Seeker of Wisdom

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About Seeker of Wisdom

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  1. Stream entry, pleasant feeling

    Hi there! It sounds like you're following the method of Leigh Brasington? Personally I've found his method very helpful and have entered first jhana as he teaches it*. if you haven't read his book 'Right Concentration', I would definitely advise you to do so. (*Some people disagree with his methods and/or state that what he teaches is not 'true' jhana. This debate is essentially the debate between 'sutta jhana' and 'visuddhimagga jhana', which has been going on for a thousand years and will not be resolved in this thread, so I'll just say that I think Brasington is a good guide for some very useful attainments and leave it at that.) From the title of this thread you seem to be conflating the jhanas with stream entry a bit. One can be a master of the jhanas and not be a stream entrant, not be trying to become a stream entrant, have no idea that stream entry is a thing. The pleasure one experiences in access concentration does not come about from thinking of an experience or from trying to create pleasure! Brasington mentions that some people may find that smiling helps them to tune in to the pleasure. If you don't find this helpful, don't do it. Pleasure will come about as a natural result of access concentration, with your mind being calm and clear and settled. Once you have access concentration, nothing else is needed to cause pleasure to come - in fact, trying to cause it will push it away. Why? Because then you're not resting your focus on an object without clinging. If you're trying to get something, your mind won't be calm/clear/settled so the pleasure won't come. The pleasure of access concentration is mild but noticeable (you won't be in doubt about it). The mental pleasure is a peace and happiness sort of like waking up on a sunny Sunday morning. The physical sensation can vary but is basically a nice energetic sensation - nothing mind-blowing. To enter the first jhana, stop watching the breath and instead watch the pleasure - just watch it like you watched the breath, don't try to increase it or manipulate it. It will pick up and take you into the first jhana, which is like access concentration but with deeper focus, and rapture and joy (stronger forms of the access concentration pleasure). This is very pleasant and obvious, though perhaps not as dramatic as you may be imagining it. What is the 'darkness with no thought'? Are you sure there's absolutely no thought? For how long can you sustain this? It sounds like you might be suppressing your thoughts, using a very forceful type of concentration - if this is the case, you really need to loosen up. Relax. Soak into the breath, watch it come in and out, whenever you're distracted don't clench down or push away anything, instead gently let go and return to the breath. I'm sure you'll be able to enter access concentration and the first jhana. I managed it after ~6 years, so don't worry that you aren't there yet after 3. In fact, don't worry too much about the attainment. Go into each session with an attitude of beginner's mind.
  2. No-Self? Who or what is reborn?

    True, but it is stated that all views of self are a cause for dukkha. Attachment to views of self is listed as one of the four fundamental forms of attachment, and belief in a self is said to be one of the fetters cut by a stream-entrant. As Ralpola Rahula says:
  3. No-Self? Who or what is reborn?

    My understanding is that, the question as you're framing it is sort of the wrong approach. To ask 'what is reborn?' is to rely on an underlying concept that there must be one lasting object that gets reborn. Like asking 'why did you beat your wife?' relies on the assumption that you did. A person is basically a process. Rather than a single object (or subject) persisting through time, each of us is a process. Compare fire burning along a rope to a stone rolling down a hill. The stone is a single, substantial object, it's the same stone at the bottom as it was at the top. The fire... well, we can say that the fire at the start and the fire at the end of the rope is the same fire, because there's casual continuity there. But it's not the same flame at one point and the next. The process has continued, the parts have changed. So let's ask a different question: 'what goes to sleep, and what wakes up in the morning?' Well, the process has continued overnight. What goes from last night to this morning? I'd say there isn't a thing that goes from last night to this morning... it's just that the process of 'you' has continued. Now imagine a fire burning along a rope, reaching the end of one rope, and igniting a new one and carrying on. What goes from one rope to the next? Misguided question. It's a process of combustion continuing, except some component parts have changed. There isn't a thing that goes from one to the other. I think your confusion is that you're imagining rebirth as something like pouring water from one glass into a new one, where the water is an object quite simply going from one vessel to the next - and naturally this doesn't square with anatta. Hopefully I've made sense, and you see what I mean about how fire burning from one rope to the next is a different situation.
  4. Awareness is exhausting!

    Sometimes this can be the sort of thing that's supposed to happen... as you gain clarity about the simple reality of things, it can rub up against your concepts and attachments, and make you more sensitive to your own resistance and the existential strain (dukkha) caused by that resistance. If this is the case - no problem, keep up the practice, be patient and just watch whatever comes up. It could also be the case that you're just tensing up or straining yourself, in which case you'd need to loosen up. Just be gently curious about what's going on, rather than trying to stare it down.
  5. What is Dalai Lama doing?

    From that wikipedia page: I lack the knowledge or experience to comment on Kalachakra, though I will add that I find it hard to imagine the Dalai Lama trying to make an army.
  6. Detachment and immersion

    I wouldn't say we should, but it's a working hypothesis which fits into the rest of the Buddhist path. At the beginning anatta may make no sense whatsoever - that's fine, in that case just be open to it. Over time ime it becomes increasingly apparent that 'why should I blindly believe in self?' (I haven't had actual realization of anatta yet, but it just seems straightforward that it's true) Subjective experience is the key thing to deal with here... any conscious, conceptual idea we have about 'self' comes after the instinctive grasping onto some aspect of experience as 'self', which is why any attempt to 'get rid of' the view of self without seeing experience as it actually is clearly (in the seen just the seen, etc) doesn't succeed. So long as experience isn't seen clearly, the mind will construct a 'self' regardless, and trying to convince it that it's mistaken just through thinking about it is like trying to run away from your shadow. Trying to just believe in anatta will not produce the necessary direct understanding imho (and could end up in depersonalisation/derealisation if misunderstood) though reflecting on it definitely does help you see it as a reasonable working hypothesis, which makes it easier to go on to see directly. Exactly, it takes a method like vipassana... you have to 'come and see'.
  7. Is the way to heaven through hell?

    Some 'dark night of the soul' idea seems to come up in various paths. It makes sense, in any attempt to change things there must be some inertia, and when one's sense of identity comes into question it can be uncomfortable. I've had times of a few hours or days when negative emotion is bubbling up seemingly without reason, or during vipassana the insubstantial-ness of 'selfhood' feels a bit scary or creepy. Dan Ingram:
  8. Dhp 153 - 154

    Here's now Gil Fronsdal translates these verses: In the notes, he comments: I think one of the most interesting things here is that the house-builder, craving, is stopped through being seen. In the suttas, Mara is often dispelled when people say 'I see you, Mara,' and he vanishes. IMHO craving is stopped not by force of will to let go, but by seeing it, understanding it, getting the mind to see that it causes dukkha and so freely let it go. Craving relies on our ignorance of what it's really doing.
  9. Night Will Fall

    I'm not saying that that passage is a perfect understanding. And I don't think Nanavira would have said so either, it was just the start of his path. Him seeing life as meaningless lead him to start to understand why the Buddha was all about dukkha (of course, you're right that this doesn't mean just 'suffering'), its cause, its cessation, and the way to its cessation. That is meaningful, and compassion absolutely comes in here as well. IMHO there is a middle way here, between the falling night and rising dawn. Best wishes, Orion.
  10. Night Will Fall

    A person is just a bunch of processes, but just because 'substantialist' ideas are wrong doesn't mean nihilist ideas are right. You can see people as important (to you and to themselves) at the same time as seeing them as a bundle of narratives. I would argue that the desire for wellbeing, in various forms, is a key component to all these bundles of narratives walking around in the world. And it's that same desire which prompted you to bother posting this thread, to an extent. I think there's something significant in that. Even the most nihilistic person imaginable holds to their philosophy because they think they get some benefit from it, so their philosophy contradicts itself. 'There is no meaning, so I'll spend all my time thinking about it and trying to convince others of it' - see how that's absurd? How about 'there is no meaning (to the universe), but I can't do anything without it being related to this 'wellbeing' thread anyway, so let's investigate that'? Yeah, the universe doesn't give a shit. But just because nothing matters to the universe doesn't mean things can't matter to you. Things will in fact matter to you regardless (though what things and in what way may well change). If there's no goal, why did you post this thread? Why abide in any given moment? What do you want to do with your freedom? I'm not sure what you mean by 'it', but in any case, I don't think the answer is to swing back into a substantialist lie like 'oh there actually is a soul and it's inherently meaningful in a cosmic way and permanent and special' whatever. The abyss is showing you a side of things people shy away from, and I think you really have the opportunity to go somewhere from here without denying its lessons. When I read your post, I thought of this quote from Nanavira Thera's Clearing the Path:
  11. where to start ?

    You might find my post thoughts for beginners helpful. I would suggest to focus on getting to grips with Theravada - without it, you likely won't fully appreciate where Mahayana and Vajrayana pov's and practices are coming from. So basically, learn about the Four Noble Truths, 8fold Path/Three Trainings, Three Characteristics (especially anatta, which trips people up in the start) and get used to doing some shamatha and vipassana before you really look into stuff like emptiness, Buddha-nature, tantra... I haven't read it properly myself, but I hear good things about What the Buddha Taught as an introduction. This translation of the Dhammapada is solid, and the introduction is a quite good intro to Buddhism. (Gil Fronsdal also has a great translation of this text.) In terms of practice, a great place to get started imo is with a shamatha practice such as mindfulness of breathing. Here's a practical guide for getting started on that. (I'd also recommend looking into Leigh Brasington). It's a practice which is easy to get started with and relaxing, but really develops you, goes to profound places in itself, and builds an important foundation for other practices. (Later on, when you feel you've got good shamatha skills, look to Daniel Ingram for vipassana). Best wishes in your toe-dipping!
  12. No, learning to still the mind is part of the 8fold path as 'right concentration'. The Buddha talked about jhanas and advocated becoming skilled in them a great deal, as they are beneficial states and help prepare the mind for wisdom. But in themselves they don't bring awakening. Awakening comes through wisdom. If you just sit in jhana all the time, and never use your strengthened mind to gain wisdom, it's like getting in a ferrari and then... just sitting there. Zen state? I'm no expert on Zen, but I wouldn't say it's just about having a state where your mind is still. Or any state in particular. States are just states, they come and go - wisdom is seeing them as they are, whatever they might be. Not well suited for cultivation. I can imagine someone wanting to be the formless realm for a sort of long holiday, but why would you want to be an animal? Would you choose to lose most of your understanding and ability to reflect on things; to be a predator or prey? Getting your ferrari ready, and then actually driving somewhere. Get skilled in jhana, and then use your strong mind in vipassana to gain wisdom to progress on the path.
  13. What is a Buddha?

    If you're just starting to learn what Buddhism is about, perhaps you'll find these tips helpful: http://www.thedaobums.com/topic/42995-thoughts-for-beginners-after-6-years/
  14. Jivanmuktas and Bodhisattvas

    So in Buddhism there's two main branches of meditation - shamatha (for training the mind to be clear/concentrated/calm/etc) and vipassana (for gaining insight into the four noble truths). Both are necessary: shamatha (as well as being great in itself) makes the mind better suited to doing vipassana well. Shamatha basically involves placing attention on an object such as the breath, and bringing it back when it wanders. In vipassana, you observe experience closely and objectively. Moment-to-moment, what's going on? Really it's incredibly simple, so simple it might seem pointless, though it's not always easy. As you investigate (by looking, not intellectual reasoning) you see that things are impermanent, arising and ceasing rapidly. You see that things are not self, or owned by one. You can get to see the four noble truths. One method of vipassana which is fairly popular is 'noting', where you apply a short label to things to help you see them in the most objective, simple sort of way, without spinning any extra ideas. Hear a sound - 'hearing'. Headache - 'pain'. Feel bored and frustrated and want to do something else - 'boredom', 'desire'.
  15. Jivanmuktas and Bodhisattvas

    Yeah the Buddha was called Siddhartha Gautama. He practiced (shamatha - concentration) meditation until he mastered advanced states of mind, the jhanas. He didn't become awakened, so then he tried harsh austerities instead. After giving up that (deciding on a 'middle way'), he combined concentration meditation with a new approach, vipassana (insight) meditation. Insight meditation showed him the four noble truths, and concentration meditation made his mind sharp enough to do that. I think you mean 'four noble truths', the last of which is the eightfold path. The Buddha did not create these, they are intrinsic to the way experience works - he discovered them. He wasn't necessarily the first being anywhere ever to discover them, nor did he claim to be. 'Buddhism' wouldn't exist without the Buddha, but that which it describes (Dharma) would still be true. Someone else could've found the exact same things, and used different terminology and expressed themselves differently.