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Practice Notes Steph S 2/14/12 5:46 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Sanjay 8/26/10 1:56 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Daniel M. Ingram 8/26/10 2:32 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Steph S 8/26/10 10:40 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Daniel M. Ingram 8/26/10 11:32 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Daniel Johnson 9/10/10 4:29 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Jeffrey S 9/12/10 8:01 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes tarin greco 9/12/10 9:57 PM
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RE: Actualism Practice Notes Steph S 9/19/10 5:20 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Trent . 9/20/10 4:35 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Steph S 9/20/10 10:00 PM
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RE: Actualism Practice Notes D C 8/27/10 1:06 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes John White 8/28/10 1:41 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Steph S 8/28/10 3:47 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Martin Potter 8/29/10 6:29 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Neil Hughes 8/29/10 5:28 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Seth Ananda 8/30/10 6:29 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Steph S 8/31/10 3:28 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes ManZ A 9/7/10 12:05 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Martin Potter 10/2/10 7:59 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Martin Potter 10/6/10 1:43 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Martin Potter 11/30/10 3:50 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Martin Potter 12/17/10 12:25 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Jason Lissel 12/17/10 2:48 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Steph S 1/9/11 11:08 PM
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RE: Actualism Practice Notes Ram Ravan 9/6/10 4:08 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes D C 8/31/10 10:07 PM
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RE: Actualism Practice Notes Seraphina Wise 9/3/10 7:27 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes John White 9/3/10 1:19 PM
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RE: Actualism Practice Notes tarin greco 9/7/10 5:32 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Steph S 9/9/10 1:07 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes My Fragile Ego 10/1/10 11:21 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Mark van der Westhuizen 10/1/10 11:42 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Steph S 10/3/10 9:18 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes ManZ A 10/2/10 1:35 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes My Fragile Ego 10/3/10 4:22 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Dan Bartlett 10/4/10 3:05 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Kerstin Upmeyer 10/4/10 10:32 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Daniel Johnson 10/7/10 5:40 PM
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RE: Actualism Practice Notes Steph S 1/10/11 11:07 PM
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RE: Actualism Practice Notes Bruno Loff 2/17/11 2:42 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 2/17/11 9:09 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Bruno Loff 2/17/11 10:17 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 2/17/11 10:48 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Jon T 2/17/11 12:35 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Steph S 2/18/11 12:47 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Steph S 6/2/11 3:39 PM
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RE: Actualism Practice Notes bill of the wandering mind 6/9/11 4:42 PM
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RE: Actualism Practice Notes bill of the wandering mind 6/9/11 5:52 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Steph S 6/20/11 9:41 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Steph S 7/5/11 11:21 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 7/5/11 11:59 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Bruno Loff 7/5/11 3:14 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Steph S 7/5/11 4:51 PM
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RE: Actualism Practice Notes Steph S 7/11/11 5:56 PM
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RE: Actualism Practice Notes Steph S 9/16/11 11:12 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes End in Sight 9/16/11 11:41 AM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/16/11 12:12 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Steph S 9/20/11 2:13 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Jill Morana 9/21/11 12:34 PM
RE: Practice Notes Steph S 2/14/12 10:58 PM
RE: Practice Notes Steph S 8/20/12 2:10 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Jon T 7/5/11 3:36 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Harry Potter 7/5/11 10:46 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes Jill Morana 9/9/11 5:01 PM
RE: Actualism Practice Notes adam , 2/25/11 10:27 PM
Practice Notes
Answer
2/14/12 5:46 PM
There have been quite a few threads on the validity of AF and other related debates. Thought it might be useful to include a bare bones, totally practice based thread. Whether you are just trying to see if you can have a PCE, already had some PCE's, or have decided you want to attain actual freedom... How about we post up our practice notes for an open dialogue here? To make this as constructive as possible - we might want to post what we're trying to achieve, what we've done so far, what has worked and what hasn't, how we're modifying our practice accordingly, and what results we're getting.

John White compiled some tips for cultivating a PCE, from the AF site and friends here on DhO. Here's the link to that post: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/901351

Here are my practice notes so far (Hopefully this description isn't too long. More streamlined next time if so):

My first step is to have a PCE, to get a taste of what it's like and make sure it is something I want to pursue further. I started off reading about the actualism method a couple months ago. My practice at that point was Mahasi style noting (my sole basis of meditation practice, which I began earlier this year). AF caught my interest and I started poking around the AF website more often. Seemed logical enough to incorporate with meditation. While not sitting, I started trying to debunk the myths I've followed.. the type you already know are b.s. on some level, but go along with anyways. This was working, where it was convenient for me, which means I wasn't consistent enough. There was half-heartedness in my approached that snowballed into not caring about practice much. A resistance built up, much of it doubt, not specifically towards AF but any path... that I could do it or that it was even something I really wanted. That's happened mildly before, so...

I started examining more closely the reason I keep coming back to work on this stuff despite all the doubt. During a sit I asked over and over, "Why am I doing this?" And the simple answer that came up was, "Because I'm willing." And that was enough right then. So there's my drive, in part. What has worked best lately is the advice to treat yourself like your own best friend. More consistently I started asking, "How am I experiencing this moment of being alive (HAIETMOBA)?" And when it hasn't been happy or joyous or calm, etc... I have asked things like, "Why are you feeling this way and is it really worth it to feel this way? Why not choose happiness? Why is it an ideal instead of reality?" I read something by Pema Chodron that's helpful for this. She wrote that people imagine how much better they'll be when they're less angry, when *fill in the blank* changes, when they get enlightened, but that drives you so far away from the fact that nothing needs changing and right now everything is already perfect (everything includes you). In recent situations similar to past ones where I have criticized, I have replaced the criticism with a confident non-harsh note that it's unwarranted and followed the thought with a gentle reminder that I'm practicing for my well being and the well being of others. (That last part helps especially when my internal voice criticizes others). Compared to even a couple weeks ago before I made a solid effort to practice HAIETMOBA all day, there's been an undeniable shift in how gently I'm treating myself and others. The monkey-mind does still go often.. making plans, what's ahead in the day, wanting to share stories of this with friends, etc. Albeit in a jovial tone, but still there. I'm getting pretty quick at catching it, but could use some pointers on reducing further to not waste moments on the assumed future. Or am I being nit picky and this actually isn't a big deal?

I've opened up to getting back to seeing the world aside from myself also. Maybe it's the environment around me basking in the sunshine of Los Angeles (makes it ridiculously easy to relate to Daniel's note about seeing everyday events as a vacation), but I'm taking notice of the saturated colors everywhere.. one of the cooler things I marvel at is the way trees look contrasted against the sky on the drive to work. There's something so popping about their outline and the definition throughout. Listening to music helps keep attention in the moment too. I'm partial to non-lyrical genres like techno (maybe good for non-attachment to content of what artists try to say). There are moments that feel close to what I think a PCE would be like. Sometimes there's a subtle shift, like a click outta nowhere and there comes an ease about everything I could compare to equanimity, but less groovy and more joie de vivre perhaps. Lots of fascination with simple things. If there was a time when I could easily describe "no-self" it'd be then... because it doesn't seem to be all about me then, or anyone or anything in particular for that matter.. just enjoyment of now in general from a wider perspective. I should try to be more attentive to what happens surrounding these shifts to see if there's anything in particular that inclines me towards this.

Anyways, so far I've concluded this is definitely worth continuing. Thanks for reading. Here's to fruitful practice for us all. emoticon

Steph

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
8/26/10 1:56 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Hello

Thanks for the thread.

My current practice goal/ aim is to get a PCE or recall / remember one, but I am completely ok even if I am able to just cultivate further the felicity or this felicitous mood.

I have had my doubts and questions, most of them were answered by reading this forum and the AF mailing lists on yahoo/google and thanks to Tarin & Trent for answering my questions/messages. I do plan to read the AF site, not done that yet except for few pages.

Also Thanks to Dan & Tarin for the Hurricane Ranch Audio.

I have edited the Hurricane Ranch AF Audio by Tarin Greco and Daniel Ingram to extract the instructions (about 30 minutes of conversation), editing out the initial talk from part 1 and the ending talk about the progression etc. from part 2. I am listening to this edited audio regularly and that is becoming a part of my main practice . . . kind of a satsang ;)

I 'feel' for now, where I am, this audio/information is enough of a guidline/pointers for my practice, just need to keep listening to it . . .

It will be cool if they can come out with few more audios, maybe some kind of guided practice instructions for AF emoticon

Thanks
Sanjay

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
8/26/10 2:32 AM as a reply to Sanjay.
Alright, a few practice notes from the last two days:

Last night after a long shift that was strangely easy, relaxing, enjoyable and peaceful despite all the chaos of the ED, I came home and was nearly instantly in a very strong PCE mode, extremely out from control, hands moving to make a snack, colors wonderful, background crickets very clear, cats pacing wanting food making soft footfalls sounds on the floor, and I was paying attention to the eternitude/infinitude, the centerlessness, the directness, and continued to marvel at how simply fantastic a way of perceiving reality this is, went on to be marveling that this would probably be gone in the morning, as it nearly always is, and so it was...

Today, reclaimed something of that, nothing quite to that degree, and passed another shift in the ED with not quite that level of really clear and effortless enjoyment but close, and yet again finding that it is hard to be in PCE mode when paying attention to the fine points of posts on the DhO and wondering why that is, subtle nervousness in the chest area: source unclear, but things shift on inspection and then it reappears again...

That I have seen the PCE so many times and that it won't stick continues to surprise me, but again, if this was easy, everyone would be doing it.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
8/26/10 10:40 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:

That I have seen the PCE so many times and that it won't stick continues to surprise me, but again, if this was easy, everyone would be doing it.


Daniel M. Ingram:

went on to be marveling that this would probably be gone in the morning, as it nearly always is, and so it was...


Reversing the order in which these quotes were written in your post, to point something out... Is it possible your reflection on the PCE disappearing is what is causing it to disappear? Maybe you could find a way to test trying not to be so sure of how likely it is that this will happen.

Steph

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
8/26/10 11:32 AM as a reply to Steph S.
That is an interesting thought. I hadn't considered it that way.

I personally never expected them to fade with sleep initially, but they always did except possibly twice.

I'll investigate using your insights and see what arises.

Thanks,

Daniel

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
8/27/10 1:06 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph

Thanks for starting the thread, and thanks, too, for the content of your starting notes. I resonate with just about all you've said, from the doubt and near apathy - yet continued return to practice (your comments on this particularly interesting) - to your skillful approach to yourself, your fascination in simple things, and your conclusion that this is a practice well worth continuing.

Myself, I've been finding it enjoyable and easy to get a fascination with sensate reality and a sense of ease and happiness. And I'm seeing clearly how a sense of naivete/innocence would be part of attaining a PCE and beyond to AF.

No PCE as yet, however. I've been holding back from serious practice for some reason that I should probably examine. That, or simply just get on and apply myself. I've just come back from a long vacation so I'm going to blame my go-slow on a general reluctance to return to routine and effort.

Damon

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
8/28/10 1:41 PM as a reply to D C.
I've finally taken a break from reading all these posts on DhO, and on the AF sites, having been immersed in it from morning till night for the past week, and having most of my questions and reservations about AF resolved. Now I'm finding this inquiry HAIETMOBA to be ongoing, almost continuous, to have taken on a momentum of its own, and the results have been both very positive, and very strong.

One aspect that really stands out for me, which HAIETMOBA leads me directly to, is a very clear sense of nowness. Like, it's always now. I don't have to keep finding the now, it's always here - the eternal now, as well as the extremely pronounced and continuous, unbroken sense of here-ness - the two seem to be inseparable. Richard's comments of the fairy tale like quality the world are very apparent for example. This state is very clear, I can stay in it fairly easily, though I do get knocked out of it, at which point it is easy to access again. It does remind of me of the first times I did acid, long ago, when the world appeared to be magical, a vibrant and living playground, one that's always been here, but now I'm finally seeing it, am finally really in it.

The way I have written that may sound like a PCE, however I don't feel like it is. Perhaps an excellent experience, I don' know, but I feel confident I'm on the right track here. I don't recall ever having a PCE, certainly none as described by Daniel and others, like there has not been any wow factor, or anything super astonishing about it, though everything is certainly more vivid. On the other hand, as others have reported, there's virtually no stress or worry, there's an effortless quality, and overall I must say, I'm fairly happy as well as harmless. I mean I'm not jumping for joy or anything, but in comparison to how things have been, it's almost a complete reversal.

I do wonder now, seeing I have yet to attain stream entry, though feel this is very close, but I wonder if my mind is simply not concentrated enough. Of course I've just begun, I have to keep at it, and in fact my attentiveness is exponentially more continuous than it was before.

Another aspect is the inquiry as emotions and feelings arise. Not repressing, not expressing, and not even investigating the sensations of them, but as Tarin has suggested in the thread 'a manner of inquiry which leads to the end of being' (which I found to be profound), to investigate the 'me' that is feeling these things. Quote from Tarin -

"Can you see the difference between these lines of questioning: 'who is
afraid?/who is having this experience of i am afraid?' and 'what is
fear?/what is this i that am afraid?' and if so, can you see that just
as the inquiry is different, so might the findings and result be
different?"

"...as instructive and important as the former line of inquiry has been to me, i find the results of the latter far more sensible and thus preferable. what the former has led me to: no 'person' who is afraid - there is only Awareness itself, manifesting as this world, this human, this situation, this fear. what the latter has led me to: no 'person' who is afraid, because no fear."

more from Tarin:

"The clinging to this view (of being the OKness of all that is, no separate i) is, like all other beliefs and constituents of identity (whether a personal identity or an impersonal Identity), feeling-based and as such is centred around a sense of presence. carefully feel into this presence itself, no matter how inchoate or clearly-defined it seems, no matter how local or non-local it seems, and find out what feelings there are stirring at its root. 'i' am 'that'."

For me, this line of inquiry when an emotion arises has led, so far, directly to the sense of me-ness, to the 'sense of presence'. I don't yet clearly see how 'I am my feelings, my feelings are me, but as I go into the feelings 'stirring at the root of me', something happens, and they do seem to vanish quickly, and I am free again to be in the now.

There is another element as well, a sense of physicality, of just body, which when I tune into this, it has a striking immediacy, of here-ness. It's very different than the experience of observing body sensations, as there is little sense of an observer. I am not identified with the awareness that observes the body sensations happening. It seems to be closer to 'the body experiencing itself' perhaps. I may be deluded about this - I've really just started, will see how things progress.

Lastly, this morning while sitting, which is very different now, I had a strong 'ah ha!', regarding Ramana Maharshi's metaphor, that when awareness turns toward itself, it's like the stick that pokes at the fire, eventually being consumed by the fire. I had a strong sense that with continuous, applied attention to this 'sense of presence', something was going to give in a profound way.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
8/28/10 3:47 PM as a reply to John White.
These are cool practice notes, all. Keep 'em coming... there's a lot we can learn from each other.

John White:

It does remind of me of the first times I did acid, long ago, when the world appeared to be magical, a vibrant and living playground, one that's always been here, but now I'm finally seeing it, am finally really in it.


More practice notes -

Funny you mention this.. in my late teens and early twenties I spent many a weekend going to dark warehouses in back alleys of urbanity to dance my little heart out. Some nights I was on something, but most times I was sober. I think the times I was sober may have included a bunch of PCE's... and it probably has to do with the amount of people all packed so closely together, sweating their asses off, inhibitions dropped, and totally sensory stimulating aspect of that environment. I tried re-creating that feeling late last night in my room. I turned out the lights, lit a scented candle, had one of those trippy screen savers up on my laptop, put on a really good set of music, and turned on the fan.. I made sure to make the environment as little about "me" and as much about external stimuli as possible, on purpose (and yes, completely sober). Within about 10 mintues I was in a full on PCE, dropping out for brief moments, for 2+ hours until I went to bed. The directness and clarity and total delight were definitely there. I understand what you guys mean about the sensate world feeling different than during meditation or cycle mode - during meditation it always seemed like I was grasping to figure out whatever sensations were there, to recognize them slightly after the fact and have that bring my attention to the present moment. In a PCE, sensations are exactly where they are located and occur when they do without trying to figure it out. There's also this quality of a continuous string of everything being complete that runs on through each moment, even though each moment is new. Does that make sense?

The times last night I slipped from the PCE were moments when I briefly thought.. what happens when this environment isn't here? I thought about how it was objectively a really fun environment and that life obviously isn't a non-stop rave. So I said, "I know what this feels like now. Each moment is perfect and it can carry over to more 'average' situations. This is what is meant by unconditional happiness/perfection. It's there regardless of any conditions that are present." (This probably better explains my comment above about the continuous string of completeness). So I made an firm commitment that this perfection and marveling at the existence on this planet is exactly how I want to go forth from now on. I woke up today and still excellent to PCE. And it has even been a 'standard' day... the type I wondered if I could carry it over to. So far I went to the gym, did some chores, and cooked. But I'm as happy and fascinated as I was during my mini dance party. It's coming from the smell of garlic/onions/curry simmering, the breeze coming in the window, taking out the trash and saying hi to a neighbor, the sun bouncing off the community pool, the freshness in which I'm seeing these things I see everyday. This is fantastic, there's no shame about it, and it's happening again and again.

Steph

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
8/29/10 6:29 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
during meditation it always seemed like I was grasping to figure out whatever sensations were there, to recognize them slightly after the fact and have that bring my attention to the present moment. In a PCE, sensations are exactly where they are located and occur when they do without trying to figure it out.


Hi Steph, I think i experienced something similar with my practise - I was trying to look at something just after it happened, and try to grab hold of it to get a better look. When practising AF this distortion is not there and there's just clean perception.


I think I may be asking the question HAIETMOBA? slightly differently to how others here seem to be, I'm asking it in the sense 'how / in what way / in what manner am I experiencing this moment of being alive' (as a genuine question to really find out and connect with my experience rather than try to make it better) which either leads to the objectification of the swirl of feelings and thoughts in contrast to the weightless outer environment (which reveals the arbitrariness of this way of experiencing the world), or it leads directly to the clear sense of nowness John describes above, and with clean perception (although I don't experience a fairy-tale quality).
I don't have much luck with the question HAIETMOBA in terms of 'what is preventing me from experiencing a PCE' or 'why aren't I feeling good now' or 'how can I get back to feeling good' partly as looking with the desire to change automatically causes fear and contraction and distortion, and also as it still feels like egotistical activity, i.e. it feels like a fragmented self looking out the eyes directing experience in a particular way, or trying to pay attention to reality in a particular way (e.g. sensuousness) which seems to merely refine the distortion-of-self, sometimes to very subtle levels (e.g. when paying attention to light and shadows) but never quite getting to apperception. Any kind of activity like this re-introduces the distortion mentioned above. I wonder if this is what Daniel calls the attention wave or just normal pre-arahat grasping?


- Martin

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
8/29/10 5:28 PM as a reply to Martin Potter.
Martin Potter:

I think I may be asking the question HAIETMOBA? slightly differently to how others here seem to be, I'm asking it in the sense 'how / in what way / in what manner am I experiencing this moment of being alive' (as a genuine question to really find out and connect with my experience rather than try to make it better) which either leads to the objectification of the swirl of feelings and thoughts in contrast to the weightless outer environment (which reveals the arbitrariness of this way of experiencing the world), or it leads directly to the clear sense of nowness John describes above, and with clean perception (although I don't experience a fairy-tale quality).

I don't have much luck with the question HAIETMOBA in terms of 'what is preventing me from experiencing a PCE' or 'why aren't I feeling good now' or 'how can I get back to feeling good' partly as looking with the desire to change automatically causes fear and contraction and distortion, and also as it still feels like egotistical activity, i.e. it feels like a fragmented self looking out the eyes directing experience in a particular way, or trying to pay attention to reality in a particular way (e.g. sensuousness) which seems to merely refine the distortion-of-self, sometimes to very subtle levels (e.g. when paying attention to light and shadows) but never quite getting to apperception. Any kind of activity like this re-introduces the distortion mentioned above. I wonder if this is what Daniel calls the attention wave or just normal pre-arahat grasping?



Very interesting, thank you. The parts I have emphasized seem quite similar to what I tried to describe at the link below:

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/871970#_19_message_930387

Best,
Neil

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
8/30/10 6:29 PM as a reply to Neil Hughes.
I think I am getting the HAIETMOBA finally. The answer (for me, so far...) to the How part of the Inquiry is - through the senses - I keep asking, [especially when I realise i have gone more into my head or emotions] How I am experiencing... and Its just seems obvious that 'How I am experiencing' is with my senses, so I enter far more deeply Into that magical sensory land - away from thinking and emotions...
Its weird because this has been a main practice of mine for many years, but in a slightly different context...

I love the Idea/experience that 'Feeling' is not limited to the body. One of my main practices has been to wander slowly in nature, letting my self 'Feel' the different qualities of, sunsets, trees, grass, plants, sky... It totally engages the Feeling nature and disengages the thinking mind and emotional body. And the sense of universal connection is utterly tangible... This has lead me to many possible PCE's in the past.

The practice I was doing has its roots in Tantric and Shamanistic thought.

Useful? any feedback?

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
8/31/10 3:28 PM as a reply to Martin Potter.
Martin Potter:

I don't have much luck with the question HAIETMOBA in terms of 'what is preventing me from experiencing a PCE' or 'why aren't I feeling good now' or 'how can I get back to feeling good' partly as looking with the desire to change automatically causes fear and contraction and distortion, and also as it still feels like egotistical activity, i.e. it feels like a fragmented self looking out the eyes directing experience in a particular way, or trying to pay attention to reality in a particular way (e.g. sensuousness) which seems to merely refine the distortion-of-self, sometimes to very subtle levels (e.g. when paying attention to light and shadows) but never quite getting to apperception. Any kind of activity like this re-introduces the distortion mentioned above. I wonder if this is what Daniel calls the attention wave or just normal pre-arahat grasping?

- Martin


As much as you might feel asking HAIETMOBA causes fear, contraction, distortion.. it will probably help a lot to look into where those are coming from. Similar to instructions for insight, all of this can be investigated (and applicable here too, the ones we don't want to investigate often provide the clearest answers). I've found that while investigating the fear and doubt I initially had there was a perverse fear of what would actually happen if I abandoned the pity party I was so used to and chose happiness. What would I have to blame all my issues on if I was really, truly happy? The answer is nothing, which is itself what absolves the issue.

I'm interested in what this distortion you're experiencing is too, and how it applies to the attention wave. Within the past couple days I've been wondering if my actualism practice is simultaneously moving me along the path of insight, even unintentionally. It's becoming harder for me to tell what's happening from which method. The constant investigation of actualism is insightful and does involve very close attention, so it makes sense it might work for both. I had an interesting shift a few days ago. A barrierlessness between my physical body and everything else... almost as if all my insides are just exposed now and feel very fluid/porous, which is also a very diminished sense of being (i.e, my perception is externalized as a result). Also, when an irritation comes up, it gets squashed like the body knows a foreign object has entered and just gets rid of it. It's not felt 'negatively' either. It's felt as what I can tell by the characteristics of the sensation is irritation, but does not cause me the emotional aspect of feeling annoyed. Does any of this go along with what you perceive as the attention wave?

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
8/31/10 10:07 PM as a reply to Steph S.
What a delight this practice is! Even my fatigue has a delicious sort of senuous quality to it. Previously I might have noted 'fatigue', now the feel of it, while still 'fatigue', contains pleasure. It has a taste, even, that is curious. A character, that in the moment when I don't shrink from the state, of fatigue, itself, becomes available to simply taste and enjoy. Which brings me to the fact that..

I like the active aspect actualism brings to attending/attention. Its not only passive reception in the way that noting is. Actualism brings and engenders an energy. Very cool. Furthermore, less than ideal states show up as relief against the positive/naive/wondering states I am cultivating. This in turn actually allows noting to take place of feelings more easily than I am used to. (Not the 'heroic' style, mind)

I should add the obvious that this active/passive mix is something we all need to play with. I think I have more need than some to activate my mind out of its usual rather quiescent, 'folded away until things get nicer' state.

Which in turn brings me to Tarin's HR comments regarding most of us not wishing to be here, and feeling some resentment that we are. I paid little attention to this observation initially, but today I see it quite clearly operating in the background. My mind/being absenting itself from presence because I don't want to be here. Again, not a new insight by any means - I've seen before how my whole being is structured as a lurch forward into reality (that is, out of reality) in an attempt to control it before it hits me - Actualism is making this very plain for me today. Not seeing the resentment yet.

My conclusion - Actualism is not at all new to me in much of the fundamental approach and immediate outcome of the practice. What is so impressive/different is that these moments of delight, along with the helpers/tricks I thought were mere adjuncts to practice have been taken by Richard and extended and pushed into a total practice outcome: aka PCE, and beyond AF itself. Wow. Stunning.

Still no PCE. Still doubtful, wary, fearful. Still impressed. Still more ignorance than naivete. Enjoying those moments when I actually apply the practice.

Damon

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
9/2/10 5:12 AM as a reply to Steph S.
I can't say that I'm actually practicing actualism, however I am doing something in that general direction as an out-of-the-cushion practice. As soon as Tarin mentioned the "resentment for being here" thing, I instantly could see that I had that, that it was very ingrained in my way of looking at life, and I could connect with this sensation of resentment straight away. Furthermore, it became very clear that I had such a perspective simply out of holding on to it, and that if I could release this holding it would go away. And it was silly (it is indeed the correct adjective) to hold on to it, so I have occasionally worked to remove it. It basically amounts to relaxing my guts, since it is there that this resentment is felt and held onto. I find that the "Focusing" technique from psychology (there's a book "Focusing" by Eugene Gendlin describing it) works really well to get rid of this resentment, and it was probably due to me having done Focusing in the past that I had such an easy time finding the feeling of resentment in the first place.

Of course, the natural continuation of this is "there is no reason not to simply have as much fun as I possibly can every moment of my life." And that makes a whole lot of sense to me; naivete is indeed a sweet way of experiencing.

(A bit out of topic, I'd be happy to discuss this on some other thread: just yesterday, listening to the debut album of Naked City, I was considering what a shame it would be if I couldn't directly feel the mood that John Zorn, Fred Frith, Bill Frisell, Wayne Horwitz and Joey Baron where where so carefully weaving into (and me carefully interpreting over) their music. Faced with the fact that listening to music in a PCE somehow prevents this, makes the place where this practice ends up seems like a limitation (Naked City is THAT good, you should try to listen to the album). Why give up the fun of experiencing some of those moods --- as I genuinely have fun with some of them, the variety, the sophistication, the depth, the energy, the coloring --- in exchange for permanent, locked-onto perfection? Maybe this will be obvious when I have such a PCE, but I am certainly not in any rush.)

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
9/3/10 7:27 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Hi all.

John asked me via message if I'd share my method for getting into a PCE, so I'll make a few comments.

The first PCE that I became aware of happened while I was walking, in a cemetery, so for the first couple of weeks of trying to practice actualism I would always go for a walk in order to trigger a PCE. As Daniel put it in his very succinct notes elsewhere (I don't think I have much to add to what has already been said here and on the AF website), I would start by developing a felicitous feeling about my surroundings, asking myself, HAIETMOBA, with particular emphasis on how seeing was happening, how hearing was happening, how feeling on the skin was happening, how taste was happening...until the experience of the moment was something like dappled light, wind, lingering garlic taste (for example), birds chirping...the experience of this body becomes immediate and there is a sense of something that is always here. So maybe if one has experienced a PCE in a very specific context, one could try to enter that circumstance again to see if that will trigger the PCE?

Now I am more able to get into a PCE in any setting... Last night I went out for take out with a friend at a local kind of "hole in the wall" place that is run down. But it was a vivid experience as full of actuality and wonder as any landscaped park or cluster of rose bushes...it is exactly the same world regardless of whether there is a teal wall that hasn't been painted in years or a sunset...and I think it comes down to practice, perhaps, just working oneself into felicitousness, excellence experience, and eventually the PCE, as much as one can, until it becomes easier...but, as I said in the other post, I also have experienced some difficulty getting there (when I am hormonal, for example) sometimes as well.

John's collection of quotes from the AF website elsewhere include a quote from Richard about humor, about not being serious and to that I would say that I do not create any pressure for myself about whether or not a PCE is occurring. One is always in the actual world, it is only the brain that doesn't realize it--there is utter safety in that, one need not exercise control, or force one's self, or resent when one is not in a PCE, and then "try really hard" to get into one, because reveling in what it means to be alive is so relaxing and requires no control. I suppose one could start by giving one's self permission to enjoy being alive...which sounds like a no-brainer, but it's amazing how much castigation one does of one's self. Oddly, perhaps, the notion that one is "in control of one's self" equals, or so most of us have been taught, "being a good person." But that need to 'be good,' also is part of social identity and doesn't have anything to do with actually being alive...(and the same could be said of 'being bad,') or so it has seemed so to me...

Also, and I see very little talk of this here, there is more to practicing actualism than cultivating the PCE. There is also the extirpation of the self and the exploration of the aspects of social identity which is bolstered by the instinctual passions. What I've learned quite recently is that I was under the delusion that I was already "harmless." It is the self that keeps us from fully accepting the fact that as long as there is any affective thing operating, we are NOT harmless. None of us are harmless unless we are actually free. Exploring this enabled the unraveling of a whole host of other aspects of social identity I wasn't even fully aware were operating. Among them, a sense of resentment (and this resonates with Tarin's comment about it and Bruno's reference above this post) not necessarily of life itself (at least it was not being conceptualized that way by the mind) but of the conditions of life. So what was there was "acceptance" of what the self deemed "unacceptable" conditions, but that "acceptance" actually had an underbelly of resentment to it. Suddenly, however, upon exploring this deeply, something snapped into place and a whole bunch of these "feelings" about things for which there was a generation of resentment unraveled, because in actuality there is nothing to resent and a sense of perfection set in, a PCE popped up without bidding when this aspect fell away...I hope I am not being more confusing, but this just happened today, so I am trying to describe something that is, in a way, still making itself known.

I will also add that at first I was still meditating (or trying to) in the first few weeks of practicing actualism. I have ceased meditation altogether now. I will not say it is impossible to meditate and practice actualism because I do not know, but I know that my ability to get into PCE's increased when I stopped meditating and also that my willingness to delve into the social identity increased...my general sense of relaxation into the safety of being alive and naivete increased and I can't necessarily explain that, but, it is what has happened.

s.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
9/3/10 1:19 PM as a reply to Seraphina Wise.
So now the first question to myself, before HAIETMOBA (takes forever to type that) is "well, do I want to be here or not?" Like Steph, Bruno, and Damon have expressed, I used to have the feeling no, i don't really want to be here. I've had enough of this insane world, I want out, I want to become a 'non returner'. Now I don't feel this at all, now the answer is Yes! I really do want to be here, because this existence is an absolute marvel. Realizing this yes automatically creates felicity.

Q to Tarin: When I am "feeling good", do I simply continue doing so until a PCE occurs?

Tarin: yes. gently, sensitively, carefully.. alertly, intently, attentively. this really matters.. nothing (else) matters.


Reading Stephanie's post reminds me of this quote. (Thanks Steph for responding so quickly!) It seems very tantric, this total and sensitive immersion into life, into being alive. I had been wondering, why no pce for me? It's so clear now, so much cumbersome baggage in my mind, foolishly holding onto it. Tarin's words help me let go, as do such intimate descriptions like Steph's. The humor factor as well, not taking things too seriously, helps a great deal. I was getting neurotic and obssessive about it all, which of course does not yield the most wonderful things.

I've been meditating a couple hours each morning, and they've been like natural heroin - addictive, immobilizing ecstasy. But then my attentiveness seems stuck inside, in an affect quagmire, and it's hard to connect with actuality. Craig N. sent me an email that mentioned he no longer finds meditation useful, as he says it's just fostering the human condition. This along with Steph's comments are intriguing - maybe have to let go for a while, see what happens. Anyway, since I've started practicing actualism, I am finding my attentiveness is 'on' nearly every waking moment.

I've been re-reading Richard's 'attentiveness and sensuousness and apperceptiveness' essay and this time I am blown away. The first time I found it quite compelling, but this time, just reading his words put me on the verge of a pce - little tastes, hits. He is describing with astonishing accuracy qualities of the actual world, at least some that I have perceived. Again I have not had a full blown pce, but some aspects of it have been very clear. I took Craig's advice and printed it out - the 'actual freedom manifesto' he said.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
9/6/10 4:08 AM as a reply to John White.
John White:

<snip> Quote from Tarin -

"Can you see the difference between these lines of questioning: 'who is afraid?/who is having this experience of i am afraid?' and 'what is fear?/what is this i that am afraid?' and if so, can you see that just as the inquiry is different, so might the findings and result be different?"

"...as instructive and important as the former line of inquiry has been to me, i find the results of the latter far more sensible and thus preferable. what the former has led me to: no 'person' who is afraid - there is only Awareness itself, manifesting as this world, this human, this situation, this fear. what the latter has led me to: no 'person' who is afraid, because no fear."

<snip>

For me, this line of inquiry when an emotion arises has led, so far, directly to the sense of me-ness, to the 'sense of presence'. I don't yet clearly see how 'I am my feelings, my feelings are me, but as I go into the feelings 'stirring at the root of me', something happens, and they do seem to vanish quickly, and I am free again to be in the now.

There is another element as well, a sense of physicality, of just body, which when I tune into this, it has a striking immediacy, of here-ness. It's very different than the experience of observing body sensations, as there is little sense of an observer. I am not identified with the awareness that observes the body sensations happening. It seems to be closer to 'the body experiencing itself' perhaps. I may be deluded about this - I've really just started, will see how things progress.

Lastly, this morning while sitting, which is very different now, I had a strong 'ah ha!', regarding Ramana Maharshi's metaphor, that when awareness turns toward itself, it's like the stick that pokes at the fire, eventually being consumed by the fire. I had a strong sense that with continuous, applied attention to this 'sense of presence', something was going to give in a profound way.



Any further thoughts on this? I concur with you that line of enquiry (-> what is this i that is afraid? (or whatever other feeling that may be)) leads directly to the sense of me-ness and sense of presence. And emotions do seem to vanish, end with a "tuk" ( a physical feeling) in the brain stem in the neck. And more towards here and now.

Do you now continue to apply attention (through what is this I that is <current state of feeling>) to this sense of me-ness and presence till it leads to PCE?

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
9/7/10 12:05 AM as a reply to Martin Potter.
I understand what you are talking about Martin, as I also share the same thoughts. I've noticed that it only seems like this when there exists some sort of affective quality. It feels like something is in the way of directly experiencing apperception. I mentioned in another post that when I ask HAIETMOBA that "awareness" gets drawn towards the senses for a brief moment before getting pulled "inward" due to some sort of contracting feeling (this is what happens for me when I ask HAIETMOBA and it is felt from the chest to navel area). Maybe this is the sense of presence or being that Tarin was talking about, this feeling that something is there blocking the way and it seems a little bit clearer now (not entirely) how "i am my feelings and my feelings are me". I can also say that this contracting feeling also has the quality of resentment mentioned by others (i.e. not wanting to be here, desiring cessation, etc.). This stirring within is what prevents me (as far as I can tell) from experiencing a PCE. It's the source or IS the background fear, resentment, sorrow, aggression, doubt, etc and the cause of disruptive thoughts (many a times).

Recently I had what seemed like a PCE (well maybe more like an excellence experience). So I was just sitting there on a bench with some very pleasant weather. The entire time I maintained attentiveness and had HAIETMOBA running (wordlessly). Of course there would be the usual result of awareness being pulled "inward" after a brief moment of sensuousness and immediacy (Now I'm trying Tarin's advice of "just pretend that it's not there" in regards to the pull inward, with some good results). I've recently noticed that these brief moments of clarity are starting to last longer and longer, while the pull "inward" seems to be getting weaker ("awareness" stays within the senses for an increased amount of time and does not go back and forth). Anyways, I was just sitting there and it felt like something turned off. After this moment, there was a direct experience (having an unfiltered quality to it) of the world. Nothing changed, just that there was only the green of the grass, blue of the sky, birds chirping, rustling of leaves (very sensual). It felt very direct. A few minutes later, the contracting feeling pulled "awareness" back. I mean in both "modes" everything is the same (the trees, blue, etc.), but the mode with the absence of the feeling seems clearer and more unhindered.

Here are some random thoughts.
Some of my observations tell me that this pull "inward" is sort of like "self" looking back to make sure it's still "alive" in a way. After all, the initial immediacy is apparently a PCE, and in a PCE this "self" is in abeyance. There's no control at all over this pull, it's very involuntary and blind. Even if it makes sense that there's no point in feeling bad now, the feeling remains. So it's best (for me) to maintain attentiveness, and the feeling will eventually dissipate leaving only the world of the five senses (and the feeling will return again like a cycle). Maybe this is only a habit. At the start of my practice I really wanted to become actually free (and I still do as the main goal is the end of suffering based on actuality here and now) and I had no fear of losing feelings like love, compassion, and all the "good" feelings or any of that. Primarily because the AF people mention that they in fact actually care about people (being happy themselves) and are at the same time not at the mercy of feelings. As I'm listening to music now, I'm "pulled" into all sorts of moods engendered by the songs. I realize that this sort of thing will not be present when AF (right?) and so that makes me sad (which also won't be felt in AF but still). As I keep going further new resistance to the practice keeps surfacing. Accompanied with this new resistance is the strengthening of the pull "inward" again. I see why one must "dismantle" the identity now. So much investigating to do.
Anyways just figured I'd share some of my thoughts and whatnot. emoticon

Hope to hear comments and clarifications

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
9/7/10 2:34 PM as a reply to Steph S.
>> What I'm trying to achieve

I'm never quite sure what I'm trying to achieve, but I'll just throw this out there... I would like to achieve peace on earth, happiness, and harmlessness by means of a fundamental transformation of this individual (me). I would like to achieve the complete extinction of the self, as it has long seemed apparent to me that "I" am redundant given the perfection of the universe as it is.

>> What I've done so far...

In the last few weeks since discovering AF, and reading the posts about it and some of the material on the AF website, I've conducted some experiments with the methods suggested in that material. This includes:
- Reading posts by Trent and tarin, or reading the AF website (Richard, Peter and Vineeto).
- HAIETMOBA.
- The "groovin" techniques of being fascinated and enjoying the sensations of this moment.
- living from a pure intent to be happy and harmless in every moment.

>> What has worked and what hasn't...

Reading AF material
This has worked phenomenally well, as I notice transformation occurring when I read and afterward too as I reflect on what I read.

There is a quote from Vineeto: "This simple stating of the facts switched on my intelligence again... It brought me straight back into the actual situation, and all need for comfort, compromise, manipulating and changing the other simply disappeared into thin air." I think facts themselves have a very transformative effect. Or as some other great sage said: "the truth will set you free." I find the AF material to be (mostly) so simple, sensible, down-to-earth, and grounded in common sense.

There was another quote somewhere about contemplation vs. meditation, and this makes sense to me in the sense of contemplating the AF material as a practice in itself. So much of what I've read about AF so far has become immediately apparent in my everyday experience now that I know what I'm looking at.

I think the main way in which I could say that this practice has worked is that I have recognized and seen through a lot of beliefs and patterns in my mind which were supporting a deluded way of living in the world.

What hasn't worked about the reading/contemplation practice is that:
My contemplation at times can become theoretical, future based, or ungrounded. In particular, I find attentiveness and sensuousness harder to practice when I'm staring at a computer screen, reading words and thinking a lot. And, I notice that new beliefs are arising about AF which may be unhelpful in the process of dismantling all beliefs.

HAIETMOBA?
I have had only marginal success with this question.

I have much more success when I focus on the "This Moment" part of the question, and the whole thing about this moment being the only moment and how am I spending my only moment of being alive? And why am I wasting it on anything other than just being totally here with what is actually happening right now?

When I focus on the "how" part of the question, I get really hung up. In my mind I start trying to figure out the mechanics of how exactly I am experiencing this moment, or I get confused about what it would even mean to know how I am experiencing this moment. Or, I get confused about what the answer is supposed to be, because I'll be damned if I can't find an answer to the question, and the thought of an answer just seems kinda weird at times. And, then I start thinking: "why would I want to spend my only moment of being alive trying to figure out how I'm experiencing it? Wouldn't I rather actually experience it?"

Also, I like the idea that one could simply repeat this question all day throughout the day, but I haven't found that I'm able to do that. First, the question is so long that many moments pass during the time which it takes to recite the entire question in my head. I know that the goal is to ask it wordlessly eventually, but that doesn't totally make sense to me yet. And, second... sometimes the question just goes on in my head as a bunch of words being verbalized but without any sense of what the question actually means or why I'm asking it or how I would go about answering it. I will try to ask myself, but then I just sit there thinking: "what does that mean? Why am I asking that?"

At it's best, this question has brought me to a very direct experience of this present moment in which many of the AF things arise: fascination, sensuousness, happiness, etc. But, I haven't yet found that it can be a thing I just "ask myself each moment again", as Richard suggests.

"Grooving"

I must say that this seemed like the most natural part of AF practice to me when I first read about it. Naievete, fascination, wonder, appreciation, etc. have often been very natural for me since I was a kid. I was reading one of the pages on the AF website with a pretty photo of a green caterpillar and was instantly just enchanted with it... just pure wonder. Wow! A green caterpillar! Wow! I mean really... wow! How could it be out of all the infinite possible combinations and permutations of existence that a universe would exist in which there was a green caterpillar?! And what a color of green! And, what an expression on it's "face"!

Even as I sit now, typing this I look at my desk and it looks so funny with all these wires going everywhere... this thing is plugged into that thing... and that one is plugged into that one over there. And, they're all like chunky and "computery" looking. And a soft light is coming in through the window, and makes different patterns of light and shadows across the desk.

So, shortly after my caterpillar experience, I realized that this is the thing that has been burning at me for so long... this thing about the god-damned perfection of this universe. Like it hurts how damn perfect it is. I used to go for long walks in the woods and just think about how perfect everything was... except for "me." And, what would happen is I would get all emotional and sorta cling to this experience of perfection. So... this time as I was going into it, I decided not to get emotional about the perfection... not to be all googley in LOVE with the perfection. And, I saw it so clearly how the "love" was totally distorting the perfection. And, as I just settled back into a calm and still happiness and harmlessness, the "love" dropped away and I was much more able to just be with it. In seeing all this, I totally got the "attention wave/stir of passions thing" as it was clear that this "love" was just a stir of passions.

I've been seeing this distortion wave more and more as I continue to practice. It's almost funny how absurd this distortion wave is! Like... egad! This whole time all of us have just been doing a little distortion move on our perception... calling it emotion... and then justifying that it is oh so important and "natural" and on and on. Like... duh! That's pretty silly! Wouldn't it make more sense to actually be here, since this universe is so damn cool just the way it is already?

The only time that the "grooving" technique hasn't worked is when I'm sorta trying to force it or fabricate it, or I'm reaching for it. Plus, it seems there are a lot of beliefs that are in opposition to it which will have to be investigated more. Basically, I haven't been able to maintain it for very long stretches of time either.

Intent to be happy and harmless

Perhaps this is my favorite thing I've tried so far, although it hasn't necessarily brought me the most spectacular results.

One thing that has worked is when I'm really in an emotion, I ask myself: "feeling this emotion, am I being harmless right now?" And, the answer becomes apparent that the actual emotion itself is a sort of harmful behavior. It doesn't really matter what the emotion is, but just the distorting quality of it, and the self-ness of it make it inherently harmful for me and for others, and upon seeing this, I've been able to just drop it immediately as it's not inline with my intent to be harmless. Like, the emotion is rooted in what Richard is calling the "instinctual passions" or what I might call self-based desires and it's very movement is an attempt to propagate the self through fear, aggresion, nurture, or desire (or the various emotional permutations).

Combining the intent to be happy and harmless with the repeated reminder that this - now - is my only moment magnifies the intent. It's like there's really no way that I can make myself feel happy or get myself to feel happy... all I can do is just have a really strong intent that this is how I want to experience this moment of being alive. And, mostly because it's just the most sensible way to experience it.

I really find that it's a wonderful way to go about the day.

The times when this hasn't worked are when I'm trying to force it (like i mentioned above). Or, sometimes I get into a funny little quagmire of inauthentic happiness - so, sometimes I have to stop and say: "wait, a minute... right now, I'm just not happy. And, that's just the way it is." And, I have to start with being honest that I'm not happy instead of trying to jump the gun on my experience. And, it take some work to navigate it back to happiness, and sometimes I get lost on my way back.

>> how I'm modifying my practice accordingly

I've found the modifications have been very gradual for me. I still haven't spent a lot of time really dedicated to working on this practice, as my time has also been split with my insight meditation practice, and my usual patterns of distraction. But, the time in which I was really dedicated to giving the techniques a fair trial have been the times when I've seen the most results. So, since I'm still such a newbie with it, I can't say I have much to report on modifications yet. Somehow it feels like a rather organic unfolding process that doesn't need a whole lot of modification on my part yet. Like they say: The pure intent is born from the PCE's and EE's... and the practice is born from the pure intent... and the PCE's and EE's are born from the practice... so it's sorta a loop which feeds itself. (or at least this is how it seems so far for me)

>> what results I'm getting

Well, I don't want to claim that I've entered a "PCE" or an "EE" or anything like that, as I just don't really know if I have or not. It doesn't seem to bother me too much, however, except perhaps to consider that the states of perfection, and sensuousness and attentiveness can probably be deepened much farther than to what I've so far attained.

I'm noticing myself much more harmless in my relationships. I notice a lot of the mysterious questions I had about "spirituality" are being answered. I'm noticing more time is being spent actually appreciating the actual experience of being alive right now in this actual universe.... and I'm remembering how wonderful that is. I'm noticing that from the perspective of my insight meditation practice, AF has been somewhat disruptive. While it has also been somewhat more grounding in the sense that it's helped burst some of my "enlightenment ideals" that I was still holding onto.

As a side note, it seems funny that the whole thing is called a practice. Like, to some extent there is a practice of dropping the attention wave, and of coming back to be happy and harmless. But, to some extent it just seems like common sense more than anything. Just looking at the facts and doing what's sensible, and it's funny to me that people would get all flustered about that.

One more side note: I haven't experienced any "existential meaninglessness" thankfully. I find that placing my attention on what is actually happening right now in this moment brings more meaning into my life rather than less. The meaning is the sparkle of sunshine, the meaning is the smell wafting through the air. That's the meaning and there is no need for anything more than that.

One question regarding "love"...
I'm still unsure what is love. I can see on one side the emotions of the nurture instinct as a distortion from purity and perfection. On the other side I see harmlessness and altruism. I think both get the name "love." Could harmlessness and altruism be called love?

Well, that's my AF report for now.

- Daniel

Additional notes: I typed this up last night and then afterward had a very trippy bout of intense fear of no-self. It started when I walked past my bathroom mirror. Upon catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I suddenly thought: "wait... who's THAT?" So, I went back to the mirror and just started looking... and there was a human being there! It was really trippy. And, then I started questioning: "Have I really just been a parasite living in this human beings body this whole time?" Like, there was an actual human being there that I was looking at in the mirror, and it wasn't "me." Then all sorts of fear came up, and as I laid down to go to sleep, with lights out, I got a distinct feeling that I was dying. So, enjoying the thrill of it, I just decided to die into the blackness, and I relaxed and let go. The fear disappeared and I was just lying in bed noticing my breath, and I fell asleep just noticing my breath. I think it was somewhat triggered by the thought of actually sharing these notes with others (and the "vulnerability" of that). It was also kind of a thrilling adventure.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
9/7/10 4:18 PM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Nice reports for sure, very detailed and reminiscent of details I remember 'me' experiencing as well. I laughed quite a few times during Daniel's in fact.

Daniel Johnson:
One question regarding "love"...
I'm still unsure what is love. I can see on one side the emotions of the nurture instinct as a distortion from purity and perfection. On the other side I see harmlessness and altruism. I think both get the name "love." Could harmlessness and altruism be called love?


A few things to consider (hints, if you will). [1] If the instinctual passions are blind nature's "species survival software package" (as opposed to being strictly for individual survival), then what utility did nurturing feelings have prior to contemporary caliber human intelligence? (Think about how the feelings persuade one to act in certain ways). Furthermore, what feelings are not at all harmless which often stem directly from one's love interests, such as hate (if someone / something caused your loved one pain), jealousy (your loved one "checks out" another person), and so on? A helpful note to consider: what most people call "love" includes several things, like the feeling of love, caring, and intimacy. [2] If the feeling of love is present, one can be sure it is because 'I' and / or 'my' groups have some sort of (perceived) investment at stake in the matter / the person.

Trent

[1] This is a useful type of inquiry for investigating any of the instinctual passions with an aim to understand them. And when they're fully understood, the redundancy and "blindness" therein is easily recognized, which in turn allows one to let go / see through.

[2] It is kind of funny (and weird) that "love" almost always earns credit as being the direct cause / condition of the two things that it actually helps to cover up and dilute. (The indiscriminate caring and intimacy engendered in an actual freedom is utterly unparalleled by "love's" imitations).

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
9/7/10 5:00 PM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
hi daniel,

Daniel Johnson:


One question regarding "love"...
I'm still unsure what is love. I can see on one side the emotions of the nurture instinct as a distortion from purity and perfection. On the other side I see harmlessness and altruism. I think both get the name "love." Could harmlessness and altruism be called love?



my reply will be more about what altruism is than what love is, and i will simply quote richard and one of his respondents:


RICHARD: ... I was just making the point that, although it is hypothetically correct that the elimination of the instinctual passions would be the elimination of ‘I’/‘me’, it does not work that way in practice (for reasons such as already explained). Not only is it dangerous it is an impossibility ... only altruistic ‘self’-immolation will do the trick.

RESPONDENT: You are making a distinction between ‘I/me’ eliminating itself and it being done altruistically.

RICHARD: No, I am more making the point that only altruism – self-sacrificial humanitarianism – will provide the enormous energy necessary for ‘self’-immolation ... the instinct for individual survival is only exceeded by the instinct for group survival.
It takes a powerful instinct to overcome a powerful instinct.

RESPONDENT: I understand this intellectually but I don’t really feel it. If ‘I’ do it for this body it will help everybody but it feels like I want to do it for selfish reasons. You seem to be saying that it can only be done altruistically and I don’t feel altruistic about it.

RICHARD: Properly speaking the word ‘altruistic’ is not a word for a feeling but a word for behaviour or action that benefits others at the expense of self (altruism is the very antithesis of selfism), such as fighting to the death to protect the young, defend the group or secure the territory, and as such could evoke any number of feelings ... such as fear, thrill, courage, excitement, exhilaration, euphoria and so on.

Although it can be used to mean ‘unselfish’ that is a watering-down of the word.


the above passage comes from the second page of richard's 'selected correspondences on altruism', but you may find the entire section (the entire selection) worth a read.

tarin

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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9/7/10 5:32 PM as a reply to Steph S.
my advice and recommendation to everyone practising here is to keep doing what works with unwavering enthusiasm and zest.

what a joy it is to enjoy being alive, eh?

tarin

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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9/9/10 1:07 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
Here's an example from this week related to Stefanie's comment about the lack of discussion on social identity. Thanks for pointing that out, as it is an essential part of this process that I mistakenly thought I had examined well already.

This weekend I went on a camping trip with some friends in the Joshua Tree desert. I was stunningly happy for most of the time, enjoying the company of my friends and the landscape. Our second day there, we decided to climb some rocks near our campsite (without any ropes or typical rock climbing gear). Just winging it as we went along. There came a point in our climb when we were high enough off the ground and close enough to the edge that I started getting scared. There was an immediate panic that arose within me as the next step upwards was across somewhat of a gap. I was freezing up, heart racing, freaking out internally. A couple of my other girlfriends were nervous too, but the guys put out their hands and helped them across to the other side. It took convincing, but the guys helped me across too and I got over okay. When we got to the top of where we wanted to go, the Joshua trees and other rock formations in the desert were pristinely before us and below us. There were moments when I was in wonder over the landscape, but much of the time I was still freaking out thinking about how we were going to get back down. On the way down there was one moment when I got a bit scared crossing back over that same part, but overall it was far easier than the way up.

This got me thinking a lot about fear, naturally. What it feels like, where it comes from, how to get over it. At home I sat for a while trying to examine all this. I've read before about the inborn or non-associative fears people supposedly have that act as survival mechanisms... fear of falling being one of them. I can't yet discern if this is where my fear came from that day or if these inborn fears are even real in the first place... or if it's a complex facet of learned identity. Perhaps climbing a bunch of high rocks without any safety gear is ridiculous in the first place, and we went ahead knowing this... When reflecting I did wonder if the dangerous sports people involve themselves with relates to a narcissistic denial of one's mortality. Where male identity is concerned, it serves to show they're brave and adventurous (either they were trying to prove this, or they really were not afraid. I don't know). Maybe as a woman, I've been trained to not engage with danger because I'm supposed to be nurturing and concerned for safety.. it's possible my female identity was kicking in and the situation really wasn't all that dangerous. Or perhaps the part of my identity that was showing up wasn't about femininity at all, and was a compound of others I haven't quite tapped into yet. Right now I haven't really come to any conclusions on this, although I think it's necessary to debunk the heck out of fear... Seems to be one of those bigger illusions that breeds many others.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Thanks,
Steph

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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9/10/10 2:57 PM as a reply to Trent ..
Trent H.:
A few things to consider (hints, if you will).


Thanks Trent and Tarin for both of your comments on love, altruism, and harmlessness. What I gather as a bottom line is that, in actuality, I can be altruistic, I can be harmless, I can be happy, but I can't really "be love"... as love is a feeling, affective, imaginary, self-based, etc.

And, what I was specifically curious about when I asked my question was something along the lines of "what is that thing that is motivating me to be harmless?" And, I think "the altruistic instinct" is a good explanation. I think maybe I was calling it "love" which I can now really see is a totally humorous incorrect claiming credit on the part of love. Like, I just want to say to "love" - "that's not you, silly! Stop taking credit for an altruistic instinct that is programmed into the human survival software package." I can also see how it's totally imaginary too, as there's no "thing" there at all, it's a behavior not a thing (as Richard points out). I think I'm getting it, at least. "I" really am pretty silly, aren't "I". emoticon

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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9/10/10 4:29 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
That I have seen the PCE so many times and that it won't stick continues to surprise me, but again, if this was easy, everyone would be doing it.


I was reading the below quotes from Vineeto and thought it might be pertinent to your situation. Perhaps. At any rate... I hope the journey is going well for you.

Vineeto:
But PCEs are not my main concern now. My main concern is the ending of ‘me’. My main concern is sitting it out and enjoying the final jerks of the dying identity as much as possible, with as little emotional worry or fear as possible. Life is fantastic as it is, I know my direction as clearly as I can see the moon in a cloudless sky. Now there is no question of going off-track, which had been one of my biggest worries, and now there is no question about the inevitability of success. All the ‘grey arrows’ only point in one direction and that is towards the ‘pop’.

*

All ‘I’ am is my feelings, all ‘I’ am is my beliefs and all ‘I’ am is my instincts. ‘I’ consist of nothing else. And facing and acknowledging that obvious fact, ‘I’ knew that ‘I’ would never succeed to reach ‘my’ goal, ‘I’ would never make the 100% mark, ‘I’ would never attain the prized freedom. By the very nature of actual freedom that is an impossibility. ‘I’ would always be stuck at the 99% mark. ‘I’ cannot improve any further. ‘I’ can never claim the success. A feeling of failure struck me as ‘I’ realised ‘my’ limitations. ‘That is the end of the trying and achieving, the end of ‘my’ job and the end of ‘my’ mission.’ Acknowledging the obvious fact of not being able to succeed as ‘me’, I gave up – and ceased being in the road. Never mind the physical symptoms of the fear, they are just part of the drama. But there was a sense of redundancy and of relief that were both delicious and ambrosial. Here ‘I’ am, with nothing left to achieve, without a mission and a purpose.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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9/12/10 8:01 PM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
I've been doing the practice and I have a few observations:

Everytime I have entered a PCE I have been consciously aware of being aware and was purposefully maintaining it. Should I continue to expect this? Is being aware of being aware a definite ingredient for PCEs?

It seems that there is a distinct silence in the mind when one is being aware that he is aware. It's very definite and can be carried around. I've also noticed that as long as I am carrying around this silence then I am naturally hearing things effortlessly. As soon as I enter a room I am aware of all the noises and, as long as I pay attention, thoughts wont come in to distract me or draw me away from being self-remembering. An air conditioner might be running in the background but nobody else will seem to notice it until they settle down and have nothing else on their minds. I notice it as soon as I enter the room, assuming theres still inner silence. I guess my whole point in saying this is that there seems to be a correlation between holding onto this inner-silence/self-remembering and effortlessly being aware of outside noise.

And then I have to say something about re-affirming: it seems that every day allows you to put in more effort than the day before. It takes a certain kind of commitment to continue raising the bar each and every day. I find that I often need to reaffirm my commitment. Different "I"s pop up each with their own ideas of what to do and I need to re-direct those "I"s so they are all motivated to move in the same direction. This also helps me put in more effort each day than the day before.

AFers, does this seem right? I'd like a little bit of feedback before I head out of state and don't have internet for 20 weeks starting tomorrow.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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9/12/10 9:57 PM as a reply to Jeffrey S.
Jeffrey S:

And then I have to say something about re-affirming: it seems that every day allows you to put in more effort than the day before. It takes a certain kind of commitment to continue raising the bar each and every day. I find that I often need to reaffirm my commitment. Different "I"s pop up each with their own ideas of what to do and I need to re-direct those "I"s so they are all motivated to move in the same direction. This also helps me put in more effort each day than the day before.


these different 'i's' are 'you', 'they' are 'your friend', relate to them/be them/move them/be moved by them in the spirit of sincerity and friendship.

they can all agree to move in the same direction up to a point; however, you do not want to be looking for that point and finding your limitations, you want simply to be at it and to be in the manner that makes the most sense for you to be, given how it makes the most sense for you to live. here, pure intent is key.


Jeffrey S:

AFers, does this seem right? I'd like a little bit of feedback before I head out of state and don't have internet for 20 weeks starting tomorrow.


have you tried richard's suggestion of reaching down inside yourself intuitively? the directions can be found in the first section of the correspondence on this page.

in short: sincerity is what you aim to be.. naivete is what you end up being. a state of innocence is what results when, simply put, you are not.

in shorter: find yourself likeable and liking.

tarin

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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9/13/10 12:10 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
Thanks. I'm printing off a few pages from the AF website to take with me. Last time I'll check this page will probly be early morning tomorrow. I pray everyone's practice goes well! Keep up the good efforts everyone!

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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9/19/10 5:20 PM as a reply to Jeffrey S.
There was lots of uprooting of assumptions and identity that happened since I last wrote, with many "aha" moments. Some of these days were fairly draining, followed by clarity and peace. I've stopped meditating, although did attend a group meditation session at the Dharma Punx center near me.. sat there silently, asking HAIETMOBA and investigating accordingly instead of doing insight. I can feel myself going deeper all the time and the result has been that I'm noticing that any issues, insecurities, fears I have are dropping quickly. The vast majority of the past week was spent very happily and feeling kinder towards others. There's also a very intense feeling of wanting others to be truly happy and even questioning what to do to help make that happen. Curiously, for the past 2 days there has been a feeling of unease, bleakness, or just plain neutrality coming up (there are still moments of happiness too, though). PCE's aren't occurring as frequently. I'm not sure if this is to be expected, or if something is lacking. To the AF people - As one progresses in actualism practice, is a PCE state the norm? Or is it still something that comes and goes fairly often? Any clues as to what this may be? There's nothing in particular that seems to be triggering these feelings of unease, etc.

Thanks,
Steph

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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9/20/10 4:35 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Hiya,

Steph S:
Curiously, for the past 2 days there has been a feeling of unease, bleakness, or just plain neutrality coming up (there are still moments of happiness too, though).


You might find the quoted section (and perhaps the entire article: here) to be insightful. Emphasis added (bold, *).

Peter:
* Half-way point

Exactly like any journey, on the wide and wondrous path to Actual Freedom, there is an initial burst of frantic activity, excitement, doubt, anticipation and trepidation as one finds one has mulled over the pros and cons, made the decision, said goodbye to all that is familiar, and set off. The initial period is full of excitement and adventure as you leave your past life behind. All that was familiar, safe and comfortable eventually falls away and, depending on the strength of the emotional ties to the past, one either turns back or presses forward to the point of no return. The point of no return can be equated with letting go of the past completely, that last emotional bonds to the real world and the spiritual world. One is then inextricably on one’s own, for to go back is then seemingly impossible (although practically possible, for this is only a journey into one’s own psyche, after all) and to go forward is to go into unknown territory (although others have travelled this path, it is my psyche and therefore I am the only one who can make my journey).

This past the half-way point is a most fascinating period for one finds oneself literally on one’s own, without the security of a social identity of any substance and adrift from the familiar security of being able to mindlessly indulge in malice, or wallow in sorrow. One finds oneself seemingly at odds with the world and its citizens for one has left the accustomed ways of coping, or avoiding, behind. *It is possible to pass through periods of stark reality where nothing has any meaning and all is experienced as grey and dull. Boredom, meaninglessness, pointlessness and similar feelings are often encountered and this is where a continual memory of the pure consciousness experience is vital, for that becomes one’s single pointed goal in life while crossing what can be experienced and felt to be a desert completely devoid of usual meaning and familiar emotional experiences.* Traditional and accustomed relationships and ways of thinking and feeling are all broken apart and there seems to be no way of putting anything back together again. One realizes that the path is essentially a demolition job – the very aim is to demolish, piece by piece, ‘who’ you have been taught to be and ‘who’ blind nature has programmed you to be.


*

Steph S:
PCE's aren't occurring as frequently. I'm not sure if this is to be expected, or if something is lacking.


It is hard to say, but try not to worry about it, regardless (as that itself may lock you out). Your notes about progress seem to indicate that you are doing just fine...You might consider keeping a journal about PCE/EE events so that you can put your mind at ease and still have the objective data ("I PCE'd (x) days ago") written down for any analysis you want to do. I recommend doing this for other reasons too: may help you remember the details of the experiences, may help you to be honest about when they happened and for how long, may help motivate you, etc.

Trent

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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9/20/10 10:00 PM as a reply to Trent ..
Thanks so much for your input, Trent. It's very grounding to hear at this point... and even just reading that brought upon an EE. emoticon

I found the below quote on the AF site that relates to the one you posted of Peter's.. in case others reading are in a similar spot.. as it also contains some useful advice. http://actualfreedom.com.au/richard/selectedwriting/sw-awareness.htm

Richard:

However, a word of experiential advice: just prior to apperception occurring, ‘I’, the beholder – the one who wants to be in control – can view life as being bereft of depth. Everything can become flat, two-dimensional, barren and stark. This is not actuality, although one may be inclined to feel it to be so. This is reality, stark reality, and is not to be confused with actuality. Actuality is never, ever, stark. This starkness can influence one to pull back, to retreat into ‘normal’ life. Courage of one’s conviction and confidence in the purity of the actual is essential if one is to proceed. All of one’s ‘being’ wants to back off and regain the once-despised reality that looks so attractive now, from this extreme position. This stark reality is a barrier; it is a desert of monumental proportions that one can only traverse if supplied with the fortitude garnered from the peak experience. Then one is willing to endure the ghastly reality masquerading as the actual. The very ground beneath one’s feet can appear to shift, to disappear, and all seems to hang upon nothing. Unsupported and alone, one is in the outer-most reaches of ‘being’. The feeling is that one cannot survive this appalling emptiness without going mad. To be in durance vile is not for the faint-hearted, the weak of knee. Nerves of steel are essential if one is to meet one’s destiny. It is the adventure of a life-time. Life is wonderful where I am genuine.


The portion in bold is something I was thinking about this morning. I understand why having the PCE and pure intent as guiding light is so important when there is little else to go by. Based on direct experience that happiness is completely worth it (and possible).. the adventure continues. I can tell the remaining stuff of me seems to be something that I'm only clinging onto out of fear of not having anything at all to cling to... at times I'm holding onto it very tightly too. I need to work through this, with a clear headed conviction and gentle attitude (I've been used to forcing it previously in insight days, so I've had that to learn from and don't want to fall into "old patterns"). Any other more specific tips in addition to that you can offer from your own practice experience?

Thanks again,
Steph

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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9/20/10 10:23 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Hi,

No problem at all, you are very welcome.

Steph S:
I can tell the remaining stuff of me seems to be something that I'm only clinging onto out of fear of not having anything at all to cling to... at times I'm holding onto it very tightly too. I need to work through this, with a clear headed conviction and gentle attitude (I've been used to forcing it previously in insight days, so I've had that to learn from and don't want to fall into "old patterns"). Any other more specific tips in addition to that you can offer from your own practice experience?


Not a tip exactly, but:

Discover yourself as being here and now as fast as you possibly can. Don't worry about what will be left behind, or what it will be like to have nothing to cling to, or what others will think of you...you can sort all that out later, whenever you are actually in a situation to figure those things out (after you've actualized perfection). This world we find ourselves in is such a delight, such a joy, and no matter what you're afraid of now, it can also be seen as silly now, just as soon are you're ready for that (and hey, that will be now too). It is quite fun here, and there's room for all; come and play in this friendly, wonderful world!

Trent

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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10/1/10 11:21 PM as a reply to Steph S.
I've been meaning to post some practice notes for a while. Here is a brief overview of the inquiries I'm engaged in at the moment.

I'm sitting down this afternoon attempting to become actually free.

It occurs to me there are a few possibilities for how self immolation might come about:

1. Willing it to happen. Tried this. Didn't get very far.

2. Seeing somehow that the feeling of being was an illusion all along. I have tried to see this. I can certainly clearly identify the (id)entity as a felt sense of being. Since it is felt so strongly and clearly, it doesn't seem illusory. That said, it's clearly a parasitic entity, it is not this body being alive, yet much of my time is spent identifying as this feeling of being. So in that sense, I can clearly see it's illusory nature. Just haven't found the ejector seat trigger yet.

3. Something energetic or physical occurring - but what occurs before this? Presumably some other key step(s). Haven't had much sign of this, but I have experienced surges of feeling when considering self immolation that feel like a wall of fear arising, or maybe a giant wave of emotion rising from the ocean of feelings I'm swimming in.

4. Choosing body and soul to self immolate as an act of self-sacrifice. I've tried this. No dice as of yet.

5. Perhaps it's been right under my nose all along, and I just wasn't looking in the right place. Well I keep looking...

6. Maybe I need to investigate the feeling of being in the same way I investigate other feelings and try to unravel it by looking at the beliefs that trigger it and ask whether they're silly or sensible? Doing this today I discovered some subtle hesitation about becoming actually free, in particular fear that I would be missing out on some precious experiences with my daughter as she grows up. I have investigated that hesitation and seen it was very silly, and seem to have let it go. I also looked at whether I feel like I would be letting my wife down in some way by becoming actually free, but I haven't found anything too substantial because it's just so obvious that I'll be a better husband when I'm actually free.

7. Spending enough time apperceptive (like the majority of the time perhaps) that somehow it clicks and an illusion is seen through. This is hard with a 6 week old daughter. emoticon

I decided today that each time I practice actualism I should begin with a commitment to become actually free here and now. If I am not beginning with that commitment, then I might as well not practice at all. It's tempting to be all hardcore and say "There's nothing left for me to become actually free" and I do sometimes feel that way, but I can see now that it's not really helping - that attitude is not increasing happiness and harmlessness in this moment, it has nothing to do with most of the characteristics of the PCE, so I should probably try to approach becoming actually free in a new way. The first thing that springs to mind is imitation of the PCE, and I decide I will give that a go instead.

Craig

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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10/1/10 11:42 PM as a reply to My Fragile Ego.
Craig, your efforts and results are much like mine. It will be interesting to see what advice you get from people who have made it.

What I'm doing at the moment is trying to establish direct contact with naive enjoyment by peeling away layers of accumulated cynicism and pessimism, trying to get as close as I can to freshness and immediacy in both feeling and perception.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Regards,
Mark

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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10/2/10 1:35 AM as a reply to My Fragile Ego.
The thing I've found most helpful out of anything I've tried is actually trying to realize that now is the only moment I'm ever alive (by contemplating and nothing else mattered) and that any change can only happen right now and this attitude has to be maintained. This automatically allows me to enter a PCE or EE as I'm instantly drawn towards the senses and to the "here and now" (Here that phrase by Tarin from the Hurricane Ranch discussion about there being movement and nothing that moves makes more sense) . From Here it becomes apparent that the previous mode I was in was filled with suffering and that I really want to become actually free very badly. This fuels my determination to continue forward even if it means 'my' demise. Maybe this is what Richard calls "pure intent".

haha Anyways, I don't know if any of that mumbo jumbo made sense, but I tried. Whatever works I suppose. I'm not actually free btw, but I sure can see a difference in my level of happiness from before I've practiced. Perhaps eventually I'll get to that "feeling perfect" level.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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10/2/10 7:59 AM as a reply to Martin Potter.
Step 1: Read about actualism and see it's a good idea
Step 2: ???
Step 3: Profit

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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10/3/10 4:22 PM as a reply to My Fragile Ego.
It's a perfect morning. Dew drops glisten on grass spectacularly. The air is cool

This morning I've repeatedly caught myself engaging the imagination and have returned to attentiveness

Unfortunately it has never lasted long. Need to engage sensuousness.

Funny how events capture the imagination

First they capture the attention

I have been aware for a few minutes of glumness setting in. Attentiveness showed that in fact I had given over to imagination and to that extent I suffered!

Free from imagination

Imagination is obvious linked very strongly, if not identical, to the affective faculty

When free from imagination the PCE arrives almost unexpectedly.

When choosing not to imagine the PCE persists

The choice to imagine occurs moment to moment, so not-imagining works well with attentiveness

I can feel the perfection as a tangible thing

Fragrance is sweet on the air

Listening to others is a common prompt for imagination

Perhaps because it is info from outside myself with no context, so the imagination works to flesh it out

I sit here in the PCE and ask myself whether I could choose this for the rest of my life - hell yeah, that's the point isn't it? Nope it seems now I spend much time and energy merely imagining actual freedom.

Keeping my heart off the imagination button is working amazingly to prolong this PCE!

Continuing at work has always been the litmus test and has always failed. I am optimistic about operating at work sans imagination. Maybe this will be the day. Oops - imagination!

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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10/3/10 9:18 PM as a reply to Mark van der Westhuizen.
Mark van der Westhuizen:
Craig, your efforts and results are much like mine. It will be interesting to see what advice you get from people who have made it.

What I'm doing at the moment is trying to establish direct contact with naive enjoyment by peeling away layers of accumulated cynicism and pessimism, trying to get as close as I can to freshness and immediacy in both feeling and perception.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Regards,
Mark


Please do. This is sound advice for yourself to follow. Today I was out in nature quite a bit. First I went to an arboretum for a while and then for a short hike in the nearby hills. It's easy to be present and enjoy life when you follow the curious and playful side of yourself that often comes about while in nature. At the arboretum, there are tons of nodes that have flora representing various regions of the earth and I was just going off the beaten path towards whatever struck my curiosity at the moment. It was totally fun. On the hike I was at the summit overlooking the valley below.. really gorgeous and gave the sense that the world is everyone's giant playground. Yesterday I talked with Tarin about "stillness"... and the serenity/silence/stillness that's always there for us to access was really apparent while up there.

Steph

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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10/4/10 3:05 PM as a reply to My Fragile Ego.
Craig N:
This morning I've repeatedly caught myself engaging the imagination and have returned to attentiveness

Unfortunately it has never lasted long. Need to engage sensuousness.


This might be something to look into. Personally, I have often found myself trying to jump to sensuousness when I realise I'm not being attentive enough, when the problem is: I'm not being attentive enough. Things seem to click when I slow myself down a little and get some attentive consistency. Then the sensuousness comes more naturally. I find if I try to jump to sensuousness it's short lived, and I get distracted soon afterwards, because in truth I'm avoiding full attentiveness due to some subtle resentfulness at being here. As Richard puts it: "attentiveness depicts an activity that one vitalises with remarkable verve and vivacity which activates the quality that the word sensuousness specifies." Kind of like a holarchy; sensuousness transcending but including attentiveness, and then being swallowed up itself by aperceptiveness.

Interesting you mention continuing at work, as today I managed to blast attentiveness/sensuousness from 9-5 and beyond, with great results considering it was a busy-ish day and the thought of telling my Ninjutsu instructor that I'm taking a break was on my mind a lot. Woohoo! Pure intent is really starting to click.

Great to read everyone's notes - it really gives me a lot of inspiration and energy to push on and get this done sooner rather than later emoticon

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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10/4/10 10:32 PM as a reply to Steph S.
I have questions about pure intent and lack of 'training'...

I am personally meditating at night (45mins. to an hour) and trying to do some actualism practices during the 'off the cushion time'. I do both as I feel that my mind is so unfocused that specific concentration practice will benefit my attempt to actually focus for longer than 1 second at a time on present sensations. I really like much of what I have read/heard on this forum, and a lot of it makes sense to me. I feel like I am such a beginner at ANY contemplative practice that this is just the beginning of the beginning for me. I feel like I have real experience of present moment when I ask HAIETMOBA, (at least for a few moments before lots of thoughts bubble up) but I have some concerns, maybe someone can offer advice.

First, one thing everyone seems to say is that Pure Intent is important. Not just to want to end my own suffering, but to be happy and harmless for all beings. Well, without getting into details, part of what drove me from wishy-washy part-time Buddhist practice and lackadaisical meditation of 20 mins here and there, to a much more serious interest in serious Dharma and meditation practice and now actualism was some personal hardships this past year that drove me to want to get "free from suffering" DONE. I could tell you I want to do it for all beings, but that wouldn't be honest, not right now. I want to do this for me. Will that sort of intent hamper me? Or in time will I have a purer intent, like after you do Metta for a long time you can finally find you mean it?

Second question is, what do you do if you have had no PCE, no A&P, no nothin'! I have had times of great "in the moment" experiences riding my bike, or out in nature, I have, as I've applied myself diligently to concentration meditation, become more at ease in just being present. (Though I'm lucky if I can string more than 1 min of just following my breath together). So for me, the finer points of picking apart how thoughts arise, presence of self, in gross and subtle ways seems way beyond my ken. I feel like a lot of you guys are operating with scalpels and I have a big dull machete. emoticon

So in his book Daniel says, "You're probably here/reading this because you have had an A&P". Or Richard's "everyone has had a PCE or EE." but I just don't think I have. I listened to the talks Tarin and Daniel had and had this amazing sense of "YES! That's what I WANT." But I've never in all the reading/listening been able to say "Ah yes, I've experienced that." or "Ah, I had forgotten but YES I have had a PCE." And nothing I've read/heard has induced it. I guess I'm just wondering how much harder all this is if you are coming at it, not only from not having had a PCE, but never having done (till very recently) much meditating and not gone on retreats and not have a brain that's maybe more inclined to slip into such states, because it hasn't been in ANY special states yet?

Since I can't remember a PCE and get back to that feeling, all I can think to do is focus on the most basic awareness of what the body is sensing right now, and cultivate feelings of simple joy and felicity, sometimes using those wonderful freeing moments on my bike as a rough guide. But I often wonder if I shouldn't have more "basic training" (access concentration, some real Vipassana skills, a retreat under my belt, whatever) so that I have some experience before tackling Actualism. I feel like I am so awash in "me" whereas those with more traditional practice skills have at least created some dis-attachment from self, and even perhaps Self. Or am I over-thinking this and just need to get back to feeling happy and being present and if all the thoughts jumble up just let them come and go. emoticon

Ok, enough of a rant. Thanks for letting me air these concerns. As always, appreciate greatly the support and advice here! I know I've only posted once before, but I do lurk daily, and you guys have really been a support to me, even if you didn't know it! emoticon
Kerstin

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
10/6/10 1:43 PM as a reply to Martin Potter.
These last two days I've been asking myself regularly the question "Is it now?". It's clarifying to see that it's now right now, and if i look across the room it's now again. No matter where I look or where I go the answer is always "yes, it's now".

I was watching cars go by today and seeing how at each point across their journey it's now. With enough brief moments of clarity it becomes one continuous stream of now, with physical objects moving but with time at a halt.

It seems from this perspective that we don't act, without the gap between intention and action there is just an immediate flow of action, and life seems to have it's own order.


Is it now?

- Martin

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
10/7/10 5:40 PM as a reply to Kerstin Upmeyer.
Hey Kerstin,

Regarding pure intent, I thought you might find this interesting...

[No 32.] The more difficult part is now coming: practice, and more precisely I can’t find what you call ‘pure intent’ as I don’t want and I’m quite scrupulous not to transform this into another belief system.

To be more exact, let’s take an example: sex drive. I’m in a relationship for 6 months, but there is a constant drive to sleep with other women. Now if I’ll fuck these other women, I’ll cheat on my girlfriend and our relationship will begin to deteriorate. If I don’t, I won’t feel content with myself and hypocrisy, resentment and the ensuring suffering will emerge coupled with some aggressive outbursts within the relationship that will finally contribute to its dissolution.

In the first case, the sex drive rules, in the second the social identity acts as a barrier, yet with no results in terms of happiness or tangible results. The former situation has been the case in my last two relationships where there was a greater degree of involvement from my part. There are many examples as this one, and as ‘me’ begins to fade, these drives become more and more ‘surface-able’. This ‘pure intent’ is supposed to help yet I think that at this stage I have more of a ‘well-meaning intent’.

That’s a good description. From memory, I would say that when I started to become interested in actualism I also had a ‘well-meaning intent’.

Everybody who is interested in actualism starts from where they start, in the situation they are in and with the level of intent that they currently have. In my case, my well-meaning intent was sufficient for me to set myself what I felt to be a realizable goal – to change myself sufficiently such that I could live with at least one person in unreserved peace and harmony.

As it turned out it was a pretty radical goal and in order to achieve it I found that I had to continuously raise my level of intent. And by doing so I started to have pure consciousness experiences whereby I came to experientially understand what having a pure intent means.

I can also relate to your example of starting to become acutely aware of the brutish aspects of the human animal instinctual sexual desire. It can be quite disturbing and daunting when one starts to become aware of the ‘dark side’ of one’s human nature and it’s not something that you would deliberately want to do unless you had a very good reason to do so. The very good reason that I had was that I wanted to get rid of everything that stood in the way of me being able to live peacefully and harmoniously with Vineeto in an intimate companionship.

What this intention meant in practice was that not only did I want to be happy but that my being harmless to others became even more important. This over-arching intention to stop causing harm to others meant that I was able to make my way through the maze of beliefs, feelings and passions that stood in the way of this being possible.

I don’t know if that makes sense to you or not, but it did to me when I started to realize that I wanted to become an actualist and it makes even more sense to me now.


Also you may want to check out the entire library entry on "pure intent":
http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/library/topics/intent.htm

I also thought this one might be particularly fitting...

"Yesterday’s happiness and harmlessness does not mean a thing if one is miserable and malicious now ... and a hoped-for happiness and harmlessness tomorrow is to but waste this moment of being alive in waiting. All you get by waiting is more waiting. Thus any ‘change’ can only happen now. The jumping in point is always here ... it is at this moment in time and this place in space." - Richard


Enjoy the adventure.

- Daniel

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
10/7/10 6:06 PM as a reply to Kerstin Upmeyer.
Kerstin Upmeyer:
I have questions about pure intent and lack of 'training'...

First, one thing everyone seems to say is that Pure Intent is important. Not just to want to end my own suffering, but to be happy and harmless for all beings. Well, without getting into details, part of what drove me from wishy-washy part-time Buddhist practice and lackadaisical meditation of 20 mins here and there, to a much more serious interest in serious Dharma and meditation practice and now actualism was some personal hardships this past year that drove me to want to get "free from suffering" DONE. I could tell you I want to do it for all beings, but that wouldn't be honest, not right now. I want to do this for me. Will that sort of intent hamper me? Or in time will I have a purer intent, like after you do Metta for a long time you can finally find you mean it?


Hi Kerstin

Pure Intent is to apply yourself to the goal with such dedication as to not waiver. From the AF Website - "The pure intent of Actual Freedom comes from the peak experience or PCE wherein one has a glimpse of the purity and perfection of the physical universe untainted by any ‘self’-ish and ‘self’-produced meta-physical imaginations."

If you have not experienced a PCE use the fact that this is the only moment of being alive and attend to this moment. Investigate HAIETMOBA

So you can see that Purer Intent is tainted by the self by a belief or moral stance which you will actually question and be diverted from the drive to be free.

There is a tendency to interpret and judge by your own standards which is nothing more then reinforcing your self.

Kerstin Upmeyer:
Second question is, what do you do if you have had no PCE, no A&P, no nothin'!

This is the self getting in the way of you starting. This is the same starting point as everyone else that has sort to be free. Notice the self in action. start with HAIETMOBA. Become self counscious, Investigate your emotional program and response. The stir of passions and your changing relationship with the object of focus. How I am my feelings and my feelings are me.

You do not need to dedicate a certain time or a certain place to practice. There is only this moment.

cheers
Jeff

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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10/7/10 7:31 PM as a reply to Jeff Grove.
Daniel and Jeff,
Thank you for your helpful comments, they made a heck of a lot of sense. Got it, I can only start from where I am. Daniel, I'll read further in the link you've given me as well. Still going to keep sitting at night... may come a time when I taper it off, but it seems to help with HAIETMOBA the rest of the time as concentration gets stronger. Aaaand, I'll try to stop "me" getting in my way. emoticon
Thank you for the help, as always.
K

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
10/15/10 4:52 PM as a reply to Kerstin Upmeyer.
How's everyone doing? Hopefully still moving along, as the notes indicate.

During actualism practice I've still largely entertained the imagination.. I didn't feel imagination was much of an issue, since I seem to making progress despite engaging this faculty quite often. Mostly it's of the type where I will be planning, or thinking of a conversation I would like to have with a friend or someone else in my life. Throughout my life the role imagination has predominately played has been to tailor daydreaming towards outcomes that would be pleasing to 'me'. Many times I have transferred issues I had to others via imaginative fantasy. For example, if I was angry, there would be a fantasy that someone else was causing/doing something that was making me angry. Thus in the fantasy I could be angry at them, rather than take ownership for the anger myself. This is silly because either way I was still feeling the anger or whatever emotion. I could be wrong, but I assume this type of transference is quite a common thing that many people do.

I've been thinking imagination would be something that would just continue to drop away on its own the closer I got to AF. And yes, the transference type fantasies have dropped away quite a bit over time. I presume this is because there is far less anger, guilt, et al and so there is not much desire to transfer/escape these emotions. Additionally, I am much more aware of what is playing out and where it is coming from, thus any of these feelings and associations aren't holding up anymore. I can see through them as false and unnecessary pretty much immediately. As I mentioned above, now my imagination more consists of planning, wanting to share something with someone, or thinking of somewhere I'd like to be. Maybe doesn't seem like too big of an issue, but if I'm realizing it's superfluous to imagine in such ways, why not diligently investigate when it occurs?

It's great that the basic instructions of this practice still hold up the whole way through the process. To that end, some questions I have been asking: Why imagine being anywhere else than right here, right now? Is there anything missing from this moment? Isn't it fantastic that there is no need to plan ahead, as right now everything that needs to happen is happening. More effort and energy is required to plan or invent hypotheticals than to just enjoy what's here. What a welcome relief. Sure takes a lot of pressure off. This is working well.

Steph

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
10/15/10 7:46 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
How's everyone doing? Hopefully still moving along, as the notes indicate.

During actualism practice I've still largely entertained the imagination.. I didn't feel imagination was much of an issue, since I seem to making progress despite engaging this faculty quite often. Mostly it's of the type where I will be planning, or thinking of a conversation I would like to have with a friend or someone else in my life. Throughout my life the role imagination has predominately played has been to tailor daydreaming towards outcomes that would be pleasing to 'me'. Many times I have transferred issues I had to others via imaginative fantasy. For example, if I was angry, there would be a fantasy that someone else was causing/doing something that was making me angry. Thus in the fantasy I could be angry at them, rather than take ownership for the anger myself. This is silly because either way I was still feeling the anger or whatever emotion. I could be wrong, but I assume this type of transference is quite a common thing that many people do.



Notice the role consciousness plays in the projected fantasy, notice how the daydream is played out in your mind and how this reality (someone else was causing/doing something that was making me angry) separates you from the actual world.

Notice the feelings (anger) that accompany this fantasy. Notice how you are not attending to this moment and are in some make believe future event that will never occur or some past event that you are trying to change but will never change.

Notice that all this is the self in action.

We are a biological beings with a biological center when experienced as separate from everything that is not self. Observe this center about 3 finger widths below the belly button and half way between front and back is the dantein which is also around your center of gravity. This area is center of the passional nature, forming all the emotions, desires, appetites and passions. The focal point which is consciousness.

The initial source of this fantasy (emotional experience) is an internal discharge of energy, which being felt by you and becomes an aim or aversion of your life.

This instinctive action is the passing over of a stimulus directly into primitive pathways for purposes that often enough are not noticed and may even rebel against.

This unconscious reflexive action or instinct is without reflection, is the self inaction, which is an outgrowth of instinct guided and controlled by intelligence, becomes reflective and self-conscious and is initially observed as a movement to and from your center.

Notice how this movement is a response to something perceived. You might see someone which you associate to some other event (e.g a fight) which triggers the whole a process, the fantasy you spoke of.


I've been thinking imagination would be something that would just continue to drop away on its own the closer I got to AF. And yes, the transference type fantasies have dropped away quite a bit over time. I presume this is because there is far less anger, guilt, et al and so there is not much desire to transfer/escape these emotions.


Imagination is self experience so by attending directly to this moment you will minimize the impact these emotions have in shaping your reality.
By maximizing felicitous feelings you will minimize time spent not being happy and harmless.
By maximizing PCE you will minimize self experience.
Notice how self experience is interior life which is 180 degrees to AF


It's great that the basic instructions of this practice still hold up the whole way through the process.


HAIETMOBA is a very efficient method for achieving AF. The self has a habit of sabotaging this practice by searching for a more superior method ( and by superior it must be more complex which must be better than basic). Stick to HAIETMOBA this is designed to get directly to the source of the very thing that separates you from this actual world.


have a great weekend
Jeff

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
10/16/10 5:29 PM as a reply to Jeff Grove.
Thanks for this helpful reply, Jeff. I'll get to more of your points later, since it will take me a little time to mull it over... but wanted to start by replying to what struck me most readily at the moment.

Jeff Grove:

HAIETMOBA is a very efficient method for achieving AF. The self has a habit of sabotaging this practice by searching for a more superior method ( and by superior it must be more complex which must be better than basic). Stick to HAIETMOBA this is designed to get directly to the source of the very thing that separates you from this actual world.


have a great weekend
Jeff


I think you hit on something very important here. I don't know why the self thinks that as this process moves along there is a need to get more complex. It seems things should be getting simpler and more effortless as the self diminishes. Maybe I'm just going through an awkward spot. At times I have felt like a fish out of water, not really knowing what the heck to do.. seeking to refine things and "continually raise the bar" as Richard mentioned on his site. I kind of don't get what it means to keep raising the bar if the basic instructions are supposed to stay the same. Tarin mentioned in a conversation about a week ago to continue with attention and enjoyment. I've been trying to do that, but still feel like I'm reverting backwards or questioning progress a lot of the time (sort of like what Daniel Ingram posted about in his "PCE and feeling of being" thread). Does it mean to enjoy more fully and deeply? I've found a fair amount of silence and stillness (or maybe I actually haven't despite thinking I have), but now that it's known, it's kind of like... ok, big deal.. it's awesome, but how do I go deeper? Since it might also be helpful to get another practitioner's perspective in addition to advice from someone who is AF, what is your impression of what stillness/silence are? How are they tangibly experienced for you? How have you accessed that?

Thanks.. hope you're having a lovely weekend too
Steph

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
10/16/10 10:12 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
I kind of don't get what it means to keep raising the bar if the basic instructions are supposed to stay the same.


Hi Steph,

The raising of the bar refers to the increasing of felicitous feelings until PCE occurs. As the bar is raised the self goes into abeyance until the experiences is Pure Consciousness as in PCE. Then increasing the amount of time spent in PCE until Out of Control PCE occurring and so on.

Initial methods of raising the bar include spending time in Nature observing the beauty around you. This has a way of stilling the instinctive response that is the source of yourself.

I have also found in the past that Zhan Zhuang an exercise in stillness creates similar conditions for a PCE to occur but that might just be me. emoticon)

cheers
Jeff

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
10/16/10 11:44 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Hi Steph et al,

I mentioned I would drop in to your thread in the PRACTICE proposal and recount my experiences (versus curiosity and analysis in other threads).

My partner of several years commented a few weeks ago that no matter what this forum is discussing, he's glad.

Dark night removal came about through several harsh, sudden, peaking DN events, but once I was exhausted by it, I was ready to dissolve and move on. Finding the practice of sensateness-towards-self-extirpation amid peers and guides just after the DN-exhaustion was ideal timing.

When my mind goes to ideas I lose all sense of time, food, drink, sleep and stay with ideas. Sans dark nightery, it's very nice to be in ideas.

When I switch to sensate, there is stellar sensateness.


At dinner tonight my partner asked what I was actually doing ("There must be something you're doing to be this way!").

So, i suggested we just eat dinner. be the 5 senses. if an awareness arises or an observer deveopes just let it go and be the five senses.

He said something like, "what, with this cacophony of sound and lights and taste and...what do i focus on")
And I said something like, "just experience all 5-senses and drop the self and its affiliates."
So we ate, and the Doors "Light my fire" went on forever.
He made an extremely clever joke and dinner was speckled with more laughter, eating, drinking and, for me, the senses.

It is really nice to see one's partner of years be happy and to share in happiness.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
11/3/10 9:03 PM as a reply to . ..
Wow, has it really been a couple weeks since I last posted some practice notes?

This just keeps getting better. I had an interesting shift this week. The giddy sort of happiness I have often felt is only faintly perceptible now. And it's absolutely not a detriment either, like I thought it would be. My impression of what it might be like to feel really really happy all the time was totally mistaken compared to what I am experiencing now. That impression I had was one of an overwhelming high energy (read: hyper) flowing out every pore bliss wave.. similar to a full time A&P. Instead, what I have felt like fairly consistently over the past 2 days is a very smooth, easy, well-being. It's friendly and comforting. I've tried kind of testing myself to see what shifts in feeling tone might take place.. like in a situation where it seems I previously would have experienced anticipating excitement.. it's far less anxious feeling, and much calmer and even keeled. The "rise" or "rush" is barely there. At work, what took me quite some time to de-stress from previously has not been a big deal, and if it does happen to cause any "stress" at all, it only lasts for like a minute or less. For the most part I feel very unemotional and it's not cold or barren. It's welcome and safe.

What I'm starting to ponder more actively right now is.. if there's not much feeling tone left.. where is this sense of "being" coming from? I've asked this a lot before, and have always been confused by it. Sometimes it was seemingly located in the back of the head, elsewhere in the mind, in the heart, in the gut, etc. Right now, it doesn't even really seem like any of those are the right answer. I don't know what it is... but the fact that I can't figure it out just yet probably points that it's still there. Pretty fascinating stuff.

Steph

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
11/3/10 11:17 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Sounds like you're honing in on your goal, alright.

Steph:
What I'm starting to ponder more actively right now is.. if there's not much feeling tone left.. where is this sense of "being" coming from? I've asked this a lot before, and have always been confused by it. Sometimes it was seemingly located in the back of the head, elsewhere in the mind, in the heart, in the gut, etc. Right now, it doesn't even really seem like any of those are the right answer. I don't know what it is... but the fact that I can't figure it out just yet probably points that it's still there. Pretty fascinating stuff.

Maybe there will be a moment for you to take a few days off from other activities and slip through. I am thinking of Tarin noting that he achieved his freedom on the fourth day of a dedicated effort in the company of Richard. (pls correct if wrong).
Or maybe someone will just say something that clicks with your practice, [EDIT: or 'you' experience a particular moment and the current beingness will see no-added-valueness, exit and slip away.]

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
11/30/10 3:50 PM as a reply to Martin Potter.
Hello, just wanted to share a practise note i wrote to myself a couple of days ago -

-------

Realise that you have a choice. You can CHOOSE to be happy. Putting aside all the philosophy and systems, whether actualism or something else, what is important? It is to enjoy being here.
Seeing the *importance* of not suffering and enjoying being here creates the effort to be happy.

Everything I aim for, everything I seek, all the hopes and wishes of a better society or a better life in essence come to fruition here, now... are fulfilled in the goodness and rightness of the experience of this moment of being alive when one is enjoying it.

- Martin

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
12/17/10 12:25 PM as a reply to Martin Potter.
"the proof of the pudding is one’s own PCE and this ‘self’-less experience then becomes one’s own touchstone. Provided ‘you’ don’t personally covert the experience as ‘my’ precious experience or crave it as an escape route for ‘me’ to get out of being here in the world as-it-is."
- Peter, http://actualfreedom.com.au/sundry/frequentquestions/FAQ58a.htm

---------

"RESPONDENT: Should I try and focus on what my senses are experiencing (i.e. paying attention to colours, noises,
smells, textures, and such) and ignore feelings?
RICHARD: As what you are asking is, in effect, whether a PCE can be induced by focussing on sensate experience with a
bored, nervous, scared, regretful, and etcetera, attentiveness the answer is: no."
- http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/sundry/frequentquestions/FAQ64a.htm#1

Recently I have been focusing too much on issues of time and attention and trying to induce apperception, whilst forgetting that the key issue is feeling good which should lead to a PCE of its own accord. My approach is now: If I'm no longer feeling good, I'm no longer practising actualism. In fact, any time I'm feeling bad I'm practising the opposite of actualism, similarly to how if I'm unconsciously daydreaming I'm no longer practising attention, which will lead to totally different results.

"Richard: the slightest diminishment of such felicity is a warning signal (a flashing red light as it were) that one has inadvertently wandered off the way".¹

------------

Previously I was using HAIETMOBA in order to analyse and bring attention to how I'm feeling, which was often bad, but I find it much more useful to use it as a reminder to feel good. This is similar to how when someone asks "how are you" a cynical person may get annoyed and bitter about being asked and grumble about how they feel, instead of using it as a pointer to get back to a enjoying themselves.

Previously I had been trying to find a method to feel good and work out negativity, rather than realising that feeling good is the method, and the meaning or purpose is (provided by) the PCE. As Richard says "a grim and/or glum person has no chance whatsoever of allowing the magical event, which indubitably shows where everyone has being going awry, to occur".¹


¹ http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/richard/listafcorrespondence/listaf73.htm

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
12/17/10 2:48 PM as a reply to Martin Potter.
Martin Potter:
My approach is now: If I'm no longer feeling good, I'm no longer practising actualism. In fact, any time I'm feeling bad I'm practising the opposite of actualism


Hey, I really like this! That's a really good reminder. Thanks.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
1/9/11 11:08 PM as a reply to Jason Lissel.
Things seem like they are always shifting and there's an attempt to pinpoint something... a moment, an experience, a feeling... which I'm now finding is impossible since there is no target to pinpoint. There's nothing I can grasp for certain and often times that has resulted in frustration, confusion, rebellion.. all an attempt to find meaning and answer... or say forget it and try to give up. Still, there isn't a real "giving up" to be had. This morning sitting in my car I said, there's no other option. Look right at fear and see it exactly as it is.. or keep retreating to feed fear on an endless loop.

I think I've had a fear of life itself, a fear of the very fact that I'm alive. Even as clear as it may be to any objective source that I am a human being alive right now, I'm not sure how strongly I've ever really considered the magnitude of what it actually means to be alive. And further, what it means to be alive as a human being amongst other human beings. I'm using a lot of sincerity right now to keep typing this because it does sound quite ridiculous. I'm not sure what sort of proof I can be shown, other than the actual world. Even having had PCE's and lots of moments of vitality, there's a very easy forgetting of what that is when I get back into the real world. I've largely played life as a game, as though I'm skating through in some movie.

There have been some intensely emotionally traumatic experiences in my past, which probably caused a great deal of detachment here. That pattern of detachment has continued relentlessly. It's been a lot of wanting to feel close to something, and then retreating when there's a perceived threat of any type. I suppose that sounds very instinctual passion-like and lots of people do that. To that end, the awareness that I often detach is nothing new. I'm even somewhat aware of when that pattern arises and how I act upon it. What is new, however, is admitting that I've had a profound fear of simply being alive and of not knowing what that really means. Here goes seeing where this goes.

Comments/feedback?

Steph

*edited to clarify: I think when I've said "not knowing what it means to be alive" above it might sound like I'm looking for some mystical "truth". That's not the case. I guess the answer I'll get is... this is it. Right now is being alive. The very experiencing of aliveness and the sensate world is it. But somehow, that's still not totally sinking in yet.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
1/10/11 7:56 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
My impression of what it might be like to feel really really happy all the time was totally mistaken compared to what I am experiencing now. That impression I had was one of an overwhelming high energy (read: hyper) flowing out every pore bliss wave.. similar to a full time A&P. Instead, what I have felt like fairly consistently over the past 2 days is a very smooth, easy, well-being. It's friendly and comforting. I've tried kind of testing myself to see what shifts in feeling tone might take place.. like in a situation where it seems I previously would have experienced anticipating excitement.. it's far less anxious feeling, and much calmer and even keeled. The "rise" or "rush" is barely there.


I don't have much to add, but I noticed this exact thing a couple of weeks ago (actual diary entry: "I always imagined AF being a feeling brilliance, a feeling luminance, a feeling splendor. Not this matter-of-fact, down-to-earth life."). It seems fairly normal to get sidetracked like this. I noticed I'd been "feeling" my way into AF rather than acting my way in. Was this your experience as well?

KR,
Elin

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
1/10/11 11:07 PM as a reply to Elin S.
Elin S:
Steph S:
My impression of what it might be like to feel really really happy all the time was totally mistaken compared to what I am experiencing now. That impression I had was one of an overwhelming high energy (read: hyper) flowing out every pore bliss wave.. similar to a full time A&P. Instead, what I have felt like fairly consistently over the past 2 days is a very smooth, easy, well-being. It's friendly and comforting. I've tried kind of testing myself to see what shifts in feeling tone might take place.. like in a situation where it seems I previously would have experienced anticipating excitement.. it's far less anxious feeling, and much calmer and even keeled. The "rise" or "rush" is barely there.


I don't have much to add, but I noticed this exact thing a couple of weeks ago (actual diary entry: "I always imagined AF being a feeling brilliance, a feeling luminance, a feeling splendor. Not this matter-of-fact, down-to-earth life."). It seems fairly normal to get sidetracked like this. I noticed I'd been "feeling" my way into AF rather than acting my way in. Was this your experience as well?

KR,
Elin


Hi Elin

Thanks for your thoughts.. I've read your practice posts and appreciate what you've written there. Is this "feeling" your way into AF something you've been doing recently? Could you elaborate on it? Do you mean you were trying to feel a luminance, brilliance, etc since that's what you thought it would be like to be AF? Also, what would it consist of to act your way in?

There have been many times when I have tried to incline myself towards feeling what I thought it might be to be AF. But that has mostly consisted of trying to extend PCE's, which drags me right on out of them. A month ago, there was a span of about a week when I was feeling perfect most of the time and thought it was likely in control VF. From there I got really excited for AF, but ended up really forcing trying to get AF. It's possible I was VF and kicked myself back with the very forcing of it. Or it's possible I wasn't VF, upon which forcing still caused unnecessary sidetracking from practice. Haven't been feeling 99% perfect since that week and it's taken a few weeks to get momentum back. I gather maybe we're at similar points, although it seems you may have been closer to AF since your post said you were at out from control. Has it taken you a bit to get momentum back too?

Steph

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
Answer
2/17/11 2:07 AM as a reply to Steph S.
I'm wondering if any other people who used to meditate regularly, but switched to actualism, have had a similar experience to what's been coming up lately for me.

A really curious and strong pull towards meditation and Buddhism in general. I stopped meditating to switch to actualism shortly after stream entry last year. I started seeing progress with the new method very quickly and didn't really look back. I would not say this is about frustration of lack of progress - it seems actualism is still working very well and have even noticed pretty neat strides lately. The Dhamma pull often happens when reading posts of people like Nikolai or Tommy or Triplethink. There's fascination with their practice and it makes me wonder what I perhaps left behind in the mode of experience gleaned from meditation (esp. the idea of there being more beyond the "DhO 4th path"). I've started tossing the idea around of going off to a monastary for a while, leaving behind proper society to examine a more uninterrupted natural experience. In thinking over the past couple of days, here's some guesses at it:

a) I was quite in the camp of being critical of Buddhism and thinking actualism is clearly the better way - maybe it's evened out to me debunking that and being more sincere that I still find a great deal of value in Buddhism.

b) I wonder if this is the self passing the buck back to the idea of getting enlightened out of fear of what lies ahead in terms of becoming AF - anything to keep the identity going, right?

c) My actualism practice within the past month has consisted a lot of apperception of the thought process and also looking at the feedback loop between mind, experience, body and passions. Perhaps this is rather insighty sounding, and maybe it got me back into a similar style of investigation I was used to while meditating (shoot maybe one still gets bumped along the path while practicing actualism).

d) I suppose one wouldn't totally stop cycling until they're AF, since it isn't until then the attention wave is eliminated - so maybe it's just related to A&P. I remember having a pretty fanatic interest in high level practice and going off to monasteries during A&P a lot.

All the above said - should I fight it and stick with actualism - or is there any point where it becomes helpful to mix methods (or even go back to meditation to finish more off)? I know quite a few people got 4th path before AF.

Steph

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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2/17/11 2:42 AM as a reply to Steph S.
It's funny you ask, I don't see meditation and actualism as opposites in any way. At least the kind of meditation I do, which is mostly based on dissolving emotional trauma in the body using focus, comes very naturally as a precursor to AF practice. I personally was mostly not a very happy person, but meditation got me to the point I was happy enough to see the value of actualism and maybe attain AF. On the other hand, I am certainly working towards arhatship, and I see actualist practice as something which gets me closer to that.

I have read your month-old post about being afraid of being alive. Funny I have recently come to a similar conclusion. It seems that my mind obsessively checks that "everything is alright" by doing a mental movement, a holding of some sort. And it can do this either in pulses, as much as 20-40 times per minute, or constantly (as in it won't let go). When inquiring why this happens, I came to the tentative conclusion that I felt "not safe," somehow utterly insecure. But it isn't a raw, foreground feeling, more like a subtle permanent backdrop, and so I have no idea of how to approach it.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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2/17/11 9:09 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Hey Steph,

Yeah I know exactly what you mean, especially:

Steph S:
A really curious and strong pull towards meditation...
it seems actualism is still working very well and have even noticed pretty neat strides lately. The Dhamma pull often happens when reading posts of people like Nikolai or Tommy or Triplethink. There's fascination with their practice and it makes me wonder what I perhaps left behind in the mode of experience gleaned from meditation (esp. the idea of there being more beyond the "DhO 4th path")...
b) I wonder if this is the self passing the buck back to the idea of getting enlightened out of fear of what lies ahead in terms of becoming AF - anything to keep the identity going, right?
...
d) I suppose one wouldn't totally stop cycling until they're AF, since it isn't until then the attention wave is eliminated - so maybe it's just related to A&P...
I know quite a few people got 4th path before AF.


I can relate to those concerns. For me it's a mix of:
* meditation is cool and i've gotten good at it, so i want to keep doing it
* feeling like i'm missing out on something by not pushing to '4th path', especially since people said 4th path made it easier to become AF
* wondering whether what i'm feeling is cycle-related or if i'm "really feeling it"
* a desire for Enlightenment, as in '4th path' or something, i don't really know what it is, but i want it! (see here).

I think the simple answer is that these feelings of being unsure, of wanting to go back to insight, are feelings, and should be investigated just like any other feelings are - seeing where they come from, are they silly or sensible, etc. about feelings arising from cycles... my opinion is that those feelings come from somewhere, anyway; they don't arise quite out of thin air, so they can also be investigated in the same manner.

for me, anyway, i can't seem to mix the practices. vipassana just derails my mind from calm EE-like states back to lots of unpleasantness.

i don't think 4th path is necessary at all, considering many people got it without even stream entry. i guess just use pure intent to figure out what would be most beneficial for you to do

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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2/17/11 10:17 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Beoman:
i don't think 4th path is necessary at all, considering many people got it without even stream entry.


They did? I can't come up with a single example I'm certain of. Richard did, Tarin, Trent, Cris did. I'm not sure about Stefanie and Vineto, but they both had experience in meditation. Maybe Peter didn't get stream entry, I don't know (nor do I know how we could ascertain that).

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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2/17/11 10:48 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
Beoman Claudiu Beoman:
i don't think 4th path is necessary at all, considering many people got it without even stream entry.


They did? I can't come up with a single example I'm certain of. Richard did, Tarin, Trent, Cris did. I'm not sure about Stefanie and Vineto, but they both had experience in meditation. Maybe Peter didn't get stream entry, I don't know (nor do I know how we could ascertain that).


Yea I mean Stefanie, Vineeto, Peter, in particular. I also heard of one person who did it without any prior meditation experience, I'll give more details once I ask if it's ok to mention them.

Maybe along the way you get some stream-entry equivalent, I'm not sure. Actualist practice does get to the root of suffering. If stream entry happens along the way, so be it, but I don't think it's a requirement to do Vipassana and get stream entry that way, cycles and all, in order to succeed with Actualism.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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2/17/11 12:35 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Thanissaro Bhikkhu is a western Buddhist and current abbot of Metta Forest Monastery in Southern Califorina. He comes from the Thai forest tradition. He argues that one should not simply observe the phenomenon that leads to suffering but should proactively eliminate the causes of those phenomenon. He calls this appropriate attention (as opposed to bare attention). And it sounds a lot like HAIETMOBA. He also says that metta and other thought patterns that connect one to Buddhism should eventually be abandoned before the identity can be eradicated. And he makes his case firmly in the context of the Pali Cannon. As for myself, I feel like I'm doing meditation all the time. It takes a good deal of concentration and mindfulness to recognize and refrain from the passions.

Nonetheless, there does seem to be at least one very large difference between the two. TB would argue one to use ones mindfulness to convert the bad emotions and impulses into good ones or into a clear perception of reality. AF urges one to just go for the clear perception of reality or into felicity/wonder. I'm in the AF camp, currently.

PS: I thought about this difference and hypothesized to myself that perhaps in the Buddhas day Aggression and Fear were much stronger than Nurture and threatened to topple peoples ability to stay within a clear perception or reality. It's also possible that both due to the preponderance of Aggression and Fear and the chronic exposure to the elements including wild animals defending their young, there wasn't enough security to manifest felicity/wonder in those days.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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2/18/11 12:47 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Beoman:

I think the simple answer is that these feelings of being unsure, of wanting to go back to insight, are feelings, and should be investigated just like any other feelings are - seeing where they come from, are they silly or sensible, etc.


Thanks, Claudiu. Agreed. I had a cool insight driving home today. I started off thinking that a lot of it relates to wanting to be in an actual physical environment where I'm free to geek out on the nature of experience, and be around others who encourage that. And yes, this message board was designed for geeking out and feedback (although not necessarily the physical environment part since it is the internet.. haha), but I dunno maybe I haven't participated consistently or often enough to really get that experience from it. So, this is seeking nurture and a connection to a community. I've felt a distance between me and others before and have known this (even mentioning it in prior practice notes I think), so I'm more actively wanting to break free of that right now... but teetering towards wanting some bond is instinctually based- so it may take some more practice to get the hang of. I've had moments in practice where I have experienced feeling totally close to others without an affective element - no separation at all (referred to as actual intimacy by Richard, et al). I want to be able to cultivate that more often, but don't necessarily know how at this moment. Being open about this specific aspect of practice to all of you is helpful, though. emoticon

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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2/25/11 10:27 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Well my first day of practice, all things considered, was probably the happiest of my life. I just tried to constant HAIETMOBA, noticed how silly my mind was, tried to see wonder, etc. I tried to really really tune into wonder and all I got was a strong pleasure surge in chest/abdomen, am I going the right way? I just try to feel the six senses in and of themselves, see the wonder and perfection, and my thoughts sorta dissappear for a few seconds and I feel some 1st jhana-esque sensation, is this at all what's supposed to happen?

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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6/2/11 3:39 PM as a reply to Steph S.
The past few weeks I've been using Stefanie's practice advice, to just have as much fun as possible and not worry if one is in a PCE: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1793839#_19_message_1828351

Doing this has had the effect of making "me" chill out a lot and just getting to the point - maximizing fun & sensuousness. Having seen the forced effort of trying for a PCE (and making it a thing I desired to achieve) was compounding emotions because it was followed by doubt and frustration when the PCE's just wouldn't happen. Obvious enough now and even had thought it wasn't working while going through the motions, but apparently it still wasn't sinking in. Not sure what clicked to cause a shift - probably consistent enough positive feedback loop of seeing that the letting go and not trying for things was quickly resulting in more happiness and sensuousness. I think consistency and momentum are key - when something works, ride the wave.

Combined with the above, used her advice about putting the worrisome things in a box:
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1793839#_19_message_1798915
Pretty naturally came with the ditching of worrying about PCE's. Momentum happening? Things have been happening at work where I might have a chance to move to Abu Dhabi in the UAE. There was questioning of motives, with concern that moving abroad for work would turn me into a workaholic and that I'd become one of those shallow management types climbing the corporate ladder. I was looking closely at why I want to go and it doesn't have to be like that. That idea just comes from some imagined idea that because a company is facilitating an opportunity I have to submit to them (or assuming they even expect all that from me anyways). The simple answer is, it would probably be fun and interesting to live/work somewhere new for a while. Why not go with the element of pleasant surprise?

This week I have noticed a cool shift. I'm very naturally drawn to the actual/sensual... almost like it's some magnet that keeps pulling me back to it when there's a blip of emotion that's coming up. There were a few times when I needed to more deeply investigate things - some nervousness, anxiety that didn't hold up after investigating. It's just right back to sensual, very easy to go towards it with lots of gentle enthusiasm. This seems to be unfolding on its own.

Next mission: VF. Doesn't seem far off.

Steph

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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6/2/11 10:57 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:


I think consistency and momentum are key - when something works, ride the wave.

Steph


Definitely! Seeing how to properly apply the aspects of the AF method like sensuousness and naivete and then learning how to increasingly build them in daily life.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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6/9/11 4:42 PM as a reply to Adam Bieber.
Having some stuck sorrow today, looking at 'why?' - at some point I begin to see that the 'why' is because its what I am choosing in that moment, like its some sort of habit or addiction.. Seeing that indeed I *want* to feel that way, and it starts to loosen up a bit... Thats rather strange but I imagine not too uncommon no?

Anyone else ever see this sort of thing when they first started AF practice?

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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6/9/11 5:05 PM as a reply to bill of the wandering mind.
bill of the wandering mind:
Having some stuck sorrow today, looking at 'why?' - at some point I begin to see that the 'why' is because its what I am choosing in that moment, like its some sort of habit or addiction.. Seeing that indeed I *want* to feel that way, and it starts to loosen up a bit... Thats rather strange but I imagine not too uncommon no?

Anyone else ever see this sort of thing when they first started AF practice?


Why did you 'want' to feel sorrow? The moment may have passed for that particular question. Ask instead. What emotion am I feeling now? Why have I chosen that emotion? Habit is one answer but it's a weak answer. It's a weak answer in that it may be partially true but the full truth is more comprehensive.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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6/9/11 5:52 PM as a reply to Jon T.
Thanks. I will investigate!

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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6/20/11 9:41 PM as a reply to Adam Bieber.
Adam Bieber:
Steph S:


I think consistency and momentum are key - when something works, ride the wave.

Steph


Definitely! Seeing how to properly apply the aspects of the AF method like sensuousness and naivete and then learning how to increasingly build them in daily life.


Lots of consistency with pure intent & focusing on felicity. I started focusing more closely in on the felicitous feelings and kept expanding and expanding them with all I could - like to the point where I thought I might spontaneously combust from the sheer vitalic energy of it. That's about the level I probably needed to be at then. From there felicity has kept carrying over and lasting with less and less gaps, more apperception occurring. Motivation has been contagious from others who are practicing well and also those who have recently suggested they might be AF now. There is also a more automatic caring/kind treatment of others, listening patiently & with interest instead of trying to jump in at every chance to steer conversations my way. Could really get used to this ;)

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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7/5/11 11:21 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Love is a powerful drug. As noted above, things were going smoothly and then this week an old flame has entered the scene again. Related narratives starting up and trying very hard to investigate. Sincerity and pure intent have allowed me some insight, but more might be needed. It seems I'm floundering around on the surface. I feel like the insights of not actually needing love and happiness being unconditional and that the passions are powerful physical sensations, yet ultimately meaningless... all that's just not cutting it at the moment. I'm wondering if those insights are easy answer stand-by's on this one and there's something else I'm overlooking.

Could use some objective help.

Thanks
Steph

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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7/5/11 11:59 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
Love is a powerful drug. As noted above, things were going smoothly and then this week an old flame has entered the scene again. Related narratives starting up and trying very hard to investigate. Sincerity and pure intent have allowed me some insight, but more might be needed. It seems I'm floundering around on the surface. I feel like the insights of not actually needing love and happiness being unconditional and that the passions are powerful physical sensations, yet ultimately meaningless... all that's just not cutting it at the moment. I'm wondering if those insights are easy answer stand-by's on this one and there's something else I'm overlooking.

Could use some objective help.


* Maybe you've turned the insights into beliefs? You believe them, so you don't investigate whether they're actually true. so even if they are, the point is being missed.

* try looking at: what's at stake when feeling the love? what will be hurt if the love is lost? what is that thing that's being hurt? (it's a fascinating question, isn't it?)

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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7/5/11 3:14 PM as a reply to Steph S.
* do you like the sensations of passionate love?
* could it be that love hinders intimacy, the very thing it promises to deliver? Why/why not?
* do you know of examples of relationships based on passionate/romantic love that deliver intimacy? for how long? how completely?
* in which kind of relationships and interactions is intimacy the most strong? Why?

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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7/5/11 3:36 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Could use some objective help.


Keep AF in the foreground. Spend quality time with yourself during this "crisis" sorting it out preferably with a pen and pad or on the computer.

Thinking about it, I think you are saying that you are afraid of getting lost in the emotion of love. Is that right? My guess and it's only a guess is that if you do the work i.e. keep a journal, keep an AF or annata buddy fully in the loop, read and re-read the passages on the trust web site that describe what AF is in order to keep your intent and anything else you can think of that will keep you aware of your emotions as 'you' and AF as the ideal then this flames re-entry can be a fantastic way to live this moment.


I just re-read your post.

I'm wondering if those insights are easy answer stand-by's on this one and there's something else I'm overlooking.


And beo said to re-analyze the insights, which I think is fantastic advice. Every time you re-learn something you already knew, the knowledge gets deeper ingrained.

On another note, This business of needing love is very feminine and I think that particular issue hasn't been addressed here since I've been on this forum. I think the combination of their being many more men than women here and that the issue so very very personal makes this a rare opportunity to publicly explore it. One can always leave out or alter important but not crucial details when things become too personal.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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7/5/11 4:51 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
* do you like the sensations of passionate love?
* could it be that love hinders intimacy, the very thing it promises to deliver? Why/why not?
* do you know of examples of relationships based on passionate/romantic love that deliver intimacy? for how long? how completely?
* in which kind of relationships and interactions is intimacy the most strong? Why?


Well, there's not wanting passionate love or romance, and of instead wanting actual intimacy. The real issue is the situation of just getting to a point where I can be bold enough to suggest we take a chance at actual intimacy and see what happens (to another person who may or may not have any idea what actual intimacy is... not that I have much more of one, tbh). The "getting to a point" is just doing it. Simple as that. A suggestion/discussion. Fact is, to switch a term around, I'm a pussy about things like this - of the point when it might get serious. To speak to what Jon T. was saying.. it's very common for women to have difficulty being direct and asking men for what they really want. Not just with men, but in life in general. I've gained much much more confidence than I previously had throughout this actualism process, but it's time I plain knock off the rest of the indecisiveness, second-guessing, and remaining meekness (in life in general).

What else? On a roll here.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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7/5/11 10:46 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
Love is a powerful drug. As noted above, things were going smoothly and then this week an old flame has entered the scene again. Related narratives starting up and trying very hard to investigate. Sincerity and pure intent have allowed me some insight, but more might be needed. It seems I'm floundering around on the surface. I feel like the insights of not actually needing love and happiness being unconditional and that the passions are powerful physical sensations, yet ultimately meaningless... all that's just not cutting it at the moment. I'm wondering if those insights are easy answer stand-by's on this one and there's something else I'm overlooking.

Could use some objective help.

Thanks
Steph


Personally, nothing worked for me to go from point A (feeling/desiring love) to point B (feeling felicitous) except two things:

(a) fate/time
(b) regular smoking of marijuana

THC + cannabinoids have this fascinating properly of putting "you" in a mode where perceptions (and the feeling-reactions thereof) don't easily stick around (eg: to form moods), i.e., periodically THC resets "you". This is possibly due to marijuana's impairing of short-term and working memory. Investigation also becomes crystal clear.

Newfound non-stickiness leads to more felicity (or feeling normal at the least) whereby it becomes possible to 'compare' feeling love to feeling felicitous in more frequent successions.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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9/9/11 5:01 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:

There is also a more automatic caring/kind treatment of others, listening patiently & with interest instead of trying to jump in at every chance to steer conversations my way. Could really get used to this ;)


this reminds me of a certain turning point in my progress when i realized that of all every day situations, i had been paying the least attention while in the middle of conversations, whether listening or speaking. after a decade of vipassana it became easy to keep attention panoramic, but after asking myself for some time "what else am i missing?" and "when (and to what) am i not paying attention?" there came a DUH! moment when i realized that when speaking or listening, most of my attention would go to the content of the conversation, and i'd lose the panoramic field (visuals, sounds, touch, breathing, etc.) once i realized i was dropping the panoramic attention in conversations, it was very easy to start doing it, because i was already doing it in all other situations. and while paying attention to both the content and the sensate perceptual data all at once, it became much easier to not "try to jump in at every chance to steer conversations my way." listening to people became more enjoyable because now it was a kind of "listening" to not only the speaker, but taking in all the movements, sights, sounds, spaces and textures in the immediate environment at the same time, which is often more interesting than stuff people say. i also found that by paying panoramic attention, or at least keeping it as full as possible, would actually make me more attentive to what the speaker is saying, not less. this is because the intention of applying all my attention here and now at every moment would constantly put to use any restless energy that would normally be fuel for wandering off into tangential thoughts while listening to people talking.

(just don't tell your friends if you happen to find the coffee shop chairs and shadows more interesting than their gossip!)

jill

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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7/6/11 5:21 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:

but it's time I plain knock off the rest of the indecisiveness, second-guessing, and remaining meekness (in life in general).


This had a pretty sweeping effect yesterday. Upon going home that evening, it was decided to sit down and sincerely look at how "I'm" not needed anymore. The game of pass the buck from issue to issue has gone on long enough. Looking at fantasy and desire as things that dissipate as easily as they appear, and that don't go anywhere and are directed only towards more imagination.. it's losing hold. My experience of imagination has played such a huge part in the sense of "self" and looking at it more sincerely was possibly all that was needed. Instead of some dream that the "being" is not needed, there was permission given to just let go. Today has been vastly more peaceful and easy going.. It's time to take the plunge... out of the control that was never actually there anyways.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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7/6/11 7:52 PM as a reply to Steph S.
It's time to take the plunge... out of the control that was never actually there anyways.


Let me know how to do that.

But seriously, I think the self needs to gradually learn that it isn't needed anymore. It's here for a reason. To insure your survival and prosperity. I think the self needs concrete examples of this flesh and blood body getting things done in a happy and harmless way, paying the rent, driving the car, crossing the street, interacting with strangers peacefully, safely and magnificently. Furthermore, it needs to be convinced i.e. it needs to convince itself that not only isn't it necessary but for the good of the world it must go.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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7/11/11 5:56 PM as a reply to Jon T.
Jon T:

Let me know how to do that.

But seriously, I think the self needs to gradually learn that it isn't needed anymore.


Well, it's possible that's what happened. It's been clear for a bit now that all this is on auto-pilot anyways and that "I'm" not pushing anything along or making anything happen. The initial input of reading about the actualism method combined with the brain's intelligent reasoning ability was what allowed for application of that method. Using this method consistently enough has apparently had the effect of re-writing how things are experienced now (often apperceived, "moods" not really showing up, previous emotional triggers not really happening).

Jon T:

I think the self needs concrete examples of this flesh and blood body getting things done in a happy and harmless way, paying the rent, driving the car, crossing the street, interacting with strangers peacefully, safely and magnificently. Furthermore, it needs to be convinced i.e. it needs to convince itself that not only isn't it necessary but for the good of the world it must go.


The self/passions do not "want" anything in particular, except to continue. When the self is temporarily absent (in a PCE), one is able to have concrete proof that life is still possible, including everyday responsibilities, minus the passions. This concrete proof itself of life still being possible (and in a far more beneficial manner) is what does the job. The "self" simply no longer gets the perpetual feedback it has been used to, thus becomes unnecessary. The passions naturally reduce the more it is experienced that their "flow" is interuppted, that they aren't being used/responded to/perpetuated.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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7/11/11 6:47 PM as a reply to Steph S.
The self/passions do not "want" anything in particular, except to continue. When the self is temporarily absent (in a PCE), one is able to have concrete proof that life is still possible, including everyday responsibilities, minus the passions. This concrete proof itself of life still being possible (and in a far more beneficial manner) is what does the job. The "self" simply no longer gets the perpetual feedback it has been used to, thus becomes unnecessary. The passions naturally reduce the more it is experienced that their "flow" is interuppted, that they aren't being used/responded to/perpetuated.


awesome!!!! glad things are progressing. let us know when you get there. California needs an AF rep.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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7/30/11 1:19 PM as a reply to Martin Potter.
Hello, I thought I'd record my practise at the moment...


What I've been doing:

1. Noticing the 'how' of experiencing is like a different layer, a different level (which is not usually paid attention to).
Focusing on the 'how' as opposed to the 'what', not as a gross affective emotion, but sort of as the quality of
experiencing.

2. Asking haietmoba and leaving the question open, asking it as a non-volitional experiential question. This either automatically brings attention to the how of experiencing, i.e. the subtle feeling tone which is sort of permeating experience, or it causes direct unfiltered awareness of the trees etc.

3. On the odd occasion when I'm asking the question whilst walking on a beautiful day I might notice that I'm feeling a bit bad despite the lovely surroundings and everything seems a bit dull or flat, and I'll remember some questions Richard asked a correspondent about evaluating if something is the pce: "Is this utter contentment, complete fullfilment? Would you
want to live this way for the rest of your life?", and I'll remember how he describes his experience as everything is
alive, sparkling, dynamic, and as D Ingram said: colours are brilliant, just fantastic [all paraphrased].
So I recognise when I've wandered off the path, in other words make sure that what I'm practising is something good, and will lead to something good.


Interestingly I'm not practising most of the stuff that's recommended on the AF website like analysis or changing how i feel or cultivating felicity (which i interpreted as building up a gross sensation of felicity like a jhana - something that feels a bit intoxicating and keeps the self alive in a way that corrupts the pleasure and makes it feel a bit icky, which is similar to what i didn't like about jhanas).

Anyway this seems to be working quite well at the moment (although meditation-like practises seem to have a short lifespan). I just ask haietmoba and the question works on its own (as in 2. above), if that doesn't work i become interested in the 'how' element as opposed to the 'what' as in 1. (the very looking at which is usually felicitous, and which also seems to open up perception somehow), and if i feel bad i just recognise the overall intention of 3.


Any thoughts / comments?
- Martin

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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9/16/11 11:12 AM as a reply to Steph S.
For the past month or so, I've been kind of obsessed with the old Buddhist stuff on dependent co-arising and also had this annoying feeling that came up alot, that there's just one little missing piece left that I'm not seeing to untangle the whole thing. I've also been sparingly incorporating the 3 characteristics in with my actualism practice because it started seeming like the feeling of being was more suspended and not related to much in particular... lots of bare sensation, with some blame & guilt also tacked on at times... but for alot of the time, not much other stuff surrounding sensations of being. It got to a point where I was not sure where to go from there and made a post about it, and followed Jill's advice in her response to pay equal attention to everything (from this thread: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/2214102 )

This past week I was paying really close attention to the impermanence of everything (not just feelings of being, but everything) and the past few days more closely focusing on no-self with regards to everything. Yesterday I was sitting at a park bench at lunchtime and an airplane flew overhead and the thought popped up, "That airplane sounds like its passing through a sphere of nothingness." Hmm... ok. Odd panning sensation in the head and then a PCE for a few minutes. Upon coming out of the PCE it was clear that something was really different. Nothingness with regards to everything. It has lasted since then into today. I don't think it's AF because there was a period through yesterday afternoon when there was lots of tension in the chest and it seemed some subtle sensations of fear. It felt like my brain and chest were on fire at times. But there was nothing at all behind them. Just the sensations. It seems like there is no more Ghost in the Shell at the moment. hehe. This morning I was getting ready and looked in the mirror, but there wasn't that instant recognition like, oh that's me. It didn't quite seem like a stranger, but there was no pull towards it. On the way to work the burning sensations in chest happened again, but still nothing behind it. Confusion is coming up too. And there's still happiness despite all these odd or unpleasant sensations that are sometimes there. Not sure what to make of all this, but will continue on as before doing the equal treatment of things.

Steph

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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9/16/11 11:41 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
For the past month or so, I've been kind of obsessed with the old Buddhist stuff on dependent co-arising and also had this annoying feeling that came up alot, that there's just one little missing piece left that I'm not seeing to untangle the whole thing.


"And what is ignorance? Not knowing stress, not knowing the origination of stress, not knowing the cessation of stress, not knowing the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress: This is called ignorance."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.002.than.html

Keep on keepin' on...

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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9/16/11 12:12 PM as a reply to Steph S.
nice!

is there still a felt sense of location anywhere in your experience? a sense of something being somewhere. or any sensations implying 'time'. might be a way to orient your practice now.. look for even the subtlest sense of anything being somewhere. for example, for me, i have tension in my head - "in my head" is a location. or a feeling of neutral vedana in my foot - that is "in my foot". in a PCE, as you know, this doesn't happen at all. but if you have trouble finding affect/emotion, then that could be a way to find even subtler 'me's still clinging around.

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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9/20/11 2:13 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
since the more prominent affective feeling that has been coming up for the past few days has been tension in the chest, last night i sat with the intent to focus on this area specifically. and more specifically, to be attentive to the actual sensations in that area.

i started out focusing directly on the heartbeat to discern the actual sensations. i was simply noticing pump, release, pump, release.. which, at the time, was comprehended more along the lines of pump, cessation, pump, cessation.. seeing the birth and death of the heartbeat itself. when affect came up, i noticed the slight burst that seemed more like squeezing a tube and a chemical secretion oozing slowly and morphing slightly upwards, radiating outwards. this outwards radiation appears to be the subtle energy space that is projected outwards, that is mistaken as "me".

i did this for not very long, maybe 30 mins, so i will have to test it some more. but so far it appears to have these benefits:
-knowing the actual sensations of the heartbeat further breaks down the idea that the heart is "me"
-actual sensations of the hearbeat can easily be tuned into, because as long as you're alive, they're always there
-it also seems pretty easy to contrast the actual sensations of the heartbeat against the affective ones
-noticing how affect disrupts the natural rhythm of the heart doing its thing

RE: Actualism Practice Notes
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9/21/11 12:34 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
since the more prominent affective feeling that has been coming up for the past few days has been tension in the chest, last night i sat with the intent to focus on this area specifically. and more specifically, to be attentive to the actual sensations in that area.


hi Steph,

as you're observing those chest sensations, have you tried to (or would it make sense to) sort of 'fuse' them with the whole panoramic soup of sensations?

you probably know well that with really attentive, calm attention it becomes easy to momentarily drop your knowledge and labels about what's perceived (me? body? air? insects? arm? neck? bird call?), and this naivete is useful for exercising equanimity and turning the whole field of experience into nothing but a rich sensation soup of impermanence, of cause-effect stuff moving around everywhere. but it seems that even after knowing how to let go of excess knowing, what isn't dropped, or what keeps being felt, considered, distinguished, and categorized, is the perception of affect-related sensations as having "a certain feel". from what i recall, it seems that those affect-related sensations seem to never become free of conceptual labeling--at best the labeling becomes subtle and nonverbal--such sensations can only go into abeyance or get extinguished; they don't want to get un-labeled or un-classified. i guess it makes sense that the affect-related "sensations"(perceptions, actually) are the stuff that can't be perceived without distortion because they are the distortions themselves.

this is key:
Steph S:
-it also seems pretty easy to contrast the actual sensations [of the heartbeat] against the affective ones

so seeing this contrast, you are seeing and zooming in on the problem, but you didn't report (or haven't reported) what you're doing with it, so if you're already doing the following, then just think of this as an extension of your post:

somehow this contrast needs to go. it needs to get thinned out, stamped out, or dissolved somehow. but HOW? is this a question you might be able to ask and answer experientially while doing this observation of the contrast? would it take some kind of 'juxtaposition' of the two, some kind of 'mashing' the two types of sensations, some kind of going back and forth, or trying to pay attention to both at once and drop the distorting stuff somehow? considering your strengths and preferences for what works in your practice, what tools/qualities of attention might you be able to use for this? what kind of application of attention would be most habit-shaking here?
i can't predict which words would match what you would call your experience of the solution, but basically that's the question. (Nick used different attention modes and shared different descriptions from mine, when actually he worked on resolving the exact same question.) given the level of objectivity and subtlety that you're observing at, it seems like it should be pretty doable to let the attention penetrate the ins and outs of that contrast until the clear seeing automatically dissolves it. i think it's a route worth checking out for someone with vipassana training.

another approach: think of the "affective sensations" as "affective perceptions" instead. it's just a matter of words, but the first may reinforce the assumption that some phenomena are just affective in nature (so keep noticing and accepting them and get nowhere), while the second implies that contact right at the sense doors are all actual and clean but there is actual vs affective-distorted perception happening. so instead of "no-me observing affective sensations", you could see it as "i am perceiving these sensations affectively"--how? why? and how to stop?

jill

RE: Practice Notes
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2/14/12 10:58 PM as a reply to Jill Morana.
It's been a while and oops.. I never replied to Jill. About the contrast - well it has been figured out to a further degree than the last post. Mostly in seeing that each sensation is its own independent thing (yea there's cause & effect, but I mean that each sensation is its own specific components. Not sure if I'm describing this well enough, so let me know if clarification is needed). In contrasting sensations what is essentially happening is an insert of an extra unnecessary set of sensations. A sensation comes up, there is a feeling about it, there is a mental movement (craving) to remember something else that seems to have a relationship to the sensation that just occurred, a memory of the supposedly related thing comes up, then a series of evaluations which creates a back and forth of memories, feelings about those sensations & trying to come to a conclusion of how they are either related or not. Keeping attention right at sensations, independent of others, is what cuts off the insert of the unnecessary set sensations, and reduces the tendency to turn anything into an internalized Venn Diagram.

I've started incorporating more concentration techniques. I think that well developed concentration can be defined as a consistent ability to maintain attentiveness (anyone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about that). That might just sound like attentiveness, but the ability for attentiveness to be *consistently running* specifically is what I mean by good concentration. The clarity reached at with concentration practice also aids in seeing to the deep subtle stuff that seems to be hiding out.

I have used the breath or a candle flame as an object so far. The candle flame is a fun one because I find it easy to maintain fascination with the flame without getting tranced by it. After a bit I close my eyes and pay attention to the counter-image of the flame. First it is a very vibrant yellow/orange, then fluorescent red, dark red, then white in the middle with a pink & a red rim. Surrounding the image is also a wider black circle that has a black field and a dark greenish blue rim. Sometimes it's harder to keep attention on because it is very small in the field of vision and there can be some eye strain to try to focus. It still flickers a bit and phases in and out (I am wondering if the steadiness of the image depends on how steady the concentration was while looking at the flame)- This might be different than the advice of the Thai Forest people regarding nimitta, but they say concentration needs to be improved if the nimitta is still flickering. I experimented with opening my eyes and going back to watching the flame, which works. Other times I experimented switching to the breath as an object when the counter-image started fading. Upon doing this I found I got intense bodily pleasure quickly, and shortly after that faded to a more calm pleasure, then attention itself seemed to be breathing, as if the mind was was moving in sync with breath. That dropped away and there was a great deal of stillness and clarity, very very quiet & serene. Will have to play around with it more to see what works best. Within a week or so of practicing concentration every day, the mind seems to veer towards quietness more often than before.

RE: Practice Notes
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8/20/12 2:10 PM as a reply to Steph S.
My general experience for a while now has seen bounds of untangling of lingering things that were mostly subtle annoyances, but noticeable enough to put a damper at things, making way for a magnification of a deliciously sweet and serene joie de vivre. I have refrained from posting practice notes for a while, as I thought it would sound repetitive (and not all that helpful) to continue basically saying, “Hey everyone, I’m even happier now. Things are even more vivid. There was more dropping away of subtle stuff!” This time around, though, there is a more noticeable and pervasive shift that has been quite interesting, so here it is.

Things have been fairly effortlessly on the verge of a PCE and dropping into PCE momentarily at random points throughout daily life. Nothing too new there either so I won’t go into detail about that aspect. What is new, is a very obvious decrease in the sense of volition (not necessarily the Buddhist definition of dependent origination volitional formations, but the more standard definition of the perceived sense/feeling that one has free will or is making things happen). I suppose this is no surprise to have a further dent in that sense, as I had been very closely paying attention to anything that seemed like it was related to the sense of a being that “causes” things to happen. Before this point the free-will sense was already fairly attenuated in that these sensations were seen as an “inward” looking movement, as if the eyes were looking to a falsely perceived “inside” to find a reaction or a cause whenever “outwardly” perceived sensations occurred. Whether thought to be falsely perceived or not, that “inward” looking was still happening. My aim was to further break down the barrier between inward/outward. So on I went to look at what implied inside/outside or anything perceived as parts of different spheres of experience.

Spatial relationship senses have dwindled markedly probably as a result of looking at inside/outside. There was a period of being really interested in tossing conceptual definitions out the window – investigating why it seemed like things were “here” or “spacious” or “infinite” – and instead opting for looking at sensations in a non-relational way. The tendency for the mind to build false relationships between objects is at the crux of all this, so why not look directly at that? Like, even looking at why things are supposedly happening in the same sphere and why things seem vividly direct, or immediate, or just where they are. What I found was, that yes, all of these are conceptual building blocks that can be demolished. It seems like back-pedaling to try to conceptually describe how to non-conceptually see things.. haha… so I’m not sure how to attempt to describe how this plays out in real time. It is not to a point yet that all sensations have dropped that conceptualization, but it happens in a far more comprehensive way than before. I’m also wondering if this applies to the tendency to have a problem/solution mentality. The spirit of investigation is an interesting one, but there also comes a point when problems are created apparently just for the purpose of finding a solution (not problem in a gahhh something bad is happening way.. but problem in a math like way). Yet again, now it’s a matter of seeing all this with ever subtler things and having more lingering things come to light, because that’s the way it goes and goes and goes.