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- Hunting down that dastardly sense of self
Hunting down that dastardly sense of self
Every few days, weeks or months one discovers
something new that they believe might be the “true” I Am: the subject.
Sometimes it is the self-luminous light of consciousness, sometimes illuminated
space-like internal emptiness, sometimes it will be a feeling wholly based on the
body sense. Some will feel the sense of I Am as a sensation in the heart area of the
self-perception of the feeling of the body. Others believe that they are aware of the
body as an internal visual sense which is really an object in imaginal space and thus
unreal. They will discover the inner sense of infinite (or non-infinite, limited) inner
space and think they are that. They are not that.
One keeps exploring with the mistaken idea that at some point the I will be found,
without realizing it is the I that is looking. The subject is not to be found, because
the subject can never become an object. What one discovers is that all that one
sees, experiences and knows is really an object experienced or known by the
subject, which cannot be found....
On a tangential note, I am reading "My Stroke of Insight" right now and, while I still have a major chunk of the book to go, I found Jill Taylor's descriptions during her stroke to be fascinating. Where this is relevant to this thread is her descriptions of the role of the left hemisphere as an "integrator" of experience. While the right hemisphere experiences all the sensory inputs in real-time, it is the job of the left to integrate that into sequences that can then be processed, giving a past and future, on which a sense of self is based. When her left hemisphere was incapacitated, she lost her sense of time *and* her sense of self.
99.9% of all seekers avoid attaining freedom because the ego undermines all spiritual efforts by creating questions, doubts and speculations that destroy the effectiveness of any spiritual practice.
Here is some of the thoughts about it. I took the list of DERIVED MATERIAL QUALITIES from the Vimuttimagga list from page 234 as these give rise to the self and I categorized them. I came up with
Each category has a selfing process associated to it that is rule based. These rules control the perceptions associated with the category and create a sense of permanency. This controlling/rules/judging/permanency/self process seems to be entangled with the attributes of the category and creates stress. Noting the category items clearly seems to disentangle the selfing process until it can turn off permanently.
In my experience external reality equates to the first shift at A&P the first time that gets you on the bus for the rest of your life. 5 senses matches stream entry, thought matches to 2nd path, space matches to 3rd and dunno about the rest....
So to get to your question of whether or not investigating the selfing process themselves are useful, well they are located in the subconsciousness and can not be seen. Only the natural occurring categories can be seen and applying the 3 characteristics helps to disentangle the unnecessary selfing processes as is seeing with clarity. I also like the diagrams from Shinzen Young about the preconsciousnesses - WhatIsMindfulness
Shargrol, what specifically did you do that was awful? What practice and what specific result did you get? I'd like to avoid that alley perhaps if you could describe what to avoid.
What do you think?
When one takes a hunting approach, it mask the premise that we know what to hunt for. That's the ego/self/thinking mind running the show. The fact is, we don't know what we're supposed to see until we see it. The only important thing is to gently investigate experience. It's not to kill experience.
As Ona has said many times, there isn't some aspect of experience that is wrong and other aspects that are right. Insights are into the >nature of< experience, not the seeing of some particularly magical "winning" discrete experience. Another way to say it is that we don't hunt for a cessation to get stream entry, but rather we have a deep insight into experience by becoming synched up or unified or immersed or fully aware of experiencing (conformity nana) and that naturally leads to stream entry.
Does that make sense?
shargrol wrote: Another way to say it is that we don't hunt for a cessation to get stream entry, but rather we have a deep insight into experience by becoming synched up or unified or immersed or fully aware of experiencing (conformity nana) and that naturally leads to stream entry.
Easy to say, hard to do!
shargrol wrote: So true. But ironically it's only hard because it's loosening the habit of "doing" something. Equanimity is basically letting everything happen and not getting in the way or making a problem out of it. And conformity is including everthing internal and external into that equanimity, including the internal sensations of doing --- like intention, thinking, looking, waiting, >noting itself<, hoping, wondering, searching, experiencing, internalness -- all of which are arising in awareness on their own, without needing any energy input, not even needing the effort of being aware since awareness of the moment is already happening on its own. The hardesting thing is that it feel like hanging out in that space has nothing worthwhile for ourself. so we get thrown out by old habits, so we have to start all over again, including and gently remembering to allow every thing to arise all over again until we are letting everything arise by itself again.
You are on a roll, Shargrol, and it's good stuff (many posts in this thread). I'm really enjoying reading them.
My one quibble with the above is the reference in the final sentence to the idea that somehow our habits or practice have any impact on how reality functions. That is, we don't "allow/let everything arise" (what are we, God? ). Rather "until we remember to notice that everything is already arising by itself" - so a reorientation of perspective, not a change in how the universe functions, so to speak. Just a wording thing. Of course it can feel like we are "allowing" things to arise all over again. But that's just a lack of inclusion of "noting itself" as you mention earlier. (I know you know this, just picking on some wording choice. Maybe it doesn't much matter in terms of practical application.)
There is a overstated critique of "practical dharma" that says you will script yourself into a Dark Night becuase that's part of the map. There is just a hint of truth to that, in the sense that people tend to think their practice is worse than it really is and they beat themselves up needlessly. It's important to remember that it is possible (and common!) to be able to experience dark night experiences >within< equanimity. That's the essence of purification. The experience is difficult, yet we can go with it and it becomes a feeling of growing lighter, despite the discomfort. So equanimity is never that far away. And as you are saying Ona, reality is always right here so there is no need to reject what's happening and try to find "real meditation" somewhere else.
Agree with Ona-- you're on a roll; would add a tiny point to the above: equanimity is equally not making an accomplishment, success, cause for congratulations, or big whoop-de-do out of anything. It's the ability to just perceive with appreciation how reality is too vast and subtle to either require us to mess with it, or to exclude us at our most clueless, as unworthy. Mom just IS Mom, no matter what; home is just home.
shargrol wrote: There is a overstated critique of "practical dharma" that says you will script yourself into a Dark Night becuase that's part of the map. There is just a hint of truth to that, in the sense that people tend to think their practice is worse than it really is and they beat themselves up needlessly. It's important to remember that it is possible (and common!) to be able to experience dark night experiences >within< equanimity. That's the essence of purification.
That's one of the confusing things about the Progress of Insight map; there's both a STAGE called "Equanimity (with regard to formations)" and "equanimity" as a quality of attention that one can develop (on the one hand) and is also a natural facet of open awareness (on the other hand). So yes - one certainly can experience the dukkha nanas with a great deal of equanimity... the same way they can experience the equanimity stage with either equanimity, or even a subtle amount of grasping. Hell, without that subtle grasping, just about anyone who traipsed into the equanimity stage for a few minutes would reach stream entry without struggle.
In some ways, because of the complications above, it might be helpful at times to refer to the stages by their numerical referents; e.g. 9th, 10th, 11th, etc. Then again, that also places a hierarchy on the stages that may or may not be helpful. Oy vey. There no use trying to get beyond the complications imposed by language, save for practicing the art of... well, practice
shargrol wrote: Now I have the lyrics from a Ozzy Osborne song going through my head:
"Times have changed and times are strange
Here I come, but I ain't the same
Mama, I'm coming home..."
I had some guys at our house doing work and they had a strict classic rock on the radio dial policy. This song came on the other day and was stuck in my head for the last several days. It is now back, thanks to you shagrol, but now with a different edge . I must admit I was never annoyed by the song. The idea of ozzy singing a power love ballad always cracked me up a bit. oh the decline of testosterone.
shargrol wrote: I had to chuckle, one of my old internet links lead to this:
I'm reminded of all the reading I did years ago on self-inquiry... what a curious thing this spiritual path stuff is.
Hi Shargrol, I read a little of that and listened to some of Ed Muzika's talks, found him a pretty interesting fellow. Got big-time into Zen in the late 60's, became a zen monk, studied w/ some well know zen teachers, had lots of experiences, became disillusioned, eventually ran into a semi-anonymous teacher who had lived & studie with Ramana (sounds sort of like Bill Hamilton), gradually came to feel that he had reached the end, and started teaching 3 or 4 years ago, and working to save homeless cats in L.A. It's amazing how many spiritually experienced and in one way or another perhaps awakened people there are now days, compared to how it seemed in 1970.
What was your take on this hunting the I essay, now?
Some other links:
This is my current understanding as it is; more contemplation and practice with this may illuminate an even deeper level to address next. Any advice about what they did to untangle this knot once and for all? An actual practice would be nice, I have found applying the 3 C's to whatever I'm trying to disembed/untangle has worked as long as I could see the object that was entangled clearly. I'm at a lack of finding a way to see selection with clarity so far. Any hints tips tricks and the results thereof would be great.
Sometimes it helps to reframe the problem thusly, and play a different game, one that undermines the desire to do something. That game can be expressed a couple ways.
1) Allow everything to be as it is. This INCLUDES the rebellious reaction of "but it's not the way it should be." The idea that it's not the way it should be IS the action of the doer, who wants to make it different. What if things are just exactly as they are and there is nothing that needs to be done? This sort of contemplation/being with things is frustrating exactly because it stymies the doer. Being with that frustration, just as it is, is part of the game. Being with everything, no matter what, without trying to look for anything or change perception is the "trick" so to speak. The doer will struggle mightily to subvert the game and turn it back into doing something. Faith is needed to persist in not falling for that trap.
2) Another way to do it is to consider every single "problem" by responding "What if that's not a problem?" I don't seem to be seeing things in a particular perspective... what if that's not a problem? I feel stymied... what if that's not a problem? I feel uncomfortable.... what if that's not a problem? Things aren't being seen clearly... what if that's not a problem? etc. Again, the doer is the one who likes to find problems, so it can have something to do (fix them). If you undermine this pattern by considering that NOTHING is a problem (including all the rebellious, dubious, etc arguments that arise in response to the stupid exercise), then you end up (incidentally, accidentally, spontaneously) discovering some very interesting things. But it takes courage and faith to persist in the exercise without falling for the arguments against it.
I do not know...I only have educated guesses.
Chris Marti wrote: Are you sure that what you are trying to see actually exists?
Here is an example of the methodology that has worked so far...I take a naturally occurring phenomena like Proprioception , or the sense of the body in space. I looked for the sense of a center of "me", the outside diameter of "me" and "my" personal space around the body. I applied the three characteristics to these sensations/phenomena. I also off the cushion would quiet myself and switch my focus to a state of seeing reality as it is, being inclusive and seeing it all as one thing. This shut down the selfing process entangled with proprioception and the new baseline is no more sense of self in space anywhere. I just watch my hands doing the typing and they are doing their own thing. I recognize my body in the mirror but there is no longer a possession of it anywhere.
I am trying to repeat this methodology and have no idea if it will still work for the next "thing". I've identified "selection" as a possible naturally occurring phenomenon that seems to be very close to the root of the problem. I think the next selfing process to shut down may entangled with this.
I know this is an intellectual framework to try to understand what is going on and it may be flawed, but I've had luck with it so far. The problem with saying there was never a self in the first place is like deleting code in a computer and then saying it was never running...especially as the effects were apparent previous to the deletion. I know my intellect will not help on the cushion and I do not care about the framework while practicing...I am just using it to direct what the practice should entail...ideas?
Notice how you stumbled on "selection" as a self: you were seeing reality as it is, being inclusive, and seeing it as one thing and something stood out as being distinct. That is the method!
You can also say to yourself, what if I'm dreaming?... what if I'm projecting all of this? What this experience? ---- that approach seems to soften the energy of investigation, make it more wonderous, yet still keep me curious in the fullness of the experience.
Those approaches will keep revealing material. It's maddening, because there isn't any one universal "thing" that needs to be hunted down. Third path is more about opening, opening, opening and seeing what limitation seems to be felt and then opening to that. It can be physical sensations, emotional sensations, thoughts, thoughts about thoughts, thoughts about practice, boundaries, problems, etc. etc. Opening, opening, opening... without method or approach, just doing it by letting everything be and opening to it.
Working with a teacher helps a lot. I think on my practice thread I mentioned how my teacher basically said, this stage sucks at times.
I know my intellect will not help on the cushion and I do not care about the framework while practicing...I am just using it to direct what the practice should entail...ideas?
Yes. It's REALLY easy to over-analyze during third path, or whatever its equivalent in other traditions might be. I spent months and months pondering the intellectual, trying to figure out what others could see but I could not, agonizing over my lack of progress and my blindness to what seemed logically to be the one missing piece of the puzzle. Sounds like that's what might be going on for you. I soon found out that all my logic and thinking and analyzing didn't really help because I eventually just plain tripped over a figure-ground reversal kind of thing. Pop goes the weasel!
Have you tried just relaxing and feeling the flow of your experience as it occurs? I'd suggest gong to a park if it's warm where you are, and just sitting and grooving on the gestalt of now.
I don't know your history of practice so sorry if this is off the mark, but you seem to be saying that maybe a slightly less rational approach might work for you at this point ?
Personally I found metaphors useful, as the whole thing about this stage, like you describe, is that the rational mind doesn't know what the question is, so therefore can't vipassana its way to the answer....
maybe have you tried a contemplative approach? maybe contemplating some suttas from the Pali cannon, some koans, or adyashanti's book - the way of liberation, has a nice section of things to contemplate, and some words on how to contemplate.
When I was trying to complete 4th mctb path I found the zen ox herding pictures useful, even though they have nothing really to do with the MCTB stages...! Basically I found that by wrapping the mind around an abstract metaphorical thing, it allowed me to maintain the same fierceness of determination of energy of MUST DO IT, but also kerb the rational intellect (which basically just goes round in circles like a demented moth) so that the subconscious could sniff its way to liberation... good luck, sure it will happen soon
I like this quote - Reality happens and then we immediately paint over it and react to our painting. I'd really like to figure out the why's of this but that is not a practice. The minds grasping nature....must resist dissecting....
Ona Kiser wrote: 1) Allow everything to be as it is.
2) "What if that's not a problem?"
1) Reality happens....stay with that
2) Remain equanimous