Mountains aren't mountains and it sucks

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  • #2135
    Profile photo of Austin S
    Cheese
    Member

    Hello,

    I have been following TMI for about 10 months now. Before that I inconsistently practiced for about a year and went on a few retreats (why I didn’t think it was necessary to practice daily but still went on week long retreats is another story). Currently I am mostly in stage 5, but have recently been experiencing what seems like stage 6 in some of my sits. I’m experiencing a ton of fear and anxiety right now around what exactly this path entails. I’ll give a bunch of context and then describe what’s going on for me right now:

    Some context: in the winter I was on retreat and had an Insight experience that basically consisted of my noticing how “2D” the visual field is; this sort of undercut my belief in “external” reality as I realized that I am not seeing “objects” in the way that I thought, it’s more like I’m seeing just straight “color” which I then interpret with thought. I believe this is an insight into emptiness. When I got back to daily life I could still “trigger” the insight, but it was very conceptual. I did this infrequently over the intervening months. Then in June I had a big “breakthrough”. For months and months, independently of the insight mind you, I had been experiencing what I believe were purifications of fear (correspondingly I was in stage 4 mostly). Then, with no clear “turning point” I realized one day that I was in the world in a way which was radically fearless (I felt like a lion). It was like my consciousness had “expanded”. Even when I had problems it was like I could see all the “space” around them. I found that I was feeling lots of joy and love for everyone that I met, even strangers. This lasted for a few days, until I finally came down. My meditation jumped a stage or so during this time, but when I came down I felt pretty much normal, except for the fact that I didn’t have any of the lingering fear that I had had for months prior. After this experience, I started clearly shifting into doing more stage 5 practice (in retrospect, I think I may have also spent a fair amount of time with no subtle dullness and thus ready to do 6 stuff, but I didn’t think I was there at the time). Anyways I kept practicing. Recently I have been able to consistently find breath sensations in places like my head and feet and have been spending intervals on the order of 5 or 10 minutes in what I think is stage 6; namely the breath has become very shallow, my mind has gotten quiet so I can see the rapid movement of my attention while still keeping the breath as the primary object for tens of minutes in a row, and the breath sensations are very vivid. Anyways this all seemed great until this weekend. I had come out of a sit where I was in what I am thinking of as 6 for a while. I was sitting at my desk and decided to “call up” that insight from the winter. I did so. This time I saw much more clearly the mental “concept” I was using to understand it. When the concept-image vanished I realized that I don’t know how to even conceptualize it*. It seemed like the insight had become “all models of reality are mental and thus don’t exist”. Over the subsequent days I have managed to not become too reactive to the fear that seems to have been elicited by this; which is to say, I don’t think the insight is my immediate problem at this moment. It just triggered the following:

    Since this weekend I have done some poking around on the internet for discussions of emptiness. In the course of that I was looking at some models of awakening. In so doing, all the fear and resistance around the above insight kind of got transmuted into a fear of awakening itself. Currently I am really struggling with the idea, put forth by Culadasa, Jeffrey Martin, and some others, that at some stage in the process there is a loss of emotion. It seems like this would make it impossible to relate to family, spouse, etc., in a way that is productive. How could it not cause great suffering in your loved ones if all of a sudden you’ve got no emotion**? Before this whole thing my understanding of awakening was roughly “it’s going to be reaalllllyyyy nice, but you’ll still be human in the sense that you can still get angry given enough provocation, sad when a loved one dies, etc.” My motivation has been to understand the depths of human experience, not get turned into an alien…

    Sorry for the text wall but it seems like there’s a lot of things happening at once right now. I could really use some help understanding the goals of this path since I feel like maybe it isn’t for me. This is really problematic since a few days ago I felt very certain of its value. Now I am questioning the whole thing. The title refers to the Zen quote

    “At first, I saw mountains as mountains and rivers as rivers. Then, I saw mountains were not mountains and rivers were not rivers. Finally, I see mountains again as mountains, and rivers again as rivers.”

    I’m in the middle stage right now it seems and honestly it really sucks.

    *One way to say it would be that now when I tune into the fact that I’m not in a world of objects and people in the way that I previously thought I don’t have a model to replace it with and that’s pretty damn terrifying. It feels a lot like derealization. To be clear: I can definitely handle this. I know that if I wanted to I could mindfully be aware of the whole process, relax, enjoy breathing, find joy, etc., and it wouldn’t be a huge problem. It’s just that right now it seems that by doing that I could be pushing myself towards an end result that I don’t even understand or want…

    **To be fair, it’s clear from Jeffrey Martin’s descriptions that people claim _they_ aren’t experiencing emotion even while they still externally appear to be quite emotional. Of course if this is true then it begs the question: why even do it if it’s not going to change your behavior at all? I’m usually a happy person so I’m not particularly motivated by the idea of removing my own suffering; if it’s not going to help others at all then it seems like not so good of an idea.

    #2136
    Profile photo of Ivan Ganza
    Ivan Ganza
    Member

    Hi Cheese,

    Thanks for being so clear in your post.

    It is very difficult to understand conceptually. You will not become a robot or uncaring to your family (there may or may not be challenges as you adjust though).

    Culadasa has some good talks somewhere where he gets deep into this very thing you posted about. You may find this talked about in the “Meditation and Insight” retreat available on the DT website under http://dharmatreasure.org/teaching-retreats/ (high suggested listening!!)

    One way coming to mind to describe some of this is as: Your experience becomes much more equal to you. Emotions by definition seem to be movements of energy. Whatever situation you are in (ideally) you will still act of of Compassion and take care of the needs of others around you. Emotional and otherwise….

    You say you generally you are happy person? What brought you to meditation?

    The truths and insights to be faced are not always easy to swallow. Human life is precious and easily lost, the opportunity to awaken a brief glimpse — all good situations eventually end. Imagine how long your “good” situation may continue…; (contemplation of our current human situation can be of great help…)

    Cheers,
    -Ivan/

    (DT Teacher in Training)

    #2137
    Profile photo of Ivan Ganza
    Ivan Ganza
    Member

    Perhaps a poem:

    Face Everything, Let Go, and Attain Stability (Zen Poem):

    “Vast and far-reaching without boundary, secluded and pure, manifesting light, this spirit is without obstruction. Its brightness does not shine out but can be called empty and inherently radiant. Its bright-ness, inherently purifying, transcends casual conditions beyond subject and object. Subtle but preserved, illumined and vast, also it cannot be spoken of as being or nonbeing, or discussed with images or calculations. Right in here the central pivot turns, the gateway opens. You accord and respond without labouring and accomplish without hindrance. Everywhere turn around freely, not following conditions, not falling into classifications. Facing everything, let go and attain stability. Stay with that just as that. Stay with this just as this. That and this are mixed together with no discrimination as to their places. So it is said that earth lifts up the mountain without knowing the mountain’s stark steepness. A rock contains jade without knowing the jade’s flawlessness. This is how trust to leave home, how home-leaving must be enacted.”

    –> Right in here the central pivot turns, the gateway opens. You accord and respond without labouring and accomplish without hindrance. Everywhere turn around freely, not following conditions, not falling into classifications.

    #2138
    Profile photo of Ivan Ganza
    Ivan Ganza
    Member

    Greetings,

    I’ve been reading and re-reading your post, you hit on some really deep issues that may take quite a while to unpack.

    Honestly — I still highly suggest listening to the full retreat I posted above — it is really golden and amazing — may help to give you a bit of confidence and answer many of your questions. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve listened to it. There is also a huge amount of other material available on the DT website which may help.

    Let’s look at your statement “I could really use some help understanding the goals of this path since I feel like maybe it isn’t for me.”

    I can imagine a great many have been on the fence (so to speak) at the same point, and asked themselves the same question. “Is it really for me?”

    Can I turn a question back at you, and ask you, are you ready and willing to know what is really going on?

    And by virtue of learning that, being an order of magnitude more free in all your affairs, or even totally free? (Free in the sense of having NO suffering, or greatly reduced amount of suffering). And having a new (much better and healthy) relationship to life and all affairs?

    It’s not free though. Many current assumptions are discarded, and much needs to be faced and accepted, that is not always a pleasant process, as you can see by your experience of current doubts.

    How much is true freedom worth?

    We are here to help so let us know your doubts and thoughts!

    #2139
    Profile photo of Austin S
    Cheese
    Member

    Hello Ivan,

    Thanks for your thoughtful responses. I especially liked the quote you sent. One of the most satisfying things for me has been keeping track of my level of understanding of various poetry like the Tao Te Ching and that of Ryokan, great to add that to the repertoire. As far as the recorded talks, I skimmed through the ones in the “What is Enlightenment?” series and surprisingly didn’t find anything about the loss of emotion claims (I think because that is not explicitly described in the ten fetters model on which that discussion was founded). I will try and go through the “Meditation and Insight” ones at some point soon though.

    I guess my main question at this point is how *absolute* the experience really is. I understand that the texts say things in specific and absolute terms. But in terms of plausibility alone I find the perspective of Daniel Ingram much more satisfactory: basically, yes emotions get easier (and are perceived more as “energy” which dissipates quickly like you mentioned) and there is a “type” of suffering that is destroyed, but “you” (here I mean the organism or whatever) can still get angry, sad, whatever given sufficient stimulus. Indeed, I am quite confident that things such as the fight or flight response can’t be overridden by meditation (and why would you want them to be?). If you say that when my mom dies I won’t “feel sadness” in some sense congruent with what Daniel Ingram is saying, that seems both plausible and desirable to me. If, however, you mean that there just will be no “reaction” to the news, I’ll just keep sipping coffee and breathing or whatever, that obviously seems very undesirable (I would consider that zombie behavior).

    Similarly, how absolutely do you mean the “no suffering” thing? It is my understanding that suffering wasn’t completely eliminated until death according to doctrine.

    As for why I got into meditation, it was because I wanted to see deeply into life. I wanted to know it well at every level really, from scientific descriptions of external reality down to the subtlest strata of internal reality (I now realize even my motivation was dualistic… *facepalm*). It was not motivated much by suffering, beyond the vague idea that it sounded like getting good at jhanas would be really worth my time.

    To your question: I don’t think I am ready, given my current doubts. If I could have some guarantee that it wouldn’t hurt my loved ones then I think I would be. Currently I am rationalizing that I can (a) always turn back (Jeffrey Martin says people have done that) and (b) it’s not like I’m going to get to 4th path anytime soon which means I can always quit if I get somewhere I prefer and (c) the practices that are being taught seem like inherently worthwhile things, so I doubt they could really lead to terrible results.

    #2140
    Profile photo of Ivan Ganza
    Ivan Ganza
    Member

    >If, however, you mean that there just will be no “reaction” to the news, I’ll just keep sipping coffee and breathing or whatever, that obviously seems very undesirable (I would consider that zombie behaviour).

    What you are describing seems like “indifference”, total indifference to whatever occurs. That is certainly NOT desirable, and not the true result of the path. It can certainly be very easy to mistake and mix up descriptions of equanimity with indifference. I suspect this is a common point of possible confusion.

    >I guess my main question at this point is how *absolute* the experience really is.
    >Similarly, how absolutely do you mean the “no suffering” thing? It is my understanding that suffering wasn’t completely eliminated until death according to doctrine.

    Insight is permanent change, whatever insights and changes occur for you, those are permanent. Even if they come up, but then get buried underneath other layers for a while. (* please see my notes later about the words permanent and absolute)

    There is an excellent Sutta, the “Sallatha Sutta”, where the Buddha talks about the core of what I think you are wondering about:

    >”Monks, an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person feels feelings of pleasure, feelings of pain, feelings of neither-pleasure-nor-pain. A well-instructed disciple of the noble ones also feels feelings of pleasure, feelings of pain, feelings of neither-pleasure-nor-pain. So what difference, what distinction, what distinguishing factor is there between the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones and the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person?”

    Notice that both an “uninstructed run-of-the-mill person” and a “well-instructed disicple” BOTH feel feelings of pleasure, pain, and so-on!

    So what is the difference?

    >The Blessed One said, “When touched with a feeling of pain, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person sorrows, grieves, & laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught. So he feels two pains, physical & mental. Just as if they were to shoot a man with an arrow and, right afterward, were to shoot him with another one, so that he would feel the pains of two arrows; in the same way, when touched with a feeling of pain, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person sorrows, grieves, & laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught. So he feels two pains, physical & mental.

    The second arrow (the mental event) is how we make ourselves suffer!

    The Dharma largely promises to eliminate this second arrow, first attenuating it (such that it occurs far less often), and second, later at some point, completely and totally eliminating the second arrow.

    Let’s say someone very dear to you dies. Your body still generates whatever it will generate. Energies probably course in your system. There is an adjustment period — you will probably cry — all these things may still occur — but they stop at the first arrow. The second arrow does not need to be fired.

    A really KEY POINT is that, by virtue of INSIGHT into how things really are, by the powerful change of our mental models and assumptions, the second arrow stops being fired. It never provided any value anyhow.

    The discerning person, learned,
    doesn’t sense a (mental) feeling of pleasure or pain:
    This is the difference in skillfulness
    between the sage & the person run-of-the-mill.

    For a learned person
    who has fathomed the Dhamma,
    clearly seeing this world & the next,
    desirable things don’t charm the mind,
    undesirable ones bring no resistance.

    His acceptance
    & rejection are scattered,
    gone to their end,
    do not exist.

    Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
    he discerns rightly,
    has gone, beyond becoming,
    to the Further Shore.

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn36/sn36.006.than.html

    NOTE: The words “permanent” and “absolute” are not totally accurate. It’s hard to say anything is totally “permanent” or “absolute” in a final sense. In a system of interacting processes (impermanence) nothing is truly “permanent” or “absolute”. Experience is always shifting and changing.

    This may all sound a bit odd, or esoteric, strange even — honestly it is very near, and down-to-earth. The clearest thing once you taste it. And it can be tasted, there is no doubt. Countless noble meditators have tasted this over the ages!!

    Take the leap!!

    Hope this helps somewhat!

    #2141
    Profile photo of Blake Barton
    Blake Barton
    Member

    Hi Cheese,

    I have heard many of Culadasa’s talks and Q&A’s, and I don’t recall hearing him say that emotions stop with awakening. However, maybe he did, and I am not aware. What I have heard him say is that the relationship to emotion changes, as described in the two arrows sutta that Ivan shared. He often says that pain (unpleasant physical and mental sensation) is inevitable, but suffering (second arrow) is optional.

    Recently, I heard Culadasa talk about the development of compassion. He stated that with awakening, and the realization that we are not separate selves, compassion is increased. However, he felt that compassion does not always keep pace with wisdom, and that is is worthwhile to cultivate compassion while developing wisdom.

    Given your concerns, I would recommend regularly practicing the Divine Abodes (loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity). The appendix of TMI contains loving-kindness practice, and this practice is available as a guided meditation here. http://feeds.feedburner.com/Culadasa.

    I have also heard Culadasa say that with higher levels of awakening, desire and aversion cease to drive behavior, but compassion takes their place.

    Please feel free to keep us informed about your practice.

    Blake – Dharma Treasure Teacher

    #2142
    Profile photo of Malte Malm
    Malte Malm
    Member

    I’d really recommend giving some of Adyashantis works a try at this point of what seems to be a transitioning period or phase for you. “The end of your life” and “Spontaneous awakening” are books/audiobooks of his which deal directly with things (positive ang negative) which frequently occur in the wake of profounf insight experiences and especially awakening(s). If I were you, I’d atleast give one of them a shot, try it out and see if it fits for you were you are right now.

    #2143
    Profile photo of Samuel
    Samuel
    Member

    “*One way to say it would be that now when I tune into the fact that I’m not in a world of objects and people in the way that I previously thought I don’t have a model to replace it with and that’s pretty damn terrifying.”

    I thought you might find the following quote useful:

    “All models are wrong, but some are useful.”
    – George Box, Statistician

    #2144

    Cheese, In terms of the model, I think the end point is not that you find yourself no longer in a world of people and objects, but that you do not experience these as separate “things. Rather, each contains its own subjectivity and is a unique, perfect and essential part of a beautiful, harmonious whole.

    Because you no longer experience the world and others as imperfect, separate things, positive emotions like joy, love, compassion, etc., become purer and more intense. The afflictive emotions begin to fall away, and you have more control over when and how you express them. –

    Crystal

    #2145

    Hello Cheese,

    I really appreciated your earnest post. Several thoughts occurred to me.

    First, walking this path, it can seem as if we are asked to relinquish everything: to eat cake without thinking “oh, what a delightful taste!”; to work our jobs without being personally invested in career advancement; to love our family – say, our only child – without attaching more importance to her than to any other child in the world. This can seem inhuman, and I suppose in the sense that we usually take the word, it is. However, let’s not end our assessment there. We need to reflect further.

    We can start by reconsidering each example in terms of its enlightened experiential correlate. In other words, in the above examples, we were focusing only in terms of negatives, on what went away, so we need to consider what an enlightened being would experience in each instance in terms of positives. When we relinquish our habitual behaviors, what do they get replaced with?

    Example one: Imagine you are eating the delicious piece of cake, but there’s absolutely none of the animal craving to shove it down. And because your mind is cultivated and equanimous, you are able to taste all the flavors of the food, notice the composition of the dish, notice all the textures of the eating process, and so forth, with greater vividness and clarity than ever before. After all, how much do we really taste our food? Aren’t we already anticipating the next bite or off thinking about something else entirely? Now, a revealing experience you may have had on retreat is to eat your food very slowly and observe just how strong the animal urge to feed is. When you notice that and let go of it and keep eating your preferred food from a place of letting go, you may even experience what the suttas call the joy of relinquishment: “Look, I’m eating something I love, and I’m totally with the experience, but there is absolutely no stickiness of craving present.” I know it seems like a small thing, but the joy of this simple experience with food can be overwhelmingly beautiful; there’s a frictionlessness (non-stickiness) to nirvana that is indescribable.

    Example two: Consider performing your job without all the stress and anguish and posturing that come with being attached to career advancement. Wouldn’t it be nice to be free from that? Consider further that without those hindering emotions, your “cognitive load” is freed up, meaning you have more cognitive resources available to perform your job even more effectively, improving your chances for career advancement. When we let go of wanting to succeed, we succeed even more.

    Finally, and perhaps the most difficult to imagine, is to envision caring for our only child no more than we care for any other child. That might sound heartless and potentially irresponsible. But recall that, as in the scenario with the job, just because we don’t crave something doesn’t mean we lack the incentive to attend to our duties, whether it be our duties as parents, professionals, or whatever. Look at the life of the Buddha himself; fully liberated beings don’t lie in bed and starve to death due to lack of motivation! And what you’ll find with awakening is that what spontaneously rises into the void left behind when craving and aversion vacate the premises is wisdom and love. Western Buddhism in particular has a tendency to overemphasize the cognitive aspect of awakening: meditative technique and the wisdom gained. Love, the affective experience of wisdom, is talked about far too infrequently. And its cultivation through the practice of the brahmaviharas, the divine abodes, is much neglected. These deficiencies in understanding and practice lead some to report emotionless equanimity that problematically verges on indifference. But remember, equanimity is wise, nonreactive interest, not cold indifference. And equanimous love is the heart of awakened experience and gnosis. It is a love whose qualities can be hard to fathom for someone who isn’t yet a noble awakened disciple of the Buddha; I mean, we habitually — continuously — mistake our mere attachment for true love! True, we experience moments of unadulterated love, but isn’t it such an impure ore, almost always mixed with craving and personal agenda? And because we mistake our craving for love, when we start to let go of craving, we feel like all the joy and love, all the juice, is being sapped out of life. But again, we must consider further.

    Do you know the story of the great contemporary Buddhist saint Dipa Ma? If not, I highly recommend Amy Schmidt’s book on her. Dipa Ma was dying from heartbreak because her husband and all her children, except for one, died in close succession. She went on to meditate, regained her health, and became highly enlightened. After that, she reported with conviction that she loved her one remaining child no more and no less than any other person in the world. But this wasn’t an expression of indifference or coldness. Everyone who met Dipa Ma reported she was the most loving person they had ever met. And if you read Amy Schmidt’s collection of stories about her, you’ll get a sense for the magnitude of her love and the awakened mind.

    Finally, and most importantly, remember that the truth is you’re not really relinquishing anything at all on this path. You’re just discovering that nothing is yours to begin with. You had imputed self-existence, endurance, and ownership of things, but all experience is really just an endless stream of sensory events, without solidity, not lasting. All you are asked to give up is the concept of ownership. Nothing is yours, not your children, not even your life. For the first time, you are seeing things as they are, and as they have been the entire time. And the result is that you love truly for the first time.

    With metta,
    Jeremy

    #2146
    Profile photo of jadepepple
    jadepebble
    Member

    Hi Cheese

    One suggestion. Notice that you are telling yourself a story about what enlightenment will be like. Before it was “it will be really nice”. Now it is “it will be awful”.

    My problematic story was worrying if I would be able to function. There were a couple of moments along the path when I was very immersed in the present and wasn’t thinking about my to do list and then abruptly remembered to do something ‘just in time’. I got scared and worried and spun stories about of how a more exaggerated version of that would be awful.

    One of the keys for me was to start noticing that I was telling myself a story and then realizing that it was just a story. I didn’t know that it would be awful. My mind was just taking things that had been fine, if sometimes a bit new or odd, and creating “what if” horror stories that weren’t really based in anything that had happened. Seeing that over and over eventually led to being able relax, let that story go.

    I’d second the recommendation for Adyashanti and also Mukti, I found both very helpful.

    #2149
    Profile photo of Wiley Fox
    Wiley Fox
    Member

    Hello Cheese,

    First, go to Wikipedia and look up “schizotypal personality disorder”. Make of that what you will. You decide.

    The Chan poem Ivan quoted from is by Hung-chih, a master of Silent Illumination, which is my current practice. What you should know about this poem is that it describes the mature outcomes of that path, not at all anything about what it is like getting there. I am still on that part.

    You are bedeviled by your greed for experiences and specified outcomes. You should immediately discard all thoughts of stages, enlightenment, progress, etc. You have not the mental stability to go further in the Culadasa scheme of meditation methods. I know, because I have been there, the hard way. Go no further than Stage 6. Serious meditation is like taking your brains out and playing with them. If you like the TMI scheme, then practice as you are now for a year, at least until you recognize that your greed has fallen away. When you take the knife of intention to your mind, you must remember that it cuts both ways.

    #2150
    Profile photo of Blake Barton
    Blake Barton
    Member

    Dear Wiley,

    Your post to Cheese was inappropriate. You implied that Cheese could have a “personality disorder” which is not acceptable, and you also stated that Cheese is lacking “mental stability”. Answering questions and giving advice is encouraged on this forum. However, diagnosing someone’s mental health is not welcome. At least one other Dharma Treasure teacher and I do not agree with your assessment. In the future, please practice right speech when conversing with this group.

    Five keys to right speech according to the Buddha

    “Monks, a statement endowed with five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people.

    Which five?
    “It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will.”
    AN 5.198

    Sincerely,
    Blake – Dharma Treasure Community Administrator and Teacher

    #2151
    Profile photo of Austin S
    Cheese
    Member

    Hello all,

    Thanks so much for your responses.

    Ivan, I think I understand much better now. I have before had experiences where I felt physical pain but could not discern any mental resistance. The way I would put it is just “perfection of the present”. Like there’s nothing that needs to be changed, even if it’s “uncomfortable”. This happened the most strongly with physical pain during a strong determination sit on a Goenka retreat. In fact, ever since then I’ve been able to sit for much longer periods, and physical discomfort is not the limiting factor it used to be.

    Blake, he mentions it in the Buddha at the Gas Pump interview he did (I don’t want to look through it to find the exact point, since this doesn’t seem like a problem anymore, see update below). In any case, as I mentioned before, it’s really not clear what people mean when they say “loss of emotion”, since they still seemingly manifest emotion. As far as divine abodes, I will do an experiment with them for a week or so and see how it goes, as an addition to my regular sit of one hour.

    Malte, thanks for the Adyashanti recommendation. I’ve found him very helpful already, mostly just watching videos of his.

    Wiley, luckily I don’t think anything like that is going on. Lots of meaningful personal relationships (hence the concern behind my question), high conventional success (or at least on track for that), etc. In fact I’ve pored over the DSM-V at previous times of particular dark-nighty-ness and been quite reassured of my sanity. The primary thing to note about this sort of stuff (i.e. dark-nighty-ness) for me at least, is that it’s very temporary and infrequent, and doesn’t derail my life at all (beyond the general tone of angst which is imparted), which basically disqualifies it from any sort of clinical diagnosis immediately.

    An update:
    With the update in my view, namely with the combination of the two arrows metaphor and my reflection on previous periods of no (well probably just very much reduced) second arrow, this doesn’t seem like a problem. I really have no clue what will happen to “emotion”, but I am sufficiently reassured that it won’t turn me into a zombie unless I let it, and I won’t. Especially since, as others mentioned, lots of seemingly awakened people don’t seem like zombies at all. What I think was happening was that I was reacting to a concept I was getting, which was that awakening was like being a steady “observer” far back and removed from experience in a way that feels isolated, apart, separate, whatever. Basically a terrible duality. When I realized that was what was happening, I simply applied mindfulness to it and it disappeared. It has mostly stayed away, but the prospect of it returning isn’t particularly problematic either. One thing I’ve noticed is that sitting is just really great. I look forward to it every day, and really appreciate the simplicity and straightforwardness of it.

    Recently, outside of sitting, I’ve sometimes noticed myself very near or even in this state where the present is just “perfect”. It seems to be really correlated with the attenuation of my normal very goal-oriented behavior (I took a while responding because I had the GRE, as an example). It’s like the world is just shimmering and resplendent. The way this differs from tuning into the insight I mentioned before is subtle, but basically it involves a much more emotion-oriented shifting than a purely perceptual event. Not sure if I’m on the right track here but it “feels right”. Anyways as a method of inducing this more I have been taking a break on dhamma learning, discussion of meditation, really all the mental thought oriented stuff I had been doing before. It seems to just be causing agony at its worst, and at best simply distracting from this thing I think I’m very close to: just engaging in the present without any “designs” beyond curiosity and joy. I’m not going to stop sitting, but I will probably take a break from posting on here. I’m really enjoying things like just driving without a destination and enjoying the experience. Also going exploring on trails near my house. Working on doing nothing. It seems like I always need a “task” so I want to see about being “taskless”. I suspect the brahma viharas will fit in nicely with this stuff, so I’m going to do the week long experiment I mentioned above.

    Cheers,
    Cheese

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