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Practice Logs


4/27/20 7:56 AM

first of all, my spirit name is based on the character from 'Je Sans Frontieres', a whacky game show from the 1970's derived from the UK original 'It's a Knockout'.  Genaro was a sports official who's main claim to merit in life appeared to be the ability to count down from 3 to 1, blow a whistle and operate a stopwatch, on top of wearing an authentic athletics official's blazer with an embroidered breast pocket.  I realise now, belatedly, that he was probably an out of work actor who scored a plum job, all he had to do was look serious, blow the whistle, and offer a sense of gravitas to counteract the inane giggling of the head presenter Stuart Hall.

I used to have a practice, based on John Yates' TMI, but it died due to the hinderance of doubt (w/ TMI: more on that later), and I spent a while dealing with that little issue. This involved some research, and eventually a way out, but I'm still in hiatus mode, i have some mundane things I'd like to pay attention to [1] before jumping back in.

What follows will be culled from notes I made earlier, so I'm not asking for advice, this is all stuff that's been and gone. Mostly it's about my short experience of treating morality (the first training) as a practice, but there's a preamble to set some context. It will take me a while to regurgitate it all so keep breathing...

My reticence in posting this is due to the desire to avoid a slanging match on the lines of 'my morality is bigger than your morality' and also the realisation that while there's a common injunction to avoid talking about religion or politics, morality is probably worse than both.  That and the desire to avoid a conversation along the lines of 'but people just know what's right', yet Daniel's giggling in that podcast w/RyanoftheGoodTimeline swung it for me.

[1] hey: stuff happens and you have to deal

RE: log(genaro)
4/27/20 8:12 AM as a reply to genaro.
1.1 a clarification

Morality (the first training) is a translation of a Pali word Sila and it may have gained and lost something in translation.

There's the obvious good/bad connotation, but my interest is more in terms of the word in the sense of the phrase 'morality play'. 

For example from classic star trek, Spock meditates to suppress his emotions and be rational, but Kirk explains that the human way is to learn to deal with them.  So it's not really about being good, more about being human, well.

Hey, i can live in hope...

RE: log(genaro)
4/27/20 9:06 AM as a reply to genaro.

My reticence in posting this is due to the desire to avoid a slanging match on the lines of 'my morality is bigger than your morality'

We can play 'my morality is worse than yours' if you prefer

RE: log(genaro)
4/27/20 10:24 AM as a reply to agnostic.

my morality is the worstest of the beat that!  I'm a slimy swamp dweller (double scorpio).

... no don't bother, let's not get competetative.

agnostic i think i like you

I'm kind of looking to avoid games, but if anyone wants to play how about gaming people into a state of compassion and charity? a state of permissiveness and inclusion? The rules are that you have to trick them (double binds are good if you can hack it) into being better than themsleves, totally forget about GOTCHAs, you know you can do better.

OMG i haven't even started my thread and it's already been hijacked!!!!

RE: log(genaro)
4/27/20 10:27 AM as a reply to genaro.
Ok, so tell us what it's like, this practice of avoiding practice

RE: log(genaro)
4/27/20 10:46 AM as a reply to agnostic.

i had intended to dribble out stuff in the fullness of time, there's background to report that will help to make sense of more recent verbals.
I'm not in a desperate hurry.

yes there's efficacy in hitting someone with "WTF right now", but i'd ike to express some historical stuff first, it will take me some moments.

I hear you. But if you push too hard I'll just back off.
pratice wise: there's a bit of leigh brassington (will take a week or two of sitting to evaluate) there's a shed-load of rob burbea style contemplation of emptiness and there's a rewrite of 'mindfulness in plain english' (at least in my head) to look fwds to reporting.  I'm in a planning stage and I was aiming to express that stuff after the background.

If I answer you more specifically I'll miss the morailty stuff, I'd like to release it and let go of it, so please be patient; I need space to do that.

hinderance of doubt
4/28/20 3:40 AM as a reply to genaro.
1.2 that hinderance of doubt

May i be forgiven for not understanding. [1]
May i learn from my failures.
May you skip this section if you find it boring ;-)

I tried following TMI, I didn't really think that doubt could be an issue as 'try it and see if it works' doesn't allow that possibility.  Yet as I progresssed through stages impressed by the mathematical like rigour that allowed no possibliity of failure subtle doubt began to creep in ... despite operating the elaborate framework there was no internal feedback telling me anything was happening.  Eventually i read to the end of the book and discovered that it describes a practice that requires constant topping up else you lose the results (or at least that's my misunderstanding) and Subtle Doubt started developing towards Gross Doubt.

Later on I managed to find a digital copy of the text and ran it though some word cloud software, and mostly what Culadassa said was 'peripheral awareness, meditation object, introspective awareness, mind, attention, stage' [2], and came to the conclusion that maybe I was focussing on the framework not what it was supporting, and that likely as not I'd be stuck wth that: in constructing his own system based on concentration practices, the PoI, and a ten stage process a lot of the source material had become obfuscated and I'd not get rid of that subtle doubt about what was being taught. That and the doubt that the ten stage process even matches the rest of the material well.

There was me, unable to use that highly regarded book ... I was reminded of my own particular misunderstanding of the Book of Job (from the Christian Bible) - i thought it was a 'it's not what you do it's the way that you do it' story where Job, a wealthy and pious man, suffers from pestilence and misfortune, and eventually realises that he was just going through the motions of his religious practice ie shallow/ surface beahviour ... (i thought to check this out online and found that the story was completely different, oops!)

Given that the point of following a book is that you don't have confidence in your own knowledge, the way out was more research and my 'clever trick' was to write it up in my own words: the one test that universities accept as an indication of understanding. It's a very humbling process - until you try to express something with clarity you don't realise how poorly you understand it.  During this i read that one fix for the Hinderance of Doubt is to 'read about the dharma' (result!) and half way through 'Mindfulness in Plain English' i realised i'd written a version of some of those chapters (result #2).  Just to give the flavour of this I got round to describing 'Mindfulness' in terms of someone running a General Store 'minding the shop', keeping an eye on things, dealing wth deliveries, operating the till, helping people, and not getting distracted by that regular customer that talks too much.  

Before completing this process (for example I still could do to think up a similar neat metaphor for collectedness (aka concentration ... those badly translated words are a hinderance in themselves)) I wondered what would happen if I applied the same process (eg writing up a simple summary) to 'the first training'.  Hey, it might be way above my pay grade but if i just ignore it then it will stay that way.  Can 'the first training' be treated as a practice?

[1] I got this from a book The Path to Nibbana by David C Johnson about using Metta as a focus for concentration and insight (known as TWIM - Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation). At the end there's a section for people who have diffculty doing Metta (and then they say 'go away for two years and don't bother us' ;-). I like this phrase, it covers just about everything, but here it's meant to be taken literally.

[2] In MCTB1 Daniel M Ingram mainly says 'three characteristics, dark night, insight, practice, sensations'.