Chris’ Journal – Part 7

This is the last of the parts of my journal from KFD that I will post here. There is more talk of what comes after awakening and how to deal with the reality awakening provides. I encounter a huge negative cycle that causes some deep soul searching and a return a basic noting practice. The Actual Freedom discussion surrounding emotions, exactly what they are and can/should they be dropped or drastically reduced becomes the focus of the conversation. A rift thus begins that leads ultimately to the creation of the Dharma Forum Refugee Camp – which now resides here on Awakenetwork.org.

 

cmarti

Aug 8 2010, 10:32 AM EDT

I have a late-teenage daughter who suffers from depression. She also self-medicates. She’s had a rough go of 2010 and so has the rest of our family. But there’s always hope and one thing I’m happy to be discovering are the uncanny parallels between meditation practice and the treatment we’re getting for my daughter and the family. This is not easy to talk about openly but I’m going to do it because there are important things we as human beings need to keep in mind when we run across people like my daughter, or people with anxiety disorders, or addicts, or what-have-you, and when we practice. The intersection of these things has blown me away, frankly.

My initial reaction was to grab control. To get in there and fix it. I am a fixer. That is my M.O., so that is my instinct. Well, guess what? It’s not going to get better that way. In fact, things will stay the same or get worse. I can’t fix another human being no matter how much I may want to and no matter how accurate I may be (or think I am) in knowing what their issues are. So as in my practice, the process of treating my daughter and of involving the entire family has been one of learning how to just let things go. To be with. For the bulk of this year my practice, my daughter’s treatment and my learning about the latter have run in parallel. In both cases I’ve learned that the objectivity gained from both practice and just stepping away and letting other people be themselves and find their own way is enormously important and helpful. Every day that passes, with every advance, setback, and everything in between, teaches me the value of practice and being able to apply it when it really freaking matters. Rubber, meet road.

So….. thank you to Kenneth for being a very effective coach and teacher, and thank you to this practice for giving me the space to be wiling to listen and learn. None of this has been easy, but damn, it sure is worth the effort.

 

cmarti

Aug 8 2010, 10:48 AM EDT

Another really important thing practice brings is the sense of authenticity. It’s sort of like a very powerful bullsh*t detector. The folks who treat adolescents ought to all be enshrined. It’s got to be the most difficult thing to do. Landing a man on the moon is easier from my perspective. But as great as they are, they are forced to follow formulas. Getting paid by insurance companies and being able to treat lots of these kids pretty much dictates a “one size fits all” treatment regimen.

Of course, that’s not as good as fully customized care. So it takes patience, perseverance and detachment to talk to completely overworked and underpaid caregivers in order to get more specific advice, treatment and an honest prognosis. I hate the fact that this is the way it is but… this is the way it is. But once again, up pops the patience and ability to just be with from the practice we all do here and all of a sudden they can see the differences and the nuance. Why? Because someone understands their situation and the constraints they’re forced to work under. Someone is listening and communicating, not demanding.

And then there’s family. Looking at a case history is a good and a bad thing. There is a period during initial treatment that is about as Dark NIght-ish as it could be. You start to see all the warts. You see what you did, or didn’t do, what you saw, or didn’t see. Being able to plumb those depths is important, though. If people are to recover, to gain self-respect, to lead normal happy lives, they need to face themselves and it’s really important as I see it to be able to go right down that rabbit hole with them. As any Dark Night yogi knows, you gotta do what you gotta do. Being able to just be with someone who’s going through that, and in some way everyone in the family will need to, is something that comes with this practice.

More later….

 

cmarti

Aug 8 2010, 12:59 PM EDT

Kenneth sent a really nice PM either last night or this morning about this place and its effectiveness. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I came into the practice thinking it was really, really, really hard and getting anywhere would take a long, long, long of time – like, decades. I think that is typically the case. But there are things going on here, with us, that give pause. Huge pause. I can enumerate them, at least my version:

1. Kenneth’s instruction. Clear, effective, down to earth, common sense, practical. This is not normally the case.

2. Cross-pollination within this online community. We describe and explain very personal experiences, provide grounding, case studies, support, information, encouragement, and more information. This is not normally the case.

3. Self-selection. The people drawn here seem to come after hearing Kenneth’s Buddhist Geeks interviews, or maybe are invited by one of us, or just happen upon this place. But if they stay, create a practice journal, they seem to inevitable talk to Kenneth and then zoom! Off they go. That is not normally the case.

This place is forcing the issue in regard what it really takes, and in how much time, to make progress. All bets seem to be off, and maybe what we’re doing here is proving how handicapping the typical Buddhist experience in America really is. I don’t know how to weight the three factors I listed above, frankly. Still….

Go us! :-D

 

tomotvos

Aug 8 2010, 1:41 PM EDT

“…the typical Buddhist experience in America …”

And Canada. And Chile. And the UK.

But aside from that minor correction, I totally, utterly agree with 1, 2, and 3. I read an article last night that was lamenting the lack of faith in Western Buddhism, suggesting that there needs to be some to begin and continue practice, taking on faith that the practice works and eventually leads to awakening. In light of this place, that article misses the mark entirely given that the community here provides the necessary reinforcement that the practice actually works. The only faith required is that *all* the posters are not lying, which is not a huge leap of faith at all.

Go us, indeed!

 

cmarti

Aug 12 2010, 8:16 AM EDT

I’m curious about something — why do such a high percentage of folks who believe they’ve attained something in the dharma or along the path turn to teaching the dharma? Just to put this out there, If that’s how you are inclined so be it but please examine your motivation for the sake of your future students. I don’t think teaching dharma at any level is easy. It’s nuanced and anything that involves mind is bound to be very complicated and frought with the same sort of dangers that being a therapist carries. This will probably be an unpopular comment but I’m dead serious — make sure you are aware of why you want to teach and spend some serious time reflecting on that before you start.

Signed,

The KFDh Curmudgeon

 

jgroove

Aug 12 2010, 8:52 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 12 2010, 8:54 AM EDT

Probably the intention has to do with at least some of the following:

1. An honest desire to help others, out of an actual recognition of the commonality of human experience, combined with actual realization and a sense that the person has a strong ability to teach (the rare ideal)

2. A fear that one’s practice is selfish in orientation and, therefore, a need to prove to oneself that, in fact, one’s practice is about expanding out into wider and wider circles, working with others, etc. The ego trying to feel good about itself.

3. The unconscious, egoic charge that comes from putting oneself in a position of authority–a position that enables the ego to regard itself as enlightened, wise, compassionate, balanced, grounded, together, confident, humble, etc.

4. The misunderstanding that knowledge equals realization. A large number of Western dharma teachers seem to be extremely well-educated and articulate–people who are able to speak off the cuff in extremely precise, often humorous and witty language.

5. The misunderstanding that duration of practice life equals realization. “I’ve been doing this since the ’70s and have done X-number of retreats, therefore I should teach.” Well, if you’ve been sitting there spacing out for decades, then, no, you should not teach. If you’ve been attaining to paths and making real progress, fine.

6. Adyashanti talks about how we can sit there at a dharma center feeling superior to everybody else. Some people run with this ball–and decide they need to teach.

We have our little sitting group and I have to constantly suppress what I’ve come to think of as my inner Teacher Guy. I hate that guy. I can tell when I’m actually speaking honestly about my own experience, listening to others and being sincere, and when wretched Teacher Guy is coming out.

Teacher Guy has read a ton and can spit it back out. He needs to shut the hell up!

 

telecaster

Aug 12 2010, 10:32 AM EDT

Okay, I’ll admit it: I can’t stand most people who put themselves out as “dharma teachers.” I like Kenneth, I like Daniel (I’m keeping my eye on Mr. Horn). First, because almost every one of them keeps essential facts from their students and thus are lying, and second, because they always seem to be there for the spiritual authority and ego rush and admiration. A lot of people out there just love “dharma teachers” and give them ridiculous amounts of respect, power, authority. Third, and related to number two, is the way the teacher’s attention and actual teaching is held close to the vest and only shared with certain students at certain times based on an unknown criteria that I suspect is based upon group hierarchy and group dynamics.

Chris — did you ever visit your “local zen center?”

 

jgroove

Aug 12 2010, 10:44 AM EDT

The mushroom culture is closely related to this, of course.

Anybody can teach the basic technique. Anybody can regurgitate the dharma they’ve read and listened to. If you’re not talking about how to make actual progress, what the states and stages are, etc., why not teach? All you have to do is act really peaceful and wise, sit back and receive people’s projections.

There are a number of popular dharma teachers who seem realized to me, and a lot of them have something interesting to say. I agree with Chris, though–the more a would-be teacher ruthlessly questions his or her own intentions and ultimate motivations, the better. I would add another key consideration: qualifications!

 

roomy

Aug 12 2010, 10:45 AM EDT

While I don’t disagree with what’s been said– there’s more to the story than that. Human beings, like ogres, ‘have layers’, are complex and nuanced in their perceptions and motivations. If all the generations of ancestor practitioners had been so resolutely self-effacing and unwilling to teach– there would be no dharma and none of us would have the opportunity to practice.

The vajrayana lineage I know best offers a non-monastic ordination in which students can take vows; this is understood to be a practice in itself and not many do. But the vows include: never withholding the dharma from anyone who sincerely requests it. AND never offering teaching advanced beyond the capacity or qualifications of the student! These opposing directives make clear what a fine discrimination is required of anyone aspiring to teach!

As Kenneth acknowledged recently:

“If you are so enlightened that nothing matters, renounce your enlightenment immediately; it’s missing half the picture. If you are so wise that you see the flaws in everyone’s ideas but your own, abandon your wisdom. If you are so humble that everyone else’s ideas seem to sparkle more brightly than your own, surrender your humility. If you are so committed to your practice that you cannot imagine life without it, surrender your commitment. If you trust that I or anyone else can tell you what you need to know, abandon that trust now.”

I am fully in sympathy with the irritation expressed at self-aggrandizing attempts to ‘lay some teaching on’ innocent bystanders– and I’m sure all of us who’ve spent much time in this scene have seen– and [speaking for myself only, of course] done that. But we don’t get off the hook so easily as to just shut up.

We always wind up back at square one: ‘I don’t know”, doing the best we can with the splendors and terrors of reality and our fellows.

 

telecaster

Aug 12 2010, 11:00 AM EDT

Just to be clear — I know that I am easily annoyed at a lot of people and situations and that that annoyance usually has more to do with me than the object of my annoyance. And my feeling about dharma teachers is no exception.

I often indulge myself with no censorship which can be good or bad I think.

 

ClaytonL

Aug 12 2010, 11:11 AM EDT

Dharma teaching seems very complicated, it seems like many jump into the fray too early. And yet, somehow when I think of Dharma teachers I am reminded of the college professor institution. Meaning, just because someone gets something does not mean that they are skilled at teaching it… I dunno

 

awouldbehipster

Aug 12 2010, 12:54 PM EDT

“just because someone gets something does not mean that they are skilled at teaching it…” ~Clayton

You said it!

In high school and in college, I had the privilege to play and learn music from a guitarist who played lead guitar for Elton John’s stadium tours for ten years. I’ve never played with anyone better. The guy is ridiculous. And yet, he’s not a good teacher at all, at least not in any structured, formal sense. People with far less technical and improvisational skills than him are way better at teaching, even at advanced levels.

I have a feeling dharma works the same way.

 

roomy

Aug 12 2010, 1:20 PM EDT

Yes– teaching is an entirely separate art from mastery of what is the subject matter. And master teachers are rare birds indeed.

There is also the issue of our own irritation about teachers: I saw “Inception” the other day. I found the endless ‘action movie’ violence, explosions, chases, automotive insanity, etc. tedious—but the skill in rendering some of the characteristics of dream-consciousness made up for the mass-market pandering. One of the things I took particular note of was when the dreamer’s ‘projections’ / dream ‘extras’ would sense something odd going on and would turn and glare at the intruder, and then give chase and attack.

It seemed an artful way of showing how the things that we notice, are irritated by, rant against—are frequently something in ourselves that is just surfacing, something that threatens our habitual sense of ourselves, that disturbs the dream-construct status-quo.

Now and again I remember to notice what I dislike most ‘out there’, what ways of OTHERS’ being and acting really get me going—and just do a quick scan to see if there really is nothing in me that looks at least a little like what I’m ranting about. I can’t say I’ve found anything that passes that inquiry yet.

In the context of this forum, simply posting involves us in something that is at least distant cousin to teaching, student-ing. Or so it seems to me.

 

cmarti

Aug 13 2010, 3:40 PM EDT

And here I thought that subject would be problematic for some. Glad to be proven wrong!

 

roomy

Aug 13 2010, 4:11 PM EDT

Kinda redefines ‘adult content’ in an interesting way, don’cha think?

Now that we’re adult enough to ask impertinent questions and express strong opinions without being totally humorless [bodyparts] about it!

 

cmarti

Aug 13 2010, 6:09 PM EDT

:-D

 

cmarti

Aug 15 2010, 11:01 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 15 2010, 11:02 AM EDT

So what’s the difference between being very accomplished at meditative technique and being awake? There is definitely a difference as we practice and I think it’s important. If we don’t make sure we understand this difference we can, I think, get lost in the errata of process. Process is not waking up. I think, too, the difference can be found in where folks’ interests lie. If you are all about the technique that’s what you’ll focus on and talk about, sometimes to the exclusion of a lot of other important things. If you are all about awakening I believe you will very likely engage with life and with other human beings.

You can certainly be very accomplished at technique and awake, or very accomplished at technique and not awake, or not very accomplished at technique and awake… and the human base state is being neither accomplished at meditative techniques or awake. That last place is where the vast majority of us start our practice, isn’t it?

 

mpavoreal

Aug 15 2010, 11:30 AM EDT

Good morning. I think you’re trying to point out something important about difference between very accomplished at technique and awake, but I’m don’t have enough experience to understand how you would be very accomplished and not awake. Can you explain that some more? Thank you.

 

cmarti

Aug 15 2010, 12:46 PM EDT | Post edited: Aug 15 2010, 12:48 PM EDT

Sure, Mark, here’s one example — a person spends years and years perfecting the technical practice of vipassana. They are so focused on the technique itself that they are laser-beamed in on vibrations and on the “doing” aspects of their vipassana practice that they never let go and notice that something else entirely sits between the subject-object duality.

Second example — a person spends years and years perfecting their experience of the jhanas. The are so enamored of the bliss the jhanas engender that they never investigate anything else. They just hang out in ecstatic jhanic bliss all the time and never notice any non-duality as they are too busy blissing out.

Third example — someone who practices a hundred different meditation methods and never settles on any one long enough to find anything other than another practice to try. This person spends so much time reading about those practices they’re not doing and switching over to those where the grass appears to be so much greener that they never get anywhere other than to the next practice method.

There are other practices that I’m sure would fit this model I’ve described, like dream practices, for example. My point, of course, is perspective and meaning. We’re very lucky to have Kenneth here, who is both very accomplished technically and awakened, so he can point out to those who get into these kinds of box canyons that they are, indeed, box canyons and should be avoided.

 

mpavoreal

Aug 15 2010, 1:15 PM EDT

That’s clear, thanks!

 

roomy

Aug 16 2010, 1:51 PM EDT

Chris, if this rumination about ‘teaching’ and ‘awakening’ is out of place on your thread, feel free to boot it elsewhere. If it’s out of place on the forum at all, feel free to say that, too…

Part of my own exploration of these issues has been to have been watching the behavior as well as reading the accounts of those who interest themselves in these matters; I’ve been developing personal criteria for what seems worthy of respect and emulation– and what doesn’t. So, with the standard warning that this is MY view, which others may find useless or wrong—

Anybody whose account, or claim, serves to inflate their importance, entitle them to abusive or grossly insensitive treatment of others, or otherwise elevate themselves beyond life’s basic human interactions– clearly has nothing to teach. Whatever it is that they’ve ‘realized’ is more worthy of avoiding than emulating.

A person claiming ‘realization’ who can’t talk about their experience in any other language than the time-worn formulae of one of the traditions is, at best, not ready to teach. Getting irritated at the stupidity of the audience is a pretty good clue that the ‘realization’ involved amounts to grandiosity, not transcendent kindness and clarity. [my current working definition of 'enlightenment']

Showing up in a conversation and demanding to be heard to the exclusion of all others– is an example of such garden-variety grandiosity. The more conviction, not to mention will and (even more) ‘charisma’ such a person has, the more destructive to the shared enterprise of the coversation this behavior is. When toddlers do this, wise adults respond to correct them. Unfortunately, not all ‘toddlers’ are 2 feet tall or 2 years old.

Well, my 2 cents, or a start; hope others will chime in, here or wherever.

 

cmarti

Aug 16 2010, 3:58 PM EDT (edit my post)

Everything is fair game, roomy. That applies to life, to practice, and to this thread. And… I agree with what you’ve posted.

 

cmarti

Aug 17 2010, 9:39 AM EDT

Children are practice, by definition ;-)

 

roomy

Aug 17 2010, 3:32 PM EDT

“Children are practice, by definition ;-)

Yeah, and the sign at the entrance to THAT practice space says: ‘Abandon hope AND fear, you who enter here– you’re not gonna have time for that!’

 

cmarti

Aug 17 2010, 5:05 PM EDT

No kidding!

So I was in the emergency room very early this morning with a very sick child – this caused by an allergic reaction to shellfish. First time I’ve ever had to call an ambulance. There from 1 AM to about 4 AM at a busy urban hospital with lots of traffic in and out, mainly older people and people who can’t afford to see a doctor because they have no health insurance. So I’m sitting in the waiting room at about 3 AM, half asleep, half awake, and an older man who appeared to me to be a street person, dirty and all but incapacitated, limps up to me and says, “Hope everything works out good for you, man.” And then he limped off out the door and into the night.

That was my moment of Zen, ladies and gentlemen.

 

AlexWeith

Aug 17 2010, 9:26 PM EDT

Sorry to hear that. Is it better now?

I also went through something similar a few weeks ago.

Children are practice, indeed ;-)

 

AlexWeith

Aug 17 2010, 9:38 PM EDT

As a friend put it “serving all beings is the surest sign of a truly enlightened being”. This often starts with our own family members.

 

roomy

Aug 17 2010, 11:12 PM EDT

Sometimes, even more remarkably, we’re taught by the kind of people we often avoid looking in the eye…

‘s happened to me a couple of times lately, too: and it’s like having the Lord ‘Himself’ smack me upside the head. Whatever I think I know– pfffft!

 

cmarti

227. RE: Stages, Part the ThirdAug 18 2010, 8:40 AM EDT

Yes, it’s better now. And yes, the juxtaposition of that particular homeless man and my habit-driven formed pre-judgment of him contrasted with the obvious reality that he was focused on my problem just blew me away. It’s a huge reinforcement that things are not what they appear to be as long as we’re not seeing only what’s really going on right here, right now.

 

AlexWeith

Aug 18 2010, 10:05 AM EDT

In India they say that Shiva can take the form of a homeless tramp.

 

cmarti

Aug 18 2010, 2:30 PM EDT

Then I’m pretty sure I met Shiva.

 

 evan

Aug 18 2010, 2:43 PM EDT

Hello!

Got a few questions which I would be glad if you could answer.

The last tenth of hours of meditation before and immediately after the “final click”, what was your experience of…

1)…the speed of cycling? One cycle a second, one each hour or maybe one each day?

2)…the “subtleness” of the cycles? Did the cycles become more subtle after “the click”, meaning less distinction between the nanas?

3)…the 10th nana (re-observation)? Do you still feel a lack of motivation and restlessness (which is common) during 10th nana now, or has that disappeared?

4)…the general baseline of happiness? You mentioned a “leveled playing field”. With that, do you mean a general heightened level of happiness? Is this unconditional happiness affected by your cycles anymore now?

Thanks:)

 

cmarti

Aug 19 2010, 8:58 AM EDT

Even, I don’t pay close enough attention to cycles and how they affect me from moment to moment to answer your questions #1 through #3. I can answer #4 by saying that my reference to a “leveled playing field” is the recognition that there are no privileged, special or governing processes occurring anywhere in experience. I had always previously lived under the tacit assumption that there were – that some “me” or other unseen but assumed operator of some sort was in control and owned my experience. Not so.

Sorry I can’t be more helpful but others here who are more oriented toward the details of the path can no doubt help you more with the details of cycles and the effects and attributes of each nana.

 

 OwenBecker

Aug 19 2010, 10:01 AM EDT

Hey even, thought I’d chime in.

1) I notice a cycle taking about 2 days. They seem to get more obvious when I’m doing a lot of concentration practice.

2) So far, no. But I notice that I care a lot less about where I am in the cycle since I quit resisting experience.

3) Yep, 10th nana is 10th nana. Only now the negativity has no place to stick.

4) I have everything I ever wanted right now. This is what I’ve been looking for my entire life. People around me are actually kinda spooked over how happy I am. I was a curmudgeonly bastard before, now I get to be profoundly happy and relaxed. I almost fell asleep getting dental work done. Big shift. :)

 

cmarti

Aug 20 2010, 8:11 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 20 2010, 8:12 AM EDT

It is misleading to portray awakening as a constant state of happiness. Put simply, it’s just not that. There is a time immediately after awakening and other periods thereafter when it seems to be the case but that euphoria is an effect of the insights conferred by awakening, not a happy state that one abides in forever. Awakening is not a state, folks. Do not be fooled into thinking it is. Nor does awakening change a person’s underlying personality. The tendencies you had going in will be the tendencies you have going forward. When you have sad things happen you will be sad. When you have happy things happen, you will be happy. When you have terrifying things happen, you will be terrified. You can fall asleep in the dentist’s chair – and I’ve actually done that , too – but I sure as hell wouldn’t ask them to fill a cavity without novocaine because…. when painful things happen you will feel pain.

In the interest of accuracy.

 

cmarti

Aug 20 2010, 8:29 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 20 2010, 12:37 PM EDT

So yes,there is a Big Shift that occurs, but that is a shift in the relationship mind has to all these phenomena. They will not be perceived as part of you, as defining you, as “you.” So you see, what I’m describing is not a state. It’s insight and wisdom.

 

 OwenBecker

Aug 20 2010, 9:52 AM EDT

Hey Chris,

Thanks for the quality control. :) Didn’t want to give the impression that it is a cosmic bliss out. That’s actually one of the disappointing things about this, since it is what I always imagined it to be. I was actually shocked last week while dealing with a death in the family as to how much pain I could be in. In some ways it is more intense than before. But, that being said, my relationship to it was changed. It wasn’t a problem, it was just what was happening. I could relax into it and let it do its thing and go. A lot of the relief comes from knowing that there isn’t anyone in particular to protect from that pain.

 

Gozen

Aug 20 2010, 12:47 PM EDT

“It is misleading to portray awakening as a constant state of happiness. Put simply, it’s just not that. There is a time immediately after awakening and other periods thereafter when it seems to be the case but that euphoria is an effect of the insights conferred by awakening, not a happy state that one abides in forever. Awakening is not a state, folks. Do not be fooled into thinking it is. Nor does awakening change a person’s underlying personality. The tendencies you had going in will be the tendencies you have going forward. When you have sad things happen you will be sad. When you have happy things happen, you will be happy. When you have terrifying things happen, you will be terrified. You can fall asleep in the dentist’s chair – and I’ve actually done that , too – but I sure as hell wouldn’t ask them to fill a cavity without novocaine because…. when painful things happen you will feel pain.

In the interest of accuracy.”

YES! Please, everyone, take note of what Chris says here. Much though we might like it to be otherwise, Awakening is NOT the end of problems and the beginning of endless bliss. Experience continues to arise EXACTLY as before Awakening. As Chris says (in a subsequent message) with Awakening there is “a shift in the relationship mind has to all these phenomena.” That’s it and all of it. Mostly. ;}

 

telecaster

Aug 20 2010, 12:56 PM EDT

One technique I use to practice that I think I made up myself that I’m not sure is even a legitimate method is this:

I’ll use my imagination to see what it would be like to live if I KNEW I was all done. if I was completely enlightened and had no more insights to gain and nothing else to do. As if the journey was COMPLETELY over.

I’ll get this into my head and then kind of leap into the mind state I’ve imagined.

feelings, everything just flows in does its thing and leaves with no interference from a central discriminating prejudicial self. So there can be great pain and anxiety and awful thoughts and they just barely matter and just barely last and while there are all kinds of feelings — there is no suffering.

I’m not really sure what this is all about or if it is a good idea but I like doing it and it especially helps when I’m just all twisted up.

 

cmarti

Aug 21 2010, 9:58 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 21 2010, 9:59 AM EDT

It’s no doubt just my own bias but it seems there a lots and lots of threads here about the details of vipassana/Mahasi style noting practice but not very much by contrast about what to do with it as you live your life. This makes sense to me as most folks here are interested in furthering their practice. I get that. I was that. Still, though, it’s an interesting disparity. I used to think folks who talked about life-stuff were wasting their time worrying about that when they should actually be sitting quietly and noting. I was right in some ways but now I think I was wrong in other important ways.

But the practice has helped me so much this year with life-stuff that it’s way ridiculous valuable (to coin a phrase). I can no longer not talk about this and I want to be as accurate as possible in describing the fruits of practice. As was said earlier this week here, it is NOT about being happy or elated all the time. It is about finding the wisdom (read that as experiential perspective) to BE WITH everything you encounter or that arises in your life. This way of being (not a state, not a stage) is far more powerful and enlightened (!) than being reactive to your experience.

Maybe, sometimes, in the practical dharma world we have here the idea that practice is not about “stuff” (what I’m now calling life-stuff) gets over played just a little bit.

What do you think?

 

tomotvos

Aug 21 2010, 10:25 AM EDT

I think it reflects the relative proportions of early pathers to arhats on the site. Our interests will no doubt evolve as our practice does.

JMHO.

 

NikolaiStephenHalay

Aug 21 2010, 10:34 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 21 2010, 10:42 AM EDT

Hi Chris,

I totally agree with you that it’s really about living our lives the best we can, having meaningful contact with loved ones and those we come in contact with. But it is really easy to realise that from this place we find ourselves in now. I think back to when the whole insight disease drive was pushing me to fuss and obsess over the details of the path. It was like that was what was making certain things take prominence in my life. It may very well be stage specific, all this fussing and obsessing, or just strong interest.

When we experience something so strange and unique to the norm such as fruitions, we want to know how it is for other people. We want to know if it’s the same. We want to know if we are crazy or not. You said it yourself that us humans have this obsessive need “to know” what is going on. So thus we have those threads on the specifics of meditation pop up. It helps those passing through those phases when their interests are affected. It helps in feeling like they aren’t the only ones going through this weird and wonderful development.

But from here, where the push and pull of feeling out-of-synch is no longer, no insight disease,no feeling like something “needs” to be done, it is so very much now all about “life stuff”, at least for me now it is. So, yeh, like Tom said, I think interests in phenomena of the awakening process can be influenced very much from where we find ourselves on the path. But it is good to keep in mind what you said on the Fruitions thread and I agree we shouldn’t lose ourselves in the details of meditation. However, talking about them makes them less “special” and more the norm. And when things are more the norm, then people may stop “wondering” and fussing over them.

 

cmarti

Aug 21 2010, 10:49 AM EDT (edit my post)

My follow-up question is this — why among those in the throes of the path – but especially among those NOT in those throes – is there less interest in the nature of the objective, in the fruits of the thing? Realizing that it is completely possible, maybe probable, that I’m full of crap and just not seeing those discussions, or not accounting for them, or what have you.

Please be aware that I’m not criticizing anyone. I’m really just curious to hear what folks think. Remember, I was just like that at one time, too, and I can recall how focused I was on the process to the exclusion of anything else. So this is about the relationship of that process orientation to goal orientation. In my case I innately assumed the goal was worth the effort, but I was not fully aware of the nature of the goal. This is not the way I typically engage in multi-year, time-intensive projects. When I got my degrees I had a very clear picture of the objective and knew far more clearly the benefits.

I’m also making some distinctions between the “movement” we seem to represent (practical dharma, I guess) and other spiritual traditions. We seem to be very process oriented and focused on the details. Well beyond what other traditions have going on. Is this because we’re more open to the possibility of awakening? Is it because of MCTB and the extreme focus on process and that’s our DNA?

I don’t know.

 

cmarti

Aug 21 2010, 10:53 AM EDT

I’m gonna go sit now :-D

 

telecaster

Aug 21 2010, 11:40 AM EDT

Well, I’m not doing this so I can be good at vipassana.

I’m trying to be good at vipassana so life will get better. I’m serious.

I’ll never believe those who say this practice has nothing to do with the rest of your life, or who say to not do it with the hopes that life will get better.

My life has gotten better from the first in breath I noted.

I want more intimacy with life and I want to suffer less. I want to be a more effective loving helpful happy and happiness-creating human being. And I’m getting all that.

I want to FEEL everything all the way and that happens more and mroe every day. Because of this practice.

And, I’d love to share details. I told a story recently about how a visit from my father was greatly inhanced because of this practice but I felt like it may have been seen as too much information about my personal life.

But, I’d love to be able to discuss more real life examples of how practice is enhancing my life in real everyday ways and I’d love to hear more about this from the rest of you.

And if you try and tell me that this practice doesn’t help with my stuff I won’t believe you.

 

roomy

Aug 21 2010, 11:49 AM EDT

“I’m also making some distinctions between the “movement” we seem to represent (practical dharma, I guess) and other spiritual traditions. We seem to be very process oriented and focused on the details. Well beyond what other traditions have going on. Is this because we’re more open to the possibility of awakening? Is it because of MCTB and the extreme focus on process and that’s our DNA?

I don’t know.”

Thanks for opening this conversation, Chris– I hope you’ll get lots of answers, representing lots of engagement, because I think this is a crucial line of enquiry. I’m in the peculiar position of being neither an ‘adherent’ nor an ‘adversary’ of the ‘movement’– had I encountered this approach when I was all about the process and its associated phenomena, it would have been helpful to have the affirmation and support. I don’t know how I’d have felt about the attempt to make objective assessments of subjective phenomena. It’s a conundrum I still turn over in my mind.

I have approached the forum as an interesting conversation about matters that greatly interest me– but among a group of teachers and students from a specific school of which I’m not a part. So my comments are mostly around the edges, where your expertise in the minutiae segues into the common life– and my developed capacity for intent observation has some relevance.

There HAS seemed to me to be a very strongly held insistence on ‘sticking to the program’, and describing oneself and one’s practice in its very specific terms– and, beyond that, a reactivity to discussions of view, inspiration, philosophy, social considerations. And that’s rather odd, since I’ll bet that most of the motivations to take up the practice fall into these categories. [I feel like I've been granted a lot of leeway, personally, in this respect-- so this is not a complaint.]

 

telecaster

Aug 21 2010, 12:00 PM EDT | Post edited: Aug 21 2010, 12:06 PM EDT

yes, i no longer believe in a permanent, separate “self.” (thank god)

there isn’t one, it just doesn’t exist and once one sees through that so much suffering is just gone

at the same time though, I do believe in a moment to moment ever changing temporary entity (the one typing this right now) that is connected to all things all the time(s) who is playing out life on this earth in multiple patterns.

cool, huh? I’d have to be blind to miss that

one of the myths about the buddha is that he touched the earth upon being enlightened and i really like that story because I think it shows that he was affirming that he existed that he was …. RIGHT HERE

 

brianm2

Aug 21 2010, 1:33 PM EDT

It’s funny, I recently went on retreat at IMS. I didn’t really know what to expect but I had these half-formed notions of how it might be too touchy-feely or airy-fairy based on I don’t know what exactly, just the ambiance of discussion I’ve been around. (I am a practical dharma child, I never had any experience with practice outside of this community and MCTB.)

What I found was that the environment was a bit more relaxed and gentle and heart-centered than what I’m used to being around. i.e. the sort of things that could be cynically called touchy-feely or airy-fairy. But it was 90% concentration and vipassana stuff and obviously very serious and no-nonsense, being non-stop all day meditation for a week with no talking etc. I picked up several useful insight-related things that had eluded me til then. And more importantly, the more heart-centered aspects were not intrusions that watered things down, but really welcome additions that brought everything together. I even had a big realization about the nature of a recurring experience I kept having that was deeply connected to this sense of recognizing being or existence, but I couldn’t quite place it on any experiences or maps I had read about. Well duh, the experience was a deep kind of metta for existence itself. I never made the connection because I never bothered to do metta meditation.

It’s really interesting. I think a lot of the practical dharma thing is a reaction to some of the flaws of popular Western Buddhism that people keep running into related to imprecision in technique, no clear practice goals, psychologizing of practice etc. Of course I value that ethic, or else I wouldn’t be here. But also for me, too much of the heart part of the path had been ignored. As with all other things, there is a middle way I guess. The direction of the movements you make to approach the middle way depend on where you start out.

 

brianm2

Aug 21 2010, 1:36 PM EDT

A related thing is how much I used to stress out over practice, try to get to certain states or stages, etc in the name of progress. I still have some of those habits but not to the same degree. It’s kind of absurd if you think about it. Bottom line, why are we doing this practice? To be happy. Yes, we need to be diligent and serious about practice. But it’s kind of a perverse joke when a yogi lines his path to happiness with so much unnecessary worry and doubt and stress and suffering.

Right now I’m of the mind that the supreme practice is to learn to make one’s self at home in the present moment, no matter what is going on. A lot of times that will automatically bring about plenty of mindfulness and concentration and disembedding, etc. Sometimes the present moment will be about something totally different; just a fact of life. So why not learn to be with that too, in a very flexible notion of the term ‘being with’, instead of trying to shoehorn everything into some kind of grand vipassana practice and feeling that something is wrong or unsatisfactory when that is just too impractical to happen?

 

telecaster

Aug 21 2010, 2:11 PM EDT

“Bottom line, why are we doing this practice? To be happy. Yes, we need to be diligent and serious about practice. But it’s kind of a perverse joke when a yogi lines his path to happiness with so much unnecessary worry and doubt and stress and suffering.

Right now I’m of the mind that the supreme practice is to learn to make one’s self at home in the present moment, no matter what is going on. A lot of times that will automatically bring about plenty of mindfulness and concentration and disembedding, etc. Sometimes the present moment will be about something totally different; just a fact of life. So why not learn to be with that too, in a very flexible notion of the term ‘being with’, instead of trying to shoehorn everything into some kind of grand vipassana practice and feeling that something is wrong or unsatisfactory when that is just too impractical to happen? ”

palabra!

I love everything you just wrote and I like what you said about your IMS retreat. I’d like to hear more about that experience.

 

jhsaintonge

Aug 21 2010, 2:18 PM EDT

Fascinating and important discussion. I like what everyone has been saying Kate, Mike, Brian, Chris, Nik et al.

I would go so far as to say, in the interest of being provocative I suppose, that if there’s anything going on in your “practice” which isn’t immediately relevant in your “life”, then I have no idea what that “practice” even is, other than self obsession. Even if you can easily enter states of peace and clarity and insight while sitting, yet are still generally agitated and reactive and confused in daily life– I really, really don’t see the point. Actually, I’m sort of talking to the “me” of three years ago here ;-)

The fact is, “it takes what it takes”. Whatever it takes to bring someone to the point of taking responsibility for mind’s relationship to phenomena in everyday life, is what it takes. If that means self-obsessed pleasure and safety seeking has to be turned into self-obsessed awakening seeking for a time, so be it.

But I think it’s important to emphasise that wisdom is discovered and expressed in “life”. Life is all we’ve got. If we set aside a little corner of life, in which to delve deeply into the underlying dyamics of this issue of taking responsibility for how mind relates to inner and outer events, then all the better. All the better for our lives as a whole. All the better for all beings, when one takes some time to carefully examine their own life in this light, thereby giving themselves a chance to grow into a way of existing which is less compressed, more relaxed, less closed, more open, less reactive, more responsive, less self-obsessed, more compassionate, less compulsive, more free. And in all other ways exactly the same as before, of course. ;-)

 

OwenBecker

Aug 21 2010, 2:38 PM EDT | Post edited: Aug 21 2010, 2:42 PM EDT

Hey Chris,

I think the disparity might come from the fact that, at different points in our practice, our practice needs to have different focuses if we want to make progress. For me at least, at first it was all I could do just to sit. It was excruciating, my mind was a mess and I was, for the first time, learning to deal with that.

Later, it became about gaining insights into how my mind worked, what reality really was like and how I fit into it all. This was when mastering vipassana became critical so I could end the horrors of insight disease.

Now that insight disease is done for me, my practice is slowly coming back to reengaging with my life and progressing along the moral axis. But at each stage it felt different, and I needed different things.

My 2 cents.

Much love,

-o

 

tomotvos

Aug 21 2010, 2:55 PM EDT

Regarding process vs goal, from my perspective, while I am very much aware of the goal, and read with a tinge of envy some of the more goal-specific discussions, it seems very far away to me. Using your degree analogy, the goal of getting my degree did not prevent me from worrying about the next lab report or mid-term exam. For better or worse, we have a more well-defined practice here than other sanghas, and it seems only natural to be concerned about how one is doing on it while doing it. Once you have reached the end, it seems easy to look back and say “relax, don’t worry, it’s all good”. It may be, but not to me…right now.

 

telecaster

Aug 21 2010, 3:25 PM EDT

i think it is a give that we are all really into practicing and want and need and appreciate as much practice oriented talk and advice and instruction that we can get.

it’s true for me anyway

I think that what chris is asking about is if, in addition to that, there can also be some talk and appreciation for the interaction of practice with life. about the fruits of practice

 

IanReclus

Aug 21 2010, 3:26 PM EDT

One of my biggest reasons for practicing has been my daily life. I’ve heard several people (Owen Becker and Alan Chapman come to mind) say that awakening helped them to actually live an ordinary human life. I feel that perhaps I’ve been suffering from insight disease for a long time, and not known what was causing my unhappiness nor how to go about fixing it. If anything, I want to finish this thing so that I can intimately know “just this” and understand that I am acting based on reality, and not on some misguided attempt to cover over a gaping (ultimately non-existent) insight wound.

And to that end, I’ve found practice to be very helpful. The more I learn to disembedd from phenomenon, letting things arise and pass as they do, the more I find that I’ve been looking for satisfaction in places that will not, ultimately, provide satisfaction.

Seeing this, I can let those things be as-they-are, rather than trying to perfect them, because I know that my ultimate satisfaction (happiness not relying on conditions) isn’t in them, it’s in me. So things AND me begin to settle down and be what they already are, and through this, I hope to eventually “graduate” and enter the “real world”.

That’s the plan, anyway. : )

 

telecaster

Aug 21 2010, 3:33 PM EDT

word!

 

jhsaintonge

Aug 21 2010, 4:35 PM EDT

And here’s a different perspective on the issue: why wait to “become” awake to have your full human life? Why not learn to appreciate the fact that your whole human existence is made possible by nothing but awareness? Intrinsic wakefulness is the most basic thing about us. It is always letting everything be exactly as it is. And it is always the actual heart of each moment of experience. You don’t actually need to wait till some other point in time to live your life with total awareness. Discovering and learning to trust your basic default condition of aware presence In Life is a practice.

-Jake

 

roomy

Aug 21 2010, 5:36 PM EDT

Maybe the distinction between aspiring to ‘awaken’ and ‘being awake’ is one of those peculiarly paradoxical useful fictions: what defines ‘being awake’ — to me– is recognizing that while you, or anyone else, can be confused, can misunderstand, no one can be in some alternate state or reality called ‘not-awake’ or ‘asleep’– ever. Practice can set you up to notice this– methodical vipassana sitting practice, more free-form inquiry practice, or the spontaneity of Dzogchen ‘when am I NOT practicing?’ total-immersion practice. And the random opportunities that life provides can make noticing unavoidable– the birthing or dying bed, illness, accident, falling in love are the classics. But there are also honking horns, bizarre behavior, unexpected encounters… endless dharmas.

Lately I am considering that formal meditation practice is a means of developing a skill– just as we all once concentrated on mastering walking, and for some months that was a BIG deal. But, if it didn’t simply become our taken-for-granted means of moving around in the world, something would have gone awry. That the result of that stage of practice is not any experience that signaled mastery at the time, that we can sit down and re-experience for nostalgia’s sake. The result is that we are sane, balanced, responsive– ‘insightful’ in the absolutely ordinary sense of the word– human beings. This is apparent to ourselves and to others who interact with us; and to interject ‘issues’ about how we define ourselves confuses rather than clarifies things.

 

cmarti

Aug 21 2010, 7:55 PM EDT

Roomy, can you please elaborate on this:

“The result is that we are sane, balanced, responsive– ‘insightful’ in the absolutely ordinary sense of the word– human beings. This is apparent to ourselves and to others who interact with us; and to interject ‘issues’ about how we define ourselves confuses rather than clarifies things.”

 

roomy

Aug 21 2010, 9:49 PM EDT

“Roomy, can you please elaborate on this:”

The result is that we are sane, balanced, responsive– ‘insightful’ in the absolutely ordinary sense of the word– human beings. This is apparent to ourselves and to others who interact with us; and to interject ‘issues’ about how we define ourselves confuses rather than clarifies things.”

Well– and I may be wandering onto shaky ground here– it seems to me that one of the potential confusions when we take up a practice that has only recently been offered in our native language is that we are at the mercy of the translation. We can become too reverential and insist that there are no English equivalents for the Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese, Native American, etc.– and make those original words into technical ‘terms of art’ with very specific meanings. It is also possible to co-opt an English word [e.g. 'insight'] used to translate those words, in the same way; so that we wind up compartmentalizing ‘insight knowledges’ from ‘insightful observation.’ The one is meaningful only to the small circle of people engaged in a particular method; the other connects with ordinary life and at least the reflective people in it.

There is a kind of training stage where the first is useful, but if a practitioner never makes it past that phase, all they’ve done is create a rationale for the isolation of the expert technician. Which seems unlikely to be the goal of practice.

There is also the obverse error– to get impatient with finding the translation through study and experience, and debunk all the traditions, assume that there’s NO good reason to respect the old ways of doing things, and just modernize and ‘improve’ them to the satisfaction of the extant cultural models of our time and place. More ‘efficient’, ‘faster’, more ‘democratic’, more ‘standardized.’

 

roomy

Aug 21 2010, 10:10 PM EDT

[cont.] I’m working this out as I write, here, so I hope it’s coherent.

What cuts through this Gordian knot of oppositions could be the method of examining all of it with regard to ‘principle and function’ [or intent and means]– by all of it, I mean both tradition and ‘our’ approach that we’re hacking out of the uncarved block of our own time and place. So when I encounter– to use a really loaded example– injunctions about declaring oneself enlightened, I ask, ‘How does that work? Is it really false humility? Or deliberate obfuscation? Could it be useful even if I don’t like it?’ And when I encounter insistence about making, and backing up, disclosure of one’s status, I ask, ‘How does that work? Does it really help students find a teacher? Are there ‘objective criteria’? What is the connection between the claimed status and my experience of interacting with this person?’

In either case, it is possible to ‘observe a lot, just by watching’, as the sage Yogi Berra said. [thus endeth my ability to articulate this stuff-- for now, anyway]

 

cmarti

Aug 21 2010, 10:20 PM EDT

That’s wonderful stuff, all the more because it provides us with so much food for thought. Thanks for humoring me and my curiosity.

 

cmarti

Aug 22 2010, 9:38 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 22 2010, 9:39 AM EDT

Life-stuff from my practice this morning based on life last night — when I worry about my daughter I can (a) be worrying as a father who cares about their daughter or (b) as a selfish person trying to avoid getting hurt. I spend more time in worry mode (b) than I care to admit, and when i sat this morning, after a bad night last night, this hit me very hard.

I think that is the kind of insight roomy is talking about.

 

cmarti

Aug 22 2010, 9:48 AM EDT

So now when this worry arises the first question I must ask myself is, “WHO exactly are you worrying about?”

 

jhsaintonge

Aug 22 2010, 10:14 AM EDT

Brilliant stuff Chris! And “who” is worrying, right? Which version of “Chris”?

 

cmarti

Aug 22 2010, 10:30 AM EDT

Jake, yeah, there’s definitely that part, too. There is a new version of me that arises almost every few seconds so I’m dealing with tendencies, not permanent entities.

 

NikolaiStephenHalay

Aug 22 2010, 10:55 AM EDT

Jeesh, this is so true. No permanent “Nicks”, just weird new impermanent versions that don’t last. We are but a bundle of ever-changingness. I am experiencing something similar to what you wrote there, Chris. I realise a lot of my decisions can stem from the habitual tendency of self-centredness, even though there realy ain’t no self to be centred on. But the difference now is I can see it in all its ugly glory as just a strong habitual tendency. And I can turn it on its head, and aim for being less of the self-centred prick. Something I always wanted to rectify :) This is where the superpower of “not believing my thoughts” comes in handy. Great discussion!

 

jhsaintonge

“Jake, yeah, there’s definitely that part, too. There is a new version of me that arises almost every few seconds so I’m dealing with tendencies, not permanent entities.”

Right. I’m fascinated by this topic. Would you say that this has always been the case, and “fourth path”, or whatever you want to call it, means you can no longer mistake provisional self-referencing, which is all you’ve ever been doing, for something more “permanent”, as you used to? Or what? And how does your new sense of this insight into the provisionality of selfing differ from your pre-4th path sense of this provisionality?

 

NikolaiStephenHalay

Aug 22 2010, 11:10 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 22 2010, 11:14 AM EDT

Yeh, the self-referencing still seems to arise as does all the other phenomena, the difference now is that there seems not to be that amazingly addictive and strong tendency of the mind to stick to it and hang on to it, like it was permanent. There isn’t much invested in it like before because you know it’s just likr all other phenomena. That self-referencing is not seen as “all-important” like before, but more in line with how all phenomena arise and pass away.

Now there seems to be no hanging on to it. Maybe for some moments out of a habitual tendency but it is so much easier to just “let go” and let evaporate away. At least in my experience thus far. What seems different now to before, is that now once I realize I am riding a habitual tendency which is considered “unhealthy”, it is so natural to just let it go and be and watch it pass away without caring that it passes away. Whereas before it was harder to hop off that habitual tendency without some sort of mental struggle to detach and dis-embed from it. Now it is just “realize and let go”. So effortless….so far. I haven’t been in any grave situations yet which have tested what i just said to see how easy it could be. But in daily life so far, it’s been like this.

 

cmarti

Aug 22 2010, 12:05 PM EDT

Jake, there’s nothing different in or about everything that arises now than at any other time in my life, including the self-referencing cloud of sensations and thoughts called “me.” The difference is in my relationship to it and the perception of it all as not-self. This not-self perception can be turned on or off at will. It’s voluntary, so if I choose to experience life embedded in what Kenneth calls “meat mode” then I can — and there are times when that’s very enjoyable. There are times of stress when the innate and very powerful life-long habit of being in meat mode kicks in automatically. At those times it does require more effort to dis-embed, but it’s always possible to do that if I stop for just a brief instant and pay attention.

Again, awakening is not a bliss state. It is not a state at all.

Hope this helps.

 

cmarti

Aug 22 2010, 12:20 PM EDT

“And how does your new sense of this insight into the provisionality of selfing differ from your pre-4th path sense of this provisionality?”

That’s a bit more complicated as there were quite a few provisional interpretations of “me” that I’ve held over time. They differ with stages and even within stages. Maybe it makes the most sense to talk about late 3rd path and whatever transition took place afterward. At late third path I could see the same things going on but held an unstated, innate and not-yet-thoroughly-examined assumption that there was somehow, somewhere, a controlling process or entity. I was actively, at times obsessively, trying to find that entity. Let’s just say I had Seeking Disease. The ending of that obsession (not a fruition-based transition but more like a simple recognition (insight) based on a thought or a “blip” of realization) seems to have caused the seeking mind to just stop and the mind to sync up with experience in a way that it becomes obvious that what’s in front of your nose is just what’s in front of your nose and all experience is on the same level playing field we talked about here a few days ago. There are no processes that control other processes, no privileged processes, no governing “me” process hidden away secretly controlling experience somewhere. It’s all just right here, right now.

 

telecaster

Aug 22 2010, 12:43 PM EDT

that is great, thanks

 

brianm2

Aug 22 2010, 12:56 PM EDT

Chris, I’m curious– when you experience thoughts about planning to do something and then you do them, or when you experience an intention to move your arm right before you move your arm– what is that like? Is there no sense that “this” (thought, intention) led to “that” (execution of the thought/intention)? Or do you mean something else when you say “there are no processes that control other processes”?

 

roomy

Aug 22 2010, 1:00 PM EDT

“Let’s just say I had Seeking Disease. The ending of that obsession (not a fruition-based transition but more like a simple recognition (insight) based on a thought or a “blip” of realization) seems to have caused the seeking mind to just stop and the mind to sync up with experience in a way that it becomes obvious that what’s in front of your nose is just what’s in front of your nose and all experience is on the same level playing field we talked about here a few days ago. There are no processes that control other processes, no privileged processes, no governing “me” process hidden away secretly controlling experience somewhere. It’s all just right here, right now.”

To me, what pops into the foreground as extremely significant is this statement that ‘insight’ is ‘a simple recognition.’ That is precisely my experience. We keep the ‘seeking’ game going out of a habituated belief that it CAN’T be that simple and unadorned. Surely all the effort we’ve put into our practice method is going to pay off in something more impressive than seeing what’s in front of us for what it is!!

This simplicity, ordinariness, accessibility– that’s why I think that not making up or using a specialist jargon about practice methods is really important. The language can either help you understand, or it can add to your confusion and prolong the suffering. And, as the old texts say– life is short at best…

 

jhsaintonge

Aug 22 2010, 2:00 PM EDT

Very nice, thanks guys. It helps to have this reinforced by people whose understanding I trust.

It’s kind of funny how simple liberating insight is, compared to all the many states and stages we can experience.

It really feels to me like “insight disease” just unearths and makes acute the same suffering that characterizes “ordinary folks” who don’t practice. It (seeking disease) seems so futile and painful in comparison to just being simply with what is, as it is- at least for me right now.

 

cmarti

Aug 22 2010, 2:36 PM EDT

“Chris, I’m curious– when you experience thoughts about planning to do something and then you do them, or when you experience an intention to move your arm right before you move your arm– what is that like? Is there no sense that “this” (thought, intention) led to “that” (execution of the thought/intention)? Or do you mean something else when you say “there are no processes that control other processes”?”

Brian, my experience of things like moving and such are exactly as they always were. Otherwise I’d look like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz when I move. The “controlling processes that aren’t” refers primarily to the mental selfing processes we’ve been talking about. There is no sense that some entity or thing is pulling the strings in the background of decision making, referencing self, observing other things going on, and so forth.

 

roomy

Aug 22 2010, 3:04 PM EDT

“Again, awakening is not a bliss state. It is not a state at all.”–

Another crucial point! Having done as thorough a review of ‘awakening stories’ as I can, this understanding is the commonality and the heart of the matter: awakening can seem blissful, or horrific, or hilarious, or outrageous– but underneath these qualities, there is that peculiar certainty.

Awake in heaven, awake in hell– no ESSENTIAL difference. The light of intelligence in your beloved child’s eyes or in unexpected generosity in the last place you’d have looked for it– the same ‘simplest thing.’

 

nyingje

Aug 23 2010, 8:18 PM EDT

Absolutely beautiful!! Thanks!

 

nyingje

Aug 23 2010, 8:22 PM EDT

“Awakening is not a state, folks. Do not be fooled into thinking it is. Nor does awakening change a person’s underlying personality. The tendencies you had going in will be the tendencies you have going forward. When you have sad things happen you will be sad. When you have happy things happen, you will be happy. When you have terrifying things happen, you will be terrified. You can fall asleep in the dentist’s chair – and I’ve actually done that , too – but I sure as hell wouldn’t ask them to fill a cavity without novocaine because…. when painful things happen you will feel pain.

In the interest of accuracy.”

Hello Chris,

I have been following your posts and want to say a huge thanks!!!! I wish soo many people could read this. I constantly get questions about this. This doesn’t get any simpler. I humbly thank you! You are a great teacher.

Thanks,

Nyingje

 

roomy

Aug 23 2010, 11:17 PM EDT

“Hello Chris,

I have been following your posts and want to say a huge thanks!!!! I wish soo many people could read this. I constantly get questions about this. This doesn’t get any simpler. I humbly thank you! You are a great teacher.

Thanks,

Nyingje”

Uh-oh, Chris–

BUSTED!

[and here we neatly see that there is the 'teacher' who aspires to the position and the one who simply walks the walk; in the best-case scenario, they are one and the same. But not every scenario is for the best...]

;-)

 

telecaster

Aug 23 2010, 11:34 PM EDT

i have no doubt chris teaches in one way or another all the time

 

roomy

Aug 24 2010, 12:21 AM EDT

“i have no doubt chris teaches in one way or another all the time”

exactly

 

cmarti

Aug 24 2010, 3:46 PM EDT

“BUSTED!”

Oh, snap.

 

roomy

Aug 24 2010, 5:11 PM EDT

“BUSTED!”

“Oh, snap.”

Whew! Thanks for bailing me out, Chris– I was thinking, ‘uh-oh: lead-balloon joke alert.’

 

cmarti

Aug 25 2010, 7:52 AM EDT

The key to the universe, it seems, is not to hold anything too tightly.

 

cmarti

Aug 26 2010, 7:32 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 26 2010, 8:40 AM EDT

I went to the local Zen Center yesterday evening. I’m looking for ways to get my wife and daughter involved in meditation because they’re both sort of interested for different reasons. I found out that it’s not really a Zen Center unless you REALLY want Zen. It’s called “Meditation and Life Center” now and to the typical attendee/student the Roshi emphasizes meditation more as a way to cope with the spinning mind and the pressures of modern life than as a way to awaken.

I was with this man for over an hour and he described the practice he teaches as being vipassana and samatha based. I asked him to explain how that worked and I got a very high level version of teaching people one-pointed concentration for “several years, maybe” and then helping them “open up” to vipassana.

We had a nice talk in a very peaceful Zen garden at dusk with his wife giving a hula lesson in the background, but I left wanting to help him with the Theravada teachings. For someone who wants to try to calm the mind and find respite from the hurry up of of life this center might be a good fit. For someone with a deep desire to awaken I don’t know. I’m still processing the meeting, too, so more later.

FYI for full disclosure – my wife and daughter want ME to teach them meditation so maybe I’m just looking for a way out of that box ;-)

 

Ryguy913

Aug 26 2010, 9:06 AM EDT

“We had a nice talk in a very peaceful Zen garden at dusk with his wife giving a hula lesson in the background, but I left wanting to help him with the Theravada teachings….

….FYI for full disclosure – my wife and daughter want ME to teach them meditation so maybe I’m just looking for a way out of that box ;-)

Chris, if you got the chance – with this guy or someone else – to teach meditation, I think you’d be great at it…..even if it were only to the “relax and de-stress” crowd. ; )

As for your family, IMHO, “looking for a way out of that box” might not be a shameful thing at all, but actually a wise move. At least, I can see plenty of reasons why that could potentially be the case. I wouldn’t beat yourself up about not teaching them. They might be better served learning from someone else. My 2 cents.

Oh, and the mere fact that you all are talking about these things and going to a Zen center together makes me really happy for you and your family. I think that’s very cool. : )

 

telecaster

Aug 26 2010, 10:29 AM EDT

Chris, did YOUR level of attainment come up in the meeting?

Did the guy know either because you told him or because he asked or because he could tell from talking to you?

Or, did he assume that you were more of a beginner?

 

cmarti

Aug 26 2010, 11:34 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 26 2010, 11:35 AM EDT

Mike, I began the meeting by explaining why I think meditation might help my daughter and my wife. I did this by telling the Roshi what the results and benefits of my own practice are from personal experience. This I did only so that he would know I was evaluating what he could or would teach. We did not get into specifics, attainments, paths, or anything like that. My feeling was that such a discussion, being about me, would be unproductive in that it would turn the focus of the conversation away from why I was there. By virtue of the way I explained my own practice and how practice might therefore help another human being he couldn’t help but learn a few things about me. We both left it at that and there was no further discussion of it as, again, it wasn’t relevant to the purpose of the meeting. I wanted to listen and learn about his teaching and that center.

 

telecaster

Aug 26 2010, 11:36 AM EDT

okay

 

cmarti

Aug 27 2010, 7:36 AM EDT

Having spent the past few days visiting the Zen Center and thinking about it as an alternative for some in my family I’ve decided it’s really not. At the end of the day, no matter what we might think is helpful or not helpful in regard to beginning a practice, I believe an awakened teacher is critically important. I’ve been pondering this for a while now and my desire to help someone (but for my sake) took the driver’s seat. The nice thing about having what I now have from my practice is the ability to see this, albeit slowly.

Onward.

 

mumuwu

Aug 27 2010, 8:11 AM EDT

Chris,

So will you be teaching them?

 

cmarti

Aug 27 2010, 8:26 AM EDT

Ha! I’ll be attempting to be a coach, Mu ;-)

Let me also state for the record that this overwhelming desire to “fix” a loved one, coming so tightly coupled with the unrelenting fear that you won’t or can’t do that, may be the most powerful thing I’ve ever encountered. It is an utterly amazing teacher. Very resistant and powerful. It’s a hot iron ball in the pit of the stomach some days, a kick in the head on other days, a sharp stick in the eye the rest of the time.

 

mumuwu

Aug 27 2010, 8:41 AM EDT

Chris,

My girlfriend decided to give up taking her antidepressants about a month a go (she’s back on them now). That was a scary time, because she was going through a lot of painful, emotional things and although I was able to help her some what (helped her identify the feeling she had in her stomach as anxiety – something she never had to deal with for a long time) there wasn’t a lot I could do other than try and be there for her (though the idea that I had to somehow fix her was there too). This was a relatively mild situation compared to what you are going through, so I can only imagine the difficulty.

Best of luck with the coaching and with everything else.

 

Ryguy913

Aug 27 2010, 9:06 AM EDT

“Best of luck with the coaching and with everything else.”

I heartily second that!

And, Chris, coming from life-long experience of my relationship with a loved one who deals with severe PTSD and depression involved with that, I know exactly what you mean about the desire to “fix” them. It is indeed an amazing teacher.

Very best wishes,

Ryan

 

AlexWeith

Aug 27 2010, 9:43 AM EDT

I also went through this with a loved one and know very well what you are talking about, Chris.

 

AlexWeith

Aug 27 2010, 10:08 AM EDT

Speaking about teaching meditation to family members, I walked my 9 years son through Sinzen Young’s “Focus on Rest” meditation. And he loved it. Of course he is too young to get serious about it. On the other side, my wife gets restless after 5 minutes. That’s maybe how I gained her respect, considering that she also knows my shortcomings better than anyone else.

 

cmarti

Aug 28 2010, 7:13 PM EDT | Post edited: Aug 28 2010, 7:14 PM EDT

Tried to have “the talk” with my eighty-plus year old parents today. Mom had a massive and horrific kidney infection last week and spent five days in the hospital with intravenous antibiotics being pumped into her. Dad called me while I was traveling and couldn’t bring himself to call 911. Why? Because she didn’t want him to, though she couldn’t stand up any more and was in a lot of pain that he hadn’t picked up on for days. So I called an ambulance from the back of a taxi. I was in St. Louis on business and they were here at home near Chicago. Ugh. So this is the talk I’ve dreaded for years, the one that is meant to convince them over loud, angry resistance that some form of assisted living is where they should probably go since they just can’t get along unassisted any more. That’s all true.

So I took a deep breath, mustered the most authoritative demeanor I could and started in. Within ten seconds Dad said, “Funny, I’ve been thinking that very same thing….” Thus depriving me of the heroic, compassionate son moment I’d summoned up in my head Fascinating how far the ego will go to get its glory.

I don’t know when this run of Job-like trials will end (I’m expecting the locusts any day now) but it’s sure teaching me stuff that’s otherwise very difficult to come by.

 

cmarti

Sep 4 2010, 5:20 PM EDT

Still struggling with some things including some string new stress inducers. This makes it clear how very powerful some emotional combinations are… and something else. Stress anxiety is a killer thing in my history, especially job related stress, and now I have it washing over me much the time. There was a time I took an SSRI for this but I’m gonna try to practice through it this time. This, I believe, is an inherited anxiety thing. It appears to be brain chemistry because it feels like someone flipped a switch about five days ago and BOOM! Stress out ;-)

It’s not a rational process, this. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s not me. And I know it’s not real. It’s the anticipation of nasty stuff that might happen, might not, probably not. It’s the spinning mind, the death spiral, the pit of the stomach adrenaline rush over and over and over again. And yes, those are impermanent thoughts that arise due to some causes and conditions that just keep getting churned in there for some reason. Lots of “me” fear is associated with this – fear of being seen as silly and maybe incompetent.

Yet, I can somehow see this going on from a new perspective and surrender to whatever might happen, in spite of the nagging stress and anxiety. And THAT, my friends, is something that’s different this time. Game on!

 

 cmarti

Sep 4 2010, 5:48 PM EDT

Oh, another difference: I am not trying to escape. I can hang with the anxiety. We’re sorta like an odd couple now.

 

garyrh

Sep 4 2010, 6:42 PM EDT

“Yet, I can somehow see this going on from a new perspective and surrender to whatever might happen, in spite of the nagging stress and anxiety. And THAT, my friends, is something that’s different this time. Game on!”

I wish you all the best with this Chris.

 

cmarti

Sep 5 2010, 11:52 AM EDT

My wife and I had a “What happens if…” talk this morning that made me feel good about a lot of things. We all hold fears inside us that don’t get expressed because we think we’ll be perceived as weak or weird if we say something. I decided to screw that and talk about those fears. It’s quite liberating. Turns out my wife shared some of these same fears. By doing this I think we got closer, know each other better, and have a freaking’ plan if anything really dire were to happen. This is good to know, and damned healthy, too. Even after many years of marriage.

So there.

 

 triplethink

Sep 5 2010, 12:07 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 5 2010, 12:11 PM EDT

“Ha! I’ll be attempting to be a coach, Mu ;-)

Let me also state for the record that this overwhelming desire to “fix” a loved one, coming so tightly coupled with the unrelenting fear that you won’t or can’t do that, may be the most powerful thing I’ve ever encountered. It is an utterly amazing teacher. Very resistant and powerful. It’s a hot iron ball in the pit of the stomach some days, a kick in the head on other days, a sharp stick in the eye the rest of the time.”

It is an important desire to note, please, let it go. There is a more painful one. The most painful arrow lodged in the heart that one can encounter is ‘the strong desire of your loved ones to fix you’.

Take my word for it, your loved ones only want to be loved for who they are, as they are. That simple acceptance is honestly all they want and all they need. Hey wait, on reflection, don’t take my word for it, see the truth of it for yourself.

 

kennethfolk

Sep 5 2010, 12:14 PM EDT

“Take my word for it, your loved ones only want to be loved for who they are, as they are. That simple acceptance is honestly all they want and all they need.”-Triplethink

Thank you, Nathan. I feel so moved by this.

Kenneth

 

cmarti

Sep 5 2010, 12:41 PM EDT

Nathan, you are absolutely right. This summer has been all about just being there, not judging, not trying to change anything.

 

AlexWeith

Sep 6 2010, 3:16 AM EDT

That’s the most difficult part. I have noticed that, in these situations, anxiety is somehow related to the unconscious belief that we are responsible for the happiness of our loved ones while facing the fact that we can only do our best to help.

 

cmarti

Sep 7 2010, 2:42 PM EDT

Okay, so after years of practice I’m going back and learning the Mahasi noting technique for real. I say for real because what I’m used to doing isn’t really noting. I could always just watch experience float by and see what I needed to see. But I never really and truly learned proper noting technique. Thanks to Kenneth and at his suggestion, I’m off and running.

One old dog, one new trick ;-)

 

Serenamay

Sep 8 2010, 6:19 AM EDT

I’ve been selective noting too Chris it seems. Kenneth set me straight on that in our last meeting on Monday. I spent most of my sit yesterday just letting go into observing resistance and fatigue. It’s a bit of an eye opener, as I usually psych myself up to meditate and wait for the mind to settle before going into vipassana techiqnues. This time I just noted the mind in the process of settling, and that’s where most of the crap was.

 

 telecaster

307. RE: Stages, Part the Third

Sep 8 2010, 7:57 AM EDT

“Okay, so after years of practice I’m going back and learning the Mahasi noting technique for real. I say for real because what I’m used to doing isn’t really noting. I could always just watch experience float by and see what I needed to see. But I never really and truly learned proper noting technique. Thanks to Kenneth and at his suggestion, I’m off and running.

One old dog, one new trick ;-)

i don’t really get it. the mahasi technique is a tool to get to where you already are. why do you need it now?

 

cmarti

Sep 8 2010, 8:09 AM EDT

I could write a book about that, Mike, but the short version is you will never be free of your own experience. The potential for getting lost in it will always be there no matter where you are on the path. We like to say “I’m free!” after certain attainments or paths and yes, there is the possibility of freedom at all times. But experience and the mind must be continually monitored and dis-embedding must be practiced, and that’s best done through some kind of first gear practice. In your next session with Kenneth you should ask him about this. He and I spent 45 minutes on it a few days ago.

See, this is where our imprecision around language and natural enthusiasm starts to hurt, not help. Folks who are recent fourth path attainers are prone to scream “freedom!” from the mountain top. I did it and I’ve seen others here do it. That euphoria lasted, for me, about three weeks — and then the rest of my life started. The past few days of noting have served me well to reinforced what happened at fourth path — I have access to pure awareness and can watch my experience play out from that perspective. Or I jump in and experience life as I always did. It’s a CHOICE,not an imperative, not a physical law.

So what I now experience is a seemingly never ending spiral of freedom, then a fall from that grace, then deeper realization and integration with daily life, then freedom, then a fall again, then a deeper realization and integration, then freedom…. and on and on.

So the Mahasi noting technique, just like your whole practice, is a tool to get you somewhere, yes, but also to keep you fit and focused when you arrive. Practice never ends, my good man. Never.

 

cmarti

Sep 8 2010, 8:13 AM EDT

Oh, I would also add the life’s circumstances seem to play a big part, at least for me. I’ve been going through some really awful sheet, one thing after another, all summer. My practice time has shrunk dramatically as I’ve had to focus on other people of necessity. That has not helped, to say the least. All first arrow stuff, and you will never be free of the first arrow. That’s biology ;-)

 

Serenamay

Sep 8 2010, 8:14 AM EDT

That is hugely helpful to read – thanks Chris.

Kenneth mentioned he was doing noting practice and I wondered why. So the zen student asking the zen master,” When does practice stop?” and receiving the answer from the master “When you die” makes a lot more sense now.

 

tomotvos

Sep 8 2010, 10:09 AM EDT

“I could write a book about that, Mike, but the short version is you will never be free of your own experience. The potential for getting lost in it will always be there no matter where you are on the path. We like to say “I’m free!” after certain attainments or paths and yes, there is the possibility of freedom at all times. But experience and the mind must be continually monitored and dis-embedding must be practiced, and that’s best done through some kind of first gear practice. In your next session with Kenneth you should ask him about this. He and I spent 45 minutes on it a few days ago.

 

See, this is where our imprecision around language and natural enthusiasm starts to hurt, not help. Folks who are recent fourth path attainers are prone to scream “freedom!” from the mountain top. I did it and I’ve seen others here do it. That euphoria lasted, for me, about three weeks — and then the rest of my life started. The past few days of noting have served me well to reinforced what happened at fourth path — I have access to pure awareness and can watch my experience play out from that perspective. Or I jump in and experience life as I always did. It’s a CHOICE,not an imperative, not a physical law.

So what I now experience is a seemingly never ending spiral of freedom, then a fall from that grace, then deeper realization and integration with daily life, then freedom, then a fall again, then a deeper realization and integration, then freedom…. and on and on.

So the Mahasi noting technique, just like your whole practice, is a tool to get you somewhere, yes, but also to keep you fit and focused when you arrive. Practice never ends, my good man. Never.”

What a great, and timely (for me), reply.

 

cmarti

Sep 8 2010, 12:08 PM EDT

It becomes ever more clear to me as time passes that awakening is about full on intimacy. You must be *THIS* intimate with your experience so that you know it well enough to see it for what it is. So in a counter-intuitive way we start out thinking we’re intimate with our experience when in fact much of what’s happening is veiled or hidden from our view. It is only through dedicated practice that we gain the ability to see what’s really happening from second to second, which provides the intimacy we need to awaken.

 

 awouldbehipster

Sep 8 2010, 12:17 PM EDT

“So what I now experience is a seemingly never ending spiral of freedom, then a fall from that grace, then deeper realization and integration with daily life, then freedom, then a fall again, then a deeper realization and integration, then freedom…. and on and on.” ~Chris

And here we have a sane, mature, realistic description of what it’s like to live an awakened life.

 

awouldbehipster

Sep 8 2010, 12:21 PM EDT

In regards to what I posted above…

I spoke with Kenneth on the phone a few weeks ago, and we talked about what the noting technique reveals. On a micro level, we see that our mind states are not stable. We apply the noting technique, realize that we’re doing it well, and our mood elevates way beyond what’s appropriate. Then the progress is not sustainable, and we get disappointed, and the quality of mind states tend to plummet. Upon continued application of the technique, we again become proud of ourselves for doing it right, or for simply continuing to try, and thus our mood elevates, and so on and so forth, ad infinitum.

This is a microcosmic occurrence of what happens on a macro level. Difficultly, freedom, more difficulty, integration, and so on. Just knowing that this occurs takes the edge of a lot of the process. We benefit from knowing how the mind works.

 

Serenamay

Sep 8 2010, 1:55 PM EDT

We apply the noting technique, realize that we’re doing it well, and our mood elevates way beyond what’s appropriate. Then the progress is not sustainable, and we get disappointed, and the quality of mind states tend to plummet. Upon continued application of the technique, we again become proud of ourselves for doing it right, or for simply continuing to try, and thus our mood elevates, and so on and so forth, ad infinitum – Richard

That is also VERY helpful and insightful…makes a lot of sense too. I’m sure I’m falling into that trap already. Good to know it’s there.

 

awouldbehipster

Sep 8 2010, 2:08 PM EDT

I suppose you can call me Richard. But, I prefer to go by Jackson ;-)

 

ClaytonL

Sep 8 2010, 2:42 PM EDT

Thank you thank you thank Chris. As always telling it like it is… I pray these dark times will end soon for you… Thanks for continuing to give such an honest presentation of awakening…

 

Serenamay

Sep 8 2010, 4:35 PM EDT

I suppose you can call me Richard. But, I prefer to go by Jackson ;-) ~ Jackson

Oops, sorry Jackson – brain blip there…

 

cmarti

Sep 9 2010, 6:30 AM EDT

Maybe karma, maybe not. Checking on for my flight to Denver this morning I received this message: “As an elite customer your upgrade is free.”

Woot!

 

cmarti

Sep 10 2010, 8:01 AM EDT

Everything occurs in the here and now. Our minds pretend it’s not like that, though. Noting has the effect of keeping the mind here and now – it makes it obvious and it captures a lot of processing power that would otherwise be devoted to creating the illusions of past and future and other entertainments… for the mind.

I spent last evening wandering aimlessly around Pearl Street Mall here in Boulder, CO. It’s a fascinating place because there is a pretty extensive Buddhist tinge to a lot of what you see here. The Boulder Bookstore had a huge Buddhist section on the second floor, many shops and restaurants have an Asian/Tibetan/Buddhist patina if not the actual word “Buddha” in their name. I finally had to retreat to my hotel room because the smoke from nearby wildfires was making my eyes hurt. I’m hoping Boulder can shed the fires before any more damage is done. It’s such a great place.

PS: a block south of my hotel on 13th Street I may have spotted the retail source of our Mr. Horn’s tea obsession ;-)

 

mumuwu

Sep 10 2010, 8:42 AM EDT

Cmarti,

Are you a tea fan yourself?

 

cmarti

Sep 10 2010, 9:28 AM EDT

I am a very superficial tea fan. I lean more toward the dark side — coffee!

 

NikolaiStephenHalay

Sep 10 2010, 9:33 AM EDT

“I am a very superficial tea fan. I lean more toward the dark side — coffee!”

YESSSSSSSsssssssssssssssssssss………………….. . . . . . . . . . .

**The highs and lows of coffee are very representative of life!

 

cmarti

Sep 10 2010, 9:34 AM EDT

Jebus! My 21 year-old son just called. He broke his arm this morning. Fell down the steps in his apartment building at college. What next? An infestation of insects? A famine? A plague? A murder of crows?

 

cmarti

Sep 10 2010, 9:35 AM EDT (edit my post)

“YESSSSSSSsssssssssssssssssssss………………….. . . . . . . . . . . ”

Nick, you need to copyright that ;-)

 

mumuwu

Sep 10 2010, 9:47 AM EDT

Egads!

Lets hope this thing lifts… and soon!

Also. My workterm student was on his way to a hunting trip and went off the road and destroyed his car (heavy rain/gravel on the highway). He’s ok though, thankfully.

 

cmarti

Sep 12 2010, 11:59 AM EDT

Here’s an interesting kind of “trap” that one can fall into — you can get very enamored of the highs and good feelings you get at certain times. This is, I think, also true of the immediate post-awkening period. It sounds weird and not very likely but it’s a real thing, IMHO. So…. if it happens then you are opening yourself again to the strong gravity well of your own experience. This can lead to less practice, less watching, less care of the mind. All of that then leads to a fall from grace. If that happens you have to bootstrap your way back. It’s a lot easier to pay closer attention when you don’t really need to than it is to have to bootstrap. folks. Trust me, I know.

;-)

 

roomy

Sep 12 2010, 12:16 PM EDT

D’you think that this is the ‘chains of gold’ phenomenon– wanting to cling to the ‘good stuff’, interpreted as ‘success’? The way we cling to the ‘bad stuff’ is by going to war with it; it is possible to use ‘disembedding’ practice as a superior way of ‘conquering’ the bad stuff. Then the last thing we’re inclined to do with our wonderful victory is disembed from THAT. ‘Yeah, the BAD stuff is impermanent, not me, etc. But the GOOD stuff?– damn straight! I earned it the hard way!’

‘It’s hard to run with a chain of lead… I don’t know, but I’ve been told– it’s just as hard with a chain of gold.’

I have a mental image of someone having grabbed the gold ring on the slowly rotating ‘Wheel of Fortune’– which keeps on rolling, ring attached, person being slowly deposited in its path, to be run over still hanging on to that gold ring…

 

telecaster

Sep 12 2010, 12:25 PM EDT

“Here’s an interesting kind of “trap” that one can fall into — you can get very enamored of the highs and good feelings you get at certain times. This is, I think, also true of the immediate post-awkening period. It sounds weird and not very likely but it’s a real thing, IMHO. So…. if it happens then you are opening yourself again to the strong gravity well of your own experience. This can lead to less practice, less watching, less care of the mind. All of that then leads to a fall from grace. If that happens you have to bootstrap your way back. It’s a lot easier to pay closer attention when you don’t really need to than it is to have to bootstrap. folks. Trust me, I know.

;-)

this is so true, thanks for putting it out there

 

cmarti

Sep 12 2010, 12:45 PM EDT

“Then the last thing we’re inclined to do with our wonderful victory is disembed from THAT. ‘Yeah, the BAD stuff is impermanent, not me, etc. But the GOOD stuff?– damn straight! I earned it the hard way!’” — Roomy

Yep. that’s it. We LIKE the good stuff. Where’s the need to dis-embed from THAT stuff? And so we sow the seeds of another fall from grace. I’m admitting this here because I’m pretty sure it will happen to everyone at some point and it needs to be addressed as one of the nasty pitfalls. We focus way to much on the bad stuff, on ridding ourselves of anger, fear, anxiety and hate. Then we go out and revel in love, happiness, and joy. Well, guess what? Any object is an object. Clinging is the same process as aversion. By doing that we only pave the road back to ignorance.

 

cmarti

Sep 16 2010, 9:54 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 16 2010, 9:55 PM EDT

I’ve dived back into first gear big time. Noting. Noting as fast as possible while sitting. Noting while working, playing, driving, eating. Just did an hour long sit on the front porch. Started with noting really fast, everything that came up. That was for about 20 minutes or so, then rode the jhanic arc up and down. Once done with that I just sat and played “penetrate the objects” for about 20 more minutes. That’s a game I used to do a lot that entails as much investigation as it does noting: hear a car go by and watch the sequence of perception take place. That’s the raw sound, the image, the naming, the judging, the whole arising and passing away of each thing pretending to be separate and distinct.

Objects break on the conscious mind like waves on the beach ;-)

After that hour I’m perfectly content to let the game continue because it plays itself with no effort. Just waves of objects arising and passing away in attention. Woosshh…. Woosshh…. Woosshh…

 

cmarti

Sep 22 2010, 10:29 PM EDT

Interesting times here, eh? I think there are some very deep and very important issues at play for those of us who believe in awakening in this lifetime. We need to ask ourselves what we mean when we use the word “suffering,” and then when and if we ever agree on just what that word means, do we really want all our suffering to end? Do we know what “the end of all suffering” really means? I’m not sure.

Here, you see, we come to a vast and interesting historical dichotomy in Buddhism, if not more widely in our general philosophy of life. Do you end your own suffering once and for all, or do you follow something akin to the Bodhisattva Vow? Or… is it possible to have your cake and eat it, too?

I sense a trade-off. The lady or the tiger?

 

roomy

Sep 23 2010, 1:27 AM EDT

Perhaps this ‘dichotomy’, like so many others, is a kind of conceptual artifact with a limited usefulness. A usefulness that– it seems to me– practice carries us well past. My own sense of matters, for quite a long time, now, is that awakening has meant understanding that I don’t need to be at war with reality. The practice path that unfurls before me is all the opportunities to attack reality– or to consider it, see what’s needed, join forces. Likely outcome just gets clearer and clearer all the time.

Or maybe I’ve just gotten too old to keep struggling and striving. My lack of struggle, strife / suffering does not mean that anyone else has to struggle, strive, or suffer to balance the scales. It also doesn’t imply inertia or any absence of doing what needs to be done– just no added friction.

Maybe the idea that compassion means sharing suffering goes back to all the iconography of that poor dude hung up on the cross– for our sakes, so they said.

 

Ryguy913

Sep 23 2010, 6:20 AM EDT

My sense of compassion is that it is merely an impulse of response to witnessing suffering, whether in oneself or in others. One could certainly still respond to others, when witnessing their suffering. If one wasn’t suffering oneself, one could still do that, presumably. And if one was still suffering, one could still respond to suffering, just that one’s time and energy would include one’s own suffering….which is what most people HAVE to do. Unenlightenment means having no choice but to try and alleviate one’s own suffering, doing so in ways that actually perpetuate it. In fact, I think the whole point, in some ways, is to NOT have to attend to oneself (at least not as much), and be open to others. And, if continuing to suffer were beneficial, then why would one try and help other people? Why would one call that suffering, at all? Dictionary.com lists definition number six, “to undergo or experience (any action, process, or condition): to suffer change.” Isn’t this what we’re talking about? That in understanding the truth of things, one no longer must undergo or experience any action, process or condition?

 

cmarti

Sep 23 2010, 8:37 AM EDT (edit my post)

I’m really a lot more curious about what folks think the word “suffering” means. Anyone? Is suffering the feeling of any emotion at all? Is it just the mental flittering around of the second arrow? What exactly does it mean to say that “I am not suffering now?”

 

cmarti

Sep 23 2010, 9:35 AM EDT

I’m off to California for a few days and I’ll be practicing direct perception mode during this trip, even as I get up in front of a crowd to speak tonight. Who knows? Maybe it’ll cure stage fright ;-)

 

tomotvos

Sep 23 2010, 10:09 AM EDT

“I’m really a lot more curious about what folks think the word “suffering” means. Anyone? Is suffering the feeling of any emotion at all? Is it just the mental flittering around of the second arrow? What exactly does it mean to say that “I am not suffering now?”"

To me (at my distant vantage point) suffering equates to “friction”, and my hope is that at the end of this journey I will have learned to move through life with significantly less, if not no, friction. I love roomy’s phrasing here: “I don’t need to be at war with reality”. That’s where I want to be, and to teach my kids to be, while we can still benefit from it.

 

cmarti

Sep 23 2010, 10:15 AM EDT | Post edited: Sep 23 2010, 10:17 AM EDT

Tom, is friction what happens when you don’t like what’s going on? Is it the mere feeling of your emotions or your reaction to them?

To tip my hand, I don’t think emotions, by themselves, cause friction. I see emotions as part of my experience stream and they just are what they are. I can react to them in a way that causes friction. Emotions are objects, like trees, like my arm, like thoughts. I can choose the nature and the terms of how I interact with them. If I attach to them, they can cause problems by virtue of that reaction.

To me that is the definition of suffering.

 

roomy

Sep 23 2010, 11:44 AM EDT

Totally agree that emotions do not equate with suffering / being ‘at war with reality’. Emotions are a part of reality; being good at some things and incompetent at others is part of reality; preferring to be calm but being reactive is part of reality. Suffering results from the silly idea that things being other than our preferences is WRONG and must be beaten into submission.

Here’s a real-life homely example: 5 years ago, at my workplace there was this fiction that only incompetent employees made mistakes. When something went wrong, it was the manager’s job to find out who was to blame and reprimand them and ‘make sure it never happens again.’ It drove me nuts and I groused about it. When I was made manager– and I never saw it coming!– the challenge was to steer practice in a different direction, incident by incident. The ‘obvious’ thing was always to find out who was to blame. What actually works is to find out HOW it happened and adjust practice accordingly, and to enlist the aid of EVERYONE to fine-tune practice. No losers; all winners. It is amazing the cumulative reduction of friction in the workplace. And of screw-ups, oddly enough.

I have a notion that this same posture of friendly objectivity works within oneself as well as inter-personally…

 

jhsaintonge

Sep 23 2010, 1:48 PM EDT

“Yeah, if I check the difference between myself lately and in the past, there is an intuitive sense of less suffering now that is undeniable. But that less suffering trend goes as far back as I can see, with some important loop-de-loop caveats during child and adolescent development. There seems to be two inter-related processes involved. Process one is the unfolding of more nuanced modes of representing myself and my situation which can encompass more ambiguity and allow more considered inter- and intra-personal behavior. Call that maturity. Process Two involves an increasing capacity to live with authentic presence, instead of being trapped in my representations of self and world, however mature or dysfunctional those are. Those representations are themselves impermanent, empty authentic presence, but authentic presence goes beyond re-presentation by definition, is always fresh, never understandable or knowable, yet is the fountain of everything that arises and its very arising. Call that wisdom. Both processes alleviate suffering in the same way, not by adjusting circumstances but by opening me to the fullness of what is as it is. But– maturity has built in limits since it’s based on re-presentation and memory with never ending potential for more refined, integrated representations. Wisdom, natural authentic presence, seems to unfold a more timeless quality within and beyond conditioned experiences, a fuller dimensionality which includes conditioned states of satisfaction, dissatisfaction and indifference as well as of bliss, clarity and openness, accommodating them all with equality in a way that. representations are structurally incapable of doing. So same outcome, but with wisdom there is the paradoxical finality of ever-fresh beginning in complete unknowing while with maturity there is always an element of false finality, of confusion covering up with false certainty.

Great question, Chris!

-Jake

 

mumuwu

Sep 23 2010, 2:20 PM EDT

So what is it about merely remaining aware of the physical sensations that precede emotions that causes them no to arise?

 

roomy

Sep 23 2010, 3:21 PM EDT

“So what is it about merely remaining aware of the physical sensations that precede emotions that causes them no to arise?”

It really does seem impossible to believe that ‘suffering’ DOES NOT equal emotions. Emotions ARE their physical sensation. Our interpretation of what those sensations mean, and our secondary reactions to their ‘meaning’– THAT’S the special sauce that is suffering.

This doesn’t really answer your question about how this works– but given that it DOES work, who cares how?

 

awouldbehipster

Sep 23 2010, 3:41 PM EDT

As arcane as this may sound…

‘Suffering’ for me has to do with what I refer to in my own practice as ‘blocks’ or ‘blockages’. Certain experiences get somewhat congested, resulting in that secondary, unnecessary experience we’re referring to as suffering. In my opinion, based on my experience, going into such experiences is the only way to pass through them, and thus, the way to free up the block and alleviate suffering.

Over time, through the formation of wise habits and the disintegration of unwise habits, we experience suffering less and less. The fewer the blocks, the less the overall suffering. There are quantum shifts along the way, but a lot of the work is more gradual — and rightfully so.

This work continues after the widely acclaimed ’4th path’ or ‘end of seeking’ that we talk about so often here. And I think that is why the Bodhisattva became the ideal of the Mahayana tradition. The goal isn’t really to become a Buddha. Rather, the goal is to continue to participate in this process, as the Bodhisattva does, even after awakening.

Is there a once-and-for-all event that eliminates suffering forever? I doubt it. You never know what’s around the corner – some novel experience that could throw you off. Therefore, the way of the wise is to practice, practice, practice.

I’m so glad that’s what I see happening here :-)

~Jackson

 

cmarti

Sep 23 2010, 4:38 PM EDT

“So what is it about merely remaining aware of the physical sensations that precede emotions that causes them no to arise?”

Are you SURE they are not arising? At all? I think they are arising but being somehow suppressed or cut off at some very early stage in the process of perception, before they become what we call normal emotions or reactions. I can see them arising when I practice the direct mode. If I couldn’t what good would that practice be? How would it work?

The question for me right now is “why is an emotion different from other objects in direct perception mode?

;-)

 

mumuwu

Sep 23 2010, 4:51 PM EDT

Let me rephrase it then

why does simply watching it cut it off?

why does this lead to the other “symptoms” of that mode?

 

telecaster

Sep 23 2010, 5:03 PM EDT

“Let me rephrase it then

why does simply watching it cut it off?

why does this lead to the other “symptoms” of that mode?”

I was having a FB talk with Mr. Wilshire a couple of weeks ago. We were discussing a process that we started calling “pac-man,” because the process felt like self-related suffering was swallowed up before it had a chance to cause real damage.

For me sometimes, most of the time (but not always) I stay in a “ready” state in which I am in the “nothing” state just before thought; I am easily disembedding from what does come up, and I have absoutely no expectations, requirements, agenda, or fixed idea about what may happen from the outside or the inside.

That all sounds long and complicated for a very simple practice. Anyway, when moving along that way most self-oriented activity just sort of disappears as soon as it appears. Pac-man.

(proto-emotions? I don’t know)

I think it is because in that state of mind there is just no mechanism at work to stoke the fires and make the stuff really come alive. I guess I don’t completely understand it but I really enjoy it. but I also enjoy losing control as Mike Monson too so I probably have a long way to go :)

 

tomotvos

Sep 23 2010, 6:28 PM EDT

“Tom, is friction what happens when you don’t like what’s going on? Is it the mere feeling of your emotions or your reaction to them?

To tip my hand, I don’t think emotions, by themselves, cause friction. I see emotions as part of my experience stream and they just are what they are. I can react to them in a way that causes friction. Emotions are objects, like trees, like my arm, like thoughts. I can choose the nature and the terms of how I interact with them. If I attach to them, they can cause problems by virtue of that reaction.

To me that is the definition of suffering.”

Sorry for the delayed reply. It is the reaction to emotions, not the emotions themselves. Roomy’s “special sauce”. I do not want to be emotionless.

 

mumuwu

Sep 23 2010, 6:46 PM EDT

“Sorry for the delayed reply. It is the reaction to emotions, not the emotions themselves. Roomy’s “special sauce”. I do not want to be emotionless. ”

Tom,

How does this strike you?

“I am distinguishing between full emotions (wax has broken off into full lava lamp blob) and proto-emotions (wax is distorted but whole). Full-on blobs are suffering. Proto-blobs are valuable purveyors of information without the suffering. When the energy is continuously grounded in the body via the lightning rod, full emotions do not arise and therefore there is no suffering. The emotional palette, though, is undiminished because you still have the distinct whiff of each flavor. I was noting mind states today together with a yogi and found that I had access to the full palette, including fear, anxiety, grief, annoyance, agitation, etc, but none of the proto-blobs broke off from the main body of wax, so the entire experience from my point of view was rich and whole, including a sense of compassion for the suffering of another. What I learned is that it is not necessary to suffer in order to feel the suffering of another. This seems to me a very important insight and supports Bruno’s observation that from the point of view of direct perception mode, “‘Pull up your pants and be a human,’ (Puypabah) probably seems like a silly, emotionally-charged taunt.”

-Kenneth from the Kenneth’s Experiment thread

 

cmarti

Sep 23 2010, 7:12 PM EDT

I’m having trouble defining all emotions as suffering. Sorry. That seems to be a moving of the goal posts all of a sudden. I’m not upset if people want to do that. I can see why they would want to and that’s fine. But it’s not the operating assumption we’ve used here on KFDh and I think that’s for good reason. That said, after playing with the direct perception mode all day I can see it has value and it certainly allows for a more peaceful, quiet and less stressful existence. I’m still not quite sure what it is but I need to experiment more. By this I mean I’m not sure it’s the end of suffering forever. I kind of doubt that but again, it certainly has its uses. And it’s not foreign to me, either. I suspect a lot of yogis will say that.

 

 cmarti

Sep 23 2010, 7:17 PM EDT

BTW – my experience of today says this mode will not make you completely emotionless. It will dramatically lessen the amplitude of your emotions, however, such that you will be able to see them ion their very early arising but they will never take you on a roller coaster ride like they might otherwise have done. I have no idea how to distinguish this from what I already experience because since 4th path my experience of emotions was already different than before. There is, I think, a synergistic effect going on between these two things. Just a suspicion, though.

Honestly? I don’t know if I want to live my life in the direct mode.

 

tomotvos

Sep 23 2010, 8:21 PM EDT

“Honestly? I don’t know if I want to live my life in the direct mode.

“You are definitely not making me want it. But I remain TBD. Oh, and I guess I should get SE first in any event, huh?

 

tomotvos

Sep 23 2010, 8:24 PM EDT

“Tom,

How does this strike you?

 

….wax…..the….I….noting….it…pants.”

Otherwise, I am just not getting it. Sorry mu. I am a grade school student in a room full of PhDs. You guys duke it out and I’ll come back later.

 

roomy

Sep 23 2010, 9:28 PM EDT

Yikes– I just realized I jumped on the wrong bus. I somehow failed to notice that the premise here is that Actual Freedom, Eckhart Tolle, Adyashanti, and the Chan, Zen and Dzogchen great masters of the ages are ‘saying the same thing’, describing the ‘same’ practice leading to the ‘same realization.’

I can no more agree with this premise than I can consider Eminem, Tiny Tim, and Paul Robeson to be equivalent as singers; or ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear…’ to be poetry, just like ‘To be or not to be, that is the question…’

I’m afraid that this is the shadow side of ‘enlightenment for the masses.’ Truly, no one is INCAPABLE of awakening– but that doesn’t mean that practice isn’t necessary to get to ‘where you already are.’ Most of us were born capable of walking, but it took both development and practice to become upright, bipedal human beings– who can’t really recall ever being stationary arm-and-leg-wavers.

To think the ‘direct path’ is just a conceptual understanding [or sometimes just the personal conviction that one understands] coupled with experiences that can be engendered by drugs, suggestion, or just a random moment of clarity– is a direct path to a dead end. And there are some sad illustrations of this to be found obsessively commenting over at Alan Chapman’s blog.

If I’ve ever sounded like I believe in being struck by the ‘enlightenment fairy’ as a shortcut around the unremitting practice of understanding my own life, moment by moment– I owe you all an apology. I don’t mean to imply that the process is just a hard slog, either: it’s the full, glorious, horrible, not-to-be-missed ‘catastrophe.’

 

mumuwu

Sep 23 2010, 9:41 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 23 2010, 9:44 PM EDT

“Yikes– I just realized I jumped on the wrong bus. I somehow failed to notice that the premise here is that Actual Freedom, Eckhart Tolle, Adyashanti, and the Chan, Zen and Dzogchen great masters of the ages are ‘saying the same thing’, describing the ‘same’ practice leading to the ‘same realization.’”

3 gears.

I don’t think that is the premise.

It has been pointed out that this is much harder to do without development.

 

roomy

Sep 23 2010, 10:19 PM EDT

“3 gears.

I don’t think that is the premise.

It has been pointed out that this is much harder to do without development.”

I think I’ve not been as clear as I might: I don’t think ‘this is much harder to do without development’. I don’t think it is POSSIBLE without development and practice. I would agree that ‘development and practice’ may take different forms for different individuals, and how long it could take before someone was living his or her realization in a matter-of-fact way, rather than practicing to stabilize the view– that can vary, widely, even.

But I haven’t seen anything that convinces me that Actual Freedom represents any sort of realization. Eckhart Tolle seems pleasant and innocuous enough, but doesn’t really interest me. I’ve read enough of Adyashanti to know that his Big Bang was preceded by a long period of intense practice, under the guidance of accomplished and longtime practitioners.

 

mumuwu

Sep 23 2010, 10:45 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 23 2010, 11:50 PM EDT

So, someone would not be able to pay attention to the feeling of emotions on a somatic level as a practice and gain any insight whatsoever ?

Eckhart Tolle is just a harmless person with nothing to teach?

And adyashanti’s methods, pointers, and teachings are bunk as well?

I agree that practice is needed but direct methods are practices too. A person could make a lot of progress followin either of those teachers. I also think the direct method thing Kenneth is working with now could be done by just about anyone, although it is much easier with a few paths under your belt. There are plenty of zen stories of awakening by hearing a sutra, but admittedly the development continues beyond the initial opening.

(edited to correct spelling)

 

kennethfolk

Sep 23 2010, 11:21 PM EDT

“To think the ‘direct path’ is just a conceptual understanding [or sometimes just the personal conviction that one understands] coupled with experiences that can be engendered by drugs, suggestion, or just a random moment of clarity…”-Roomy

Kate, you seem to railing against something no one has said. Can you be more specific about which comments you are refuting?

 

roomy

Sep 23 2010, 11:48 PM EDT

“The Actual Freedom puzzle comes increasingly into focus for me and I am able to see better how it fits into the overall picture of contemplative practice. Nonetheless, the mode of perception he is pointing to is a natural and harmless one and is in no way antithetical to developmental enlightenment. In fact, what I would call the “direct” mode of perception (the “PCE” or “pure consciousness experience”), arises spontaneously for many yogis, can and should be cultivated, is neither new nor strange, and may in fact be exactly what “direct path” teachers like Adyashanti and Eckart Tolle are teaching. In other words, the PCE is what I call a 3rd Gear practice.”

– I think it was this, compounded by a discussion that seemed to circle around the desirability of not experiencing emotions. And then, mu’s last post was edited to the point of being so cryptic that I couldn’t make anything of it at all. As a response, I made my point over-forcefully, apparently.

 

roomy

Sep 23 2010, 11:50 PM EDT

as a PS to Chris– sorry to have jumped all over your thread, man. It shouldn’t be all about me.

 

kennethfolk

Sep 24 2010, 12:12 AM EDT

“As a response, I made my point over-forcefully, apparently.”-Roomy

OK, but I don’t see where you have made any point at all. You have simply beaten up a straw man of your own creation.

Some of us, including me, have recently criticized another online community for promoting a crab-bucket culture. But no one ever sets out to create a crab bucket; it always starts with a group of like-minded and well-intentioned individuals who believe they know what is and what is not possible. Authoritative texts and established traditions are often cited to support the ideas of the members, who as a group become increasingly entrenched in their collective view. This can happen anywhere. It can happen here if we let it.

Do you really know for sure that Tolle is clueless and/or that the PCE is a mirage? I don’t. In fact, the more I practice the direct mode of perception, the more convinced I am of its value. I offer as anecdotal evidence the fact that I have not felt inspired to verbally assault anyone online or otherwise for over a week. Really though, there’s so much more than that; I am experiencing a way of being in the world that I did not know was possible. I feel at peace with myself and others. Is there any possible criterion by which that could be considered bad?

I am not pretending to know anything definitive about this. Not needing to know is part of what allows me to maintain the direct perception mode, and as I wrote on The Toll Booth thread, it’s a good trade-off; I give over my need to know along with my defensiveness and I get peace in return. Don’t you want to try it?

 

roomy

Sep 24 2010, 12:43 AM EDT

But I haven’t seen anything that convinces me that Actual Freedom represents any sort of realization. Eckhart Tolle seems pleasant and innocuous enough, but doesn’t really interest me. I’ve read enough of Adyashanti to know that his Big Bang was preceded by a long period of intense practice, under the guidance of accomplished and longtime practitioners.– what I said.

What I meant– I was trying to make a distinction: not that Tolle is clueless, but that I personally don’t find him interesting; not that Adyashanti is not useful, but that he is a person who practices– pretty much straight-up Zen, far as I can tell. And that I don’t feel that AF is in the same league as any of the above. I don’t know from PCE, pro or con; I guess I’m unconvinced that the three people you include in this group have the same goal, the same method, or the same understanding.

 

cmarti

Sep 24 2010, 8:36 AM EDT | Post edited: Sep 24 2010, 8:37 AM EDT

I’m glad this conversation is taking place here. That’s why I keep bringing things up myself. I still have hundreds of questions that remain unanswered, among them one that says,”Why not just teach everyone the direct perception method and be done with it?” What value is there in any developmental work if the answer is that simple and…. direct?”

Also, I still would like to hear Kenneth explain how his experience of direct perception compares to his previous experiences with what we used to call “rigpa” about a year ago. Is it the same? If it’s not then how do we define 3rd gear more generally?

The jury is out, IMHO. I’m working with the direct perception practice so I can speak from experience because what seems to happen is the following:

A: The PCE is the real thing, the end of suffering.

B: That’s crazy. All you’re doing is suppressing your emotions. You’re not allowing yourself to be human.

A: You don’t know and can’t speak to it because you haven’t tried it.

So we end up with a conundrum as this thread now attests to. Thank God the PCE isn’t a felony because I haven’t committed a felony, either, yet I know I don’t want to ;-)

 

cmarti

Sep 24 2010, 8:43 AM EDT

“I am experiencing a way of being in the world that I did not know was possible. I feel at peace with myself and others. Is there any possible criterion by which that could be considered bad?”

I could take Prozac ;-)

Seriously, I think that view has become a rallying cry in these parts, and that makes me cautious. I’m not alone and I’m not sure how to deal with it most effectively.

 

Ryguy913

Sep 24 2010, 9:01 AM EDT

“I am experiencing a way of being in the world that I did not know was possible. I feel at peace with myself and others. Is there any possible criterion by which that could be considered bad?”

Kenneth, I’m really glad you’re conducting the experiment. One possible criterion that comes to mind is simple truth. As in, is this perspective of peace with the world based on direct experience of it as it really, truly is? Or, is this perspective of peace with the world based on direct experience of a PART of it as it really, truly is….in which case, presumably at some point the other parts are bound to re-emerge, and perhaps not so peacefully.

 

NikolaiStephenHalay

Sep 24 2010, 9:11 AM EDT | Post edited: Sep 24 2010, 9:15 AM EDT

“”B: That’s crazy. All you’re doing is suppressing your emotions. You’re not allowing yourself to be human.

But I’m still human. Why does “being human” have to be set in stone as someone who HAS to have mental reactions to sensations, which essentially is what an a formation or emotion is, right? I’m still human, just a lot more chilled out and less reactive. Life has improved, even though post 4th path, it improved a a hell of a lot anyway. Now it’s so effortless to shift into whatever mode. Due to my past conditioning it is effortless.

I now realize I used to do the direct method for years while being a part of the Goenka tradition (but I would centre all my focus on the sensations/vibrations that would trigger mind states and thought patterns, usually at the chest or throat.). Looking back I got up to the 11th nana quite a bit. But I had no idea what I was doing and no idea about the maps and no idea that I was not disembedding from the more mental of phenomena. I think this practice allowed me to progress in the developmental way to a very high degree. I really think it was why when i switched to noting, I took off very quickly as the work I did (which seems to me to be the one and same direct mode) really primed me for it.

I don’t think its suppression of emotions although i can see that some might take it as such . I see it as just looking at them. You are seeing they are sensations. If thought patterns and mind states don’t arise because you are observing the sensations that triggered them, well they don’t arise. When i came here to KFD, I had some interactions on a certain thread on the sweeping methods of Goenka and I was surprised to hear people disagreeing with the idea of not reacting to sensations. I developed a lot of equanimity and mental power because of it.

http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/thread/3676076/Scanning+and+Noting+Compared+and+Contrasted

 

NikolaiStephenHalay

Sep 24 2010, 9:11 AM EDT

I had trained myself to do so and I had gained a lot of benefit from it. Why do we need to have that blind reaction there if it is possible to change it? Sure we can accept when those things arise, and we have tools to objectify them (noting) but if they dont arise because of a certain practice then it’s in our make up to be able to do so. So why not?

 

cmarti

Sep 24 2010, 9:47 AM EDT

As I said before, Nick, this is **a lot** about terminology. It is being presented as if “emotions are bad.” I’m not saying that’s right, btw, I’m just saying that’s the way it’s coming across. There is a trade-off being presented that makes some of us think a little more than others. I hope you can see that.

 

telecaster

Sep 24 2010, 10:21 AM EDT | Post edited: Sep 24 2010, 10:23 AM EDT

Chris Marti was in Modesto briefly yesterday and made sure to take the time to hang out with my wife and I.

I had a great time and was very touched.

He is even better-looking in person.

 

cmarti

Sep 24 2010, 10:23 AM EDT | Post edited: Sep 24 2010, 10:24 AM EDT

It’s true! (Except for the good looking part)

Mike, thanks for your hospitality last night. It was very much appreciated and I hope you and your beautiful wife got at least some sleep.

 

richardweeden

Sep 24 2010, 11:11 AM EDT | Post edited: Sep 24 2010, 11:23 AM EDT

Some more thought’s about Kenneth’s third gear experiment relevant to this thread.

Kenneth seems to be saying at present 2 things

1) 3rd gear is letting everything be as it is

2) 3rd gear is grounding any splitting off of emotional energy in the body

The first of these is about choicelessness and inclusion and is about being directly with whatever is regardless of what of what that is – this is what I think K refers to as rigpa. In my personal experience this practice is about not making any judgement whatsoever about what you are experiencing, including perhaps most fundamentally whether you are suffering or not. If you think think if you feel feel, if you hate hate if you love love. In my experience this leads directly to insight or prajna and addressed what the buddha called the veil of advidya or fundamental ingnorance.

The second method involves choice and will and can never in that sense be purely non-dualistic. I think it employs a method to return to a place of non-division which is may from moment to moment make rigpa more available because the karmic propensities which distract from the natural state are prevented from arising. In some ways this could be said to be kind of shamata practice. It keeps reactivity or negativity in check and works at the level of defilements or klesha. When these kleshas are in check the mind can relax in its natural state.

I think a 3rd gear practice is actually continual dynamic movement between the two. Rigpa becomes possible when the full blown kleshas are absent, though is possible when they are merely germinal as body sensation or a thought with negative content. However, the rigpa is not just a body practice. When the klesha has subsided the whole of expereince has to become available again

 

 

richardweeden

Sep 24 2010, 11:46 AM EDT | Post edited: Sep 24 2010, 11:48 AM EDT

ctd I think this is what Nick is pointing at when he says the goenka body sweeping method is effective at reducing negativity but not so efftective at leading to insight and when he included the whole of his experience he made more progress.

Years ago I was taught ‘just sitting’ was both a shamata and vipassana practice, and in some ways this is true. Talk of resting in your natural state is a pointer that invites us to let go the same as the pointers that are used in 1st gear. Fundamentally the process is the same and leads to the same place whichever gear you use. Hui-neng said shamata and vipassan are one. This is reflected in my expereince of 3rd gear. The meditator becomes more and more intuitive until both the shamata and vipassana aspects of the practice become unified and effortless – this is 3rd gear proper.

In terms of suffering the vipassana aspect addresses the root suffering that comes from ignorance while the shamata aspect which Kenneth is advocating in his expereiment addresses the karmic, psycholgical which grows from that.

 

kennethfolk

Sep 24 2010, 12:08 PM EDT

Hi Richard,

What I am describing as direct perception is not rigpa by any of the various definitions I’ve heard of rigpa. My own favorite definition of rigpa is Tulku Urgyen’s: recognition of “cognizant emptiness” in this moment. Direct perception isn’t that. It also is not Daniel Ingram’s (I’m paraphrasing and interpreting) “I am an arahat and therefore whatever I am experiencing must be rigpa.”

Direct perception is just remaining undivided in this moment. There is a very specific way that it feels, energetically. It’s as though some fundamental distortion in the energy wave of experience straightens itself out. Or as though a tree branch that was bent or twisted and therefore under tension finally releases, leaving it free and whole, resting and moving naturally. As soon as that happens, you feel that you are “in,” meaning you just fell back into place, having previously been somehow out of kilter. From this point of view of being “in,” you don’t experience any negativity. I realize this brings up all kinds of theoretical problems about conditioned states not being “it;” I am very familiar with the theory. On the other hand, this is not a jhana or a nana or anything so narrowly defined. It seems more accurate to call it a mode of perception than a state, although I won’t quibble about that. The point is that from the point of view of this mode, it’s possible to adopt the highest standards when defining suffering and not-suffering… standards that would not disappoint even the most die-hard sutta thumper. You don’t have to do any kind of dancing or shoehorning at all. You can just sincerely ask yourself if you are suffering in this moment and give yourself a simple and honest answer. If the answer is “yes,” you can ground the attention in the body until the universe straightens itself out again.

 

kennethfolk

Sep 24 2010, 12:18 PM EDT

(cont from above)

It seems clear to me that my current ability to stabilize this practice rests upon the foundation of all the practice I’ve done up until now; I don’t delude myself that everyone will be able to practice direct perception without considerable scaffolding and training. Cue the 3 speed transmission. If you can’t get traction in 3rd Gear, you downshift. All of the thousands of hours of noting body sensations and mind states are exactly what makes it possible to instantly recognize the distortions in the energy/tactile body and apply attention there to heal and ground them.

I also want to make it clear that by this new, uncompromising and rigorous definition of suffering that I am presenting in this post, I have not been continuously free from suffering during the entire duration of this 10 and a half day old experiment. I have been free from anger and resentment, no question. But I have not been continuously and fully “inside the wave.” That is more of a moment-by-moment affair, constantly adjusting and attuning to compensate for subtle energy disruptions.

This practice reminds me of Ajahn Chah. Somebody would crow about their attainments, and he would ask, “Are you suffering now? Then you still have work to do.”

 

cmarti

Sep 24 2010, 2:48 PM EDT

Kenneth, with all due respect and love for you as my teacher, it would be really, really valuable to get a robust and detailed description of your experience of the direct perception mode all in once place. Posting what amounts to exhortations, no matter how heartfelt, are not helping me at all. In fact, they are off-putting and appear to be coming from a different place than your previous teachings. You may not perceive them that way but it’s as if you are challenging people who are being cautious or don’t quite understand what’s happened in your own practice, sometimes based on your own previous comments about the PCE. There is a sort of subtle calling them out on their doubts. Maybe you mean to do that. I don’t believe you do but I’m really not sure at this point. I’m especially concerned about the representation that is being adopted in regard to emotions and the redefining of what last week was normal as a kind of sickness. Phrases like “pod person” are, IMHO, not helpful.

I agree with your last comment. What the PCE generates is not what my experience of “rigpa” has been. That is very helpful to me. It’s different. Very different. The use of the term “3rd Gear” to describe direct perception is, in my humble opinion, somewhat misleading and confusing to folks. I don’t think everyone understands that there are, still, deeper or more comprehensive aspects to 3rd gear beyond direct perception mode.

Maybe you can take the posts you just made here and make them the focus of a separate topic so that they get their just due and singular focus. They appear to me to be a more reasonable, less marketing-oriented version of recent comments you’ve made elsewhere here. The bar you use in your teachings has effectively been raised, it seems. That, I believe, requires a lot of explanation and patience. Please take that into account.

Sorry to be such a pain.

 

NikolaiStephenHalay

Sep 24 2010, 3:22 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 24 2010, 3:23 PM EDT

I agree with Chris.

There seems to be a lot of the direct mode talk on almost ALL the threads. It’s getting confusing. Maybe we can have a singular thread to talk tis through and establish terminology and explain in minute detail what this is all about. If I was new to this place or even the “me” 4 months ago, I would be feeling startled by all the rapid changes and introductions going on. So for the benefit of those who stumble into this place and those who have already had this dumped on their lap, let’s start reigning it all in to one spot so we can see it more clearly.

 

APrioriKreuz

Sep 24 2010, 3:40 PM EDT

“There seems to be a lot of the direct mode talk on almost ALL the threads. It’s getting confusing. Maybe we can have a singular thread to talk tis through and establish terminology and explain in minute detail what this is all about. If I was new to this place or even the “me” 4 months ago, I would be feeling startled by all the rapid changes and introductions going on. So for the benefit of those who stumble into this place and those who have already had this dumped on their lap, let’s start reigning it all in to one spot so we can see it more clearly. ”

I think the minute detail needed to establish terminology for “direct mode” might fall into some sort of ontological/philosophical category.

I also think Kenneth’s metaphors (toll booth, dead man’s switch, lightning rod) work perfectly for high pathers and new practitioners alike. This is also the style I saw in Eckhart’s teachings. Very, very simple stuff.

However, I also see the need to clarify terms almost to the point of reaching scholarly discussion. I sure needed to do this last year. So, perhaps a balanced approach could work (simple metaphores + brief detailed commentaries)

 

NikolaiStephenHalay

Sep 24 2010, 4:20 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 24 2010, 4:21 PM EDT

“I think the minute detail needed to establish terminology for “direct mode” might fall into some sort of ontological/philosophical category.

I also think Kenneth’s metaphors (toll booth, dead man’s switch, lightning rod) work perfectly for high pathers and new practitioners alike. This is also the style I saw in Eckhart’s teachings. Very, very simple stuff.

However, I also see the need to clarify terms almost to the point of reaching scholarly discussion. I sure needed to do this last year. So, perhaps a balanced approach could work (simple metaphores + brief detailed commentaries)”

Yes and in one spot…an article by Kenneth perhaps and less thread jumping. :)

 

jhsaintonge

Sep 24 2010, 4:26 PM EDT

Richard and Apriori, since you seem to have some familiarity with Vajrayana teachings: granted

1) that the direct perception mode, particularly as evoked in Kenneth’s metaphors, is very similar to shamatha in Vajrayana-essence teachings like Dzogchen and Mahamudra and the shamatha-like facet of shikantaza,

and

2) that these are all different (as Chris has pointed out) from resting in the natural state (3rd gear proper) which is beyond the dualistic modes of shamatha and vipashyana,

then

where do you guys see the practices of 3rd gear vipashyana in this discussion?

Or also for Kenneth: granted that there is a distinction between direct perception mode and resting in the natural state and assuming you are at least willing to entertain the possibility that direct perception mode is a sort of 3rd gear shamatha, what if any sort of practice do you see in the 3rd gear Vipassana category?

Or do you even see this direct perception mode as a supportive practice for “3rd gear proper”? do you reject that formulation and are you saying effectively “forget resting in the natural state, rigpa, primordial awareness, what have you, THIS IS IT. This is the real 3rd gear.” I’m not saying you are saying this, but it certainly seems to be coming off this way.

-Jake

 

APrioriKreuz

Saturday, 3:01 AM EDT | Post edited: Saturday, 3:06 AM EDT

Jake:

I think direct mode is different. It is not 3rd gear shamatha, 3rd gear vipassana or 3rd gear rigpa. Direct mode is not just pure, it is perfectly and naturally wise.

Direct mode, as described by kenneth, adds another quality. I love the “lightning rod” metaphore because it describes this perfectly. Direct mode grounds: it heals, it is a beautiful mode.

I think Trungpa Rinpoché called this “basic goodness”. It is not just primordial awareness, its primordial goodness.

Why is direct mode “good”? Because it is imbued with primordial wisdom.

What is primordial wisdom? Knowing INSTANTLY that everything has been, is and will be empty, pure, lucid, transparent. Hence all poisons are actually pure, undefiled. All you need to do is connect with this truth DIRECTLY. Nothing must be in between. This is undivided.

How does one connect with this truth? With attention. This attention is not used to abide calmly, nor to reach access concentration. Its an instant “bridge” to primordial wisdom of everything. Primordial wisdom of anger, anxiety, suffering, etc.

This primordial wisdom has nothing to do with conceptual mind.

 

jhsaintonge

Saturday, 6:45 AM EDT

Thanks, Apriori, and thanks Chris for opening up this section of your thread to this important discussion. I feel what you’re saying, Apriori, but I’m not sure. It seems to me– just in my experience– that there are methods which connect “directly” to deep reality, and there is deep reality resting as itself. The former involve attention, as you say, and operate in time, but in such a way as to set the conditions for flashing into the unconditioned. The just resting however doesn’t happen in time, although it’s tempting to try to see it that way as if something can lead to or away from it.

I also stand up strongly for the fact that in my experience, genuinely resting in the heart-awareness of reality radiates natural wisdom-compassion into time so to speak, without needing to set up compassion etc. Conceptual mind always wants one thing to lead to another, that’s it’s job, being pragmatic; non-conceptual wisdom automatically radiates as compassion and loving-kindness etc. Thanks again for the response, though I’m still not sure that we have all worked out the terminological stuff.

–Jake

 

cmarti

Saturday, 10:53 AM EDT | Post edited: Saturday, 11:33 AM EDT

I think direct mode is nice. Really nice. I personally want to be careful not to reify it. That’s a lot of what’s concerning me as I read the enthusiastic comments about it. I suspect, as so many of us have had some prior experience with it, this it not a new thing. We here have been introduced to it via Actual Freedom, which appears to me to be as much a philosophy (albeit a cultish looking one) as it is a practice. So our initial reaction tends to be negative. Direct mode, it seems to me, is another way to experience the world. It’s got some really great attributes but I’m hard pressed to call it a living NIrvana.

We get a lot of context in our practice, from a tradition, from a particular teacher, from books, from articles and blogs. I still believe way deep down in my heart that we’re all dealing with the same substrate (the mind) and the same phenomena. Access to direct mode isn’t a hugely difficult thing to obtain, so it cannot be brand spankin’ new, folks. I suspect it’s got other names in other traditions. It is the dropping of conceptual mind and letting go of it, letting he immediacy of sensory experience and the energy flow and natural grounding of the body take precedence.

And again, I think it is valuable to be able to practice this mode and to experience the world in that way but it’s not appropriate and not fair to create a spectrum of modes of existence that are tinged with labels and concepts like “good” or “bad.” Experience is just that, experience. It is not good, it is not bad, it just IS.

Peace!

 

 cmarti

Saturday, 12:21 PM EDT

Another thing I want to mention, again, is that the direct perception mode/PCE is most often promoted in a way that smacks of manipulating one’s experience. This is largely caused, I think, by the marketing – the emphasis on the reduced amplitude of emotions. It’s often sold as a way to sort of rid ourselves of emotion, so the connotation is manipulation oriented. It’s a fine point but what I see Kenneth saying on this thread is not so much about manipulation as it is about taking advantage of a natural grounding effect that occurs when we allow conceptual mind to fall away and focus our attention on the body. It does not, as I experience it, require anything more than allow that grounding effect to happen. The effort I have to put out is to stay in that natural mode no matter what is happening in my experience, not to ground the emotions when there. For example:

“From this point of view of being “in,” you don’t experience any negativity. I realize this brings up all kinds of theoretical problems about conditioned states not being “it;” I am very familiar with the theory. On the other hand, this is not a jhana or a nana or anything so narrowly defined. It seems more accurate to call it a mode of perception than a state, although I won’t quibble about that. The point is that from the point of view of this mode, it’s possible to adopt the highest standards when defining suffering and not-suffering… standards that would not disappoint even the most die-hard sutta thumper. ***You don’t have to do any kind of dancing or shoehorning at all.***” — Kenneth

(The ***’s were added by me for emphasis.)

 

 mumuwu

Saturday, 3:22 PM EDT

Cmarti that was wonderful. Thank you so much for writing that.

 

 mdaf30

Saturday, 5:42 PM EDT | Post edited: Saturday, 6:19 PM EDT

I would just like to piggy-back on to cmarti and Nick’s comments here a bit.

What I find so amazing about this place and Kenneth’s teaching is the neo-spin they put on more ancient practices teachings, scriptures as well as modern spiritual figures. It matters quite a bit to me that Kenneth has had several teacher in bonafide traditions and frames what he does in light of that accumulated, authoritative experience, even if he integrates it in new ways.

Also, I have no problem with innovation and Kenneth posting on what he’s doing. I think it is potentially great if also a little over my developmental head.

The problem I have began with the two threads “Are you sick?” and “Are you uncomfortable?” which feel like we’ve shifted in ten days from important experiment to direct provocation and based on a new goal (?). It seems like some 4th pathers who’ve been here a while are having trouble adjusting and are skeptical. Definitely hard for me at one-month and 2nd or 3rd (maybe). Why put a forced choice out like that? Why emotionally charge a question in that way?

We are still human beings. Authority of tradition and metaphysical frameworks are helpful (we’ve all got them for the 4 paths). A sense of how it all fits as well. You can never get over these skillful relative elements when a redefinition (?) of enlightenment seems to be being offered.

Now I get that Kenneth can’t build all that out in such a short time–nor should he be expected to. But therefore I don’t think these kinds of provocations should be sent out there yet either. Or if that challenge is needed or feels like a good experiment, why not send it privately to people who are really ripe for it? I honestly worry about the great results the community (and myself) have been getting if things change too quickly. I’m not sure I would have been attracted here if then was now.

 

cmarti

Saturday, 8:15 PM EDT | Post edited: Saturday, 8:17 PM EDT

There is a difference between these two things:

1) Seeing a busy mind for what it is – empty – and being able to abide in that empty, clear space

2) Seeing mind for what it is – busy – and attempting to reduce the busy-ness

I don’t really like to quote other people on these boards because they’re here for us to put OUR experiences down and to thus share those with others here. But in this case I thought it illuminating to post something I always found very insightful and that I believe represents a truth I have come to see. It appears the next reply due to its size.

 

cmarti

Saturday, 8:16 PM EDT

“About this mind… in truth there is nothing really wrong with it. It is intrinsically pure. Within itself it’s already peaceful. That the mind is not peaceful these days is because it follows moods. The real mind doesn’t have anything to it, it is simply [an aspect of] Nature. It becomes peaceful or agitated because moods deceive it. The untrained mind is stupid. Sense impres- sions come and trick it into happiness, suffering, gladness, and sorrow, but the mind’s true nature is none of those things. That gladness or sadness is not the mind, but only a mood coming to deceive us. The untrained mind gets lost and follows these things, it forgets itself. Then we think that it is we who are upset or at ease or whatever.

But really this mind of ours is already unmoving and peaceful… really peaceful! Just like a leaf which is still as long as no wind blows. If a wind comes up the leaf flutters. The fluttering is due to the wind—the “fluttering” is due to those sense impressions; the mind follows them. If it doesn’t follow them, it doesn’t “flutter.” If we know fully the true nature of sense impressions we will be unmoved.

Our practice is simply to see the Original Mind. We must train the mind to know those sense impressions, and not get lost in them; to make it peaceful. Just this is the aim of all this difficult practice we put ourselves through.”

~ Ajahn Chah, Food for the Heart

 

RevElev

Saturday, 9:48 PM EDT

Cmarti. Thanks for the great quote. So much of what is going on here in the last few days has me extra confused. Straight forward, simple and eloquent is much appreciated.

 

ClaytonL

Sunday, 3:49 AM EDT

Thank you so much for that Chris, Ajahn Chah keeps it too real… Love it! : )

 

cmarti

Sunday, 12:51 PM EDT

I discovered at an inflection point in my practice a truth. Let’s call this one Truth. There is nothing, really, that we can count on in this life but this one particular truth is timeless. In virtually every tradition it’s called “Awareness.” This awareness is accessible to me at any time if I drop the mind of ideas, concepts and permanent objects. It reveals the emptiness of things as they are – the three characteristics we talk about here. This is the uncovering of what Christopher Titmuss calls “the light that reveals.” This is when the mind attends to awareness itself, not the objects that we are generally enamored of.

For me, this awareness and the resulting view of the emptiness of all things is original mind, natural mind, Zen mind, the ultimate perfection, the simplest thing. When I am that all objects, be they things, thoughts or feelings, appear empty upon arising. I can see the arising and passing away of every object, the full passage of dependent origination, just as it is. There is enormous clarity, no sense of “I/me/mine” and a tangible sense of timelessness, of a universe that this human being and all things are only tiny co-dependent particles of. Ours is a universe that does not care or take sides, that just IS, always has been, always will be.

This is what I practice to be.

 

roomy

Sunday, 1:16 PM EDT

– do you practice to be, or do you practice not being distracted?

Sometimes when you seem concerned about expressions of ‘View’ here, I’m puzzled because THIS view, which you so eloquently set out here– IS ‘the View’– simply that which one sees through practice, no more, no less. It’s not some doctrine that you’re supposed to squint, run through a bunch of drills, and torment your mind to ‘attain.’

 

cmarti

Sunday, 1:22 PM EDT

Despite my onerous exposition, it is revealed not by addition but by subtraction. When I say “discovered” I mean that it just happened and I have no idea why. Does that help?

 

cmarti

Yesterday, 9:07 AM EDT

There are times when I don’t feel even close to being awake. In those times I actually don’t think I am awake. There are times when I know, and times I when I don’t know. This is all a second by second thing. It’s when I lose that, the second by second realization part, that things become solid and I buy into the dream. It is then that I’m not awake. And there’s a huge sense of mystery about every freakin’ thing and realizing that everything I think I know is just a thought, sometimes stored as a memory. So this “I don’t know” stuff isn’t about not knowing a concept, though that’s true. No, for me “I don’t know” is about not relying on concepts at all.

 

 

 

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One Response to Chris’ Journal – Part 7

  1. awouldbehipster says:

    This is an excellent thread!

    Also – and this feels strange to point out – I learned a thing or two from comments that I myself posted to this thread. How strange! It would seem I was much wiser then ;-)

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