My first few months after fourth path. Lots of figuring out what it means, how to live with it, what changed and what didn’t. More family crises to deal with and how practice affects that. Comparing notes with dharma pals Jackson Wilshire, Alex Weith and Nick Halay. The very first inkling of the Actual Freedom focus appearing on KFD and my early reactions to that.
May 19 2010, 2:57 PM EDT | Post edited: May 19 2010, 2:59 PM EDT
Very interesting cmarti. I would say that I know what you mean except that this has happened to me several times and each time has been just as you describe in that ‘click’, simply the ending of that kind of a process never to begin again, but then it will happen again in another kind of way slightly differently. Sometimes it seems as if the field of awareness has widened, sometimes it seems more unitive, sometimes the 3 characteristics seem more prominent but always it is as if the engine of kamma has blown another cylinder. I don’t want to sidetrack your thread but I’m curious what you, Kenneth or others might have to say about how this seems to have happened to me from time to time in more than one way. I really have no sense if it will happen again sometime or not, but it always seems to be an added benefit and relief when it does.
I and others have also noted the related increase in energy and the tendency to sleep for fewer hours.
May 19 2010, 3:03 PM EDT
Interesting. I’ve had similar experiences before, too. There are a few differences this time, however. What appears to be a slight change in perception generates a very large change in other things, and those changes are, at least to this point, permanent.
May 19 2010, 3:10 PM EDT
Yes, the commonality is that there is a permanent shift involving the release of stress when some form of inner drive is resolved. I think this is why there is a corresponding increase in overall energy and this allows for a fuller appreciation of the qualities which remain aspects of conscious experience. It makes me think of the Tibetan allegory of the crow setting off in search of water and, finding none elsewhere, returning to the one pool.
May 19 2010, 3:24 PM EDT | Post edited: May 19 2010, 4:15 PM EDT
Well, it’s like setting off years ago to walk down to the nearest corner only to realize that once you get there you went all the way around the city and, seemingly, wasted all that time and energy to make what now is seen as a very short trip. It could anger a person, but it made me laugh. I’ve never had that perception before, and now that it’s here it ain’t going away, just like the feeling that the conveyor belt has been shut off ain’t going away.Or the real time awareness of awareness ain’t going away. Or the feeling that I’m in sync with the universe ain’t going away. Or the knowledge that I’m not standing in my own way, phenomenologically and perceptually speaking, ain’t going away.
May 19 2010, 4:11 PM EDT
May 19 2010, 4:14 PM EDT
May 19 2010, 5:07 PM EDT | Post edited: May 19 2010, 5:08 PM EDT
Congrats Chris!!!!!!! Is this the circuit completed? No more insight disease?
May 19 2010, 6:58 PM EDT
“Well, it’s like setting off years ago to walk down to the nearest corner only to realize that once you get there you went all the way around the city and, seemingly, wasted all that time and energy to make what now is seen as a very short trip.”
So if you could go back, what would you have told yourself while you were lost downtown? What was the essential core and what was the extraneous fluff?
May 19 2010, 7:14 PM EDT
“What was the essential core and what was the extraneous fluff?”
First, I wouldn’t go back. You’d have to kill me
Second, there is only the appearance in the present of what you’re calling extraneous fluff. It’s not really extraneous because it’s all part of a process that requires you to traverse the path. You can only see what you see, know what you know, at any given time. There’s no shortcut, no “dharmic wormhole” to slither through. I was using that language only to explain how it feels now. I don’t mean to mislead you and I’m sorry if I did.
May 19 2010, 7:26 PM EDT | Post edited: May 19 2010, 7:32 PM EDT
” You can only see what you see, know what you know, at any given time. There’s no shortcut, no “dharmic wormhole” to slither through. I was using that language only to explain how it feels now. I don’t mean to mislead you and I’m sorry if I did.
“This is a very, very helpful insight. For me, taking this on board has begun to expose and dispell the subtle tension and frustration at not seeing what the mind thinks it might be missing. Just see what can be seen, know what can be known…by oneself. Not what someone else knows. . The rest will play out in its own time. This for me has been the theme in recent days. I keep catching the mind wanting for there to be something to find….but that creates tension and frustration within. Once I realize that is what is happening, that I am looking for something, the mind relaxes back to seeing what is already just there… either watching just the sensations of frustration bubble and spit or whatever else presents itself. There is only what is right here , right now!
Sorry if this seems dogmatic but I cant help myself,
namo tassa bhagavato arhato sammasambuddhassa!!!
May 21 2010, 8:59 AM EDT
Yes, you’re right, that is a big deal, Nikolai. There seems to be any number of things mind just assumes, and the key, the path if you will, is that many of those things don’t get examined because they’re pretty well hidden, not objectified. Once objectified, as we here all know very well, as assumption can be dealt with, investigated, seen for what it is. Mind gives privilege to some things and ignores other things. Getting down into the deep heart of those assumptions is required. That’s the path, IMHO, and that’s why there’s no shortcut.
May 21 2010, 11:01 AM EDT
“There seems to be any number of things mind just assumes, and the key, the path if you will, is that many of those things don’t get examined because they’re pretty well hidden, not objectified. Once objectified, as we here all know very well, as assumption can be dealt with, investigated, seen for what it is. Mind gives privilege to some things and ignores other things. -cmarti
Yes, this is key. Enlightenment finally reveals that every thought and sensation that arises in the mind has exactly the same status as every other. The implications of this seemingly subtle insight are world-shaking to the yogi who can see it. Even the sense that “this is happening to me” is just another thought arising and passing away in this moment.
Nice job, Chris.
May 21 2010, 3:13 PM EDT
May 21 2010, 7:40 PM EDT
I’ve been “away” for a couple of days and missed all this.
May 22 2010, 9:12 AM EDT
There’s no doubt. It’s a lock. Yes, I’m in love with the world.
May 23 2010, 3:26 AM EDT | Post edited: May 23 2010, 3:27 AM EDT
Thanks for the inspiration Chris, it really helped on my recent retreat. Specifically your posts have helped me to keep going.
Nikolai: During this retreat, since it was conducted by a buddhist monk, we would chant that ‘namo tassa …’ with him while taking refuge and precepts before his discourse. I was a bit put off by the dogma but later when I was in the dark night I chanted it inwards and it caused a lot of rapture and happiness, heping me to move on
(Sorry for the sidetrack, Chris
May 23 2010, 8:43 AM EDT
Sidetracks are good.
May 23 2010, 9:35 AM EDT
I want to give a shout out, a testimonial really, to Kenneth Folk. He’s been so great to work with and recently he’s been amazing at pointing for me. I’ve been peppering him with questions and he’s batting a thousand by reflecting them back in a way that makes me realize. Thus it has always been.
Thank you, Kenneth Folk. A huge, never-ending thank you.
May 24 2010, 8:36 AM EDT
I lay awake a lot at night now. It’s a great time to just be. Quiet and dark. I can play with mind and mind effects more efficiently as there are no distractions. I’m noticing how frictionless experience can truly be and how it is objectification that makes it so. One experiment I perform is to think of something that upsets me at work and watch what happens when that thought occurs. Do that while embedded and then do that again while not embedded. Freaky, but good practice, I think, because embedding is so natural and powerful the more practice we can get the better.
May 24 2010, 9:55 PM EDT
Reading this thread is so inspiring… thanks so much for sharing this with all of us. Congratulations!
May 26 2010, 7:46 AM EDT
Today, like most days, I woke up in a cavernous universe. To describe this in one way is to get detailed about the phenomenological stuff — how “I” am no longer in my own perceptive way, how all phenomena arise from and then fade back into a non-hierarchical “thing” I”d call the neutral cosmic background. There’s more but that’s at least one way to describe it. It’s an alteration of the perceptive mechanism, a twist to the way a being experiences phenomena that removes the immediate, closed in, self-focused concerns that place a filter over the experience of reality.
A second way is to talk about the effects of this is — I wake up in love with existence and in love with experience and in love with the world. The removal of the filters of self, of ego, of whatever it is that preoccupies a mind embedded in the habit of ignorance causes something marvelous and lyrical and wonderful to literally just spring forth from everything, almost the time. The subject-object duality imposes a focus on objects to the exclusion of the mechanism of awareness. Once awareness infuses perception then the mechanism of experience is completely and utterly different than what it was before. As I go through the day I get re-embedded as I have to deal with the world of working and family and such. But as soon as that way of being is no longer necessary the filter snaps out of the way and it’s back to being in love. I drove to the office in love with the way the world looks just before the sun rises, in love with the way cars all moving at the same speed on the highway look like they’re not really moving, in love with the taste of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Sounds silly, yeah? Well, it… does… not… feel… silly.
I’m trying to make this sensible. I’m probably failing. As Kenneth can attest, I’m not very eloquent as I fumble around for words to describe the indescribable.
May 27 2010, 5:18 PM EDT
“I’m trying to make this sensible. I’m probably failing. As Kenneth can attest, I’m not very eloquent as I fumble around for words to describe the indescribable.”
You, fumbling for words? You are as eloquent as. Now me, I fumble. I love your descriptions, Chris. I want to be in love with the world too!!!!!!
May 27 2010, 5:35 PM EDT
Thanks, Nikolai. I’m not quite as high today. Frankly, I’m sort of struggling to understand what happened, what the effects are and will be and how best to deal with them. I have no desire to do much in the way of work right now and, of course, that’s messing with my job, big time. What I do want to do is go sit. And sit, and sit, and sit. I want to watch the world flowing by and just enjoy it. I do actually lay awake most nights but that’s not for any reason other than to play with experience. Embed, test. Un-embed, test. Is this real? Pinch. Really real? Pinch. Really, really real? Pinch. Testing, testing, 1,2,3…. And I feel like I’m getting sort of “out there” by posting all this here but I promised to keep an online journal and so that’s what I’m doing.
May 28 2010, 10:42 AM EDT
Whatever is happening is very definitely an opening and a simplification. Experience is infused with awareness. By that I mean a “door” has opened and awareness seems to have flowed in, soaking everything. I’m calling it awareness because I don’t have the proper word. It is the ongoing recognition of the enormity of absolutely everything and whether it is occurring in the foreground or the background it’s always there. Nothing about this organism is different in regard to physical and basic mental processes. It’s not that the I/me/mine is gone. It is not. It’s just not the central focus of existence any more and it’s apparent that I/me/mine is the same kind of phenomenon as all other phenomena. The same emotions, tendencies and preferences exist as they always did. But something new is in evidence and the only way to describe that is that awareness permeates everything in experience. Awareness has been pulled “down” into the small context of the ordinary such that the ordinary is infused by it, described by, defined by it, inextricably intertwined with it — and I’m absolutely certain it was always that way but not seen that way.
I keep going back to May 6th and trying to revisit what the f**k happened and I can’t because no “thing” really happened. The most descriptive thing I can say about this “event” is that a thought occurred to me and that thought was something like, “just get out of your own way,” and then this flow of awareness followed immediately, causing me to laugh out loud at how simple “this” is. In one moment I was seeking like a fanatic. In the next moment it was clear that seeking was extra and a complication. So everything appears as it is, where it is, and as only that. That’s the simplification part.
May 30 2010, 9:25 AM EDT
My dog, an Australian Kelpie, has taught herself how to escape the fenced in back yard by nosing the latch on the gate up and then open. This means I’ll have to construct some new Kelpie-proof mechanism for locking the gate. This dog has been a challenge from the beginning. I’m thinking I should get her started on zazen and Mu!
28. RE: Stages, Part the Third
Those Australian dogs are extremely intelligent little beings. Tried feeding it vegemite?
May 30 2010, 10:37 AM EDT | Post edited: May 30 2010, 10:38 AM EDT
My wife and I were sitting on the front porch last night. It was a beautiful evening. Calm, cool, but late spring-like and filled with birds and animal sounds. At one point I turned to her and asked,”So, how much of what you see right now do you really *see* and how much is just filled in by your mind?” She turned and looked at me, smiled, and asked, “Do you REALLY want an answer?”
I don’t get no respect.
May 30 2010, 10:51 AM EDT
Before: Where is everything?
After: Everything is right where it is, dummy.
Before: What is all this?
After: Who cares? Enjoy!
Before: There’s no “me,” right? Right, boss? Right?
After: Boss? Ahahaha!
May 30 2010, 2:33 PM EDT
I imagine if the “boss” completely gives up running things there must be some profound peace
May 30 2010, 3:35 PM EDT
There is no boss, as any boss in the sense I meant it is a pernicious illusion, sometimes almost completely hidden from view.
May 30 2010, 4:21 PM EDT | Post edited: May 30 2010, 5:06 PM EDT
“There is no boss, as any boss in the sense I meant it is a pernicious illusion, sometimes almost completely hidden from view.”
I know what you meant
I thought my reply was in keeping with your wavelength and revelling in how nice it must be — i really need to figure out how so may of my posts seem to disconnect so completely
May 30 2010, 6:41 PM EDT
Sorry, Mike. I just wanted to be clear. Glad you got it.
May 31 2010, 6:54 PM EDT (edit my post)
There’s nothing to add and nothing to take away. This says it all. Raw acceptance of everything, as it is. Just IS.
Jun 1 2010, 4:24 AM EDT
Hey Chris I am very happy to see this thread. When you stopped your old thread suddenly I could sense that something big had happened with you. I am a bit curious because there are so few people out there writing openly about this stuff… in order to add more data to the community how long has it been between 1st path and whatever this was?
Jun 1 2010, 8:39 AM EDT
Do you want that in calendar years or yogi years?
Jun 1 2010, 9:04 AM EDT
Haha feel free to share both. Or Neither…
Jun 1 2010, 10:13 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 1 2010, 10:14 AM EDT
“There’s nothing to add and nothing to take away. This says it all. Raw acceptance of everything, as it is. Just IS.”
P.S. I’ve been answering in emoticons a lot lately, as there is really nothing more to say.
Jun 1 2010, 10:15 AM EDT
Jun 2 2010, 9:44 AM EDT
Oh, Clayton, I forgot! Lots going on with family and other stuff the past few days. I have a 14 year-old graduating from 8th grade this week and that has become a major life experience and time sink
It’s been, best I can determine, about five years. I have to say “best I can determine” because I managed to access first path before I knew what it was. I was just following Daniel Ingram’s very explicit instructions from MCTB (original online version, printed and unbelievable dog eared) and had a number of fruitions over the course of a few years. I realized what it was later on when Kenneth explained it to me.
*** Shout out to my dharma brothers Jackson and Alex! ***
Jun 2 2010, 11:41 AM EDT
“*** Shout out to my dharma brothers Jackson and Alex! ***”
*** Yeah! ***
Jun 5 2010, 12:48 PM EDT
I’m having an interesting time with my job. I was highly wired to succeed. I mean laser beam focused, and for years and years. I was, because of this, a wreck during most of my career. Worrier. Overly attached to the job. My job was very highly correlated to my sense of identity, of self. It contributed to that sense, filled it in, made me “what I am.” This is why i started practice back int the ’90s. That connection has been all but destroyed by what has happened. This makes sense, of course, but it turns into a surprising (to me, at least) consequence. It’s a bit unnerving. It’s very, very different and, as Kenneth says, probably much healthier. But it’s taking some getting used to, needs integration, what have you. Oddly, there is some guilt about this as things that I used to dive into lay fallow for days. People I used to snap to for leave messages that go unanswered for a time. It’s not that I don’t care. I do care. It’s that the importance of anything that is not right here and now, that is not truly and authentically urgent, gets relegated to the “wait until it matters” pile.
I also feel like I’m floating. Not physically floating but experientially and metaphorically. I am not tied down to anything. The tendrils of emotional attachment still have power, though I can see them at work. If I’m distracted and busy or highly attuned to a task the tendrils can grab and hold on an then it takes a conscious re-orientation to disentangle again. But much of my time is spent in this enormous experiential environment that seems to be bounded only by the shell of awareness that surrounds the entirety of THIS. Practice, it seems, leads to really knowing the fullness of experience, and that view, that unbelievably clear view, is what matters, what frees us, what gives us the space to be fully realized human beings.
Ya gotta love that.
Jun 6 2010, 11:49 AM EDT
“I’m having an interesting time with my job. I was highly wired to succeed. I mean laser beam focused, and for years and years. I was, because of this, a wreck during most of my career. Worrier. Overly attached to the job. My job was very highly correlated to my sense of identity, of self. It contributed to that sense, filled it in, made me “what I am.” This is why i started practice back int the ’90s. That connection has been all but destroyed by what has happened. ”
cmarti, this is amazing to me for a range of reasons. I’m very interested to hear more of how this develops for you if you feel inclined. When advanced yogis never share their experiences it leaves a lot of space for yogis working with beginning levels to fill in the blanks with unfounded notions. Thanks so much for your example and for talking about it.
Jun 6 2010, 1:14 PM EDT
This is the good stuff, Chris– the point at which the practice of the skills gives way to the practice of the life. And to paraphrase Robert Earl Keen– ‘the road goes on forever, the practice never ends.’
Who’d a thunk, back when we were striving to get somewhere [else], that that’s the GOOD news!
[and Amen to mpavoreal-- accounts of post awakening practice are precious as rubies]
Jun 6 2010, 2:05 PM EDT
Thank you both very much for your kind and encouraging words.
mpavoreal, I do plan to continue to comment on my practice and related developments here, especially if folks get something out of it. Roomy, yeah, there’s just no end to practice and clearly there’s no end to the need for practice. This will be something I do forever, and for various reasons that have and will no doubt continue to change.
Jun 6 2010, 4:54 PM EDT
cmarti, if I remember correctly you started practicing in the midst of a demanding career, a family, and without benefit of retreats and progressed mostly on your own, until you met Kenneth? And “with my job. I was highly wired to succeed. I mean laser beam focused, and for years and years. I was, because of this, a wreck during most of my career. Worrier. Overly attached to the job.” Man, can I relate to that! I’ve been worried that spending so much of my week in work-wrecked mind states is a big hindrance. But none of that proved unsurmountable.
Jun 6 2010, 6:58 PM EDT
That’s true, I’ve never been on a formal retreat. I was/am however, extremely serious about practice. I think dedication, making meditation a serious daily habit and being wiling to experiment to find what works best for you all make a big difference. Working with Kenneth has really, really made a difference since I started doing it, so I highly recommend him.
Jun 9 2010, 8:46 AM EDT
I’ve had this happen too on several occasions. Hard to describe, only that everything is the same but the significance is different. Everything is perfect as is and there’s a wonderful feeling of unity in diversity (not oneness per se, but things aren’t seen as separate – or as one, just as they are).
I believe this is what the zen guys call kensho
Jun 9 2010, 10:02 PM EDT | Post edited: Jun 9 2010, 10:13 PM EDT
Today I’ve had a lot of clarity around seeing the operation of mind as it sees what materializes, seemingly from nothing, returning to nothing. This has been accompanied by (caused by? derived from?) a lot of equanimity. I’ve been observing of the dance between the is and the is not off and on all day long. At times like this it becomes apparent that we construct what we experience and when things are this clear those constructs can be seen to go deeper and deeper and deeper, right down to time and space. This used to appear to me only infrequently and only after some serious letting go. It seems to be quickly and easily available today, like glancing over my shoulder. Weird, because yesterday I was embedded, caused in large part I think by having to be in meetings most of the day, leading discussions, playing a part in the process of life. So each day brings a different view of self and other, and of the relationship between them as it is perceived or not perceived, in each moment, but what is ever clearer is that each of these views is wrapped in the same awareness. That awareness is ever present. It enables the clarity of the view. In times past I would have used the word “distance” to describe it but that’s wrong. It’s actually intimacy. Intimacy is what the heart wants and seeks in each and every experience. Intimacy with all of THIS. There’s no fear bound up in it so it’s open and willing to be present all the time. What happens is what happens, it emerges and is accepted on its own terms, is where it is, and passes on into the void it came from, is replaced by the next thing in attention, and so on, and so on, and so on. This is what life is, all the time, no matter what’s happening. JUST THIS.
Jun 9 2010, 11:48 PM EDT
“That awareness is ever present. It enables the clarity of the view. In times past I would have used the word “distance” to describe it but that’s wrong. It’s actually intimacy. Intimacy is what the heart wants and seeks in each and every experience. Intimacy with all of THIS. There’s no fear bound up in it so it’s open and willing to be present all the time. What happens is what happens, it emerges and is accepted on its own terms, is where it is, and passes on into the void it came from, is replaced by the next thing in attention, and so on, and so on, and so on. This is what life is, all the time, no matter what’s happening. JUST THIS.”
gorgeous, Chris! There is a Zen koan that goes ‘Not knowing is most intimate.’
I think the hard part of the workaday world is most apparent when there is some sort of high-pressure conversation going on, with all the other participants operating from the usual premises, at the usual over-caffeinated speed– keeping the still point in view under those circumstances is quite challenging.
Finding opportunities to take a quick, personal ‘reset’ practice moment [in whatever way you find works for you] can be very helpful. And what is great is that this sort of on-the-fly practice has greatly amplified effects, in rooting your practice in your life independent of circumstances.
Jun 10 2010, 12:00 AM EDT
Thanks Chris and Roomy for your excellent points…
Jun 12 2010, 8:37 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 12 2010, 9:17 AM EDT
I’m having some small amount of trouble these days. It’s an embarrassment of riches in a way but it’s still a problem. I want to talk. I want to talk about practice and what’s happened and yet there’s often no one to talk to face to face. I can launch into monologues all day long and my poor wife will listen attentively for about 20 minutes and then tune me out. And since she’s not on this practice wavelength those conversations are described more by me explaining terms than they are about a real conversation. So I feel a little bit isolated. This forum helps. E-mail and phone conversations help. But I think I may need to seek a real life sangha where I can sit face to face with other human beings. I find the timing of this to be kind of odd, as that need should have driven me to do this years ago.
Jun 12 2010, 10:23 AM EDT
I feel you Chris… I have one friend I talk with about this stuff on a regular basis… He is into more Kriya Yoga, but I have intro’d him to some of Kenneth, Daniel, and Bill’s writing… Before that this practice has a way of being very isolating… because I mean… I don’t know many people who during a normal conversation I could just be like… “You know I am coming to understand more and more that even these fruitions are not where the final goal lies… what do you think?” haha it just doesn’t really work… When I get back to the states I hope I find a good Sangha… Best of luck Chris…
Jun 13 2010, 11:17 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 13 2010, 11:21 AM EDT
Choice — this is an important thing.
The more you see the more choice you have. The more choice you have the more freedom. The more freedom the more you feel responsibility. The more you feel responsible the more you pay attention, take care. The more you pay attention the more you see. The more you see the more choice you have. The more choice you have the more freedom, The more freedom the more you feel responsibility. The more you feel responsible the more you pay attention, take care. The more you pay attention the more you see. The more you see the more choice you have.
And so on… forever and ever.
This is apparently an infinite loop. An infinite loop of being aware of the cause-effect and living according to its lights, or maybe as my friend Alex Weith says, just moving in harmony with the Tao. The more I experience this and think about it the more I realize how much I was fighting, struggling, making my own existence far more difficult. I can see this play out and I can sort of make adjustments to move things along or, more critically, know what not to do to get in the way. I can see when other folks are fighting the flow, and I can and sometimes do offer a pointer to what is a more authentic, flow-based approach. They don’t usually pay much attention ;-(
This isn’t clairvoyance. It’s just being able to see and navigate within the Cosmic Rules of the Road. It is not eye seeing. It’s gestalt seeing, feel seeing, innate sense of things seeing. Dharma Eye seeing, maybe. It’s powerful.
Yeah, moving in harmony with the Tao.
Jun 13 2010, 11:26 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 13 2010, 11:27 AM EDT
As I type this I’m sitting on my front porch. One of my cats has been sleeping on the couch next to me. A random neighborhood cat, a black and white persian, walked up and laid down on the chair next to us. This is not related to what I just typed… or is it?
Edit: I typed “one of my cats” and should have typed “I’m one of his humans.”
Jun 13 2010, 11:49 AM EDT
Someone here on KFDh just got first path. This is so cool and it brought this to mind for some reason:
A few weeks before this last event I was fixated, absolutely dialed in, on the difference between awake and not awake. I knew somehow that I could see just about everything I should be able to see, and I was absolutely determined to get that last shred of “it” out in front of me. As this developed it was not something I was choosing. It was something that was choosing me. I was not in control, and I had not been in control for years after crossing the A&P Event. Night and day, awake and asleep, this dilemma, this enigmatic “thing” kept nagging me. It was tormenting me, frankly. I was so tired of the chase and really just wanting to be done with it already.
So, I recall reading “The Three Pillars of Zen” years and years ago, and this torture made me think of that and I still think of that when I think of this last event. I recall posting here that I had discovered the power of a koan. I’m not sure and when I describe this it sounds kind of foolish but I really believe this last event was driven by this insanely intense feeling of HAVING to get… it…. done. And inside, in my little pea brain, I’m convinced it’s not a coincidence that several others that I know had the same thing happen, pretty much in the same way. I’ll leave it to them to speak up but I wanted to get this out there for whatever reason.
I don’t frankly know what caused this and maybe I’m drawing a silly-a**ed conclusion based solely on proximity, but sheesh….
Jun 13 2010, 12:36 PM EDT | Post edited: Jun 13 2010, 12:39 PM EDT
I know that feeling…..it is present in whatever blissed out jhana states or fruition bliss afterglow I experience. That there is something “I NEED to get done”. It is constant…a nagging feeling of not being satisfied. Of feeling like I haven’t completed something. I am just not satisfied. Not “at peace” yet. Please keep posting Chris. Your experiences and insights help us get to where you are faster.
Jun 17 2010, 7:30 PM EDT | Post edited: Jun 17 2010, 7:49 PM EDT
Exchanging some PMs with folks here today made me think of this: the infamous Insight Disease, the conveyor belt, the escalator, the ride, the involuntary drive to complete the cycle of insight, is pretty much just like everything else we live with. It’s involuntary. A baby is born and starts to breathe and must keep breathing in order to live. Breathing is probably an ugly thing at first, probably feels like a fight, probably creates a certain fear, maybe panic. Probably panic. With some modification that’s what this Insight Disease thing feels like upon getting to first path. I could also have used eating. Or sex. Or scratching an itch. All of these things parallel the lemming-like drive we invoke when we first fall into the stream.
The punch line? The progress of insight is just like everything else in our lives — we only think we’re in control. What we really are is along for the ride.
Jun 17 2010, 8:07 PM EDT
I’m still trying to grok how to deal with the fact that I’m not wired up, fired up or injected intravenously into my job any more. I care, but the care is temporal and takes place in la la land. Everything takes place in la la land so that the ol’ career does shouldn’t be a huge surprise. It’s an adjustment. And I swear that my wife is testing me, seeing if she can make me crack, take a position, hold it and defend it. Last night it was about money. But, of course, money exists in la la land, too, so in the end why get worked up about it? Why get worked up about anything? Who’s getting worked up?
Jun 20 2010, 10:11 AM EDT
A truly violent thunderstorm knocked our electricity out Friday afternoon. It came back on later that evening but went out again yesterday afternoon and is still out. This has been a great gift. It’s been really quiet and peaceful, especially last night. The pace is slower, too. I’m enjoying this respite from television, video games and other powered stuff the kids are always doing… and it’s a great practice enhancer. I wish I didn’t have work to get done, but I do, so here I am for a few hours at Starbucks.
Jun 26 2010, 8:54 AM EDT
Starting to accommodate the lack of ecstatic overly focused enthusiasm I seem to have now at work. This kind of thing is going to be the way it is, so I have to go with it. There are times when I can muster some of that old magic and times when I can’t. People are starting to notice. I’m not sure what to tell them when they ask about it. “Well, see, I started this meditation practice a long time ago and last month this thing happened and….” Nope, that’s not gonna fly.
I think I’m just going to blame it on age
Jun 26 2010, 9:11 AM EDT
Walking around, driving, working, talking to people… I always have this expansive sense of “big” that pervades it all. It’s awareness. I marvel at how transparent things have become, especially the “me” crap that used to cause reactiveness. Ignorance, really. Now when that me stuff arises it’s seen quickly and most often just flows through quickly, but not always. Noticing what folks call “bad stuff” like anger and pain and disgust is now more of a physical process than a mental process so it’s much easier to be with the world as it is, which is the really wonderful part. No matter what’s happening and no matter what is done or said there’s a far greater chance I’ll be with it as opposed to reacting to it, so I have a lot more choice than I used to have. That’s liberation, man. Liberation. And that allows the love and compassion to flow, and that’s just all good.
Now, some people notice this happening, too, and I can likewise credit the wisdom that comes with age
Jun 26 2010, 12:03 PM EDT
Good stuff man… thanks for the updates…
Jun 26 2010, 6:48 PM EDT
Ditto what Clayton says – it is wonderful to get reports from the other side of the stream. With each one I get a tiny bit more clear about where this is all going…
Jun 27 2010, 10:02 AM EDT
“Starting to accommodate the lack of ecstatic overly focused enthusiasm I seem to have now at work. This kind of thing is going to be the way it is, so I have to go with it. There are times when I can muster some of that old magic and times when I can’t. People are starting to notice. I’m not sure what to tell them when they ask about it. “Well, see, I started this meditation practice a long time ago and last month this thing happened and….” Nope, that’s not gonna fly.
I think I’m just going to blame it on age ”
To be perfectly honest, this is the first thing I have read about the whole process that has me concerned. Outside of this, it has been about bettering “me” and how I relate to the world. But this affects others in a potentially negative way and I am not sure how to take that.
Jun 27 2010, 10:45 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 27 2010, 10:46 AM EDT
Tom, you have to understand that my “old magic” was not healthy, to say the least. There have been many times in my practice when I was different than before or affected in some way because of the practice. All of those things were not “good” effects, certainly in the short term. But as I’ve said here, you would have to kill me rather than get me to go back. Does that help? I don’t want to demotivate anyone but at the same time I want to tell the truth about this stuff.
Jun 27 2010, 10:34 PM EDT
“Does that help? I don’t want to demotivate anyone but at the same time I want to tell the truth about this stuff.”
Hmm, honestly, not really. I truly appreciate the honesty part, but where I am coming from is this. You and I seem to be cut from similar technical cloth, so I think you get it when I say that I need to be embedded in what I do to do it really well. And people are counting on me to do it really well. I get paid fairly nicely to do it well, and my family relies on the same. And I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction out of creating stuff out of nothing that people end up using. So if I lost my “edge”, my “good magic”, my enthusiasm…that seems to me to be not such a good outcome. I am all for seeing through the things that make me “suffer”, and being in a happier place.
But are arahatship and entrepreneurship (in my case) or business-drive-to-succeed (more generally) mutually exclusive?
Jun 28 2010, 9:29 AM EDT
“To be perfectly honest, this is the first thing I have read about the whole process that has me concerned. Outside of this, it has been about bettering “me” and how I relate to the world. But this affects others in a potentially negative way and I am not sure how to take that. ”
I just posted something like this on the AF thread, but I think it’s really important to consider the two perspectives from which a) the way the progress of insight and other such things play out is largely predictable, and b) the way other parts of our lives plays out is largely unpredictable, the mundane outcomes of awakening being one of them.
So, who knows where you might find yourself, Tom, upon attaining to arahantship, etc. If it syncs up with how you understand reality and what kindness/compassion are, you might be more rude and grouchy and harsh, or you might be more sweet and gentle and tender. You also might not change a lick in that regard. You might become totally uninvested in your work (real possibility, yes!), or you might become totally re-invested in your work (also a real possibility).
Sure, if one’s work ethic, livelihood and its benefits for oneself / one’s family aren’t in line with the truth, then it may be time to find a new line of work. But if practice threatens to destroy something worthy and good, maybe something’s off in your approach to practice. Sounds to me like it’s destroying something that has plagued Chris, which is an entirely different matter.
I know it’s considered “kindergarten impermanence”, but let’s also not forget that any of us could die today. Loss is often much closer at hand than we believe. And yet what if there is some ‘thing’ that can’t be lost? Sounds worth seeking.
Jun 28 2010, 9:43 AM EDT
Tom, I still do things really well. What I can no longer do is live to please other people and live in fear of their disapproval. I used to live to work. Now I don’t. This has been an uncomfortable change because a lot of my self- sense was bound up in what I did for a living and how that was perceived by other people. I was too competitive and too afraid to “lose.” When this kind of change occurs some people will almost inevitably notice it. I’m not sure they perceive it as a bad thing, but whatever they think… I think the change is healthy. My family relies on me, too, and I have two kids in college, sent one all the way through and have a fourth who’ll want to go in a few years. I can’t afford to be in La La Land all day long. And I’m not.
No, arahatship does not seem to be mutually exclusive of the drive to succeed. I still want to succeed but I think my desire/fear/live-for-work hyper-focus has been healthily tempered.
So, does that help?
Jun 28 2010, 10:40 AM EDT
Thanks for the candour, Chris. Yes, it helps. (And I really hope that I did not sound like I was suggesting you were no longer trying, or not doing things well, or otherwise slacking off.)
Jun 28 2010, 10:45 AM EDT
In the interest of honest communication about practice it’s all good, Tom.
78. RE: Stages, Part the Third
Jun 29 2010, 7:42 PM EDT
I find it hard to believe that someone can sit in meditation for years and years and not at some point encounter something other than first gear. It’s just not plausible, especially if one has read a lot of Buddhist literature and has knowledge of the various Mahayana practices, of the nature of those practices and what their objectives are. If it’s true that such a thing possible then I’m saddened by it. There is so much more to this practice and to the nature of human beings than what is directly in front of our noses. There is great insight, poetry, amazingly deep, fulfilling experiences. The end of some great mysteries, boundless silence, real peace in the eye of the storm and, above all, a direct line to the heart. To not see that, to miss it for whatever reason as a sin of omission is one thing. But to deny it, to ignore it or to suppress it is flabbergastingly short sighted.
Flabbergastingly. Yep, I made that one up.
Jun 29 2010, 8:00 PM EDT
These perspectives are motivating and balancing. I find them interesting and insightful. Thanks, Chris.
Jul 1 2010, 6:03 PM EDT | Post edited: Jul 1 2010, 6:04 PM EDT
I had a truly horrendous day today. Bad sore throat, reports to get out the door to the Wall Street bankers and their analyusts, technical problems with servers on the way to getting that done, registration breakdowns on the web site, demands for explanations for the reports to Wall Street, daughter decides to just skip going to summer school and not tell anyone, blah, blah, blah. Funny — it all just happens and while it’s going on it’s a big deal and a problem and then when it’s done it’s just gone. Really gone. The “gone when it’s gone” part makes me feel a little bit like the village idiot, not being able to hang onto anything for very long, but then I realized – hey, that’s what I wanted! So here it is, non-clinging at a time when non-clinging actually helps. I can do one thing at a time, focus on that and not be churning about anything else, then when that’s over move on to the next thing, and so on. So horrendous turns out to be pretty good, not really a problem.
Still making chairs, too, RuyGuy
Jul 1 2010, 7:07 PM EDT
“Happy in heaven; happy in helluva mess–” like the man say.
Turns out the village idiot has been getting unfairly dissed all this time, eh?
Jul 1 2010, 7:18 PM EDT
Back before practicing, what would such a day have done to you? How would you be feeling right now?
Jul 1 2010, 7:25 PM EDT
Mike — angry, wondering “why me?” and feeling like a victim, afraid of the next piece of bad news.
Jul 3 2010, 9:52 AM EDT
Kenneth said something on another thread that I want to reiterate in my own way because it’s so important and it leads so many people astray — as a result of your practice you will never actually lose your sense of self. No matter what, if you’re a healthy human being you’re going to live with a sense that there’s a “me.” You will continue to experience life with a reference point – me. You will still observe the subject-object duality. What you see and hear and feel and experience will still come through as “other.” Kenneth calls this “ultimate self-referencing.” What changes isn’t the nature of reality. What changes is the way it is perceived and processed. You will have a felt sense, always there, that “you” are not the center of the universe. You’ll know without any doubt that there is no process, perception, feeling or thought that has a privileged status above any other process, perception, feeling or thought. And that will include the feeling, process and thought that there is a privileged “you” somewhere in your head that manages and governs a permanent entity called “me.” Kenneth calls the post-awakening version “provisional self-referencing.” I really like those before and after terms because they get it exactly right.
This is one of those things we encounter in our practice that is only a hair’s breadth different in the before and after picture, but that tiny difference translates into much larger effects in experience. This is also a reason to recognize that we should all be thanking folks like Daniel Ingram and Kenneth Folk for de-mysitfying the process of awakening. Without the honest and, as or more important, open accounts they’ve provided to us we’d all be looking for, and doing, the wrong things. The lack of that openness explains how countless yogis can spend decades on the cushion and yet not wake up.
Jul 3 2010, 10:07 AM EDT
And… the idea that you will lose your sense of self is a testament to the unbelievable power that ideas and concepts have over us. If you think that’s what you must do then that’s what you’ll try to do, that’s what you’ll look for and that’s how you’ll end up just chasing your tail. Another thing about practice that I’m so very thankful for is that — the power of concepts is diminished because the mental processes that create the conditions that allow concepts to influence outcomes is slowly exposed for observation and through observation can then be objectified accounted for. I can’t begin to tell you how many times that has helped me in my everyday life, to see the hidden crap others don’t see and better yet to see my very own conceptual craptacularness. It all works together.
“craptacularness” – another new word to trademark
Jul 3 2010, 10:08 AM EDT
Thanks for posting this Chris.
This is very timely and good for me. These welcomed “slaps” to the face really re-focus my efforts and make me realize how perhaps I am “looking for” and expecting a certain outcome and that can become such a hinderance because I let those ideas subtly influence how I practice. This re-focusing, re-aligning my view of what it means to “get it done” helps tremendously in allowing me to get back to the drawing board, no need to speculate, no need to “look for” the outcome, but to do the basics of meditation and allow whatever will occur to occur. “I” am stepping out of the way of progress thanks to Kenneth and many yogis here including yourself just cutting away the BS, and saying “hey….this is the deal, don’t waste energy “looking for” a specific outcome”.
Very grateful….this is truly streamlining our practice.
Jul 3 2010, 10:38 AM EDT
Hi, Nick. I’m not trying or intending to slap you If you look to the top of this thread you’ll see that at some point it’ll become very clear that the very act of seeking is what’s keeping you from getting “there,” which is just one more fascinating and wonderfully counter-intuitive practice truth.
Jul 3 2010, 10:58 AM EDT
HA! And that “welcomed” face slap is something we all need. They are pointers to things we are missing, overlooking, hidden from view or behind a wrong view. So I call them face slaps. I wake up from my ignorant slumber and re-focus! Thanks for that further face slap…..nothing bad about it, they are wonderful face slaps!! Keep slapping!!! Hehe!
Jul 3 2010, 11:56 AM EDT
“Kenneth calls the post-awakening version “provisional self-referencing.” I really like those before and after terms because they get it exactly right.
This is one of those things we encounter in our practice that is only a hair’s breadth different in the before and after picture, but that tiny difference translates into much larger effects in experience. This is also a reason to recognize that we should all be thanking folks like Daniel Ingram and Kenneth Folk for de-mystifying the process of awakening. Without the honest and, as or more important, open accounts they’ve provided to us we’d all be looking for, and doing, the wrong things. The lack of that openness explains how countless yogis can spend decades on the cushion and yet not wake up.”
This is great, Chris– I hadn’t encountered this kind of awakened View language so succinctly expressed here, before. More often, the emphasis is necessarily process-oriented.
But my own experience has been a sort of strange accident– [not that I wasn't practicing, but that the result exceeded the expectations of the practice]– of the ‘process’ having its own compelling logic, and landing in that paradoxical everything/nothing has changed… continuum.
In “Cosmic Consciousness” a farmer is quoted as saying, ‘My cows and pigs and everything is changed!’– and I like the earthy humor of that; it’s a down-home version of ‘…no old age and no death. No ending of old age and death. No suffering, cause or end to suffering.’
Just so– no self, and also no no-self. I am not the body, and I am not some transcendent ‘thing’ other than the body.
Jul 3 2010, 4:43 PM EDT
“Chris: … as a result of your practice you will never actually lose your sense of self. No matter what, if you’re a healthy human being you’re going to live with a sense that there’s a “me.” You will continue to experience life with a reference point – me. You will still observe the subject-object duality. What you see and hear and feel and experience will still come through as “other.” Kenneth calls this “ultimate self-referencing.” What changes isn’t the nature of reality. What changes is the way it is perceived and processed…”
That’s an important point, Chris, and I’m glad you’re writing about it here.
The idea that one would lose the ability to self-reference after awakening is kind of silly, but I don’t mean that in a patronizing way. I used to think that’s what awakening was about, too. A lot of people do. Really, it’s not very easy to understand what is meant by ‘no-self’ until a good amount of practice has already been done.
There are states of meditation where the self-referencing dissolves. But, there are also states of meditation where there is absolutely no awareness of the body. In the same way that one’s body comes back into awareness after such states, the self-referencing comes back after states of self-dissolution as well. As Sri Ramana put it, “The ‘I’ casts off the illusion of ‘I’ and yet remains as ‘I’. Such is the paradox of Self-realization. The realized do not see any contradiction in it.”
I like how the late D.T. Suzuki described Satori (awakening) as “acquiring a new view point.” Things keep going as they always have, only now one sees things how they truly are – and that includes seeing self-referencing for what it is.
Also, to all of my fellow citizens of the USA, I wish you all a very happy Independence Day weekend
Jul 4 2010, 5:12 AM EDT
“.. as a result of your practice you will never actually lose your sense of self. No matter what, if you’re a healthy human being you’re going to live with a sense that there’s a “me.” You will continue to experience life with a reference point – me. You will still observe the subject-object duality. What you see and hear and feel and experience will still come through as “other.”"
Just wanted to say thanks for pushing this ‘losing the self’ point on a couple of threads. Last night I was meditating and it dawned on me – I know I am not my thoughts, emotions, or body and yet they all still function, there is no need to get rid of them to disembed/disidentify from them.
So why do I feel the need to get rid of the sense of self? All I have to do is disembed from that too. It does not need to be destroyed, just seen for what it is.
Jul 4 2010, 10:11 AM EDT
“All I have to do is disembed from that too. It does not need to be destroyed, just seen for what it is.”
Major insight alert!
Jul 5 2010, 1:02 PM EDT
More and more of my time seems to be spent being aware of all the processes that are occurring at any given time, and within “IS.” This is what I’ll call “innate involuntary objectification.” It happens without being willfully invoked. Sort of like breathing, but while breathing is always “on” this awareness can and does fade in and out, on and off. It’s an awareness of the entirety of experience. The mental image I have of it is like this: the universe is limitless and yet bounded on the “edges” and pervaded throughout an infinite, universal sphere by awareness. This is not attention, but Awareness of the ultimate sort. Along with the objectified perspective of everything occurring inside the infinity is immediate access to awareness of awareness – which seems to be out there on the “edge.” Because literally everything manifests “inside” this spherical infinity it’s easy to let all that stuff go and just be. At those times only the word/concept “IS” applies, and that’s not right, either.
Of course, describing this as shapes and in words is ridiculous and silly but mind wants to do it none the less! I think mind is so hell bent on conceptualizing everything it just keeps building these images and pushes them out into awareness even when doing so is inaccurate and, frankly, pointless.
Jul 5 2010, 1:31 PM EDT
Now when I read my last comment it sounds like jibberish. Probably best to ignore it.
Jul 5 2010, 2:31 PM EDT
“Now when I read my last comment it sounds like jibberish. Probably best to ignore it.”
Not so and far otherwise– it’s just that the ‘shimmer’ that is the reality of experience can only be pointed at, not entirely described.
But all of art, and much of spirituality, does its utmost, anyway. Why not? ‘How can [we] keep from singing?’
Jul 5 2010, 3:20 PM EDT
Ha! Well said. And thanks. I feel… redeemed
Jul 6 2010, 10:19 AM EDT
Watching the videos Kenneth posted featuring Nick yesterday spurred me to do jhana practice out on the porch last night. Ahhh! I was able to get up there (I count 12) and then back down and the cool part was that the “back down” was more clear and discernable than it has ever been for me. I don’t know if that’s due to the watching of the videos (probably) or some other change since whenever, but it was fun. Following the jhanic arc up took a while, say about a half hour. Coming back down was faster but the individual jhanas were clear as I went back through them.
The jhanas have never been the focus of my practice but it’s clear their existence has meaning and that each represents some part of the nature of mind or the strata of mind. And there really is congruence between some jhanas and other areas of practice. I recommend watching these videos as I don’t believe there’s anything like them to be found anywhere but here:
Jul 6 2010, 11:21 AM EDT
Hey Chris… yeah those videos are really good stuff. I remember in your old thread you talking about practicing “Just Sitting” in the witness. Is that still your formal practice? I am curious if you find yourself going up and down the arch naturally during this sort of practice…
Jul 6 2010, 11:37 AM EDT
Hi, Clayton. Since May my normal practice is just sitting, period. Not so much in the Witness. Very Shikantaza-like. There is a stillness to meditation that was never available before and I’ve been enjoying that, letting whatever arises show itself, be whatever it is, where it is, and then disappear into original awareness to reveal the next thing, and so on. If I allow it or cultivate it then, yes, the jhanic arc will manifest. But I haven’t been practicing that of late, preferring what I just described because it’s so new and still and beautiful.
Jul 7 2010, 10:26 AM EDT
So, this is when the practice rubber meets the road of life and of parenting and such weighty things. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail but I’ll be spending a significant amount of time on health related matters, at least for a while. This is not unexpected but still disappointing. We talk about cycling here in terms of the path but I observe other forms of cycling, as with my loved one’s depression. There seems to be a six month cycle that bottomed last January and is doing so once again right now. I was up almost all night just letting the feelings roll over me. This is the kind of thing some folks say they don’t want — strong emotions like fear, anger, guilt, psychological suffering related to doubt, and so on. Even though there are times the power of these emotions would have me crawl out of my own skin, the anger would have me trash the room, the fear would have me run screaming down the street never to return… these are actually and still valuable parts of life. And yes, I’m saying this because of the recent focus on Actual Freedom here and to make sure folks know that no matter how strong and hard this horrible stuff can be, it really isn’t the emotions that cause us problems. No, it’s the inability to see them for what they are, to allow them to do what they do, to see the value they bring, to be with whatever is going on, be it heaven or be it hell.
Today I wish more than anything that I could take this hard won realization and reach over and lightly touch someone’s forehead and transfer it to them. I just don’t need it as much as they do, right now.
Jul 7 2010, 10:27 AM EDT
I have to say, too, there’s nothing quite so difficult and painful as watching someone else suffer and not be able to do anything that will really help relieve them of it.
Jul 7 2010, 11:26 AM EDT
“I have to say, too, there’s nothing quite so difficult and painful as watching someone else suffer and not be able to do anything that will really help relieve them of it.”
There comes a time when the suffering is so great, and when it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to do something to alleviate the suffering, that our only two options are to stay with it or to flee (either physically or mentally – or both). Being that our nature is naturally wakeful and present, we know which of those two options is more wise. Sometimes all we can do is be there, to bear witness to these great difficulties and to share them.
I admire your courage, Chris, and your commitment to practicing wisdom, even when the tides of impermanence bring the most unpleasant of circumstances.
I wish you and your loved ones well.
Jul 7 2010, 12:27 PM EDT
Your right–difficult times show us where we are in the practice. There is nothing worse than being powerless to help someone… this pain must be all the greater when it involves someone so close. Metta and Prayers to you and your family Chris….
Jul 7 2010, 2:13 PM EDT
“Sometimes all we can do is be there, to bear witness to these great difficulties and to share them.”
Sometimes, I think that’s the best that we can do. Simply hold the space for that other person, to show them with our very being that such emotions can be felt through. I’ve always had the best results myself by simply BEING with that person who’s suffering, as hard as I can.
So sorry to hear about these troubles Chris, my heart goes out to you and your loved ones.
Jul 7 2010, 2:42 PM EDT
Let me add my voice to the others’ messages of encouragement and support, Chris. And add that the hard times are what shows you what a diamond the practice path you’re on really is: Kwan Yin is a bodhisattva because she HEARS [can bear without flinching] ‘the cries of the world’. She hasn’t taken her magic accomplishments and run off to never-never Nirvana.
Jul 7 2010, 4:51 PM EDT
Thank you, everyone. I really appreciate your support.
Jul 7 2010, 8:31 PM EDT
Small words of support is what I can offer.
Metta and Karuna
Jul 7 2010, 8:45 PM EDT
Sending love and hope to you and your whole family.
Jul 7 2010, 8:50 PM EDT
Thinking of your family too. Hopefully some of these positive vibes can come in handy.
Jul 8 2010, 3:43 AM EDT
I sincerely hope things turn out better for you and your family too…
Jul 8 2010, 9:05 AM EDT (edit my post)
Thanks again, everyone. It’s great to think about all of you thinking of us over here.
“And add that the hard times are what shows you what a diamond the practice path you’re on really is: Kwan Yin is a bodhisattva because she HEARS [can bear without flinching] ‘the cries of the world’. She hasn’t taken her magic accomplishments and run off to never-never Nirvana.” — Roomy
I’ve been thinking about this since I read it. It has amazing resonance for me right now, Kate.
Jul 11 2010, 9:48 AM EDT (edit my post)
It’s been an emotional week for me so when someone tries to sell me the idea that I might be worse off because I’m “letting” myself fully be a human being…. well, let’s just say whoever might say that has either not enough experience (on or off the cushion) or that they’re very much in love with an *idea.* What happens to us – interpreted either as inside or outside – is just what happens to us. We’re fully formed as we are and there’s nothing to be gained and much to be lost by artificially removing chosen parts of our human-ness. Hard to believe anyone thinks there’s anything “new” available to our nature anyway since we’ve been around as human beings for, oh, just a few hundred thousand years. That’s why stories from ancient times ring just as true now as they did back then – even the most ancient story reaches our human-ness, our emotions, our hopes, our fears, our dreams, our very nature. When I see pictures of cave drawings from Europe that are hundreds of thousands of years old I immediately grok the people who drew those images. Why? Because we’re all human beings, ancient and modern, and that just hasn’t changed.
And yes, this is coming from an emotional place. Who ever said we lose our emotions somewhere down this path is wrong. Like the sense of self, they will always be there. The challenge os to accept them as they present to you, moment by moment, and deal with what presents skillfully and with grace.
Jul 11 2010, 9:58 AM EDT
I used to read a lot about Zen, and one of the things that always came up in the Zen literature was that at some point a yogi’s realization is “unshakeable.” I was always curious about that because my realizations were pretty shakeable back then. Well, guess what? Those Zen people are right. Some realizations are really and truly unshakeable. That’s one reason why the “new” shiny thing just doesn’t sit well here. This is also, I believe, a major difference between the more fundamental Theravadans and the Thai Forest Theravadans and the Mahayana. If you never, ever let go, if you are laser-beamed into the purely investigative, the doing, the seeking, and not the pure being, you will never see the clearest light. But once you do, once that recognition occurs, it changes your perspective on the rest of your practice.
Jul 13 2010, 8:11 AM EDT
I had a really interesting lucid dream at about 3:00 this morning. I was in the 4th jhana and fell “asleep” there and then took a sort of guided tour of the mind. It was like one of those Disney rides. I was flying through the various strata of mind and I was able to discern how the layers were mapped to the way the world is experienced. For example, I was flown through the layer of self, below which there is no self in evidence, and after which there is. I was flown through the layer of space, below which there is no sense of space and after which there is, and similarly the layer of time, and then raw perception, and so on. Of course, the dream confirms for me how these things work because at the end of this weird tour was the source, IS. IS — the source of everything else. The raw CPU of mind.
Somehow these experiences seem to re-set perception, expectation and experience. I don’t know how but it’s like an integration exercise that takes what is learned in meditation or through other realization and mixes it in with moment to moment experience so that experience get flavored by the insights gained. Maybe. Seems like, anyway.
Jul 13 2010, 8:15 AM EDT
The reason I was semi-awake at that early hour is also interesting to me. For the past few years every time I’m off work, like this past week and for a week back in April, I seem to have some kind of odd jhana magnet that gets engaged in my mind. I walk around all the time with an enhanced kind of “buzzy” and light headed feeling that’s the same one I remember from first getting easy access to these states. And if I slow down, calm down or rest the mind at all then it starts right up through the jhanic arc, sort of like being sucked up in a vacuum. That had happened again just before the lucid dream.
Jul 14 2010, 9:51 PM EDT | Post edited: Jul 15 2010, 8:37 AM EDT
Telecaster asked AugustLeo after AugustLeo said “everything is subjective”:
“You don’t mean “everything” is subjective, right? You just mean things like sensations, thoughts, concepts, experiences. Or, are you saying that objects like stars and trees and rocks and water and air that have atoms and molecules are subjective as well? (or just our personal experiences of them?) Okay, that’s my question.” — telecaster
Here’s my take on this (it’s an interesting area, IMHO) — AugustLeo is right. Everything is subjective. There is a reality out there but we don’t/can’t experience it directly. We experience everything through our senses and our mind. Both introduce error and mind introduces interpretation. We, you and I, can look at the same thing and legitimately disagree about what it is. And if you dig down deep enough, through practice, you can find that I was talking about in post number 117 up there, and when you do you realize that that non-dual awareness, that raw recognition of pure IS-ness, is where all things are born (arise) and die (pass away). There is nothing more than that process, going on all the time, that creates the universe that we experience from moment to moment. What we experience is THAT, interpreted by mind as the subject-object duality out of habit, and it manifests most of the time as stuff that’s “out there” or stuff that’s “in here” – what we think of as objective reality and subjectivity. Truth is, it’s all one thing, coming from IS-ness.
This isn’t intuitive because we grow up believing in “out there” and “in here” but we also know that our practice is that by which we reveal what’s really going on, objectifying the process of perception so that we can see it for what it is — objects which are impermanent, not satisfactory and not self.
Jul 15 2010, 9:50 AM EDT
Many of us (I did this a lot) fall into the habit of thinking that practice in the Theravada four path tradition is about wondrous states and stages, wild mind effects and experiences and rapturous concentration states. Yeah, all those things happen. But in the end the objective of the practice is to know what we are, just how we as human beings exist in this world and how to live most skillfully within those parameters. All the deepest jhanas and all the wildest experiences put together are still not awakening or enlightenment. They’re just deep jhanas and wild experiences. They’re states. Awakening is not a state.
Jul 15 2010, 2:04 PM EDT | Post edited: Jul 15 2010, 2:06 PM EDT
An awakened mind is much better than any jhana, any pure abode jhana, any fruition bliss wave, better than anything I have ever experienced and continue to experience in my whole entire life. If there is one thing you practice for…it’s to awaken. Everything else is a by-product. Trust me when I say, don’t waste to much time dawdling in this blissed out state or that blissed out state or having this weird-arse experience or that weird-arse experience. The awakened mind is what you are searching for. Trust me, it’s what you want!
Sorry Chris, I am still on cloud 9.
Jul 15 2010, 2:09 PM EDT | Post edited: Jul 15 2010, 2:11 PM EDT
I’m afraid this is going to sound arrogant or something, but it IS true and interesting for now:
lately when I read yogis excitedly describe states and experiences (or see myself get excited about my own) I kind of feel a twinge of sympathy or something like sorrow and want to tell them: “hey, it’s not going to last and I guarantee you are going to feel like hell at some point in the near future so just … chill.”
(This is NOT directed at anyone in particular other than telecaster)
Jul 15 2010, 2:13 PM EDT
Mike, you continually impress me with your common sense and wisdom.
Nick, thanks for agreeing with me so enthusiastically
Jul 15 2010, 2:15 PM EDT
“Mike, you continually impress me with your common sense and wisdom.
Nick, thanks for agreeing with me so enthusiastically ”
Thanks, man. I like to be impressive.
Jul 17 2010, 9:30 PM EDT
How do you live your life?
Jul 17 2010, 9:47 PM EDT
Something has been eating at me this week and I it’s about purpose. This practice can’t be just a process. It’s got to be about purpose, too. About why and, through deeper and deeper understanding through time, about how. Process is a dead end, I think, but purpose has no end. Figuring out how to skillfully deal with everything that is presented to us has to be the ultimate objective – and that’s not an objective that’s about “me.” So it seems there’s another set of principles surrounding the thing we call “not self.” Since the whole universe is interconnected it’s clear that what affects me affects you, affects everything. There are intricate webs of causes, effects, symptoms, solutions.
So the koan “How do you live your life?” becomes a truly interesting thing to ponder and also a prescription when taken a certain way. Waking up can’t be a dead end. We have to wake up to something, right? I keep asking myself… what is that?
Jul 17 2010, 10:07 PM EDT | Post edited: Jul 17 2010, 10:16 PM EDT
I keep watching thoughts of amazement at the fact that “I” am not suffering anymore. Sure, negative phenomena arises, and someone cut infront of me in the bus queue and irritation arose, but with nowhere to land, …haha, no suffering like before. And that has allowed me to be the person I always wanted to be (in the last 4 days at least). Not the miserable, selfish arsehole I was for the past 10 years. Now I’m taking salsa lessons!!!!!!! WOOOOT!
In other words, I am gonna finally just live my life as the person I always wanted to be and love my fiancee like she deserves. The absence of insight disease means I have more time to now think about …..being a nice human being. Not sure if that answered your koan, but I think Im just bubbling with joy at the moment again. hehe!
Jul 17 2010, 10:15 PM EDT
i love the zen saying “see with your ears and hear with your eyes” and your question makes me think of it.
the rub I think is that we have to answer the question all on our own every moment and it can’t be answered with our brains unless we want to cause suffering
Jul 17 2010, 10:20 PM EDT
I don’t think there’s any one answer to the koan, Nick. It’s up to each of us to find it for ourselves and I suspect our answers change over time. Bubbling with joy and learning salsa dancing is a great one, though.
Jul 17 2010, 10:21 PM EDT (edit my post)
“… we have to answer the question all on our own every moment and it can’t be answered with our brains unless we want to cause suffering”
You possess wisdom, Mr. Monson.
Jul 17 2010, 10:38 PM EDT
How do you live your life?”
You’re in august company, Chris, to have come to this–
only one koan matters
And Dogen calls it Genjokoan, which Shinzen Young translates as ‘self-existent koan’– the insoluble question you answer with your life.
And, what Mike said.
Jul 17 2010, 11:10 PM EDT | Post edited: Jul 17 2010, 11:11 PM EDT
Perhaps you could live your life like Sid..;)
Jul 18 2010, 9:06 AM EDT | Post edited: Jul 18 2010, 9:08 AM EDT
No, can’t have television — must… have… coffee!
Jul 19 2010, 10:30 PM EDT | Post edited: Jul 19 2010, 10:37 PM EDT
Fear is the enemy of a lot things, but I’m finding fear to be the enemy of being willing to dive into my humanity and enjoy that. I started to practice thinking it might help diminish my fear and it turns out now that when I sense fear in myself it sets off some alarms. “Run!” is what those alarms are telling me. But now that means run toward, not run away. Jump in, and be a person. Feel that? It’s your life!
At a new juncture where it’s obvious that you can hide from your life using awakening. Yes, that’s what I said. You can hide from your life using your own awakening.
Think about it.
Details to follow.
Jul 20 2010, 12:16 AM EDT
“Fear is the enemy of a lot things, but I’m finding fear to be the enemy of being willing to dive into my humanity and enjoy that. I started to practice thinking it might help diminish my fear and it turns out now that when I sense fear in myself it sets off some alarms. “Run!” is what those alarms are telling me. But now that means run toward, not run away. Jump in, and be a person. Feel that? It’s your life!
At a new juncture where it’s obvious that you can hide from your life using awakening. Yes, that’s what I said. You can hide from your life using your own awakening.
Think about it.-cmarti”
Listen up, yogis. This man gets it.
Jul 20 2010, 2:13 AM EDT
Following up on Chris’s comments:
Everything is a double-edged sword.
Did I mention that everything is a double-edged sword?
Awakening can be used to hide from your life. Don’t do it.
Jul 20 2010, 10:45 AM EDT
Thank you for that Chris. I am still sorting out issues of expectation. No matter what I may say I still struggle with using my spirituality to stay somewhat aloof from my own life. This couple with my expectations for what awakening is being continually re-evaluated. Ow it didn’t fix X—shocking haha… It wasn’t designed to fix X… I think the process of learning to own your own humanity is my new practice… I don’t seethis integration with reality being completed anytime soon. I have spent most of my life using spirituality as a buffer between me and my circumstances… Even though I now see the futility of that–I still have to work with my conditioning…. Don’t know if that is what your on about and I don’t mean to go off topic…
Everything is a double edged sword… hmmm
Jul 20 2010, 1:51 PM EDT | Post edited: Jul 20 2010, 4:16 PM EDT
I’d kind of like to know how one hides from one’s life after awakening. I’m sure it’s damn well possible and I would like to be aware of anytime I may do so unwittingly. I don’t have any intention of doing so in the future but maybe I am doing something without knowing, well, I’d like to know what to look for. It if would be nice we had some examples from you Kenneth or anyone, when you nicked yourself with that double edged sword? I’ll post a thread to discuss this important topic. It’s very important…it’s very much where some of us in fact all of us are..how to integrate?
Jul 20 2010, 2:07 PM EDT (edit my post)
You may want to re-examine that nasty caffeine habit, Nick
Here’s a tidbit — you have some choices to make. You can take several different paths. One path is to stop practicing altogether. Declare victory and go live your life. I’d call that path the Relative Path. A second path would be to really get into the “stuff” that happens in practice and lose yourself in that, or to take very, very seriously the non-relative aspect of things to the exclusion of everything else. I’d call that the Absolute Path. Another path is to focus on becoming a human being in the fullest sense – to take what is now different and apply that to your life in a meaningful way.
So these three are choices folks can and do make at a certain point. Get the drift?
There’s much more I have to say but I’m at work right now, and it’s data publication day and the analysts are calling.
Jul 20 2010, 2:13 PM EDT
What the….?!!!?? How do you know I’m drinking coffee in Starbucks????????
I’m so not IT smart, so it’s probably something to do with the IP address or somfen….
Interesting, all these paths. I haven’t given myself time to think about what I’ll be doing, things just seem to occur. Granted, I’ve only had a week of this. You’ve had longer and Kenneth the longest. I’m looking forward to reading all your thoughts and tidbits elaborated on, Chris!
Have a great work day!!!! Smiley Face!!
Jul 20 2010, 2:13 PM EDT
“I’d kind of like to know how one hides from one’s life after awakening. I’m sure it’s damn well possible and I would like to be aware of anytime I may do so unwittingly. I don’t have any intention of doing so in the future but maybe I am doing something without knowing, well, I’d like to know what to look for. Can we have some examples from you Kenneth or anyone, when you nicked yourself with that double edged sword? I’ll post a thread to discuss this important topic. It’s very important…it’s very much where some of us in fact all of us are..how to integrate!!!!!???”
I’m pretty sure I know what Chris is talking about and I hope he’ll correct me where I am wrong:
FIRST — There is your LIFE, it is all around you and it involves your relationships, interactions, responsibilities to yourself and others. It is real, it requires attention and nuturing, and IT WON’T GO AWAY. It will keep popping up demanding your creative energy. It doesn’t care if you are enlightened.
HOWEVER — one can get all into their AWAKENING and all its states and experiences and concerns and one’s agenda in regards to it and use all of that to avoid their actual LIFE, and not see what is right under one’s nose that truly needs one’s awakened attention.
Jul 20 2010, 2:17 PM EDT (edit my post)
Mike Monson nails it. Again!
“How do you know I’m drinking coffee in Starbucks????????” — Nick
Dude, the caffeine-induced angst and wild energy is literally blowing my hair back as I read your posts.
More later. Gotta go.
Jul 20 2010, 2:22 PM EDT
Hahaha, yeh it’s true. I’m on a caffeine rush! I’m also out of the the lower chakra imploding stage which seems to have given me a bit of energy. I thought you just ninja-ed me and saw where I was posting from. Coincidence? Are practicing siddhis by chance? Hehe!
O.K….I’m gonna go eat something. That’ll calm me down…..:)
Jul 20 2010, 2:31 PM EDT
At first, awakening sets up a nice little escape route from worldly concerns. In fact, the escape route never goes away. What one notices (or, at least what I notice) is how my “awakened behavior” affects others negatively. Non-awakened human beings expect a certain level of emotional connection based on vulnerability that is not very appealing to the newly awakened person. But seeing as their lack of participation causes suffering in others, the choice is simple. You have to climb back down the mountain and be fully human once again.
Jul 20 2010, 2:52 PM EDT
My idea (based on no evidence, just the way I look at things) is that awakening is only meant to make us better able to serve one’s life. That is what it is for, that is what it is about.
In and of itself I don’t really see the purpose (for me).
Jul 20 2010, 3:26 PM EDT
cmarti: ” … it’s obvious that you can hide from your life using awakening. Yes, that’s what I said. You can hide from your life using your own awakening.”
Chris – how are you using the term “awakening” here?
Are you saying that a yogi can hide from his life in the pursuit of Awakening? Or are you saying that a yogi who has *completed* Awakening can hide from his life.
Please clarify. Thanks.
Jul 20 2010, 3:34 PM EDT
“My idea (based on no evidence, just the way I look at things) is that awakening is only meant to make us better able to serve one’s life. That is what it is for, that is what it is about.
In and of itself I don’t really see the purpose (for me).” ~Mike
That’s an interesting point, Mike. And I’m glad that your having personalized the statement (“my” idea; “for me”; the way “I” look at things). I hesitate to think that there is a fixed meaning to awakening. I find that attributing meaning is something distinctly human (as far as I know), and thus an existential matter. Being an existential matter, it is a matter of choice. Ultimately, human beings decide what something “means” based on decision, whether decision is real or illusory. How we respond is how we attribute meaning.
This is where it starts to become clear that awakening is not solely a non-human, impersonal endeavor. It seems to take a great deal of time for realization to become fully embodied expressions of truth. Whether or not this part of the process ever actually completes itself, I cannot say. In this way, awakening is “Now and Not Yet,” forever and always.
Jul 20 2010, 3:45 PM EDT | Post edited: Jul 20 2010, 3:49 PM EDT
“cmarti: ” … it’s obvious that you can hide from your life using awakening. Yes, that’s what I said. You can hide from your life using your own awakening.”
Chris – how are you using the term “awakening” here?
Are you saying that a yogi can hide from his life in the pursuit of Awakening? Or are you saying that a yogi who has *completed* Awakening can hide from his life.
Please clarify. Thanks.
As regards the process of awakening, Trungpa used the metaphor of the cocoon, and sometimes he would give talks while holding one of those Chinese fans. He would pop the thing open and then close it, kind of at random as he spoke.
The point seemed to be that we repeatedly close into states of contraction–the cocoon, you could say–and open into moments of awakening. I could never talk about anything related to the post-awakening stuff, as I’m at a much lower level than that. However, the metaphor of expanding and contracting seems apt.
Ascending and descending currents might be still another way of talking about this. At a certain point, the ascender needs to descend; and vice versa. Obstinate refusal to do what is called for–that’s the hiding or running away to which Chris refers?
Jul 20 2010, 7:17 PM EDT | Post edited: Jul 20 2010, 7:28 PM EDT (edit my post)
“Are you saying that a yogi can hide from his life in the pursuit of Awakening? Or are you saying that a yogi who has *completed* Awakening can hide from his life.” — AugustLeo
Hi, Michael. Glad to see you posting here! I’m saying both, actually. In pursuing awakening and in a post-awakening sense a person can be so enamored of the absolute, the fireworks, the phenomena that accompany the path, that they can miss what’s passing directly in front of them. Is it possible to miss your entire life? No, I don’t think so. Is it possible to be so focused on dessert as to not fully enjoy the main course? Yes.
This isn’t a huge surprise and I think some folks get what I’m saying. When we’re aiming to get there, to awaken, it’s really easy to lose sight of the meat of our life. I did, for sure. It’s a big effort we have to make. Afterward it became clear to me that what had changed wasn’t my ability to feel. That wasn’t going anywhere, wasn’t about to disappear, stayed as powerful and wonderful as ever. So the suffering that’s relieved by awakening isn’t that of the first arrow, to borrow a phrase from the Buddha. What gets relieved is the suffering of the second arrow and of the generalized “out of sync” (unsatisfactory) feelings we had before. And then we know what we are, and how we fit into the world, and with that insight we get some freedom and some choice. So my task now appears clearly to be, “How do I apply that freedom and choice in my life every day? How do I fully realize my human-ness?
I find myself being far more interested in enjoying the depth band breadth of my life now. But I see very clearly that this is a choice. I outlined three paths earlier today. I choose the one that takes me back into the marketplace, with my fellow human beings. I realized over the course of some time that I practiced to get to this very place.
Jul 20 2010, 7:26 PM EDT | Post edited: Jul 20 2010, 7:29 PM EDT
And the best way for me to live, I think, is to embrace the congruence of the relative and the absolute at the same time. We have to have both, grok both, see both and appreciate both for what they are. It’s possible to lean in the direction of the absolute to the detriment of the relative, and it’s possible to lean toward the relative to the detriment of the absolute. These aren’t iron clad, either/or, binary decisions but the leaning does make a difference as far as I can tell.
For clarity’s sake, I’m not saying this is the only way. I’m saying this as my way. I’m reporting what I see and feel as I always have on this thread and its predecessors. Others can very easily disagree, and no doubt will. There is much more nuance to this than meets the eye and I can’t type it all here tonight. I believe the path holds many, many, many possibilities as I have outlined. That’s my operating assumption for now, anyway.
Jul 20 2010, 7:36 PM EDT
And there is one ultimate understanding, but it can’t be explained or described here in type, in words, or anywhere else for that matter. You really just have to be it. Yet here we are using words. Are we in the absolute, right here and now? Are we in the relative? Are we both?
Jul 20 2010, 10:07 PM EDT
This is something from a book I’ve been reading a lot the last 6 months [Dragon's Play]:
“Incomplete or biased views essentially send meditation off in a different direction from ordinary life, and hinder them both. a complete view enables them to converge, and makes them easy, joyous, free, and fiercely expressive activities– what we call ‘Dragon’s Play.’ … the image of the Dragon is used to represent the full functioning and basic human components, not something transcendent.
The fruit of meditation and life is to enjoy the human relationship to Nature, and we are already in that fruit. Moreover, the operation of this relationship provides the only motive power needed for all ordinary or extraordinary cultivations and demonstrations of the profundity of life.
Both ordinary and extraordinary demonstrations are entirely sufficient, so each person may choose them based on his or her interests. A good overview of our situation enables us to use various meditative technologies to travel far, if we wish. However, it also enables us to relax and appreciate remaining ‘at home.’”
Jul 20 2010, 10:25 PM EDT
– I quoted the above so extensively because it represents a deceptively simple [it almost seems so obvious that I *almost* knew it myself, somehow] answer to the question I’ve been asking myself, and every likely-looking source, for the last decade: given an ‘awakening event’ of sufficient oomph to convince me, and those around me, that some fundamental change had occurred– now what? What IS post-awakening practice? ‘This [understanding] being so, how shall we live?’
What may not be clear in the quote above, but is explained very well from the outset in the book, is that ‘Nature’ means ALL of the Nature of reality: human nature, the natural order of the beings and processes of the phenomenal world– not just the scenery encountered on a hike in the woods.
For me, this is where the Daoist expression excels– it doesn’t make the hypothetical split between ‘Absolute’ and ‘relative’ that then needs to be put back together again. If I look carefully at my own experience, I don’t see any tension polarizing between these two ways of looking at/ talking about my one seamless life. Like a microscope and a telescope, they complement and amplify one another.
Jul 20 2010, 10:28 PM EDT
Please post more, roomy!!!!
Jul 20 2010, 10:55 PM EDT | Post edited: Jul 20 2010, 11:39 PM EDT
I have a feeling this isn’t exactly what you mean, but it is so well-said, I must quote some more. It does seem VERY apropos of Chris’s exploration here…
“Many books on meditative techniques are currently available, but few– if any– really explain what these techniques have to do with human nature and Nature. Because of that omission, they fail to provide an accurate map of where meditation can go and why, what happens along the way, what to emphasize and cultivate, who or what the cultivator really is, what to watch out for, and even what the real point of all this ‘cultivation’ might be.
Some traditional path literature has already been translated into Western languages, but we must question the aptness of much of it. For, it often itemizes and recommends exits from humanness, rather than providing maps into humanness. To take a common example, in perusing this literature one often reads about processes of ‘progressive refinement’– the practitioner wrestles with his or her thoughts or emotions or physical promptings, and eventually ‘masters’ them. The practitioner then learns to remain in states of absorptive composure undisturbed by normal thoughts or sensations of any sort, and extends the duration of these states to span hours, then days, etc.
At the end of such heroic courses in self-improvement, one supposedly transcends human limitations and mentation altogether, and enters new spheres of existence. each such sphere, in turn, corresponds to a successively more extraordinary state of awareness, which has a technical name, etc.
One can become quite familiar with such literature and lists of states of attainment, without gaining any insight at all on the basic human situation– it’s just something being left behind!
… A different sort of view is needed, not just for specialists in meditation, but for everyone. It’s a matter of simple self respect.
Jul 20 2010, 11:03 PM EDT
… this is where the ‘empty’ circle [of the ox-herding pictures] welcomes the returning yogi back into the picture of his / her life– the home village, the clamoring children, the little presents in the traveler’s bag.
It IS a ‘matter of simple self respect’– and on the return trip from ‘nowhere’ that self respect doesn’t exclude a single sentient being or any other part of reality.
Jul 20 2010, 11:06 PM EDT (edit my post)
Jul 21 2010, 8:07 AM EDT (edit my post)
So — absolute, relative, or both? The way I see it they are all manifestations of one true reality. Sometimes we experience this as relative, sometimes as absolute, sometimes we can see both. When I talked about this yesterday I was making an implicit assumption that this deep, multifaceted version is what folks would take away from what I said. My bad.
So about choice — you have a choice of which facets of this one mysterious reality to pay attention to. You don’t have a choice to participate in the reality at all (if a bell rings in your presence you will hear it). You can, however, choose to pay more attention to the relative, or to the absolute. I’m not presenting a binary, bifurcated universe – it’s all one big, beautiful, non-dual thing. We, as participants with limited perception, get to struggle with how to view it and how to live with our choices.
Just to clarify…
Jul 21 2010, 8:16 AM EDT
Think blind men and an elephant
Jul 23 2010, 8:35 AM EDT
Kenneth, I do think I sense a new and different kind of cycle. I’m not going to describe it because I’m not quite sure of the details, the lay of the land. Like everything else, this changes over time (duh!) and appears, at least for now, to have a repeat – thus my use of the term “cycle.” Otherwise, things are very, very calm and mellow in a way that feels deeper and more existential than anything I can recall feeling in the past.
More later, as usual.
Jul 26 2010, 1:55 PM EDT
I’ve been out of circulation for a while and I’ve thus been reading through the comments here with a “new” eye. So I want to say this after seeing how focused people seem to get on these things — the fireworks are just a side show. The fireworks are just a side show.
The fireworks are just a sideshow!
I said it and that’s all I came here to do today. Back to work, and…
Bye for now.
Jul 26 2010, 1:59 PM EDT
“Parting seas and raining bliss are just those things people crave. But they are simply more experiences, although more dramatic and exciting than the norm. Awakening is indifferent to them.”
163. RE: Stages, Part the Third
Jul 26 2010, 2:11 PM EDT
“Parting seas and raining bliss are just those things people crave. But they are simply more experiences, although more dramatic and exciting than the norm. Awakening is indifferent to them.”
Any awakening that was fascinated by fabulous experiences is not one I’d want.
Jul 26 2010, 2:26 PM EDT | Post edited: Jul 26 2010, 2:44 PM EDT
Edited a million times
My back healed. Thanks for the metta
I am discovering one of the possible side effects of getting rid of insight disease is the seemingly “meh!” nature of the mind now. It really seems to be indifferent to everything that I seem to experience in my head and body, heaven AND hellish elements. It’s taking some getting use to. I seem to not have much in the way of desire arise to explore. I might state I want to. But the thought then disappears and I find that a week has passed and I haven’t even thought about doing any of the “fireworks”..;) Wink! Wink! The Harry Potter/Indiana Jones wannabe in me wants to do it, but the rest of “me” doesn’t seem to care and is too busy dealing with normal-ish life stuff. So far, I can’t seem to hide from life (Not that I am looking to hide!!) But I liked to play x-box 360. Sometimes I let it become an escape. I’d love to replace this pastime with astral projection. Seems like a better trade. Like Alex said, it’s better than watching tv. You can hide from life through any activity. In fact most people do things in life, like go to bars, see a movie to temporarily hide from life. You just have to realise when it may be effecting your life in a negative way. Like when my fiancee would give me the evil eye when I was immersed in some “shooter”. (Yes, i admit it. I am still a teenager at heart!!!) BUT if we are talking people still pre-path or pre-awakening, then forget about the fireworks! Get some stability first!!!
P.S. I would use astral projection to help out the devas if I could get some drive going…meh!.
Jul 26 2010, 2:46 PM EDT
“So what makes a professional in all this?”
Nick, I think those who do the fireworks to the exclusion of a real awakening are not professionals but children, at least in a figurative sort of way. I think the real issue is how we live our actual life among our fellow human beings. That’s a huge challenge that could keep us busy for many lifetimes. If we flee that challenge by escaping into some zombie-like state or run away by getting caught up in the fireworks then we can’t do anything for anyone else.
Jul 26 2010, 2:50 PM EDT
BTW – you keep editing as I’m trying to reply to you so I’m sure it’s going to look like I’m replying to someone else, or to something you didn’t say but did and deleted, or that I ignored stuff you said after I typed my reply.. Do you think you could not do that out of courtesy? I don’t have time to hang out ’til you’re finally done so I’m going to aim at the moving target and pray
Jul 26 2010, 2:54 PM EDT | Post edited: Jul 26 2010, 2:55 PM EDT
I seem to be going through a heavy dark night and it’s influencing my thought patterns. I edited it over 5 times. Oof! I was hoping you were still working so the editing wouldn’t be a noticed. Sorry once again. No more editing needed.
This message was edited for spelling hahah!
Jul 27 2010, 8:39 AM EDT
If you own an iPhone this may be just what you need:
Jul 27 2010, 10:22 AM EDT | Post edited: Jul 27 2010, 10:23 AM EDT
“If you own an iPhone this may be just what you need:
Chris, I was all ready to just laugh it off as some cheap-ass phony commercialization of meditation thing, but …. while I’d never use it I can actually see where the journaling part would be very useful for the kind of work a lot of people are doing here — paying very careful attention to amount and times of sitting and then making an accurate written record of what happens each time. I imagine all the journaling and a record of when and how long one sits could be saved.
Jul 27 2010, 10:54 AM EDT
“If you own an iPhone this may be just what you need:
You know, I don’t have an iPhone, but I do use my cell phone to time my sits. If I had an iPhone, I’m sure I would probably buy the app. At $4.99, it costs less then a decent lunch.
Aug 1 2010, 12:03 PM EDT
I’m sitting more of late. This feels right, and good, and of necessity given the nature of present existence. I wake up periodically (this morning, for example) embedded in a background feeling of ill ease. This, I believe, is the result of some of the stuff life has tossed over the transom. So sitting becomes a critical bridge to truth, a necessary habit, a welcome process. If I don’t sit I get antsy. If I do sit I get space.
Aug 1 2010, 12:57 PM EDT
More from my current obsession [which I quoted from on Alex's thread] “Secret of the Golden Flower”– this could have been written just for you, I think:
“ As you go along practicing turning the light around, you need not give up your normal occupation. An ancient said, ‘When matters come up, one should respond; when things come up, one should discern.’
 If you manage affairs with accurate mindfulness, then the light is not overcome by things, so it will do to repeat this formless turning around of the light time and again.
 If you can look back again and again into the source of mind, whatever you are doing, not sticking to any image of person or self at all, then this is ‘turning the light around wherever you are.’ This is the finest practice.
 In the early morning, if you can clear all objects from your mind and sit quietly for one or two hours, that is best. Whenever you are engaged in work or dealing with people, just use this ‘looking back’ technique, and there will be no interruption. If you practice in this way for two or three months, the realized ones in Heaven will surely come to attest to your experience.”
– this is the translation of the text itself, rather than Thomas Cleary’s notes, as the other was. His notes ARE essential to understanding the text, though.
Aug 1 2010, 7:39 PM EDT
That is just sweet.
Aug 3 2010, 7:21 AM EDT
Here’s an issue I’ve been thinking about a lot lately — I’ll call it “model mania.” What we deal with in practice is mind stuff. It’s squishy. Nebulous. Uncertain. It’s hard to pin down and very difficult to describe. Yet we kind of sort of act like we know with some certitude what’s going on in our practice a lot of the time. I suspect we force-fit symptoms into the models in our heads. I also think we’re not always aware enough of what we’re doing when we do that, which is a funny/sweet irony for a bunch of people who claim better-than-average astuteness in regard to mental phenomena.
Guilty as charged, your honor!
I’ve been thinking about this because what’s happening in my practice is very new and different and it doesn’t really seem to fit into any model I know very well… yet. But there is a model that Kenneth has suggested to me and my mind immediately started to force fit my recent experience to that model! We human beings, as is our nature, demand explanations because, I suspect, “knowing” (i.e.; thinking we know) is more comfortable than not knowing.
So I’m going to try to get comfortable with this present bout of uncertainty.
Aug 3 2010, 7:36 AM EDT
Happy Birthday Chris!!!!
What is the new model? Now I have that need “to know”. Aaaaaargh! Somewhere on another thread you had the opinion of 4th path NOT being the end. I kind of agree. Things seems to be developing still within the body energetically. The mind has had small “shifts” or what appear to be shifts. Is that model a secret? Can you PM me Kenneth’s idea on it?
Hope someone brought you breakfast in bed today!
Aug 3 2010, 7:41 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 3 2010, 7:43 AM EDT
Sorry, Nick. It’s not a secret. I stupidly just didn’t mention it – look up the Five Ranks of Tozan.
Aug 3 2010, 7:42 AM EDT
Thanks for the birthday wishes. I’m getting OLD
Aug 3 2010, 7:47 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 3 2010, 7:48 AM EDT
BTW, Nick, I do think 4th path is possibly the end of one certain process. But I really don’t see any FINAL end. You know what I mean? MInd seems infinitely malleable and while there’s possibly SOME kind of limit on it I suspect that limit is practically impossible to find. Or maybe it’s an infinity of infinities. I’m leaving all the possibilities open and don’t expect to ever have a definitive answer – see my post number 174.
Aug 3 2010, 7:51 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 3 2010, 8:00 AM EDT
Ah yes, Kenneth mentioned the probable falls from grace that will come. Thanks for the reminder. And we are all getting old….sigh….**strokes greying wavy hair**
Gonna try and edit before you reply..hehe
It seems the cycle may be for me at the moment: “Exploration, transcending, 3rd gear, riding the absolute, feeling very “enlightened” and then it will switch suddenly and I had this happen recently where all of a sudden I just felt like being normal, doing normal stuff, being a goofy idiot, NOT trying to act “enlightened”, being with people without any dharma involved and then suddenly Plop! I’m wanting to transcend and research “sankharas” and wirte dharma notes on FB…….Kenneth mentioned to me that it will probably be like this. Hmmmm. So if I was to force myself to fit the maps of Tozan, I think I would forcefit myself into the falling from grace 4th stage. It’s probably very cyclical.
Aug 3 2010, 8:05 AM EDT
Yes, Virginia, there is awakening but it’s not what you think. Uncertainty! No real need to find the comfort of explaining the unexplainable…
Aug 3 2010, 10:21 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 3 2010, 10:23 AM EDT
You make some wonderful points – or rather, bring up some discerning questions – in comment #174. Experience is malleable. What appears is very much shaped by intention, expectation, prior learning, etc. It’s like loading the brain with mapping software, so that it follows a predictable algorithm. Mind tends to shape itself to whatever model is suggested.
Upon hearing this, it would seem that the best idea is to find the simplest, most accurate model and just go with that. And yet, isn’t that just uploading another operating system? Even worse, isn’t not choosing any map at all yet another operating system? Etc, etc. In a very existential sense, a choice is inevitably made, because making no choice is still a choice. “No map” is still a map, as far as the mind is concerned.
This all brings up more questions than answers. I can see why the Buddha of the Pali canon chose to stick with the Four Noble Truths as the ultimate teaching. There is so much we can’t know. But suffering – maybe that’s something we can work with.
Aug 3 2010, 10:22 AM EDT
Congratulations on achieving another year toward ‘wisdom’– Chris. As a geezer myself, I can say that there are unadvertised pleasures and advantages.
An appreciation of subtlety is surely one of them. I think that the wonderful paradoxical aphorisms and stories of Zen are apropos of this stage; and the one that pops into mind right now is: “Not knowing is most intimate.”
Aug 3 2010, 10:29 AM EDT
“Yes, Virginia, there is awakening but it’s not what you think. Uncertainty! No real need to find the comfort of explaining the unexplainable…
“Master Sekiso said, “You are at the top of the 100 foot high pole. How will you make a step further?” Another Zen Master of Ancient Times said, “One who sits on top of the 100 foot pole has not quite attained true enlightenment. Make another step forward from the top of the pole and throw one’s own body into the 100,000 universes.”
Yes. How could there be certainty? Or comfort? Just fall and fall and fall — there’s nothing to catch you cause there’s no end to the falling.
Aug 3 2010, 11:29 AM EDT
Happy birthday Chris!
Is seems that I am not the only one who discovered that awakening goes hand in hand with the destruction of all our maps and models. As Adyashanti put it, it is “the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true”.
Aug 3 2010, 12:52 PM EDT
Wow I was so happy to read this discussion when I logged on. First of Happy Birthday my friend. Secondly, I definatly feel like I can relate to most of the post. Specifically Jacksons analogy of a software… I have been pondering that recently, the idea of manipulation where does that intersect with intention? I think I am in a similar situation… I am not sure my swings are quit as radical but I do notice shifts between extreme interest in spirituality and spiritual apathy. I imagine that awakening is not the end we imagine it to be, but rather the beginning of a new chapter…
Aug 3 2010, 1:14 PM EDT
Spirituality and all its trappings is the most important and most wonderful thing in the world to me AND it’s the silliest, most ridiculous and biggest waste of time I could ever imagine.
It’s true. Both of those things. At the very same time. Simultaneous.
Aug 3 2010, 2:25 PM EDT
“Yet we kind of sort of act like we know with some certitude what’s going on in our practice a lot of the time. I suspect we force-fit symptoms into the models in our heads. I also think we’re not always aware enough of what we’re doing when we do that”
Thanks for this Chris, I am guilty to the nth degree of this, and its good to know this is a habit that carries along with us, further and further up the path.
And to echo everyone else here (though how did they know?) Happy Birthday!
Aug 3 2010, 2:36 PM EDT
“And to echo everyone else here (though how did they know?) Happy Birthday!” ~Ian
Oh, you didn’t know about the master list of KFDh members’ brithdays? Just kidding.
I’m pretty sure it was leaked via Facebook.
Aug 3 2010, 2:44 PM EDT
“I’m pretty sure it was leaked via Facebook.”
Aha! : )
Aug 6 2010, 7:47 AM EDT
This is a riff on Alex’s thread that I didn’t want to post there so as to interrupt the ongoing conversation:
I’ve always thought the jhanas to be a nice but not necessary part of the path to awakening. I guess “necessary to what?” might be a good question to ask. My experience has been that getting deep, really deep, reveals certain things that aren’t otherwise accessible — but those things need to be brought into the relative world of family and career, daily existence, in order to be of use there. It really pushes my practice to see all the deepest assumptions that I carry and once I see those assumptions I can see how they are used in the world by the mind, how they shape perception and experience, how powerful they are in generating “me” and other now-seen-as-not-absolute concepts (time, space, etc.). Once seen those assumptions can be observed and adjusted for and that certainly contributes to awakening and choice. Yes, not identified with the body and mind.
I’m rambling. Thinking “out loud” in type.
But am I missing something? What is it?
Aug 6 2010, 8:34 AM EDT
To me, my “obsession” with jhanas has primarily been as milestone markers. They seemed to be somewhat clearly described, evidently reproducible, and occurred way before stream entry. Therefore, as a budd(h)ing practitioner, the jhanas (and I am talking rupa here) offered little check marks to say “yup”, you are on track.
The higher jhanas seem like nice gravy to me at this stage, not important, and yet reinforce that reproducible element that gives me some comfort in knowing this is a totally natural and physical process we are going through.
Aug 6 2010, 9:57 AM EDT
Hey, Chris– It’s not entirely clear to me what the question is: ‘are you missing something’ by not being all that interested in jhanas / the experiential-subjective aspects of the awakening process–is that the question?
I think Tom is right that they are indicators of skill-development, and that as such, for at least some practitioners, they fade into the background in favor of the practice– in life– of those skills. What is in the foreground is the — clearly necessary in the moment– deployment of those skills. ‘Keeping your head, when all about you, are losing theirs,’ like Kipling said. At times of peak demand for ‘equanimity, sympathetic joy, etc.’ the emphasis is gonna be on DOING IT, not on reflecting on, or noticing the subjective features of, these changes. Time for that when things quiet down!
Or maybe I misunderstand the question?
Aug 6 2010, 10:39 AM EDT
“What is in the foreground is the — clearly necessary in the moment– deployment of those skills. ‘Keeping your head, when all about you, are losing theirs,’ like Kipling said. At times of peak demand for ‘equanimity, sympathetic joy, etc.’ the emphasis is gonna be on DOING IT, not on reflecting on, or noticing the subjective features of, these changes. Time for that when things quiet down!”
I don’t know whether this is what Chris had in mind, but….damn. This is spot-on, Roomy. IMHO.
Aug 6 2010, 11:02 AM EDT
I think the jhanas are just one set of the myriad skillful means available to those on the path. Sometimes they help, other times they hard. There are wise and unwise ways to use them.
One of the important insights gained through jhana practice – at least in my experience – is that consciousness, states of mind, and identification are inherently malleable. This helped me to wake up out of the idea that any mode of being is the “real” or “right” one. The baseline state we find ourselves in is one we’ve settled into due to force of habit, and that’s all. This can start to become very clear through jhana practice.
Are they necessary? I really don’t know. I would assume not, as there are so many other ways to realize the truth.
Aug 6 2010, 11:43 AM EDT
It’s funny– last night I started a self-assigned project of assembling written representations of nonduality, from the Heart Sutra, to Rumi, to various posters on this forum. It just struck me that this inquiry– about life and practice– is another facet where nonduality can be seen.
I wrote to a friend of mine recently about having witnessed one of my teachers ‘BEING the teaching ‘/ answer to a student’s question; and I’m remembering watching another teacher weave the ‘mudras of emptiness and form’ in the air at an empowerment. It is very beautiful to watch, and has always made the seamlessness of the two viscerally real, in a way that words barely touch.
What I’m trying to say is that the real world challenges in our lives pull us — ready or not– out of the self-enclosure of meditative accomplishment into the radiant possibility of expressing wisdom as compassion. The mudra looks like two parallel infinity signs being traced in the air, trading places for leader and follower… wisdom leading compassion; compassion leading wisdom…
life guiding practice; practice guiding life
Aug 6 2010, 1:41 PM EDT | Post edited: Aug 6 2010, 1:42 PM EDT
“This is a riff on Alex’s thread that I didn’t want to post there so as to interrupt the ongoing conversation:
I’ve always thought the jhanas to be a nice but not necessary part of the path to awakening. I guess “necessary to what?” might be a good question to ask .My experience has been that getting deep, really deep, reveals certain things that aren’t otherwise accessible — but those things need to be brought into the relative world of family and career, daily existence, in order to be of use there. It really pushes my practice to see all the deepest assumptions that I carry and once I see those assumptions I can see how they are used in the world by the mind, how they shape perception and experience, how powerful they are in generating “me” and other now-seen-as-not-absolute concepts (time, space, etc.). Once seen those assumptions can be observed and adjusted for and that certainly contributes to awakening and choice. Yes, not identified with the body and mind.”
That’s also how I see it. Basically, I am not trying to see something new but only to uproot the remaining habits that prevent me from fully embodying the truth that I have seen. As we say in the Zen tradition, sudden enlightenment is followed by gradual practice. The sun rises suddenly, but, like snow, the remaining habits of identification take time to melt away.
My interest these days is to understand what exactly is the ‘sense of existence’ (how does it arise, how it relates to consciousness, emptiness and suchness, how is gets identified with body and mind, etc.)
A wise senior dharma-friend taught me to approach Buddhism like a dharma-investigator. I guess I have fallen into this particular category of mad-scientists. Checking my tool-box, I found that emerging from a hard and solid jhana (with the nimitta and all that) is priceless to get to the root of the matter in a quick and efficient way.
Aug 7 2010, 2:54 PM EDT | Post edited: Aug 7 2010, 2:55 PM EDT
I really was just rambling and had no specific question when I posted yesterday…. and I should do that more often because it elicited some great replies from you all. Thank you, each and every one.
I’m still fumbling my way through the relationship between models and reality (for want of a better term). I’m leaning toward the model (!) that says models confound as much as they inform but that applies more to the situation I find myself in right now. That was not true most of the time in the past, and I can see it’s not true for most folks. I guess I just don’t want to predispose myself toward a particular interpretation right, or set of interpretations, as it seems that may close off more than it illuminates. Yeah, I know, This sounds sort of weird to me, too. Maybe in weirdness there is some grain of truth. Or just more weirdness. Or things really are like that. I don’t know.
I don’t know.
Aug 7 2010, 6:55 PM EDT
‘Weird’ is a wonderful, evocative old English word with connotations of fate, destiny, magic, the ‘uncanny’ [that which cannot be known]– and, I just discovered in the dictionary, a relationship through its root to ‘worth / worthiness’.
The older I get, the more it makes perfect sense that a 3-year old can take an hour to go halfway down the block– there’s just so much stopping, looking, listening, touching, and wondering-about to do.