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TOPIC: Focusing the eyes

Focusing the eyes 18 Oct 2019 12:21 #111711

Also, if anyone else can chime in on this, I'd totally appreciate it.
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The following user(s) said Thank You: Frank

Focusing the eyes 18 Oct 2019 13:17 #111712

Most of the day, attending to objects includes an overlaid reflecting by an observer. It can appear as narration, or in the visual field as point located slightly off-center to the left, on the midline between the ears. The oserver attends "from the top" to the experience, adding Me-making into the mix. When I let this observer go then there is not only no observer anymore, but the Me-making goes with it. The result is a non-dual resting in the manifestations in the sense fields, "living through them". There are objects in the sense that there is perception happening in the experience, but the objects have lost a considerable amount of their usual solidity. There is less creation, so the experiencing stands out. Nice.
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The following user(s) said Thank You: Andy

Focusing the eyes 18 Oct 2019 13:54 #111713

I was sitting at work reading a dharma web page and suddenly a deeply profound recognition of a continuous awareness/knowing/presence happened and has not faded since then. I can't imagine how I could not have been aware of it before, and am to this day deeply moved by the availability of this to me.

Andy, this sounds very much like what happened to me a long time ago and continues to this day should I seek it out. I'd agree that it's an experience of non-duality of some sort. Your description is similar to what I would have written, or would write now. It brings emotion with it - gratitude, warmth, love, feelings of having a deep understanding of the universe. It first came while I was on a flight watching out the window as the clouds passed by below me, to the right. There is a lack of, or a very, very shallow, observer/observed dichotomy while this perception occurs. It's some sort of non-dual state. It lasts about as long as I can hold it in attention. It's not that there is no object when this occurs, but rather the fading of the subject and arising to prominence of the object, which I'd describe as the visual field. The feelings this state engenders arise as objects alongside the original vision.

I posted about this right after it happened, on the old KFD message boards. I'll try to find that post and put a link to it here.
Last Edit: 18 Oct 2019 13:58 by Chris Marti.
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Focusing the eyes 18 Oct 2019 16:55 #111714

Chris Marti wrote:
I posted about this right after it happened, on the old KFD message boards. I'll try to find that post and put a link to it here.

Thanks, If it's the same account I'm thinking of, I would like to read it again. If I recall correctly, you had identified it as being your fourth-path moment.
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Focusing the eyes 18 Oct 2019 16:57 #111715

Frank wrote:
Most of the day, attending to objects includes an overlaid reflecting by an observer. It can appear as narration, or in the visual field as point located slightly off-center to the left, on the midline between the ears. The oserver attends "from the top" to the experience, adding Me-making into the mix. When I let this observer go then there is not only no observer anymore, but the Me-making goes with it. The result is a non-dual resting in the manifestations in the sense fields, "living through them". There are objects in the sense that there is perception happening in the experience, but the objects have lost a considerable amount of their usual solidity. There is less creation, so the experiencing stands out. Nice.

This resonates with me. I used to invoke it by inquiring, "What knows?" but no longer need to do that anymore. Now, it's just there whenever I incline towards it.
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Focusing the eyes 18 Oct 2019 17:07 #111716

Thanks, If it's the same account I'm thinking of, I would like to read it again. If I recall correctly, you had identified it as being your fourth-path moment.

No, what I described on this thread earlier today first happened before first path. Both happened on a flight, though, so I can understand your confusion. But they were very, very different.
Last Edit: 18 Oct 2019 17:08 by Chris Marti.
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Focusing the eyes 18 Oct 2019 17:09 #111717

Chris Marti wrote:
Andy, this sounds very much like what happened to me a long time ago and continues to this day should I seek it out. I'd agree that it's an experience of non-duality of some sort. Your description is similar to what I would have written, or would write now. It brings emotion with it - gratitude, warmth, love, feelings of having a deep understanding of the universe. It first came while I was on a flight watching out the window as the clouds passed by below me, to the right. There is a lack of, or a very, very shallow, observer/observed dichotomy while this perception occurs. It's some sort of non-dual state. It lasts about as long as I can hold it in attention. It's not that there is no object when this occurs, but rather the fading of the subject and arising to prominence of the object, which I'd describe as the visual field. The feelings this state engenders arise as objects alongside the original vision.

Interesting. I also can incline to it whenever I like. The everyday walking-around experience is a much shallower, perhaps, version of the dip into non-duality, as I called it. That deep version is totally missing the observer, and is incredibly engrossing. It happened accidentally to me once while I was riding a bike. I would not want to try to invoke it driving or operating heavy machinery as the warning goes, whereas I can operate in the everyday version for tens of seconds at a time, and much longer during formal meditation.
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The following user(s) said Thank You: Frank

Focusing the eyes 18 Oct 2019 19:27 #111718

Andy wrote:
Interesting. I also can incline to it whenever I like.

I hope you don't mind that I'm curious. Can you describe how it's like to incline to it? Is it a kind of muscle memory? If yes, just the mental muscles, or is there also a bodily dimension to the inclining?

, whereas I can operate in the everyday version for tens of seconds at a time, and much longer during formal meditation.

Has the experience the same taste, regardless of the sense modality? Or is non-dual seeing for you different than, say, non-dual proprioception? Has any of the jhanas the same flair?
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Focusing the eyes 21 Oct 2019 16:55 #111724

Frank wrote:
Andy wrote:
Interesting. I also can incline to it whenever I like.

I hope you don't mind that I'm curious. Can you describe how it's like to incline to it? Is it a kind of muscle memory? If yes, just the mental muscles, or is there also a bodily dimension to the inclining?

, whereas I can operate in the everyday version for tens of seconds at a time, and much longer during formal meditation.

Has the experience the same taste, regardless of the sense modality? Or is non-dual seeing for you different than, say, non-dual proprioception? Has any of the jhanas the same flair?

I don't mind at all you being curious.

I don't think I can tell you how I incline to it. As soon as I recognize that I'm embedded in thoughts, feelings, etc, the embeddedness vanishes and this state arises. I'm reminded of the days right after stream entry -- I could just jump to any of the rupa jhanas at will. I can't tell you how I did that either.

As I think more about it, the everyday walking-around, driving, etc... experience is not like the scare-quote-surrounded "dip into non-duality" in two ways:
1) The subjective intensity of the two are different. In the walking-around experience, all sensory inputs are present, in various degrees and intensities, and arise and pass away as usual. In the other experience, the sense experience is intensely present. You can't miss it.
2) The "taste" of each is different, however, each of the "dip into non-duality" experiences feel similar in the way they present and subjectively feel.

The "everyday" experience has the feeling of calm spaciousness, where each experience comes and goes without fuss, seems to present right where it is, including all experiences of a viewer or thinker, or self. In the "dip into non-duality" there is no sense of space or location.

Neither experience feels like a jhana, although jhanas can be present in the "everyday" experience.
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Focusing the eyes 22 Oct 2019 08:41 #111726

Thanks for your answers!

As soon as I recognize that I'm embedded in thoughts, feelings, etc, the embeddedness vanishes and this state arises.

So a letting go embeddedness co-occurs with "this everyday experience". This sounds familiar, but for me there's no automatic. I can recognize that I've shifted into a state of preoccupied becoming (bhava) but when I mindfully wake up into not-this-becoming-anymore the experiencing is not necessarily non-dual. On the other hand, even weak forms of non-dual experiencing entail a certain felt distance from this single-threaded thought activity which is the hallmark of unmindful becoming.

Outside formal meditation I must "do something" to change into a non-dual state. So far I've not been able to decipher what it exactly is what I'm doing, though. What I know is that the doing takes time, currently about 3s, but it can get nearly instantaneous. The fact that I find it easier to do it on the in-breath also points to the fact that there is a bodily component to it. When I fix the eyes with skygazing then it takes significantly longer to enter the non-dual state and it is very wobbly. If I drop out of the non-dual state I can re-enter it very fast. This happens when focus the eyes on a different point in the field, even while resting in the body.

Talking about the body: It seems that all non-dual experiencing includes non-dual proprioception. Let's say I want to rest in the visual field, then the gesture to do so also puts the proprioception in non-dual mode. It might even be the case that this is causal or at least necessarily co-dependently arising.

The "everyday" experience has the feeling of calm spaciousness, where each experience comes and goes without fuss, seems to present right where it is, including all experiences of a viewer or thinker, or self. In the "dip into non-duality" there is no sense of space or location.

Regardless of the intensity of experience there is for me always a sense of resting in the sense fields, and this has always the same taste of "all-aroundness", across all sense modalities. For the visual field it's panoramic spaciousness, for proprioception the awareness of the lived body, which one could also call spacious, maybe "all-around" is a better fit for this modality.

Space and location can phase out but I need to have my eyes closed and my experiencing must be maximally fused with the whole/energy-body proprioception. Awareness filling out the body, touching the body from within. The more stretched out the awareness the better. There is a spectrum of "all-aroundness" with a very strong sense of non-duality immediately before reaching the point of maximal congruence. Depending on the current level of my practice I'm able to find paths through this point where the speed of the movement through the point is relatively slow, but I've never been able to stop there... I have to admit that I don't even know if there is or isn't a sense of space and location there. I seem to lose all discriminatory power when going through that point.

I've problems to unpack the notion of "experiences of a viewer or thinker". Maybe what's meant is the commentary or reflection "on top of" the sense field happening. This observer doesn't seem to be able to blend with with the non-dual resting, though. Both are possible at the same time, a bit of resting and a bit of observing, but resting in that reflecting observing is impossible, or at least out of reach right now.

Neither experience feels like a jhana, although jhanas can be present in the "everyday" experience.

I had assumed (due to the panoramic spaciousness) that at least the closed eyes "everyday" version could have the taste of the 5th or 6th, also because of the equanimous feeling which underlies it. Maybe my jhanas are lighter than yours so that I see too many connections where there really aren't any.
Last Edit: 22 Oct 2019 08:41 by Frank.
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Focusing the eyes 22 Oct 2019 16:40 #111730

Andy wrote:
... The sense of a difference between knowing the experience and the experience itself disappears, and one or more senses become all there is in awareness. The awareness becomes the sense, and there's no inside or outside to this, it's just all there is. I've gotten some idea of how long one such incident lasted: it happened to me once on my bike, and I found myself a very short way down the road without incident. It clearly was not a fruition or a strong jhana--I've had plenty of those.

I'm curious what you make of this.

A bit late to the conversation, but my take on this kind of thing is that it's a falling away of the 'inner storytelling' which we are usually accustomed to having. It's been my experience that we tend to think that the narrative part of our daily experience is a) really important and b) a cause of our actions, and thus the sudden absence of it can seem very disorienting or worrying in hindsight. It's, I think, one of the reasons many people dislike silence (and have trouble learning to meditate): the inner narrative is both a known orientation (one fears becoming useless or irrelevant without it), and is also very stressful (and sitting in silence highlights the inner narrative, if it is there; keeping busy with conversation, noise, frenetic activity or whatever helps mask the inner narrative when it is a source of discomfort).

I can say, for instance, that ten or fifteen years ago, when my morning natural adrenaline surge hit my intensely anxious inner storytelling the result was that I spent the first 30 minutes or so of each morning stomping around the house slamming things and swearing, in a kind of weird sulky rage. My husband scheduled his waking up time to avoid interacting with me until the adrenaline had worn off and I'd had a shower and coffee and settled down. I was a most unpleasant person. I could barely stand my own company. I now have the same morning adrenaline, and a strong urge to be very active first thing in the morning, but I'm quite happy and peaceable about it and don't swear and slam things anymore.

I also think I recall some kerfuffle a few years ago about teachers who say they "don't think anymore". I presume they mean there is no inner narrative. In that case, there is simply an immediacy, as Andy seems to be describing, and things just get done in a spontaneous kind of way, even if one is given a list of questions to answer, for instance, there might not be any sense that one is 'thinking' in the common way with an inner narrative or inner imagery, but rather that there is simply silent reflection and then the answer written. The more this state occurs, the more one tends to have trouble remembering things in the usual way (involving the inner storytelling of the to-do list, for instance), but important things seem to get remembered for the most part, somehow, and if they don't, nobody dies because of that, it's just kind of stupid and funny. I write really detailed to-do lists throughout the day and check them regularly so as not to forget appointments. Most things you have to do have triggers: someone says "hey, pass the salt" and you do. Someone says "can you pick up the girls at school" and you get in the car and go, or set an alarm, or write it on your calendar, and then do it.

The other day I asked to have a chat with a priest I met, because I wanted to ask him some sort of questions regarding prayer. He couldn't talk just then, but two days later he ran into me and asked if I wanted to have that conversation. I hadn't a clue what I had wanted to ask him, but I said "yes", since the opportunity presented itself, and then just said whatever came up for 15 minutes. No idea if it solved the problem or not, since I couldn't remember what the problem was, but for all I know there was some other purpose to that conversation besides answering my questions. Reality is so complex, so rich, and so detailed, I don't know the 10,000th of what's going on.

St. Teresinha (of Lisieux) used to say she was like an apprentice painter who just fills in some simple colors here and there on a master painter's canvas. Then others with more skill add detail to the picture. And it is God who is directing the painting and knows how it will turn out in the end.
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Focusing the eyes 29 Oct 2019 11:13 #111787

Picking up from something suggested by Junglist in his practice log, we have the ability to look at something in the visual field without moving the eyes. The resolution of this "covert attention" is lower than with "overt attention".

The retina of the eye has its most cones in the area of the so call fovea . This is where the resolution is highest. For overt attention the brain repositions the eyes automatically to have the point of interest in the visual field projecting on the fovea. Covert attention, on the other hand, happens elsewhere in the visual field. The brain covertly collects information across the total visual field to determine if there is anything which might be more interesting than what's happening in the fovea. If there is, saccades make the eyes turn to this spot, sometimes even involving head movements, resulting in overt attention to that spot.

The interplay between overt and covert attention is one of the aspects of human physiology which can happen totally automatic at times, and also completely voluntary at different times. This could be the reason why eye manipulation in certain traditions is part of standard meditation practice.

Junglist points out that covertly attending is a kind of "observing seeing", loosely resembling what Shinzen calls "See Rest". It is possible to rest in the total visual field, but also resting ("looking at") two spots at the same time. This would be physiologically impossible with overt attention because there's just one fovea, giving us the impression that visual attending is necessarily serialized. It is, from the point of view of overt attention, but parallel by design with covert attention.

I've walked around the woods and the city today for a couple of hours and worked on "holding the visual field open", trying to be continuously in See Out Rest, while still functioning in traffic. With straight eyes and minimal head movement this generates a nice parallax in the outer corner of the eyes (see here). Resolution in the extreme periphery is low, so the urge to overtly attend anything in those last degrees of visual field can be suppressed, at least for smooth head movements. This results in a very restful feeling of non-dual seeing and headlessness.

Darting the eyes around, on the other hand, makes it very difficult to covertly attend the outer rim of the visual field. The felt sense of See Rest collapses when the field of vision changes quickly. Covertly attending two spots at the same time in the visual field while moving is much more difficult than doing it with a stable visual field. The restfulness and headlessness is much less salient then.

Back home, the effect lingered. I was able to drop into headlessness by just overtly attending straight and covertly in parallel at the left and right periphery - - it even felt as if I just had to fix the eyes in this particular "deconcentrated" fashion. Even without taking in what was happening in the 3 spots (ahead, left and right) I easily dropped into headlessness.
Last Edit: 30 Oct 2019 05:05 by Frank. Reason: checked that links to members-only posts are safe
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