Does stillness exist?

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Tony Norris, modified 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 10:20 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 10:20 AM

Does stillness exist?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/9/23 Recent Posts
I remember back in the day listening to Echart Tolle talk about stillness.

This morning I was on a lounger with the cat lying on me & I had this mental construct come up about a peaceful unmoving cat in someone's lap but in reality the cat was shifting around, kneeding me, eventually disturbed & jumped off as the baby approached.  Even if it was totally still like a meme of a cat in a lap of someone in an armchair in front of a fire stillness wouldn't really exist, the peaceful moment would stil be transiant.

I suppose if you use the analogy that the universe is like a giant wheel (or a record if you're a musicophile) that is constantly turning & shifting that if you can get yourself to the very center you can finally be still (while also having the best vantage point for the constant arising & passing around you).

Is nibbana/cessation the same as stilness?
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Bahiya Baby, modified 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:21 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:21 AM

RE: Does stillness exist?

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You can certainly approximate it with concentration practice and that can be quite calming and restorative. 

Though I'm not sure Nibbana is stillness persay.
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:30 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:30 AM

RE: Does stillness exist?

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Bahiya Baby
Though I'm not sure Nibbana is stillness persay.

You're not sure? Have you not claimed to be possibly at 3rd path?
How would you describe nibbana/cessation persay?
Thanks,
​​​​​​​~D
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Bahiya Baby, modified 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:32 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:32 AM

RE: Does stillness exist?

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Very fluxy and wavey, as I describe it in that post. Definitely not still. There's very clearly a lot of stuff happening. 

I wouldn't describe the abscence of craving as still. I would describe formless jhanas as pretty still. 
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Bahiya Baby, modified 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:34 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:34 AM

RE: Does stillness exist?

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Nibbana itself would be 4th path? No?

So, I don't think I'm qualified to say. 

I'm also not an expert in the appropriate use of all the lingo. I am trying very hard to improve in that regard.  
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:39 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:39 AM

RE: Does stillness exist?

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Bahiya Baby
Very fluxy and wavey, as I describe it in that post. Definitely not still. There's very clearly a lot of stuff happening.
Thanks for describing your experience of nibbana/cessation.
I would describe formless jhanas as pretty still. 
I would agree that formless jhanas are pretty still in some regards...
Thanks BB,
​​​​​​​~D
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Bahiya Baby, modified 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:46 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:46 AM

RE: Does stillness exist?

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It's actually a really interesting question now that I mull it over. 

Even jhanas, I would be more inclined to describe them as smooth than still. 

Does that make sense?

Like is Niroda Samapati a good candidate for still? (I have not personally experienced it)

I actually don't know if I would describe anything as truly still. 
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:47 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:47 AM

RE: Does stillness exist?

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Bahiya Baby Nibbana itself would be 4th path? No?
Oh, no....I thought you were using MCTB as reference since you quote it for 3rd path consideration.
So, I don't think I'm qualified to say. 
In MCTB 1st path and second path would definately have cumulated with some kind of cessation/fruition/possibly defined as nibbana.
I'm also not an expert in the appropriate use of all the lingo.
I too do not claim to know ALL the lingo.
I am trying very hard to improve in that regard.  
I've been working on that for a while too.
​​​​​​​
Thank you for responding,
~D
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:52 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:52 AM

RE: Does stillness exist?

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Tony Norris
Is nibbana/cessation the same as stilness?
Nope.

Each sense door has a similar description at a certain point.
Calm
Quiet
Still
Clear
Contemplating each one and working on them and then combining them all is fun
Good Luck,
​​​​​​​~D
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Bahiya Baby, modified 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:55 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:54 AM

RE: Does stillness exist?

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Ahh ok. I see the issue.

How I understand Nibbana and use the term, these days, is as the realization of an Arahat. 

The cessation of experience at the culmination of a path, I tend to use the word fruition and I guess personally I don't call that Nibbana as I see Nibbana as the "end goal". But I do know people use Nibbana, cessation, fruition kind of interchangeably. 

Fruition, Cessation, Nibbana, as the culmination of a path might be still. For me it's always a warping blip. And there's nothing still about a blip. But supposedly people can prolong that experience. and that might be still? 
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:59 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 11:59 AM

RE: Does stillness exist?

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Bahiya Baby
Heya BB
It's actually a really interesting question now that I mull it over. 
It is a great question.

Even jhanas, I would be more inclined to describe them as smooth than still. 
Depending on how you would define jhana, especially how you define the attributes of formlessness.

Does that make sense?
Ok

Like is Niroda Samapati a good candidate for still? (I have not personally experienced it)
Nope.

I actually don't know if I would describe anything as truly still. 
Truly still? vs what?
Good chat!
​​​​​​​~D
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 12:10 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 12:10 PM

RE: Does stillness exist?

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Bahiya Baby
Ahh ok. I see the issue.
Words, definitions...

How I understand Nibbana and use the term, these days, is as the realization of an Arahat. 
Please define that....like nibbana is a permanent Arahat attribute? or not? or just Arahatness? 

The cessation of experience at the culmination of a path, I tend to use the word fruition and I guess personally I don't call that Nibbana as I see Nibbana as the "end goal". But I do know people use Nibbana, cessation, fruition kind of interchangeably. 
Ah...End goal? Is there one?

Fruition, Cessation, Nibbana, as the culmination of a path might be still. For me it's always a warping blip. And there's nothing still about a blip.
Warping, sure, into the blip, during the blip is there some description?
But supposedly people can prolong that experience. and that might be still? 
Supposedly, yes, outside of the personal experience.
How is it still? Because others look at you  and you don't move?
I would tend to describe it as a non state, thus, not anything.
Just my experience.
~D
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Bahiya Baby, modified 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 12:16 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 12:11 PM

RE: Does stillness exist?

Posts: 363 Join Date: 5/26/23 Recent Posts
Truly still vs things that occur to us as stillness. 

Like I remember being struck by the stillness of equanimity on my first path. It occured to me as still (open, relaxing, soothing, calming, tranquil) but the reality was it was a shimmering, waving, rolling, breathy spaciousness. I had to pay special attention not to cling to the good feeling "stillness" and I also had to pay attention to how it really wasn't actually still at all. On close inspection there was all this skittering duality going on. The "still forest pool" was home to a thriving neighbourhood of creeping, crawling, ringing, whistling, twitching, sussurating life. 

And I think, over the aeons, that neighborhood got louder and wilder... I'm just less creeped out by the bugs emoticon
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 12:18 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 12:18 PM

RE: Does stillness exist?

Posts: 1643 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Bahiya Baby
Truly still vs things that occur to us as stillness. 

Like I remember being struck by the stillness of equanimity on my first path. It occured to me as still (open, relaxing, soothing, calming, tranquil) but the reality was it was a shimmering, waving, rolling, breathy spaciousness. I had to pay special attention not to cling to the good feeling "stillness" and I also had to pay attention to how it really wasn't actually still at all. On close inspection there was all this skittering duality going on. The "still forest pool" was home to a thriving neighbourhood of creeping, crawling, ringing, whistling, twitching, sussurating life. 

And I think, over the aeons, that neighborhood just got louder and wilder... I'm just less creeped out by the bugs emoticon
Ya EQ at first is fun. Then it is less fun as you realize that EQ holds all the other POI and sub jhanas.
Each sense door has a similar description at a certain point.
Calm
Quiet
Still
Clear
So each sense door is it's own fun. Sillness is just one fun.
​​​​​​​~D
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Tony Norris, modified 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 12:46 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 12:46 PM

RE: Does stillness exist?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/9/23 Recent Posts
So is Tolle full of s*** with this stillness talk?
Adi Vader, modified 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 1:09 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 1:09 PM

RE: Does stillness exist?

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I dont know anything about Tolle.

Generally a well designed system of practice would have its own internally consistent language. Using that language it would spell out a problem definition, a hypothetical solution and sufficiently detailed techniques to roll out the solution.

Often systems of practice may seemingly have overlapping language but may mean entirely different things.

Best to check Tolle's work for definitions, actually do his tech and look at the results one gets. I dont know whether Tolle has a well designed system though.
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Bahiya Baby, modified 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 1:52 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/16/23 1:33 PM

RE: Does stillness exist?

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Eckhart Tolle is mass market spirituality. That isn't to say that he is full of shit but he's very in the mainstream, new age, "consciousness" camp and his work is sold to like a very large demographic. 

I read a few of his books years ago, early in my travels.

I think in lingo we might get.... He teaches a form of basic mindfulness that is probably helpful to some people but is pretty lacking as a system compared to the buddha's work. For most people basic mindfulness isn't enough to awaken. I suspect at best he himself has kind of stabilised in Equanimity or a jhana or something, like he just really gives off that glossy, "spiritual", lifeless vibe. 

Between lads, if this was the pub... Yeah, I personally think Eckhart Tolle is totally full of shit and his "products" are fucking spiritual cancer foisted on people who don't know better and resonate with the woo-woo, new age stuff. But obviously this isn't the pub.

I find he incorporates a lot of manifestation type stuff into his work and basic mindfulness + manifestation is almost always a red flag for me. Because people who serve that particular brand of fertilizer tend to gloss over the fact that people are already manifesting reality and that occurs for them mostly as suffering and suffering really sucks. What was so damn noble about the buddha is that he was really honest about that, suffering really sucks. 

I think a lot of these systems can layer striving on top of more striving which just leads to more suffering and then add in a practice that could potentially bring you through the A&P and into the dark night... it's a gnarly recipe and it's true of a lot of "Mindfulness" "Spirituality" "Etc"

It is rare to come across meditative systems that work. That are sweet in the beginning, middle and end. Very rare. 


*"people are already manifesting reality" - Technically this isn't exactly how I think this should be said but I stand by the general vibe of what I'm saying. See "Under the Bodhi Tree" by buddhadasa for a great read on Dependent Origination. He says a lot of these kinds of things a lot sharper and preciser than I'm capable of right now.
  
** Also... Worth adding. Different things can be useful for different people at different times and can make up important parts of their journey, sometimes even approaches that aren't effective might be what's needed to get to more effective approaches. 
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Ni Nurta, modified 7 Months ago at 7/17/23 4:48 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/17/23 4:48 AM

RE: Does stillness exist?

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What I call Nibbana - state resulting from dispassion toward activity - works by given consciousness inducing activity which affects system (other connected consciousnesses) in such a way as to reduce activity on consciousness inputs to zero. It thus lacks movement defined as activity on inputs but not necessarily lacks activity on outputs... in fact if consciousness lacks activity on outputs there is no possibility to route its experience outside thus any experience of Nibbana necessitates activity on outputs.
State where consciousness has activity on inputs but does not produce outputs I do not call Nibbana because upon forcing activity on outputs by probing internal experience reveals existence of mind.
Consciousness which prevents activity on its inputs can have activity on outputs or not - having too much continuous activity on outputs misses the point though and is something I would experience almost 20 years ago a lot. Later I found ways to keep consciousness in Nibbana with vastly reduced activity on outputs - then any activity which does exist gives 'taste' of Nibbana and it can appear continuous when last known state is used instead of necessarily checking state on outputs.

Note: consciousness when it lack activity on outputs allows for image of its experience be misaligned with its actual state - thus it might as well be having internal activity inducing dukkha and be represented elsewhere as something else - it thus requires occasional strobe-like signals which forces activity which updates last known state and this strobe should be such that it forces thorough and honest self-evaluation.

In untrained and unawakened to its nature mind there can be tendency to hide dukkha under walls of fabricated copies and not wanting to update actual states. Mind doing this not only allows consciousness to have dukkha but can also experience consciousness as having more dukkha than they actually have. I noticed lots of apparent experiences to be there only for as long as updates are not performed - which updates can reveal both actual states being worse and better than last known state.

The so called awakened mind to its nature knows that preventing updates serves no purpose - should any consciousness state be worse than neuron it actually is it can be forced to maintenance mode, usually by first inducing dispassion to force no activity on inputs and then complete shutdown during which shutdown any reasons for dukkha are removed - these being of course:
a) neurons getting tired - depletion of neurotransmitters on synapses, depletion or imbalance of chemicals (eg. sodium/potassium ratio, oxygen, etc), depletion of ATP, too high temperature (note: I did not put thermometers to measure temperature of individual neurons but some types of dukkha suggest too much activity at one place can lead to dukkha not related to chemicals)
b) activity induced signaling instabilities - within networks activity within tired neurons can be reduced/disabled and signals can be routed differently but this can lead to such pathways which have inherent issues - in these cases it is best for all activity in affected place to cease completely
c) collisions / routing issues - where given parts of brain used to pass signals are used by two conflicting pathways - in this case either faculties which generate activity at affected place have to be shut down until there is clearly one stream of activity through given place or these pathways should be routed elsewhere (read: unused parts of brain). This type of dukka happens in white brain matter as it is used to route signals between gray matter. Though multiple activation at the same time (read: can be just without sufficient breaks between activation) can happen for gray matter too and I would call these as the same issue and it would feel similarly minus differences between how white and gray matter feel like

Summarizing Nibbana is about non-activity on inputs (parts of brain lacking external to them stimulation) other than occasional strobe signals which update state - which updates generate typical to Nibbana experience. It itself lacks inherent motion but it is not what I would call stillness either. It is possible to use the same vajra-like meditative stabilization to make stilled version of Nibbana by making new consciousnesses arise with state seen using strobe signals and with that even track what experience of Nibbana does to consciousness itself over time. Experience called "vajra" is however distinct different to Nibbana. In fact my current implementation mixes these a lot for mentioned tracking reasons to improve maintenance methods. Experience of Nibbana is however by itself experience of consciousness which parts are not stimulated externally and need not hold last state but which are woken up by strobe signals to report their current state - thus are experiences of rested neurons.

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Stillness as I suggested is related to the so called "vajra" and its culmination is vajra-like meditative stabilization. It is done by conditioning parts of mind where consciousnesses didn't yet arise to arise with given qualities:
a) after arising consciousness doesn't immediately pass away (doesn't reset to receive another activity - arise again, also doesn't go to deeper sleep - which also prevents further activity) and instead is in state of partial activation
b) doesn't receive inputs - any inputs are suppressed
c) upon requests (these use special signaling using different neuro-transmitters than normal activity) they re-send the same response they gave upon arising
d) as part of their arising they send request for consciousnesses around to resent their known state
e) which is then used to figure out and highlight differences between other consciousnesses - these differences highlighted by other consciousnesses are also used to refocus effort during part of arising

What that does is make it impossible for consciousness to arise (read: have quote on quote normal activity) quickly after it arose so any requested activity (eg. by stimuli from other parts of nervous system including senses) can only arise elsewhere - cause other parts of mind active (consciousness arise). Then as this new consciousness is also setup to arise in the same way and other possible places where conscientiousnesses can arise this caused mind fill with consciousnesses. Thus consciousnesses then detect differences between each-other quote on quote 'data' and use these differences to:
a) detect where to focus - arising takes time and during which process activity in consciousness has some wiggle room to be more about processing parts of inputs which generate bigger differences
b) refine perception - external in case of senses or internal in case of both internal senses - note: processes such as thoughts can be treats as senses also
c) large differences can be used to indicate given consciousness contains not-relevant data eg. observed object changed and/or different object is observed
d) act as short-term memory - of progression of changes - note: to have good temporal awareness mind has to generate temporal references as without them changes can be known but not necessarily which consciousness arose first
e) no differences can be used to prevent consciousness to spend much effort - if consciousness detects differences to refocus on filling the blanks and no differences are detected vs existing consciousness then arising consciousness has not much to do

All this causes this 'setup' to cause stillness as any actual change quickly causes mind space to fill with consciousnesses which capture all different ways input data an be interpreted/used and subsequent activity (which also causes new consciousnesses to arise!) detects no differences and this causes activity to cease as new consciousnesses need not arise as much anymore. Resulting experience/perception then is of new arising consciousnesses but which do not detect any changes and which arise less frequently - things appear completely still and compared to normal perception extremely detailed.

Important note: this vajra-like meditative stabilization is not about stillness. The experience one could call still can be achieved using different 'algorithms' which can use various different types of behaviors and usage of consciousnesses - and which are arguably much more popular among people who practice advanced meditation. The difference between these and what I describe is the way stillness is achieved - if the algorithms used are designed to cause stillness they won't lead to increased level of details and resulting stillness won't be as 'still'. For example straightforward way to cause stillness is to do something similar but refocus consciousness to focus not on differences but on similarities and then arising consciousnesses will experience that their activity is in fact similar to what is already there. This is inferior method and resulting stillness is inferior because the differences are there and refocusing which is part of arising consciousnesses will then average-out individual differences which will cause small perceived shifts as part of experience - also this averaging won't extract details as effectively leading to more blurry/smeared appearance. Especially any bigger changes might cause periods where analogue of motion blur is experienced. This method thus to get closer to stillness requires no changes. Thus one can experience fairy good quality of stillness during mediation but as soon as they try to use the same algorithm in normal life rather than stillness they will experience motion which while being rather smooth will be very motion-like.

On the other hand vajra-like meditative absorption upon changes immediately triggers more activity which stills arising changes and while this happens anything which does not change generates experience of non-change which increases experience of stillness. Any updates happen instantly and are stilled in-place as they happen and experience of stillness predominates experience even when changes do happen so it is perfect for waking experience. Then the amount of stillness is controlled by the effort each arising consciousness takes to compare differences and amount of already arisen consciousnesses (making them linger longer makes more of them active at any time). In other words less effort and shorter lifetime of these half-active consciousnesses which linger around means each arising consciousness does less effort but also will detect less instances where no change is detected reducing stillness. Putting this algorithm in to overdrive causes more activity as part of arising but also since consciousnesses linger for longer time between subsequent arising is less. Also there are more instances where no changes are detected and also more details are extracted from all the activity done so far. It also causes more parts of brain to have to host arising consciousnesses so for any given type of perception more parts of brain are literally "formatted" (learn how to process) given perception.

For example since I learned this as part of improving eyesight I have lots and lots of brain bits formatted to process vision and so I can be extremely tired and vision seems to work pretty much perfectly and any errors caused by tiredness are self-correcting. At the beginning however any attempt as increasing resource usage would trigger parts of brain which didn't have any idea how to process vision - which would generate by itself lots of differences but which would also cause more new parts of brain to be allocated to vision until these differences would be accounted for - resulting perception would be still close to ground truth with just experience that to get to resulting stable perception lots and lots of differences were processed.

Likewise when processing different things using the same 'method' will result in stable detailed and still perception no matter if it was something which was done a lot before or not, no matter if even parts of mind which were used before to process it were re-formatted to process something else - all these things only affect how much consciousness will arise until they all agree any new consciousness doesn't detect more unaccounted for differences. Time is longer for untrained parts of mind but these things happen very quickly - there is thus no real harm in using literally any free resources to process anything in this way. Using visual cortex to process sound will add distinct visual aspect to sound. It will also lead to these neurons to later add sound aspects to vision when used for vision - all these additions are then captured during perceptions and by itself are experienced as completely still. The only movement is the moment difference happen - any subsequent arising consciousnesses will refer to existing differences and fill in details or indicate something like these aspects not being relevant. Should I for example cause visual cortex neurons to have some activity but then distinctly not then visual aspects of sound will be there updated - if I refer to these aspects it will cause activity in visual cortex where similar sound will refine previous perception but not necessarily create visual aspects for dissimilar sounds - unless I specifically process hearing of what I hear with visual cortex neurons.

In either case if neurons in question are prepared before they arise to arise and behave in this specific way it leads to experience of stillness. For it to work it has to be done before activity happens - trying to change what already arisen is not the way to do anything. I also do not pretend I chase sensations in real-time - especially cause I can prepare neurons to facilitate this type of experience so I know it is BS.

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Nibbana and stillness - totally not the same things!

Experience of stillness can also arise from technically doing things in very different ways and unless one experience superior stillness one might assume they experience real stillness but once superior method is found what was previously considered still can be seen as not so still after all.

That said this reasoning applies always - therefore there might be superior stillness still - though personally I already treat consciousnesses as having inputs and outputs and being made from smaller consciousnesses down to individual neurons which just by how they look do look like input-output devices (well... beings - they do not like to be called 'devices' emoticon) with distinct direction of signal flow and method I use wasn't even developed for stillness but for improving perception - therefore I assume that it is possible there might not be any better 'method' and at most tweaks to this method I described.

As for Nibbana - complexity of description is because there is conflict between experiencing non-experience. In fact any experience of Nibbana is not experience of Nibbana but at most its echo.

BTW. Nibbana is easier of the two described experiences to achieve at all - to however experience pure version of Nibbana it requires comparable skills (including knowing faculties of formless jhanas). Also imho neither, even to get to refined versions really require perception which can be called "forbearance regarding non-arisen phenomena" but in this case it would require nailing qualities from within experiences of consciousnesses and conditioning nervous system by inducing these qualities for enough time to shift default experience to have required qualities - it would be heck of an effort compared to developing required 'debug' features and understanding of nervous system allowing person to have these things volitionally in seconds and allowing studying how things operate. Therefore my recommendation is on developing debugging features and not attaining some specific changes. Knowing how given effect works it is possible to use knowledge where from neurons know how to behave to flash new program and have persistent changes that way rather than conditioning mind for months/years.

BTW2. Stillness I describe feels still as in frozen still without any activity. Technically there is lots of activity going on allover the place emoticon Just not at any given place where activity-proper is momentary during arising.
Nibbana - less activity overall and no experience of stillness - just lacking experience of movement either.

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