Backpacking Dharma Bum

Mettafore, modified 7 Years ago at 10/1/15 7:01 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 10/1/15 7:01 AM

Backpacking Dharma Bum

Posts: 170 Join Date: 3/24/14 Recent Posts
Hi Fellow DhOers,

I'm a long time lurker here. I'd like to share my progress so far. Sorry if it is too long. Here it goes:
My personality is ussually withdrawn and I tend to make few friends. I wanted to post here for a long time, but was too shy.

In 11th grade (2004), I'd fell into a serious PMO addiction which was screwing with my sleep cycle. My grades were falling like crazy, which was dissapointing as I based a lot of my self on being a good student. I finally joined my father's yoga class and also started meditating using some instructions on the net (basically focussing on your breath). Well, things started getting better. Grades, general well being and morale went up. I'd an interesting experience. Something like lightning coarsing up my spine from to my head. Possibly A&P.

Fast forward, 2012: I returned from the US to back home after completing my graduate studies. I'd failed to secure a good job despite graduating from a top school. After returning, I started my day with 10 to 15 mins meditation followed by running and gym. Slowly, I regained my confidence but later became rather manic and ambitious.

I read my first Buddhist book "What the Buddha taught?". No-self was very shocking to me coming from a Hindu background. After contemplating on the first noble truth, I sat down in meditation. I often tried to repeat the rapturous experience I had as a teenager by focussing on the groin area. This time, I was just mindful of the itchy sensation ("Hmm. This is also dukkha"). Suddenly, there was strong bliss all over my body like never before. Afterwards, I went to the beach. The sea was sparkly and beautiful.

After a business trip to China, I felt a craving to go to Asia. Soon, when I returned I fell from my manic self to a more depressed state. Everything fell apart and I stopped going to the office. I finally decided to backpack SEA late Aug 2013. I did my first 10 day Goenka course in Phitsanullok, Thailand which was truly amazing. On the 4th day, when they switch from Anapana to Vipassana, a strange event occured. The body scanning seemed to occur on its own without intention. Then there were sensations all over the body which was scary and I remember moaning. It felt like merging with the universe. On the following days, I did experience dissolution as described by Goenka. Also, felt pain dissolving while sitting. On the last day, when we were allowed to talk, I felt a gentle aversion when conversations ended abruptly. Afterwards when I sat my whole head felt hard like a rock. After a few sessions the rock shrank to the size of a tennis ball. The next day it disappeared completely. For the first time, I was at peace with myself and could socialize naturally.

Next few months, backpacked through Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. An interesting incident happened in Cambodia. I was behind a waterfall when I was clumsily swept into the stream. I hit my shoulder on the bed and dislocated it. The people who had accompanied me left me for the next temple. I struggled to get a mile out of the jungle with the help of a kind local and hitched a ride to the nearest hospital. The strange thing was I was rather equanimous about the whole situation and handled it quite well despite the gruelling pain. I remember almost fainting on the way back and being quite okay with my death. Quite sure the regular meditation helped. In Laos, I sat ina temple for an hour doing breathing meditation. I could experience my body swinging back and forth.

Around November 2015, I came across MCTB. Was clearly hooked. I decided to fly to Myanmar for a Mahasi style retreat to give a shot at SE. Unfortunately, all the Mahasi centres didn't allow because I didn't have any prior bookings. So, I joined another Goenka retreat. Was a bit overenthusiastic this time. During the breaks, I kept focussing on dots on the floor to increase my concentration until there was pressure in my forehead. When the evening discourse was shown on TV, my vision used to lock onto the set. I had strange repeated maybe semi lucid dreams at night of walking meditation in a strange cemetery temple where a skeleton witch ticked off your name when you entered. When I woke up my extremities were lacking blood and my tummy felt concentrated. There were some sits where my body was contorting and head moving un a strange manner. Looking back, I was playing around with my concentration and not really following any instrucions.
After visiting Bodh Gaya and reading a bit about Jhanas in the Abhidhamma in late December, I went to my Grandparents' place. I tried everyday for an hour or so. Definitely felt rapturous bubbling bliss on a few occasions.

I returned home for a while. Then, I left for Panditarama Lumbini aroud mid April 2013. I told the Sayalay where I'd learnt about them (DhO). She was quite categorical about me not speculating about the Nana. The timetable was quite strenuous and I tried to follow it strictly from the very beginning. Since, I was craving so much for the attainment I was very gung-ho and desparate in my approach speculating all the time and maybe not following the exact instructions. For a lot of the time I was fighting pressure and hardness in my head. I also started having diarrhea problems. After 10 days, I took a break for 5 days and started again. After ten days, I mentioned which stage I thought I was in. The teacher warned they don't practice that way and I was free to leave. I got pissed off for some reason and left for another Goenka retreat. Mostly, I remember, my back and bottom getting real hard.

Around September 2013 after visiting the Buddhist holy sites and other places in India, I wanted to try again, but Panditarama banned me for a year or two. I flew to Thailand to attend the 21 day "beginner" retreat at Chom Thong. I was determined not to make the same mistake again i.e., speculate about Nanas and not follow instructions properly. I liked the fact they started easy with 5 min walking and 5 min sitting followed by a 20-30 min break. The method was rising-falling-sitting-bunch of touching points. I soon figured out that they gave new touching points corresponding to the Nana one was in. I was in Nibidda (dispassion) when I found out. During this cycle, there were a lot of doubts about things like the nature of universal love or doubts like would I lose my birth religion if I achieve Stream Entry. It was quite amazing that all you had to do is keep noting and answers just appear to you. I understand that although one could emit Metta in all directions, Metta is a Sankhara produced mostly in the presence of contact with a sense object. Even love is impermanent. Later, I somewhat knew I was in EQ when instructed to do all 28 touching points. Now, my sessions were 30 minutes walking and 30 minutes sitting. On the 16th day, my head was hard most of the time. After some time, the hardness started dissolving into subtle vibrations. I knew I was getting close to a fruition. But, continued practising carefully noting my desire. After a few sessions, something went off in the head and bliss flowed down my body I'd done it. I kept continuing as usual. Next day, while walking to breakfast I felt my weight fluctuate slowly. By evening, my weight was cycling every few seconds. During my sits, there was a definite pattern of events that happened during my sits every few minutes and the sits were marked with ease and time flew fast. I assumed this was review.

Instead of ending the retreat, the teacher told me to start all over again with 5 minutes walk and 5 minutes sitting and journal each walk and sit. Unfortunately, the notebook is not with me at the moment, so I write from memory. There seemed to be some new territory unfolding. Sounds and memories of smiles were perceived to be painful. The teacher told me to note on time. Therefore, the next 11 days there was another progress of insight cycle. This was somewhat harder. A lot of stuff related to my parents came up. I realised how much they had done for me, and how ungrateful I was. I was ready to attend determination, but I had an intuition my grandfather was about to pass away. I called him and he was quite sick. I went into the 3 day determination. The first day before meditating was wishing the coarser phenomena of 3C to become finer.  At midnight, I felt strong pain in my heart. Around 1 or 2 am, there was a brief shift like event in front of my eyes, followed by some bodily bliss. This event was rather different than the previous one. The next day one had to wish for the arising and ceasing events to appear as often as possible and were given a counter. Lots of bumps in the head and sometimes the bottom half of my body was dragging itself off the stool. The next day we had to ask wish for something like the bliss beyond senses, which was obviously a fruition. Did I experience a fruition? I don't know. Time definitely passed faster in some sits. A 45 min sit sometimes felt like 10 mins. On the last day, the teacher told me to do reclining meditation for some minutes and asked if I was relaxed and finally the month long retreat ended.

After a few days rest, I attended the ten day advanced retreat. This was different. One had to each day wish for a Nana to arise starting from A&P. I was quite surprised this actually works. I speculated this would pretty much solve the dreaded DN problem. But, it probably works only on retret conditions. I think Nibidda was a lot of animal noises (lion roars), cartoon noise, video game music especially Sonic. My labelling voice kept changing too. Eventually, it settled to a female voice. Adinava-Nana was particularly difficult: I was afraid I was turning into a woman and losing my male parts: couldn't meditate the whole sit; so the teacher split it into a superset 10W 15S 15W 10S. Patisankha was also interesting: was very sleepy and drowsy, there were sensations at the start and stop of every stop; which I speculated was the suffering due to intentional consciousness and residual consciousness. There was a 2 day determination during Upekkha. The teacher noticed a lot of previous wrong practices were emerging. Probably due to my concentration shenanigans in the second Goenka retreat I attended. When I was breating my head was bobbing. The teacher said to stop it by alternating by opening ones eyes and labelling seeing. I misunderstoond the instruction and contined bobbing my head violently almost head banging. Shrapnel like and Piti like stuff released from my head and was lodging into my spine. Past midnight, I was quite sleepy. While walking meditation, I sometimes was dreaming and then I was literally pushed back onto reality. This time was different. I was imagining doing something completely different than walking meditation. Then suddenly something happened like television switching off and I'm back to the real world. Maybe fruition. The next day I was really high due to the Piti shrapnel in my spine. Was told to meditate 5W 10S . But couldn't stay mindful. Was lost somewhere. Thus the end of the second retreat.
I remember at the end of this retreat or some other I could feel the senses localised. For example, taste was localised to the tongue. Itchiness to the leg etc.

There is more but i'll just sumarrize for now, otherwise i'll never hit post.

I had a couple of more retreats. I spent three months total. Then, I left to once again join my family business. Mistakenly, thinking of myself wise in worldly matters. A meeting with a certain colleague trigerred full body anxiety again. Then, I left the office after a week and fell into a 3 month long horrible depression. Then I meditated for 1.5 months again to get back my sanity. Still healing. Found a job in the merchant Navy. I'm somewhat overqualified, but I might take it. It'd be nice to work with my hands and get much needed discipline.

Claim: I was confident before I was 3rd, but I won't claim more than 2nd now. 

Daniel was right. The trainings have to be treated separately.
katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 7 Years ago at 10/2/15 8:15 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 10/1/15 8:25 AM

RE: Backpacking Dharma Bum

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Thorough sharing. Thank you. 

Nice and clear.

Found a job in the merchant Navy. I'm somewhat overqualified, but I might take it. It'd be nice to work with my hands and get much needed discipline.

Work with hands and discipline-- sounds good.

If you are going to be on a ship for length of time, please consider there are going to be tremendously skilled human behaviourists on board, because in close quarters at length, people become excellent reads of small movements, eyes, reactions. Your actions can be read the way an adult knows why a two-year thinks they are hiding with two hands over the eyes. What may be disgusting is not the cleaning bathrooms, the practical joking with food and each other, but human conduct and seeing misery in sea lives and human-degraded waters itself, seeing conceit. This is, to me, not a place to train next. There is a training place before this.

Consider a zen monastery, small. Or consider making your life this way, not to look for the construct provided by others who may disgust you for thier motivations. I think zen monastery, small place, first. Get training/structure in what you're capable again (like schooling) but in simple doing. Master Sheng Yen trained in Japan at length, learned to sleep upright in winter under a thin blanket, because that was the training. He hated it, then preferred it for his life. He learned his capacity in the body and stilled the hunting mind. A gentle genius.

The DhO poster "Psi" recently excerpted a Ñanananda passage about the relative blandness of realization-- seeing things as they are ("Name - and - Form, too bland and uninviting to arrest their attention. But once their gaze got fixed on it in the correct perspective to catch the ray of the dawning Buddha Sun, they saw the 'sight' - a vision, in contrast to views."p. 1 Topsy Tuvry), knowing cause-and-effect-- bland relative to all the emotional gyrations one seeks and follows in mind (like your excellent description of the period of time you explored your head banging-like concentration) and applies floridly to senses to embellish on plain "sight".

Try not to acquire your next study from others, rather get to a place (with others in dharma training) and just work basically, follow the rules for all, acquire your study from own mind drifting, calling own mind back into body, what is, again, again, again (where you have big emotions, tears on cheeks, okay.. or profond depression and will to stay-in-bed, okay.. keep doing the order, keep calling the emotive mind to the body, do the chores even depressed, even tears streaming, attention to th body is a steady boat surrounded by these passing waves); let the motions and speech of people and groups be like eddies of water moving around you as place attention into what is, the senses, the work, the doing. If you are having to learn a language (if you study in Korea zen I think you'd have to learn the language), just learn the language like cleaning a pot with baking soda. If you have a great dharma talk, listen to the words and meaning, working attention like baking soda to a charred pot. If you have lousy dharma talks compacted with conceit, listen in equanimity, the rock in the eddy, also doing the work of non-conciet, like scrubbing a charred pot with the soda. Basic, gaze down, physicality.Basic, gaze up, physicality. Learning what is mind attentive/adhered in the senses. Attention to senses as they are uncolored, what movements of mind try to color and narrate the senses into floridities; watch conceit try to make the mind falsely equanimous and superior; return to the work in the hands in the senses.

After this (which should be not suprising if there is like conceited human nature/abuses as on a ship or anywhere), really this-- when you know it's done, actual equanimity in this physicality and Kayagata-sati total insight, okay, merchant navy if you like. You will have the chess skills necessary for the close quarters and to be useful to others suffering it in many ways.

Best wishes. These are just my thoughts. You follow what you feel is correct for you.
And to me this is not about destroying your personality (the way this changes with life, more like "personalities") and becoming flat and dimensionless po-faced worker. But during your study of work, deep sati, you may find that your personality subsides, hopefully there will be natural joy, too. Just two cents.
I'm somewhat overqualified, but I might take it. It'd be nice to work with my hands and get much needed discipline.

Academically, maybe, but consider perhaps behaviourally/culturally, maybe grow somewhere else first (return to retreat, zen monastery, kibbutz, farm, dishwasher-- cornering yourself on a ship in a strong culture based on what you've described could be problematic, but if maybe you know this constraint will force your personality to develop mental boundaries you want?
Mettafore, modified 7 Years ago at 10/5/15 2:18 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 10/5/15 2:10 PM

RE: Backpacking Dharma Bum

Posts: 170 Join Date: 3/24/14 Recent Posts
Dear katy,

I am very grateful to get such a discerning reply. Thank you for helping a random internet stranger emoticon.

Unfortunately, I'm kind of broke at the moment and my parents are running out of patience.

In the ideal world, I would be a meditation master, Dhammapreneur or practitioner-researcher helping countless people awaken in my home country, India. Also, it'd be so nice to end this endless wandering in Samsara. Alas, becoming is dukkha. Most great deeds are accomplished through non-action. 

It is cool to hear about Master Sheng Yen. These Dhutanga like practices sound awesome. Also, digging the Nanananda quote. Vipassana practice after a while tends to become a feel-good entertainment. One tends to eagerly anticipate the Nanas and digging into the subconscious and surprise oneself with all those big emotions, perversions etc. Bare attention to the uncoloured senses sounds good at the moment. So, does anchoring in the body. Is Kayagata Sati - total insight (chess like skills) code for 4th Path? That might take forever and there is no guessing when.

I can totally relate with the conceit trying to make the mind falsely equanimous. It's fooled me many times. Zen sounds good. Also, I've heard that Mahayana is more compassion and service focused than Theravada.

I think I'll have to accept human conceit as a fact in oneself and others. I can't be a slave of fear and anxiety forever.

I should've been clearer. I got chosen for the Electrical Officer training program in an academy owned by a private shipping company with tuition fee. It is a 4 month schooling followed by 8 months on ship training. Most electro-cadets are in their early 20s much younger than me. There might be a gap where I could fit practice. Korea is definitely not possible in my economic condition. There seem to be a few Zen places here in India.

Let' see. I still got till Novemeber to decide whether I join or not.


I'll continue with the rest of my account. The details are embarassing, but I would like to get it out of the system in order to get some closure:

During my time, I felt tremendous metta towards all and gratitude towards the teacher, the org head and the Abbot. Was able to shoot metta waves to random creatures. 

Felt metta while alms-giving which turned into profound peace. Once I was feeling very mettaful and glad towards Thailand, I vowed to bring back the Dhamma back to India my country of origin.

After a 30-day first retreat and another 10-day retreat, I thought I'd made enough progress (thinking along the lines three fruitions on consecutive cycles = 3rd path). I decided to give back by volunteering for a while. I had plenty of ideas and was getting overly ambitious. The head techer decided I should sit on another retreat. Thus, another ten day. Being joyous, I burnt a lot of dana money.

Things didn't go as well this time. In the beginning, lots of violent jerks and bumps. A few days later, I had an insane insight/delusion that I'd somehow wronged a very close and loved relative in a previous life. I was violently crying on the way to lunch and back but noting steadfastly. I got hiccup like Piti fear jerks whenever I saw women. Things calmed down a bit. At night, there was a fascinating incident. I don't know if it was imagined or not. I was prostrating with my head down in the middle of the night with devotion. There was some kind of light (can't remember) and the third eye or maybe forehead region opened up. I assumed that this was what was meant by opening of the eye of wisdom. I went to the Buddha shrine to make an offering out of respect. By mid morning, the thing closed and I was feeling pressure in forehead and a bit cranky. My mind developing a crush towards someone who I considered very enlightened. I had some violent, guilt-filled sessions because of that. At night, I couldn't sleep. I was having those fear hiccups-like jerks again. The teacher told me to drop the noting and take a break from retreating. I thought I'd done enough work and wouldn't be back for a while, so I went to the Abbot to bid adieu. He invited me to study under him. How could I refuse emoticon

I ramped down my practice to 2 to 6 hours. Started using the web and talking to people around the monastery. But, progress was still good. New Nana in 1-2 days. This time pogress was much more pleasant. In the beginning there were lots of explosive jerk events. Body falling forward, falling back etc. There were some Nanas which were obvious like delayed noting and dream like states was probably Bhanga. But, others not so much. Even the questions in the interview were strange. The abbot asked me "When is it you feel the jerk? Was it when you noted rising, falling, sitting or touching?". Sometimes the abbot would ask me about conditions like leg pain or remembering family, which I didn't have but manifested later. At the moment, I thought he was psychic, but he probably knew the path well. I was very happy, light and fearless overall. A young Thai (in monk years) monk had a nice conversation with me about candle kasina. He told  me how one could see the past or perhaps past lives and send blessings to one's loved ones. I had to go for a Visa change when I was in EQ to Laos. When I returned I sat in front of a bon-fire to try the Kasina. It gave me head pressure in no time. I feared I screwed up my progress. Thereafter, I observed a strange phenomena. I used to get pressure in my head when I was in the presence of certain Ajahns. I literally became an "Enlightenment or Aura Detector" . The Ajahn told me to note easy and not to keep my focus in one place for too long including the forehead. He said if I was feeling sleepy while walking meditation, I should stand for a while. If it still persists, sit on the ground for a while. This was useful advice which I needed later. Also, saw jewel toned sparkles. Back to the beginning Nanas once again. More explosive jerks. Few sessions with depression feel all over body and head but very good equanimity to handle it. Reached EQ again. Determination just before leaving Thailand. By now, my head was jerking rapidly like a bobble head. This caused pleasant sensation all over my body. There seemed to be a five minutes fruition. I remember opening my eyes suddenly while sitting. 

I then flew to India and then home to help with the family business. This time I'd a calmer less manic confidence but my base assumption was I'd be easily be able to handle worldly matters since I'd gain so much spiritual wisdom. I convinced my Dad that I'd finally undergone irreversible change in myself and be able to handle any situation. "Gain" is such a dirty word. It is so easy to be blind to spiritual pride. 

We went to visit a big fat indian wedding of my cousin. It was nice but a week of fanfare can get annoying. 

I went to my grandfather's next. He got very sick in a few days. We hospitalised him, but unfortunately he passed away after about 2 weeks. Unfortunately, my premonition came true emoticon. I helped along silently and didn't speak much with the funeral guests and relative. The ego can fall so easily for fake equanimity and fake holiness of the painful self. Being needlessly withdrawn is neither wisdom nor true equanimity. It can be so tempting to act like a sutta Arahat, so indifferent about death. Definitely got to be vigilant about near enemies. I get fooled so often, and punish myself severely.

I flew back home. I was to handle accounts of an outgoing employee. I'd previously discussed with him about my retreat experience and even fruitions and determination. A meeting with a client along with the colleague trigerred full body anxiety. The client was quite smug and dismissive towards me. This is obviously not uncommon in sales and one needs to have a thick skin. He knew I was missing from my family business for a long time. He questioned me why I returned. My colleague foolishly told me in front of the client to discuss my retreat experience. I told him its all about reducing stress. He quipped back along the line: "How would I be able to complete my work if there is no stress?" My confidence was chipping away. Unfortunately, I was going back into depression mode. I was once again doing a half assed job. A week later, a supplier who could clearly see my body language said along the lines: "Looks like your family is forcing you to do this. Let me know whether you'd like my help in finding a job or setting up a biz." I gave up going to the office. Things went downhill from there. I tried Vipassana on my own. Then, I even arranged a phone retreat. Went all the way to EQ, too. But, the "craving mind" was not happy until fruitions. My new passport took a long time and it was already three months since I'd left the office. By now, I was sleeping 10-14 hours in the morning, eating junk, reverting to PMO, watching youtube crap interspersed with some Dhamma all day lying on the sofa. I also mindlessly experimented with candle Kasina, breath meditation and other stupid concentration stuff. My bodily and mental vitality as well as attention was depleting. I was moving dead slow like an old person. Was breathing very shallow and couldn't feel the right part of the brain receiving oxygen. I had strong Nausea, very painful stomach, acid reflux and constipation, back pain due to slacking so much. I was also becoming hypochondriac and thought I was going to die. Got a few lab tests done. All normal. 

I didn't have courage to face anybody except my Mum. Even then, I couldn't plan anything. I was avoiding and procastinating. I thought the only way out was to drop everything and become a monk for life, start teaching or wait till I die. My mum didn't like this and obviously wanted me to lead a good life with a good career. I'm forever indebted for their superhuman patience in spite of losing her father and ongoing family problems. I doubt anybody else would take my bullshit with such braveness.

Finally, I flew back to meditate. Did 3 10 dayers. Due to my shitty Sati, I tripped and tore my ankle ligament. I rested for about a week and started again slowly. Was still hypochondriac. At night, I was afraid. It seemed like my heart beat was modulating, increasing and decreasing every few seconds. I thought my heart was malfunctioning. Got an ECG done. But, probably acid reflux problems. Started taking pills and continued. Incredible amount of worry and self doubt even about small everyday things, including my broken leg. I was even doubting whether I'd attained anything at all spiritually. Won't go in too much details about each retreat. Gradually, lots of doubts about the future and past showed up. By the first Patisankha and EQ, a lots of sexual perversion, murderous rage, extreme jealousy of everyone and crazy voices came up. Was both exciting, relieving and shocking at the same time. During the determination, I experienced a lot of head turns due to pressure on the top right of my head as well as some pressure around my right ear and the right premolars. My head fell in walking meditation probably a fruition like incident. In my 2nd retreat, there was more clarity. The Nanas were clearer. I figured my Nausea and Acid reflux problems were due to extreme pleasure in the tummy due to concentration games. Patisankha was hardness all over the body. Acid reflux was gone by the end of the second retreat. The last retreat I got the clearest understanding of a fruition. In one of the sits, time passed real quick. After that sit, while walking meditation, clearly there were some discontinuities in reality. Surely, my foot skipping a fraction of a second. When I checked my timer, it was much quicker than expected.

Anyways, I return back home straight after retreat. Feeling much saner. In the beginning few days, strong tummy and body pleasure and industrial grad sloth was distracting from work. First few weeks were just spent in deciding what I'd do next. Head pressure and depressing feel when I went outdoors. Some emotional outbursts at times. I had an irrational fear of interviews as I thought I was worthless and there was no way I could explain the two year gap in my resume. But, when I heard about merchant Navy, I was excited at the prospects of good vacay time for travel and practice, as well as fairly hands on, desk free adventurous job which would force me to build some mental discipline and not be dependent on family.  Therefore, I swung into action and applied. I've gotten through the academy admission, but my mind is doubtful and split in two other directions: Meditation practice/teaching/research and business. Also, it'd be difficult to have a relationship on ship. Too bad mermaids ain't real emoticon . 

My practice nowadays is less than 10 minutes. I tend to have some pressure on the top right of my head and right pre molars which I don't want to aggreviate through practice. My mood swings and depressive feel is much milder. Things are generally looking up emoticon . I hope I keep fairly stable once I become busy and engaged with more people.
Gilbert, modified 7 Years ago at 10/6/15 1:04 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 10/6/15 1:04 AM

RE: Backpacking Dharma Bum

Posts: 5 Join Date: 10/3/15 Recent Posts
Thank you for sharing.

Reading your post I was struck by the following quote. "For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life?" Your post shares your mad dash to attain something you can hold on to. Yet also it's clear that you rushing to attain something is also a manifestation of your desire to run away from aspects of your very life.

It seems to me that life is telling you and going to keep telling you that you need to change course. Or maybe it's better to say it seems clear that you are missing something. I think your investigation into what will help you develop discipline and doing something with your hands may be wise. 

-A fellow human being.
Mettafore, modified 7 Years ago at 10/6/15 1:32 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 10/6/15 1:32 AM

RE: Backpacking Dharma Bum

Posts: 170 Join Date: 3/24/14 Recent Posts
Thank you, Gilbert for reading my thoughts compassionately and your gentle encouragement. It was really hard for me to do this. I even had to change my screen name. 

When the mind is "low", all the fancy philosophy and doctrine one knows can be rationialised into pessimistic despair. I definitely don't want to go back there.

Wise thinking is clearly conditioned by a healthy mind and body and vice versa.
bernd the broter, modified 7 Years ago at 10/6/15 2:51 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 10/6/15 2:51 AM

RE: Backpacking Dharma Bum

Posts: 376 Join Date: 6/13/12 Recent Posts
I know the Ajahn Tong approach personally, it's powerful. But judging from what you report, it is clearly the wrong practice for you right now. You go on and on about speculation about nanas, fruitions and horrible fascinating things, but obviously you are not building up a sustainable practice, you are plagued with headaches all the times, and it doesn't help you in facing 'real life'. Or did I read it wrong and there is some real overall improvement?

That said, you sound as if you are in a very bad place, really. Therefore it should be your priority to get to a better place before attempting to do anything else. Maybe you could do the Navy thing, but from what you report, I can't see how this would improve your condition.

I temporarily turned away from Ajahn Tong's method and have been doing lots of Metta since. This may or may not be what is suitable for you at the moment, but I would highly recommend looking into something else.
Doing this, you won't lose your proficiency with Ajahn Tong noting method. I think you can be really proud that you learned this. It's an intense system and pulling that off is not at all to be taken for granted.
Mettafore, modified 7 Years ago at 10/6/15 7:57 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 10/6/15 7:57 AM

RE: Backpacking Dharma Bum

Posts: 170 Join Date: 3/24/14 Recent Posts
Thank you for your reply and concern, bernd the broter.

Let me clarify. I've nothing personally against the method or the teachers. I take full responsibility for my screw ups. In fact I consider myself truly blessed to have the opportunity to study under a real life saint such as Ajahn Thong. Also, I'm very grateful the good teachers there got me out of this mess when I went a second time

I'm not a very experienced writer. I should have organized my post better and written a bit more about the present. In beginning March 2015, I fell into severe depression by making a mountain out of an ant hill.  There were probably several contributing causes including triggers from a previous depression, recent death of a loved one and unnecessary resentment at grossly overestimating ones life skills after completing a 3 month retreat. After December, there was definitely a monumental changes in Sati and personality. My biggest mistake was not only subconsciously assuming that this was permanent, but failing to adapt when things got slightly tougher. After going there again in June 2015, there was substantial improvement. I went from zombie to human being. I've decided not to work for my Dad again because my mind can easily find ways to cop out when things get tough. After returning home in Aug 2015, things were still hard. Mood swings were still present. Headaches and depress feel got worse with outdoor trips. I was fearful of applying for a job except for a couple of places. This time, I was in frequent touch with a teacher on Skype to remain stable.

But, the Merchant Navy thing really grabbed my interest, and I tried the best I could to succeed at the computer based test and interview.  Right now, I feel quite stable and at peace with myself, not shy and more reponsive. Like I mentioned I've limited my practice to ten minutes or less. I'm doing a very simple variant of metta. Whenever my mind is annoyed or I feel down for no reason, I just smile at it. It was a bit forceful in the beginning, but it's been quite an effective practice so far. I am still feeling slight pressure (not pain) in my premolars and top right of my head as I speak but it doesen't really bother me much. If I compare things from when I began a little more than 2 years ago to the present day, I'll gladly admit things are better. I have a much deeper and heart felt appreciation for my family, for my teachers and few friends. Apart from that, there is clearly an improvement in overall baseline Sati. The best practice right now I think would be to get involved in the particulars of the world easing into it gently.

katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 7 Years ago at 10/6/15 7:51 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 10/6/15 7:17 PM

RE: Backpacking Dharma Bum

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Dear Mettafore,

Your writing is useful. You put out the hazards and natural path of inquiry clearly: the conceit, the self-deception, the desire, the crests and troughs of humanhood and "me". I like that you know, in my analogy, i am/you/we are like the highest flag raised on the pole, but for those patient with you/me -- raised higher.

This high-flag-on-the-pole mind, a personhood glowingly set to establish itself in life, in career, in exemplary 'normalcy' -- the quiet, perfect learning master at their job and in their head/heart -- quite a garrison flag (their size: they are huge). 

So there are a lot of ways people do this. Depression is like the old teacher who is always in the meditation hall before you are when it is quiet and dark, just a silhouette near the candles, "Ah, you got up to be here with me. Competent student with a lightable wick."

So, does anchoring in the body. Is Kayagata Sati - total insight (chess like skills) code for 4th Path?
No, I don't code. Unelaborated senses, just senses, is a potent practice, insight without narrative frames, insight without insight frame: hearing at the ears, seeing at the eyes-- flavored narratives constantly released, seen like elder meditation teacher ("Ah, you are here with me despite the controlling stories.. ah, your are not following stories, you are here to sit with me despite the hour, the fatique and the stories..").

Kayagata-sati is a concentration practice like a glacier before any seeds of thought have landed and rooted and started to grow as primary landscape sprouting in the senses. Kayagati-sati is just the contact.

It is for a gentle-minded direct person now ready to let go of elaboration because they've already followed so much elaboration and seen so much brouhaha caused by being led to and fro in their elaborations. They are ready to train the mind to kayagata-sati, moment after moment, day after day, week after week-- seeing the mental focus (without story, every story is being released weeks into the practice, even knowing is being released) that arises from this sati-- and allow one's human animal to shake off the energies of elaboration. For example, when the head bobs, okay, but nothing special-- one lets go of any urge to follow that sort of concentration; now you know what that does and does not help in following and creating/investigating the jerks and bobs.

Just hearing at the eyes, seeing at the eyes, feeling in the touch sensations, taste at the tongue, smelling in the nose.

Yet you need your regular personality, too, to learn the work and not have a new concentration practice (riskily) distract you from the content of your job. I know you know this. =] No one wants to be scalded by boiling water's steam by being so caught up in sensate practice while dumping the pasta in the strainer, say, and forgot to move hands/eyes.. A person has to learn the content, this is the mental sense-base of the sense bases.

Rely on the brahmanviharas and being like a hammered nail among other hammered nails, attentive, careful, not special. Be there for your old meditation teacher: the discipline who is in the hours, the moods, the narratives movies.. There is not failing here, no high bar, there is your skilled teacher pulling you to bring your reality into what ever hall you're in with the practice you want, abandoning the hero-champion, the badge, the title, the raised flag, yet collecting the body and mind to sit with your old meditation teacher -- amid the runaway stories --- really always meditation / hall everywhere.  You/we are just someone's neighbor, plain and simple, and you/we/I have this quality of mind in craft without conceit. There's always a good tip/an example from neighbors in this. I mean, actual neighbors, no code. 

Mine are, of course, also totally dismissable words. Reading you, I trust you see own-conceit, own-deception, own efforts, own-pain, are developing compassion for being a living being, having its urges, and that you have plenty of awareness to create your path by avoiding old steps/actions you don't want to experience again. Discipline can use help, too: good rest.
bernd the broter, modified 7 Years ago at 10/7/15 3:34 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 10/7/15 3:34 PM

RE: Backpacking Dharma Bum

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Okay, another question: Do you have a reason to limit the practice to 10 minutes a day? That's really not so much. Does it have negative effects if you do more? Positive effects? None?

My experience: I remember doing the practice in "real life" and I noticed that when I did it consistently 1-2 hours a day, it really made a difference for the other 22 hours. If i did less, not so much.
Mettafore, modified 7 Years ago at 10/8/15 2:36 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 10/8/15 2:36 AM

RE: Backpacking Dharma Bum

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Thank you for your question, bernd the broter.

I just got back from my 10 minutes practice. Couldn't but help smiling all the time emoticon.

Let me be clear here. I am not limiting my practice here, due to lack of discipline or sincerity. After my first Goenka retreat, for a long time I followed the 1 hour morning and 1 hour evening routine strictly with the exception of a few days. Don't get me wrong here. I'm not at all dissing the Ajahn Thong style. I would gladly recommend it to others. In fact, I'm going to introduce it tomorrow in the free Yoga class my Dad organises and conducts.

Everything needs a context: Here is mine. Due to certain circumstances, I fell into severe depression. During this depression I practised a quite a bit of meditation. Due to my lack of clarity and despair during this period, apart from Vipassana I experimented with things like Candle Kasina (despite the warning on the Candle Kasina thread), just sitting (more like just slouching in my mental state). Due to my insanely sedentary life and depressive frame of mind during that period coupled with high concentration activities, there were definitely some physiological and energy imbalance which manifested itself in the form of terible Nausea, stomacha ache, stomach ickiness, stomach pleasure (sometimes so much so that it is painful) and localised pressure and ickiness on the right side of the head and pressure near the right premolars. Sometimes lot of screaming sad sounds in my head, music I've never heard and random sounds during sleep. Aimless surfing, PMO, screwed up sleep cycle and unhealthy food compunded it. Even then, I didn't stop labelling and meditating.

The surprising horrors I was talking about was in the retreats I took after 3 months of self perpetuating this hell. Lust, extreme jealousy and rage for almost everyone. No wonder I couldn't communicate. Thereafter, the good people at the temple really saved my life and I'm very grateful for that. There was tangibe change by the time I had left. Before, I was completely paralysed in my depression, now I could at least take tiny steps to move my life forward.

I continued to communicate with my teacher and do a life retreat of about 2 hours/day. Most sits were somewhere along this line: Anxiety, stomach ickiness, pressure in my head and teeth, guilt, noises in head. But I must admit that in some cases, that by the end of a long sit I could definitely feel a silent peace. One positive influence has been Venerable W. Vajiramedhi's book I bought from the airport called "Nibanna in Daily Life". It sticks well to the basics. I realised my path factors are way out of balance. Vipassana should definitely not be perceived as a magic pill. There is no such thing. The Buddha gave us a recipe for living a suffering-free life not a magic pill and we got to use our own discernment to figure out how much salt, spices or vegetables one should add. Also, gradually I got busy with the marine stuff and limited my practice.

Currently, I'm happy with a less intense approach and practicing general mindfulness in daily life. The results have been encouraging so far emoticon
Mettafore, modified 7 Years ago at 11/2/15 2:52 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 11/2/15 2:52 AM

RE: Backpacking Dharma Bum

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Thank you for these profound words, Katy. I read them every few days or so. They are starting to make more sense, especially your explanation of Kayagata Sati. I'm still not sure what is meant by letting go of knowing, though. I guess not checking up on oneself whether one is being mindful or not.

A few days ago, I went to a demo class for Aura Healing at a commercial wellness center. I've written my experiences in detail in this thread: . Anyways, the takeaway was that my emotional side and intuition was quite developed but I'm not decisive on my gut feeling. Since that insight, I'm getting more busy and bit more social, and the headaches are less severe.

Even though, I'm progressing slowly to plunge into the world of work, I feel I am gaining confidence and getting to "know" myself better, especially my desires in no particular order: business success and wealth, girlfriend, building a solid sangha of do-gooders, helping people through authentic spiritual practices, doing something in the intersection of technology and contemplation. My mum is concerned (rightly so) and wants me to start interviewing with companies for which I'm qualified for (Electrical Engg). I guess I just got to pick one area and run with it.

Anyways, I've cancelled the whole merchant navy thing. I already knew I was running away from integrating in society and particularly my home city as I've never really had a real group of friends here. Keeping busy with a couple of things: helping my friend with his upcoming Vipassana center near DC by shortlisting folks on the Mind and Life site who we could pitch to, while simultaneously looking at a suitable PhD advisor. Someone from my Dad's yoga group has decided to donate 10 acres of land in India to set up. Acting as secretary to help with that. Pondering about a larger comitment.

Also, gave a half hour Vipassana class at my Dad's yoga group last Friday. Teaching is very enjoyable; brings out the best in my personality especially since I'm so passionate about the subject emoticon
katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 7 Years ago at 11/3/15 10:13 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 11/3/15 9:59 PM

RE: Backpacking Dharma Bum

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Hi Mettafore.

I'm still not sure what is meant by letting go of knowing, though. I guess not checking up on oneself whether one is being mindful or not

When I mention "not knowing" I'm referring to developing a check on arising conceit.

Meditation-sati can develop helpful alertness and calmness and lead to reliable understandings and insight; they can be a mental junk disspeller, but the practices can also build conceit (assumed/over-extended knowing, an asserted overlay, an objectifyting even subtle dismissal, even a protective containment of the vast unknown).

An example of what I mean: Let's say we're birding with an Audobon group and we identify birds by name. There's appropriate, useful naming and even studying the birds-- that kind of studying-knowing. But what if we sort of mentally dismiss the birds because we can name them or even know a bit about them? 

Any repeated practice-- even just maintaining a car-- can result suffusive, underlying conceit in naming/knowing, dismissiveness, inattentiveness, "knowing". Many cultures have cultural checks on this, too. 

There can also be a hypervigilant attentiveness, a striving for a naive "not knowing". I'm not saying this.

Kayagata sati, apperception, Bahiya Sutta, is a way to naturally alleviate mental conceit, helping mental knowledge remain useful and not over-extended or dismissive. It can be a sort of excercise of balancing attention, relaxing mind, and also understanding its conditioning and some abilities. Also, seeing that striving to know and not know can exhaust and stress.

The buddhist traditions apply meditation-sati for the purpose of understanding the cessation of greed, hatred and ignorance-- seeing for onself why and how.

Tall order =] (for me)

Of course, we are also dying, so, hopefully, you are lucky enough to be relatively safe and healthy to explore for yourself what is being and well-being, conditions and causes, and way(s) you like to live-die this life.

Aside, I'm reading the forum a bit, but generally not posting these days. It was nice to meet you here. Best wishes.
Mettafore, modified 7 Years ago at 11/5/15 12:55 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 11/5/15 12:55 AM

RE: Backpacking Dharma Bum

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Thank you for the great advice. You really have a way with words. I love you for all your support.

Today, I went to a vegan conference. Lots of new age teachers preaching their new-age woo. I could see my conceit and irritation arise quite clearly. Also, I was irritated at the fact of having difficulty networking with people even though I feel so confident when I'm alone. Lots of lessons learnt about my humanity. Practice makes excellent.

I'm going to stop posting here more and create a practice thread instead. My Dad's company's acquisition fell through due to resistance from the staff. He needs my full support to lead ahead, and obviously I can't refuse. My parents have done a lot for me. It'll take me some time to digest. But, I'm glad after almost 9 months of wandering, I've a purpose again emoticon .
katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 7 Years ago at 11/6/15 9:52 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 11/6/15 9:52 PM

RE: Backpacking Dharma Bum

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Right back at ya' =)

Thanks much for sharing  your practice. I'm enjoying some of your other threads. Take care.