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Watching the Watcher

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Watching the Watcher Yilun Ong 10/28/17 4:50 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher shargrol 10/28/17 5:45 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher Yilun Ong 10/28/17 6:25 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher shargrol 10/28/17 9:19 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher shargrol 10/28/17 9:24 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher Yilun Ong 10/29/17 12:37 PM
RE: Watching the Watcher Daniel - san 10/29/17 11:55 PM
RE: Watching the Watcher Yilun Ong 10/30/17 12:04 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher Daniel - san 10/30/17 12:43 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher Daniel - san 10/30/17 3:06 PM
RE: Watching the Watcher Yilun Ong 10/31/17 6:00 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher Daniel - san 10/31/17 11:55 PM
RE: Watching the Watcher Stirling Campbell 11/1/17 10:15 PM
RE: Watching the Watcher Stirling Campbell 10/31/17 10:29 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher seth tapper 10/28/17 2:37 PM
RE: Watching the Watcher Yilun Ong 10/28/17 9:57 PM
RE: Watching the Watcher seth tapper 10/28/17 10:49 PM
RE: Watching the Watcher Yilun Ong 10/29/17 12:28 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher shargrol 10/29/17 9:02 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher Yilun Ong 10/29/17 8:12 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher seth tapper 10/29/17 9:22 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher Stirling Campbell 10/30/17 1:03 PM
RE: Watching the Watcher Yilun Ong 10/31/17 5:42 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher shargrol 10/31/17 6:15 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher Yilun Ong 10/31/17 6:25 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher shargrol 10/31/17 9:25 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher seth tapper 10/31/17 11:15 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher Nik 12/15/17 1:19 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher shargrol 12/15/17 8:05 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher Nik 12/24/17 6:39 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher seth tapper 10/31/17 8:31 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher Yilun Ong 10/31/17 9:57 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher seth tapper 10/31/17 11:14 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher Yilun Ong 10/31/17 7:22 PM
RE: Watching the Watcher David Blair 11/1/17 5:19 PM
RE: Watching the Watcher seth tapper 11/1/17 7:17 PM
RE: Watching the Watcher Stirling Campbell 11/1/17 10:34 PM
RE: Watching the Watcher David Blair 11/2/17 8:22 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher Stirling Campbell 11/2/17 10:13 AM
RE: Watching the Watcher seth tapper 11/2/17 2:01 PM
RE: Watching the Watcher Stirling Campbell 11/2/17 3:31 PM
RE: Watching the Watcher seth tapper 11/2/17 3:43 PM
Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/28/17 4:50 AM
I am not sure if I know the meaning of "watcher" but this is what I experience:

When mindful (takes an instant), watcher is aware of what is going on, e.g. thoughts and sensations. It will pop up during relaxing, especially when aware of thoughts with reference to 'ego'. It appears to be an invisible layer behind sensations, 100% not thought itself, but it cannot be described. It cannot be definitively found, although it may "wave" at you and kinda tries to pretend to be the watcher, e.g. 

1. Raptures especially on the head - they get stronger and faster when I am looking for it; the raptures also start to misbehave by literally running around the head pulsating, swirling, fluxing and if it goes on long enough, ultra fast vibrations hitting the T-zone. 
2. Pressure areas like the T-zone (3rd eye, brows, nose bridge) intensifies to pain. 
3. Images intensify or shout out to consciousness and they often 'materialize' as a face, head or eye. 

This can go on for quite awhile and I can feel the non-localized stresses building but can only be found in the 5 senses, it is draining but I will enter a zone where it seems to absorb me after awhile. 

The watcher is seen as a locationless power, an awareness when watching sensations; when you look for it, it tries to assimilate raptures as itself whilst dragging you along for a wild goose chase. It cannot be broken down and it is compounded by a host of sensations or even by feeling a state of 'presence' <- sorry, this self-important word makes me laugh* It is gone when not attended to but it can stay or pop up - glued with mindfulness (calm watcher) vs (angry, serious fella) when questioned (Who am I?).

Logically it does not exist. There are 2 ways that I have tried going at it and 1 of them is probably wrong:

A. Switching focus continuously and logically eliminate each sensation as the watcher [empty, transient, causal (usually by inquiry)] by an intense search for it.
B. Search watcher, observe awareness itself from a bird's eye view and not engaging. This is hard as usually 'it' will quickly pull you and even control the eye balls to look where 'it' wants you to. The eyeball movements can go so fast and extreme, it is not unlike a crazy rollercoaster eye-ride.
C. Just sit and do nothing - this will launch me on review cycles though. Even samatha/sleep sessions get hijacked.

Wondering aloud here whether I am doing this right (proper non-dual practice) or am I on the road to insanity hahaha (and stick my ass to Vipasanna review). I have high pain tolerance, so how best should this be pursued?

P.S. Possibly irrelevant story: I did this for more than 2 hours last night and stopped when my actual vision (not raptures as they seem integrated with reality) in the dark starts to get weird persisting after I stopped the session - there are patterns/colours/swirling. I switched on the lights to check vision and it is normal. This morning, I awakened 15 mins before the time I wanted to and saw a ghostly-lifelike lady sitting on the chair beside my bed, I couldn't believe my eyes and went closer and it turned out to be the fan and chair that made it seem like one. I snoozed and awoke again to the same vision of the ghost, checking once again proves it to be an illusion but man does it look real, I was sure it isn't real at any point of time but it makes no sense to the eye-consciousness at all. All of these happened in the dark - this may have something to do with night vision being more susceptible to mental phenomena as it is weak.

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/28/17 5:45 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
In general, post SE the mind rewires itself. It can hurt, no matter what you do, but I wouldn't do things that made things worse.

The mind will natual search for "watcher sensations" -- it's almost a wierd vanity, the watcher watching the watcher. You don't need to work hard at searching for the watcher... but out of curiousity, what is wrong with going through review cycles?

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/28/17 6:25 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
In general, post SE the mind rewires itself. It can hurt, no matter what you do, but I wouldn't do things that made things worse.

The mind will natual search for "watcher sensations" -- it's almost a wierd vanity, the watcher watching the watcher. You don't need to work hard at searching for the watcher... but out of curiousity, what is wrong with going through review cycles?

Thanks again shargrol! It does feel like a weird vanity like how I describe 'presence' above. There is nothing wrong with review cycles other than me feeling I can/should do more - I do know that this is counter-intuitive to many principles of not-doing but cannot help but wonder! 

I also wonder if the cycles simply do themselves whilst we are along for the ride. They are going on all-day long anyhow, does it help if I am consciously aware of them?

BTW, I believe I completed a cycle post-SE, (there is a blip finally!) but no permanent changes (the only thing important) and it does not matter - the problem is my excess energy is now spent on searching for new things to do hahaha - the problems of being a monk I suppose, this is my only job...

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/28/17 9:19 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
The not-doing dogma is a dogma like any other fixed view... I'm actually a fan of curiousity in practice. (However, the warning against having a "gaining" mindset during practice is a good one. Not seeing that form of greed can causes all kinds of trouble.)

Here's some quick possiblities, I'm curious if any of these sound interesting?:

1) nailing down the jhanas

2) mediation on the mindstream

3) mediation on subtle ill will/dukka

4) mediation on greed/aversion/ignorance co-arising at the point of the experience of a mind object

Any of those sound interesting? 

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/28/17 9:24 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Oh and by the way, the observation/realization that the cycles do themselves... that was an instrumental observation for me in the lead-up to my 3rd path moment. Basically I was on a 10 day retreat and meditation did itself for the whole time. I watched the mind get centered, watched it go in and out of jhana, watched in go in and out of mindfulness, watched an insight cycle come and go with no desire to push or pull on it, which really points out not-self in a whole different way emoticon  Not-self applies to both the sense of being a meditator and the sense of identifying with any quality of the mind itself.

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/28/17 2:37 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yilun, 

In reading your comments it seems like you are still hanging onto the idea that there is someone - you - doing something - making progress on the maps, meditating, etc.  To really move on, you have to just let that nonsense go.  Let your everyday walking around rational mind accept that a continuous self just isnt real.  Nothing you have ever done or will ever do is your fault or responsibility and all the nonsense going through the mind is nonsense.  If you push far forward in meditation, but hang onto a model of reality with a doer and stuff to be done, then all kinds of paradoxes and confusion arise and slow you down. 

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/28/17 9:57 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
Deepest gratitude for your advice, Teachers... I've been blindsided by the non-stop nana/jhana (going to sleep has been harder than post-SE), being unsure if I'm 'doing' (thanks for pointing this out, Seth) my best. 

I shall simply observe the mind stream, fetters and whatever comes up, meditating when it feels like it. They are doing their thing as long as I'm not focused on something else (typing this isn't focus) and they aren't very subtle - does this go on forever? 

: Jhanas are definitely a worthy endeavor, although access is easier, I seem to ride the jhana arc naturally by doing nothing, had fruitions pop, but they are often accompanied by varying pressure on the T-zone, i can 'wrinkle' the pressure spot to relieve pressure but more often than not, that drops me out, any advice?

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/28/17 10:49 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Does it go on forever?  

No.  But it goes on for years and years. The key is to learn to not care at all.   It is nonsense.  Imagine you are locked in a cell with a TV set in it.  The TV is on loud and you could spend your life watching TV worrying about the characters and the stories.  If you stop watching and worrying, the mind is free to just be loving and happy.  It will do that on its own.  That isnt supernatural, it is just how the human mind is constructed.  Forget what is true for a second, it is possible to see that the stream of experience being pulled through your mind as the drivel on TV, it has no meaning or value at all.  It is literally nonsense.  When you see that - all you experience is joy and love and happiness - these the mind produces when not worried.  You can experience that right now if you have the courage to let go of the stories that seem to give life importance.   If there are no stories, then nothing meaningful changes and there is nothing wrong and never has been and no one is in control of anything.  Imagine the earth before humans - just nature unfolding. It feels really natural and blissful to just accept that simple truth. 

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/29/17 12:28 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
The key is to learn to not care at all. 
 It will do that on its own. 
Forget what is true for a second, it is possible to see that the stream of experience being pulled through your mind  You can experience that right now if you have the courage to let go of the stories
Hi Seth, your entire post was beautifully written and a great insight to what you and possibly all enlightened beings experience - i look forward to seeing through your eyes. Did you come to this realization from these practices and are they from zen? Me and many others 'striving' in this business, have come in contact with multiple ways to get there and the more we know, the more we suffer and doubt our own practice and thus suffer absolutely needlessly perhaps in exchange of useless knowledge and tools if and when we get there - other than to be in a better position to help others. 

I will be happy to delay my own awakening if it serves to gain insight to what works and what doesn't. Having said that I tried what you describe but am unsure if I lack the courage or deep-inside-willingness to completely do the above (it is however a beautiful way of living, awakened or not), compounded by that I have mostly been progressing via the Vipassana way, so questions about whether it will be beneficial to switch to other methods arise and experiment with such switching to look at progress  - it is however hardly empirical and I may not see any answers - which seems to point to a zero-struggle, open acceptance of 'come what may' other than direct-pointing (sharp contrast).

Another question lies in "it doing itself" - Although 'it' is doing itself, will it help if I help it along and how? Is it best to do nothing, maintain the worldview you described, watch it mindfully in daily life or meditate (koans vs vipassana) as much as possible? It appears that this knot can be untied via many methods from absolutely zero force to middle to the extremities. It is perhaps true that different people will find different methods to work better but I think that there should be some unification of methods, systematically designed to guide everybody through in the best way, (ITTT-If This Then That, etc.) 

Collective enlightenment will not be that much of a dream if such a structured course is designed and perfected for our species... 

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/29/17 9:02 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yilun Ong:
Deepest gratitude for your advice, Teachers... I've been blindsided by the non-stop nana/jhana (going to sleep has been harder than post-SE), being unsure if I'm 'doing' (thanks for pointing this out, Seth) my best. 

I shall simply observe the mind stream, fetters and whatever comes up, meditating when it feels like it. They are doing their thing as long as I'm not focused on something else (typing this isn't focus) and they aren't very subtle - does this go on forever? 

: Jhanas are definitely a worthy endeavor, although access is easier, I seem to ride the jhana arc naturally by doing nothing, had fruitions pop, but they are often accompanied by varying pressure on the T-zone, i can 'wrinkle' the pressure spot to relieve pressure but more often than not, that drops me out, any advice?

For what it's worth, given your ability to continuously practice, what I would advise is something simple: stay interested in what is happening but have the intention of noticing subtle ill will. You don't need to "do" much more than that because of your continuity of practice, you naturally have enough concentration and your mind will naturally investigate.

So, keep using less and less effort, only enough to sit/walk and have curiousity about what is happening. Too much seeking/striving and you will overshoot your goal. Rather than wanting to use more effort when you are unsure you are doing your best -- turn towards that feeling itself. Use your energy to gently investigate that knot of thoughts/emotions. Some part of your mindset is clearly feeling "this is inadequate, this isn't it". When you have that experience look directly at it. Don't try to get rid of it, rather try to make it even more vivid in your mind, so that you can taste all the subtle aspects of it. Try to keep it around so you can really look at it and understand it. Rather than trying to "fix" dukka, study the dukka, understand dukka's actual nature. When you see it as it is, you can't be fooled by it.

Your mind is probably so agile that it will naturally break the experience into sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts. If you feel stuck, you can remind yourself to ask "what in this feeling of lacking or ill will is a sensation? an urge? an emotion? a thought?". Simply keep doing that. Sit and enjoy your sits --- let yourself feel calm, ease -- but if something seems inadequate or a problem then investigate that experience of feeling inadequate or having a problem. Let jhanas and nanas come and go. But stay curious about ill will. 

"Let mind objects come and go, investigate ill will." 

Once this becomes a habit, you are carried like being a river. If you get stuck in a little whirlpool in the river (ill will) you take your paddle and stroke the water (make contact will the sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts of ill will) which sends you back into the flow of the river. 

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/29/17 8:12 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:


"Once this becomes a habit, you are carried like being a river. If you get stuck in a little whirlpool in the river (ill will) you take your paddle and stroke the water (make contact will the sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts of ill will) which sends you back into the flow of the river. "

Thank you very much shargrol for the detailed explanation. Love the above analogy... 

May All Beings Be Free! emoticon

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/29/17 9:22 AM as a reply to shargrol.
I am not talking about meditation or practice.  This is just simple logic.  You are a body and a brain.  The brain evolved to think it is important and has free will.  Those are obvious delusions evolution gave us.  Drop em.  You seem to have a strong meditation practice, I am not an expert on meditation or vipassana.  I am arguing that you should pay more attention to the narratives you are identifying with off the cushion.   Right now you go way out and get pretty selfless while meditatiing and then probably feel like you go back to your "normal" state of mind and think about the progress you are making, etc when you get up.  Try to develop a walking around model of reality that doesnt include will or responsibility or guilt or suffering.  Try to adpot that model in challenging circumstances to make it stronger.  Then the insights you have while on the cushion will support your model of reality and the model will support your deprogramming on the cushion.  If you find yourself caught up in a  narrative off the cushion, then just bring back the will less model the way you would bring attention back to the breath.  



RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/29/17 12:37 PM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Oh and by the way, the observation/realization that the cycles do themselves... that was an instrumental observation for me in the lead-up to my 3rd path moment. Basically I was on a 10 day retreat and meditation did itself for the whole time. I watched the mind get centered, watched it go in and out of jhana, watched in go in and out of mindfulness, watched an insight cycle come and go with no desire to push or pull on it, which really points out not-self in a whole different way emoticon  Not-self applies to both the sense of being a meditator and the sense of identifying with any quality of the mind itself.

OMG! I just had a session that IT did everything itself. move legs, ass, eyes, breathe, swallow saliva...

I am typing and IT keeps wanting to crack my neck to the right. Feels like I am being partly remote controlled. FUN STUFF! emoticon

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/29/17 11:55 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yilun Ong:

OMG! I just had a session that IT did everything itself. move legs, ass, eyes, breathe, swallow saliva...

I am typing and IT keeps wanting to crack my neck to the right. Feels like I am being partly remote controlled. FUN STUFF! emoticon

AKA Kundalini 
But back to Vipassana, what is IT? Are you being remote controlled by some outside force? Where do you draw the line between interior and exterior other than as an arbitrary concept? 
This is is my whole issue with watching watchers and observing things, IME it’s all stress/fabricated/dukkha

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/30/17 12:04 AM as a reply to Daniel - san.
External? Is that even possible? Leg/ass jerking seems like kundalini, eyes follow raptures to open, move and blink, only swallowing of saliva - I could sense an intent before it happened but I did not will it. Yeah an explanation will be appreciated. Haven't had time since that session but it didn't repeat whilst walking around... :/

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/30/17 12:43 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Hey Yilun,
I meant it more like this, from the book ‘Quintessential Dzogchen’, this particular pointing out instruction from Tulkin Urgyen Rinpoche:

Meditation generally means paying attention. But in this case, we need to train in being free of the watcher and what is watched. In shamatha there is an observer and an object observed. So, honestly, shamatha is also a training in blocking off emptiness. Shamatha makes the mind used to and occupied with being quiet. Something is always maintained. That kind of state is a product of a technique. One applies a lot of effort to fabricating a certain mind-made state. And any state that is a product of training is not liberation. Simply being able to remain quiet does not cause confusion to collapse.

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/30/17 1:03 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
Yilun, 

In reading your comments it seems like you are still hanging onto the idea that there is someone - you - doing something - making progress on the maps, meditating, etc.  To really move on, you have to just let that nonsense go.  Let your everyday walking around rational mind accept that a continuous self just isnt real.  Nothing you have ever done or will ever do is your fault or responsibility and all the nonsense going through the mind is nonsense.  If you push far forward in meditation, but hang onto a model of reality with a doer and stuff to be done, then all kinds of paradoxes and confusion arise and slow you down. 
This.

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/30/17 3:06 PM as a reply to Daniel - san.
I think I get this but I can never be sure, there’s some circular and non-referential stuff going on. Could you please optimize and demystify what you’re saying? The book quote I copied seems to disparage shamatha, but it’s more subtle than that, and the author later clarifies the distinction in the essay in a similar way that you did (I think). 
In in my own experience, being a watcher in itself tires the mind, because it’s fabricated. Letting things be as they are without effort/trying to change reality due to subtle dissatisfaction, releases stress. The effort of trying, however subtle, keeps one from experiencing emptiness, or reality as it is.
All this other meditation business like concentration, one pointed focus etc. that most people practice is just more mind versus mind. Not that there’s anything wrong with that - it’s life as we know it, attached. 

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/31/17 5:42 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
Angra Mainyu:
seth tapper:
Nothing you have ever done or will ever do is your fault or responsibility and all the nonsense going through the mind is nonsense. 

The key is to learn to not care at all.

If you stop watching and worrying, the mind is free to just be loving and happy.  It will do that on its own. 

I am arguing that you should pay more attention to the narratives you are identifying with off the cushion. 

Try to develop a walking around model of reality that doesnt include will or responsibility or guilt or suffering.  Try to adopt that model in challenging circumstances to make it stronger.


There seems to be a great many variation of ways of getting there! I am frankly not worried about awakening but am certainly inflicted by this know-how-it-happens bug (I should drop all curiosity till the journey is over?). This non-dual business really needs to be grounded down. I understand Shargrol's instructions (the MCTB or Vipasanna way), confused by Seth & Stirling (Is this Zen/Dzogchen/Direct Pointing?), which let's try to address below, as for Angra, it takes numerous re-reads and at best I form an incomplete answer and probably as lost as I began as to what to do with it hahaha.

Please bear with me as I clarify the above. Would this mean that I attempt to enter into this mindset of not caring, not watching intently, but pay attention to the narratives and dismissing them as nonsense AND the big one "not having a will"?

This is very conflicting for a non-awakened individual to swallow. One will get stuck with very simple tasks like tea or coffee, pee now or later, walk left or right, look here or there, continue sleeping or wake up. After a short while, the brain will smack you and laugh at this endeavor. How does one do this off the cushion? 

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/31/17 6:00 AM as a reply to Daniel - san.
Daniel - san:

In in my own experience, being a watcher in itself tires the mind, because it’s fabricated. Letting things be as they are without effort/trying to change reality due to subtle dissatisfaction, releases stress. The effort of trying, however subtle, keeps one from experiencing emptiness, or reality as it is.

Hi Daniel, what happens when you meditate, can you explain the state and what the mind does to phenomena, does it shift by itself to observe anything or does it stay as a wide open awareness, not bothering with anything happening?

I tried doing this twice by slowly dropping observation effort and all volition (other than a premade intention to hold onto the last shred of observing). So what happens is:

1. a blip that feels like losing "all but not quite all" concentration, no jhana-like transition, not cessation/fruition
2. the brain coming back on with a new formless state (I am not sure which formless jhana it resembles)
3. the previous raptures died (again not sure as concentration was falling from them)
4. consciousness comes back on a level not unlike being what you describe (effortless)
5. can watch the body do everything by itself, e.g. breathing (can feel the tiny gap between intent and will)

By experimentation, I noticed that I can slow down or hold my breath but there will be a pull to revert it to its control, it will also automatically recompensate for the lack of oxygen.

Is this how you meditate all the time? 

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/31/17 6:15 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yeah, the advice is piling up! emoticon 


My favorite dharma quotes/advice of all time...http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/fuang/itself.pdf

§ “For insight to arise, you have to use your own strategies. You can’t use other people’s strategies and expect to get the same results they did.”

§ "The stages of the practice... Actually the different stages don't say what they are. We simply make up names for them. As long as you stay stuck on these made-up names, you'll never get free."

§ "You can't plan the way your practice is going to go. The mind has its own steps and stages, and you have to let the practice follow in line with them. That's the only way you'll get genuine results. Otherwise you'll turn into a half-baked arahant."

Keep doing what you are doing and trust yourself. emoticon

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/31/17 6:25 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Yeah, the advice is piling up! emoticon 

Keep doing what you are doing and trust yourself. emoticon

I realized that already, just have to give up the last shred of trying to understand this mystical thing and trying to put a finger on it to help others. I am certain that this is futile now, if it can be done, it would have been accomplished by many greater minds before me hahaha.

Life's absolutely great and free as it is from where I am now...

P.S. Do you know if watching craving/aversion help with progress? I have been doing it nonetheless as it is a worthy endeavor on its own by the benefits it brings, however I seldom see this being mentioned here...

Can't tell you guys how much gratitude I have for all of you! Happiness sent! emoticon

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/31/17 8:31 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
sorry if my advice was confusing!  

With your most rational mind, when you look around, what do you see happening?  

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/31/17 9:25 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yilun Ong:

P.S. Do you know if watching craving/aversion help with progress? I have been doing it nonetheless as it is a worthy endeavor on its own by the benefits it brings, however I seldom see this being mentioned here...


Absolutely! Watching craving/aversion is the essence of the work.

Basically, all practices have the basic dynamic of looking closely at mind objects and noticing that, while they appear to be hindrances if you buy into them, but they actually already nibbana themselves. Basically without practices, without out investigation of craving/aversion, we are ignorant of the actual nature of craving/aversion and therefore stuck in samsara.

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/31/17 9:57 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
sorry if my advice was confusing!  

With your most rational mind, when you look around, what do you see happening?  

Please! If anything it is my crazy mind that is confusing itself, sigh... 

If you mean my ex-crazy-mind, nothing as the mind is somewhere else hahaha. But progress from that, it sees stories, concepts and makes more stories, dig more stories and plan for more stories...

This forum, its creator and participants are doing so much for killing suffering. Thank you Seth, please do not be gentle if I deserve to be scolded! emoticon

Hey Shargrol, sorry I dumbed out when asking that question. Almost everything about Vipassana is related to that... Geez.

RE: Watching the Watcher
Answer
10/31/17 10:29 AM as a reply to Daniel - san.
My understanding/experience is:

Space between thoughts in samadhi allows watching of thoughts. It is seen that thoughts are not "I" since we can watch them arise separately from us of their own accord. 

Meditator temporarily identifies as "watcher" (another "self" that is not "I".)

Meditator sees that "watcher" is another "self" and that this view is still a frame around "everything". The frame of "watcher" is dropped. There is just "this", and what meditator is is not separate from that.

proper concentration seems to be in immediately being immersed into every single object that mind focuses on that is very much like level of immersion achieved by staying on object for longer time but without need to tire part of mind that get tired during normal samatha practice but by not using them to generate experience of awareness but using them ennough to pre-generate experience of immersion other objects and being aware of them but withot interfering with level of immersion of currently focused on object

There is "local awareness", or as my Zen teacher put it "putting your mind on an object". There is also "open awareness" where there is diffuse alertness of all objects that are sensory input, but they are seen as empty. Done correctly, neither should tire the mind, because doing this is merely resting in what "mind" is. It isn't a thing you do, it is meditation meditating YOU. It has been my default "mind" state since somewhere after Stream Entry. Tibetan and Zen flavor Buddhists call this the "nature of mind", and IMHO it IS the pervasive nondual state that is, in essence not separate or different from the nonduality of the dharmakaya that THIS all always is.

RE: Watching the Watcher
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10/31/17 11:14 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Again, just with your rational mind - forget meditation and buddhism and what not - with the same mind you would try to solve a hard math problem - what do you use as your model of reality.  

Do people have free will and you get angry at some and like others? 
Is there great injustice in the world that you have a responsibiity to fight? 
What is the most important thing happening now - Elon Musk going to mars?  trump going to jail? 

I find that many people have a meditation personality and a walking around personality - me too!.  We plunge ourself deep in meditation and then try to make sense of that experience with our "normal" mind.  That heating and quenching action slows progress way down and is not required.  To speed up progress, I suggest trying to build a "normal" every day mind that looks at the world in a way that is congruent with what you are finding in meditation and with what you think the end state is going to be.  Dropping delusions like suffering a seperate self and evil is like dropping delusions like racism or nationalism - you can't just talk about it in class, you have to live it for the change to really take place. 

RE: Watching the Watcher
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10/31/17 11:15 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Yilun Ong:

P.S. Do you know if watching craving/aversion help with progress? I have been doing it nonetheless as it is a worthy endeavor on its own by the benefits it brings, however I seldom see this being mentioned here...


Absolutely! Watching craving/aversion is the essence of the work.

Basically, all practices have the basic dynamic of looking closely at mind objects and noticing that, while they appear to be hindrances if you buy into them, but they actually already nibbana themselves. Basically without practices, without out investigation of craving/aversion, we are ignorant of the actual nature of craving/aversion and therefore stuck in samsara.
"  Basically, all practices have the basic dynamic of looking closely at mind objects and noticing that, while they appear to be hindrances if you buy into them, but they actually already nibbana themselves "

This one sentence is the whole enchilada.  True on the cushion and off. 

RE: Watching the Watcher
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10/31/17 7:22 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:

Is there great injustice in the world that you have a responsibiity to fight? - Zero
What is the most important thing happening now - Elon Musk going to mars? - Zero  trump going to jail? - Funny

I find that many people have a meditation personality and a walking around personality - I notice that mostly as described below. However, non-duality especially WRT will is too tough at the moment.

 That heating and quenching action slows progress way down and is not required.  To speed up progress, I suggest trying to build a "normal" every day mind that looks at the world in a way that is congruent with what you are finding in meditation and with what you think the end state is going to be.  Dropping delusions like suffering a seperate self and evil is like dropping delusions like racism or nationalism - you can't just talk about it in class, you have to live it for the change to really take place. 
"Do people have free will and you get angry at some and like others?"

No to the rest but I am still susceptible to the above! I am helping my mom and some friends to meditate or see my point of view that would help their situation - I do feel anger build up (2x in 1 month) but I stop it from happening, that takes effort and isn't "normal". Prior to this I have many thoughts related to self 'ego', thinking thoughts/actions that will boost the 'ego', thinking it is smart, etc. That has dissapeared mostly and if it does come up, it kind of quickly kills itself as "nonsense", seemingly without effort but noticed. Thank you for reminding me on this, I will build congruency by how I know-how-to and have been - through mindfulness. Any other methods of doing this other than seeing your point and keep at it?

I am a close-to-zero-Thai-speaker, surrounded by Thai's. I am pretty much in a retreat other than electronic communications. Question: Is it better to seal oneself in a retreat environment (kill communications) or push/test this in reality?

Peace and Love to everyone! emoticon

RE: Watching the Watcher
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10/31/17 11:55 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Hi Yilun,
My short answer to your last question is no, that’s not how I meditate.
Stirling’s description of practice resonates with me very much, but the last thing he said about neither open awareness nor observation should tire the mind, I get that too, but I’m not sure I agree. Maybe it depends on your chosen definition of ‘mind’. In at least one definition, mind and stress are two peas in a pod.
My meditation practice lines up with the four objects described in the Satipatthani Sutta, with sensation/energy being the mostly dominant component. That’s not my choice however, just how it plays out. I let awareness go where it wants without manipulation (what I call mind versus mind). ‘Your’ awareness is smarter than ‘you’ (I added the quotes to emphasize how ridiculous, yet true, that statement is)
As for observing v. open awareness, I vascillate between the two in practice. Observation involves keeping a ‘last shred of observing’ as you put it. Drop that, it’s a hot potato. In my experience keeping that subtle effort to observe is itself a subtle aversion to reality, and it creates stress/sensation. 
When I do that there are no lines that separate subject and object and, for me, that is a split that is manufactured and supported by not relaxing enough. This results in a sense of fulfillment, and expansive joy and fearlessness, but I need to practice more to (hopefully) get established fully in that emptiness/non-attachment. I’ve been undergoing an energetic reorganization for 11 years now and my subtle body is clogged up and (hopefully) purifying. This is very related to clinging and stress in general, maybe not directly related though. My inner guru tells me that open bare awareness is the most purifying practice of all, though exercise, diet and yoga/shamatha support as well. Thinking a lot also creates stress, but right view is key, so it’s a balance ;)
Practice well

RE: Watching the Watcher
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11/1/17 5:19 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
Do people have free will and you get angry at some and like others? 


Sorry for barging in on a near-dead thread but I did want to say thanks to all involved, this is what I love about DhO.  Also...

For me the above is the tricky one.  Free will is a bit tough.  Conceptually I find it hard to dismiss but neither on cushion or off cushion experience strongly suggests that it is true.  In addition, recent on cushion experiences of lack-of-will have been quite pleasant so I suspect recalibration is underway.  I'll be playing with this; thanks for the tip!

The second part of the above is really tough.  Maybe I'm misinterpreting it, but it seems to ask whether I have differentiated feelings about people and implies that in the end state I won't.  The question for me isn't about anger, the question is do I love people in the abstract and are there people in this world for whom my love is overwhelming and visceral?  Absolutely.  Off cushion and on cushion.  Spouse and children (and dog of course :-)  I think it comes from a body of intimate shared experiences that break down the boundaries of self and seems completely consistent with where (I hope) the path leads.   In my current limited understanding, none of this is to imply that there is static self; quite the contrary, a critical part of the constantly evolving self is this collective act of sharing with others.  No static self doesn't imply that every moment the self is reconstituted completely independently of the past right (though that does sound vaguely zen)?

It seems somewhat related to the question of pleasure vs. pain.  Maybe in the end state it's not supposed to matter but to paraphrase Shinzen Young even the very enlightened would take tea with the queen over 12 hours of pliers and blowtorch in a Syrian prison.  Heck even the burning monks of yore are suspected of having achieved their feats through amazing concentration (mind state) and not insight.

Seth, I noticed you referenced your children in a recent post.  If you don't mind a personal question, how do you feel about your children relative to a random stranger?  On cushion vs. off cushion?  What about end state?   I'm gently curious.  Feel free to tell me to bugger off.

Side note,  several years ago pre-practice/post-children I picked a copy of the Mumonkon and read the koan "Is that so".  Scared the shit out me, decided I wasn't up to this zen thing.  Part of deciding to meditate was deciding to revisit "Is that so" in particular.

RE: Watching the Watcher
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11/1/17 7:17 PM as a reply to David Blair.
What I have learned is that my mind will love anything it thinks it can. 

RE: Watching the Watcher
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11/1/17 10:15 PM as a reply to Daniel - san.
Daniel - san:

...neither open awareness nor observation should tire the mind, I get that too, but I’m not sure I agree.
Just to mention, regarding your point: If there is effort the "mind" will tire. It is resting in that state that can be effortless.

My predominant state since about 3 months after SE is "open awareness". It establishes naturally. I have heard a few other post SE people say something similar, though it's possible it's not universal. 

RE: Watching the Watcher
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11/1/17 10:34 PM as a reply to David Blair.
David Blair:

The second part of the above is really tough.  Maybe I'm misinterpreting it, but it seems to ask whether I have differentiated feelings about people and implies that in the end state I won't.
Hope you don't mind me contributing here, but I find this is one of the more fascinating puzzles about how things are now.

Before SE I had a deep abiding love for my wife, and after... I still do, but it's not like it was. A large part of what is different is the loss of all clinging to what she thinks, or does, or feels she wants or needs, and my need to be involved in that. I still "love" my wife and children, but I know I don't ever have to worry about them. I hope they will be happy, but I don't feel I have to do anything to make that happen - I know it's not up to "me". I know certainly that what they are is not separate from what "I", or anything else that manifests, is. Still, while I KNOW that none of what this is has separateness, I am 90% sure I'd jump in front of my wife over a stranger without the thought process if a bullet was coming at us. Perhaps this is still conditioning that will fall away? I can't be sure. I don't know why this is. It is a great improvement on how things were.

RE: Watching the Watcher
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11/2/17 8:22 AM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
Stirling Campbell:
David Blair:

The second part of the above is really tough.  Maybe I'm misinterpreting it, but it seems to ask whether I have differentiated feelings about people and implies that in the end state I won't.
Hope you don't mind me contributing here, but I find this is one of the more fascinating puzzles about how things are now.

Before SE I had a deep abiding love for my wife, and after... I still do, but it's not like it was. A large part of what is different is the loss of all clinging to what she thinks, or does, or feels she wants or needs, and my need to be involved in that. I still "love" my wife and children, but I know I don't ever have to worry about them. I hope they will be happy, but I don't feel I have to do anything to make that happen - I know it's not up to "me". I know certainly that what they are is not separate from what "I", or anything else that manifests, is. Still, while I KNOW that none of what this is has separateness, I am 90% sure I'd jump in front of my wife over a stranger without the thought process if a bullet was coming at us. Perhaps this is still conditioning that will fall away? I can't be sure. I don't know why this is. It is a great improvement on how things were.
Stirling,

I am very happy for you to jump in.  As I mention above, I sort of think of this as my koan so any help I can get is appreciated!

The way I feel about my family is somewhat similar to what you describe.  The love and the clinging are indeed separate and recognizing this the clinging goes; this is why "Is that so" no longer frightens me.  I definitely know that I can't make wife and kids happy and don't get caught up trying to do so (this can frustrate my wife sometimes to be sure).  Nonetheless, I stop short of a blanket "don't feel I have to do anything to make that happen".  The reason why I stop short has everything to do the way I perceive the "lack of separateness" you refer to.  Somewhere over on the Hamilton project blog Nikolai quotes someone saying in effect "the tree is nothing without its environment; the environment makes the tree".  Yes!  But to my mind "lack of separateness" is a quality; physics matters and the environment nearer to the tree has a stronger effect on the making of the tree.  This is what I was trying to get at with "body of intimate shared experience"; it is the nearness that feeds the lack of separateness between people.   As long as I am part of the environment of my wife and kids I'll be a part of the beautiful complex dynamics making them what they are; whether I see myself "doing" anything about this is where the inquiry loops back to the question of free will.  As for taking the bullet for your wife, from this perspective perhaps this is simply self preservation emoticon

That said, I certainly can believe that the more skillful can transcend what I describe as "physics" above and see the tree being made equally by every facet of the universe.  That is so far from my experience that I can't do anything with the idea except store it for later.

Thanks again.

RE: Watching the Watcher
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11/2/17 10:13 AM as a reply to David Blair.
David Blair.:

The reason why I stop short has everything to do the way I perceive the "lack of separateness" you refer to.

This is the key insight. It's not something you can arrive at with the intellect, or even by trying different activities, meditations, techniques, etc. It's not something a "person" sees. This insight happens outside of all of that - shows us that what "we" are IS outside of all of that - and permanently alters the illusion of separateness forever. 

Having seen through that, the mystery for me is: why have any seeminly specific affinity for particular people, places, things, events? It happens anyway, without doing, just as everything that happens does.

RE: Watching the Watcher
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11/2/17 2:01 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
This has been a big big drag on my practice - worrying about losing interest in my family.  It feels more like my attitude towards people is becoming like my attitude towards dogs.  I love all dogs, but I love mine the most intensely. (dont actually have a dog)  The mind will love anything it views as lovable.  As everything becomes more apparently of the same nature, the mind gives itself permission to love widely.  Perhaps at the end state one will be like Christ and love everything as you love yourself.  I hope so. 

RE: Watching the Watcher
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11/2/17 3:31 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
This has been a big big drag on my practice - worrying about losing interest in my family.  It feels more like my attitude towards people is becoming like my attitude towards dogs.  I love all dogs, but I love mine the most intensely. (dont actually have a dog)  The mind will love anything it views as lovable.  As everything becomes more apparently of the same nature, the mind gives itself permission to love widely.  Perhaps at the end state one will be like Christ and love everything as you love yourself.  I hope so. 
Seth, 

How has it become a drag? You are past Stream Entry? I'm somewhere in 3rd path, and if I had to guess, I think that the way you act and behave with your family will be mostly the same, but that your concern and worry about them will wane, and that you are likely right about the outcome. What drops away, mostly, is the stuff you built your "ego" from - the hobbies you identified with, or things that exist that are there to show the world who "you" are and what your identity is. From where I'm sitting, none of it is up to a "me" anyway.

My advice - just relax. Everything is perfect in this moment. emoticon

RE: Watching the Watcher
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11/2/17 3:43 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
I am past that issue finally, thanks!  I have no idea how what i am up to maps to the maps.    I spent a lot of time trying to let go of identifying with narratives about my family because I could see that my relationship with them was not based on reason or fact but on conditioning so I harbored worries that when i released that conditioning I would not feel connected to them as deeply or something.  I knew it was nonsense, but I held on to those ideas a lot longer than other things I used to believe in.   
  

RE: Watching the Watcher
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12/15/17 1:19 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Hey Shargrol, did you ever study with Sayadaw Tejaniya?

RE: Watching the Watcher
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12/15/17 8:05 AM as a reply to Nik.
No, that's a new name to me. I'm curious why you asked, but no worries if you don't feel like answering.

RE: Watching the Watcher
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12/24/17 6:39 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
No, that's a new name to me. I'm curious why you asked, but no worries if you don't feel like answering.


I was reading through your posts (great stuff--- thank you) and your 'style' seems similar to Sayadaw Tejaniya (who is my 'main' teacher at the moment)--- the stuff about knowing when craving/aversion is in the mind, relaxing, maintaining curiousity in the practice, and so on. Anyway, he has some really great free books (basically just QandA's curated by people at his retreats or at his center in Myanmar): http://ashintejaniya.org/teachings. It's probably the most 'Actual Freedom'-esque teaching I've seen with Theravada Buddhism (if I'm understanding AF correctly lol).