Message Boards Message Boards

Practice Logs

Jim Smith's Log

Toggle
Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 7/8/19 12:41 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Matt 6/18/18 12:06 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 6/18/18 2:28 PM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 6/18/18 7:28 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 6/18/18 2:12 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 6/20/18 2:23 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 6/23/18 11:00 PM
RE: Jim Smith's Log shargrol 6/24/18 7:30 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 7/5/18 4:25 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 7/5/18 6:59 PM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 7/6/18 3:35 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 7/18/18 3:49 PM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 7/18/18 3:49 PM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Henry wijaya 7/21/18 2:10 PM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 7/24/18 5:27 PM
RE: Jim Smith's Log S. 7/24/18 12:59 PM
RE: Jim Smith's Log S. 7/24/18 1:11 PM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Henry wijaya 7/25/18 5:31 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 7/25/18 6:36 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Henry wijaya 7/25/18 6:33 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 7/25/18 6:53 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Henry wijaya 7/25/18 10:25 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 7/26/18 2:32 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Henry wijaya 7/27/18 12:14 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 7/27/18 8:47 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Chris Marti 7/27/18 8:54 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Nick O 7/27/18 9:54 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Henry wijaya 7/30/18 7:43 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 7/24/18 11:13 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 2/23/19 8:52 PM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 7/21/19 7:01 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 7/21/19 7:01 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 7/6/19 9:40 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 7/8/19 12:27 AM
RE: Jim Smith's Log Jim Smith 7/8/19 12:49 AM
Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/8/19 12:41 AM
My practice is a little bit different from what I have read about in books on Buddhism. While I feel it is the best system for my own interests and expectations, I don't know if it would be right for anyone else here. I have developed it over many years trying different techniques and keeping what seems to work best for me. But I am sure I can learn from other people on the forum so I would like to set it out here in case anyone has any advice or constructive comments to make.

I would describe my practice as cultivating a state of relaxed happiness by various means in order to assist in letting go of attachments and aversion in order to avoid dukkha. I see the anapanasati sutta as justification for this as a legitimate Buddhist path, but I don't have a personal need for this to be a form of Buddhist practice.  I draw on relaxation techniques from different sources - anything that can activate the parasympathetic nervous system: counting the breath meditation, yoga poses, quigong (8 Brocades or Ba Duan Jin or Baduanjin), tai-chi, progressive muscular relaxation, hypnotic induction. Over time these exercises develop the parasympathetic nervous system and due to neuroplasticity it becomes easier and easier to turn off stress. I cultivate happiness through a technique I learned from reading Thich Nhat Hanh who wrote, "... practice breathing with a half-smile. You will feel great joy.". But too much great joy can become tedious (believe it or not) so I try to cultivate just a pleasant positive slightly happy feeling. Also, to cultivate happiness, I try to use information on how to increase serotonin levels in the brain that I might read about here and there. I say "relaxed happiness" above because in my experience they are two different antidotes to dukkha. Relaxation alone is not sufficient to eliminate dukkha, and happiness alone is not sufficient to eliminate dukkha (you can be relaxed and sad, or happy and stressed). However, taken together, it seems to me they come prety close.

I meditate by counting the breath, trying to notice a pleasant feeling of relaxation as I inhale and exhale and I notice the pleasant feelings released when I let myself half-smile. It produces the state I am seeking. It may start out as a very faint feeling barely noticeable, but it increases gradually during the meditation session so I take a patient attitude and trust the technique. Worrying "am I happy now?" just creates stress which is counterproductive.

As I meditate and practice mindfulness during the day I am not just cultivating bliss. I am observing what causes stress. This means I notice the activity of the mind and notice sensations in the body that accompany emotions. By learning how to to return to a pleasantly relaxed state, I learn to let go of attachments and aversions that cause dukkha. This is a form of insight meditation. In the sutras Buddha did not distinguish samatha and vipassana as a distinct forms of meditation.

This system does not require will power any more than taking an aspirin for a headache takes will power. When I experience dukkha, I know what to do. And I experience enough dukkah to motivate a daily practice.

Some amount of renunciation is a natural consequence of this practice. Over time, the more things I realize are making me unhappy and stressed, the more I renounce.  I don't believe the point of the practice is to make me invincible to life's catastrophes. The point of renunciation is if you give up your attachments, they no longer cause suffering. I can renounce as much as I do because I am a retired bachelor. I can "cultivate seculsion" I don't necessarily recommend this for anyone else. And I am willing to renounce only so much.

Which is okay for me because I am not looking for perfection, just a system to help a householder cope. 

I don't have the inclination to spend all day meditating, but I have an intellectual interest on what perfecting the "end of suffering" would mean, and how it is accomplished, and what is the relationship between western scientific concepts about the nervous system and eastern practices and theory. Because that kind of understanding can lead to changes in my own practice to make it more efficient.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I tend to view the relationship between samatha and vipassana the way it is described in this quote:
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/onetool.html


One Tool Among Many
The Place of Vipassana in Buddhist Practice
by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

...
But if you look directly at the Pali discourses — the earliest extant sources for our knowledge of the Buddha's teachings — you'll find that although they do use the word samatha to mean tranquillity, and vipassana to mean clear-seeing, they otherwise confirm none of the received wisdom about these terms. Only rarely do they make use of the word vipassana — a sharp contrast to their frequent use of the word jhana. When they depict the Buddha telling his disciples to go meditate, they never quote him as saying "go do vipassana," but always "go do jhana." And they never equate the word vipassana with any mindfulness techniques. In the few instances where they do mention vipassana, they almost always pair it with samatha — not as two alternative methods, but as two qualities of mind that a person may "gain" or "be endowed with," and that should be developed together. One simile, for instance (SN 35.204), compares samatha and vipassana to a swift pair of messengers who enter the citadel of the body via the noble eightfold path and present their accurate report — Unbinding, or nibbana — to the consciousness acting as the citadel's commander. Another passage (AN 10.71) recommends that anyone who wishes to put an end to mental defilement should — in addition to perfecting the principles of moral behavior and cultivating seclusion — be committed to samatha and endowed with vipassana. This last statement is unremarkable in itself, but the same discourse also gives the same advice to anyone who wants to master the jhanas: be committed to samatha and endowed with vipassana. This suggests that, in the eyes of those who assembled the Pali discourses, samatha, jhana, and vipassana were all part of a single path. Samatha and vipassana were used together to master jhana and then — based on jhana — were developed even further to give rise to the end of mental defilement and to bring release from suffering. This is a reading that finds support in other discourses as well.
...


This excerpt from Mahasaccaka Sutta  is also important in my opinion:
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.036.than.html
"I thought: 'I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities — I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening?' Then following on that memory came the realization: 'That is the path to Awakening.' I thought: 'So why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?' I thought: 'I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities, but that pleasure is not easy to achieve with a body so extremely emaciated. Suppose I were to take some solid food: some rice & porridge.' So I took some solid food: some rice & porridge. Now five monks had been attending on me, thinking, 'If Gotama, our contemplative, achieves some higher state, he will tell us.' But when they saw me taking some solid food — some rice & porridge — they were disgusted and left me, thinking, 'Gotama the contemplative is living luxuriously. He has abandoned his exertion and is backsliding into abundance.'


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
These updates are mostly from my replies below. After I integrated update 3 into the body of the post I don't know if these updates are really helpful here any more. I'll leave them for posterity but feel free to skip them if you want.

UPDATE 1 (This is from a reply I wrote below - should have been here in the first place):

I don't think you can totally separate insight from concentration.  You need some minimum concentration to do insight, and every wandering of the mind during concentration produces an iota of insight which adds up over time.

I didn't say much about it in the OP, but reading between the lines what I wrote about renuncination, insight is implicit.  You see what causes you stress and it changes how you think about things. Renunciation = letting go of attachments.

You can't rest in a pleasant state unless you have reached perfection. There is always something that disturbs your peace but since you prefer a pleasant state, you see what is disturbing your peace and you figure out how to let go of it (get back to a peaceful state) during the meditation session and during daily life. 

UPDATE 2 (from a reply I wrote below):

Practicing relaxation in mediation or with another technique strengthens the parasympathetic nervous system, it gives you the skill to stay relaxed during daily life. It is a skill that continues to develop as the parasympathetic nervous system gets stronger with 'exercise'.  When you can produce happiness through meditation you realize it is impermanent and illusory, and you lose your attachment to it and other emotions, at the same time you develop the skill of being happy if you want to (as an antidote to dukkha). The practice helps you to get better and better at being relaxed and happy during daily life. So from my experience, I would say it is a practical technique that is highly effective at reducing suffering.

UPDATE 3 (I integrated this into the body of the post):  I should have mentioned this in the op:  As I meditate and practice mindfulness during the day I am not just cultivating bliss. I am observing what causes stress. This means I notice the activity of the mind and notice sensations in the body that accompany emotions. This is a form of insight meditation. In the sutras Buddha did not distinguish samatha and vipassana as a distinct 
forms of meditation.

UPDATE 4: Rather than keep increasing the length of this post I will just put links to posts on my practice here.


https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/14374804#_19_message_14208950


https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/14374804#_19_message_14374804

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
6/18/18 12:06 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
... But I am sure I can learn from other people on the forum so I would like to set it out here in case anyone has any advice or constructive comments to make.

...
I don't have the inclination to spend all day meditating, but I have an academic (intellectual) interest on what perfecting the "end of suffering" would mean, and how it is accomplished, and what is the relationship between western scientific concepts about the nervous system and eastern practices and theory. Because that kind of understanding can lead to changes in my own practice to make it more efficient.
You'll probably get a lot of answers here! emoticon

I got a lot of benefit, not the end of suffering but surely a lot less suffering, from a 10 day retreat and then an hour twice a day for a year, then another 10-day retreat and more daily meditation. It feels to me like it was totally worth it.

It sounds like you are doing what I understand as 'absorption' practice, you lead your brain to a pleasant state then give it permission to dwell there. It keeps you 'off the street' and it feels good, but no-one around here will say that it ends suffering.

The popular MCTB recipe is vipassana, insight meditation, intense style! Instead of resting in a pleasant state, you develop acute awareness of everything going in inside mind/body, you see/hear/feel/learn that the untrained mind is stupid and is wasting your time and eventually it stops doing that. OK, that's kinda tongue in cheek, but that's how I'm rolling right now. emoticon It's totally cook book, you need juuuuust enough theory to convince you to sit your ass off, any more theory than that might get counter productive.

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
6/18/18 2:28 PM as a reply to Matt.
matthew sexton:

It sounds like you are doing what I understand as 'absorption' practice, you lead your brain to a pleasant state then give it permission to dwell there. It keeps you 'off the street' and it feels good, but no-one around here will say that it ends suffering.

According to Buddha, pleasure born from seclusion is the path to awakening. See below.

Personally, I've been meditated regularly for most of my life, I've been on retreats, and I got a lot more out of my practice (much less "suffering" during times when I am not meditating) since I started doing this type of meditation. Practicing relaxation in mediation or with another technique strengthens the parasympathetic nervous system, it gives you the skill to stay relaxed during dail life. It is a skill that continues to develop as the parasympathetic nervous system gets stronger with 'exercise'.  When you can produce happiness through meditation you realize it is impermanent and illusory, and you lose your attachment to it and other emotions, at the same time you develop the skill of being happy if you want to (as an antidote to dukkha). The practice helps you to get better and better at being relaxed and happy during daily life. So from my experience, I would say it is a practical technique that is highly effective at reducing suffering.


The popular MCTB recipe is vipassana, insight meditation, intense style! Instead of resting in a pleasant state, you develop acute awareness of everything going in inside mind/body, you see/hear/feel/learn that the untrained mind is stupid and is wasting your time and eventually it stops doing that. OK, that's kinda tongue in cheek, but that's how I'm rolling right now. emoticon It's totally cook book, you need juuuuust enough theory to convince you to sit your ass off, any more theory than that might get counter productive.

I don't think you can totally separate insight from concentration.  You need some minimum concentration to do insight, and every wandering of the mind during concentration produces an iota of insight which adds up over time.

I didn't say much about it in the OP, but reading between the lines what I wrote about renuncination, insight is implicit.  You see what causes you stress and it changes how you think about things. Renunciation = letting go of attachments.

You can't rest in a pleasant state unless you have reached perfection. There is always something that disturbs your peace but since you prefer a pleasant state, you see what is disturbing your peace and you figure out how to let go of it (get back to a peaceful state) during the meditation session and during daily life. 

I should have said more about this in the OP it was an oversight on my part.

I think it is relevant that buddha said:

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.036.than.html

"I thought: 'I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities — I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening?' Then following on that memory came the realization: 'That is the path to Awakening.' I thought: 'So why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?' I thought: 'I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities, but that pleasure is not easy to achieve with a body so extremely emaciated. Suppose I were to take some solid food: some rice & porridge.' So I took some solid food: some rice & porridge.


According to Buddha, pleasure born from seclusion is the path to awakening. 

I suspect that some people will get more out of my style than other practices where you have to meditate for hours a day and go on retreats. Because my style eases suffering somewhat you don't need will power, it's like aspirin, so the average person who starts the practice is more likely to keep it up.

I am really interested in a system for the average Joe who right now isn't meditating, or can't sit for more than a few minutes (they should be doing yoga or qigong), or is struggling to figure out what he is supposed to be seeing within but doesn't feel like he is getting a lot out of it. Look on reddit/meditation and you'll see there are a lot of people like this. (I realize I'm sort of in the wrong place to talk about this.)

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
6/18/18 2:12 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:


I meditate by counting the breath, trying to notice a pleasant feeling of relaxation as I inhale and exhale and I notice the pleasant feelings released when I let myself half-smile. It produces the state I am seeking. It may start out as a very faint feeling barely noticeable, but it increases gradually during the meditation session so I take a patient attitude and trust the technique. Worrying "am I happy now?" just creates stress which is counterproductive.


I forgot to say in the OP, no one should think I am implying this a treatment for anxiety or depression. Those issues are outside the scope of my post. The technique might not even work in situations where brain chemistry or the nervous system cannot support the effects.

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
6/18/18 7:28 AM as a reply to Matt.
matthew sexton:

The popular MCTB recipe is vipassana, insight meditation, intense style! Instead of resting in a pleasant state, you develop acute awareness of everything going in inside mind/body, you see/hear/feel/learn that the untrained mind is stupid and is wasting your time and eventually it stops doing that. OK, that's kinda tongue in cheek, but that's how I'm rolling right now. emoticon It's totally cook book, you need juuuuust enough theory to convince you to sit your ass off, any more theory than that might get counter productive.

I think there is legitimate room for different opinions on what is the best type of practice. Probably it depends on what works best for the individual.

I quoted Thich Nhat Hanh above, are you aware of Bhante Vimalaramsi? He started out studying the traditional methods in Asia, decided they weren't delivering what they were supposed to. He developed and now teaches a type of "smiling" meditation.

https://www.dhammasukha.org/ven-bhante-vimalaramsi.html

Bhante practiced Vipassana very intensely his first 20 years under an American teacher and in Burma, under U Pandita and U Janaka. Finally around 1990 he was told that he had achieved the endpoint of the practice, as it was taught by the Sayadaws, and now he should go teach. He didn't feel comfortable that he had really found the end of suffering. He felt he did not have the true personality change that awakening should bring, even after going through the 16 levels of Insight or knowledges, as outlined by Mahasi Sayadaw in Progress of Insight.

...

When Bhante began to do this, he discovered first hand, the interwoven nature of the Teachings. In each sutta he found the elements of the 4 Noble Truths, the 8-Fold Path, and the impersonal process of Dependent Origination. Dependent Origination or Paticcasamupada is the core of the Buddha's teachings. He realized that the word sutta literally meant "thread" and that the threads together, created a finely woven cloth, whereas, one single thread does not equal a cloth! Through his own objective first hand experience, the 8-Fold Path began to come alive. When he realized the secret of the teachings was on his doorstep he took the Majjhima Nikaya to a cave in Thailand and spent 3 months, living with a cobra as company, reading and then practicing just what the suttas said. In very little time, he said, he had gone deeper in his meditation, than ever before. What started as two weeks to study suttas turned into three months of deep practice. Out of this was born TWIM or Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation completely based on the suttas in the Majjhima Nikaya. He found the Jhanas had an entirely different explanation and experience. Nibbana was possible!




He teaches a form of meditation involving relaxation and smiling:
https://www.dhammasukha.org/the-6rs.html

The 6Rs are steps which evolve into one fluid motion becoming a new wholesome habitual tendency that relieves any dis-ease in mind and body. This cycle begins when mindfulness remembers the 6Rs which are:

1. Recognize

2. Release

3. Relax

4. Re-Smile

5. Return

6. Repeat


This is somewhat analogous to what I wrote above:
Jim Smith:


You can't rest in a pleasant state unless you have reached perfection. There is always something that disturbs your peace but since you prefer a pleasant state, you see what is disturbing your peace and you figure out how to let go of it (get back to a peaceful state) during the meditation session and during daily life. 


RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
6/20/18 2:23 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
When I sit down to meditate I don't do it with a purpose execpt to notice if I am feeling stress while knowing that if I follow the technique any stress I experience will diminish. I do not feel like I am forcing myself to concentrate or do anything that takes effort that could produce stress. Althought the technique involves concentration, I know from experience the purpose and effect of concentration is relaxation if done appropriately. So I experience the practice as something that reduces "suffering" if I am patient with it. It doesn't take will power, just a desire to get rid of stress (dukkha). Over time I develop increasing skill at letting go (getting rid of stress) that carries over into daily life.

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
6/23/18 11:00 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Every day I notice subtler and subtler ways my mind produces dukkha.

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
6/24/18 7:30 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
That's the path. Just noticing the extra indulgences and resistances and ignoring that produces dukkha. Very practical, very straightforward.

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/5/18 4:25 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Mantra for meditation or mindfulness practice:

Right now

In the present moment

I am relaxing

[slow relaxing breath]

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/5/18 6:59 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
Mantra for meditation or mindfulness practice:

Right now

In the present moment

I am relaxing

[slow relaxing breath]



You don't need anything from the future.
Whatever did or did not happen in the past is irrelevant.
You own the present moment.
Your power (over dukkha) comes from the present moment.
Freedom is in the present moment.

You can be relaxed (free from dukkha) in the present moment if your mind is aware of the present moment.

Moment after moment.

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/6/18 3:35 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
I think the terms "enlightenment", "awakening", and "insight" can be misleading. They evoke the idea of an intellectual understanding. But isn't nibbana a feeling not an idea? Isn't nibbana the feeling of the absence of dukkha. Shouldn't practitioners know they are seeking, cultivating, a feeling? I understand different people have different ways of learning, but at least for my own part, seeking a feeling, relaxation, the absence of dukkha, has helped me more.

Feelings are very hard to communicate because you have to experience them to understand them. When someone tries to communicate (describe) a feeling they have to use words which can make it sound like an idea, even though it is really a feeling.

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/18/18 3:49 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Part of my practice philosophy is that sitting meditation is a place to develop and practice skills to use in everyday life. So I am always looking for ways that make it easier to keep the happy relaxed mental state produced by the style of meditation I practice going after a sitting meditationi session is over.

One thing I've noticed is that if during daily life if I focus my awareness on sensations, sight, sound, touch, smell, warm, cold, emotions, it helps to renew, perserve, and or enhance that meditative state. 

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/18/18 3:49 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
Part of my practice philosophy is that sitting meditation is a place to develop and practice skills to use in everyday life. So I am always looking for ways that make it easier to keep the happy relaxed mental state produced by the style of meditation I practice going after a sitting meditationi session is over.

One thing I've noticed is that if during daily life if I focus my awareness on sensations, sight, sound, touch, smell, warm, cold, emotions, it helps to renew, perserve, and or enhance that meditative state. 


It is like sensations can be used as fuel to maintain the state. And it is interesting that focusing on an unpleasant emotion can also act a fuel, like converting something unpleasant into something pleasant.  Like converting mud into a lotus flower.

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/21/18 2:10 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Yes, thats the path. The practical from your wisdom, I cant find any disagreement. I see how your engineering mind brought you upon this point.
But dont stop here , it’s jusf the beginning, let’s take it further and deeper.

You can feel the pleasantness by using right concentration from your mind, now since you know the illusion of them, I got to ask you , what is feeling or emotion, can you remember the last time you really angry that you can tear the world apart? Did it come from your thought, how exactly your thought trigger your emotion? Can I say it is the feeling you create? If you able to create such a huge negative emotion then can you produce the happiness that makes you in tears, at the peak, happiest moment in life, with right concentration?
Hopefully you can get into sukha and ekagatta.

By staying at the pleasant feeling can also makes your frequency in tunes with your environment, try to get in touch with nature or maybe you can even spread the happiness, amazing things would happen. The nature itself isnt illusion, the way you view the nature that illusionary.

And on your technique , the first step : Recognize. Lets investigate deeper, everytime you experience suffering, what is this dukha? Where is it coming from, the source, the roots?
For me the roots always be one of those : identity, doubts, fear.

then the second step : Release. Where are these kinds of dukhas end usually? How you end these, if familiar kind of the dukhas arise would you still be suffering?

Hope it’ll be helping for you.

Metta

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/24/18 11:13 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8496517#_19_message_8496517
Jim Smith:
a state of relaxed happiness


relaxed and alert

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/24/18 5:27 PM as a reply to Henry wijaya.
Henry wijaya:


then the second step : Release. Where are these kinds of dukhas end usually? How you end these, if familiar kind of the dukhas arise would you still be suffering?

Hope it’ll be helping for you.

Metta
I don't understand what you are trying to say here. Maybe if you would write it in a different language I could try to use google translate to translate it into English.

But it raises another question for me. Can someone become a stream enterer without experiencing cessation? If not, what is the point of asking me these question if cessation is necessary and sufficient to become a stream enterer? Shouldn't someone just meditate, concentrate and still the mind, until his mind completely stops (cessation)?

I am replying to Henry's post but anyone who would like to answer my questions please feel free to reply.

Update: I think the cessation thread is a better place to have this discussion:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8905418#_19_message_8905418

Metta

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/24/18 12:59 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
'Can someone become a stream enterer without experiencing cessation?'

The claim of a lot of people here would be no. A controversial but probably not very useful debate would probably be the question of "does everyone who obtains SE know they had a cessation," and a common claim here would also be "no." You should read Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha.

"Rely only on the source of creation. The way wanders in the empty middle of the circle, reaching the vacancy where appearances are forgotten. The pure ultimate self blazes, brilliant simply from inherent illumination. Facing the boundary of the object world, without yet creating the sense gates, realize the subtlety of how to eliminate the swirling flow of arising and extinction! If you feel a shadow of a hair's gap, nothing will be received. . .  From this singular impact many thousands of roads open, and all things are pre-eminent." - Hongzhi (Zen master who inspired Dogen), Cultivating the Empty Field

You might also like this thread

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/24/18 1:11 PM as a reply to S..
I like this short video of Shinzen Young sort of describing this in a specifically Zen context:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSv5ELuujjs

and this one of him describing Vajrayana methods:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_VizlDWcTA

and this other comparison:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WiM-w5qqmE

(he seems like he would be a good person to get into for this since he comes with an authentic Vajrayana, Zen, and via Bill Hamilton and others I thought Theravada background)

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/25/18 5:31 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
Henry wijaya  :


then the second step : Release. Where are these kinds of dukhas end usually?  How you end these, if familiar kind of the dukhas arise would you still be suffering? 

Hope it’ll be helping for you.
 
Metta
I don't understand what you are trying to say here. Maybe if you would write it in a different language I could try to use google translate to translate it into English.

But it raises another question for me. Can someone become a stream enterer without experiencing cessation? If not, what is the point of asking me these question if cessation is necessary and sufficient to become a stream enterer? Shouldn't someone just meditate, concentrate and still the mind, until his mind completely stops (cessation)?

I am replying to Henry's post but anyone who would like to answer my questions please feel free to reply.

Update: I think the cessation thread is a better place to have this discussion:  
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8905418#_19_message_8905418
  
Metta

Sorry, my bad english. Maybe we can replace the word dukha with unpleasant. See, before you can truly release, you need to investigate this unpleasantness form from inside, is this really the way to end the unpleasant? If in the future, similiar form of unpleasant occur, do you still feel this?
Ex. Someone is crushing your car, give you a finger and just run away. So many unpleasant would rise inside you, either your unpleasant for the car damage, for your pride, for the injustice, etc. Lets take a look at unpleasant for your car damage, recognize this feeling, where is the source coming? Why you hurt too if your car hurt, afterall its not a living thing? Why you identify this car as you in first place? Are you too attached to belongings? What identity is lost if you dont have this car? Is this illusion of belonging consuming you etc . 
 
Then you : Release. How would you let go this sense of belonging? This car will still be yours in the end after dead afterall? Why you feel the idea of not having a car is hurting? 
Then if it is really investigated to the root, next time, even someone stole your car, or similiar this unpleasant might not come out anymore. The root of belonging or attached to dead thing is uprooted. 

It is in fact the most important thing for SE experience cessation/fruitation. Thats how your path change, nothing ever more important in this world than nirvana, since you had the glimpse of it. 
For your ingeneering mind, you have experience the highest standard, it is real, your life automatically work towards the new standard. For now maybe a slight weight feeling of unpleasant in your chest is a normal thing, but since your cessation, you know now it isnt normal, then you work on it. Like my sensation of flying , so light, in my feet and hand,body is still there from that day, if it isnt, something must has happenned, I must work on it. 


Hope this explains a little bit for you

Metta

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/25/18 6:36 AM as a reply to Henry wijaya.
Henry wijaya:

Sorry, my bad english. Maybe we can replace the word dukha with unpleasant. See, before you can truly release, you need to investigate this unpleasantness form from inside, is this really the way to end the unpleasant? If in the future, similiar form of unpleasant occur, do you still feel this?
Ex. Someone is crushing your car, give you a finger and just run away. So many unpleasant would rise inside you, either your unpleasant for the car damage, for your pride, for the injustice, etc. Lets take a look at unpleasant for your car damage, recognize this feeling, where is the source coming? Why you hurt too if your car hurt, afterall its not a living thing? Why you identify this car as you in first place? Are you too attached to belongings? What identity is lost if you dont have this car? Is this illusion of belonging consuming you etc . 

Then you : Release. How would you let go this sense of belonging? This car will still be yours in the end after dead afterall? Why you feel the idea of not having a car is hurting? 
Then if it is really investigated to the root, next time, even someone stole your car, or similiar this unpleasant might not come out anymore. The root of belonging or attached to dead thing is uprooted. 

It is in fact the most important thing for SE experience cessation/fruitation. Thats how your path change, nothing ever more important in this world than nirvana, since you had the glimpse of it. 
For your ingeneering mind, you have experience the highest standard, it is real, your life automatically work towards the new standard. For now maybe a slight weight feeling of unpleasant in your chest is a normal thing, but since your cessation, you know now it isnt normal, then you work on it. Like my sensation of flying , so light, in my feet and hand , body is still there from that day, if it isnt, something must has happended, I must work on it.


Hope this explains a little bit for you

Metta

I don't have a car. 

You are saying: let go of unpleasant feelings because they are unpleasant? It is preferable not to have unpleasant feelings. Your car is wrecked and you feel bad: that's two bad things. It's better if your car is wrecked but you feel okay. If you don't feel bad about it, your wrecked car isn't a bad thing, so if you are non attached you have 0 bad things.

All this is true, but does knowledge of it really help someone who is attached to their car? Try telling it to someone who is upset and I think you will find out it is not very helpful. To learn to let go, you need a technique not a philosophy.

You want nirvana all the time.

I want to be relaxed all the time.

Dukkha = stress.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca1/index.html

Sariputta's elaboration
[Ven. Sariputta:] "Now what, friends, is the noble truth of stress? Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful; separation from the loved is stressful; not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.


Relaxed = no stress = no dukkha.

If someone tells me: "let go, don't be attached, release". I don't know what they mean. If someone tells me "relax", I know what that means, I know what to do, I know how to do it. It is something I do with my mind and body. I can tell I'm doing it because I can feel if I have stress or not.  But it is the exact same thing as "release" "let go", "don't be attached", just a different word that makes sense to an engineer. "Relax" tells you how to end suffering in a very direct concrete measurable way. (You can measure it subjectively by how you feel, or you can measure it objectively by EEG machine, heart rate, respiration rate, galvanic skin response, muscle tension, etc.)

There are many ways from many traditions that you can practice and learn to relax. But when you get really good at it, you don't need a technique. Any time you might feel stress (dukkha) you just do it (relax). Eventually, instead of feeling dukkha, you stay relaxed. (Well I haven't perfected it and don't really expect to, but that is my philosophy).

Anybody can experience being relaxed, so they easily understand what the goal is. You don't need a glimpse of nirvana to know how nice it is to be relaxed. All you have to do is some type of relaxation exercise for 20 minutes and notice how you feel before and after. Maybe a beginner will be just a little relaxed but it is enough to point him in the right direction.

Anybody can do this practice. You don't have to meditate all day or go on a retreat, or study philosophy. You can practice during some daily activities just as well as when you are doing sitting meditation. You get as much out as you put in. Over time you feel more and more relaxed and you experience less and less suffering.



Metta

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/25/18 6:33 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
Henry wijaya :

Sorry, my bad english. Maybe we can replace the word dukha with unpleasant. See, before you can truly release, you need to investigate this unpleasantness form from inside, is this really the way to end the unpleasant? If in the future, similiar form of unpleasant occur, do you still feel this?   
Ex. Someone is crushing your car, give you a finger and just run away. So many unpleasant would rise inside you, either your unpleasant for the car damage, for your pride, for the injustice, etc. Lets take a look at unpleasant for your car damage, recognize this feeling, where is the source coming? Why you hurt too if your car hurt, afterall its not a living thing? Why you identify this car as you in first place? Are you too attached to belongings? What identity is lost if you dont have this car? Is this illusion of belonging consuming you etc . 

Then you : Release. How would you let go this sense of belonging? This car will still be yours in the end after dead afterall? Why you feel the idea of not having a car is hurting? 
Then if it is really investigated to the root, next time, even someone stole your car, or similiar this unpleasant might not come out anymore. The root of belonging or attached to dead thing is uprooted.  

It is in fact the most important thing for SE experience cessation/fruitation. Thats how your path change, nothing ever more important in this world than nirvana, since you had the glimpse of it. 
For your ingeneering mind, you have experience the highest standard, it is real, your life automatically work towards the new standard. For now maybe a slight weight feeling of unpleasant in your chest is a normal thing, but since your cessation, you know now it isnt normal, then you work on it. Like my sensation of flying , so light, in my feet and hand , body is still there from that day, if it isnt, something must has happended, I must work on it.
 

Hope this explains a little bit for you
  
Metta

I don't have a car. 

You are saying: let go of unpleasant feelings because they are unpleasant? It is preferable not to have unpleasant feelings. Your car is wrecked and you feel bad: that's two bad things. It's better if your car is wrecked but you feel okay. If you don't feel bad about it, your wrecked car isn't a bad thing, so if you are non attached you have 0 bad things.
 
You want nirvana all the time.

I want to be relaxed all the time.

Dukkha = stress.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca1/index.html

Sariputta's elaboration
[Ven. Sariputta:] "Now what, friends, is the noble truth of stress? Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful; separation from the loved is stressful; not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.


Relaxed = no stress = no dukkha.
 
If someone tells me: "let go, don't be attached, release". I don't know what they mean. If someone tells me "relax", I know what that means, I know what to do, I know how to do it. It is something I do with my mind and body. I can tell I'm doing it because I can feel if I have stress or not.  But it is the exact same thing as "release" "let go", "don't be attached", just a different word that makes sense to an engineer. "Relax" tells you how to end suffering in a very direct con  crete measurable way. (You can measure it subjectively by how you feel, or you can measure it objectively with EEG machine, heart rate, respiration rate, galvanic skin response, muscle tension, etc.) 

There are many ways from many traditions that you can practice and learn to relax. But when you get really good at it, you don't need a technique. Any time you might feel stress (dukkha) you just do it (relax). Eventually, instead of feeling dukkha, you stay relaxed. (Well I haven't perfected it and don't really expect to, but that is my philosophy).

Anybody can experience being relaxed, so they easily understand what the goal is. You don't need a glimpse of nirvana to know how nice it is to be relaxed. All you have to do is some type of relaxation exercise for 20 minutes and notice how you feel before and after. Maybe a beginner will be just a little relaxed but it is enought to point him in the right direction.

Anybody can do this practice. You don't have to meditate all day or go on a retreat, or study philosophy. You can practice during some daily activities just as well as when you are doing sitting meditation. You get as much out as you put in. Over time you feel more and more relaxed and you experience less and less suffering.



Metta
Oh well .. I’d say samatha is better for you than vipassana, because vipassana goal is to see the real nature truth of life , then you want to be out of the rat race once you experience nirvana and seen the illusions of life.

Samatha means you want to be in control, inner peace, happiness, relaxation. Jhana ability, abhinna , etc. Samsara still looks promising to you. It’s fine too, nothing wrong with these. 

Metta

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/25/18 6:53 AM as a reply to Henry wijaya.
Henry wijaya:
Oh well .. I’d say samatha is better for you than vipassana, because vipassana goal is to see the real nature truth of life , then you want to be out of the rat race once you experience nirvana and seen the illusions of life.

Samatha means you want to be in control, inner peace, happiness, relaxation. Jhana ability, abhinna , etc. Samsara still looks promising to you. It’s fine too, nothing wrong with these. 

Metta


Not just for me, for 99% of humanity. You want to help the most people? Teach samatha.

If you want to be relaxed, you want to be out of the rat race.

When you notice what makes you stressed and you see how relaxing ends stress, you realize your mind was spinning illusions all your life. When you practice Jhana and you can be happy, or rapturous with a technique, you realize emotions are illusons. When joy becomes tedious you are beginning to see through illusion, you stop chasing happiness.

Samatha means you don't want control, it means you get rid of stress by renouncing control.


Metta

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/25/18 10:25 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
In some way, I agree with you. Maybe the only problem left is can you totally relax without trackng the source of stress, and end the stress without the glimpse of nirvana. 

Oh I just realize something, the way you mention it.. maybe you can try like what I did, after you feel joy and rapture, try to bring to max , then you move into become the watcher of the breath, since you know life is illusion, watching the breath will eventually bring you to cessation.

Maybe it’s like a new method to combine samatha and vipassana.

Metta

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/26/18 2:32 AM as a reply to Henry wijaya.
Henry wijaya:
In some way, I agree with you. Maybe the only problem left is can you totally relax without trackng the source of stress, and end the stress without the glimpse of nirvana. 
Okay, but I consider this a moot point because it is unlikely I (and the vast majority of meditators > 99%) will ever do enough meditation to glimpse nirvana. If you say my technique will never get me enlightenment, I don't care because your technique would never get me enlightenment either because I am not meditating all day or going on retreats.


Oh I just realize something, the way you mention it.. maybe you can try like what I did, after you feel joy and rapture, try to bring to max , then you move into become the watcher of the breath, since you know life is illusion, watching the breath will eventually bring you to cessation.

Maybe it’s like a new method to combine samatha and vipassana.

Metta


Maybe I will try this sometime if you think is would be helpful. I have not tried to push it to the max, I don't really like it when it gets too strong. I don't want to damage my brain. Some people meditate a lot and get enlightenment. Some people meditate a lot and go insane.


I don't think combining samatha and vipassana is a new method. I think it is the old method.


https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/onetool.html



One Tool Among Many
The Place of Vipassana in Buddhist Practice
by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

...
But if you look directly at the Pali discourses — the earliest extant sources for our knowledge of the Buddha's teachings — you'll find that although they do use the word samatha to mean tranquillity, and vipassana to mean clear-seeing, they otherwise confirm none of the received wisdom about these terms. Only rarely do they make use of the word vipassana — a sharp contrast to their frequent use of the word jhana. When they depict the Buddha telling his disciples to go meditate, they never quote him as saying "go do vipassana," but always "go do jhana." And they never equate the word vipassana with any mindfulness techniques. In the few instances where they do mention vipassana, they almost always pair it with samatha — not as two alternative methods, but as two qualities of mind that a person may "gain" or "be endowed with," and that should be developed together. One simile, for instance (SN 35.204), compares samatha and vipassana to a swift pair of messengers who enter the citadel of the body via the noble eightfold path and present their accurate report — Unbinding, or nibbana — to the consciousness acting as the citadel's commander. Another passage (AN 10.71) recommends that anyone who wishes to put an end to mental defilement should — in addition to perfecting the principles of moral behavior and cultivating seclusion — be committed to samatha and endowed with vipassana. This last statement is unremarkable in itself, but the same discourse also gives the same advice to anyone who wants to master the jhanas: be committed to samatha and endowed with vipassana. This suggests that, in the eyes of those who assembled the Pali discourses, samatha, jhana, and vipassana were all part of a single path. Samatha and vipassana were used together to master jhana and then — based on jhana — were developed even further to give rise to the end of mental defilement and to bring release from suffering. This is a reading that finds support in other discourses as well.
...



There is samatha in vipassana and vipassana in samatha. It is just a question of proportion. Buddha taught both are necessary qualities of mind. And there is not just one type of vipassana meditation right? Just because I don't do intensive noting does not mean I am not doing any type of vipassana. I am observing what causes stress, what happens in the mind and body as stress arises and ends, and trying to learn how to encourage it to end. I am not just sitting in bliss, in a monastery, on retreat. I didn't write much about that in the op, I think I will add an update to it:
UPDATE 3:  I should have mentioned this in the op:  As I meditate and practice mindfulness during the day I am not just cultivating bliss. I am observing what causes stress. This means I notice the activity of the mind and notice sensations in the body that accompany emotions. This is a form of insight meditation. In the sutras Buddha did not distinguish samatha and vipassana as a distinct forms of meditation.

Metta

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/27/18 12:14 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
Henry wijaya:
In some way, I agree with you. Maybe the only problem left is can you totally relax without trackng the source of stress, and  end the stress without the glimpse of nirvana.    
 Okay, but I consider this a moot point because it is unlikely I (and the   vast majority of meditators > 99%) will ever do enough meditation to  glimpse nirvana. If you say my technique will never get me enlightenment, I don't care because your technique would never get me enlightenment either because I am not meditating all day or going on retreats.


Oh I just realize something, the way you mention it.. maybe you can try like what I did, after you feel joy and rapture, try to bring to max , then you move into become the watcher of the breath, since you know life is illusion, watching the breath will eventually bring you to cessation.

Maybe it’s like a new method to combine samatha and vipassana.

Metta


Maybe I will try this sometime if you think is would be helpful. I have not tried to push it to the max, I don't really like it when it gets too strong. I don't want to damage my brain. Some people meditate a lot and get enlightenment. Some people meditate a lot and go insane.


I don't think combining samatha and vipassana is a new method. I think it is the old method.
 

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/onetool.html

 

One Tool Among Many
The Place of Vipassana in Buddhist Practice
by   
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

...  
But if you look directly at the Pali discourses — the earliest extant sources for  our knowledge of the Buddha's teachings — you'll find that although they do use the word samatha to mean tranquillity, and vipassana to mean clear-seeing, they otherwise confirm none of the received wisdom about these terms. Only rarely do they make use of the word vipassana — a sharp contrast to their frequent use of the word jhana. When they depict the Buddha telling his disciples to go meditate, they never quote him as saying "go do vipassana," but always "go do jhana." And they never equate the word vipassana with any mindfulness techniques. In the few instances where they do mention vipassana, they almost always pair it with samatha — not as two alternative methods, but as two qualities of mind that a person may "gain" or "be endowed  with," and that should be developed together. One simile, for instance (SN  35.204), compares samatha and vipassana to a swift pair of messengers who enter the citadel of the body via the noble eightfold path and present their accurate report — Unbinding, or nibbana — to the consciousness acting as the citadel's commander. Another passage (AN 10.71) recommends that anyone who wishes to put an end to mental defilement should — in addition to perfecting the principles of moral behavior and cultivating seclusion — be committed to samatha and endowed with vipassana. This last statement is unremarkable in itself, but the same discourse also gives the same advice to anyone who wants to master the jhanas: be committed to samatha and endowed with vipassana. This sug  gests that, in the eyes of those who as sembled the Pali discourses, samatha, jhana, and vipassana were all part of a  single path. Samatha and vipassana were  used together to master jhana and then — based on jhana — were developed even further to give rise to the end of mental de filement and to bring release from suffering. This is a reading that finds support in other discourses as well.
...

  

There is samatha in vipassana and vipassana in samatha. It is just a question of proportion. Buddha taught both are necessary qualities of mind. And there is not just one type of vipassana meditation right? Just because I don't do intensive noting does not mean I am not doing any type of vipassana. I am observing what causes stress, what happens in the mind and body as stress arises and ends, and trying to learn how to encourage it to end. I am not just sitting in bliss, in a monastery, on retreat. I didn't write much about that in the op, I think I will add an update to it:
UPDATE 3:  I should have mentioned this in the op:  As I meditate and practice mindfulness during the day I am not just cultivating bliss. I am observing what causes stress. This means I notice the activity of the mind and notice sensations in the body that accompany emotions. This is a form of insight meditation. In the sutras Buddha did not distinguish samatha and vipassana as a distinct forms of meditation.

Metta

Yes, for me its what I called practise wisdom, observing the cause, this is vipassana too. Its just the terms. 
No, push hard wont get you anywhere too. I dont do retreats and sit all day long, only when I got time. Monastic life only means better environment to practise, layfolk more challenging, so its all plus and minus. 
Yes I agree on your saying bout samatha and vipassana. 
Maybe the time will tell you when to move on next stages , since you have a strong observation, its just matter of time for enlightment. 


Metta

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/27/18 8:47 AM as a reply to Henry wijaya.
Henry wijaya:

Yes, for me its what I called practise wisdom, observing the cause, this is vipassana too. Its just the terms. 
...


Metta

Henry,

Why don't we talk about something else?

I live in the Eastern US. It's morning here. I went out for a walk early and saw two deer. I see them in my neighborhood occasionally but not very often. I first noticed deer tracks made by hooves wet from the dew on a driveway. I looked around  but I didn't see the deer so I kept on walking and a few yards further I saw the deer in a yard across the street. The second deer was about 50 feet further along the street in the back yard of another house.  There are also a lot of rabbits in my neghborhood. And I saw a kildeer which is a small bird, a kind of plover. This time of year when they are making noise on the ground like this one was it can be because their young are around and they are trying to distract any predators away from their young. They build nests on the ground so the young are vulnerable. I looked for chicks but I didn't have binoculars and they would be pretty small - I didn't see any. I also heard a young hawk calling. This time of year when the hawks are fledging you can sometimes hear the adult and the youngster calling to each other keeping in touch as they move around the area. It was a nice walk, the morning was cool and pleasant but cloudy.


How is your day going?


Metta


P.S. Any lurkers out there, feel free to contribute.

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/27/18 8:54 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Hey, I saw two deer across the street from my house on Tuesday morning. I live about four blocks from a very wooded area that follows along a major river, the Des Plaines River, which runs from north to south through the western suburbs of Chicago. These were two bucks, both with pretty large racks that were covered in the fuzzy velvet of new antlers. We, too, have a lot of wildlife in our area - rabbits, racoons, opossums and skunks. It's a neighborhood full of older homes and we have a lot of deer-friendly trees and shrubs. These two particular deer were munching on my neighbor's hosta flowers.

I was walking the dog a few weeks ago and encountered a doe with her fawn among the houses a few blocks away. This was at about noon, not the usual time of day to see deer out and about. They weren't at all scared away by me or the dog, who was very quiet for some reason, but the doe made sure to stay between the dog and me and her fawn.

Fascinating stuff.

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/27/18 9:54 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I live in Nevada County, California. Nevada County crests the high country of the Sierra Nevada mountains and runs east to the stateline of Nevada, just outside Reno. My town of Nevada City sits in the foothills of the western slopes of the Sierra at the elevation where rolling golden hills of oak trees turn to alpine forests. The foothills here running north/south along the Central Valley are known as The Gold Country as this was the area of the 19th century gold rush. 

At this elevation, wildlife is plentiful. Deer and wild turkey are seen on the daily. Bobcats and foxes are also commonly seen. I enjoy walks along the irrigation ditches through thick forests watching squaking ravens play in the canopy.   

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/30/18 7:43 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Oh sounds lovely..I love wildlife too.. I lived in North Sumatra, Indonesia. Me and my wife just had second child, a lovely baby girl. Today is the first time she react smiling to my singing, I sang all the morning to her, as now Im heading home after work , thinking a new strategy to make my son do his homework in more playful method ( mostly fail). The night is more about his voice in my house. In the morning I’d bring my children to enjoy sunlight, singing,  play pretend as farmers with my son. Its a good day of everyday here. Hope you have good one everyday too.

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
2/23/19 8:52 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
I found an interesting article on awakening:

"Didn’t your spiritual practices lead you to your awakening?"
https://www.engagednonduality.com/didnt-your-spiritual-practices-lead-you-to-your-awakening/


What I thought was most interesting was this bit:


Really, we should not try to be detached, try to be without fear, or try to accept. Trying is something the ego does and will fail (never permanently succeeding). It is not a matter of trying…it is a matter of deep understanding. Delving into the attachment, fear, or denial that you feel and questioning its very existence. Seeing through the illusion of that feeling. Seeing that it is our own mind (thoughts and/or beliefs) that are creating the attachment, fear, or denial. If the understanding is deep enough, they disappear on their own and you don’t have to try to be detached, fearless, and accepting. If attachment, fear, or denying what is comes back, then the understanding was just not deep enough…and/or you are paying too much attention to the mind and believing it instead of sticking with your understanding.


I think what he is saying in the article is that you should not try to control your feelings, you should not try to control your emotions. What you should do is notice the thoughts that produce feelings and emotions and try to see how those thoughts and your belief that they are real or that they represent reality is the source of the problem. 

"Seeing that it is our own mind (thoughts and/or beliefs) that are creating the attachment, fear, or denial."

I have read this idea before. But what seemed to make more sense to me in this article is to contrast it with practices that seem to be focused on trying to let go of attachments. The author is saying, don't try to let go, try to see that the thoughts which produce clinging are illusions and clinging/dukkha is an illusion.

Those thoughts that produce illusions of ego, fear, attachment, are real to the extent they produce feelings that you experience, but they are not objective reality, they do not exist as part of physical reality like a tree or a chair, they are produced by the mind.

I'm not sure if this would help someone who hasn't spent time meditating and observing the activity of their mind. If you don't understand the problem, you might not be able to appreciate the solution. Trying to let go helps you to understand what the problem is so you can understand how the mind creates dukkha. And when the mind is quiet from meditation, you are not so likely to be caught up in your thoughts and emotions and you can look at them more objectively and crticially and see what they are doing to you.

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/21/19 7:01 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
The kind of meditation I practice (see my first posts in my log) is like the soft jhanas. I have developed an understanding of where this fits into the greater scheme of things. It seems like it is a kind of platform from which to delve deeper into concentration. 

Over the years I've tried many different types of meditation and I've found some of them can be harmful. Too much concentation can make me irritable as if I was suppressing thoughts and emotions. And as Leigh Brasington says the jhanas involve a pleasure feedback loop in the brain, but if I meditate when I am in a bad mood, it seems like sometimes I create a feedback loop amplifying unpleasant emotions. 

So the kind of meditation I do puts me in a proper, safe (pleasant), frame of mind from which to do concentration meditation. 

I also started noticing that holding the palms of my hands upward helps bring on the pleasant feelings. I don't really know why. But it is interesting that the standard type of Buddist meditation mudra has both palms facing upward. If you hold your palms facing upward and imagine some kind of "energy" coming down into you, you might feel a kind of sensation in your hands and body. Focusing on that sensation can bring on the pleasant feelings. I also notice a sensation in my around my heart ("chakra") that can bring on the pleasant feeling too. I don't claim it means anything but I find it interesting that traditional beliefs seem to me to be based on real phenomena.

I think I mentioned elsewhere in these forums that in my opinion the trick to producing the pleasant feelings, if there is one, is to eat a diet that gives the brain the right nutrients to produce neurotransmitters. Everyone is different so I don't want to try to give specific advice here, (unless someone asks me), but if anyone is interested look up on the internet how carbohydrates, insulin, protein, and tryptophan interact to influence serotonin levels in the brain. I consider diet (and relaxation see below) to be an integral part of my practice.

I also noticed a new kind of feeling. When my mind is calm from meditation and my body relaxed, there are very few thoughts and emotions arising and very little tension in response to unpleasant thoughts and emotions. If I observe, waiting for the next thought or emotion to arise, I see there is very little activity. I have done this many times in the past but what is new is that I have begun to notice a feeling like something is missing, like there is a gap, a hole, like an emptiness, like no one is home. Like if another person would say something unpleasant, there wouldn't be anyone to be offended.  It is not like dissociation. In dissociation the observer is watching the actor. Here it feels like there is no actor.

I am not implying this is significant. I am just describing my experiences in case anyone is interested, or wants to try to reproduce the experience, or wants to discuss it.

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/21/19 7:01 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:

...
I also noticed a new kind of feeling. When my mind is calm from meditation and my body relaxed, there are very few thoughts and emotions arising and very little tension in response to unpleasant thoughts and emotions. If I observe, waiting for the next thought or emotion to arise, I see there is very little activity. I have done this many times in the past but what is new is that I have begun to notice a feeling like something is missing, like there is a gap, a hole, like an emptiness, like no one is home. Like if another person would say something unpleasant, there wouldn't be anyone to be offended.  It is not like dissociation. In dissociation the observer is watching the actor. Here it feels like there is no actor.

I am not implying this is significant. I am just describing my experiences in case anyone is interested, or wants to try to reproduce the experience, or wants to discuss it.

I should have said in the previous post that because the mind is so quiet, it seems like the usual mental activity is "missing" and it's absence causes the feeling of emptiness etc.

Maybe it is a coincidence or maybe it is related but I am finding it much easier to let go of some deeply ingrained attachments and aversions that I was previously unable to let go of. It is hard to describe what is going on but I have read some authors who discuss "surrender" and that is what it feels like. Surrendering to the things that bother you. Giving up resistance. Not fighting. Obviously those are metphorical terms but I don't know how else to explain it. Just saying "Accepting that things are not how I want them to be." doesn't do it justice because that phrase is easy to say but almost impossible to do. It is like I am able to accept that things are not how I want them to be. Fighting is more unpleasant than acceptance of things I don't want. Somehow I can now see that wanting something different is unpleasant where I couldn't see before that that was what was causing the unpleasantness. Before I thougth the situation was causing the suffering, but now  see very clearly it is my own wanting that is causing the suffering and so I don't want the thing anymore.

Theoretically one would say that having a diminished sense of self should make it easier to let go. But I don't really feel like that cause and effect relationship is what is happening. I think there is some underlying thing going on and that is causing both experiences, a diminished sense of self and improved ability to let go that feels like surrender.

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/6/19 9:40 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:

Maybe it is a coincidence or maybe it is related but I am finding it much easier to let go of some deeply ingrained attachments and aversions that I was previously unable to let go of.
...

Theoretically one would say that having a diminished sense of self should make it easier to let go. But I don't really feel like that cause and effect relationship is what is happening. I think there is some underlying thing going on and that is causing both experiences, a diminished sense of self and improved ability to let go that feels like surrender.
I think what is going on is that the things I am finally able to let go of are things that involve pride. Like there might be a situation where I was too proud to admit I was wrong. Or too proud to accept something or other. 

So I see how this relates to the new feeling I described in a previous post: "if someone said something uppleasant there would be no one there to be offended".

I am able to let go because there is no one there who is too proud.

That personality (self?) who was too proud came into existence by means of  the mental chatter. Take away the chatter and the personality is gone? Maybe something like that. My mind is not totally silent ... but something changed. I can see the personality was an illusion so even if the chatter is not totally gone, the illusion is broken and has lost its effect?

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/8/19 12:27 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
The human mind has a biochemical component and a mental component. They interact. The mental influences the biochemical and the biochemical influences the mental.

It seems to me that vipassana meditation addresses the problem from the mental aspect and jhana type meditation addresses the problem from the biochemical aspect.


https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/onetool.html
One Tool Among Many
The Place of Vipassana in Buddhist Practice
by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
...
in the eyes of those who assembled the Pali discourses, samatha, jhana, and vipassana were all part of a single path.
...

RE: Jim Smith's Log
Answer
7/8/19 12:49 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
When you are focused in a relaxed way so that you have very few thoughts about liking and disliking, winning or losing, good and bad, you are not suffering. If you can experience this, you have a great way to practice. You get positive feedback (lack of "suffering") from doing the right thing (focusing the mind).

That is the ultimate reward from meditation: Seeing that it is the mind that creates suffering, and that by calming the mind, suffering ceases, then understanding that suffering was never anything but an illusion created by the mind. 

Quoting myself...

In the morning I was walking home with a heavy pack, the sun was up already and it was hot. I tried to meditate as I walked. I noticed that when I thought, "It's hot. or "My pack is heavy", or "How much further?" or "This sucks" I was suffering. But when I concentrated in meditation I thought "left" and "right" as I put my feet down, or "in" and "out" as I breathed, I didn't think, "It's hot, or "My pack is heavy", or "How much further?", or "This sucks." and I didn't suffer. Even though it was hot and my pack was heavy, and I had a long way to go, it didn't suck. I had a situation where I could really see the source of suffering is the mind and I had a system where I received positive feedback, less suffering, for doing the right thing with my mind. So I think that is a good principle for effective practice. When you can clearly see the purpose of the practice (keep the mind focused), the principle that it is based on (suffering is caused by the mind), and you get positive feedback (less suffering) for doing the right thing. And I can practice this way in daily life, as I have various thoughts I can see how they cause suffering and that keeping my mind focused on some type of mindfulness practice will prevent suffering.