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Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc

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Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc David S 3/3/18 5:19 PM
RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc David S 3/10/18 11:40 AM
RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc Matt 3/10/18 12:11 PM
RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc Yilun Ong 3/10/18 1:24 PM
RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc Francis 3/10/18 2:45 PM
RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc Yilun Ong 3/10/18 6:55 PM
RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc shargrol 3/11/18 8:49 AM
RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc svmonk 3/12/18 10:47 PM
RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc Yilun Ong 3/15/18 6:52 AM
RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc David S 3/17/18 11:54 AM
RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc Matt 3/19/18 1:18 AM
RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc Daniel M. Ingram 3/19/18 2:02 PM
RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc Lars 3/19/18 8:36 PM
RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc Daniel M. Ingram 3/20/18 9:31 AM
RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc S. 3/21/18 4:08 PM
RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc Andrew S 3/21/18 5:11 PM
RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc Caleb T 3/21/18 10:51 PM
RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc David S 3/24/18 1:52 PM
RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc D. 3/26/18 5:06 PM
In another thread, a long while back, I didn't ask Daniel a question because it would have taken that thread off topic. So I refrained from asking and let it go...until now. I want to know why Daniel posted how the shredding of experience through vipassana led to his most powerful experiences, yet he now focuses his practices on majick and powers.

From the beginning, as I began to learn the vipassana technique of understanding the 6 sense bases as they make up experience, it has always perplexed me why at some point if someone has moving experiences that they stop understanding them as a product of the mind sense base and the other sense bases. There seems to be a point of dropping the practice when faced with favorable experiences. Why is that? Doesn't it contradict the technique of vipassana? And the insight of that technique? And why are power visualizations even practiced, since they flow from one's desires, both conscious and unconscious?

Isn't there a contradiction here?

RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc
Answer
3/10/18 11:40 AM as a reply to David S.
I'm still interested to hear other's thoughts on the original post.

RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc
Answer
3/10/18 12:11 PM as a reply to David S.
David S:
...

Isn't there a contradiction here?

I don't speak for anyone, but I remember reading in MCTB the idea that there is a limit of insight to be gained from vipassana. So, become fully awakened and then you don't need any more insight.

However (still from MCTemoticon there is no limit to how far you can go when trying to gain more skillful means when relating to the world around us.

Perhaps majick is a tool to play with when trying to develop more skillful, impactful ways of relating to the world?

RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc
Answer
3/10/18 1:24 PM as a reply to Matt.
What about people like me who didn't make a choice? I've been doing Kasina through 4th jhana to fruition via Kundalini unknowingly and pretty darn correctly without guidance (not bragging, it seems like something else is doing it) <- Just skimmed through Daniel's Fire Kasina book...

I didn't wish for it and was very happy with Vipassana. I had 0 desire for it, concentration and intentions exerted during meditation, yes in attempts to be doing Vipassana in the mess. This thing is painful and could very well be draining the life out of me. My gut/head feels like it is being attacked and drilled and my arms after meditation feels extremely weak to the point I cannot move them beyond a certain degree. Whole body is frozen and it feels like I can feel all the molecules vibrating. I have a very high pain threshold and this K stuff is very painful.

To exchange for information to tell you that this world is really not what it seems to be. I used to be pragmatic as heck, now so much mystical stuff falls on my lap, it is embarrassing to even say them. Just had some creature banging at my door whilst meditating and its 2am. Not the first time. Do not have the balls yet to go answer it.

The last thing you want to do is judge prematurely... ;)

RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc
Answer
3/10/18 2:45 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yilun Ong:
I used to be pragmatic as heck, now so much mystical stuff falls on my lap, it is embarrassing to even say them.

No matter what happens, I hope you can feel loved enough to know that there are people that can look past any embarrasment so you can speak your mind and people will listen.

RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc
Answer
3/10/18 6:55 PM as a reply to Francis.
Thanks to friends like you, Buddy! Are you coming to Asia anytime soon? emoticon

David, I think these magicks are real and are a side track. But post-E, why shouldn't one try if they have a good rational head on their shoulders, like Daniel? This stuff is part of our universe and exploring them sensibly is to the benefit of all beings, IMHO...

May All Beings Be Free From Suffering!

RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc
Answer
3/11/18 8:49 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Totally normal stuff Yilung. Enjoy but don't cling or obsess. No real "answers" in this domain, except an appreciation of how the mind can fabricate experiences.Well... plus there are a lot of kind of "archetypical" experiences that kind of have a blend of psychology and dharma lessons -- basically a look at what we value, what we fear, what we resist, what we cling to, in a very dream-like symbolic way. 

You probably would like the stuff that Daniel has written about in "The Three Doors" section of MCTB.

One thing that surprises me about the imagery that shows up is how it is that geometric shapes and rainbow colors of tibetian art... and those weird (hallucinogen induced?) paintings of repeating geometry by Alex Grey. The colors are childish (like using 5 crayons) but so detailed and complex...

RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc
Answer
3/12/18 10:47 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Hi Yilun,

That kind of stuff happens to me occasionally. Loud knocking, especially when I am meditating. Car alarms going off when I bicycle by. And so forth. I don't think it is due to "entities" or anything like that, I think it's due to some kind of poltergeist phenomena (even though traditionally poltergeists were supposedly "spirits"). There seems to be a correlation with times when I am doing an intensive concentration meditation period, like last summer when I took up Culadasa's techniques for 3 months. When I stop or switch to another technique, it goes away.

Carl Jung talks about it in his Red Book. I don't know what the causality is behind it, but I'm sure there is some. Would be cool to try to figure it out, but I'm kind of at a loss for what sort of technique to use to approach the problem. Sure isn't approachable using JavaScript or Python. emoticon

Good luck!

RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc
Answer
3/15/18 6:52 AM as a reply to svmonk.
Thanks Shargrol - Spent the entire morning getting the mind to speed up, trying to look at the 3 doors. No new insights but perhaps seeing them clearer, not sure what this practice does but it sure feels good to have so many fruitions in quick succession haha. 

The late 3rd/4th jhana images are mesmerizing which helps with concentration, not sure how to practice dharma with what pops up though. This is a place where psychosis can happen and I can sense what you mean, concentration really can get dangerous if the head is not screwed on tightly...

Hey SVmonk, I will keep watching, most of it are simply mental fabrication and pretty fascinating to observe though there are instances that unknowing/knowing tampering with gobal consciousness seems to do more than that... ;)

Edit : [Dang, yes Alex Grey images!!! But the colours are much more tantalizing and rich, almost bleeding in luminosity (not that enlightenment term - don't know what that even means)]

RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc
Answer
3/17/18 11:54 AM as a reply to Matt.
Matthew, thanks for your comments.

I stil don't understand the switch over from insight practices to these other forms. Especially given the latter's dramatic self-based qualities as described by Daniel. I vaguely remember one episode where he had power eminating out of his hands against something else, which seemed to me to be a representation of anger and a sense of being triumphant. Aren't these reinforcing a sense of self?

RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc
Answer
3/19/18 1:18 AM as a reply to David S.
David S:
Matthew, thanks for your comments.

I stil don't understand the switch over from insight practices to these other forms. Especially given the latter's dramatic self-based qualities as described by Daniel. I vaguely remember one episode where he had power eminating out of his hands against something else, which seemed to me to be a representation of anger and a sense of being triumphant. Aren't these reinforcing a sense of self?
Of course I don't speak for anyone else, and I am not an arhat and I'm speaking from my own experience.

I think of 'self' as a collection of common mechanisms in my brain, for example knee-jerk reactions that are relatively unique to me, or perceptual filters that have much more to do with my unique nature/nurture than what's actually happening around me.  Everybody has different experiences in this way, so it makes sense to me to say that everybody has a 'self'.

Vipassana messes with that stuff but it has not made them all go completely away.  That said, there are shorter or longer periods of time when some or many of those process seem pretty remote or just don't seem to be a part of my experience.  Even at those most 'selfless' times, I still might take walks for my health, exercise in different ways for the benefit of myself and those around me.  I've never had power emanating out of my hands, but if that came to me at some point I'd be pretty interested in playing around with it. emoticon

RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc
Answer
3/19/18 2:02 PM as a reply to Matt.
I would recommend a book that I am not even quite finished with yet called My Years of Magical Thinking by Lionel Snell.

Vipassana, taken far enough, does what it was designed to do. All sensations are known as they are. This gets hardwired and is done.

Then, when all that is left is relative considerations, then the path that calls to some but clearly not all can involve exploring the depths of concentration, and the depths of concentration will reveal to some what the powers are about, and that will also call to some for what might be thought of as karmic reasons if one likes to think that way.

The Buddha praised most those arahats who also had mastery of the powers and the concentration states, as well as other qualities.

I have enjoyed the Therigatha and Theragatha poems from those in the early Sangha a lot recently, as well as Great Disciples of the Buddha, a fantastic book. Both of those will show you that the powers called to people then as now and that the Buddha held respect for those who had skill in them.

That my path happens to have some momentum in that direction at this time seems pretty natural and perhaps even expected, and becomes more validated the more I read the old texts, which held the powers and things like interacting with spirits and the like to be a standard part of the development of some practitioners.

RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc
Answer
3/19/18 8:36 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
That my path happens to have some momentum in that direction at this time seems pretty natural and perhaps even expected, and becomes more validated the more I read the old texts, which held the powers and things like interacting with spirits and the like to be a standard part of the development of some practitioners.


Has your reading of those texts clarified for you to any degree why some people develop those skills (often accidentally) and some do not (even with effort)? Is it simply the degree of prerequisite skills, or is there some level of natural ability similar to learning an instrument, or both? In Great Disciples of the Buddha it seems that some of his disciples had powers and some seemed to have no such abilities despite being very accomplished otherwise. The story of one disciple being bonked on the head by a demon while not being aware (though his concentration was so strong it gave him only a mild headache), while another saw it occur comes to mind.

RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc
Answer
3/20/18 9:31 AM as a reply to Lars.
While the standard Buddhist answer is karma, that will have to do, as I know no more modern/scientific explanation, though there probably is one.

RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc
Answer
3/21/18 4:08 PM as a reply to David S.
To answer this in another way that some people might find interesting, I think I see it as more about "being a good neighbor" and less about power for power's sake and exotic forms of consciousness for exoticism's sake, although there are important components of that to elaborate on too. 

The Pali canon says you should feed street spirits and your ancestors: 

Outside the walls they stand,
& at crossroads.
At door posts they stand,
returning to their old homes.
But when a meal with plentiful food & drink is served,
no one remembers them:
Such is the kamma of living beings.

Thus those who feel sympathy for their dead relatives
give timely donations of proper food & drink
— exquisite, clean —
[thinking:] "May this be for our relatives.
May our relatives be happy!"

And those who have gathered there,
the assembled shades of the relatives,
with appreciation give their blessing
for the plentiful food & drink:
"May our relatives live long
because of whom we have gained [this gift].
We have been honored,
and the donors are not without reward!"

For there [in their realm] there's
no farming,
no herding of cattle,
no commerce,
no trading with money.
They live on what is given here,
hungry shades
whose time here is done.

As water raining on a hill
flows down to the valley,
even so does what is given here
benefit the dead.
As rivers full of water
fill the ocean full,
even so does what is given here
benefit the dead.

"He gave to me, she acted on my behalf,
they were my relatives, companions, friends":
Offerings should be given for the dead
when one reflects thus
on things done in the past.
For no weeping,
no sorrowing
no other lamentation
benefits the dead
whose relatives persist in that way.
But when this offering is given, well-placed in the Sangha,
it works for their long-term benefit
and they profit immediately.

In this way
the proper duty to relatives has been shown,
great honor has been done to the dead,
and monks have been given strength:

The merit you've acquired
isn't small.

For reasons that are more historical than anything, I think a lot of westerners exposed to occultism tend to see these powerful experiences as purely subjective, psychological, or ephemeral in a very "low-stakes" way. This seems to superficially resemble some non-Western ideas about reality being Mind or reality being a dream, but I think that's not a very fruitful way to address it probably most of the time. Except maybe when you're on a retreat doing some hard-line insight meditation - if you're in a metaphorical circle ignoring "worldly" concerns and outside people for a little while, same applies everywhere for a broad definition of "world(s)" and "people" I think.

Even for those who really believe in these kinds of events experienced or actually happening to people there is probably still a tendency to be a little too solipsistic about it - seeing it as just psychic distortions in reality created by or only interpretable by a practitioner, somehow servicing or distracting from purely their own individual development. Demons interrupting your meditation like a demon of your internal greed or lust you bind and dismiss, or a helpful Bodhisattva vision pushing you into a fruitful path in your life - as examples.

That's all pretty awesome, if as I said potentially a distraction.

To be playful though, I think it's useful to entertain the "there is a larger cosmos" view about it. 

It is good and humble to take care of your own home and community. Your family, your pets, your neighbors, your street, etc. But the world is interdependent. There are lots of spirit worlds out there that you can experience. Even if they're populated by some aerial immaterial shapeshifters, beings of motif that don't obey our normal senses of time and space, or whatever else it's probably more pragmatically useful than not to assume that these personally experienced entities might have memories, personalities, wants, needs, society, relationships, problems, economics, and suffering. When these experiences become inter-subjective across multiple practitioners, even getting the same information (or "experiences") from a spirit without working together or communicating beforehand, things can really stir you to consider their reality as at least not dependent on your own, which takes this further afield from "self" preoccupations. There are many stories of skillful spirit encounters in the Pali canon related to members of the sangha, and even of promises from spirits, discussion of spirits bothering monks and nuns or not, confrontations with nagas, devas in the forest, etc. Buddha seems to entertain dialogues also with a lot of weird beings.

On one note, this is similar to the role of seers or shaman figures in communitarian settings maintaining harmonious relationships with the local spirits of their environment. If you can see, hear, befriend, aid, placate, or do commerce with lots of alien beings (from place spirits to ancestors to what have you) that impact our world that other people can't always perceive (yet still suffer or benefit from), the practical benefits for you or others via transcating yourself well and understanding these things better are potentially quite great. Egotists, the greedy, evil psychics like Devadatta, psychopath wizards, etc of course still also all exist I guess. Don't be a psychopath yogi.

From this view, the perceived quixotic "experience tourism" seekers of these experiences can be accused of might (at times) be better seen in more benign terms as akin to physical travel, exploration, meeting new people, and caring about the places or world(s) they live in. Sure it's cool, but so is seeing a new part of your city area or country you've maybe never seen before. Sure "power" by doing commerce in those realms can be heady, but so is money, and useful applications and understanding of money are useful when we're not all ascetics living on alms.

Check out the Tantric mystic Machik Labdron, and you can read stories about her suggesting we love and even might feed/soothe/cooperate with evil devils to help their karma, reflecting on how it is better to give (blood/general) sacrifice from yourself than from innocent animals, and finding ways to rewire fate for doomed peasants so they experienced milder or lesser ills through clever comprehension of karma. If I recall she/her school's writings also distinguished between the more "subjective" devils ("god-demons") you could dismiss more simply as manifestations of your mind versus those others that you would alternatively need to give generously to or bind with spirit power, primordial Buddha power, and compassionate wrath.

It's easy to get lost in the clouds, but also to engage in cultural bias ignoring the lived experiences of many people (and non-human persons)?

And, to be annoying and deliberately obtuse about what "self" or "reality" means - it's sometimes useful to assume that the dead and the spirits are just as real as the living - and sure perhaps all of us together not "real" so much, but a lot of work to get to there... ;)

 

RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc
Answer
3/21/18 5:11 PM as a reply to S..
Just wanted to say this was really interesting and helpful, thanks S!

RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc
Answer
3/21/18 10:51 PM as a reply to S..
Thanks for that post S. That poem is really beautiful.

I'll answer David with a bit of my personal reasoning.

Somewhat recently my vipassanna practice deepened and I finished my first cycle of the progress of insight. I kept my practice extremely pure through stream entry. I didn't give the slightest fuck about anything that wasn't Mahasi style noting or everyday applications of mindfulness. I felt very strongly that getting to stream entry would build the solid foundation for the rest of my practice and that any other yogas or practices would just be built on top of sand. I agreed very strongly with your skepticism of anything too "woo-woo."

Now I'm ready to branch out and try new things that might be useful to the life I want to lead. Desires can be wholesome or unwholesome, and insight can help develop wisdom to determine what's worth pursuing. I decided to branch out and tried some fire kasina in hopes that jhana would ease some strange and extremely unpleasant experiences that happened before and after finishing my first path. Almost accidentally I've started opening up a little bit to some supernatural ideas. Historically I've defaulted to assuming materialism in absence of other evidence.

As an aside: several years ago I used DMT many times and "went" to some crazy places. At the time I regarded them as hallucinations and got bored with the substance. I haven't touched an entheogen since my first long meditation retreat. Nowadays though, I'm not so sure that what I experienced was hallucinations. I think I was protected from some pretty extreme experiences by my dismissal of them, and if I keep going down this path I'm scared and excited that I might learn more about whatever realms I did a brief drive-by of already.

Now I think I have some more insight and metta development to do before developing any kind of intentional magik practice. But if that world opens up to me any more than it already has, then magik can easily be seen as a skillful means for the work I have to do in this life. Maybe there's something to be learned form those realms, or maybe I can influence them in a positive way. Maybe they really are just imaginings of this brain. I don't know yet.

Of course these things come from my desires. If my desires involve helping make the world(s) a slightly better place and if I have the wisdom and discernment  to go about the work well, then they're wholesome desires and are not to be ignored.

RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc
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3/24/18 1:52 PM as a reply to David S.
Thanks for everyone's replies. All are helpful to me in understanding more about how others are navigating the areas between practices.
 
Matthew, yes, it makes sense to me too to say everyone has a self.
 
Daniel made the point that these experiences do come to some, and as such, are areas of exploration.
 
S. described distinctions between both downsides (distractions and egoists) and upsides (relating to such experiences as one would to the everyday and mediating between).
 
Caleb, you noted the positive aspect of desire and its centrality in one’s practice being beneficial.
 
But I’m not clear on what “mastery” of these experiences would be. When Daniel described being able to shut down and reboot his consciousness that sounded to me masterful, but what would mastery in these other sorts of experiences be?
 
And in the engagement in powers, majick, etc…this would appear to counter detachment. Or, does the mastery aspect include such detachment all while manipulating the experience? Or…

RE: Vipassana Insight VS Visualizations, Powers, Majick, etc
Answer
3/26/18 5:06 PM as a reply to David S.
My problem with magick is that it requires adhering to a bunch of random frameworks and then doing some arbitrary action based off of that to achieve some unrelated result.

It just seems a little incomprehensible to me, especially if the stated aim of magick is implied to be one and the same with the end goal of meditation(Enlightenment) because if you can become enlightened sitting on a cushion and breathing, then I don't see why you have to dress up in a robe, chant hebrew and hope some mysterious entity(that you read about from some charlatan in a book, probably.) or whatever will do it for you.

It just seems superfluous, and for people wanting to seem 'powerful'. I'm not even a reductionist materialist guy, but from what little I've read on it, it's either something like:

A: Magick is normal, and everyone does it (So what's so special about it, and why should the weirder functions be cultivated?)

B: Gain power over others,or some other equally banal aim, by cumming on this DIY sigil (Completely retarded.)