Message Boards Message Boards

Practice Logs

Discussion of Noah IV

Toggle
Discussion of Noah IV
Answer
6/15/15 10:51 PM
6/15- Everything feels awesome and raw and open.  Very pleasurable, but in a mellow, integrated way.  I also have this vertical feeling of "up" and a feeling of "out."  Definitely less of a heavy sense in the body.  Talking to people with complete patience and connection is easy.  Nothing manic about this, as my years of bipolar have made me very good at detecting (even though I know this sounds sort of manic).  

Also, last night I had a bartending shift with a very difficult, stressed-out, co-worker, and I just didn't care.  I felt sorry for her where I would have felt bullied before.  She is so trapped in her own thoughts and emotions compared to me.  

Which leads me to another interesting effect: I feel a certian lucidity with my emotions and thoughts, like I should just let them go, unleash them, rather than suppressing them or "working with them."  If I feel arrogant, so be it.  I feel annoyed or confrontational, so be it.  It feels wonderfully satisfying and free.  Once loosed, they just kind of flow and then dissapear.

This is cool. emoticon

RE: Discussion of Noah IV
Answer
6/15/15 11:11 PM as a reply to Noah.
I think a practice log is about being intellectually honest.  So I am going to share my own opinion about where I am, acknowledging that I could be wrong and I don't really care if I'm wrong or right.  In the end, I am where I am on the map.  That being said, I do think I got 4th Path on Sunday night (6/13).  It seems that multiple people (on another thread) had some skeptical doubt that I had even gotten 3rd Path, but in the end, they aren't experiencing what I am, and I am not experiencing what they are.  

This is the moment that I think it happened:
While in the backyard of my friends house last night I felt like there was no-thing home and had a general panoramic sense.  I did sense the fact that my visual field only included that which was in front of me, but I noticed that the distinction between front and behind was just another phenomenon.  However, inner objects did feel more stick than outer ones.

What is fascinating is that it wasn't that much different from many other nondual moments I have had lately.  Also, I happen to be good at self-diagnosing certain aspects of insight practice.  I haven't been wrong about a path moment yet.  I have always predicted them and later had them confirmed by Ron.

Since that moment, I have had a continuous sense of "nice" or pleasant awareness.  Everything is sort of quiet and grounded in some way, but also open and complete.  I feel very at home and at peace and at one.  Nothing can really bother me, although I have had some difficult emotions over the past couple days with other situations.  As these emotions arise and pass, they are just what they are, I don't add or subtract anything.  This is also the case for self-sense, outside-sense, preference, etc.  Negative is negative and positive is positive.  Me is me and out there is out there.  What is there to change?  Absolutely nothing.

As I said on the other thread, I hope that I am wrong about my diagnosis, because it means I can get more mental healing out of the insight process.  But, to be honest, this feels super-complete and that nothing can be added or taken away.  It doesn't feel "great", it just feels super, obviously, right there, in its immediacy.  This-is-it and all it will ever be, kind of thing.

So, I've said it.  I think I got 4th Path, folks.  Not a big deal either way.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Ok, so here's something from today.  I said a spiritual mind treatment for getting actual freedom, and went through a tornado of thoughts and emotions and opinions through the next 6 hours (it was all remarkably "unsticky" as they say).  

First I tried to do the actualism method.  Then it didn't feel right.  It felt inorganic and too forced.  

Then I thought I should trust the traditional Theravadan trainings and focus on jhana, brahma-vihara, discipline, ethics, etc.  So I did jhana, thinking it would definitely make me feel super-restful and begin to erase my bipolar imprints.  What was annoying was that I easily got a hard first jhana, which progressed into second, and was becoming third as I felt remarkably unnattached to it.  None of it felt like it was going to heal me at all.  It just had that "one taste" like everything else.  "This is jhana, no big deal."  What the fuck?  Jhana supposed to be super special.  

Anyway, then I felt really hopeless.  How am I going to actually get a job, get a life, if I can't use meditation to heal myself?  I actually realized that (although I am not at all suicidal, it gives me the creeps) life is not worth living if I can't get my shit together.  So I have nothing to lose.  I don't think Buddhist training will be powerful enough.  I really don't.

I proceeded to realize that I DO need the actualism method.  I need to get the fuck out of my emotions.  I then felt, for the rest of the night, the impulse to be a nice person to myself and others, to cultivate pure intent, to become happy and harmless.  It is a long path, but I am a good traveller.



RE: Noah IV
Answer
6/16/15 12:21 AM as a reply to Noah.
I need to get the fuck out of my emotions.  I then felt, for the rest of the night, the impulse to be a nice person to myself and others, to cultivate pure intent, to become happy and harmless.  It is a long path, but I am a good traveller.


If you trust the Buddhist meditation tradition, you might recognize it covers this very goal, too.
The suitable practice is called Metta. IME That shit goes deep lol.

RE: Noah IV
Answer
6/16/15 12:40 AM as a reply to bernd the broter.
bernd the broter:
I need to get the fuck out of my emotions.  I then felt, for the rest of the night, the impulse to be a nice person to myself and others, to cultivate pure intent, to become happy and harmless.  It is a long path, but I am a good traveller.


If you trust the Buddhist meditation tradition, you might recognize it covers this very goal, too.
The suitable practice is called Metta. IME That shit goes deep lol.
I do, I really do.  I think its just the buddha-dharma wearing the mask of AF.  Sometimes when I try to purposefully do metta meditation (usually a "nurture positive" or "mahamudra noting" type, not the traditional phrasing) there is an immediate instinct that it wont cause enought change.  However, I think the actualism method is basically a way of learning friendliness and equanimity, so its the same thing.

RE: Noah IV
Answer
6/16/15 3:12 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah S:
bernd the broter:
I need to get the fuck out of my emotions.  I then felt, for the rest of the night, the impulse to be a nice person to myself and others, to cultivate pure intent, to become happy and harmless.  It is a long path, but I am a good traveller.


If you trust the Buddhist meditation tradition, you might recognize it covers this very goal, too.
The suitable practice is called Metta. IME That shit goes deep lol.
I do, I really do.  I think its just the buddha-dharma wearing the mask of AF.  Sometimes when I try to purposefully do metta meditation (usually a "nurture positive" or "mahamudra noting" type, not the traditional phrasing) there is an immediate instinct that it wont cause enought change.  However, I think the actualism method is basically a way of learning friendliness and equanimity, so its the same thing.

"Immediate instinct" might be real intuition that the practice doesn't work for you, or it might as well be just the hindrance 'doubt'.
What happens if you use phrases instead?

By the way, equating Metta with equanimity seems misguided. Judging from Daniel's and others' descriptions about AF, those practitioners can become temporary zombies. Hang out with people on a Metta retreat, and you see that this leads to something very different, un-zombie-like.

RE: Noah IV
Answer
6/16/15 3:48 AM as a reply to bernd the broter.
What happens if you use phrases instead?

If I try to use the phrases its like it goes a few feet deep into the pool and then just kind of hits an invisible wall and bounces out.  It seems that you are arguing that I should try to push past this, which I am willing to do.  Ultimately the meditation simply becomes a battle of wills as I try to get myself to do something I don't want to be doing.

Another metta-ish practice which is more up my alley is bhakti: chanting/kirtan-devotional-singing, which is always usually fun and powerful.
Hang out with people on a Metta retreat, and you see that this leads to something very different, un-zombie-like.

I do have doubts that there is a strong correlation between any one practice and one way of being externally.  It seems like a long, windy road which causes many poeple many unexpected turns and detours along the way.  I know that to progress in dry insight I had to change my m.o. many times.  However, I kept going on the faith of a single goal.  I don't know if I could control whether or not I look like a robot or bouncy-zen-spontenaeity-dude, even if I wanted to.  
--------------------------                           
The bottom line for me might be that I simply don't think it will be transformative enough; that it doesn't "feel" right.  I acknowledge that this could be the hindrance of doubt even though it feels exactly like the same meditative intuition that has worked each time so far.

The premise of all positive emotional practice (including bhakti and metta), as I understand it, is that the heart has countless old wounds, which are karmas that control us in the shade of our unconscious.  When we relax and open the heart, these old wounds slowly begin to heal, and we release their hold on us.  As our hearts are allowed to expand beyond what we previously thought was possible, new, effortless ways of softly being with the world and acting compassionately to solve our problems begin to present themselves.  We can then move to fix our problems.

This might be a vision that is different from your own.  If so, what is your own?  I am curious.

When I think of that process, I don't trust it to work, as strong as dry insight/path-attainments have been, and as strong as AF theoretically could be.  I literally need to get this done, asap.  I need a job, I want to be the best boyfriend and son possible, I want to be free from the hold my emotions have over me.  

You are helping me, and I do read your practice log, so please continue communication.

RE: Noah IV
Answer
6/16/15 5:31 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah S:
I think a practice log is about being intellectually honest.  So I am going to share my own opinion about where I am, acknowledging that I could be wrong and I don't really care if I'm wrong or right.  In the end, I am where I am on the map.  That being said, I do think I got 4th Path on Sunday night (6/13).  It seems that multiple people (on another thread) had some skeptical doubt that I had even gotten 3rd Path, but in the end, they aren't experiencing what I am, and I am not experiencing what they are.  

This is the moment that I think it happened:
While in the backyard of my friends house last night I felt like there was no-thing home and had a general panoramic sense.  I did sense the fact that my visual field only included that which was in front of me, but I noticed that the distinction between front and behind was just another phenomenon.  However, inner objects did feel more stick than outer ones.

What is fascinating is that it wasn't that much different from many other nondual moments I have had lately.  Also, I happen to be good at self-diagnosing certain aspects of insight practice.  I haven't been wrong about a path moment yet.  I have always predicted them and later had them confirmed by Ron.

Since that moment, I have had a continuous sense of "nice" or pleasant awareness.  Everything is sort of quiet and grounded in some way, but also open and complete.  I feel very at home and at peace and at one.  Nothing can really bother me, although I have had some difficult emotions over the past couple days with other situations.  As these emotions arise and pass, they are just what they are, I don't add or subtract anything.  This is also the case for self-sense, outside-sense, preference, etc.  Negative is negative and positive is positive.  Me is me and out there is out there.  What is there to change?  Absolutely nothing.

As I said on the other thread, I hope that I am wrong about my diagnosis, because it means I can get more mental healing out of the insight process.  But, to be honest, this feels super-complete and that nothing can be added or taken away.  It doesn't feel "great", it just feels super, obviously, right there, in its immediacy.  This-is-it and all it will ever be, kind of thing.

So, I've said it.  I think I got 4th Path, folks.  Not a big deal either way.




If you are going to claim 4th path as talked of in MCTB and here and not within another paradigm, over the next number of months or much more, and past any honeymoon-like phase after things usually settle, see how it all stacks up against Daniel's basic criteria below. This is not to act as a trigger to defend your claim, but some things to simply explore in your direct experience over time. Whatever it is, if it moves you towards accessing happiness and no stress, then congrats, it's all progress.

And if you really want to do actualist practice, go hang and chat it out with those that are really dedicated to it on the actual freedom yahoo list if you aren't already. It will be more conducive for progress in that paradigm than here at the DhO were dilution and a constant flow of negative opinions and dissproval could possibly hinder being 100% commited to the desired goals. Doubt is insidious. 

Nick


Daniel's Criteria:

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.

Taken from this discussion.

RE: Noah IV
Answer
6/16/15 1:51 PM as a reply to Noah.
Paweł K:
Noah S:
I want to be free from the hold my emotions have over me.

What emotions?

Being an Arhat you are walking brilliance, light of your being is so bright that you put sun itself to shame. You are now holy conqueror of worlds, like a god among the mortals wielding sword of thunder-like wisdom and mental powers which can destroy whole galaxies of stars with one stroke. Emotions are not even like bugs which you step on, emotions, even those of others just evaporate when you are near them. You attained perfection, pinnacle of evolution of a whole cosmos, you are its whole reason for existence and its final act, nothing comes after you.

Or did you perhaps meant that you conquered nothing at all, not even stupid emotions?

Thats just not how I hear anyone else defining it, man.  Between Awake Network and the DhO, there are probably between 15 and 25 regular participants who have definitely reached technical 4th Path, and almost none of them define it that way.  Neither does my teacher, his teacher, etc.  There's not really anything more to say.

Edit (added after the initial paragraph):  This is a quote from a conversation I was having with TDC in another thread.  Basically, I was saying that the technical insight axis of development was sort of not that dramatic.  Meaning, it feels like a stripping away of layers of perceptual skin.  Everything becomes more normal, and feels like less of a big deal.  Many of the things I used to feel significance for are fading into the background as a side-effect of seeing and feeling the one taste of all reality.

I think that is effecting my mindset when I talk about still being limited by my emotions.  Emotions are there and they can completely control my actions, and yet, there is the distinct sense that none of it is a big deal, or a big drama, or a big whatever.  I have a mental disability, but I feel fully accepting of it on a perceptual level.  

However, yes, your view matches my experience in that if one could simultaneously watch the way I freaked out in December of 2014 (pre-SE) and watch the much smaller extent to which I do so now, they would notice an otherworldly difference.  Anyway, here's the quote:
I hear you, Tim.  I'm just expressing this feeling I have which is probably more of a subjective reaction than an objective observation.  

If I were to state things totally wise and objectively I would probably say: "Wow, I feel so amazingly different than how I felt before stream entry in December!  This is awesome.  Who would have thought that such a free, raw, open, panoramic, integrated, complete, nondual, resting-state-of-mind could ever be possible in such short time?  I never could have imagined that even my most difficult emotions could be objectified and rendered virtually harmless."

RE: Noah IV
Answer
6/16/15 2:30 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Noah S:
I think a practice log is about being intellectually honest.  So I am going to share my own opinion about where I am, acknowledging that I could be wrong and I don't really care if I'm wrong or right.  In the end, I am where I am on the map.  That being said, I do think I got 4th Path on Sunday night (6/13).
I am glad you are being open and honest. I think it is the only way we actually see what happens as people progress.
Congratulations on whatever shift you may have gotten. It sounds like a good one.

You are going to garner interest in this claim because -
  1. Claiming it is so rare here
  2. Many of the claimants do not hold up to all the criteria at the time
  3. Many of the claimants over time renounce the claim and continue working
Please don't take it the wrong way if there is some skepticism.
Noah S:
Not a big deal either way.
And there you go

There seems to be a nondual shift that can happen that gets rid of the subject, but there seems to be some processes of identification that are "untethered" from the subjectness that may still have to be looked into. It is not necessarily a package deal.
Daniel M. Ingram:
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.

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.

RE: Noah IV
Answer
6/16/15 2:42 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
DreamWalker, I was actually thinking about that quote from Daniel yesterday.  I hope that this a sub-phase and not the big shift because there is so much more developing to be done.  But everything does feel linked by a certain one-taste character.  

As a counterpoint reference to your quote, I will draw upon a quote from Bill Hamilton in Saints and Psychopaths:
          Once it becomes obvious that some people are getting enlightened, there is a risk that those who are not enlightened will become embarrassed because they are not. They may become embarrassed because they may have done long periods without success. Some people might be embarrassed because they have not become enlightened in a ten-day retreat. Some might be embarrassed because they believe their friends have become enlightened, and they have not, and some people might be embarrassed because they are status conscious achievers.
          Even in the time of the Buddha, there were great variations in the amount of time that it took people to attain enlightenment The charioteer who took the Buddhato-be on his first trips into the world, later became one of the Buddha's monks. However, he clid not attain even the first level of enlightenment until after the Buddha clied. The Buddha taught for 45 years, and the charioteer had the Buddha for a teacher. Another case from the time of the Buddha was of a monk who practiced continuously for 65 years before attaining the first level of enlightenment. The fastest student of the Buddha was a man who attained all four levels as the Buddha gave him the following brief cliscourse: "In the seen, there is just the seen. In the heard, there is just the heard. In taste, there is just taste. In the felt, there is just the felt. In smell, there is just smell. In the thought, there is just the thought."

The amount of days it takes probably isn't as important as the number of hours.  What I have personally found is that consistency and quantity beat quality of effort.  I don't necessarily think it would be this way for others.

I also don't think there is a direct, neat correlation between quality of effort and quickness of result.  I have done relatively, shitty-quality, daily-life noting, but, in huge amounts.  I think it just varies from person to person and that there are lots of other micro-factors involved.  This seeming randomness also makes it a problem to rank people based on the results they get from meditation.

It might be better to rank them based on the quality of their effort, regardless of their results, in which case, I would be lower on the totem.

RE: Noah IV
Answer
6/16/15 3:23 PM as a reply to Noah.
Thats just not how I hear anyone else defining it, man.  Between Awake Network and the DhO, there are probably between 15 and 25 regular participants who have definitely reached technical 4th Path, and almost none of them define it that way.  Neither does my teacher, his teacher, etc.  There's not really anything more to say.

Hi, Noah. As people on the DhO normally do when claiming 3rd or 4th path, could you please describe the seemingly permanent perceptual shifts you have now? Please give us the descriptive phenomenology of before and after, as is the custom here, with regard to the 6 sense doors. I was looking for such a description for your claim of 3rd, but all I could find was the sense that you were in review. 

Could you also please address each one of the criteria Daniel lists in what Nick quoted and say, with intellectual honesty, for each, whether you have met that criterion? Daniel normally likes to talk to those who have claimed 4th, so it might be a good rehersal for what Daniel would or will want to ask you.

If you are talking about having attained to some "fourth path" that is a lower bar than what Daniel Ingram defines as fourth (arahatship), could you please clarify that? Normally, when people claim fourth path on Ingram's forum they mean by Ingram's criteria.

I'm not trying to be a party pooper, but I share in Dream Walker's and Nick's urging caution in making such a claim so soon after what you experienced as a shift. I was up all Friday and Saturday night in correspondence with Daniel over MCTB2, and I was struck in these conversations with him at how very, very, very, very rare he says it is to get 4th path as he defines it. It normally takes many years, and "feeling done" has nothing whatsoever to do with the attainment.

Best,

Jenny

RE: Noah IV
Answer
6/16/15 3:50 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah S:
As a counterpoint reference to your quote, I will draw upon a quote from Bill Hamilton in Saints and Psychopaths:
Once it becomes obvious that some people are getting enlightened, there is a risk that those who are not enlightened will become embarrassed because they are not.          
I totally agree about the embarrassment and don't forget jealousy and the frustration involved with ones own practise and the comparing and stiving and and and...emoticon
Noah S:
The amount of days it takes probably isn't as important as the number of hours.  What I have personally found is that consistency and quantity beat quality of effort.

The last words of the Buddha was "Strive on with diligence"
~D

RE: Noah IV
Answer
6/16/15 4:52 PM as a reply to Noah.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Very few will aspire to real mastery themselves. Very few will take the time to learn even the basics of meditation theory. Even fewer will actually go on retreats. Of those that do, only a handful will get their concentration strong enough to attain to basic jhanas or ñanas. Of these, only a couple will be able to cross the A&P, handle and investigate the Dark Night, attain to Equanimity and get Stream Entry. Of those who attain to Stream Entry, a reasonable number will progress to the middle paths, but not many will attain to Arahatship. Call me cynical, but this was true in the Buddha's time and it is true now.

RE: Noah IV
Answer
6/16/15 6:05 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah, even though you've already more or less declared yourself would you please discuss this with your teacher? You're putting yourself in a potentially difficult and embarrassing position and it would be very helpful to you and many others to have some independent verification of a path as vouched for by Ron Crouch, if not some others who can help you diagnose what happened. I've seen this kind of self-diagnosis boomerang on people. Wait a bit. Take your time with this, please.

RE: Noah IV
Answer
6/16/15 7:04 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah, yes. What Pawel says. Getting fourth path is not a walk in the park, and the changes to perception are dramatic. When MCTB2 Part III comes out, read carefully Daniel's memoir of his practice history and the literal blood, sweat, and many tears that went into his finally getting 4th path. It is a tremendously humbling narrative. He is a meditation master, in every sense of the term, and it took him 6 years to go from third path (seeing luminosity) to fourth. 

RE: Noah IV
Answer
6/16/15 9:31 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Okay, so everyone is right.  I am wrong.  I don't care.  I just don't want to be this way anymore, I don't want to suffer anymore.  I am open to anyone's advice on how to do this.  I have tried everything else, meaning, psychotherapy for years and an intelligent medication regimen for years.  Meditation is working.

I should stop trying to lean on Ron's diagnosis.  I know for a fact that I have completed a cycle with a full Review phase, two times.  I know that I completed two to three cycles, had a moment of completely unified bliss in my backyard where it felt like I was one with my entire sense field, and then had a full Review phase.  

I renounce my claim to third path.  My experience is summarized above, and can be read about in detail on this practice log and my previous one.

Here's a phenomenological description of my experience:  I hear the air conditioner.  Its heard in the body and also out there.  My energy field feels like a donut around my legs and also a vertical donut splitting my body in two.  I can, at any time, feel, in the body, comfort with knowing that reality is based on push-pull, based on cause and effect, based on the three characteristics.  I can "feel" my seeing, my perception, my consciousness, much more than I could before cycles were completed.  

I am very annoyed right now.  I feel like over 50% of users on the dho want to debate semantics and trade certainties they can't possibly confirm.   

RE: Noah's Insight Practice Log
Answer
6/16/15 9:55 PM as a reply to Noah.
Ron is a really amazing teacher.  He has been so helpful to me, and is always there to answer an e-mail in between skype sessions.  I would never want to do anything to cast a negative light on him, although I think I'm mostly just casting a light on myself.

RE: Noah IV
Answer
6/17/15 12:35 AM as a reply to Noah.
I talked to my dad on the phone, who said that part of the reason I feel so disturbed by the inquiry and comments of Pawel, Jenny, Daniel, Nick, Chris and DW is that I might be dark nighting, which is an interesting perspective.  I'm not calling anyone out, I'm moreso just noting my own stuff.  If so, than the event of Sunday night was probably actually more 4th nana phenomenon.  I also spoke to my girlfriend, who said the most important thing is that the meditation is helping me, and that I trust Ron's guidance and opinion.

I think that the thing that goes over really well here on the Dho is super phenomenological descriptions that match people's expectations of what certain levels of attainment should sound like.  There is also probably a specific style of communication that goes over best with the most people.  These things are not what works for me.

What works for me is thinking in terms of nanas, cycles and paths; thinking of where I am on the timeline and using that as motivation.  I will try to mention Ron's opinion less.  Beyond that, I will continue as I was, doing what works.

My claim to 3rd Path stands.  I trust my teacher and my personal experience more than I trust the opinions of other individuals whom I have never spoken with in person.  I really am not trying to sound standoffish, but this is the honest truth.

RE: Noah's Insight Practice Log
Answer
6/17/15 12:36 AM as a reply to Noah.
Hi Noah,

Does this help:

You cannot change feelings, sensations, perceptions, or emotions, but, you can change how much value or importance you give them.  When an emotion arises, you don't have to believe what it tells you.  Listen to the message of the emotion - belay any attempts to suppress it - then use your intellect to guide you instead of the feeling.  As an example, if you are annoyed, allow yourself to be annoyed, then ignore whatever impulses the annoyance tries to trigger - like thought streams to fix the annoyance, self flagelations for failing to avoid annoyance, pros and cons of this or that moral idea.  You're just annoyed, and this is out of your control. You simply don't have to do anything to fix it because it only sticks around if you think it's right. Just decide, right now, that feelings are never right. Feelings try to steer you, but when you take their hands off the wheel, they don't know what to do and just go away.  It's two systems in conflict - automatic emotional steering, and the unemotional will. The will is what you want to do outside of feelings. It's the thing that says, "I wish this didn't even affect me." If you don't want to care about something, then just don't. It doesn't matter what the feelings are saying.

The main problem is thinking freedom is the same thing as the absence of discomfort.  Freedom comes first, then discomfort fades since you have gained control of your mind.  The problem is not HAVING feelings and discomfort present in your experience, the problem is TRUSTING them to lead you in the right direction.   If you've ever felt perfectly fine in a situation you normally wouldn't, then you have proof that feelings are not your actual will and intellect.  The intellect is the part that says, "this feels crappy, but I know I'm over-reacting."  Trust that and let the feelings do what they want on their own without you.  When you don't give them control, there is no need to try to control them - you don't tighten around them, you don't try to accept them, you don't force them away or dissolve them into their manycolored parts - you just decide they aren't important. You are just free.  Being free, you become calm and still, and this calm is absent of anything to steer you.  You just steer yourself, serenely.  I believe this is what everyone really is looking for.

So, it's clear we cannot control how we feel, but it's also clear we can control the importance we place on our feelings. If you decide to stop listening to them, they very quickly lose their power.

RE: Noah IV
Answer
6/17/15 1:18 AM as a reply to Jenny.
By the way, Jenny, didn't you just recently claim 3rd path after a few hundred hours of meditation? Seems odd you'd come on here and hastle Noah about path claims.

RE: Noah's Insight Practice Log
Answer
6/17/15 1:43 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
Hi Noah,

Does this help:

You cannot change feelings, sensations, perceptions, or emotions, but, you can change how much value or importance you give them. 
Yes, it is possible to change emotions and perceptions.
Think Internal Alchemy, turning Lead into Gold.  Alchemize, yes, it is possible.
 In Buddhism feelings and sensations are synonymous, and no, I do not think sensations can be changed.  

So, it's clear we cannot control how we feel, but it's also clear we can control the importance we place on our feelings. If you decide to stop listening to them, they very quickly lose their power.
By feel, I am going to assume emotions.  And, no, I would like to counterpoint this advice, you can control how you feel, it does take practice though.  Look up Four Supreme Efforts for the Formula, or Right Effort Formula.

By the Way, Noah, hang in there, you are on the right path!  Keep up the good work, you have carved out soem peace of mind for yourself in life, this is an outstanding accomplishment!  I did not start seriously meditating until I was 45 years old, so my mind was stuck in the continuous loop of turbulence for 45 plus years!!!  Dukkha, dukkha, dukkha.  You have the blessings to have discovered the teachings and a teacher at a far younger age than I ever had the chance to encounter.  And for me, none of that past nonsense matters, it is all gone, there is just this now moment, and for that I am grateful for the teachings and the teachers that have dedicated themselves to passing it all along.  Best hand me downs ever.

It is all good.

Fall down seven times, get up eight.

And sometimes, teachings and wisdom can cut hard, but maybe that is what it takes sometimes to see if there really is a core in there....

emoticon

Psi

RE: Noah's Insight Practice Log
Answer
6/17/15 8:17 AM as a reply to Noah.
Good morning, Noah.

I don't at all question your position at third path as stated, and for that I rely on your comments and Ron Crouch's diagnosis. I'm sorry to have upset you. All I was trying to do is make you aware of the potential  pitfalls of declaring yourself at fourth path without taking ample time to validate that with your teacher and maybe even a few others. I don't want you to feel attacked or besieged. That was not my intent.

Sincere apologies.

And yes, trust in Ron Crouch. He's a friend of mine... and he's extraordinary and worthy of your trust and respect.

Peace, man.

RE: Noah's Insight Practice Log
Answer
6/17/15 8:56 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I second what Chris has said here. You can trust your teacher. He's a good one. And what you describe sounds like the real deal for third. You can be watchfully aware as you look at the shift you've just experienced. 

One one thing I might add: I think it was Daniel, I can't remember where, who said he knew a fourth-path yogi with bipolar disorder, who continued needing to take his meds. This practice does a lot of things, but it doesn't substitute for medical attention. I remember Chris, in fact, needing to remind me more than once that "meditation is not medication." My own fibromyalgia flares up under stress, and one of the accompanying symptoms is depression. I still take meds for my condition, and expect to need them for the foreseeable future. What's different is I can see my symptoms clearly and not get wrapped up in "why is this happening to me!?" storylines. 

RE: Noah IV
Answer
3/9/17 5:53 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah S:
What happens if you use phrases instead?

If I try to use the phrases its like it goes a few feet deep into the pool and then just kind of hits an invisible wall and bounces out.  It seems that you are arguing that I should try to push past this, which I am willing to do.  Ultimately the meditation simply becomes a battle of wills as I try to get myself to do something I don't want to be doing.


No, I'm not arguing that you should use force. I used a lot of force at the beginning of my Metta practice. Although it worked, I don't think it was effective. Even if it was effective, it was still rather unpleasant, so I indirectly practiced less, so the process took longer.
However, I do think that the very existence of these walls is a sign that Metta may be a very helpful practice for you. (More on that further down.)
I do think it's a good idea to find a way of practicing which does not end up in a battle. Still I think that the method with the phrases is very powerful and that if Metta for yourself bounces against some sort of wall, then start with some other person first and use the phrases for that one. Find the person for which it is easiest, likely some sort of benefactor or very uncomplicated friend.
When that is well established, switch to yourself. By that time, it might be easier. Further hindrances can be dealt with by using 'wise reflection' (inquire where the problem is, what is the meaning of the phrases, which phrases seem more suitable etc.), Eugene Gendlin's 'Focusing'-approach (very short summary: get to know the meaning of the problem in your body, and learn to interact with it) or anything which you like and which works for you.
That said, I sometimes resorted to a sort of Metta practice that only included saying the word 'happy' and some visualizations, so that can be useful as well.
Another metta-ish practice which is more up my alley is bhakti: chanting/kirtan-devotional-singing, which is always usually fun and powerful.

Can't comment on that since I don't know anything about this bhakti thing. In which way is it powerful?

However, a small thing I just remembered:
On my first Metta retreat with Bhante Sujato, we chanted the Metta Sutta every morning.
Only some months afterwards did I realize that this actually was some mixture of contemplation, meditation and remembering basic meditation instructions. I didn't appreciate it much back then and had some aversion to it, but later I realized how the chanting itself was a sort of practice, and contemplating my aversion around it could have yielded insight into the practice faster.

Hang out with people on a Metta retreat, and you see that this leads to something very different, un-zombie-like.

I do have doubts that there is a strong correlation between any one practice and one way of being externally.

I am pretty sure that for me Metta practice does change my way of being externally. Other people have noticed a change, especially directly after a retreat, back at home, but also in the longer term.
Visu Teoh leads both Vipassana and Metta retreats. Occasionally he takes photos of the same group after each type of retreat, and he says that even there you can recognize a difference in the way the people smile on the photos.
I think such observations are relevant for a goal of being "the best boyfriend, son etc. possible"

--------------------------                           
The bottom line for me might be that I simply don't think it will be transformative enough; that it doesn't "feel" right.  I acknowledge that this could be the hindrance of doubt even though it feels exactly like the same meditative intuition that has worked each time so far.
I'm not sure if this is relevant here, but I'll share the beginning of my long-winded way to adopting Metta as my main practice for now:
In the Ajahn Tong tradition, where I learned and used to practice insight (and might return to later), they taught that one should share merits at the end of each meditation session, by reciting phrases such as
"I share the merits of this session with X. May X be happy and free from suffering. May X be [...]"
for only a short time, like 5 seconds to 3 minutes.
At the beginning my impression was that this is a waste of time and couldn't possibly lead anywhere.
I still followed the instructions and after some months I noticed
-just saying a few sentences after sitting seems to affect my mind in a certain way
-this feels good
-there is considerable variation in its effect depending on X
-this seems especially difficult with X=myself. dafuq?

Whether or not someone takes Metta practice to a deeper level, I think that the habit of sharing merits after every session is a good idea for everyone. It hardly takes time and skill, but obviously has some good effects.


The premise of all positive emotional practice (including bhakti and metta), as I understand it, is that the heart has countless old wounds, which are karmas that control us in the shade of our unconscious.  When we relax and open the heart, these old wounds slowly begin to heal, and we release their hold on us.  As our hearts are allowed to expand beyond what we previously thought was possible, new, effortless ways of softly being with the world and acting compassionately to solve our problems begin to present themselves.  We can then move to fix our problems.
This might be a vision that is different from your own.
Yes, it is.(Also see below)
Disclaimer: People often tell me I'm very much of a 'head-person' and try to understand things in a logical way instead of following my heart. That's probably accurate. I wonder how this 'get out of my head'-thing works since I don't have much of a clue. Also I'm not sure if it would even be such a good idea. Anyway, from my current head-centered (wtf @ that term) perspective, I would say the following about your vision:
This is really skewed. 'Emotions' are just handy shortcuts for cognitive beings to process information. Emotion is a result of a cognitive process. Practicing Metta is a cognitive process, too. If it's not, it doesn't lead far.
You focus on being 'soft, effortless and fixing problems'. In certain circumstances, those may be nice side-effects, but you're missing the main point of the practice.
"Relax and open the heart" <- this is a description of how the change in the organization of the body feels.
This may be an accurate description, in which case I'm not there yet. But that does not negate all the positive changes I've had so far. Therefore, this also misses the point.
In fact, your description reminds me of some sort of mushroom culture: Lots of unprecise words which might mean anything and a lack of emphasis on the actual understanding gained in the process.

Absolutely do read Thanissaro's articles "Head and Heart" and "The healing power of the precepts".
If you did already, read them again, and contemplate what they might mean for your vision.

  If so, what is your own?  I am curious.
That's quite a difficult question which I had to think about for some time.
I don't dare to extrapolate from my own experience since the practice still keeps changing in very unexpected ways.
Bhante Sujato quotes his Metta teacher as saying that "I will let you discover the many side effects for yourself."
Also, Sujato insists that "Metta is a profound practice. You will not master it in a 10-day retreat, and even not in a couple of years."
I have no reason to not believe that statement.

So I guess, I don't really have a vision. I'm driven by quiet desperation and very promising results so far.
Still, these might be valuable working hypotheses, which I also think are true:
-Metta alone is not always enough to heal old wounds, but very helpful in the process.
-Metta needs discernment. Otherwise it becomes dumb. Also, progress in Metta meditation requires carefully observing what actually happens, i.e. mindfulness, reflection and even some insight into the 3 characteristics of the phenomena which are caused by Metta practice.
-The Buddha's teaching is said to have the 'taste of freedom' and Metta is no exception to that. It leads to freedom from ill will.
-Metta practice will generally make your interactions with people better.
-Metta practice is a very good preparation for the other divine abodes. Practicing will be MUCH easier afterwards.
-Quality of life is generally better, if goodwill for everyone is possible. If you find it very hard to even repeat the phrases, then that indicates that there is a problem there. I would regard this as a sign that Metta practice is then an especially good idea.

I wished someone with Daniel's writing skill and precision and with >20 years of heavy Metta practice experience would come along and write a book title "Mastering the 'Other' Teachings of the Buddha" or something. I feel that this is deeply needed.

When I think of that process, I don't trust it to work, as strong as dry insight/path-attainments have been, and as strong as AF theoretically could be.

On the one hand, IME Metta practice is indeed much less impressive than strong insight practice. No concentration for me, no fancy visions, no high-speed precision, rarely some rock-hard equanimity, no blips...
However, the effects for my general mind state have been much more helpful than hardcore insight practice would yield.
(I'm not commenting on AF any more for I basically know nothing about it.)

 I literally need to get this done, asap.  I need a job, I want to be the best boyfriend and son possible, I want to be free from the hold my emotions have over me.  

1) Go for a 10-day Metta retreat and commit fully to the practice for that period.
Decide afterwards if this is going to a place where you want to be.
2) Keep doing insight meditation with full commitment, since it obviously works great for you. Add a short Metta/sharing-merits practice after each session.
3) asap? What are you even doing here? Shut down that internet thing and go to a meditation centre for a few months.
4) The process won't allow to be rushed, whatever you would like it to do. Get an alternative strategy. If you are between education and the job market right now, why the hurry anyway?


You are helping me, and I do read your practice log, so please continue communication.

Haha, now I'm suddenly a bit scared that people actually take action based on my unique experiences and half-assed speculations, and end up in a bad place.

RE: Noah IV
Answer
6/17/15 10:39 PM as a reply to Noah.
Thanks for all the responses and participation, everyone.  I'll do my best to respond to everyone.

@Jenny: I do think that what I experienced on Saturday night (or maybe Sunday night???), was a very strong a&p or perhaps just a deepening of 3rd path unrelated to the nanas.  In general, I definitely feel all of Daniel's criteria to some degree: things are happening on their own, things are not sticky, there is no center, it feels complete and total.  This is all with the note that it is to a lesser degree than how he describes it!!

@Not Tao: Thank you so much.  Another, better, disection of my "issues" than most I have encountered with some great psychotherapists and other mentors.  "The main problem is thinking freedom is the same thing as the absence of discomfort.  Freedom comes first, then discomfort fades since you have gained control of your mind."  I will remember this.

@Psi:  Thanks for the support.  Its definitely about perseverance.  And, funny image about cutting to the core.

@Pawel: I appreciate your insight, and am starting to get some conceptual vision of what your path model looks like.  It is definitely different than the one I am making use of.  I like the AI image of the self-balancing computer.  I am already noticing some traits like this in myself, such as the fact that I have become more instinctual and less intellectual.

@Chris: I know you weren't trying to harm and rather just warn of the perils of making premature 4th Path claims (which I am already learning first hand) :p

@Laurel: I hear you about the medication thing.  I'm sorry about your health problems, but when I read your AN log it inspires me because it seems like you have a wonderful base of mindfulness from which to deal with them.  I believe that the beneficial side-effects of 4th Path may very well be sufficient to make my bipolar symptoms workable, rather than eliminating them completely. 

@Bernt: I probably need to have a more sophisticated understanding of metta before I write it off.  Also, I probably just need to actually do it a lot.  intellegent effort+consistency+longevity=meditation progress.  
          And yeah, chanting can be super powerful, just because of the sound.  Devotional singing is powerful for me in that I am able to express my energy outward and move my body rather than sit still and be silent.  The energy runs itself after awhile and I feel warmth and opening in my heart chakra as well as jhana factors like panoramic awareness.  
          If its true that metta will change my inner and outer ways, I should just try it.  Definitely cool point about the change in the smiles in the photos.
          I laughed when I saw that you called my "heart opening" description mushroomy.  I agree.  It makes more sense that it has to be cognitive as well.  I have to read the Thannissaro articles again.
          It helps to hear you say that metta is less impressive than insight/concentration.  That will help me manage expectations.  I like hearing about other people's mental health transformations, since I can relate.
          Your plan is a good one.  Don't worry about me taking any foolish or rash action based on your advice, I will always balance it will other's opinions.

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

Overall, this experience of being "called out" has been a valuable one.  I will stay humble, and avoid making rash claims in the future.

RE: Discussion of Noah IV
Answer
6/18/15 1:20 PM as a reply to Noah.
Bump.  Thank you for moving this, DreamWalker.

RE: Discussion of Noah IV
Answer
6/18/15 3:19 PM as a reply to Noah.
Hey Noah, I just want to add some minor comments. My teacher diagnosed me with third path almost 2 years ago. I’m still in doubt regarding the validity of his diagnosis. Recognising (technical) first and second path was rather straight forward. After that things seem to get pretty muddy (so many cycles, so many phases, …). For quite a while now I’m under the impression that, at least in my case, looking for a clear answer to a “where am I on the path” question isn’t very helpful, if not counterproductive. The task at hand seems to me to deepen and broaden the “insight,” no matter where you’re exactly at. The rest is just a distraction.

Anyway: Thanks a lot for your valuable and open contributions here! You really did a great job of moving the DhO back into a territory that is actually interesting to me and helpful from a practice point of view.

Good luck to you!

RE: Noah IV
Answer
6/18/15 3:49 PM as a reply to Noah.
Hang in there Noah. I appreciate your willingness to place yourself wide open for scruitny. Its the fastest way to get assistance from the community, but it takes courage. You seem to have that in spades.
I have struggled at certain times with pretty servere mood swings (mainly from additions in the past) and have wondered if I was bipolar at times, and whilst I dont think I was ever quite that servere, I know what living hell can feel like, and how hard it is when you feel trapped by your body and mind. I am very happy to hear that the meditaiton is helping and I think you have some really great advice and support here. I've nothing really to add in that regard but just wanted to say well done for getting this far and you are an inspiration. This isnt an easy thing to do at the best of times, but you are ticking all the boxes for doing it right, as far as I can see in that you are doing these things:

1. you are being honest with yourself
2. you are seeking regular help from a well respected teacher
3. you are seeing advice, guidance, peer review and grounding from a very supportive and experienced community
4. You are being reasonable with the expectations you are placing on yourself. 

if I had a list of things that it comes across as you could maybe do also its really just a coupel of things that come across to me reading your posts:

1. be kind to yourself, your totally nailing it ! 
2. Remember theres no rush - maybe it feels like there is a rush because it  will help fix the bipolar, but its probably really a seperate issue to be managed seperately with good medication, lifestyle choices, food choices, etc etc.I think we all get caught with this one from time to time, I certainly do. Its easy to think that getting enlightened or achieving paths will solve all our problems. I kind of fall victim to this, and theres probably some truth in it, that it will improve life, but I think its good to remember that insite practice is very destabilising at times and just pushing harder isnt always the answer.
3. Its bloody hard being unemployed for long periods of time. Hang in there, remember that everything changes. Even this will change. That is the law of the universe. Maybe it will make this period easier if you see this as a blessing in disguise, a chance to rest, meditate, be gentle with yourself. it sounds like you have a job now with the bar. This maybe is what you want to do long term, maybe it isnt.  But its what is in reality for you right now, so I guess you can realise whether you view it as a long term thing, or as a temporary thing, it is infact likely to change, as everything is, and does. I'd say to take the pressure of yourself to make it anything and just enjoy it if you can, and enjoy the people you meet, see that they are also too, like you, just trying to be happy. Even that bully colleague of yours! 


Its worth saying again -  I really respect your openess and asking for input and guidance, and I think you are showing alot of courage and progress. Good luck, and remember everyone is here to support you, support each other, share your journey, and share all our journeys together. 

RE: Discussion of Noah IV
Answer
6/18/15 6:53 PM as a reply to -- Timus --.
@Timus: I hear you about deepening and broadening the insight throughout the entire meditative journey.  I think the 4 Paths are just a certain, semi-specific point to try to reach and, after reaching it, re-evaluate practice and make adjustments accordingly, including the possibility of further goals.  I'm honored to hear that you think I helped the direction of the message board, thanks!

@b man: Thanks a lot dude.  I also benefit from reading your perspective, including insights into the dark night-purification process.  It sounds like you have a firm grasp on the path yourself.  I think of attainments as less of a fix for all my problems and more as a boost or supplement for regular effort.  For me, they seem to help balance various factors in the system.  I will try to enjoy this phase in my life.  I think your advice is definitely necessary.