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Noah's Conceptual Sandbox

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Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 6/20/15 1:47 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/18/15 7:56 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/18/15 8:04 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/19/15 2:48 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/19/15 10:43 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/19/15 11:12 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/19/15 11:14 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/19/15 11:16 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/19/15 11:19 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/19/15 11:22 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/19/15 11:23 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/19/15 11:26 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Chris Marti 9/26/17 5:29 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah D 9/26/17 10:14 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge CJMacie 4/19/15 11:37 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/20/15 2:15 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/20/15 2:36 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Not Tao 4/20/15 2:02 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/22/15 3:31 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/22/15 4:00 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Not Tao 4/23/15 10:53 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/23/15 5:09 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/23/15 5:15 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/27/15 10:31 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/28/15 4:06 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/29/15 5:22 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 4/30/15 6:37 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 5/7/15 8:00 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 5/10/15 10:15 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 5/15/15 11:22 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 5/15/15 12:10 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Not Tao 5/15/15 4:12 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 5/15/15 2:45 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 5/22/15 5:54 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 5/22/15 6:21 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Not Tao 5/23/15 6:05 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 5/24/15 1:36 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 5/24/15 2:47 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Jake 5/24/15 3:41 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 5/25/15 12:49 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Jake 5/25/15 8:22 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 5/25/15 10:23 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 5/26/15 1:41 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 5/28/15 7:32 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 6/1/15 5:41 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Not Tao 6/1/15 2:15 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 6/1/15 10:07 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 6/2/15 2:35 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 6/4/15 3:38 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 6/4/15 9:15 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 6/7/15 9:08 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Not Tao 6/8/15 4:14 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 6/9/15 11:02 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 6/10/15 7:03 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 6/14/15 8:45 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 6/15/15 4:35 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 6/16/15 7:06 AM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Noah 6/20/15 1:38 PM
RE: Noah's log of obsessing about dharma, sila and the way it all fits toge Not Tao 6/20/15 10:40 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 6/24/15 9:32 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 6/24/15 9:41 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 6/26/15 9:33 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 6/26/15 9:57 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 6/26/15 10:23 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 6/26/15 10:51 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 6/26/15 10:56 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 6/27/15 2:20 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 6/28/15 4:49 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 6/28/15 11:05 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox bernd the broter 6/28/15 12:42 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 6/28/15 9:13 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/1/15 7:39 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/6/15 3:02 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/6/15 4:15 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/9/15 12:35 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/9/15 2:17 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 7/9/15 6:11 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/9/15 10:11 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 7/9/15 10:41 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/9/15 11:37 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Dream Walker 7/10/15 12:20 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/10/15 3:05 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/11/15 12:01 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 7/11/15 12:26 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/11/15 12:35 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/11/15 5:07 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/11/15 5:28 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/21/15 12:21 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/22/15 1:15 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 7/11/15 12:19 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Derek 6/26/15 10:44 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/22/15 11:56 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/27/15 11:24 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 8/2/15 3:14 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Derek 8/1/15 6:52 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 8/2/15 1:08 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Derek 8/2/15 4:40 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 8/2/15 11:44 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 8/15/15 5:10 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 8/15/15 7:43 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 8/19/15 1:13 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 8/19/15 7:54 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 8/19/15 10:15 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 8/19/15 11:41 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 8/20/15 1:51 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 8/20/15 7:23 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 8/20/15 11:39 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 8/20/15 12:55 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 8/20/15 5:57 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 8/21/15 8:06 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 8/21/15 8:41 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 8/21/15 9:04 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 8/21/15 9:10 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 8/22/15 12:47 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 8/23/15 9:38 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 9/20/15 3:27 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Not Tao 9/20/15 4:19 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 9/20/15 4:30 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 10/1/15 7:10 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 10/30/15 2:58 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox bernd the broter 10/30/15 3:19 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 10/30/15 7:06 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox bernd the broter 10/30/15 1:54 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 11/4/15 2:53 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 11/24/15 1:16 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 11/24/15 1:05 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 11/24/15 1:41 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 11/24/15 3:28 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 11/24/15 3:57 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 11/24/15 4:51 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 11/24/15 11:20 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 11/25/15 1:08 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 11/25/15 12:02 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 11/25/15 12:58 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 11/25/15 1:03 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 11/25/15 1:19 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Nikolai . 11/25/15 3:14 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 11/26/15 9:58 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Nikolai . 11/26/15 1:07 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 11/26/15 1:22 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 11/28/15 5:58 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 11/28/15 7:05 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 11/28/15 7:23 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/3/17 9:44 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/1/15 1:00 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/1/15 1:15 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox bernd the broter 12/1/15 7:13 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/1/15 1:21 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/2/15 12:03 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/3/15 5:25 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/4/15 4:46 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/3/17 9:45 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/6/15 4:19 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/6/15 12:35 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/6/15 3:09 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/6/15 11:48 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/8/15 4:09 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 12/8/15 6:35 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/8/15 6:57 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 12/8/15 3:59 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/8/15 5:33 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/9/15 7:12 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 12/9/15 8:30 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/9/15 12:22 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/10/15 7:40 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/10/15 7:54 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 12/10/15 10:54 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Dream Walker 12/10/15 3:25 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 12/10/15 5:56 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Dream Walker 12/10/15 7:31 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/11/15 1:44 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox tom moylan 12/11/15 5:24 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/11/15 5:55 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox tom moylan 12/11/15 6:58 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/11/15 1:13 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox tom moylan 12/11/15 1:45 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/11/15 2:33 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Eva Nie 12/11/15 4:52 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/11/15 5:06 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 12/11/15 7:52 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Eva Nie 12/12/15 11:02 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/12/15 7:47 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Eva Nie 12/12/15 11:55 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/17/15 7:53 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox tom moylan 12/17/15 8:57 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chad Atlas 12/17/15 12:18 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/17/15 12:54 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Dream Walker 12/17/15 1:52 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/17/15 6:17 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Dream Walker 12/17/15 6:48 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 12/11/15 7:57 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 12/10/15 6:38 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/10/15 6:57 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox bernd the broter 3/9/17 8:06 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox bernd the broter 11/24/15 7:00 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/3/17 9:43 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/3/17 9:41 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Not Tao 8/3/15 4:25 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 8/3/15 1:02 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Not Tao 8/3/15 7:20 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 8/5/15 8:22 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/18/15 11:29 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/18/15 11:56 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/19/15 11:21 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 12/18/15 11:49 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/20/15 11:28 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/21/15 11:44 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/24/15 2:48 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/28/15 1:11 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/28/15 9:11 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/31/15 1:04 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 12/31/15 1:59 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/31/15 2:09 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 12/31/15 2:54 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/31/15 2:59 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 1/1/16 10:43 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 12/31/15 4:32 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/4/16 9:10 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/2/16 5:00 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/3/16 3:09 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 1/3/16 8:15 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/4/16 11:03 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Eva Nie 1/4/16 11:22 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/6/16 2:22 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/6/16 2:28 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/6/16 4:24 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Eva Nie 1/7/16 3:19 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/7/16 7:20 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris 1/7/16 9:37 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/8/16 4:13 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/8/16 5:12 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/8/16 5:36 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/9/16 3:28 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 1/9/16 8:42 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/11/16 11:51 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/12/16 12:41 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris 1/12/16 1:19 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/12/16 2:03 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/12/16 9:52 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/13/16 6:55 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/15/16 12:45 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris 1/15/16 6:55 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/16/16 1:41 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/16/16 11:38 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 1/17/16 12:17 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/17/16 8:53 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 1/17/16 4:14 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/17/16 8:08 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/22/16 11:58 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/23/16 5:12 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/24/16 1:08 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Mark 1/25/16 5:39 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/25/16 1:11 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Mark 1/26/16 5:54 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/26/16 5:42 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/27/16 2:32 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/30/16 5:09 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/30/16 10:17 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 1/31/16 10:08 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/31/16 2:50 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 1/31/16 8:35 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 2/2/16 4:18 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 2/3/16 9:16 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 2/19/16 9:28 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 2/22/16 3:58 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 2/23/16 3:12 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Eva Nie 2/24/16 12:33 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 2/24/16 11:06 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 2/24/16 11:40 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Eva Nie 2/24/16 11:14 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 2/24/16 8:29 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Eva Nie 2/24/16 9:39 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 2/26/16 4:07 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 2/26/16 5:17 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 2/26/16 11:47 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Laurel Carrington 2/26/16 9:45 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 2/26/16 11:54 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 2/27/16 12:06 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 2/27/16 11:07 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Laurel Carrington 2/27/16 11:48 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 2/27/16 11:51 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 2/27/16 12:04 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 2/27/16 12:17 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 2/27/16 12:31 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Laurel Carrington 2/27/16 12:25 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Laurel Carrington 2/27/16 12:28 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 3/4/16 1:46 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 3/4/16 2:08 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Russell . 3/7/16 9:18 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 3/8/16 3:28 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Russell . 3/8/16 9:01 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Eva Nie 3/8/16 12:34 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 3/12/16 12:02 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 3/22/16 2:02 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 3/29/16 12:33 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 4/14/16 11:07 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 4/14/16 11:15 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 4/30/16 3:00 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox shargrol 4/30/16 6:59 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 5/28/16 6:40 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 5/28/16 7:59 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 5/28/16 3:12 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 5/28/16 4:17 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 5/31/16 8:32 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 6/4/16 1:30 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 6/11/16 5:18 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 6/14/16 7:04 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 6/27/16 4:56 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/13/16 6:26 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/14/16 11:50 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/25/16 1:45 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/25/16 8:58 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/26/16 9:38 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 7/27/16 1:09 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 11/21/16 11:38 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 12/20/16 9:02 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 12/25/16 12:46 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 12/27/16 11:45 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 12/29/16 9:50 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 12/31/16 1:25 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 1/3/17 10:49 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox shargrol 1/4/17 5:37 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 1/4/17 9:26 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox shargrol 1/4/17 1:37 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 1/4/17 4:42 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 1/8/17 5:37 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 1/14/17 8:47 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 1/17/17 12:25 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 1/17/17 12:34 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 1/22/17 11:52 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 1/24/17 11:47 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 1/29/17 4:22 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 1/29/17 6:32 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 2/1/17 11:20 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox bernd the broter 2/2/17 8:31 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 2/2/17 4:12 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Derek2 2/3/17 6:11 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 2/3/17 9:55 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 2/10/17 9:23 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 4/25/17 11:05 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 2/17/17 3:24 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 2/18/17 3:00 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox bernd the broter 2/17/17 2:28 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 2/18/17 1:40 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox shargrol 2/18/17 6:21 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 2/18/17 2:47 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Caro 2/23/17 12:48 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 2/23/17 8:44 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 2/25/17 3:36 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 4/25/17 11:05 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 4/25/17 11:04 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Geoff 2/24/17 11:01 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 4/25/17 11:03 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 4/25/17 11:03 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 4/25/17 11:01 PM
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RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 6/7/17 8:06 AM
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RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 6/13/17 8:07 AM
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RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 7/24/17 11:54 AM
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RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Yilun Ong 4/4/18 5:26 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 4/4/18 8:57 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Yilun Ong 4/5/18 12:02 AM
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RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox bernd the broter 6/13/17 7:10 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah D 6/13/17 8:07 AM
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RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Noah 3/8/16 1:20 PM
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RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Eva Nie 3/11/16 10:32 PM
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RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Laurel Carrington 3/5/16 11:17 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Eva Nie 2/27/16 2:50 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris Marti 1/23/16 11:42 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Eva Nie 1/9/16 11:50 PM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Chris 1/8/16 8:48 AM
RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox Eva Nie 1/9/16 11:27 PM
Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
6/20/15 1:47 PM
Okay, I realize I was polluting my actual "practice" log with lots of obsessive conceptualizing.  However, because of the way my mind works, it would be a mistake to try to eliminate this thinking completely.  I tend to need to "figure things out" before they really become embedded in my mind/useful to me in action.  Obviously the direct, perceptual-baseline effects of path attainments do not belong in this category, as they are automatic and nonconceptual.  However, everything else about "what to do about it", does.  Given that this theorizing-philosophizing-thinking-habit is part of my practice, I have decided to start this log.

Reflection on reading the essay's in Thannissaro's "Noble Strategy" collection ( http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings/NobleStrategy.pdf )

-The general theme is one of humility and action-orientation.  Both of these things are against the grain of self-absorption which has become such a powerful force in my life.  The basis for these themes is in actual insight:  "There are two levels to Right View, focusing (1) on the results of our actions in the narrative of our lives and (2) on the issues of stress and its cessation within the mind."  Insight is not just the experience and permanent side-effects of cessation.  Insight is also on the personal narrative level.  
        Furthermore, the study of this type of insight runs just as deep as the study of meditation.  It is not just a matter of common sense, good morals, a sense of humor, a sense of kindness and a cultivation of discipline.  My personal impression is that this straight-forward notion is what is expressed in MCTB.  This isthe way I have interpreted various sources within the pragmatic-dharma-sphere.  I may very well be wrong in my assumptions about what these writers think.  I am not projecting or holding anyone up to any standards or types of judgements.  Rather, I am noticing what my current paradigm is and trying to expand and evolve it.

-The way Thannissaro talks about morality is like a mathematical equation.  It is not very "relativistic" or "subjective", which are adjectives I have used to describe morality in a somewhat dismissive way for the past few years.  Buddhist morality is for everyone.  It is based on "ditching the split."  However, the exact energetic events themselves which  "ditch the split" need to be supported by effort on other levels.  This effort on other levels is not different for everyone.  It is very, very specific and based on the human condition, not Noah's particular issue as distinguished from John Doe's particular set of issues.  
          For instance, there are certain elements which must be present in a certain balance in order to gain the full benefit of the spectrum of Buddhist teaching.  Meaning, one needs "concentration to provide[] an inner stability and bliss so that we can clearly see the roots of passion and at the same time not fear deprivation at the prospect of pulling them out" and they also need generosity as an initial step on the path.  Morality elements that are specifically not included in the Buddha's formula include social tact, didactic education, basic physical fitness, certain life experiences (i.e. parenting or fighting in a war), etc.  
          I am starting to think that these morality elements that form the eightfold path are just as exact as the nanas and jhanas.  4th jhana does not develop into 1st jhana.  Likewise, the 5th nana does not share essential commonalities with the 2nd jhana (it does with the 3rd, of course).  In the same way, the buddha stresses certain changes to one's life and mindset and not others.  So Buddhist morality is scientific, pragmatic and should be taken up in a literal and hardcore way.  

As part of my arguement that morality is a core teaching of the buddha, right along with the other two, I would like to add something in:

Many people already possess many of the Buddha's necessary elements towards a "spiritual life" (just a phrase I chose for this particular sentence, no significance in the word choice).  Meaning, many people do not need to specifically do extra training in generosity or extra discipline regarding indulgence.  Morality is like a chain with many links or an equation with many variables.  So, if one reads a particular principle of the Dharma and feels like it is bogus, it might be because they already have it down pat.  

Just because most modern meditators possess some to almost all of these traits doesn't mean that they should be dismissed separately, or as a whole.

Also, a lot of this stuff just comes with age, life experience, trials and tribulations, parenting, etc.  Meaning, its just natural human wisdom that can be arranged in a specific way with a specific understanding based on impermanence, sufferring and not-self.

What am I attached to?  My girlfriend, is the first answer I have.  No, I realize, that is a relationship, a free transaction which flows between us.  What is it that I am attached to that is not a free transaction with me and the world, not a flow?

I am attached to phrasing questions and finding answers.  I am attached to finding an "answer" to my personality, in all of its flaws.  This obsessive searching has become smarter, more subtle, and thus harder to refute, harder to detach from.  Its arguments have become less dualistic, and closer to the truth.  I believe vipassana has done this.

The sutras supposedly say that Vipassana without Samatha will agitate the mind.  I think this is another way of explaining the dukkha nanas.  It also might explain why, although I have become more aware of my mental knots, the clarity itself has not untied them.  

I am attached to trying to control the world and my life by perfectly understanding it.  I am attached to doing what feels good and easy in facing my problems instead of what hurts.  Although conceptualizing hasn't been effective, I continue to do it for that exact reason.  
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I am supposed to cultivate a healthy distaste for obsessive thought.  The key word here is healthy.  I definitely have a loathing for obsessive patterns as well as a sense of dread and powerlessness in the face of them.  I also have a sense of comfort within my current, unskillful coping mechanisms.  All of these things, however, are self-absorbed in that they cause me to judge my self and alter my self-image.  The Buddhas advice was to be action-oriented instead of self-oriented.  As a self, in fact, one should be 'too good'/ too aware/ above the various notions of addiction and other dsyfunctions.,  Furhtermore, I should cultivate a sense of admiration for the good, opposite actions as well as an admiration for noble other's who carry those actions out.

I believe the path lies beyond analysis, and instead in skillful means.  These means, for me, have been modes of meditation that eventually go beyond reason and rationality.

I hear a lot of people talking about their practice as if they want to "develop" or "cultivate" some qualitites.  This is not how it has worked for me.  When I relenteslly note for days on end, eventually, my mind breaks in two, I give up to the moment in a spontaneous, non-cultivated manner, and eventually I shoot up through equanimity and complete the cycle.  I am not purposely seeing things in an equanimous manner or bringing good will to things or favoring an open, surrendered awareness over a tight, tense one.  In fact, my tight, tense awareness works quite well at forcefully drilling down into my mind.  

So I think meditation works best for me when I act like a dumb beast of burden instead of like a conscious (or sub-conscious), but subtle, orchestrator.  I am starting to experiment with samatha practice.  The goal is to relax the mind and body.  I have noticed that I can have a lot of fundamental insight going on, meaning, feeling atuomatically centerless, automatically seeing cause and effect, etc. AND still be obsessing, still feel agitation in the body, still feel a lot of stress within this process (even though that stress arises and passes on its own).  Likewise, I can be in various jhanas and there is still an "obsesser" in the background.  I can still have the inner voice analyzing while I am very dissassociated from localized body and mind.  There is still a staticy atmosphere of agitated energy in the air of my mind.  

While this central tension remains through jhanas, nanas and (what is probably) the first three technical path attainments, it goes away when I breath calming energy into different areas of my body.  So, just as I have practiced dry mahasi noting relentessly, like a dumb mule, for hours and hours, I know believe I should also practice this calm breathing for hours and hours.  Just as I have trained this mind to disembed from everything, always, I should train this mind into the relaxation instinct, for everthing, always.

Moved from my practice log:

Here's 3 ways to think about the progress of insight (that are true to my experience so far) :

1) Enlightenment occurs after a sufficient number of insight cycles such that one experiences four path moments.

2) Enlightenment occurs after the seven factors of enlightenment are fully amplified and balanced.

3) Enlightenment occurs once the meditator has sufficiently learned the lessons of eleven insight knowledges.

___________________

#'s 2 and 3 have only started to make sense to me after 2nd path b/c progress is no longer perfectly linear.  Rather, it is fractalized (sub-cycles within the greater cycle that is 3rd path as a whole), and changes happen to me, rather than me simply going from point A to point B.  Life is becoming easier.  My teacher says it is important to acknowledge this, for attention on it will amplify it.  Life is supposed to become easy: really, really easy.  The more I relax within myself and turn down the intensity of my spirit, the more I can feel this.  I have struggled with bipolar disorder for long enough that it is hard to believe in the possibility of real progress.  And yet, real progress is happening.  I am certainly grateful.  

Moved from my practice log:


Here are some thoughts about the whole mushroom culture thing:

Most mainstream Buddhists are certain that their development will grant them relativistic traits such as kindness, conventional wisdom, patience, etc.
In contrast, they are uncertain that their practice will give them ultimate or fundamental enlightenment.

Pragmatic Buddhists are, ideally, the opposite: certain of the possibility of attaining fundamental shifts that are built into the human dna...
But uncertain of exactly how the process of attaining such plateaus will improve their personality, functioning, etc.

This is not to say that it isn't a definite that insight meditation will help with one's subjective/relativistic life, but rather that it is impossible to predict exactly how it will do so.

Moved from my practice log:


Since I was sixteen, my life has been run by very old samskaras from my childhood.  Various limiting beliefs concerning self-efficacy, my ability to get shit done, and my ability to get shit done even when it causes me negative emotions.  There is no me.  I am just a composite of these samskaras determining my every move, each moment after the next.  
          Furthermore, these samskaras do not have a separate existence outside of my present experience, meaning, I no longer believe in an independent subconscious storehouse somewhere in the psychic plane (or whatever).  The only way my limiting, early childhood experiences currently exist is in whatever way they are affecting me in any given moment.  
          This means that the experience of agitation when I consider cleaning my room, applying for a "real" job or eating a healthy meal is only that, an experience in the moment.  This contrasts with what I previously thought about it; that it was some force outside of my conscious mind (called bipolar n.o.s. or whatever you want to call it), but still a part of my being, controlling me.  

So, I now realize that there are multiple parts:
a) the external situation which bothers me
b) the feeling or emotion of being bothered
c) the belief that this feeling has control over me

In the past, I have failed to recognize c) as separate from b).  I now realize that c) is the real culprit of my problems.  

Moved from my practice log:


Okay, more about motivation and jhana:

I realized (after writing my last post about jhana) one reason I have no problem doing hours of vipassana but get immediate agitation/ emotional resistance when I go to exercise the will to perform a concentration technique.  Basically, I have a ton of faith that fundamental insight/ path attainments will lead to PERMANENT relief from my agitation.  In contrast, I have been trained/indoctrinated to believe that absorption states will only provide temporary relief.  

However, I think there is a more subtle, sub-distinction which needs to be realized: 
          My agitation (mood disorder) has multiple facets and sources.  Some of these are probably intertwined with insight disease (a basic dissattisfaction with the moment and the unsettled state of the kundalini and chakras).  Others, have more to do with what might be talked about in psychotherapy. 
          Vipassana leads to permanent relief from fundamental suffering ("ditching the split"), while Samatha leads to temporary relief from fundamental suffering (unification states).
          Samatha (for me) leads to permanent relief from conventional suffering, while vipassana (for me), leads to temporary relief from conventional suffering (by pushing negative/undesired objects out of my mind via aggressive noting or by completely accepting them).

What I mean (some of which is from personal experience) is that Jhanas heal and ground the energy body, heal the subconscious, allow lasting epiphanies to arise, develop a deeper, continuous, inner platform of stability, etc.  In the summer after my Sophmore year of high school, I did classic anapanasati for 30 minutes every day for two months.  Various images and thoughts would arise.  It felt like my mind was reorganizing itself (sort of a psychological "disk defrag").  About six weeks in, I experienced an epiphany which completely freed me of social anxiety surrounding the opposite sex.  For the rest of high school, I had a wonderful dating life.  

Many of these "conventional" changes to one's "stuff" are likely to last for the entire duration of one's existence in this body and mind.  Even if a positive change doesn't stay permanent in the strictest, unchanging sense, it is likely to cause other positive changes and other types of growth in one's personality and affairs.  Especially when the practitioner has low-lying but constant mental blockages which he or she is hyper-motivated to get rid of.

So, being that I don't really care as deeply about Buddist principles as I do about relieving myself from my own mental blockages, Samatha practice is very relevant!  For all intents and purposes, the reason I should practice Samatha is that it is likely to, in one or more ways, permanently wipe out my suffering.

p.s. I also have this hindu/yogic image in my mind of the master-meditator who has been "purified" by his absorption states.  I've read this idea in many spiritual memoirs and didactic texts.  I believe this is even the case in Buddhism, especially in the context of the "karmic models."  I think I can utilize a little bit of the karmic model theory here: when one's mind is absorbed, the system is being purified on all levels.  This does not occur when the mind is gaining a fundamental knowledge of its nondual nature while remaining on the surface level of perception.  So, going deeper, in a jhanic sense, does something that insight alone does not!  I am having to reprogram the pragmatic-dharma doctrine I have come to take as my own.

Moved from my practice log:

I really, really suck at jhana.  I've been doing dry mahasi noting in daily life for hours every day for about a year and a half.  I've gotten pretty good at determinedly pushing forward to get nanas and complete cycles.  Its doing the job on my mind.  But now I want absorption and am amazed at how I still have to start at the beginning.


Granted, my mental sensitivity has risen in leaps and bounds, so I can really feel what my mind needs when I go to start a concentration technique.  For instance, it used to be that I would obsess about the object of my meditation; should I feel the breath as a whole, or only the lining of my stomach rising and falling; should I try to control it or let it be; should I count, and if I do, should I continue the count if I get distracted or always start over at 1 when I realize I was thinking; etc, etc.  

Now I understand that the most important thing in meditation is whatever works for me in this moment.  I can feel the resting quality of jhana that I am trying to achieve.  It is inherently different from the experience of insight knowledges and the process of getting there is also inherently different.  To me, hard jhanas (the real stuff) feels like a totally committed experience which usually starts with a wave of pleasurable energy that dissassociates me from my body.  In contrast, nanas frequently manifest through symptoms in my regular modes of perception, i.e. differing moods, thought-patterns, emotions, and also surface-level sensing of vibratory patterns, mental-speed, etc.

The attitude which lit a fire under my ass to do achieve my vipassana goals was related to these thoughts: 
-What is stopping me from meditating all the time?  Isn't any degree of sacrifice worth achieving this realistic peace-of-mind which may help me deal with bipolar disorder where all else has failed?  

When I read people's dharma-diagnostic questions on the message boards (and they are asking for advice about how to progress), my initial thought is always that they should continue what they are doing, relentlessly, for days on end, until they make a breakthrough.  I realize that I tend to obsess and get restless when I take on a concentration technique, so I will now take my own advice and simply, relentlessly and continuously watch the breath while inclining the mind towards restfulness.  Even if I have to practice for hours or days just to get hard first jhana, it will be no big deal and totally worth it.

Moved from my practice log:


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/integrityofemptiness.html

I've been reading this article by Thanissaro.  In this article, and others, it seems that he is trying to hunt down the common misunderstandings of the Western yogi.  In this article he dismisses self-absorption, saying that the path is not "self-purification" but actually "action-purification."  The whole point is to direct attention away from the self so that one does not have "denial" or "regret" in relation to one's actions.  Needless self-analysis is an action that I would benefit from abstaining from.

In another article, entitled "The Healing Power of the Precepts", he talks about how many Western yogis explore Buddhist meditation but find it insufficient to cure the sufferring, and move on to psychotherapy, sweat lodges, social activism, drumming, etc.  If they listened to other aspects of the Buddha's advice, however, they would understand that the system as a whole is designed to heal the mind at all levels.  The precepts are designed to build self respect and confidence and ultimately help us face our demons on the levels in which they manifest.

Moved from my practice log:


Aspects of the Buddha's advice (according to Thanissaro) that I could benefit from and am currently not practicing:
-the very idea of having principles as opposed to taking things as they come
-enforcing these principles with the discipline to act in favor of my long term benefit despite short term pain
-trying to just see things as they are, in the most pragmatic and down to earth sense, without any ideas of spirituality
-the general idea and attitude that meditation alone is not enough, even the highest levels of insight will not directly cause me to change my behaviors, only exercising willpower will do so-- i.e. solve the problem where its at, if I'm lazy or phobic, resolve to face my demons and act anyway, instead of trying to "fix" the demons at some deeper psychological level.... this is necessary too, but only immediate willpower will get me going externally

re: Il Matto (4/18/15 7:56 PM as a reply to Il Matto.)

Nice investigation of sila.

" Morality elements that are specifically not included in the Buddha's formula include social tact"
Social tact may fall under another formula attributed to GB – "timeliness" or "non-devisiveness" under "Right Speech" (sammā-vācā).

(4/18/15 8:04 PM as a reply to IlMatto.)
"… a lot of this stuff just comes with age… its just natural human wisdom that can be arranged in a specific way with a specific understanding based on impermanence, sufferring and not-self."
Important point. I was struck once by Ven Guranatana's definition of wisdom (panna) as simply a profound ("established") grasp of impermanence. It takes awhile, trial and error and reflection, to fully appreciate that one's POV at any given time in life, as pragmatic as it may be for us to hold it at the moment, is most likely going to change.

" I am attached to trying to control the world and my life by perfectly understanding it."
Reminds me of an attitude that Nikolai often presents (which I won't try to characterize). Steven Levine also put it well: the world out there (samsara, including one's own part in it), is much too big to try to control; BUT it's the perfect size for letting-go of!

"Life is supposed to become easy: really, really easy."
From various teachings (from GB and interpretations), there's an impression that what happens eventually (liberation) is that ease and/or difficulty – as purely functional* experiences – just don't matter any more, aren't allowed to result in further karma. Perhaps like that notion, a foretaste, in the description of 4th jhana –(mental) pleasure and pain simply don't arise in the wake of sensations.

*"Functional" is a technical term in Abdhidhamma and Visudhimagga, meaning something like awakened experience still encounters the normal stuff of living, it's just handled purely matter-of-factly, so to speak; which might mean handled in terms of just optimizing sila, i.e. benefit for others under the circumstances; one's own panna is no longer an issue.

Yes, ease, in a simplistic sense, isn't the final goal.  I think I just meant, my experience will be greatly improved, which lines up with "functional".

Interesting point on social tact and right speech.  So many amazing details within the Therevada.

I want to eat another microwavable pizza.  I already had one.  I don't need another.  I have this image of discipline as a force, and also renunciation as a type of crushing force.  Crushing the desire to eat the pizza.  This hasn't worked for me because there is always a stronger counter-force, a stronger emotional resistance.  The mind is very adaptable with its fabrications in this way.  It seems to be protecting its craving pathways by manufacturing the multifaceted psychological defense mechanisms, which are, in the end, frequently unskillful.

Skillful renunciation is a fabricated experience.  Thannissaro writes that there are mental labels, thought judgements, and physical sensations that all go into the formation of an emotion.  When I try to "crush" my indulgence patterns, I am not honoring this complexity.

I used to think I could just note it away and eventually I would get path and it would all be fine.  But what is happening after path is that it becomes workable; in other words, I am seeing the truth more clearly, not automatically becoming a super-functioner.  

Sometimes I think the answer is awareness, but that is only part of the answer.  I must develop a deep understanding and a deep conviction in the process of building dispassion.  I need to hold the pizza-craving experience 'loosely'.  I must not create a personal narrative around it, nor solidify it into a conceptual category based on memory.  These are all aspects of the craving.

When I begin to peel away these layers of structure, it makes sense that I have this body, which relates to these nutrients, based on genetic programming and such.  The salivation that occurs at the very thought of the pizza, makes sense.  The beliefs, "I must have it", "I need it", "I can't function/will throw a fit without it", all make sense.  This experience is integral, or complete, or authentic, or total.

This experience is based on previous experiences.  Specifically, it is the result of seeds I have planted at different times.  Some of these seeds feel like more permanent patterns.  These explain why I used to believe so firmly in an independant, continuous, separate subconscious.  These seeds are created by our mental impressions of our physical actions and our processing of perception itself.  That is why vipassana in general, and Mahasi noting in particular, has such powerful effect.

So the whole process is conditioned (Chris pointed out that "mechanistic" implies an innaccurate degree of rigidity).  To recondition, and plant better seeds, I must have the right type of understanding and the right type of awareness.  These will lead to the right type of conviction or faith or trust, and thus the right type of emotion.  The right type of emotion makes the right type of behavior possible.

The reason why reconditioning hasn't worked for me in the past (other than the 1000's of hours of meditation I know have logged) is that I have tried to jump right into the behavior phase.  Granted, some people can do this.  But they usually have a seed which manifests as a belief "I can do this" and "I can tolerate any negative emotions that may arise".  My seeds are basically opposite.  

So, hold loosely.  The pizza is a symbol for it all.  It isn't some great struggle in a soap opera sense.  And I also shouldn't dismiss it by just saying 'and so it is... this is the way it works... I one-dimensionally accept the all in this moment'.  No, it is complicated, but it is also simple.  And it doesn't have to be dramatic, or a big deal.  Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche once said something along the lines of: "the ego  wants a huge ceremony to commemorate its stepping down.... ".  That sort of feels like how this is.  Eating the pizza isn't a big deal.  Not eating the pizza isn't a big deal.  If I do eat the pizza, I reinforce the samskara which says I need it.  If I don't eat the pizza, but exponentiate my resistance-emotions in the process, I also reinforce the samskara which says I need it.  So its not necessarily in the behavior.  

Its in the cool, calm, high-perched, zoomed-out viewpoint that the Buddha reccommends.  First you just have to see the all.  For me, its the image of a gargoyle atop the tallest skyscraper, looking down on a moon-soaked city which is also sparkling with its own lights.  In the quietness of the night, at such a height, each individual scene that is occurring, on street corners, in bedrooms, in all-night-botiques, has its own quality of completeness, but also its own potential to be held with an overwhelming intensity.  The trick is to create enough space so that you can dim down the intensity a little bit. 

Hey,

Your thread here sounds a lot like my own focus.  I hope I'm not butting in, but a lot of what you're saying here strikes home for me and sounds very familiar.  I think I may have some helpful ideas, but if you don't feel I'm qualified to comment, please just ignore me. emoticon

Something that really helped me a while back was to realize that I wasn't battling a chimera.  When I was looking at each desire and trying to break it apart, by the time it left another one would pop up.  But there is actually only one function behind it all - it's that feeling of urgency, impatience, something-needs-to-happen.  If you aren't targeting that feeling specifically, it can feel like the mind is jumping from one desire to another completely lost and confused.  What's actually happening (at least, what I observed myself doing) was that I was popping bubbles without turning off the bubble machine - the desire and impatience were just steady, and the focus of the desire was jumping around.  You can steady the focus on one thing or the focus can be jumping around, but the feeling itself is the same.  This is why just trying to accept things often fails - it's just steadying the focus on an object. Your comments about how trying a crushing force doesn't work are actually very related to this - the new urgent impulse is to destroy the desire for pizza! Same impatience, different focus. The suffering is the impatience itself - the desire for change. Switching to a "crush my enemy desire" often strengthens the suffering, IME, because suddenly I'm legitemizing the urgency.  Even trying to maintain awareness all day, or maintain some kind of practice can be hijacked by this urgency and just become more fuel.

So, what I found was, the objects don't matter at all.  The fact that you want the pizza is irrelevant, and whether or not you eat the pizza is also irrelevant.  The problem is the desire for the pizza - that needing, cringing, clamping feeling.  The opposite of this feeling is patience.  It's allowing yourself to want something without getting it, and feeling that this state of affairs is okay.  When the urgency goes away, wanting things takes on a different meaning.  You still want them, but it's okay for that wanting to last forever.  There is no sense of impulse or compulsion - it's very freeing. (Or, even, freedom itself!)

How this all relates to concentration practice was an important discovery for me.  When the mind is incessantly jabbering away, it's this same impulse firing off thoughts.  The thoughts that come up all have a blip of urgency.  "I need to check my schedule" is a little blip of reminder.  "I should have been nicer to so-and-so" is a little blip of I-need-to-rehearse.  Everything that comes up and is a "distraction" is the urgency mechanisim firing away, saying there's no time to waste, something has to be done.  Reality isn't perfect and needs to be modified in some way. So concentration meditation is directly influencing and turning down/off this mechanism by watching it without indulging it in any way.  It's just sitting there and denying all impulses that come into your head by allowing yourself to forget about them completely. All the way down to the most subtle thoughts and ideas.  You can really fire it up by trying to sit perfectly still for a period of time while watching a clock.  It will try to go dull and blank the time out, or it will fire off aching joints and itches.  But it's all the same thing.  So, there is no need to put any focus on what, exactly, this mechanism is pushing at you - whether it's anger, fear, worry, regret, hunger, itches, on and on - you can just look at them all as the same thing: impatience.

I think this fits into the idea of morality and the non-meditation-related instructions from the buddha very snugly. If you are guarding the sense doors, and not indulging in sensual desires, it means you are no longer allowing this mechanism to control what you do. Say the desire comes up to check facebook. To guard the sense doors, you first let go of the mechanism before checking facebook (maybe by waiting a few minutes before going on). When you eat, you don't indulge or try to gratify any urgency for certain tastes. You can set aside entertainment for a while, or take cold showers. It all contributes to lessening the impact of this mechanism - though not required!  In terms of morality, anger, jealousy, and other negative states related to other people are also this mechanism firing off. It's all just impatience, and I think this is why concentration practice has a deeper impact than simply creating a pleasant state of mind. That pleasant state of mind is the absence of this mechanism, and this makes deep grooves in the mind.  The concentration of jhana is just the absense of all urgency.

Anyway, I hope this helps. emoticon

Wow Not Tao!

Thank you so much.  You spoke directly to the core of my suffering.  

I agree with everything you've said here, and I would like to hear more.  I totally know what you mean when you talk about impatience hijacking the meditation.  I actually think this hijacking is what has allowed me to freestyle mahasi note in daily life so consistently.

My problem in the past (with samatha practice) has been that I've noticed that the impatience/resistance seems to be able to continue forever.  For instance, I went on a ten day zen sesshin a few months ago.  I was cringing and wanting to scream on day 1, day 5 and day 10.  Wtf!?  I guess maybe it was too big of a dose and I need to do a little bit a day, as you say.

I also think that my mindset before I begin a period of "tolerance" or patience is really important.  If I take on traditional sila as a lense through which I look at life, it may help prepare in some way to tolerating the pain.
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p.s.- Being totally "okay" with the sensousness of the present moment environment while noticing how this acceptance contrasts with the affective mechanism also seems to be a potentially helpful exercise.  I have no concern as to whether or not it leads to a permanent actually-free state, as long is it can help to quell my mind.  This practice is sort of a "back up" plan b that I have in mind if technical fourth path  + sila fails.

Doing more thinking on Not Tao's comments...

The dharma isn't separate from my life.  Thanissaro's writings on sila, as a funnel for the words of the original Buddha, aren't separate from my affairs, my mind, my moods, my moment now.  The principles are to be put into practice, here, now.  

I can feel the tension of the split with my reality.  It is a sort of "psychic" tension.  But I can't say perfectly where that tension ends and my bad moods, my agitation, begin.  In other words, if I am brutally honest, I experience my suffering as one spectrum that I can't neatly cut up, i.e. "this mental exercise is for this negative feeling", meanwhile, "these changes in habits are for these negative feelings."  

I once described the raging agitation and resistance I experience on the cushion to a zen master in dokusan.  He told me that I am probably experiencing the same thing as everyone else, but amplified to a huge degree.  This resonated with me.  

This feeling is a basic dissatisfaction with the moment.  It is the "bubble machine" in Not Tao's metaphor.  Perhaps I just have a very raw, uncut version of the same Dukkha as everyone else.  The Buddha was a Dukkha doctor.  What would he say to me specifically?

Urgency can highjack anything and everything - even practice.  If you are sitting there waiting for a feeling of urgeny to end, that itself is a new urgency.  For me, letting go of the urgency often feels like self-betrayal or a kind of recklessness.  Like I'm abandoning something truely important.

It's actually kind of difficult to explain this, but there is a meditation you can do to target this urgency directly.  At the core of it, you're just allowing yourself to forget everything for a little while.  I think a "demonstration" might be best, so I'll write out a little story.

Let's say I decide to sit for an hour.  I start by putting a clock in my line of sight (which might sound crazy at first glance, haha).  Then I sit down with the intention to do nothing and enjoy it.  I am not meditating - this is very important.  I am not looking for jhanas or insights, I'm just sitting down to rest for a little while.  So, because I am hoping to enjoy myself, I look to see how I'm feeling.  It's not concentrating on how I feel, just checking in.  This is actually very easy to see most if the time because it's the main obsession of our lives, honestly.  The first thing that usually hits me is frustration and boredom I'm looking at the clock after just a minute thinking, "I'm just sitting here wasting time!"  But then, that's exactly the point.  The whole goal of this exercise is to learn how to waste time, specifically.  I look at this frustration and boredom and ask, why?  Why can't I just be happy doing nothing right now?  Each thought that comes up is an answer - even though the question itself might be forgotten.  I start thinking about work, and at some point I remember I'm supposed to be doing nothing (typical meditation moment) so first I ask myself if I'm enjoying my thoughts about work.  If I am, that's perfectly fine, I can keep thinking them.  If I'm not (and this is usually the case) what is it about work that is so urgent that I can't let it be for now and just enjoy sitting there doing nothing.  Maybe I'm thinking about that girl that keeps hassling me about different things.  So at this point, I make the decision that, for right now, it's okay to leave that bit of my life unresolved.  Maybe I feel angry at her, that's perfectly fine, I don't have to fix it, I just want to go back to doing nothing.  Maybe I'm embarrased, or I'm trying to think of a good comeback, or I'm wondering when I have to work with her next.  I decide that it doesn't matter, I am just going to let it be messy and imperfect the way it is.  The reason I like the word patience is because it doesn't point to a permanent solution.  It's a stop-gap.  I don't have to resolve any deep seated issues.  I don't have to try to push the feelings away.  I don't have to try to forget about it, or concentrate it away, or treat it as a distraction, or anything at all.  Right now, all I need to do is let the situation remain broken/imperfect and forget about it.

The urgency comes from feeling like things need to be fixed right away.  If you can allow things to remain messy, then you can finally relax.  I have an analogy for this.  Let's say life is a tapestry.  New parts are always being woven in, and old parts are fraying and falling apart - it's a violent process.  This urgency is basically our attempt to follow behind and fix the tapestry as we go along.  It's our attempt to hold ourself together at the seams.  We're desperately afraid to lose track of ourselves, so we're always watching.  Each thought that comes up is a new thread we're trying to weave back in.  We have this idea of who we are, and this idea is constantly challenged by other people and the situations we find ourselves in.  Maybe I believe I'm a pretty smart guy, and suddenly that girl at work challenges that.  The reason I start thinking about it is because I'm hoping to reclaim my smartness.  So I come up with explanations: she's just mean, or she isn't very smart so she can't see I am, or she doesn't understand me, on and on.  What you want to do is just give up.  Leave the whole thing completely unresolved as it is.  Your hands are full of these threads, now just toss them to the wind.

And remember, it's only for now that you're doing it.  The point of sitting for an hour doing nothing is to give yourself a chance to let go of everything at once.  Life, itself, doesn't have to be that way.  What happens is, after letting go, you will have a completely different view of the situation.  After meditation, I might think about the girl at work again, but suddenly there is no more urgency - I simply don't care about it one way or another - so it's dropped as soon as it comes up.  Things that are important, like fixing my car, are no longer urgent as well - which makes them easier to do!  It's interesting, but I've found the only reason I avoid doing things is because it feels like we have to do them, haha.

So if I go back to my story, let's say I notice my thoughts about the girl at work, and I remove the urgency by deciding to wait to resolve it until after my sit (if it helps, you can write it down on a paper - like promising to remember later).  The thought stream kind of drifts away and I feel a little better.  Then the question drifts into my head, "ok, now what?" and I look at the clock again.  My impatience is back.  My mind says, "look, you resolved something.  That was a successful sit.  Now, let's go do something!"  Same old urgency and impatience is back.  But I decide to say no.  I just sit there doing noting.  The mind is like, "what are you doing?  Nothing is happening...  This is boring."  Yet, I just keep sitting there, doing nothing.  Then I notice I start to go a bit dull.  I haven't thought about anything very specific for a few minutes, but I haven't really noticed them going by either.  This is the mind deciding that, if it can't use the time for something worthwhile, like resolving problems, it will just blank out the time.  So I say no, again, and go back to just sitting, waiting for the hour to pass, doing nothing.  The mind can really freak out at this point - and I'm assuming this might be what happened to you on your retreat.  But what I've found is, these freakouts are the exact same urgency.  Maybe there's an itch, and you say "I'm not going to scratch that itch!"  Just scratch it.  Maybe your leg feels like it's going to break apart at the knee, and your skin is crawling, and your neck hurts.  This is a good time to rexamine what you're actually doing.  You're just sitting there.  Why does it have to be so difficult?  It's actually pretty rediculous.  The solution to this is to continue on with the intention in mind.  You just want to sit there for an hour and enjoy the process.  You aren't required to enjoy it - there is no obligation to accomplish anything at all - but ask your mind, "why wait?"  Why does sitting have to be painful or difficult?  Why not just relax?

The point is just to sit and watch for any kind of urgency, impatience, longing, frustration, desire, etc and simply do nothing about it.  If you know the cause, you can let go of it by dropping the whole story - there is nothing you need to do about it during the sit.  You're emancipated from all responsibility.  If you don't know the cause, or the cause seems to be the sit itself, you direct your patience towards it.  You say, "I'm going to sit here for an hour whether there is peace of mind or not.  I'm not getting up for any reason.  So, mind, we might as well enjoy the process.  No pressure though.  Feel free to throw a tantrum the whole time if you like.  I can wait."

So that's it.  You aren't trying to suppress thoughts or feelings, you aren't trying to concentrate, and you aren't trying to meditate.  You're just sitting with the intention to do nothing and enjoy it - and you're hoping to develop patience with the process.  During the day, you might find it's much easier to let go of things.  Letting go just means leaving things unresolved for the moment.  So you can learn to sort through all the thoughts that believe they should be high priority, and start marking them as low priority and putting them at the end of the list.  You may also find that you're much more aware of that sense of urgency and you can start dropping it in real time.

Also, like I said in the other post, specifically declining to indulge impulses during the day does a lot to this mechanism.

Hope this helps! It's done a lot for me. It seems to complement noting as well (though I would avoid noting if you're trying the practice above since it might just be something to "do").

Okay, that all sounds like it could really help me.  I'm gonna try it soon.  Thanks again.

I've been reading Thannissaro's "Selves & Not-Self: The Buddhist Teaching on Anatta."  Its a collection of eight talks he gave during a retreat.  I'm writing summaries of them as I go.  This exercise of writing the summaries is really helping me to see the big picture of sila: and it really isn't what I thought it was.  

Basically, the sila practices reccomended by the Buddha are just dry, common-sense, with a particular logic based on a certain goal and various assumptions.  Sila is a step by step process which forms a sort of chain through every area of one's life.  The assumption is that everybody wants to be happy.  

However, in order to achieve the best possible form of happiness, one must endure short term pain for long term pleasure.  This pleasure must involve all areas of life, including the conventional one's (not just spiritual development).  Eventually (in my case, first), this stable, mature and balanced lifestyle must be disembedded from, like all other things, in order to achieve the unfabricated/nirvana.

Although 3rd path has not wiped out my suffering, I am noticing something extraordinary... there is a stillness that I can tune into at any time.  When I do this, the other thing comes up: thoughts that this is wrong, I can't be patient, etc., as well as negative emotions in the body.  

These two things seem so different!  I'm working on reconciling them.  I let the calming breath guide the mind back.  Another tool is to just be perfectly awake in the midst of all this negativity (supported by the stillness, of course).  A third tool is to throw just a dash of good will in the soup.  This isn't metta meditation, but with a good will and 'friendliness' orientation, I notice that I prefer the calmness to the motion.

I am probably less functional than most.  The truth is I have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, trouble cleaning my room, trouble getting a haircut, trouble reading the news (or anything intellectually stimulating or relevant to the real world).  

When I think of actual Buddhist Sila practice, I think of actually changing my habits: not drinking alcohol, not watching porn, not eating junk food or meat, not ever lying or indulging in hostility towards myself or others, actually giving to charity and practicing daily-life selflessness and minor versions of generosity.  I am so far from actually wanting to do this or being able to do this.

So, I shift back and forth between two models/sets of expectations: (1) there is a state of plateaud state of spiritual development which I can attain in which I will finally be able to do all of these things with relative ease and (2) there is no such state that will give me enough relief from my anxiety... instead, I need to do it the old fashioned way... which is bootstrapping, traditional will power, hard work, no shortcuts, grit your teeth and suck it up.

The truth is that I hope meditation will make me numb to my emotions and thoughts enough that I can live a life.  And, to be honest, its working, so its hard to deny this possibility.  I don't really care how it aligns with traditional spiritual sensibilites.  I just want to slow down my own mind.

Building on approach #1 from my previous post (reach a mind-state that will make all things easy, as opposed to trying to use willpower to build better habits), I am formulating (just for my personal philosophy), a hedonistic-pragmatic-dharma.  Hedonistic in the sense that what I am really trying to do is make more pleasure for myself (whether you call it equanimity, pure consciousness, the unfabricated, source energy, 4th path, Actual freedom, etc).  Also hedonistic in the sense that I accept this as a reasonable goal (as opposed to wanting to get enlightened for the benefit of all beings, wanting to get enlightened to be a more functional person, wanting to get enlightened to have spiritual powers, etc.).  All of these things may very well happen and be useful as goals in that they are pleasurable aspects of life.  But they would be secondary goals within this framework.  

What I need to do on a cognitive level (at this point of beginning fourth path) is to make a mental and emotional commitment to disembed from the sense-of-center-point.  This phrase implies both my faith that I exist as well as the phenomenological experience of a continuous me.  Cycles are conducive to that but may not be sufficient to accomplish that goal.  I am ready to really shut this thing down now.  This removal of commitment to the central me is what will ultimately, I predict, result in a pleasurable life for myself down the road.

Slowly, slowly moving out of monkey mind...

I want to take this opportunity (the way I am feeling today) to make a mental note to my future self.  Simplicity is a good state to progress towards.  There are so many theories of awakening out there.  There are even more secular systems of self-improvement.  

My analysis isn't really the thing which is helping me, although it frequently feels that way.  If anything, I am making progress in spite of my obsessing and anxious mode-of-living.  I am starting to feel less influenced by the myriad versions of my own mind and the myriad lines-of-thought I engage in as I try to figure this thing out.  The simple, right thing to do is to trust the process instead of trusting my thinking mind AND the process.

Methods which feel natural or easy and lead to relief from suffering and increased happiness are the way to go.  For me, that seems to be this rapid-fire Mahasi-noting as I go about my day.  I plan to practice the Actualism method after I complete Fourth Path.  It is a good plan.  And, with that settled, I should always come back to this point of trusting the process and favoring a simple mindset over one which is always analyzing, dissecting and looking for hidden answers.  

I've been reading through the "Psychonaut's Field Manual", written by the Arch-Traitor Bluefluke and posted to the DHO by Jean B.  I have always loved magick.  At age 13 my dad sent me to be coached in Magick and meditation by his friend, who taught me tarot, energy healing, mental science, dream analysis, chi gong, various transference/empowerment-type practices, diety yoga, etc.  It was a lot of fun.
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It wasn't until recently, about ten years later, that I have a real chance at continuous, embodied practice of some of this stuff.  4th path and later, AF, and even later than that, perhaps mastering jhana, mastering brahma vihara, further energetic work, etc., all represent ways for me to settle and control my mind.  For many people, settling the mind is the first step of the path, found through virtue, generosity, goodwill and samatha.  I wouldn't have had a chance to do any of those things a year ago.  My mind was just whirring at a 1000 mph- pace.  

Getting enlightened is magick in that it is a mind-hack that has real-world/causal ramifications (permanently changing the mind of the hacker).  When I was in college, there were times when I would spend hours visualizing what it would be like to be perfectly healthy and functional (even though I couldn't even write a one-page essay for a class or clean my room).  A few years later, I got a job, got back on medications, and seemed to just grow out of bipolar disorder to a certain degree (meaning, I no longer experienced huge swings in mood, just a constant, minor dsyfunction that I currently have).  

I then figured out how to do Vipassana and how to understand MCTB even though I had already been lurking on the DHO for two years.  Why didn't I "get" these things before, when I first discovered pragmatic dharma?  Perhaps because the universe has a funny way of manifesting things, as efficiently as possible, when a given sentient brain concentrates on them with a high degree of intensity for a long time.  Efficiency is the key word in the last sentence, since, I wasn't ready for the pragmatic dharma five years ago, even if the universe was ready to give it to me (by showing me the web site).
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I think the practice of Magick is the answer to the question of morality, how to live in the world.  Magick includes all conventional, intentional behavior and thought (an idea I got from Daniel Ingram), as well as all harder-to-explain-stuff.  The Buddha devised a sila based around a certain logic (karma and rebirth exist, freewill and fate both exist, complete happiness is possible but must be bolstered by long-term-partial happiness, etc).  Whether or not I ascribe to this exact logic, there is a sense that intention and attention matter.  What we do with out mind matters, in both, a short term (direct/conventional causality) and long-term (magickal/indirect causality/law of attraction) manner.  

Anways, the good news is that we have a lot of control over our worlds.  We can even have some influence over those pesky, superpowered karmic momentums (i.e. debilitating physical disease).  I'm not expecting anyone to walk on water, but it is a nice way to live and its working for me in healing a biochemical condition.  

Thoughts on AF vs 4th Path (with the idea that AF is 'beyond' 4th Path)

-Metaphor:
   "I"=basic sense of self/ idea of self/background knowledge that I exist/ self-existence as process, not necessarily solid self
   car=mind and body (as well as external world)
          -pre-4th path="I" am driving the car 
          -post-4th path=car is driving itself, "I" am just enjoying the ride
          -post-AF=there is only car driving itself

-AF is being a shell with perception, one must kill the 'ghost in the shell' (ala the anime :p), 4th path makes one realize they are only a ghost in a shell, but they still ARE that ghost... that ghost must be willing to die
          -it can be replaced by a general sense or mood of enchantment

-AF might not be the permanent destruction of the affective muscle.  That is probably impossible.  However, I know from experience (third pather) that the effects aren't always super dramatic and overstated.  So, I think AF is losing faith in one's passion and affect in a way that permanently takes some of the steam/momentum from them... it takes away the glue that holds it all together, even if the materials from the original structure are still present.

-The PCE is...
          -a subtle shift into the immediacy of the present...
          -an accidental falling away from the awareness of one's story...
          -a giving up of the strings of attachment that connect one to situations outside of the moment (after becoming disenchantent with the             'feel' of the tautness of these strings that hold it all together)...
          -just becoming more normal in your conscious awakeness, not necessarily do some extra effort, just such minimization of effort that              even the sutble effort of having an extra layer beyond being alive is detected and dropped

-Qualities of fortuitous feelings/ How HAIETMOBI makes me feel:
          -appreciating buzzing solidity
          -luminous
          -its like some other, non-human spirit is pssessing me, or like a divine bhav
          -I still experience the most touchy anxieties and attachments, but there is some cloud or fuzziness around them that allows me to 
           remain mindful

Some thoughts on Mental Science after reading Ernest Holmes:

          Holmes says the important thing is to recognize creative law within yourself.  This would also apply to treating for others.  This recognition and trust is the main mechanism of power within mental science practice.  The visualization and desire that come in the beginning of a treatment, as well as the gratitude and acceptance that come at the end, are NOT the main things that make it work.  
          The point is that creative law is something that was working before you were born and after you die.  If you never existed as this exact life, it would still be doing its thing.  Furthermore, creative law works within the shittiness of form, regardless of all the talk of perfection, wholeness, and completeness.  These things are just ideas or ideals that express the quality of the movement of creative law.  

          Mental science can be completely naturalized by saying that it is the process of noticing and acting on certain immeasurable qualities of nature: adaptiveness, unity and psychicness (or sentience).  Adaptiveness means that when shitty stuff happens, nature is pretty good at finding solutions whose sum are greater than the problems.  The side effect of adaptiveness is order and evolution.  Without it, it is unlikely that the accident of life would occur.  
          Unity means that qualities must, by definition, be inherent throughout the universe.  There isn’t a part of this reality that can be neatly separated from the rest of it.  Of course, there are physical areas and mental portions (human minds, cultures, etc.) that have certain traits that other areas don’t, but that doesn’t mean that they are separate.  An example of unity is that the data and potential for an entire tree is contained in a single seed.  Another example of unity is that a dualistically-perceiving human mind can transform into a very non-dualistic one (enlightenment).  
          Psychicness proceeds from the unity explanation.  For there to be life, the materials of life had to be stored as potential in the inorganic matter of the universe.  For there to be sentient life, the potential had to be there in non-sentient life.  Likewise, for fully-sentient life (human minds).  The human mind was there as a possibility in the big bang.  This doesn’t mean that there was one, all-knowing being.  Its just saying that through cause and effect, the big bang has led to this moment.  
          So, creative law works pretty well on its own.  Our jobs as humans are to recognize it and allow it.  When I note to try to reach fourth path, I understand the process that is happening (in the form of the sixteen insight knowledges), and I trust it to do its work on me, easily, effortlessly and completely.  When I think of my own body, I can recognize that its various processes are working fairly well, based on my impressive human dna.  When the ramifications of this observation are taken to the extreme, I can see the possibility of my bodily processes being even better than they currently are.  I can easily imagine that my body is working really, really, really well, automatically and on its own, based on its design.
          Another important point that comes up is that sometimes creative law seems stuck in recurring loops.  For example, why isn’t human society more evolved by now?  Why is there still so much pain and poverty, etc.  At these times, it might be useful to recognize that creative law is working within a certain paradigm; there is a ceiling to what it can do based on what the human population currently believes is possible.  Therefore, it useful to say that there is nothing wrong with the law itself, but with the current version of what it is doing.  Envision a better version so as to break the ceiling.  

Some thoughts on the progress of insight:

When one focuses on whatever it is they choose (not necessarily reality as it is, could be absorptions or energetic patterns), they begin to notice things moment-by-moment, without filters.  Each moment, they notice some, single thing or group of things, in and of itself.  This is Mind & Body.

However, attention moves from one object to the next.  Moments of attention are linked in that previous moments affect future ones.  Likewise, objects of attention are linked in that previous objects affect future ones.  This is Cause & Effect.

Since everything is linked up in an endless chain of cause and effect, everything has one quality or taste.  That taste is movement or flow or change.  Each thing does not have its own individual character, rather its character is effected by the things that preceeded it just as it affects what it turns into.  This sense of the one character is The Three Characteristics.

When the process of observation gets close enough to this one taste, clarity begins to reveal that the process is not separate from what is being observed.  Therefore, there is not a separate observer.  There are only things.  However, things arise from their predecessors and pass into their future forms.  This is the synonymous with saying they come from the void and pass into it.  The observer sense, being one with the observed, also arises from the void and passes into it.  This is The Arising and Passing Away.

When the A&P has done its work on the meditator, the shock of a new understanding of life comes into play.  This shock is caused by a sense of the meditator never having existed in the first place.  The first tremor is called Dissolution and refers to the loss of a sense of self.

The process plays out on the predictable human psyche like a character in a horror movie or the stages of grieving.  After the initial encounter with the unknown (dissolution), Fear sets in.

When one gets used to the state of being afraid for their own life, Misery naturally arises.  They are no longer shocked or afraid, but just dissapointed and aggrivated and angered.

Misery evolves into Disguist as even the previous negative emotions are adapted to.  Now the meditator is simply tired.

Remembering the original goal of moving past existence completely, Desire for Deliverance arises.

However, one can not move past the process of perception, in all of its not-selfness and change, until they have really, fully and deeply mastered it.  They must accept the process of perception at their core.  To do this, they must accept all of its negative ramifications, before recieving any of the positives.  Therefore they must go through a Reobservation of the shockwave started at dissolution.

Finally, Eqanimity sets in.  The meditator has fully accepted that they are a part of the process of perception and that this process is reality itself.  They completely accept the true nature of human life.  This acceptance, however, has its own shockwave that must be adapted to.  Deeper and deeper levels of relaxation must be unlocked.  Aspects of reality that remain under the radar must be seen. 

Initially, the obvious ramification is Neither Pleasure Nor Pain, the 4th jhana aspect of the 11th nana.  There is no need to prefer some things and push away others if everything is inevitable happening on its own and the "you" is just there to ride the wave.

However, in riding the wave, one is still within the world of form.  They are still contained in the body.  There is a sense of the physical body and the physical environment.  This sense is a trap.  It is a way that the process of perception still, yet remains unclear to the practitioner.  This sense can be overcome, and experienced as Boundless Space, the 5th jhana aspect of the 11th nana. 

Unlocked from the understanding of being contained in a separate, continuous body and immediate physical space, the mind is still associated with its individualized self, its psychic locality within the body, framed by self-concept, memory, etc.  The mind is defined by what it has been aware of.  Dropping this layer reveals Boundless Consciousness, the 6th jhana aspect of the 11th nana.

With sense of the outer and sense of the inner released based on the understand that they are relative and not ultimate, what is left?  The one taste that was discovered in the 3rd and 4th nanas still applies.  Inner and outer realities are one, continuous, fluxing reality.  They have no inherent existence.  There isn't some-thing about them that is special or an exception to the law of the 3c's.  Therefore, there is no-thing about them at all.  Being freed from the individualized sense, they are infinitely no-thing.  This is Boundless Nothingness, the 7th jhana aspect of the 11th nana.

All of reality is fluxing.  There is no inner or outer.  There is no individual and no greater whole.  Thus a continuous, endless, flow.  However, how can any of this be known?  There is still perception.  As long as there is perception, there is limitation.  There can be a preference for perception, a preference for existence, a preference for the arrangement formed at birth (that of a separate self which suffers).  The elimination of the preference for the sense of knowing, the sense of perception, is Neither Perception Nor Yet Non Perception, the 8th jhana aspect of the 11th nana.  

With the elimination of preference for knowing existence, it becomes possible to unlock the key to existence: stop existing.  Release completely from the arrangement known as self and other.  Release completely INTO this arrangement.  When bare knowing is refined enough, it can lead to perfect not-knowing.  This is Cessation and Fruition.  When stabilized and extended, it is Niroddha Samappatti. 

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Siddhis seemed to be attained through further contact with the Boundless insights (5th through 8th jhanas).  This makes sense as they represent a break from the limitations of individualized mind and body as well as conventional cause and effect.

Jhanas in their purest forms are separate from their corresponding Nana aspects.  A full absorption into a part of this process of transformation is something separate from a full knowledge of a part of it.  It is probably impossible to be fully absorbed into a part of the process that is only a shockwave, only, inherently moving.  That is why there aren't really jhanas for individual Dark Night nanas.  

Niroddha seems to be the Jhana form of Cessation and Fruition.

There seems to be areas of mind beyond or somehow more refined than perfect release from the process of perception.  In Pragmatic Dharma-speak, they are labelled Pure Land jhanas, but I suspect they exist in other traditions.  How can they be "percieved" if they lie beyond perception?  This remains a mystery to me.  It might make more sense if we use a chakra model.  These states would then represent the soul travelling out of body (out of the perfectly open crown chakra which tops a perfectly flowing and connected chakra system [which is 4th path]) to become absorbed into higher chakras, perhaps collective chakras that do not belong to any one individual.

Furthermore, if we use a chakra model, Actual Freedom makes sense as an attainment beyond 4th Path.  At 4th Path, the chakras are all open, energy is free to flow in and out of the body.  This is why Yogis describe complete non-stickiness.  The exact nature of the energy doesn't matter (enlightenment doesn't change your personality), but the quality of it has changed.  

However, the fact that there is energetic flow is significant.  While there was no energetic flow in the moment of Cessation & Fruition, the flow continuous afterwards but is observed with a quality of the not-percieving state.  How can the quality of that not-percieving state become more integrated with the psychic system beyond just affecting the witness function and the openness of the chakras?  

The movement of the energy itself can be stilled through various other, alternate types of perception that have less to do with the relationship of self and world and more to do with the self only.  By continuously observing the self in its reactive modalities, the Yogi can notice something that is separate from this reactive modality: the quality of apperception.  No matter what the Yogi does or is, they are alive and therefore registering through the sense doors.  This is an unavoidable, inherent quality of human life.  

Developing a sensitivity to apperception, the ultimate effortlessness (since it is automatic), the Yogi can tell that he or she is actually still engaging the world, even though the engagement seems centerless and volitionless after 4th path.  There is a subtle effort that the soul is making as it exists in its awareness in the chakras.  This effort creates an environment within the energy system that is friendly to energy flow.  By dropping the subtle effort of being a soul, and simply enjoying or openly embracing as apperception instead, the system begins to become so calm that even subtle energetic flow is decreased.  This manifests on the phenominological level as the minimization of affect.  

This is a very interesting writeup.  I like the theory.

Is it necessary for the mind to see this directly, though?  Apperception is possible without directly dismantling the sense of self.  It's more like forgetting about the self completely.  Maybe what you're describing here as Actual Freedom beyond 4th path is really just something different and doesn't require the paths at all.

EDIT: Sorry, that was worded badly.  I meant to say that maybe what you're describing as "post 4th path" practice is just something separate from the paths completely - like, you can practice them whenever and get the same results.  You seem to have gotten that though...

Yeah its very possible I'm describing something else.  A lot of post-4th-pathers do Dzogchen.  Others practice Actualism.  I think these are just labels talking about similar territory.  I'm not saying the methods are the same.  I'm saying the territory they lead to is similar.  Who really knows?  The neat, but oversimplified conceptual model is definitely helpful for me though.  

I also think practices such as Dzogchen or Actualism are possible to do before 4th path, as you said.  They may lead to different places if done before 4th path.  

My dad studies 'Mental Science'/'Science of Mind'/'Religious Science' very intensely.  It is a spiritual system based around the law of attraction.  Teachers of this include Michael Beckwith, Abraham-Hicks, and many dead one's such as Ernest Holmes and Thomas Troward.  A lot of people on pragmatic dharma forums are probably not familiar with it or would quickly dismiss it entirely.  The idea of Mental Science basically takes nonduality a few steps further than we take it in our community.  I would say that it is complex and subtle and very intelligent.  So its not simplistically saying there is some magical way of thinking that will always get you exactly what you want.  Also, I would suggest that the Buddha probably discovered this area of thought and practice, but that it was outside of the 'handful of leaves' of the dharma that he found useful for eliminating suffering.  

Rather, it is taking the idea of nonduality that we experience directly via vipassana, and taking its ramifications a few steps further.  There is one reality, as far as we know.  Even if there were parallel universes, they would be contained in this one reality.  This reality has a certain integrity and organization to it, as it seems to always be getting more and more complex and refined in its forms.  

Furthermore, there are patterns through which it works, called laws (i.e. gravity, thermodynamics), that seem to be happening everywhere, at all times.  So, in some sense, this reality isn't inconsistent.  Even if there are exceptions to these laws, it is still remarkable how consistent they are.  

I would say that the human brain and mind is part of this continuum of reality.  Sentience isn't some exception to the patterns we can observe outside of it, in the natural world.  For sentience, to exist, there must be a cause for it in the natural world.  So, there is some way that sentience is connected to the natural world and the laws through which it operates.

Mental Science posits that the cause of sentience IS the same as the cause of this orderly, integral nature of reality.  That there is only one cause, and could only be one cause since there is only one reality.  I'm not a philosopher, but there would probably be some type of arguementative fallacy in denying this.  There can't be a human mind that is completely independent or separated from its cause.  There can't be a tree which has nothing to do with the seed it sprouted from.  

There can't be processes of the human mind that have no relationship with the natural world around it.  Mental movement (thoughts, emotions, etc) occur in the natural, luminous, volitionless, centerless field of awareness, just as physical changes in the environment occur in naturally and completely and perfectly causally.  The mind is like a miniature version of the environment.  The mind can't be a separate mind, however.  

From this idea, we assume there is only "One Mind" and this background, one mind is that cause for all change.  Waking up to this relationship empowers the Mental Science practitioner to realize how the processes in the external environment that they experience must inherently resonate with the processes within their personal mind.

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Anyway, I don't necessarily believe all of the above, but those are the ideas.  I asked my dad to do a 'treatment' (the technique of Mental Science) for me just now for ease in the apartment search.

I was amazed at the felt power he was able to generate in his speech, communicated through the 'vibe' in the room.  I went right into fourth jhana, which was really nice.  I found my thoughts naturally sort of running themselves, in relation to what he was saying.  He communicated the idea of the 'right place' for me and my future roommate.  That this place was already found, in the ultimate sense (outside of time and space), and that it was an exciting place to be where I would learn lots of valuable life lessons and make the most out of the adventure of moving to Seattle.  I found myself believing what he was saying.  It had a certain force to it.

I think that to practice Mental Science properly, one has to have a larger perspective which contains their personal one but doesn't honor it with all of the intensity of the ego.

Some or thoughts on Mental Science based on today's experience:

The idea of the 'one mind' of reality is completely non-dual... its the one without a second.  This is hard for me to wrap my mind around.  Meaning, its never wrong, or doing something other than itself.  It doesn't know negative or nuetral.  It does know positive in the sense that it even exists, and as long as it continues creating.  

Every disease or negative condition is that mind experimenting within itself.  Every terrible thing that has ever happened has been a result of a certain moment, a certain cause leading to an effect, created within a conscious reality by that conscious energy.  It doesn't know sufferring on a personal level.  It knows advancement and diversification and growth on a total level.

I have a disability, which is that mind discovering something and exploring something.  

The results of a treatment don't involve a 'blind spot' from the time the word is said to the time the situation is manifested.  Point A to Point B involves a1, a2... a1000, b1, etc.  Point C is also present, doint its own thing as another process.  There are only parallel processes of manifestation, ever-forming an interconnected web of experimentation that includes all the negative and all the positive in the world, in an overall, positively-producing equation which doesn't have anything to do with the way people judge things to be good or bad for themselves.  Situations manifest as a result of the resonance we have.  The purest and loudest resonance is linking up with the one consciousness and the basic methods and characteristics of that one consciousness.

You know, a while back it really hit me that I was ignoring/sidestepping a fundimental fact about reality.  As a materialist, I believe the physical, measurable world is everything there is - yet for some reason I hadn't really considered the implications of what that meant about consciousness.  There is nothing special about neurons, that we know of, which makes them somehow caipable of consciousness while other things aren't, which could mean a lot of things are conscious that we don't really think of as conscious - like a culture, or a city, or rocks.  Also, in the same way that each neuron in my own mind is working as part of a team of neurons, it's quite possible that I am part of a larger consciousness that I am not aware of (and that isn't necessarily aware of me).  I guess the real question is whether consciousness is special or not.  To believe it's special is to believe in a soul - but to believe it isn't special actually makes the whole thing much more complex with much bigger implications.

Anyway, mental science sounds like it's trying to understand and work within that revelation.  I'll have to do some reading. emoticon

Yeah, I don't know whats true.  But I like your thought about the implications of believing consciousness is special.  Unfortunately, I think you'll find that a lot of material on "Mental Science" is new age bs.  Lemme know what you find.

Last night I had a talk with a guy who studies Tibetan Buddhism.  It was in a bar while hanging out with mutual acquaintances.  I realized that I felt embarassed to share my meditation efforts.  I don't do any formal sitting ever.  What claim could I possibly have to any real attainments?

This afternoon, I have been listening to the Jay Michaelson talk that someone posted about the origins of mushroom culture.  I'm not really part of any meditation culture, traditional-asian, western-mainstream, etc.  I'm just a guy who does a lot of noting on his own to help cope with a disability.

When thinking about this, I realize that I don't NEED to be part of any culture.  I'd like to try to stop thinking of what I do as Buddhism, or even as spirituality in general, and also not as "pragmatic dharma."  I feel so much pressure when I categorize my efforts like this.  I feel like I need to fit into a mold and compare with the practices of a group of people.

I don't know what I'm doing.  I just know that its working, which is so amazing because so many other things haven't.  I'd like to start being more humble and stop trying to aggressively form and share my ideas about what spirituality is.  The only thing I'm sure of is my direct experience.  I don't know how it fits in with the big picture, I just know this noting-in-daily-life, under Ron's guidance, is working.

Noah, you really don't do formal sitting?

Yeah, I've always been too frustrated to do formal sitting.  Now I probably could but the daily life noting has been so productive... Idk, I have both doubts and confidence.  What do you think?

Noah S:
Yeah, I've always been too frustrated to do formal sitting.  Now I probably could but the daily life noting has been so productive... Idk, I have both doubts and confidence.  What do you think?


I think its remarkable that you've been making so much progress by simply noting in daily life. I would say if you are making progress, no need to change anything. 

Yeah, thats how I'm feeling lately as well.  When I first skyped with Ron, he had some serious doubts that progress without formal sitting was possible.  But his peer Abre Chen wasn't so surprised to hear it when I met her in person.  So I don't know how many people are doing it.  In general I just want to stay humble and not try to make my practice out to be more than it is (i.e. hardcore sitting for hours with aching legs and back).

There are some things you only learn with age.  I was reading a thread on Awake Network about what enlightenment and felt somehow refreshed to read how the practice of real insight has transformed people again and again over the years, well after 4th Path.  And the way this affects life is endless and deep.

I was watching a documentary about Bob Weir, founding member of The Grateful Dead.  He seems to have some amazing perspective and wisdom accumulated over the years.  Some of his comments carry a certain sobriety, perspective and tenor that I would associate with fundamental insight rather than conventional life wisdom.  Then there are the matters of the heart, the way he was opening his palms and asking the crowd to "reflect back joy" at Jerry Garcia's funeral.

Matters of the heart don't make sense.  Matters of faith.  In the end, life is this long endless thing that one has to live with and work with.  I am not where I want to be.  But I hope that meditation is helping build a base so that I can stabilize some wisdom in the long term.  So that I can learn some matters of the heart.

As my girlfriend wakes up in the middle of the night, sunburnt to a crisp and wimpering, I realize that I need to turn of the tv, ac and turn down the computer light to help her sleep.  I am basically addicted to these things and feel bad without them.  But even now, its a little bit easier to let them go.  More significantly, I have the striking feeling that I would do anything to make her happy.  This doesn't feel tied down, it feels freeing.  It feels like Bob Weir opening his hands to the sky, trying to communicate the wordless, one heart feeling-spirit.  What is it?  I keep coming back to this thing that I feel is beyond the confines of meditation techniques.  I have the feeling that the paths in the awakening process simply provide a launching pad to move into this endless ravine.

Trust and the Distinction Between Developmental Mindfulness Vs Mainstream Mindfulness:

At first glance, the maps seem more esoteric and less accessible than the instructions that form the basis of McMindfulness everywhere.  McMindfulness is about trusting the moment.  Its about cultivating certain qualities in the present moment.  Its about suggesting the increase of presentness in a non-remarkable way.  Developmental dharma is about trusting the future.  Trusting that enlightenment exists and is a state that can be reached.  Its about combining quality with quantity in the most intense and intellegent possible way to bust plateaus and reach a future state of enlightenment.

Based on these descriptions, it seems like McMindfulness is about trust and losing control, whereas the mapping approach is about gaining more control and using willpower.  However, I would argue that the maps require even more trust and loss of control and surrender than the conventional mindfulness instructions.  This is because to use a map you must dumbly follow instructions for a really, really long time without analyzing the qualities that are being developed or putting too much stock into any one moment.  

On the other hand, to use the regular instructions, all you have are those qualities ("lets bring soft awareness into this moment and a compassionate cloud of mush around and through everything") to develop, not the promise that they will someday become automatic.  So, to successfully work the mind without the map, you have to be aware of your meditation MORE, which involves less trust, in my opinion.

I think 4th Path is just a taste of completion.  Every 4th Pather I have talked to or read comments from communicates that they feel embedded in their experience at times still.  The point is, IT GOES AWAY.  It comes and goes, its not fixed.  Although the most subtle effects are permanent.  So, it helps me to know what I am looking for.  I am looking for a complete understanding, a pinnacle understanding after which nothing can be added or subtracted.  But, not a fixed lasting state.

But this pinnacle is important for me specifically because it will dramatically minimize my tension energy.  Thats what I'm in it for, not to change my baseline, persay.

What's the difference between dramatically minimizing tension energy and changing your baseline?

Not Tao:
What's the difference between dramatically minimizing tension energy and changing your baseline?


Haha I'm not sure.  I think my reference point for perceptual baseline shift is a wonderfully informative post from Daniel from years ago:
Since the topic has come up so often and been so bandied about so many times by so many people, let me state here what I mean by 4th path, regardless of what anyone else means by it. It has the following qualities:

1) Utter centerlessness: no watcher, no sense of a watcher, no subtle watcher, no possibility of a watcher. This is immediately obvious just as color is to a man with good eyesight as the old saying goes. Thus, anything and everything simply and obviously manifest just where they are. No phenomena observe any others and never did or could.

2) Utter agencylessness: meaning no agency, no sense of doing, no sense of doer, no sense that there could be any agent or doer, no way to find anything that seems to be in control at all. Whatever effort or intent or anything like that that arises does so naturally, causally, inevitably, as it always actually did. This is immediately obvious, though not always the forefront of attention.

3) No cycles change or stages or states or anything else like that do anything to this direct comprehension of simple truths at all.

4) There is no deepening in it to do. The understanding stands on its own and holds up over cycles, moods, years, etc and doesn't change at all. I have nothing to add to my initial assessment of it from 9 years ago.

5) There is nothing subtle about it: anything and everything that arises exhibits these same qualities directly, clearly. When I was third path, particularly late in it, those things that didn't exhibit these qualities were exceedingly subtle, and trying to find the gaps in the thing was exceedingly difficult and took years and many cycles. I had periods from weeks to months where it felt done and then some subtle exception would show up and I would realize I was wrong yet again, so this is natural and understandable, and if someone claims 4th as I define it here and later says they got it wrong, have sympathy for them, as this territory is not easy and can easily fool people, as it did me many, many times over about 5 years or so. However, 4th, as I term it, ended that and 9 years later that same thing holds, which is a very long time in this business.

There are other aspects that may be of value to discuss at some other time, but those are a great place to start for those who wish to claim this. If you truly have those, then perhaps we can talk about a few other points that are less central and essential.Now, how there can still be affect (though quite modified in many ways) when there is centerlessness and agencylessness, this is a mystery to the AF kids and to me as well, and that brings me to my next point: there seems to be areas of development depending on what you look for and aim for that may arise independently, and not everything seems to come as a package necessarily. Those things are what I looked for really hard for about 7 years, and that is what I found. Now I find that the interest in the unraveling of what drives that residual affect is arising, and so that investigation happens on its own also.Perhaps people will find this helpful in some way.
So I think minimizing negative tension might be one of those "other aspects" that goes unlisted here.  I think reducing emotional stress of a certain type is just really relevant for me particularly.  I'd imagine someone else would have different positive side effects from the path.  For me, I'm actually becoming less introspective and more grounded and less sensitive.  Another person might become more introspective and sensitive and thereby more grounded.  

On Motivation and Meditation In Daily Life:

I always use self-talk to keep myself motivated.  But it has different content at different times.  Sometimes, its about push-push-push, hardcore use of willpower.  And other times, its more relaxed: its not so hard to stay mindful, this is kind of like a way of life, just keep noting and relax into the groove of it.

More on Motivation:

The continuous theme for me is motivation.  It is difficult to note in daily life.  Its hard to stay focused and even harder to sacrifice the quality of my social interactions, effort at work, and activities in other areas.  

The endless, open question (as Vince Horn would put it) for me is: how can I keep this inner-focus a priority above everything else.  Sometimes it feels like I have to allow myself to go a little crazy.  To detach a bit too much, but in a way that keeps me putting meditation-efforts above everything else.  Sometimes I have to stop caring about the material world completely for awhile... to leave all those goals behind in favor of focusing on the sensory elements that build it all up in the first place.

On Wisdom and Compassion Being Two Sides of the Same Coin:

I have always thought that wisdom is fundamental or ultimate (involving the nature of the world outside of perception) and any emotional component, including compassion, must be secondary or subserviant in that it relies on the subjective or relative experience of the practitioner.  However, I think that what Tantra is trying to say is that there IS NO world outside of our perception.  The world and our process of perception are linked inextricably such that one cannot exist without the other.  There is certainly evidence in science for this.

Listening to the Reggie Ray live stream, I got a "hit" of this information.  When you open up to an experience completely, such that true wisdom can arise, i.e. seeing the 3 C's of in it and through it and as it, you also realize that YOU are having that experience and you can't separate the 3 C's of the object of attention from the process of attention itself.  Therefore, the feelings of vulnerability and rawness and nakedness that come from the wisdom of seeing without filters ARE part of that wisdom.  Vulnerability IS wisdom, not a result of wisdom.  The perciever is in the perception and the percieved. 

Therefore, compassion is fundamental, is ultimate, is wisdom.

edit: Time and space being relative, it might be the case that wise perception and then vulnerability or compassion follows.  However, on the level of the 3 c's, it doesn't matter which comes first.  

Old Dho Threads I Have Been Reading:

Actual Freedom as 4th Path Experience discussion
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/110245

Why reject the "limited emotional range model" of Enlightenment?
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/96636

As well as Daniel and Tarin's discussion of AF from his website
http://integrateddaniel.info/podcasts-and-videos/

My thoughts on this content:

It seems to me that it is really important to have a sense of security or foundation in one's own practice.  What I mean is that it is beneficial to stay faithful to the same technique for a long enough period to say the immense benefits of that technique manifest in one's own personal experience and moment-by-moment perception.  What I am getting at is that I would never care enough to argue about Actual Freedom a huge amount or risk causing rifts in a sangha for the sake of proving a point.  I am too happy with the way Vipassana is working and the effectiveness of my own practice and my teacher's instruction to get into fights with others.

The way I see it, it is like the difference between codependence and interdependence in relationships: codependence involves an unhealthy amount of investment in the other person (or, in this case, the opinions of others), whereas, interdependence involves a high degree of independent feeling and operating, rendering the need for insecurity and rampant tension useless.  My practice is working too well for me to try to convince others about it.  The Actualism method works too well for others to argue about it.

Other thoughts about the Actualism method:

I think the high degree of certainty and confidence people possess when they claim AF is a problem.  First of all, attainments aren't static.  4th Path certainly isn't like this, based on how other's have described it.  I can say for certain that 3rd Path isn't some continuous, unchanging, locked-in, way of being.  Why should Actual Freedom be static?  Perhaps it is stronger sometimes than others.  Perhaps the somatic charge does sometimes re-arise in those who claim AF.  Who cares?  It is still an impressive shift.  Why does it have to be always-and-forever-never-changing-blah-blah-blah?  

People need to be able to come to a grey area where things aren't certain or extreme on either end of the spectrum.  Eliminating some, but not all, delusion/affect/fetter/etc., needs to be acceptable to have a civilized discussion about this. 

I think the thing that shifts would be some understanding about emotions or about the feeling identity.  Some background sense of it that dissapears, not some permanent mutilation of the foreground content of it.  I would propose that there is such a thing as Actual Freedom but that it isn't as extreme as everyone makes it out to be.  So, to use AFT language, perhaps Virtual Freedom is real, but Actual Freedom is as mythological as a 0 Fetter Arhat.

p.s. it seems that one of the only people who might agree with me would be Chuck, based on his participation in the old discussion linked above.
 


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Hi Noah,

I agree with you as well.  I think the ability to be happy, itself, is a huge attainment, and the ability to remain happy or content a majority of the time is even huger. emoticon  I have a feeling that's all anyone's really looking for.  The problems come from uncertainty about what to do, and a pleathora of conflicting teachings.  Attainments become a big deal because people want to find something that works for them (EDIT: and they want proof that their teachers are legit).  We're all kind of on our own at some point, though.  Trusting yourself is the best way to make progress, I think.

I've had quite a stressful day to day.  A lot of me just being in my own way, so to speak.  Making problems out of nothing, etc.

I know what I have to do to remedy this, and it doesn't involve meditation, it involves morality.  I need to change my attitude.  There is a way of being I have had at different times in my life that has always, consistently worked to make me conventionally happy.  It is a combination of craziness, toughness, humor and perspective.  

How can I be playful and silly and light-hearted in the face of all things, including the bad things?  The answer seems to lie in a purposeful sloppiness; a refusal to be obsessive or perfectionistic or controlling-of-the-details.

Its not going to be perfect.  Don't try to make it perfect.  I can allow myself to get lost a little bit in this process of insight: losing my mind as a daily-life-yogi.  It won't matter in the end.  Sometimes you have to tough it out.  Sometimes you have to be insensitive to yourself.  Sometimes you have to be insensitive to others.  Allow things to be crazy.  Allow things to be sane.  Allow things to be ordered.  And allow them to be out of control.  

And make a joke out of everything.  Make a joke out of me and you and our relationship.  Make a joke out of all of life.

And grit your teeth.  And smile.

I'm doing a little mental science/loa/magick/intentional work here:

When I go to do a Spiritual Mind Treatment for getting 4th Path, or to create a sigil for "I AM AN ARHAT", or whatever else, I realize that I am getting caught in the thicket of views.  I am too absorbed in the form and technique of it, and not enough in the content of what I am seeking (4th Path) and in the understanding or insight into how the magickal-intentional process actually occurs.

Case-in-point, I go to start the Spiritual Mind Treatment, and I immediately feel agitation in the body, a common hindrance of mine.  I realize I am doing it wrong.  I look in my copy of "Science of Mind", by Ernest Holmes, and see various sections which trigger a memory of how this process is really supposed to go.  Everything in the Mind of God is easy.  Everything is in flow, in harmony.  God does not require more 'effort' to move a mountain then a grain of sand.  Its the difference between moving a finger and moving an arm.  Its just an intention sent from the brain through the nerve network and it just happens.  

So, I decided to "catch" the idea of 4th Path as it exists in my unmanifest vortex.  I used self-talk: Isn't it so easy to be like this?  Isn't it so wonderful, the actual, real thing, this enlightenment which heals the mind, heals the energy body, provides a type of relief I can actually rely on?  It is the Third Path feeling I have now, amplified, and with added effects I can't possibly predict.  

This 4th Path state exists, in reality, as an idea, here and now.  I have "caught" that idea.  I am claiming it.  It is for me.  It is now happening to me.

There are other ideas that are now manifest that may need to be given up, or need to step out of the way a little.  One is the idea of progress, it must be secondary to my goal!  If I could get 4th Path tomorrow, I would!  I am more attached to enlightenment than I am to my sadhana.  That is very important.  Another, related idea is struggle, pessimism, grinding toughness, etc.  The whole struggle mood I have with this path.  It is necessary as a tool for perserverance, but it is also secondary to the final goal.  It is an illusion compared to the reality of the oncoming 4th Path.  

Anything that would or could get in the way of me getting 4th Path as quickly and efficiently as possible I now declare as a false belief.  I am dissolving all obstacles on the level of ideas and will watch them inevitably melt away on the level of the material. 

:-) <3

Tonight's Thoughts on the Actualism Method:

There are a lot of things involved in the Actualism method, here is a numbered list, in no particular order (lol):

1) Stripping away the socio-cultural identity.
2) Stripping away the primal-animalistic identity.
3) Cultivating felicitous feelings.
4) Admiring the sensuous nature of physical reality.
5) Direct pointing towards apperception, aka cultivating a PCE.
6) Observing, understanding and becoming disenchanted with the nature of emotion, both positive and negative.
7) Cultivating a worldview/mindset that "time" does not exist, the world is eternal, the spatial universe is endless, etc.
8) Using all the above to encourage the willful, self-imolation of the feeling-being inside.

I will probably need to seek out a mentor for the Actualism method, just as I have for vipassana.  What is more likely is that I will benefit from talking to several Actualists on a regular basis.  I don't like ambiguity in dharma-diagnosing myself.  If I can get several experts to agree, I will be able to feel certain.

So I did a spiritual mind treatment for attaining actual freedom and watched what came up in my mind over the past few hours.  Interestingly, the actualism method doesn't quite feel right.  I'm not really sure going for a purely physically existent state that sort of bars the other options of seeing the coolness of the inner world as well is the right thing to do.  I don't think I'm done with Buddhist training yet, even though insight feels very piqued.  I feel very much immediately and continuously in touch with the suchness of cause and effect.  My self is apart yet distinctly one with the world.  My self is quie obviously arising as part of the rest of the arising moment.  And passing too, although thats not as obvious.

But my goal is to be able to get a job, to be able to discipline myself to eat healthy and exercise, to have balanced and positive, healthy emotions, etc.  My approach has been to try to reach a plateaued state where all this normal functioning occurs automatically.  But part of wisdom (seeing 3 C's, dependent origination, cause and effect, 4 noble truths, etc) is to realize that this goal is bullshit.  Life will always require work and adjustments.  Being free from suffering means being free from needing to identify with phenomenon as they arise.  It does not mean being free from work.

And Buddhism has a formula for how to accomplish my goal of being a healthy, functioning person.  It involves learning and honing the skill of discipline to feel one way and act another while observinng the mechanics of craving.  It also involves cultivating a friendly and unconditionally positive relationship will all things that arise, inside and out, and all people that one comes into contact with.  It also involves skillfully using conceptual thought: having faith and confidence that what one is doing is the right path and that it will lead to good results  Also, there are the jhanas.  Even if they don't grant permanent freedom from duality-based stress, they help to heal the mind as it learns to truly let go into deeper levels.  Disciplined action is also related to ethical action, being a good person, which is also related to cultivating friendliness.  Also, there is the importance of participating with other people who are interested in this path and have some success with it.

So I have a huge amount of work to do.  I don't know if I should abandon all of this possibility of learning to work with reality by becoming further removed from one aspect (affect/passion).

Should I shoot for Actual Freedom or should I shoot for mastery of the Brahma Viharas and whatever type of healing and behaviroal change comes with that?

It occurred to me that Actual Freedom is not bad as a final goal, and that practice with the Brahma Viharas, as well as any number of other objects and methods, could be useful on the path to AF.  Even if I don't get Actual Freedom, if it feels useful to me as a final target to help set my course, than that is fine.  I need to set my course in a certain direction.  Its just how I am.  I'm not someone who can practice without a goal.

Kindness is part of this overall course I have to set for myself.  Sympathetic Joy and Compassion also make sense as part of the orientation of being a good guy.  There is a lot of ground work to be done.  HAIETMOBA has a part to play.  BV's have a part to play.  Morality, Concentration and Insight have their parts to play.

This path is one that goes beyond forms and labels.  I know I am on it because it feels real.  The need to pick sides is pure illusion.

The translation is debatable, but here goes the famous (and relevant) Rumi line:

Out beyond ideas of Islam and unbelief,
There is a field,
I will meet you there.

Beyond the seeming differences between various contemplative trainings, there is a way of being, a process of attainments in the direction of the nondual.  There is not one right way to head in the direction of the nondual.  Furthermore, there is not one final destination that all practitioners will reach.  Rather, there are probably some commonalities in the baseline perceptions of those who have been successful.

I feel that, for me, aiming for Actual Freedom as the final goal helps to set the course, to rouse the Energy and Joy factors of enlightenment.  This does not mean that I only have to do the Actualism method and it also does not mean that the Actualism method must be right for everyone.  In general, we are all part of the same club of people who are interested in weird meditation stuff and not as interested in sports, pop culture and the weather.
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It seems to be very valuable to learn to be okay with where I am at.  To be okay with my personality traits and what I am feeling at given time.  This seems to be an important stepping stone on the path.

Even though I feel like this is premature, and therefore potentially unskillful, I am going to detail a potential way to map my own course of investigation along this path of development (insight).

A few notes beforehand:
         I am totally unidentified with the type of spiritual experience described on the AFT website.  In fact, the type of development that seems to be occuring as a result of the new burmese method of vipassana seems to have much in common with the apperceptiveness, sensuousness, and felicity that is described on the website.  I see little difference (in the basic or fundamental quality being developed) between the free, open awareness of mind that includes the inner-spectrum and the pure consciousness of sensate-reality that excludes the inner-spectrum.
          One way of framing this connection would be to say that acutalism and vipassana are both forms of investigation.  While one investigates reality by looking the emotion-process, the identity-process, the sensate-percieving-process and the relationship between them, the other investigates reality by looking at the 3 characteristics of impermanence, not-self, and stress.  Theoretically, one could see the actualism method as a natural follow-up to reaching a certain peak of understanding within the vipassana method.

4th path develops a perfect platform of mindfulness, a perfect freedom from inside the mind and body capsule, an ability to perfectly be just where one is, at any time.

From this point, one has the option to begin investigating the emotion-forming process, and how this is related to the formation of various layers of the identity or ego.  This investigation is to be balanced with a knowing of the continuous inflow of physical, sensate, data.  One is to watch how the inner communication between various parts of the self can be purposefully interrupted when one's attention is in tune with sensate reality.

It should be noted that some of this type of investigation has probably occured previously, within the efforts of vipassana.  The difference is the shift into making affect and identity the primary objects.  The 3 C's of all reality (including inner and outer) are no longer the primary object.

Eventually, the entire emotional-identity-formation chain is to be deconstructed, and seen through as an illusion.  The sensate-perceiving-process is to be strengthened and reidentified with.  Whether or not it is possible to permanently eliminate all emotion forever, it could be skillful to lose a sense of faith or care or significance for emotions and for the subtle layers of background identity that underlie emotions.

Vipassana seems to cause a certain loss of faith in the solidity of all reality, all objects, including the self.  It is not as if one will permanently be locked into the vipassanizing lens which deconstructs, but rather that certain peak experiences of seeing th 3 c's will shift the foundation of one's awareness forever.  In the same way, it is not as if one will be locked into a PCE forever, but rather that the insights obtained from the PCE will uproot the sense of faith in the emotional-identity process.  Delusional fabrications (i.e. seemingly solid or continuous objects, a seemingly sticky, affective charge in the body) will still arise in awareness, but the difference is that there is a dispassion for them, so they are no problem.

This is what I am looking for when I think of the Actualism method.

Running the software of the Actualism method does not preclude the possibility of later returning to vipassana software, or later moving on to more advanced concentration software or brahma vihara software.

A map is useful up until the point where the mind-state it produces outlasts the map.  At this point, the map should be thrown away and a new map can be developed or discovered, as a skillful means for further refinement of awareness.

Hey Noah,

There's something I've found very helpful lately that might give you a jump start.  I said this in another thread, but there seem to be two aspects of practice.  One is the problem of emotional suppression and control, and the other is emotional triggering.  I think vipassana deals with suppression.  Each sensation is allowed to come up as it is.  But the interesting second part to this is that, even though emotions are out of our direct control, we can still modify the conceptual basis that causes emotions to arise.

I've read a lot of accounts of AF practice that sound a lot like suppression.  Trying to maintain and fixate the awareness on something, like the present moment or sensory information, is actually kind of odd if you think about it.  Is the goal to stop thinking, stop imagining, both, more than that?  What does any of that really have to do with the feeling of stress?  I've thought about this a lot, actually.  I've whittled the goal down to something very, very simple for myself.  When stress is happening, the only thing I actually want to change is the feeling.  It isn't the situation that's the problem, it isn't where my attention is, it isn't the thoughts that are happening, it isn't the enviroment that's the problem, it isn't the relationship I have with objects or my surroundings.  It's always, very simply, a painful physical feeling that I want to go away.  After watching carefully, I've noticed that the same situations can happen with different feelings, and it's never consistent what/where/who/how/ect, it's just the feeling that's the problem.  If a bad feeling is present, it can make a very simple problem seem huge and horrible.  The same is true for a positive feeling - maybe something horrible is happening, but if there are no negative feelings, it's easy to deal with the situation.

So, it's kind of an odd problem.  We are driven back and forth by feelings and they aren't under our control. Suppressing them makes them worse.  What can we really do?  The answer seems to lie at the very core of who we are, and I think this is why the Buddha emphasized impermanence.  Our intellect, or the thing we most identify as "who I am" - like a core identity - this is what actually triggers feelings.  So each time a feeling comes up, it's because, at a very deep "who I am" level, we decide that's how we want to feel.  Here's an example: There is a girl at work who always gives me a hard time.  I seem to understand intellectually that the things she's saying don't actually matter, but feelings of resentment will still come up.  This didn't make much sense at first, but after analyzing the situation a bit I realized I was connecting each comment with my survival.  When I first started at this new job, I had been self-employed for most of my life.  My old job was no longer making any money, and this new job seemed like my only opportunity for survival.  From the beginning, it wasn't very clear who my actual boss was, so every insinuation that I was doing something wrong cut very deep.  Reguardless of my current understanding of the situation, I can still see this pathway connecting each negative comment.  So, on the AFT, Richard often says a person has to give up all their beliefs and ideals to become free.  I don't think this is just pointing to political beliefs or spiritual beliefs, it's pointing to all of those deep connections to the survival instict - or, you could say, the survival instinct itself.  But this thing hides very well, and it actually hides in plain sight, because we APPROVE of it.

So, anyway, the good news is that you don't have to track everything down through the line of reasoning that triggered the emotion.  It's good to know how that works and see it in action, but it doesn't have to be a constant effort.  It turns out the core of all of these triggers - the very basis of ever reason we have for feeling emotion - boils down to what we think the meaning of life is.  This is the conceptual basis I referenced at the beginning of my rant here, haha.  I think that stress is actually the manifestation of the absurd - or the way the things we give meaning are always changing, fading, dying, and disappearing.  This actually seems to be the main thread in the Buddha's teaching as well - contemplate imperminance and take nothing as your self!

So why is the meaning of life the problem?  Because life has no meaning!  If you think the meaning of life is to have a good family, you eventually have to face the death of family members, or rebellious children, or a spouse that leaves you.  If you think the meaning of life is to be a good person, you end up having to confront people who walk all over you or take things from you.  It goes deeper and deeper - if you want to be a good artist, standing in line at the store becomes suffering since you aren't practicing.  Even if you simply want to be happy, and you turn this into a goal, you have to deal with wayward emotions and your own lack of control.  The meaning we give to life is at the very core of our being, and it's the thing all stress emerges from.

These days, I've just been reminding myself of two things - I can't control how I feel, and life has no meaning.  Whatever you want to happen, it doesn't matter.  Whatever goals you have, they are ultimately worthless.  This isn't a negative thing, though.  A meaningless life is perfect - there are no expectations to upset, nothing to go wrong, nowhere to be, nothing to do.  Sitting on your couch has the same value as conducting a simphony or being a bit of dirt on the bottom of the ocean.  It doesn't turn you into a lifeless slug, it just releases you from stress.

Does this make sense?  I think it's hard to state it in a "nice" way, even though it's possibly the greatest thing I've ever seen for myself.  You're just off the hook.  All suffering is self imposed because you want to be something specific.  Just be completely anonymous and completely free.  Be nothing, be empty, be worthless, be undefined, let go, dissipate.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
6/24/15 9:32 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Hey Not Tao,

Your post above was very helpful and I've pondering it the past few days.  I think working with emotions in a way that is inspired by your words will be very helpful to me at a certain point in my development, specifically when I have enough groundedness and mental space to do so.

For now (and this is related to another post I wish to make, below), I will classify such work with emotions as "morality" training.  However, when done with enough depth and at the most basic level, it is obviously more like "wisdom" training.

I continue to make use of your writing, 

thank you

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
6/24/15 9:41 PM as a reply to Noah.
Reconciling all the different maps and the possibility of post 4th path development:

This is how I am thinking lately.  Whenever I am noticing the 3 C's, noticing cause and effect, disembedding from experience, trying to cognize ripgpa, or noticing how everything is a relative experience, I am doing "insight" training whose result is "wisdom."

Wisdom unfolds in stages or plateaus.  I believe these stages can ultimately be mapped across all humans and cultures, even though they vary by individual and time/place.  I don't think the use of the term "4th path" to describe the end of wisdom development, after which no wisdom development is possible, makes sense.  I think it makes more sense to use 4th path as an optional end-point, or at least, a radical turning point, for the life and training of the yogi.  4th path is the ending of preference as we know it.  It is the point after which the yogi's relationship to experience will never quite be the same.

Further development is fully possible.  This is suggested by actualist method (when freed from the its useless dogma), suggested by the book, 'Clarifying the Natural State', suggested by Kenneth's 8 stage model, etc.  

The bottom line for me is that I like to have signs along the way.  I will continue insight training at least until I reach a certain peak point of mental health and functioning, and at most, until the day that I die.

I am happy all of this stuff is possible.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
6/26/15 9:33 AM as a reply to Noah.
What I personally mean by '4th path':

What I mean by 4th path is a full surrender into the moment, after which the center point or sense of self can never fully be believed, ever again.  It is the deep, intuitive understanding that everything is an experience.

The distinction is that i can intuitively sense the truth or know the truth without seeing/hearing/feeling it all the time.  Meaning, I don't have to walk around in perfect luminsoity, volitionlessness, centerlessness, agencylessness, totality/completeness, to KNOW (deep in my body, in my bones) that these things are the true nature of reality.  

My brain doesn't have to always be locked in to cognizing these effects for me to get the not-stress benefits of the experience of not-self.  And these benefits are what I want.  I am not committed to developing the fully enlightened perspective.  I am committed to reaching a certain critical mass of low-suffering.

Perhaps we should think of a better term than 4th path for this, or perhaps not.  At the very least, know that this is what I mean when I say it.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
6/26/15 9:57 AM as a reply to Noah.
Upaya, and my 4th path definition:

I realize that I have lost the spirit of upaya in the scramble to figure out what the hell 4th path really is lately.  This is something I have known the whole time, something my parents, as mental-health professional and yogis since the 1970's themselves, have taught me.  

From the wikipedia definition for upaya:
The implication is that even if a technique, view, etc., is not ultimately "true" in the highest sense, it may still be an expedient practice to perform or view to hold; i.e., it may bring the practitioner closer to the true realization in a similar way.

4th path, as I have been thinking of it, has been incredibly helpful in motivating me to practice with vigor and intellect.  Therefore, I conclude that I should finish the damn thing up, as I have been thinking of it, and not as others have.
What this means for me, experience wise is that I don't have to make luminosity-perception my baseline in order to know that localized awareness is bullshit when I feel it.  I don't have to make agencyless-perception my baseline in order to know that the sense of willpower that types these words is not real.  In my opinion, it is the "knowing" that reduces stress.  The perceptual effects are just optional add-ons.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
6/26/15 10:23 AM as a reply to Noah.
Hi, Noah.

When you say "knowing" in this context do you mean intellectually or in a deeper, grokking/felt sense? In my experience the intellectual form of knowing precedes the deeper knowing, but the deeper knowing is the real tipping point that flips perception in a permanent way such that the sense of an agent, a privileged center point to perception, is fully seen through.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
6/26/15 10:44 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah S:
it is the "knowing" that reduces stress.


That sounds spot on to me, Noah.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
6/26/15 10:51 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Hey Chris,

I only mean the deeper knowing, the grokking.

These discussions have helped me define for myself what I want, which is the deep intuition of the truth.  In my experience thus far (and it is very possible I haven't gone far enough with this), the only 'ultimate' truth is that the world is made up of 'relative' truths.  Every mind state or quality of mind is another experience, bearing equal testament to the 3 C's.

I don't trust the development of "qualities" of perception to happen quickly enough to benefit my current situation or that they can ever be stabilized as permanent or continuous.  In contrast, I fully trust the deeper grokking.  Perhaps this intuitive knowing could be analyzed and said to be another quality of perception, but I would not find such inquiry skillful.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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6/26/15 10:56 AM as a reply to Noah.
Very cool, Noah!

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
6/27/15 2:20 PM as a reply to Noah.
There is always the ever-adjusting conceptual framework and personal philosophy.  I have come to fully accept it as a work in progress.  The process of shaping my thoughts in ever-more refined ways, is, the benefit, itself.  The idea that some resulting, perfect-in-every-way paradigm would be the benefit, is bs.

So, I seem to have eliminated this sense of 'caring' or preferring any one experience to any other experience.  However, I realize now that I need to take this thing way further to get the relief-from-suffering benefit and the real-world results that I have been looking for.  It is true, what I thought before; I don't need to stabilize or hardwire certain types of ultimate or fundamental perception in order to recognize the deluded nature of my current perception.

The thing is, this 'recognition' isn't enough for me.  I am not satisfied.  So I have decided to push it further, regardless of how such efforts would line up with any given dharma map.

Instead of just trying to intuitively feel not-self and drop into a background sense of surrender in the moment, I am doing more obvious, moment-by-moment perceptual exploration of the body, the mind, the senses, the self-sense, etc.  Its like an excavation of sorts, chipping away the dirt surrounding different layers and aspects of 'my' being, and hopefully, loosening these layers permanently such that they can be seen as forms of flow, rather than solids.

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There are different 'logics' to my internal and external worlds.  I see my external world as purely physical, it is easier to objectify it and disembed from it.  Even from my own physical body.

However, my internal world has always been my own.  It is the thing that I am in possession of.  It is the reason I practice: to slowly make it a more peaceful and easy place to be.  The whole basis of the internal world is that it can change, 'I', can change it.  

But now the practice has gotten to a certain point; I no longer believe that I am benefitting from the insight cycles.  For me, the insight cycles have been, on a bare, sensate/energetic level, an automatic process of purification, but also on a cognitive/emotional level, a lesson in preference; refrain from preferring any one experience to any other, for there is no point.  I believe I have accomplished that and learned these lessons.  This effort included, in its results, a sense that I shouldn't reject feeling of possessiveness, feelings of self, and feelings of inconsistency between inner and outer perception.

In order to progress further, I must favor certain perceptions over others.  There is an inconsistency in the way that I view internal and external phenomena.  They should follow only one logic: the 3 C's, or ultimate reality.  Everything is pre-programmed.  Everything is just happening.  Nothing is more me than anything else, therefore, 'me', simply doesn't exist at all.  

This is like ripping everything all the way open.  I can't be a self anymore.  I can't be committed to changing or improving myself.  I can only only commit to seeing the one truth, which has never included 'me', in the first place.

Oh the rejection! :p

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
6/28/15 4:49 AM as a reply to Noah.
6/28

This is a bit of a confessional, and also divergent from what is common fare on the dho.  I don't care about that, because, I see radical transformation as a thing that is necessary on all levels, from the most fundamental to the most mundane.  Whether or not I separate the 3 trainings or try and integrate them in a way that is still hardcore and pragmatic, I still have to deal with my life's problems.

I think I might join a 12 step group.  I had this as a weird and unexpected insight tonight.  I am not addicted to alcohol, or any other one substance (although I have been in the past).  I am addicted to eating, television, writing, reading, thinking, masturbating, laziness, lying down, air conditioning, feelings of safety, being entertained, sleeping, and several others.  These are all things I do to keep myself feeling good (compulsive behaviors, see below), feeling stable, feeling suppressed or tranquilized.  I am 23, I have an incredibly messy room, I make very little money despite having just gotten a college degree, and some days (such as today) I just sit and watch tv in my room which is in my parents house.

I try to explain to my friends that psychological insight is like looking at cells through a microscope, whereas spiritual insight is like looking at atoms.  Some of them understand it.  What is important is that atoms make up cells, and cells make up the rest of life.  

There is something between the levels of mundane, everyday affairs, and deep spirituality.  At this middling, psychological level, I think I am addicted to just about anything that will make me not have to be in the raw danger of the present moment.  Sila isn't about changing behavior, its about changing the underlying psychodynamics.  

I am thinking really clearly.  The exercise of trying to see luminosity is having good side-effects.  There is nothing special about the 12 step program.  It would just be more skillful means, if I decide to go through with it.

These are both quotes from wikipedia:
A twelve-step program is a set of guiding principles (sometimes accepted by members as being 'spiritual principles') outlining a course of action for tackling problems including alcoholism, drug addiction and compulsion
Compulsive behaviors are a need to reduce apprehension caused by internal feelings a person wants to abstain or control.

Most practices geared toward personal transformation involve shifting deeper levels of mind in ways that are major enough to eventually automatically cause more skillful inner and outer outlooks and behavior.  

I wish things were easier, but they are not.  If there is one thing I have reaffirmed
 in the past 2 years of practice under the 'pragmatic dharma' banner, it is that major changes only occur when one makes something the project of one's life.  It has to be the goal, one with utmost importance.  Only than can one start to break the habitual patterns that have been virtually set in stone.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
6/28/15 11:05 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah, I wish you stillness. I wish you and end to churning and seeking. Think about just taking a breather for while. That may help more than you think.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
6/28/15 12:42 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah S:

I think I might join a 12 step group.  I had this as a weird and unexpected insight tonight.  I am not addicted to alcohol, or any other one substance (although I have been in the past).  I am addicted to eating, television, writing, reading, thinking, masturbating, laziness, lying down, air conditioning, feelings of safety, being entertained, sleeping, and several others.  These are all things I do to keep myself feeling good (compulsive behaviors, see below), feeling stable, feeling suppressed or tranquilized.  I am 23, I have an incredibly messy room, I make very little money despite having just gotten a college degree, and some days (such as today) I just sit and watch tv in my room which is in my parents house.

Air conditioning? dafuq?

on topic: Have you ever been on a retreat? Those things you list are common coping strategies, but people aren't actually addicted to them.
If you are on retreat, you suddenly discover that you're completely fine without all of them.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
6/28/15 9:13 PM as a reply to bernd the broter.
@Chris: All I can say is thank you.

@Bernd: Perhaps addiction isn't the right word.  What literally is happening is that I have desires that manifest as repeated behaviors that damage me in various ways and completely interfere with more skillful behaviors.  'Addiction', 'compulsion', '12 steps', etc., are all just labels and structures used to help oneself change.  

I went on a 10 day zen sessin after stream entry in March.  Even though it was after stream entry and was 10 days of nonstop sitting, I was literallly restless and anxious and fighting myself the entire time.  I never stopped pining for my computer, my tv, my whatever.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/1/15 7:39 AM as a reply to Noah.
All perception is illusory.  There is the 'knowing' of this, which reduces suffering.  This is what I seek.  From this view, no perception is better than another.

However, it is also true that some modes or qualities of perception are better than others, in that they are more effective in reducing suffering.  This is also what I seek.  From this view, certain ways of perceiving are better than others.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/6/15 3:02 AM as a reply to Noah.
I was looking over the AF Yahoo group and thought it was interesting that people are putting so much emphasis on integration, sila, and self-help in their actualism practice rather than trying to completely separate the two.  I think any spiritual/insight process will be psychotherapuetic and provide other tangible benefits when one follows it all the way.  Its just that these things are hard to measure and completely subjective.  However, there probably isn't something inherently therapuetic about either vipassana or actualism, meaning, it is probably possible to go very far with both methods and purposely not try to improve one's personality and actions.  The core is still in fundamental insight, not conventional  wisdom.  I just think its interesting to emphasize the relative changes in behavior that occur in the spiritual process.  To me, these are the most important parts.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/6/15 4:15 PM as a reply to Noah.
I just had a conceptual insight into the idea of 'sainthood' and 'sanitized beings.'  I have known for a long time, since before discovering pragmatic dharma, that sainthood is probably a myth.  However, I just felt for the very first time, an absolutely certain feeling of realization that it is a total myth.  I was reading the old thread "Why Reject "the limited emotional range" Model of Enlightenment?", and thinking about the comments within in relation to my hopes for a certain type of static, unchanging relief from negative impulses and emotions.  I realize that I have always held certain "spiritual champions" in high regard in some deep-seated, immature part of my mind, even though the more surface-level, logical, mature parts had accepted that there are no perfect people.

Imagine being an esteemed spiritual teacher who his held to be god by a lot of regular humans around him.  This teacher is a regular human with modified, improved, baseline perception, and these changes are what are worshipped by the students.  The teacher got these changes through months and years of diligent, intellegent mind-hacking.  The students want to believe they are impossible to achieve. 

What ends up happening is that the teacher sees it all as a game, and the students are his/her pawns, and ends up seeing how many spaces they can push these pawns towards financial, sexual, and emotional sacrifice.  It happens to sooooo many teachers.  They can't all just be purely psychopaths.

I still hold out hope that there are some "good one's" that have taught in recent times or currently teach.  One person I have heard no drama about is Tuangpulu Sayadaw.  But even if he didn't give in to the "game" described above, does that mean that he didn't have urges?  Does that mean that he never wanted to have sex?  Granted, this guy was probably as close to a 10-fetter arhat as anyone, and yet I still think it is likely that his mind had movement, had interaction with his environment, had some set of influences from his childhood, from the feelings of horniness in his adolescence, etc.  They might have been completely different from the original, corrupt forms, just as our bodies, consist of completely different cells from the one's we had 15 years ago.  However, there are still momentums.

Momentum is inescapable.  I will never transcend momentum, karma, interconnectedness, cause & effect.  Actual Freedom, technical 4th path, sutta 4th path, the 'Rainbow Body', the 10 bhumis..... I believe that no matter what I do to my mind, it will still be subject to momentum.

It is a very specific thing to say that sainthood does not exist.  Sainthood means greed, hatred and delusion are completely uprooted.  However, there is still soil where these plants used to be.  There is a hole where they used to be that will be filled with some other energy.  The impressions of these sins still exist in the mind in another form, then another form, then another form, forever. 

This journey isn't 'going anywhere.'  Thats not the point of practice.  The point is to realize that there is only motion.  The whole of incarnation is in motion.  And the way this motion is known is also purely more motion.  The entire thing is unstable.  The entire thing will be totally different in 1000 years and is changing every second.  How can labels ever apply?  How could we ever have believed in static attainments?

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/9/15 12:35 PM as a reply to Noah.
It is not just the bare attention, but also the content of thoughts, that needs to be worked with.  This has been true for me, as I have slowly given up certain thoughts about what happiness means, or about feeling certainty where there should be none.  There are some things I need to slowly release.  I need to release the habit of talking obsessively, tensely and passionately about things like meditation and psychology to dharma friends, or anyone who will listen.  This is mental masturbation.  I need to give up the thought of a quick route out of my disability. 

This personality, this life, this situation of mine, is acceptable.  It makes sense that this is how things have turned out.  I need to stop turning away from it, grasping at something else, grasping at 4th path, at af, at metta, at sutta-style jhanas, as possible "ways out."  The grasping is keeping me in, keeping me imprisoned.

When I don't grasp, I notice that my awareness has developed quite greatly.  I am much more "okay" then I was in the past.  There is a muscle of thought that keeps arising in my mind.  There is a way that I honor this muscle of thought.  The worship of this powerful pattern is the problem.  The belief that I can 'think my way out' of things.  Thought has its place in the practice.  I believe the yoga school might call this jnana yoga, the tibetans have their way of analysis, and it certainly holds a certain place on the 8fold path.  But I think too much.

This is a part of my disability. 

I see.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/9/15 2:17 PM as a reply to Noah.
Imagine if there was a pill you could take that would temporarily put you in the mindset of technical 4th path.  This pill would obviously be different for different people.  People's metabolisms, personal histories, philosophies, memories, genetics, and other factors, would all come in to play to effect how people experienced the state.  This differing factors would also contribute to the way people would attempt to describe the state afterwards. 

Included in this scenario is the idea that no one knows that enlightenment exists, so they don't have words and paradigms from various traditions to help support their descriptions.  Rather, each person would individually have to struggle with language.

Some people would say that "when I really tune in, this feels utterly centerless, volitonless, total/complete, etc."

Other people would say "wow, I simply feel done.  I don't feel the need to push or pull in any direction."

Some would say there is no-self.  Others would say that there is a self. but it isn't any more special than anything else.  A whole other group would say that everything is energy or spirit or god's will, and they are simplly a part of that flow of will.  A subset of this group would posit that there is a separate force that is independent of change and causing it.  Etc, etc, down the line it goes.

All of these people have basic human dna, have a brain, a body, etc.  They are all members of the same species and share the same basic sentience and mental processing mechanisms.  Furthermore, they have all taken the same pill which contains the enlightenment chemical of this alternate reality.

For everyone, the expereince would be significant.  For some people, the expereince would be dramatic/total/the-end-of-the-journey/foreground-change, for others, it would be subtle/a-new-beginning/a permanent, but mostly-background change.  This foreground/background-obvious/subtle distinction is my main point, the one I feel that many pragmatic dharma yogis would not like to admit.   4th path is probably different for everyone.

Who is right?

Is it possible that different people simply experience it differently, and that enlightenment is not an exception to the total uncertainty and diversity that is life?

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/9/15 6:11 PM as a reply to Noah.
Is it possible that different people simply experience it differently, and that enlightenment is not an exception to the total uncertainty and diversity that is life?


Noah, in my experience, and from talking to others, technical 4th path has common characteristics. It's not like a Rorschach image that folks define according to personal tastes. It's the culmination of a long process of careful investigation into the nature of perception and experience. That investigation leads to some common results among those who engage with it. Nor do I think it is a "background" change. It's a pretty radical alteration in the way a person sees the process of perception.

For example, it becomes obvious that the subject-object duality is the way human beings automatically perceive things, and yet it is the end of that automatic assumption because it also becomes obvious that there is, ultimately, no subject-object duality. Things, objects, including the self, are empty, void of inherent existence as separate entities, dependent entirely on the existence of everything else.

Saying this for clarity...

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/9/15 10:11 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Thank you, Chris,

In terms of the common characteristics you have discovered and the idea of ending the automatic assumption of the subject-object divide: would you say that the subject-object divide dissapears completely, and obviously, all the time, in the perception of the 4th pather?  Or is it sometimes more obvious than others? 

This is a fascination of mine, so I'm really trying to find some certainty/clarity.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/9/15 10:41 PM as a reply to Noah.
 ... would you say that the subject-object divide dissapears completely, and obviously, all the time, in the perception of the 4th pather?  Or is it sometimes more obvious than others? 

The subject-object duality only disappears completely when one is in a cessation. Otherwise it is always present, at least in subtle ways. What seems to happen is that there is a knowledge that is maintained, a deeply felt knowledge that perception itself is based on duality, that perception and consciousness are dependently arising, just like all other concepts/objects. This duality can be reduced, and is generaly reduced dramatically, after the 4th path event and objects can be "softened" and we can can have a lot of freedom and space, but when we are conscious this duality cannot completely disappear.

I would argue that stream entry, that cessation, is our first introduction to the deep nature of perception. It is our first taste of the deep connection between the existence of objects (and subjects) and the existence of consciousness. Prior to that event, perception automatically creates the subject-object duality and it is not examnined, not understood, not visible in the way that meditiation eventually reveals to us. It is not known. In the knowing is the magic (I'm referring here not to intellecual knowledge but deeply felt meditative experience based knowldge).

Make sense?



RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/9/15 11:37 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Yeah, absolutely.  That is how I feel, in the body, although perhaps not quite as much yet.  It does make perfect sense.  Well said.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/10/15 12:20 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah S:
For everyone, the expereince would be significant.  For some people, the expereince would be dramatic/total/the-end-of-the-journey/foreground-change, for others, it would be subtle/a-new-beginning/a permanent, but mostly-background change.  This foreground/background-obvious/subtle distinction is my main point, the one I feel that many pragmatic dharma yogis would not like to admit.   4th path is probably different for everyone.

Who is right?

Is it possible that different people simply experience it differently, and that enlightenment is not an exception to the total uncertainty and diversity that is life?
There is obviously a language difference in describing the attributes to 4th path. Then there are the actual differences of attributes and sub attributes reported from different yogis.
Then there is the other problem not often spoken of - http://nonsymbolic.org/PNSE-Article.pdf page 25
PNSE (Persistent Non-Symbolic Experiences) was often accompanied by a tremendous sense of certainty that participants were  experiencing a ‘deeper’ or ‘more true’ reality. As time passed, this often  increased in strength .  This sense of internally experienced truth often led to a form of dogmatism, especially among  participants who had only experienced one location on the continuum .  Due to the certainty they  felt, these participants had difficulty  accepting that  individuals who described their experience s differently  were actually  experiencing PNSE .  Participants with dogmatic tendencies felt like  theirs was  the correct and true version of the experience. When asked to contrast their experience  with the data collected from one or more other participants, these  participants would often  definitively state that I was obviously having difficulty understanding what was and was not a  valid  PNSE  experience.
So when you get whatever it is....you think it's IT....Truth with a capitol "T" and it cant possibly be other that what you experience. This bias or "built in attribute to non-dual" seems to be an important aspect to keep in mind.
If you get perceptual shifts then that must be part of the definition. If you do not get perceptual shifts that must be part of the definition.  See the problem?
So even if we could list all the attributes of "4th path" and bypass the language differences, each yogi would claim that only a certain combination is the real deal as that is their experience and anything beyond their experience is just that.

Why does this have to be so complicated....emoticon
~D

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/10/15 3:05 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
D,

I suppose it doesn't actually have to be treated this complicated.  As in, the reality of people getting enlightened is actually happening outside of our interpretations and stories and therefore is simple/straightforward. 

Two more things come to mind for me.  One is that this type of overcomplicated discussion format is helpful for me (and perhaps others) as a practice in Right Thought/Right View.  Something about "figuring it out" allows me to later drop the subject entirely in favor of a simpler mode of thinking and a quieter mind.  The second thing is that for me, the bottom line is that I expect to reach some 'big experience' whose change will bring on enough positive, mental health side-effects such that I feel satisfied and am ready to stop the intense seeking.  So there is some sense of closure that I'm looking for that will be an indicator for me, beyond any particular outside definition of 4th path.

But yeah, that is a really interesting point... that there is this sense of 'realness' or absoluteness that people get at enlightenment that makes them potentially clingy to their own experience being the ultimate truth.  Definitely something to keep in mind as a cautionary tale.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/11/15 12:01 PM as a reply to Noah.
Motivation Self-Talk

Previous Attitudes:


Okay, now its time for some motivating self-talk that I do, at times, to help create the right attitude or approach to practice.  In the past, I have benefited from pure Mahasi noting in daily life.  My self-talk would cultivate feelings of relentlessness, continuity, ruthlessness, sacrificing focus on daily activities, plowing through the nanas, etc.  Basically, all about effort.

New, Daily-Life Practice Approach:

However, I am no longer trying to plow through the nanas, so such an attitude is actually counter-productive.  When I Mahasi note now, my mindset is quite the opposite: "continuous, low-level noting is all more cookies in the cookie bank, even past 4th path, so this is a practice that I will do for the rest of my life, on-and-off...  cultivating mindfulness, however I do it, is always a good idea, so forget about 4th path, just try to be mindful for the sake of being mindful."

New, Formal Practice Approach:

I also have realized, over the past couple weeks, that I require a new structure to my practice to replace the old, goal-orientation.  I think I am starting to find this new structure in Shinzen Young's "Do Nothing" meditation instructions.  The specific instructions are, whenever you become aware of the intention to control the attention, drop that intention immediately... if it rearises, drop it again.. if it continuously rearises and you are not able to drop it, then it is not fully in your control, thus it is not an intention.  He also talks about how the practice does not improve on the spot (unlike in Mahasi noting, where you can make continuous, real-time adjustments to improve technique within a sit).  Sittings improves slowly, over time, due to momentum gained from previous sits.  Another important point he makes is to not interfere with compassion, clarity & equanimity, as they arise.  I interpret this to mean that one should not 'drop intention' if it will interfere with a positive momentum that is occuring in the sit.  This is a very important subtlety.

General Attitude Towards Practice & Life:

Okay, so how does mindset and attitude go into this?  Well, for one, I need to rework my goal orientation.  I feel pressure to get 4th path because I know it will help clear out neurosis of mine which will help me enter the job market.  I am afraid of sitting too long on my degree (Jan, '15) without having any paid-job experience.  These are all, valid, interconnected goals. 

I need to realize that I am doing okay.  I make enough money as a bartender to sustain myself, pay my loans, etc.  Furthermore, I am about to move from central NJ to Seattle, WA on the 26th of this month (2 weeks).  I will be getting an apartment with my best friend and working with him on a day-tour boat (a job which is very fun).  My girlfriend, who is the love of my life, will be joining us in a couple months.  My life is moving forward, evolving, I am okay. 

This is not that bad of a situation.  I do not need to be freaking out.  Even if it takes awhile to get 4th path and get to the point of mental health that I desire, it will not be the end of the world.  I do not plan on going 5 years without getting a professional job.  It is not that dramatic of a danger.  Furthermore, it will be well worth it, in the end, to build myself up to the point of peak functioning, where I can truly be successful in my career, in starting a family, etc.  So, based on these thoughts, I will nix the short-term goal orientation.

Specific, New Attitude:


Now, what type of orientation should replace my current one, with regard to the 'do nothing' technique?

Here is some freestyled thinking: 'Do nothing' is a muscle that is developed gradually.  Shinzen calls it a circuit in consciousness which can drop effort.  The more I truly exercise that muscle, the better off I will be.  Mindfulness is a scale on the 'equalizer of experience' (as Kenneth says in the BATGAP interview).  The more I improve my mindfulness, the better off I will be, in general.  Based on this, I feel safe forgetting about 4th path specifically, and favoring a more general goal of improving insight/wisdom. 

Now, I like to envision myself as a meditation monster, an unstoppable terminator.  I will do whatever it takes to get enough 'do nothing' sits in to get this muscle as strong as possible.  I wish to become max-out my 'do nothing' capability in this lifetime.  I wish to get better at it than I ever thought humanly possible!

------------------------------------------------------------

I just wanted to share how I work with motivation, affect & mindset in my practice and make adjustments at times.  Perhaps this will be helpful to people.  Or, others may have reccomendations for me.

Comments are welcome emoticon

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/11/15 12:19 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
So even if we could list all the attributes of "4th path" and bypass the language differences, each yogi would claim that only a certain combination is the real deal as that is their experience and anything beyond their experience is just that.

DW, I suspect the issue here is two-fold -- one, language can be used in different watys by different people. That can be generally overcome if the two people spend some time dicsussion the same issue at hand. Two, experience -- when folks are dogmatic about the nature of things they have generally not been relentless enough in their inquiry or they are speaking from a perspective that is unique to where they presently find themselves on the spectrum. This, I believe, is why these discussions get so complicated and people tend to disagree. Describing all the attributes of awakening is indeed complex because there are many, and what one sees depends on where one is on the spectrum. Everything has a spectrum - it's inherent in the nature of the thing, and the perspective from "this" part of the spectrum can be very different than the perspective from "that" part of the spectrum.

emoticon

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/11/15 12:26 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah, I like your new approach a lot. I think it will be very helful to you going forward.

Even if it takes awhile to get 4th path and get to the point of mental health that I desire, it will not be the end of the world.

This is the only thing I would caution you about. I think you could be making as assumption or adopting a belief that might not be quite as true as you believe it to be. A full spectrum approach to your issues should not be dropped lightly, meaning adding or keeping other things in your quiver of arrows outside of someday achieveing 4th path.

Trying to be cautiously helpful.

BTW - I'll be in Seattle from just after you move there for about a week. Wanna meet up? PM or e-mail me if you do.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/11/15 12:35 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I should mention, in the context of what I write in my practice logs, that I have done years of psychotherapy and medication regimen.  I have had a positive experience with these.  I know myself very well and now what works and what doesn't work.  I am aware of my current level of functioning and have reached a certain 'peak' of psychological self-awareness for the time being.  That is why I am so focused on spiritual development.  So, in some sense, I already have a lot of those 'arrows in the quiver.'

And yeah, I would love to meet up in Seattle!  I'll pm you.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/11/15 5:07 PM as a reply to Noah.
Fractal-Modelling Thoughts:

One
1st Rupa Jhana (thought+rapture+bliss+one-pointedness)
1st Path (or "on 1st path", meaning from pre-SE to SE): one cycle of insight complete
1st Vipassana Jhana (Nana's 1 through 3)
Immature stage/ Arising of sensations (out of void/source)/ Gaining momentum

Two
2nd Rupa Jhana (rapture+bliss+one-pointedness)
2nd Path (or "on 2nd path", meaning from post-SE up to 2nd path fruition): two cycles of insight complete
2nd Vipassana Jhana (Nana 4)
Early maturity stage/ Peak of sensations/ Peak of momentum

Three
3rd Rupa Jhana (bliss+one-pointedness)
3rd Path (or "on 3rd path", meaning from post-2nd path up to 3rd path 'moment'): as many cycles as are necessary for 3rd path 'moment'
3rd Vipassana Jhana (Nana's 5-10)
Middle maturity stage/ Passing of sensations/ Losing momentum

Four
4th Rupa Jhana (one-pointedness+equanimity)
4th Path (or "on 4th path, meaning from post-3rd path up to 4th path 'moment'): cycles are repaced by more refined maturation of insight
4th Vipassana Jhana (Nana 11 [through 16])
Peak maturity stage/ Where sensations meet void/source/ Momentum zero's out

*Any of the Four can be applied as a:
1) Sub-phase of a vipassana nana
2) Sub-phase of a samatha jhana
3) Sub-phase of a Path
4) Etc./Misc.

---------------------

Where I Am, With Regards To The Fractal Model:


When I was "on 3rd path", linear progress still made sense (Mahasi-noting to purposefully plow through the nanas).  Even though the completion of a 3rd insight cycle didn't promise 3rd path, it felt right to purposely aim to complete insight cycles.  I got 3rd path on April 12th.  The Review lasted over a month, till about May 15th.

I have been "on 4th path" for almost 2 months now.  At first, I thought the effortful completion of cycles still made sense.  Then I saw that as delusion.  Then, I thought there was some special type of perception or aspect of awareness that I needed to fully bring into consciousness.  Eventually, I also saw that the inherent, dualistic effort in this was delusion. 

Now, I feel that I have pinpointed what I need to do: sometimes note in daily life with explicit goal of being mindful for the sake of mindfulness only, other times do no meditation in daily life so that I can confront my agitation head on, and do formal sitting with Shinzen's "do-nothing" technique.

I want to make the point that there isn't "no goal", whatsoever, at this phase of practice; rather, its just that the goal is really subtle.  However, there is still some linearity present in that there are things I am not seeing/knowing with full maturity.  The knowing of these things needs to mature.

As far as I see it, 3rd path CAN be measured by insight cycles.  3.1 means 3rd path, cycle 1.  3.2 means 3rd path, cycle 2... etc.  4th path, however, CANNOT.  Progress "on" 4th path can only be measured by the subtle refinement of experience and the arising and maturation of new insight, independent from the number of cycles one goes through.

For me, this seems to be manifesting in the form of 'burning out' interest or desire in certain things.  As these layers of clinging are released, my baseline state seems to be changing. The overall arc is that my baseline state of 'knowing' reality will go from immature (4.1, thinking cycles still help), to early maturity (4.2, more just being in the moment/in touch with reality outside of progress), mid maturity (4.3, ??) and then, with peak maturity (4.4, ??), the 4th path 'moment.'

Edit: Obviously, 4.1 has 4 sub-sub-phases.  I think I may have completed all 4 of these.  Perhaps I am at 4.2.1.  It seems that each sub-sub-phase will take weeks or months.  And I still have 12 or more sub-sub-phases left, meaning that it could take me at least several more months!

P.s.- Some people will think I am foolish or naive for trying to map progress this neatly.  My bottom line is that this type of thought seems to be helpful for me.  I would not be induling in it if I did not have confidence in its ultimately, pragmatic purpose.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/11/15 5:28 PM as a reply to Noah.
More Thoughts on 4th Path Sub-Phases and Sub-Sub-Phases:

Up until now, I thought that a goal-orientation was not possible or skillful past a certain point on 4th path, and especially not after 4th path.  I realize now that I don't need the nanas or cycles in order to discover a valid goal-orientation.  Instead, I need to have the sensitivity and sophistication to detect where my cutting-edge is. 

In this case, 'cutting-edge' does not refer to a specific nana, cycle or anything numeric.  Perhaps the use of 'cutting-edge' is actually not cyclical at all, past 3rd path.  Instead, cutting-edge refers to a certain sweet-spot in meditation and walking around awareness, a certain combination of mental and spiritual factors that may be hard to hold together, but will inevitably lead in the direction of releasing latent clinging and exposing new areas to see and know. 

For me, right now, this would be the ability to drop the sense of drive and effort that I have become so accustomed to.  It can be replaced with a sense of the beginningless and endless nature of phenomenal reality, and the one-taste of the continuous, knowing of this, which can not be separated, or broken down (as subject and object are part and parcel). 

The more I can reach this state and remain in it, the faster it will become ingrained, mastered, matured.  This progress will arise spontaneously, in due time, when my mental-physical field are ready.  I can not 'rush' this progress any more than I could 'rush' the growing of a physical muscle.  However, I can diet and exercise with precision and efficiency.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/21/15 12:21 PM as a reply to Noah.
Thoughts on communication through text, the meaning of words & concepts, outcomes, and individual right to opinion:

Do I have a right to post anything any thoughts I have on meditation whatsoever, as long as I make it clear that it is only my opinion or my interpretation that is being expressed (and as long as it is in line with the forum guidelines)?  I would think the answer is yes.  I believe I have a right to post critical or even negative opinions about certain aspects of traditions that I respect and wish to engage with.  However, I have noticed that I am beginning to feel pigeon-holed as I explore certain aspects of different traditions.

I believe that there is too much interest in finding the right words and meanings.  Different forums and groups have different vocabularies.  If you go on the wrong forum or speak in the wrong meditation group with alternative word choices, at best, people may just look at you funny and move on; at worst, they can be attacking.  Sometimes, they will attempt to convince you to change your views entirely.  It is very rare that someone is willing to question their own lexicon and conceptual paradigms and say "hmmm, maybe we are talking about the same thing... or maybe we are talking about different things, with equavalent merit... maybe this person's experience is legitamate, but also different from mine."  Why can't people question their own views on things?  Why do they have to seek out certainty?  Does it make them feel safe?  I am certainly guilty of this myself in certain areas of my life. 

I see my teacher on Thursday, and await his dharma diagnosis of me.  However, something happened to me on Saturday which changed the way I feel, in my body and mind, completely and totally.  I have not felt the same since and it has not let up.  My description of this would be something like "everything feels completely solid and real."  This description would not match the description: "everything is flickering, happening sponatenously, and inherently unreliable." 

However, my state seems to be the result of noticing the 3 characteristics in all that arises.  So what happened to me?  What if my teacher diagnoses me at 4th path?  Is the diagnosis wrong because I am not using the right words? 

I am annoyed.  I feel that people need to learn "BOTH/AND" instead of "EITHER/OR".

________________________________

Edit: I think the main point here in avoiding the bs is to focus on practical experimentation.  The problem is that if I then wish to communicate the contents of my experimentation, I need to use these symbols, called "words".  Words have all types of interpretations and emotionally charged meaning for people.

Having a practice log is part of useful experimentation, for me.  It helps to give me structure.  But now I am starting to feel like I need to avoid using certain sets of words.  I think I should use them anyway, even if it upsets people, because it works for me, and thats the ultimate, pragmatic truth.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/22/15 1:15 PM as a reply to Noah.
One range of experience I go through throughout the day:

1) agitation/obsessing/restless
2) investigating these emotions/questioning them. etc.
3) feelng successfully separated from these emotions & back in the moment
4) cultivating wonder at the sensuous nature of reality, outside of the influence of emotions
5) beginning to feel agitated again
6) successfully avoiding the agitation-loop & instead feeling a naturally appreciation and enjoyment of the moment without pressure to apply any technique

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/22/15 11:56 PM as a reply to Noah.
On actualism being inherently different from spirituality:

I think I am realizing something about the prescence of 'effort' and the reality of development over time, with regards to how these things manifest in a meditaton practice.  Specifically, even if I my identity as a yogi and the conceptual underpinnings of various technques, so that I am only applying intention to change the attention, again and again, there will be the experience of getting better over time.  One way of describing the essence of this is that I am headed in a certain direction....

more to come later

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
7/27/15 11:24 AM as a reply to Noah.
7/27

-I'm just going to post the run-over thoughts from my practice journal here, so as to keep it as lean as possible.

Here are some different aspects of ENATMOBA (Enjoying aNd Appreciating This Moment Of Being Alive- credit to a helpful Yahoo AF participant for creating this acronym) I am realizing.  Good enjoyment is frequently not conscious.  When it is really deeply embodied, I will forget that Actualism exists as a method, and that AF exists as a goal.  I will just be totally into the moment, with some attentiveness keeping me present-oriented, and some of myself also really absorbed or embedded into whatevers going on.  It has both aspects. 

But the point is that it isn't intense, it isn't effortful, it doesn't contain proconceptions.  It isn't about 'checking my pulse every five seconds' (a paraphrased quote from Laurel on AN).  It is really getting lost in this wonder of life!  And, I have to say, regardless of the whole "180 degrees opposite" idea, 4th Path really helps with this!

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/2/15 3:14 AM as a reply to Noah.
8/1

The "good-mood-muscle" seems to have both breadth and depth in the complexity of its development, as well as strong ramifications for deepening real Insight (with a capital "I").  I am discovering a wide variety of ways to get into a wide variety of possible states, all of which would fall under the banner, 'good mood.'  I call the development and enhancement of this process a 'muscle', because there is active willpower involved in redirecting the attention (note that there is also passive surrender, which is also a movement of attention).

There are definitely some commonalities to the possible states that can be called good moods.  Notably, the powerful or effective ones are those where I feel most deeply patient, secure, and effortless.  However, patience and security can easily be tied in with various egoic processes (the 'social identity' and 'instinctual passions').  To counter this, the reason why I feel patient and secure must be linked to the pleasant nature of both my immediate physical environment (including my body) and the process through which I percieve it.  These things are nice, these things are calming, these things easily lead into a good mood.

When I am in this type of pleasant state, various subconscious selfing processes are either turned off, or running at an abnormally low power-level.  Eventually, however, they will begin to reassert themselves.  Selfish control of the body (desire for food, sex, physical motion), selfish control of the senses (craving entertainment and distraction), identification with relative time & space ("I" need to do something/make something happen), etc., will pop up. 

My goal is to 'love these things to death', as Shinzen would describe in his nurture positive protocol.

(edited multiple times, still more to come, most likely)


-Every time I fall into some seemingly irreversable negative pattern of mind (such as hours of obsessing and feeling hopeless), and then illogically break that pattern by returning to positivity, I am increasing courage and decreasing faith in that particular pattern.

-One of the most important initial steps I can take is to experience the social identity and instinctual passions without letting them bother me.  To me, this represents a radical decrease in attachment, in caring about what happens to me, in caring about outcomes, etc.  Both aspects or layers of the self (human and animal) are essentially linked to/centered around/operating around the notion of controlling outcomes.  If I release control of outcomes, or at least let myself of the hook of being totally responsible, I am able to remove some of the oomph or power or juice from the self-system.

-It seems that one way to characterize the different types of selfing processes is to link them to either perceptual or emotional cores.  This might correspond to head and heart as well.  What I have done so far feels like a primarily mental-psychological-perceptual transformation (although there is an intuitive component which fortifies any seeming weaknesses in not seeing certain ultimate aspects of awareness at all times).  While there is much work to still be done on this axis, there is also a whole other axis which requires development.

The emotional-heart based processes seem to be very linked with a deeper sense of identity, who I think and feel I am, and therefore, how I am likely to feel and act.  Whether or not various actions, their motivations, and their results, are seen as luminous, agencyless, centerless, etc., there is still some central 'juice' or intensity to the energy of the personality which is in action.  For me, the inherent stickiness of being guided by many unsconscious, baser instincts (admittedly filtered up through more sophisticated and complex layers) must be dealt with in some tranformative way, regardless of my current level of nondual witnessing of these baser, instinctual activities.  

-I realize that I am struggling with having a less obvious and linear map now.  Here are two ways I can think about my current practice to help supplement this:

1) Shallow vs Deep
          Shallow=I am enjoying and appreciating with part of my mind/surface layer only, and simply powering through any deeper, detectable negativity... part or all of the positivity in this case might be scripted or fabricated (and may be 'perceptual'/'meditative in nature)
          Deep=All of me is on board with enjoying and appreciating this moment (there is the pereceptual enjoyment, but also a total engagement with whatever activity is at hand [including silence, doing nothing, etc] with all facets of my personality)

2) Sudden vs Gradual
          Sudden=Frequently associated with a feeling that a new path/shift/freedom/etc. is right around the corner/on the brink... Experiencing some aspect of reality without filters in an overpowering, but temporary way
          Gradual=Being able to enter a partial state a little bit more easily ever day... asssociated with the slow-going, treading-water, all-more-coins-in-the-piggy-bank mentality

edit:insert

3) Conscious vs Unconscious 
          This distinction is around the fact that I can feel good for large swathes of time, without being aware of it, only to realize later that I have been successful (when some negativity interrupts me)... Also, there is also the occassional, but important quality of positivity in which unonscious positivity (which can be more felt in, or remembered by, the body) is "better" than conscious positivity.

4) Exploring inner awareness vs exploring outer physicality
          To me, this seems to be the ultimate difference between Actualism and Buddhism (once again, just playing with ideas here, in my practice log).  In Buddhism, there is this ultimate finality to the experience of the nondual nature of awareness, which is stripped of all possible attributes right up to the point of cesssation itself.  This is, essentially, an internally-oriented experience.  The practitioner is so deeply, internally, withdrawn that they withdraw from the mind itself.  The internal aspect of the universe takes complete control of the mind.
          In Actualism, there is the physical universe taking control of the mind, which is then simply experienced as a brain-on-a-stick 'doing' apperception.  Accounts of apperceptive awareness are usually heavily based on the external world.  Eventually, the practitioner is so deeply taken over that all individualized sensory processing dissapears into the physical functioning of the environment.
          I basically see these as two, equivalent options, in terms of the final outcome of eliminating various selfing processes.  Both use some type of trans-individual state to serve as a platform for the bringing of subconscious machinery into the conscious.  In terms of Ken Wilber's AQAL model, perhaps there is the tapping into the lower-left (interior collective) quadrant, in the case of rigpa (?), and the lower-right (exterior collective) quadrant, in the case of apperception.
          Unfiltered experience is beneficial, and necessary, for complete realization.  However, the exact direction/aspect one explores (once they are actually capable of going in differing directions) may effect the temporary outcome (even if 'complete realization' as an end-point will look the same in everyone, there are different mid-points).  For this reason, I am choosing to pursue the purely physical aspect of experience, at this junction point (technical 4th), with the hopes that it will lead to quicker emotional healing as experienced in the body.

-Good feeling and mood associated with the thought "I don't need to do anything" seems to get to the heart of the matter, which is that reality-without-filters is already happening, and the more I can access it, the more benefit I will gain in line with my contemplative goals.  In my current estimation, this is the 'pristine actual world', and therefore, any positivity associated with the 'real word' (i.e. human concepts and labels that help us name and understand various dailly-life situations) will be of lesser value in the good-mood heirarchy.  So, while my current interpretation of Actualist practice (which is probably a misinterpretation, but I am fine with that) is that it is not meditative-perceptual in nature, there is still that ingredient of momentary mindFULLness (surrender to this now without cultural orientation) to the most potent ENATMOBA.

In short, what goes into the mood influences what comes out of it, even if different introductory factors seem  to produce the same thing at the time.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/1/15 6:52 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah S:
8/1

The "good-mood-muscle" seems to have both breadth and depth in the complexity of its development, as well as strong ramifications for deepening real Insight (with a capital "I").  I am discovering a wide variety of ways to get into a wide variety of possible states, all of which would fall under the banner, 'good mood.'  I call the development and enhancement of this process a 'muscle', because there is active willpower involved in redirecting the attention (note that there is also passive surrender, which is also a movement of attention).



You might enjoy Tara Springett's Spiritual Joy. It's a stripped-down version of this practice, derived from Tibetan Dzogchen/Mahamudra.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/2/15 1:08 AM as a reply to Derek.
Thanks Derek, I looked her up, and might order her book.  Watching a couple videos of hers now.  If I do order it, I'll definitely report any impacts on practice, etc.  

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/2/15 4:40 AM as a reply to Noah.
I tried it out. After a couple of weeks, I was in a state of bliss. It does bring up some dark moods when you come down from the bliss, though.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/2/15 11:44 AM as a reply to Derek.
Oh yeah, I want to avoid that.  I'm hoping I can do both things at once, as in, enhancing good feelings while facing bad feelings head on and integrating (?) them, or something like that.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/3/15 4:25 AM as a reply to Noah.
Hey,

Something you might find helpful is to consider how much you're trying to control how you feel vs. how much you're listening to how you feel.  The way you write about your practice has a very intentional, codified, strong, willful quality - even when you write about observing how you feel, it's from a detached (and therefore, strong) perspective.  In order to actually feel good, it requires not feeling bad which means you have to allow yourself to make the value judgement - the way I'm feeling now isn't how I want to feel - and find some way to make real change.  I think this is a kind of weakness to a vipassana-oriented ideology.  If you can't integrate these bad feelings, or you can't become equanimous towards them, or however you want to put it - that's a failure.  The honest-to-goodness truth is, though, bad feelings feel bad, and being equanimous towards them doesn't change that.  If you know they're bad, and you don't want to keep feeling them, then instead of trying to integrate them, or become indifferent to them or somehow immune to them, seek out why they're there and get rid of that cause.

When I was doing a lot of thinking about this, the aha moment for me was realizing that it's impossible to escape conditioned existance.  It's impossible to keep living if you stop eating, or walk into a fire, or bleed yourself dry, or live somewhere that's always 120 degrees.  Actually, considering the vast possibilities of environments the universe could throw at us, we are actually living within a very thin (razor thin, you might say) habitable zone.  Why should we consider our mental health somehow different?  The equivalent to vipassana training for the body would be to stay equanimous after putting your hand on a hot stove rather than removing it and vowing never to touch hot things again.  Not putting you hand on a hot stove would be "avoidant" or not-acknowledging the inevitability of bad things happening.  Obviously this sounds stupid with these examples, but then turn around and sit there trying to accept, integrate, or become equanimous towards an anxiety attack and tell me it isn't the same thing.

So I see it in kind of a two-fold way.  There are ways to expand the "habitable zone" of the happy/content mind, which is what vipassana is good for, but this does nothing to keep a person out of the "uninhabitable zones" like the martian landscape of anxiety or the sulfer pits of anger.  We can't ever live there physically, and when we go there mentally, our first goal should be to GTFO before we hurt ourselves!  Really, all this requires is a bit of common sense to decide which moments belong to which category, along with a geniune interest in being happy and the decision to place that ahead of personal ideology.  I've sat in a chair suffering from needless emotional distress just for the sake of the practice, and I'm sure most people on this forum have too, considering all the talk about dark nights.  This is all just stubborn zealotry, though.

Anyway, my rant aside, I think you might find more success being less mystical about all this and just ask yourself how you feel and why.  If you're sitting in an empty room trying to be happy, yet you're bored out of your mind, don't accept the boredom or try to pick apart the feeling, just say, "god, I'm bored, why is that?" and figure it out.  That's how I see Actualism, anyway.

BTW, did you ever see this post: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5762356? I was writing it as a response to you in your journal, but didn't want to start a conversation and derail your thread.  It's actually a good continuation of this post.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/3/15 1:02 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Quick note about vipassana practice -- it is not meant to alter experience. Rather, it is meant to be an investigation of experience. You can use vipassana practice, as some here do, to understand your experience and then use that knowledge to try to change your experience, but the change your experience part is distinctly different and not part of the original vipassana practice. I am not making any value judgements here but I would like to make sure vipassana is criticized for what is is, not for what it is not  :-)

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/3/15 7:20 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I disagree that vipassana is an investigation of experience.  It's descibed that way, but most of the techniques I've seen called vipassana (noting, dwelling as the watcher, body scanning) are taking a specific stance towards experience, a kind of active modification of the reactionary insticts.  It's a strong position that reframes all experience as equally valid - equally worth an investment of time.  In order to become a happier person, you can't see all experience as valid, you will need to see some experiences as better than others and actively cultivate those better experiences.  To me, this is more qualified to be called "investigation" than simply watching experience pass without judgement.  Vipassana can be practiced in any state of mind, happiness and contentment IS a state of mind.  This doesn't necessarily have to be in conflict, but the way Noah is describing both trying to remain equanimous while also trying to alter his mood does seem to be in conflict.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/5/15 8:22 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
I disagree that vipassana is an investigation of experience.  It's descibed that way, but most of the techniques I've seen called vipassana (noting, dwelling as the watcher, body scanning) are taking a specific stance towards experience, a kind of active modification of the reactionary insticts.

I'm happy to agree to disagree on this emoticon

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/15/15 5:10 AM as a reply to Noah.
On Wording-

I sort of hate the idea that it is a good practice to put a lot of stock in the meaning and usage of words.  For instance, one outcome of this line of thinking is that we can assume someone is really 'getting it' along a given line of mind-hack development if they start talking like a master of that particular tradition.  For instance, "I have hands, but they are moving themselves, everything is moving itself" or, "everything is so fun and enjoyable!  I have totally dismantled any and all sense of sensibility in the negative affective engagement towards a situation", etc.  Meanwhile, if you use the wrong language, you aren't getting it (even though you very well may be).  If you use the right language, but too much of it, you are 'just obsessing' not really 'letting go' enough, just 'over thinking' it, etc.  I hate this.  Am I over thinking it, or is it just that my brain is accurately describing reality at a faster rate than your brain?  

And if it is the latter, then what do you have to say about that!?  Lol, isn't it funny how much anger I have about this?

But yeah, I really do think I have a point.  Stop honing in on micro-cases of semantics, people!  The only way to get a sense of someone through text-only communication is to take a macro-view, an average of instances of their usage of language over a period of weeks or months to see how they have changed.  Or, even better, video chat or meet with them in-person every so often to see how they have changed.  What is their vibe?

Of course, people don't like this because it is a more nuanced and ambiguous approach.  You can't just automatically make broad-sweeping generalizations or easily shoe-horn someone else into your pre-profiled classification system.  You have to pause, let them speak, let them be a fully functioning, 3d living being.  That is the hardest way to communicate of all.  People spend their entire lives trying to master it.

Cheers.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/15/15 7:43 AM as a reply to Noah.
Stop ruining the fun!

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RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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8/19/15 1:13 AM as a reply to Noah.
A Misconception of actualism-

I have recently realized a misconception I had about the state of actual freedom.  I had assumed there was something robotic, constricting or disassociated about it.  I realize now that an actual freedom is like the greatest possible feeling or mood one could have... times ten.  Meaning, it is out of the range of our imagination and our remembered affective experience (which is all of life [including jhanas and other raptures], other than pce's).

When I get into excellence experiences (which would be a highly felicitous state in which the self is almost completely gone), such as the one I was in today for a couple minutes, I felt a positivity which isn't necessarily connected to any opposites of negativity.  However, if I was forced to try and juxtapose these EE's with normal, affective states, I would probably use words like looser, lighter, freer, relieved, untethered, etc.  This language isn't perfect, but the point I'm trying to make is that actualism is a path of untethering the inner experience into one of unlimited boundaries, rather than becoming a disassociated robot.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/19/15 7:54 AM as a reply to Noah.
 I realize now that an actual freedom is like the greatest possible feeling or mood one could have... times ten.  Meaning, it is out of the range of our imagination and our remembered affective experience (which is all of life [including jhanas and other raptures], other than pce's).

So... its like good drugs!


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RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/19/15 10:15 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Well.... just to take your jesting too seriously, I will say that I have done good amounts and qualities of many of the worlds 'good drugs' and can say with certainty that my animal-instinctual identity remained quite in tact in even my most giggly-warm-goofy-magestic-glowing trips.  So it would be like good drugs with no subtle underlying paranoia, no psychodynamics, no potential for a low after a high, no slight chance of fight-or-flight, etc.  Most of us have rarely ever experienced such a state, I would posit.  

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/19/15 11:41 AM as a reply to Noah.
Most of us have rarely ever experienced such a state, I would posit.  

Really???

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/20/15 1:51 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Haha I guess google defines 'posit' as "assumes as a fact."  Maybe thats a bit strong.  My personal experience tells me that the basic energy of the hardest, clearest, most equanimous jhanas I have gotten into, shares the same flavor as the basic energy of various other affective experiences.  That is, there is still a core battery of Noah running in the background.  Or maybe its not 'Noah', but the human experience/the animal brain, in general (the layer that we all share).  My second-hand observations of people I have known personally who have spent decades in meditation tell me that these people still have lots of problems (which I assume come from that instinctual core which they have not been able to shirk).  Other observations (3rd hand?) of all gurus ever tell me that high levels of insight don't stop people from all types of sadistic abuse.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So I think I'm assuming that if these people were getting into states such as the one I outlined above, they would try to stay in it and stop these darn tendencies for good!  Its hard to phrase these thoughts without it sounding like an attack on a particular group/system/philosophy/person.  Thats not what I'm trying to do here.  But yeah, these are the things that make sense to me, right now. 

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/20/15 7:23 AM as a reply to Noah.
My experience has been that every new state I encounter seems special, unique, and amazing and I think therefore that I am somehow special, too, and have this amazing capability to attain this state. That sense lasts for a time and then things go back to "just is" until the next amazing experience shows up. I'm just saying that I would be wary of claiming any sort of specialness. I doubt we are inventing anything truly new.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/20/15 11:39 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I definitely agree.  I was just using inductive reasoning to reach a final idea.  I can't even remember ever having a true PCE so I certainly can't personally claim anything special or new (and even if I do get a PCE, I have no way of knowing how new or old it is relative to others).  If I do reach some new plateau of relief from suffering, I will definitely write about it: not as a way of comparing myself with others, but as a way of comparing my new state with previous, lesser versions of myself.  

Just another thought, which is that the thing that excites me (on a conceptual level, not trying to declare reality here) about actualism being "new" is that it makes sense that we have just recently acquired the long life-spans, advances in medicine and technology, etc.(as a species) to finally be able to let go of the surivival mechanisms enough to fully enjoy ourselves all the time (through the highs and lows), and eventually get rid of the human condition.  So I guess my idea is that this could be new because it might only have been possible in the past century or so.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/20/15 12:55 PM as a reply to Noah.
On comparing actualist techniques/sub-aspects to existent spiritual technologies:

These days I'll find myself doing a technique and think "I can see how someone could read a description of this activity and say 'Hey!  Thats just mindfulness.' or 'thats just tantric emotional work' or 'I did that in psychotherapy'. "  I have realized that the important point is that all the dots have to be connected.  Yes, some descriptions of the PCE sound like some aspects of choiceless awareness, at least a little bit.  And yes, other, existent traditions do have similar approaches to the investigation of instinctual passions and/or the dismantling of the social identity.  But no other tradition has each one of these things, in this exact order, to lead to this specific result.  So I think that might be part of some of the confusion and debate between actualists and Buddhists/spiritual-seekers.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/20/15 5:57 PM as a reply to Noah.
On Non-Philosophy and Non-Buddhism:

The non-Buddhism we're discussing in recent threads comes from non-philosophy.  I am finding the wikipedia on non-philosophy to be fascinating.  It basically says that in order to 'do' philosophy in the first place, one must start with an artificial split of the world into different categories in order to grasp hold of it for initial philosophical inquiry.  However. these artificial splits don't actually exist in the world as it is, so any system of philosophy is inherently a circular argument, reaching its own conclusions by fulfilling its initial expectatons in the first place (logic/wording ?).

So Buddhism could be analyzed from the viewpoint of non-philosophy and it could be seen that the view of the 'dharma' as the 'way things actually are', is based on an initial assumption(s) that the way things actually are can be categorized, i.e. nirvana-samsara.  Interestingly, one could definitely take this viewpoint to pick apart actualism.

The non-buddhists do claim, on thenonbuddhist.com webiste, that there is a utility to their approach.  They say that non-buddhism reveals buddhist-type teachings (removed from the original context), that literally anyone can use in their daily life.  I think this is great, but I wonder how far they would take that claim.  To me, this is where the true value of a way of thinking and understanding is determined.  Are the leaders of non-buddhism happy in their personal lives?  Are they divorced?  Are they depressed?  Are they realizing their maximal potential and feeling good when they go to sleep at night?  Internet personas tell very little.  The true litmus is how the mind and life of a person is actually changing behind closed doors.  

My dream is that all people expounding ways of thinking and understanding the world and becoming happier would no longer keep private personas.  I think the real contest is in who has the best relationship with immediate family members, who has the most consistent behavior across time, etc.  I wonder if teachers of ways-to-happiness actually deserve personal privacy in the same way.  After all, aren't so many of them corrupt?

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/21/15 8:06 AM as a reply to Noah.
My dream is that all people expounding ways of thinking and understanding the world and becoming happier would no longer keep private personas.  I think the real contest is in who has the best relationship with immediate family members, who has the most consistent behavior across time, etc.  I wonder if teachers of ways-to-happiness actually deserve personal privacy in the same way.  After all, aren't so many of them corrupt?

Back in the world we live in, this criteria would cause every political ideology, religion and spiritual practice ever invented to be deemed a failure, let alone a violation of the 4th Amendment.

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RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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8/21/15 8:41 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Back in the world we live in, this criteria would cause every political ideology, religion and spiritual practice ever invented to be deemed a failure, let alone a violation of the 4th Amendment.

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Very true.

But aside from the legality issue (this is my sandbox, after all, where there temporarily are are no laws for the discussion of concepts), I do think it would help separate the wheat from the chaff.  Such disclosures of personal ups and downs could be done in the same spirit of honesty that Daniel writes his teacher autobiographical summary in, i.e. "as a result of the elimination of suffering due to fundamental perceptual duality, I have become a more easygoing person, improving my relationships with my children and saving my marriage.  I still lose my temper in relation to particular triggers, but am continuously working at incorporating the realization of emptiness into these areas."  Or, "since becoming actually free of the human condition, I no longer experience emotions at all, only the empty shells of their ancestors.  While these fossils do, at times, appear to be taken as irritation, anyone who spends a large amount of time with me finds me to be a pleasant and kind person to be around.  Also since becoming actual free, I have severed ties with my previous romantic relationship, having seen it for what it truly was, but have improved my parenting ability a huge amount."

I can do one myself: "having reached technical 4th path under my vipassana teacher, I have found my symptoms of bipolar disorder to be reduced by about 40%.  This has worked much better than either psychotherapy or medications, which only worked to reduce my symptoms by about 15-20%, despite years of diligent effort in those areas.  While my internal experience has vastly improved, close friends and family do not see much of a difference with my day-to-day external manner, other than at the most challenging times, when I am now less likely to have an agitated or avoidant reaction than I used to."

Cultures can change.  When they do, people aren't being forced to change their conduct (which would be illegal, as you say).  At best, they begin to want to change their modes of communication by seeing the logic of a new way.  

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/21/15 9:04 AM as a reply to Noah.
Here's what I say to that, that being all such claims of "advancement" and such -- wait a while, and we'll see if it lasts.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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8/21/15 9:10 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Sounds good to me.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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8/22/15 12:47 AM as a reply to Noah.
Deep-sea Diving: Beliefs VS Facts

The most important aspect of actualism is figuring out how to truly enjoy and appreciate in this moment.

The second most important thing is following common sense, and replacing beliefs (feeling-backed thoughts) with factual observations.  Here is some common sense that is emerging for me:

          1) fact: self efficacy- my body and mind are very capable of completing most tasks in life
              belief: I am not capable of completing many tasks.  I am not capable of pushing myself past initial stress.  My stress is a special resistance called 'bipolar disorder' that gives me an excuse to quit.
          2) fact: necessity- my body and mind MUST complete a variety of tasks in order to survive.  No one else CAN do some of these things for me.  No one else MUST do any of these things for me.
              belief: Given the proper excuse (high enough levels of stress to be labelled a pathology), some other member of society (close friend or family member) will be forced to step in and complete a task for me.  Society is not only supposed to bend to my needs, but is forced to bend to my needs.  This is just the way things work.
          3) fact: libido- I have a huge amount of libido.  Whether or not this libido is satisfied, I am completely capable of functioning and completing tasks.
              belief: If my libido is not satisfied, I will not be able to function.  "My" "bipolar" will kick in and I will not only be rightfully excused from working, but I will also not be physically capable of working.
          4) fact: hunger- I have a very fast metabolism, a stretched out stomach, and a highly ingrained habit of over-eating due stress.  Whether or not I overeat enough to remove my stress, I am still completely capable of functioning.  It is possible for this mind and body to function through stress.
              belief: If I do not make my stress go away by eating a lot, I will be helpless and disabled.  Etc., etc.
          5) fact: the human condition- Everyone has problems.  Everyone is imperfect and everyone's life is imperfect.  Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.  Most people have weaknesses that are big enough to be labelled a disability if looked at closely.  There is nothing 'wrong' with me.  I am not 'bad.'  These self-labels are responsible for most of the stress that I feell.  There is no reliable, valid and objective way to measure one person's character and actions against those of others.  Such a method simply does not exist and never could exist.  This implies that no one is 'good' and no one is 'bad.'  A relatively more accurate way of judgement is to assign each human a value point of '1' (from the classic therapy book "Feeling Good", btw).
              belief: While it is true that everyone has problems, some have more than others.  I am part of that negatively-rated group.  It is possible to rate people based on their character and actions, relative to their circumstances, by taking an average sample of the population.  I am able to do this, with reasonable accuracy, using my imagination (lol).  I know, deep in my heart, that there is something more wrong with me than with everyone else, because I have an identifiable disability and most people do not.


I have a disability, which is a condition that limits my ability to do things.  It is specifically not an incapacity, which woud be a complete inability to do things.  Unfortunately (and it breaks my heart to admit this right now), my disability is also a fact.  It has not gone away, despite diligent effort in many disciplines, over a period of almost a decade.  My disability is actual; it has roots in my brain and deep in the structure of my mind.

That being said, my disability gets better or worse, depending on how faith I put into it.  In this way, my disability is a belief (an emotion backed thought).  The belief side of it gets either stronger, with more negative confidence, or weaker, with more positive confidence.  This is simply the mechanics of how it works.  For now, I can not change that.  It truly is not in my power.  All I can do is work with it, like learning to play a musical instrument.

This makes me sad.  It makes me want to scream.  It feels so powerless.  I have always searched for a 100% answer, for a certainty.  But this is the only certainty: a clear picture of the uncertain nature of the human mechanism.  The human software is imperfect (as is some of the hardware).  Just like everyone else, I have imperfect human software, that I must work with, for the time being (until actual freedom).

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
8/23/15 9:38 PM as a reply to Noah.
Deep-sea Diving: The Libido

I'm having these incredible insights into the libido in general, the orgasm specifically, and how these things relate to social-identity dating modes, as well as deeper human-species instincts, and animal instincts.  Specifically, I have started to feel, in my body, how sexual fantasy is not linked to sexual reality.  Times when I have 'succeeded' in dating scenarios by having sex are always different than the expectations beforehand, and the memories after.  I think my mind purposely does this; it creates a fantasy of how sex is and how it makes me feel.  So, even though real experiences carry specific, somewhat disappointing and overwhelmingly straight-forward qualities, my mind automatically forgets the feeling-tone of these experiences and replaces them with simplistic, pared-down, perfectionistic psuedo-memories.

Why would it do this?  Because that allows the carrot-stick structure to remain in place.  As long as I believe (deep in my heart) that the path to happiness lies in 'getting laid', "I", as an identity, remain safely in place as the king of the court.  The truth is that nothing is the path to happiness.  No experience, when had, will sustain any sense of affective positivity.  Things always change, causing disappointment.

Back to sex: this embodied realization relates to seeing the futility of auto-eroticism.  There is no point in seeking this release.  By creating fantastical scenarios where high expectations are met, the human software is continuously reinforced.  That is, I continuously remind myself that procreation, and the perpetuation of my genes, down the family line, is the highest possible pleasure I can have.  It is also linked to the most possible relaxation: letting myself "off the hook" because I have succeeded in my goal.  At these times I feel such huge confidence in myself.  It is simply a very powerful drug.

I sort of remember the roots of these feelings in childhood experience (although the real roots are coded into the brain before birth).  There was the sense of disappointment in my father, and the seeking of some certainty through the symbols of close female family members.  This isn't going in any wierd direction, of course.  Everyone has these messages delivered at an early age.  Being able to unearth them is key to becoming free from them.

The basic message is to stop believing in these feelings, in the pursuit of euphoria, of romantic love and sexual conquest.  They really are natural selection personified/in-action, and nothing more.  The best way is found as a result of these insights: the pursuit of benignity and harmlessness through true and thorough satisfaction with each moment of being alive.  Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die.  This is how you die, through deep examination.

I would challenge others on this board to explore these themes and truly question themselves at a level deeper than the purely-perceptual selfing-formations attacked by vipassana.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
9/20/15 3:27 PM as a reply to Noah.
"Sterility"

I have uncovered something I have been subtly assuming about actualism as well as the results of spiritual methods: that somehow, they result in there being 'less' of you; less internal content; less external activity; more quiet; more passive; more nothingness.  The most condensed symbol of this can be found in the pictures of legendary meditation masters sitting in full lotus, looking like they have been doing that, all day, every day, since the day they got enlightened.  But even with actualism, I was assuming that enjoying and appreciating would take the form of being unconditionally and unilaterally in some type of one-dimensional pleasure at all times.

But, the thing is, there are all sorts of types of pleasure and enjoyment and appreciation.  There are also lots of different things to be enjoyed.  Most of these things involve moving the body, and/or flexing the mind in some way.  Life involves movement.  This is something I have resented for a long time, wishing things would just stay the same, be safe, be sterile.  

((I wish I could be passive and not have to do anything and that no one could make me do anything))

That is one of my most core-most feeling-backed thoughts, right there.  

So I've been misrepresenting my goal, to myself.  Actual freedom must, by its nature, be vibrant, bubbly, bouncy, full of life, full of engagement.  All this means is that everyone is always doing something.  It doesn't mean that an actually free person will have ten hobbies, but just that activity will occur, and when it does, there will be movement of the physical body as well as actions of the intelligence.  

Human life is this movement.  Everything is moving.  The body is performing all sorts of processes, all the time.  The mind is constantly maintaining itself, making adjustments, creating wounds and barriers, as well as new strengths.  The brain is firing faster than a 4-dimensional strobe light, linking these two entities.  Although there is no overall self here, there is certainly an affective entity, which is constantly being created by a multitude of impressions upon the brain, which then charge the nervous system, in turn effecting all the other systems.  So the body has memorized what it feels like to have an entity inhabiting it.  And part of the actualism method is to feel *felicitious*, which is a much lighter load on the physical body, and to start to reverse that process of inhabitation a little bit.

But, I digress; the point is that I am afraid of moving, working, engaging, being responsible, meeting pressure, meeting demands.  I falsely link all these things together in a chain of negative association.  Moving and working and life are not a bad thing, they are a wonderful thing.  They are meant to be cherished.  And, when they are seen for what they ACTUALLY are, one can engage with life through an intelligence that has been freed from the clinging of fight-or-flight, and a body 100X lighter and fitter as a result of being freed from stress.  

So, in conclusion, fuck that image of Mahasi Sayadaw looking like he could sit there for a one thousand years.  Fuck that fantasy I have that getting actual freedom will allow me to become a vegetable.  The ultimate point is not a resting point; the ultimate point is dynamic: a dynamic engagement within the stillness, purity, and infinitude of the world as-it-is.  

p.s.- I realize that altruism and helping others has to be incorporated here.  I always sound so narcissistic and self-absorbed.  The thing is, that in order to get from where I am (point A=super selfish in outlook and behavior) to where I want to be (point B=engaging with charity and service, paying more attention to the people in my life, and engaging more with the world in general), I must move and interact, and flow forward.  The best way to do this is just to get started.  I do know that the process is already going.  Good things have already happened, and will continue to happen.

______________________________

Note: this essay will be subject to further editing.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
9/20/15 4:19 PM as a reply to Noah.
Good stuff, I can relate to this a lot.  The main point is that both negative and positive emotional reactions are "not actual" - it's the prevaling opinion about what's happening that causes problems, not the current state of life.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
9/20/15 4:30 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
Good stuff, I can relate to this a lot.  The main point is that both negative and positive emotional reactions are "not actual" - it's the prevaling opinion about what's happening that causes problems, not the current state of life.

Yes!  And this frees up energy to do lots of activities.  Fear is the mind killer.  But so is love.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
10/1/15 7:10 PM as a reply to Noah.
various, possible, actualist solutions:

I feel like actualism, as a set of instructions pertaining to what to do with one's attention, offers differing solutions for people in different situations.  However, all of these solutions have the central vein of having fun and being smart.  If one is a parent, stop seeing your children through the lens of a parent, and just see them as humans.  Begin to enjoy their personalities and quirks as a game.  Help them deal with their emotions intelligently while you also deal with your own.  Lead by example.

If one is a young adult, do the things it takes to reach a stable platform of functioning while also avoiding idealized outcomes and fantasies.  Act with efficiency.  Reduce drama.  Increase fun.  See through self image issues.

If one has a severe physical disease or disability, realize that there is only so much one can do about it.  Do those things.  Beyond that, choose to feel happy regardless, realizing that one's inner condition is the human condition (shared by all people) and not linked to the specific, physical condition.  A general problem has a broadly applicable solution.  This is a good thing, because it means that feeling good is possible regardless.  Dissect the emotions from the physical situation.  Examine the emotions, not the facts.  

A similar strategy could be applied by those in poverty.  That, plus the most efficient action plan to increase financial and other resources, stripped away of all emotion, beliefs, and cultural associations.  Act with efficeincy and without emotion.  Choose to enjoy the process of this effecient action, as well as all other moments.  Do not base happiness on a progression towards a better future.  Base happiness consistently on the now, while acting for the better.

It is very interesting for me to see how actualist strategies could be applied in all situations.  These are just some ideas.  The thing I like about them is that they integrate both the improvement of the internal state while simultaneously adjusting controllable, external conditions.  Doing both at once can help avoid repression of emotions or the movement into altered states of consciousness.  None of these approaches are 'easy.'  All require the practitioner to be very kind to themselves.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
10/30/15 2:58 AM as a reply to Noah.
Metta & Self-Improvement Experiment:

Background:
          The dramatic amount of change I have been going through in my life, externally, has naturally led to an internal questioning and shifting of values, which is still going on.  I started with getting technical 4th, right before moving to a new city.  I then went with my original plan of doing the actualism method after that, which led me to discover a newfound capability to act with discipline in spite of negative emotions.
          Actualist practice also caused me to question my goals, and seek to discover what I would be doing for fun, in life, if there were no instinctual passions or social identity factors motivating me.  I discovered that I not only need to evolve my actions in the world, but also yearn to do this, after many years of feeling very inhibited.  Now I am realizing that this goal is not aligned with actualist practice, and also that forcing oneself to evolve, every day, and act with discipline, HURTS.  But instead of trying to either suppress or 'attend to', these emotions, I figured I should give metta a fair chance...
          So the experiment is this:  Every day, act with discipline, maintaining and expanding on healthy habits.  Seek a greater balance and integration between career, social life, sexuality, creativity, hobbies, etc.  While doing these things externally, frequently turn inwards towards metta.
          Regardless of any ontological truth or falsehood, taking a Buddhist conceptual framework here seems to be functional and internally logical.  A large part of my current understanding of Buddhism comes from reading a decent amount of Than-Geoff's work from dhammatalks.org.  These aspects include the necessary truth of rebirth, karma, and merit (for Buddhist practice to make sense), the examination of wholesome and unwholesome mindstates, the accumulation of merit through generosity, and, his general explanation of the 4 immeasurables.

Day 1 (10/29):
          I felt pretty vulnerable and sensitive.  Yesterday went to EMDR therapy and felt my heart chakra open, so that might be a part of it.  I have also been going out a lot and working on dating skills, which is a pretty raw and stressful activity since it involves a lot of rejections.  I decided to start sending myself metta after feeling inspired by reading some Than-Geoff.  I like that how straight-forward and pure his approach is.  Karma and merit are real, so you better start using them to your advantage, that kind of thing.  
          I immediately felt better after thinking "kindness is free, and I can practice it as much as I want, and it will always help me as well as others."  This thought just felt like a weight off my chest after trying to be an insensitive hard-ass for many nights in a row.  
          I notice the mind still returning to self critical patterns, but metta does not seem to be at odds with these mental habits.  It is something that is freely given, without expectation.  So I'm just being nice to myself, even if those other parts within continue to be mean.  No expectations, that seems to be key.
          I watched a video from a self-help guru who was talking about congruence with one's goals, and marinated in thoughts of balancing all the different facets of my life.  I then forced myself to get up and shower, even though I typically would wait till the next day.  While forcing myself, I sent myself friendliness/gladness energy.  Hopefully, little baby steps will begin to snowball.
          

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
10/30/15 3:19 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah:
Metta & Self-Improvement Experiment:
          I notice the mind still returning to self critical patterns, but metta does not seem to be at odds with these mental habits.  It is something that is freely given, without expectation.  So I'm just being nice to myself, even if those other parts within continue to be mean.  No expectations, that seems to be key.         
Are those parts really mean, in the sense of having ill-will towards you?

If you actually examine these parts (e.g. by treating them as actual distinct living processes, inviting them into your body, giving them space etc.) can you feel some compassion-aspect in them? Is that a real experience for you? (as opposed to a theoretical understanding)

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
10/30/15 7:06 AM as a reply to bernd the broter.
bernd:

Are those parts really mean, in the sense of having ill-will towards you?

If you actually examine these parts (e.g. by treating them as actual distinct living processes, inviting them into your body, giving them space etc.) can you feel some compassion-aspect in them? Is that a real experience for you? (as opposed to a theoretical understanding)


I don't know exactly wheter this is a real experience, or a theoretical understanding, but I have this sense that grew in me, through emdr therapy, that these parts are basically coming from just one source, which is a really frustrated, childhood version of myself.  And when I invite it into my body, it basically just wants to be heard, at first to scream, and then to cry, and I can identify these emotions through specific bodily feelings, i.e. pangs in the chest, and such.  So I guess it doesn't have ill-will towards me.  I actually think it comes from a period of my life where my positive intentions towards family members were interrupted by the difficulties of their own individual personalities.  In that sense it would come from good will.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
10/30/15 1:54 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah:

I don't know exactly wheter this is a real experience, or a theoretical understanding, but I have this sense that grew in me, through emdr therapy, that these parts are basically coming from just one source, which is a really frustrated, childhood version of myself.  And when I invite it into my body, it basically just wants to be heard, at first to scream, and then to cry, and I can identify these emotions through specific bodily feelings, i.e. pangs in the chest, and such.  So I guess it doesn't have ill-will towards me.  I actually think it comes from a period of my life where my positive intentions towards family members were interrupted by the difficulties of their own individual personalities.  In that sense it would come from good will.
Here's a trick which I played around with: ask that part, what name (or description, such as "destroyer of evil kitchen utensils") it wants. If you get an answer, (say X), you can use the phrase "May X be happy". Credit for that idea goes to Jay Earley's IFS-book.
For me this seemed to have an effect sometimes.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
11/4/15 2:53 AM as a reply to Noah.
POEMS

I'm going to write poetry about my actualism practice here whenever I feel the impulse to do so.  I'll just let this thread become really longing so I don't spam the recent posts section each time I add an unedited poem.

Free association, free from punctuation
11.2.15

perfection has no pressure

on some mystical plane, after 1000 years of training the mind, will I still feel grumpy at cleaning my room?
after the unbinding, will I still feel horny, will I still get restless, but simply not be attached?
will "I"?
"I"?
?

"I"

in the days that follow freedom, are there delineations
or is it one day 
if there is perfection, can it be aware of itself
can it be bound or unbound

only "I" can be bound or unbound

no one wants to die
thats why "I" has survived on this rock floating through the stars
"I" is the biggest hoax of them all

in my life, the push to succeed has dominated
the willingness to be average is the middle way 
to take a little and give a little 
to grow fat and horny and enjoy and appreciate
to play guitar and sail and have sex
to watch netflix and forgive myself until I am ready to disappear
to uncover what lies beneath all the psychic calluses of personality
to look beyond the connection-to-something-greater, and directly into the pit of the soul
to stare directly into the eyes of animal ancestors, and see how "being" has evolved

into "I"

to uncover that seemingly tragic truth
that the physical body was all there ever was, all along
the dreamer who wakes up from the dream, just another way of natural selection

to change human nature
is to end it

-----------------------

11.3.15

Daily I wind and unwind, searching for the outside of this coil
Free from expectation is a myth
Trapped within too extreme a description
Have things gotten better, or have they simply gotten different
How to define an actuality, in human terms- impossible task

I don't sleep and some days I get fat
Other days I have the discipline of samurai and feel Hercule's mighty fuel
Sometimes I channel the famous cassanova, and others the Great Depression:
a system so fucked and muddled, only time can heal it
and just like nation's, my inner economy functions better when I am at war-- singularly directed at hidden enemies
phantoms of affect, shadows of this psychic web, fugazi's of the great beingness

This parasite on earth
Is a stubborn one.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
11/24/15 1:16 PM as a reply to Noah.
11.24


Aspect Being ExaminedSpiritualismActualism
Sample size of success storiesPro: large sample sizeCon: small sample size
Intuitive fitCon: definitely doesn’t feel right to seek more path shiftsPro: feels like intuitively correct fit at this time
Logical fitPro: is logical right fit, based on specific conditions (i.e. total devotion to meditation)Con: doesn’t necessarily fit my overall situation, “on paper”
Degree of integration of solution/improvements to lifeCon: I won’t know how conventional areas of my life have been positively affected until after each path shiftPro: integrates each area of my life under one effort/method, addresses all problems at once
Conceptual paradigmCon: I disagree with the conceptual paradigm of spiritualism and feel that even the highest levels of awakening are inherently disassociating from reality as it is “normally” experiencedPro: I agree with the conceptual paradigm of actualism (what it says the answer is, what it says about the other schools of thought, etc.)
Final outcome resultsCon: intermediate outcomes only promise change to internal experience, not external motivations and actionsPro: outcome promises immediate change to motivations and behaviors
Familiarity with processPro: more familiarity with process because I am farther along in process… more clear ‘plan of attack’ in terms of effort and time involvedCon: less experience with process, very difficult to estimate amount of time/effort involved to reach certain milestones


actualism and af vs spiritualism and the real 4th path

I have recently come into contact with a contemplative friend's model of development that explained a lot about where I am on the insight axis and how that may or may not relate to my actualism practice.  I'm not willing to discuss the who and what of this map, but needless to say, I have a much closer idea of what exactly happened to my mind on the events that I have mapped to be 3rd and 4th path.  While these were major openings having to do with the widening of the automatic processing of certain categories of experience, I do believe that if I kept doing insight practice I could make a huge amount of further progress.   

My whole point for contemplative training is to be able to live a stable and well-rounded life, on autopilot, and relatively stress free.  The actualism method, and its outcome, are distinctly different from the process of spiritual awakening, and its outcome.  However, they are both viable options to reach my goal.  That being said, I can see pro's and con's for both paths.

The con of actualism is that there is a relatively small sample size of actually free people, especially compared to the amount of people who have reached some stage of enlightenment.  The pro of actualism is that it intuitively feels like the right fit for me, and that one starts seeing immediate, positive results from it.  Another pro of actualism for me, right now, is that feels like it integrates each area of my life that needs improvement under one banner: "sensibility."  Also, in terms of the conceptual paradigms of each system, I am more in agreement with actualism than spiritualism (including what actualism says about spiritualism).  Finally, the outcome of actualism promises immediate and terminal change to one's inner world which is guarenteed to change core motivations and in turn effect behaviors and actions in the world.  In contrast, definite changes to core motivations and behaviors are not a guarantee until the highest levels of awakening, when the emptiness lens is turned towards the inward psychological muscles of thought and emotion.

This is a smooth segue into the corresponding con of meditation, which is that it makes me feel like I have to devote myself to something which is separate or isolated from the more mundane areas of my life.  In the end, the path-shifts make these areas of my life much easier to succeed in, but while I am in the process of pursuing a path shift, I feel the dissonance of renunciation.  The advantage of meditation is that I have already had a lasting shift from it (while I have not had VF or AF), and I now know what is being talked about in certain spiritual texts.  This is important because a number of texts (particuarly those within the Mahamudra traditions) talk about further levels of enlightenment, and I could somewhat reasonable guestimate the amount and type of effort it might take to reach these levels; in other words, I have a very clear plan of attack.  Another advantage is that I can tell exactly what the path shifts have done for me, positively, which is that they have reporgrammed certain processes of sensory input to match a wider range of phenomena.  Translated, I'm simply less bipolar, have less of a range of both negative and positive emotion, and feel more realistically grounded all the time.  Other processes, such as the perception of thought, have not yet "popped" (I'm still easily trapped in obsessing).  

In terms of the way the after-effects of spiritual practice have cross pollinated with my actualist practice, I will say that getting 4th path has minimized my bipolar symptoms enough to allow for actualist practice in the first place.  So it is hard to completely to against something from which I have benefitted so greatly, but I can also not deny that even 3 months of intensive experimentation with the actualism method have not given me unique and discrete contemplative advances.

It may be that, in terms of probability, I have the highest chance of quickly getting the most dramatic positive benefits from spiritual practice.  However, this would be in a perfect world where I could just prioritize meditation, which I can not afford to do right now.  So, in terms of where I'm at in life, it makes more sense to choose a method that works with my personality, habits, schedule, and other active needs (which would be actualism).

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
11/24/15 1:05 PM as a reply to Noah.
This is me being a nag once again Noah, but what you posted about spiritual practice ("... it makes me feel like I have to devote myself to something which is separate or isolated from the more mundane areas of my life.") makes me think you misunderstand it. It is not removed from your life. In fact, since you claim 4th path - and in order to attain 4th path - you would had to have integrated your insights and your moment to moment, very mundane existence. I'm baffled by this, but maybe it's just me.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
11/24/15 1:41 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
This is me being a nag once again Noah, but what you posted about spiritual practice ("... it makes me feel like I have to devote myself to something which is separate or isolated from the more mundane areas of my life.") makes me think you misunderstand it. It is not removed from your life. In fact, since you claim 4th path - and in order to attain 4th path - you would had to have integrated your insights and your moment to moment, very mundane existence. I'm baffled by this, but maybe it's just me.

Hi Chris,

You're definitely not nagging, but actually making valuable points that can help me clarify my own.  My understanding of your view from reading your posts on AN and the DhO is that the core result of awakening is a change in the way we understand our life and our selves (i.e. as flowing processes, not permanent, continuous entities).  I would agree with this, but also add that the initial result of awakening is a change in the process of perception at a very raw level, which may, or may not, filter upwards, towards more refined, conceptual levels.  

Meaning, I do believe that I experienced the shift which can be commonly labelled as 'technical 4th path.'  However, it seems that the change in raw processing did not automatically cause me to change the way I view my life (and self) on a more mundane, everyday, or conceptual level.  I don't think this type of integration is an automatic result of the path moments.  

Connected to this, I personally am more interested in the irreversible after-effects of path moments, rather than any integration work that would be necesary to maintain and amplify their benefits.  Meaning, I see shifts resulting from meditation as one-time, 'psychic surgeries' that provide certain, limited, positive benefits for as long as you live, and require no upkeep.  

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
11/24/15 3:28 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah --

I would agree with this, but also add that the initial result of awakening is a change in the process of perception at a very raw level, which may, or may not, filter upwards, towards more refined, conceptual levels.  

Can you clarify what this means? Nothing that I know of "changes the process of perception." what happened to me is that I came to understand the process of perception, how it works, why, and how it causes ignorance (dukkha).

However, it seems that the change in raw processing did not automatically cause me to change the way I view my life (and self) on a more mundane, everyday, or conceptual level.  I don't think this type of integration is an automatic result of the path moments.

Again, what do you mean by "the change in raw processing?" This is not something that involves integration but rather a fundamental perception of what happened to you at the transition you're calling 4th path.

You seem to be in an almost perpetual struggle to figure out what practice to do, vacillating back and forth, almost agonizing over it. Why do you think that is?

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
11/24/15 3:57 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Can you clarify what this means? Nothing that I know of "changes the process of perception." what happened to me is that I came to understand the process of perception, how it works, why, and how it causes ignorance (dukkha).


For me it was all just very mechanistic.  I did this repeated effort with my mind for thousands of hours (noting), observed predictable yet automatic/uncontrollable side effects occurring in my experience of mind and body (the nanas), and then, every once in a while, some 'pop' would occur that was very much a physical event like electricity in my skull cavity (cessation and fruition), and then I would feel permanently different, a little more each time a 'pop' occured.  

This permanent difference is what I mean by 'raw processing' or 'change in perception.'  I feel physically different, as in, more aware of my body all the time.  There is less thought and general mental fuzz in relation to the five senses, i.e. the sound of the computer keys clicking as a I type is literally more vivid then it used to be.  There is the continuous background confidence in the fact that "this is it" or "this moment is all there is" and in the fact that the my mind stream is just a process, and not a solid object.  This confidence is felt as a knowing in the body, in the sense of intuition or of subconscious inductive reasoning, perhaps.  

Things that have stayed the same are: my basic personality patterns and interests, as well as my ability to shift, in belief, about the world.  So I would not say that I have 'understood' something, at the level of ideas and concepts, that has remained permanent.  Instead, it is this physical-energetic sense that seems to have been the terminal shift.   

You seem to be in an almost perpetual struggle to figure out what practice to do, vacillating back and forth, almost agonizing over it. Why do you think that is?


It is possible that my pattern of vacillation over the past four or five months has more to do with the way my external, life situation is effecting my energy than the way my internal, contemplative habits are.  Examining both the actualism method, and meditation, from an outside point of view, has caused me to consider the option of either taking a complete break from all inner contemplation, or at least prioritizing my career/general materialistic life, over the two.  In other words, I might just need more balance.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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11/24/15 4:51 PM as a reply to Noah.
So at no time did you think about the effects of what was happening to you as a result of your efforts or examine your relationship to your experience as it was changing? You never analyzed the process? You never experienced anything at the level of consciousness? I find it hard to believe that this was all done subliminally, which is what you're describing.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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11/24/15 7:00 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
@Noah:
So far I haven't commented on this because I basically feel too unqualified regarding Vipassana (still below MCTB 2nd path).
But I agree with Chris that your commentary on Vipassana sounds very confusing to me. We may simply have completely different vocabulary, but the difference is so large that it's hard to believe. Some examples:

Noah says
"Con: I won’t know how conventional areas of my life have been positively affected until after each path shift"
Chris says
"what happened to me is that I came to understand the process of perception, how it works, why, and how it causes ignorance (dukkha)."
This completely baffles me. It's called insight meditation (for a reason), but you claim that you basically didn't get any insights into anything, but still got its (almost?)-final goal.
Also, these insights come before path shifts. Lots, maybe even most of them. And they have consequences before the path shifts. This has always been completely self-evident for me (already before I knew about SE), but you seem to deny it. dafuq?

This is important because a number of texts (particuarly those within the Mahamudra traditions) talk about further levels of enlightenment, and I could somewhat reasonable guestimate the amount and type of effort it might take to reach these levels; in other words, I have a very clear plan of attack
LOL. You still believe that you direct the process? This looks like a massive not-realization of Anatta and the basic principles of the whole Path, and I'm not sure if my impression might even be correct.

Another advantage is that I can tell exactly what the path shifts have done for me, positively, which is that they have reporgrammed certain processes of sensory input to match a wider range of phenomena.  Translated, I'm simply less bipolar, have less of a range of both negative and positive emotion, and feel more realistically grounded all the time.
Everything you write about the effects sounds less like insight meditation effects and more like therapy of conventional self-improvement. You don't even give lip service to the fact that this path is universally assumed to be about LIBERATION. The word doesn't even appear in this giant collection of wall-of-texts. Not once! (Nor in your previous practice logs if I searched correctly.)

Then there's the fact that you have very limited retreat experience. (IIRC you did one, and on that you were quite overwhelmed by basic hindrances?)

Based on all of that, I totally can't see what criteria Ron used to give you 3rd or 4th path medal, let alone SE.
Maybe the bipolar thing somehow explains all of this divergence, but I'm nonetheless completely baffled.
subconscious inductive reasoning
whatever that is, it sounds real neat.
Pro: integrates each area of my life under one effort/method, addresses all problems at once
Pro: outcome promises immediate change to motivations and behaviors

[...]
I can also not deny that even 3 months of intensive experimentation with the actualism method have not given me unique and discrete contemplative advances.
Something doesn't quite fit here, right?

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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11/24/15 11:20 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
So at no time did you think about the effects of what was happening to you as a result of your efforts or examine your relationship to your experience as it was changing? You never analyzed the process? You never experienced anything at the level of consciousness? I find it hard to believe that this was all done subliminally, which is what you're describing.

I did analyze the process but the results of that analysis were not solidified as beliefs or insights.  The thing that has remained is what I desribed about how I still feel.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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1/3/17 9:43 PM as a reply to bernd the broter.
Hey Bernd,

Also, these insights come before path shifts. Lots, maybe even most of them. And they have consequences before the path shifts.


In my experience, the 'insights' that come from each nana do have conceptual/analytical manifestations, but they are just side effects of the deeper physio-energetic transformation that is occuring.  The reason I think this is because the conceptual stuff has all gone away for me, while the way I feel, on a visceral level, has stayed.  Its not like I'm permanently musing on impermanence and emptiness.  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.  

Also, I didn't personally get lasting or permanent consequences from any any nana other than 4 (which for me involved something concerning an increased presence of faith and an obsession with spirituality), and obviously the path moments.  The other 'insights' wore off along with their corresponding cutting-edge afterglows.  I do think the nanas do something to the energetic system to prepare it for cessation and fruition, but I didn't detect any stable change in my baseline until after stream entry.


LOL. You still believe that you direct the process? This looks like a massive not-realization of Anatta and the basic principles of the whole Path, and I'm not sure if my impression might even be correct.


Yeah I think surrender and skillful means are two sides of the same coin, and while the critical shifts come from grace, the work to get there best occurs through some hardcore boot strapping.  Do you know about "Clarifying the Natural State"?  These books/general approaches to Mahamudra are super goal oriented and unfold in stages similar to a fractal model.  

As further evidence supporting the idea of being able to estimate the amount of time and effort it might take to attain to certain stages, I would cite the presence of specific retreat schedules within Tibetan Buddhism, and the rigorous way they switch from one visualization to another in the beginning, which I got from Tenzin Palmo's memoir.  Also this interesting lecture by a lama who guides a women's retreat center in Tibet seems to be teeming with a goal orientation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG-RiTO3vjY).  While I don't think a goal orientation automatically means that 'you control the process', I do think it hints at it.

Everything you write about the effects sounds less like insight meditation effects and more like therapy of conventional self-improvement. You don't even give lip service to the fact that this path is universally assumed to be about LIBERATION. The word doesn't even appear in this giant collection of wall-of-texts. Not once! (Nor in your previous practice logs if I searched correctly.)


Yeah, we just have different paradigms concerning meditation.  I take a more agnostic/skeptical approach in saying that I don't know for sure, what the main mechanism is.  All I know for sure is what the direct effects on my experience have been, and I have made certain assumptions about the positive side effects from that.  I would guess that its my focus on the way the positive side effects make me feel better that seems most like therapy/self-improvement.

Then there's the fact that you have very limited retreat experience. (IIRC you did one, and on that you were quite overwhelmed by basic hindrances?)

Yeah that bothered me for a long time too, as I didn't feel "legit."  Ron didn't believe that the progress of insight could be completed off the cushion until the third or so time meeting with me.  The bottom line is that when I noted out loud for him, the things that were manifesting in my experience were obviously the nanas, as lots of other people experience them.  While I didn't do any retreats, I did note almost all the time, from morning until night, in a somewhat distracted way, for almost two years.  So it still makes sense based on an overall net amount of effort, in my opinion.

Based on all of that, I totally can't see what criteria Ron used to give you 3rd or 4th path medal, let alone SE.
Maybe the bipolar thing somehow explains all of this divergence, but I'm nonetheless completely baffled.


I think the primary thing that is drawing your attention right now is the lack of traditional outlook on a conceptual level, which also effects my word choice.  I have always liked the idea of a physio-energetic model best.  Or maybe something from AYP.  My general point is that I feel different, but I can't explain why exactly.  To paraphrase Bill Hamilton on shooting for stream entry: "Highly reccomend it, can't quite say why."

Something doesn't quite fit here, right?


My bad, I hit a double negative in the third line you quoted.  Take that out and it fits.

 

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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1/3/17 9:41 PM as a reply to Noah.
@Bernd:

I wanted to add something in relation to your comment about retreat time: there is this youtube interview with a person on 'conscious tv' or something, where he talks about the cliche of a Western meditator who has been sitting for two or three decades with hard progress.  He says the answer is to sit smarter and not more.  I would generalize this to my approach which was to meditate in daily life, which was probably the smartest thing for me at the life stage.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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11/25/15 1:08 PM as a reply to Noah.
I did analyze the process but the results of that analysis were not solidified as beliefs or insights.  The thing that has remained is what I desribed about how I still feel.

Are you asserting that if and when a person analyzes or has conscious awareness of the progress of insight in which they are engaged that they're simply generating or, as you say "solidifying," beliefs? Insights are actual occurrences, not beliefs. To combine or conflate the two is odd.

Again, you seem to approach your journey not as a spiritual one but as therapy. None of what you did before, the analysis you're doing now, or your dilemma about what to practice next is focused on what you are as a human being and how your experience actually works, which is the transformative part of the progress of insight for the vast majority of folks who stick with it and make progress. It is those realizations that make a huge difference for folks. You're not able to describe that. 

Edit: I want to make it clear that what I'm hearing you say, Noah, is neither good nor bad. It just is. I do have to be honest, however, and say that not being able to describe the progress of insight contributes to my skepticism and the resulting questions. I'll leave it at that.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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11/25/15 12:02 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris:

Are you asserting that if and when a person analyzes or has conscious awareness of the progress of insight in which they are engaged that they're simply generating or, as you say "solidifying," beliefs? Insights are actual occurrences, not beliefs. To combine or conflate the two is odd.


I would say that during the occurrence of insight, the susbtantial part that remains and relieves suffering is the "subliminal" part, to use your words.  The part that occurs in the conscious mind is specific to the conceptual framework of Buddhism.  If you completely isolated an advanced contemplative from Buddhist ideas, do you think they would be having the same insights?  Was St. Teresa of Avila "understanding" aspects of dependent origination?  In my opinion, the progress of insight is just something that happens to the energy field, through a set of mental exercises, independent of the focus Buddhism happens to have, which is on perception.  Entire AYP traditions focus on the psychic perception of the central channel chakras as the unfold, allowing the kundalini to rise up the spine.  To some extent, I have experienced this as I went through the paths, i.e. kundalini now goes through my skull all the time, where it once wouldn't go past my solar plexus.  Would you discredit those ways of judging prgoress?  I relate more to a kundalini map than I do to one that focuses on insights into the sense doors.

Again, you seem to approach your journey not as a spiriutal one but as therapy. None of what you did before, the analysis you're doing now, or your dilemma about what to practice next is focused on what you are as a human being and how your experience actually works, which is the transformative part of the progress of insight for the vast majority of folks who stick with it and make progress. It is those realizations that make a huge difference for folks. You're not able to describe that. 


I would not avoid admitting that I approach my journey as therapy.  I am not in it for the truth.  I am in to feel better.  And to a pretty impressive extent, that has happened.  I can see that this is not in line with the culture of pragmatic dharma, but I am too self absorbed to care, to be honest.  There will come a time in my life when this will change, and I am working towards that time.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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11/25/15 12:58 PM as a reply to Noah.
I deleted my last reply. Noah, you and I are in different places in spiritual practice and of completely different minds about the dharma. As generally is the case with these things, YMMV.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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11/25/15 1:03 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I agree that we are of different minds about the dharma.  I am happy with my mileage thus far and will keep striving with diligence.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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11/25/15 1:19 PM as a reply to Noah.
Well, as I've said to you before, please try to keep in mind that what you want can also be aligned with what you are. If you don't know what you are then what you want can be out of sync, even impossible. The value of dharma lies not only in its results but in knowledge and wisdom. The wisdom part of the dharma informs the results part of the dharma. If these two things aren't cultivated together we can end up in a rather mercenary place, which you do admit to. That's at least a start. I think this is a potential problem with prgamatic dharma. Results can be over-emphasized and wisdom can become a secondary thing.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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11/25/15 3:14 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Well, as I've said to you before, please try to keep in mind that what you want can also be aligned with what you are. If you don't know what you are then what you want can be out of sync, even impossible. The value of dharma lies not only in its results but in knowledge and wisdom. The wisdom part of the dharma informs the results part of the dharma. If these two things aren't cultivated together we can end up in a rather mercenary place, which you do admit to. That's at least a start. I think this is a potential problem with prgamatic dharma. Results can be over-emphasized and wisdom can become a secondary thing.
Disclaimer: I'm rambling on thoughts not yet thought through.

It is interesting to see commonalities in the competing solidfying/solidifed positions and viewpoints, that which has gone on here over and over for a number of years VS the solidified positions of the various groups out there in the world causing trouble. Not that I'm equating the actions of those troublemakers to people here in this thread but at how viewpoints clash. Noah's actualist views are solidifying or have solidifed somewhat over the past months or more. Chris, yours solidifed or are somewhat of a certain shape too and its like the West trying to convince the Jihadis to stop jihadying because jihayding is bad, but not from the jihadi viewpoint. It's like two rocks pounding at eachother, one rock arguing for the peace that simply being a rock can offer, one rock arguing that you gotta know one's own 'rockiness' or else. 

End of ramble.

On a purely different note. I am quitting my job today and just from this fact, I have seen a jump in a desire to ramble about my solidfying/solidifed/liquid/gaseous viewpoints. Ah, the joys of unemployment.  

Nick

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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11/26/15 9:58 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nick , your comment mentions groups causing trouble and so forth, which seems like an odd reference to make on this topic since there isn't any trouble. Noah and I have a pretty solid relationship. No one is conmplaining or upset.... so why the fly-by references? Everybody has a POV whether they're willing to admit it or not. I'm happy to see Noah admitting to his, which I would see as self-improvement first, and I'm happy to admit my bias for the wisdom aspects of the dharma. I think the exchanges are helpful and hopefully informative for others. If Noah asks me to stop posting on his thread, I'll stop.

Edit - comment to Nick - I would be remiss not to say that I enjoy your posts on that other place about, and with, your new son. Parenthood is the bomb, as you know. Keep up the good work.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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11/26/15 1:07 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Hi Chris,

yea parenthood is the bomb... Which goes off everyday in the living room. I swear, I've never picked up so many toys and other objects off a floor in my entire life, every. day. without. fail.

On jihadis and troublemakers....I put in two disclaimers at least, Chris!!!!!! (Illusory use of exclamation points). I rambled on what I'd been reading about concerning the locked in thought loops of some groups clashing with other groups. No moderating nor insinuating trouble here. I just saw two competing viewpoints and it reminded me of the jihadi viewpoint which to them is probably not possible to shift or change. I see the same thing occur wiwith some here at the DhO. If I recall, you probably had the same exchange with me at some stage in the distant past.

Rambling makes the world go round.

and with that, the urge to listen to a Led Zepplin song on youtube bids you a wonderful day.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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11/26/15 1:22 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Okay - you were just rambling. That's fine. I over-reacted, obviously.

In regard to the joys of parenthood, I'm now picking up dirty dishes, helping them move from apartment to apartment, and providing financial support for education and various other ventures. Be happy picking up toys for now. Before you know it you'll be living in my world.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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11/28/15 5:58 AM as a reply to Noah.
Hey Nick (edit: do you ever spell it this way?),

Just wanted to thank you for jumping in.  Your rock allegory was helpful in an intuitive way.

And Chris,

As always, good to converse, even when there is a bit of friction, whose heat is then used as productive energy.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
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11/28/15 7:05 AM as a reply to Noah.
Some musings on views, actualism, and metta:

In the past, I've thought of insight as a wagon that needs speed to gain the momentum to get up a hill, and as it passes over, the hill is ground down, reducing its gradient and making the job easier.

I thought of concentration as a muscle that is exercised in the gym, and that, if you just push hard enough, for long enough, it will be forced to grow.  I am now starting to think of concentration as more of a balancing act, ala tuning the lute.

My 'view' of insight was legitimately reinforced by my success with it.  This caused me to gain confidence in my 'view-making' abilities, even though I had negative counter examples in somewhat failed views of concentration and morality.

My view of morality, for many years, has been that if I can make a 'breakthrough', with my 'big issue', then everything will get better and easier.  

I can see how these experiences contributed to me becoming increasingly confident in my understanding of the actualism method, as well as my judgement that it was the proper next step.  The ideal actualist practitioner would not have any extra views tied in with the method, since the method involves a calculated judgement of all of these aforementioned attitudes.  I am not the ideal actualist practitioner.

In fact, in the past few days, I am starting to think that I am not an actualist practitioner at all.  

If I had to say something about actualism, it would be, "its not you, its me", knowing full well that actualism will 'sail serenly on' without my participation in it.  In other words, the practice of actualism, as it really is, and not as it has been misinterpreted, is a good one.  I believe that actual freedom is a real, optional outcome whose way of being resembles the emotional tone of its ideal seeker.

If I had to use an allegory to describe of how I think of actualism, perhaps one might be the image of a house that it is more than the sum of its parts, but when you isolate each part (walls, floors, piping, shingles, furniture, occupants, lights), you stop thinking of it as a house, and maybe just as a gross, material structure, with both good and bad choices having been made in the design.  Or perhaps I would say that actualism is a pink, acid, tidal wave, rife with glistening flowers of delight, that will eat at your soul, and strip away all of your humanity, until all of the acid, as well as all of you, have evaporated, and only a field of glistening flowers remain.

It seems that I have been bounced around like a pinball, between three central bumpers of worldly goals, actualism, and spiritualism, for the past four months.  And despite the seeming confusion inherent in this process, the pinball itself has been changing and evolving, at some type of structural level, while it has been discharging all of this kinetic energy.

I got 'fourth path', and now things have changed.

I used to think of metta as a muscle, just like concentration.  Now I'm wondering if metta is almost like a drug, or a dream about how the world should be.  Something that slowly creeps into your mind and reprograms the way you truly want things to be.  I think of the movie, Inception, here. 

If my 'inner council' (as in, the Than-Geof phraseology) is in disarray, I can not do metta or concentration.  This defeats the muscle metaphor, which relies on the fact that you can force yourself to work out, regardless of your inner state.  Metta and concentration both have to work with the inner council, slowly either winning over votes or at least convincing the negative nancies to abstain for awhile.  If even one of the 12 angry men remain in their state of indignance, the process will not proceed. 

Metta is well wishing.  It is calm, warm friendliness: more "howdy neighbor", and less, "I love you so much, baby."  From metta, the other brahma viharas can be deduced.  Whatever situation well-wishing affect meets, it has an appropriate answer: the reduction of pain, the increase of pleasure, or ability to see the difference and not react.  

I am forming a new allegory here.  Is metta a movement or political campaign in the mind to win over the entire internal council?  To get everyone's attention and say "Hey, look over here!  We all want to be happy, and we are motivated to do what will make Noah happy, we just have different views of what we think that is.  Is it possible that we have more in common than in conflict?"  Then everyone in the internal council gets quiet for a moment.  After that there is ten minutes of murmering and side talk, until a consensus is reached, and announced.  The president of the meeting (who rotates every week), announces that the council will now be in full support of 'The Metta Initiative', from here on out.

I think of metta is like this.  Even the lecher inside of me, or the raging bull, or the basket case, agrees that they ultimately want me to be happy.  And with enough proper understanding and guidance, each of these parts of me can come to learn that this happiness of mine will involve other's happiness as well.  That somehow, happiness is more like a currency that passes between people and interacts with the world, than an armor that protects them from each other and the world.  If the whole council was willing to give peace a chance, THEN, maybe I could sit down and do metta.

RE: Noah's Conceptual Sandbox
Answer
11/28/15 7:23 AM as a reply to Noah.
More on metta:

Words are packets of information that the conscious mind uses to instruct itself, and the subconscious.  The executive, inner council member speaks to all the council members at once, saying, "may we be happy."  "May we work together.  May the proper one among us arise at the proper time.  May none of us be ashamed at our existence, or wish destruction on another.  May we approve of one another, and of this mind, as a whole."

On the x axis, we have the internal family members.  And on the y axis, we have a continuum from the conscious, to the subconscious.  

Emotions are the energies that are contained in these packets of information.  Emotions have specific vectors, or directions that they are heading in.  When emotions impact certain phenomena that they are directed at, they have specific effects.  Emotions are like missiles.  A well wishing missile will swallow and protect a unit of pain.  It will bolster and propel a unit of pleasure.  And it will gladly change its course when no action is needed, and a unit would best remain as it is.  

So, on our graph, the lines are these missiles which are made of thought and emotion.  These lines travel along the y axis, deeper into the subconscious, where they have the most effect, and along the x axis, connecting members of the inner council, and bringing them into harmony with each other and with the outside world.  The line will change its course depending on which brahma vihara is necessary for which family member, at a given time.  A feeling of empowerment will be met with mudita.  A feeling of defeat will be met with karuna.  When facing the need to act on external circumstances, in spite of emotion, the need will be met with upekkha.  The general mood or atmosphere will be suffused with metta.

Perhaps these qualities are called "pure abodes" because you can't go wrong with them.

In the z axis of this model, we account for the dynamic of living, for time and space.  The line keeps moving forward through experience, the z axis, and adapting.  

This makes metta an interactive energy inside, a self-sustaining battery of love whose glow automatically transforms and adapts to illuminate people and situations in the most optimal light.