Message Boards Message Boards

Toggle
What if anything is this?
Answer
7/29/18 3:01 AM
What is this experience I describe below?

Does it correspond to anything in the stages of insight?
http://static1.squarespace.com/static/5037f52d84ae1e87f694cfda/t/506fcc5c84aefb9a79a610b3/1349504092518/Pathways.jpg

This excerpt is from my blog, posted a few years ago, it describes my own experiences. It is hard to express experiences (feelings) by means of words so I apologise in advance if it souds weird, contrived, or doesn't make sense. I'm not a professional writer. I think of it as "jhana light" or "soft jhana". The meditation technique is very similar to what Leigh Brasington describes on his web site.

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2015/02/joy-during-meditation.html#joy_trip
But this type of ... meditation ...  doesn't require super intense concentration so I think most people could learn to do it. I had to stop the other day because it was so intense I was getting nervous. ... [I was] feeling so happy, and connected to all things and feeling such intense metta that ... [I was] were worried ... [ I ] might never get back to normal ...

It also creates a kind of synesthesia where everything I see and hear I also feel in my body as if they are part of me. There is an effect like the brain is a virtual reality machine and what I see is really a movie inside my head ... like my mind contains the whole universe including me walking around inside it. Other times I feel like my self and its boundaries are dissolving and I am expanding to merge into infinite space. ...

This meditation changes the "energy" of your surroundings too. You could go to the filthiest shack in the poorest slum in the most miserable godforsaken corner of nowhere and meditating this way would make it a place of beauty and joy. ...  And these experiences are not restricted to sitting meditation, you can have them walking around town or out in nature. When you do this, you see it transforms reality because when you walk around smiling, people smile back. In that way, it doesn't just change you, it changes the people around you. It doesn't just make you happy, it makes the world friendly.

It also produces a state of mind where nothing can upset you because you find something within you which you can relax, and when you do, any unpleasant emotions flow away as soon as they arise. It's as if relaxing opens a door and unpleasant emotions go out through the door as soon as they appear. They just appear and go. Not just during meditation but during daily life.

It's not nirvana, I still experience some worries, annoyances, and emotional ups and downs, but this type of meditation showed me that happiness is a choice.

The best thing about this type of meditation is not the intense experiences, the best thing is that between meditation sessions I'm happier and I worry less.
...

When I first learned to meditate this way it was fun to have intense experiences like those described above but after a time it lost its mystique and I began to prefer just to maintain a state of what I call "relaxed happiness". I describe that state in my practice log:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8496517#_19_message_8496517



Thanks in advance.

RE: What if anything is this?
Answer
7/29/18 6:29 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.

RE: What if anything is this?
Answer
7/30/18 2:58 AM as a reply to Billy.
Billy:


I get a certificate error ("certificate does not match host name") when I go to that site. I've tried a few different browsers. Do you get any kind of error?

I have the pdf of the old version and I took a look at the corresponding chapter.

I don't practice noting, and in Daniel's descriptions of every stage including 11 there is a lot of stuff that does not match my experiences. So if I go by the book I am at stage 0. That's one reason I'm posting here. I can read the pathways chart and see how the arrows line up from jhana pathway to the vipassana pathway but when I go to the book very little matches. And definitions of jhana, hard vs soft, vary from person to person so I'm not really sure how to interpret the jhana pathway either. Daniel's definition of access concentration is a much higher level of concentration than Leigh Brasington's (as far as I can tell) - so what Daniel defines as jhana looks to me like hard or semi hard jhana - not what I experience  or practice.

But I once posted a question about one experience I had in another thread and was told it sounded like equanimity so that corroborates with your suggestion.


If anyone has any thoughts on how to use / interpret the descriptions of the stages of insight in MCTB if you don't practice intensive noting I would be interested.

I noticed at the end of the A&P chapter it says about people who reach that stage:
they are now too far into
this to ever really go back. Until they complete this progress of insight,
they are “on the ride” and may begin to feel that the dharma is now
doing them rather than the other way around

So I am partly wondering if that means I should just continue practicing the way I have been? If I got to this stage can I assume I'm doing it "right" whatever "it" is? Because my current practice suites me for a lot of different reasons but I am wondering how far it can take me on the pathways chart.


Thanks

RE: What if anything is this?
Answer
7/30/18 2:02 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
I'm curious if there's a particular reason you don't practise noting?

RE: What if anything is this?
Answer
7/30/18 3:11 AM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
I'm curious if there's a particular reason you don't practise noting?

That's a reasonable question.... Because I like the practice I have now because it works well for the purpose for which I do it. It helps me be realxed and maintiain a good mood and over time my equinimity increases and my ability to stay relaxed increases. When I practice noting I find it stressful and fatiguing. It is too much brain work. I worked as an engineer and I prefer to develop my empathic mind rather than my analytical mind. (The brain can't analyze and empathize at the same time.) Constantly looking for greater and greater detail in noting is just more reductionist analysis. At least that is how I felt trying to figure it out from the book.

I don't know what the probability of attaining stream entry is for me. I don't feel a strong desire meditate a lot to attain it so I think it is probably very low. So I don't want to give up a practice I like for one I don't like when I am not likely to attain stream entry.

I think it's true that meditation has a tendency to "end craving" it makes people more satisfied and therefore less ambitious, less covetous. So in a way in my case meditation may have short-circuited the process - I have little ambition to attain stream entry. And as meditation diminishes the sense of self, even short of stream entry, one's sense of free will and agency diminishes too. Observing the mind during meditation shows you how things happen because of cause and effect. Everything happens because of natural law including the laws of psychology. I don't really feel like it is in my power to attain stream entry.  It might happen because I meditate regularly but I don't believe it is in my power to have much influence on the likelyhood.

I am interested in understanding what stream entry is and how to attain it in case I can include that path in my current practice at little or no "extra cost": Is my current practice adequate or can I make a small adjustment to put me on the right track? So even if I am not putting in enough time, I still think it might be a good idea to be on the right track, if I can do it without too much disruption to my current practice.


Thanks

RE: What if anything is this?
Answer
7/30/18 4:48 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
Because I like the practice I have now because it works well for the purpose for which I do it. It helps me be realxed and maintiain a good mood and over time my equinimity increases and my ability to stay relaxed increases. When I practice noting I find it stressful and fatiguing.


Tranquility practise is certainly useful, but there's also something to be learned from experiencing and investigating that stress and fatigue. As your noting speed and clarity increases, you'll start recognizing all kinds of things about the functioning of your mind (and the nature of that stress) that you were previously unaware of. I've also found that when that stress reaches an "unbearable" point, interesting things can happen, so it's not necessarily something to be avoided.

Regarding your questions about stream entry, The Mind Illuminated by Culadasa is another useful book that seems to complement MCTB very well. I'm not really qualified to make any specific recommendations on practise, I can only really relate how certain practises worked for me. While I don't note much anymore, it was key at a certain point in my practise. Also, don't get too worried about maps and attainments etc, that tends to be counterproductive.  emoticon

RE: What if anything is this?
Answer
7/30/18 5:19 AM as a reply to Lars.
" When I practice noting I find it stressful and fatiguing. It is too much brain work."

I feel this also.  100%

Noting feels totally unnatural to me.

I do Shinkantaza and hope for the best. emoticon


RE: What if anything is this?
Answer
7/30/18 5:39 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
This is an interesting question, I think you'll find it hard to get an answer that satisfies you since your practice is quite different to the norm here, but I'll have a go with my limited knowledge (coming from a dry-vipassana background).

I had a quick look through your posts and it seems you have been mostly inspired by Thanissaro Bikku and Bante Vim, meditating with a combination of relaxation, joyfulness, metta and vipassana. I think this style is fairly alien around here and comes from a very different mindset to the common practices here (even including TMI which has some similarity to your approach). So it is not surprising that there are difficulties in communication, since the underlying mental models about practice are very different.

The general approach in the pragmatic dharma world is emphasising vipassana (with optional support from concentration/metta), in order to get insight into stress. Whereas your approach seems to be emphasising the direct reduction of stress, with vipassana playing a supporting role.

Although I presume the progress of insight and path maps still apply, they use changes in experience of stress as a major component of diagnosis. By focusing on gradually reducing stress over a long time, it may be possible to progress significantly in insight without the notable experiences of the insight-dominant practitioner (i.e. A&P, dukka nanas, equanimity, review) being obvious.

To attempt a diagnosis (which could put you almost anywhere on the insight map based on your descriptions of your practice & experience), it may be helpful if you could describe any major shifts in your practice or experience. By this I mean any times where there was a notable change in something about your practice or experience - things got a lot easier, things got a lot harder, things were very exciting, things somehow changed significantly and permanently, etc. With this information there is the possibility of starting to match these shifts/experiences to the maps.

RE: What if anything is this?
Answer
7/30/18 8:11 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
I get a certificate error ("certificate does not match host name") when I go to that site. I've tried a few different browsers. Do you get any kind of error?
]

Hmm ... It was okay yesterday, but today I get:

Your connection is not private

Attackers might be trying to steal your information from mctb.org (for example, passwords, messages, or credit cards). Learn more

NET::ERR_CERT_COMMON_NAME_INVALID
 
Automatically send some system information and page content to Google to help detect dangerous apps and sites. Privacy policy

This server could not prove that it is mctb.org; its security certificate is from dharmaoverground.org. This may be caused by a misconfiguration or an attacker intercepting your connection.

RE: What if anything is this?
Answer
7/30/18 11:00 AM as a reply to Billy.
Sorry about that error, was moving website to a new server and hadn’t switched the certificate yet. Should be ok now, but let me know if there are further errors.

RE: What if anything is this?
Answer
7/30/18 1:12 PM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
I'm curious if there's a particular reason you don't practise noting?
Sometimes I practice something a bit like noting. As mindfulness or sometimes for a few minutes during sitting meditation I just notice what sensation or perceptions are foremost in my awareness as it changes from moment to moment, like the sound of the water coming from the faucet, the color of the sponge wiping the dishes, the temperatue of the water etc.

The thing about jhanas is that when you are learning, usually you focus on a pleasant sensation but you can really use any sensation so you can practice jhanas with any type of meditation, mindfulness, or many different types of experience, like listening to music at a concert. It makes life a trip. Everything gives you pleasure everything makes you happy: anything you look at, anything you hear, anything you feel,  so you naturally love everything (and everyone). Even "ugly" things. Even (mildly) unpleasant things. That spiritual aspect is what really attracts me to it. I started meditating as a way of reducing stress and later came to see it as a way to develop spiritually. So that is partly why I am not focused on attaining enlightenment - because there is a low probability of attaining enlightenment it would be a distraction from a more attainable type of spirituality.  The great spiritual teachers often tell you to love. But it is Buddhism that tells you what to do to feel love.

Sometimes if I have been meditating with my eyes closed relaxing and I want to initiate the jhanas I will open my eyes and whatever I see kicks off the process. Or if I want to practice mindfulness while washing the dishes, I can notice each sense perception and at the same time use those sensations to fuel the jhana states.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/onetool.html
In the few instances where [the sutras] 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.

RE: What if anything is this?
Answer
7/30/18 3:16 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
Lars:
I'm curious if there's a particular reason you don't practise noting?
Sometimes I practice something a bit like noting. As mindfulness or sometimes for a few minutes during sitting meditation I just notice what sensation or perceptions are foremost in my awareness as it changes from moment to moment, like the sound of the water coming from the faucet, the color of the sponge wiping the dishes, the temperatue of the water etc.

The thing about jhanas is that when you are learning, usually you focus on a pleasant sensation but you can really use any sensation so you can practice jhanas with any type of meditation, mindfulness, or many different types of experience, like listening to music at a concert. It makes life a trip. Everything gives you pleasure everything makes you happy: anything you look at, anything you hear, anything you feel,  so you naturally love everything (and everyone). Even "ugly" things. Even (mildly) unpleasant things. That spiritual aspect is what really attracts me to it. I started meditating as a way of reducing stress and later came to see it as a way to develop spiritually. So that is partly why I am not focused on attaining enlightenment - because there is a low probability of attaining enlightenment it would be a distraction from a more attainable type of spirituality.  The great spiritual teachers often tell you to love. But it is Buddhism that tells you what to do to feel love.

Sometimes if I have been meditating with my eyes closed relaxing and I want to initiate the jhanas I will open my eyes and whatever I see kicks off the process. Or if I want to practice mindfulness while washing the dishes, I can notice each sense perception and at the same time use those sensations to fuel the jhana states.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/onetool.html
In the few instances where [the sutras] 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.

"Something like noting" won't necessarily bring the same results as noting, just as throwing "something similar" to the required ingredients into a recipe won't result in the same dish as the one you're trying to cook. As your quote mentions, ideally both should be developed.

It's up to you of course, but I found it very useful as have many others. This is the instruction I used:

http://www.tathagata.org/DhammaTalks/Instructions/Mahasi_Instruction.html

I wish you well in your practise.  emoticon

RE: What if anything is this?
Answer
7/30/18 8:37 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
Lars:
I'm curious if there's a particular reason you don't practise noting?
Sometimes I practice something a bit like noting. As mindfulness or sometimes for a few minutes during sitting meditation I just notice what sensation or perceptions are foremost in my awareness as it changes from moment to moment, like the sound of the water coming from the faucet, the color of the sponge wiping the dishes, the temperatue of the water etc.



Hey Jim,

What you explain above is pretty much exactly what I practice. Moving from object to object and trying to percieve finer and finer qualities of the sensations. I call that Vipassana. Perhaps I'm not "noting" but "noticing". I've never done much noting, either. I've found it to be a little heavy handed and superfluous. To me it's like calling someone on the phone who is in the same room. Sometimes I'll note thoughts because they're slippery little buggers. But one does not need to "note" to "notice" and make progress on the path of insight.