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Blog Laurel Carrington 4/13/18 12:00 AM
RE: Blog Yilun Ong 4/13/18 10:04 AM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 4/13/18 12:07 PM
RE: Blog Yilun Ong 4/14/18 10:07 AM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 4/14/18 1:08 PM
RE: Blog Ward Law 4/14/18 3:07 PM
RE: Blog Chris Marti 4/14/18 4:46 PM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 6/6/18 5:21 PM
RE: Blog Andromeda 6/6/18 6:46 PM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 6/7/18 1:20 AM
RE: Blog Tashi Tharpa 6/7/18 6:03 AM
RE: Blog Tashi Tharpa 4/13/18 1:12 PM
RE: Blog Rebecca P 4/13/18 2:41 PM
RE: Blog Richard Zen 4/13/18 7:18 PM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 4/14/18 9:47 AM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 6/23/18 10:44 AM
RE: Blog Richard Zen 6/23/18 7:11 PM
RE: Blog Tashi Tharpa 6/27/18 5:57 AM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 7/6/18 3:11 PM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 7/6/18 11:04 AM
RE: Blog Raving Rhubarb 7/6/18 1:53 PM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 7/6/18 3:10 PM
RE: Blog Raving Rhubarb 7/8/18 4:46 AM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 7/8/18 8:50 AM
RE: Blog Chris Marti 7/8/18 9:00 AM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 7/8/18 10:41 AM
RE: Blog Chris Marti 7/9/18 8:47 AM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 7/10/18 6:59 PM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 7/14/18 3:11 PM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 7/6/18 10:55 PM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 8/1/18 11:28 AM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 8/27/18 10:35 AM
RE: Blog dave m 8/27/18 9:43 PM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 8/28/18 2:04 PM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 9/2/18 4:22 PM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 9/4/18 12:17 PM
RE: Blog Tashi Tharpa 9/5/18 5:29 AM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 9/5/18 11:02 AM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 1/7/19 9:31 AM
RE: Blog Anna L 1/7/19 7:48 PM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 2/16/19 11:18 AM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 3/1/19 11:05 AM
RE: Blog terry 4/2/19 6:46 PM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 4/3/19 10:51 AM
RE: Blog terry 4/3/19 6:33 PM
RE: Blog Lars 4/3/19 8:52 PM
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RE: Blog terry 4/9/19 12:37 AM
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RE: Blog terry 4/11/19 6:48 PM
RE: Blog Laurel Carrington 4/2/19 8:48 AM
Blog
Answer
4/13/18 12:00 AM
Hello everyone: I’d like to invite people to take a look at my new blog, which includes reflections on Buddhist teachings woven through my autobiography. Eventually I will bring myself up to the present, my practice, and its fruits. Please feel free to comment and, even better, follow. Thanks! 

The blog is at https://lightgettingin-wp.com/

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4/13/18 10:04 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Such a lovely read! Your warmth, kindness and detailed nature shines through. I can't find the subscribe button though! emoticon

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4/13/18 12:07 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Thanks for the kind words. There’s a bar with the Wordpress symbol and Follow, underneath the archives but above the recent posts, on the right side of the screen. emoticon

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4/13/18 1:12 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Good, honest writing. Thanks for sharing! 

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4/13/18 2:41 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Bookmarked! Thanks for the link. emoticon

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4/13/18 7:18 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Good writing! Unfortunately more examples of domestic violence. This clinging thing is a problem.

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4/14/18 9:47 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Thanks for the kind words! Yes, domestic violence is in my past, clinging and all that it entails. 

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4/14/18 10:07 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Laurel Carrington:
Thanks for the kind words. There’s a bar with the Wordpress symbol and Follow, underneath the archives but above the recent posts, on the right side of the screen. emoticon

That doesn't work Laurel. It asked me to login. emoticon You may want to try this: www.wpbeginner.com/wp.../how-to-add-email-subscriptions-for-your-wordpress-blog/

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4/14/18 1:08 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
I guess a Wordpress site requires followers to have their own WP site. I’ll have to investigate further. In the meantime, your link doesn’t work for me either. It seems to be referring to a page on the old platform. Or maybe it’s my iPad acting up. It’s been balking lately. On a possibly related note, are other people seeing lavender pages on here? 

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4/14/18 3:07 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Laurel Carrington:
I guess a Wordpress site requires followers to have their own WP site. 

There is a People configuration option in WP that lets you add (invite) followers using just their email addresses. Haven't tested it, though.

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4/14/18 4:46 PM as a reply to Ward Law.
The link was contructed incorrectly, thanks to the DhO, it seems. Here's the proper link:

https://www.wpbeginner.com/wp.../how-to-add-email-subscriptions-for-your-wordpress-blog

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6/6/18 5:21 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.

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6/6/18 6:46 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
A lovely read. I appreciate your candor and clear writing style.

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6/7/18 1:20 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Thank you, dear! I seem to need to let things simmer in my mind for awhile, and then what comes out is what needs to come out. I had a vague idea about what I was going to say in this most recent post, but what actually got said was a surprise. That’s the way most of them are. 

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6/7/18 6:03 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Yes, the career thing is tricky. As you point out in the post, we can see it through different lenses. We recently had our house painted. A 60-year-old member of the crew climbed to the very peak of our two-storey house on a huge ladder, carrying a can of black paint in one hand, and then climbed on top of the chimney to paint the cap. He was on his hands and knees in this precarious position on the very top of the freaking chimney. I thought, God, I have it so easy. I sit there with my Mac and make money--and a lot more than this guy. And then you have the poor schleps out there trying to sell, sell, sell, impose their will on others and extract moolah from them in order to obtain status and security, including job security. I'm so thankful sometimes that I don't have to live like that. I never feel that I'm facing the threat of replacement. So I guess that's the lens of appreciation. But then there's that other lens that's all about complaint, seeing through the limitations of your vocation, comparing what's going on in your life to idealized versions and so forth. It's quite a mirror. To this day I'm still not sure how much energy to devote to my career. I default to just getting by and trying to appreciate and invest in other things--meditation, playing music, exercise, relationships, etc.--but my sense is that my relative lack of engagement when it comes to career stuff could end up being a pretty big regret eventually. I'm still not exactly sure.  

RE: Blog
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6/23/18 10:44 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.

RE: Blog
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6/23/18 7:11 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Laurel Carrington:


Very important practice and hard to do in this society.

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6/27/18 5:57 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Laurel Carrington:
Great post--especially the elucidation of the challenges a person can expect to face. 

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7/6/18 11:04 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
A bit of autobiography, describing my first encounter with MCTB, Kenneth Folk, and Buddhist Geeks. It amazes me to recall just how exotic everything seemed at the time (November or December 2010). Now I feel as if we’re all old friends. I was also intimidated as hell. Anyone else feel that way?

https://lightgettingin-wp.com/2018/07/06/twitter-distraction-and-geeky-buddhists/

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7/6/18 1:53 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Hi Laurel,
thanks for sharing. I just read most of your blog. You really have a gift for writing. Sad to read about the domestic violence and the trembling bow arm emoticon

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7/6/18 3:10 PM as a reply to Raving Rhubarb.
Raving Rhubarb:
Hi Laurel,
thanks for sharing. I just read most of your blog. You really have a gift for writing. Sad to read about the domestic violence and the trembling bow arm emoticon

These are the cracks that led to the light getting in. If everything had been peachy, I would never have been motivated to practice. 

Glad and you are enjoying the blog. It’s taking me awhile to get a rhythm going, but things are picking up. 

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7/6/18 3:11 PM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
Tashi Tharpa:
Laurel Carrington:
Great post--especially the elucidation of the challenges a person can expect to face. 
Glad you found it worthwhile. 

RE: Blog
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7/6/18 10:55 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Another new post. I’m sure many people are curious about what prompts people to start practicing. This post describes the very moment for me. Enjoy . . . 

https://lightgettingin-wp.com/2018/07/07/turning-point/

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7/8/18 4:46 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Laurel Carrington:
Raving Rhubarb:
Hi Laurel,
thanks for sharing. I just read most of your blog. You really have a gift for writing. Sad to read about the domestic violence and the trembling bow arm emoticon

These are the cracks that led to the light getting in. If everything had been peachy, I would never have been motivated to practice.
To be honest, I'm not sure if that's true. Reading between the lines, it seems that you always had some interest in mysticism and that the only thing that prevented you from diving into meditation was the lack of opportunity and knowledge.

I often have the impression that people readily develop stockholm syndrome to their own suffering. Maybe it's just too hard to say "Suffering simply sucks and is basically unnecessary and would even have been preventable, too", so we rationalize it away by saying "suffering was necessary to become more fully human".

I must confess that I'm not entirely sure about this, since older and probably wiser folks than myself often talk (though usually in vague terms) about the lessons than intense suffering taught them. Also, insight into suffering seems to be crucial in meditation. On the other hand, the 5-year old in me with the child's view of "you adults are mad. suffering is clearly bad and nothing more. Finally stop deluding yourselves!" seems strangely compelling.

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7/8/18 8:50 AM as a reply to Raving Rhubarb.
You make an excellent point, really, and I guess I’d say that for a lot of us, embarking on a course that leads to direct insight into anatta is a pretty hard sell. I remember reading MCTB for the first time, and thinking, I’d be satisfied to get to Equanimity on the Progress of Insight path; that seems good enough. Except it isn’t stable! But I was attached to my life as it was and still thought I could just work on my difficulties without radical transformation, which was scary. So for me, coming to terms with suffering was necessary, and I had to reach a point of desperation before I’d try it.

It’s not true for everyone, though. And yes, I have been a real drama queen over the years with my suffering emoticon. Not recommended.

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7/8/18 9:00 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
This is just my opinion, of course, but working with suffering is not optional if anything is to be obtained from a meditation practice. Working with suffering very often the reason we get started, very often the reason we don't keep going and almost always the reason we get something out of practice.

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7/8/18 10:41 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
This is just my opinion, of course, but working with suffering is not optional if anything is to be obtained from a meditation practice. Working with suffering very often the reason we get started, very often the reason we don't keep going and almost always the reason we get something out of practice.

It’s not optional once we get started, I agree, but not everyone starts a practice because of suffering. Some people are curious, others idealistic, others . . . and so on. In my case, suffering was a big part of my self-image and identity for years. I wouldn’t want to see everyone deal with life that way!

There is a baseline dukkha that we all experience, but many or most people don’t recognize it as such. Especially if a person has a satisfying life, it’s easy to overlook that grinding dissatisfaction under the surface. Even working with life’s bitterness can shield us from the reality, if we think we can be okay if we just get rid of a problem. 

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7/9/18 8:47 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
What we're describing is the difference between ignorance and wisdom  emoticon

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7/10/18 6:59 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.

RE: Blog
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7/14/18 3:11 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.

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8/1/18 11:28 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Latest blog post, about beginning my practice: https://lightgettingin-wp.com/2018/08/01/i-get-my-feet-wet/

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8/27/18 10:35 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
My first retreat, back in 2011. Feels like aeons ago! 

https://lightgettingin-wp.com/2018/08/27/my-first-retreat/

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8/27/18 9:43 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Hi Laurel,

I really enjoy your blog!

In your latest post, you mention that the fundamental terror of annihilation and death underlies the agitation felt during retreat.  In your opinion, is the fear of annihilation different from the fear of death?  If so, do you have any suggestions on how one might provoke it so it can be more easily seen?

I recently read "Butterflies are Free to Fly," which is an interesting non-buddhist take on awakening.  The author says that the fear of annihilation is more fundamental than the fear of death, and was something he had to face.  This is of interest to me since my fear of death seems to have vanished a couple of years ago, and I'm wondering if there's something deeper I'm just not aware of.

Thanks

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8/28/18 2:04 PM as a reply to dave m.
Thanks, Dave, glad you enjoy it!

It’s possible to imagine death without annihilation—e.g., belief in an afterlife or rebirth. It’s also possible to imagine annihilation without death—coma or dementia. I guess either or both together is threatening to the ego. Belief in an afterlife doesn’t necessarily mean that that the ego survives in a recognizable form; nor does dementia seem like a fate to imagine with equanimity even if the person is still there in some sense. So that’s what I’d say in answer to your first question. 

I think any of us could be visited by existential terror in the event of separation from whatever gives our life its meaning. I felt a black hole swallow me temporarily while on retreat, staying in a single cabin. I was removed from the people who knew me deeply, and in that cabin, all other people, at least temporarily. So there was a thrill of terror when I felt as if I no longer existed. I took action by going to the main retreat building where there were other people around. There are times when it makes sense not to push too far against one’s edge. 

Addiction has the effect of shielding a person from that fear by repeating an event or ingesting a substance that gives comfort. The next time you want to do something for the purpose of staving off boredom, try refraining. Boredom is a form of aversion that masks fear. I play with it but still have to face it completely. 

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9/2/18 4:22 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
My latest, on the miserable experience of disposing of my parents’ things:

https://lightgettingin-wp.com/2018/09/02/stuff/

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9/4/18 12:17 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
A new one, on the Default Mode Network 

https://lightgettingin-wp.com/2018/09/04/the-default-mode/

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9/5/18 5:29 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Very nice. Love the Baudelaire poem. 

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9/5/18 11:02 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
Tashi Tharpa:
Very nice. Love the Baudelaire poem. 

Same here. From my college French class, 46 years ago. Amazing that I remember it so well. The original, for those of you who know some French, is exquisite. 

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1/7/19 9:31 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
I haven’t posted in so long that I’ve even forgotten what’s in my blog; however, yesterday I gave a dharma talk at my local sangha, and I’ve decided to post it here. The subject is the Three Characteristics. I hope you enjoy it!

https://lightgettingin-wp.com/2019/01/07/update-and-dharma-talk/

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1/7/19 7:48 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Laurel Carrington:
I haven’t posted in so long that I’ve even forgotten what’s in my blog; however, yesterday I gave a dharma talk at my local sangha, and I’ve decided to post it here. The subject is the Three Characteristics. I hope you enjoy it!

https://lightgettingin-wp.com/2019/01/07/update-and-dharma-talk/


Thanks for sharing. Lovely article, and Daniel's kazoo analogy is so spot on! 

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2/16/19 11:18 AM as a reply to Anna L.
Anna, thanks for commenting. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m posting a new one, about my current situation from a Buddhist perspective:

https://lightgettingin-wp.com/2019/02/16/on-sadness-for-loved-ones/

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3/1/19 11:05 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.

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4/2/19 8:48 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
My latest post is on a recent depression. It’s almost over—I guess it is over, although the usual back-and-forth is still happening. I’ve been having a lot of trouble pulling out of it and getting back to a regular meditation practice. These things happen sometimes. 

https://lightgettingin-wp.com/2019/04/02/late-winter-blues/

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4/2/19 6:46 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Laurel Carrington:
I haven’t posted in so long that I’ve even forgotten what’s in my blog; however, yesterday I gave a dharma talk at my local sangha, and I’ve decided to post it here. The subject is the Three Characteristics. I hope you enjoy it!

https://lightgettingin-wp.com/2019/01/07/update-and-dharma-talk/


aloha laurel,

   I enjoyed your talk, especially the parts about buddhism. You write well, have good pacing for a longer piece, and you understand buddhism's insights into suffering and non self. Your talk is a real addition to the literature. Good writing is appreciated.

   You lost me a bit at the a & p. I observe a & p in every meditation. I'm not sure why it is regarded as a gateway to hell. Stuff arises and passes away. So? Where is the problem?

   I never experienced the dark side after experiencing the void; after that, experience is no longer really experience. A map seems redundant. Where is there to go? Oh, there is still suffering. I can't be happy unless all beings are happy, and I can't quite see my way to that just yet. I'm working on it, though. 


you say:

(quote)

The A&P has the feel of a tremendous breakthrough, which in fact it is, but eventually it is followed by a series of insight stages into dukkha, suffering, beginning with the fifth insight stage, Dissolution. Whereas at the A&P the meditator sees phenomena rise and pass away in real time, at Dissolution everything appears to be lost, gone before it is even experienced, as if the observer is barely alert enough to notice. It’s a tremendous letdown after the excitement of the A&P, yet it’s as necessary to insight as the more powerful and gratifying experiences of that prior stage. An entire parade of nastiness follows: insight into Fear, Misery, and Disgust, followed by insight into Desire for Deliverance. Sometimes these insight stages pass quickly, while at other times people can get stuck in them, maybe even for years. The last of the dukkha insight stages is called Reobservation, which pulls together all of the unpleasantness that has gone before.

What are these like in real time? Insight involves being able to see all experience in samsara, the world on the wheel of craving, aversion, and delusion, for what it is. The essence of these stages lies in the fact that we are still invested in the illusion of Self, even though we have experienced the breaking up of the sensations that constitute Self in the ecstasy of the Arising and Passing Away. Jack Kornfield has written a book called After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, but we could at this point in the Progress of Insight map say that we are experiencing After the Ecstasy, the Freakout. This is why insight at this level can be unsafe for some people, especially those with a fragile sense of their own boundaries. We all need functioning egos to get through the day, for without them we are left unprotected in the face of a world of confusion. We need teachers and a sangha to whom we can turn to be reassured that we will eventually emerge on the other side, and to help us do that skillfully.

So, a person could have nightmares, flashes of panic, bouts of crying, and feelings of nausea. On the cushion this can amount to unpleasant sits with painful sensations, while off cushion a person can experience unexplained mood swings that can be confusing to themselves and to those around them. There’s a researcher at Brown University named Willoughby Britten who specializes in helping people through these stages, which are all too often ignored in traditional teaching.

Eventually a practitioner comes out on the other side into a stage called Insight into Equanimity, in which experience becomes peaceful and beautifully vibratory. Everyone loves equanimity, and most would be happy to stay there forever. Think of those days or experiences when everything clicks, when the sky takes on a particularly lovely shade of blue, the breezes are gentle and refreshing, and there is harmony within oneself and in relation to others. Shinzen Young describes happiness as “the body is at ease and the mind has answers.” Equanimity feels like this.

(unquote)

   I can say that this was not my experience, neither in essence nor in detail. Having a tremendous letdown sounds simply like a tremendous letdown, not like anything necessary and desirable on the way to a better life through meditation. I don't doubt that some people go through hell in pursuit of experience of one sort or another, but it may just be a novel way to shrug off or explain a person's depressions. I have found that whatever depression that may afflict us is best dealt with head on. Invariably we have good reason to be depressed, but confronting our feelings directly relieves our distress. "Just sitting" meditation gives us little shelter from depression; accepting it brings peace.

   Perhaps emptiness and realization of non self preceded a & p for me, so to me it is no big deal. The rhythm of the moment, yes, but empty of both awe and despair. As you say, the essence of these stages is the investment in self. If such investment is cut off at the root, suffering is not taken personally, and does not lead to misery and all this hellish self torture. I would tend to encourage people to skip all that self-flagellation and let oneself cope without the interference of self-conscious dread and angst. Don't feel guilty about passing on all the supposedly necessary unpleasantness. Be cheerful. It's ok.

   Or maybe we are talking about such completely diffferent things there is no ground for comparison. I never have grasped all this dark night stuff. I tend to think that people try to solve actual outdoor physico-material problems, like no money, no friends, no sex or bad health, with 'flowers of air' or pie in the sky. Rather than with courage and acceptance.

   I agree closely with your acknowledgement of personal suffering and the way you don't let it interfere with not taking things personally and applying understanding and wisdom to events. Using your experience of suffering and transmuting it into something which helps yourself and others: this is alchemy I can relate to, and is in the spirit of the buddha and the ancestors.


love, terry

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4/3/19 10:51 AM as a reply to terry.
Hello, terry, and thanks so much for the lengthy and detailed response. I recognize that your experience is different from mine, since mine did in fact unfold pretty much as I described it, probably because of the kind of practice I was doing combined with my own psychological proclivities. My first path in particular was dry insight (second as well), with no self-inquiry and not much jhana practice. This was the result. I think in the talk I mention the Burmese insight tradition that is the backdrop to my descriptions. 

I do agree that once a person finishes the early paths things shift. There’s been a lot of discussion on this forum and elsewhere about the Progress of Insight map and its usefulness at all stages of the awakening process. My take is that it is extremely valuable, especially in the beginning. Some folks are concerned about the possibility of scripting one’s meditative experience to fit the maps, but I think the risk of doing so is not enough of a deterrent to using the maps wisely. Others such as yourself think the map places an unnecessary overlay on experience. That may be true once a person has seen through the illusion of self once and for all, but until that point maps help.

Again, thanks so much for your input —Laurel

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4/3/19 6:33 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Laurel Carrington:
Hello, terry, and thanks so much for the lengthy and detailed response. I recognize that your experience is different from mine, since mine did in fact unfold pretty much as I described it, probably because of the kind of practice I was doing combined with my own psychological proclivities. My first path in particular was dry insight (second as well), with no self-inquiry and not much jhana practice. This was the result. I think in the talk I mention the Burmese insight tradition that is the backdrop to my descriptions. 

I do agree that once a person finishes the early paths things shift. There’s been a lot of discussion on this forum and elsewhere about the Progress of Insight map and its usefulness at all stages of the awakening process. My take is that it is extremely valuable, especially in the beginning. Some folks are concerned about the possibility of scripting one’s meditative experience to fit the maps, but I think the risk of doing so is not enough of a deterrent to using the maps wisely. Others such as yourself think the map places an unnecessary overlay on experience. That may be true once a person has seen through the illusion of self once and for all, but until that point maps help.

Again, thanks so much for your input —Laurel


aloha laurel,

   Yes, mapping and playing the kazoo over the orchestra seem quite similar to me. Worse, as we know the kazoo sounds bad, but we may  trust maps. Problems with maps are well known to the sufis, who have worked out the "stages" of/to enlightenment in considerable detail. The desire of people to "make progress" in spirituality corrupts their efforts.

   Understanding the tao, the "way," means understanding that the sign "tao" refers to what is the unnameable and the source of all names. As the tao te ching says in its opening sentence, "The way that can be trodden is not the true way." (Literally, the line says, "tao tao not tao.") The way that can be mapped out is not the true way; the map that purports to show the way is not the true map. If there were a map, it would be christ. Or buddha. The guru, the good friend. Not symbols and signs, words and letters.

   As for experience differing, we all have the three marks, so in such talks one size fits all. As for a & p and dark nights, I think suggesting that such experiences are somehow normal and common to all seekers may indeed predispose people to nightmares. Or put them off altogether. I tend to tell people meditation can't hurt. But I am talking about just sitting, and many people call their various and different spiritual exercises "meditation" of one sort or another. Of course we all have our pathologies, but they are unique to each individual. While the buddha nature is common to us all.

   Seeing through the illusion of self may take years but in the event it takes no time at all. I could perhaps make sense of the "early" and "late" designations if I recognized the stages you are describing. They don't match sufi stages, or any others In the classical literature that I am familiar with. And I don't recognize them from my own experience. I keep hoping someone here can tie these things in to something I'm familiar with, at least from the classical literature. If these are strictly modern effects I am less interested, expecting that they are transient and not very significant. I tend to take a longer view of significance than many. The yi jing has been around perhaps 4000 years; that is a map to reckon with. Astrology has a long history, a great literature, though it is perhaps a dinosaur, mostly showing great bones. Perhaps modern explorers boldly go where no one has been before. But I doubt it.

   To speak of "once and for all" can be a bit tricky. Self delusion being what it is. We may imagine we are there when we are not; we may imagine we are not there when we are. In any case, if you can imagine (describe) your state, it is not nirvana; it is imaginary. Besides, one's "state," in terms of spiritual "progress" is not something to be checked on and contemplated as such: who is it who wants to know? Only ego, greedy for advancement. It is not as though one could take a wrong step, if one had no map. We can navigate by the stars - "second star to the right and straight on 'til morning" will get you where we're going. 

   Suppose we stretch out the concept "map" and used it to refer to any kind of spiritual guidance whatsoever, any sort of teaching. You are still depending on external authority, not inner experience. All spiritual "materials" only have value to those who recognize the territory from the description, those who have already been there and know. 

   Maintaining an unconventional standpoint takes constant effort; it is easy to relax and go to sleep, wake up 20 years later wondering what went wrong. If our effort fails or flags, we can be sucked back in to caring about the usual conventional nonsense. Rinzai warns us against saying "I know ch'an; I know the Way." Once we think we know we have completely lost it. 

   Thanks for responding to my questions. 

terry



from "awareness, the perils and opportunities of reality" by anthony demello:



ADDICTIVE LOVE


   The heart in love remains soft and sensitive. But when you’re hell-bent on getting this or the other thing, you become ruthless, hard, and insensitive. How can you love people when you need people? You can only use them. If I need you to make me happy, I’ve got to use you, I’ve got to manipulate you, I’ve got to find ways and means of winning you. I cannot let you be free. I can only love people when I have emptied my life of people. When I die to the need for people, then I’m right in the desert. In the beginning it feels awful, it feels lonely, but if you can take it for a while, you’ll suddenly discover that it isn’t lonely at all. It is solitude, it is aloneness, and the desert begins to flower. Then at last you’ll know what love is, what God is, what reality is. But in the beginning giving up the drug can be tough, unless you have a very keen understanding or unless you have suffered enough. It’s a great thing to have suffered. Only then can you get sick of it. You can make use of suffering to end suffering. Most people just go on suffering. That explains the conflict I sometimes have between the role of spiritual director and that of therapist. A therapist says, "Let's ease the suffering." The spiritual director says, "Let her suffer, she'll get sick of this way of relating to people and she'll finally decide to break out of this prison of emotional dependence on others." Shall I offer a palliative or remove a cancer? It's not easy to decide.

   A person slams a book on the table in disgust. Let him keep slamming it on the table. Don’t pick up the book for him and tell him it’s all right. Spirituality is awareness, awareness, awareness, awareness, awareness, awareness. When your mother got angry with you, she didn’t say there was something wrong with her, she said there was something wrong with you; otherwise she wouldn’t have been angry. Well, I made the great discovery that if you are angry, Mother, there’s something wrong with you. So you’d better cope with your anger. Stay with it and cope with it. It’s not mine. Whether there’s something wrong with me or not, I’ll examine that independently of your anger. I’m not going to be  influenced by your anger.
 
   The funny thing is that when I can do this without feeling any negativity toward another, I can be quite objective about myself, too. Only a very aware person can refuse to pick up the guilt and anger, can say, “You’re having a tantrum. Too bad. I don’t feel the slightest desire to rescue you anymore, and I refuse to feel guilty.” I’m not going to hate myself for anything I’ve done. That’s what guilt is. I’m not going to give myself a bad feeling and whip myself for anything I have done, either right or wrong. I’m ready to analyze it, to watch it, and say, “Well, if I did wrong, it was in unawareness.” Nobody does wrong in awareness. That’s why theologians tell us very beautifully that Jesus could do no wrong. That makes very good sense to me, because the enlightened person can do no wrong. The enlightened person is free. Jesus was free and because he was free, he couldn't do any wrong. But because you can do wrong, you're not free.

RE: Blog
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4/3/19 8:52 PM as a reply to terry.
The way that can be mapped out is not the true way; the map that purports to show the way is not the true map. If there were a map, it would be christ. Or buddha. The guru, the good friend. Not symbols and signs, words and letters.


This may be true (and i've gotten distracted by the maps multiple times, even recently), but if a friend was completely lost in the forest, wouldn't you like them to have a map to find the way out? The map is not the territory, the menu is not the meal. Even so, I still use a menu when I go to a new restaurant, and I use maps when I need to get somewhere i've never been. Are they perfect? No. Is rejecting them any more useful than clinging to them? Questionable.

RE: Blog
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4/8/19 9:27 PM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
The way that can be mapped out is not the true way; the map that purports to show the way is not the true map. If there were a map, it would be christ. Or buddha. The guru, the good friend. Not symbols and signs, words and letters.


This may be true (and i've gotten distracted by the maps multiple times, even recently), but if a friend was completely lost in the forest, wouldn't you like them to have a map to find the way out? The map is not the territory, the menu is not the meal. Even so, I still use a menu when I go to a new restaurant, and I use maps when I need to get somewhere i've never been. Are they perfect? No. Is rejecting them any more useful than clinging to them? Questionable.

aloha lars,

   It depends on the map, bra. If a map has been in continuous use for millennia, with commentaries written by every generation, it might have some use. If you are trying to navigate hell, plenty of folk have been there and can "help."

   My main objection is to grafting modern concoctions of questionable validity directly onto buddhism, without warning. I become particularly distressed when traditional precepts are stood on their heads, in the name of sila. I am not even really a buddhist and don't feel some special need to defend buddhism. It is the truth that I love; and kindness, which is also truth. The buddha was pre-eminently awake. Practice is about being alert and mindful. It doesn't require a lot of cleverness to take the simple path, or to reject what is harmful. Don't be misled.

   I find myself wondering where are compassion and self-denial on these maps. They seem always directed toward achievement and experience, or avoiding negative states. Activities which only strengthen ego. It may seem only natural to want to embrace pleasure and avoid pain, but in spiritual terms this is not always the best way. Seeking ego advantage seems like the way of the world but this is a misperception caused by ego and conditioning. We can work with the world and not against it. Wu wei. For "non-doing" there is no map required. To find "here" we need only awaken.

   If I had a friend lost in the forest, and I couldn't guide them out myself, what good would a map do? How would a forest be mapped anyway?  I have quite literally been lost in forests before, a few times, and maps were more often the problem than the solution. (On one memorable occasion I had laid my knee open with a chainsaw and the boss was leading me out to the crummy on what should have been an easy twenty minute walk, but three hours later we found ourselves back where we started. Bloody but unbowed, and still lost, despite the boss stopping every few minutes to check the map. We finally had to ditch the map and use our heads. Then it seemed easy.)

terry



In Kyoto,
hearing the cuckoo,
I long for Kyoto.

bassho

RE: Blog
Answer
4/9/19 12:37 AM as a reply to terry.
this from "cutting through spiritual materialism" by chogyam trungpa:


Q:  What is faith? Is it useful?

A:  Faith could be simple-minded, trusting, blind faith, or it could be definite confidence which cannot be destroyed. Blind faith has no inspiration. It is very naive. It is not creative, though not exactly destructive. It is not creative because your faith and yourself have never made any connection, any communication. You just blindly accepted the whole belief, very naively. 
   In the case of faith as confidence, there is a living reason to be confident. You do not expect that there will be a prefabricated solution mysteriously presented to you. You work with existing siuations without fear, without any doubt about involving yourself. This approach is extremely creative and positive. If you have definite confidence, you are so sure of yourself that you do not have to check yourself. It is absolute confidence, real understanding of what is going on now, therefore you do not hesitate to follow other paths or deal in whatever way is necessary with each new situation. 


Q: What guides you on the path?

A:  Actually, there does not seem to be any particular guidance. In fact, if someone is guiding you, that is suspicious, because you are relying on something external. Being fully aware of what you are in yourself becomes guidance, but not in the sense of vanguard, because you do not have a guide to follow. You do not have to follow someone's tail, but you sail along. In other words, the guide does not walk ahead of you, but walks with you.

RE: Blog
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4/9/19 2:37 AM as a reply to terry.
Personally I just see the maps as descriptions of various states, much like a geographical map. They don't say what to do, or what not to do (though I used to mistakenly think they were things I should strive for). They don't say this state is better than that state, they just describe those states clearly so you can learn to recognize them and navigate them more skillfully. Ultimately you can only understand those states yourself from actual experience.


I become particularly distressed when traditional precepts are stood on their heads, in the name of sila.

I'm curious what you mean by this and how it relates to the maps?

RE: Blog
Answer
4/10/19 2:57 AM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
Personally I just see the maps as descriptions of various states, much like a geographical map. They don't say what to do, or what not to do (though I used to mistakenly think they were things I should strive for). They don't say this state is better than that state, they just describe those states clearly so you can learn to recognize them and navigate them more skillfully. Ultimately you can only understand those states yourself from actual experience.


I become particularly distressed when traditional precepts are stood on their heads, in the name of sila.

I'm curious what you mean by this and how it relates to the maps?



aloha lars,

   I went back and reread laurel's blog post, a little more carefully, and now I understand she is interpreting buddhaghosa. I didn't recognize the work from the treatment, but I should have read more carefully. I'm not going to discuss the merits of this particular map, I'm more into zen than theravada and formalism, but it is a teaching which is buddhist and been used for a long time. If I were using this map I would emphasize the brahmaviharas and the paramitas, I think. But I acknowledge that laurel and others here are more familiar with this material than I am. And most likely always will be, as it is not particularly my cup of tea, too many distinctions, too much thinking about doing. But I am going to give it some study, out of respect for the group.

   So, to the extent I was objecting to this "map" material because it isn't based on buddhism, I hadn't read carefully enough. I'm still uncomfortable with all the talk of dark nights and such as somehow part of the path of purification, but I don't know the material well. I'll try to stick to what I know, and read what I comment on more carefully. One can get a little sloppy when no one seems to know what one is talking about. Anyhows, my apologies to laurel for not reading her more carefully.

   The thing about the precepts actually refers to posts on other threads. The five precepts, as formulated by buddhaghosa himself, are:



1. to abstain from taking life

2. to abstain from taking what is not given

3. to abstain from sensuous misconduct

4. to abstain from false speech

5. to abstain from intoxicants as tending to cloud the mind


  I have found people here speaking authoritatively as buddhist practicioners advising people to eat meat, maturbate, watch netflix and so forth as though this were buddhist morality. I found this shocking. If this continues to pass for common sense here, perhaps I will get used to it. 

   I don't really object to maps if they work. That is, if actual purification results from "the path of purification." If I wanted to purify myself I would start with not eating meat and not watching mindless television. Masturbation optional but certainly not regarded as particularly moral behavior. But that's just me.

terry

RE: Blog
Answer
4/10/19 1:57 PM as a reply to terry.
terry:

  I have found people here speaking authoritatively as buddhist practicioners advising people to eat meat, maturbate, watch netflix and so forth as though this were buddhist morality. I found this shocking. If this continues to pass for common sense here, perhaps I will get used to it.


My take on that is that it's short term advice to help someone ground themselves when they're freaking out. When they've been practising too hard (or incorrectly) and get all caught up in thoughts and emotions, doing these things pull your focus out of the head and more into the body. I would say it's similar to giving anti-psychotic medications to someone having a psychotic episode. It's not something you would do under normal circumstances when the person is healthy, but it can bring them back to some level of balance when they're freaking out.

It's also something that can be observed mindfully (doing unskillfull things skillfully), so you can notice the effect that those "bad" things have on your practise and your mind in general, which leads to dropping those things in the long term.

RE: Blog
Answer
4/11/19 6:48 PM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
terry:

  I have found people here speaking authoritatively as buddhist practicioners advising people to eat meat, maturbate, watch netflix and so forth as though this were buddhist morality. I found this shocking. If this continues to pass for common sense here, perhaps I will get used to it.


My take on that is that it's short term advice to help someone ground themselves when they're freaking out. When they've been practising too hard (or incorrectly) and get all caught up in thoughts and emotions, doing these things pull your focus out of the head and more into the body. I would say it's similar to giving anti-psychotic medications to someone having a psychotic episode. It's not something you would do under normal circumstances when the person is healthy, but it can bring them back to some level of balance when they're freaking out.

It's also something that can be observed mindfully (doing unskillfull things skillfully), so you can notice the effect that those "bad" things have on your practise and your mind in general, which leads to dropping those things in the long term.

   I'm sure you are right, bra. I just think it is bad advice. And hardly buddhist. I also don't think anti-psychotic medications are useful except for people who are actually psychotic, and not just miserable. Misery is like the common cold. Tough it out; medicine just makes it worse and can become obsessive. Let nature take its course and this too will pass.

   I don't think running away from your problems or burying them in sensuality and ignorance is a viable strategy short or long term. People may try to substitute what they think of as practice for developing actual coping skills, and this can lead to dire results. 

   No one can be responsible for another's development. If you encourage people to depend on your guidance, they will fail and you will be blamed. If people depend on your advice without being encouraged to do so, it is on their own heads, and they will take responsibility for correcting themselves.

   I'm sure every advisor means well. God bless us one and all.

t