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TOPIC: WUTYL: The Mystery of Being

WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 02 Mar 2020 19:42 #112141

While I am somewhat allergic to hyperbolic dharma phrases like "mystery of being" (or "suchness", which autocorrect won't even let me type) I have to say that this first chapter got me hooked on WUTYL. I have been feeling like I am at a crossroads for several months now, since my retreat in November, and some things in this introductory chapter just "felt right". As I transition from single-minded focus (obsession?) on stream entry to being more in tune with my life and the way my reactions to internal and external inputs affects how I feel, the notion of “waking up” without any formal Path notation was a relief. Of course I have encountered non-Theravadan conceptsbefore, but this, now, resonated with me. Right place, right time, I guess.

I was very taken by the Lamp Shop story (Indries Shah, Tales of the Dervishes) because it directly addressed something I have been feeling: that I need a new guide on the next part of my path. There are a lot of words devoted to finding the right teacher, which may be helpful for some, obvious to others, but this pithy remark struck a nerve:

Like all things, relationships are impermanent, so you know that your relationship with your teacher will end.

The other thing that stood out, as someone mentioned elsewhere, is the central role of "attention" in Ken McLeod's practice guides. It was not immediately obvious to me, but "attention" is what most of us vipassana types would call "concentration". But is a better word for it. Now, on my second read through WUTYL, this central role of attention seems underplayed here: it shows up again and again in the book, and is indeed a part of the subtitle “Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention”. Pay attention!

It is ironic, I think, that the parts of this chapter that spoke most to me were not directly related to the central point, the "mystery of being". And on second read, it still is a bit "meh" to me. But I now more deeply appreciate the fact that separateness from experience is a (the?) source of suffering. I am far, far, far from knowing that, but I am beginning to have an inkling of its significance.
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 03 Mar 2020 03:56 #112142

“ But I now more deeply appreciate the fact that separateness from experience is a (the?) source of suffering. I am far, far, far from knowing that, but I am beginning to have an inkling of its significance.”


We seem to be in a similar boat it seems. I frame it using different words; “it’s nothing other than This” and This being any of the myriads of things. Either concentrated or dull, equanimous or bored, in pain or pleasure, unmoved or amazed, enlightened or non-enlightened, worry or joy, Awakening or Nirvana ... whatever This may be. It’s just as it is. Even trying to find a “new path” :D (tears and laugh on my face as I write this).

Btw, I’m on page 66 and still am in the “meh” mode. Though I always enjoy the story of Buddha touching the Earth and saying “The earth is my witness”. Was he paying attention in that moment to the sensation of touching or was he noticing it :D Keep attention or Keep Noticing. Pay attention or Notice. Yes :D I find naming such stuff childish-like but it does make a difference how some words sink in easier than others. To me ”Just notice experience as it is”, sinks in better than “Hold attention on experience as it is” :D crazy stuff this wording is!
How does it feel when such dilemmas arise? Pressure, aversion, non-clarity, doubt, pressure, heavy long out breath, itching, ... , touching the Earth (is my witness).


P.s. I’m hopeless! Went ahead and clicked the online Buy button! Another book on its way; After Ecstasy The Laundry.
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 03 Mar 2020 05:23 #112143

Let me free-style a bit.

Ken Mc’s terminology;
Attention vs Mindfulness vs Awareness. Also he uses active vs passive Attention. Kenneth Folk is using the Half-arsed Mindfulness vs Profound Mindfulness terminology.

If we dare to assume/realize that Awake Reality is ONLY This Moment then all the weight of My Life is suspended. As soon there is Self-validation involved (I’m a Sōtapanna or This itch is irritating me) the weight of My Life is back on my shoulders.

Ok. Only This Sensate Experience. To know this is to attend to/notice this sensate experience. There is question “is this passive or active attention?”

Ok. Let me go into this last quote some more;
Is This passive or is This active? If This can’t be any other than This. It Is as it Is.

Ok. So, if This is passive and not active attention than what? If enlightenment is nothing other than This then even passive Attention/Mindfulness is nothing other than This.

Ok. So what is all This? It is Experience; being enlightened, not being enlightened, being moral, not being moral, itching, enduring, pain, joy, bliss ... all is This = experience. It seems impermanent, when engaged in this A&P of an object/experience the sense of Self or the Doer is suspended in that very action of attending to/noticing.

Ok. Here I can make sense of Awareness as being an Open Blue Sky. Vast sky. Attending to/Noticing is an Awakening Moment which is also subject to Impermanence of the ever fluctuating weather (clouds, rain, snow, tornado, tsunami, sunshine, breeze, fog ...).

To notice the impermanence there has to be a moment after the fact which exclaims “this has arisen and now it has passed away” which is a point of self-validation.
So even this exclamation is being noticed/attended to and seen as thinking/amazement/excitement/pressure/unpleasant

Does Awareness , the vast blue sky , judge one experience to be better than another? Does it prefer this to that. Is there anything in that Awareness that points to Awakened moment being better than a Non-awakened moment ?

That sticky habit of self-validation seems to stir up and muddy the water in the pond.

If I let into awaiting for, or like listening to , something, have no clue what, but only that openness, that awaiting openness, in that very act there is a Mystery. Within that Mystery there is nothing other than this. No judgement, only the 4 immeasurable seem flying above those clouds, tsunamis, snow storms, muddy waters, sunshine, breeze, ... myriads of things.

I see this being the very thing Kenneth Folk calls the Cosmic Joke or Cosmic Giggle. (In my case these short moments/experiences of realization seem to be more of a cosmic tears than giggle)

My bad if I’m going a bit off topic (I have a tendency to cycle around instead of being to the point)
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 03 Mar 2020 07:18 #112144

I think the important part of Ken McLeod's teaching is that it points out that while there is immediate experience, this immediate experience is corruptible. Basic noting or mindfulness practice is sort of like lifting weights in the gym. It's a real practice with real results, but it only gets you so far. A life of attention is like being able to use your muscles to deadlift, and dance with your wife, carry a bag of compost, thread a needle with silk thread, cook a meal, and sketch a picture with your muscles skillfully, concurrent with the need arising in life. In other words it's waking up to your actual life, using attention just "exactly so" and honoring the fullness of the situation.

So while noting sensation, urges, emotions, and thoughts is a good skill... the next question is how do I apply it so that my life is intimate and rich and alive. WUTYL doesn't allow people to find rest in deconstruction of experience... it demands that people be able to perform in the real world without falling into petty reactive patterns.

Noticing and weeding out reactive patterns is the main thing. To what extent to we withdraw from living our life? To what extent do we apply existential/spiritual concepts as a way of making life managable? To what extent do we feel overwhelmed by life? Therevadian type practice work very well for developing the initial strength of attention/mindfulness through seclusion and going inward. This is the other side of the coin, going into the world and looking outward.

To what extent to we -- very quickly, right at the moment of experience -- resist, hold, endure, indulge, obsess, or attempt to maintain what we experience? What about experience is sticky or slippery?

This is all really subtle stuff that doesn't quite get addressed by most other meditation books. It's so refined yet so practical for the actual quality of our lived experience. That's why I love WUTYL.
Last Edit: 03 Mar 2020 07:19 by shargrol.
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 03 Mar 2020 07:59 #112145

shargrol wrote:
So while noting sensation, urges, emotions, and thoughts is a good skill... the next question is how do I apply it so that my life is intimate and rich and alive. WUTYL doesn't allow people to find rest in deconstruction of experience... it demands that people be able to perform in the real world without falling into petty reactive patterns.
...
This is all really subtle stuff that doesn't quite get addressed by most other meditation books. It's so refined yet so practical for the actual quality of our lived experience. That's why I love WUTYL.

Yes, I think that is what is grabbing me. To skip ahead, noting has very little mention in the book because, as Shargrol points out, is the tip of the iceberg in terms of skills. Once attention is developed, it is used over and over again to recognize and deconstruct the patterns that cause you to miss your life. They may be patterns that cause suffering directly, or they may be patterns that appear to be "a good thing" but in the end cause suffering. On offer, though, is to teach how to wake up from pattern-based existence. And interestingly, not on offer is a prescription for how to be happy, necessarily.
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 03 Mar 2020 08:10 #112146

So while noting sensation, urges, emotions, and thoughts is a good skill... the next question is how do I apply it so that my life is intimate and rich and alive. WUTYL doesn't allow people to find rest in deconstruction of experience... it demands that people be able to perform in the real world without falling into petty reactive patterns.

You should write a book, Your commentary is priceless.
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 03 Mar 2020 10:31 #112147

I'm starting to reread anew...

The heart of what needs to be seen in all of it's subtlety is on page 4: "Your definition of who and what you are momentarily crumbles, and you feel that you are falling apart. you react by gripping tighter to your sense of who you are and push away the experience of open emptiness."


I completely forgot about the section on Teacher-Student. Good stuff!

In my list of things to warn people about, I expand upon "does the group/teacher exploit students" to specifically mention:a few things which aren't always seen as exploitative:
  • excessive manual labor ("yogi jobs" are fine, this is where labor interferes with practice or health)
  • exploiting skilled labor (this is where they essentially sub-contract you out to do a job and they get paid for it -- very common in the cult ashram world, they recruit skilled workers as members)
  • excessive ("pay us a big lump sum and we'll stop bothering you") or relentless ("give us a small amount... forever") financial demands
  • using the student for their entertainment ("we're bored...perform for us." "tell me about yourself... and entertain me")
  • emotional/historical blackmail ("tell us your deepest secrets, we promise... to use it against you.")
  • attention/fame ("the teaching are free, you just have to... pay attention to me, worship me, idolize me")
  • sex, usually said in a way that "helps your practice" or "helps the teacher be a healthy/happier/better teacher"
  • violence both minor and major ("there is a dirty/immoral job we don't want to do... but it will be good for you to do it")
Last Edit: 03 Mar 2020 10:37 by shargrol.
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 03 Mar 2020 11:03 #112148


The heart of what needs to be seen in all of it's subtlety is on page 4: "Your definition of who and what you are momentarily crumbles, and you feel that you are falling apart. you react by gripping tighter to your sense of who you are and push away the experience of open emptiness."


Reminds me of the Knowledge of Dissolution.

Are you suggesting that this Experience of Open Emptiness is not subject to Impermanence?

I have a strange feel that Buddha included Cessation of Suffering in 3rd and 4th Noble struts with a good reason. Obviously stating that any Consciousness is impermanent and unsatisfactory. Para-Nirvana was his solution to it all.

Ok. So is Experience of Open Emptiness any more superior to let’s say, Experience of that Itch on my nose?
As far as I see it phenomena are flickering in and out of it, like a popping popcorn in hot pot :D

As meditators (lens) we tend to focus on attainments. This one is better than that one and so on.

I still prefer that story on a Buddha and Mara where a Demon is asking him to basically externally (self) validate his attainment, Buddha touched the earth as his witness. (momentary sensate experience of touch showing all 3 C’s).

Btw, I separate the act of Noting (efforting) and Noticing (open awareness). I see Noticing the same as Attention.

I think we are stuck in the Naming Terminology here :) very likely we are on the same page. There is one peak on the mountain but very many paths leading to it hence creating those divisions of “my lineage is better at this, other at that, this one goes only so long, that one goes to the source of it all” :D
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 03 Mar 2020 11:17 #112149

"So is Experience of Open Emptiness any more superior to let’s say, Experience of that Itch on my nose?"

Likely yes. :) But it might not be your nose anymore :)
Last Edit: 03 Mar 2020 11:23 by shargrol.
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 03 Mar 2020 11:19 #112150

I think some of this terminology will get straightened out as we progress, especially in the chapter on attention. But I would say that noticing/awareness is not attention.
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 03 Mar 2020 11:21 #112151

Tom Otvos wrote:
I think some of this terminology will get straightened out as we progress, especially in the chapter on attention. But I would say that noticing/awareness is not attention.

It will be interesting to see how our definition of awareness, attention, mind, mindfulness, knowing etc. changes as we read the book and do the practices.
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 03 Mar 2020 13:18 #112152

Yes, I agree. In the particular moment of experiencing there is no sense of “my nose” “I nose” :D there is; unpleasant, itching, vibratory itching sensation, vibration, wider vibration space, seeing (seeing part of the nose), gone. Nope, no Me in there unless I go into self-validating the experience. Also not an issue as it is just another experience.

Should I start writing replies which exclude words like I, Me, Mine? Would that sound more Awakened :D
Im just joking :D

What about we all try and write replies from the Mystery point of view. Is that possible? How would that sound to those listening?
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 03 Mar 2020 14:24 #112153

I really like this one, by Ken Mc;

"Remember that the intention of spiritual practice is to be present in the mytery of being, the arising and subsiding of experience"

Remember + Be Present (Mindfull) + Impermanence. Yeps, :D got that one. Thank you and good night folks :D

All the rest of the book is about having yet another practice to get somthing. In this case to Empty the 6 Realms. And yet it sais to not fight the experience. Ehm, paradox might say you. I say you might be right. I say lots of "talking one self to awakening". Might help some personalities, who am I to say anything but I see no higher teaching here n my view. At least not higher than Satipatthana. If we are talking "practice" that is.

Im looking forwward to ccheck the other book I've ordered. Dusko the Disco out :)
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 03 Mar 2020 15:19 #112154

Practice consists of emptying the 6 realms (thats very much gola orientated, some thing to do for a fruit of sorts in the past)

5 steps;
1. Im fine with this one
2. Im fine with this one too
3. Ok with this way but not ok with the "Let Go" part
4. ok with that
5. Totally laughable and meh as per most of the content in this book.

In the first Anger Hell Realm he sais "Open to it, and you will feel the shift" This reminds me of the first impression I had when listening to his voice which has that hypnotic tone.
What if I dont feel the shift? Is it less of an experience? Is it lesser than if I have percieved it same as he did? Shall I talk myself into feeling the shift? :D Experience IS Experience. Certain level of clarity and undertanding is necessery depending on how dense one is as a person.

I really (and I mean it) see this as a practice guide for those who feel the need to progress (unhappy with what is right now) and feel at home with such visualisation stuff as is so often found in Tibetan teaching. Totally cool if its your gig. Not mine. (sorry had to skim through the book as I felt lots of mumbo jumbo in the first 70 pages. As Ken sais in the 3. bring attention to and let it go :D ) This book off to the shelf.

Sorry for being a party pooper. May you find what you are looking for in this book.
Im off now to imagine light shining from my heart :D
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 04 Mar 2020 09:34 #112155

This is just a hunch Dusko, and no worries if it is an incorrect hunch, but I predict that you are pretty close to maxing out the insights that come from noting/noticing sensations, emotions, and thoughts... but I bet that an interesting investigation would be if you focused in on the point of contact where the experience of positive, negative, and neutral arises and quickly becomes attraction, aversion, and indifference. It's one thing to get how mind objects arise and pass, but it's another thing to get the subtle way samsara hooks us in...

The general practice is to look right at where experiences arises, notice the body tone of positiveness, negativeness, and neutralness... and then detect how attraction, aversion, and indifference --- or you could say liking, disliking, ignoring... or greed, hatred, and fantasy...arise a millisecond later in that same space. It's important to see how they are related but different experiences.

Anyway, that advice is worth what you paid for it! :)
Last Edit: 04 Mar 2020 09:47 by shargrol.
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 04 Mar 2020 16:46 #112156

shargrol wrote:
This is just a hunch Dusko, and no worries if it is an incorrect hunch, but I predict that you are pretty close to maxing out the insights that come from noting/noticing sensations, emotions, and thoughts

Hi, Dusko. I tend to agree with Shargrol. Noting can be a hindrance when working with the practices in the book. The primary practice is in the pith phrase that Ken introduces early on: "Return to what is already there and rest." As soon as you return to your experience of choice, rest. No further action whatsoever is needed, since you're already there. Resting involves no effort and in fact, any effort at this point is counterproductive and pulls you out of resting. If you find yourself noting, let go of it and just rest in your chosen experience.

A good description of what the experience of resting is like can be found in Shinzen's Do Nothing Meditation video.

Shinzen's instructions are just two sentences long:
(1) Let whatever happens, happen.
(2) As soon as you are aware of an intention to control your attention, drop that intention.
He goes on to unpack some of the subtle details about intention and what's in your control and what isn't.

shargrol wrote:
The heart of what needs to be seen in all of it's subtlety is on page 4: "Your definition of who and what you are momentarily crumbles, and you feel that you are falling apart. you react by gripping tighter to your sense of who you are and push away the experience of open emptiness."
Triggering this crumbling can be done by a lot of different ways. Inquiring "What experiences this?" and then looking is only one of them. He describes what follows that crumbling this way (paraphrased): "You look, and for a brief moment you see nothing. You then panic, and fear arises, and then reactivity."

Practicing resting allows you to stay in that open experience longer and longer.
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 04 Mar 2020 20:18 #112157

My two cents on this are that I am being drawn to this particular form (or forms, really) of practice because I am unfulfilled by “simple” vipassana as promoted by many. The Shinzen example above is good, because it highlights that he (Shinzen) has a much broader perspective than, say, Joseph Goldstein (not to pick on JG specifically). His “Unified Mindfulness” Is really “Unified Dharma”, and encompasses mahamudra and dzogchen and shikantaza as much as straight-up noting.

There are indeed many ways up the mountain and how you go up is as much dependent on your personal makeup as it is on where you are on the path. That’s how I look at it, anyway.
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 04 Mar 2020 22:13 #112159

Tom Otvos wrote:
My two cents on this are that I am being drawn to this particular form (or forms, really) of practice because I am unfulfilled by “simple” vipassana as promoted by many.

I can sympathize there. I'm drawn to Ken's teachings not so much to the symbolic methods, but to the similarity of my experiences and insights to Ken's description. These insights had gotten mixed in while I practiced vipassana. What I was reading and practicing was mostly silent on what felt like significant shifts. It wasn't until I worked with Hokai that I I started to appreciate that the differences in practices helped me make sense of my earlier experiences in ways that noting practices did not.

Tom Otvos wrote:
The Shinzen example above is good, because it highlights that he (Shinzen) has a much broader perspective than, say, Joseph Goldstein (not to pick on JG specifically).

Interestingly, Shinzen and Hokai both have a strong Shingon (Japanese Vajrayana) background which is more similar to Ken's Tibetan Buddhism than it is to Theravada practices.

Tom Otvos wrote:
There are indeed many ways up the mountain and how you go up is as much dependent on your personal makeup as it is on where you are on the path. That’s how I look at it, anyway.

Yes.
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 04 Mar 2020 22:31 #112160

Andy wrote:
Tom Otvos wrote:
The Shinzen example above is good, because it highlights that he (Shinzen) has a much broader perspective than, say, Joseph Goldstein (not to pick on JG specifically).

Interestingly, Shinzen and Hokai both have a strong Shingon (Japanese Vajrayana) background which is more similar to Ken's Tibetan Buddhism than it is to Theravada practices.

Yes that is true, but I think that is more of a coincidence than anything else. Shinzen's UM is driven by his super analytical approach and his desire to, literally, unify the contemplative practice space.
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 05 Mar 2020 07:15 #112166

Yeah, Shinzen's approach (which is the one I favor) is that you include everything and find a place for every aspect of meditation. JG's is reductionary, only allowing some things in.

The reason that WUTYL is so good, in my opinion, is some knots "naturally liberate" and other things need to really be dug out. Most of the book are practices that dig things up instead of just simply hoping they untangle while watching the breath.
Last Edit: 05 Mar 2020 07:15 by shargrol.
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 05 Mar 2020 10:44 #112169

shargrol wrote:
This is just a hunch Dusko, and no worries if it is an incorrect hunch, but I predict that you are pretty close to maxing out the insights that come from noting/noticing sensations, emotions, and thoughts... but I bet that an interesting investigation would be if you focused in on the point of contact where the experience of positive, negative, and neutral arises and quickly becomes attraction, aversion, and indifference. It's one thing to get how mind objects arise and pass, but it's another thing to get the subtle way samsara hooks us in...

The general practice is to look right at where experiences arises, notice the body tone of positiveness, negativeness, and neutralness... and then detect how attraction, aversion, and indifference --- or you could say liking, disliking, ignoring... or greed, hatred, and fantasy...arise a millisecond later in that same space. It's important to see how they are related but different experiences.

Anyway, that advice is worth what you paid for it! :)

I will reply as soon I find time :D we are celebrating our boy’s 4th birthday :D
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WUTYL: The Mystery of Being 06 Mar 2020 10:27 #112171

Realization that This Is It also naturally liberates in my opinion. That which seems in shade (not enlightened) causing suffering can be enlightened by applying Profound Mindfulness.
When the sensate experience is Profoundly seen, in that very action of profound Sati there is no Self. In seeing there is only the seen, referring back to no one. Sense of self/self-validation arises only after, if mindfulness is not profound/sincere/on the ball any longer.

Then ask “can it be any other than this? “ Once there is realization It Can’t Be Anything Other Than This, this moment awakens in and of itself. There is only This. Unfolding on its own. Flickering in and out. There can be Compassion/Metta in This or there can be me punching someone who is trying to harm my family in the face.

Where does that sense of anger come from, or sense of irritation, annoyance, restlessness, boredom or any mind state. For those who master meditation this might come from some Center of This-ness. For those who are lesser meditators it just comes from This-ness.

Of course as a Meditator (lens) I certainly can follow things back into the Body Sensations (Satipatthana) and then self-validate the experience afterwards. I might even give my self a sweet cooky for it as I was so good :D

Seriously though. We all dance our dance. Not all dances/experiences are the same. It naive to assume that all must have my experience so to awaken.

Do we call it Mystery of Being or Getting the Cosmic Joke or THIS is It, is a matter of preference and as such a self-validation. Am I enlightened? I don’t know. Let me touch the earth.
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