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What now?
Answer
3/15/15 6:26 AM
Hello everyone. My history is mostly with the Goenka techniques. I met with Kenneth some time back and Ona was my teacher for a while too. Both thought it likely i was somewhere post stream entry. This seems a pretty reasonable assesment to me also. The problem is that Im not sure what to do now. I do not seem to be making any progress. I just kind of zip up and down the cycles riding the jhanic arc. Noting does not seem to work for me. I have tried it many, many times. Recently for several months. The body scan (and indeed any kind of sitting practice) usually results in varying degrees of head tension which i’ve grown so used to it’s not really an issue any more. It is not painful like it has been years ago, but it’s a constant, even as I type! (feels like an energy blockage) And occasionally I may pop out in what could be Equanimity, though it is hard to say with any degree of certainty. 

In my day to day experience I have a still/silent mind 60-70% of the time and can turn off thoughts just by deciding to, or if that fails (which occasionally if im a bit busy/stressed it does, by simply observing them). I have been listening to a retreat with Eckhart Tolle and at first I thought “wow, this guy is talking about my experience!” but as i get further into his talks (“freedom from the world” on audible) i realise that the goal of his teachings seems to be something I can already do (have a silent mind and be aware of all my senses). Though I can do this though, he also talks of “merging with” the object. I can certainly look at somethign and not have any thoughts. I can look at it with complete concentration but I certainly do not “merge” with it, and it is very clearly separate to the observer. Am I missing something in these teachings?

In summary, tt does not feel like im “done”. And Im wondering how to proceed?
Thanks for any advise,

RE: What now?
Answer
3/15/15 7:35 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Ok, so you're stuck, you want to get somewhere, nothing works, and you don't know what to do. So now investigate that. When you feel "not done," what's happening?

RE: What now?
Answer
3/15/15 9:10 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Bagpuss The Gnome:
Hello everyone. My history is mostly with the Goenka techniques. I met with Kenneth some time back and Ona was my teacher for a while too. Both thought it likely i was somewhere post stream entry. This seems a pretty reasonable assesment to me also. The problem is that Im not sure what to do now. I do not seem to be making any progress. I just kind of zip up and down the cycles riding the jhanic arc. Noting does not seem to work for me. I have tried it many, many times. Recently for several months. The body scan (and indeed any kind of sitting practice) usually results in varying degrees of head tension which i’ve grown so used to it’s not really an issue any more. It is not painful like it has been years ago, but it’s a constant, even as I type! (feels like an energy blockage) And occasionally I may pop out in what could be Equanimity, though it is hard to say with any degree of certainty. 

In my day to day experience I have a still/silent mind 60-70% of the time and can turn off thoughts just by deciding to, or if that fails (which occasionally if im a bit busy/stressed it does, by simply observing them). I have been listening to a retreat with Eckhart Tolle and at first I thought “wow, this guy is talking about my experience!” but as i get further into his talks (“freedom from the world” on audible) i realise that the goal of his teachings seems to be something I can already do (have a silent mind and be aware of all my senses). Though I can do this though, he also talks of “merging with” the object. I can certainly look at somethign and not have any thoughts. I can look at it with complete concentration but I certainly do not “merge” with it, and it is very clearly separate to the observer. Am I missing something in these teachings?

In summary, tt does not feel like im “done”. And Im wondering how to proceed?
Thanks for any advise,
This is a tough spot to be at... I feel your frustrations...

Have you tried just noting again? I've been told by some experienced meditators that first and second path are relatively the same; you note and note and note your arse off until equanimity. Have you tried that?

And congrats on SE emoticon at least you can enjoy that little bit of self that has fallen away so far.

RE: What now?
Answer
3/15/15 9:51 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
I am not speaking from experience since I am below third path myself, moreso just brainstorming.  Perhaps you might consider some powerful energetic practices, i.e. advanced yoga-type stuff.  I think vipassana works closely with perception while many AYP practices work with the energy level of things that is sort of different from the perceptual level (although they are, of course, closely paralleled).  Do some research on visualization related to the kundalini, ideally you can pop that blockage in your head chakra like a cherry.  Also, intentional work might be useful: try making a vision board or generally spending time visualizing what 4th path/ further progress might feel like.  Have you read any of Alan Chapman's stuff?

RE: What now?
Answer
3/15/15 10:47 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Bagpuss The Gnome:

In my day to day experience I have a still/silent mind 60-70% of the time and can turn off thoughts just by deciding to.....

Though I can do this though, he also talks of “merging with” the object. I can certainly look at somethign and not have any thoughts. I can look at it with complete concentration but I certainly do not “merge” with it, and it is very clearly separate to the observer. Am I missing something in these teachings?

In summary, tt does not feel like im “done”. And Im wondering how to proceed?
Thanks for any advise,

Hi bagpuss,

so your mind is very quiet and still, and you have good concentration. But something is blocking your insights into non-duality, so you are in place where it seems like there are objects and an observer?

Have you tried direct pointing? e.g. Liberation unleashed? it's free

and also on Reggie Rays CDs - mahamudra for the modern world, he has a lot of guided vipassana meditations pointing out specifically seeing through this kind of stuff - looking for the observer, the nature of perception etc

enjoy

RE: What now?
Answer
3/15/15 11:06 AM as a reply to Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii.
Bagpuss: I have some thoughts, but you've already recived a few. If you're intrested in Reggie's Mahamudra course let me know and I can get it to you without the exorbitant Sounds True price.

RE: What now?
Answer
3/15/15 3:07 PM as a reply to Bill F..
Derek:
Ok, so you're stuck, you want to get somewhere, nothing works, and you don't know what to do. So now investigate that. When you feel "not done," what's happening?

That sounds like good advice. I probably need to work with a teacher again to keep me on track!

Travis I think i got SE a couple of years ago and it's odd becuase it has just been slowly getting "deeper" feeling over that time. At the time it did not feellike much and I doubted the experience for a long while..  Re "just noting" well noting itself as a technique seems to do sweet A for me. The only time i find it helpful is sometimes when walking if im stressed/busy and thinking a bit too much. 


Noah:
I am not speaking from experience since I am below third path myself, moreso just brainstorming.  Perhaps you might consider some powerful energetic practices, i.e. advanced yoga-type stuff.  I think vipassana works closely with perception while many AYP practices work with the energy level of things that is sort of different from the perceptual level (although they are, of course, closely paralleled).  Do some research on visualization related to the kundalini, ideally you can pop that blockage in your head chakra like a cherry.  Also, intentional work might be useful: try making a vision board or generally spending time visualizing what 4th path/ further progress might feel like.  Have you read any of Alan Chapman's stuff?


Noah did you have any AYP stuff specifically in mind? When I looked at their stuff a year or two back it seemed kind of basic.. maybe i missed something. the meditations they do certainly didn't look like they'd do much for me.
I almost went on Alan's retreat last year but missed it in the end. He seemes really nice, but his stuff is way out there these days and i was not sure it was for me. Not read any of his stuff though.. anythng specific in mind?

Sadulsuud:
so your mind is very quiet and still, and you have good concentration. But something is blocking your insights into non-duality, so you are in place where it seems like there are objects and an observer?

Have you tried direct pointing? e.g. Liberation unleashed? it's free

and also on Reggie Rays CDs - mahamudra for the modern world, he has a lot of guided vipassana meditations pointing out specifically seeing through this kind of stuff - looking for the observer, the nature of perception etc

Wouldn't direct pointing just help me see no-self? Isnt that what i must have glimpsed already? I guess it depends on your definition of no-self because according to Ekhart Tolle just "not thinking" is no-self --that must make me the grand sodding master then! (and i certainly dont feel like the master haha!)

Reggie Ray looks like a really interesting teacher. I have never heard of him. He seems to have a lot of stuff out. Did you have something particular in mind?

Bill:
Bagpuss: I have some thoughts,

Bill I would love to hear them... 

RE: What now?
Answer
3/15/15 3:33 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Wouldn't direct pointing just help me see no-self? Isnt that what i must have glimpsed already? I guess it depends on your definition of no-self because according to Ekhart Tolle just "not thinking" is no-self --that must make me the grand sodding master then! (and i certainly dont feel like the master haha!)

Hi Bagpuss,

There are few different angles on not-self, but I don't think it's all useful to called it a state with not thoughts. A state with no thoughts is just a state with no thoughts. In MCTB (have you read it?) the "enlightenment models" section would be good for you.

From your point of view, when you are in a thoughtless state, there is someone, a you being thoughtless, looking out at the world. For you to see no-self fully would mean that in the same state, it would be intrisically obvious to you that there is no anything inside your head, no watcher looking out on experience. That there is no perceiver, just the perceived and hence there is the "merging" with the objects of perception. This would be obvious as seeing colour, all the time, once no-self is seen and believed.

There are other sides to no-self as well, such as agencylessness - like if it seems that there is something that chooses your actions, then you haven't seen this no-doer aspect of no-self. It gets deeper too, but that's loads for now.

The reason I suggest direct pointing is that it seems to work very well for long term meditators (and you clearly have some decent stability) who just need a little guiding or pushing to understand and 'see'. Liberation unleashed are not perfect but they would guide you to the 2 insights I mention above, it's their bread and butter.


But really its not that hard. You say there is observer, and observed. OK, so find the observer, using your 6 sense gates. Turn attention to where the observer seems to be, and what actually is there? A feeling of "something", ok what exactly? A tingling, buzzing, a thought, a sight? Maybe it's just a recurring thought that there is something there, which on inspection turns out to be the attention moving quickly through a bunch of sensations, which give the impression of something solid there...

RE: What now?
Answer
3/15/15 3:44 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Bagpuss The Gnome:

The body scan (and indeed any kind of sitting practice) usually results in varying degrees of head tension which i’ve grown so used to it’s not really an issue any more. It is not painful like it has been years ago, but it’s a constant, even as I type! (feels like an energy blockage)

Can you describe the head tension a bit more? And, check for any tension in surrounding regions -- neck, throat, tongue, face, ears, etc

RE: What now?
Answer
3/15/15 7:39 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
My thought was that it might be useful to really spend some time investigating emotions, specifically as they relate to the body. If you want more info, happy to provide it. I'm always reluctant when there's a lot of responses as I myself get overloaded at such times.

Reggie Ray is my teacher. Having listened to his teachings, practiced under his direction, and met with him personally to discuss practice repeatedly, I can say he is truly unique. Deeply human, and yet there s a seeming absence of solid personality that I've never encountered before with the other highly regarded teachers I've worked with. His Dharma Ocean podcast would be a good place to get a taste of his teaching. The poster above is referencing Reggie's "Mahamudra for the Modern World Course". It's a large body of teachings (over 30 hours of audio), but if you would like to check it out let me know and I can send you a copy for free.

RE: What now?
Answer
3/15/15 11:02 PM as a reply to Bill F..
Bill F.:
It's a large body of teachings (over 30 hours of audio), but if you would like to check it out let me know and I can send you a copy for free.


Hey Bill,  can I take you up on this offer?  PM me if the answer is yes.

Thanks,
T

RE: What now?
Answer
3/16/15 2:03 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Not that I'm in a place tp give you advice but since you are talking about tension maybe youshould  listen to Bhante Vimalaramsi. He is claimed to be a Mahasi "Arahant" who wasn't content with the attainment and reformed his meditation in somewhat accordance to the suttas, focusing more on relaxation of tensions and smiling and paticcasamupada rather than 3C.

RE: What now?
Answer
3/16/15 2:43 AM as a reply to Bill F..
Hi Bill. Thanks for that. I would be very interested in checking out those recordings. I'll check out the podcast as well. I assume he does remote teaching also?
Certainly seems wothwhile to check out!

RE: What now?
Answer
3/16/15 2:48 AM as a reply to Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii.
Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii:
Wouldn't direct pointing just help me see no-self? Isnt that what i must have glimpsed already? I guess it depends on your definition of no-self because according to Ekhart Tolle just "not thinking" is no-self --that must make me the grand sodding master then! (and i certainly dont feel like the master haha!)

Hi Bagpuss,

There are few different angles on not-self, but I don't think it's all useful to called it a state with not thoughts. A state with no thoughts is just a state with no thoughts. In MCTB (have you read it?) the "enlightenment models" section would be good for you.

From your point of view, when you are in a thoughtless state, there is someone, a you being thoughtless, looking out at the world. For you to see no-self fully would mean that in the same state, it would be intrisically obvious to you that there is no anything inside your head, no watcher looking out on experience. That there is no perceiver, just the perceived and hence there is the "merging" with the objects of perception. This would be obvious as seeing colour, all the time, once no-self is seen and believed.

There are other sides to no-self as well, such as agencylessness - like if it seems that there is something that chooses your actions, then you haven't seen this no-doer aspect of no-self. It gets deeper too, but that's loads for now.

The reason I suggest direct pointing is that it seems to work very well for long term meditators (and you clearly have some decent stability) who just need a little guiding or pushing to understand and 'see'. Liberation unleashed are not perfect but they would guide you to the 2 insights I mention above, it's their bread and butter.


But really its not that hard. You say there is observer, and observed. OK, so find the observer, using your 6 sense gates. Turn attention to where the observer seems to be, and what actually is there? A feeling of "something", ok what exactly? A tingling, buzzing, a thought, a sight? Maybe it's just a recurring thought that there is something there, which on inspection turns out to be the attention moving quickly through a bunch of sensations, which give the impression of something solid there...

I think you've made a very good case for the direct pointing there. I've said many times to teachers (and on here) that Im not nearly as smart as I'd like to think i am! heh. Help to "see" it might be just the ticket. In the meantime I will take your advice and start working on those sensations of "observer" as that makes a lot of sense to me. I have long suspected the bit taht I am missing is mental. In fact Kenneth pointed this out when I met with him. But i got confused trying to note thoughts when I dont really have very many in sitting practice. 

thanks a lot, 

RE: What now?
Answer
3/16/15 2:51 AM as a reply to Pål.
Pål:
Not that I'm in a place tp give you advice but since you are talking about tension maybe youshould  listen to Bhante Vimalaramsi. He is claimed to be a Mahasi "Arahant" who wasn't content with the attainment and reformed his meditation in somewhat accordance to the suttas, focusing more on relaxation of tensions and smiling and paticcasamupada rather than 3C.


Thanks Pal. It's not really caused by the technique however, more to do with cycling/stage im at. Im quite familiar with Vimalaramsi as I tried to work with them for some months a while back. He is an interesting character, and has some odd takes on the suttas but in the end it did very little for me. 

RE: What now?
Answer
3/16/15 6:39 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Howdy BTG,
nice to see you again. i feel your (head) pain.

i am always reluctant to claim paths due to the indistinct nature of clear fruitions.  that said, i am likely 2nd or 3rd path based on jhana access and other measures of 'my life in the world'.

i'm VERY familiar with your head tension.  one of the posters was right about vimilaramsi's take on 'calming' from the Sati... sutta.  He mentioned head tension specifically in one of his Joshua Tree retreat talks.  You've been down that alley though and have probably exhausted or at least tried his techniques.

while direct pointing may help, i think the suggestion of investigating the deeper aspects of non-self is the right direction from here.  you are right in pointing out that at first path the notion of a persistant self is attenuated greatly but certainn aspects of our conditioning about self are not cleared away until 4th.

that is what your task is now, as suggested above.  seeing through the root of agency, connecting the presumption of self to certain specifice patterns of sensation.  certain quick movements of the mind will hold up the illusion, so they are also good fodder.

a question:  other than the frustration of SEEMING to not move forward..how are your sits? pleasant? because it may seem that you are just polishing mount meru with your sits but progress is being made..that said, i second the motion of shaking it up a bit with a focus on the subtle and turning away from the gross in all of its manifestations during your sits.  try dropping the notion of progress by focusing on the 'extreme present', or bein here NOW on meth.

see you

tom

RE: What now?
Answer
3/16/15 12:04 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Bagpuss: I don't think he is taking on remote students currently, but you could try. I met with Reggie a couple weeks ago remotely, and my sense is that he won't be doing as much teaching, but there lots of meditation instructors through Dharma Ocean that will work with you remotely for free if it's appealing for you. Check your PM when you can.-Bill

RE: What now?
Answer
3/16/15 3:19 PM as a reply to tom moylan.
tom moylan:
Howdy BTG,
nice to see you again. i feel your (head) pain.

i am always reluctant to claim paths due to the indistinct nature of clear fruitions.  that said, i am likely 2nd or 3rd path based on jhana access and other measures of 'my life in the world'.

i'm VERY familiar with your head tension.  one of the posters was right about vimilaramsi's take on 'calming' from the Sati... sutta.  He mentioned head tension specifically in one of his Joshua Tree retreat talks.  You've been down that alley though and have probably exhausted or at least tried his techniques.

while direct pointing may help, i think the suggestion of investigating the deeper aspects of non-self is the right direction from here.  you are right in pointing out that at first path the notion of a persistant self is attenuated greatly but certainn aspects of our conditioning about self are not cleared away until 4th.

that is what your task is now, as suggested above.  seeing through the root of agency, connecting the presumption of self to certain specifice patterns of sensation.  certain quick movements of the mind will hold up the illusion, so they are also good fodder.

a question:  other than the frustration of SEEMING to not move forward..how are your sits? pleasant? because it may seem that you are just polishing mount meru with your sits but progress is being made..that said, i second the motion of shaking it up a bit with a focus on the subtle and turning away from the gross in all of its manifestations during your sits.  try dropping the notion of progress by focusing on the 'extreme present', or bein here NOW on meth.

see you

tom
Hey Tom. Good to see you too!

Sounds like good advice again. I tried this sitting today and it was pretty interesting. Had a very different "feel" to my usual sits with some interesting vibratory shifts along the way...

Re how it's going now: Mostly my sits are pleasant. My DN is not so bad and I don't tend to grind down on it when it comes up, prefering to take it gently. I feel that mild jhana pretty much all the time and generally I feel pretty good --stuff happens, and even if I get angry it kind of feels false, like im playing angry. Life is pretty good and there is no longer that burning desire to progress, where that was, there is now "patience" which is a hitherto unknown thing for me hehe!

Did your head tension go? Are you still getting it?

RE: What now?
Answer
3/16/15 3:20 PM as a reply to Bill F..
Bill F.:
Bagpuss: I don't think he is taking on remote students currently, but you could try. I met with Reggie a couple weeks ago remotely, and my sense is that he won't be doing as much teaching, but there lots of meditation instructors through Dharma Ocean that will work with you remotely for free if it's appealing for you. Check your PM when you can.-Bill

Thanks a lot Bill. Will pick up that kind download shortly. 

RE: What now?
Answer
3/16/15 3:25 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Droll Dedekind:
Bagpuss The Gnome:

The body scan (and indeed any kind of sitting practice) usually results in varying degrees of head tension which i’ve grown so used to it’s not really an issue any more. It is not painful like it has been years ago, but it’s a constant, even as I type! (feels like an energy blockage)

Can you describe the head tension a bit more? And, check for any tension in surrounding regions -- neck, throat, tongue, face, ears, etc
Hi Droll. Sorry I meant to answer your question yesterday! It is pretty much centred at the 3rd eye spot but radiates out to cover the entire forehead and feels like a tight, pulsating pressure. The pressure can get quite distinct in some phases of sitting. Sometimes it feels like someone is pushing my entire face down into the pillow (i meditate lying down) and it can spread down and over my nose and and cheeks sometimes too. 

There does not appear to be tension elsewhere. 

RE: What now?
Answer
3/16/15 5:06 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Hi BTG
yes , it is a tension that i can call up at a whim.  it has never been unpleasant to me and thus i have associated it more with clinging than aversion..which works out to be the same thing.

when i recognise it i soften / broaden mt focus away from it and intentionally deemphasize it.  this leads me quickly away from un unhealthy focus on that particular sensation and allows me to do an open accepting practice of noticing and letting go.  i do this with every sensation that arises which leads to increasing subtlty and deep calm awareness.

my bleeding edge is in that smokey foggy line between vipassana and jhana and unknowing and the unnamed.

i thank teague for pointing out a couple of tips which opened this direction to me.