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Don't rely on meditation alone!

Don't rely on meditation alone!
8/15/18 4:09 AM
I didn't want to ressurect ancient threads.  Probably those individuals wouldn't benefit from further discussion anyway, but I wanted to post my thoughts here in a new thread for other seekers that might gain some benefit.  It might be a rant, I'm not sure.

Sometimes I get the impression that there is too much emphasis placed on concentration practices.  Specifically, one poster mentioned how he has repeated Fruitions, and that he didn't believe he had completed third Path since he still sees himself as "I" and he still suffers from sensual desire, despite the many Fruitions and insights.  In a seperate thread, someone contributes erroneous information to the thread that lust is something biological, a part of being human.

Rubbish.  Lust is not an automatic human thing.  That's total B.S.

Prior to Stream Entry, I was cataloguing my masturbation frequency, and I falsely believed at the time that repressing my sensual desires would do me some good.  I was proud when I could go 5-7 days without, and then ineveitably, I would succumb to a marathon.  At any rate, later on in my practice, through a spontaneous and deep samadhi, I was able to directly perceive dependant origination and as a consequence, no-self.  The after effects of this fruition was, as it is with most, a powerful glowing period that lasted many days.  Though the bliss passed, the concentration, and an auto-pilot easy-mode mindfulness remained for much longer.  Weeks.  Months.  Without deliberate effort, and without repressing anything, it would be more than 90 days until I would be once again overcome by sensual desire.

This is where maps are as detrimental as they are useful.  If it feels like you are stuck in a rut, and if it sounds like you're in a rut, you're probably in a rut.  Time to get the tractor.  Time to change what you're doing.  There's a reason the Theravada Map, to name just one example, is laid out the way that it is.  It's incorrect to think the fetters are somehow layered in our minds, one set above the next.  Closer to the truth is that prior to their eradication, they are blocking your progress to move onwards with their powerful inertia.

It's no secret that the deeper paths you traverse, the subtler the fine tuning becomes.  But what is it that's blocking you on your path?  That's of course as indivdual as anything, but your problems, they ARE your path.  Sure, Understanding is the bread and butter of enlightenment.  But what about all that other stuff Buddha talked about?  What ever happened to Right Effort?  In fact, the Buddha and enlightened masters had plenty more to say about all the other aspects of enlightenment outside of concentration/mindfulness/jhanas, and just because you are no longer on the path of accumulation, doesn't mean these other teachings are only for those beginner buddhists.

Let's review.  If we want to use lust as an example, it's your own sense contact with desirable objects that triggers the snowball.  You could be, should be, checking yourself with right effort.  If you want to progress faster, that is.  You're not only practicing on the cushion, are you?  You're also walking around and living your life.  Or is your progress reserved just for retreats?

Right effort says to cut it out as soon as you notice.  If you're a great noticer, then cut it off, why are you allowing it to blossom?  The second part of Right Effort (are you doing this part?) says to apply an opposite force against that which tried to sway you.  Was it a beautiful body?  Then work on blunting your "judgement" of this beautiful thing and find the ugly.  This practice can be just as crucial in blunting those sharp, deeply rooted defilements, to allow you to better manage them.  Think of it like a sand paper effort, sanding those thorns down to snag you less.

The deeper karmas, the stronger karmas, those are your individual path, those are your hindrances preventing your progress just as much as you are being prevented because of faulty mindfulness and concentration.  While it's theoretically possible to penetrate these single fetters with understanding, what's seemingly being ignored is that regardless of what wisdom you end up with, your karma will remain.  Yes, seasoned enlightened beings develop the ability to sidestep karma, and ultimately it's your choice what you want to do with your life.  But if you do find that your spiritual practice is being hindered by some debilitating snag in your karmic makeup, sand it down.  Don't repress it, but sand it down with skill.  Be a smarter buddhist.

Finally, don't forget that Buddhas have two wings.  Only one is wisdom.  The other is compassion, and needs just as much cultivation.  That the wings end up being the same thing is irrelevant for those on their way to detecting this non-difference.  Strengthening loving kindness, exchanging self for others, or looking for your mothers in others, those are the most beautiful practices we have on this earth.  Compassion, Bodhicitta, is also sadly neglected, as if that's something to save for later.

Please forgive me for any harsh tones you might infer.  I love you all and I just want you all to succeed.

RE: Don't rely on meditation alone!
8/15/18 4:05 AM as a reply to Chris.
What hinders us from automatically becoming enlightened? Our Karma.
If and when we attain the supramundane paths, what eventually pulls us back? Our Karma.
High states of concentration and mindfulness can give us the impression we have gone all the way.  When this concentration wanes, what brings us back? Our Karma
Indeed, what causes rebirth at all?  Our Karma.

The fetters talked about in the Theravada map aren't what we lose when we move onwards.  The living, breathing fetters are what bind us to our current round of rebirth.  The fetters, and your own personal issues, ARE your path.

Even when we cut the root of Self, which is the beginning building block of all our karma that manifests in this life, the habits in our mind remain present.  It's these habits, like lego towers, that need to be built back.  In their place, we could be, should be building other lego towers.  Dharma towers.  Morality towers.  Habits that work and stand on their own two feet, just like our worldly habits don't require our attention.

Why do some teachers express the clear sky analogy?  It is a sky cleared of debris, of fetters, that let us see our true nature without much difficulty.  Pure concentration and mindfulness practice can do this as well, because while we are concentrated, we can inspect individual branches, we can pierce that sky as well, like pausing a movie.  But this clear seeing is ripped from us not necessarily because our concentration waned once more, but because something crept up on us again.

Confront your karmas.  You know what they are.  They are ego bound, but can live on in habit even after ego has lost its nuclear reactor core.  Blunt these habits, sand them down.  This is possible 24/7 if you are committed, and is a part of a complete, rounded practice.

And once more, don't ignore compassion.  Every karma that binds us is or was ego bound, motivated from a me, me me foundation.  The more we rebuild using "other" as our motivation, the more you equally dampen the me me me inertia.

Best wishes to one and all.