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An end
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3/30/16 1:09 AM
Another significant shift seems to have happened. As Daniel Ingram puts it in MCTB, I feel like my Vipassana problem is solved. Like having woken up from a dream to a reality where all is the same as before the Vipassana obsession but at the same time all is completely different. Utterly normal but full of a deep sense of peace as all is completely fine the way it is. The centre point which made up the feeling of an “I” seems to be gone. This happened only 3 weeks ago. So it may still turn out to be instable. However, if it is stable, in a few months it may have become so normal that the changes will be difficult to describe.

Over the past 1.5 months, my practice had been mostly about surrender, accepting every single piece of reality just as it is and stopping to try to control my future. Much of that happened off the cushion. In formal meditation, I would simply focus on the breath; strange formless realms and even strange visions would pop up by themselves before a period of dark night crushed any decent concentration.

At some point, maybe enough acceptance had been achieved. The experience of extreme resistance against everything and anything changed into a state of equanimity which was beautiful and filled with deep contentment. I thought that this must be it and nothing could ever throw me out of that deep peace again. Wrong assumption, though, as ever deeper feelings of resistance against my reality and the “here and now” continued to come up. For a few days, my experience would shift from that deep equanimity into new struggles against reality and back again. Every time it felt like somebody had thrown me out of paradise. Needless to say that the notion of “being desperate for being thrown out of paradise” had to be surrendered to as well. At the same time, strong momentary concentration built up. And I was extremely tired of all the back and forth and continuously looking for something.

One afternoon while in the office, another small, nagging feeling of restlessness appeared. I was taking a short break from work, just looking out of the window and observing that feeling of restlessness. Intuitively, I decided to look at the Three Characteristics, which I hadn´t formally done for months. I asked myself if there was anything permanent, anything inherently satisfying or anything that was "self". And I saw that the answer was three times "no". At that moment my perception shifted to seeing myself as just an interplay of processes. It wasn´t a big deal, I just continued my day. Although the notion of being nothing but processes was a bit disconcerting. The next morning while meditating, I almost immediately entered into what I think is high equanimity. For a while, there was a residual feeling of control, until I further relaxed into the process and fully let go. The process culminated into a very short moment which felt more like cutting open a knot in awareness than a fruition. It left me laughing out loudly and then almost crying out of deep relief. There was an incredibly deep happiness and relief whilst at the same time I knew that that was just another feeling, it was there now, but would pass and that was ok as well. Since then, it feels like a new reality is stabilizing.

It guess that the biggest change is really about having lost that centre point of self. I can still get lost in thoughts and occasionally in negative emotions. Especially with the emotions I notice quite soon that they don´t hurt “me” but that they´re just emotions which happen due to the conditioning of my personality. Underlying everything, there is peace. More specifically, it feels like my awareness has stopped to “grasp at sensations” but is just leaving them as they are and where they are. Quite difficult to describe, though. 

For the moment, I don´t feel like doing much formal practice and have no interest in Vipassana. The fascination with the dharma continues. I don´t think that my experience necessarily compares to MCTB and don´t want to claim anything, just tell a story. I don´t feel enlightened. It does feel like for me personally this has been an extremely important transformation, part of which may now have come to an end to make room for something else. I am deeply grateful for that. I am deeply grateful to Ron Crouch, for his wisdom and compassion and his help with this process over the past year, to my other teachers, friends and others including Daniel Ingram and this community from whom I have learned incredibly much, and to the countless and by now nameless other people who preserved the teachings of the Buddha until they reached 21st century Europe.  

One last point: I reflected a bit about what has been especially helpful:
  • Working with a good teacher to keep me on track. Regularly talking about this rather unusual stuff with somebody who understood also made it much more fun. In addition, reading about people´s experiences here was incredibly useful to put it all into context.
  • Practicing in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh in addition to Vipassana: His strong focus on ethics, sila and being mindful with everything in life meant that much of my practice always happened outside of formal meditation and gave it a lot of continuity – with the flipside  that it was very hard to contain when it got difficult.
  • My personal situation which made it possible to give priority to meditation over basically everything else for a while.

RE: An end
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3/30/16 2:02 AM as a reply to Caro.
Techical 4th!?  Congrats!  What does your teacher say?

RE: An end
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3/30/16 5:05 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah:
Techical 4th!?  Congrats!  What does your teacher say?
Thanks!
He says it´s done but that it´s not necesarily an end to meditation and development emoticon

RE: An end
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3/30/16 5:15 AM as a reply to Caro.
Sounds really good! Congratulations!

RE: An end
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3/30/16 5:23 AM as a reply to Caro.
Caro:

Over the past 1.5 months, my practice had been mostly about surrender, accepting every single piece of reality just as it is and stopping to try to control my future. Much of that happened off the cushion. 

This seems to be a common theme in our community. Much of the practical / hardcore dharma gang is all about effort, goal, maps, hard work, and MCTB in particular puts emphasis on all of this to counter the mushroom / new agey "surrendering" culture - which is a very good thing of course. However, many of us eventually find out that quite a bit of letting go, at the right moment and time, is needed and it is often what unlocks whatever comes next.

RE: An end
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3/30/16 8:14 AM as a reply to Caro.
Caro:

Thanks!
He says it´s done but that it´s not necesarily an end to meditation and development emoticon


Shweet.  It sure as hell wasn't for me (although it was an amazing start).  I think it depends on how f***ed up one was from the start... Or if I wanted to be technical/politically correct, I could say "to what degree one has pockets of trauma stored up on a particularly somatic level...."  Anyhoo, wish you the best, please continue to keep us in the loop.

RE: An end
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3/30/16 11:05 AM as a reply to Caro.
I'm just writing to say congratulations and that I'm happy for you.  Fellow Ron Crouch student/dharma explorer here still trying to figure out the thing. emoticon

I look forward -- if you stick around -- to hearing about where your meditative practice/development goes from here.  

RE: An end
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3/30/16 12:44 PM as a reply to Chad Atlas.
Ron Crouch students unite! :p

RE: An end
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3/31/16 6:40 AM as a reply to Chad Atlas.
Chad Atlas:
I'm just writing to say congratulations and that I'm happy for you.  Fellow Ron Crouch student/dharma explorer here still trying to figure out the thing. emoticon

I look forward -- if you stick around -- to hearing about where your meditative practice/development goes from here.  
Thanks!
Wishing you good luck in figuring it out soon. I think Ron does an amazing job in helping with that.

RE: An end
Answer
3/31/16 6:58 AM as a reply to neko.
neko:
Caro:

Over the past 1.5 months, my practice had been mostly about surrender, accepting every single piece of reality just as it is and stopping to try to control my future. Much of that happened off the cushion. 

This seems to be a common theme in our community. Much of the practical / hardcore dharma gang is all about effort, goal, maps, hard work, and MCTB in particular puts emphasis on all of this to counter the mushroom / new agey "surrendering" culture - which is a very good thing of course. However, many of us eventually find out that quite a bit of letting go, at the right moment and time, is needed and it is often what unlocks whatever comes next.

Agree!

Personally, the idea of surrendering to something greater has always been more attractive to me than the bleak outlook of everything being empty and unsatisfying - even though ultimately I guess both are parts of the same truth and it´s just another perspective on the same thing.

I also think that, ultimately, the idea of letting go / surrendering is quite radical. I realized that it gets mushroomy when I take an attitude of "well, ok, lets do some surrender - but wait, there are these very deep fundamental wishes I have, these must belong to my TRUE SELF  and really cannot be meant to be part of letting go - so, lets try some magic-thinking, law of attraction type of practice to make these deep wishes come true - after all, it´s all about expressing my TRUE SELF, isn´t it?..."
there seem to be hundreds of self-help books with creative ways to do that...

RE: An end
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3/31/16 12:20 PM as a reply to Caro.
Caro:

Agree!

Personally, the idea of surrendering to something greater has always been more attractive to me than the bleak outlook of everything being empty and unsatisfying - even though ultimately I guess both are parts of the same truth and it´s just another perspective on the same thing.
I do not believe the pali canon is saying that enlightenment is empty and unsatisfying, just  everything else.  Remove the objects in the way of enlightenment is not a bleak attitude at all, IMO if looked at from that perspective.  You are just removing clinging, letting go of clinging (aversion is a type of reverse clinging) to that which is in your way.  You are letting go of that clinging and aversion, letting go is, IMO, a situation that you are not longer trying to control because you no longer have strong desire nor strong aversion.  In that way, IMO, it is both surrendering and letting go. 

I also think that, ultimately, the idea of letting go / surrendering is quite radical. I realized that it gets mushroomy when I take an attitude of "well, ok, lets do some surrender - but wait, there are these very deep fundamental wishes I have, these must belong to my TRUE SELF  and really cannot be meant to be part of letting go - so, lets try some magic-thinking, law of attraction type of practice to make these deep wishes come true - after all, it´s all about expressing my TRUE SELF, isn´t it?..."
there seem to be hundreds of self-help books with creative ways to do that...
Law of attraction does IMO work for what it was designed for.  But there are several issues with it, one is that it is just not that easy to think positive thoughts all the time.  People have issues that are not easily solved with a few uplifting words, it requires to work to make progress on that.  If people expect an easy fix, it will only be so if their issues are mild.  But most people have considerable underlying negative and unsolved issues that they are not even aware of consciously.  They would at least need to make it to where they are consciously aware of that stuff before law of attraction can really make progress.  Still, law of attraction is a tool that can help in that area for development and become more aware.   To use it, you have to take responsibility for all of your crap and be delving internally for your thoughts and emotions.  IMO, that's a great thing and 'getting what you want' is the carrot at the end of the stick that encourages people to try.   And it encourages people to be less stingy and clinging and have an outlook that is more global and giving. 

But it will only take you so far because it specializes in obtaining wants and desires, which ultimately are found to still be lacking in long term satisfaction.  I have met a lot of rich people who can buy just about anything they can think of but ironically they are often less happy then other classes of people (although granted, most of those wealthy I met did not use law of attraction knowledge to get there and the few that did were substantially more stable and sane from what I saw than the rest).  But since stuff cannot lead to happiness, law of attraction won't take you to enlightenment all by itself.  The carrot is you can get stuff you want but once you get there, you realize its limits.  Personally I think law of attraction can teach a lot of people a lot of things about how to improve their life, the world and their mental state.  I have no special prob with mushroom culture and the like, as long as it seems to lead further along the path than where people were before.  Why look down on anything that is an improvement from previous?  Realistically, not everyone is going to sit on a mat for hours daily for no real obvious reason other than the advice of a dead guy and some wacky monks, so why is it bad if people use other ways that may not be as effective but still do something? 

Maybe the attraction to making fun of mushroom culture is to make one feel like one is more right and therefore 'better' than those other people.  We are all so smart and they are just foolish numbskulls?  Is that a good attitude?  ;-P
-Eva 

RE: An end
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3/31/16 3:20 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva Nie:
 

Maybe the attraction to making fun of mushroom culture is to make one feel like one is more right and therefore 'better' than those other people.  We are all so smart and they are just foolish numbskulls?  Is that a good attitude?  ;-P
-Eva 

(Edited)
Thanks for the reply. No intention to look down on anybody. More than anybody else, I referred to myself encountering that notion of "happy to let go of everything - as long as it excludes the really important desires".
I agree that law of attraction can probably help for certain types of development. But I will think about the question if there is indeed something about wanting to feel "more right" and better than others.
There is at least something about these self-help books for getting richer, more beautiful, more succesful etc by using quasi-spiritual approaches which has always irritated me - same with Christian groups promising that personal success is a sign for the love of God. Not sure, though, why I find that so irritating.

RE: An end
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4/1/16 4:53 AM as a reply to Caro.
Let us know how it holds up and how things continue to percolate and develop.

Nice job, whatever it is!

Daniel

RE: An end
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4/15/16 12:35 PM as a reply to Caro.
I just caught up with this thread. Congratulations, and good work! Things continue to shift afterwards, as others have said. And Ron is a great teacher. emoticon

RE: An end
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10/8/16 10:07 AM as a reply to Caro.
I felt that I wanted to add a kind of disclaimer to what I wrote a bit more than half a year ago. While it did reflect my experience back then, part of the text makes me cringe now. I stand by the view that it was a significant shift, but there was and still is quite a bit of subtle and at times not so subtle sense of self. And there is much room for further (Vipassana) practice - although my practice has lost some of the obsessive quality that was driving me before the spring. As with the sense of perception, everything else seems to have become much more spacious as well.

In case others are in a similar position, I just wanted to add this as an encouragement to not settle back too early and keep investigating to see if the mind is truly free. So far I can say that it´s very worth it.

RE: An end
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10/9/16 12:07 AM as a reply to Caro.
Hey Caro, thanks for sharing this last post.  I think I relate to what you descibe in your OP as what happened to me in July 2015.  There was a huge amount of relief and certain patterns simply dropped away.  But, as you said, it can be sort of "subtle."  I spent six months in purgatory before learning to work in other ways from a dude named Dhammarato.  Then two months ago something deeper opened for me that was much more "in your face" in terms of radically transforming walking around perception.  If you're interested, I wrote more here: http://noahsmonthlyupdate.blogspot.com/p/milestones.html

I don't think all the shifts need names and heirarchy, but its important that people know what is possible.  I think it can keep getting better and better, and there is no reason not to keep exploring.  This doesn't necessarily need to come from a place of craving or samsara, but can instead arise from joy and adventure.  I naively choose to believe that Buddhahood is a real thing that happens to humans who poop and curse, given the right tools, energy, etc. 

RE: An end
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10/19/16 10:46 PM as a reply to Noah D.
Thanks, Noah!
I had read your post on the latest changes for you and found it very intriguing. I had wanted to get back to you with some questions on this but have been too busy. will do so once things have settled down a bit.
Whilst I would personally avoid the concept of Buddhahood, I do believe that great freedom of the mind is achievable and with it lots of peace, happiness and opportunity to contribute to happiness in the world  - much more so than most people would imagine - and that this is very worthwhile to pursue emoticon