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How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)

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How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) David Starflower 9/11/17 6:32 AM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) neko 9/11/17 3:37 AM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) David Starflower 9/12/17 5:57 AM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) Jinxed P 9/12/17 1:22 PM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) Daniel M. Ingram 9/13/17 4:47 AM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) Daniel M. Ingram 9/13/17 4:49 AM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) David Starflower 9/13/17 6:48 AM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) Francis M. Crawford 9/13/17 1:32 PM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) Daniel M. Ingram 9/13/17 3:26 PM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) Ted W Lemon 9/15/17 9:37 AM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) Ward Law 9/15/17 10:20 AM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) Daniel M. Ingram 9/16/17 4:21 AM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) Stuie Charles Law 9/16/17 6:45 AM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) Adam M 9/16/17 10:30 AM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) Ted W Lemon 9/16/17 2:09 PM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) C P M 9/17/17 8:42 AM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) Ted W Lemon 9/17/17 11:17 AM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) C P M 9/17/17 8:27 PM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) Ted W Lemon 9/17/17 9:22 PM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) David Starflower 9/17/17 9:38 PM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) Ted W Lemon 9/18/17 1:38 PM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) David Starflower 9/19/17 1:52 AM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) C P M 9/18/17 2:42 AM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) C P M 9/18/17 3:42 PM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) Ted W Lemon 9/18/17 1:47 PM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) C P M 9/18/17 2:28 PM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) Matt 9/13/17 3:44 PM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) David Starflower 9/14/17 8:07 PM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) Daniel M. Ingram 9/15/17 2:47 AM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) David Starflower 9/15/17 4:34 AM
RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka) David Starflower 9/23/17 8:32 PM
Hello Dhamma Overground,

After recent experiences I am more eager to continue my path of meditation than ever before, yet I am unsure on the "how".

A bit about my meditation history. I started around four years ago with Headspace guided meditation. Wanting to go further I found Culadasa's The Mind Illuminated (TMI) about two years ago and progressed until stage 3. I had a 20min per day routine but was on and off from time to time. I guess my motivation declined as I did not see enough progress or influence on my life. Recently I went to a 10-day course of Vipassana as taught by S N Goenka (Goenka). I was just curious about what happens if you are with yourself for 10 days butdid not expect supernatural results. Afterwards however I realized such a positive impact on my life that I am more motivated than ever.

I have established a 2x 1hr daily Goenka routine, but I am unsure on how to improve from here. TMI seems not only like a very structured approach and tells you where you are at, but also discusses a lot of problems, hindrances and traps. Goenka on the other hand includes quite a bit of Buddhist philosophy which makes it feel little more wholesome and meaningful and ultimately motivating for me. Technical instructions however seem to leave you on your own after the 10 days. If I saw it correctly the old students on repeating 10 day courses just watch the same discourses again and guidance of the assistant teacher is limited to a few minutes of talking per day. There are a lot of recommended readings, however many of them seem philosophy-focused or at least very abstract in their teachings. TMI seems way more tangible. Furthermore, Goenka seems very focused on Vipassana, but less on Samatha. I found scanning of the body was able to sustain my attention very well as compared to focusing on the breath, yet my mind wandered quite a bit and I feel like I should develop in Samatha equally well.

So going on from here, should I drop Goenka in favor of the "efficient" instructions of TMI? If I drop TMI, are there any recommended readings for Goenka that give simillarly clear advice on developing techniques and encountering problems, hindrances and traps? Or should I even mix and maintain the nice outer form of Goenka (Anapana Vipassana Metta, Buddhism, …) and improve its technique by applying TMI stage 1 to 4 to Anapana, start applying its Vipassana once I reach stage 5, etc? Maybe better not mix them and do one sitting TMI and one sitting Goenka? Anyone who tried either or even both and can relate to my concerns on either approach?

Thanks in advance
Starflower

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/11/17 3:37 AM as a reply to David Starflower.
Hello David, welcome emoticon

Since you are posting here, I am assuming you are familiar with MCTB and Mahasi noting, right?

If I were you, I would definitely give a shot to concentration with TMI. If you want to keep on doing dry insight, I would try Mahasi noting on for size. Goenka's instructions are a bit lacking when it comes to navigating the territory after the A&P in my opinion.

Whatever you do, keep up your meditation habit. Do not let doubt about what to do keep you from practicing! ;)

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/12/17 5:57 AM as a reply to neko.
Hey neko, 

thanks for your reply. I started anew with TMI and am very motivated.

MCTB seems to go more into depth on Busshism. As stated above, TMI is mostly purely technical and I liked the philosophical aspects of my Goenka retreat. So I think I will read TMI up to my stage of practice and while working on the next stage start reading MCTB.

TMI also contains a chapter on mindful walking, so I think I will use this instead of noting for now, but thanks for the hint, I did not know this one.

BTW: This wiki's article on MCBT states the wiki version is more up to date compared to the book/PDF. Yet I found that many pages linked on the main index page are blank. Has the online version moved somewhere else?

David

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/12/17 1:22 PM as a reply to David Starflower.
I second going with the TMI, and keeping up with the 2 hours of practice per day. 

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/13/17 4:47 AM as a reply to David Starflower.
Yeah, there are some broken links, some which have defied my attempts to fix them, not sure what aspect of the formatting or whatever is causing the problem, perhaps some character combination or corruption of the links? It is unclear. Ah, Liferay, the grand and amazing platform that I love to hate.

As to techniques, might also check out Shinzen Young's stuff, whose work I am coming to appreciate more as the years go on, particularly for beginners. He has numerous free online resources on his website, found below his most recent book blurb here under the header Articles (though some are over one hundred pages long and really are books): 

https://www.shinzen.org/resources/

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/13/17 4:49 AM as a reply to David Starflower.
Still, the TMI stuff is great, thorough, meticulous, and likely just requires more time and perhaps more concentrated time to do its good work, and by concentrated time, I mean like 5-15 hours per day of practice, as that really ups the effect of any practice.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/13/17 6:48 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thanks for the hint with Shinzen. I did come across the book but missed the articles further down the page.

I did not fully get your last response - please excuse, I am no native speaker and with some things it's hard for me to read the stuff inbetween the lines. Did you mean that TMI in particular needs more time than maybe other techniques (if so, did you imply MCTB or Shinzen)? Or did you mean my previous 20min routine might have been a bit too little (which I realised by now... ;-) )? Or something else entirely?

I upped 2x 1hr only recently and want to give me a bit of time to settle in, maybe chuck in a couple extra sessions here and there eg. on the weekend. If I am comfortable with that, I'll see if I can top up. It is not the time you do not have but the time you do not take...

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/13/17 1:32 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Still, the TMI stuff is great, thorough, meticulous, and likely just requires more time and perhaps more concentrated time to do its good work, and by concentrated time, I mean like 5-15 hours per day of practice, as that really ups the effect of any practice.

Daniel did you mean 5-15 per week or per day?  Can you compare recommended daily practice in TMI style concentraion versus Mahasi style noting?  Thanks.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/13/17 3:26 PM as a reply to Francis M. Crawford.
Yeah, I actually mean 5-15 hours per day. While there are a few unusual people who on relatively low doses of practice can get their concentration strong enough to get up to Culasada's described higher states in daily life, for most it will take retreats and/or much higher daily life doses of practice. He is still alive, so, if you like his stuff, seriously consider going on a retreat with him at his place at the Cochise Stronghold retreat center outside of Tucson, Arizona.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/13/17 3:44 PM as a reply to David Starflower.
David Starflower:
...
So going on from here, should I drop Goenka in favor of the "efficient" instructions of TMI? If I drop TMI, are there any recommended readings for Goenka that give simillarly clear advice on developing techniques and encountering problems, hindrances and traps? Or should I even mix and maintain the nice outer form of Goenka (Anapana Vipassana Metta, Buddhism, …) and improve its technique by applying TMI stage 1 to 4 to Anapana, start applying its Vipassana once I reach stage 5, etc? Maybe better not mix them and do one sitting TMI and one sitting Goenka? Anyone who tried either or even both and can relate to my concerns on either approach?

Thanks in advance
Starflower
Retreats are great, do more!  That said, I feel that 2 hours a day coupled with establishing a close relationship with someone that is familiar with the terrain you are on and headed towards and 'gets' you and you 'get' them is very important and can take you a long way.  If your practice falls off, notice and respond, or all is for naught.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/14/17 8:07 PM as a reply to Matt.
A retreat in the US is a bit far away. I live in Melbourne - Australia, not Florida ;-).

The "someone who gets me" part is something I am working on at the moment. Goenka has a couple of weekly group sittings all over town and one is within reach. They have an assistant teacher there whom I can ask questions after the sitting. I am also looking to attending a twice-monthly Kadampa session who also run Dharma talks. Both of the above seem close enough to what I am practicing.

I am serving a Goenka retreat end of year and want to attend one as student some time next year as well.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/15/17 2:47 AM as a reply to David Starflower.
Think about tracking down Sayadaw U Pandita, Junior, who is sometimes to be found at Dhammasukha outside of Melbourne, Down Under, I believe. He is a gifted teacher and practitioner qualified to teach to all levels of the path.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/15/17 4:34 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Wow, thans for he tip.

Dhammasukha (https://www.dhammasukha.org/), according to their US site, seems to do Loving Kindnes meditation under another teacher. There is supposed to be a center in Melbourne (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dhammasukha-Meditation-Centre-Plenty/370314329724433) and Sayadaw U Pandita, Junior seems to have been there, but the site's last update was 4 years ago.

However there is the Manohara Forest Meditation Centre (https://www.facebook.com/manohara251/) and Sayadaw U Pandita, Junior is doing a retreat there. Unfortunately it is now, which is kind of short notice ;-) But I keep an eye one the site for the future.

Both facebook sites contain only very minimal info though. Might be intentional...

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/15/17 9:37 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Dan, can you talk a little about where you came up with that number?  As a student of Culadasa's who's been around the block a bit, that number doesn't sound right to me.   If I had time to meditate five hours a day, I think I would be making astounding progress.   Even doing an extra hour over my usual hour makes a huge difference.

What I have found is that it's really easy to not follow the directions.   This has screwed me multiple times over the three years I've been practicing.   I think if you assume that the average TMI student will do the same thing, then it could indeed take quite a long time to discover what is wrong, and longer time on the cushion would certainly help with that—I always get a great reality check when I do a retreat.

But the idea that it would take 5-15 hours on the cushion per day seems really out of left field to me, and I'm genuinely curious where you got those numbers.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/15/17 10:20 AM as a reply to Ted W Lemon.
For the record, Daniel's numbers are at odds with what the book says (see p.4 in TMI). Of course, there are many variables, which that section also explains.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/16/17 4:21 AM as a reply to Ted W Lemon.
Yeah, I know the book, and actually reviewed and endorsed the book, as you might notice if you go to the web page for the book, and really appreciate the book. It is brilliant, technical, thorough, and excellent, as you already know. 

That said, it sort of depends on your standards for concentration and what you are trying to do. While progress on lower doses is definitely possible, and some have more talent than others, for most people to get what I think of as really good concentration takes higher doses, hence the recommendation. Plenty of people will never cross certain thresholds and figure out how to get to certain levels of practice without retreats, and those tend to involve the sorts of doses I mention.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/16/17 6:45 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I agree wholeheartedly with Daniel that, 5 to 15 hours daily, are the sorts of cushion times you need to be putting in before opportunities and or changes begin to present themselves for your perusal.......anything less for me was just marking time, and extremely frustrating 

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/16/17 10:30 AM as a reply to Stuie Charles Law.
Theres a lot of variation though. I got from around stage 5/6 to stage 8 in around 2 months doing 2 hours a day and a few intensive weekends. It's slowed to a snails pace now but my vipassana practice has really taken off as a result and i focus on that now. I know of others who seem to sail through the stages, even the later ones and others that seem to make very little progress at all. Maybe the approach isn't realistic for most people in daily life but how can we know what the average person can do or how close each of us are to the average? We can only guess from our own experience and from those we've spoken to. I worry that some people talk themselves out of doing concentration practice because they think they can't do it. But you will never know for real unless you give it a try. I'm not a convert to Culadasa's approach but regard it as the missing piece of the jigsaw in my practice. More as a supplement to my vipassana practice. His methods have worked really well for me though I wouldn't advise leaving vipassana so late as he suggests.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/16/17 2:09 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel, thanks for the response, but you didn't actually answer my question.   The reason I ask is that I actually don't know anybody who meditates 5-15 hours per day, and I do know people who have reached the higher stages of TMI practice.   I assume from the rather concrete numbers that you've given that you know people who are using length of practice as a way to leapfrog levels of meditation, which is actually kind of cool, and it matches my own experiences in retreat to some extent.

However, if it takes you five hours of sitting to get to the point where you can enter jhana, on the one hand that's really neat for people who don't have a lot of skill, but it's not actually what Culadasa is teaching.   What Culadasa is teaching is a method of training and unifying the mind so that these states can be reached readily.

What I know from my own experience is that it's really easy to not follow the directions, and when you don't, you wind up doing the five-hour-sit method of getting deep, rather than the training-the-unconscious-mind method.   Which makes me wonder if that's what you're seeing in the people you know who have this experience of TMI meditation.

Culadasa is training about sixty teachers (full disclosure, I'm one of them, although not the most experienced by a long shot) to help people to avoid getting side-tracked in their practice.   My experience is that despite the very clear detail on practice that Culadasa gives, the people I teach very often get ideas that do not match what is taught, and wind up using those instead of the practices that are taught, and this holds them back.   They still get good results, but only through long sits, retreats, or dogged persistence.   This has been true of my own practice as well—by following the intentional model that Culadasa describes, I've been able to get much deeper much faster.

So on the one hand what I'm asking is to know a little more about the data that informs the statement you made, and I guess on the other hand I'd like to encourage you to send your friends who are having these experiences over to either Culadasa's discussion board, http://dharmatreasurecommunity.org, or to the /r/TheMindIlluminated subreddit.   There are lots of resources available to them to help streamline their practice so that they can get to these deep states without it taking up their entire day every day, so I hate to think that they aren't availing themselves of them.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/17/17 8:42 AM as a reply to Ted W Lemon.
I’m also interested in the question “how long does it take” to get to the advanced levels.

It’s a good point that you make that students can go off on a tangent, not follow the instructions, and extend the time needed to advance.

I looked up Culadasa’s quote from one of his handouts (1) (Progressive Stages of Meditation in Plain English) where he says:

“I will also say something about the time required to progress through and master these stages. Contrary to what is often either implied or overtly stated in modern meditation literature, mastery through to the 10th stage need not take many years or decades to complete, nor are extended meditation retreats required. When I first began to try to teach others what I had learned about meditation, I believed that most people who practiced diligently should be able to master all ten stages in less than a year. I have since learned that not only is that not realistic in terms of most people, but such statements can be frustrating and discouraging for those who have been practicing seriously for much longer than that and have still not been able to attain that degree of mastery. On the other hand, there are people who have advanced through all ten stages in less than a year, using the methods described here, and more who have done so in three years or less - based on a daily practice of sitting 1 to 2 hours per day plus some of the ancillary practices will suggest here, and without extended meditation retreats. So I do believe that it is possible for some to succeed in a few months of regular daily meditation with occasional longer periods of practice, and that many more will succeed with a few years of diligent practice.”


(1)Can be downloaded here:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5377660#_19_message_5861819

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/17/17 11:17 AM as a reply to C P M.
I know people who've gotten to the highest stages of TMI meditation in less than a year; I would tend to think that those are unicorns, sort of as Dan is saying.   But "a few years" sounds plausible.   I took a big detour about a year ago and did the Finders' Course, and the results of that (stream entry and beyond) somewhat derailed my TMI practice, but I think I'm pretty much on track for the "a few years of diligent practice" model.   Ask me again in a year. emoticon

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/17/17 8:27 PM as a reply to Ted W Lemon.
The best I can get so far is periods of TMI level 7 before I regress. I have a sense I do need more time per day, even though I sometimes spend months increasing my regular 1 hour a day practice to 2.5 hours a day. I started a daily practice in 2009 and reading TMI has helped me advance.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/17/17 9:22 PM as a reply to C P M.
Do you have access to a TMI teacher?   If not, let me know and I can help you to find one.   It sounds to me as if you are stuck because you're doing the wrong practice for the stage you are at, and that's why you're plateauing out.   It's often the case that if you just sit for long enough, your mind will quiet down and you can advance to later stages, but it can be very frustrating to take this approach because you aren't actually developing the skills that allow you to reach that stage; then getting beyond it is difficult.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/17/17 9:38 PM as a reply to Ted W Lemon.
@Ted: How does one find a TMI teacher. I live down under and there does not seem to be much going in in that direction but I would very much like to get in touch with fellow practicioners or even teachers. I googled for this but that did not yield anything tangible.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/18/17 2:42 AM as a reply to Ted W Lemon.
I don't have access to a teacher. I live near Toronto (closer to Hamilton), so I didn't think that would be available for me. If you could help connect me to someone I would be grateful. I'll PM you my contact info.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/18/17 3:42 PM as a reply to C P M.
The messaging system is buggy and I can't get it to work, but this is my gmail.com handle: (edited out)

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/18/17 1:38 PM as a reply to David Starflower.
The best way is to ask on http://dharmatreasurecommunity.org.   There is at least one of Culadasa's teacher training students who lives in Brisbane, Tom Kennedy.   I can put you in touch with him—send me mail at mellon at fugue dot com.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/18/17 1:47 PM as a reply to C P M.
I'm not sure how to parse your gmail address, but if you send me mail at the address I just shared with David, I can help.   I don't know of someone in Toronto.   I'm about a day's drive away, but that's not very helpful.   The person I think you'd most benefit from talking to is Nick Grabovac: http://www.30daysofmindfulness.com/author/ngrabovac/

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your situation) he charges for consultation, but he is a really great teacher, and a very accomplished meditator, so he can definitely give you some useful advice getting to stage 7 more efficiently.   He also has a lot of experience with Mahasi noting, so he's a good crossover person for DhO people who are interested in TMI.   I think he has online classes, but I don't know the details.

You're also welcome to come to my Saturday morning online meetups, which are free.   We don't have any meditators who are past stage 7 at the moment, but you might still get some value out of it in terms of figuring out what stage 4/5/6 habits you could tweak to get better results.   The sign-up page is here: http://eepurl.com/cZBK31

Self-promotion aside, I'm not the right person to be talking to about getting to jhana, but it can be a good way to get some advice about how to connect with the sangha and get to the person who _can_ help you.   You can also join Culadasa's Patreon at the $1/month level and then ask a question—he's got a monthly Q&A coming up, and we haven't gotten enough questions.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/18/17 2:28 PM as a reply to Ted W Lemon.
Thanks a lot Ted. I sent an email, and I'm going to look into the information you posted.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/19/17 1:52 AM as a reply to Ted W Lemon.
Sent, thanks Ted.

RE: How tocontinue from here? (TMI, Goenka)
Answer
9/23/17 8:32 PM as a reply to David Starflower.
Thanks everyone for their responses.

I am now practicing TMI and am in contact with other practicioners and assistant teachers online. Next I will see which of my local sanghas are most in line with that to get local face-to-face contact. I consider adding a Vipassana technique (Mahasi looked interesting) once I developed my Samatha a little more with TMI.

It is an exciting time.