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Are awakening (states) permanent?

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Are awakening (states) permanent?
Answer
9/24/14 10:35 PM
If I don't practice, my awakening goes away. I don't feel any sort of permanent shift, is there such thing as a concrete, permanent shift that does not require practice to maintain? I need complete honesty here.

Many of the "breakthroughs" that I had were very nice and pleasant, but without sustained energy, these states drop away. Does anyone have any sort of permanent shift that allows laxity after obtaining it?

Dogen does not seem to think so, Ken Wilber seems to think that waking up is state training, and that states are not real permanent "growth" changes, Richard from the AFT seems to think that an altered state of consciousness takes a lot of effort to maintain.

What do you think?

In general if I practice I'm happy, fluid, malleable, smooth etc. I'm on top of things.

Lacking striving I become depressed an in pain.

Thoughts?

Edit: Also, I take medication. If I stop, (surprise surprise) I feel bad, and depression kicks in. If I resume medication, I feel great!

Here the Buddha records how he dwells nearly constantly in mental concentration:



Here it is implied:


RE: Are awakening (states) permanent?
Answer
9/24/14 11:15 PM as a reply to J J.
I've been able to perminantly alter my perception of spiders.  Maybe this seems conventional, but if I can completely remove that fear, specifically, why not all fears?  They all seem to be based on the same kinds of perceptions.  Anger, too, is slipping away.  I'll let you know if it lasts. emoticon

I think this stuff can be pretty straightforward if you want it to be.  Maybe instead of looking at states to monitor your progress, just look to see how you feel abot things that used to bother you.

RE: Are awakening (states) permanent?
Answer
9/24/14 11:40 PM as a reply to J J.
Paths should not require even an iota of practice to maintain.  The longest I've gone without doing any practice at all is close to almost two years, although within the last week I've started sitting again.  I never experienced even a miniscule amount of regression past the point of the last cycle obtained in any of about three long duration breaks I've taken.. Also, things like depression or other mental illness symptoms can still occur in the context of a permanent realization.  Although, there may be some differences in terms of intensity and duration.

If your enlightenment goes away when you stop practicing then you're, at least, not practicing in accordance to the vipassana method or the methods of MCTB.

RE: Are awakening (states) permanent?
Answer
9/25/14 12:10 AM as a reply to J J.
I don't feel any sort of permanent shift, is there such thing as a concrete, permanent shift that does not require practice to maintain? I need complete honesty here.


Yes. It isn't just that no effort is required. Once you see it, it seems like it can't be unseen.

RE: Are awakening (states) permanent?
Answer
9/25/14 12:20 AM as a reply to J J.
Hello all,

Thanks for responding, it seems that everyone is pointing to the idea that there are permanent, irreversible changes that can be arrived at through practice.

Ok cool. I often have a fear of regression, so I'm often worried about slipping back. Just today I laxed my energy as much as I could and I totally felt out of sync and in the shits, it was quite unpleasant. I roused myself again and then I felt better. Perhaps I tighten the energy too much? Excessive strenuity is mentioned in the Pali Canon. I feel better now though.

Thanks again.

RE: Are awakening (states) permanent?
Answer
9/25/14 6:47 AM as a reply to J J.
The best "model" I've seen for this was described by Ken McLeod. Basically, insight is permanent, but the freed energy goes into the remaining unawake reactivity. So the insights don't solve everything and in fact can make things worse. Lingering greed, hatred, and delusion can be abe triggered with even greater intensity. Frankly it explains a lot about teachers which seem to be awake, but f##k-up royally.

RE: Are awakening (states) permanent?
Answer
9/25/14 7:23 AM as a reply to x x.
x x:
The best "model" I've seen for this was described by Ken McLeod. Basically, insight is permanent, but the freed energy goes into the remaining unawake reactivity. So the insights don't solve everything and in fact can make things worse. Lingering greed, hatred, and delusion can be abe triggered with even greater intensity. Frankly it explains a lot about teachers which seem to be awake, but f##k-up royally.


Hmm, why even bother then?
Subquestion:
What is the meaning of bolded sentence?

RE: Are awakening (states) permanent?
Answer
9/25/14 7:44 AM as a reply to ftw.
It's worth bothering because it's worth having better problems, even if problems themselves never go away completely.


The bolded sentence means that psychological shadow issues can become even bigger after spiritual insights/awakenings. You might just sort of be a negative renunciate, but that can blossom into a kind of dogmatic renunciate identity after awakening. Likewise, you could be an indulge the richness of life kind of person, but that can blossom into hedonism after awakening. Or you could have issues around being right or an authority and that could blossom into a repressive heirarchical cult that you create.

This is why morality is first and last training. It's very easy to avoid stuff when you have good concentration and awareness, at least for a little while. Then it can crash down, leaving a lot of wreckage. It's important to be humble and realize that awakening isn't a get out of jail free card.

RE: Are awakening (states) permanent?
Answer
9/26/14 2:36 AM as a reply to x x.
x x, I really value your contributions to DhO. 
How can a fully enlightened person still have psychological shadow issues, or at least be reactive to those issues? You imply that they can even get bigger after awakening/s.  I'm familiar with most of the incidents that happen to so called "enlightened masters". The question remains, were they really fully enlightened whatever that means or they didn't clean up their attic to the full.

RE: Are awakening (states) permanent?
Answer
9/26/14 3:25 AM as a reply to ftw.
The best "model" I've seen for this was described by Ken McLeod. Basically, insight is permanent, but the freed energy goes into the remaining unawake reactivity. So the insights don't solve everything and in fact can make things worse. Lingering greed, hatred, and delusion can be abe triggered with even greater intensity. Frankly it explains a lot about teachers which seem to be awake, but f##k-up royally.


Um, I don't know about this.  This doesn't seem true to me at all.  I think this might be true during the review cycles after each path or during the immediate aftermath of certain stages of realization, or even the final stage of realization, but I doubt it is very long-lasting in most cases.  You did use the word "remaining unawake," but even the final stage of realization creates a causal inertia where continued reactive patterns can continue for a bit longer.  However, they tend to lose steam fairly quickly.

RE: Are awakening (states) permanent?
Answer
9/26/14 7:36 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
I can't speak about this from personal experience, so I have to reference what other awakened people have said. That said, it really does explain a lot. Andrew Cohen, Trungpa, Adi da, etc. etc. All seem to be people that have had significant awakenings yet have screwed up. Ken Wilber also mentions that with awakening, the "darth vader" option is always possible, its sort of like "power corrupts" in conventional life.

Of course, you could make a tautological statement that "full awakening" results in "full elimination of shadow side", but then it begs the question -- does someone have full awakening? My best guess (admittedly based on ignorance) is that full awakening is possible if conditions of experience are held constant (e.g. in a monastic situation).

But even Buddha had times when he caught "Mara" trying to corrupt him. lthough he was a monastic, he was actively involved with creating a society and navigating the power structures of the time. I'm sure if he stayed on mostly solitary retreat, he wouldn't have seen mara anymore. But because he was developing means to help other's suffering, he was innovating, and conditions of experience weren't constant.  So I don't think even full awakening means there will be no more challenges to one's realization.

Ultimately it's maybe an interesting thought problem, but I guess that's all it is.

p.s. I did some googling and came across this... kinda interesting discussion of mara:

http://www.dharmalife.com/issue25/devil.html

'To me the Buddha and the devil, or Mara, are two modes of a single organism. The Buddha is the capacity of that organism to open, Mara is its capacity to shut down. And that is non-dualistic because there's only the one organism, the human being. Traditional Buddhism has succumbed to a dualism, that the Buddha is good, Mara is bad. The Buddha is perfectly good; in his idealised perfection, he is no longer quite human. Mara is this figure the Buddha overcomes. Good and evil are split off from one another in orthodox Buddhism.'

RE: Are awakening (states) permanent?
Answer
9/26/14 1:22 PM as a reply to J J.
James,

Have you considered the simple, logical possibility that you are not awakened, nor you landed any path? The description of these attainments is that they involve a permanent shift in perception. By construction. And nice and pleasant breakthroughs, which require some form of sustained energy, are normally described as absorption states as opposed to insight stages. Don't get me wrong, I cannot know what you achieved, I just recalled what is routinely said in such contexts.

RE: Are awakening (states) permanent?
Answer
9/26/14 1:28 PM as a reply to Zed Z.
Hey Zed,

Yes that's currently what I believe. Most of my practice was absorption-based (sustained energy lead to bliss), and not vipassana-like or deconstructive.

Cheers,

James

RE: Are awakening (states) permanent?
Answer
1/19/16 9:07 PM as a reply to J J.
I think this is an interesting issue, especially with regard to pre-path states/stages.

It seems like a lot of pre-path stages (Mind and Body? A&P? EQ?) are associated with "walking-around" changes in perception that feel "permanent" in the sense that they stick around as long as one keeps practicing up to one's cutting edge, which would lead a lot of people to think they'd landed a path when in fact they hadn't.

So perhaps the only real test would perhaps be to stop practicing for some arbitrary period of time (a year and a day?) and see what sticks, or else to keep practicing and carefully monitor what remains constant. 

Incidentally, I've recently started taking a supplement to calm anxiety and as a side effect it seems to eliminate / greatly attenuate most of the "walking around" changes in my perception of things that I'd been noticing over the past couple of weeks. So that might be another way of sorting out which changes are related to path and which aren't. 

RE: Are awakening (states) permanent?
Answer
1/20/16 12:23 AM as a reply to ftw.
You could look at it this way, think if it as peeling an onion.  The onion layers are the crap in your head that you need to deal with.  So you work hard and peel one layer and it's gone, that layer is not coming back ( but the energy of that layer is not freed for general use), but the removed layer exposes another layer of crap that often looks simiilar ot the previous layer, maybe it even looks worse sometimes.  You have made progress but on first glance, it just looks like more of hte same old onion.  Plus the changes are gradual so you don't easily notice fo rhtat reason either.  It can take a lot of peeling to get to where you can clearly notice progress compared to years previously.  The easiest to notice is when you get closest to the core of the center of the onion, which comes towards the end of the process.  That's when it becomes more obvious things have changed.  IMO, once you peel off a layer of onion, it's not coming back though. 

But also consider the skill of peeling, if you don't practice, then your skill in peeling might weaken, an allegory for concentration and other tools of practice.  But concentration skills are not 'enlightenment' they are just tools that help you attain it.  

Also along hte way there will be many strange mood shifts, altered states, and strange phenomenon.  Those come and go for everyone as you progress throught the layers of onion.  Like waves on the ocean, when the conditions are just right, you might get some interesting waves and then conditions shift and the waves look more normal again.  The interesting waves are not 'enlightenment,' they are part of the path that naturally goes in cycles.  When you free up more energy by dealing with some old issue, it feels really good for a short while but then your attention falls back on the next layer of onion which may not be so pleasant.  If you try to cling and hold onto some phenomenon too much, it just causes angst and is not going to help you.  If you are walking along a path and become enamored of a pretty view, then how are you going to be able to continue walking and see new things? Along the path, you will encounter both very pleasant and unpleasant things, the loss of the pleasant or the encountering of the unpleasant are also a part of hte path, it doesn't mean you have lost anything or are going backward, just more onion layers to work on.  ;-P
-Eva   
[quote=
ftw]
x x:
The best "model" I've seen for this was described by Ken McLeod. Basically, insight is permanent, but the freed energy goes into the remaining unawake reactivity. So the insights don't solve everything and in fact can make things worse. Lingering greed, hatred, and delusion can be abe triggered with even greater intensity. Frankly it explains a lot about teachers which seem to be awake, but f##k-up royally.


Hmm, why even bother then?
Subquestion:
What is the meaning of bolded sentence?

RE: Are awakening (states) permanent?
Answer
1/20/16 12:31 AM as a reply to x x.
[quote=

x x]It's worth bothering because it's worth having better problems, even if problems themselves never go away completely.


The bolded sentence means that psychological shadow issues can become even bigger after spiritual insights/awakenings. You might just sort of be a negative renunciate, but that can blossom into a kind of dogmatic renunciate identity after awakening. Likewise, you could be an indulge the richness of life kind of person, but that can blossom into hedonism after awakening. Or you could have issues around being right or an authority and that could blossom into a repressive heirarchical cult that you create.

This is why morality is first and last training. It's very easy to avoid stuff when you have good concentration and awareness, at least for a little while. Then it can crash down, leaving a lot of wreckage. It's important to be humble and realize that awakening isn't a get out of jail free card.
This is something I've noticed.  The more energy a person has, the more their personality is amplified, it seems like.  So maybe they take care of some issues in their mind and walk further along the path, energy that was tied up in that old bs is now free to amplify what is left.  The end result can be that probs that were not really on the radar before become amplified because both good and bad are amplified.   You can end up with some really dynamic personalities with a lot of energy and presence but if they have any issues that have not been well dealt with, those  are amplified too.  I think it' slike a half way point, you can get someone with a lot of personal power and charisma and wisdom in many areas, but perhaps there are a few issues left that are probably holding up final progress, but they have made it far enough to be really imressive to many others.
-Eva 

RE: Are awakening (states) permanent?
Answer
1/20/16 1:49 AM as a reply to Mike.
Hi Mike, may i ask if your in a pre path state or stage?  What is it?  Could i venture to ask what your daily practice looks like over the last six months?  That way, maybe someone can be of more specific assistance.

RE: Are awakening (states) permanent?
Answer
1/30/16 8:27 AM as a reply to J J.
the thing with enlightenment is that is has no bearing on this world at all. you can have your revelations and clear your mind somewhat but it doesn't suddenly make you socially savvy or good at your job. You still have to learn things and manually self improve your behaviour like everybody else. There is no special reward for becoming an arahant in this world, by my understanding. I can attain jhana but it's hollow, and just not that interesting because I'm only getting it by pouring some effort in.

I don't really think about reincarnation much these days, but if buddha said that we get one life and when we die that's it, then I wouldn't know whether to say it was worth getting fourth path (my understanding of it) or not.  If when I die, I see all the realms of existence, of varying degrees of suffering and disconfort, and then pass into nirvana, then I will have known I done well. But as it is right now, just moment to moment, I don't feel particularly amazing. Just normal. Maybe if I could see my old normal of 5 years ago the difference would be obvious, but I can't.