MBSR Article

thepowerThank you for all your responses to my previous post. I have only replied to a few of them so far. But I promise, I’ll get to everyone.

But once again I must call upon the Power Of The Internet.

Maybe a month ago or so somebody posted something either in the comments section here or on Facebook with a link to an article about some issues that folks who do Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) are facing. From what I recall of the article, the basic problem was that MBSR is being marketed to psychologists as an easy to master technique for helping their clients learn to manage stress. The difficulty is that some of those clients are finding they’re getting more stressed after doing the practice or that other psychological stuff is coming up for them. And the psychologists who are using the technique most often don’t know what to do about it when this happens. They don’t expect it.

The root problem is that while stress relief is one of the very common side-effects of meditation practice it is emphatically not what meditation practice is about. Meditation is not for relieving stress. People who have trained for long enough in the standard forms of meditation such as Zen or Vipassana and so forth know this. They’ve been through what the Christian mystics (who also meditate) call the “dark night of the soul” and have emerged from the other side. This is the point at which, in most traditions, one is allowed to start teaching others. It would be unheard of in the Zen tradition for someone who hasn’t experienced this dark side of the practice to be given permission to teach.

By calling this the “dark side” I do not mean to imply that meditation has long-term adverse or damaging effects. But in the short term it often allows a person to come into clearer contact with their own stress or their own less attractive aspects/desires/etc. and can thus be a bit (or a lot) disturbing. This will pass if it’s handled correctly by a good teacher or spiritual friend. But it happens to pretty much everyone who follows any meditative practice seriously. In fact I would say it is a necessary part of the process.

Anyway, I can’t find that article anymore and I really want to! I’ve tried every Google search I can think of and come up with nothing. And I’m certain I didn’t just dream I read this! At least I hope I didn’t…

If anyone knows what the article I’m referring to is, please email me at bw@hardcorezen.info. Thanks!



We have a winner! Jessie Bandur found the article. It’s at http://alohadharma.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/the-refugees-of-mindfulness-rethinking-psychologys-experiment-with-meditation/

Thank you Jessie!

*   *   *

If you’re in or near Ojai, California this coming Friday, December 6th, go see the documentary about me. You have to get your tickets in advance though! Here’s the link where you can buy them.

Dec. 12 we’ll show the documentary about me in Seattle, Washington. You gotta get your tickets in advance, though. Here’s the link!

Dec. 13 we’ll show the documentary about me in Portland, Oregon. Again, you gotta get your tickets in advance. Here’s the link!

I will be at all three screenings to do a Q&A afterwards and sign books and generally hang out with people.

*   *   *

As usual, this blog and my being able to go to these film screenings are supported by your donations! Thank you!

Sharing is caring! Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrEmail this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponDigg this

47 Responses

Page 1 of 1
  1. Brent
    Brent December 5, 2013 at 11:50 am |

    Hi Brad,

    If you have the time for it, here’s an interesting video that may possibly present the underlying physiology for the phenonema you are interested in:


    Good luck with your new project… looking forward to it!


  2. Dan
    Dan December 5, 2013 at 12:39 pm |

    You might also be interested in this interview with Willoughby Britton, a neuroscientist who’s researching this stuff:
    Part 1, Part 2

    I thought I was having a nervous breakdown…. And I found out much later that these were actually classic stages of meditation and I was woefully uninformed. Which I think is actually pretty representative of a lot of people.

  3. Mumbles
    Mumbles December 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm |

    Once upon a time I did a 9 week MBSR course led by a noted psychiatrist that was oriented toward mental health care professionals. Out of the 20 or so people who took it, I was one of only 2 who had other “careers.” I was also one of maybe 5 or 6 who had any experience with meditation practice and one of 3 (inc. the psychiatrist) who had Vipassana meditation experience [some practices which MBSR incorporates, or at least this class did]. What I noticed in the group discussions toward the middle through the end of the 9 weeks was how often participants were struggling to deal with the psychological bile that inevitably bubbles up, & how even though they dealt with people’s problems all day in their job, they were bewildered and nearly helpless trying to deal with their own stuff. There was a lot of breaking down, and breaking through, too, to be fair. But I felt like 9 weeks was too brief a time to really get people into meditating when the results they were getting were largely negative. In fact, over time since then whenever I run into someone who was in the group they invariably tell me they quit trying to meditate, or that it was too hard on them. Many stayed with the yoga that was incorporated, but most did not. I found it to be a positive experience and I picked up a few tricks here and there. So I guess I’d say based on my experience MBSR is beneficial and may even enhance an already established meditation practice. Is it right for beginners? Maybe not.

  4. Fred
    Fred December 5, 2013 at 5:55 pm |

    ” While meditation teachers can essentially “get away” with not telling people about the dark night, psychologists do not have this luxury. Ethically, we are obligated to acknowledge the risks and be cautious. This is not happening yet, but it is my sincere hope that those enamored of third wave CBT will examine not only the manuals and the studies, but look deeply into the descriptions of insight in the pali cannon.”

  5. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 5, 2013 at 9:26 pm |

    Strange to hear people talk about the jhanas as the experience of the “dark night”, since Gautama described them as all marked by a kind of happiness, even the ones where the controlling factor of happiness is no longer present.

    Also struck me as odd to hear you say that one must pass through the dark night in order to teach, Brad. I have always felt that practice is not practice unless it is a matter of necessity to the practitioner, and that the aces in the deck are those for whom the necessity is most present in their daily lives. Not a thing kids of the middle-class really aspire to, but for some it’s a steady series of slippery steps downward until they hit the bottom, and there they may find their own necessity has a practice that is no longer a choice.

    Join the dark side, have a cookie:


  6. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 6, 2013 at 3:28 pm |

    I wrote to Ron Crouch, the author of the article Brad links to above:

    Hi, Ron,

    Brad Warner posted a link to your article, and I was fascinated to read about the significant number of people who have had a bad result from practicing mindfulness meditation in the “bare attention” style taught by modern therapists. Really alarming to hear Dr. Willoughby Britton talk about the suicides and dysfunctionality that Jack Kornfield reported as regular if rare occurrences among those who took up the practice at Spirit Rock.

    …Gautama put forward a practice that began with the distinction of inhalation and exhalation, and he described it this way:

    “…this intent concentration on in-breathing and out-breathing, if cultivated and made much of, is something peaceful and choice, something perfect in itself, and a pleasant way of living too.” (SN V LIV, X, I, ix; Pali Text Society volume 5 pg 285)

    Notice the bit about “perfect in itself”; I think this is the distinction that is made in modern Soto Zen, that the practice is sufficient without any goal.

    …there are Soto Zen teachers, including Reb Anderson at S.F. Zen Center, who no longer include mindfulness of in-breaths and out-breaths in their instruction to their beginning students (at least, Reb had abandoned that instruction last I heard); in my (work), I touch on the reason that distinction is integral to the relaxed movement of breath in sitting (or standing, or walking), and my guess is that the lack of distinction with regard to inhalation and exhalation in a “bare-attention” mindfulness practice or any other meditation practice may contribute to difficulties with the practice. Gautama’s teaching of a practice based entirely around the distinction of in-breaths and out-breaths was surely in part in response to the deaths (of the monks who practiced the meditation on the unlovely), and as such was meant to avoid the ills that practices not based on inhalation and exhalation might generate.

    The role of trance in the practice of meditation means that the actual practice is always unique to the person and the circumstance. Nevertheless, it’s my belief that we can talk intelligently about the induction of trance in normal everyday activity as well as in a meditative setting, and if we can do that then perhaps we can explore the significance of trance in the health and well-being of the individual.


    Mark Foote

    Ron wrote back:

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for reaching out to me. You share a lot of different ideas here. Is there something in particular, some idea or question, that you would like me to consider or respond to?


    Can’t blame him for that, as my post to him was long (I’ve only quoted parts). I replied:

    Hi, Ron,

    Thanks for responding.

    The idea would be that there is history in the teaching of Gautama that says that mindfulness in conjunction with inhalation or exhalation is the safe approach, and was his own practice before and after enlightenment.

    I believe there’s a reason for that in human kinesthesiology, having to do with the two sets of ilio-lumbar ligaments that support the lower spine, and with the importance of the movement of breath to the induction of trance in ordinary human affairs.

    That’s the news, thanks for listening, Ron;


  7. Fred
    Fred December 6, 2013 at 4:47 pm |

    If there is a trance, then there is someone, an agent, having that trance.

    Is no-self upon the Absolute a trance state experienced by an ego-self?

    Even Shinzen Young says there is a point where the witness being mindful of
    the inside and the outside, disappears.

    For someone in therapy who identifies with a solid but troubled ego, doing
    meditation or mindfulness and experiencing no one is there, could lead to a
    horrifying experience.

  8. Fred
    Fred December 6, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
  9. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 6, 2013 at 6:25 pm |

    “Mindful Binge Drinking and Blobology”


  10. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 6, 2013 at 6:35 pm |

    “But we’re trying to see whether to get rid of a lot of the religious and value laden language and move into a more universal and descriptive language. So saying things like this person has established attentional stability or they have a sensory sampling rate of greater than 40 Hertz. Using descriptive language rather than words like this person is an Anagami or an Arhat. That type of value laden and religious language has caused a lot of problems. It tends to piss people off a lot.

    …And the one last thing I wanted to say was that last year somebody said I think it was Rohan, that radical innovation and transformation never comes from incumbent power structures. And I’d like to say I think that things might be changing. Thank you. “

  11. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 6, 2013 at 6:54 pm |

    “If you can cut off outward clinging to objects and inwardly forget your false ideas of self, things themselves are the true self, and the true self is things; things and true self are one suchness, opening through to infinity.

    Then at all times, whatever you may be doing, it stands like a mile-high wall–where is all the trouble and disturbance?

    Time and again I see longtime Zen students who have been freezing their spirits and letting their perceptions settle out and clarify for a long time. Though they have entered the Way, they immediately accepted a single device or a single state, and now they rigidly hold to it and won’t allow it to be stripped away. This is truly a serious disease.

    To succeed it is necessary to melt and let go and spontaneously attain a state of great rest.”

    (Zen Letters, trans. T. Cleary, “Self and Things” p 66)

  12. Mumbles
    Mumbles December 6, 2013 at 7:21 pm |

    “…accepted a single device or a single state…” Proprioception?

  13. Mumbles
    Mumbles December 6, 2013 at 8:41 pm |

    Have I ever led you wrong?…??


  14. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 7, 2013 at 10:15 am |

    Olaf Blanke, in his article concerning his research on out-of-body (AP- autoscopic phenomena) experience:

    “Several authors have also highlighted the role of proprioception and kinesthesia in AP by noting that some patients report about shared movements between their physical and autoscopic body (autoscopic echopraxia [22,50,67,73,62]). A further argument in favor of tactile and proprioceptive mechanisms in AP was given by Blanke et al. [11] who reported that the body position of the patient prior to AH/HAS (upright) and OBE (supine) differs suggesting a differential influence of proprioceptive and tactile processing on AP.

    Another sensory system, which has been linked to AP, is the vestibular system that conveys sensations of the body’s orientation in three-dimensional space to the brain.

    … It might thus be argued that, HAS (heautoscopy- patient unable to distinguish location of self between physical and autoscopic bodies) is not only an experience characterized by the reduplification of one’s body, but also by a reduplification of one’s self. As strikingly reported by Brugger et al. [20] the high risk of suicide during this terrifying experience cannot be overstated as some of these HAS-patients try by all means to reestablish their unitary self.

    Thus, Blanke et al. proposed that AP result from a disintegration in personal space (due to conflicting tactil, proprioceptive, kinesthetic, and visual information) and a second disintegration between personal and extrapersonal space (due to conflicting visual and vestibular information). ”

    In summary: A conflict between tactil/proprioceptive/kinesthetic and visual information coupled with a conflict between visual and vestibular information can, in some cases, give rise to the feeling of being in two places at one time, which can result in suicidal tendencies in the individual as they attempt to re-establish a unitary self at all cost.

    Can we say, that the sense of self depends on a coordination of tactil/proprioceptive/kinesthetic and visual information coupled with a coordination of visual and vestibular information?

    Gautama taught that there is no self, only a collection of graspings after self that are fundamentally empty. Consciousness, he said, arises from the contact between sense organ and sense object, and does not exist apart from contact between sense organ and sense object.

    “(Anyone)…knowing and seeing eye as it really is, knowing and seeing material shapes… visual consciousness… impact on the eye as it really is, and knowing, seeing as it really is the experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye, is not attached to the eye nor to material shapes nor to visual consciousness nor to impact on the eye; and that experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye–neither to that is (such a one) attached…

    (Such a one) experiences happiness of body and happiness of mind. (repeated for ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind).”

    Let us also repeat this for the tactil/proprioceptive/kinesthetic and vestibular senses. And how do I find these last two senses?

    “If you can cut off outward clinging to objects and inwardly forget your false ideas of self, things themselves are the true self, and the true self is things; things and true self are one suchness, opening through to infinity… To succeed it is necessary to melt and let go and spontaneously attain a state of great rest.”

  15. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 7, 2013 at 12:05 pm |

    with a slightly different statement in conclusion, here: http://zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/blog_detail.php?post_id=148

  16. Fred
    Fred December 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm |

    “Gautama the Buddha taught that there is in reality no abiding self, and this accords well with Blanke’s finding that the sense of self actually depends on the coordination of particular senses. ”

    Blanke’s finding is biased by and is a function of identifying with a solid self.

    It is an outgrowth of and attempts to justify a position in the universe from
    that position.

    Blanke’s imaginary and illusionary finding of a sense of self depending on the
    coordination of particular senses is an emergent property of the firing of
    neurons, yet still an illusion.

    The Buddha reiterates over and over that there is nothing there, and if a person
    cannot handle arriving at the point where the Chesire cat fades in and out, then
    don’t follow the path.

  17. Fred
    Fred December 7, 2013 at 4:57 pm |

    ” things and true self are one suchness, opening through to infinity”

    This can’t be quantified by the McMindfulness Blobological scientists.

  18. Fred
    Fred December 7, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  19. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 7, 2013 at 8:24 pm |

    “You may have noticed that I’m not exactly all there myself”- Cheshire Cat

    Here’s another conclusion based on Blanke’s research:

    “To the six senses that were known in Gautama’s day, we can now add the tactil/proprioceptive/kinesthetic and vestibular senses. Very simply, they are found in the ability to feel the placement and movement of the parts of the body relative to the whole, and in the sense of balance and movement with respect to the three dimensions of space. Blanke’s research points to a coordination of these two senses with the sense of vision in the establishment of a sense of self. Gautama’s teaching asserts that the source of suffering is the ignorance of the experience of the senses as they are, due to a misconception about the abiding nature of self.”

    How’s that, Fred?

  20. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 7, 2013 at 8:28 pm |

    Blanke is talking about the sense of self as in the experience of the sense of self in two places at once (heautoscopy), which can lead a person to attempt suicide so as to restore the unitary sense of self again. That sense of self, not a concept of self. Turns out to be produced by the coordination of particular senses, all the time, and otherwise empty; can there be a statement more affirming of the teaching of Gautama?

    Ok, don’t answer that.


  21. Hungry Ghost
    Hungry Ghost December 7, 2013 at 8:32 pm |

    I’ve noticed that in the West there seems to be a presentation of Buddhism as just meditation, the way Yoga is presented as just stretching, without all the other components. I think this overemphasis/omission is dangerous. Anecdotally, I’ve had a lot of trouble with meditation and have started emphasizing the other 7 aspects of the Eightfold Path, and the other 5 Paramitas a bit more, with positive results.

    I like this bit from the Mahayana Uttaratantra Sastra:

    “Suppose some painters mastered their craft,
    each with respect to a different part of the body,
    so that whichever part one would know how to do,
    he would not succeed with any other part.
    Then the king, the ruler of the country,
    hands them a canvas and gives the order:
    ‘You all together paint my image on this!’
    Having heard this order from the King,
    they carefully take up their painting work.
    While they are well immersed in their task,
    one among them leaves for another country.
    Since they are incomplete
    due to his travel abroad,
    their painting in all its parts
    does not get fully perfected.
    Thus the example is given.
    Who are the painters of these parts of the image?
    They are generosity, morality, patience, and so on.
    Emptiness endowed with all supreme aspects
    is described as being the form of the King.”

  22. Fred
    Fred December 8, 2013 at 5:39 am |

    “Ok, don’t answer that.”


  23. Fred
    Fred December 8, 2013 at 5:43 am |

    “They are generosity, morality, patience, and so on”

    These are all human, mammalian traits.

    Emptiness does its own thing.

    1. Hungry Ghost
      Hungry Ghost December 8, 2013 at 9:45 am |

      Isn’t everything we do human and mammalian? Respectfully, I don’t see the significance of what you’re saying, it sounds to me like you’re setting
      ‘Emptiness’ against and separate from the world of phenomena. Unless I’m missing something, I understand the whole ‘rupam sunyam, sunyataiva rupam’ thing as warning against that kind of interpretation.

  24. Fred
    Fred December 8, 2013 at 6:21 am |

    In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Mate is a book about addiction and
    those trapped in chemical dependency.

    A child dependent on damaged caregivers, and whose conditioning is based in
    suffering, seeks ways of relief from his burden, through trance, chemicals,
    “spiritual exercises”, etc. later in life.

    A conditioned, fragile self has elaborate defence mechanisms holding it all
    together. These mechanisms begin to dissolve in meditation, and hell floats
    to the surface.

    1. Hungry Ghost
      Hungry Ghost December 8, 2013 at 9:47 am |

      I’m gonna get that book

  25. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 9, 2013 at 7:56 am |

    even with the power, it can be tough:


  26. Wedged
    Wedged December 9, 2013 at 10:26 am |

    So…is this section from this Ron guy’s site “real” as far as a Zen student is concerned or is this “new age” fluff? Because…i’ve never heard of “this is exactly what is happening to your mind from your first sit to enlightenment”.

    The Path:

    The A&P
    The Dark Night
    The Physio-Cognitive Stage

    1. sri_barence
      sri_barence December 10, 2013 at 9:46 am |

      It was a first for me too. I suspect that is because the “map” is really more of a list of common experiences that long-term practitioners have had, listed in the order in which they usually appear. I also think experiences would tend to differ depending on the type of practice. For example, I would expect more dramatic experiences from the “word-head” type of koan zazen, where the student focuses on a specific word or phrase. Plain sitting (shikantaza) might not give that kind of result, although some fairly profound experiences seem possible. (Dogen’s ‘dropping off body-and-mind’ is a good example.)

      I would be very skeptical of any supposed “map to enlightenment,” mostly because the best and brightest haven’t been able to come up with anything like that. The best advise seems to be, “Sit still and pay close attention.” Do that often enough, for long enough, and you’ll find out what the fuss is all about.

      Snow is falling outside the window, but none is sticking to the ground.

  27. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 10, 2013 at 9:52 am |

    The practice the Gautamid identified as his own both before and after enlightenment (SN V book X chapter 1), “mindfulness when breathing in and breathing out”:

    “Mindful [one] breathes in. Mindful [one] breathes out. Whether [one] is breathing in a long (breath), breathing out a long (breath), breathing in a short (breath), breathing out a short (breath), one comprehends ‘I am breathing in a long (breath), I am breathing out a long (breath), I am breathing in a short (breath), I am breathing out a short (breath).’ Thus [one] trains [oneself] thinking, ‘I will breathe in experiencing the whole body; I will breathe out experiencing the whole body. [One] trains [oneself], thinking ‘ I will breathe in tranquillizing the activity of body; I will breathe out tranquillizing the activity of body.’

    [One] trains [oneself], thinking: ‘I will breathe in… breathe out experiencing rapture… experiencing joy… experiencing the activity of thought… tranquillising the activity of thought.’

    [One] trains [oneself], thinking: ‘I will breathe in… breathe out experiencing thought… rejoicing in thought… concentrating thought… freeing thought.’

    [One] trains [oneself], thinking: ‘I will breathe in… breathe out beholding impermanence… beholding detachment… beholding stopping… beholding casting away.”

    (MN III 82-83, PTS III pg 124)

    This, he said, constituted one setting up of mindfulness. The first four instructions, he identified as belonging to mindfulness of the body; the second four, to mindfulness of feelings; the third four, to mindfulness of mind; and the last four, to mindfulness of states of mind.

    The difficulty in these instructions for most beginners I believe is in the second instruction: “Whether [one] is breathing in a long (breath), breathing out a long (breath), breathing in a short (breath), breathing out a short (breath), one comprehends ‘I am breathing in a long (breath), I am breathing out a long (breath), I am breathing in a short (breath), I am breathing out a short (breath).’

    Rujing, Dogen’s teacher in China, put it this way:

    “Breath enters and reaches the tanden, and yet there is no place from which it comes. Therefore it is neither long nor short. Breath emerges from the tanden, and yet there is nowhere it goes. Therefore it is neither short nor long.”

    (Dogen’s “Eihei Koroku”, vol. 5, #390)

    In my estimation, both the “long or short” of breath and the tanden depend on the natural (read, without intention) induction of trance. Trance is naturally induced when the relaxation of activity out of stretch and the calmness of distinction of the senses are allowed to take place as a matter of course in the movement of breath.

    “It’s a wonder that we still know how to breath”- Dylan

  28. Wedged
    Wedged December 10, 2013 at 10:18 am |

    ya all that stuff way overcomplicates it for me…I couldn’t remember what Vipassana was so i googled it, and it confused me further. Zen will always be the breathe right? It never switchs at some point to vpisasana? Tibetan at some point you start on the Vipasanna method.

    In Brad’s post though he does mention that students don’t become teachers till they pass through Batman, i mean, Dark Night. If Brad hadn’t of made it sound like he thinks this is real i would have ignored it. I don’t remember any of his books or posts refering to it. Other than the story in HCZ when he wakes up scared at a retreat.

    If this is “real” or “likley” then i’m heading into Dark Night territory…just what i need, more suffering.

  29. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 10, 2013 at 2:53 pm |

    “Making self-surrender the object of thought, one lays hold of single-pointedness of mind, one lays hold of concentration”- concentration would be the definition of Zen.

    I would say that about the time self-surrender as the object of thought becomes a necessity, mindfulness when breathing in and breathing out becomes a practice.

    “knowing and seeing eye as it really is, knowing and seeing material shapes… visual consciousness… impact on the eye as it really is, and knowing, seeing as it really is the experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye… and that experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye-”

    I would say that the “knowing and seeing” described above, in all 9 senses, would be Vipassana.

    You could also say Vipassana is:

    “Whatever… is material shape, past, future or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, mean or excellent, or whatever is far or near, (a person), thinking of all this material shape as ‘This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self’, sees it thus as it really is by means of perfect wisdom. Whatever is feeling… perception… the habitual tendencies… whatever is consciousness, past, future, or present… (that person), thinking of all this consciousness as ‘This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self’, sees it thus as it really is by means of perfect wisdom. (For one) knowing thus, seeing thus, there are no latent conceits that ‘I am the doer, mine is the doer’ in regard to this consciousness-informed body.”

    (MN III 18-19, Pali Text Society III pg 68)

    Very much like Nisargadatta, according to Wikipedia:

    “This leads to the radical notion that there is no such thing as a “doer”. According to him and other teachers of Vedanta, since our true nature or identity is not the mind, is not the body, but the witness of the mind and body, we, as pure awareness, do nothing. The mind and body act of their own accord, and we are the witness of them, though the mind often believes it is the doer. “

  30. Fred
    Fred December 10, 2013 at 5:23 pm |

    The Path:

    The A&P
    The Dark Night
    The Physio-Cognitive Stage

    This is Dan Ingram

  31. Fred
    Fred December 10, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
  32. Fred
    Fred December 10, 2013 at 6:02 pm |

    A chronic dark night yogi says Dan.

    Dan’s understanding of the ” path ” may have a different order.

    He’s does say that Dark Night is a higher state, that it is inevitable, but must be
    dealt with in order for stream entry.

  33. Fred
    Fred December 10, 2013 at 6:21 pm |

    As for one type of mindfulness, it is possible to observe the mind and the body
    all day long, watching thoughts come and go, following the personality while
    it interacts with others, seeing the patterns, defence mechanisms, emotional
    responses, etc.

    Dogen said you study the self to forget the self.

    Eventually that which observes the daily actions of the self, must be dropped.

  34. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 10, 2013 at 9:00 pm |

    “To study the Buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.” -Dogen, Genjo Koan

    “The ancient stream, the cold spring–no one looks in;
    It does not allow travelers to tell how deep it is.” – Denkoroku 50 verse

    “The best hypnotists make the best subjects”


  35. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 10, 2013 at 9:01 pm |

    “Just another old bozo along the path of life”- to at least one of his students, Erickson appeared to have a kind of psychic connectedness that sounds to me a lot like the way I felt about Kobun:


  36. Fred
    Fred December 11, 2013 at 11:24 am |
  37. M1k3
    M1k3 December 11, 2013 at 11:50 am |

    Hi y’all, I may be out of my depth here but I would like to present a different perspective. I came to mindfulness from a recovery program, Al-Anon, which is for the friends and family of alcoholics. I grew up with an alcoholic father and like so many others who were raised this way ended up marrying an alcoholic.
    I started working my recovery once I hit a point where I realized that I couldn’t live this way anymore, it was killing me and I was reaching a point where that was fine, death was becoming preferable to life. In recovery speak I had hit my bottom and I hit it hard.

    I started Al-Anon as well as looking into anything that could help ease the pain. One of the things I stumbled into was Pure Land Buddhism. I wasn’t looking for Nirvana or anything like that, just a way to gain the ability to live normal again, whatever that might mean.

    I spent the majority of my day and the majority of my days reliving the past, the wrongs that were done to me, dark violent thoughts and worrying about what was going to go wrong next. I was in hell and it was in my head.
    For me the Nembutsu was a type of mindfulness that allowed me to stop jumping onto that hamster wheel in my head and racing off. It was the beginning of learning how to choose how to respond rather than simply react. I didn’t have to run on auto pilot anymore.

    With this practice I spent less time running out of control and even learned to recognize when I starting down that same old path. I do some breathing meditation but it is not the primary focus of my practice, it is still the Nembutsu. I have been doing this practice for close to 3 years now and have seen significant changes in how I live my life. I am no longer ruled by doubt and fear. The best way I can describe it is that I have found my center and can accept reality as it is, good or bad. Not that I never lose my center but I now have to tools to recognize when that is happening and how to get it back.

    I guess my point is that mindfulness did not lead me to my dark night of the soul but rather led me out of it. I did experience a lot of what you described in the early months of my practice as I used introspection and journaling as a way of looking at myself realistically, both good and bad. In recovery terms this would be doing a 4th step. If I was ever going to heal I needed to be brutally honest about who I was and what the real causes of my suffering were. I found books on Buddhism, and Brad’s books in particular, being very helpful in giving me a perspective and a vocabulary for what was going on.

    I think it is quite probable that any type of practice or program like this is going to raise these types of feelings and thoughts and dealing with them in an honest manner is what leads us to a better place.

    I am now comfortable living in my own skin and accepting that things are just as they are. I do not have any control over other people places or things. In fact I don’t have any control over my thoughts and emotions but I do have control over how I choose to respond to them.

    And for me that is enough.


  38. Steve
    Steve December 11, 2013 at 11:53 am |

    Wedged –

    i also find many of these discussions frustrating and pointless and over complicated. On the issue of the “Dark Night”, I think at some point in meditation you begin to see through the small self, you start to realize that you’re not what you think you are, and you begin to see clearly the incredible extent of the delusion. At that point, you’re likely to see with some startling clarity how through believing in that delusion, you have brought a lot of suffering into the world. You’ll think, “hey! I feel this way and act on it and that’s delusional. I think this way and act on it and that’s delusional.” And these might be really powerful thoughts in a way you’re not used to having. And the more and more you do that, the more and more you might not like what you come to find out about yourself and the way you’ve been acting/thinking/feeling. You might start to change the way you behave. But it might not always be pleasant.

    At the same time that this is happening, your meditation might become more and more unfocused or less one-pointed as other things float around the periphery of your attention. Or it might just feel less fulfilling. If you’re the kind of person that relies on meditation to really feel better, it’s like a double whammy.

    For me – what I’ve found is that yeah I feel worse in some ways about the way I’ve been living and acting. But I”m not as confused about why i’m not happy as I used to be. I’m not as angry at the world. When I find myself grasping to understand and suffering, I look at it now and know that I’m doing something wrong. And my behavior has started to change on its own accord simply because it’s difficult to live dishonestly. So this dark night stuff has an upside as well.

    Daniel Ingram’s description or map is not the be-all end-all any more than the ox-hearding pictures are or whatever.

  39. Shodo
    Shodo December 11, 2013 at 7:52 pm |

    Total change of conversation… but Brad, I thought of you.
    Actually looks pretty freaky – Even heard “Requiem, for Soprano” from 2001 in there.


  40. M1k3
    M1k3 December 12, 2013 at 5:30 am |

    Steve, thank you. Delusional thinking is what I was going for and how to get past it.


  41. Wedged
    Wedged December 13, 2013 at 8:12 pm |

    Cool, thanks for the replies everyone. Very helpful…I do use meditation as a means to chillout or at least it’s a very good motivation to get me to the cushion. And as i get deeper it’s like i can see the dust storm in the distance. “everything is impermanent” must be ratling around.

  42. Jules
    Jules December 27, 2013 at 9:33 am |

    Call me juvenile, but I’m finding it impossible to read “dukkha nanas” without hearing “dookie nanners” in my head.

Comments are closed.