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The point is to be present

The point is to be present
11/25/14 6:03 PM
Greetings friends & colleagues,

I'm actually very sure that many of you are aware of this, so the purpose of this post is not to disseminate any information, rather I'm just writing this for me.

Recently, I realized that the purpose of vipassana meditation is to be present, here, now. And to acknowledge (not deny), and accept (not try to change) sensations, whether they are unpleasant or pleasant. Awareness is a killer, once something is acknowledged with 100% presence, it is experienced 100%, this exhausts the karma and the sensation no longer persists.

For a lot of my life, and maybe even now, I was afraid of going to hell, so I repressed any bad thoughts I had, and repressed any bad urges, and repressed any thoughts of doom and going to hell. Because of this, I subconsciously acknowledged these bad thoughts, and continuously ramped up great fear, in a vicious cycle.

Bad thought (of going to hell) -> fear -> repression

In other words, the fear itself engendered more fear because I was afraid of the fear. But upon acknowledge sensations with mindfulness and clarity, I experienced the full brunt of fear, the boiling sensations of hell, and there was no more proliferation.

In other words, by acknowledge and staying with the fear, the vicious cycle was cut. And the fear did not lead to more fear.

I consider this to be vipassana because I am now actually staying with sensations, as opposed to disacknowledging them and trying to have only pleasant sensations, which somewhat samatha-esque.

I am reminded of a sutta.

If anyone has any pointers about whether or not this is a good start, please feel free to do so.



RE: The point is to be present
11/25/14 7:16 PM as a reply to J J.
Hey JJ,

I feel like we're often in a similar loop, so I'll tell you what I'm doing and maybe you'll find it helpful.  I agree that vipassana practice is to stay with whatever arises and let it be.  Vipassan-ists are always talking about clarity - which is the be all end all of the modern concept of enlightenment.  Everything is clearly seen to be out of your control and arising on its own = Daniel's non-dual 4th path.

I, personally, have found this whole idea led me off track for a number of months and I've just re-started doing what I was doing before with great results.  Here's the thing - I feel like this concept of enlightenment is a bait and switch.  Buddhism is all about the end of suffering.  The Buddha loves to talk about how peaceful he is in the suttas ("this peace is exquisite" etc) - and the very foundation of buddhism is the four noble truths - one of which specifically says there is an end to stress.  Now, non-dualists and vipassan-ists love to do philosophical, linguistic, and historial back flips and gymnastics to show that the Buddha was only talking about a certain kind of stress, or that this stress will somehow go away through acceptance, or that the buddha was saying that stress is still there, but no one is there to feel it.  To me, this just isn't right.  If the Buddha meant any of these things, he would have said so - he was a pretty blunt guy, no?

As to your recent discovery - that by staying with the thoughts instead of repressing them there is less of a problem - it sounds like you have moved closer towards ending the stress you have been feeling in reguards to those thoughts, so this is movement forward.  Your insight was that suppressing the thought was more stressful that allowing the thought.  There's another piece you can add to this, though.  When negative thoughts arise, there is a clenching or a lunging that happens internally that causes the emotion to be expressed.  I've found that I have complete control over this clenching and can stop it.  The thought will go on but it will no longer have the urgency attached to it.  To me, this is another step forward and another insight towards ending stress.

So, I'd say don't give up on your goal of completely giving up negativity and negative mind-states.  Instead, just follow the path and right effort.  Cultivate those things that obviously end stress, discontinue those habits that cause stress.  Be discerning and honest with yourself and you'll discover more things like you did in this thread, I bet.

Oh, that technique I talked about, here's the instructions I wrote to myself in my journal:
1. Let go of physical and internal clenching that arises after an undesireable thought or stimulus.
2. Allow negative thoughts to go through to their logical conclusion with an accepting attitude - continue to release any new tensions/clenching that arise while this is happening.
3. Become aware of your immediate surroundings once the thought has passed - realize you are safe and that this moment will always be where you really deal with problems, never in your head.
4. Let go of effort and start again if new negativity arises.
5. If you are stuck in a loop, go do something else - it's unskillful to perpetuate negativity when you can end it more easily in a conventional way.

EDIT: BTW, you can use this technique while purposefully bringing up negative thoughts in order to sort them out.  It's the reaction to stimulus that causes stress, not the stimulus itself.  By exposing yourself to something undesirable and letting go of the reactions, you de-stress that specific stimulus.

RE: The point is to be present
11/25/14 7:17 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao,

Thank you for this reply. I particularly like this part of it:

So, I'd say don't give up on your goal of completely giving up negativity and negative mind-states. Instead, just follow the path and right effort. Cultivate those things that obviously end stress, discontinue those habits that cause stress. Be discerning and honest with yourself and you'll discover more things like you did in this thread, I bet.

I'm sorry I can't give more of an engaged response, but I really do appreciate your thoughts.



RE: The point is to be present
11/26/14 3:36 AM as a reply to J J.
Since you're bringing up a sutta:
I doubt that the Buddha thaught meditation like "just sit around and be present and accepting". Just look at the meditation instructions in the suttas, for example in the Dipa sutta or Kayagatasati sutta. They are way more complex and advanced than that it seems. But then I don't think modern vipassana has much to do with the kind if meditation that the historical Buddha taught.

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