Note to Antero about My Meditation Methods
Thanks for the welcoming words. I’m next going to move to this thread some detailed descriptions of what happened up through Stream Entry. I was careful to write all of it out right after it happened, mindful that others on the path may find my accounts helpful or at least encouraging. As for “noting,” I’ve never been much of a noter, except that, when I was learning to meditate in the Tibetan tradition, I would note “thoughts” or “sounds” and that sort of thing simply to be aware of when I was drifting off the object. Pre-path, I seemed to have a natural propensity for noticing the Three Characteristics, whether I wanted to or not. So noting sensations with actual labels felt too slow for me. I had the distinct sense that I was missing the “next” set of sensations because I was busy labeling the first. So, no, I don’t really note unless I’m just using, say, a Shinzen Young sort of noting for a special purpose. For instance, if I’m about to do some powers-y formal resolutions or outright magick, which, by the way, I’ve only just begun to play with because I had sudden deep access to the jhanas beginning with Stream Entry, then I will “Feel Out” first to sense the ethical implications of what I’m about to intend. This example is in keeping, in my understanding, with Daniel Ingram’s powers-related advice.
I also had, at certain stages, such as High Equanimity, great results from using “Do Nothing” via Young. The Thai Forest teachers I follow really treat jhana as the basis for all practice, including insight. You will often read their urging readers not to separate samatha and vipassana into two separate practices, and definitely not into separate sits. Rather, they are two different emphases within the same basic attention to jhana. So, in this respect, the various jhanas can be thought of as “floors,” and you can take a kind of elevator up and down to the various floors, stop at a particular landing, and use that landing as a platform for investigating (1) the Three Characteristics and (2) the Four Noble Truths. While sitting, I will usually use Ajaan Lee’s whole-body breath energy as object, which employs a kind of body scanning with breath awareness, which is never boring because you have something to actually do, will get a visual nimitta and lose the sense that I’m breathing at all, and then pull slightly out and above the jhana to “notice” receptively the Three Characteristics.
Ajaan Lee’s Method 2 in Keeping the Breath in Mind is a very brief read, and the book is free via Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s Dharma Talks site. I usually recommend it to friends who are new to meditation, again because I
think this method, because it gives people some definite steps to do, tends to be less susceptible to distraction than, say, focusing attention narrowly on the tip of the nose for 30 minutes straight. At least, that’s been my experience.
Most recently, I’ve been experimenting with fire kasina practice to strengthen my concentration abilities and explore the powers, which did suddenly call me right after Stream Entry.
Again, thanks for the welcome. I’ll continue to move my entries over–there are not too, too many, but enough that it may take a day or two to finish. I look forward to exploring this space and others’ journals when I settle in. I’m especially wanting to learn more about Second Path, because friends at the DhO have told me that they think I’m now past review and on it, and I’m finding it very confusing.