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Some Thoughts On Not Dissociating

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Some Thoughts On Not Dissociating
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5/15/17 10:54 AM
IMO the dhamma has many things to offer to the training of the paramis that are not found in modern common sense, scientific materialism, psychology, etc.  The crux of this is the suffering must be met at the level in which it is created.  It is a really, really good idea to spend months and years investigating the immediate, sensory level of phenomena.  This first takes place at the attention/vipassana spectrum and later in the awareness spectrum.  This can also lead to dissociating.

Chains of causality give rise to objects at coarser levels than that of phenomenology: things like thoughts, emotions and worldviews.  There are lots and lots of useful techniques in the pali canon which can be relentlessly applied in the same way that a noting or awareness technique would be.  It is possible to dissociate using noting and awareness techniques by looking only through the lens of qualia (the basic or fundamental perceptual elements which make up phenomena).  In contrast, it is also possible to meet thought at the level of thought, emotion at the level of emotion, same for behavior, paradigm, etc.

It is not just that things are fundamentally or ulimately shitty.  It is also that they are relatively or coarsely shitty.  Detachment from emotion must take place at the level of emotion.  Likewise for the others.  IME the key to renunciation is that nothing is given up without promising the subconscious mind that something much better will be returned in it's place.  Lust is not to be given up without the knowing that psychoemotional healing + rigpa + life skills is actually better than sex.  Gluttony is not to be sacrificed without direct comprehension of the fact that freedom from gluttony is like the best cheeseburger you've ever had, but all the time.

Moderation, balance and a supramundane interpretation of the pali canon are necessary here.  Rules and precepts and dogma are simply templates that have allowed the truth of what works to be passed down through generations.  That truth involves much more flexibility than the "action models" or "emotion models" or "perception models" of enlightenment described in MCTB.  The freedom of flow and adaptation and resilience involves working within conditions, but in a completely lucid inner state.  That means that sometimes sex and cheeseburgers are necessary.  Yet the internal world need not engage with them.  And if it does, the internal world need not continuously engage with them.

Exactly when a 10 fetter path shift occurs seems like a pointless rabbit hole to me.  At some point it will be "good enough."  If one seems to uncover another pocket of psychodynamics, somatic tension, etc that would seem to disqualify them from their previously assumed 10 fetter location, the attitude is simply "never mind, start again."  Even the 10 fetter paths are a template that has been used to pass down the mercurial core of the dhamma.  The mistake I notice is that people dismiss them entirely as impossible and unrealistic.  Not so, with the right training.


Thoughts?

RE: Some Thoughts On Not Dissociating
Answer
5/15/17 9:34 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Also, this topic arises in my mind when I hear people assume that going through the progress of insight will uproot fetters.  A cessation that causes psychotherapuetic side effects is not the same thing as a 10 fetter attainment.  Many people who already have a decent amount of internal coping mechanisms and external healthy habits experience incredible transformation at levels other than perception after their first cessation.  They assume this to be 10 fetter stream entry.

While it does not matter what things are called, it can be good to maintain high standards for attainments and communicate in a clear manner.  Therefore, I would posit that it is likely not possible to attain any fetter-uprooting effects without proper renunciation habits built over years.  These habits would necessarily include psychotherapy as well sensory withdrawal at the level in which objects occur.  

Meaning, not simply vipassanizing or awareness-izing emotions as they come in, but purposely refraining from that lens and allowing the emotions to feel bad.  Than looking at them from the ordinary mind speed and saying "okay, this is shitty, but I can deal with it."  Over the months and years, this reasoning progresses as the paradigm widens.  Eventually one sees that they can engage in the world completely, loving other humans beings and feeling connected, yet not mistaking emotions for solid objects which need to cause pain at the relative level.  It is a slow, but real progression.  The point is that negative emotions, thoughts and behaviors do actually slowly dissappear if this is outcome is consciously optimized for.  They do not get wiped away in an instant by insight experiences -- at least not in a deep, pervasive and reliable sense connotated by the classic descriptions of enlightenment.

RE: Some Thoughts On Not Dissociating
Answer
5/15/17 12:46 PM as a reply to Noah D.
Interesting thoughts!
I guess the fundamental, fast and frequently change of mind states in a consequent meditation practice can sometimes cause the feeling of dissociation. And besides, as you said, seeing phenomena through the "vipassana lense" cuts their relativity to their place in the world. For me, feelings and thoughts in their substance give us directions and movements in life, whereas insights show us the directionlessness (is that a real word? emoticon ) of anything. There's definitively a difference between experiencing a feeling in the movement, without control, as reacting subject and just looking at it from an transcendental view point. Speaking about your world is not your world and will in addition even change it. It is said, that when the clinging ends, the suffering will end and I see that as possibility for every human situation. Even the clinging to perceive phenomena vipassan style or somehow spiritual will cause unnecessary suffering. But dharma and experiencing phenomena "in the movement", "in its core" don't have to be contradictory to each other. Quite the contrary, I see progress in practice where you loose clinging to every factor of your experience. Eating a chesseburger and being ashamed about it, sitting and watching the breath, having a blackout while drinking vodka, seeing mind, seeing no mind - no clinging, no problem emoticon
The problems you describe remind me a little of Jack Kornfields view that there is a huge step from practicing dharma to really living it.

I hope I did get you right here, English is unfortunately not my (philosophical) mother tongue

RE: Some Thoughts On Not Dissociating
Answer
5/15/17 4:14 PM as a reply to Noah D.
After a year and change, I am actually starting to get you Pawel. Thanks for your post.

RE: Some Thoughts On Not Dissociating
Answer
5/17/17 10:06 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah D:

Meaning, not simply vipassanizing or awareness-izing emotions as they come in, but purposely refraining from that lens and allowing the emotions to feel bad.  Than looking at them from the ordinary mind speed and saying "okay, this is shitty, but I can deal with it."  Over the months and years, this reasoning progresses as the paradigm widens.  Eventually one sees that they can engage in the world completely, loving other humans beings and feeling connected, yet not mistaking emotions for solid objects which need to cause pain at the relative level.  It is a slow, but real progression.  The point is that negative emotions, thoughts and behaviors do actually slowly dissappear if this is outcome is consciously optimized for.  They do not get wiped away in an instant by insight experiences -- at least not in a deep, pervasive and reliable sense connotated by the classic descriptions of enlightenment.
Thank you for expressing this in this way. It makes immediate sense to me.

I've resolved to devote my "retreat time" in 2017 to doing things at the relative level. For example, instead of spending 9 days doing a meditation retreat, I'll do a Radical Honesty retreat during that time instead. (http://radicalhonesty.com) That's what I need right now — precisely to go through that "Okay, this is shitty, but I can deal with it" situation. Clearly, just going on retreat after retreat and "trying" in the in-between time to live "better" isn't the right approach...

RE: Some Thoughts On Not Dissociating
Answer
5/17/17 10:55 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Yeah I get confused. Buddhists renounce cravings whilst simultaneously expounding how super-pleasurable it is to do things mindfully.

RE: Some Thoughts On Not Dissociating
Answer
5/18/17 1:00 PM as a reply to Stick Man.
It's less confusing if you can see experientially that sense pleasure is different from clinging to/craving for sense pleasure. Likewise unpleasent sensations are different from resistance/aversion to complete experience of unpleasent sensations. Likewise boredom etc in relation to neutral sensations is different from neutral sensations.

Raw pleasent, unpleasent and neutral sensations are different from our reactions to and interpretations of them that we cook up.

Practice in my experience produces insights into this relationship to and interpretation of experience by unearthing implicit paradigms of solidity/substantiality/lastingness of subjects and objects and by viscerally debunking those implicit paradigms. You end up with more raw sensations clumping into impermanent phenomena and dissolving and less cooked reactivity. (ETA: once these implicit paradigms become explicit, there's also a lot to learn about how we employ naive strategies to reduce suffering which are based on the assumed correctness of these paradigms. For example, if things are solid and lasting and subjects are stable, then a viable strategy for happiness would be to arrange inner and outer experience such that we maximize pleasent things and minimize unpleasent things. Obviously this works to a point and also reflects natural biological realities to some extent. But it's still fundamentally flawed and causes suffering. Our suffering causing patterns are our attempts to manage suffering! Funny huh? But debunking these paradigms doesn't leave us drifting, unable to differentiate between pleasure and pain, unable to enjoy sense pleasures, unable to drop a hot coal because 'pain is impermanent'.)

Raw/cooked in this context is really just a pragmatic pointer, it's not intended as a metaphysical statement, or even a phenomenological one.