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Building Enthusiasm

Discussion in 'Meditation Chatter Box' started by Michael David, May 10, 2011.

  1. Michael David

    Michael David Member

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    I have been contemplating, wrestling and exploring a question for some time. It is whether or not it is helpful to use past experience as a tool or aid to shift our mood and create a space for a better meditation.

    We routinely hear that we live in the present, the past is gone and the future is not here. Well and good, we all realize that all of our thoughts even those about the past or future are happening in the now.

    One of the benefits of this community is its connection to LifeFlow technology which as Pollyanna so wonderfully described does not create a meditative state in itself but allows for a resonance or for more of the conditions for meditation to be available.

    This allows for a possible shift to occur in our level of vibration, energy and its relationship to what I would call enthusiasm or happiness.

    Another aid or tool to allow an opening into a meditative vibrational state may be memories of past experience. Our own experience that was at a higher more open level of vibration, enthusiasm or happiness. Not to try to relive that experience but to feel the echo of its energetic state. For example looking at old photographs of a time when you were happy may be like ringing a bell which has an echo that you can feel or a vibrational state that is somewhat different from the one you had just before you looked at the photo. Similar to the shift that occurs before and after listening to a LifeFlow cd.

    Once in a better vibrational place you can drop the tool (memory or cd) and become more mindful of now which brings you closer to Edwin’s description of meditation 24/7.

    As an example I am sitting in traffic late for a meeting. I feel my energy drop and my vibrational level to get heavy. I try to be more mindful and relax and accept the traffic but it is not working. Then I recall my bell ringer idea what if I bring up some memories of a happier time.

    I recall thinking about the experience of climbing the mountain at High Hampton Inn and looking down at the valley and across at the other tops of the Smokey Mountains. Fishing on the lake. Eliciting in my mind other memories of a similar feeling or tone of mind/thought. Looking at the hills from the steps of Kripalu Yoga Center at sunrise. Remembering a visualization that had come up during a musical meditation after Kundalini yoga class.

    I feel my vibration getting lighter and now I am able to be more mindful and start to expand into the place I am at. The sky, my breath, the other people in the cars around me. A compassion arises for the others in the same circumstance and then a happier thought “I could be out caught in the rain.”



    The question then, is the use of past experiences a useful tool to shift in the direction of a better group of thoughts?

    There seems to be a zig zagging of being more or less mindful as the circumstances of our day keep changing. A move in the direction of enthusiasm for this moment or for more happiness in this moment seems like a move in the right direction. Of course if we were enlightened and in meditation 24/7 we would have no need of any aid and we could just be. That would be very nice.

    Michael
     
  2. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Hi Michael,

    Yes and No.

    Yes, the past experiences are obviously good tools so that we can apply the "knowledge" that we learnt from them in the present moment. No, when we allow the "memories" to distract us from what is in the present moment; even if those memories bring back "good" or "happy" feelings etc.

    Anything that distracts us from the present moment is not truly useful. Our mind would like to believe it is, and we can even convince ourselves it is (we do all the time), but in reality it's not.

    Consider the following...

    You're driving along, but get stuck in traffic. You start to get annoyed at the traffic but decide to calm yourself down by focusing your attention on happy past memories instead.

    a) there's nothing wrong with being in traffic, this is just what happens.
    b) getting annoyed with the traffic is just a creation of our own mind based on past experiences/memories and fears. The traffic itself cannot cause annoyance/anger or whatever, these just come from within ourselves.
    c) calming ourselves down by focusing on a happy past memory may seem beneficial and may change our emotions, but these things are not the truth. The Truth is unchanging, but the "happy" emotions will disappear after a while.
    d) distracting ourselves from the present moment with our "negative" or "positive" thoughts prevents us from focusing on what is present in front of us and which could have actually allowed us to deal with the traffic situation, using the "knowledge" we have learned from past experiences.

    So, certainly the past experience are a useful tool to help us deal with the present moment, but we should be careful that the ego does not become attached to the past experience to distract us from the present.

    Easier said than done I know. ;)

    I feel that I have more to say, but it is something to come later or on a seperate thread.

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  3. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    Hi Michael,

    Great post by Giles, and just to add a little bit more

    We have to be careful when accessing the past to overlay the present, when we regress in to our story, we are allowing the ego to emphasise that the past feels incomplete. This results in us constantly using the past to alleviate present moment resistance.
    True happiness lies deep within the experience we are having now. The key is to know this instead of looking for it in all the wrong places including in the past.

    OH YES!


    Peace :)
     
  4. Michael David

    Michael David Member

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    Hi Giles and Karmoh

    I am grateful for your insightful responses to my question.

    I agree with all you have written on at least one level of its meaning.

    The resistance that holds me back from a more energetic, this moment experience, can be lessened by a number of things.

    Shape shifting (like the water of a previous thread) or mind shifting sometimes occurs spontaneously.
    Sometimes a shift occurs as right now when I read responses such as yours Karmoh about resistance or Giles about distracting ourselves from the present moment . Yes the road to nirvana or enlightenment or more happiness starts from right here right now. And sometimes in the middle of a kundalini class it shifts, sometimes in the middle of a cd or vibration, music or words.

    My point is that other than the spontaneous shifts from which we go in and out of the others are brought up while doing something else. The something else (which is always in the present) may be the energetic shifts brought up from memories of the past. As if I were digging a hole in one place in the now (to find the bliss of this moments experience) and part way down I stopped to rest. Or I got distracted by life. And in order to restart without having to go through a 90 minute kundalini class or a silent retreat I could feel the echo of the energetic experience from the past to recharge and keep digging. Possibly more of a path to travel along rather than an end point.

    This might be like eating leftover food from yesterday. Not as loaded with energy but still nourishing.

    Yes, it would not be helpful to cling to the past or future or even to the desire to go deeper into the experience of now but both of your wonderful responses seemed to hedge the question a bit.


    Giles wrote
    Yes, the past experiences are obviously good tools so that we can apply the "knowledge" that we learnt from them in the present moment. ... and a bit more to say.

    Is that knowledge the sense of energy I am describing? The energetic shift of feeling that is difficult to put into words?

    Karmoh wrote
    We have to be careful when accessing the past to overlay the present, when we regress in to our story, we are allowing the ego to emphasise that the past feels incomplete.

    Being careful seems to indicate that there is a value to something if we can do it right. As with right intention?

    As I said this is a puzzling question and I welcome your additional tweaking of these thoughts.

    Michael:)
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2011
  5. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    If you look at Right Intention as the Buddha distinguishes, renunciation, good will and harmlessness. We can see that they are all centred on thoughts of past or future.
    (No thought can actually be in the present it’s always in the past - Paraphrased from Edwin).
    By being careful we acknowledge that the memory of the past is there to serve a purpose, danger, safety, food, wife, kids, and solving problems, etc. but if we use the past to mask the actual present moment we are in danger of resisting the present.



    When we are stuck in traffic, we are stuck in traffic, not cooking dinner. How many times have you driven a route to a meeting and not noticed anything apart from the thoughts of the meeting that hasn't happened yet. ;)

    Most people lead life (my oscillating self-included) in three modes, past, future and present moment resistance


    Peace :)
     
  6. Michael David

    Michael David Member

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    Hi Karmoh,

    It seems that we can make good use of the past to serve a purpose ie solving problems. As long as we are not resisting the present.

    What if we are not resisting the present but are dancing with it. Can we use the experience its energy, the "knowledge" gained in the past, some specific memories and apply them to the present moment and not resist the present moment but dance with it?

    Can we see how our dancing (interaction) with the present moment is either planting beneficial or harmful seeds?

    The energy, experience, knowledge of the past memory gives me the enthusiasm (in the present moment) to dance rather than sit with and be "stuck" in the traffic.

    Sometimes the dance starts to flow and the "stuck" is dropped and just the traffic remains as a vehicle to allow me to sit in meditation. (As I am not going anywhere while sitting in the traffic anyway).:rolleyes:

    Michael:)
     
  7. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    Interesting thread that I have been enjoying so far :)

    I agree with most what is said, but I would like to point out some things:

    1. No matter what is experienced by consciousness, it is always Now that you experience it. There is, as has been said in this thread before, no other moment that is real.

    Having said that, what could then be wrong with re-living a memory ?
    Directing your attention away from the present situation can't be wrong, as it is always Now that you experience what you focus on.
    When realising that re-living a memory also happens Now, along with the positive emotions that accompany them, is a conscious choice, rather than a trick by ego. As emotional vibrations seem to affect the world around us, creating a positive vibe is always good.

    2. Remember your goal. Your conscious choice to go back memory lane was to change your emotional state. As soon as it has changed for the better, redirect your attention to the current situation again.
    But, this is hard to do, as the only way to make a thought train switch direction is to divert your attention away from it.

    So, I would like to suggest another option.

    You see, what you are talking about Michael, is just like Neuro-linguistic programming. You want to change the current emotional program by means of memory.

    But positive memories can easily be abused every time you enter a less desireable situation. So, when you are not happy with the situation you are in, a positive memory is a way to escape the current moment, and then you are missing the moment you are in. That is an act of agression on the Now, you are denying your own life right now.

    What you should be looking for instead of always wanting to be happy, is to use Neuro-linguistic programming to enter a calm state, the 24/7 meditation state. To do that, I would recommend that while meditating, you always take on the same posture. Myself, I always place my right hand in my left, and allow my thumbs to lightly touch each other, and I always have a very very light smile on my face when meditating.
    So, whenever I am in need of a calm mindset, I simply do the hands and smile thing, and I become calm as if in meditation.

    It is a matter of a few seconds, and then I am ready to take on whatever is manifesting in consciousness :)
     
  8. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Hi Michael,

    When I wrote my post last night (it was last night for me in the UK at least), I said I felt I had more to say, and I knew what it was that needed saying but, because I was being present at the time (I simply write what comes into my head rather than thinking about it), I was aware of my intuitive insight at that time that told me to wait until the right time to say it, and sure enough, you asked the correct question...

    .... which is what being in the present moment and letting conversation flow is all about (as described in the Celestine Prophecy books by James Redfield). If I had provided my answer to this question before you asked it, then it would have seemed I was waffling. It may seem like that now hehe, but I think it demonstrates beautifully the essense of conversation in the present moment, even though we are only able to talk via written words on a forum.

    So, to answer your question... "Is that knowledge the sense of energy I am describing?"

    Yes. As you say, it's difficult to put into words, but the way I describe it is that all experience is 'stored' as a "pattern" of energy, just as the essence of a story is stored in a book as a pattern of words. In each present moment we experience we receive thousands upon thousands of inputs from our senses and these generate their own "pattern" of energy. Not only is this new "pattern" stored in our memories, but it is catalogued (just as a book is catalogued in a library), and that is done by matching it's "pattern" with "patterns" already stored in memory. Of course there won't be an exact match, but there will be similarities with those past "patterns", and as the librarian of the mind searches for the best way to integrate the new pattern with existing ones, those existing patterns are drawn up, very briefly, as thoughts in the mind. Now, we can observe these patterns arising as thoughts and just let them go again, or we can consciously grab hold of one. If we do grab hold of one, we not only bring this into the conscious mind, but we actually allow it to generate a sort of bio-feedback, so that existing pattern stimilates the senses, and hence the cycle continues with our senses receiving inputs from both the 'external' word and from our previous experiences.

    If we let these previous experiences take a hold on our senses then this distracts us from the present moment and we become immersed in more cyclic-feeback with other existing patterns (a whole scenario of past experience can come back to us and we can daydream for prolonged periods like this). However, if we remain present, we can put our awareness on what our senses are receiving externally, and not let the past experiences surface and distract us.

    As Edwin says, it's not "wrong" to experience these past experiences, because there is no real thing as "wrong". However, if you consider the driving along in your car scenario, the last thing you want is to become distracted and caught in a daydream, as that is when accidents happen. It may have been a happy past experience/daydream, but it was not appropriate at that moment.

    I hope that answers your question

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  9. Uplift

    Uplift Guest

    Gidday,
    I think lots of tools, or paths can lead to the experience of your Self or Truth, if you choose it enough, with enough passion. People often complicate and make something that in reality is miraculously magnificent and unbelievably awesome, incredibly mundane. A theme is present in most Spiritual guides, along the lines of simple, but passionate devotion and love ala the Cowherd Girls in the Bhagavad Gita. When asked about the path to God, or Oneness, Jesus was simple, love God, love your neighbour. The heads of religious conventions hated that theme, and mainly still do. It brings us all instantly capable of the same level.
    Using past experience to create a passionate, emotion driven mind set, then directing it can be amasingly usefull, and is the basic principle of repeating the name of God over and over, with passion and emotion. The mind doesn’t have to be feared or despised but can be a gift, a vehicle used to help gain the experience of yourself. Bhudda’s extraordinary mental devotion and persistence, finally resulting in achieving the goal is a classic example. We all have a mind, a freebie, its a huge waste not to understand and use it wisely.
    There is heaps of faith in LOA, plenty of amasing, miraculous stories. So when the goal is Self experience, the mind is the vehicle, until the goal is reached. Passion, emotion and repetition mentally channelled toward a crystal clear target ensure success.
    The true happiness talked about is experienced, which has been described by revered people. Is the mind the only way of experiencing? Some might think so, but Unlimited Spirit, or Oneness can most certainly experience in unlimited ways, even though the mind or ego might not be able to, or want to grasp or accept that.
    Being able to develop a way to sum up passion and emotion then persistently channel it, is a good aid to whatever it is you are seeking. Its a hallmark of successful people in any endeavour, including... in fact especially in the quest for Spiritual Realisation.
    I reckon listen to your Self Michael and do it, wholeheartedly.
     
  10. Uplift

    Uplift Guest

    Gidday,
    I think lots of tools, or paths can lead to the experience of your Self or Truth, if you choose it enough, with enough passion. People often complicate and make something that in reality is miraculously magnificent and unbelievably awesome, incredibly mundane. A theme is present in most Spiritual guides, along the lines of simple, but passionate devotion and love ala the Cowherd Girls in the Bhagavad Gita. When asked about the path to God, or Oneness, Jesus was simple, love God, love your neighbour. The heads of religious conventions hated that theme, and mainly still do. It brings us all instantly capable of the same level.
    Using past experience to create a passionate, emotion driven mind set, then directing it can be amasingly usefull, and is the basic principle of repeating the name of God over and over, with passion and emotion. The mind doesn’t have to be feared or despised but can be a gift, a vehicle used to help gain the experience of yourself. Bhudda’s extraordinary mental devotion and persistence, finally resulting in achieving the goal is a classic example. We all have a mind, a freebie, its a huge waste not to understand and use it wisely.
    There is heaps of faith in LOA, plenty of amasing, miraculous stories. So when the goal is Self experience, the mind is the vehicle, until the goal is reached. Passion, emotion and repetition mentally channelled toward a crystal clear target ensure success.
    The true happiness talked about is experienced, which has been described by revered people. Is the mind the only way of experiencing? Some might think so, but Unlimited Spirit, or Oneness can most certainly experience in unlimited ways, even though the mind or ego might not be able to, or want to grasp or accept that.
    Being able to develop a way to sum up passion and emotion then persistently channel it, is a good aid to whatever it is you are seeking. Its a hallmark of successful people in any endeavor, including... in fact especially in the quest for Spiritual Realisation.
    I reckon listen to your Self Michael and do it, wholeheartedly.
     
  11. Michael David

    Michael David Member

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    Thank you all for the wonderful posts. Insightful, helpful and filled with wisdom.

    This was titled Building Enthusiasm and it seems to be working (at least for me).

    A few more thoughts -

    We all seem to be describing the proverbial elephant from differing but equal vantage points. From a nondual viewpoint everything and all views, thoughts, concepts, understandings are just another "Face of God." Like different flavors of ice cream seem different they are all ice cream (and good). :)

    But on a level of physical reality, the relative not the Universal the differences appear to be significant. ( There are even some flavors of ice cream I do not like).

    Karmoh wrote -- True happiness lies deep within the experience we are having now.

    I certainly agree as I think we all do. And at different times I am more or less able to dig deeper in the moment (whatever is occurring) to get closer to true happiness. I think the question is how do we dig to get to the true happiness? I agree that staying with the discomfort of the moment sometimes is a path. Pema Chrodron calls it SIT STAY HEAL. And when I am able to be in that place I do just that and allow the uncomfortable sensations that accompany the thoughts of the moment to be felt and acknowledged and then as Ezra Bader describes imagine those sensations being absorbed by my open heart and disolving.

    At other times , maybe when the thought/feeling/emotional reaction occurs too fast for me to catch up with it my ability to SIT STAY HEAL has past by and I am into a different energetic level (not remembering with awareness that they are all faces of god) I become aware of the beginning of an uncomfortable energy and I recall from my explorations of sensation in meditation (as Edwin so beautifully described where he can touch to re-enter a calm state at will) a "trigger" of open soft warmth on my face. This sensation through meditation has become a portal. If I have a pleasant sensation/awareness in meditaion it is felt in this area. And if I consciously soften my face in this area it leads back to a deep sense of calm (as in meditation).

    Giles wrote -- However, if we remain present, we can put our awareness on what our senses are receiving externally, and not let the past experiences surface and distract us.

    I certainly agree. A difficult balancing act like dancing in the rain without slipping. Or driving through the detours of daily life without getting lost in it. But well worth the effort.

    Uplift wrote -- So when the goal is Self experience, the mind is the vehicle, until the goal is reached. Passion, emotion and repetition mentally channelled toward a crystal clear target ensure success.

    Yes the goal and the intention are different. In planning a hike up a mountain the goal might be to get to the top. The intention might be to be mindful at each step and enjoy the view, the company, the sky and fresh air. The goal may give motivation and create enthusiasm as the moment by moment mindfulness carries us along.

    So back to the elephant. As described by Thich Nat Hahn an elephant is made up of all non elephant parts. Maybe true happiness is just that. It is made up of everything that is not true happiness and like the elephant when all the parts are in place true happiness emerges. We just have to keep going one step at a time uncovering one layer after the other.

    A final thought. As the eyeball cannot see itself. If we ever get to the last layer can we remove it? And if we did there would be no object left for the subject to see. It would all be back to nondual (as it is now anyway). Anyway who or what would be there to know the difference? I don't know but it seems that the answer to what came first the chicken or the egg is in there somewhere.

    Michael:)
     
  12. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    Won't you crash if you're driving :D:rolleyes:;)

    Seriously though, is that method "Centre Widen Listen" by Paul Wilso?
     
  13. Uplift

    Uplift Guest

    There is a common theme in many insights. Persistent, mental fervour and exuberance. Or, persistent, passionate choice. Followed by what we call surrender. We all use it and experience it to varying degrees. Such as when looking for lost keys, remembering names, etc, thinking about friends, etc. Even, or perhaps especially, worrying about debts, and so on. Much focused thought, and intense, genuine emotional drive sinks the choice home, then, seemingly we give up, let go for a while, bingo, keys are found. Or, perhaps debts grow. The great insights share a common theme, even Buddha’s etc.
    We blame our ego’s and mind for lots of things, but in reality its us that has fuelled and chosen our path. Not many people make the same degree of passionate choices as those people they might wish to emulate. A bit like saying we wish poverty would end, that governments would act, then spending a quick 5 mins visualising it, whilst constantly, excitedly and relentlessly choosing a lifestyle and products made by third world, impoverished people.
    Just an observation, but somehow, overall as a culture, westerners have chosen to become masters at one type of emotional passion. People tend to get very excited and emotional about sadness, death, injury, illness, misfortune and so on, a trait that the media exploits, and thus fosters. It is overall, expected and encouraged. That type of passion comes easily and intensely. However generally when visualising, or meditating, or pondering on something that people want, in a positive light, the emotion, passion and exuberance meter isn’t driven to anywhere near those top levels. People getting too exited about success, or exited about feeling good are overall frowned on, and discouraged, and stand out as ‘over the top’, or strange.
    So I think it’s a crucial skill to develop ways of being persistent, excited and passionate about what you really want. Undoing what we don't really want, and choosing to train, hone and condition our minds the way we really want to.
     
  14. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    It is ! :) I forgot you too have that book !
     
  15. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    Yes, Book A is great for starting out, Book B is really beneficial when settled in to a practice :)
     
  16. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    This is the real deal. The seeming differences are on a mental level. Thoughts have to divide, it is what they are made for. You have to divide the world in order to see how the cup of coffee and the table are seperate, or you will never take a sip.
    But in the end, the table, the cup, the coffee, the sugar, all are based on one basic thing: Nothing !
    As Bill Hicks so beautifully described:
    "All matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves....."
    Don't !!!

    On a shallow level, looking for happiness is like trying to grab a stream of water. It is impossible and part of the rat-race we are all in, desperately looking for ways to become happy.

    But on a deeper level, you find out that that is what the problem is: You want to become happy.
    That is denying yourself the happiness of Now. If you want to become happy, that must mean that you aren't happy now !

    People look for happiness in their surroundings, in a bigger house, a nicer car, a new swimming pool...
    But what it should be about is realising that you are happy now, and then on top of that, there is the surroundings. And there is nothing wrong with making more money to get that swimming pool. But the swimming pool isn't what makes you happy, it is just nice to have it, you just don't need it to be happy.

    So don't discard the rat-race, don't deny yourself economical and material comfort "because you don't need it to be happy". But don't go chasing it to become something that you allready are, Now.

    If you are willing to stop thinking about it for a minute.

    That is why meditation is your escape route, it is the only moment of the day that you allow yourself the pleasure of not concentrating on whatever thought is coming up. Even in your posts you frequently say things like "here is another thought". And as enjoyable as they are to keep an interesting conversation going, it is not where you will find the happyness you are trained to look for.
    Focusing on attention-awareness brings instant gratification, and when outside meditation people lose that and focus on problems, and the thoughts emerging from those problems, creating more problems and thoughts.

    Or, as Uplift said, worries about debts, which used to be my kryptonite until I stopped focusing my attention on them. Now, every time and at just the right time, solutions to would-be financial problems seem to manifest. Fail-safe.
    When I really need something, like money to pay a bill or whatever, it manifests, just in time. And the financial situation I used to be in for years is rapidly changing for the better. In fact, Uplift tried to warn me about it a few months back, and I mistakenly took it for critisism at that time. For that, I am sorry Uplift. I see now how you tried to help me.

    So, stop paying attention to every thought, and focus only on those that are helpful Now, for the situation you are in Now, and thus you focus on the Now and happiness comes naturally, without effort or digging for it.
    Like when I gave the example of realising that you are the water, no matter what is stirred up, you said that after that you felt this:

    And I said "try to stick to this sensation" ( and notice how you focused on thoughts even in this quote ).

    The thoughts are what come up in this sensation, but as long as you focus on the sensation and not on the thoughts themselves, the sensation stays.:cool:
     
  17. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    This statement really resonated. :)
    In that seeing, there is true liberation, we can think without identifying with whatever arises. Every thought flows by appearing then disappearing leaving no trace. We identify a deep, silent, stillness between the thoughts. If we rest there as often as possible, until even resting is no longer necessary, we will know exactly when resting in awareness is no longer necessary because we will begin to see that awareness is always present, whether we are not thinking or whether lots of thoughts are happening.
    We find no need to escape any “real world” situation. We find ourselves contented with life, no matter what thought is happening precisely because we see that thought is a temporary flow and it is not pointing to real separation.

    Thanks Edwin :D
     
  18. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Absolutely. Language is just a means to model our understanding. It's all the same understanding, just expressed differently. However, that's not a bad thing, as learning different models can help us to have insights we didn't get with other models.

    I know Edwin has already picked up on this. My own answer would simply be...

    Why dig a water well when you're standing in the river?

    ;)
     
  19. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    Shame on you for making me feel like a long-winded old fart ( which I am ;) :p )
     
  20. Michael David

    Michael David Member

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    Great posts. Need time to ??? More to follow.

    I feel like I am in the river but I do not feel wet!!

    Michael
     

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