Reply to XX on Greed, Hatred, and Delusion

Dear X_X,

As usual, your explanations really remind me somehow of what I “should” have known, or did know, or do know but forgot I know – so really helpful at cutting back to basics: GHD and dependent co-arising, the level at which GHD can have slightly different nuances from the standard translations/definitions of greed, hatred, and delusion. 

Did I tell you, by the way, that I do not think I would have attained stream entry when I did if you hadn’t pointed out to me, from the other side of stream entry, as it were, what
I was seeing but not “knowing” I was seeing at that time – how I could find a self only when I switched focus back to an object? After that knowing, that articulation, it was then very easy for me to observe how my sense of self was this continuously shifting redefinition, whether focused momentarily on external objects or “internal” ones. Next sit – stream entry. So I’m a X_X [Shargrol] fan, and a grateful one.

I think Dan’s book would benefit from sketching these kinds of connections out more for paths past first path. Of course, I guess the book could also be 5,000 pages, as it is already nearly 600 in its current incarnation.

Thank you. And, yes, lots of seemingly spontaneous crying and lots of confusion, seemingly false starts, being jerked from one practice mode to another; however, some other profound level of okay-ness is still going strong since stream entry, so onward through the fog!


XX’s Response about Conventional Wisdom and Insight

A good place to “place” the mind is right at the co-arising of sensations and feeling. You can tune into how there seems to be a dimension of reaction that seems to infuse sensations, but they can be teased apart. These are very basic reactions, along the lines of wanting to have (greed), wanting to avoid (hatred), and covering over with thought/fantasy (delusion). These are the energies of the “self” that we believe in and try to protect. The bigger/true self is aware of it all and doesn’t need protecting.

As a thought-problem: Imagine being in equanimity, where there isn’t much sense of the self: anything can arise and it doesn’t seem to disturb equanimity. Now imagine dark night, when the same sorts of sensations put us into a tail spin. What is different? The reactivity of dark night – grabbing to anything that seems to offer release, pushing away anything that seems to hurt, fantasying about alternative experiences that would fix things once and for all.

When things are tough, just stay with sensations as they are arising, no need to take on a huge awareness challenge when things are tough. But when things are a little open and inquiry/introspection can happen, take a look at how sensations arise and the mind reacts with a basic feeling: desire (greed), ill will (hatred), ignoring (delusion).

I keep using different words for GHD to give you a sense of this subtle energy of self. Greed, hatred, and delusion — while the source of our problems — are actually little impulses at the level of sensation. It’s only later that thinking becomes really solid and story-like that GHD become overt human behavioral problems.

By the way, the formal description of what I’m describing is inquiry into [the 12 links of] dependent origination (With Contact as condition, [the link of] Feeling arises) or looking at “Vendana.”

So, right now you’re probably feeling, how am I going to do all of this? Concentration practice, plus noting practice, plus introspection into vendana? Second path is a big confusion and is really specific to the meditator. Do what makes sense to you… and also know that everyone is confused during pretty much all of second path. So if a particular practice seems to make sense, go with that.

A while ago, we would talk about how a meditator starts creating a tool box as they go through the four paths. Unfortunately, in second path you are creating a lot of tools while you’re going through a lot of material. It’s disconcerting, but oh well!

Hope this helps.


Just another note: don’t be afraid to look for the “hurt” that is pretty much always under “anger.” Anger tends to go to defensiveness, fear, uncertainty, and then hurt. The hurt has the most wisdom in it, unfortunately. It’s a tough place to go, but that’s when things really open up. There can be a lot of crying in second path, too.