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Sid's Log: New Horizons

Sid's Log: New Horizons
12/4/17 10:05 AM

RE: Kasina/Re-Observation
10/19/14 6:42 AM as a reply to S..
Hello, Sidney,

You "got me" when you said you shortened your work schedule and sit 2-6 hours daily.   With that sort of dedication I had to read on.

I did wish clarification -- when you use the word "enlightened" ... well, I would think you would wish to quiet the mind as first order of business and I'm not sure how you feel about that relative to "enlightened".  I guess that is a sort of mystery concept to me.   If you were using it as a synonym for "Insight", then I would understand it.

Since you bravely asked for advices, I would like to respectfully suggest you feed the mind some "positive" or "metta".   My theory that seems to work well for me is that the mind does not like to lose importances of associations, etc. and so I take pains to feed it and I find that quiets it temporarily and I can go about my day without much mental flak.  

I think the purpose of meditation is to drain the mind of noise, etc. until mind is vanished.   Am I correct?

I like how you mentioned you compare one impression with another and that resolves it.   I tend to work with actual scenes from the past (for example, my yesterdays, my childhood) and compare them with what I see in my sitting room, and by doing that any somatics or energies from the past dissipate.  That's pretty aggressive yanking on the mind so I am very careful to follow up by "feeding the beast", instead of it yanking some stuff from the past to fill in for whatever importance it felt a loss of -- respecting the rule that Nature abhors a vacuum.    

But perhaps that's just me not liking my mind following me around all day.

RE: Kasina/Re-Observation
10/24/14 1:31 PM as a reply to Karalee Peltomaa.
After the A&P your approach to the meditation has to change.

Up to and thru the A&P, you made things happen. You decide to concentrate on a thing, then apply effort, and then the attention deepens and focuses on that thing.

From Dissolution onwards, that doesn't work anymore. Why the change? It's simple: from now through your post-Path review stages, the point of insight meditation is noticing things you haven't noticed before. If you got to pick everything you focused on, you'd never discover new things because you wouldn't know to look for them.

That's okay, because now objects are going to present themselves to your mind. If you're on board with that process, it'll work fine given enough time and some intentional cultivation of equanimity and calm. But if you resist it, thinking "No, I'm supposed to concentrate on the breath -- not that distracting back pain, or even worse, this anxiety!" Well that doesn't work. Remember, you're discovering new things. You can safely assume that any sensation forcing its way into your mind is new enough to deserve being watched for a while.

So you can no longer force your attention to cooperate. It'll rebel in a matter of seconds or minutes, and then what? What happens for the rest of your sit, do you just struggle to apply your ever-weakening sense of effort to control an ever-strengthening rebellion of the mind? That's a recipe for The Re-Observation From Hell. (Experienced meditators are nodding because we've all been there.)

The real answer is to start using a more accepting, curious, open way of influencing your attention. I say "influencing" because you simply don't have the ability to force your objects of attention any more -- you can only suggest them. And maybe those things will pop up into your mind and show themselves clearly. Maybe not. Maybe you'll get something more important or foreign or undesirable than the thing you asked for. 

Welcome to the 3rd vipassana jhana.

If you've read any of Daniel's descriptions of the 3rd jhana, there's always something like "the periphery is more clear than the center" which is code for "the thing you're trying to focus on is unclear, but there's this other random thing showing up very strongly and you should let that happen." Work WITH this, not against it!

When you have a path and fruition, this is exactly how it will show up. It'll be totally out of left field, like "wtf was that weird thing that just screwed with my breath awareness?"

So say you've been using the breath as your anchor for meditation, the thing you turn to when nothing else is prominent. Now you're distracted from the breath by anxiety. It's usually too difficult to reliably observe thoughts and other emotion-related phenomena without getting caught up in them until the Equanimity stages. But bodily sensations are no problem! Wonder to yourself, "Where in my body is this anxiety showing up? Are there tense muscles? Regions of pain? Things that feel like fatigue, or hyperactivity, or restless feelings? Where in the body are these sensations coming from? Are they steady, or pulsating, or do they build up then sit there then pass away like a wave?" These sorts of curious, open-ended investigations are the key to the entire post-A&P process.

Does any of this make sense? What do you think you could do in your practice at this point, given what I've said here?

RE: Kasina/Re-Observation
10/28/14 9:49 AM as a reply to J Adam G.
Ok, all this is great. That's a pretty thorough description of early Equanimity with periodic visits up to middle Equanimity. The backsliding to dukkha nanas is simply a part of the process, and it's your chance to really pick apart the shift from pain-with-suffering to pain-with-neutrality.

This shift can eventually be called up in an indirect way. It's something along the lines of expressing an intention to release un-needed tensions where the mind is holding onto things, then completely dropping and relaxing the mind. (Start with relaxing the head, especially the upper face and forehead area. That's a gateway into relaxing the mind itself.) If this doesn't make much sense, ignore it -- some people don't have this experience until 2nd path's Equanimity stages, and that's fine and also not under your control anyway.


This is a point where putting the time in is very very important. One suggestion is to look more into the process of trying to figure this out than into the aftereffects of that figuring-out, like curiosity, hope, etc. What mind-states seem to come before the figuring-out process starts up?

Then what comes before that?

Equanimity includes a lot of working backwards, thinking "ok so I can see that very clearly, cool. What came before that? Oh, it was this thing. Okay, what came before that? ... hmm, don't know"

Also, what are "clarity" and "mindfulness" made of, and perhaps more importantly, what are non-clarity and non-mindfulness made of? Sounds weird that I'd ask you to describe experiences where your mind wasn't really noticing things, but if you're noticing a sort of continual background mindfulness, that's where this will come from. It's like the afterglow of happiness and clarity that comes after shamatha jhana practice, except it's not made of any specific feeling tone. Rather, it's that mindfulness tends to arise without you specifically intending it. That spontaneous mindfulness is what notices things you weren't intending to pay attention to at the time that they arose. It will notice "what happened before I started trying to be mindful."

RE: Kasina/Re-Observation
10/31/14 10:47 PM as a reply to J Adam G.
Thank you for sharing your journey and thank you J Adam G for your lights ; It really made me click profoundly when i read this thread 2 days ago; I am thankfull


RE: Sid's Log: New Horizons
7/13/15 5:08 PM as a reply to S..
Wow. Very inspiring. Thank you for writing all of this. I missed this post somehow and am just reading it.

I have a few questions for you if you don't mind. If you do, feel free to ignore or let me know and I'll delete my post.

Ok, so, my questions are:
What advice would you give to someone teetering around in Reobservation and Equanimity?
Would you say it's just about putting in the time and just keep noticing? 
Would you say there's an attitude that you feel helped you out in the transition from Equanimity to Stream Entry?
Anything you feel was important to understand before the shift happened?

I know this might be a hard question since the shift happened months ago, but is there any advice you'd give yourself, if you could, to help you get SE earlier or easier?

Thank you. 

RE: Sid's Log: New Horizons
7/29/15 5:53 PM as a reply to Gerry V.
Thank you for the reply Sidney. That was a great response. Very insightful. As of late I've been seeing the importance of just being with experience. Whatever shows up, attend to it. Even the subtle stuff like paying attention.

I also liked J Adam G's contribution. Very helpful. Especially the part where he says, "This shift can eventually be called up in an indirect way. It's something along the lines of expressing an intention to release un-needed tensions where the mind is holding onto things, then completely dropping and relaxing the mind. (Start with relaxing the head, especially the upper face and forehead area. That's a gateway into relaxing the mind itself.)" I've been finding that if I just attend to things in this manner, things will come and go and this leads to a much more equanimous state. Don't want to take up your practice log with my practice stuff, just something that really resonates with me.

Thank you again for the write up, this has been very helpful and inspiring.