Reflecting on my recent meditation

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Daniel Johnson, modified 11 Years ago.

Reflecting on my recent meditation

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
I just spent three days last week at home on self-retreat. I think by the last day I made it back to the Equanimity nyana - which seems to me to have the most notable characteristic of nothing really seems to be a problem anymore. I'm not sure if that fits for anyone else, but for me, Equanimity nyana doesn't necessarily seem any different from anything else in life, and at times even quite ordinary... except that nothing can possibly be a problem. Even "problems" aren't a problem.

Now, after a couple days back at work, I feel pretty well sunk back into misery and despair - back into the Dark Night? I guess. All this stages of insight stuff still seems very unclear to me.

Basically, during my three day retreat, I spent a lot of time working with the advice I got here.

One thing I was trying to practice was from tarin:
"Go on to stream entry quickly."
So, I would just instruct myself to do that. And, it was maybe almost like a koan or something, because it would really just fuck with my mind because I have no idea how to do that. I can't for the life of me understand what that means to "go on to stream entry quickly." But, I would just tell my mind "do it anyway." And, this led to lots and lots of inner torment, pain, anguish, screaming, feeling very fucked up in lots of ways. Lots of trying to do it in different ways, like all sorts of attempts to do it that all seem to have failed. Just kept going, kept going, kept going. I did pretty much everything except "go on to stream entry quickly." So, I guess in some sense that makes me a really shitty student? Since the one thing I didn't do was follow the instructions. But, I kept giving the instruction to myself anyway. So, I apologize for being a shitty student. I can't say I have any excuse for that - which sucks.

Then, I tried what Daniel I. suggested here:
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/531350#_19_message_614695

And, I tried to "engage with the paragraphs deeply" again and again. I must have read them very slowly at least ten times, and sat with them really trying to understand them. I must say that I didn't not come to any real understanding of their meaning. So, again, I'm sorry for being very dumb.

I tried practicing a lot with what he said: "Resolve, resolve, resolve with everything you have to get stream entry. Do this again and again. Incline your mind however best you can to that again and again without restraint."
And, this was basically the same practice as what I said above. I did it mostly in the same way and in combination with "Go on to stream entry quickly."

I did start to understand a little what Daniel might have meant by "Equanimity can handle it" because by the third day, like i mentioned I reached a rather unproblematic state of mind (11th nana?)... and then equanimity could handle it. Like I could just put the pressure on as hard as I possibly could... super intense with "Resolve Resolve Resolve"... sometimes even yelling it to myself out loud. And, still it didn't seem to really become problematic. So, maybe that's what he meant by that.

I cried and screamed and fought and clawed my way to remain keep going. I looked inward, I listened deepy, I questioned everything. I gave everything I had. I feel like I've been fighting for my life for the last two years. I've been fighting and clawing and destroying, and pushing, and yearning, and longing, and wanting, and all that. In fact, maybe for about ten years, I've been really fighting for this, and pushing for it, in mostly misery for the last ten years. Lots of pain and lots of struggle.

Is this right? Is this the point of my life, just this misery and suffering?

Am I still not putting in enough effort? After ten years? Should I like plug electrodes to my balls or something?

I went to a Satsang last night in Santa Cruz with Mokshananda who was really surprisingly good. I asked him about the nameless longing that seems to burn at me.

He suggested to hold the paradox of always being and always becoming, of being here and longing for more, to hold that paradox and to realize what was even more immediate than being or becoming. And, it's like... ok... that sounds like what everyone else is saying. Realize what's even more immediate than any of the dualities. To realize Nirvana, The Absolute, or whatever. And, it's just like, why do I even ask questions, if everyone just gives me the same damn riddle.

I mean, overall, I'd have to say that I'm making lots of progress. In the sense, that I keep uncovering beliefs and illusions that are obscuring the truth, etc. I seem to be dissolving patterns of ego. There's progress. But, then why does it take some people just a few months or days to do all this. How many more years of this insane struggle of gaining very profound insights have to go on?

This is all so weird and frustrating. And, I don't even know what I'm trying to say, but I'm just trying to say it anyway. If this doesn't make sense, just ignore it.

Thanks
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tarin greco, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Reflecting on my recent meditation

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Daniel Johnson:
And, it's just like, why do I even ask questions, if everyone just gives me the same damn riddle.


ha.. yeah, why bother, if all that's gonna keep showing up again and again is the same ol' reality, over and over...

same damn riddle...

tarin
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Daniel Johnson, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Reflecting on my recent meditation

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
hm.. painful
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tarin greco, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Reflecting on my recent meditation

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Daniel Johnson:
hm.. painful


the three characteristics are actually all the same. it's only the same damn riddle all over again.
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Daniel Johnson, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Reflecting on my recent meditation

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
the three characteristics are actually all the same. it's only the same damn riddle all over again.


hmm...
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Nikolai S Halay, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Reflecting on my recent meditation

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Hi Daniel,

Sorry you are having a hard time or so it seems from your posts. May I ask, what is your main vipassana practice? Is it the Goenka sweeping method or the mahasi noting technique? What exactly are you doing when you sit?

Metta,

Nick

Add me to facebook. Same name!
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Daniel Johnson, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Reflecting on my recent meditation

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
Nikolai S Halay:
Sorry you are having a hard time or so it seems from your posts. May I ask, what is your main vipassana practice? Is it the Goenka sweeping method or the mahasi noting technique? What exactly are you doing when you sit?


Thanks for your compassionate response. I'm not really sure if I'm having a hard time or not, but I appreciate the sentiment.

I guess I don't really have a "main" vipassana practice. And, the only thing I can say for sure right now is that when I'm sitting, I'm sitting. I'm not trying to be weird or anything, but that's what's coming to mind right now.

- Daniel
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Bruno Loff, modified 11 Years ago.

Ease up!

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Hello Daniel,

I'm sorry to hear you are still dark nighting so bad.

Well, you have tried really "going for it," pushing hard all the way, etc, kind of advice, and that didn't seem to get it done, so why not try something else instead?

It is not a coincidence that every meditative practice (I know of) regarding enlightenment talks about surrendering. In MCTB, surrendering is the crucial moment when dark night turns to equanimity. More to the point, there is a kind of "trying really hard" which goes completely in the opposite direction from where you want to go.

If your "trying hard" feels like painful tension, rather than just persistent effort, if you feel that when you try hard, you really "push yourself" or some such, then it might be that you are trying the wrong kind of hard. The kind of trying hard that causes tension in the middle of your brain.



In This Picture, the small dot in the middle of the two cones is the ajna chakra. From what I could figure out, this area seems to work as a sort of "router," which takes in some input, and directs it into various parts of the brain, maybe filtering some of it, adding some content here and there, etc.

You could try the following:

1) instead of pushing hard, since this didn't seem to work, ease up. I don't mean "accept yourself" or any sort of pseudo psychological crap, I just mean that your attempts at solving what is wrong should not involve strain. I have done this recently while trying to move forward towards second path, and it really caused me to progress further; it got me from dark night into equanimity.

2) in each meditation session, pay attention to the ajna chakra and the ajna complex in general. There should be pulsing, there should be pain, pressure, tension, etc going on there. You might feel that this is where "you," the observer, is, this is where thoughts are made to seem like "your thoughts," and this is the place that causes you to space out at least some of the time, it is the place that causes you to react with craving and aversion, which are forms of tension... this is where "you try really hard," and in fact you might just be causing more pain and tension in this area in this area when you strain to get anything.

3) if there is pulsing, follow each pulse with a soft focus, if there is pain, apply a soft focus to it, avoiding distraction as much as you can, but without getting angry or tensing up in any way when you get distracted. If you do get angry, notice where it comes from, and proceed with your soft focus. Also, don't meditate a lot, twenty minutes of soft focus, followed by 10 minutes of rest and relaxation, two, maximum three times per day, is enough. This technique aims at dissolving the tension in this area slowly, so give it a few weeks. Hopefully you'll get into equanimity and feel some relief, then you can decide what to do. Now,:

4) Stream entry happens (or at least it did for me) when that area completely relaxes for the first time (in your life), causing the tension there to permanently dissolve somewhat (and stuff can finally flow into the crown and mid-eyebrow point, and then down through the chest). Releasing this tension is "fruition," and is what "going for stream entry" is all about. Now you know what it is, it shouldn't be a "mystery" any longer, and you know what you are striving (not straining) for. Stream entry releases tension in this area, and will feel like giving up, not a "(*crying*) fuck it I give up" (that is what happens from dark night into equanimity), but more like a "Hmm, I'm sooo relaxed and OK with everything!... *blip*"

These are my four cents emoticon

Shit sucks, I hope you get better from all the shit. Some cyber-hugs going your way...

Bruno

PS. Notice that Daniel describes stream entry somewhat differently (as "conformity," complete acceptance), but you might find the pattern everywhere in meditation culture: some people are prone to describe things as psychological states, some people (like me) find it easier to describe the corresponding sensations of energy along the body. Some people, like Tarin and Nikolay, are good at doing both.
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Daniel Johnson, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Ease up!

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
Thanks Bruno for the detailed description. I like the whole ease up thing, and I'm not sure how many of my posts you've read in the past. I spent fifty days in retreat completely surrendered, chillin in equanimity, relaxing, etc. It was great, very enjoyable and all.

But, fifty days and no stream entry. And, I was already hitting equanimity for a few months even before that. I was soooo eased up, man. It was awesome. I'd go swim in the lake, and lie down and listen to the Dharma talk, and life was real good and real chill.

Even now, it's really awesome. I mean, I know I'm writing in sorta a crazy tone, but actually, there's another part of me that's sorta laughing on the inside, like "whoa! this is crazy! Look at all this stuff that's coming out of me." I mean, that's why I say I'm not really sure if I'm having a hard time or not. Like, there's lots of dukkha, and lots of striving, and craziness, and despair, but it's also like.... well, whatever, it's not like I just want to sit around waiting for my brain to relax. It's not so much like the Dark Night, like I'm still going to work and joking with people and bantering and eating good food and enjoying myself.

I'm not saying it to argue or anything though. This is all really confusing for me. Maybe that's what I should do is just chill out, after all, that was my plan anyway... until tarin suggested the possibility of "going on to stream entry quickly" I figured, well, if it's gonna take a few months or few years to hit stream entry by this relaxation method, why not try this "do it quickly method" for a little while first at least and check it out - see if it doesn't work. It's been interesting, and if anything maybe it has quickened my progress by a tiny bit.

It really doesn't feel like I'm trying hard in some way. It feels kinda fun. That's why I keep saying that I'm so confused. Because I'm totally suffering, but somehow I'm totally loving the adventure or something like that. It's really weird. But, yeah, there's also a lot of me trying hard too. Like, there's also just this noting "try hard, try hard, striving, striving, suffering, suffering, peace, peace, suffering, etc." going on in the background too. There's a lot going on in there.

I'm not trying to be stupid or weird or not follow instructions or anything. Like, I don't think there is any malice in my intent here. I'm not really sure what I'm doing. I don't even really know what it is that I want, or where I'm going. It's a little strange.

Anyway, I just tried a minute or two of relaxing my middle of head, and that felt nice, very peaceful. I could definitely do more of that.

Do you think you could maybe say something about what you think regarding relaxing, surrendering vs. wanting it and resolving with everything you have. I mean, i guess the easy answer is to resolve to relax and surrender with everything you have. And, also making quick process vs. allowing the conditions to mature in their own natural time?

Anyway, thanks for the thoughts.
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Bruno Loff, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Ease up!

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Daniel Johnson:

Do you think you could maybe say something about what you think regarding relaxing, surrendering vs. wanting it and resolving with everything you have. I mean, i guess the easy answer is to resolve to relax and surrender with everything you have. And, also making quick process vs. allowing the conditions to mature in their own natural time?


Yes, the easy answer is the right answer. Relaxing and surrendering is not at all incompatible with resolving with everything you have. What is incompatible is relaxation and strain. For instance, when I decide to cultivate a relaxed form of alert attention, then I can't do it by straining my focus onto the meditation object. I do it by persistently, patiently, and immediately, but gently, kindly and relaxedly returning my focus to the object of meditation every time my mind wanders off. Thus I "give it all I got" in while being "relaxed," which is part of the exercise.

So it is just a matter of "just doing it" instead of "straining to do it." In fact, straining is just another layer of shit that we habitually add to experience when it doesn't happen the way we want it to. It turns out that this straining is the actual source of suffering, rather than (say, sensory) experience itself.

Bruno
Pavel Oulik, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Ease up!

Posts: 88 Join Date: 1/20/10 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
Yes, the easy answer is the right answer. Relaxing and surrendering is not at all incompatible with resolving with everything you have. What is incompatible is relaxation and strain. For instance, when I decide to cultivate a relaxed form of alert attention, then I can't do it by straining my focus onto the meditation object. I do it by persistently, patiently, and immediately, but gently, kindly and relaxedly returning my focus to the object of meditation every time my mind wanders off. Thus I "give it all I got" in while being "relaxed," which is part of the exercise.

So it is just a matter of "just doing it" instead of "straining to do it." In fact, straining is just another layer of shit that we habitually add to experience when it doesn't happen the way we want it to. It turns out that this straining is the actual source of suffering, rather than (say, sensory) experience itself.


Thats probably the best answer that I have ever seen, perfect (I love all the stuff that you have been writing recently, keep it coming!).

Also, earlier on it is very difficult to see things as they are (which is both the aim and the method of practice) so a certain amount of force is necessary to push the lazy and innacurate perception into activity, the activity then makes it clear that the three characteristics apply to all sensate phenomena. Later on the force itself can become an object of investigation, as all the grasping and avoidance that result are to be found in moment-to-moment experience and lead to the realization of the suffering characteristic. With the practice developing further it becomes possible to simply surrender to experience as it is and to notice that the fundamental characteristics (or knowledge of experience as it is) are simply there moment-to-moment and that any form of activity, action, or struggle make it harder to notice how it is, unless they too become an object of meditation, in which case they are seen to be the same as all other phenomena. In other words, the attitude of force or surrender are both valuable at different times but at the end it all falls down to paying attention to whatever is there at that particular moment. I am not certain whether what I wrote is a generalization that applies to other people too, or whether it only reflects how my practice has developed.

Daniel Johnson:
So, I would just instruct myself to do that. And, it was maybe almost like a koan or something, because it would really just fuck with my mind because I have no idea how to do that. I can't for the life of me understand what that means to "go on to stream entry quickly." But, I would just tell my mind "do it anyway." And, this led to lots and lots of inner torment, pain, anguish, screaming, feeling very fucked up in lots of ways.


Formal resolve has very little to do with actual practice instructions and more to do with strong intention. Why are you meditating? What are you trying to achieve? Your intention will reflect in your practice and colour/impact the results. Its helpful to say your aims to yourself before the sit and to find out whether there is any resistance to what you have set out to do (as in, if you experience a lot of inner torment, anguish and pain from having an intention like this, perhaps you should change your intention to one that you truly believe in or learn how to make such an intention heart-felt and genuine, as anything that is heart-felt/genuine/kind/well-intentioned generally does not result in these reactions). Wishing for something that has no meaning to you (stream entry) must be quite confusing, but if you give it the meaning of ending this cycle of insight and moving on to new territory (as well as leaving some rubbish behind) then perhaps it will be less so. Also, stream entry simply happens of its own accord when practice is being done well (whatever that means in your case).

I remember listening to an interview with Adyashanti on Buddhist Geeks where he was talking about being around meditators who have been practicing for 30 years who were happy enough with never becoming enlightened. He noted that (while worthy of respect) this simply wasnt good enough for him, which may have played a role in him becoming enlightened. I like this story. Not all grasping is pathological or leads to suffering, how could we live without aims?

David A.:
But if you end up twisting yourself into extremely painful knots and establishing unhealthy mental and emotional patterns, then you must accept responsibility for that. It's your body and your mind, hence it's your decision.


Thanks for this one, David. I guess that there are as many approaches to Dharma as there are people practicing it. The more I try to write about it the more it becomes evident that the only kind of commentary I am capable of writing is based on my own experience and may or may not be applicable to other people. So taking responsibility for your own practice is wonderful advice (especially given that there is a lot of mildly to severely conflicting advice flying around :-) ).
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Daniel Johnson, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Ease up!

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
Thanks Pavel,

Pavel:
Formal resolve has very little to do with actual practice instructions and more to do with strong intention. Why are you meditating? What are you trying to achieve? Your intention will reflect in your practice and colour/impact the results. Its helpful to say your aims to yourself before the sit and to find out whether there is any resistance to what you have set out to do (as in, if you experience a lot of inner torment, anguish and pain from having an intention like this, perhaps you should change your intention to one that you truly believe in or learn how to make such an intention heart-felt and genuine, as anything that is heart-felt/genuine/kind/well-intentioned generally does not result in these reactions). Wishing for something that has no meaning to you (stream entry) must be quite confusing, but if you give it the meaning of ending this cycle of insight and moving on to new territory (as well as leaving some rubbish behind) then perhaps it will be less so. Also, stream entry simply happens of its own accord when practice is being done well (whatever that means in your case).


This has been tough for me, as I really don't find it helpful to say my aims before the sit. I find that everytime I say my aims before my sit... the Universe says back to me "Oh, no, boy... it ain't like that!" and then proceeds to show me everything insane about the aims I just set forth.

I have no idea why I'm meditating. I have nothing that I'm trying to achieve. I don't even know why I'm here right now writing this. It's fucking insane, all of it. It's not like I was just chillin up in the clouds and then one day I said "I want to be a human being named Daniel, and I want to come down to Earth and be all weird and contracted with strange delusions, and then I'll be able to meditate my way out of it just to realize the same damn thing that I already know as I sit here in these clouds." ...Or who knows... maybe I did say that.

Going the "why" route, or the "goal" route don't seem to work for me as my mind just destroys everything in it's path that looks like it's built in a house of logic. If my goal sounds logical and rational, it'll be the first thing my mind goes after to tear down. So, I think I found a trick, though... a completely irrational goal: "go on to stream entry quickly"... that's why I said it's like a koan. It makes no sense. I don't even want it. I don't even care what it is or why I'm going for it. But, somehow it's captured my attention in a way that I can't seem to ignore it.

Pavel:
I remember listening to an interview with Adyashanti on Buddhist Geeks where he was talking about being around meditators who have been practicing for 30 years who were happy enough with never becoming enlightened. He noted that (while worthy of respect) this simply wasnt good enough for him, which may have played a role in him becoming enlightened. I like this story. Not all grasping is pathological or leads to suffering, how could we live without aims?


I know the story, and I think it's a good example of what I'm trying to ask about/talk about, but finding myself unable to describe.

Thanks again,

Daniel

By the way... does any of all the stuff I just wrote make sense?
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Bruno Loff, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Ease up!

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
A lot of it makes sense, you are writing in a somewhat calmer style and with distinct friendlyness, but there are parts which feel like coming from a place of anguish. I have periods when I thought more-or-less like you were writing, especially during dark night. And when I look back at those periods --- and one must look back, as a reasonable perspective is hard to come by from inside the shit hole --- it becomes rather obvious how all the issues arose from pain and discomfort. (I'm only suggesting this might be the case with you, because it was the case with me, I don't presume to psychoanalyze you or something...) When I have none or less pain, then I have no such dilemas, I think more clearly, life is simpler, and more fun.

Overall you do seem to be in the equanimity ñana --- since that is also the case with me, we could try to meditate together one of these days, you tell me how it is for you, I tell you how it is for me, and we compare notes... If you feel like doing that, my skype name is bruno.loff .

Anyway, I hope you find what you're looking for emoticon
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Daniel Johnson, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Ease up!

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
A lot of it makes sense, you are writing in a somewhat calmer style and with distinct friendlyness, but there are parts which feel like coming from a place of anguish. I have periods when I thought more-or-less like you were writing, especially during dark night. And when I look back at those periods --- and one must look back, as a reasonable perspective is hard to come by from inside the shit hole --- it becomes rather obvious how all the issues arose from pain and discomfort. (I'm only suggesting this might be the case with you, because it was the case with me, I don't presume to psychoanalyze you or something...) When I have none or less pain, then I have no such dilemas, I think more clearly, life is simpler, and more fun.


Thanks Bruno, I found your email itself calming and grounding. I have had that experience too of popping out the other end and thinking "oh, what the fuck were all those issues about?"

I really didn't notice I was writing without friendliness before. I really was just trying to express my experience and wasn't harboring any animosity. I specifically didn't write any of this on my blog or to friends, etc... as I suspected there might be dark night bleed through and figured this was the best place to let it bleed through as it's actually an important part of the process here. But, sorry if it splattered on anyone - that wasn't my intent.

The meditate together thing sounds cool, maybe when my daily responsibility "sila" life calms down a bit (next week).
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Bruno Loff, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Ease up!

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
(just to emphasize, it wasn't that you were unfriendly or anything, it was more like the subject of your emails was mostly bitching; which I of all people can certainly not condemn, I lost track of the times I have bitched on this forum and on KFD emoticon, it is a good place to bleed through as everyone here understand what you're going through; but I do notice that when I'm out of these periods my posts will be less bitchy and less about myself)
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Jeffrey S, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Ease up!

Posts: 21 Join Date: 6/28/10 Recent Posts
Hey Daniel,
I'm rooting for you. It's definitely possible if you go for it (I'm using the proverbial 'it' here).

There's this sense of hopelessness or forfeit, right? Nothing seems to give you an answer, nothing is working, you're wasting your time? I'm not sure what words are best to describe the sense of... you know what I mean.

Is there anything actually wrong or painful with those sensations? I'm talking about not finding anything outside as satisfying. If you give into it then, sure, you won't be getting any outside gratification anytime soon. But, isn't it okay to feel the lack of satisfaction from the outside inside of you? Isn't that inner sensation of never finding outside gratification itself just a little bit peaceful? Especially as opposed to some little black thoughts that keep on going out to the world and keep coming back to this feeling anyway?

These feelings might feel like they're pointing to the center of you. There may be a sense of inner space which has so far been subtly rejected. If the feelings are still there (and they might have passed on) then, hey, look closely.

This may be the peace you are looking for (at least temporarily) even if you have to give up the old ways of listening to those black thoughts that insist that feeling spacious hopelessness isn't going to solve your problems.

And the point is to become 'one' with those peaceful sensations of hopelessness or "I can never find anything outside as permanent satisfaction", not to possess it. Don't possess it, sink into it like a hotel spa. Understand it, relax into it... Just for one moment let your guard down utterly, completely.
David A, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Ease up!

Posts: 27 Join Date: 10/10/09 Recent Posts
Pavel O.:

Thanks for this one, David. I guess that there are as many approaches to Dharma as there are people practicing it. The more I try to write about it the more it becomes evident that the only kind of commentary I am capable of writing is based on my own experience and may or may not be applicable to other people. So taking responsibility for your own practice is wonderful advice (especially given that there is a lot of mildly to severely conflicting advice flying around :-) ).


I'm glad that you did decide to share your experiences and commentary. I've found your accounts helpful.

Generally speaking I think getting help and guidance from knowledgeable others is invaluable. But yes, I do think the personal responsibility aspect can be very important, particularly when it comes to teachings and exchanges on the Internet. They can be very helpful (there are a lot of posts in this thread in fact that I think give good suggestions), but I think it sometimes pays to proceed with great care, both on the part of the advisor and the advisee.
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Daniel Johnson, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Ease up!

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
Yes, the easy answer is the right answer.

Oh, but if only it were that simple. Freedom here and now is the right answer, everything else is just side steps. I can see the value of resolving to relax fully. But, now I'm also really feeling the value of relaxing (and concentrating) right into the center of the resolve. Or, relaxing to resolve fully.

Bruno Loff:
Relaxing and surrendering is not at all incompatible with resolving with everything you have. What is incompatible is relaxation and strain. For instance, when I decide to cultivate a relaxed form of alert attention, then I can't do it by straining my focus onto the meditation object. I do it by persistently, patiently, and immediately, but gently, kindly and relaxedly returning my focus to the object of meditation every time my mind wanders off. Thus I "give it all I got" in while being "relaxed," which is part of the exercise.

Although I get what you're saying, it seems maybe relaxation and strain could be compatible... for instance, I can relax in a very strained way, and I can strain in a very relaxed way. What seems incompatible is being an ego and being free (which strangely seems like your "eat your cake and have it to" post). But, what I mean is that to have the ego contraction (ie. strain) and to drop into extinction would be incompatible... while also to to have an ego thickening or dullness (ie. lack of effort) and to drop into extinction would also be incompatible. Or at least, so I see it. Then again, I could be talking out of my ass.

Bruno Loff:
So it is just a matter of "just doing it" instead of "straining to do it."

Which is exactly what I spend three days working on. My instructions were myself were "go on to stream entry quickly"... not "strain to go on..."

Anyway, I've tried the relaxing the center of the head thing and I think it helped a lot. As you may be able to see by my posts here that my words have regained some clarity. Or at least, I feel more clarity from having done that relax the center of the head thing. And, at least the symptoms of confusion have cleared up some for now.
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Jeffrey S, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Ease up!

Posts: 21 Join Date: 6/28/10 Recent Posts
Concentrate! Concentrate, Concentrate, Concentrate!

I agree with the idea of following your gut feelings, but sometimes its possible to have someone point out your gut feelings for you : P. If you ever feel the gut instinct to go for deep concentration (as a means to escape or whatever other reason), do it! I was in an identical situation as you and I completely relate to your description of equanimity while still being in dark night. The last two months before I got stream entry I followed some advice I read on Kenneth Folks website that said that after the A&P event one has all the penetration power one needs. One just needs to concentrate to raise through all the jhanas. In other words, from then on it's just a matter of concentration (which is simultaneously relaxing. After all, concentration requires you to work through your feelings of unease before you can go too deeply).

For the two months before I got stream entry I did pure concentration meditation and I was able to maintain equanimity. The last two nights before stream entry I would fall asleep in a state of high concentration (which I would highly recommend. It worked wonders sometimes.). I would reach highly concentrated stages which I had never known before in my life by focusing on my thumb and forefinger of each hand being pinched together as I would fall asleep. Then the morning I got stream entry I was experiencing myself in an out-of-body way and I found that if I concentrated in a certain way that I could maintain it. I maintained that for an hour, made hard resolutions to be aware of my intentions as they happened (which was intuitive), and then later went into a deep, deep meditation. I was practically asleep. Then, at 9:08 in the morning, I snapped awake, looked around, and nothing has been the same. I've been experiencing fruitions ever since. My year of mahasai noting before my concentration practices didn't seem to do anything once I was in equanimity.

To push a point home, all these problems that are bothering you will need to be worked past in order to go into a deep concentration practice, and deep concentration in any form is probably closer to stream entry than thinking things. I don't see how it could work against you, although I hold back (very) slightly because life can play tricks on you sometimes.


Also, as a small side note: It seems among me and my friends that there is a kind of darknight involved with Equanimity. One ends up doing a smaller cycle of insight inside the scope of the 11th nana, so be prepared for that. That includes a mini Re-Observation that requires some degree of resolution of one kind or another to get through (whether you resolve to surrender or be present or whatever depends on your state of mind at the time). Keep that in mind.
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Dark Night Yogi, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Ease up!

Posts: 138 Join Date: 8/25/09 Recent Posts
If part of you is angry and resentful at this current approach you are taking of "going for stream entry" as swiftly as possible in this imbalanced way (I suspect this is the case), then I suggest you pause and re-evaluate. Find a way of practice that resonates with you emotionally. If you keep going the way you are going it will be insincere and conflicted and thus in my opinion limited in effectiveness. I am getting an impression that a subconscious part of you is waiting for outside affirmation (or perhaps even approval) to relax and to cease the relentless pushing, forcing effort. I suggest you don't wait for that. You have to decide for yourself if you need to roll back the throttle.



Nicely said!!

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Great article by Daniel I. on the 7 factors! That was also something that was a lot in my mind during these times trying to attain 1st and 2nd paths. I would reflect on them before and sometimes in the middle of sits to see what im lacking. I think the weakest with me was faith. When I reflected on my lack of faith, it could trigger alot of easing up and letting go, really sweeping me off my feet.

7 Factors of Enlightenment (bojjhanga)
Mindfulness
Investigation of Phenomena
Energy
Rapture (piti)
Tranquility
Concentration
Equanimity

5 Faculties (indriya) [same as 5 Strengths (bala)]
Faith (saddha)
Energy (viriya)
Mindfulness (sati)
Concentration (samadhi)
Wisdom (pañña)

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Question: Are you able to experience in your meditation seeing 'formations' (when the sense doors seem to merge)
I think that this is an indicator that you're getting close..
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Daniel Johnson, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Ease up!

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
Question: Are you able to experience in your meditation seeing 'formations' (when the sense doors seem to merge)
I think that this is an indicator that you're getting close..


Formations? or "the sense doors seem to merge"?
I've had moments of awareness where the senses are merged. Like a one moment flash. I've had a number of those. And, a number of moments where maybe two or three of the senses merge.... like I'll taste a sound (while also hearing it) or hear a light simultaneously. I've had a number of those, but they sorta pop... not so much like I just sit and watch ("oh look... formations are arising and passing.")... but more like "oh I just heard that blip of light"

Formations on the other hand, I don't know. By the sound of it, it'd be like a moment of experience in which the whole thing is fully formed containing all within itself. Is it something like that? I think maybe something like that has happened, but very very quick, and immediately is replaced with mental reflections of it.

Is that what you're talking about, or am I way off?
David A, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Ease up!

Posts: 27 Join Date: 10/10/09 Recent Posts
Dark Night Yogi:
I think the weakest with me was faith. When I reflected on my lack of faith, it could trigger alot of easing up and letting go, really sweeping me off my feet.


This is my case at the moment (Darth Vader agrees...).

What was your reflection like, that it was able to increase your faith so dramatically?
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Daniel Johnson, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Ease up!

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
Jeffrey S:
Concentrate! Concentrate, Concentrate, Concentrate!


Thanks Jeffrey,
I appreciate your two cents. I think I can get a bit of that Equanimity dark night thing that you talk about.

And, I can also see the value of concentration from the place of Equanimity. It makes some sense, and I've had some taste of that. It's nice to hear it affirmed as valuable for you too.
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Nikolai S Halay, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Reflecting on my recent meditation

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Hi Daniel,

It'll make it easier for us to give you better advice if you describe EXACTLY what you are doing in your sitting time. IS it a some noting? Is it some sweeping? Is it a mix? Is it something else entirely? Is that sitting and just doing nothing working for you? What does the mind focus on? Sensations or whatever present itself centrestage? Do you just watch it? Do you note it? Do you have a mantra? Do you focus on the three T's? All of this could be refined and honed to suit your sensibilities.

I have heaps of friends in the Goenka tradition. They don't wanna mix techniques. i am very much in the Mahasi Sayadaw corner. Noting coupled with awareness of the subtlest of vibrations is what i think to be the "quickest" route to SE. But that is just my opinion from my own expereince.

I wrote a piece on what my dhamma friends immersed in the goenka tradition could do to increase the odds of getting SE. I am not very convinced the Goenka method can get you to SE as quickly as the noting technique or at all for that matter. I have friends who have sat over 10 x 30 day courses and no SE...what gives? I spent too much time wandering around the dark night while in the Goenka tradition. But each to his own.

Maybe you could try what Bruno said which I love by the way, Bruno!!! Can I borrow your advice and include it in the piece I wrote? It's on my facebook page. Add me! Same name!


Here is the piece:

I have realized recently that there are many yogis, who I consider good friends, who are immersed in the Goenka tradition of Vipassana and who feel it is not right to "mix techniques" and stray from the tradition that they are familiar with. They feel comfortable within their tradition and with their chosen insight meditation technique. This is understandable.

I’ve been thinking about how one could possibly get to escape velocity in order to get Stream Entry while only using the sweeping method of Vipassana. There are several things I believe one could pay attention to while sweeping, which could possibly increase the odds of “popping” once a yogi is in the 11th Equanimity of Formations ñana. By "popping", I mean getting 1st path/Stream Entry. I believe the following four things when paid attention to, would not be considered “mixing techniques” as some practioners fear doing and could be included into the field of attention while sweeping the body. Here they are.

One: When you sweep up and down the body observing the sensations/vibrations on and in the body, you could become aware of the localized sense of "self" when the attention passes through the head area. In particular, one could become aware of where the sense of "self", or rather the sensations/vibrations which cluster together to create a sense of self, are arising. Where are they? What are they doing? Are they impermanent? Do they arise and pass away and shift around? Do they arise without any help? Does it stay put? Is it all conditioned phenomena? Is it a combination of sensations and other phenomena?

Every time you get to the head area when sweeping upwards, you could start investigating the sense of self like this. Here, you are going right for the jugular by investigating the illusion of duality head on. What and where is "I"? In my experience, this type of investigation will bring on the big daddy insights into the true nature of the set up of what we consider "ourselves". Nibbana is just around the corner when this is done a lot!!!

Two: When you are sweeping downwards and you reach the legs and feet, you can become aware of how this feeling of duality is happening; the feeling of subject and object; of "I" being the observer of the objects ie. sensations. What is truly happening to create this illusion? Why does it feel like "I" am observing these sensations?

Try this: When you sweep down to the feet, stay with an area of sensations/vibrations somewhere there on one foot. Stay there for as long as you can with ALL attention focused on those sensations/vibrations WITHOUT the attention shifting elsewhere. I bet you any money you wont be able to. When I do this, I feel these subtle and sometimes almost undetectable shifts of the attention back to the sensations that make up the sense of self and then back to the area on the foot. Pay attention to how this happens. Pay attention to how the attention will flip back and forth between the focus on the area on the foot and then to the centre point of self; being in the head, maybe feeling like it's behind the eyeballs or the eyeballs themselves or a particular space in the head area. The shifting back and forth at a very fast, and at first, undetectable rate, is what is creating the illusion of a sense of "I" being the observer observing the sensations elsewhere in the body. What is really happening is that the sensations that make up the "I" are being sectioned off from the rest of sensations and only "appearing" to be what is conscious of all the rest of the sensations on the body. It happens too fast for us to figure it out without some Vipassana time where it becomes clearer and clearer what is happening. BOOM! BOOM! BIG GNARLY INSIGHTS!!!!!!

This quote by an anonymous advanced yogi at the Dharma Overground explains it best: "The sense of "I" presents as if it were a perspective that sensations take, as if sensations were being funnelled towards or through it. But this "funnelling towards" perspective is illusory when taken to be something more than phenomenology; "I" is just one more thing that presents itself to awareness, one more thing being looked at. In other words, when the thought "I" arises, what arises is an experience that presents as this kind of funnelling of sensations."

The blipping in and out of the sensations of "I" happens so fast that it fools us into believing the "I" to be a seperate entity, the thing that's in charge, the soul, the all important "me". There has never been a bigger illusion than this one. It has the majority of the planet fooled. Become aware of this and you are increasing the odds of seeing all those sensations that make up the sense of self being nothing more than sensations like all the other sensations. If you get to that stage, where it's all being seen in the body as just one massive bare sensate experience, without any sense of the "I" being separate, then a dip in Nibbana is just around the corner. I did this and it worked wonders for me. You see how this illusion of duality is occurring and a door opens....STREAM ENTRY>>>BOOYA!!!!!.

Three: On the 5th day of the 10 day course where I got stream entry , I was feeling confused and was asking myself if I was practicing correctly. Suddenly out of the blue, I had a thought which just popped into my mind.

"The cessation of sensation is Nibbana!"

For some reason this made complete sense to me and I started paying close attention to the end of sensations/vibrations as I investigated the sense of self. Stream Entry occured shortly after. You see, Nibbana is a state free from mind and matter. No sensations there. So focusing the attention on the way sensations/vibrations arise and just suddenly stop dead, will set it up for the mind to move ever closer to Nibbana. There is really no "slowly" disappearing of sensations over several moments. The ultimate truth is that sensations arise and just stop dead immediately. It just seems like they continue for sometime.

What is happening is that another sensation/vibration has arisen directly after it and then stops dead too. Then another sensation does the same thing and so on and so on. This creates the illusion that a pain, for example, is solid. Look a little closer and it breaks up into a "flow" of vibrations. Look even closer and you can see the vibrations are made up of individual sensations which arise and stop dead immediately to be replaced by another sensation. If you look and investigate the "endings" of sensations, the "stopping dead" of sensations then you are getting very, very close to Nibbana. You could observe the pulsing vibrations in your head as you sweep there or maybe the flickering of the eyes as they move upwards watching for the end of the sensation of flickering movement or the strobing of sensations in the back of the head. In fact you could investigate the end of any sensation anywhere on the body anytime you are sweeping up or down. Observe the impermanent nature of sensations at that much deeper level than just mere "free flow" and you are knocking at Nibbana's door.

Addition: There is a spot which Kenneth Folk calls the "sweet spot". It is the spot just behind the eyes an inch or so behind what some would call the third eye, within the brain. When you sweep up to the head, you could roll your eyes back towards this "sweet spot". This is a very important spot as it is where one can experience fruitions/cessation moments post-path. It is where one could set off a path moment and become a stream enterer. Here, you can focus and concentrate on investigating the pulsing, strobing, shifting, flickering sensations there and when they end or stop dead. Look for discontinuities. This method could trigger a "dip into nibbana" while you find yourself in very calm, highly equanimous state of mind (read Equanimity of Formations ñana). KNOCK! KNOCK! POP!

Four: Addition: This is some advice from another dhamma friend of mine who claims to have gotten stream entry and beyond. It will substantially increase the odds of stream entry occurring:

"First, a yogi can approach "not-self" as a strategy to end suffering. This is very traditional. While scanning, they may focus in on any sense of struggle, aversion, discomfort, or even the excitement of clinging or anticipation. These processes are inherently painful, and are great pointers toward insight. By zeroing in on the dukkha, they can evaluate the experience. Is pushing away from this sensation going to bring release? No. Is chasing this other sensation going to bring release? No. Is ignoring the sensation going to bring release? No. No amount of grasping, averting, or ignoring an experience will lead to nibbana. With that in mind, they may cultivate enough equanimity/dispassion to disregard phenomena as being "me" or "mine", and then just chill out in mindfulness. It doesn't take much more than that to "pop." My stream-entry event came out of nowhere, and it was after I had come to terms with suffering (i.e. gained real equanimity). For those who stick to traditional forms of Buddhist practice, you can't get more fundamental than suffering and the other Four Noble Truths."

These four things, if paid attention to while practicing the sweeping method of Vipassana made famous by Sayagyi U Ba Khin and S.N. Goenka, in my opinion, could possibly substantially increase the odds that you will "pop" and set off something that will lead you all the way to a happiness that does not depend on conditions.


To anyone, please feel free to critique the hell out of what Ive written so i can refine and add to it!

Thanks,

Nick

P.S> Bruno, can I use your advice with the ajna spot?
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Daniel Johnson, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Reflecting on my recent meditation

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
Nickolai,
Thanks for those detailed tips. I will try that stuff. I might not have time to critique the hell out of it, however.

I'm not a Goenka guy, although everytime I go on retreat at a Goenka center, I practice only that method, simply because I'm not sure how I could really do something else, it'd be too confusing I think. So, I try not to mix techniques while I'm there. Of course, I do anyway, but not intentionally.

I like the Mahasi noting, but haven't ever learned it except from books.

I think I maybe have a little trouble identifying with a vipassana tradition, since as far as I can tell, I first hit the A&P event about ten years ago without any meditation, but just inquiry into the nature of the universe combined with some other factors (falling in love, drugs, and my first exposure to Eastern thought). That's how it all started for me. Also, after doing about 8 10-day courses with Goenka, it became pretty clear (like you said) that Goenka doesn't really work to get to stream entry, although it seems to work well to get to Bangha-nyana (A&P event). But, it just didn't seem to work for me after that for going any further. Plus, the whole sectarianism really put me off, and the mushroom culture, and the belief structures about how hard stream entry is.

i know that doesn't really describe what I do when I'm sitting on the cushion. Like I said in the beginning of my post, during this 3-day retreat, i was really trying to follow the advice of Daniel I in another thread, which I linked to. I think that's the best description of what I was going for, or you can read here on my blog what I set my intentions for before the retreat:
http://bhavanatraveler.blogspot.com/2010/07/ode-to-professor-anderson.html

It's almost like, I feel like I'm doing Vipassana, but there's something different going on entirely. Like Vipassana is just a front, or something like that.

I'm not sure I can say much more than that right now. We'll see what happens.
David A, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Reflecting on my recent meditation

Posts: 27 Join Date: 10/10/09 Recent Posts
Hi Daniel,

I've a few thoughts for you to consider. I'm basing this not just on what you wrote in this thread but also on what I've read in your previous ones.

With regards to you having tried all that's been suggested to you previously and still not getting what you want...I think you are letting yourself off the hook too easily. It's good to get advice from teachers and more experienced practicioners but in the end the final decision about what to do is yours and yours alone.

I've noticed in your communications there seems to be a strong conflict between following what you perceive to be the textbook hardcore DhO/MCTB method and following your own instincts and/or the advice of other traditions and teachers you like, and the two inclinations often seem to be violently at odds.

No matter what course you take and what happens, you bear the responsibility. If you get a spiritual breakthrough it will be you who gets the breakthrough, not those who gave you advice. Likewise if you mess yourself up through doing something that is not appropriate for you, it will be you who is hurt, not anyone else. Therefore, be willing to take responsibility for the consequences, because you are the one who must bear them.

If part of you is angry and resentful at this current approach you are taking of "going for stream entry" as swiftly as possible in this imbalanced way (I suspect this is the case), then I suggest you pause and re-evaluate. Find a way of practice that resonates with you emotionally. If you keep going the way you are going it will be insincere and conflicted and thus in my opinion limited in effectiveness. I am getting an impression that a subconscious part of you is waiting for outside affirmation (or perhaps even approval) to relax and to cease the relentless pushing, forcing effort. I suggest you don't wait for that. You have to decide for yourself if you need to roll back the throttle.

You have been told to think in terms of resolving to get stream entry and get it as soon as possible. You've been trying that. As Bruno pointed out, you have to objectively examine the results of what you are doing and decide if it's furthering your cause.

In your posts you've expressed confusion about what going for stream entry means.
Note that someone with helpful intentions might urge you to go for stream entry but their conceptual and emotional associations with that phrase may be utterly the opposite of what yours are. Thus you may end up reacting in exactly the opposite way that that well-meaning person intended you to.

For example: for myself personally, "going for stream entry" doesn't work for me. It did in the beginning, but there eventually came a point of diminishing returns, and during/after my MBMC retreat that mindset became outright toxic. My past imbalanced practice has conditioned myself in such a way that following that mindset triggers all sorts of unpleasant energetic, physical reactions. I become intensely future-oriented and my sense of sincere investigation and acceptance with whatever phenomena is happening evaporates, as does all the potential for fun, enjoyable practice. I am willing to bet money that you have largely similar reactions.

Having a practice based on a "stream entry or bust" slogan in fact started to take me father away from stream entry. So I've dropped it. (To be honest I am now far less invested in the progress to insight map model of awakening, so it's not really an issue.)

Anyway, if "going for stream entry as quickly as possible" for you means becoming intimate with your present-moment experience in an equanimous yet genuinely curious way, then great. Keep doing it. It doesn't seem to be working that way for you, though, to be quite honest. The carrot of Stream Entry is just one conceptual framework. If it confuses and frustrates you, choose another.
Consider just doing the same practices you've been doing but without the impatient, obsessive-goal orientation, without the focus on quick results. Or you can do other practices that you are more drawn to, maybe those suggested in this thread, or stuff in the past that has been proven to work for you.

You've already read my MBMC report post. I spent more than three months noting like *crazy* and rigidly doing everything the well-meaning Sayadaw told me to do to the letter, often against my better judgement. I paid a high price for that. As Daniel put it, I ended up "cooking myself." Years later I am still dealing with the fallout. I'd say it was a very hard way to learn that the teacher doesn't always know what's best for you. Sometimes you have to trust your own instincts.

Discipline, effort, and willpower are not enough in themselves. You need to be able to relax, improvise, and be adaptive and flexible when appropriate.
I suppose it's possible that by continuing in the super-intense way that you've been, something inside will snap and you will be launched into Stream Entry. It's a gamble you can take if you so choose. But if you end up twisting yourself into extremely painful knots and establishing unhealthy mental and emotional patterns, then you must accept responsibility for that. It's your body and your mind, hence it's your decision.

I like Bruno's post, but I will disagree with him on one point. I think you should give high priority to accepting yourself and acceptance in general. Bruno calls this "pseudo psychological crap." I disagree with the "pseudo" and "crap" part. My feeling is that as long as you neglect this acceptance part and instead practice with a hidden agenda, any technique or approach you adopt to try and gain insight into your reality and to bring stability to your awareness is going to be lacking in earnest intention and hence effectiveness. I say indulge in the love, acceptance, kindness, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, etc. all you want. Kumbaya! Don't worry about not looking hardcore or being a "shitty student." You have nothing to prove to anyone. If lack of self-acceptance is preventing you from proceeding with balance, then cultivate some acceptance.

Just my two cents. Hope it helps. I'm not a particularly good meditator so I can't advise you there, but I do have experience with misguided effort. Do take care of yourself. Wouldn't want to see you suffering more than you need to.

.david

Some DhO posts you might find useful and pertinent:

Daniel's advice to me
Notice his comments on balance of factors.

Chuck's commentary on the pressure cooker retreat approach

Pavel's story
In particular, the 2nd to last paragraph (beginning with "Lastly, I do not believe that the gung ho attitude is necessary for getting good at this stuff.")

========

EDIT: Hey Daniel, I see you just posted something minutes before I first submitted this. Didn't get a chance to read it before writing this, so it might be some degrees off from what you just posted.
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Daniel Johnson, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Reflecting on my recent meditation

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
Thanks David,
Good to hear from you, and I always enjoy your input.

David A:
With regards to you having tried all that's been suggested to you previously and still not getting what you want...I think you are letting yourself off the hook too easily. It's good to get advice from teachers and more experienced practicioners but in the end the final decision about what to do is yours and yours alone.


I'm not sure what you mean by "letting myself off the hook."

David A:
If part of you is angry and resentful at this current approach you are taking of "going for stream entry" as swiftly as possible in this imbalanced way (I suspect this is the case), then I suggest you pause and re-evaluate.


I hope it doesn't come off like I'm angry and resentful about this current approach I'm taking. I don't think I am, at least. I actually feel a lot of gratitude for the opportunity to practice and for the continuing unfolding of a really trippy ride. I also feel a lot of gratitude for the advice and thoughts offered here and to have this forum for this discussion. I think the approach I took for my three day approach was sorta the type of approach of a madman... I mean, I attempted to do something that I didn't even know what it was I was doing or how I was going to do it, but I decided to do it anyway. I tried and failed, and there's no blame about that.


David A:
Find a way of practice that resonates with you emotionally. If you keep going the way you are going it will be insincere and conflicted and thus in my opinion limited in effectiveness. I am getting an impression that a subconscious part of you is waiting for outside affirmation (or perhaps even approval) to relax and to cease the relentless pushing, forcing effort. I suggest you don't wait for that. You have to decide for yourself if you need to roll back the throttle.


I totally see what you're saying, but sitting over here, I don't have a sense of insincerity. In fact, it was when I read tarin's words "go on to stream entry quickly" - that's when I sensed an insincerity in my path as it was. There may be a subconscious part wanting affirmation to relax, but if so, that's not the whole story. There's a lot more going on than just that. I'm doing my best to listen to all the subconscious parts so that I might get the whole story.


David A:
You have been told to think in terms of resolving to get stream entry and get it as soon as possible. You've been trying that. As Bruno pointed out, you have to objectively examine the results of what you are doing and decide if it's furthering your cause.


Thanks for this as it helps me clarify. I don't think that anyone told me to think at all in any terms. I don't recall the use of the word "think." I was told simply to do it, and do it quickly. Or rather, I was given the invitation to do it. I've given a good objective examination, and my conclusion is that overall it seems to have produced a somewhat neutral to positive effect on furthering my cause. Every step I take seems to be furthering my cause.

What's more, it's not really furthering my cause that interests me here... it seems like I could spend my whole life just furthering my cause, furthering my cause, furthering my cause. Somehow, even this is presenting it's dukkha, even this has become unsatisfying. It's not furthering my cause that I want, it's the cause itself. Although, I don't know if that makes any sense.

David A:
In your posts you've expressed confusion about what going for stream entry means.
Note that someone with helpful intentions might urge you to go for stream entry but their conceptual and emotional associations with that phrase may be utterly the opposite of what yours are. Thus you may end up reacting in exactly the opposite way that that well-meaning person intended you to.


Fuck it, let's throw caution to the wind. If I wait until I get all my maps aligned and terms defined, I could be waiting my whole life. Charge ahead. Talk later. (Or at least, this is the voice of the unconscious insincerity that I mentioned above. And, I say it to you, because I suspect you might have it as well. I understand that you had a really rough three-monther, but I'm also betting that somewhere inside, there's a part of you that's saying "fuck it... it was still worth it for Enlightnment/God/Whatever you want to call it." I mean, really it sucks, but dude... you went for it all out. You made a bold effort of the likes that rivals the ancient pali texts of crazy monks of the past. Sure, your aim was off... you fell on your face, but you will rise again.)

David A:
For example: for myself personally, "going for stream entry" doesn't work for me. It did in the beginning, but there eventually came a point of diminishing returns, and during/after my MBMC retreat that mindset became outright toxic. My past imbalanced practice has conditioned myself in such a way that following that mindset triggers all sorts of unpleasant energetic, physical reactions. I become intensely future-oriented and my sense of sincere investigation and acceptance with whatever phenomena is happening evaporates, as does all the potential for fun, enjoyable practice. I am willing to bet money that you have largely similar reactions.

Yeah. All I'm saying is don't throw out the Baby with the bathwater. The *mindset* became toxic. That's what minds do when they "set". They become toxic. What burns at me is the baby. The baby is everything. I don't understand it. I don't know what it is or where it's going. I don't know how many times I'll have to change the bathwater, but I can't take my eyes off the baby.

David A:
Having a practice based on a "stream entry or bust" slogan in fact started to take me father away from stream entry. So I've dropped it.


The truth is, I don't really care about stream entry. I have no idea what it is, and I don't think I care if I ever know. It really doesn't concern me much. I mean, to me it really just looks like two stupid words that sound really cool when placed after the words "I am a..." But, what else to call that damn thing that keeps me going. To say "??? or bust" is just kinda weird.

David A:
Anyway, if "going for stream entry as quickly as possible" for you means becoming intimate with your present-moment experience in an equanimous yet genuinely curious way, then great.

It really has no meaning for me, which is why it's so fucking maddening.

David A:
It doesn't seem to be working that way for you, though, to be quite honest.


To give a fair and objective approval as best I can, nothing seems to work for me, and nothing seems to not work either. It seems I just keep going whether I like it or not, and I go at the pace I go whether I like it or not, and insights come at the pace they do whether I like it or not. It seems like I could make masturbating while standing on my head my practice and I'd make slow and steady progress. Or, I could make Vipassana my main practice, and I'd make slow and steady progress. I could not do any practice at all, and I'd make slow and steady progress. It's almost as if I'm in a nightmare of a constantly changing conditioned universe empty of any "self" entity. (yes.. yes.. three characteristics, of course) But, yeah...

Anyway, I could go on like this, but it's just more of the same. I appreciate your writing, because it's helped me give voice to this voice in my head, and the more I write, the more I become clear that I want this (whatever it is), and I want it now. And, I need to relax. And, I want it. And relax, and want and relax and want and relax. And, what it seems is that the relaxing allows the energy to move, and the moving energy motivates a deeper letting go, and it looks like if it's wired just right it can feed itself into oblivion.

Ahhhh.... it feels good to get that out. Anyway, I really appreciate your having my back, David. I think you bring a refreshingly different perspective which I trust comes from a great place of wisdom inside you. And I've totally got your back to be the best "not particularly good meditator" that you can be.

Also, if I get a free moment, I'll try to read those posts you linked to. thanks.

Best,

Daniel
David A, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Reflecting on my recent meditation

Posts: 27 Join Date: 10/10/09 Recent Posts
Daniel Johnson:
I'm not sure what you mean by "letting myself off the hook."


"Letting off the hook" is one of those phrases I sometimes use but don't actually know 100% what it means...I believe it has something to do with accountability or responsibility. But anyway, it was my roundabout way of saying that I thought you weren't giving enough weight to your own instincts. In other threads you'd seemed to be saying that your insides were crying out for rest, but at the same time you had this terrific drive to make quick progress or get stream entry fast, because of all the talk you'd seen on these boards about such things, and suggestions that'd been made to you.

I remember reading about your 50-day Open Dharma retreat and how it seemed to be a very positive experience and I wondered why you weren't continuing to go with that as opposed to the more forceful approach you later ended up using. Not that others were telling you to use force, but that seemed to be the end result, for whatever reason. (Overly straining in practice is a pretty common Dharma past-time, I think)

Daniel Johnson:

I hope it doesn't come off like I'm angry and resentful about this current approach I'm taking. I don't think I am, at least. I actually feel a lot of gratitude for the opportunity to practice and for the continuing unfolding of a really trippy ride. I also feel a lot of gratitude for the advice and thoughts offered here and to have this forum for this discussion. I think the approach I took for my three day approach was sorta the type of approach of a madman... I mean, I attempted to do something that I didn't even know what it was I was doing or how I was going to do it, but I decided to do it anyway. I tried and failed, and there's no blame about that.


I certainly didn't mean to imply that you were angry or resentful at the people who offered you advice. If anything it seemed that you were mad at yourself and the suffering being caused by the approach you took or are still taking. The part of you who wanted to rest was mad at the part that was driving yourself mercilessly.

Daniel Johnson:

I totally see what you're saying, but sitting over here, I don't have a sense of insincerity. I don't have a sense of insincerity. In fact, it was when I read tarin's words "go on to stream entry quickly" - that's when I sensed an insincerity in my path as it was.


Just to clarify, I don't mean insincerity in terms of faking it or not putting forth effort or anything like that. I meant insincere as in being in conflict. Proceeding not with wholeheartedness but with strongly conflicting desires. I think it's fine that you decided to try this approach for three days to see what happens, but I was saying that if you were now to proceed in the same way for a longer period of time that the results would probably not be as good as if you'd taken an approach that you resonated more with.

Another thought I wanted to add is that it might pay to try and differentiate between suffering that naturally arises during practice (repressed material, friction from mind trying to hold onto cherished habits, etc) and the suffering that is being created by present actions such as overly forceful practice. I personally think that the latter is to be avoided. I know what you mean when you say you are able to be equanimous with the suffering and the madness in that there is part of you that is untouched and finds it amusing, but I still think it's a good idea to check to see if maybe the suffering isn't being caused by an imbalance in your application of method, and if so to reduce that suffering as much as possible.

Daniel Johnson:

There may be a subconscious part wanting affirmation to relax, but if so, that's not the whole story. There's a lot more going on than just that. I'm doing my best to listen to all the subconscious parts so that I might get the whole story.


I think most everyone at times seeks affirmation (consciously and subconsciously) from experienced practitioners, and that can be extremely appropriate.

It's clear you are doing plenty of your own processing and decision-making, too. Just wanted to throw in my support for that.

Daniel Johnson:

I've given a good objective examination, and my conclusion is that overall it seems to have produced a somewhat neutral to positive effect on furthering my cause.

Every step I take seems to be furthering my cause.


That's good then. As long as you are more or less okay with what you are doing and the results.

Daniel Johnson:

I understand that you had a really rough three-monther, but I'm also betting that somewhere inside, there's a part of you that's saying "fuck it... it was still worth it for Enlightnment/God/Whatever you want to call it." I mean, really it sucks, but dude... you went for it all out. You made a bold effort of the likes that rivals the ancient pali texts of crazy monks of the past. Sure, your aim was off... you fell on your face, but you will rise again.)


I appreciate your praise and encouragement. I'll be honest though...even though I acknowledge that that retreat was maybe necessary or even inevitable from a certain point of view, at this time I still sometimes feel regret about it -- a feeling that if I could go back and change what I did, I would. Not the most spiritually mature or useful attitude to have, perhaps, but there it is. Yes some good came out of it as a byproduct, and it was a good learning and growing experience, but it's not something I care to repeat, and it's definitely not something I want to see happen to others.
But as you say, we rise again.

Daniel Johnson:

Yeah. All I'm saying is don't throw out the Baby with the bathwater. The *mindset* became toxic. That's what minds do when they "set". They become toxic. What burns at me is the baby. The baby is everything. I don't understand it. I don't know what it is or where it's going. I don't know how many times I'll have to change the bathwater, but I can't take my eyes off the baby.


Point taken. I was mainly saying change the bathwater.

Daniel Johnson:

To give a fair and objective approval as best I can, nothing seems to work for me, and nothing seems to not work either. It seems I just keep going whether I like it or not, and I go at the pace I go whether I like it or not, and insights come at the pace they do whether I like it or not.


I understand what your saying, but at the same time I am thinking of your 50-day Open Dharma retreat...do you not think that whatever approach you used on that retreat was working for you? Have you thought about just continuing along those lines?

Daniel Johnson:

Ahhhh.... it feels good to get that out. Anyway, I really appreciate your having my back, David. I think you bring a refreshingly different perspective which I trust comes from a great place of wisdom inside you. And I've totally got your back to be the best "not particularly good meditator" that you can be.


Thanks for the kind words, Daniel!

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