How to Meditate on Impermanence

How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/10/09 5:55 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Jackson Wilshire 2/10/09 6:56 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence beta wave 2/10/09 8:09 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/10/09 8:33 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Jackson Wilshire 2/10/09 8:59 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/10/09 9:29 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Trent S. H. 2/11/09 1:52 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/11/09 3:07 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Eric Calhoun 2/11/09 5:09 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence tarin greco 2/11/09 7:44 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Trent S. H. 2/12/09 1:07 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/12/09 4:34 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Jackson Wilshire 2/12/09 7:01 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/12/09 7:49 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Jackson Wilshire 2/12/09 8:13 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Chuck Kasmire 2/12/09 8:57 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/12/09 10:03 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/12/09 10:19 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Chuck Kasmire 2/12/09 11:42 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Kenneth Folk 2/12/09 12:08 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/12/09 2:28 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Chuck Kasmire 2/12/09 6:37 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Eric Calhoun 2/13/09 3:07 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Kenneth Folk 2/13/09 3:21 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/13/09 4:33 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Chuck Kasmire 2/13/09 5:08 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Eric Calhoun 2/13/09 5:13 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Kenneth Folk 2/13/09 6:10 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Kenneth Folk 2/13/09 6:23 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Kenneth Folk 2/13/09 6:26 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Jackson Wilshire 2/13/09 6:42 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Nathan I S 2/13/09 6:45 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence tarin greco 2/13/09 6:58 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence tarin greco 2/13/09 7:07 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/13/09 7:50 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/13/09 8:02 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Kenneth Folk 2/13/09 8:26 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Kenneth Folk 2/13/09 9:25 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/13/09 10:28 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Kenneth Folk 2/13/09 12:35 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Eric Calhoun 2/13/09 1:10 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Kenneth Folk 2/13/09 1:24 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/13/09 3:50 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence tarin greco 2/13/09 4:40 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Kenneth Folk 2/13/09 11:21 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Kenneth Folk 2/13/09 11:22 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence beta wave 2/14/09 12:25 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Wet Paint 2/14/09 1:07 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Gozen M L 2/14/09 2:24 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Hokai Sobol 2/15/09 1:24 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/15/09 4:35 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Jackson Wilshire 2/17/09 7:11 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Eric Calhoun 2/17/09 7:50 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/17/09 8:38 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence tarin greco 2/17/09 12:21 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Kenneth Folk 2/17/09 12:47 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/17/09 1:31 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence tarin greco 2/18/09 10:38 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence tarin greco 2/18/09 10:53 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence beta wave 2/18/09 11:53 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/19/09 4:47 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Trent S. H. 2/19/09 11:44 AM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence C4 Chaos 2/19/09 2:37 PM
RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence Trent S. H. 2/19/09 2:52 PM
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/10/09 5:55 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/10/09 5:55 AM

How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Practical Dharma

hi everyone,

just want to post this question for the more experienced practitioners to see if i'm doing my practice correctly or if there are other ways i can approach this technique.

i practice Vipassana meditation as taught by Shinzen Young. since i love his algorithmic approach to meditation, i'll describe mine in an algorithmic fashion. here's how i do my practice.

i do my meditation sitting and lying down (before going to sleep). here's my practice sequence:

1. focus on the breath: do noting technique (ie, "rising", "falling"). when i feel like i'm in access concentration (ie. breathing is very light, etc.), i proceed to step 2.

2. focus on restful awareness: do noting technique but only on the restful states (ie, the blank screen behind the eyes, relaxation of the body). once i feel very, very relaxed i start to sense the vibrations (flowing, expanding, contracting, undulating) then i proceed to step 3.

3. focus on change (aka impermanence): at this point, i just ride the waves (or vibrations) and let it massage my whole body. if i feel a sense of expansion, i expand with it. if i feel contraction, i contract with it. i just hang out there for as long as the waves are flowing, until my concentration deepens or i get sidetracked, in which case i go back to step 1.

this is how i meditate on impermanence. Shinzen describes impermanence as "waves" or vibratory sensations. i find this description very "tangible" because when i focus on the waves the sensory components (touch, sight, sound, feel, image, mental talk, etc...) don't arise that much. according to Shinzen, experiencing the vibrations is the complete experience of those sensory components.

question: how do you meditate on impermanence? do you find that my above description fit your experience even if the context or approach is different?
thumbnail
Jackson Wilshire, modified 13 Years ago at 2/10/09 6:56 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/10/09 6:56 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
@c4chaos:

Your description of vibratory sensations sounds about right to me. In my experience, the sensations of touch, sight, sound, feel, etc. don't really cease all that much. I may get a little too focused on a particular vibrating sensate area, but if I get too lost in it I sometimes fail to note any reflections that arise.

For example, if I'm paying close attention to each little flicker of a sensation that arises, an intuitive understanding of impermanence will become apparent, and will be followed by the reflection, "this is impermanent," or something like that. For me, the trick is to than notice (or "note") the reflection, and see that it too arises and vanishes like the sensation noticed just before. This keeps me from getting lost in thought or zoning out too much.

It's also helpful to note when getting sidetracked happens, as soon as you notice that it occurred. It all sounds pretty overwhelming at first, but it gets easier the more you practice.

I hope this was helpful. I'm sure some of the others will be able to provide a perspective on noticing impermanence that is more well developed than my own.
beta wave, modified 13 Years ago at 2/10/09 8:09 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/10/09 8:09 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
I've found I get a little daydreamy when I follow rapture sensations, they might be too interesting for me. It seems like if you can't think your way to enlightenment, then I can't use raptures as objects because I think too much about them.

I've refocused and now use a little more effort to follow the changing sensations of breathing in my diaphram but noting other sensations as they come up, especially lingering moods, and especially near the ending of the in breath and also in the pause between the out breath and next breath. (Those two spots because the motion of breathing isn't as tangible then.)

I don't think I could say that I meditate "on" impermanence outside of the sensations. (Which makes me question if I'm doing it right.) It is clear what is present is changing without my controlling it and it keeps changing.

Hope this helps. I'm interested in any thoughts on this approach.
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/10/09 8:33 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/10/09 8:33 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
thanks for sharing your thoughts.

i'd like to add more detail to my practice of mediation on impermanence. Shinzen Young calls it "focus on change" and he has a very specific and methodical way of how to do the "noting" with this kind of meditation.

for details you can check out: http://www.shinzen.org/Retreat%20Reading/Focus%20on%20Change-Summary.pdf

basically, once i shift my focus on waves and vibrations, i limit my noting to just the sensations of the waves and their coming and going. for example, if i sense expansion, i note "expansion". if i sense contraction, i note "contraction". if the sensation stops i note "gone." then i just repeat the process. doing it this way i notice that i don't get caught up in the content of the sensory experience (other than the sensation of the vibrations). sensory experience of touch, sight, sound, etc. still arise but they are very faint in the background.

i find this technique very helpful. i immediately noticed an improvement in my practice. previously, i can only sit for about 30 mins and i get easily distracted. since i learned this technique, i could now sit for more than an hour without much struggle and effort. also, i could apply this technique when meditating in the corpse (or lying down) position without dozing off.

and finally, i can carry the awareness of the waves even if i'm not meditating. for example, i still feel the pulsating waves on the back of my neck, and forehead. because of this i can make the wave sensations as object of meditation and slip into the vibratory state quickly.

so that's how i do it. would like to hear from others who have the same or different technique on meditating on impermanence.
thumbnail
Jackson Wilshire, modified 13 Years ago at 2/10/09 8:59 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/10/09 8:59 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
That's pretty cool. I really like the terminology he uses. Very practical.

Also, you wrote, "doing it this way I notice that I don't get caught up in the content of the sensory experience (other than the sensation of the vibrations). sensory experience of touch, sight, sound, etc. still arise but they are very faint in the background."

It's a good sign that this technique is helping you to not get all caught up in the content of your experience. Noticing the universal characteristics of your experience is much more condusive to good insight practice... in fact, it's the point of it all. I'm an emotional, type B sort of guy, so content has always posed a bit of a problem.

I don't know what stage you're in, as far as the Progress of Insight is concerned, but I'd be interested to know if this technique is just as effective at keeping you from getting stuck in content when you are in the Dark Night. I have to deal with all kinds of content stuff in the Dark Night, but for some people it's not a big deal. It could just be a temperament thing. I've learned to navigate it pretty well in spite of the emotional junk, but any tips or techniques on getting through it with less disruption are always appreciated.

I'll be checking out more of Shinzen's teachings now. Thanks for the info.
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/10/09 9:29 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/10/09 9:29 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
Jackson,

glad that you dig the technique emoticon

if you want more info on Shinzen's i recommend reading all the materials here:
http://www.shinzen.org/MeditationTraining/retreat_reading.htm

and listening to some of his recorded dharma talks:
http://www.shinzen.org/DharmaTalk.htm

it's important to get familiarized with his vocabulary since he uses more "secular" and scientific terms in his discourse and instructions. but once you get passed that, you'll notice that his style of teaching is very technical yet lucid. there's less dogma, and guesswork. it's very systematic and methodical. that's why it appeals to me emoticon

actually, i don't know what stage i'm in. all i know right now is that i picked up on my practice and i'm grooving with it without much effort.

however, i presume that this technique would be very effective for the "Dark Night". in fact, Shinzen teaches this meditation to "break through difficult emotions" -- a characteristic of the Dark Night. he starts with the standard Vipassana or mindfulness and according to Shinzen, the complete experience of the sensation is when we perceive it at its "vibratory" or "wave" level. if we can do that then the content won't matter that much.

that said, i notice that Shinzen doesn't focus on the "jhanas". he teaches Vipassana but with less emphasis on the stages of absorption. however, he does put emphasis on focusing on impermanence. so i take it that it's a short-cut route, i think emoticon
Trent S H, modified 13 Years ago at 2/11/09 1:52 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/11/09 1:52 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
I'm playing devil's advocate here to give a balanced perspective, take it as you will.

I think you may be trying too hard. Maybe too much theory and not enough investigation. Are you reading Young and gobbling up everything he says, or are you doubting the hell out of it all and trying to prove him wrong? Do you know why you're using noting technique and what it's going to accomplish, if anything? Is your understanding of the technique in line with your goal?

IMO, meditation in this fashion is something best saved for mid-game (wherever that is). Try sitting down, get your concentration "good," wherever you feel that is, and ask "who am I" 10 billion times until something happens. If you see something, who am I. If you feel something, who am I, if something happens, who am I.

Again, this is just my opinion and I have absolutely no damn clue what would work best for you!
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/11/09 3:07 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/11/09 3:07 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
thanks for the reminder and for playing devil's advocate. your point is well taken.

i can assure you that i have a good solid grasp of meditation theory and other various practices. what i lack is the experiential part. that's why i'm so happy when i encountered Shinzen Young's methodology because it appeals to my hard-nosed rationalist personality. i've dabbled with Zen, Tibetan, and Advaita. i have a conceptual understanding their teachings but as far as practice is concerned, i realize that i groove with Theravada (i.e. Vipassana).

the meditation technique you cited is popularized by Ramana Maharshi. it's a powerful technique for getting the Witnessing experience. however, it had no effect on me whatsoever, and i find that, as a technique, it lacks the framework of the scientific method. but still, like i said, it's a powerful technique to those who are receptive enough, or diligent enough to groove with that kind of practice.

it just so happens that, in my case, the Vipassana style is the most appropriate emoticon


~C
Eric Calhoun, modified 13 Years ago at 2/11/09 5:09 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/11/09 5:09 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/25/09 Recent Posts
@c4chaos:

Seems like you've got a good handle on accessing that fundamental impermanence. I like my Vipassana stripped to the core, and have found it most useful to think of it as sensations or vibrations, and don't find it very useful to think too much if I'm experiencing waves or particles, which I think I've heard Shinzen Young get into. I'm a little subject to subtle and tricky mind loops of examining the what-ness of experience, instead of studying the impermanence of the experience - the arising, the thereness, the passing away, and the dip into nothing. So once you are solid in your meditation with noticing impermanence, perhaps notice how much effort you are putting into "what you are supposed to be meditating on" and redirect that attention onto the quality of impermanence, whatever it is.
thumbnail
tarin greco, modified 13 Years ago at 2/11/09 7:44 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/11/09 7:44 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
yabaxoule,

funny you contrast those two styles, and in that order (who am i first, then midgame switch to vibrations)! on this last retreat, i was doing the vibrations thing a lot, which is usual for me, but then i suddenly switched to an awareness aware of itself style (which i havent done much of in years) and did that for a day or two, and then right before the thing popped i was doing f*** knows what for a while. and now, afterwards, i'm heavily inclined toward the 'awareness aware of itself' thing, like it seems obvious that thats the only way to go now.
Trent S H, modified 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 1:07 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 1:07 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
@c4chaos:

If you feel that is best for you, then that is best. My intent is only to express that, from what I can tell, a complex technique is more prone to accidental misuse or misunderstanding than is an extremely simple one. Heartfelt exploration is key-- if you can feel passionate about noting impermanence more so than asking yourself a question, then that is good. Also, although "who am I" lacks rigid scientific explanation, so too does most of the things you will come to experience. They can be rationalized, but that rationalization tends to only make sense after the fact and is typically a rationale based on the realizations themselves. Hence the reason stream-entry is called the "opening of the Dharma eye."
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 4:34 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 4:34 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
@Yabaxoule: " complex technique is more prone to accidental misuse or misunderstanding than is an extremely simple one. "

i generally agree with what you have said. however, there are two general approaches that one can take. a top-down and a bottom-up. what you're describing is a top-down approach (i.e, direct pointing out). Ken Wilber is notorious for this. he's a big fan of Ramana Maharshi. however, if we study the biography of these teachers, we'll find out that they had undergone the bottom-up approach. for example, Ramana Maharshi became a recluse and spent years of his life in meditation. Ken Wilber is an Zen practitioner. i'm not downplaying the powerful nature of pointing out instructions. but i think that the bottom-up approach is more appropriate if we are to effectively relay the experience and methods to people if and when we experience the grace of enlightenment. essentially, that's what the Buddha did.

that said, who knows, during one of my sitting meditations, if the sense of "who am i?" arises, i'll ride the wave like newbie surfer and will take it from there emoticon

thanks!

~C
thumbnail
Jackson Wilshire, modified 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 7:01 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 7:01 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
@c4chaos:

It's interesting that you brought this up, because I've been thinking about it a lot lately.

I've heard interviews with certain teachers (Adyashanti comes to mind) where they say that they spent years doing intensive, structured practice, and that what finally worked for them is the super-relaxed, top-down style of questioning. This lead Adya to say that he had been meditating "wrong" for 15 years. Nothing against Adya, because I think some of his teachings and descriptions are interesting and valuable in their appropriate context. But I think you're right in saying that different stages of one's practice may benefit from different techniques at different stages, and that it doesn't make one better or worse than the other.

I'm like you, in that I think that mastering vipassana is primary my practice. Occasionally, I do spontaneously and intuitively ask "What is it that sees/hears/thinks/feels/etc?", and it leads to some interesting insights. But I find that if I use this as my primary path, I miss out on the subtle aspects of the practice (i.e. REALLY noticing the Three Characteristics of all experiential phenomena).

Anyways, just thought I'd share.
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 7:49 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 7:49 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
i had done a lot of reflection on this topic during my early years of
"seeking". and sometimes, i still reflect on this.

however, my conjecture is that, those "enlightened" teachers who downplay structured practice is somewhat misleading their students. whenever they speak from a perspective of "no technique", they are essentially speaking from their own subjective realization. and really, for most of them, enlightenment is a natural state of being. so in a sense, they are being truthful. that said, most people are not opened/skilled/lucky enough to recognize what they are pointing out. so most people end up projecting their own stuff on what the teachers say. and there goes the danger and disadvantage or purely top-down approach.

a contemporary example of this is Eckhart Tolle. i think he is the real deal when it comes to being enlightened. however, his approach is influenced by Advaita Vedanta (i.e., a recognition of the present moment, the Power of now) so his technique is more like a "no technique". some people groove with this, i suspect that most people don't. otherwise, millions of people should've been enlightened (in the classical sense of the word) by now after Tolle became a regular at Oprah emoticon

bottom line: there's no one-size-fits-all awakening technology. so let's stick with what works best for us at our level of understanding. let's use illusion to break through illusion emoticon
thumbnail
Jackson Wilshire, modified 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 8:13 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 8:13 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
@c4chaos:

I completely agree with you.

The only thing I might wish to add is that we can't necessarily expect all enlightened people to also be expert teachers. There are many people who are amazing teachers, but still have a sense of a separate self. Fortunately for us, there are some enlightened folks (i.e. Daniel, the late Mahasi Sayadaw, and Shinzen Young) who are both awakened and know how to teach others the techniques that lead to awakening.

An example of this is an old master guitar player I know named Caleb Quaye. He was Elton John's lead guitar player for ten years, and is the best guitarist I've ever played with. Though he is incredibly talented, he is not a very good teacher. He was never really able to tell me or anyone else "how" to play like him, even though he must have learned how by training extensively with certain techniques. Thus, being good at something, or knowing something intimately, does not necessarily make someone a good teacher.

Anyways, this is quite a digression from the original topic, but it's been nice to bounce some of these ideas off another dharma friend.
Chuck Kasmire, modified 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 8:57 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 8:57 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
C4Chaos,
I think you give an excellent description of the practice as I have experienced it. Shinzen Young describes the process really well. Reggie Ray is also good – total focus on this as a practice of embodiment.

Some tricks that worked for me: when you only feel the vibrations in certain areas, use directed awareness to kind of draw the vibrations into those areas where you can't feel them. Try to maintain a 'whole-body awareness' – don't get totally drawn into just one area. When you are using your directed awareness and evaluation to cultivate/maintain this body-energy – this is first jhana (in my experience).

When you get lost in thought and become aware of it – get back in to the body and check what is going on – carefully! Look for vibrations that carry a sort of flavor that is hard to stay with and try to stay with it. This helps build concentration. There is lots to learn at the point where we jump from being in the body to being caught up in thought.

In my view the reason why this has not been widely taught is that many teachers think it is really hard to do. Obviously, if you don't talk about it, students are going to find it difficult :-) I was lucky to start out with a Chi Gong master that taught that this stuff was as obvious as dirt – it just took some time and decent techniques to see it.

In general, I think you really got it - at least as it has unfolded in my experience.
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 10:03 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 10:03 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
"I was lucky to start out with a Chi Gong master that taught that this stuff was as obvious as dirt – it just took some time and decent techniques to see it."

lucky you! "chi" is exactly what those waves/vibrations/undulations/impermanence correspond to the Buddhist teaching (at least that's the way i understand it).

however, the difference with Vipassana meditation is that the vibrations are not actively being "directed". it is just observed with mindfulness and equanimity. the the observing awareness follows the flow of the vibration wherever it arises in the body.

i think that actively directing the flow of "chi" is on the more advanced level of mastering those so-called subtle energies. this sounds cool, but it is not required in Vipassana/insight practice.

that said, like i said, whatever works for us is probably best at our current skill level.

in my case, i became familiar with the vibratory experience not from meditation but from lucid dreaming practice. the rapid fire/fine/high vibratory sensations is an indication that i'm about to enter the dream state. cool stuff emoticon
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 10:19 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 10:19 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
exactly! your guitar teacher analogy is right on the money emoticon

again, a good example of this Eckhart Tolle. he had a radical experience of enlightenment which changed every fiber of his being. however, he realized this without a technique whatsoever. his awakening was triggered by deep depression, hopelessness, and pain. the dude even got suicidal. after his awakening he had
no deep conceptual model or framework on which to express his subjective awareness. that's why he had to backtrack and consult spiritual teachers in order to fully express his awakening and make him more functional in the relative world.

maybe it just so happens that Tolle was influenced more by Vedanta, hence his style of pointing out teaching. in any case, i still like the dude because he is such a teddy bear emoticon
Chuck Kasmire, modified 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 11:42 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 11:42 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Generally I agree. Most of the chi gong techniques I learned were active (directed) and vipassana is generally taught as passive. But there are also many passive techniques in Chi Gong. You will also find active Buddhist techniques. Just look at how Thanissaro Bhikkhu teaches jhana. Also look at sutta MN119:
“He permeates & pervades, suffuses & fills this very body with the rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal. Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again & again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within & without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates... this very body with the rapture & pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal”

-active energy work.

I think these folks have been trading tips for thousands of years (and without dsl)!
thumbnail
Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 12:08 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 12:08 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Hi CheleK,

I wouldn't think of that as active. I would think of active energy work as seeking to redirect the energy from one place to another, for example. I remember reading that Gopi Krishna got into trouble in his meditation, then had to redirect the energy from one of the subsidiary channels (ida or pingala) into the central channel (sushumna). The instruction you quote is about bathing in the sensations that are present, as opposed to actively doing anything with them. Steeping in jhana, as described there, is the way to turn "soft" jhana into "hard" jhana. It is actually less active than vipassana, in which the yogi actively seeks to investigate, rather than revel in the phenomena. I'm interested in hearing about your Chi Gong techniques. Do you move the energy around?
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 2:28 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 2:28 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
good point. i agree. this is how Shinzen Young teaches "focus on rest", which is equivalent to the cultivating the samatha (concentration) jhanas. it's i think that it still a passive technique, i.e. noticing where the sense of relaxation is and then "allowing" it to spread wherever it goes and let it take the practitioner deeper into concentration. however, this is a small amount of "active" technique that one can do to allow the relaxation to spread (e.g. relaxing the hands, shoulders, neck.). so in a way, it's both passive and active. but i would say more on the passive end emoticon

~C
Chuck Kasmire, modified 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 6:37 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/12/09 6:37 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi kennethfolk,

I think there are several factors here: First, what we mean by passive verses active is somewhat subjective and secondly I think there are different approaches to the jhanas and probably even different ways we experience them to some extent (experientially I can only know my own experience). For me, words like “permeates & pervades, suffuses & fills” imply an active approach and is the same as what is meant by “directed thought and evaluation”. In my view, the active approach is mostly useful for getting into the first jhana. At that point you just drop the active aspect and stay with the 'energy' as ones object. In this respect, it has the same function as noting, chanting, or repeating 'buddho, buddho, buddho' – it just gets us out of our heads and into our body – once we are there there is no need to keep it up (sort of a jhana on-ramp).

Chi Gong has not been my primary practice for over 10 years – though I still use some of the techniques for certain purposes. Buddhism provides a much better framework to work with. Chi Gong is great for getting into the body while Buddhism is great at what to do when you get there.

My main chi gong practices were: micro-cosmic orbit (small circulation), standing at stake forms, and a sweeping type practice moving energy up through the feet, legs, torso, shoulders – then down through arms and out palms. All of these were very active to start with but then followed by a passive period. In my understanding, passive chi gong practices are not really viewed as passive but as very active states – but the activity is not a directed mental intention. Does that answer your question? I am going to run out of space soon ....
-Chuck
Eric Calhoun, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 3:07 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 3:07 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/25/09 Recent Posts
I think another aspect of "active" is the degree to which we put conceptions and categories around the sensations we experience. The degree to which we are aware of this helps us see how we are attached to mind and the illusion of separate self. I think every path has a blind spot, and one of Vipassana's is in honing a subtle self that is so diligent (hopefully) at investigating phenomena. Not that this is bad, it will just have to be eventually seen and let go of.
thumbnail
Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 3:21 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 3:21 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Hi Chuck,

Thanks for sharing your (mostly former) Chi Gong practices. It sounds like you've incorporated them into your vipassana and samatha practice.

I'd like to clarify about the "bathing in jhana" instruction you quoted, because understanding it is fundamental to jhana practice. Whether we think of it as active or passive, the job is to let yourself steep in the sensations as they become ever deeper, more solid, more blissful, etc. Whereas you may have entered the jhana by meditating on the breath, a kasina object, a mantra, or any other object, at this point the jhana itself is the object. Everything else is dropped as you allow yourself to be overcome by the pleasant sensations of the jhana. You are a sponge, soaking up the sensations. We are talking about the samatha technique, so there is no effort to investigate or penetrate the object (vipassana). And this "bathing in the jhana" technique is not unique to any particular jhana. This is the way to deepen and solidify ANY jhana, so for those who are getting just a whiff of jhana and would like to go deeper, this is a powerful instruction.

Kenneth
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 4:33 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 4:33 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
thanks for expounding on this. this is exactly what my understanding of samatha jhana and vipassana jhana is. and this is the original context of my question (see first post on this thread). the vibratory level is a (characteristic of) vipassana jhana (ie. impermanence) and riding the waves/vibrations is one way of "soaking" in it and shifting to it as object of meditation.

according to Shinzen, it is easiest to sense the vibratory aspect of impermanence in a somatic sense (ie. body sensations), although if we get skilled enough, this vibratory aspect can be perceived by all sense gates (ie, touch, sight, sound, feel, thought, etc.).

so, does this validate your subjective experience when you meditate on impermanence? or do you have anything you can share to add to our collective understanding?

thanks for riffing on this thread. i'm learning a lot emoticon

~C
Chuck Kasmire, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 5:08 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 5:08 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi Kenneth,

Yes, I think we are on the same page here. This is what I was getting at with “At that point you just drop the active aspect and stay with the 'energy' as ones object.”. You put it very nicely.
I see the first jhana as something like the trunk of a tree with the various techniques as its roots – which all converge at the trunk. From there we have the two branches (samatha and vipassana) available which sort of start diverging as the roots come together.

How would you describe the “effort to investigate or penetrate the object (vipassana)” to someone who is new to this?
Eric Calhoun, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 5:13 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 5:13 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/25/09 Recent Posts
I found impermanence of thought to be an easy thing to pick up on and study, and not just on the thoughts that arise in the mind for no obvious reason. I learned a lot by getting really clear on the mental "echo" that follows after I observe a physical sensation, like the mechanism for thinking is just behind the observation, and trying to constantly catch up. That type of automatic thought echos the physical sensation, and also in impermanence.
thumbnail
Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 6:10 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 6:10 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Hi C,

I think you are on the right track here. The more you pay attention to the vibrations, the more vibrations you will see. This is vipassana. You are deconstructing what at first may have appeared to be a solid object. For example, an apparently solid pain in your knee might break up into its constituent parts, leaving you with flowing, pulsing, changing, vibrating, etc.

To conceptually differentiate samatha and vipassana, imagine a pillow case with some mystery object inside. As a vipassana practitioner, you know that your job is to probe, tickle, rub, shake, hoist, palpate, and otherwise explore the pillow case-covered object until it reveals all of its secrets. You want to become an expert on whatever is inside, never being deceived by the apparent solidity of the pillow case.

To practice samatha is completely different. You simply rest your hand lightly on the pillow case and leave it there. If it moves, follow it. You don't care what is inside. You don't want to know. The more solid it appears, the better you like it. The last thing you want to do is to penetrate the object. The difference between samatha and vipassana will become more and more apparent if you set out with the intention of exploring both techniques side by side, with an eye toward comparing and contrasting them.

If you do vipassana, you will experience the various strata of mind as an amorphous flow, rather than the discreet strata characteristic of samatha jhana. As your ultimate goal is presumably to progress upward on a vertical axis through the Four Paths of enlightenment, it is good to master both the vipassana and samatha techniques. They work together. You will eventually have to access and penetrate all the strata of mind. While this can be done with just vipassana (dry insight practice), samatha is the "juice" that lubricates the practice. It will make your ride easier.

Kenneth
thumbnail
Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 6:23 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 6:23 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Hey C, try this as a way to see what Shinzen was talking about:

Roll your eyes up into your head and let your eyelids flutter. See that vibrating, strobing light? That's one way of understanding the visual component. Of course, you can also feel the fluttering, so that's a tactile component. Are the flutterings continuous, or do they come in waves? Fttrrrrp, fttrrrrp, fttrrrrrp, etc. Is there a mental component that echoes the physical vibration? What happens at the end of each little flurry? Can you catch the exact stopping point? This could be a very productive line of inquiry.
thumbnail
Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 6:26 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 6:26 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
I'm not sure what you mean by validating your subjective experience. Can you clarify that?
thumbnail
Jackson Wilshire, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 6:42 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 6:42 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
@kennethfolk:

I've been doing this exercise sort of accidentally lately, so it's good to know that's it's worth doing on purpose.

I've been noticing how I tend to posit a sense of self by identifying with sensations in and around my eyes (both seeing and the tactile sensations around the eyes). In doing this, I've usually have some sort of spontaneous reflection arise about the impermanence of this self sense and the vibrations that compose it, followed by the question, "Than what sees/feels this?" At that point, I usually experience some kind of disorienting energy burst that distracts me for a moment. It's as if my mind starts to untangle but gets scared and solidifies it self. Does any of this make sense?

Do you have any advice as far as what I can do with this? It seems important, but I don't know if it is.

Thanks!

Jackson
Nathan I S, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 6:45 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 6:45 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/26/09 Recent Posts
Kenneth, my understanding right now is that it's most helpful, at least in my experience, to "steep" in the predominant jhana factor, so in 1 it's the piti sensations, in 2 it's the one-pointedness and the sukkha, in 3 it is the sukkha and periphery, and in 4 it is the spaciousness. At the same time I feel like keeping the mind on the object (i.e., the breath) aides in all this, though I can't determine at my current ability if that's just mind-movements between one object (breath) and the other (jhana), or if that's part of the process. Do you mind commenting on this?
thumbnail
tarin greco, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 6:58 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 6:58 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
when i see how there's identification with some sensation, and become aware of what its like to be me, and it spontaneously arises that i ask 'what is this that is aware of this' (or 'who am i?'), i become very alert and pay sharp and careful attention to what's going on, the same way i would if i were listening for an earthquake or an intruder in my house. my advice is to just keep going and understand the stakes are high at this point.

dont worry about whats happening or what will happen, just keep going however way you're inclined to and make sure to pay attention to the whole process the whole way, without excluding something because you dont like it (e.g. feelings, intentions, confusion, excluding, unclarity, 'distracting' things, restless bursts of energy etc, frustration, etc)
thumbnail
tarin greco, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 7:07 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 7:07 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
i want to add to this:

if you notice the sound in your ears (nada sound, sound of silence, inner ear ringing, blood rushing, nerves frying, whatever), notice how it has a vibration quality too. notice how that varies, sometimes its strobing, sometimes thudding, sometimes clunking, different speeds, and maybe even related to bodily or visual vibrations, either going at the same rhythm as them or harmonising with them, or feeling jarring and out of synch.

i've found taking all the vibrating from the senses that show up together to be a very useful and integrating experience, good for building concentration and continuity, providing a wide range of inclusiveness, and fascinating in its own right. ive also found that its good to learn to be comfortable and familiar with this shifting, in-between quality that this practice provides and that it helps me move/switch through the jhanas with somewhat ease and stability.
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 7:50 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 7:50 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
Kenneth,

it's good to know that i'm on the right track and i have a right understanding of the vipassana path. thanks for sharing your knowledge and for the tips! will give them a try.

just a quick follow up: when riding the waves or soaking in the characteristic of impermanence, should the noting/labeling be dropped altogether? in my case, i still continue the noting but the labels are limited to the vibratory aspect. e.g. "flowing", "expanding", "contracting", "gone". in short, the labeling is limited to the characterisitic of the vibratory experience. however, once in a while when i hear an external sound, i still note/label it as "sound."

my question to you and the more advanced practitioners out there: do you drop noting altogether when doing vipassana? if you continue to do noting, how do you note it? or do you do other techniques to get deeper? what are the indicators of improvement (e.g. sensations, visions, etc.) that one should be watching for when practicing vipassana?

thanks again!

~C
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 8:02 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 8:02 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
thanks for mentioning this. this a good reminder on my part. 14 years ago i was actually "initiated" into a meditation practice called "Quan Yin" method, meaning light and sound. the primary technique is to lightly put both thumbs to cover the opening of the ears. give it a try. it's kinda groovy. you can immediately feel the pounding, wavy sensations of the inner ear along with the heartbeat. however, i was a newbie with Buddhist teachings at that time so i didn't get the deeper concept and i didn't practice the method.

but now that i know better, i have more to add to my menu of focusing techniques emoticon

~C
thumbnail
Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 8:26 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 8:26 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Yes, Nathan, this is excellent. You want to steep in the predominant factor. In that way you are encouraging the jhana to stick around while going deeper into it. And, as you say, the predominant factor is more subtle with each subsequent jhana. In fact, as you get into the immaterial (arupa) jhanas, 5-8, the predominant factor is mental rather than physical. So you steep in whatever is there. At times, the breath will be quite noticeable, so you notice it. As long as you don't try to deconstruct it or reduce it to its component parts, you are still doing samatha.

Disclaimer for those who just tuned in: Samatha practice is for those who also practice vipassana. We are not impugning vipassana here, just clearly differentiating the two techniques. In order to gain insight, Path and Fruition, and developmental enlightenment, you must at some point "find the flaw" in the jhana via the vipassana technique. By finding the flaw, I mean that you have to see where it is impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not happening to anybody. Practically speaking, that means that you have to see it change or notice that while there are all these pleasant phenomena going on, there are also unpleasant phenomena. If you focus on the change or the unpleasantness, you "bust" the jhana. Busting it doesn't mean you can't return to it at will. It just means that now you own it as opposed to it owning you.
thumbnail
Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 9:25 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 9:25 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
As a general rule, note until things become very subtle. At that point I would let go of noting as it is unnecessary and can disturb subtle states of concentration. Think of it a gearshift. (I think I originally heard this idea from Shinzen Young.) When the going gets tough, and you are having trouble noticing clearly, downshift to 1st gear. This would mean lots of noting. Once you get some momentum, but still want a reminder to keep yourself on track, shift up to occasional noting, just to "frame the picture" (that one is from Joseph Goldstein). When you are really cruising, and objects are effortlessly appearing and being noticed clearly, abandon the noting; it's just a distraction at that point.

And if you are practicing the samatha technique, don't note. You can use a mantra to gain access concentration, but once you enter jhana stop all self-talk and take the jhana itself as object. That might mean physical sensations or mental phenomena depending on the jhana and how deeply you have dived into it.

Indicators for improvement? Hmmm... This is tricky as there is a tendency to think that if you are accessing pleasant or subtle states you are doing it right. Sometimes it will be pleasant and/or subtle, sometimes it will be unpleasant and/or coarse. You are doing it right if you are clearly seeing whatever arises. There is a large element of trust required here, as it is not always obvious that you are making progress. Sometimes you may feel that you have regressed when in fact you have accessed a new stratum of mind that just happens to be unpleasant by nature. If you trust the process and apply the vipassana technique consistently you will certainly make progress over time. Don't look for any particular sensation, and certainly don't look for visions. See whatever is there. Whatever is in front of you now is the door to the door to the door, etc. You can't open the door that you haven't yet reached.
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 10:28 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 10:28 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
sweet! gearshift. i dig that metaphor. you just made it more tangible for me.

thanks for all the advice. i'll keep them in mind and apply them to my daily practice.

kick ass and be still.

~C
thumbnail
Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 12:35 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 12:35 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Yes, Jackson, I would say that this is important. When you ask "what sees/feels this," as in "who am I?" or "who is the author of this experience?" you are practicing the quintessential "direct path" exercise. That question points to the direct apprehension that the knowing and that which is known are "not two." This is advaita, which is a Sanskrit word meaning..."not two." This is not vipassana, but a complete practice unto itself. You can become fully enlightened, as did Ramana Maharshi, by continued inquiry into "who am I?" Ramana insisted that no other technique was required. Of all the practices I have done, including a great deal of vipassana, "Who am I?" self-inquiry, as taught by Ramana is my favorite practice. I recommend doing it in conjunction with your other practices, as it has the power to completely disabuse you of the notion of a separate self. With this kind of practice, "the path is the goal." In other words, you are able to see what it is like to be enlightened, long before your development catches up with your momentary insight.

As for the "disorienting energy bursts," I would consider them transient phenomena that will probably go away as your mind adapts to the new experiences.

For another way to cultivate the ability to dwell in what I call the "no-dog" (as in "it has no dog in this fight"), check out the exercise in the thread entitled "the mirror." I'd be interested to hear how it goes.

Kenneth
Eric Calhoun, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 1:10 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 1:10 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/25/09 Recent Posts
Where did that thread go? I did this and thought I was going to post, but have been clicking in circles... (sorry for off subject post)

Anyways, the core of experience was pretty interesting. I am not a visual person, so after I struggled with visualizing myself, I got a small mirror and set it up so I was looking right into it as I meditated in my preferred position, "fetal buddha". It was pretty easy to project the self into the reflection, and there wasn't much of a change from ordinary consciousness. The big change was projecting the 3rd perspective, which was threatening enough to the attachment to separate self that I felt an amped up burst of fear/unease right after the initial confusion of self. This led back into some annoying and subtle thought loops, and not much else interesting this time. Cool exercise, thanks.
thumbnail
Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 1:24 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 1:24 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Outstanding observation, 2birds. This is precisely the blind spot of vipassana. It is all too easy to carry the unexamined assumption that there is some knowing mind capable of dispassionately observing experience. No such knower exists. The solution is to "turn the light around" as they say in dzogchen. Let this supposed knower know itself. The jig is up.
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 3:50 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 3:50 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
i do believe that the self-inquiry practice is really powerful. Ken Wilber speaks highly of it since he's very much influenced by Ramana Maharshi. however, i do have some questions and reservations about it. first, it's because people like Wilber who speaks highly of self-inquiry had undergone a structured practice first (e.g. Zen in Wilber's case) before doing self-inquiry. Ramana was a rekluse and practiced diligently for years. and even U.G. Krishnamurti practiced meditation before his *sudden* enlightenment.

correct me if i'm wrong but my impression (based on the limited literature i've studied) is that there are more people who attained arahatship via the time-tested structured method. do you know of any one who attained liberation using only the practice of self-inquiry (with no other practice)?

the only contemporary teacher that i know who is influenced by Advaita and became enlightened *without* practice is Eckhart Tolle. but since he didn't have enough conceptual framework for his experience, he had to go back and study with spiritual teachers to stabilize his realization and make him functional in the "real" world.

that said, my questions to you are: in your experience, what practice brought you to the ultimate "fruition"? is it Vipassana? self-inquiry? both? also, when you say practice in conjunction, do you mean doing self-inquiry at some specific samatha or vipassana jhana? or practice them separately?

thanks for your patience and guidance.

~C
thumbnail
tarin greco, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 4:40 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 4:40 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
i was really into awareness turning back on itself before i ever got into formal practice. but i didn't have the concentration, focus, or guidance, and didn't know i was onto anything. then when i got into vipassana, i was turned onto the awareness turning back on itself thing by a fellow meditator i respected and now friend, and knew there was definitely something to it. but i was even more frustrated by how i felt i clearly didnt have the concentration or focus to do anything with it (or did i?), and all the doubt and restlessness that surrounded that ('for if anything good is to come out of this, why hasn't it by now?' was the sort of thing i would think). i felt like i must be deluding myself.. i must not be doing it right.

one path later, and a whole lot more structured vipassana later, i can say clearly that i was definitely doing something right there, with all that awareness as the object practice. i just didnt know it at the time.

i think its hard to know it at the time cos the 'directness' of the practice means that right away you can see that there's really nowhere to go and no one to get there, and because of all these expectations that makes you think it's not working or you're doing something wrong.

don't confuse this style of technique with some neo-advaita new age bullshit about no effort needed. i bet ramana put in a lot of work doing this. he probably just wasnt fooled by his mind that told him its pointless and to try something else, like i was for many years, and like, im guessing, is probably what happens to you when you do it.
thumbnail
Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 11:21 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 11:21 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
The confusion arises when we try to evaluate one technology through the lens of another. Developmental technologies like vipassana begin with the assumption that you can strip away layers of delusion over a period of time, eventually arriving at the simplest thing. At that point you see clearly and are said to be enlightened. Interestingly, those who have mastered this approach point out that what they "found" was there all along but was obscured by delusion. The other major approach, the "realization" school, begins with that very understanding. If the simplest thing is already here, we can see it now. Their techniques are designed to cut through delusion in this moment, allowing even beginning yogis to see what is true. "What is true," or "the simplest thing" is prior to the arising of time. For that reason, development through time is either not emphasized in realization teachings or is explicitly refuted. It is thought that if you are obsessing about how enlightened you will be in the future you will be unable to see what is already true.

(continued below)
thumbnail
Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 11:22 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/13/09 11:22 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
(continued from above)

Chinul called the developmental approach the "gradual awakening, gradual cultivation school," and the realization approach the "sudden awakening, gradual cultivation school." In both cases, he pointed out, cultivation is necessary. I know of very few people who teach that you can wake up in one moment and remain forever awake. If you listen carefully, even realization teachers are telling you to cultivate your realization through time. Instructions like "dwell as the watcher," "remain stable in the awareness," etc., are all ways of saying that there is still something to be done even after realization. Ramana Maharshi spent years meditating silently after his awakening. Eckhard Tolle sat on a park bench. Adyashanti had already meditated for years before his realization and continued to meditate afterward.

Notice that both schools are present within Buddhism. The Tibetans, for example value and teach both systems side by side. There is no reason why any of us should feel attached to one school over the other. That would be just more dogmatic thinking. To understand the two schools, we must approach each through its own lens and stop trying to understand the timeless through the lens of time.

Kenneth
beta wave, modified 13 Years ago at 2/14/09 12:25 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/14/09 12:25 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Sheesh, I really can understand your experience!

I did a lot of "who am I?" type investigation (iInspired by reading Jean Klein) after stumbling into the Dark Night and in retrospect it really melted away a lot of my self-holding. I knew I was accessing something deeply true... but I also started using it to avoid the insights of of the Dark Night. (I was blind to this. I suspect having a teacher might have made the difference.) I intentionally saw negative thoughts and ideas as being able to be put "over there" and, having done that, felt I could ignore them. (Ha!) On one hand, I knew I was becoming more free, but on the other hand, I knew that it was through an act of will -- so it wasn't really freedom. I would say that most of the time it was "two steps forward and one step back"... but I thought I was actually making two steps forward! Let's just say I can understand what Dan means when he talks about becoming a spiritual basket-case in the Dark Night.

Thank heaven I stumbled onto Daniel's book. Just knowing the framework/progression of insights allowed me to see it all with a bit of perspective. Meditating in the vispassina context has helped me dive deeper into the actual sensations of Dark Night, which really evokes understanding of both the truth and the lie of these experiences.

Sorry for the narrative, but I'm hoping this will also add to other's considerations of the value and potential down-sides of using "who am I?".
thumbnail
Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago at 2/14/09 1:07 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/14/09 1:07 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: msj123

If anyone is interested, Shinzen's directions are here: http://www.shinzen.org/Retreat%20Reading/Focus%20on%20Change-Summary.pdf

c4, I have been practicing Shinzen's techniques for about a year. Lately, my focus in and focus out have wanted to include each other. He said I could do that, but I could also focus on change and zoom out to include subj and obj experiences. So I practiced this, and everything dissolved into a morphing, dissolving, shifting picture--- essentially a series of micro vibrations. It was fairly overwhelming because everything seemed to have its own momentum.
thumbnail
Gozen M L, modified 13 Years ago at 2/14/09 2:24 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/14/09 2:24 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/12/09 Recent Posts
Just to clarify something about Ken Wilber's background: His greatest, seldom-acknowledged teacher was the late Adi Da. If you read Adi Da's writings side-by-side with Wilber's, this will become quite obvious. Wilber has publicly distanced himself from Adi Da, without ever denying his importance to Wilber.

Gozen
Hokai Sobol, modified 13 Years ago at 2/15/09 1:24 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/15/09 1:24 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
While this is off topic, let me give my two cents on it. True, Adi Da (or, more precisely, his written work) is one of at least a dozen strong influences in Wilber's work. His background is extremely rich and variegated. As to this somehow implying a "taintedness", it's hard to find anyone seriously involved in spirituality over a long stretch of time without a problematic influence, personal or doctrinal, in his or her path. I've had my share of controversial influences, and I consider them a blessing just as well. Inversely, we better be aware that even the most pure, sanctified, and time-tested sources of instruction do not prevent us from creating deluded and loop-sided understandings.:-) That being said, Wilber's work, especially the more mature phase, is uniquely informative and stimulative for us Buddhists who are yet to create a fresh, 21st century formulation of View.
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/15/09 4:35 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/15/09 4:35 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
definitely agree with Hokai. it's true that Da had a profound influence with Wilber's writing, but his practice (as far as i know) is mostly Buddhist. his acknowledge teacher(s) in Zen are Katagiri Roshi, Maezumi Roshi. his acknowledge teacher(s) in Tibetan is Kalu Rinpoche. and i've been to Ken's library and most of the photos i saw was him and his other Tibetan teachers.

that said, this is not that important for me. the bottom line is how Wilber's writing informs my practice and my own conceptual model so that if and when it's my turn to experience the grace of awakening i'll have a more informed expression of it in the relative world.

my two cents.

~C
thumbnail
Jackson Wilshire, modified 13 Years ago at 2/17/09 7:11 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/17/09 7:11 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
I've been trying something new during the energy bursts that seems to be working for me, so I thought I'd share in case it is helpful to others.

When the quick burst of energy first happens, I can quickly regain focus by noting it with the word "Zoom." It sounds kind of funny, but it's been working. I just note "Zoom", and carry on like before.
Eric Calhoun, modified 13 Years ago at 2/17/09 7:50 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/17/09 7:50 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/25/09 Recent Posts
Getting a bit off topic, but if you listen to Tolle recount his experience, it sounds like classical fruition informed by the good ol' 3 C's, even if he didn't know what vipassana was.

As the story goes, he was lying in agony watching the different levels of his suffering, when he had the thought, "I can't live with myself anymore". This actually caught his attention in the fundamental way of wondering who the self was. While he started investigating this, he had the experience of awareness dropping identity to the separate self. And of course it took him many years to understand, integrate, and master his discovery. I guess you would say that impermanence was the last one for him to get.

I'm sure most people here have heard it, but if not here is a nice program with Tolle on the always-excellent (and free) podcast Living Dialogues with Duncan Campbell
http://www.livingdialogues.com/Eckhart_Tolle.html
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/17/09 8:38 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/17/09 8:38 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
thanks for the link. will check it out. imho, Tolle, spontaneously experienced what vipassana practitioners are striving for--to see clearly with mindfulness and equanimity. according to Shinzen, a situation of deep pain/depression/hopelessness is a great opportunity to break through (if one knows a technique). in Tolle's case, he didn't practice actual vipassana as thought in Theravada but for some reason he broke through the illusion of the separate self and made it permanent. some people might interpret this as due to past life karma or what not, i chose to a more rational lingo and label it as an instance of statistical probability (or serendipity).

in any case, my point is that, Tolle is a great example of someone who had a radical permanent awakening, but still had to go back and study with spiritual teachers to have a conceptual understanding of his experience. this is an example of a top-down approach: get enlightened now, integrate everything later.

i see Theravada as a bottom-up approach: know the techniques, understand the concepts, and work your way to enlightenment.

the advantage i see with the Theravada approach is that, if and when one experiences permanent awakening, then the expression of that awakening can be relayed in a more systematic, clear, knowledgeable and scientific way.

i love listening to Eckhart Tolle, but you won't get a systematic teaching from him because he directly points to his perception of the absolute (and other psychic "realms" (e.g. the pain body)).

there is a reason why the Buddha taught the divide and conquer approach (aka vipassana). just like a scientific approach, it is more repeatable.

my two cents.

~C
thumbnail
tarin greco, modified 13 Years ago at 2/17/09 12:21 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/17/09 12:21 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
man, it irks me to see this blatant misunderstanding of the 'direct' techniques perpetuated, and especially when 'constrasted' from vipassana. i think its because i've seen it so many times, and to me it doesn't sound any different from 'you shouldnt try to get samatha jhana because you'll get trapped in it' or 'dont try to observe the mental sensations just stay with the body', which are just boogie man stories and artificial dualities to get hung up on instead of actually practising.

have you ever actually tried doing whats recommended? self-inquiry, or staying with the i am, or taking awareness as the 'main' object, or looking at the subject/object tension.. have you ever tried any of these things? what happened? what went wrong? what on earth is inherently unworkable about these ways? is it perhaps that they go too fast, they open too far, they invite in unwanted things like uncertainty, insecurity, doubt, worry, distraction, confusion, despair, unknowing, intellectualising, self-condemnation.. and the list goes on? what exactly is it that happens that makes you so certain it doesn't work for people who put in the exact same gumption and sincere effort that the so-called 'bottom up approaches' also require?
thumbnail
Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 2/17/09 12:47 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/17/09 12:47 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Hey Everybody,

Read the prisoner's post again. Strip away the combative language for the moment and just let his message soak in.

He is dead on the money.

The direct approach is not a subset of Hinayana. It has exactly nothing to do with vipassana or the three characteristics. It is the direct apprehension of reality, prior to the arising of your identity. Stop trying to shoehorn it into a concept that is comfortable for you. And, by all means, don't make a boogie man out of it. Just try it.

Much love,

Kenneth
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/17/09 1:31 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/17/09 1:31 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
i'm not sure what irked you about what i said above. i never in anyway underestimated (or misrepresented) the direct approach. i basically said that it is *not* vipassana. that is all. i'm not here to argue which technique is better. what i was saying is that when you come out from realization (and yes, you will eventually come out of that to express it in the real world, but you can always return is it's permanent trait already), then your expression, more likely, will be influenced by how you got to that realization and the conceptual understanding of the relative world. that's why different awakened beings teach differently.

and yes, i've tried self-inquiry and who am i, and even the pointing out (as popularized by Ken Wilber) didn't work for me. it's possible that i'm not ready for that path, or my personal temperament doesn't cater to that. that's why i do vipassana. it is the more "illusory" path. but it's using illusion to break through illusion.

my two cents.

~C
thumbnail
tarin greco, modified 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 10:38 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 10:38 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
well, i disagree, and say you misrepresent it right here:

'i love listening to Eckhart Tolle, but you won't get a systematic teaching from him because he directly points to his perception of the absolute.'

how are these teachings not systematic? these teachings are systematic. they are concise, they are simple, they are straight-forward, they require dedicated attention, effort, focus, concentration, continuity, investigation, whole-hearted engagement, exactly what the practice of vipassana requires. when you practised self-inquiry, or the pointing out thing, did you practise with the same kind of dedication with which you approach your current vipassana practice? if not, that's probably why it didn't work.

people look at the direct approach as being some kinda easy path or something that only people with really good karma can do, or maybe it's like getting lucky and winning the spiritual lottery. it's not. it's hard work. it can be really hard work to stay dedicated to that approach when everything in your mind is screaming that it's not working and you should try something else. writing about it without understanding this is automatically misrepresentation.
thumbnail
tarin greco, modified 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 10:53 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 10:53 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
btw, i only half-agree with kenneth in his assessment of the direct approach's relationship to vipassana (that it's not vipassana). i say it actually is like vipassana, except that sometimes in vipassana you 'drop in' to vibrations or sensations or whatever, and explore those mental strata or realms, whereas in my experience, with the direct approach, you let things drop however they may but you don't drop with them.

personally speaking, being done dropping into things, round after round, cycle after cycle, bouncing from realm to realm, sick of this cyclic existence, is what i was going through the few days before i got path, so i started practicing not dropping in whenever i could help it, and i think that was immensely valuable.
beta wave, modified 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 11:53 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 11:53 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
I'm sympathetic to C4chaos' underlying point that the "who am I" path is more of a direct, high-wire path with little sense of guardrails to give feedback on the practice, whereas "noting" gives constant feedback but is a more confidence-inspiring even if it's a more slogging approach.

In my experience, who am I cleared up a lot of mediocre self-crap but then lost its effectiveness and just had me floundering for years. It seemed like waking up was always close but that just never happened. Vispassina seems to provide a few fleeting moments of insight that then grow into incremental opening. And I also think in Equanimity it probably makes a lot of sense to go the high-wire approach.

Having said all of that, I just want to say that I'm not trying to fan any flames. I'm realizing that I've been hyper-sensitive and overreacting the last few weeks so I'm not even sure how my words will come off. I just wanted to say I think there can be _both_ good and ignorant reasons why people have these kind of bias. Hope that helps, but I really don't know if it will.
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 4:47 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 4:47 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
thanks for clarifying. actually, i agree with your point. that's exactly what i'm saying,.maybe i just phrased it differently or not clear enough. i don't look at the direct approach to be easy. i actually look at it as a type of powerful technique (even is people say that this is no-technique). if the direct approach is so easy then millions of people should be enlightened by now after reading Tolle's book and watching him on Oprah emoticon

when i said that the direct approach is not systematic, i meant that it is not as detailed as other practices like vipassana wherein you have to do this to get to this stage, and do this and that to get to the next stage, repeat and rinse until enlightenment emoticon

btw, when i say enlightenment i'm not talking about the "peak" experience of enlightened awareness. i'm talking about the liberated stage wherein enlightenment is embodied 24/7.

the direct pointing approach opens up people to have a radical experience of the witness/nondual/formless. but that is just a "state". for most people the experience has to be repeated and repeated until it becomes a "stage" or permanent trait. Eckhart Tolle seem to have been graced to experience the state and it became a permanent realization at the same time. very rare. it's like being a savant or a Mozart. lucky bastard emoticon

so yeah, i do agree with your assessment and i think you're right that i didn't practice the direct approach with the same dedication as i'm practicing vipassana right now. i think that it comes down to personal preference and temperament.

bottom line: there's no one-size-fits-all liberation technology. we groove with what tickles our fancy emoticon

thanks for engaging me in this discussion.

~C
Trent S H, modified 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 11:44 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 11:44 AM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Tarin and Kenneth are alluding to a direct approach to fruition, the first of which would be the attainment of stream-entry; not whatever it is you are alluding to here. I was half way through the path doing very little more than "who am I" practice Ramana Maharshi style and I can say that it was not "destabilizing" at all despite the speed of progress or "suddenness" of the realizations. I would say that direct approach like Kenneth's mirror technique, "who am I" practice, and others are the best approach to stream-entry, from there, so much more makes sense (due to streame-entry itself; not less due to a top-down approach, as some posts in the thread would imply). From there, the practitioner has a whole new way of perceiving Vipassana and other techniques.

Just FYI on that stuff, everyone has their own cup o tea.
thumbnail
C4 Chaos, modified 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 2:37 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 2:37 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 7/26/09 Recent Posts
will have to give that mirror technique a try and see if my intellectual opinion would still hold emoticon

just a clarification on the "top down" terminology. what i meant by it is an approach without pre-defined stages. think Zen or Advaita. unlike Vipassana, there's no explanation or technique or stages of insight. Theravada is a classic "bottom up" approach because of it's detailed explanation of technique and the map of development. in short, top down = get enlightened awareness now, ask questions later. bottom up = here's a bunch of techniques; here's a detailed map; practice with diligence and good luck!

~C
Trent S H, modified 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 2:52 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 2:52 PM

RE: How to Meditate on Impermanence

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Well, I think I may have your remedy if that's the case! =p

As I have said, I used direct methods until near the end of 2nd path, with a little vipassana in the mix. I still use extremely direct "intellectual inquiry" to make my progress (supported, again, with a little bit of vipassana), and I am now near the end of the 3rd path. Here's the important part and why I mention it: I have clearly cycled and clearly gone through every single stage that is mentioned in the MCTB in the exact same way that I imagine everyone else does. To make that even better, I remember the first manifestations of these cycles before I had entered the stream, which is to say that even without "natural cycling," this direct approach moved me through the normal stages of insight.

Penetrating reality is penetrating reality, and it shows up in the way it does for a reason. The rest is gravy.