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Cushion Report: Knowledge of Suffering

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I thought it'd be fun to put this in the claims to attainment. I'm claiming Knowledge of Suffering... yeah! say what?! emoticon

I'm not sure if there's much to report, though. I decided to put together a meditation schedule for my self-retreat this week in hopes that it would help with my continuity of practice, and I'd say it was very helpful. Sticking to the schedule allowed my mind to relax and just be in the moment. I also tried to focus on the fundamentals - seven factors of enlightenment, and just being mindful from moment to moment.

I spent a lot of time noting pain and suffering. I like the phrase "knowledge of suffering", because I think I gained a lot of experiential knowledge of suffering (for better or worse). Using Goenka-terminology, I think a "very deeeep rooted sankhara had risen to the surface to pass away."

On the afternoon of Day 2, similar to last weeks retreat, I hit the same wall of "psychosis". This time, however, I was much more calm, resisting less, and more deeply resolved to stay with the experience to the end. (I think the schedule and the focus on fundamentals helped here.) I explored it a bit more. It was like I was barely able to walk from one room to the other without holding on to the wall, muscles weak, and I was staring at everything with a sorta serial-killer stare. Not much more was functioning in my mind-body than feeble walking, staring, and this time a hint of mindfulness. Anyway, it lasted about an hour and then broke into what seemed like some low-level equanimity last night.

Anyway, that marks 4 weeks of 2 day self retreats each week. I may switch things up a bit now for the coming weeks. Also, this marks about one year since I finished my first reading of MCTB, sat a 10-day Goenka and got my (probably) first glimpse of equanimity nyana. I'd say the last year has been full of profound insights and growth. It took me about three months before I knew that I'd reached equanimity. Then, I think I spent another 6 months really exploring, enjoying and discovering what equanimity was all about, and then the last three months, I've started growing tired of equanimity and wanting the next step.

I'm not sure what it'll take to get to the next step (stream entry) right now. If these two-day self retreats don't do the trick, I think I'll probably quit my job again next January and move back to a retreat center somewhere.

I don't have many more notes on my retreat, as I was actually spending more time just being mindful and less time reflecting on my experience, so I don't remember as much of it.

Oh, that suffering's a doosey! emoticon

- Danielemoticonemoticonemoticonemoticonemoticonemoticonemoticonemoticonemoticonemoticonemoticon

RE: Cushion Report: Knowledge of Suffering
Answer
9/4/10 10:08 PM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
I'll say a little more about the Knowledge of Suffering I experienced in this recent retreat, since it wasn't just meant as a cute joke.

I had one moment in particular where I really just got on such a more profound level than ever before: "The suffering runs DEEP." Like, I think I had been trying to brush it off before as just the "dark night" or just some this or that. But, then it really hit me, this is real and it's profound. And, I don't say this to glorify it or anything. It wasn't a grandiose vision of suffering or melodramatic or anything, it was more of a "getting real" moment. And, along with this came the insight that everytime in the past when I noted suffering, or investigated suffering, there was always a subtle undercurrent of non-acceptance in that it was always being percieved in the context of going beyond suffering or being liberated from suffering, etc. This time, there wasn't such a sense of trying to change it or fix it or anything, it was more like a simple and peaceful: "whoa... suffering. oh... yeah... suffering."

Anyway, I'm glad my mention of the dolphins had some effect on you. I didn't really know what it meant to "dedicate" my retreat to something, but it felt right in the moment, and clearly it's brought some awareness to the subject. It seems like raising awareness about things like this tends to awaken the impulse to rectify the situations.

Thanks for your response. I appreciate it. And, definitely I'll keep my eye on the preservation of self.

- Daniel

RE: Cushion Report: Knowledge of Suffering
Answer
9/5/10 4:53 PM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Hey Daniel,

Great work noticing the non-acceptance. Maybe instead of thinking of undercurrents, you could look at it moment-to-moment, such as noticing for example that a lot of sensations are followed by a resistance of some sort (breath is great for this, there is all sort of pushing, pulling, holding and other noticable manipulation) and that this resistance is followed by sensations that could be labeled as suffering (the unbearableness).

Is this distinction clear or noticeable?

And did you note the ease, peace and simplicity when it developed in relation to other sensations and occurred moment-to-moment?

All the best (and get it over with Goddammit),

Pavel

RE: Cushion Report: Knowledge of Suffering
Answer
9/5/10 9:36 PM as a reply to Pavel _.
Thanks Pavel,
Yes, your point is well made. I wasn't observing all the moment to moment sensations that made up the experience of the insights, thoughts, resistance, suffering, etc and the subsequent relief and ease. Do you have more suggestions like this? It's weird because it's like I hear it time and time and time again, and it makes sense when I hear it, and then when I meditate, it only happens a small fraction of the time. Like, the actual noting of moment to moment sensations only happens every so often, even when intellectually I know that this is supposedly what the practice is. But, doing the practice is something else entirely. The more I think about that, the more I get how profound that question is that Hokai asks: "what's the difference between doing it and getting it done?" Like, it's beyond me... I really can't seem to figure out what the difference is between when I'm just doing it and when all of a sudden, I'm just getting it done... and then I'm just doing it again. Like, I would want to call it grace, or conditional arising or something, but I'm just not sure for sure.

Thanks,

Daniel

RE: Cushion Report: Knowledge of Suffering
Answer
9/6/10 8:18 AM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
I know what you mean, I can sometimes go into practice with one intention and then do something else entirely. Sometimes this causes me to progress (stream-entry was obtained by first following instructions precisely and then a few hours before I changed into something else entirely, which intuitively felt was what I should be doing), but sometimes it causes me not to progress.

One of the things I've started doing more thoroughly was, have a number of things I "might do" during a session, under some priority, and then if one doesn't work, move on to the next one.