12/14 9:43 PM as a reply to Elijah Smith.
"I think the goal is to become very receptive without dwelling.  Trying to logic the feelings away is just fighting with yourself if you really do see it as something important, and that's just as bad as sitting around  trying to accept the thing for hours.  Instead, it seems like you can go around the whole thing by just giving it as little attention and importance as possible."

Best Advice Ever

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/14/14 2:23 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
I've been sitting (well...lounging emoticon) on a more regular basis for the past week or so, and there's a method I'm remembering I used to use that gives some good results.

Essentially, the goal is to hold the emotional state exactly how it is without letting it change.  What's interesting is that, the moment I attempt to do this, the emotions seem to dissolve.  It's impossile to hold on to them.  But, of course, as they dissolve, the goal is still to hold them exactly as they are, so there is no lunging or pushing away, no trying to get them back to what they were, there is just that sigular effort to hold the heart still. This can be done during the day or any time really. It seems to remove the need to concentrate on the emotions so much because they just go away, so it clears the head nicely.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/15/14 6:41 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Wow!  

The Power of Memory...

lol@SIFI: ABANDON SHIP!!!

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/22/14 6:34 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
To future self,

A good way to think about acceptance:  You aren't accepting things in the world, you're accepting how you feel about the world.  By allowing thoughts and feelings to be expressed, you are attempting to unify the mind and all of its different ways of thinking.  Suppression is the core of suffering.  It's the struggle to keep bad thoughts away that hurts, not the thoughts themselves.

Once the mind has embraced tranquility as the best mode of operation, allowing old suppressed thoughts free will dissolve the negative feelings around them. It's the desire to be tranquil, itself, that dissolves them. Allowing the mind to make arguments, proposals, and wild fantasies without trying to stop it enables a kind of "free speech" and "free emotions." You understand, logically, that contentment is best in all circumstances, so now you can allow your mind to convince itself. Let the anger, worries, hopes, and regrets have their say - you can have faith that they'll be convinced and change their stance to tranquility.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/22/14 8:40 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
YES  OMG THAT'S IT YES!!



Otherwise, what arises keeps arising!

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/28/14 11:15 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
I've been feeling like there is something missing in my practice lately.  So many of my written journals from earlier this year talk about acceptance and the importance of letting go that I think I got a bit side-tracked by it and forgot there are two elements that make up the PCE, not just one. The first is complete openness to feelings, sensations and phenomena - or a complete lack of inhibitions - and this is what I've been working on. But the other is equally important: the sense of "nowness," or timelessness. It's very easy to find this timeless aspect of awareness as long as I don't expect anything from it right away, I just need to make a habit of coming back to it until it sticks.

So, future self, remember! Two things: be uninhibited, and be here now.

EDIT: Also, nowness is not a concentration exercise.  Just be here, right now, that's it.  The clarity should come through immeditately (maybe in flashes as you gather moments until it sticks).  Thinking or doing tasks doesn't interrupt the clarity, it's the way the mind becomes the future or past self that is being thought about that causes the lack of clarity and the surge of stress that comes from thoughts.

EDIT2: I made it red to remind myself better. emoticon  This is what I was doing in May, I'm sure of it - it's the escape hatch.

EDIT3: A better way to say it is: REALIZE you are here and it is now.  You never are anywhere else, so there's nothing you need to do except see you're already here and now.  There's a trap there you can fall into, thinking you need to change something.

The more one enjoys and appreciates being just here right now – to the point of excellence being the norm – the greater the likelihood of a PCE happening ... a grim and/or glum person has no chance whatsoever of allowing the magical event, which indubitably shows where everyone has being going awry, to occur. Plus any analysing and/or psychologising and/or philosophising whilst one is in the grip of debilitating feelings usually does not achieve much (other than spiralling around and around in varying degrees of despair and despondency or whatever) anyway.

Being ‘alive’ is to be paying attention – exclusive attention – to this moment in time and this place in space. This attention becomes fascination ... and fascination leads to reflective contemplation. Then – and only then – apperception can occur. An apperceptive awareness can be evoked by paying exclusive attention to being fully alive right now. This moment is your only moment of being alive ... one is never alive at any other time than now. And, wherever you are, one is always here ... even if you start walking over to ‘there’, along the way to ‘there’ you are always here ... and when you arrive ‘there’, it too is here. Thus attention becomes a fascination with the fact that one is always here ... and it is already now. Fascination leads to reflective contemplation. As one is already here, and it is always now ... then one has arrived before one starts.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/29/14 10:34 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
I've been feeling like there is something missing in my practice lately.  So many of my written journals from earlier this year talk about acceptance and the importance of letting go that I think I got a bit side-tracked by it and forgot there are two elements that make up the PCE, not just one. The first is complete openness to feelings, sensations and phenomena - or a complete lack of inhibitions - and this is what I've been working on. But the other is equally important: the sense of "nowness," or timelessness. It's very easy to find this timeless aspect of awareness as long as I don't expect anything from it right away, I just need to make a habit of coming back to it until it sticks.

Just a brief note that 'timeless' isn't a correct description of actuality. Time does exist, it's just that it never moves. This is an important distinction. I'm not sure if you were incorrectly using timeless to correctly refer to the experience of the PCE, or if you were correctly using timeless to refer to an experience that isn't a PCE. I recommend reading through the selected correspondence on time. I've pasted the second snippet here as it's directly relevant:

RESPONDENT:For me ‘timelessness is the truth’ and what you are saying: ‘this moment in time has no duration’ are same statements. That is why I mentioned it the first time.
RICHARD: Yes, I was aware of this ... which is why I wrote what I did in my initial post to you. I say that being here now as this flesh and blood body only – sans identity – enables the infinitude of the universe to be apparent. I say that this physical universe’s time is eternal and it’s space is infinite ... this is what ‘infinitude’ means. Now there is a distinct difference between the word ‘eternal’ and the word ‘timeless’. The word ‘timeless’ is very explicit ... no time (just like ‘selfless’ means no self) as in not subject to time, not affected by the passage of time, out of time, without reference to time and independent of the passage of time. The word ‘eternal’ means all time, as in that which will always exist, that which has always existed, that which is without a beginning or an end in time, that which is everlasting, permanent, enduring, persistent, recurring, incessant, indestructible, imperishable, constant, continuous, continual, unbroken and thus interminable and valid for all time.

However, just as there are those who corrupt ‘selfless’ into meaning ‘a not selfish self’, there are those who corrupt ‘timeless’ into meaning ageless, ceaseless, changeless ... which are time-words more applicable to ‘eternal’. Even dictionaries do this. However, when viewed honestly, the word ‘timeless’ selfishly means ‘undying and immutable’ as in ‘immortal and deathless’. Take the modern physicists, for an example of honesty, when they posit their ‘nothingness’ prior to their mathematical ‘Big Bang’. Even though influenced by the pervasive eastern mysticism, they still have enough intellectual rigour to mostly resist using the word ‘eternal’ to refer to that ‘before time began’ fantasy ... they usually say ‘timeless’.

As time is eternal – just as space is infinite – to be here now as this flesh and blood body only is to be living an ongoing experiencing of this infinitude of this very material universe (I am using the word ‘infinitude in its ‘a boundless expanse and an unlimited time’ meaning). Therefore, infinitude – having no opposite and thus being perfection itself – is personified as me ... a flesh and blood body only. Hence my oft-repeated refrain: ‘I am the material universe experiencing itself as a sensate and reflective human being’ or ‘I am the experience of infinitude’. The infinite character of physical space, coupled with the eternal character of time, produces a here and now infinitude that can be understood experientially by one who is apperceptive. To grasp the character of infinitude with certainty, the reasoning mind must forsake its favoured process of intellectual understanding through logical and/or intuitive imagination and enter into the realm of a pure consciousness experience (apperception). In a PCE – which is where there is no ‘I’ or ‘me’ extant – the essential characteristics of infinitude are transparently obvious, lucidly self-evident, clearly apparent and open to view.

I will say it again this way: By being here now as-this-body one finds that this moment in time has no duration as in now and then – because the immediate is the ultimate – and that this place in space has no distance as in here and there – for the relative is the absolute. I am always here and it is already now.

And no ‘timelessness’ nor ‘truth’ to be seen at all.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/29/14 2:49 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
I think what I mean by timeless is that I cannot perceive time.  Things change and move around, but the concept of time seems to indicate that there is a "thing" recording these events or a substance that causes change, or a frame rate to the universe where each moment is a chunk of time, and these moments are lined up and we move through them.

I used to try to visualize time as a wind, or timelines as threads going in and out of each other, or the future and the past projecting from this moment as an actual dimension or property of the world.

If I just sit down and look around me, though, and try to discern this thing called time, I realize there is nothing there.  It's always just now.  Time only exists in my brain as a record of the past and a prediction of the future. I can't travel through time because there is nothing to travel through. If I wanted to "time travel," I'd have to take every particle in the universe and change it to reflect the past, or speed them all up relative to me to go into the future.

To be honest, though, I don't understand the distinction Richard is making here, so I might not be talking about a PCE.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/29/14 2:59 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
I think what I mean by timeless is that I cannot perceive time.  Things change and move around, but the concept of time seems to indicate that there is a "thing" recording these events or a substance that causes change, or a frame rate to the universe where each moment is a chunk of time, and these moments are lined up and we move through them.

I used to try to visualize time as a wind, or timelines as threads going in and out of each other, or the future and the past projecting from this moment as an actual dimension or property of the world.

Right, the 'time' that you describe here is 'real-world time', and it is indeed illusory.

Not Tao:
If I just sit down and look around me, though, and try to discern this thing called time, I realize there is nothing there.  It's always just now.  Time only exists in my brain as a record of the past and a prediction of the future. I can't travel through time because there is nothing to travel through. If I wanted to "time travel," I'd have to take every particle in the universe and change it to reflect the past, or speed them all up relative to me to go into the future.

To be honest, though, I don't understand the distinction Richard is making here, so I might not be talking about a PCE.

Time doesn't only exist in your brain, though. Consider this: if actuality was timeless, how could anything move?

Maybe this description of one of Richard's experiences of nirodha samapatti will help drive the distinction home (emphasis added):

One other instance (too many to relate) occurred when sitting cross-legged upon a hillside overlooking the valley below and across to the mountain range opposite; there was incredible blissfulness just prior to that ultimate state – roiling waves of almost indescribable bliss – and ecstatic bliss immediately after yet for the event itself there was nothing, zero, zilch (hence ‘ineffable’, ‘unspeakable’, and so on) as the ultimate, the supreme by whatever name, is truly void.

(The reason why I have singled-out that event (in 1985) from all the others is that, being born and raised on a remote farm in the forties and fifties telling the time by the sun was second nature; it was about 8:00 AM according to its position upon commencement and about 2:00 PM upon completion; *the very fact the sun still traversed the sky all the while timelessness was the reality* was the thin edge of the wedge eventually cracking open and exposing the solipsistic lie which enlightenment/ awakenment indubitably is). [link]

The experiential distinction is that in the PCE my experience is that time is standing still, and that it is always now, and I'm moving in this still arena of time, not that time doesn't exist. But I think that experience of the stillness of actuality is the experience of time standing still.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/29/14 4:47 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Ah, well I am only talking about time as a sensation.  I'm not trying to be philosophical.  There is no flow of time that is perceived, there is simply a mind perceiving - and the experience of perceiving is timeless. Things only move because we can remember where there were before they got to here and now. Consider this thought experiment: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Last_Thursdayism

I'm a solopsist when it comes to absolute truths, so I don't make any assertions about what reality is, only my experience of it. emoticon

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/29/14 4:49 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
YES!!

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10/29/14 5:29 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
Ah, well I am only talking about time as a sensation.  I'm not trying to be philosophical.  There is no flow of time that is perceived, there is simply a mind perceiving - and the experience of perceiving is timeless. Things only move because we can remember where there were before they got to here and now. Consider this thought experiment: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Last_Thursdayism

I'm a solopsist when it comes to absolute truths, so I don't make any assertions about what reality is, only my experience of it. emoticon

Right, my objection was that an experience of timelessness would be that nirodh Richard wrote about where nothing is happening, so that can't be what you are experiencing. Time being eternal and unmoving does directly correspond to an experience - that stillness in the PCE that I referred to. It's not just a philosophical point. It would be important for you to figure out whether you are describing a PCE incorrectly (by saying it's timeless) or whether you are describing something else correctly (something that is timeless and therefore not a PCE).

As to the thought experiment, I'm not sure what you were trying to get at by asking me to consider it. It is patently false because the universe has no beginning.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/29/14 5:35 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Oh he is experiencing it!

When you see All in all is All we are, there needs no time.

It is... Liberation!!!!!!

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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10/29/14 5:36 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
(also you are correct in that there is no beginning.  You are obviously a Genius)

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10/30/14 2:26 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
This "be here now" thing I'm doing is the holy grail.  It's like I've tapped into some perfect part of the mind that is always clear and still.  I'm not even kidding, it's effortlessness itself.  Try it, Beoman, if you aren't already!

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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11/9/14 11:53 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
http://www.mahamudracenter.org/mmcmembermeditationguide.pdf

I just want to remember this link. I think I can find a home in mahamudra.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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11/9/14 12:07 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
http://www.mahamudracenter.org/mmcmembermeditationguide.pdf

I just want to remember this link. I think I can find a home in mahamudra.
Hmm interesting... what about mahamudra appeals to you at this point? 

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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11/9/14 12:35 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao: I have begun working with Reggie Ray recently, who has a 32 hour course on Mahamudra w/ teachings and practices outlining the whole journey. If you would like to look it up it's "Mahamudra for the Modern World". If you are on facebook, I can send you a link to download the whole program. I thought it was a public group, and said so to Richard Zen yesterday regarding accessing the course, but it's not. If you're interested let me know. 

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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11/9/14 2:57 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
I like the emphasis on resting in awareness of the present moment as the basis of practice.  All the pointing-out instructions I've read seem to go right to the heart of it - that clear easy presence that's just always there.  It's like the PCE (or, at least, what I've been calling the PCE) is always there and you just need to remember to look for it and stay in it.  The moment I see it, I get a flash of that perfect contentment and satisfaction.  I'm really enjoying just sitting in this awareness without expectations, letting go of whatever thoughts come up.

@William: It looks like he's charging for that, so I wouldn't feel right getting it without paying.  I'll see if he has anything online for free though.  Thanks for the reccomendation. emoticon

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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11/9/14 8:03 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
You're welcome.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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11/10/14 5:35 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
I just wanted to say I'm enjoying your thread, thanks for taking the time to write all of this down!

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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11/10/14 6:01 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Aha!  The best way to approach this practice is to realize you are removing something (self-referencing, being, identity, ego, etc) you aren't trying to get something.  More on this later...

***

So it seems like there is something that is always here.  A kind of perfection embodied by awareness itself.  Awareness is always operating, and it doesn't need anything to satisfy it.  It's just content to be aware.  This awareness can operate freely and openly as itself - as seen in the PCE - or it can operate along with, or rather inside of, the ego (or aggregates or whatever).  This ego is anything that wants, and it directs awareness into the imagination to roleplay the worst possibilities in order to discern what to avoid and what to chase after.  Wanting, itself, is stress.  To allow the awareness to operate freely, wanting needs to be removed completely.  It seems like this can be attacked from two angles.  You can remove wanting directly, by reasoning through the desire and realizing it isn't necessary, or you can allow the wanting to continue and accept the worst - like giving up and embracing death itself.  This second option is, essentially, the act of surrender or radical acceptance.

I feel like I can see what needs to happen, and it's kind of scary to think about.  For this awareness to continue on unimpeded, it really does require the complete elimination of identity, and identity is what the mind has created to protect itself.  Everything that seems important must be worked through and made to be irrelivant.  Trust has to be transfered from the ego, which can plan for problems and look into the past and the future, to spontenaity, which is the embodyment of awareness.  Letting go is literal.  The past and future have to be made completely unimportant to the mind so it no longer runs simulations and tries to protect itself.

I don't think this means it will be impossible to make plans.  Thinking can still happen while the awareness is here and now.  That's actually a minor concern compared to what actually has to happen.  The best way I can think of to describe it is complete recklessness.  I think I might have said that before, but it's true.  The mind has put so much trust in this ability to plan and predict that it has no intetion to give it up.  In spite of how wonderful the PCE really is, the mind simply can't trust it completely yet.  It understands what freedom is, but it is so afraid of what freedom entails.  This is why we aren't all enlightened.  It's not that we're bad people, and it's not that we're confused, it's that we can't trust the world completely.  The world is dangerous, and we're so fragile.

Part of the problem, undoubtedly, is that the ego sees itself as a part of the physical world.  If it's damaged it affects the body the same way sharp objects or diseases would.  The ego loves the idea of the PCE, but whenever it thinks about it, it also thinks of 10,000 loose ends it will need to tie up before it's willing to settle down.  Trying to force it makes the problem even worse because it sees the attack coming.  By trying to force myself to let go, I am, litterally, fighting with myself!  Or rather, the ego desperately wants to stop doing all its work, but it also desperately wants to be safe.

So, at this point, my practice is simple and straightforward.  I am going to aim to use the ego as little as possible.  When I catch myself planning, imagining, and correcting, or if I notice tension related to anything that will happen in the future (like avoiding something or hoping for some outcome) I will just stop, and come back to this awareness that I have decided to put my trust in.  I will, recklessly, let go of my ruminations, my error checking, my roleplaying, and my planning.  There will always be something to worry about, so if I ever want to be free, I need to allow myself to fail, to let go, to be at peace with my own fragility.


EDIT: I want to add that the desire to be satisfied and content is NOT an obstacle. This desire leads towards letting go of things once satisfaction is linked to elimination of desire instead of the fulfillment of desire. This is probably "right view" - seeing that the end of suffering is nibbana (cooling - the elimination of wanting). The focus moves from the wanting (how can I fix these problems and feel satisfied) to the awareness (how can I let go of these desires that are stopping the enjoyment of my already-present satisfaction).  The desire for satisfaction can be instantly satiated by coming back to the awareness and letting go of the wanting, so it is not a future-based desire, but a present-based desire.

EDIT 2: Thinking about this, I can really see how jhana could play a major role in this.  It probably isn't a coincidence that my best period of practice was when I was doing jhana every day.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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11/17/14 7:49 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
I've noticed that there is a tension I've been creating by trying to maintain awareness and trying to "allow everything" as if it was something to do actively, so I'm going to spend some time stopping these efforts. I know Beoman mentioned this before, and I agree that it's definately caused by my attempt to "meditate" constantly. It's like I've created a watch-dog in my awareness even though the original intention was to remove that effect of awareness. This watch dog is always barking at things like, "Oh, that thought went away, did you accept it completely? Here, let me bring it back up for you!" Haha...

I've been having some great success with just watching my emotional state for negativity and working through it, so I think I'll try just pure actualist practice for a while and see where it leads. This tension hasn't been helpful, and I have the distinct feeling there is something simple about my original insight into the "be here now" thing that I'm missing completely by trying to practice it. I'm wondering if it isn't more of a result of relaxing in a conventional way than anything else, and I have no doubt that simple emotional monitoring will make this happen.

Somehow, these days, it's just much easier to let go of emotions. It probably helps that I've resolved my job situation somewhat. Now worries are more standard and easy to deal with (though, my anxiety has flaired up just as badly about petty things, which pointed out to me that it wasn't the causes so much as the habits that make it bad). Just a few minutes ago I stopped worrying about meditation completely and just asked myself, "Ok, how do you feel?" I was worried about something silly, and I could see that it was silly, and without any effort it just went away. Compare that to the hours I spent earlier today trying to accept the feeling, and I felt pretty dumb for wasting all that time. Now I feel rather warm and relaxed in the heart-center area, and my senses seem to be clearing very nicely. The whole thing is very effortless, so all my striving to make it happen can be chalked up as worthless, I think. For the crowd who likes to say, "Well, maybe all that striving helped make it effortless now," I have to disagree in this instance. The striving actually made things worse.

I'm sure I'll disagree with all of this tomorrow, though, haha. That seems to be a main point in my practice these days. emoticon

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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11/18/14 11:21 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Yes, I think Actualist practice is the way to go (for me at least).  I stopped putting any effort into maintaining awareness and I spent the evening, and then this morning, just watching how I felt and challenging everything unpleasant. It's such a simple thing to do, but there seems to be a direct link between feeling good and being "present." That panoramic awareness that appears after a lot of open-eyed concentration practice just kind of happens spontaneously, it's pretty cool!

I had a bunch of "brain melt" type things this morning that are just like what was happening back in May. There's something that happens when you really let go of an emotion. Like, maybe I'll feel a crapy anxiety in the chest. If I can find why it's happening and really say no to it, like, see the whole feeling as pointless and fruitless, there's a kind of dropping sensation in the back of the head and things become excessively clear. It's like a snap between two modes of being. It isn't really something I do so much as what happens when I realy see the sillyness of an emotion.

It seems like I've spent a lot of time confusing effects with causes these last few months. What's most telling this time around was that I haven't been practicing any kind of concentration lately, so all of these special effects that I've seen over the past year must have been caused by simple emotional monitoring. This gives me some hope that there may actually be a perminant kind of attainment here separate from the idea of acceptance. These brain melts, especially, feel like some kind of preview - there's an aspect of experience after they happen that is almost unbearably perfect, and I tend to snap out of them because of that.

In spite of my recent "pointing out" thread - I'll be the first to celebrate if I can prove it wrong, haha. Acceptance is torture compared to how simple it seems to just dismantle the emotional mechanism. It could just be that my life is more easy at the moment, too, though.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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11/20/14 4:44 PM as a reply to Not Tao.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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11/20/14 7:58 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Thanks katy. emoticon

*****

I was reading some more on the AFT today. I really like Veeneto's stuff, she's clarified a few bits for me. She's probably the best teacher of the three of them. The goal is simply to give up on being anything in particular - to stop defining yourself. The beliefs they talk about aren't the intelligent beliefs like, I believe I am a man, or I believe the earth revolves around the sun - it's the felt beliefs, like, I believe men are better than women, or I believe I am smart and should be respected. The harmless part of happy and harmless isn't that you can't possibly cause harm to anything, it's that you feel no malice or anger towards anything because nothing is there to be challenged - when you are harmless, you can't be insulted.

This makes felicity more easy to understand as well. Felicitous feelings are feelings that don't result from felt beliefs, they result from enjoying what is currently happening.

Also, "nipping in the bud" is letting go of whatever bit of the identity is causing at emotion. So you don't let go of "I feel bad," you let go of, "I'm not very good at sports," and the feeling bad goes away - it has no cause anymore.

EDIT: Something else worth mentioning - there is something that is always lunging at experience, like a watchdog always barking. I think when I would always talk about "letting go," it was talking about this specifically. Let go of the watchdog - let go of the lunging - and then investigate the emotions and negativity. This lunging loves to take over any method. It's like the borg, it assimilates and adapts to whatever you try to do. Best to go after it directly, then apply the method.

Unlike some other things, the lunging is directly under control. You can simply stop doing it, and then allow the after effects to peter out on their own.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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12/2/14 12:48 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
I've been doing some reading on the AFT, and I'm starting to realize that Actualism is really much simpler that I thought - even though it already seemed pretty simple. All of my thrashing about trying to understand the causes of my emotions isn't very important. Richard says this a number of times, and I'm going to remind myself of this when I get lost: Consistently enjoying and appreciating this moment of being alive is the method. All of the other tips and advice is just there to help with difficulties.

If you just ask yourself how you're feeling, you'll see how you're feeling. If you don't want to feel that way, just stop feeling that way. It doesn't matter why, really. If you focus on why you're just wasting this moment you could be enjoying yourself. You already know you feel bad, and you already know you don't want to, so why continue? I mean, it seems impossible but it actually works. You don't have to hash anything out or try to convince yourself to feel better by legitimizing certain thoughts or ways of thinking. You don't have to fix your problems or eliminate your bad impulses and habitual patterns. You can just enjoy this moment. There's no good reason for feeling bad, so as soon as you notice you feel bad, just let yourself enjoy this moment instead. It doesn't matter what's happening or what has happened or what might happen in the future. This is all you ever have, so you might as well enjoy it. It can't be anything else right now, now is just now.

It's funny, we do these concentration practices and psychotherapy and insight meditation. We run around in circles trying to convince ourselves to feel better or to dissociate or to let go of problems, but all we ever need to do is just enjoy being here. I don't say all this to make people feel bad - I know how much it sucks to be stuck in anxiety or depression. Maybe I've just hit a point where this makes sense now. But it's worth a try, no? How do you feel? If it sucks, why not just feel good instead? If you have a good reason, just stop seing it as good reason - there is no good reason to feel bad. We're just these little creatures like anything else. We don't have to give life a grand meaning and seriousness. Let's just enjoy it and be free. emoticon

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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12/3/14 8:36 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
This is becoming very interesting.  I've read some writings by Richard and Veeneto that corroborate this, but I think Actual Freedom is less about the process of becoming virtually free, and more about the process of losing faith in the emotional center.  I've been watching closely, and I'm seeing in real time how useless the passions are.  For example, I've been having troubles with my car, and I've been plunged into yet another loop of anxiety, but this time, I am fluxing back and forth over this wall where I feel the anxiety deeply on one side, and on the other, it's simply not there at all.  Moving over this wall is just a decision - the decision not to put any trust in the emotion - but it's incredibly hard to make.  Each time I feel like I am betraying eveything I know is right, everything that is important.  It feels like I am letting go of the only bit of control I have over the situation.  This is a massive existential crisis!

But each time I pass over this wall, I can see ever more clearly that I don't need the feeling at all.  Not only don't I need it, but it's completely useless and harmful.  Now, even when I feel the anxiety, I have a very recent memory of seeing the same situation without it, and just by comparing the two, it makes it easier to transition out again.

It's just so funny how disfunctional I am.  A few days ago, it was a comment someone had made at work.  Now it's a dead car.  I'm completely convinced that there is no escape - I will always find something to be negative and anxious about as long as I trust these emotions to guide me.  It's this trust that has to go, and when that's gone, I will be free to think clearly without all this tugging from every angle.

http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/directroute/05.htm#16Jan10

EDIT: Something that helps ease the transition over this wall is realizing that neither the thought nor the judgement about the thought need to change.  The only thing that needs to change is the emotional reaction or embodyment of the judgement.  Instead of feeling the judgement and trying to suppress or latch onto the thought as a response, the feelings can be dropped completely and the judgement can be allowed to stand or fall on its own.  When I said it felt like abandoning what was right or feeling some kind of betrayal - this was caused by trying to drop the judgement along with the feeling.  If the judgement is allowed to stay, then there is no self-betrayal, and the whole thing can be apprached as an effort to become more objective - which is a positive rather than negative way of framing things.  It also makes it much easier to drop the feeling because I am, in effect, saying, "okay, I get it, now let me see things in a clear light and judge that way."

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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12/5/14 9:32 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
I think I've had a major misunderstanding about Actualism for a while now.  The question "how am I experiencing this moment of being alive" (HAIETMOBA) is specifically designed to show how the feelings are interacting with the "actual" or what is actually happening.  I've been caught up in investigations, and these investigations have been taking me away from SEEING how the identity is coloring experience.  By asking HAIETMOBA, I am looking at the Actual (this moment) and comparing it to the Affective (how I am).  The point, then, is to witness how the emotions never really reflect what is happening.
Richard:
In other words the focus is upon how identity in toto is standing in the way of the already always existing peace-on-earth being apparent just here right now.

It's actually very easy to pay attention to feelings - probably because that's what we're naturally inclined to focus on - and it's a very small step to look at the feelings and the current situation at the same time.  So maybe it's like this:

A normal, everyday attention is looking at feelings only and using the imagination to try to work them out.  We spend all day making scenarios in our heads, and these scenarios are judged by emotional reactions.  The emotional reactions create new scenarios, and the loop goes on.  Perception of the outside world is very limited and automated.  We only come out of reverie when someting very challenging or difficult happens.

Attentiveness, as defined in Actualism, is paying attention to the feelings in this moment.  So the imagination is stopped and the feelings are looked at compared to what is actually happening right now.  This comparison automatically changes the feelings because, 99.999% of the time, we're not really in any kind of dangerous or stressful situation.  Even if we include social situations where we might be embarrassed, the embarrassment is generated by imagined outcomes, not actual outcomes.  The moment you begin asking yourself HAIETMOBA, you are putting your attention towards the actual world.

Apperception, then, happens when the imagination is forgotten completely.  The mind has realized there are no immediate threats.  There is nothing to prevent or ward against.  Nothing to anticipate.  It can just settle into this moment and live.

So this method really takes a lot less effort than it seems.  We are just comparing that which already has control of our attention (the emotive/affective facility) to the actual world around us.  By allowing the emotions to flow freely, I am removing the stress of trying to suppress them and letting them go away on their own simply because they obviously have no meaning or purpose.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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12/5/14 10:44 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
[quote=]

Apperception, then, happens when the imagination is forgotten completely.  The mind has realized there are no immediate threats.  There is nothing to prevent or ward against.  Nothing to anticipate.  It can just settle into this moment and live.

So this method really takes a lot less effort than it seems. 

It takes a lot of effort to forget.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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12/6/14 1:08 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
I think I've had a major misunderstanding about Actualism for a while now.  The question "how am I experiencing this moment of being alive" (HAIETMOBA) is specifically designed to show how the feelings are interacting with the "actual" or what is actually happening.  I've been caught up in investigations, and these investigations have been taking me away from SEEING how the identity is coloring experience.  By asking HAIETMOBA, I am looking at the Actual (this moment) and comparing it to the Affective (how I am).  The point, then, is to witness how the emotions never really reflect what is happening.

Actually, not quite. (You were spot on about enjoying and appreciating though!)

When not in a PCE, the actual is inaccessible:

RICHARD: 2. Please note that the actual world (using the word ‘actual’ as per the reports/ descriptions/ explanations on The Actual Freedom Trust website and not as per the many and various dictionaries which equate it with the word ‘real’) is invisible to all those 7.0 billion or so peoples currently informed by that consensus reality ... and invisible, as in imperceptible/ indiscernible, not only ocularly but aurally, olfactorily, gustatorily, cutaneously and proprioceptively as well.
(Which means that only a handful of people alive today are capable of seeing me – the flesh-and-blood body typing these words – and/or hearing me, touching me, and so on, as a living actuality).
NIKOLAI: What is it based on?
RICHARD: It is based on the fact that this actual world (which, of course, includes every body and every thing in it) is invisible to the 7.0 billion or so identities parasitically inhabiting the 7.0 billion or so flesh-and-blood bodies currently estimated to be populating this planet.
(It is those 7.0 billion or so identities who live in that inner world/outer world consensus reality previously referred to; the 7.0 billion or so flesh-and-blood bodies are already here in this actual world, of course, just as each and every one of them has been all along).
During the 17+ years of being here on my own the only people who got to meet me, as an actuality, were those having a PCE whilst physically interacting; it was always quite an event, at the time, to have somebody ‘visit me’ (so to speak) for the duration of their PCE – all the while knowing their appearance here would be of a temporary nature – only to then witness the abeyant identity gradually reclaiming its host body as the PCE wore off.
Ahh ... this is all such fun! [link]


The answer to HAIETMOBA is an awareness of how this moment of being alive is being experienced: be it apperceptively (in a PCE) or not (thus affectively). And if affectively, by which emotion is it being experienced - a felicitous one or not? If not felicitous, then you have something to do.

What I'm getting at is just not to make the mistake of thinking that what you perceive outside of a PCE is the actual world. Maybe that's not what you meant, though... we can figure out what is actually going on even if we can't experience the actual directly. That's where sticking to the facts really help. The facts are facts regardless of whether you're in a PCE, so if you can figure out the facts, you can figure out via inference what's actually going on. But the perception or experience of what's actually going on only occurs in a PCE.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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12/6/14 1:15 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
@Beoman: ok.

****************************

I think before I was a bit confused about the distinction between the social identity and the instictual passions.  Something that's easy to do in actualist practice is to mistake nipping in the bud for suppression.  I'm realizing I still have rather a lot of the social identity still in place, and it would be wise to avoid any kind of "nipping" until I've stopped supressing everything.

The main difference, as I see it, is that the social identity is anything that tries to suppres the instictual passions.  So, when I feel a strong urge to call someone an asshole, but I refrain from doing it because I know it's wrong, this is the social identity acting to suppress the instictual passion of anger.  Just from my own experience, the better way to proceed seems to be to allow that anger to express itself internally without restraint - in essence, to call them an asshole in my head without the added guilt.  This allows the thing to burn out much more quickly, and then I can see more quickly that the reaction itself was't needed.  The opinion can continue on without the passion to support it.  The opinion might have been that the person is questioning my intelligence, or they are insulting me in some way.  This is still true whether I suppress my reaction to it or not.

Actually, it seems that the main thing the social identity tries to do is suppress the thought that inspires the passion, which just doesn't work.  The thoughts are never the problem, it's always the way we react to them.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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12/6/14 2:25 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Hi Not Tao, and anyone else affected,

If I have been perceived as an asshole, I am deeply sorry, and will work on this aspect of my personality from this moment going forward.
Again , I apologize for any frustration I may have caused, in the past, to anyone.

Psi

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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12/6/14 2:29 PM as a reply to Psi.
Ha! I thought he was talking about me : )

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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12/6/14 2:32 PM as a reply to Daniel - san.
You guys made me burst out laughing. emoticon

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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12/8/14 3:15 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
It's interesting how just a small shift in the way you think about something can make a huge impact.  I've started approaching emotions from a different angle, and I'm already feeling the benefits.  Basically, instead of looking at emotions as inappropriate over-reactions to stimuli, I decided to try seeing them as entierly appropriate in the way they present themselves at all times.  I'm entierly convinced that I cause my own emotions, so fighting with them is like my left hand trying to hold back my right hand.  It doesn't make any sense.  When emotions erupt, if I am trying to stop them in any way, I'm just suppressing myself.

This is showing me an interesting pathway toward the PCE.  Instead of looking at the PCE as the erradication of emotion, instead I see it as the resolution of all emotion.  I'll explain what I mean.  When I let the emotions do their thing and watch what they're doing, what seems to be happening is that the opinions I hold about a situation are in conflict with an ideal I have about how I should be reacting and what I should be thinking.  Essentially, an emotion is the result of attempting to change an opinion as it arises.  (Incidentally, this is SOMETIMES felt as a clenching - not always but definately when the feelings are strong.)  By allowing the emotion through, the opinions I'm holding onto are being liberated from this process of modification.  The result is that the thought and stimulus maintain the opinion that is attached to them, but this opinion is no longer urgent.  Put another way - negative feelings are the result of cognitive dissonance.

How this works in action is actually pretty simple.  I just acknowledge that my emotions are always correct - they are always expressing a part of me that I want to express.  They are never over-reactions, and they are never there for no reason.  This doesn't mean I am frothing at the mouth whenever I'm angry, though.  The point of letting the emotions come is to liberate the opinions from the social ideals I'm placing on them.

An example might be most helpful.  The other day I was feeling angry because a co-worker had implied I was being lazy.  This seems fairly simple, but it actually turned out to be a very dense tangle of conflicting opinions that caused the feeling of anger.  One opinion was that she might be right, and this was in direct conflict with the opinion that it was wrong to be lazy at work - which resulted in a feeling of guilt.  A third opinion was that I hadn't actually been lazy, which converted the guilt into anger.  So the whole process was a very fast series of conflicting opinions, and the anger and guilt were what floated into consciousness to express the process and try to untangle it.  I had a few extra problems, though, because there were opinions about how to express these feeling that immediately began suppressing the physical responses - I had the opinion that it was wrong to express anger in this situation, and this was strengthened by the opinion that she had only said this thing to be manipulative and the opinion that it would damage my self respect if I allowed her to get to me.  I also had the opinion that she was being unjust and my expression of anger would put her down or intimidate her - and this conflicted with the suppression mechanism.

It may have been even more than that, but you get the idea.  Now, the reason I'm calling these things "opinions" is because that's exactly what they are!  Opinions don't have any emotional representation on their own, it's only when they conflict and cause dissonance that an emotion arises.  I won't say that ALL emotions work this way, since this is a new idea for me, but it might actually be the case.  So by allowing the emotions their full range of expression internally, I'm allowing them to untangle the opinions much more quickly and develop a wholistic way of viewing situations.  Then there isn't conflict and the situation can be pondered out intellectually.  Needless to say, I feel much better about things these days - even though my initial reactions are much stronger than usual.  It's like emotional fireworks, then a quiet sky.

EDIT: I should point out that, in spite of my detailed example, I didn't have to invest any thought into what was causing the emotion.  Experiencing it fully is kind of a fast-motion way of letting these things resolve themselves.  Maybe that's the whole POINT of the emotions after all.

Oh, I also forgot to mention - I think the PCE happens when all the emotions are resolved because the imagination is only ever used to suss out emotional problems.  It's like we're always rehersing.  Without emotional involvement, the imagination goes offline and just the senses operate.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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12/8/14 3:01 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Haha, that's the only reason I'm here.  If you don't think they're important, then there isn't much reason to give my posts any attention.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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12/10/14 10:07 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Whelp, I think I've figured it out.  Negativity is just suppressed opinions.  How simple...

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12/10/14 2:08 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Pawel, you should read up on actual freedom practice some more before trying to give advice about it. This post that you made is completely opposite of Richards instructions. For example, you said that to practice AF you are supposed to feel felicitous all the time. This is a misunderstanding. You are supposed to watch your emotions at all times and, if you aren't feeling good, examine why. If actual freedom practice was a kind of obligation to feel felicitous all the time, it would just be an extra burden. The way to move towards actual freedom is to feel felicitous all the time, but in order to do that you have to deconstruct all the suppression mechanisms of the social identity and work through the triggers of the instictual passions.

I've actually only just begun to understand actual freedom. I've been misinterpreting a lot myself, and I've wasted a lot of time on things that aren't helpful or necessary - as you can see in this thread. The whole time I've been exploring new ways to suppress my emotions, essentially, and only now am I getting back to were I was before when I was having all my peak experiences. This time around, though, there is a much better understanding, so I think things will go a lot more smoothly.

In spite of all that, thank you for describing your insights to me and trying to help. I don't feel that I am moving in the same direction as how you've described your meditation here, but if there is any indication that I am I'll be sure to post about it.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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12/10/14 3:18 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Paweł K:
I didn't mean to offend you in any way, just to point to something else that I will describe in a moment. You can read if you are at least stream enterer, if not then you will probably see mad man talking and cannot really practice AF until you are at least SE. Advanced insights like the one presented below will only illuminate eyes that are ready to see light that bright. In other words you have to be mad enough to appreciate my post =)

now is now, only moment you are alive, right? so what do you choose to experience, feeling felicitous or dwelling in emotions?
emotion arise and what you do with it? ignore it and continue feeling felicitous or stop feeling felicitous and dwell in emotions instead?
if you were to practice AF as you are supposed to (that is: feeling felicitous all the time) then you would need to always choose felicitousness over anything else and you wouldn't even have mind time to feel emotionlessness of feeling felicitous because that is an emotion based sensation too and it is not felicitoussness. How are emotions again important? They are only important obstacle if you do not really do 'Actual Freedom Practice'

do not wonder how to do it because that is just wasting of precious moments of being alive, just be felicitous now, pretty unconditionally, be free from human condition for that moment that is happening right now. That is the way you practice AF and there is nothing more to it. This is not rocket science, you need zero knowledge of any sort, even point of Zen is harder to get than AF... it is so simple in how you do it that even your dog could practice AF if was enlightened.

I earlier said that you have to be at least 1st path to practice AF but the truth is that before attaining second path it will be incredibly hard and non intuitive (unless maybe with strong concentration abilities). It is at 2nd path when mind default itself to pseudo-non-duality in which things like how all of what I said would be possible start making more sense. Before 1st path there is no experience of mind floor, called sometimes as felicitousness or nibbana. Without it most one could do is construct some pseudo-felicitousness and imho usefulness of such abomination of a state would be highly doubtful. It might be even more harmful than helpful. That is also risk factor at any path level but much less likely to happen when having some accest to mind floor, even for a moment from time to time will be enough to know that its deeper than anything else, especially at 2nd path and above it would be hard to choose non-nibbana as state one would want to be in. Requirement of some basic skills and attainments is something that Richard misses in his description of AF hoping that by dwelling in emotions (which is mindfulness practice) after some time people will develop them sufficiently enough to be able to practice AF. Those walls of text on ATF website about emotions and other crap are all about that factor. After necessary skills are acquired method is stupidly easy and have nothing to do with emotions.

Just one note: AF is not better than ordinary enlightenment. On some level it is all just another method of seeing reality and as long as it is mind floor instead of big standing waves of troubled mind then it will be as good. Comparing AF state with Buddhist emptiness and non-duality is like comparing apples and oranges. There is not even need to choose, one can have either one or both at the same time (via Zen trickery ;) ) and even be totally mind blank that neither emptiness of world nor its actualitymean anything. None of these will be any better than other one cause in mind floor there is no better/worse differentiation and any notion of better/worse is one of the standing mind wave and is obstructing experience of mind floor/nibbana/felicitousness.

ps. mind floor because I find it to be most appropriate name. To describe why is that would be material for small book so its no place here for that. Lets say that it is the main thing in all spiritual practices though it might have completely different names and descriptions, one thing is always the same: it is ever blissful.

Hey Pawel and Not Tao, Correct me if I am wrong, but a main insight here, that Pawel is getting to , is this, When the mind is trained one can go directly to the felicitiousness, there is no reason to go through all of the examination and storytelling.  And, that actually, all that examination and storytelling is and was a waste of precious time all along.  Perhaps, Richard desrcibes it that way on AFT because that was his path to AF, but that doesn't mean that is the only method or even the most direct method.  A method is a method by any name.

Just an opinion to consider, or don't consider it and just be felicitous.

Psi

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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12/14/14 6:25 PM as a reply to Psi.
I'm going to try taking some time away from the forum for a while.  I think what I've mainly been looking for all this time is a reliable method, and I've found it now, so some time spent practicing will be good for me I think.  As a kind of "for now" closer to the thread, here's what I've settled on:

I watch emotional fluctuation throughout the day and mainly try to spot suppression.  The suppression is the stressful part of a thought, so the attempt to push a thought away.  I'm working with the idea that it is my choice to have these emotions - they're not something that happens to me but rather a stance I take about each situation.  Trying to use any kind of concentration to alter the mood is essentially justifying the natural way of dealing with the emotions - trying to make the thought or stimulus go away.  What I think needs to happen, instead, is to integrate the emotional opinions and thoughts in such a way where they can come into the mind without the reactions.

So, in practice, it works like this.  First I adopt a welcoming stance towards emotions (first as in first thing in the morning).  They are me, I am my emotions, so there's no reason to run away.  This will immediately make them less urgent and manageable, so I can take the time to dig deeply and find the "tap roots" so to speak, or the very deep sources of things.  When I can work these out, there is a dropping away of tension and a deep restfulness.

Over time, I feel like I am coming to terms with the messiness of the world.  Or maybe, releasing the perfectionism that's inherent in stress.  When everything can just be itself, there's nothing that causes stress.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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12/15/14 12:31 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Hey Not Tao,
I think you are a valuable contributor to this forum because many of your insights are sound and you have a sensitive penetrating view into the way things are - I think you should keep contributing as you practice, keep up your journal at least
I also felt this way about Sawfoot but he was asked to leave in a not-so-compassionate way by Daniel 
I think the common denominator is that arrogance tends to push people away into their own corners
There are very few on this site that are not guilty of arrogance from time to time, and IMO you've been especially patient in general to people throwing slings and arrows your way
If this were a site for religion, for Mahasi-style Theravadan teachings of the maps of insight only, I would find it very unfortunate. In his wisdom, I think that's why Daniel didn't set it up that way. There are enough religions in the world
I think it's most important to have different views, different words and different approaches to the common goal of realizing truth and freedom within our hearts. After the goal is done we can argue till the cows come home. But we probably won't want to, we'll be too wise
The service that you provide (amongst many others) is challenging to the religious views that people hold, when they hold too tightly to Mahasi, the maps, their Blips, or any other ideas. It's good and healthy to feel strongly about things, it's also good to treat others with respect and to realize that we're all adults with clear comprehension (from time to time anyway) and to temper those views with the knowledge that you may be totally full of shit. I find those to be the wisest here. Ajaan Chah was like that to me, and his wisdom jumps off the pages. If something speaks to you, it doesn't mean it speaks to everyone, and we can see our Views also change as we do. That's a big hint. Sawfoot also challenged people albeit in a much cheekier, but also totally hilarious way. It's too bad he's gone, he wasn't just funny as hell, he is very smart and was an important voice here. If he upsets you my view is that it says more about you
The Buddha kept saying, it's not the boat that matters, it's the other shore! Someone else said don't mistake the finger for the moon. Early Jews were implored not to craft false idols, not to make images of God - Moses leaves for a few days and they're all worshiping a cow. This is nothing new
As long as we are all interested in exploring the truth within, to becoming more virtuous people, to abandoning our baggage (including our views) we all belong here - the this-is-my-team-if-you-don't-like-it-get-the-hell-out attitude that pops up here from time to time hurts my stomach. If those dogmatic views don't belong anywhere, it is here
If those that disagree with the maps or Mahasi or the Big V-word or whatever are asked nicely (or not so nicely) to leave, it will be a severe detriment to the community and to the exploration of the Truth that's going on in this virtual place
People everywhere, and especially here, need to be continually challenged. My view anyway : )

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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12/29/14 7:57 PM as a reply to Daniel - san.
This is kind of funny.

I've felt like I was floundering since May.  I couldn't figure out what I was missing, or why I seemed to be stuck.  I kept reading my journals and notes, trying different methods, sometimes things would work a little bit.  Overall it was just kind of messy.

So, finally (I don't know why I waited this long) I decided to go back to very simple, pure concentration practice.  I had stopped in May because I didn't feel like I needed it anymore - it felt like it was too contrived, since radical acceptance had been working for me.  I should have noticed how quickly things became difficult.  Now everything suddenly seems so simple.  My anxiety is all but gone, I can just let go of negative reactions to things, my emotional baseline is very positive.  I guess concentration is what I've been looking for.

The funny part is, I haven't even spent much time practicing.  Maybe 20 minutes a day for the past week.  I'll keep this up and update later.

I do a couple different methods.  One is focus on body sensations, and the other is simply counting breaths.  I like this second method a lot.  I don't even try to sit still, I just try to keep enough attention on the breath that I don't lose count.  I suspect that eventually it will become very easy just to tune into the breathing if I practice this way, so I may stick with that primarily for a while.  It seems to act like an anchor for a more open-presence type concentration which I've always held in special reguard.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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12/30/14 6:17 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
It seems that concentration practice is actually the practice of dropping distractions and hinderances.  The practice of letting go of things.  A thought comes up, it's dropped as soon as it's noticed.  An emotion or tension comes up, it's dropped.  Everything unrelated to the breath is dropped.  The object itself is simply there as a comparison - something to focus ON rather than let go of.  It's a short step from there to simply start dropping everything as it comes up.

I've noticed I am actively deciding to stay in my emotions while they're happening.  I'm just going to decide not to stay from now on.  See where that takes me.  It's a bit hard to put this into words.  Before and after concentration practice is a huge difference.  It's like I can look at what's happening emotionally and it stops being anything in particular.  All seriousness and urgency is sucked right out of it.  I can see now why I kept writing, "just accept everything," in my journal.  It really is that simple if the concentration is there.  Without it, though, it doesn't make any sense.

The concentration is cumulative too.  Every day it seems to get deeper.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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1/11/15 1:57 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
I'm getting back into jhana territory again now.  I haven't formally meditated for many months - probably seven - and it's only taken about a week and a half to get back up to speed.  That's very encouraging to me because that makes it seem like any other skill.  Don't practice for a while and get a little rusty, but you never go all the way back to square one.

There is something I can do very easily now with this new concentration.  I seem to be able to just "be aware" without any real object or goal in mind.  This awareness is the awake quality that shows up when concentrating.  It's possible to "be aware" while doing anything at all, so it's easy to practice all the time - the trick is just to remember to do it of course.  Back when I was doing the jhanas just by letting go, I think this awareness is what I was using.  When I just let myself be aware in this way, the awareness seems to clear out thinking and imagination and bring me back to nowness.  This is all very very promising.  I'm starting to think that it all just comes down to concentration.  At least, my own goal of living in that perfect state of mind. emoticon

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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1/13/15 12:48 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Haha, I get it now.  It's so simple.  As long as there are any expectiations, there is stress.  It really is true that there is nothing to do, nothing to attain.  That's not to say everyone is already enlightened - it's just so much easier than anyone makes it out to be.  All you need to do is let go.

Of course, this is all complete nonsense to the "normal" state of mind.  I'm not going to understand this if I look back and read it for advice.  But the PATH to this simple, everyday peace of mind is clear and easily practiced.  Concentration practice works the part of the mind that is able to drop things - the part that directs attention here and there.  Practicing this for 20 - 30 minutes every day is like a good workout.  Then, during the day, whenever you notice you feel like you can't relax until some desire is fulfilled, just drop it.  Let it be unfulfilled.  You don't have to change anything you're doing, even.  You can just let go of that urging, cringing, needing everything to be this or that.  Don't try it without concentration practice though.  It'd probably be a waste of time.

It's even easier than dropping things and watching for desires though.  It's more like - just chill, haha.  To point right at the heart of the problem: Whatever you are thinking you need to accomplish/do/solve/fix right now, no matter what it is, is the source of whatever stress you are feeling.  This does NOT mean "accept everything" though.  It means that the quality of wishing is stressful.  The unnatural practice of concentration directly challenges this mechanism - this need to DO - so it is the perfect antidote.  Concentration is harnesing that "I must do something" quality to "just be."

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1/13/15 9:09 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
"(...)this little detail that jhanas and bliss will get boring after a while and expectation for more realizations will surface and with it dukkha. You won't be able to silent it down with concentration even if it will be much better then than it is now.. (...) one quality of them always prevails: their perfection never lasts"


And this leads a practioner to deal with the aggitation or restlessness of the primary urge for wanting, novelty-- these gratification 'want-get' bumps in the brain (not a bad thing, per se) and to which chemical 'want-gets' the brain is accustomed to fulfilling by any number of ways (if not by sensual gratification, then emotional gratification, if not by emotional gratification, then by intellectual gratification, if not by intellectual gratifications, then perhaps jhanic/concentrative gratification, and finally the gratification of no-gratification-- which at first is an actual gratification like concentration gratification, then the brain starts to lose the need for the chemical bumps of gratification and becomes less of an outgoing, deeply aggitated gratification machine). And then coming to know the gratification urge and the cessation of that urge develops deep calm-- the mind can stop using itself in this cycle and acting from knowing things as they are, having dependent origination be experienced more continuously.


edit x1 for clarity

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1/13/15 10:01 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Pawel, I don't think you understand what I'm talking about.

Katy, what you just described is jhana.  The gratification of no gratification is the fourth jhana - equanimity.  You don't need to do anything but abandon the hinderances to remain that way all day.

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1/13/15 10:51 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Hi, 
Katy, what you just described is jhana.  The gratification of no gratification is the fourth jhana - equanimity.  You don't need to do anything but abandon the hinderances to remain that way all day.


What I'm describing, speaking for my own experience, is that in jhana training, especially after the experience of fourth jhana, there is attraction to jhana**, then the dukkha that comes with the conditionality (the unreliability) of jhana and then the freedom from all conditioned states-- the sudden happiness/pleasant surprise: Oh, this is alsogone, not unconditional, not stable. This is how this is. A funny bright moment that leads into what zen may call, "beginner's mind" all over again, only now one knows how things are and the brain is free from being enshrivelled as a constant gratification hunter-machine. emoticon

______
Edit: the experience of 4th jhana can make one want to live like that all day, which desire and aim gives rise eventually to dukkha and that condition does not last, but can be followed by the let-go.

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1/13/15 11:06 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
So I'd just add that there are maybe three phases of of jhana training overall:
1. What is it/effort phase,
2. This is the "end-all-be all", the "best stuff"-- sometimes called "junkie" phase, and
3. This is a pleasant place to put the mind phase (like going to a garden because its a nice rest or going to a lab just to check stuff out, neither movement trapped in desire)

___ 
edit: in purple letters 

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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1/13/15 11:57 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
I think the "junkie phase" is just where a person is before they get to equanimity and understand it. For example, if you have only gotten piti during meditation, you would believe (not incorrectly) that it was the cure for sensual desire and chase after piti. Piti isn't a very stable mind-state, so it can create craving due to the work involved to attain it. But this is self correcting, because someone who craves piti will continue practicing and eventually find sukha, which is more stable. This stability will lessen the need for craving because it will take less work to attain it. This, in turn gives rise to the understanding that less work = more stability and more serenity, and then sukha gives way to equanimity, which is just stability itself. As you say, the last hurdle to overcome is a craving for equanimity, but this isn't particularly difficult if a person just keeps practicing concentration. It just becomes very natural to let go of things as they come up until there is beginner's mind, as you say.

So, my original point was that there is nothing you need to do or practice besides stabilizing the mind - concentration. Insight is inevitable even if craving develops for positive states of mind. Insight, in this case, has nothing to do with "self" but rather clinging, craving, and aversion.

I think the term "jhana junkie" is misleading to the point of being harmful. If someone is addicted to piti or sukha, they should just be encouraged to keep practicing - which is what they want to do anyway. Calling them a junkie is only going to create confusion, or cause aversion toward the thing that is healing their mind. I see the term as a justification for vipassana dark nights or other failed insight practices.

EDIT: I realized saying that might sound mean spirited, so I'm sorry if it is offensive.  I do think that "the dark night" is due to bad practice, though.  It's caused by the belief that to gain insight about negative states of mind you need to examine them in real time and "see through" them, or understand them, or accept them.  It's better to abandon them, though.  Negative mind states are, themselves, the delusion the Buddha points to.  There is nothing to learn from remaining in them.

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1/13/15 11:55 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Well, if warning people that there can be an addictive ("junkie") derailing pleasure-seeking concentration practice which does not develop reliable understanding in the mind, then the entire buddhist science of mind should also not be mentioned as the entire effort may "create confusion, or cause aversion toward the thing that is healing their mind", as you say.

In my experience, it would have been misleading and a total put-off had someone said, "This is easy, you just need to keep your mind out of the hindrances." Oh, okay. Just like that. Silly me.

I would not worry about the "jhana junkie" term. It applies to a phase in practice where one thinks jhana should be/could be the condition of daily life and that this means is the best route. It passes. People find many ways to reliable understanding, like vipassana/pañña, faith, discipline, metta, etc.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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1/13/15 11:57 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
EDIT: I realized saying that might sound mean spirited, so I'm sorry if it is offensive.  I do think that "the dark night" is due to bad practice, though.  It's caused by the belief that to gain insight about negative states of mind you need to examine them in real time and "see through" them, or understand them, or accept them.  It's better to abandon them, though.  Negative mind states are, themselves, the delusion the Buddha points to.  There is nothing to learn from them.

I don't think it's offensive or mean-spirited. It's just your current view of other things and you put it out there. That's all. It's a view that's part of your experience right now. And you will see for yourself if that view culminates in a reliable understanding.

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1/13/15 12:28 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
But this is exactly where you're incorrect.  There is not an addictive pleasure seeking concentration practice.  The only way to attain jhana is to remove addiction.  The term "jhana junkie" is thus completely impossible. If someone is practicing skillfully, they will attain jhana. Calling them a junkie at that point, especially if they are new to their practice or hadn't yet had complete understanding of what they were accomplishing would create undue worry that they had done somethin wrong and they might take up some other practice that didn't work as well or actually led them to unskillful states (like noting practice). Here I am speaking from personal experience.  I believed people when they told me concentration practice was only useful for attaining temporary states to support insight practice. This was in spite of my better judgement and experience, but there's peer pressure for you. So I stopped concentration and tried other methods. These methods did nothing, even though I practiced far more than I did before. In fact, most of this thread is a testament to how lost and confused I was.  Now that I am practicing concentration again, I have picked up where I left off and I am seeing a very steady increase in everyday wellbeing. These aren't temporary states, it's that every waking moment is progressively more still and self-sustaining. I only practice about 20 minutes a day - sometimes more simply because it's so enjoyable.

I also did not say all you had to do was keep your mind out of the hinderances - I said all you had to do was concentrate and this, in turn, will show you how to keep your mind out of the hinderances. It's actually very straightforward.

Also, I can tell you from experience that perfect equanimity can be the general waking condition of everyday life. I believe the view that this is not possible is another one of the damaging ideas that is floating around western Buddhism. I understand the general views on this forum are opposite of most of what I'm saying here, but I'm coming to see that this is not wisdom but just a general misinformed opinion. I don't know how to say this in a non-confrontational way, but I do feel rather bad for anyone who might be in the situation I was in before. I'm writing all this simply to assure them that the views being presented here are not consensus, but rather a meme that only a few people have bothered to challenge.

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1/13/15 2:03 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
My 2 cents:

1.) Resting in equanimity is also my practice. Goenka called awareness and equanimity the ‘two wings of the bird’ that takes one to liberation

2.) Insight (Vipassana) is a different (but certainly overlapping) animal v. Concentration (Samadhi). When you direct your equanimity toward subjects like the causes of stress you see that it is clinging – you saw that through your practice and confirmed a core teaching of the Buddha. The clear seeing of equanimity however can also be directed toward other things, like which socks look best with your outfit or, more darkly, the best way to attack a group of people that you dislike. That is why there is an Eightfold Noble Path as taught by Buddha and Samadhi  is one aspect of that path (or just one of the Three Trainings if you like)

3.) Disparaging the noting technique, or the correctness of yogis meditation techniques who find themselves cycling, or Vippasana practice in general (as a ‘bad joke’) isn’t just disrespectful to others here that are very wise and intelligent, it is also wrong view. IMO Right View would be seeing that there are different paths toward purification and Mahasi noting is not the one for you. I can relate, from what I understand mental noting is meant to be used until concentration is strong enough until one can just ‘notice’ sans mental verbalization - that is called awareness. Concentration has also been a skill/talent for me (as it is for you) so mental noting was never my cup of tea. But to disparage it for others is not useful or necessarily accurate

4.) What is useful is skillfully looking at cycling and dark night symptoms and asking oneself, why? Is it necessary? I believe that Daniel says in MCTB that dry insight practice leads to more dark night symptoms and he maybe half-heartedly lamented not being more established in samatha at that time. I also think there’s an energy component (or view) to cycling and taking it slower (ala Kenneth Folk I think) may lessen or eliminate those dark night problems. But people are very different in so many ways and 'the path' is very personal. I find this subject fascinating and ripe for discussion (as I have my own views too)

5.) I’m glad you took down your post about disrespecting others. I see arrogance in Daniel’s writing, my own posts, in Pawel’s responses, and in yours. As an awakened friend said to me (with a friendly knowing smile) on retreat when I got into a bit with another retreatant - 'you have an arrogant mind'. Nothing personal – it just shows there’s more work to do

Practice well : )

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1/13/15 1:59 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Also, I can tell you from experience that perfect equanimity can be the general waking condition of everyday life.

Well, if this condition is so, then that is, in the sutta model of nibbana ("Going out" as in a candle), then that is said to be unperturable, pali akkumpam mi vimutti. And you would know for yourself if this has happened and is inexistant without condition :/


RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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1/13/15 3:20 PM as a reply to Not Tao.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.106.than.htmlDoes the above sutta point to any possible traps for jhanas and/or abodes?


RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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1/16/15 6:00 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nicolai,

I've given this some thought.  The Buddha is not saying jhana is a trap in the same way the argument in this thread was going.  He is pointing out that, for someone who does not move BEYOND each level through dispassion for the gross factors, they will get stuck.  The "jhana junkie" idea comes from a belief that jhana, itself, is a corrupting force, and that jhana is, at best, a support for insight.  But what the Buddha is saying here is that one should surpass each jhana they experience until there is nothing left - they should not let themselves become satisfied with a lower liberation when there are higher ones to attain.  This is not a warning against jhana, but rather a warning against being satisfied too soon before you have attained the perfect release from all dukkha.

So, to my mind, it's actually making the opposite argument.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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1/16/15 10:05 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
Nicolai,

I've given this some thought.  The Buddha is not saying jhana is a trap in the same way the argument in this thread was going.  He is pointing out that, for someone who does not move BEYOND each level through dispassion for the gross factors, they will get stuck.  The "jhana junkie" idea comes from a belief that jhana, itself, is a corrupting force, and that jhana is, at best, a support for insight.  But what the Buddha is saying here is that one should surpass each jhana they experience until there is nothing left - they should not let themselves become satisfied with a lower liberation when there are higher ones to attain.  This is not a warning against jhana, but rather a warning against being satisfied too soon before you have attained the perfect release from all dukkha.

So, to my mind, it's actually making the opposite argument.


Hehe. It's easy to feel right when one defines the terms to support one's viewpoint. I agree with what you just said. i just had a different definition for a junkie, which simply was clinging to an experience and not moving beyond it, such as not moving beyond clinging to equanimity itself as a highly refined fabrication.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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1/17/15 8:26 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
I'm not sure what you mean.  I was arguing against a sentiment - that jhana is addictive.  I didn't think this is what the Buddha was saying in the sutta you linked.  Being equanimous about equanimity doesn't mean you end up in a lower mental state than equanimity, like anger, it means you are able to let go of holding onto equanimity so that it is self-perpetuating.  This is made possible by the visceral understanding that stress comes from wanting.  Wanting to hold onto equanimity is the most subtle form of stress.  When this stress is released, the equanimity is still there, there is just no longer a need to cling to it.

The insinuation made by the vipassana/samatha divide is that the release attained through vipassana meditation is not going to land you in a jhana-like state of mind.  This means jhana is a "too good to be true" distraction from what is actually possible - or a nice resting place or vacation from reality as katy frames it.  I'm arguing against this idea.  Your sutta actually says the opposite of this - that a person should not be satisfied with any amount of stress, so each jhana is transcended in turn by dropping more stress.  The final liberation is better than jhana because it has all the perfect equanimity of jhana without the need to actively do anything.  This seems to me what the Buddha is saying.  It is not that the perfect state can't be attained, but rather that the perfect state is also free from itself - which is why it is perfect/final/complete.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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1/21/15 6:29 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Thinking about desire, it's easy to see why it's so difficult to see clearly.  There is desire to feel better, desire to hold onto good feelings, desire to keep things that cause good feelings, etc. But then there is desire to transcend desire, or desire to get rid of desire. Then from this there is desire to remove the desire to get rid of desire. On and on.

I think this is where anatta comes in - or even better - sunyata. I haven't been a fan of the concept of emptiness as "a propety of the universe," but it works well as an object of contemplation. When focusing on myself, desire seems to multiply. When intentionally removing focus from myself, desires slip away unnoticed.

There's a connection between these ideas: "just be here now," "the five clinging-aggregates are not-self," "craving is the cause of stress," "in the seeing, just the seen," "all sensations are empty of a doer," "actionless action," "non-judgement."

I think for me it's best summed up as: "Stop checking in on yourself."

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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1/25/15 12:26 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.059.nypo.html

This sutta is good. I've been confused a number of time in the past as to what exactly the buddha is talking about in terms of "feelings." The answer seems to be that it is feelings connected with the five senses (sensuality) and it doesn't include the mind. The jhanas, then, are the "cure" for attachment to sensual feelings.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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1/26/15 11:11 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
The problem is wanting.  It's very simple.  I've identified a lot of manifestations of wanting in this thread, but at the heart of the matter is that simple urge to DO SOMETHING.  I've also identified a lot of logic to work through the wanting, but it isn't necessary, the heart of the matter is to simply STOP WANTING.

So, for my own future reference, here's what's important.  Do not accept wanting.  Don't pay extra attention to it.  Don't reason it out, or try to justify it.  Don't be afraid of losing your sense of right and wrong by abandoning it.  Just stop it.  When you notice there is aversion or hatred or anger or ill-will, just let go of it right there.  When you notice yourself holding onto a pleasant feeling, just let go of it right there.

What are you letting go of?  The tension, cringing, lunging, grasping sensation.  The feeling that you cannot rest until control is exerted over another person's mind, or the way the world is running, or the current task is finished, or the feeling that what is happening can't be changed or lost.  The world is not yours.  How you are seen is not up to you.  Even your body is not yours.  Remind yourself that in the future you will grow old, you will grow ill, you will be ugly, you will die.  Remind yourself that your body is fragile - it's made of soft flesh and brittle bones that can be pierced or cut or broken at any time.  These are not mystical discoveries or hidden truths to discover through high concentration and insight into the hidden nature of reality - they are simple, clear, obvious facts you fight against because you believe your happiness relies on outside conditions or some revelation.  You don't have to fight, though, because that happiness and peace of mind requires nothing more than the release of the very tension that makes up those desires.

Watch the way the body feels.  All wanting is represented in the body as physical tension.  When all wanting subsides, there is no tension and a clear, panoramic awareness spontaneously surfaces.  It doesn't take any effort to create or maintain this awareness, it just requires a lack of tension - a lack of effort.  Rest within the tension of the body to calm the mind.  The calm mind will, in turn, calm the body.

Wanting to be without tension is not an obstacle - you don't need to convince yourself to let go of the desire to be at peace.  The desires that cause problems are those that exist outside of the mind.  Once the mind is at peace, the desire for peace is fulfilled and passes away on its own.  If you want the body to feel a certain way, you will never be at peace.  If you want other people to think certain things, or if you want the ordering of your life to work out a specific way, then you won't be at peace.

The thing you CAN bring peace to is the heart-mind conncection.  The feelings in the guts.  The opinions that feel forced upon you, like anger, desire, anxiety, greed, sadness, helplessness.  They are not out of your control.  Contemplate impermanence and let go of all clasping/grasping/thrusting/clinging/rejecting/pushing/pulling that happens to that very heart-mind connection.  Let go of the opinions and beliefs that support them.  Cultivate dispassion and forget yourself.  Contemplate the very things that disturb you, and accept them as part of the impermanent dance of being.

The success you had before, back in May - it wasn't that the state of mind cured you of your aversion and desire - it was exactly the opposite.  You paid attention, you stopped negativity and clinging when it arose, and you found that there really is an unfabricated way of being that requires no effort to maintain and is born from withdrawal.

From ignorance of the cause and cessation of suffering, there arises volition (formations - the will to change).  By understanding the nature of suffering (that all stress is caused by craving) you can disable volition and desire and be at peace here and now with no effort.

Good luck future self. emoticon

P.S. Stick to the suttas, the Buddha knows what he's talking about.

P.P.S. That means ALL aversion, ALL ill-will.  Just stop it dead right there.  When there is no justification, there are no excuses, complete dispassion is release.  If it's just too much, watch the body.

P.P.P.S. Another good definition: Perfect Patience

P.P.P.P.S. Letting go does not mean trying to change your opinions or beliefs about something.  Instead, accept the most negative possibilities - allow yourself to lose when competing with your imagination.  If you are guilty, accept the way the situation is without fixing it (even though you can still try to fix it).  If you are afraid, accept the worst possible outcome.  Disable the power of the imagination by setting it free.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Actual Freedom Practice
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2/17/15 11:51 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
This thread from the seduction community is pretty interesting; the guy seems to be on to something. 

*'Distant Light' apparently had a big shift in his mindset by reading Thomas Campbell's stuff ('My Big Toe Trilogy'-- seems a bit New Agey). Anyway, thought this was applicable to the last post because the way that this guy lives is through a frame of 'not-chasing'/not-needing (women or people). Due to his frame, he is essentially able to enjoy himself far more than most people (so it appears) and other people seem to genuinely enjoy being around him as well (He is basically broke and lives with his parents in NYC, but he is able to 'bring the vibe' and so he is friends with a lot of people and they pay for his food and entry into clubs and what not. He also gets laid by models on what seems to be a regular basis.) He tries to communicate what his shift in mindset was, and the results of that mindset shift, in the thread above and a number of others.

p.s. if anyone thinks this post is inappropriate/off-topic just pm me and I'll keep whatever opinion you have in mind, in my mind, for the future, since I know that there is the sentiment that the DHO needs to be 'cleaned up' a bit. 

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Buddhist Actual Freedom Practice
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2/26/15 8:46 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
I've been trying to think of a good way to explain my current practice.  I think the best way to explain it is that I just watch how I'm feeling and let myself become bored with any obstacles or feelings of resistance that come up.  That really is it, quite literally.  There is no strugfle to understand the nature of my stress or any effort to take it seriously.  I just notice it's happening and let myself give a big internal yawn and turn away from it.

I've been meditating a lot, mainly because it feels so nice to do, and I use the same method.  I have been counting my breaths as an anchor, but it turned out the counting is what I was paying the most attention to, so I think it could be considered a mantra meditation.  Basically, I just count in the tempo of my breathing and I make no effort to concentrate or do anything in particular.  I just keep an eye on the counting.  Lots of thinking might be happening, but I don't really pay attention to it.  I like this word "boredom" - it implies a mental state that can be used very skillfully, I think.  Just be bored with suffering and thinking and plotting and scheming and turn away from it.  If you're bored with a TV show, you just turn it off and go do somethin else.  That's what you can do with all stress.  It doesn't matter why it's stressful, really.  You can just forget the whole thing.

I like this article: http://www.realization.org/page/doc0/doc0016.htm

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Buddhist Actual Freedom Practice
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4/22/15 12:57 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
I haven't written anything in here for a while.  I think the main reason is that my practice has changed a lot recently, and I've had to develop a bit of humility about what I actually know and what is actually helping me.  Something I've kept running into was this block that I've come to refer to as "ignorance" or "delusion" - in the buddhist sense.  My practice has always been based on directly influencing the mind, rather than watching and learning about the mind, so I hit a roadblock where I had influenced all I could and I was ignoring lower level grasping.  I'm sure my past self would scream in horror reading this, but what I needed was, specifically, vipassana - or clear seeing.  Maybe a better way to put it would be that I needed some honesty.

Matt said something really interesting the other day that swung my opinion around full circle.  He said something to the effect of, in the past, he was hoping that noting would cure him of neruosis and negative emotions, but at path moments he just found that these things were more workable.  I think that's exactly what I need at this point. I know how to work with emotions and thoughts, I'm just not completely and instantly present with them at all moments - there is still automatic supression happening.

When I had my period of super-clarity last May, I was practicing both acceptance and concentration very intensively.  Some of the effects of that have lingered and grown steady (as an example, I don't get caught up in emotional stories anymore), but I need what Matt was talking about to really finish and attain what I'm looking for.

So right now I'm practicing both noting and my samatha method outlined here: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5666656. It's actually quite easy to do them together. I use noting to break things down when I feel stuck on a feeling or thought, and otherwise allow the mind to come to rest by patiently accepting things as them come through. I am starting to see the same reliable awareness-shifting that was happening consistently during my previous high points, which is a promising sign. These awareness shifts might be the nanas, but it's hard for me to make that kind of sense of them because they're all relatively pleasant. They are like different "characters" of awareness apearing. Focus kind of shifts in space and in the senses.

I'm moving away from obsessive all-day practice as well. I think this actually reinforces that "have to do something" impatience that I've pinpointed as the cause of most of my stress. In place of it, I've set up a mindfulness bell to ring every 10 minutes, and when I hear it I stop for a moment and look for any impatience. This means I don't have to pay attention all the time, so I can start to train the mind into a habit rather than babysitting it.

I think, ultimately, what I'm moving towards is a kind of perfected patience. Patience seems like the "cure" for me because it doesn't require active maitenance, and it will still allow me to be lost in thoughts without feeding stress. I no longer think complete and perfect awareness is required - and I'm suprised I ever did, actually, since freedom and effortlessness where always my goal.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Buddhist Actual Freedom Practice
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5/7/15 9:45 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Life is very Zen lately.  Seems like nothing much matters - in a good way.  I notice myself looking towards things for gratification and then just kind of spontaneously losing interest.  This is most interesting in relation to how I relate to other people.  Maybe I feel embarrased or angry; usually I will just kind of lose interest in resolving the embarassment.  Maybe there's a moment of tension, then I just kind of remember it doesn't matter and I forget about it.  It's very nice.

Noting practice is doing the same things to my mind that my old "acceptance" method was.  Emotions are starting to break apart into independent components.  Say I feel a bit of anxiety.  As I note the sensations a tangible divide opens up between the thoughts and the feelings as they're expressed and both lose their urgency.  Maybe an example would be that I think about being late for work.  Normally, the thought itself would be what was "anxious," but now it seems like the thought triggers a physical reaction of pressure, and neither one is much of a problem.  The pressure just goes away and the thought either stays or goes depending ot its actual importance.

Another way of putting it is that it's the coumpounded "clumps" of sensations that seem to get stuck - like sticky masses trying to go down a drain - each individual particle isn't really a problem, but when they glom together they start to plug thungs up and it creates pressure.  These clumps, maybe, are emotions - emotional feeling is emergent from lesser, unemotional phenomena.  So by seeing the thought, the pressure in the heart, the tingling, and the tensing of the jaw, the "emotionalness" of the situation just peters out.  I think this explains the state of mind I'm always referring to, where everything seems perfect and there are no problems.

It also seems like things are just more and more effortless.  Since there is nothing to oppose, there is just nothing much to worry about doing.  I can just kind of let everything happen.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Buddhist Actual Freedom Practice
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5/7/15 11:24 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Hi Not Tao,
I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed some of your posts where you have been able to explain your insights in a very accessible way, like in the last two posts in this practise log. I suspect they are useful encouragement to many. Also, I appreciate the fact that you have been able to admit being wrong, and are sincerely and honestly looking at and reporting about your practise/outlook as it evolves emoticon Keep up the good work!

With metta,
 Jehanne

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5/12/15 10:33 PM as a reply to Jehanne S Peacock.
Thanks Jehanne, I've gotten a lot from other people posting their experiences, so I'm glad to add more to the pot. emoticon

*****

So I'm starting to see how anatta relates to my previous understanding of things.  It's actually pretty simple.  What I'm really looking for - the thing that I kept hitting and enjoying so much in the past - was the feeling that I didn't have to do anything.  I think a good definition of dukkha is the sense that we need to do something about how we feel, or about what shape the world is in.  It's the sense of waiting for something or wishing for something mixed with the disappointment of not having it.  It's just the tension of straining.  The reason anatta is the cure for this is because it points to the core of the problem, the wanting, rather than the feelings or thoughts associated with it.

While it's true that the state I've always talked about (the PCE) is subjectively perfect, this doesn't mean I would always judge it as perfect.  It's emotionless in that it's free of feelings of tension, but the tensions go away because I have given up on changing any of the emotional traits or judgements I am feeling.  An example of this is to catch myself in the middle of feeling guilt or anxiety, and suddenly realizing that it's fine to feel that way.  Because of this, there's nothing I have to do about the feelings.  The Buddha puts it like this in the suttas: If it's somthing I can't control directly, it's not fit to be taken as me, mine, or my self.  This can be hard to see in real time, mainly because the general habit is to fix everything, but it's such a relief.  I think of it as "vacating the premesis" haha.  I just stop taking anything as my self.  It's not even a special state of mind or something.  It's just a different way of looking at it.  It's fun to play with too.  The other day I was sitting here on my couch and I was detaching from seeing and feeling and thinking.  Kind of like like you look at your hands moving and try to figure out how you're doing it.  I was just listening to the thinking and asking how I'm doing it.  A shift in perspective happens where I'm no longer the thinking but just watching the thinking.  I was "lost in thought" but this wasn't a problem because the thinkinf was just happening.  It's very simple, really.  Then I did it with seeing and hearing.  I noticed I had an impression of existing in a certain place, and I tried to see if it was really me or just something I'm observing.  I was also looking at how these things related to eachother.  Like, there is a "wholeness" about the sensory experience that can be broken apart.  I see the air filter across the room and I hear a sound of humming, and the two are associated into the wholeness as a singular sense of space.  But if I look at the air filter and I listen to the sound, and I ask how the two really relate, there's nothing really there holding them together.  Things start to break apart.  And as the breaking happens, and I look at each of the sensations that come up, they're all being observed - none of them require my imput.  So this is very freeing.  There's nothing I have to do.  I can stop all my trying.

When I apply this to bad feelings, especially, it's very interesting.  The pressure to fix them just dissolves and I'm left with something different.  "Apply" isn't even the right way to say it because it isn't something to do.  It's more like just giving up.  Noting makes this easy because it makes me want to list as many aspects of each thing as I can.  It turns into a game to see how much I can vacate the premesis, and each thing I note is something I've let go of.  In many ways it feels like a game, I'm not realy sure why.  Maybe because it makes me feel so good, haha. emoticon

So I think it's finally clear to me what freedom actually is.  The freedom I'm looking for is freedom from effort.  Anatta is a declaration of laziness.  It's just declining to be anything in particular.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Buddhist Actual Freedom Practice
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5/20/15 12:50 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
I just had the most simple and obvious realization.  Happiness is not caring.  There are so many things I seem to think I need to care about, and this is why I always feel tension.  There isn't anything I need to do to fix these things or even to fix the way I feel about them.  I can just stop caring.

Even things that are important, like going to work.  I can preserve my understanding of their importance without actually caring about it.  It's such a relief just to kick back and realize nothing is particularly important.  I can even stop caring about how I feel.  Maybe sometimes I'll feel crappy, and maybe sometimes I won't.  There's no reason to care about it.  Caring is just extra tension added to life.  It's a proprietary overlay.  When I don't care, everything is just the same as it was - I just don't feel any stress about it.

Lets say I'm worried if I'm doing a good job or not at work.  When I care, it feels like tension.  When I stop caring, the thought is still there, but there is no urgency.  It's just a thought.  It's not suddenly objective or without judgement - it's just that there is no stake in the thought anymore.  Caring is very specific - it's the part where "mattering" is added to a thought.  When nothing matters, I can just enjoy every moment.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Buddhist Actual Freedom Practice
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5/20/15 5:33 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
I feel something similar lately.  I think its the fruits of third path for me.  Which is that I have no choice but not to care, since I know deeply that everything is the same.  The criteria for caring have been eliminated along with the sense of things as structured, stable, continuous, etc.  

But I have to start eating healthier, spending more wisely, etc.  Basic survival stuff.  So I keep meditating with the hopes of learning to control my impulses.  Just felt like sharing after resonating.

Noah,

The thoughts that you have to eat healthier, spend more wisely, etc.  You can safely allow yourself to stop caring about these as well.  The "caring" aspect - the feeling - is actually tacked on after making a judgement.  So, first there is a judgement about what food is healthy and what food is unhealthy, then there is a comparison between your current diet and this ideal diet in your mind.  Both of these aspects are cerebral and without tension.  The tension arises when you realize the ideal doesn't match the reality in this current moment, and (this is the kicker) this state of affairs is unacceptable.  Tension forms as a motivator.  This tension is what we refer to when we talk about caring about something.  It's the will and desire to change the reality so it more closely matches our ideals right now.

What I've been doing is recklessly dropping all of this caring.  Any moment there is tension, this is caused by caring about something.  The perfect state of peace and tranquility is to care about nothing.  When the mind cares about nothing, there is no urgency to change the present moment.  What happens is the caring is replaced by play.  Play is improvisation.  The main difference I've noticed is that, when I care about something I'm looking at the past and trying to change it or correct it.  When I stop caring, I'm lookinf at the present as a baseline to build from instead.  When there is no caring, there is nothing that is unacceptable, so the focus changes from trying to correct a problem into promoting the best qualities of the current situation.

It is safe to be completely carefree.  The main obstacle I've run into when dropping cares and letting go of control is the fear of changing into someone else, or the fear of losing my humanity.  The opposite actually is true, though, IME.  Letting go of everything makes it much easier to do the things I feel are important. I'm no longer doing things in order to make myself feel better, so I can do anything at all.  What I choose to do is much more practical.  If you ask yourself at any point, "what would I most like to be accomplishing right now?"  or, "what do I think is important?"  - this is what you're left with when you drop all feelings of caring.  You just have this perfect tranquil moment and all the potential it offers you.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Buddhist Actual Freedom Practice
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5/22/15 4:55 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Thanks again, Not Tao,

Your advice is literally always helpful.  These are practices that I associate with the Actualism method and that I plan to make my primary effort after getting technical 4th Path (which shouldn't really be that long, given my pace).  For now, noting will continue to be my primary attentional focus, but I would like to see if I can incorporate a bit of this easing and dissonance-lessening while noting.  Right now is the perfect moment, actually, since I have to search for apartments and think about my upcoming move, which are both huge triggers.  

p.s. this interesting LOA (law of attraction) teacher Esther Hicks (Abraham), says that "prayer is a similar vibration as play."

recklessly dropping all of this caring -noted

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Buddhist Actual Freedom Practice
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6/1/15 3:36 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
This current trajectory I'm on is very promising.  I seem to be developing what I've come to call "benevolent indifference."  At first this felt very wrong to me, but as the concept settles in, there is just this deep, fundimental rightness that is taking over.  I'd like to take some time to lay out my working theory.

I think humans (and perhaps more mentally advanced animals) face a unique problem.  We have two problem solving systems in our minds and they're fundimentally incompatible.  The first is the classic fight/flight/freeze, which could be classified as "feelings," or decisions that are made very quickly and communicated through body signals (usually along the midline of the body in imaginary lumps or tensions - like the chakras).  The second is the imagination, which takes in lots of information and processes it slowly by playing out scenarios in the head (mental dialog and daydreams).  Due to a number of factors, like childhood conditioning and habits, these two systems become more and more tangled over time and this creates a great deal of dissatisfaction and anxiety.  The imagination is not meant to be reacted to in a short term way, but when the feeling center takes the imagination seriously, it creates momentary reactions to each scenario that plays out in the imagination.  For example, sometimes just thinking about being stabbed, or getting a paper cut, can create a feeling reaction meant for survival mode - imagine paper cutting your eyelid and see what happens.  Sorry if I made anyone flinch, haha! emoticon

The solution is both elegant and obvious.  Since the imagination is not real, there is no reason to react to it.  Each time a reaction happens in response to a thought or an imagined scene, it can just be dropped.  Which is to say, I can safely stop caring, or become indifferent to it.  I can think or imagine anything I want and nothing will come out of it.

This is where I ran into two problems in practice.  The first is fear - I was afraid of the consiquences of removing these feelings.  Feelings are what we point to as the basis of our morality.  Even though I've never thought of myself as a very moral person, there is still a set of feelings I found myself clinging to.  One in specific, which has caused me a lot of anxiety, was the idea that I needed to be nice to people.  The reason this was a problem for me was because, if I thought I had somehow hurt someone's feelings, I would get feelings of guilt.  While I still wanted to BE nice to people, I also wanted to get rid of any feelings of guilt that would arise if I wasn't nice for some reason.  The thought is that these feelings of guilt are, specifically, why I am nice to people, so it was important to keep them.

For this specific example, I decided to go out on a limb and see what would happen if I just stopped caring.  If I honestly and truely dropped all feelings that kindness was important.  I was very suprised by what happened - I actually felt much more motivated to be kind to people!  I was completely indifferent to the suffering I might cause other people, but I was also still able to understand what my words might do to someone and, this is the important part, I was still motivated to be kind.  The desire to be kind came first, and the feelings I was using to punish myself when I failed were coming after.  This meant it was perfectly safe to let go of the feelings.  I would still be the exact same person I was before - I would just no longer feel the tension associated with the thoughts.

This actually has a second benefit, as well, when it's adopted for all thinking.  An imagination that is freed from feelings works much more quickly and has a broader scope.  When there is nothing off-limits to the mind, it doesn't need to do any kind of self-checking and can just fire off anything it likes.  I like to call this "freedom from magical thinking."  For example, if I were to get in my car and think to myself, "I definately will not get into a car accident today," there would be apprehension about driving.  This is magical thinking - assuming the thoughts have any bearing on reality and thus need to be reacted to with feelings (since feelings are meant to cause us to jump out of the way of danger in this moment). This has much wider implications than just jinxes - it's also the reason why we feel wrong imagining ourselves murdering someone, or having sex with people we're related to.  We're mistaking the imagination for reality.  When we're freed from this mistake, the mind can make many abstract and interesting connections without any fear - which is, essentially, creativity.

Now this is all wonderful, but there was a second problem I was running into.  Sometimes it seemed like there was no reason for a feeling.  Nothing in particular would be pressing on the mind, but there was still a feeling of dissatisfaction.  I'm giving this its own paragraph because it actually caused me a lot of problems over the last year and a half even though the solution is very simple - almost stupid really.  These feelings were almost always caused by the method itself.  Which is to say, I was feeling bad about feeling bad - or I was feeling frustrated because I wasn't feeling perfect.  It's the same thing - the imagination being reacted to with feelings - but it's hiding in plain sight.  It's saying "hurry up and be happy now!" haha...  This problem is easy to fix.  One solution was to note the sensations ala vipassana.  The other, which I've ended up relying on most, was to stop caring how I felt, in the same way I stopped caring about what was happening in my head. It was this imagined timeclock ticking away, waiting for an outcome.

This is very much related to boredom and restlessness, as well. All of these feelings are caused by looking forward to something. If I'm bored right now, it's not because what I'm currently doing is boring, it's because I'm imagining doing something else and imagining it will be better. The truth is, though, this is just more feelings being attached to thoughts. More reactions to the imagination. Even, I might be rushing to finish something, or I might be excited about a drawing I'm working on, and this causes stress as things go wrong, or as time goes on and I'm still not finished. The feelings are caused by caring about the outcome. It's the same magical thinking in a different form. I'm saying to myself, "this drawing will turn out great," and then judging each moment against this ideal. It's a constant watchdog barking at each new thing.

So, like I said, the solution to all of this is very simple. It is safe to stop caring. When the mind stops caring, it is only removing punishment from the equasion - it is removing the mechanism that makes the outcome important - and this means it is free to make mistakes and wild connections without suffering any consequences. Freedom from magical thinking is freedom from suffering. Or, as I said before, it's a benevolent indifference that sees the world as play rather than a series of obstacles to overcome at all costs.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Buddhist Actual Freedom Practice
Answer
6/2/15 12:54 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
A simple way to practice what I outlined above:

Watch how you are feeling and what you're thinking.  As each subject comes up, mentally say, "I don't care about <object>," and allow the feeling of importance to drop off in your mind.

If there is resistance, try, "I don't have to care about <object> right now."  Watch what happens when the caring ceases and remember this new relationship to the object in case you get stuck on it again in the future.  The carefree stance requires a leap of faith if it is an old problem or something your mental world relies on.  By saying, "for now," you can let go temporarily as an experiment to see if this new way of thinking is better.  It's important to remember this if it really is better so that next time you can use a more general statement: I never have to care.

Try to find everything that's causing the least bit of bother, worry, guilt, anxiety, etc., including boredom, time pressure, feelings about feelings, and the like.  Success is the ability to sit around doing nothing and be perfectly content (or, doing something you normally wouldn't like and being perfectly content).

EDIT: You can do this during the day as well whenever things come up. emoticon

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Buddhist Actual Freedom Practice
Answer
6/2/15 9:02 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Hi Pawel,

I don't know that I quite understand what you're saying.  This practice I'm doing currently is very simple.  It doesn't have much to do with the sense of self, or even paying attention to something in specific.  It's just not caring.  There is no stress involved in moving my hand or feeling like I exist, so I don't think this really relates to that area of practice.  I'll report if this leads to that kind of thing, but I'm not really expecting it.  The end result I'm running into is just simple freedom from stress, which is all I ever wanted.  The whole thing is one simple cause and effect.  When anything seems important - when I care about anything - it causes stress.  When there is nothing I care about, there is no stress.

Also, mentally saying, "I don't care about <thing>," seems to have a really big impact on how I feel about that thing.  I really do have control over whether I care or not - even if I don't say anything about it directly - which is the whole point of this practice.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Buddhist Actual Freedom Practice
Answer
6/22/15 5:51 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Something very interesting is happening.  It seems like everything is just dropping away.

I've been interested in nihilism lately.  I think I've always been a nihilist, but I never really made the effort to apply it to my life or investigate what it actually means.  Nihilism is the view that life is completely meaningless and purposeless. So, what I've been doing is reminding myself, whenever I get caught in the idea that something needs to be done or something is important, that all of this is ultimately without purpose and it doesn't really matter what happens.  In my "everyone is wrong" thread, there was some criticism of the idea that a person can just stop caring without justification.  I think nihilism is the solution to this.  I t's a "method" to help stop caring.  Why care when nothing matters?

The thing with all of this is that it sounds depressing on the surface, but that's because we are so ingrained with the idea that purpose and value and meaning and caring are good things.  It's a cultural truth, especially for Americans.  I think it relates back to the so called "protestant work ethic."  But when you really consider what a meaningless universe is like, it's incredibly freeing.  There is no proper outcome, there are no bad people, there is nothing out of place or that needs fixing - there is just a universe existing.  This doesn't mean we all become bad people who go around killing eachother (which seems to be the popular perception of anarchy - like those stupid "purge" movies, haha) it means it's just as pointless to help someone in need as it is not to help them from the sublime perspective of the universe.  You can help someone and feel good about it, but all of this is without any justification or objective goodness.  It's like there is no failure because there is no success.  You can do whatever you want.

Last night I was looking at pictures of animal cruelty.  There was this image of four guys skinning a cat alive.  They were all smiling and the cat was hanging by its neck.  I think this is a great example of the meaninglessness of things.  These guys probably aren't bad people - not in the way we think of "badness" as a quality of the mind, like deciding to do something bad.  They were all smiling and seemed to be having a good time.  The non-sequitur is the obvious pain and horror the cat must be experiencing.  There are all sorts of reasons I can imagine why the four men wouldn't care about this, but it doesn't matter.  It's the fact that something like this can exist that proves the ultimate subjectivity.  The cats perspective was different from the prespective of the four men, which is different from my perspective, which is different from yours.  There is nothing else to it.  In a universe where this sort of thing was bad, it wouldn't happen on such a regular and routine basis.  Maybe humans don't skin cats alive on a regular basis (though, they do skin animals alive on fur farms in china) but right now, somewhere on earth, someone is being raped, someone else is being tortured, someone is starving, someone is feeling intense pain, someone else is heartbroken.  It goes on and on, and that's just on our planet.  Elsewhere in the universe, wherever consciousness exists, there is inevitably extreme forms of suffering. While, subjectively, I can say it's good to be without suffering, I can't say the universe feels that way. 

Combine this with the fact that everything we value ultimately is completely destroyed and eradicated from all living memory, it becomes clear that there really is nothing of value to be found anywhere.  But like I said before, this is only depressing as long as there are still lingering beliefs that conflict with this fact.  Does a tree exist for any reason, or does it just exist?  You might say life exists to procreate, but this isn't really an answer because why bother to find meaning in procreation if existance itself has no meaning.  Making more forms of existance doesn't magically become meaningful if existance itself has no meaning.

In some ways I'm having a hard time explaining why these ideas seem so wonderful to me.  I still understand they sound depressing, but I think about it and it seems to clean away all of my sadness and urgency.  It's like realizing that finding meaning is incredibly easy.  The things I used to think about as meaningful, like becoming a great artist, living an interesting life, doing things to help people, it's all exactly equal to walking home from work, sitting on my couch, and watching the cat sleep.  There is this incredible freedom to do anything and be anything, even nothing at all, because it's all exactly the same.  When I become a pile of dirt, my life will be just as meaningful as if I had cured cancer.

Now, that's not to say I can't become a great artist or cure cancer - it just means there is nothing to be gained or lost by doing so.  If practice becomes difficult, I don't have to feel any stress because there is no need to reach my goal.  If I spend my whole life researching and I don't make even a single step towards understanding cancer, there is nothing really lost because there was never anything to gain.  If I lose my eyesight or one of my limbs, or hell, all of my limbs, there is no potential wasted and nothing lost because any if the art I might have created and any of the people who might have benefitted emotionally from seeing it will ultimately become dirt and then nothing.  A meaningless, pointless universe means I don't have to care about anything, and this is the ulitmate freedom.

What's most amazing about this is how simple it is to put into practice.  I just remind myself, when I forget, that everything is ultimately pointless.  As an addition to this I also remind myself that it's impossible to control how I feel.  I spent a lot of time suppressing feelings in my teenage years due to my anxiety problems, and sometimes it's still a reflex.  It's better to allow an emotion to be felt though, and deal with the actual cause of it.  When an emotion comes up, I feel it, and I realize it's meaninglessness.  The emotions don't really hurt the way they used to beause they just seem like overreactions now.  I don't really see any point in trying to reslove them or think through them because there is only one cause left - I still find meaning in some things.  But like I said, everything seems to be dropping away now.  Even things I used to feel were very important.  They all look like so much dust, and I'd rather just be at peace with this universe the way it is.

To end on a happy note, there's something very beautiful about a meaningless universe.  If there was some purpose, that would mean that everything that was happening was moving towards some ultimate goal or end state.  When everything is pointless, then there's nothing to wait for.  A bird flying off the roof of the corn silo has it's own justificaton built into it.  The bird is moving from nowhere to nowhere else for no reason.  The bird might have a reason, but the universe doesn't.  It could just as easily blow the bird off the roof with a gust of wind.  Sometimes it does this with houses and people and it doesn't care.  Sometimes the universe turns people into dirt during a school shooting or a car accident.  It's no different from the bird flying off the corn silo.  Everything just is.  Because of this, I know I am going nowhere from nowhere and I am doing nothing for no reason.  Whatever happens is fine, so there is no obligations or commitments.  There is nothing I have to do.  Even when I die, it won't matter.  So everything that happens is simply what happens and there's no need to hold on anymore.  I can just be free.

RE: My Stoic Taoist Psychotheaputic Buddhist Actual Freedom Practice
Answer
7/14/15 2:18 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Something simple: Since the main cause of prolonged negativity is cynical thoughts about the future, the main solution to negativity would be to become thouroughly optimistic.  This doesn't mean putting on blinders and avoiding problems, but rather being optimistic about solving any problem you can think of.  If I'm worried about a long drive I have to make, I can let go of the worry by seeing myself enjoying the drive and doing it confidently.  If I then imagine the car breaking down or getting a flat tire, I can steer my imagination towards confidently calling a tow truck - it doesn't matter how far this goes (if it's raining, I can just enjoy the rain, no?).

This isn't anything new, really, but it combines nicely with nihilism.  Since nothing really matters and it isn't important what's happening in life, it's safe to assume negative emotions are misrepresentations. By modifying how we see the future, we're actually setting the record straight.  Nothing really bad will ever happen.  Eventually we'll die, yes, and we might have to deal with some pain, but there's not much we can do to prepare for any of that.  We'll never actually experience death, so there's no reason to worry about it, and worrying about pain won't make it less painful in the future.  The truth is, being confident and content is the best state of mind from which to solve any problem, and the easiest way to cultivate contenment is by dropping concerns about the future entierly.  It's funny, I'm sure most people have noticed this, but the more I prepare for some situation, the more difficult it is to deal with the situation.  Our negativity in the moment seems to be directly proportional to how much we've built something up in our minds.  Since my goal is to be free from all of this extra concern, I can't think of much reason to maintain any negative thought streams anymore.  There will always be things to plan, sure, but there's no reason to assume anything will suck, so I'm going to stop doing that. emoticon

I think the most important thing to realize about this is that is doesn't require lying to yourself.  There really is nothing significant to fear about the future.  It's all just made-up.  Making it a habit to be positive isn't that hard and it seems to make a lot of difference.