No signs of Purification of Mind

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  charlesanatta 1 year, 11 months ago.

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  • #1605

    Junot C
    Member

    Purification of Mind was described as “equivalent to years of therapy, and.. crucial for for progressing through the Ten Stages.” (p. 139)

    In discussing this process (p. 134), Culadasa give the impression that there will be a bubbling to the surface of all kinds of unconscious material and that this purification will be quite a dramatic process (overwhelming emotions, memories etc.). I have practiced at Stage Four for a while now and this has not happened to me.

    Question 1: Does this purification of mind always happen in the way as described and always at this stage?

    Question 2: Do some people have less to “work through” and consequently have less overt purification experiences?

    Question 3: Can I continue on to using the techniques presented in stage 5 without this purification and assume it will happen at some later time?

    Many thanks to anyone who can shed some light on this.

    Junot

    #1606

    Ivan Ganza
    Member

    Greetings,

    There is a thread on the Reddit group about this, with basically the same question. Was it you perhaps? šŸ˜‰

    https://www.reddit.com/r/TheMindIlluminated/comments/55d7xi/what_happens_during_purification_of_mind/

    Will past my reply here for your reference. I am sure others will jump in as well.

    In one sense, TMI illuminated is a map. It charts the general path that might (and often) unfolds. The path has been mapped (over a very long time) based on the range of common experiences that often occur.

    However, it is only a map, NOT the terrain.

    The experiences do not unfold in the precise same way for everyone. There is quite a bit of variance. Over time though, there is commonality, hence, the ability to make any kind of map at all.

    Some people definitly have less to work through. It all depends on what transpired in your life before you started meditating, your current world view, and a huge amount of other factors.

    Try to use the map as a guide but don’t hold too strongly to what experiences are described, the order they might occur and such. It is impossible to know how it will unfold for you. Still having some kind of guide map is important or we would be totally lost.

    You may very well experience very little apparent purification right now, and experience it much later when you would not expect it.

    Even if you are sitting and it feels like nothing is happening, something probably is, and the purification may be occurring calmly just below the surface. There are just so many possibilities….

    We are all going up the same mountain but taking our own path to reach the summit (don’t forget to jump off when you reach it)

    I think you probably safe to work on stage 5, it is not like purification would stop if you started stage 5+….

    -Ivan/ (DT Teacher in Training)

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by  Ivan Ganza.
    #1608

    Junot C
    Member

    Hi Ivan,

    Yes that was me šŸ™‚ I orginally posted the question in Culadasa’s AMA but he didn’t have time to get to it.

    I have done a lot of psychological work on myself over the last for years before I started meditating and I was thinking that it may have resolved a lot of things. But thank you for your answer; it is inline with what I was thinking.

    The main reason I was worried was because he said that it WILL happen in this stage and that it is an essential part of your journey. Most other things I don’t worry about too much and just stick to the goals for that chapter.

    Thanks again.

    #1609

    Chris M
    Member

    Hi,
    I’m really interested to hear about anyone’s experience with this topic.

    I’m currently talking to a therapist. I have come to learn that I don’t have ‘normal’ levels of feelings and emotions. My brain chemistry is luckily very healthy, I’m in a pretty good mood most of the time, but I have no feelings or emotions. (I had some negative experiences when I was a child, and as a result have developed a habit of suppressing feelings.)

    I’m at the point now where I have two choices, I can A) spend a good chunk of money on therapy and try to open the doors that I’ve created to hold things back, or B) I can take some time and meditate and let things come up on their own. I suppose there’s a third option – do both at the same time, but I’m sort of trying to avoid spending thousands of dollars if I could eventually get to the same emotional place just through hard work on the cushion.

    So, have you started with some level of emotional baggage, and had it come up solely through a meditation practice as described in TMI, and had it heal?

    Thanks very much,

    #1610

    Ivan Ganza
    Member

    This is a very deep topic and hoping for others will chime in as well.

    I have heard Culadasa say may times that traditional therapy may be needed and actually assist this process. I am fairly certain this is not a requirement though. So much is based on the individual situation. I believe he used the statement in the context of someone who has practice for quite some time and hit a block, then, in that situation, perhaps they should look to supplement with some traditional therapy. I do not believe he meant it as in you needed to combine that right out of the gate. This is probably something that might be best answered by working closely with a good teacher and might help answer if just doing the regular practice makes sense, and if and when one might need to add a component of traditional therapy.

    Having said that: If you practice diligently and consistently – you will definitely end up purifying a huge amount of repressed and closed off content. In my experience, this would be inevitable. As when the usual mental processes quiet down, and a space becomes available for communication, those closed off and orphaned parts of ourselves will always take the opportunity to sneak a peak and start projecting their contents into consciousness, giving huge opportunities for purification (if we welcome and allow that process to play out, it is not always easy or comfortable).

    Another aspect to be aware of, and I do not know it is mentioned enough, is that one needs to have a fairly health and strong ego in order to allow this process to take play and proceed in a healthy way. If the ego structure is not healthy it may be very difficult to allow this process to take place and instead have detrimental effects — in a case like that — therapy might be a better choice right at the beginning.

    To Summarize: In a base case scenario, a regular practice that is consistent and diligent would allow a huge purification (with much more efficiency than traditional therapy in my mind). In the worst case one needs to either do therapy first, or supplement in some way during the process.

    This would usually be something a seasoned teacher would probably assess and speak to the individual about (if the person is lucky enough to have access to such a teacher).

    Hope that helps!

    -Ivan/ (DT Teacher in training)

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by  Ivan Ganza.
    #1615

    Kurt S
    Member

    Chris,

    I’d highly suggest reading the appendix section on Loving-Kindness meditation in Culadasa’s book. This form of meditation works directly with creating positive emotional states. It’s a very powerful and often-overlooked practice. You may not see results right away, but you will over time. The key to this form of meditation is holding a sincere desire to spread loving-kindness. The pure intent and the emotion it generates becomes the meditation object itself. With time and practice, these positive emotional states should become more accessible to you.

    #1616

    Hey Chris,

    “…Iā€™m sort of trying to avoid spending thousands of dollars if I could eventually get to the same emotional place just through hard work on the cushion.”

    You’re a smart man!

    Definitely try to resolve your issues with meditation first. Conventional therapy can be your backup plan.

    Like Kurt has said, loving-kindness meditation specifically can be of enormous help. But remember that you don’t start by sending love to the people who have wronged you. First you cultivate the emotion towards people, animals, etc. that you actually like. Also never forget to end the session by sending love towards yourself. Forgiveness towards others and specially towards oneself is essential. Lastly, the healing can take a long time to occur (just like with therapy), so patience and persistence are very important as well.

    Culadasa mentioned in a talk that he had a difficult past and used to be a very angry person (hard to believe I know!). He resolved his inner conflict with meditation and mindfulness by replacing his past unwholesome patterns of behavior, beliefs, etc. with wholesome ones (the Buddha also did this before Awakening). I don’t think Culadasa mentioned going to a therapist. So it’s really amazing how you can heal and improve yourself following the Buddha’s path correctly. Ultimately of course, you transcend the self completely and all suffering is gone forever. But in the meantime you have to have a healthy ego, a positive sense of self to do the practice properly.

    May you find true happiness in this very lifetime.

    With Metta,

    Charles

    #1617

    Chris M
    Member

    Hi Ivan, Kurt, and Charles, thanks for your replies.

    I think I have a fairly healthy ego, I’m not very reactionary, I take negative experiences fairly well (I think?) How would you suggest that someone would gauge their ego-health?

    Re: loving-kindness meditation, I tried last year, I also tried a ‘forgiveness’ meditation, and got nowhere in the month or so that I tried. Daily sits, one or two 1/2hr sessions. I really don’t feel much inside. I hesitate to include this in my post, but I did an online test a few years ago called “are you a sociopath?” and scored very high on it. I’m a good and nice person, I can empathize with people, I treat people really well, I’m in a pretty good mood right now, but I don’t have emotional reactions to situations. If I do something really nice for someone, I don’t get that warm feeling in my chest that people speak about. I just keep truckin along in my pretty good mood..

    I will probably wait until I see some signs of improved emotional range to try loving-kindness meditation again.

    Thanks again,

    #1618

    Kurt S
    Member

    Chris,

    This could be a really long response, but I’m going to try and keep it as short as possible to just get to the point. Full disclosure, I’m not a meditation teacher. Please take this as friendly advice.

    It sounds to me like you would be well-served devoting additional time to metta practice. If your goal is to improve your emotional range, working with metta will help you. I mentioned in my post above that it may not happen right away. Just like any type of exercise, it takes directed effort on the area you want to improve to make progress.

    With metta specifically, it may be important to set two specific goals for yourself. 1) Have faith that the practice works. Not just for some people, but that it will work for you too. Give metta the benefit-of-the-doubt. 2) Put your focus on the practice and not the results. It’s OKAY to engage in loving-kindness meditation and not feel anything. The simple act of devoting pure intention to yourself and others is enough. Consider the loving intentions of metta as you would a seed. Tend to the seed without worrying how or when it will grow. Just keep to the practice with some amount of faith. Then you can look back 3 months, 6 months, 1 year from now and it will be much easier to measure your progress.

    #1619

    Chris M
    Member

    Thanks Kurt,

    I’ll read the instructions in TMI and do some sits this weekend. The instructions I’d read previously were that I was supposed to cultivate a warm glow in my chest – the one I should feel when I think of a good experience in my life (I’m paraphrasing here..) and then make that the object of meditation. But I could never get that warm glow or anything like it, so figured I’d put metta practice aside until I got my ‘stuff’ figured out and was able to feel healthy emotions or whatever.

    Peace,
    Chris

    #1620

    No problem, Chris. Hope at least some of it was helpful to you.

    By the way, a lot can be written about it but a brief way to describe a healthy ego would be: you don’t experience yourself as being superior or inferior to others.

    Also, it’s definitely possible to train yourself to become more compassionate and I know it from personal experience by the way. Though I’m far from being the Dalai Lama… I feel infinitely more loving and caring towards all beings now than I did when I was a child. The more you practice, the better you get at it.

    With Metta,

    Charles

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