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What am I losing with insight into no-self and what was that?

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Following The Mind Illuminated and just having experienced some pitti I have started to try to intellectually understand the major insights required for enlightenment. At first, I thought it's all not a big deal but slowly it creeps in on me that I am actually quite attached to my ego. In particular, I am quite attached to worldly desires. Now I am wondering how much of my drive gets lost?


Will I lose pretty much the interest in women as it is just worldly desire? Or will I stop wanting to learn or change things as it is again just worldly desire? It dawns on me that by losing my worldly desires I might be very
unrelatable to my friends and everyone else...


I am slowly
losing the interest in continuing this path as my worldly life is actually pretty good. So far I have enjoyed meditating a lot and I believe I have gained much through it (psychological purification, concentration, unreactivity, joy, mundane insights). Can someone chip in on how much is actually being lost by enlightenment and how much is gained?


Furthermore, about three months ago while meditating I had this very brief loss of
consciousness whereupon I didn't quite understand from where I was actually observing my experience and suddenly mental talk kicked in that was referring to me as it. Some days after (cannot exactly remember how many) I felt quite terrible, having had a lot of negative self talk and disgusting feelings for a month which I never had before. At that time I did not know anything about how insights and so on might arise as I was just in stage 3 of TMI. I thought it was connected to my meditation practice that just made me so aware of things that were always there and I was just noticing them now. Of course, I dropped my practice for some time which did not really help and after two weeks I continued practicing. Was this already some insight moment or just a little abnormality with an unconnected awareness into something that was already there?


RE: What am I losing with insight into no-self and what was that?
Answer
10/2/17 5:35 AM as a reply to jacob.
Hey Jacob, welcome! emoticon

Some comments below...

jacob:

I am actually quite attached to my ego.



What's an ego?

jacob:

Will I lose pretty much the interest in women as it is just worldly desire? 
No. There's nothing wrong with worldly desire IMHO. There's something very unpleasant when there is too much attachment and craving associated with it.

(Also: If you ever lose your interest in anything, you likely won't miss it!)


jacob:

Or will I stop wanting to learn or change things as it is again just worldly desire?
Personally, I have experienced a balancing out of my desire to learn and change things. Much for the better.


jacob:

I am slowly
losing the interest in continuing this path as my worldly life is actually pretty good.

You don't have to give up your worldly life. This being said, if you are losing interest in meditation, awakening, and all that, it's perfectly fine to give up. You are not entirely wrong to worry about what might happen. Enlightenment does include some degree and form of personality change, so you will become a (bit of a) different person than you are now as you progress. The question is: Will the change be undesirable? And will it be undesirable the way I expect it to be undesirable? emoticon

I have never met anyone who regretted the changes that happend.

Equally importanly, I have only rarely met people who had drastic changes in personally that were expected and undesired at the same time. Many things come up to you as a pleasant surprise, in my experience.


jacob:

So far I have enjoyed meditating a lot and I believe I have gained much through it (psychological purification, concentration, unreactivity, joy, mundane insights).
If I were you, I would base my decisions on what you are experiencing through meditation right now, rather than an intellectual understanding of what (shades of) enlightenment might be like.


jacob:

Can someone chip in on how much is actually being lost by enlightenment and how much is gained?
"Highly recommended, can't tell you why."

There are different flavours of enlightenment, particularly after first path. What you lose and what you gain is ultimately dependent on the individual. Culadasa bases a lot of his model of enlightenement on the Ten Fetters, so there is a lot of emphasis on the Theravadin idea of renunciation, purification, and so on. If that's not your thing, you might switch to more tantric, world-enjoying practices.

Whatever your choice, up to about Culadasa stage 9 and Stream Entry, you will be developing useful skills for whatever you want to do next. So if you plan on moving forward with meditaition, I would totally 100% keep on doing TMI stuff.


jacob:

Furthermore, about three months ago while meditating I had this very brief loss of consciousness whereupon I didn't quite understand from where I was actually observing my experience and suddenly mental talk kicked in that was referring to me as it. Some days after (cannot exactly remember how many) I felt quite terrible, having had a lot of negative self talk and disgusting feelings for a month which I never had before. At that time I did not know anything about how insights and so on might arise as I was just in stage 3 of TMI. I thought it was connected to my meditation practice that just made me so aware of things that were always there and I was just noticing them now. Of course, I dropped my practice for some time which did not really help and after two weeks I continued practicing. Was this already some insight moment or just a little abnormality with an unconnected awareness into something that was already there?
It is hard to diagnose what you describe. Did this happen before or after the piti you described on top of your post? It might be some kind of insight into dukkha and anatta.

Are you familiar with the descriptions of the Dark Night / Dukkha Nanas from Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha? Could be that, or not.

Hope this helps!

RE: What am I losing with insight into no-self and what was that?
Answer
10/2/17 1:59 PM as a reply to neko.
Hey neko, thanks for the welcome and your helpful answersemoticon.

What's an ego?

I might have been a little sloppy with the term ego. What I mean is the behavior that arises due to the feeling of self.

There are different flavours of enlightenment, particularly after first path. What you lose and what you gain is ultimately dependent on the individual. Culadasa bases a lot of his model of enlightenement on the Ten Fetters, so there is a lot of emphasis on the Theravadin idea of renunciation, purification, and so on. If that's not your thing, you might switch to more tantric, world-enjoying practices.

Whatever your choice, up to about Culadasa stage 9 and Stream Entry, you will be developing useful skills for whatever you want to do next. So if you plan on moving forward with meditaition, I would totally 100% keep on doing TMI stuff.

So it seems to be a good idea to continue for now. Just out of curiosity which book about tantra can you recommend?

It is hard to diagnose what you describe. Did this happen before or after the piti you described on top of your post? It might be some kind of insight into dukkha and anatta.

Are you familiar with the descriptions of the Dark Night / Dukkha Nanas from Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha? Could be that, or not.

The pitis came later, however more or less since this weird moment in meditation I am able to make strange currents arise from my lower belly into the rest of the body if I focus on it. Nevertheless, I started reading MCTB but I have not gotten to The Progress of Insight chapter. I might just skip to that part emoticon.

RE: What am I losing with insight into no-self and what was that?
Answer
10/2/17 4:58 PM as a reply to jacob.
jacob:
So it seems to be a good idea to continue for now. Just out of curiosity which book about tantra can you recommend?
I am not the right person to ask for tantra, maybe someone else can chime in. I could recommend some stuff from Mahamudra though. In any case, I wouldn't suggest to look into it before first path.


jacob:

The pitis came later, however more or less since this weird moment in meditation I am able to make strange currents arise from my lower belly into the rest of the body if I focus on it.


That's piti. So you having crossed the A&P event and having wondered into the dukkha nanas is definitely a possibility to consider.

If this is the case, some general advice:

1) Keep good, healthy lifestyle habits (eat well, sleep regularly, exercise).

2) Don't fuck up your relationships and work/study. Know that you will get out of it.

3) Do samatha. Cultivate joy during your sits.

4) Yoga helps.

5) The weird currents in the belly, do they feel pleasant? Look into that. Try to use them to get into soft jhana if you can

http://www.leighb.com/jhana3.htm



jacob:
Nevertheless, I started reading MCTB but I have not gotten to The Progress of Insight chapter. I might just skip to that part emoticon.


If you've read TMI, you could have a look at these three documents by Culadasa on The Progress of Insight, although Daniel's treatment is more in-depth, and they do not agree 100% on everything.

http://dharmatreasure.org/wp-content/uploads/Meditation-and-Insight-I.pdf
http://dharmatreasure.org/wp-content/uploads/Meditation-and-Insight-II.pdf
http://dharmatreasure.org/wp-content/uploads/Meditation-and-Insight-III.pdf

RE: What am I losing with insight into no-self and what was that?
Answer
10/2/17 5:10 PM as a reply to jacob.
I guess since meditation is kind of an attack to the ego, creating a space where not much can be hold on to, it backfires at yourself. Sometimes very pleasant ("look how good and wonderful it is to identify") and sometimes the opposite (bad thoughts etc.). Meditation is about getting to know ones mind and so some habits are seen more clearly, so when you recognize you cling to your ego, good for you ;)

I see awakening as a natural process and believe in the long term it changes people to be more authentic and profits good character qualities, not always everywhere of course. Stream entry definitely is taking some pressure off instinct driven behaviour, which is so deeply routed in us.
And I feel too, worldy experiences aren't bad, the clinging is. "Nirvana is to be found in samsara" emoticon

RE: What am I losing with insight into no-self and what was that?
Answer
10/2/17 8:44 PM as a reply to jacob.
Hi jacob,

+1 for what neko said.

And if you want to practice tantra, I'd suggest finding a qualified teacher rather than trying to learn it from a book. Be sure to ask around about them before you start. It's too easy to convince yourself that you are practicing when all you are really doing is indulging yourself. A teacher acts as a good check on your tendency to indulge.

Good luck.

RE: What am I losing with insight into no-self and what was that?
Answer
10/3/17 4:05 AM as a reply to neko.
Thank you all for your replies again.
5) The weird currents in the belly, do they feel pleasant? Look into that. Try to use them to get into soft jhana if you can
They feel somewhat pleasant, sort of cold, electric a bit orgasmic but vibrating much, much faster. When I focus for a little longer on them my legs and arms start twitching a little. It's a little like shivering but then not really. At first, I really thought I am going crazy emoticon. I will try to go into soft jhana. However, my sits are fluctuating quite a bit. I managed to do full body breathing pretty much without any dullness and high concentration for some days but now I am somewhat thrown back and have to fight with dullness and much lower metacognitive awareness. 

If you've read TMI, you could have a look at these three documents by Culadasa on The Progress of Insight, although Daniel's treatment is more in-depth, and they do not agree 100% on everything.

http://dharmatreasure.org/wp-content/uploads/Meditation-and-Insight-I.pdf
http://dharmatreasure.org/wp-content/uploads/Meditation-and-Insight-II.pdf
http://dharmatreasure.org/wp-content/uploads/Meditation-and-Insight-III.pdf
I will definitely look into those documents.

By the way you seem to know TMI quite well. Does it occur often that the purification takes place in your dreams? I was sitting through stage 4 without strong emotions coming up. However, in my dreams I had plenty of nightmares which is quite unusual for me.

In general, I became very aware of my dreams and some funky stuff was going on. For example, one time I was sleeping but observing my body from above, at the same time I was feeling like I was still in my body and that my body was having a dream but I did not know the content of the dream. It was like observing myself from the outside but still somewhat know what was going on inside and felt pretty real.
Another one was, that I started to meditate in my dream and I suddenly my body was filled with bright light and I had the most pleasureful feelings going through my body.

I am thinking of finding a teacher but it is difficult to find one in Germany that knows TMI. I might just get one to have video chats with like Tucker Peck.

RE: What am I losing with insight into no-self and what was that?
Answer
10/3/17 8:33 AM as a reply to jacob.
jacob:
They feel somewhat pleasant, sort of cold, electric a bit orgasmic but vibrating much, much faster. When I focus for a little longer on them my legs and arms start twitching a little. It's a little like shivering but then not really. At first, I really thought I am going crazy emoticon
These are early and mid-degrees of piti. Re-read the interlude on piti in TMI if you still haven't.


jacob:

Does it occur often that the purification takes place in your dreams? I was sitting through stage 4 without strong emotions coming up. However, in my dreams I had plenty of nightmares which is quite unusual for me.
It is extremely common for dreams to become more vivid with meditation. This might be a good time to try to practice lucid dreaming, if you are interested.

B. Alan Wallace's book "The Attention Revolution" discusses the Yogacara 9 stages of mind staying (so the same ones as Culadasa) but with a twist on Dream Yoga. You might have a look at it, although the concentration part is nowhere as good as TMI, IMHO.

jacob:

In general, I became very aware of my dreams and some funky stuff was going on. For example, one time I was sleeping but observing my body from above, at the same time I was feeling like I was still in my body and that my body was having a dream but I did not know the content of the dream. It was like observing myself from the outside but still somewhat know what was going on inside and felt pretty real.

That is an out of body experience. Happens to me too during sleep.


jacob:

Another one was, that I started to meditate in my dream and I suddenly my body was filled with bright light and I had the most pleasureful feelings going through my body.
You seem to be gifted for this. Happens to me too. That is basically having an A&P from inside dreams. You can learn to put it to good use and basically keep on practicing during sleep.


jacob:

I am thinking of finding a teacher but it is difficult to find one in Germany that knows TMI.
Where in Germany? Two friends of mine are doing a teacher training with Culadasa. We also have a Berlin-based practical dharma mailing list, and a "sangha" in Berlin. PM me. :-)

RE: What am I losing with insight into no-self and what was that?
Answer
10/3/17 11:32 AM as a reply to neko.
neko:
http://dharmatreasure.org/wp-content/uploads/Meditation-and-Insight-I.pdf
http://dharmatreasure.org/wp-content/uploads/Meditation-and-Insight-II.pdf
http://dharmatreasure.org/wp-content/uploads/Meditation-and-Insight-III.pdf
neko...

thank you so much for these.

They cover a lot of what is (deliberately) missing from TMI, but not all; anyone who can point out more please do!

It's kind of daniel ingram territory ... but always good to have a second opinion.  Am waiting for MCTB2 before compariing...

Me I'm attempting to plan the journey ahead, it's all going round the tumble dryer right now :=)

RE: What am I losing with insight into no-self and what was that?
Answer
10/3/17 12:58 PM as a reply to baba ganoush.
baba ganoush:
neko...

thank you so much for these.


Glad it helped! But thank Culadasa, not me emoticon <3