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Vipassana a bit heartess - Mixing practices?

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Vipassana a bit heartess - Mixing practices?
non-dual vipassana zen advaita
Answer
6/15/17 4:41 AM
For about three months I have been developing concentration through Shamatha and now I have recently started Vipassana style meditation following the Mahasi noting method. It has only been about a week and already I feel I am becoming dispassionate about the practice and from looking into other schools I feel Vipassana is (or can lean towards) more of a mechanical, heartless route to enlightenment vs. Zen or Advaita schools which I perceive as having more creativity/heart (which is why I am struggling with Vipassana, it's quite sterile in comparison).

I have always been drawn towards Advaita teachings and I feel more inclined to approach awakening (whether direct or gradual) from the side of luminosity/true self, though I find the lack of direction in terms of practice difficult for progressing. I was drawn to Vipassana as there is a 'path' and a method, but it feels a bit heartless. What should I do? Can I draw from all three of Vipassana, Zen and Advaita and will practicing 'noting', choiceless awareness and self-enquriy in tandem as part of my practice be less effective than knuckling down and persisting with only the Vipassana practice?

Many thanks.

RE: Vipassana a bit heartess - Mixing practices?
Answer
6/15/17 9:45 AM as a reply to Keep Calm.
My thoughts:
1. Each technique can be looked at as either mechanical or meaningful.
2. A technique without a path (attitude, intention, behavior mod, etc) is heartless 
3. Vipassana in its native environments is part of a path.
4. You may be wanting to switch techniques because vipassana has begun to trigger changes to your mind, behind the scenes & unbeknownst to you.  Switching techniques may interrupt this process if it is indeed happening. 

RE: Vipassana a bit heartess - Mixing practices?
Answer
6/15/17 10:32 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah D:
My thoughts:
1. Each technique can be looked at as either mechanical or meaningful.
2. A technique without a path (attitude, intention, behavior mod, etc) is heartless 
3. Vipassana in its native environments is part of a path.
4. You may be wanting to switch techniques because vipassana has begun to trigger changes to your mind, behind the scenes & unbeknownst to you.  Switching techniques may interrupt this process if it is indeed happening. 

Thankyou so much for this, when I look at  it from this perspective it changes things and in fact after doing some walking meditation earlier, the passion for the practice is coming back again, it seems to fluctuate like this...

And yes, (4), that is reassuring to know that perhaps this is a result of the practice and part of this I realise is my own impatience/desire to progress quickly or cross the A&P for example (and I know this desire will be a hindernace to progress)

Thank you!

RE: Vipassana a bit heartess - Mixing practices?
Answer
6/15/17 11:24 AM as a reply to Keep Calm.
You might find Kenneth Folk's three-speed model helpful, not necessarily to agree with it in detail, but to understand that different practices are not simply substitutes for each other. They work at different levels. Here's the link if you want to read more:

http://kennethfolkdharma.com/2009/07/the-three-speed-transmission/

RE: Vipassana a bit heartess - Mixing practices?
Answer
6/16/17 6:16 AM as a reply to Derek2.
You don't have to be locked in to one technique. For example, you could have a morning sit using one technique and an evening sit using another. Or, you could use one technique for 20 minutes during a sit and spend the last 20 minutes using another.

I do this all the time. Last night I spent approximately 10 minutes doing 1st gear using Kenneth Folk's 3 gear model and 30 minutes doing  shikantaza/ do nothing, Kenneth's 3nd gear.

RE: Vipassana a bit heartess - Mixing practices?
Answer
6/17/17 12:27 AM as a reply to Keep Calm.
One humble sugggestion: you can say a couple of Metta phrases at the end of your sit, it makes a world of a difference; and infuses emotional significance and meaning/context to the practice. I learnt this when switching to Chom Thong style of Mahasi practice.

So, when your sit is over:

May I be happy, free from suffering, free from animosity diseases and grief, free from troubles difficulties and dangers and look after myself with ease.

May ... be happy (Repeat above phrases for beings of your choice)

May all beings be happy, free from suffering, free from animosity, diseases and grief, free from troubles difficulties and dangers and look after themselves with ease.

Or you can choose your own phrases which feel heartfelt. Takes 2-3 minutes tops.

I've been the logical type my entire life and this may have seemed like sentimental nonsense a few years ago. But, the truth is it works and help greatly with my practice at least for me.

RE: Vipassana a bit heartess - Mixing practices?
Answer
6/18/17 9:25 AM as a reply to Keep Calm.
A simple technique I found invaluable for getting to Steam Entry: at the start of a sit, take a moment to be clear with yourself about what you are doing and why.

You can write something out to repeat every time, but I liked to question myself to really confront what I was hoping to achieve and why. For me usually went something along the lines of:

"I resolve to work hard to note each moment so that I can become free of ignorance in order to reduce the suffering of myself and all sentient beings"

RE: Vipassana a bit heartess - Mixing practices?
Answer
6/18/17 12:42 PM as a reply to Adam.
Thank you all for replying, I really appreciate your help,

Derek2 and Jack Hatfield, I've had a look at Kenneth Folk's three gear system and this has given me some freedom to move around/focus on a practice that suits me in particular moments/situations.

MettaForce and Adam, loving kindness cultivation and a resolution for why I'm doing this are also helping in brining in the passion to commit to practice and see the heart in it. I've just begun reading Jack Kornfield's A Path With Heart which has come along at just the right moment for me. It seems I have been quite soley focused on mindfulness without much concern for other aspects of the path. I am also noticing a pattern:

The imatience and frustration that arises towards the practice does come in cycles. There is a feeling of clarity/zest for life (brought about by the practice) then frustration/annoyance when these feeling subside and 'nothing' seems to be happening or that vipassana practice is boring etc (this may be a problem with focussing to much on the nanas and path models which then give me certain expectations which result in frustration?) and then there is acceptance before this cycle begins again.

I am wondering if this is a characteristic of the 1st VIpassana jhana (Mind and Body through to Three Characteristics) or whether I have indeed crossed the A&P and am cycling through a very mild Dark Night which ends in equiminity (the acceptance) and then cycles again... or perhaps as I've stated, my reliance on the nanas is a hinderance to progress? (not sure if I should have made a new thread for this!)

RE: Vipassana a bit heartess - Mixing practices?
Answer
6/18/17 11:18 PM as a reply to Keep Calm.

The imatience and frustration that arises towards the practice does come in cycles. There is a feeling of clarity/zest for life (brought about by the practice) then frustration/annoyance when these feeling subside and 'nothing' seems to be happening or that vipassana practice is boring etc (this may be a problem with focussing to much on the nanas and path models which then give me certain expectations which result in frustration?) and then there is acceptance before this cycle begins again.


Bingo!
You seem to have found a pattern in retrospect. Make sure you note the clarity/zest, frustration/annoyance and boredom in real time.

(this may be a problem with focussing to much on the nanas and path models which then give me certain expectations which result in frustration?) : Note "thinking thinking thinking" or "expecting expecting expecting". Cat's out of the bag. There is no self doing the thinking anyway.

One of the key lessons I got from my Stream Entry retreat was: the progress has not much to do with whether the mind is calm, peaceful or focussed at the moment. As long as you are noting your phenomonological reality at the moment (as it is); you are doing fine. Whether it is frustration, boredom, rage, loneliness, bliss, focus, confidence whatever.

RE: Vipassana a bit heartess - Mixing practices?
Answer
6/19/17 8:07 AM as a reply to Keep Calm.
 reliance on the nanas is a hinderance to progress?

Possibly.

The main benefit of knowing about nanas before Steam Entry is to see that ususual, difficult or powerful feelings  are actually part of a normal, predictable path in well-explored territory. It is useful to have a reference point and a reminder when caught up in emotions stirred up by Vipassana.

There is a potential benefit of using maps to guide practice, but this is actually quite difficult when you are also trying to self-diagnose, and has a lot of potential for confusion and counter-productive cognizing.

If you feel maps may be getting in your way, I'd advise putting them to the back of your mind and putting the majority of your effort into practicing regularly and with good technique.

RE: Vipassana a bit heartess - Mixing practices?
Answer
6/19/17 10:18 PM as a reply to Adam.
This is some great advice. It took me a couple of retreats to realise this. Then, I consciously decided to listen to the instructions of the teacher and follow them sincerely, and put Nana speculation in the back of my mind.

But, like I said the mind may continue to speculate; which is not a big deal. All you got to do is note promptly with no scruples eg. "Speculating"x3 or "Doubting"x3.

RE: Vipassana a bit heartess - Mixing practices?
Answer
6/20/17 3:22 PM as a reply to Adam.
This has been so helpful!

Adam -- 'putting them to the back of your mind and putting the majority of your effort into practicing regularly and with good technique' this is what ive started doing and it has a) moved me away from doubt/annoyance at 'nothing' happening and b) my determination/motivation has increased as a result, so thankyou for this emoticon))

Mettafore -- yep. ive been noting and realising when certain patterns are arising in the present and during meditation noting 'expectation' or 'judgment' as they arise and noting is starting to become a habit.

My practice is moving in an interesting direction and I think I am approaching A&P as sits have suddenly (comfortably) moved from 30 mins to 1hr, a sudden surge in motivation and piti is becoming more intense... also noticing cycling during the day. I have a few q's on this so should probably post a new thread!

Many thanks for all help emoticon

RE: Vipassana a bit heartess - Mixing practices?
Answer
6/20/17 3:43 PM as a reply to Keep Calm.
I recommend ardently to check the approach of BHANTE VIMALARAMSI.
He teaches a way to develop the heart in a very profound and systematic way through the jhanas to total enlightenment. His way of practice is wonderful and meditate is very delightful.I agree with you. I have been practicing this kind of dry vipassana many years and admit my heart is quite dry. In Vimalaramsi approach they say that in dry vipassana you will experience the stages of progress of insight but after complete the processes no real change in life happens...unlike his approach through jhanas.