The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by odin » Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:40 pm

Going onto insights; the hardest but most effective approach I can vouch for personally as a non monastic amateur is to note sensations - including thoughts - as they come and go. For about 2 years I did this for an hour each day then reminded myself in informal practice times during the day. What it shows on an experiential level; sensations are complex, multi-faceted and transient. They are separate from the label you tend to put on them, they are dependent on lots of other factors and they are not things you can hang your identity on. The usefulness of this was limited. If I got sad I sometimes noted that 'sadness' was just a label I attached to a variety of temporary sensations and some accompanying confabulating thoughts. It didn't often alleviate the thing though. Same with anger, same with joy. Actually, it was quite a de-personalising practice that made me act a bit irrational at times and feel a bit disassociated from my actions.

With hindsight, I needed to round that fucker out with some compassion based practices, a decent ethical and social support framework and a bit of lighten-the-fuck-up. But at least I gave it a good run.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by odin » Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:42 pm

As you ‘progress’ you also notice the sensations on an increasingly granular level, until you are aware almost constantly of an at times irritating buzzing quality to all physical sensations. I would speculate that thought is similar but I’d be lying if I said I experienced this regularly. So from this you experience that life/reality is made up of lots of little things and changes all the time. This is one of the three characteristics to use Buddhist speak.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by odin » Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:09 pm

So that is insight; you break shit down into its component parts until you realise they’re not permanent, not satisfactory and not you.

Concentration; you focus on an object to the exclusion of other things - artificially solidifying whatever the thing is and bringing a temporary peace of mind. A crisp beer or good whisky brings me temporary peace of mind too but I won’t get enlightened from it. Playing the guitar or painting a pic has similar effects. If the object of concentration has a certain association in your mind you may get a difficult to define sense of transcendence that you may interpret as god or something else. I get this most consistently walk in nature funnily enough. Problem is, it fades and you feel empty and frustrated afterward. A bit like having a crafty wank while the wife watches tv downstairs.


I’m being flippant, as I see merit in these practices but also see the limitations in a modern, householder environment
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by Bram » Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:35 am

odin wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:40 pm
Going onto insights; the hardest but most effective approach I can vouch for personally as a non monastic amateur is to note sensations - including thoughts - as they come and go. For about 2 years I did this for an hour each day then reminded myself in informal practice times during the day. What it shows on an experiential level; sensations are complex, multi-faceted and transient.

With hindsight, I needed to round that fucker out with some compassion based practices, a decent ethical and social support framework and a bit of lighten-the-fuck-up. But at least I gave it a good run.
I did a good chunk of sensation noting....and found it super helpful. I'd catch myself, for example, with my chest tightening and say "oh, I'm getting angry!" Then relax my chest and the anger would dissipate. But I also found doing it day after day boring, so now I just use it as an approach.

The best meditation book would make you want to meditate, because fuck there are a lot of things I would rather do - watch Netflix, eat ice cream bars, etc.

I basically just use it as a "I have nothing to do" activity. Stuck at an airport - meditate. Have 20 minutes between appointments and no book - meditate. Walking home and it's a nice day out and I've got nothing going on for a few hours - meditate.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by Sangoma » Sat Mar 02, 2019 2:43 am

You see, many Buddhist folk would tell you to experience your anger, rather than doing something about it. Let it be there, experience it and eventually understand that it is simply some process in the body. Some of my patients tell me about being able to separate themselves from pain. The pain is still there, and they allow it to be there without getting caught in actually suffering. Weird.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by Sangoma » Sat Mar 02, 2019 2:45 am

Zen is boring - Brad Warner

Some years ago some psychologists did a study in which they sat some Buddhists monks and some regular folks in a room and wired them up to EEG machines to record their brain activity. They told everyone to relax, then introduced a repetitive stimulus, a loudly ticking clock, into the room. The normal folks' EEG showed that their brains stopped reacting to the stimulus after a few seconds. But the Buddhists just kept on mentally registering the tick every time it happened. Psychologists and journalists never quite know how to interpret that finding, though it's often cited. It's a simple matter. Buddhists pay attention to their lives. Ordinary folks figure they have better things to think about.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by odin » Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:30 am

Sangoma wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 2:43 am
You see, many Buddhist folk would tell you to experience your anger, rather than doing something about it. Let it be there, experience it and eventually understand that it is simply some process in the body. Some of my patients tell me about being able to separate themselves from pain. The pain is still there, and they allow it to be there without getting caught in actually suffering. Weird.
In a health setting, I guess the value of noting based insight practice is to see through the labels and judgements you attach to experiences. So, something like 'pain' is generally comprised of microscopic sensations like tingling, burning, fearing, thinking, aversion etc. You'd note those without any attempt to change them but it would be a very different experience to just thinking 'oh fuck I'm in pain and I want it to stop'. It's not an easy practice though and wont give you the happy buzz of a yoga class!
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by Sangoma » Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:00 pm

Some time ago an Ayurveda practitioner surprised me somewhat. In the allopathic setting patients are recommended to distract their attention from unpleasant things: think of a rain forest when they stick a large cannula in your arm, or imagine yourself on the beach to reduce pain after surgery. According to him Ayurveda advises the opposite: bring all your attention to pain and experience it at its fullest. The reasoning was that pain is the signal to the body that something is wrong and needs to be addressed. The more attention you put on the sensation, the stronger the signal and consequently the healing.

Something like this is mentioned in Fight Club, when Tyler Durden puts caustic stuff on the protagonist's hand: " This is your pain!", "Don't deal with it like dead people do!".
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by nafod » Mon Mar 04, 2019 1:35 am

Sangoma wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 2:45 am
Zen is boring - Brad Warner

Some years ago some psychologists did a study in which they sat some Buddhists monks and some regular folks in a room and wired them up to EEG machines to record their brain activity. They told everyone to relax, then introduced a repetitive stimulus, a loudly ticking clock, into the room. The normal folks' EEG showed that their brains stopped reacting to the stimulus after a few seconds. But the Buddhists just kept on mentally registering the tick every time it happened. Psychologists and journalists never quite know how to interpret that finding, though it's often cited. It's a simple matter. Buddhists pay attention to their lives. Ordinary folks figure they have better things to think about.
That's a cool anecdote.

One of the points the author makes in the book is that you want to simultaneously maintain what he calls stable attention on the meditation object while maintaining peripheral awareness on the thoughts, feelings, etc. going on in and around you, just watching them go by.

One of things I do regularly is meditate on the chairlift while skiing. It's only a 5 minute ride, but its a 1-2 minute ski down, so over the course of the day you can add up some time. Attention on breath is easier because you are breathing in cold air and can really feel it, so you can easily "drop in" to focusing on the breath, but there's also all kinds of peripheral stuff going on around you. People on the next chair talking, skiers going past below, the guide wheels on the chairlift towers. I also need to be aware enough to not go through the unload station without getting off. A fun drill and good way to spend the chairlift time.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by Hebrew Hammer » Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:00 pm

Great book. I've read about and tried meditation many times over the last 40 years. This is the first time I've gotten it. He takes you carefully step by step in clear prose with insightful analogies to where you actually start meditating and then get better at it with the notion that it is a constant, growing practice.

Plus, he gives terrific insight into how the mind works and how mediation works for mindfulness and spirituality. Thanks for the recommendation.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by nafod » Sun May 05, 2019 1:37 pm

Glad you like it, HH.

All the stuff with forgetting, subtle dullness, stable attention and peripheral awareness, etc. has made meditation much more of an adventure for me. Seems odd to say that...meditation an adventure. But I can see each of the concepts occurring, and instead of getting frustrated, it’s now “yup, as described”.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by Protobuilder » Thu Aug 22, 2019 11:39 am

Dear Dharma Treasure Sangha,

It was recently brought to the attention of Dharma Treasure Board members that John Yates (Upasaka Culadasa) has engaged in ongoing conduct unbecoming of a Spiritual Director and Dharma teacher. He has not followed the upasaka (layperson) precepts of sexual harmlessness, right speech, and taking what is not freely given.

We thoroughly reviewed a substantial body of evidence, contemplated its significance, and sought confidential counsel from senior Western Dharma teachers, who urged transparency. We also sought legal advice and spoke with various non-profit consultants to draw on their expertise and objectivity in handling this matter. As a result of our process, the Board has voted to remove Mr. Yates from all positions with Dharma Treasure.

In a series of Board meetings as well as written correspondences with Mr. Yates, he admitted to being involved in a pattern of sexual misconduct in the form of adultery. There is no evidence that this adultery involved improper interactions with students or any form of unwanted sexual advances. Rather, adultery with multiple women, some of whom are sex workers, took place over the past four years. The outcome was extended relationships with a group of about ten women. Relationships with some continue to the present day.

He has provided significant financial support to some of these women, a portion of which was given without the prior knowledge or consent of his wife. Mr. Yates also said he engaged in false speech by responding to his wife’s questions with admissions, partial truths, and lies during these years.

After we brought this misconduct to the attention of Mr. Yates, he agreed to write a letter to the Sangha disclosing his behavior, which would give students informed consent to decide for themselves whether to continue studying with him. However, after weeks of negotiations, we were unable to come to an agreement about the content and degree of transparency of his letter.

At the end of this entire process, we are sadly forced to conclude that Mr. Yates should not be teaching Dharma at this time. Likewise, we are clear that keeping the upasaka (layperson) vows is an absolutely essential foundation for serving as the Spiritual Director of Dharma Treasure. With heavy hearts, the Board has voted to remove him from this role, from the Board, and from all other positions associated with Dharma Treasure.

We also acknowledge the benefit of Mr. Yates’ scholarship, meditation instructions, and the personal guidance he has provided for so many earnest seekers, including ourselves. People from all over the world have been deeply impacted by the Dharma he has presented, and we do not wish to minimize the good he has done. We are forever grateful for the study and practice we have all undertaken together with Mr. Yates.

We know people may feel disbelief and dismay upon learning about this pattern of behavior. However, it is our strong wish that we all use this time as an opportunity to practice patient inquiry, compassion, and discernment. Our goal in sharing this information with the Sangha is to provide each of you with enough information to make your own informed decision about whether or how to work with Mr. Yates as a teacher. We hope this transparency about Mr. Yates’ behavior can help us all move toward a place where we honor teachers for their gifts while acknowledging they are complex human beings who make mistakes.

You can imagine this has been a long, methodical, and distressing process. Moving forward, we feel it is in the best interest of the organization to form a new Board that brings fresh perspectives and energy. The current Board will resign after vetting and electing new qualified Board members to carry on the mission of Dharma Treasure.

Finally, we hope this disclosure about Mr. Yates’ conduct does not shake your confidence in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. The transformative strength of refuge in the triple treasure can sustain us through this challenging time. Many other communities have walked this difficult path and emerged wiser and stronger. The ancient and modern history of Buddhism is filled with examples of the Dharma’s liberating individual and social power and compassion. Let us never forget that.

In service,
The Dharma Treasure Board of Directors
Blake Barton
Jeremy Graves
Matthew Immergut
Eve Smith
Nancy Yates
Culadasa went full IGx.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by Bennyonesix1 » Thu Aug 22, 2019 2:03 pm

Protobuilder wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 11:39 am

Culadasa went full IGx.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by Fat Cat » Thu Aug 22, 2019 5:45 pm

LMAO this always happens when white people LARP as Hindu/Buddhist/whatevers.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by Grandpa's Spells » Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:11 pm

LMAO, more like culodasa, amirite.

Implausible denial
Yates wrote:Please do not take this letter as fact. It includes false information, and distortions and misrepresentations of fact. I, in fact, resigned from the Dharma Treasure Board due to irreconcilable differences including their refusal to engage in mediation. Rather than accept my resignation as tendered, they chose to vote me off the Board and remove me as Spiritual Director of Dharma Treasure. A fuller and more complete explanation will be forthcoming. In the mean time, I strongly recommend everyone hold off on jumping to conclusions or engaging in analysis or commentary. We are taking our time (myself and my advisors) so as to respond in the healthiest and most appropriate way with the best interest of all parties in mind.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by Bennyonesix1 » Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:05 pm

Korzybski's Science and Sanity is an interesting book on this type thing.

He locates the distress for which most meditate in a failure to appreciate which level of abstraction we are working on. A level of abstraction would be the chair you are sitting on. Another level would be that there is no chair, but only atoms. Yet another level would be the sub-atomic or quantum level where there aren't even atoms. Clearly, another way of expressing Maya.

Likewise, within our experience, we have levels of abstraction. There are sense perceptions, then emotions and then ideas.

The physiologically healthy way to operate is for sense impressions to travel up the thalamus and generate emotions. For example, seeing a tiger and then experiencing fear. Or seeing one's child and experiencing love.

Thoughts/ideas and emotions shouldn't connect this way. Because thoughts/ideas aren't connected to sensory impression. But they do. Thoughts/ideas will travel down into the thalamus and create emotions. This is a pathological state. Obviously, this is what one experiences when meditating. And the goal is to stop the thoughts from triggering the thalamus.

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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by Grandpa's Spells » Fri Aug 23, 2019 4:29 am

It seems like dude being a poon hound at 80 is actually a fairly strong endorsement.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by nafod » Fri Aug 23, 2019 8:55 pm

Rather, adultery with multiple women, some of whom are sex workers, took place over the past four years. The outcome was extended relationships with a group of about ten women. Relationships with some continue to the present day.
That's some level 11 Dharma there.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by Sangoma » Sun Aug 25, 2019 3:29 am

Meditation is simpler than many believe it to be. Sit down, shut up, follow the breath. When your mind wonders away from the breath and you notice it - bring it back to the breath. Continue for 20 minutes. Do not set goals. Do not expect anything to happen. There is no progress. This is it. You will know when it works.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by nafod » Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:16 pm

All this time, people thought he was gazing at his own navel
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