RE: Identity-view

Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 8/6/23 9:27 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 7/14/23 6:45 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Bahiya Baby 7/15/23 10:17 AM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 7/22/23 1:24 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 7/23/23 10:43 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 7/25/23 5:31 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 7/26/23 4:30 AM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 7/26/23 10:06 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 7/31/23 8:08 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 8/5/23 12:26 AM
Samatha, the nervous system, and brain networks. Jim Smith 8/11/23 11:43 AM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 User 08 8/6/23 9:37 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 8/9/23 6:19 AM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 8/9/23 10:07 AM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 8/9/23 10:49 AM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 8/9/23 6:40 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Martin 8/9/23 11:51 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 8/7/23 10:03 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 8/7/23 10:03 PM
Not-Self Jim Smith 8/11/23 11:30 AM
Inquiry of the Day: Who decided to start suffering? Jim Smith 8/12/23 9:44 PM
On-line Classes Jim Smith 8/9/23 4:59 AM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 8/13/23 3:58 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 8/15/23 5:24 PM
How Observing the Three Characteristics Leads to Letting Go of Attachments Jim Smith 8/19/23 9:49 PM
Feeling the Dukkha Characteristic. Jim Smith 8/24/23 1:55 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 8/25/23 5:06 PM
The self / observer is produced by / is within the five aggregates Jim Smith 8/31/23 9:57 PM
RE: The self / observer is produced by / is within the five aggregates Ni Nurta 9/1/23 2:32 AM
RE: The self / observer is produced by / is within the five aggregates Jim Smith 9/1/23 9:20 PM
RE: The self / observer is produced by / is within the five aggregates Jim Smith 9/19/23 1:06 PM
Gladdening the mind (abhippamodayaṁ cittaṁ) and letting go. Jim Smith 9/10/23 6:02 PM
RE: Gladdening the mind (abhippamodayaṁ cittaṁ) and letting go. Jim Smith 9/13/23 7:39 AM
RE: Gladdening the mind (abhippamodayaṁ cittaṁ) and letting go. Jim Smith 9/13/23 1:09 PM
RE: Gladdening the mind (abhippamodayaṁ cittaṁ) and letting go. Ni Nurta 9/18/23 5:09 AM
RE: Gladdening the mind (abhippamodayaṁ cittaṁ) and letting go. Jim Smith 9/18/23 11:02 PM
RE: Gladdening the mind (abhippamodayaṁ cittaṁ) and letting go. Jim Smith 9/23/23 2:23 AM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 9/15/23 1:52 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 9/22/23 5:53 PM
Mantra of the Day Jim Smith 9/26/23 9:54 PM
RE: Mantra of the Day Jim Smith 10/1/23 8:40 AM
RE: Mantra of the Day Jim Smith 10/11/23 4:32 AM
RE: Mantra of the Day Jim Smith 10/12/23 12:02 PM
RE: Mantra of the Day Jim Smith 10/14/23 3:56 AM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 10/4/23 5:34 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 10/5/23 1:20 AM
Emotional Gate Jim Smith 10/19/23 5:16 PM
RE: Emotional Gate Jim Smith 10/19/23 11:30 PM
RE: Emotional Gate Jim Smith 10/20/23 9:36 PM
Perceptual Shifts Jim Smith 10/19/23 5:15 PM
RE: Perceptual Shifts Martin 11/15/23 11:48 AM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 10/19/23 4:33 AM
Mantra of the day. Jim Smith 10/28/23 5:28 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 11/15/23 9:27 PM
Identity-view Jim Smith 11/16/23 10:10 PM
RE: Identity-view Jim Smith 11/20/23 7:14 AM
RE: Identity-view Martin 11/20/23 9:51 AM
RE: Identity-view Jim Smith 11/20/23 1:19 PM
RE: Identity-view Jim Smith 11/20/23 1:33 PM
RE: Identity-view Jim Smith 11/20/23 2:45 PM
RE: Identity-view Jim Smith 11/21/23 2:47 PM
Mantra of the day. Jim Smith 12/1/23 9:25 PM
Samatha and Vipassana Jim Smith 12/4/23 8:59 PM
The Five Aggregates of Clinging Jim Smith 12/4/23 9:55 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 12/12/23 2:53 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 12/12/23 3:02 PM
Dukkha and Anatta Jim Smith 12/10/23 1:34 PM
RE: Dukkha and Anatta Jim Smith 12/10/23 1:42 PM
The color of awakening. Jim Smith 12/16/23 7:32 AM
RE: The color of awakening. Jim Smith 12/17/23 1:25 PM
A Soul? Jim Smith 12/29/23 3:17 AM
RE: A Soul? Martin 12/30/23 1:32 PM
Resolving Emotions Jim Smith 12/28/23 1:57 AM
RE: Resolving Emotions Olivier S 12/30/23 5:52 AM
RE: Resolving Emotions Jim Smith 12/30/23 8:47 AM
RE: Resolving Emotions Olivier S 12/31/23 5:14 AM
RE: Resolving Emotions Pepe · 12/30/23 11:39 AM
RE: Resolving Emotions Olivier S 12/30/23 12:03 PM
RE: Resolving Emotions Pepe · 12/30/23 12:34 PM
The unconscious mind is not the self. Jim Smith 12/30/23 1:22 AM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Eric Abrahamsen 12/30/23 1:43 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Martin 12/30/23 2:44 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Eric Abrahamsen 12/30/23 9:42 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 1/3/24 3:38 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 1/27/24 6:36 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 1/28/24 3:07 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 1/28/24 11:57 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 2/3/24 4:35 AM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 2/7/24 6:01 PM
RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3 Jim Smith 2/15/24 9:05 AM
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 8/6/23 9:27 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/12/23 5:02 PM

Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I noticed that some browsers won't display all of my log #2 in flat view, so I am starting a new volume, #3, here. 

Index to various past posts:

How I define "suffering": https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2023/07/how-i-define-dukkha-suffering.html#dukkha_def_ease_def
Practice in daily life: https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2023/07/practicing-mindfulness-in-daily-life.html
How to measure progress: https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2023/07/how-i-define-dukkha-suffering.html#dukkha_def_ease_progress
Techniques that ease suffering: https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2023/07/how-i-define-dukkha-suffering.html#dukkha_def_ease_techs
My views on awakening: https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/04/my-views-on-gradual-awakening.html
Letting Go: https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2023/07/letting-go.html
Tranquility Before Insight (Relaxing Meditation): https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/08/preparing-for-meditation-with.html
Observing the Mind: https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2023/05/observing-mind.html
Summary of my views on practice: 

​​​​​​​Other links:
​​​​​​​
Shinzen Young Enlightenment Interview: https://www.lionsroar.com/on-enlightenment-an-interview-with-shinzen-young/
Jack Kornfield, "Enlightenments": https://inquiringmind.com/article/2701_w_kornfield-enlightenments/


My old blog, volume 2, is here: please view it in tree mode:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/23406442

Volume 1 is here: 
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/22843214#_com_liferay_message_boards_web_portlet_MBPortlet_message_8496517
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Jim Smith, modified 7 Months ago at 7/14/23 6:45 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/14/23 6:29 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I have mentioned that very often when I do a certain type of relaxing meditation, that afterward nothing bothers me and I feel a kind of tranquil happiness. The practice involves physical relaxation, visualization, and a verbal aspect (saying inwardly the objects visualized and the parts of the body being relaxed). 

Here is a quote from a Shinzen Young video that relates to this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOLuaPltorA&t=58s
0:58
...  if you can easily access something restful that's somatic, something restful that's visual, and something restful that's auditory, so you got try modal rest. And then you get flow in all of those, okay? Now you've thinned out self in world, okay and now you are melting self in world, and it's not that far a step, just 10 20 30 years, to the vaporization of the self and classical nirvana is yours.


I am not claiming I have reached classical nirvana.

I am pointing this out as corroboration that the practice I recommend is capable of producing an effect like nirvana.

​​​​​​​Shinzen's views on nirvana (he calls it happiness independent of conditions) is that it is initially experienced temporarily, but can become permanent.
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Bahiya Baby, modified 7 Months ago at 7/15/23 10:17 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/15/23 10:16 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 363 Join Date: 5/26/23 Recent Posts
More and more these days I'm experiencing something very similar to the above quotation. It's like the pretense of duality drops and the sense fields (somatic, audio, visual - and the others) merge into reality in a more integrated fashion. It's a very playful and intuitive way to experience the world and I presume more and more how things "just are" as progress is made towards Nibbana. It has a quality of allowing action to spontaneously arise that feels very 'just right' to me.

But, this is a thing that "I" can "do" and "I" has a tendency to "want to do" things that feel good. I've been practicing a lot on noticing the difference between "Doing" the above and letting it accidentally arise when "Not doing". Watching all the processes wrapped up and involved in that mode selection has been insightful. How I subtly crave or prefer certain ways of being became more obvious when I started really looking at what aspect of experience thought it was directing attention towards doing that practice. Because weirdly that aspect of experience was the thing preventing reality from already being like that. Which was wild to see.

Can you recommend any Shinzen Young, they come up so much I'd love to explore more. 
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Jim Smith, modified 7 Months ago at 7/22/23 1:24 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/22/23 1:24 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Every time you notice your ego, your attachment to self, causing you suffering, it brings you closer to the moment when you see with equanimity how that attachment to self is just an opinion, a pose, an attitude - that seemed involuntary, but now appears to be just a habit of mind, a product of social conditioning, that was learned and which, with attention, you can give up like any other habit.
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Jim Smith, modified 7 Months ago at 7/23/23 10:43 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/23/23 6:43 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Most people have had the experience of not wanting to do something or not wanting to accept something - but then later, for one reason or another, they gave in, they acquiesced, they stopped resisting the inevitable, they stopped being stubborn. One moment they were set in their ways, the next moment they changed their mind.

Letting go of attachments and aversions is just like that. But you have to reach the point where you realize clinging is pointless, you're only hurting yourself.

And to let go, you have to be aware of what you are clinging to. Sometimes we suppress the reason we are clinging because it is not something we want to admit about ourselves. Other times our attachments are subtle and we are barely conscious of them - we have to look carefully to see what it is that is causing that faint feeling of unsatisfactoriness or stress.

And you have to remember to let go. When something happens that upsets a person, they often get so caught up in the situation, in their thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experience, and ego that they forget to be mindful. They forget that it is their reaction that is the problem not the situation. 

Letting go doesn't mean giving up on solving problems, it means you can find solutions through compassion and reason rather than out of control emotions.
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Jim Smith, modified 7 Months ago at 7/25/23 5:31 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/25/23 5:02 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Daniel wrote:
https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-vi-my-spiritual-quest/70-around-the-world-and-finding-home/the-second-mbmc-retreat/
I took his advice to heart with my standard macho bravado, yet a bit humbled at the same time, and began a project of going back to extremely simple assumptions, trying to go for one hundred percent capture, not letting a single sensation anywhere in the entirety of experience go by without perceiving the three characteristics clearly. 
And

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/2715189#_com_liferay_message_boards_web_portlet_MBPortlet_message_2718243
Since the topic has come up so often and been so bandied about so many times by so many people, let me state here what I mean by 4th path, regardless of what anyone else means by it. It has the following qualities:

1) Utter centerlessness: no watcher, no sense of a watcher, no subtle watcher, no possibility of a watcher. This is immediately obvious just as color is to a man with good eyesight as the old saying goes. Thus, anything and everything simply and obviously manifest just where they are. No phenomena observe any others and never did or could.

2) Utter agencylessness: meaning no agency, no sense of doing, no sense of doer, no sense that there could be any agent or doer, no way to find anything that seems to be in control at all. Whatever effort or intent or anything like that that arises does so naturally, causally, inevitably, as it always actually did. This is immediately obvious, though not always the forefront of attention.
​​​​​​​...


What does it mean when someone "began a project ..., trying to go for one hundred percent capture, not letting a single sensation anywhere in the entirety of experience go by without perceiving the three characteristics clearly",...

... and the result is "Utter agencylessness: meaning no agency, no sense of doing, no sense of doer, no sense that there could be any agent or doer, no way to find anything that seems to be in control at all."

It sounds like a contradiction - he starts out trying to achieve a goal and the result is no sense of a doer.

​​​​​​​Is it an illusion?

All thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experience, and sense of self seem to pop into the mind "from out of nowhere" ie from unconscious processes.
That includes the feeling of just being an observer of that mental activity.
And it also includes the feeling of agencylessness.

The feeling of agencylessness, and the feeling of no watcher, are not different from feeling like a self, or an observer, or an agent. They arise from unconscious processes, they are not more or less "true" any more than feeling happy is true or feeling angry is true. 

This is one reason my approach is more focused on ending suffering than realizing anatta.  

Our sense of being succesful depends on getting/having what we want/like and avoiding what we don't want/like so all attachments and aversions are intertwined with the ego. And letting go of attachments includes attachments to self. So I am not ignoring anatta. But for me the motivation comes from suffering less, not a perceptual shift for the sake of a perceptual shift. 

And it's why I measure progress by what happens in real life (less suffering, less selfish behavior) not in meditation.
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 7/26/23 4:30 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 7/26/23 4:05 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I've often thought there was a kind of contradiction between concentration, observing emotions, and letting go. Concentration means being focused and not distracted. Observing emotions means noticing what arises even if you are trying to concentrate. Letting go means recognizing emotions but not holding on to them. Eventually the contradiction or opposition disappears. When concentrating if an emotion arises, observe it to it's full depth and then it passes and concentration continues. Like a wave on the ocean. It's not separate. The emotion is not separate from concentration any more than a breath or a heart beat. The arising and fading of any movement of the mind has it's own pattern and rhythm like a breath or a heartbeat. And every physical movement in daily life can be part of the same concentration each with it's own pattern and rhythm.
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 7/26/23 10:06 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 7/26/23 10:06 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
There are seven factors of awakening that form a series of cause and effect. The seventh and last factor is upekkha translated as equanimity, or letting go, or non-attachment.

The best way to cultivate equanimity that I know of is relaxation, the fifth factor of awakening. When you are relaxed you are equanimous. When you practice relaxation and develop it as a skill to use in daily life, when you develop the ability to be more relaxed in daily life and in situations that otherwise would be stressful, you cultivate equanimity.  

When you are relaxed you are not experiencing dukkha. The absence of dukkha is nirvana

Relaxing often elevates your mood because it reduces the effects of stress that can weigh you down. This is another reason relaxation increases equanimity.  Happiness is the fourth factor of awakening.

Insight helps in developing relaxation because insight, understanding, weakens attachments and aversions. Investigation is the second factor of awakening.

Concentration also helps in maintaining equanimity because it helps you stay mindful rather than get carried away by thougths, emotions, impulses, sensory experiences, and ego. Concentration and mindfulness are the sixth and first factors of awakening respectively.

Mindfulness, concentration, relaxation, insight, equanimity, will benefit you more if you bring them with you in daily life. This takes effort and determination - the third factor of awakening.

In summary the factors of awakening are;
1 Mindfulness
2 Investigation
3 Effort/Determination
4 Happiness
5 Relaxation/Tranquility of mind and body.
6 Concentration
7 Equanimity

The technique I use to cultivate relaxation also develops concentration, happiness, mindfulness and equinimity. It helps you develop relaxation as a skill you can apply in daily to bring these other factors into daily life too.

And these factors facilitate the cultivation of insight in meditation and daily life.

(I have explained my views on what awakening is here and how to measure progress here.)
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 7/31/23 8:08 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 7/31/23 8:08 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Crossposting this summary of my views of practice:

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/25626350


My opinion is that I practice today for the benefits that I get today, not some day in the future. Those benefits include

Being relaxed: (deactivating the sympathetic nervous system and activating the parasympathetic nervous system)
Calming the mind with relaxed concentration and mindfulness: (deactivating the default network in the brain and activating the experiential network)

To relax and have a calm mind requires letting go of clinging, and when the tranquil state is disturbed you know dukkha has arisen, and when you return to the tranquil state you know dukkha has faded - so I find this tranquil state is a good starting point for vipassana (insight) meditation.

When I watch my mind as I meditate, I notice that distracting thoughts go through a progression where at first I am distracted by stressful events of the day or worries about the near future. Then as those quiet down (which tells me I have let go of them - at least temporarily) the distractions become more random, then those quiet down and I have good concentration. So I observe the process of letting go happen repeatedly. And when I notice the progression of how my mind quiets down, even if my experience of meditation from day to day is not always the same, I have a sense of where I am in that progression so there is still a sense of consistency rather than mystified confusion.

These skills, relaxing, quieting the mind, letting go, observing the mind, improve with practice.

When you practice this way in meditation and daily life you feel better today, you suffer less, you don't have to wait for some big event to end all your problems (which it won't actually do anyway).

But you also develop improved skills that gradually change you over time. I don't measure progress by what happens during meditation. I measure progress by what happens in daily life.

Shinzen Young says most of his students awaken gradually without any big event.
https://www.lionsroar.com/on-enlightenment-an-interview-with-shinzen-young/

Jack Kornfield calls this the gateless gate.
https://inquiringmind.com/article/2701_w_kornfield-enlightenments/

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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 8/5/23 12:26 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 8/3/23 6:09 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I've written about how bringing out an emotion can feel like burping and how letting go requires feeling an emotion to it's full depth. Over time these two skills become an automatic habit and the result is like having the door to emotions entirely and constantly open so that when an unpleasant emotion arises you are just waving goodbye to it as it passes out the door. It isn't exactly pleasant, but the emotion doesn't hang around and cast a cloud over reality either. I think it is like how Shinzen Young describes the Bhanga-nana (dissolution) the stage after A&P where, as he describes it, you see arising and fading as simultaneous (which is different from other descriptions I've seen that you only perceive fading not arising). The consequence is that those unpleasant emotions don't linger in the back of your mind causing trouble (suffering). That comes from bringing them out (burping them up) and feeling them to their full depth (letting them out). In a way it's like Daniel's goal of 100% capture restricted to dukkha. But since dukkha is a charistic of everything maybe it is not all that different. Without all that trouble, without the dukkha aspect of all things causing you suffering, what remains is ... uh ... nice. Reading about these things can be misleading so I have to say I don't claim to have perfected this and I don't know if it leads to the perfect end of suffering, I don't have an opinion which of the 0 through 4 paths it might be, but it is ... um ... er ... nice. I am describing it in case any one else would like to try it.

A lot of time spent observing the mind and dukkha in particular (in meditation and daily life) is needed to get to this point. At first suffering seems involuntary, then after a lot of observation you begin to feel more like it is a habit that you are doing automatically, so you begin to try to change your habit. You notice that suppressing doesn't really help, relaxing while feeling emotions to their full depth does help, and bringing them out fully into consciousness even if they are just faint inklings in the back of the mind helps too. Somewhere in there can be a lot of very unpleasant feelings coming out so you don't try to do it all at once, you give yourself a rest when you need to - meditation that produces tranquility can help. And emotions can hide under layers of other emotions so sometimes you have to dig through the layers to find what you need to let go of. But in time you get out a lot of baggage and become somewhat desensitized, and eventually bringing out and letting out becomes a habit you notice your mood is a lot lighter and it's ... nice
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 8/11/23 11:43 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 8/6/23 9:22 PM

Samatha, the nervous system, and brain networks.

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
The Buddha taught that tranquility and insight are two qualities of mind that should both be cultivated.

Tranquility yields immediate benefits - you should feel tranquil after your first meditation session. Insight yields benefits that accumulate over time. As you observe the mind, you gradually learn how to let go of attachments and aversions.

In my view, tranquility involves two factors: relaxation and quieting the mental chatter. Relaxation occurs when the parasympathetic nervous system is active the sympathetic nervous system in inactive. Mental chatter is reduced when the default network in the brain is inactive and the experiential network in the brain is active.

The parasympathetic nervous system can be activated and the sympathetic nervous system can be deactivated with relaxing meditation.

The default network in the brain can be deactivated and the experiential network can be activated through relaxed concentration in meditation and through mindfulness in daily life. When the mind is focused on something occuring in present moment, the experiential network becomes active and the default network becomes inactive. The focus can be on an object of meditation as in the relaxing meditation in the previous paragraph, or it can be some type of mindfulness practice.

Tranquility is beneficial in itself (most people would prefer to feel tranquil and serene rather than stressed and upset)

And tranquility also assists in developing insight. When the mind is tranquil you do not get distracted and carried away by thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experiences, or the ego so you can observe the activity mind much better when the mind is tranquil. Observing the activity of the mind is how insight is acquired.

Insight can be explained in various ways and different people take different approaches to it. My approach to insight is to understand suffering so that one can reduce it as much as possible. The way to do this, in my opinion is to observe the activity of the mind.

In my opinion the essence of Buddhism is that it tells how to bring about an end to suffering. It seems to me the simplest way to do that is to cultivate tranquility and then observe the activity of the mind, see how suffering arises and fades and then use that knowledge to reduce the amount of suffering you experience.

In a very simple way of saying it, insight comes from observing suffering arising and fading which is the same as noticing when tranquility is disturbed and then returning to tranquility.

My approach is similar to that of Ajahn Chah which Jack Kornfield described as:

As Ajahn Chah described them, meditative states are not important in themselves. Meditation is a way to quiet the mind so you can practice all day long wherever you are; see when there is grasping or aversion, clinging or suffering; and then let it go.

My article on Observing the Mind describes how I recommend cultivating insight.
​​​​​​​
____________________________________________________
Jim Smith
I've written about how bringing out an emotion can feel like burping and how letting go requires feeling an emotion to it's full depth. Over time these two skills become an automatic habit and the result is like having the door to emotions entirely and constantly open so that when an unpleasant emotion arises you are just waving goodbye to it as it passes out the door. It isn't exactly pleasant, but the emotion doesn't hang around and cast a cloud over reality either. I think it is like how Shinzen Young describes the Bhanga-nana (dissolution) the stage after A&P where, as he describes it, you see arising and fading as simultaneous (which is different from other descriptions I've seen that you only perceive fading not arising). The consequence is that those unpleasant emotions don't linger in the back of your mind causing trouble (suffering). That comes from bringing them out (burping them up) and feeling them to their full depth (letting them out). In a way it's like Daniel's goal of 100% capture restricted to dukkha. But since dukkha is a charistic of everything maybe it is not all that different. Without all that trouble, without the dukkha aspect of all things causing you suffering, what remains is ... uh ... nice. Reading about these things can be misleading so I have to say I don't claim to have perfected this and I don't know if it leads to the perfect end of suffering, I don't have an opinion which of the 0 through 4 paths it might be, but it is ... um ... er ... nice. I am describing it in case any one else would like to try it.

A lot of time spent observing the mind and dukkha in particular (in meditation and daily life) is needed to get to this point. At first suffering seems involuntary, then after a lot of observation you begin to feel more like it is a habit that you are doing automatically, so you begin to try to change your habit. You notice that suppressing doesn't really help, relaxing while feeling emotions to their full depth does help, and bringing them out fully into consciousness even if they are just faint inklings in the back of the mind helps too. Somewhere in there can be a lot of very unpleasant feelings coming out so you don't try to do it all at once, you give yourself a rest when you need to - meditation that produces tranquility can help. And emotions can hide under layers of other emotions so sometimes you have to dig through the layers to find what you need to let go of. But in time you get out a lot of baggage and become somewhat desensitized, and eventually bringing out and letting out becomes a habit you notice your mood is a lot lighter and it's ... nice
User 08, modified 6 Months ago at 8/6/23 9:37 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 8/6/23 9:37 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 57 Join Date: 7/31/23 Recent Posts
Wow, thanks for posting that Jack Kornfield blog post. I had no idea he talked so explicitly about enlightenment.
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 8/7/23 10:03 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 8/7/23 1:59 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
The self that doesn't exist is the self that is right all the time, the self that can control every situation, the self that always wins, the self that everyone loves, the self that has the most money, power, status, the self that can fix every problem, etc etc. The lack of that self is at the root of all suffering. Suffering is the resistance to the fact that that self is nowhere to be found.
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 8/7/23 10:03 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 8/7/23 10:03 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
The self that doesn't exist is the self that is right all the time, the self that can control every situation, the self that always wins, the self that everyone loves, the self that has the most money, power, status, the self that can fix every problem, etc etc. The lack of that self is at the root of all suffering. Suffering is the resistance to the fact that that self is nowhere to be found.


Suffering occurs when the facts of reality conflict with our ideas of a self, with our desires for the self. In those situations we are confronted with the fact that despite our desires, there is no such self. When things go wrong we feel diminished, belittled, insignificant. Reality is telling us we have no such self. When we can accept the truth that there isn't a self like we want, a self that can control and solve and fix anything, we eliminate a lot of suffering. Everything is impermanent, everything has a dukkha aspect, there is no self that can alter these facts of reality no self that can control anything or make everything nice.

Accepting that eliminates a lot of suffering.
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 8/9/23 6:19 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 8/9/23 4:41 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I think that in any type of meditation there is going to be some samatha aspect and some vipassana aspect, when you focus the mind that is samatha, when you return to focus from a distraction you see you don't control your mind that is vipassana.

​​​​​​​And I see noting practice as something that can be done to cultivate samatha or vipassana (tranquility or insight). If you practice noting or noting with labeling it can have the effect of deactivating the default network in the brain and activating the experiential network. I consider that to be within the realm of samatha.

If you practice noting while examining the three characteristics and or dependent origination, and or digging through layers of emotions, and or trying to interrupt dependent origination by relaxing and letting go, I would consider that to be within the realm of vipassana.

And depending on the details of how you do it I think it is possible to do noting in a way that cultivates mostly insight (not activating the experiential network - for example if your concentration is not good, or you do a lot of analyzing rather than observing).

The Buddha taught his students to cultivate both samatha and vipassana, some might need to put more emphasis on samatha others on vipassana, so you doing noting for samatha, vipassana, or both can all be appropriate in different circumstances. For example if your mind is turbulent it might be best to cultivate samatha until it is quiet and then proceed to vipassana. If you find that you have a lot of turbulent emotions and you need to dig through layers of emotions hiding behind other emotions there might not be a lot of samatha in that.
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Jim Smith
The Buddha taught that tranquility and insight are two qualities of mind that should both be cultivated.

Tranquility yields immediate benefits - you should feel tranquil after your first meditation session. Insight yields benefits that accumulate over time. As you observe the mind, you gradually learn how to let go of attachments and aversions.

In my view, tranquility involves two factors: relaxation and quieting the mental chatter. Relaxation occurs when the parasympathetic nervous system is active the sympathetic nervous system in inactive. Mental chatter is reduced when the default network in the brain is inactive and the experiential network in the brain is active.

The parasympathetic nervous system can be activated and the sympathetic nervous system can be deactivated with relaxing meditation.

The default network in the brain can be deactivated and the experiential network can be activated through relaxed concentration in meditation and through mindfulness in daily life. When the mind is focused on something occuring in present moment, the experiential network becomes active and the default network becomes inactive. The focus can be on an object of meditation as in the relaxing meditation in the previous paragraph, or it can be some type of mindfulness practice.

Tranquility is beneficial in itself (most people would prefer to feel tranquil and serene rather than stressed and upset)

And tranquility also assists in developing insight. When the mind is tranquil you do not get distracted and carried away by thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experiences, or the ego so you can observe the activity mind much better when the mind is tranquil. Observing the activity of the mind is how insight is acquired.

Insight can be explained in various ways and different people take different approaches to it. My approach to insight is to understand suffering so that one can reduce it as much as possible. The way to do this, in my opinion is to observe the activity of the mind.

In my opinion the essence of Buddhism is that it tells how to bring about an end to suffering. It seems to me the simplest way to do that is to cultivate tranquility and then observe the activity of the mind, see how suffering arises and fades and then use that knowledge to reduce the amount of suffering you experience.

In a very simple way of saying it, insight comes from observing suffering arising and fading which is the same as noticing when tranquility is disturbed and then returning to tranquility.

My approach is similar to that of Ajahn Chah which Jack Kornfield described as:

As Ajahn Chah described them, meditative states are not important in themselves. Meditation is a way to quiet the mind so you can practice all day long wherever you are; see when there is grasping or aversion, clinging or suffering; and then let it go.

My article on Observing the Mind describes how I recommend cultivating insight.

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Jim Smith
I've written about how bringing out an emotion can feel like burping and how letting go requires feeling an emotion to it's full depth. Over time these two skills become an automatic habit and the result is like having the door to emotions entirely and constantly open so that when an unpleasant emotion arises you are just waving goodbye to it as it passes out the door. It isn't exactly pleasant, but the emotion doesn't hang around and cast a cloud over reality either. I think it is like how Shinzen Young describes the Bhanga-nana (dissolution) the stage after A&P where, as he describes it, you see arising and fading as simultaneous (which is different from other descriptions I've seen that you only perceive fading not arising). The consequence is that those unpleasant emotions don't linger in the back of your mind causing trouble (suffering). That comes from bringing them out (burping them up) and feeling them to their full depth (letting them out). In a way it's like Daniel's goal of 100% capture restricted to dukkha. But since dukkha is a charistic of everything maybe it is not all that different. Without all that trouble, without the dukkha aspect of all things causing you suffering, what remains is ... uh ... nice. Reading about these things can be misleading so I have to say I don't claim to have perfected this and I don't know if it leads to the perfect end of suffering, I don't have an opinion which of the 0 through 4 paths it might be, but it is ... um ... er ... nice. I am describing it in case any one else would like to try it.

A lot of time spent observing the mind and dukkha in particular (in meditation and daily life) is needed to get to this point. At first suffering seems involuntary, then after a lot of observation you begin to feel more like it is a habit that you are doing automatically, so you begin to try to change your habit. You notice that suppressing doesn't really help, relaxing while feeling emotions to their full depth does help, and bringing them out fully into consciousness even if they are just faint inklings in the back of the mind helps too. Somewhere in there can be a lot of very unpleasant feelings coming out so you don't try to do it all at once, you give yourself a rest when you need to - meditation that produces tranquility can help. And emotions can hide under layers of other emotions so sometimes you have to dig through the layers to find what you need to let go of. But in time you get out a lot of baggage and become somewhat desensitized, and eventually bringing out and letting out becomes a habit you notice your mood is a lot lighter and it's ... nice
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 8/9/23 4:59 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 8/9/23 4:59 AM

On-line Classes

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I recently took an on-line course in qigong which I recommend.
The fee is $1.00 
https://longevity-center.com/awakening-qi-8-day-challenge/

I am also currently looking at the 8 week MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) course. 

A free self-paced version (no registration, no zoom meetings just reading and videos) by a certified instructor is available here:
https://palousemindfulness.com/

The "original" course which you have to register for and pay tuition for is also available on-line through zoom meetings is available here:
https://www.ummhealth.org/umass-memorial-medical-center/services-treatments/center-for-mindfulness/mindfulness-programs/mbsr-8-week-online-live

My interest in MBSR is based on this quote by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn:
And the interesting thing — and this is the study — when they put people through eight weeks of MBSR [mindfulness based stress reduction], this narrative network decreases in activity and this experiential network increases in activity and they become uncoupled. So they’re no longer caught together in such a way. So this one can actually attenuate and liberate you a little bit from the constant thinking, thinking, thinking — a lot which is driven, of course, by anxiety and, "What’s wrong with me?" The story of me is often a depressing story. And a fear-based story. We’re like driving the car with the brake on, with the emergency brake on. And if we learn how to just kind of release it, everything will unfold with less strain, with less stress and with a greater sense of life unfolding rather than you’re driving through it to get to some great pot of gold at the end, which might just be your grave.

I am interested in ways to deactivate the default network in the brain and activate the experiential network.
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 8/9/23 10:07 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 8/9/23 10:07 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

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I have been thinking about what a good way to identify when the default network is inactivated, and I think access concentration would be a good indicator of that.

http://www.leighb.com/jhana2a.htm
​​​​​​​How do you know access concentration has been established? The mind is fully with the object of meditation and, if there are any thoughts, they are wispy and in the background; they do not draw you away from the meditation object.
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 8/9/23 10:49 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 8/9/23 10:43 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
I have been thinking about what a good way to identify when the default network is inactivated, and I think access concentration would be a good indicator of that.

http://www.leighb.com/jhana2a.htm
​​​​​​​How do you know access concentration has been established? The mind is fully with the object of meditation and, if there are any thoughts, they are wispy and in the background; they do not draw you away from the meditation object.


I've posted elsewhere that in the Sattipatthana Sutta, the Buddha encouraged his students to live practicing mindfulness.

If they do this with access concentration, then it seems to me that dependent origination will be disrupted naturally. Dukkha would not easily arise. A person would not get carried away by thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experiences or the ego, that type of mental activity would not take over their mind and body the way it does in the absence of access concenrtatin.

This may have something to do with why that sutra also says that practicing mindfulness continuously for a week is equivalent to the third for fourth stage of awakening.

If someone can experience access concentration while sitting in meditation, they can continue to meditate after their sitting meditation sessions by expand their practice to include practicing mindfulness in daily life (being aware of what you are doing as you are doing it), and through those practices maintain access concentration (and keep the default network in the brain inactive) during daily life.
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 8/9/23 6:40 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 8/9/23 6:40 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

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And Shinzen Young often says that concentration equanimity and clarity are the three qualities you should cultivate as part of a meditation practice. And that at first meditation is something you do in life, but later life becomes something you do in meditation. In his book The Science of Enlightenment he describes his time at a Zen temple in Japan where they cultivated samadi all day not just during sitting meditation.

All this corroborates the idea of maintaining concentration as part of daily life.
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Jim Smith
Jim Smith
I have been thinking about what a good way to identify when the default network is inactivated, and I think access concentration would be a good indicator of that.

http://www.leighb.com/jhana2a.htm
​​​​​​​How do you know access concentration has been established? The mind is fully with the object of meditation and, if there are any thoughts, they are wispy and in the background; they do not draw you away from the meditation object.


I've posted elsewhere that in the Sattipatthana Sutta, the Buddha encouraged his students to live practicing mindfulness.

If they do this with access concentration, then it seems to me that dependent origination will be disrupted naturally. Dukkha would not easily arise. A person would not get carried away by thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experiences or the ego, that type of mental activity would not take over their mind and body the way it does in the absence of access concentration.

This may have something to do with why that sutra also says that practicing mindfulness continuously for a week is equivalent to the third for fourth stage of awakening.

If someone can experience access concentration while sitting in meditation, they can continue to meditate after their sitting meditation sessions by expand their practice to include practicing mindfulness in daily life (being aware of what you are doing as you are doing it), and through those practices maintain access concentration (and keep the default network in the brain inactive) during daily life.
Martin, modified 6 Months ago at 8/9/23 11:51 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 8/9/23 11:51 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 725 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Have you checked out Mindfulness in Daily Life? It sounds like it could be your cup of tea. Adi is a big fan and so am I by extension, having worked with Adi's versions of those teachings. https://midlmeditation.com/midl-meditation-system
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 8/11/23 11:30 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 8/10/23 10:51 PM

Not-Self

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Jim Smith
Jim Smith
The self that doesn't exist is the self that is right all the time, the self that can control every situation, the self that always wins, the self that everyone loves, the self that has the most money, power, status, the self that can fix every problem, etc etc. The lack of that self is at the root of all suffering. Suffering is the resistance to the fact that that self is nowhere to be found.


Suffering occurs when the facts of reality conflict with our ideas of a self, with our desires for the self. In those situations we are confronted with the fact that despite our desires, there is no such self. When things go wrong we feel diminished, belittled, insignificant. Reality is telling us we have no such self. When we can accept the truth that there isn't a self like we want, a self that can control and solve and fix anything, we eliminate a lot of suffering. Everything is impermanent, everything has a dukkha aspect, there is no self that can alter these facts of reality no self that can control anything or make everything nice.

Accepting that eliminates a lot of suffering.


The activity of the mind thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experiences, the ego, arise into consciousness from some unconscious process that we are not aware of. We don't intentionally create these things, they arise unasked for uninvited from who knows where. We don't control them. They are independent of us - they are not self, not me or mine. We observe them, they are out side us, they are not self not me or mine.

Every thought that pops into your mind unasked for, uninvited, is reality telling you, "Thoughts are not self, not me or mine."
Every emotion that pops into your mind unasked for, uninvited, is reality telling you, "Emotions are not self, not me or mine."
Every impulse that pops into your mind unasked for, uninvited, is reality telling you, "Impulses are not self, not me or mine."
Every sensory that pops into your mind unasked for, uninvited,experience is reality telling you, "Sensory experiences are not self, not me or mine."
Every self image that pops into your mind unasked for, uninvited (eg friend, worker, sport fan, parent, child, hobbyist, house owner, car driver, one who feels like just an observer of the activity of the mind, one who feels like he has no self), is reality telling you, "Ideas about self are not self, not me or mine."

Why make yourself suffer by clinging to attachments to thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experiences, or self image if they are not self, not you or yours?

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Every distraction during meditation is reality telling you this.

If you pay attention in daily life noticing what comes into awareness unasked for, uninvited, (Where did that thought emotion, impulse, sensory experience, or self image come from? Who decided to do that?) you will receive many many lessons on the meaning of not-self.
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 8/12/23 9:44 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 8/11/23 9:05 PM

Inquiry of the Day: Who decided to start suffering?

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Inquiry of the Day

When you notice dukkha arising in meditation or daily life, ask:

"Who decided to start suffering?"

Who decided?  Examine how dukkha arose. You don't know how, you notice suffering just appeared into consciousness after some type of sensory experience or thought. Suffering is not something you control, it is independent of you, it is not me or mine, it is not self. If you can observe suffering, it is outside yourself, it is not me or mine, it is not-self, so you are reminded of the anatta, not-self, characteristic.

Suffering = dukkha, the suffering characteristic.

Start = change =  the impermanence characteristic.

So you have the three characteristics right in front of you every time dukkha arises.

But you have to be mindful and notice. To do that it helps to be relaxed, and to have the default network in the brain deactivated which happens when you have access concentration

And if you are mindful, you don't let the suffering take over your mind and body (as much as possible), you don't get carried away by thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experiece, or ego (as much as possible), you interrupt dependent origination (as much as possible). So just feel it to it's full depth and then let it go. Why should you accept attachments and aversions, unpleasant emotions and cravings, when you don't know where they come from, when they just pop into your mind from nowhere? It doesn't mean you should igore problems, it means you can respond with compassion and reason rather than out of control emotions.
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 8/13/23 3:58 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 8/13/23 3:20 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

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Breathing in a relaxing way, reminding myself "tranquility and insight", which resolves much uncertainty about practice. Watching my stream of consciousness, trying to understand suffering, it's origin and it's end, noticing thoughts emotions and impulses forming a sequence of cause and effect, each one triggering the next, experiencing each to its full depth, then letting go. Trying to see how decisions to move are made and not seeing how. Asking where did this [thought/emotion/impulse] come from? Where did this come from? Where did this come from? Somehow it all seems to function autonomously. Whoever designed this must have been a genius.
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 8/15/23 5:24 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 8/15/23 4:42 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
Breathing in a relaxing way, reminding myself "tranquility and insight", which resolves much uncertainty about practice. Watching my stream of consciousness, trying to understand suffering, it's origin and it's end, noticing thoughts emotions and impulses forming a sequence of cause and effect, each one triggering the next, experiencing each to its full depth, then letting go. Trying to see how decisions to move are made and not seeing how. Asking where did this [thought/emotion/impulse] come from? Where did this come from? Where did this come from? Somehow it all seems to function autonomously. Whoever designed this must have been a genius.

"noticing thoughts emotions and impulses forming a sequence of cause and effect, each one triggering the next ... . Trying to see how decisions to move are made and not seeing how. ... Somehow it all seems to function autonomously."

This is how we get fooled into thinking there is a continuous unchanging self. When we don't look closely it feels like there is a self, when we look closely at the mind we see there isn't one. We make an assumption that we are in control, we assume it is our will that is the cause, that the self is the will, but when we look closely we see it is just cause and effect operating autonomously.

And if all is cause and effect, if there is no self, then the idea of separation is meaningless, if there is no self, there is no other.

But the illusion is so strong, attachment to self is so strong, so ingrained in our thinking and behavior, that you can know self an illusion and still suffer because of its influence.

Recognizing the link between the illusion and suffering helps to weaken the attachment, disenchantment with identity view weakens its hold on us. When you observe dukkha arising in the mind, and see how identity view: the ego, the sense of self, the sense of self importance, egocentricity is involved, and how getting what we want and avoiding what we don't want is central to our belief that the self is a success or failure, that helps to weaken the attachment.
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 8/19/23 9:49 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 8/19/23 9:02 PM

How Observing the Three Characteristics Leads to Letting Go of Attachments

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When you observe the three characteristics and you see that all mental activity and all things in the physical world are impermanent, not self (not me or mine), and unsatisfactory, it creates disenchantment and weakens attachments and aversions.

Repeatedly observing the three characteristics shows you that you can't always control everything, not your mind (thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experiences, ego), not your body, not material things, not other people, we can't always avoid what we don't want and we can't always have what we want. 

Eventually it sinks in, particularly when you are suffering, that attachments and aversions are pointless because we can't control everything and clinging does not help us get what we want or avoid what we don't want. It just causes suffering. Changing our attitude, realxing, letting go, accepting we just have to muddle through life one way or another, biding our time, not feeling responsible for things we don't control relieves us of much suffering. And there is really no alternative, the alternative is a delusion and involves much more suffering. 

​​​​​​​We can still plan as best we can and try as best we can, but without clinging, we can plan and act with compassion and reason rather than selfish emotions.

Try to notice how a slight change in attitude eases suffering and then cultivate that attitude. Notice, particularly when unpleasant emotions or cravings arise, how this attitude eases suffering.

I write, "we can't control everything" instead of "we can't control anything" so the lay person can understand. People who understand we can't control anything probably don't need to be reading this.
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago at 8/24/23 1:55 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 8/24/23 1:43 PM

Feeling the Dukkha Characteristic.

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Practicing mindfulness, relaxed in the present moment,

feeling the dukkha aspect of every distracted thought,

noticing it's nicer to be in the present moment than suffering, 

getting positive reinforcement to stay mindful.

This dukkha aspect to every distracted thought seems so obvious now when the alternative is being relaxed in the present moment, but it goes unrecognized when you are submerged in the stream of consciousness and your attention is focused on the story your mind is weaving rather than what the the story is doing to you. When you see what the the story is doing to you, you understand there is something fundamentally wrong, a systematic error.
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Jim Smith, modified 5 Months ago at 8/25/23 5:06 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 8/25/23 5:05 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
If we would stop judging our emotions (good/bad, right/wrong), that would eliminate a huge amount of suffering.

That doesn't mean we ignore them or suppress them. It means we can feel them, understand what they are telling us, and try to let go of them with compassion for ourselves and reason rather than getting caught up in a story and reacting with selfish emotions. 

Two big obstacles to letting go are, 1) consciously recognizing we are suffering, most of the time we are caught up in the story focused on what to do about the "problem" and we don't stop to think about what is happening in our mind. And 2) remembering we can let go. A lot of things are actually easy to let go of, if we have the mindfulness to notice, "this is suffering" and remember to relax and try to let go.

In a way suffering is like air, we are constantly immersed in it but we rarely notice it and think about it.
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Jim Smith, modified 5 Months ago at 8/31/23 9:57 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 8/31/23 8:51 PM

The self / observer is produced by / is within the five aggregates

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Ajahn Nyanamoli Thero discusses stream-entry here:
https://www.hillsidehermitage.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/70hh-The-Stream-Entry-of-Ajahn-Chah-1.pdf


He says stream-entry is when you understand what the Buddha was teaching.

This understanding is equivalent being free from the first three fetters: identity-view, attachments to rites and rituals, and doubt about the teaching.

He explains that being free from attachments to "rites and rituals" means you don't do meditation and mindfulness practices as if they are going to magically awaken you. You do them because you understand how they will end (a lot of) suffering.

Sīlabbataparāmāsa

That is what sīlabbataparāmāsa means – not rites and rituals, or things that are very obviously ridiculous when it comes to practice. ‘Virtue’ (sīla) and duty, sense of duty, something you need to do.

For example, one might take for granted that ‘it’s my duty to sit cross-legged and meditate as a monk.’ – Yes, but why do you do it? Why does it help you? Do you understand why it helps you and why you are doing it? No, you are just doing it because ‘it is my duty to do this, and my virtue is also my duty.’

That is a fetter. How can you abandon that fetter – without abandoning your virtue and without abandoning your efforts?
...

You are no longer doing it on account of the assumed external authority, or whatever, you are doing it because you see it as a necessary basis for discerning the phenomena of your mind, intentions, which you now understand is the way out of suffering.

He explains that identity-view is when you see the self as something outside the five aggregates, something that is separate that can observe the five aggregates. 

And what is attavāda? It is assuming the sense of self externally, so to speak.

You can describe to yourself your experience as a whole, which can be called ‘the five aggregates’. If something is external to it – you realise ‘how could I even think of that? How could I think of something external to my thinking?’ That is a complete contradiction in terms.

But if you become aware of the vague, ambiguous sense of self that you have, you can see that it kind of has that property (of being external, independent of or separate from your experience as a whole; i.e. it is the self that ‘experiences things’ or ‘has the experience.’) – which means, it is not actually independent, but you keep maintaining that utter, blatant discrepancy, purely because you never think about it
...
Any notion of ‘external’ is fundamentally internal for you already. That’s how you uproot attavāda. Not giving it any way out, not leaving any room for that contradiction. Of course you actually have no choice in the matter, but your view doesn’t think that. Any form of allowing any form of ‘external to me/my experience’ is allowing the basis for attavāda to be there. So even when you say ‘my attavāda is conditioned by external’ you already assumed ‘external’ independent of your experience and that is the basis for your very attavāda you are trying to undo.

Regardless of what kind of sense of self you might have – whether lofty, superior, inferior, far, near, it has to still be within the aggregates and when you think ‘It’s all within’ even that thought of ‘it’s all within’ is still within the aggregates. That contradiction cannot remain without that constant nutriment of you providing the basis for it. Stop providing the basis for it, and the nature of it will become apparent, after a period of time.
...
First you need to admit that there is that sense of self, then stop putting it first; stop putting it external to the experience as a whole, see it within it.



This is also interesting:
The mundane right view is basically about authenticity and self-transparency: recognition of the validity of an arisen thing as a phenomena. ‘There is good and bad, mother and father, there is this life and the next life’ - there is the fact that I don’t know something!
...
When you start to recognise things just as they are in your experience – “this is the experience of having a mother, this is the experience of having a father; this is the experience of doubt; this is the experience of sensuality” – you are already starting to withdraw yourself from the material content of those things that we are all so focused on. That is the necessary basis for starting to discern the signs of the mind as phenomena.

On the other hand, having these preconceived views prevents you from seeing your own mind as a thing that has arisen, which is a prerequisite for the arising of the Right view (citta-nimitta). How can you see your mind as an enduring thing, when with your views you are denying even obvious enduring things? You need the mundane right view as a basis for seeing things that matter; mind, feeling, intentions. Then the impermanence you discern within that is the impermanence of ownership, the impossibility to be a controller-master of things, the impermanence of your sense of self. Not the impermanence of a random stone, tree, table, etc.
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Ni Nurta, modified 5 Months ago at 9/1/23 2:32 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 9/1/23 2:32 AM

RE: The self / observer is produced by / is within the five aggregates

Posts: 1070 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Ajahn Nyanamoli Thero
The practice of Dhamma goes against our habits, the truth goes against our desires, so there is difficulty in the practice. Some things which we understand as wrong may be right, while the things we take to be right may be wrong. Why is this? Because our minds are in darkness, we don't clearly see the Truth. We don't really know anything and so are fooled by people's lies. They point out what is right as being wrong and we believe it; that which is wrong, they say is right, and we believe that. This is because we are not yet our own masters. Our moods lie to us constantly. We shouldn't take this mind and its opinions as our guide, because it doesn't know the truth."
That was... deep emoticon
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Jim Smith, modified 5 Months ago at 9/1/23 9:20 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 9/1/23 9:20 PM

RE: The self / observer is produced by / is within the five aggregates

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
Ajahn Nyanamoli Thero discusses stream-entry here:
https://www.hillsidehermitage.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/70hh-The-Stream-Entry-of-Ajahn-Chah-1.pdf
...
He explains that identity-view is when you see the self as something outside the five aggregates, something that is separate that can observe the five aggregates. 

And what is attavāda? It is assuming the sense of self externally, so to speak.
...
But if you become aware of the vague, ambiguous sense of self that you have, you can see that it kind of has that property (of being external, independent of or separate from your experience as a whole; i.e. it is the self that ‘experiences things’ or ‘has the experience.’) – which means, it is not actually independent, but you keep maintaining that utter, blatant discrepancy, purely because you never think about it
...
First you need to admit that there is that sense of self, then stop putting it first; stop putting it external to the experience as a whole, see it within it.



When the sense of self is "vague" it might be hard to recognize it which you have to do before you can do anything with it such as "stop putting it first; stop putting it external ...".

You have to have a clear sense of self before you can let go of attachment to self.

And if some of your feelings about self are not good feelings, they might be somewhat suppressed, in which case you might need to do some digging to get to see your sense of self, your feelings about self, clearly.

Self inquiry, asking yourself "What am I", while trying to notice "the feeling of being" might help. Also just trying to notice the sense of self in different situations might help, as well as trying to notice how the sense of self is involved with dukkha as it arises in the mind. In particular, "hot button issues" things that get  you upset and are almost impossible to let go of are good candidates in which to look for suppressed emotions relating to the self.

When you can get a clear sense of self in different situations, then understanding how the mind creates it, how the sense of self is involved in suffering, how it is constantly changing, impermanent, and not something you control, not "me or mind", and how to let go of it becomes easier.

Before you can see the not self characteristic, anatta of the three characteristics, you have to see the sense of self. How can you know when something isn't there if you don't know what the thing is in the first place?
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Jim Smith, modified 5 Months ago at 9/10/23 6:02 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 9/9/23 1:01 PM

Gladdening the mind (abhippamodayaṁ cittaṁ) and letting go.

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I noticed that metta meditation has an effect on me where certain "hot button" triggers that normally produce anxiety and ill will were somehow not having that effect on me. This surprised me because I normally find them hard to let go of (that's kind of the definiton "hot button" issues, things that upset you that are hard to let go of).

I did a search for how love influences the brain and I found the excerpt quoted below. This correlates very closely with what I experience from what in the anapanasati sutra is called "Gladdening the mind" (abhippamodayaṁ cittaṁ). I tried to explain it here (before I understood what gladdening the mind was I coined my own phrase "lightness of mind").  

One time, after being "triggered" I asked myself if I wanted existence to be permeated with anger and fear or if I wanted existence to be permeated with love (despite the reality of the situation at the moment). Obviously I perferred love so I tried metta meditation and I found it produced not just relief after being triggered but resistance to being triggered if I maintained it with mindfulness in daily life. After further investigation I narrowed the effect down to what I have been calling lightness of mind. I didn't appreciate the usefulness of the effect until I deliberately tried it in response to, and compared it to the state of, being triggered. (Think of something that would trigger you and notice how it feels, then turn on metta and think of the trigger, notice the difference.) It is kind of frustrating that I had a valuable tool for letting go of very strong clinging but somehow I didn't appreciate how to use it. I knew Lightness of mind helped with letting go but until I tried it on hot button issues I didn't appreciate how helpful it was. (My neurological explanation and interpretation of the anapanasatti sutra might be wrong but the main point, what I learned from my experiences, stands on its own as an empirical observation.)

https://hms.harvard.edu/news-events/publications-archive/brain/love-brain
Oxytocin, known also as the love hormone, provokes feelings of contentment, calmness, and security, which are often associated with mate bonding.
...
In addition to the positive feelings romance brings, love also deactivates the neural pathway responsible for negative emotions, such as fear and social judgment. These positive and negative feelings involve two neurological pathways. The one linked with positive emotions connects the prefrontal cortex to the nucleus accumbens, while the other, which is linked with negative emotions, connects the nucleus accumbens to the amygdala. When we are engaged in romantic love, the neural machinery responsible for making critical assessments of other people, including assessments of those with whom we are romantically involved, shuts down. “That’s the neural basis for the ancient wisdom ‘love is blind’,” said Schwartz.

The article says that the neural effects are found to occur due to romantic love however my expereinces convince me they are what I have been calling lightness of mind and can be produced when I do metta meditation, soft jhana's, and anapanasatti. It is not an emotion like metta or piti or sukkha. It is more of an attitude. After learning to recognize it and produce it, it feels more like an attitude than an emotion.

So I think I will include this in my list of neurological techniques that reduce suffering:

  • Activating the parasympathetic nervous system and deactivating the sympathetic nervous system with relaxing meditation.


  • Deactivating neural pathways responsible for fear and ill will and activating neural pathways that result in feelings of contentment, calmness, security, and forgiveness through techniques that produce lightness of mind.
To get the most out of these techniques it helps if you can maintain them in daily life. That is one reason mindfulness in daily life is so helpful, it can allow you to extend the duration of these neurological states beyond sessions of sitting meditation.


Here is the prior post I linked to above where I discuss what I mean by lightness of mind

...

I suspect this is why the anapanasati sutta involves calming the body (steps 3 and 4), producing joy (step 5), tranquil happiness (step 6) , and calming the mind (step 8) and gladdening the mind (step 10), before letting go (step 16). And that is why it is recommended to practice all the steps in order during every session.

...

I found an explanation of step 10, gladdening the mind.

I think it is a "natural phenomenon" rather than something invented from pure theory because before I knew about gladdening the mind, I had noticed a quality of mind that I called "lightness of mind" that I think is the same thing. It is a common element in joy (piti), tranquil happiness (sukha), and loving-kindness (metta) and other pleasant feelings. It is the effect on the mind of the nice feelings of joy, or sukha, or metta. 

It seems this common quality is what is meant by "gladdening the mind". Interestingly I use the term "lightness" and whereas the terms used below include "radiance" and "brightening". This phenomena is something I often notice where the sutras are mainly useful in helping me to understand my experiences but without the experience they are not easy to understand.  

https://www.themindingcentre.org/dharmafarer/wp-content/uploads/7.13-Anapanasati-S-m118-piya.pdf
4.4.3.4 (10) “He trains himself thus: ‘Gladdening the mind, I will breathe in’” (abhippamodayaṁ cittaṁ assasissāmîti sikkhati). He trains himself thus: ‘Gladdening the mind, I will breathe out’” (abhippamodayaṁ cittaṁ passasissāmîti sikkhati). [§20(10)]

“Gladdening the mind” (abhippamodayaṁ cittaṁ) refers to further refining the meditation sign, the radiant mind, by brightening it up. The mind is gladdened by zest when it attains the 1st or the 2nd dhyana. It

can also be gladdened by the penetrating wisdom we eventually gain from insight into the impermanence of this beautiful state which is still conditioned and subject to arising and passing away.

On the other hand, we may need to brighten up the meditative sign (nimitta) even at this stage [§20(11)], whenever it appears to be dull or unstable. We need to brighten up the sign and keep it that way. The experience of zest powers up the radiance of the sign, which, as it were, feeds on joy. The more joy we feel, the brighter the sign; the brighter the sign, the more joyful we feel. It goes both ways.

The basic technique of empowering the sign is to keep returning our attention to the breath to prevent it from losing its momentum. A second way is to focus our attention in the present moment, not letting the mind wonder about what happened before or what will happen. When the radiance returns, we should train our attention at its centre, so that we do not pick on any imperfection near its edge. As long as we embrace the radiance, just smiling the inner smile at it, it keeps us connected to the joy.103

4.4.3.5 The meditation sign can also lose its radiance on account of our weak mental effort or weak moral virtue. In the case of weak mental effort, we should turn to an “inspiring meditations” like a reflection (anussati) on any of the 3 jewels, on moral virtue (sīlânussati) or on charity (cāgânussati), or cultivate lovingkindness.104 It also helps to ensure that our place of meditation is suitable, and our diet is balanced and healthy.

In the case of weak moral virtue which can cause persistent difficulties in our meditation, we should then examine whether we have been habitually breaking any precept or harbouring some negative emotions. If we notice some moral lapses, we should resolve this by apostrophically seeking forgiveness from the Buddha and also unconditionally forgiving ourself by cultivating lovingkindness. A good strategy is to recall a time when we attended a study, retreat or event when we kept the precepts even for just that period.

When the “calmness” (samatha) approach does not seem to work, we may try getting into the “insight” (vipassanā) mode. This is to reflect on the conditioned nature of our meditative experience or our current state. Carefully reflect on their conditioned and impermanent nature, including applying some inspiring a Dhamma passage or a sutta teaching we have learned.

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Jim Smith, modified 5 Months ago at 9/13/23 7:39 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 9/13/23 7:34 AM

RE: Gladdening the mind (abhippamodayaṁ cittaṁ) and letting go.

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
...

So I think I will include this in my list of neurological techniques that reduce suffering:

  • Activating the parasympathetic nervous system and deactivating the sympathetic nervous system with relaxing meditation.


  • Deactivating neural pathways responsible for fear and ill will and activating neural pathways that result in feelings of contentment, calmness, security, and forgiveness through techniques that produce lightness of mind.

...


I find it is very helpful to have a neurological model of emotions because in that case emotions like anger, fear, and ill will, etc do not necessarily represent some fact about the situation you are in, they represent something about the neurological state you are in. So it seems much easier to change that state. Instead of fixing the "problem" to improve your emotional state, you just have to change the neurological state - which is something you can control. Its as if you have colored light bulbs lighting up reality and instead of your belief that an external force controls which light bulb is lit, you discover you can switch from one to another as you please. You just have to know it is possible so that you make an effort to learn how.

By relaxing and  observing the activity of the mind, by observing emotions not suppressing them, you see how emotions arise and fade. After a time, what at first seemed to be involuntary now seems more like something you do inadvertently out of habit, and you see you can change your habit. There isn't any external force determining which light bulb is lit, you realize the bulb that is lit is something your control.

You don't suppress emotions, you observe them.
You don't ignore problems, you can react to them with compassion and reason rather than out of control emotions.
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Jim Smith, modified 5 Months ago at 9/13/23 1:09 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 9/13/23 1:07 PM

RE: Gladdening the mind (abhippamodayaṁ cittaṁ) and letting go.

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith


...

By relaxing and  observing the activity of the mind, by observing emotions not suppressing them, you see how emotions arise and fade. After a time, what at first seemed to be involuntary now seems more like something you do inadvertently out of habit, and you see you can change your habit. There isn't any external force determining which light bulb is lit, you realize the bulb that is lit is something your control.

You don't suppress emotions, you observe them.
You don't ignore problems, you can react to them with compassion and reason rather than out of control emotions.


A very simple way to practice this is to notice that when you are relaxed in the present moment, dukkha does not arise. When you are distracted, when you are no longer in the present moment, then dukkha can arise. When you notice this, experience the emotion to it's full depth (should take seconds, not minutes - unless you have to dig through layers of emotions) and then relax and return to the present moment.  Practice this in meditation and daily life. There are many ways to be in the present moment.
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Jim Smith, modified 5 Months ago at 9/15/23 1:52 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 9/15/23 1:46 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
In my 2nd practice log I wrote about a nihilistic feeling. I am now thinking this is related to the 7/8th (soft) jhanas. My mind gets very quiet. Then next thing that happens is what I call the "transition" which I think is what others call cessation/fruition.

I do my relaxating meditation, then I experience 5/6 jhanas (floating feeling "infinite space/infinite consciousness"), then 7/8 jhanas (very quiet mind "no-thing-ness/neither perception nor non-perception), then the transition (nibbana), then the afterglow which is what I mean when I say "after I do this practice nothign bothers me". 

For me (and maybe for some other people), this samatha path seems to be much easier than vipassana path (POI does not align with my experiences - which had me so confused it is taking me a long time to figure out what actually is aligning with my experiences.). I think the focus on relaxation rather than concentration is what makes the difference. Concentration naturally results from this kind of relaxation, as I said "my mind gets very quiet".

I then do vipassana when my mind is calm from samatha, and I am feeling 'unbothered'.

After the transition metta is very excessible which at that point I find is helpful for letting go of attachments and aversions that are very hard to let go of ("hot button issues").

For me the point is not to experience cessation as a goal in a series of attainments. The point is to quiet and "gladden" the mind because ...

https://inquiringmind.com/article/2701_w_kornfield-enlightenments/
As Ajahn Chah described them, meditative states are not important in themselves. Meditation is a way to quiet the mind so you can practice all day long wherever you are; see when there is grasping or aversion, clinging or suffering; and then let it go.
- Jack Kornfield

I am not advising people to have cessation/fruition before doing vipassana. Just do what you can to relax, quiet the mind, and let go of unpleasant emotions and cravings as a way to prepare for vipassana. This is essentially what the anapanasatti sutra says to do.
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Ni Nurta, modified 5 Months ago at 9/18/23 5:09 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 9/18/23 5:09 AM

RE: Gladdening the mind (abhippamodayaṁ cittaṁ) and letting go.

Posts: 1070 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
So it seems much easier to change that state. Instead of fixing the "problem" to improve your emotional state, you just have to change the neurological state - which is something you can control.

That's the spirit!
Though it is best to not overdo pure control as much as me mindful of what causes what.
It is possible to learn such skills to force things through brute force by what I call consciousness duplication - I stayed away from this 'tech' even in case of jhanas and even though it is kinda what jhanas evolve to when purified anyways - there is the difference between pure jhanas which arise due to being pure from hindrances and forcing them through this duplication.

Anyways emotions IMHO arise in this overwhelming "don't know why but I must go deeper in to ths emotion" because for brain emotions are good way to shift activity elsewhere - parts of the brain get tired and any means to shift activity elsewhere is good. This means that rather than trying to do anything with emotion when it arises the very good way to deal with such emotion is to recognize which parts of the brain in-use are tired and shift activity elsewhere consciously - eg. to copies of faculties (we always have lots of backups - even though we might not realize it) or shut it down completely (cessation) - though for important faculties it always means arising of it and in case of such cessation which forces inactivity for some time it means it will arise elsewhere in one of the copies. When this happens then reasons for emotion disappear  and so is urgency and feeling of actually needing emotion for anything. Then even the justification for emotion being there feel much less relevant. So for example sadness instead of feeling like "this sad thing happened - need to be sad" feel like "oh... ok, maybe this thing was sad but... well.. uh... oh... do we need to continue this, I'd (sadness) rather go to sleep if that's ok with you?".

In case for working through emotions - there is some times need to actually experience something. What I noticed it is NEVER good to dwell in emotions from this sorta forced "panic mode" mind which does emotion because of this issue with tired parts of the brain I mentioned earlier. When emotion arise for the sake of emotion and working through stuff - it then lacks this urgency to experience stuff and things go much smoother and more cerebral as in figuring out if reasons for the emotion really matter that much and what working through it even means. Also - personally - I despise any method of release where it comes to emotions. It literally never works, working through emotions to get some grand relief at the end is the way to constantly have this kind of issues, if not with this topic (reason for emotion) then different topic. I saw through it right away (let's say in my teens I realized it just doesn't work to bring peace of mind) but people seem illusioned it does help. It seems people who go to therapy and have these emotional releases which they claim to be so much help for them and improve their lives so much... after some time mention having even more issues (at least they mention a lot more than before - not necessarily be aware their state worsened) and even start calling them "traumas" emoticon

So yeah, your approach is the right one. Working with nervous system to figure how it all ticks there and not being swayed by emotions themselves. From my side I might add "neurons don't really care for all this stuff". When neuron is sad it won't necessarily be eg. sad along whole brain full of neurons and in this case it is good to be perceptive enough to recognize when in part of the brain you have sadness and give them some metta. That works for all emotions and good to give them metta even if nothing bad happens. At the same time I really recommend avoiding anything called 'relief' or that causes 'release' - it is biggest illusion people fall in to. It doesn't work at all. The way it works is create illusion elsewhere and otherwise at best put affected part of mind to sleep/inactivity. It doesn't work on neurological level or psychological - thinking issue is resolved for it to resurface again isn't really helping and relying on this release only leads to generating dukkha. After a while it stops working and it will feel like the issue we thought was resolved is still there and so apparently goes much deeper and is an actual trauma. 

On the note of that relief/release - at times even when already not letting it happen and being more conscious it still might feel like this time it is skillful way of release. No, just no, it never is. Consciousness + metta and not letting things blow up to anything which feels like relief. Noticing hindrances (note: desire for relief is hindrance!) and consciously quieting them down (eg. with metta! why not). After some time that same part of mind which needed release, needed relief will just feel charged and happy, like there newer was any issue. This is meditation way of resolving emotional issues. Bonus points: less invoices for psychotherapists and antidepressants and never any reason to go to mental hospitals emoticon

Metta Fruitions,
Ni

ps. Metta fruitions are neither release nor pause in experience... more like neurons feeling loved stop keeping 'coherence of mind' (which they do out of duty toward keeping mind cognitive) which causes its typical 'image' to disappear, literally melts away. When it resumes most of it is still melted away unless normal activity is needed - which is the afterglow. It is not unlike normal fruitions but better cause it lack any relief and only has metta... metta fruition is actually fruition proper, imho ;)
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Jim Smith, modified 5 Months ago at 9/18/23 11:02 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 9/18/23 11:02 PM

RE: Gladdening the mind (abhippamodayaṁ cittaṁ) and letting go.

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Ni Nurta
...
Working with nervous system to figure how it all ticks there and not being swayed by emotions themselves.
...


I think it is intimately tied into identity view.

When you think unpleasant emotions (and thoughts and impulses, and sensory experience, the five aggregates) are part of a self, they have reality, you want  to defend your self from whatever is causing the emotions.
If you don't believe emotions are a natural inevitable feature of reality, but are just a brain state that one person might have but another person might not, then you are not confusing them for something to do with a self. You don't have to defend yourself from anything in the environment. (I don't mean one should ignore problems, just that they are better dealt with through reason and compassion rather than out of control emotions.)

Understanding that the situation is not cause of suffering, your reaction to the situation is the cause of suffering, is actually equivalent to understanding identity view well enough to begin working free from it. When you realize suffering is a habit you are engaging in inadvertently rather than an involuntary reaction you can't control, you have realized self is an image painted by the aggregates.
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Jim Smith, modified 5 Months ago at 9/19/23 1:06 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 9/19/23 1:03 PM

RE: The self / observer is produced by / is within the five aggregates

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Identity-view is when you think the self, the observer, is outside or separate from the five aggregates.

What is wrong with identity-view?

The observer does not exist independently of observations.

If you see something, you observe the sight. The same is true for hearing, other sensory experiences, thoughts, emotions, and impulses.

If you don't see anything, you don't observe any sight. The same is true for hearing, other sensory experiences, thoughts, emotions, and impulses.

The observer cannot exist outside of the five aggregates because without something to observe, there is no observation, without observation there is no observer.

This is step 6, sparsa/phassa of dependent origination.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sparśa
Sparśa (Sanskrit; Pali: phassa) is a Sanskrit/Indian term that is translated as "contact", "touching", "sensation", "sense impression", etc. It is defined as the coming together of three factors: the sense organ, the sense object, and sense consciousness (vijnana)

If you understand this, then when you are mindful in daily life and in meditation, when you are relaxed in the present moment, you know you are observing and  you know the "observer" is an artifact of phassa, the observer is not separate from the five aggregates. If you are not mindful, if you are lost in thought, if your mind is taken over by thoughts, emotions, impulses, and sensory experience, then you feel like an observer separate from the five aggregates. 

If you are mindful and you know the observer is not separate from the five aggregates, you know that there is no separate, continuous self that exists independently of observation, there is no thing that is a self, you have no grounds to be attached to the observer, to the self. You don't need to defend it from insult or injury. Even though habitual reactions remain (you still suffer), you can begin to work your way free from identity-view (end suffering). When you know you have no grounds for being attached to self, you can more easily let go of attachments and aversions because attachments and aversions are founded upon attachment to self.

When you observe the activity of your mind in meditation and daily life, you see how dukkha arises and how it fades. You find that althought suffering once seemed to be involuntary, later it seems to be more of a habit that you engage in inadvertently, and you see that you can learn to change your habits.

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

Jim Smith
Ajahn Nyanamoli Thero discusses stream-entry here:
https://www.hillsidehermitage.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/70hh-The-Stream-Entry-of-Ajahn-Chah-1.pdf

....

He explains that identity-view is when you see the self as something outside the five aggregates, something that is separate that can observe the five aggregates. 

And what is attavāda? It is assuming the sense of self externally, so to speak.

You can describe to yourself your experience as a whole, which can be called ‘the five aggregates’. If something is external to it – you realise ‘how could I even think of that? How could I think of something external to my thinking?’ That is a complete contradiction in terms.

But if you become aware of the vague, ambiguous sense of self that you have, you can see that it kind of has that property (of being external, independent of or separate from your experience as a whole; i.e. it is the self that ‘experiences things’ or ‘has the experience.’) – which means, it is not actually independent, but you keep maintaining that utter, blatant discrepancy, purely because you never think about it
...
Any notion of ‘external’ is fundamentally internal for you already. That’s how you uproot attavāda. Not giving it any way out, not leaving any room for that contradiction. Of course you actually have no choice in the matter, but your view doesn’t think that. Any form of allowing any form of ‘external to me/my experience’ is allowing the basis for attavāda to be there. So even when you say ‘my attavāda is conditioned by external’ you already assumed ‘external’ independent of your experience and that is the basis for your very attavāda you are trying to undo.

Regardless of what kind of sense of self you might have – whether lofty, superior, inferior, far, near, it has to still be within the aggregates and when you think ‘It’s all within’ even that thought of ‘it’s all within’ is still within the aggregates. That contradiction cannot remain without that constant nutriment of you providing the basis for it. Stop providing the basis for it, and the nature of it will become apparent, after a period of time.
...
First you need to admit that there is that sense of self, then stop putting it first; stop putting it external to the experience as a whole, see it within it.



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Jim Smith, modified 5 Months ago at 9/22/23 5:53 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 9/21/23 10:22 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Mantra of the day:

"Relaxed in the present moment, mindful of letting go."

Somewhere lost in the milieu of an activated parasympathetic nervous system, a deactivated default network in the brain, piti, sukkha, metta, forgiveness, generosity, unselfishness, gladdening the mind, neither pleasure no pain of the 4th jhana, the spaciousness and nothingness of the higher jhanas, is an attitude where dukkha doesn't stick, your mind is like Teflon. You can find this attitude in any of the aforementioned states. You probably already know this attitude, the trick is to recognize it and practice it. Try to remember in the past when you let go of unpleasant feelings about some situation, when your sense of self importance was not woken. It may also help to watch the activity of the mind and notice how dukkha arises in the mind/body (stop doing that, relax) and watch how dukkha fades (do more of that, relax), and notice how the ego is involved in dukkha arising.

"Mindfulness of letting go" means being aware of this attitude in your mind so you know when you have it and when you don't have it.
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Jim Smith, modified 5 Months ago at 9/23/23 2:23 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 9/23/23 2:20 AM

RE: Gladdening the mind (abhippamodayaṁ cittaṁ) and letting go.

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Ni Nurta
...

In case for working through emotions - there is some times need to actually experience something. What I noticed it is NEVER good to dwell in emotions from this sorta forced "panic mode" mind which does emotion because of this issue with tired parts of the brain I mentioned earlier. When emotion arise for the sake of emotion and working through stuff - it then lacks this urgency to experience stuff and things go much smoother and more cerebral as in figuring out if reasons for the emotion really matter that much and what working through it even means. Also - personally - I despise any method of release where it comes to emotions. It literally never works, working through emotions to get some grand relief at the end is the way to constantly have this kind of issues, if not with this topic (reason for emotion) then different topic. I saw through it right away (let's say in my teens I realized it just doesn't work to bring peace of mind) but people seem illusioned it does help. It seems people who go to therapy and have these emotional releases which they claim to be so much help for them and improve their lives so much... after some time mention having even more issues (at least they mention a lot more than before - not necessarily be aware their state worsened) and even start calling them "traumas" emoticon
...

I think it is possible to over do the observing emotions if you dwell too much you can train youself to be unhappy, or produce a jhana like feedback loop but with an unpleasant emotion instead of bliss. Sometimes emotions are have a purely biological cause (like some types of anxiety and depression) and no amount of letting your self feel them or analyzing them will make them go away.

But I also think at the right time analyzing your emotions can help because sometimes we hide thoughts and feelings we don't want to admit or acknowledge behind other layers of other emotions. And when when emotions arise if you don't interfere they often fade.

So each person has to find the right balance between letting out emotions (feeling them) and not overly dwelling on emotions.

That feeling/attitude of not interfereing with emotions as they arise and fade is something you can learn to recognzie and be mindful of and do it even when there is no emotion arising - I find if I do that then I am less likely to get caught unawares and carried away by entense emotions if they happen to arise because of some situation.
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Jim Smith, modified 4 Months ago at 9/26/23 9:54 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 9/26/23 9:47 PM

Mantra of the Day

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Mantra of the day:
Relaxed in clear awareness
Mindful of letting go
Observation creates the observer
Let emotions flow

Relaxed in clear awareness

  • Clear awareness means at the neurological level the experiential network in the brain is active and the default network is inactive. At the level of personal experience it means you are aware of something occurring in the present moment, in a relaxed way not in an intense way. As if someone said in a normal tone of voice, "Look over there". and you turned an looked where they were pointing. You would just look. Your mind wouldn't be wandering thinking about the past or future or trying to solve a problem. Also you would not be straining to have intense focus on just what you were seeing, trying to stamp out any other mental activity. You would just be fully focused and aware with a normal level of attention without distraction and without straining to stay focused. Mindfulness in meditation and daily life means having clear awareness, relaxed, focused, but not straining or suppressing.
Mindful of letting go

  • Mindful of letting go means you are aware of a feeling like forgiveness or generosity or metta or compassion or sukkha, where if something unpleasant happened you would not be upset by it. Not getting upset might be hard if something really bad happened, but if was something minor you probably have already done it many times. Mindful of letting go means you are familiar with that attitude and you try to be mindful of that attitude during daily life. It doesn't mean you don't get upset, it doesn't mean you don't have emotions, it means you practice being mindful of that attitude of acceptance and letting go.
Observation creates the observer

  • If you watch the activity of the mind you notice that thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experiences, and sense of self arise into the mind from unconscious processes and we don't really have much control over them. They form a chain of cause and effect where a sensation or thought causes a reaction, such as a sensation causing a thought that causes an emotion that produces a new thought that produces an impulse etc etc. Even if you feel like you are trying to use your mind to solve a problem, where did the impulse to solve the problem come from? It might seem like you are just an observer of these things. But the observer is just like any other thought or feeling, it arises into consciousness unasked for uninvited. (The same is also true for feelings of noself.) The sense of being an observer is created by observation. If there were nothing to see you would not feel like an observer of sights, if there were nothing to hear, you would not feel like an observer of sounds, if there were no emotions, you would not feel like an observer of emotions, if there were no thoughts you would not feel like an observer of thoughts, etc, etc. The observer, the feeling of self, is not separate from the process of observing. It is not separate from the five aggregates. It is not a permanent unchanging thing that has independent existence.
Let emotions flow

  • Let emotions flow means you do not judge or resist emotions.  You experience them to their full depth when they arise. At first this can be difficult to do and it can also be unpleasant. In time it becomes easier and you realize the pain of unpleasant emotions and cravings has more to do with resistance, the disliking of emotions, than to the emotions themselves. When you stop judging emotions, they can seem somewhat interesting, something you want to examine rather than avoid. (In this context I am referring to reactive emotions which I defined at the link.) This is related to "Mindful of letting go" where you have an attitude of not getting upset. However upsets will occur and when they do, you try to let the emotions flow without resistance or judgement. 

If anyone thinks what I have written is not logical, it is because I am trying to communicate feelings and feelings are not logical. The only way I have to communicate feelings is through words, and using words makes it look like I am trying to use logic even though I am only trying to communicate feelings.
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Jim Smith, modified 4 Months ago at 10/1/23 8:40 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 10/1/23 8:40 AM

RE: Mantra of the Day

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
...
The sense of being an observer is created by observation. If there were nothing to see you would not feel like an observer of sights, if there were nothing to hear, you would not feel like an observer of sounds, if there were no emotions, you would not feel like an observer of emotions, if there were no thoughts you would not feel like an observer of thoughts, etc, etc. The observer, the feeling of self, is not separate from the process of observing. It is not separate from the five aggregates. It is not a permanent unchanging thing that has independent existence.
...


When you are fully involved in observing/experiencing there is no observer/experiencer. Noting in meditation and daily life can get you fully involved in observing/experiencing.
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Jim Smith, modified 4 Months ago at 10/4/23 5:34 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 10/4/23 5:29 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I am noticing that the 5th/6th (soft) jhanas have an element of relaxation and the 7th/8th jhanas have an element of non-attachment that can be cultivated during daily life. If you spend time meditating in those jhanas you become familiar with the states and if you are mindful, you can keep them going after the meditation session is over or sometimes just invoke them. 

Using both elements produces a relaxed non-attached state. Its beneficial in itself, and as a background from which to notice dukkha arising and fading which is useful in vipassana practices.  (I am not claiming I've perfected this or that it is 100% protection from dukkha - staying mindful is the difficulty as it is in many other kinds of practices.)

I find there is also a kind of compassion that is generated for all suffering beings. (But it's easy to be sympathetic when you are not suffering, the people I admire most are those who show compassion when they are suffering themselves.) 

I use a type of relaxing meditation to go thorough jhanas 6-8 leading to cessation. 
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Jim Smith, modified 4 Months ago at 10/5/23 1:20 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 10/5/23 12:47 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
If you relax and  observe the activity of the mind, you see attention is constantly shifting from one thing to another, among thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experiences, senses of self. If mind is the self, then the self is not a solid, continuous, consistent thing - there isn't anything that lasts long enough to grab on to, there isn't anything to cling to ... or to be attached to. If you can maintain, be mindful of, that awareness/experience of impermanence of mind/self, dukkha doesn't have anything to adhere to.

This way of perceiving the impermanence of mental activity, during meditation and in daily life, keeps you from being drawn into stories about good and bad, right and wrong, winning and losing, where thoughts, emotions, impulses, etc take over your mind and carry you away into the dream realm of dukkha.

Instead, your awareness is focused on the pixels rather than the image and what it means, you are aware of individual frames rather than being absorbed in the action of the movie, you are aware of the individual words and understand the plot but you do not become attached to the plot in the novel.

​​​​​​​You are not ignoring reality, you are understanding reality so that you can avoid believing in a fantasy. You are not emotionally numb, you are able to respond to situations with compassion and reason rather than out of control and selfish emotions
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Jim Smith, modified 4 Months ago at 10/19/23 5:16 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 10/6/23 9:48 PM

Emotional Gate

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I have been trying trigger practice recently. Trigger practice is a term I found used by Shinzen Young to describe the practice of meditating in some type of a situation that you don't like, so you can study your reaction and learn to let go. 

I think I found something useful.

I've noticed there is a kind of mental switch or gate or valve that lets me turn on or off emotional flow.

For the most part I think it is beneficial to keep this gate open so that you are aware of emotions as they arise. (There could be exceptions, such as if one is feeling overwhelmed, I don't mean this as an absolute statement.)

When you meditate or practice mindfulness and you divert your attention to the object of meditation or mindfulness, you can still keep this emotional gate open. (I don't advise concentrating with intensity that creates stress. I prefer gentle concentration, getting distracted is okay and normal I just good naturedly return to the focus of meditation.)

In my opinion "concentration" should not mean closing this emotional gate.

When emotions arise during meditation or mindfulness practice, I observe them to their full depth. And I am referring to reactive emotions.

Being relaxed is also helpful.

It seems to me that the suffering is much less if you are open with your emotions as they arise.

A lot of suffering comes from resisting/rejecting/judging emotions rather than from the emotions themselves. And if you try to ignore emotions when concentrating, they accumulate and burst into consciousness and that is much more unpleasant. And when that happens, thoughts emotions and impulses can take over your mind. And you lose mindfulness and since you are more upset, it is harder to calm the mind and return to meditation.

If you are not clear on how to tell if your emotional gate is open or not, it can be helpful to practice metta or produce sukkha (tranquil happiness). Or if you are feeling any type of emotion, let yourself be aware of that as you focus on the object of meditation. Actually one of the difficulties people might come across in learning to do the soft jhanas is that they don't open their emotional gate. (I don't advise producing intense levels of metta or sukkha, just enough to know you are feeling them. And if you find any negative side effects from producing emotions don't push yourself to keep doing it.)

And I think it is also possible to overdo observing unpleasant emotions - too much and you might train yourself to be unhappy or produce a feedback loop like what happens to produce the jhanas but with an unpleasant emotion rather than bliss. So you have to work out what is the right balance.
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Jim Smith, modified 4 Months ago at 10/11/23 4:32 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 10/11/23 4:32 AM

RE: Mantra of the Day

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
Jim Smith
...
The sense of being an observer is created by observation. If there were nothing to see you would not feel like an observer of sights, if there were nothing to hear, you would not feel like an observer of sounds, if there were no emotions, you would not feel like an observer of emotions, if there were no thoughts you would not feel like an observer of thoughts, etc, etc. The observer, the feeling of self, is not separate from the process of observing. It is not separate from the five aggregates. It is not a permanent unchanging thing that has independent existence.
...


When you are fully involved in observing/experiencing there is no observer/experiencer. Noting in meditation and daily life can get you fully involved in observing/experiencing.


If you notice you sense of self, your feeling of being, you will notice that it changes from situation to situation. In school you think of yourself as a student. At work you think of yourself as an employee. When you are with your parents, your children, your friends, you have a differnt sense of self in each situation. When you think of different issues that you often think about, you will notice you have a different sense of self with each of those. The same is true for emotions and emotional issues you experience.

And if you keep observing you will see that the feeling of self is actually influenced moment to moment by every sensory experience, by everything you see, hear, and feel.

You will see that every moment of experience produces a unique sense of self.

You see that observation creates the observer. Experience creates the experiencer.
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Jim Smith, modified 4 Months ago at 10/12/23 12:02 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 10/12/23 11:40 AM

RE: Mantra of the Day

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
Jim Smith
Jim Smith
...
The sense of being an observer is created by observation. If there were nothing to see you would not feel like an observer of sights, if there were nothing to hear, you would not feel like an observer of sounds, if there were no emotions, you would not feel like an observer of emotions, if there were no thoughts you would not feel like an observer of thoughts, etc, etc. The observer, the feeling of self, is not separate from the process of observing. It is not separate from the five aggregates. It is not a permanent unchanging thing that has independent existence.
...


When you are fully involved in observing/experiencing there is no observer/experiencer. Noting in meditation and daily life can get you fully involved in observing/experiencing.


If you notice you sense of self, your feeling of being, you will notice that it changes from situation to situation. In school you think of yourself as a student. At work you think of yourself as an employee. When you are with your parents, your children, your friends, you have a differnt sense of self in each situation. When you think of different issues that you often think about, you will notice you have a different sense of self with each of those. The same is true for emotions and emotional issues you experience.

And if you keep observing you will see that the feeling of self is actually influenced moment to moment by every sensory experience, by everything you see, hear, and feel.

You will see that every moment of experience produces a unique sense of self.

You see that observation creates the observer. Experience creates the experiencer.


In dependent origination step 6 is contact -> step 7 is feeling -> step 8 is craving -> step 9 in clinging. If you are mindful during meditation and during daily life and  you notice what is happening between step 7 and 8 and interrupt it, by maintaining mindfulness, staying relaxed in the present moment, you prevent suffering arising, and you also prevent the sense of self from forming.

If you stay mindful, relaxed in the present moment, fully involved in experiencing/observing, with clear awareness, and you have some type of sensory or mental experience and that's all that happens, if when seeing you just see, if when hearing you just hear, and you don't let your mind get carried away with thinking that because there is an experience there must be an experiencer or how that experience relates to the experiencer in terms of good and bad, winning and losing, right and wrong, should or should not, then you will avoid a lot of suffering.

I am not saying you should ignore or suppress emotions, just try not to judge them. And I am not saying you should ignore problems, just that without all that judging you can respond to situations with reason and compassion rather than out of control selfish emotions.
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Jim Smith, modified 4 Months ago at 10/14/23 3:56 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 10/14/23 3:56 AM

RE: Mantra of the Day

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
Jim Smith
Jim Smith
Jim Smith
...
The sense of being an observer is created by observation. If there were nothing to see you would not feel like an observer of sights, if there were nothing to hear, you would not feel like an observer of sounds, if there were no emotions, you would not feel like an observer of emotions, if there were no thoughts you would not feel like an observer of thoughts, etc, etc. The observer, the feeling of self, is not separate from the process of observing. It is not separate from the five aggregates. It is not a permanent unchanging thing that has independent existence.
...


When you are fully involved in observing/experiencing there is no observer/experiencer. Noting in meditation and daily life can get you fully involved in observing/experiencing.


If you notice you sense of self, your feeling of being, you will notice that it changes from situation to situation. In school you think of yourself as a student. At work you think of yourself as an employee. When you are with your parents, your children, your friends, you have a differnt sense of self in each situation. When you think of different issues that you often think about, you will notice you have a different sense of self with each of those. The same is true for emotions and emotional issues you experience.

And if you keep observing you will see that the feeling of self is actually influenced moment to moment by every sensory experience, by everything you see, hear, and feel.

You will see that every moment of experience produces a unique sense of self.

You see that observation creates the observer. Experience creates the experiencer.


In dependent origination step 6 is contact -> step 7 is feeling -> step 8 is craving -> step 9 in clinging. If you are mindful during meditation and during daily life and  you notice what is happening between step 7 and 8 and interrupt it, by maintaining mindfulness, staying relaxed in the present moment, you prevent suffering arising, and you also prevent the sense of self from forming.

If you stay mindful, relaxed in the present moment, fully involved in experiencing/observing, with clear awareness, and you have some type of sensory or mental experience and that's all that happens, if when seeing you just see, if when hearing you just hear, and you don't let your mind get carried away with thinking that because there is an experience there must be an experiencer or how that experience relates to the experiencer in terms of good and bad, winning and losing, right and wrong, should or should not, then you will avoid a lot of suffering.

I am not saying you should ignore or suppress emotions, just try not to judge them. And I am not saying you should ignore problems, just that without all that judging you can respond to situations with reason and compassion rather than out of control selfish emotions.


When you practice mindfulness in daily life or meditation you are not getting carried away by thougts, emotions, impulses, if when seeing you just see, without creating a seer, you are interrupting dependent origination.

Mindfulness alone will cause identity view to atrophy.


Jim Smith


I've posted elsewhere that in the Sattipatthana Sutta, the Buddha encouraged his students to live practicing mindfulness.

If they do this with access concentration, then it seems to me that dependent origination will be disrupted naturally. Dukkha would not easily arise. A person would not get carried away by thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experiences or the ego, that type of mental activity would not take over their mind and body the way it does in the absence of access concenrtatin.

This may have something to do with why that sutra also says that practicing mindfulness continuously for a week is equivalent to the third for fourth stage of awakening.

If someone can experience access concentration while sitting in meditation, they can continue to meditate after their sitting meditation sessions by expand their practice to include practicing mindfulness in daily life (being aware of what you are doing as you are doing it), and through those practices maintain access concentration (and keep the default network in the brain inactive) during daily life.
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Jim Smith, modified 4 Months ago at 10/19/23 5:15 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 10/15/23 12:03 AM

Perceptual Shifts

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Crossposting with some many modifications:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/c/message_boards/find_message?p_l_id=10262&messageId=26068080

(UPDATE: the most up-to-date version is here: https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2023/10/perceptual-shifts-caused-by-meditation.html)

I've seen the term "perceptual shift" used occasionally and I recently got around to finding out what it means. So in this post I am explaining what perceptual shifts I think are important. I also try to explain why I think they are important: they lessen suffering and change behavior. I am not trying to imply that they do or don't fit somewhere in the spectrum of awakening according to some particular definition of awakening. None of these perceptual shifts have anything mystical about them. They are easy to understand intellectually but they are not transformative unless one sees the truth of them in their own mind.

​​​​​​​............................
I am not implying these do or don't fit on the scale of awakening but some perceptual shifts that some folks might notice (in no particular order) are:
​​​​​​​
  • At first you see events as the cause of suffering, later you see events are not the cause of suffering, the cause of suffering is your reaction to the event. This doesn't mean you ignore problems, it means you can respond to them with compassion and reason rather than out of control selfish emotions.

  • Unpleasant emotions and cravings at first seem involuntary, later they seem to be more like habits that you engage in inadvertently and with attention and effort you can give up the habit and stop making yourself suffer by staying relaxed, staying mindful in the moment - neither suppressing thoughts, emotions and impulses nor getting carried away by them - not mistaking the stories they try to tell you about good and bad, right and wrong, winning and losing as having anything to do with reality.

  • At first you think emotions are about reality, for example: in such and such a situation it is right to get angry, later you realize those kinds of stories are not reality, they are just a dream about how to make yourself suffer.

  • At first you get upset over problems, you might dislike or get angry at people and events. Later you realize you cannot learn to stop suffering without actually suffering and so you stop judging people and events because they help you to make progress, and because you feel compassion for people who are themselves suffering.

  • At first it seems like your mind is you, you think your thoughts, opinions, emotions, and impulses are yours. You think you are using your mind when you try to solve a problem. Later you see that thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experiences, and feelings of self arise from unconscious processes, unasked for, uninvited. Even when you are trying to solve a problem you don't know where the impulse to solve the problem came from.

  • Still later, when you observe the activity of the mind, you see that the moment to moment activity of the mind is a constantly changing sequence of cause and effect. An event or a thought may lead to another thought or invoke a memory that might cause an emotion that might produce an impulse etc etc. You feel like there isn't anyone in control, all there is just cause and effect.

  • At this point you may feel like you are just an observer of mental activity without any agency, but later you realize observation creates the observer. Without anything to see, there would be no seeing, no observing of sight. This is true for the other senses, and it is also true for all mental activity. Without thoughts there would be no observing of thoughts etc etc. So you see there is no observer separate from the process of perceiving, no experiencer separate from experiencing. The feeling of being an observer and the feeling of having no self both arise from the same unconscious processes from which all mental activity arises.

  • Another similar perceptual shift happens if you notice your sense of self, your feeling of being, you will notice that it changes from situation to situation. In school you think of yourself as a student. At work you think of yourself as an employee. When you are with your parents, your children, your friends, you have a differnt sense of self in each situation. When you think of different issues or topics that you often think about, you will notice you have a different sense of self with each of those. The same is true for emotions and emotional issues you experience. And if you keep observing you will see that the feeling of self is actually influenced moment to moment by every sensory experience, by everything you see, hear, and feel. You will see that every moment of experience produces a unique sense of self. This is another way of seeing that experience creates the experiencer. There isn't a separate continuous constant self apart from experiencing/observing.

  • Knowing that observing creates the observer you then notice, for example, when you see, if you just see and stay mindful, and you don't get carried away by thougths, emotions, and impulses, you don't assume, because you see, that there is a seer, you just see without any observer necessary. When you are fully involved in experiencing, there is no experiencer.

  • Initially you think the ego is you, and is the good guy in all the mental stories the mind weaves, and who is someone that must be defended at all costs from insult and injury. Later you realize the ego is an opinion that is the main character in the plot to make yourself suffer. This disenchantment helps you to let go of selfish attachments and aversions arising from egocentrism and egotism.

These perceptual shifts come from observing the activity of the mind, in meditation and in daily life, and observing how dukkha arises and fades and how the ego is involved in dukkha (ie observing the three characteristics and dependent origination). These perceptual shifts result in less suffering and in changes in behavior, they change one's approach to dealing with problems, and reactions to problems involve less emotional lashing out. They allow people who want to be more rational and compassionate to be so, people who don't desire those qualities will not automatically gain them by making these perceptual shifts although some might change their attitude if they do make these perceptual shifts.
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Jim Smith, modified 4 Months ago at 10/19/23 4:33 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 10/19/23 4:33 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
There seems to be a tipping point where practice in daily life and relaxed non-attachment begin to carry you forward almost on autopilot. Where awareness of relaxed non-attachment will reinforce it, and mindfulness of it throughout the day gives it quite a bit of reinforcement, and that leads to automatic strengthening of it without much intention. As if it is becoming a new default state of mind.
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Jim Smith, modified 4 Months ago at 10/19/23 11:30 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 10/19/23 5:27 PM

RE: Emotional Gate

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
If something is bugging me and I can't seem to let go, it is often because my emotional gate is closed. If I open the gate, relax and let it out, whatever it is seems to stop bugging me.

It's not so much that I need to become conscious of the particular issue in an intellectual way or the exact type of emotion in a psychological way, it's more like a neurological phenomena, I have to realx a certain thing to allow the emotion flow, to stop suppressing it. In a physical sense it feels like it is in my solar plexus or chest somewhere.

And by opening the emotional gate I don't mean obsessing on every unpleasant emotion I can think of or remember.

It's more like if a situation arises that upsets me, it's because my ego is offended and I have to respond to defend my ego. But if instead of doing that, I just look for an emotion being held in, and let it out, then I'm not suppressing anything, and the unpleasant feeling, the "I don't like" or "I don't want" aspect fades. 

The emotion I let out might be unpleasant but the emotions I feel from suppressing are worse. Far more suffering comes from resisting emotions than from the emotions themselves. We resist emotions because we don't want to admit what they imply - often something unflattering about oruselves or about some situation we don't want to exist.

It's hard to explain in words sorry if it's not clear.

Jim Smith
I have been trying trigger practice recently. Trigger practice is a term I found used by Shinzen Young to describe the practice of meditating in some type of a situation that you don't like, so you can study your reaction and learn to let go. 

I think I found something useful.

I've noticed there is a kind of mental switch or gate or valve that lets me turn on or off emotional flow.

For the most part I think it is beneficial to keep this gate open so that you are aware of emotions as they arise. (There could be exceptions, such as if one is feeling overwhelmed, I don't mean this as an absolute statement.)

When you meditate or practice mindfulness and you divert your attention to the object of meditation or mindfulness, you can still keep this emotional gate open. (I don't advise concentrating with intensity that creates stress. I prefer gentle concentration, getting distracted is okay and normal I just good naturedly return to the focus of meditation.)

In my opinion "concentration" should not mean closing this emotional gate.

When emotions arise during meditation or mindfulness practice, I observe them to their full depth. And I am referring to reactive emotions.

Being relaxed is also helpful.

It seems to me that the suffering is much less if you are open with your emotions as they arise.

A lot of suffering comes from resisting/rejecting/judging emotions rather than from the emotions themselves. And if you try to ignore emotions when concentrating, they accumulate and burst into consciousness and that is much more unpleasant. And when that happens, thoughts emotions and impulses can take over your mind. And you lose mindfulness and since you are more upset, it is harder to calm the mind and return to meditation.

If you are not clear on how to tell if your emotional gate is open or not, it can be helpful to practice metta or produce sukkha (tranquil happiness). Or if you are feeling any type of emotion, let yourself be aware of that as you focus on the object of meditation. Actually one of the difficulties people might come across in learning to do the soft jhanas is that they don't open their emotional gate. (I don't advise producing intense levels of metta or sukkha, just enough to know you are feeling them. And if you find any negative side effects from producing emotions don't push yourself to keep doing it.)

And I think it is also possible to overdo observing unpleasant emotions - too much and you might train yourself to be unhappy or produce a feedback loop like what happens to produce the jhanas but with an unpleasant emotion rather than bliss. So you have to work out what is the right balance.
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Jim Smith, modified 4 Months ago at 10/20/23 9:36 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 10/20/23 9:13 PM

RE: Emotional Gate

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
"Far more suffering comes from resisting emotions than from the emotions themselves."

A large part of suffering is resisting emotions, ie not wanting to acknowledge the situation causing emotions, ie. resisting reality, ie cognitive dissonance.

​​​​​​​Dukkha = cognitive dissonance.

Jim Smith
If something is bugging me and I can't seem to let go, it is often because my emotional gate is closed. If I open the gate, relax and let it out, whatever it is seems to stop bugging me.

It's not so much that I need to become conscious of the particular issue in an intellectual way or the exact type of emotion in a psychological way, it's more like a neurological phenomena, I have to realx a certain thing to allow the emotion flow, to stop suppressing it. In a physical sense it feels like it is in my solar plexus or chest somewhere.

And by opening the emotional gate I don't mean obsessing on every unpleasant emotion I can think of or remember.

It's more like if a situation arises that upsets me, it's because my ego is offended and I have to respond to defend my ego. But if instead of doing that, I just look for an emotion being held in, and let it out, then I'm not suppressing anything, and the unpleasant feeling, the "I don't like" or "I don't want" aspect fades. 

The emotion I let out might be unpleasant but the emotions I feel from suppressing are worse. Far more suffering comes from resisting emotions than from the emotions themselves. We resist emotions because we don't want to admit what they imply - often something unflattering about oruselves or about some situation we don't want to exist.

It's hard to explain in words sorry if it's not clear.

Jim Smith
I have been trying trigger practice recently. Trigger practice is a term I found used by Shinzen Young to describe the practice of meditating in some type of a situation that you don't like, so you can study your reaction and learn to let go. 

I think I found something useful.

I've noticed there is a kind of mental switch or gate or valve that lets me turn on or off emotional flow.

For the most part I think it is beneficial to keep this gate open so that you are aware of emotions as they arise. (There could be exceptions, such as if one is feeling overwhelmed, I don't mean this as an absolute statement.)

When you meditate or practice mindfulness and you divert your attention to the object of meditation or mindfulness, you can still keep this emotional gate open. (I don't advise concentrating with intensity that creates stress. I prefer gentle concentration, getting distracted is okay and normal I just good naturedly return to the focus of meditation.)

In my opinion "concentration" should not mean closing this emotional gate.

When emotions arise during meditation or mindfulness practice, I observe them to their full depth. And I am referring to reactive emotions.

Being relaxed is also helpful.

It seems to me that the suffering is much less if you are open with your emotions as they arise.

A lot of suffering comes from resisting/rejecting/judging emotions rather than from the emotions themselves. And if you try to ignore emotions when concentrating, they accumulate and burst into consciousness and that is much more unpleasant. And when that happens, thoughts emotions and impulses can take over your mind. And you lose mindfulness and since you are more upset, it is harder to calm the mind and return to meditation.

If you are not clear on how to tell if your emotional gate is open or not, it can be helpful to practice metta or produce sukkha (tranquil happiness). Or if you are feeling any type of emotion, let yourself be aware of that as you focus on the object of meditation. Actually one of the difficulties people might come across in learning to do the soft jhanas is that they don't open their emotional gate. (I don't advise producing intense levels of metta or sukkha, just enough to know you are feeling them. And if you find any negative side effects from producing emotions don't push yourself to keep doing it.)

And I think it is also possible to overdo observing unpleasant emotions - too much and you might train yourself to be unhappy or produce a feedback loop like what happens to produce the jhanas but with an unpleasant emotion rather than bliss. So you have to work out what is the right balance.
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Jim Smith, modified 3 Months ago at 10/28/23 5:28 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 10/28/23 3:52 PM

Mantra of the day.

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Mantra of the day:

Relaxed and mindful, not immersed.
Not pushing away, not carried away.

"Immersed" means you are absorbed in thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experience, and senses of self so they seem like reality. This is the way most non-meditators experience consciousness.
So the first line means to be clearly aware of the difference between being a relaxed and aware observer of thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experiences and senses of self, slightly detached versus being immersed.

The second line, is really a restatement of the first line. It explains what to do with emotions that arise. Don't push them away (suppress) but don't get carried away (become immersed). Observe them mindfully, and aware, but somewhat detached. When you get this right you avoid a lot of extra suffering. Pushing away, suppressing, resisting/rejecting reality creates a psychological conflict between what you feel and reality. It is not pleasant, reality still exists and the feeling of rejection, "this is not right", dukkha never ends. Becoming carried away means you accept as real the unpleasant/nightmarish story, the mind is creating. 

When you carry out these two lines in meditation and daily life, you are observing the three characteristics and interrupting the sequence of dependent origination. When you clutivate relaxation (activating the parasympathetic nervous system/deactivating the sympathetic nervous system) and observation (activating the experiential network in the brain/deactivating the default network), you are cultivating samatha and vipassana. (If emotions are too strong or you begin to feel overwhelmed while practicing vipassana you can practice more relaxation.) In time, with practice, detached becomes non-attached.

------------------------------------------------------------
​​​​​​​
https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2023/07/practicing-mindfulness-in-daily-life.html
In the artcle Enlightenments, Jack Kornfield explains Ajahn Chah's philosophy:
His approach to enlightenment was not based on having any particular meditation experience, no matter how profound. As Ajahn Chah described them, meditative states are not important in themselves. Meditation is a way to quiet the mind so you can practice all day long wherever you are; see when there is grasping or aversion, clinging or suffering; and then let it go.


In the Sattipatthana Sutta, The Sutra on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness, The Buddha said: "Should any person practice these four foundations of mindfulness in this manner [every waking moment] for a week, then one of these two fruits may be expected by him: highest knowledge here and now, or if some remainder of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning."
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.010.nysa.html

​​​​​​​Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn explains:
And the interesting thing — and this is the study — when they put people through eight weeks of MBSR [mindfulness based stress reduction], this narrative network decreases in activity and this experiential network increases in activity and they become uncoupled. So they’re no longer caught together in such a way. So this one can actually attenuate and liberate you a little bit from the constant thinking, thinking, thinking — a lot which is driven, of course, by anxiety and, "What’s wrong with me?" The story of me is often a depressing story. And a fear-based story. We’re like driving the car with the brake on, with the emergency brake on. And if we learn how to just kind of release it, everything will unfold with less strain, with less stress and with a greater sense of life unfolding rather than you’re driving through it to get to some great pot of gold at the end, which might just be your grave.
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Jim Smith, modified 3 Months ago at 11/15/23 9:27 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 11/15/23 4:59 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I am finding it is helpful to mindfully watch the mental chatter, the stream of consciousness - as meditation and as mindfulness in daily life.

When you do that you see the stream of consciousness is a sequence of cause and effect.

You observe that a sensation (sight, sound, feeling) or a thought might lead to a thought or emotion or impulse that leads to another thought or emotion or impulse. And the process continues like that until a new sensation or thought might cause another sequence of cause and effect in a new direction etc.

And this all happens by itself with no one in control, you are just observing, detached, not participating.

But the sense of self comes from the same place the other thoughts and feelings come from. And it changes from situation to situation, from moment to moment actually. You can see how the feeling of being is the sum total of all sensations thoughts emotions impulses that are changing from moment to moment that arise from the aggregates, from unconscious processes. Self is an image produced by the pixels that arise from unconscious processes.

And when dukkha, unpleasant emotions or cravings, arise if you can see how the ego is involved, which it usually is, you know the ego is just produced by the aggregates too. This hodgepodge of sensations thoughts emotions impulses senses of self and senses of no-self  is coming from the aggregates, as a sequence of cause and effect, with no one in control, producing suffering. 

And when you see that, it creates a sense of detachment because you don't feel like the sense of self is really you, the upset ego isn't yours. So that you are aware of things that are pleasant or unpleasant physically and emotionally that arise but the extra emotions, the suffering  you normally add on top of that when you relate the experience to yourself is greatly diminished.

The thing that learns from this is the aggregates, and as the aggregates learn, their output changes.

(Also, I prepare for this type of practice by doing relaxing meditation first.)
Martin, modified 3 Months ago at 11/15/23 11:48 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 11/15/23 11:48 AM

RE: Perceptual Shifts

Posts: 725 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Very nice! Thanks, Jim!
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Jim Smith, modified 3 Months ago at 11/16/23 10:10 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 11/16/23 6:40 PM

Identity-view

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
https://mohitvalecha.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/stepping-on-a-frog/
Once there was a monk who specialized in the Buddhist precepts, and he kept to them all his life. Once when he was walking at night, he stepped on something. It made a squishing sound, and he imagined he had stepped on an egg-bearing frog.

This caused him no end of alarm and regret, in view of the Buddhist precept against taking life, and when he finally went to sleep that night he dreamed that hundreds of frogs came demanding his life.

The monk was terribly upset, but when morning came he looked and found that what he stepped on was an overripe eggplant. At that moment his feeling of uncertainty suddenly stopped, and for the first time he realised the meaning of the saying that “there is no objective world.” Then he finally knew how to practice Zen.

If you want to know what this story really means you can follow the link.

What I want to say is that this story illustrates an important principle of how to let go of attachments and aversions, how to let go of suffering.

The monk was upset when he thought he stepped on a frog, but when he found out it was an eggplant he wasn't upset any more.

When you are upset and it is due to a misunderstanding, if you clear up that misunderstanding, you can let go easily and you won't be upset any more.

I find that when I am upset, usually I don't notice that it is my ego that is making me upset because it feels like an unalterable fact of reality that I should be upset in that situation. That, in my opinion, is the fundamental misunderstanding of most suffering we think our emotions reflect reality when they are really produced by ego, by egotistic and egocentric thinking (identity-view).

But if I can examine my feelings and see how my reaction is somehow due to egotistical or egocentric thinking then I realize I am being silly, I don't have to be upset. And I can let go.

Sometimes it's hard to see how our ego is hurting us. Sometimes this is because these ways of thinking are so ingrained we don't even notice them, we don't notice our thinking is hurting us, we just think "this is reality and it is not always nice." 

But if you can examine your thinking and see how it is really your ego that is causing the trouble, you see it was just a misunderstanding (you thought it was an inevitable aspect of reality but then you realized it was just your ego), and you can let go. Then reality is a lot nicer.

It might be hard to understand what I mean so I will provide an example.

Today I walked to the grocery store. Often when I go out for a walk, I walk in my neighborhood and it is a pleasant walk. It's a residential neighborhood, there isn't much traffic, there are birds singing, and cute rabbits in nicely landscaped yards. But today I needed to go to the store and instead I had to walk on streets with a lot of noisy traffic, past storefronts on streets with litter. It wasn't very nice. I didn't like it. Then I noticed it was my ego that was upsetting me. This idea that it is better to walk by the houses rather than the busy streets is egoic thinking. The word "better" is telling you about winners and losers. I realized it was my ego that didn't like the walk to the store, my ego (the aggregates) wanted to do what was better and not what was worse. Then the distinction between better and worse disappeared. I (the aggregates) felt like the walk to the store was just different. It had it's own flavor of familiarity, there were people in the cars and stores, it enabled me to get the groceries I needed, etc. It wasn't all good, but it wasn't all bad ether. Really, it wasn't good or bad. The problem was my unconscious egoistic reaction.

This kind of thing can happen many times a day. We have ingrained in our thinking that if we get what we want and avoid what we don't want we are successful, and if we don't get what we want and can't avoid what we don't want it is a failure. If you are mindful, if you watch the activity of your mind in meditation and daily life, and can see how every little twinge of dukkha, every little craving or aversion, every little liking and disliking, wanting and not wanting, is your ego is making you suffer, you can let go each time. It sounds simple, but this kind of thinking is so ingrained, it seems like an aspect of reality rather than something you are doing to yourself. You have to be alert to how you feel and then examine your feelings and see what role the egoistic and egocentric thinking (identity-view) is playing. If you do it, you can probably remove a lot of gloom from reality.

https://inquiringmind.com/article/2701_w_kornfield-enlightenments/
As Ajahn Chah described them, meditative states are not important in themselves. Meditation is a way to quiet the mind so you can practice all day long wherever you are; see when there is grasping or aversion, clinging or suffering; and then let it go.
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Jim Smith, modified 3 Months ago at 11/20/23 7:14 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 11/20/23 7:14 AM

RE: Identity-view

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith

...
I realized it was my ego that didn't like the walk to the store, my ego (the aggregates) wanted to do what was better and not what was worse.
...


The term ego as well as similar terms unconscious, subconscious are somewhat problematical because they call to mind a self as a thing, they perpetuate identity-view, even if  through an indirection, at a distance once removed.

Aggregates is a better term because it refers to various distinct impersonal elements, like pixels that form an image, but are not actually of the same substance as the thing they depict.
Martin, modified 3 Months ago at 11/20/23 9:51 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 11/20/23 9:51 AM

RE: Identity-view

Posts: 725 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Good observation. Framing makes a difference. 
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Jim Smith, modified 3 Months ago at 11/20/23 1:19 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 11/20/23 1:19 PM

RE: Identity-view

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
Jim Smith

...
I realized it was my ego that didn't like the walk to the store, my ego (the aggregates) wanted to do what was better and not what was worse.
...


The term ego as well as similar terms unconscious, subconscious are somewhat problematical because they call to mind a self as a thing, they perpetuate identity-view, even if  through an indirection, at a distance once removed.

Aggregates is a better term because it refers to various distinct impersonal elements, like pixels that form an image, but are not actually of the same substance as the thing they depict.


And fears, and worries, and annoyances, and every little twinge of dukkha is about as credible as if it was coming from a magic 8 ball.  Would you trust a toy to give you advice on what to do, how to treat people, how to feel, what to say. These things are going to happen, but there is no reason to be attached to mental phenomena or the consequences - like "my magic 8 ball didn't work, boo hoo".

And non-attachment doesn't mean you are numb or callous, it means out of control selfish emotions don't drown out reason and compassion.
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Jim Smith, modified 3 Months ago at 11/20/23 1:33 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 11/20/23 1:33 PM

RE: Identity-view

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
Jim Smith
Jim Smith

...
I realized it was my ego that didn't like the walk to the store, my ego (the aggregates) wanted to do what was better and not what was worse.
...


The term ego as well as similar terms unconscious, subconscious are somewhat problematical because they call to mind a self as a thing, they perpetuate identity-view, even if  through an indirection, at a distance once removed.

Aggregates is a better term because it refers to various distinct impersonal elements, like pixels that form an image, but are not actually of the same substance as the thing they depict.


And fears, and worries, and annoyances, and every little twinge of dukkha is about as credible as if it was coming from a magic 8 ball.  Would you trust a toy to give you advice on what to do, how to treat people, how to feel, what to say. These things are going to happen, but there is no reason to be attached to mental phenomena or the consequences - like "my magic 8 ball didn't work, boo hoo".

And non-attachment doesn't mean you are numb or callous, it means out of control selfish emotions don't drown out reason and compassion.


The sequence of dependent origination stops when the magic 8 ball stops trusting its own output - so it stops using its output as the input for the next step in the sequence.
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Jim Smith, modified 3 Months ago at 11/20/23 2:45 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 11/20/23 2:45 PM

RE: Identity-view

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
Jim Smith
Jim Smith
Jim Smith

...
I realized it was my ego that didn't like the walk to the store, my ego (the aggregates) wanted to do what was better and not what was worse.
...


The term ego as well as similar terms unconscious, subconscious are somewhat problematical because they call to mind a self as a thing, they perpetuate identity-view, even if  through an indirection, at a distance once removed.

Aggregates is a better term because it refers to various distinct impersonal elements, like pixels that form an image, but are not actually of the same substance as the thing they depict.


And fears, and worries, and annoyances, and every little twinge of dukkha is about as credible as if it was coming from a magic 8 ball.  Would you trust a toy to give you advice on what to do, how to treat people, how to feel, what to say. These things are going to happen, but there is no reason to be attached to mental phenomena or the consequences - like "my magic 8 ball didn't work, boo hoo".

And non-attachment doesn't mean you are numb or callous, it means out of control selfish emotions don't drown out reason and compassion.


The sequence of dependent origination stops when the magic 8 ball stops trusting its own output - so it stops using its output as the input for the next step in the sequence.

"The term ego as well as similar terms unconscious, subconscious are somewhat problematical because they call to mind a self as a thing, they perpetuate identity-view, even if  through an indirection, at a distance once removed."

They call to mind the self as a thing separate from the aggregates, a thing that has an ego or an unconscious or a subconscious.

It's hard to express these ideas without implying a separation between self and the aggregates. And that is the source of the problem - thinking the self is separate from, or distinct from, or outside, the five aggregates.
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Jim Smith, modified 3 Months ago at 11/21/23 2:47 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 11/21/23 2:37 PM

RE: Identity-view

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
Jim Smith
Jim Smith
Jim Smith
Jim Smith

...
I realized it was my ego that didn't like the walk to the store, my ego (the aggregates) wanted to do what was better and not what was worse.
...


The term ego as well as similar terms unconscious, subconscious are somewhat problematical because they call to mind a self as a thing, they perpetuate identity-view, even if  through an indirection, at a distance once removed.

Aggregates is a better term because it refers to various distinct impersonal elements, like pixels that form an image, but are not actually of the same substance as the thing they depict.


And fears, and worries, and annoyances, and every little twinge of dukkha is about as credible as if it was coming from a magic 8 ball.  Would you trust a toy to give you advice on what to do, how to treat people, how to feel, what to say. These things are going to happen, but there is no reason to be attached to mental phenomena or the consequences - like "my magic 8 ball didn't work, boo hoo".

And non-attachment doesn't mean you are numb or callous, it means out of control selfish emotions don't drown out reason and compassion.


The sequence of dependent origination stops when the magic 8 ball stops trusting its own output - so it stops using its output as the input for the next step in the sequence.

"The term ego as well as similar terms unconscious, subconscious are somewhat problematical because they call to mind a self as a thing, they perpetuate identity-view, even if  through an indirection, at a distance once removed."

They call to mind the self as a thing separate from the aggregates, a thing that has an ego or an unconscious or a subconscious.

It's hard to express these ideas without implying a separation between self and the aggregates. And that is the source of the problem - thinking the self is separate from, or distinct from, or outside, the five aggregates.


"They call to mind the self as a thing separate from the aggregates, a thing that has an ego or an unconscious or a subconscious."

A way to get beyond thinking of ego or aggregates as something one has - ie identity view - the self as something separate or apart from the aggregates - is to observe the observer. Ways to do this include: watch the activity of the mind, the stream of consciousness, notice how it all goes by itself, or take a walk and notice how walking goes by itself you don't have to pay attention it's automatic. Then get a good sense of being an observer and notice the feeling of being an observer. Or notice the feeling of self, or that the self concept changes from situation to situation, or that the feeling of being changes form moment to moment as thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experience, and feelings of self and noself are constantly changing. Or just become absorbed in perception, be absorbed in the present moment, without thinking (analyzing, judging etc) about it, with dependent origination suspended, get used to mentality without engaging any conecpt of self. When seeing, just see.

But for easing suffering I think samatha = tranquility = relaxation is very helpful. And watching the activity of the mind, the stream of consciousness, and seeing (it is all cause and effect, one thought triggers the next, or an emotion or an impulse, without anyone in control) the aggregates as something you don't control (like a magic 8 ball) and therefore have no reason to take seriously and therefore have no reason to be attached to, helps to cultivate an attitude of nonattachment.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 12/1/23 9:25 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 12/1/23 5:30 PM

Mantra of the day.

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Mantra of the day:

"That's coming from the aggregates."

Every moment of awareness is produced by the aggregates, every thought, emotion, impulse, sensory experience, sense of self or noself, every feeling of being. There is no perception of objective reality, just the output of the virtual reality generator - the aggregates. There is no reason to be attached to this, self is a thought or feeling generated by the aggregates, not an actual thing, there are no grounds to be attached to anything that is me or mine, those thoughts and feelings are just output from the virtual reality generator.

Noting "aggregates" for every moment of awareness, every moment of mental or physical experience, every subtle inkling, every twinge of dukkha, every egocentric or egotistic thought or feeling, keeps you in the present, interrupts dependent origination, helps you give up unhelpful mental habits, cultivates equanimity and prevents much suffering. It keeps you from being carried away by thoughts emotions impulses etc,. It keeps you from getting tricked into thinking dukkha or self is something real when it is just a thought or feeling generated by the aggregates.

Dukkha and self are like two sides of the same coin. Almost all dukkha has an involvement with the sense of self.
identity view = dukkha view
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 12/4/23 8:59 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 12/4/23 4:31 PM

Samatha and Vipassana

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I have been thnking lately that samatha and vipassana are not separate practices but things you do at the same time.

The anapanasati sutta is evidence of this:

http://dhammatalks.net/Books3/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_Anapanasati_Mindfulness_with_Breathing.htm#APPENDIX%20B

ANAPANASATI - MINDFULNESS WITH BREATHING
Unveiling the Secrets of Life:
a Manual for Serious Beginners
by
BUDDHADASA BHIKKHU
...
FIRST TETRAD

(1) While breathing in long he fully comprehends: I breathe in long. While breathing out long he fully comprehends: I breathe out long. 16

(2) While breathing in short he fully comprehends: I breathe in short. While breathing out short he fully comprehends: I breathe out short.

(3) He trains himself: thoroughly experiencing all bodies I shall breathe in. He trains himself: thoroughly experiencing all bodies I shall breathe out.17

(4) He trains himself: calming the body-conditioner I shall breathe in. He trains himself: calming the body-conditioner I shall breathe out.18

SECOND TETRAD

(5) He trains himself: thoroughly experiencing piti I shall breathe in. He trains himself: thoroughly experiencing piti I shall breathe out.

(6) He trains himself: thoroughly experiencing sukha I shall breathe in. He trains himself: thoroughly experiencing sukha I shall breathe out.

(7) He trains himself: thoroughly experiencing the mind-conditioner I shall breathe in. He trains himself: thoroughly experiencing the mind-conditioner I shall breathe out.19

(8) He trains himself: calming the mind-conditioner I shall breathe in. He trains himself: calming the mind-conditioner I shall breathe out. 20

THIRD TETRAD

(9) He trains himself: thoroughly experiencing the mind I shall breathe in. He trains himself: thoroughly experiencing the mind I shall breathe out. 21

(10) He trains himself: gladdening the mind I shall breathe in. He trains himself: gladdening the mind I shall breathe out. 22

(11) He trains himself: concentrating the mind I shall breathe in. He trains himself: concentrating the mind I shall breathe out.23

(12) He trains himself: liberating the mind I shall breathe in.

FOURTH TETRAD

(13) He trains himself; constantly contemplating impermanence I shall breathe in. He trains himself; constantly contemplating impermanence I shall breathe out. 25

(14) He trains himself; constantly contemplating fading away I shall breathe in. He trains himself: constantly contemplating fading away I shall breathe out. 26

(15) He trains himself: constantly contemplating quenching I shall breathe in. He trains himself: constantly contemplating quenching I shall breathe out. 27

(16) He trains himself: constantly contemplating tossing back I shall breathe in. He trains himself: constantly contemplating tossing back I shall breathe out. 28
...
Before discussing the third tetrad specifically, there is a very important point which we sometimes forget to stress. Every time you sit down to practice Anapanasati - every sitting and session - you must begin with step one, the experiencing of the long breath. It does not matter what step you were doing yesterday, today you must start again at the very beginning. Each session is brand new. From the long breath, move on to the short breath, and so on. Progress from one step to the next, completely fulfilling each step before moving on, until you come to the step where you left off last time. Each step depends upon the previous one.
...

As many of these stages as possible are to be done in order during each meditation session. Much of these instructions involve observation - vipassana, but lines 4,8,10,11,12 involve samatha.

In daily life when dukkha arises one may wonder how to handle it, should one just observe it (vipassana) or to let go (relax, samatha)?
The answer is both observe it, feel it to its full depth, and simultaneously relax and let go, noticing how dukkha fades as well has how it arises.

This relates to another non-contradiction: letting go of dukkha (samatha) and realizing anatta (vipassana) are best understood not as two different approaches, but as the same thing. Most dukkha has the ego or self image or attachment to aggregates involved. If you are letting go of dukkha you are letting go of attachments to the aggregates. If you have insight into anatta you will be less attached to the aggregates. If you are investigating dukkha you will find anatta, the sense of self that causes dukkha is constantly changing, and is not separate from the aggregates. If you are investigating anatta you will find dukkha - you will see how the sense of self is caused by attachment to the aggregates.

In my experience, understanding this confluence, seeing the relationship between dukkha and the clinging to the aggregates that creates the sense of self, is crucial to letting go. You can't let go if you don't understand what conception you are clinging to. But once you see the relationship between dukkha and how clinging to the aggregates creates the ego that is causing you pain you can to let go much more easily - the hardest part is remembering - staying mindful, not letting thoughts, emotions, and impulses carry you away.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 12/4/23 9:55 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 12/4/23 8:58 PM

The Five Aggregates of Clinging

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skandha

The five aggregates or heaps of clinging are:

  1. form (or material image, impression) (rupa)
  2. sensations (or feelings, received from form) (vedana)
  3. perceptions (samjna)
  4. mental activity or formations or influences of a previous life (sanskara)
  5. consciousness (vijnana).[6][7][8]

In the Theravada tradition, suffering arises when one identifies with or clings to the aggregates. This suffering is extinguished by relinquishing attachments to aggregates.



"In the Theravada tradition, suffering arises when one identifies with or clings to the aggregates. This suffering is extinguished by relinquishing attachments to aggregates."

And the sense of self arises when one identifies or clings to the aggregates.

Whenever we think in terms of "I" "me" or "mine" we assume there is a self - my possessions, my body, my feelings, my perceptions, my mind, my consciousness.

Realizing anatta (stopping clinging to the aggregates) ends suffering.
Ending suffering (stopping clinging to the aggregates) is realizing anatta.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rūpa#Buddhism
    Overall, rūpa is the Buddhist concept of material form, including both the body and external matter.
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedanā
    Vedanā (Pāli and Sanskrit: वेदना) is an ancient term traditionally translated as either "feeling"[1] or "sensation."[2] In general, vedanā refers to the pleasant, unpleasant and neutral sensations that occur when our internal sense organs come into contact with external sense objects and the associated consciousness.
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samjna_(concept)
    Saṃjñā (Sanskrit; Pali: sañña) is a Buddhist term that is typically translated as "perception" or "cognition."
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saṅkhāra
    Saṅkhāra (Pali; सङ्खार; Sanskrit: संस्कार or saṃskāra) is a term figuring prominently in Buddhism. The word means 'formations'[1] or 'that which has been put together' and 'that which puts together'.
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vijñāna
    Vijñāna (Sanskrit: विज्ञान) or viññāṇa (Pali: विञ्ञाण)[1] is translated as "consciousness", "life force", "mind",[2] or "discernment".[3]



  1. Form = material objects including the body.
  2. Sensations = any feeling that can be classified as pleasant, unpleasant or neutral including physical sensations psychological feelings like emotions.
  3. Perceptions = Perception occurs when you recognize or identify something by its characteristics. 
  4. Mental activity = thoughts, emotions, impulses etc.
  5. Consciousness = self awareness, sense of self or noself, self image, ego.


What causes suffering? What creates a sense of self? Attachment to material objects. Attachment to the body. Attachments and aversions to sensations. Attachments to perceptiveness or ability to perceive or recognize different things. Attachments to thoughts, emotions, impulses, opinions etc. Attachments to self, self image, self concept, feeling of being, sense of noself.

When you feel dukkha in meditation and in daily life, try to discern the aggregate(s) you are clinging to. Try to notice any cause and effect relationships for example: object -> sense organ -> sensation -> recognition -> thinking -> sense of self -> suffering. The greater clarity you have over what you are clinging to, the easier it is to let go (relax)
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 12/12/23 2:53 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 12/10/23 5:00 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I have thought that the type of practice described in this article could be helpful but I haven't done much of it. 

https://www.amritamandala.com/2pf

It seemed reasonable to me that by observing your sense of self and then observing something else you would develop a greater awareness of your sense of self. With a greater awareness of it you would also develop a greater sensitivity to when you were not subject to that sense of self, when you were not subject to identity-view.

After seeing the article I thought about it some more and tried something very similar. I remembered how I feel in different situations, how I felt when I was with my parents, when I was with children, with friends, with a girlfriend, at work, with my boss, with people I supervised, when I was playing sports with other people, or doing something alone etc etc. How I felt having a car, a house, money, a job, or losing money, or a friend, or moving to a new city etc. And how I felt experiencing different physical sensation, heat, cold, pain, pleasure, pleasant tastes, unpleasant tastes, good smells bad smells etc etc. And how I felt experiencing different emotions, impulses and mental feelings, happiness, unhappiness, anger, jealousy, generosity etc etc. What qualities I thought I had or what kind of person I thought I was: smart or dumb, proud or humble, arogant or modest, nice or mean, rich or poor, etc. which also change from time to time and situation to situation.

I noticed what is was like to be me experiencing all those things. I helps me understand how the aggregates create the sense of self, how the mind creates the sense of self, the feeling of being me.

Then I would just be mindful, in the present moment, not thinking just observing: noticing my breathing in and out, or noticing what was happening around me, seeing, hearing, feeling. In this way I would still be experiencing and feeling but I would be just feeling, just experiencing, not thinking, not creating a sense of self, not thinking "me" "mine" "my" or "I"

And I would alternate the two ways of meditating a number of times during the same meditation session.

I think is is very instructive. I recommend it.

Also, it can help to preparing by doing relaxing meditation first.

And this is not the only practice would recommend, I think it is also useful to observe the activity of the mind and sensations in the body and notice dukkha arising and fading and notice how the ego (sense of self, identity view) in involved in most dukkha. As you learn to notice dukkha and relax and let go, you become aware of subtler and subtler ways you carry suffering around with you so you can let go of them. Sometimes just observing the tensions within your body that accompany emotions can help melt those emotions and results in letting go.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 12/10/23 1:34 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 12/10/23 1:15 PM

Dukkha and Anatta

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Wherever you find dukkha you find something you can't control doing something you don't like.
Wherever you find dukkha you find anatta. 
​​​​​​​Some cases of dukkha may involve the external environment, but all of them also involve the mind doing something you can't control and you don't like.

The feeling of being includes dukkha, any sense of self is necessarily a self that is suffering. 

Identity-view is dukkha.

Looking into dukkha you will find anatta and identity-view.
Lookint into any one of them you will find the other two.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 12/10/23 1:42 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 12/10/23 1:41 PM

RE: Dukkha and Anatta

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
Wherever you find dukkha you find something you can't control doing something you don't like.
Wherever you find dukkha you find anatta. 
​​​​​​​Some cases of dukkha may involve the external environment, but all of them also involve the mind doing something you can't control and you don't like.

The feeling of being includes dukkha, any sense of self is necessarily a self that is suffering. 

Identity-view is dukkha.

Looking into dukkha you will find anatta and identity-view.
Looking into any one of them you will find the other two.


Dukkha starts out as a habitual reaction, and if we accept the premise it poses we will amplify it, allowing ourselves to get carried away by thoughts, emotions, and impulses.

But if we recognize dukkha is anatta, that is comes from the aggregates, that it is not self, it is not something we chose, then we don't have to accept the premise it poses, we don't have to take it seriously, we don't have to believe it is necessary, reality, truth, then we can remain mindful, not get carried away thoughts emotions and impulses and not amplify the dukkha. It remains a habitual reaction, but we can let go of it as we become aware of it arising in the mind and feeling it in the body.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 12/12/23 3:02 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 12/12/23 3:02 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
I have thought that the type of practice described in this article could be helpful but I haven't done much of it. 

https://www.amritamandala.com/2pf

It seemed reasonable to me that by observing your sense of self and then observing something else you would develop a greater awareness of your sense of self. With a greater awareness of it you would also develop a greater sensitivity to when you were not subject to that sense of self, when you were not subject to identity-view.

After seeing the article I thought about it some more and tried something very similar. I remembered how I feel in different situations, how I felt when I was with my parents, when I was with children, with friends, with a girlfriend, at work, with my boss, with people I supervised, when I was playing sports with other people, or doing something alone etc etc. How I felt having a car, a house, money, a job, or losing money, or a friend, or moving to a new city etc. And how I felt experiencing different physical sensation, heat, cold, pain, pleasure, pleasant tastes, unpleasant tastes, good smells bad smells etc etc. And how I felt experiencing different emotions, impulses and mental feelings, happiness, unhappiness, anger, jealousy, generosity etc etc. What qualities I thought I had or what kind of person I thought I was: smart or dumb, proud or humble, arogant or modest, nice or mean, rich or poor, etc. which also change from time to time and situation to situation.

I noticed what is was like to be me experiencing all those things. I helps me understand how the aggregates create the sense of self, how the mind creates the sense of self, the feeling of being me.

Then I would just be mindful, in the present moment, not thinking just observing: noticing my breathing in and out, or noticing what was happening around me, seeing, hearing, feeling. In this way I would still be experiencing and feeling but I would be just feeling, just experiencing, not thinking, not creating a sense of self, not thinking "me" "mine" "my" or "I"

And I would alternate the two ways of meditating a number of times during the same meditation session.

I think is is very instructive. I recommend it.

Also, it can help to preparing by doing relaxing meditation first.

And this is not the only practice would recommend, I think it is also useful to observe the activity of the mind and sensations in the body and notice dukkha arising and fading and notice how the ego (sense of self, identity view) in involved in most dukkha. As you learn to notice dukkha and relax and let go, you become aware of subtler and subtler ways you carry suffering around with you so you can let go of them. Sometimes just observing the tensions within your body that accompany emotions can help melt those emotions and results in letting go.


As you observe the sense of self, how it changes from situation to situation, how it is influenced by emotions, by sensations, etc you see that it is produced by unconscious impersonal processes (thoughts, emotions, and impulses seem to appear in consciousness, seemingly from out of nowhere, without our constructing or choosing them).

And then when emotions (dukkha) arise from those same unconscious impersonal processes you don't take things personally.

Studying dukkha is the same as studying anatta.

Because when you look at the source of dukkha what you find is anatta (not self, unconscious impersonal processes).

When you look for the source of dukkha,  or look for the source of the sense of self, or look for the anatta characteristic in the activity of the mind, you find the same unconscious impersonal processes.

Different approaches to practice, emotional work - studying dukkha or realizing anatta, take you to the same place: that the source of consciousness is the aggregates, unconscious impersonal processes.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 12/16/23 7:32 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 12/16/23 7:32 AM

The color of awakening.

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
"Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black" - Henry Ford

I have felt somewhat dissatisfied with how awakening is defined, in the scriptures and by many modern teachers,  because metta does not seem to have any place in it.

One exception I am aware of is here

https://inquiringmind.com/article/2701_w_kornfield-enlightenments/
Enlightenments
By Jack Kornfield
...
Dipa Ma, a wonderful grandmother in Calcutta, was one of the great masters of our tradition. A tiny person with a powerfully trained mind, Dipa Ma expressed enlightenment as love. She devotedly instructed her students in mindfulness and lovingkindness and then she hugged them—putting her hands on their head, face and shoulders, whispering metta phrases.

I realize I am thousands of years too late to have any input into defining what awakening is and that many people think awakening is a natural phenomena and not something humans can arbitrarily define.

But an awakened person can practice metta - or any other practice for that matter. They can color their awakening in any number of ways.

Trying to maintain metta in meditation and daily life provides a helpful indicator when dukkha or distractions arise metta fades, so it is a useful tool as well as a desirable way of being. If you are maintaining metta you are not suffering.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 12/17/23 1:25 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 12/17/23 1:25 PM

RE: The color of awakening.

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
"Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black" - Henry Ford

I have felt somewhat dissatisfied with how awakening is defined, in the scriptures and by many modern teachers,  because metta does not seem to have any place in it.

One exception I am aware of is here

https://inquiringmind.com/article/2701_w_kornfield-enlightenments/
Enlightenments
By Jack Kornfield
...
Dipa Ma, a wonderful grandmother in Calcutta, was one of the great masters of our tradition. A tiny person with a powerfully trained mind, Dipa Ma expressed enlightenment as love. She devotedly instructed her students in mindfulness and lovingkindness and then she hugged them—putting her hands on their head, face and shoulders, whispering metta phrases.

I realize I am thousands of years too late to have any input into defining what awakening is and that many people think awakening is a natural phenomena and not something humans can arbitrarily define.

But an awakened person can practice metta - or any other practice for that matter. They can color their awakening in any number of ways.

Trying to maintain metta in meditation and daily life provides a helpful indicator when dukkha or distractions arise metta fades, so it is a useful tool as well as a desirable way of being. If you are maintaining metta you are not suffering.


I might have been mistaken about the scriptures...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pāramitā
Theravada teachings on the pāramīs can be found in late canonical books and post-canonical commentaries. Theravada commentator Dhammapala describes them as noble qualities usually associated with bodhisattas.[4] American scholar-monk Thanissaro Bhikkhu describes them as perfections (paramī) of character necessary to achieve enlightenment as one of the three enlightened beings, a samma sambuddha, a pacceka-buddha, or an arahant.[5]

Canonical sources
In the Pāli Canon, the Buddhavamsa of the Khuddaka Nikāya lists the ten perfections (dasa pāramiyo) as:[6]
  1. Dāna pāramī: generosity, giving of oneself
  2. Sīla pāramī: virtue, morality, proper conduct
  3. Nekkhamma pāramī: renunciation
  4. Paññā pāramī: wisdom, discernment
  5. Viriya pāramī: energy, diligence, vigour, effort
  6. Khanti pāramī: patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance
  7. Sacca pāramī: truthfulness, honesty
  8. Adhiṭṭhāna pāramī: determination, resolution
  9. Mettā pāramī: goodwill, friendliness, loving-kindness
  10. Upekkhā pāramī: equanimity, serenity

And there's this...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahmavihara
The brahmavihārā (sublime attitudes, lit. "abodes of brahma") (Pāli: cattāri brahmavihārā, Sinhala: චත්තාරි බ්‍රහ්මවිහාරා/සතර බ්‍රහ්ම විහරණ) are a series of four Buddhist virtues and the meditation practices made to cultivate them. They are also known as the four immeasurables (Pāli: appamaññā)[1] or four infinite minds (Chinese: 四無量心).[2] The brahmavihārā are:
  1. loving-kindness or benevolence (mettā)
  2. compassion (karuṇā)
  3. empathetic joy (muditā)
  4. equanimity (upekkhā)
According to the Metta Sutta, cultivation of the four immeasurables has the power to cause the practitioner to be reborn into a "Brahma realm" (Pāli: Brahmaloka).[3]
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 12/29/23 3:17 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 12/26/23 10:30 PM

A Soul?

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
UPDATE: The most up to date version of this post can be found here:
https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2023/12/do-buddhists-believe-in-soul.html

On another forum someone asked about Buddhist beliefs about the soul. This is how I replied.

As I understand it, in Buddhism consciousness, just as it is in life, is believed to continue after death, and can be reborn, and experiences karma (experiences the consequences of one's action). However consciousness flows/propagates as a sequence of cause and effect and is not a property of some constant separate unchanging thing. Like a wave that flows through water is not separate from the water. The first stage of awakening, stream-entry, occurs when you are freed from identity-view - the belief that the self is a thing.

If you watch the activity of your mind you will notice that thoughts, emotions, impulses arise fully formed into consciousness. We don't really see where they come from or how they are formed. Most people recognize emotions are beyond our control. If you try to meditate you will notice distracting thoughts so you don't control your thoughts either. Even if feel like you are using your mind to solve a problem, where did the impulse to do that come from?

And the sense of self, as an observer or experiencer or as a role in various situations like school (student), work (employee/supervisor), with family (parent/child/sibling), with friends, as a sports fan, a driver of a car, an owner of a house etc etc, or the characteristics we believe we have, smart/dumb, winner/loser, rich/poor, nice, mean, arrogant/humble or the sensations we experience form moment to moment, hot/cold, comfortable/uncomfortable, smells, bodily sensations etc - all these are constantly changing. And the feeling of self is no different from other thoughts or emotions that arise from unconscious processes.

And if you watch the activity of the mind you see that one thought or emotion or impulse leads to another by association, memory, or reason in a chain of cause and effect with no one in control until something distracts you onto a new tangent.

Without things to observe, to see, hear, smell, touch, (or thoughts, emotions and impulses to observe) there would be none of those sensations occurring. There would be no consciousness of them. Consciousness does not exist separately from the things it is aware of - like a wave in water is not separate from the water.

If you look closely you see there isn't a thing that is a self that you can find nor can you find anyone in control in your mind. These beliefs are formed not by religious dogma but by simple observation of the mind.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 12/28/23 1:57 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 12/28/23 1:54 AM

Resolving Emotions

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I have been considering how to tell when to work with emotions and when to cultivate mindfulness and concentration. Suppressing emotions is not helpful but obsessing over them is also not helpful. It can be hard to tell the difference. What I have come up with is that when something is bothering you, you should try to resolve it in your mind.

Techniques I find helpful are:

  • Digging through layers of emotions to find underlying hidden issues - ask yourself "why do I feel this way" repeatedly.

  • Recognizing that "resisting emotions can cause more suffering than the initial emotion". So trying to recognize resistance (denial), and letting go of it can make accepting (letting go of) the initial emotion much easier.

  • Seeing how the ego may be involved in the problem and acknowledging that the ego is coming from the aggregates - ie the ego is not a real thing it is just an emotion like any other type of mental activity that comes into consciousness from unconscious processes. Recognizing "It is ego coming from the aggregates" can end a lot of suffering.

I have found that this process can eliminate the suffering (unpleasant emotions) associated with a situation, and at that time, cultivating mindfulness, concentration, and deeper insights can be more productive than when I am troubled by something.

​​​​​​​I'm not trying to imply this is easy, it can be difficult to see through the layers of emotions, see the difference between resistance and emotion, see the role of the ego, and remember that the ego isn't a distinct thing, it arises from the aggregates like any other thought, idea, emotion or impulse.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 1:22 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 1:20 AM

The unconscious mind is not the self.

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
It might seem like the unconscious mind, the source of thoughts, emotions, impulses is the self. But this source is not unified, one part might be sending the impulse to meditate while another is sending out distracting thoughts. One part might be trying to accomplish a purpose to gratify the ego while another might be sabotaging it because of fear of the consequences of success. Even the unconscious mind is not a unified thing, it is an aggregate of different functions.
Olivier S, modified 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 5:52 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 5:49 AM

RE: Resolving Emotions

Posts: 870 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
 Good stuff!

Recently I have been reflecting a bit on the so-called "mature psychological defense mechanisms", and I find they are a helpful framework when seen as skills that can be cultivated. I can relate the development of these skills to a lot of what meditators do. What you wrote here reminds me of this, so I felt called to share it: hopefully interesting and helpful.

In a way, I've started to see them as the psychological counterpart of a healthy immune system: a lot of mental and physical problems seem to be associated with biological inflammation, ie, an inadequate immune (defense) response from the body, which may actually cause problems based on imaginary threats, and also then react inadequatly to real threats. In the same way, healthy and amture psychological defenses will know how to handle imaginary and real threats more adequately.

They are:

Affiliation > as I see it, several aspects to this, friendship, support, getting advice from trusted others, community building. IMO, one can say that intrapersonal emotion and ehart based practices, as well as real interpersonal and social behaviors, fall under this.

Anticipation > changing one's attitude towards fearsome situations or things, instead of shutting out possible unpleasant stuff, projecting into it, and coming up with possible ways of acting in advance. Death and suffering oriented meditations might fall under this, in some ways.

Humor > very efficient way of loosening aversion/clinging

Self-observation > well... this has many levels, but could include the kind of fine examination and investigation of subtle phenomena that people do with meditation

Self-acceptance > one could expand this to say self-love and love of others

Sublimation > turning mud into gold, so to say, attitude change: things like Tonglen, working with views, etc.

Suppression > not repression, but the ability to temporarily not engage with something when that is appropriate, and address it later when conditions are right.

I am usually not a fan of psychoanalysis, but I really like this framework! Thoughts?

Best,
​​​​​​​Olivier
 
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 8:47 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 8:46 AM

RE: Resolving Emotions

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Olivier S
 Good stuff!

Recently I have been reflecting a bit on the so-called "mature psychological defense mechanisms", and I find they are a helpful framework when seen as skills that can be cultivated. I can relate the development of these skills to a lot of what meditators do. What you wrote here reminds me of this, so I felt called to share it: hopefully interesting and helpful.

In a way, I've started to see them as the psychological counterpart of a healthy immune system: a lot of mental and physical problems seem to be associated with biological inflammation, ie, an inadequate immune (defense) response from the body, which may actually cause problems based on imaginary threats, and also then react inadequatly to real threats. In the same way, healthy and amture psychological defenses will know how to handle imaginary and real threats more adequately.

They are:

Affiliation > as I see it, several aspects to this, friendship, support, getting advice from trusted others, community building. IMO, one can say that intrapersonal emotion and ehart based practices, as well as real interpersonal and social behaviors, fall under this.

Anticipation > changing one's attitude towards fearsome situations or things, instead of shutting out possible unpleasant stuff, projecting into it, and coming up with possible ways of acting in advance. Death and suffering oriented meditations might fall under this, in some ways.

Humor > very efficient way of loosening aversion/clinging

Self-observation > well... this has many levels, but could include the kind of fine examination and investigation of subtle phenomena that people do with meditation

Self-acceptance > one could expand this to say self-love and love of others

Sublimation > turning mud into gold, so to say, attitude change: things like Tonglen, working with views, etc.

Suppression > not repression, but the ability to temporarily not engage with something when that is appropriate, and address it later when conditions are right.

I am usually not a fan of psychoanalysis, but I really like this framework! Thoughts?

Best,
​​​​​​​Olivier
 


I find you have to understand what you are clinging to in order to let go of it. Relaxing can help calm emotions but to root them out you have to become conscious of their cause - which is not always obvious. Any framework that can help with this is beneficial.
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Pepe ·, modified 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 11:39 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 11:39 AM

RE: Resolving Emotions

Posts: 711 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Hi Olivier, 

I like your listing, it reminds me of George Eman Vaillant's defense mechanisms. I would also add to the list a "sense of purpose", to give meaning to life and so work as a motivation booster and so let one set goals. In other words, to glue as coherently as possible values, beliefs and actions. 

Pepe
Olivier S, modified 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 12:03 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 12:03 PM

RE: Resolving Emotions

Posts: 870 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Yes, I agree sense of meaning is very important! This is definitely not an exhaustive list. Though sublimation to me sort of implies meaning making and seeing beauty in life difficulties.
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Pepe ·, modified 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 12:34 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 12:34 PM

RE: Resolving Emotions

Posts: 711 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Yeah I agree that it somehow overlaps with the concept of sublimation
Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 1:32 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 1:32 PM

RE: A Soul?

Posts: 725 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Nicely put! That's a very well-condensed explanation. 
Eric Abrahamsen, modified 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 1:43 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 1:43 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 65 Join Date: 6/9/21 Recent Posts
I've spent the past couple of years working mostly on emotions, and find this a deeply interesting topic. Where I've got to so far is the idea that the emotions aren't fundamentally any different from the sort of "conceptual elaboration" that we work with in the vipassana part of meditation. In a way, they are the physical analogue of conceptual elaboration.

What I mean by that is: we tend to see mental concepts as a useful fiction. A way of organizing inchoate reality in ways that are helpful to us in terms of achieving certain goals. It's impossible not to have concepts, but it is possible to go overboard with them: to elaborate upon them, to reify them, and to hold on to them long after they've lost their usefulness.

The emotions are analogous to this in that they are impulses that help us guide our physical bodies through physical reality, according to our goals and needs as living animals. That starts with safety and survival, obviously, but includes a whole range of other goals, most of which are hinted at by Olivier's list above. I believe that our minds organize these goals in terms of stories, and that emotions largely arise based on how we perceive ourselves to be situated within these stories, but this idea is a work in progress! Regardless, the emotions exhibit the same characteristics as mental concepts: they are useful and it's impossible *not* to have them, but it's very easy to reify them, glom them together, and to let them overstay their welcome. It fact it's harder to let go of reified emotions than it is to let go of concepts, because they are rooted in the body.

The main idea that I've come away with is that "emotional elaboration" can be dealt with in the same way as conceptual elaboration: by simple observation and investigation. The emotions themselves are distinct from the stories that we build around them, and the trick is to be aware of the emotions (which usually means surrendering to or re-experiencing the emotions) while remaining neutral to the stories themselves. Vipassana is as appropriate a tool for dealing with the emotions as it is for dealing with ignorance.

Once we've dealt with the elaboration, we arrive at a place of better balance. It's impossible to do away with the emotions, just as it is impossible to do away with concepts. But it's possible to "right size" our concepts, emotions, and mental storytelling: to make use of them to the extent that they're useful, to hold things lightly, and let them go when we're done with them. Whatever continues to arise is real, everything else can be set aside.

Anyway, that's as far as I've gotten! In theory I think it points to an appropriate relationship with emotion.
Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 2:44 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 2:44 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 725 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Yes. I think all of that is correct, as are all the useful things that Jim has pointed out. 

Another interesting thing about emotions and thoughts is that emotions are slower than thoughts. It is common to have a thought that persists for less than a second, but the body systems on which emotions run (hormone levels, heart rate, visceral contractions) generally pay out over multi-second, and often multi-minute time spans. This can create a prolonging and stitching-together effect. A thought happens that triggers a body-based emotion which, as it plays out, repeatedly re-triggers the thought, and so on, and all of this can seem to be a single thing. As you say, investigation is key. Even apparently longer-lasting emotions are made up of parts that arise and pass away in a fairly predictable manner. Also, as it is easy to see that the physical mechanisms behind emotions are governed by biology, which is to say, by ordinary physical laws, such as the rate at which a hormone can be cleared from the blood, it is easier, as compared to thoughts, to see that these events are not under the control of a self. 

The balance you describe, of not ignoring emotions, but also not clinging to them so that they proliferate, or pushing them away so that their counterparts proliferate, takes a lot of practice to achieve. I'm still working on it. 
Eric Abrahamsen, modified 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 9:42 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 12/30/23 9:42 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 65 Join Date: 6/9/21 Recent Posts
Martin
Yes. I think all of that is correct, as are all the useful things that Jim has pointed out. 

Another interesting thing about emotions and thoughts is that emotions are slower than thoughts. It is common to have a thought that persists for less than a second, but the body systems on which emotions run (hormone levels, heart rate, visceral contractions) generally pay out over multi-second, and often multi-minute time spans. This can create a prolonging and stitching-together effect. A thought happens that triggers a body-based emotion which, as it plays out, repeatedly re-triggers the thought, and so on, and all of this can seem to be a single thing. As you say, investigation is key. Even apparently longer-lasting emotions are made up of parts that arise and pass away in a fairly predictable manner. Also, as it is easy to see that the physical mechanisms behind emotions are governed by biology, which is to say, by ordinary physical laws, such as the rate at which a hormone can be cleared from the blood, it is easier, as compared to thoughts, to see that these events are not under the control of a self.
Oof, you've given me flashbacks to my teen years, when awareness of my emotional reactions to events lagged the events themselves by hours. I'd be lying in bed that night, finally experiencing emotions from earlier in the day. Horrible.

I quite agree that the "chunky" nature of emotions both makes them easier to reify, but also easier to investigate.

The balance you describe, of not ignoring emotions, but also not clinging to them so that they proliferate, or pushing them away so that their counterparts proliferate, takes a lot of practice to achieve. I'm still working on it.
As am I! My earlier post was mostly aspirational emoticon
Olivier S, modified 1 Month ago at 12/31/23 5:14 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 12/31/23 5:14 AM

RE: Resolving Emotions

Posts: 870 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Agreed, and if one takes the idea far enough, one could conceive of contemplative practices such as advocated in buddhism and various mystical traditions, such as the subtle way of understanding emotions you are hinting at, as self-observation. 
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 1/3/24 3:38 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 1/3/24 3:38 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
My diet tends to fluctuate for various reasons and because of these fluctuations I am seeing over and over how reducing carbohydrates (not to keto levels but somewhere around 30-40% of total calories) makes a big improvement in meditation and mindfulness. It can take a couple of days for the effect to take hold. Not everyone is the same so while some people might get the same results, others might not. I've known about this effect for a long time but I am beginning to think of diet as equal in importance to sitting meditation, mindfulness in daily life, samatha, vipassana, virtue. Diet is just as important for me.
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Jim Smith, modified 24 Days ago at 1/27/24 6:36 PM
Created 24 Days ago at 1/27/24 6:36 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
If you watch the activity of your mind, you might notice a correlation between mental chatter and stress. Mental chatter often produces stress by touching on stressful or unpleasant topics.

The antidote for mental chatter is mindfulness.

When you are in the present moment, for example noticing your breath, or practicing noting, or practicing some mindfulness technique in daily life, or just being aware of what you are doing as you are doing it, you are not engaged in mental chatter.

Mindfulness, when done in a relaxing way (without suppressing thoughts and emotions), can help one to be relaxed.

Noticing how you feel when your mind is chattering (more stressed) and comparing that to how you feel when you are practicing some form of mindfulness (more relaxed) can provide positive reinforcement to encourage you to practice mindfulness.

If you want to have less stress, less dukkha, more relaxation in life, mindfulness can help.
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Jim Smith, modified 23 Days ago at 1/28/24 3:07 PM
Created 23 Days ago at 1/28/24 3:07 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
We think of the self as a unified entity, our ego is based on this concept of self.

But the body, thoughts, emotions, impulses, all those things we think of as characteristics of the self, are produced by separate sets of unconscious processes. Emotions are influenced by various neurotransmitters and chemical hormones, different regions of the brain are responsible for different types of intellectual capacities. Sometimes people have opposing goals like when someone is afraid of the consequences of success and they unconsciously undermine their efforts to achieve a goal. The unconscious processes that produce the body, thoughts, emotions, and impulses are not unified, they are not one individual thing.

The aggregates are like pixels that produce an image, we think we see a self, but what really exists are distinct, unrelated, pixels, little dots that are not of the substance of that which is portrayed in the image they produce.
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Jim Smith, modified 22 Days ago at 1/28/24 11:57 PM
Created 22 Days ago at 1/28/24 11:49 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith
We think of the self as a unified entity, our ego is based on this concept of self.

But the body, thoughts, emotions, impulses, all those things we think of as characteristics of the self, are produced by separate sets of unconscious processes. Emotions are influenced by various neurotransmitters and chemical hormones, different regions of the brain are responsible for different types of intellectual capacities. Sometimes people have opposing goals like when someone is afraid of the consequences of success and they unconsciously undermine their efforts to achieve a goal. The unconscious processes that produce the body, thoughts, emotions, and impulses are not unified, they are not one individual thing.

The aggregates are like pixels that produce an image, we think we see a self, but what really exists are distinct, unrelated, pixels, little dots that are not of the substance of that which is portrayed in the image they produce.

Most people understand a lot about anatta.

Most people recognize they don't control their emotions - they have unwanted emotions.

Most people recognize their mind wanders with them intending it, especially meditators know this,  people know they don't control their thoughts.

Similarly with impulses.

People realize their body suffers from disease, and aging, they get weaker as they get old, the various faculties of the body degrade as they get old - people know they can't control their body.

Although most people recognize these aspects of anatta, very few consider them together and understand that the self isn't an actual thing - that the elements they consider to be characteristics of the self are independent elements that are not under any unified control.

But when you do connect the dots, when you understand these elements are not you, and you don't control them, then you become disenchanged. You are much less attached. You are less attached to thoughts that arise, you are less attached or averse to emotions that arise, less attached to your actions, less attached to your body.

When you are less attached, you suffer less.

It can help to remind yourself during meditation or daily life as you observe the activity of your mind to remind yourself that distracting or unpleasant thoughts that arise are not me or mine, unpleasant emotions and cravings that arise are not me or mine, the body is not me or mine, etc.
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Jim Smith, modified 17 Days ago at 2/3/24 4:35 AM
Created 17 Days ago at 2/3/24 4:35 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Physical relaxation exercises, like tai-chi, qigong, or yoga can help you learn to breathe mindfully and move mindfully in a relaxed way.

They teach skills you can bring into daily life so that each minful breath in daily life can be an opportunity to relax.

And each mindful movement in daily life can be an opportunity to realx.
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Jim Smith, modified 13 Days ago at 2/7/24 6:01 PM
Created 13 Days ago at 2/7/24 6:01 PM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I recommend this way of practicing...

Work through these practices every day.
  1. Relaxation - When I am fully relaxed, nothing is bothering me.
  2. Concentration
  3. Mindfulness in daily life.
  4. Emotional Clarity (this helps to let go of strong emotions) / Observe the Mind (this helps you to understand the three characteristics and dependent origination)
Depending on your level of ability, experience, dedication, and lifestyle you might get more or less done each day. Don't worry. Relaxation is enough. The relaxation exercises produce concentration. Mindfulness is something you do in daily life - you just need to remember to do it. Emotional clarity and observing the mind - can be done during meditation and daily life.

My view is that you should practice each day for the benefits you get each day. Over the long term benefits will also accumulate. But this way of practicing should help someone feel more relaxed and serene after the first session. Though it might release suppressed emotions and reveal unpleasant aspects of yourself, so be aware of that and slow down if it gets too intense. There is no hurry.
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Jim Smith, modified 5 Days ago at 2/15/24 9:05 AM
Created 5 Days ago at 2/15/24 9:02 AM

RE: Jim Smith Practice Log #3

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Ask yourself why you practice meditation.

Look deeply.

Find the reason behind the reason behind the reason.

Recognize that desire as an attachment or aversion you need to let go of.

(Very often, resisting an emotion causes more suffering than the emotion one is resisting.)

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