Dark night of the "soul"

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Dark night of the "soul"

Postby Nibbida » Fri May 08, 2009 3:59 am

In this video, Ken Wilbur describes a phenomenon that I've heard many times from meditators:

http://integrallife.com/applications/da ... n-practice

My question is whether there are terms in the Theravada tradition that pertain to this.

Thanks!
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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Re: Dark night of the "soul"

Postby pink_trike » Sat May 09, 2009 6:37 am

*bump*
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Dark night of the "soul"

Postby fijiNut » Sat May 09, 2009 7:58 am

In my limited understanding, the closest thing that comes to a "Dark night of the soul" is the Dukha Nanas in Theravada Insight practice.

http://www.buddhanet.net/knowledg.htm
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Re: Dark night of the "soul"

Postby Jechbi » Sat May 09, 2009 3:27 pm

It's really hard to know exactly what this young woman was experiencing without being her. But it sounds as if she was experiencing a physical reaction to something in her environment. Part (or all) of that might well have been the mental stuff she was stirring up in meditation practice, but I don't see how Ken Wilbur would have any way of knowing that.

I have some concerns about the exchange in this video.

First, this young woman is sharing a very personal experience that may have complicated, varied contributing factors, but she assumes that the only contributing factor to her troubling experience is her meditation practice. That might not be true. There might be other things going on in her life that also are contributing to this type of anxiety.

Second, Ken Wilbur validates her (possibly incorrect) view that meditation is the only contributing factor for her troubling experience.

Third, who is Ken Wilbur trying to help here? The young woman? Or the entire audience? This particular type of interview should not be conducted in a theater-like setting, in my opinion. I think it would be more appropriate for Ken to preface his comments by saying something like: "You've described some very powerful personal experiences, and I think it would be better if we could discuss this together after the talk, if you wish. But here are some general thoughts that may or may not apply in your particular situation ...) Then, afterward, Ken could try to determine if meditation instruction is really going to help this young woman at this stage, or whether he should suggest that she speak with her physician.

Here are some of the other things that might have been causing her anxiety: diet, a virus, some other physical illness, significant change in family circumstances, significant change in workplace circumstances, the weather, etc. Personally, I think a good teacher would at least suggest that meditation practice alone is not likely to be the sole contributing factor to experiences of anxiety or peace. In fact, a good teacher would say that whatever comes up in meditation, we should recognize that it is impermanent.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Dark night of the "soul"

Postby MMK23 » Sat May 09, 2009 3:54 pm

Given my rantings on the other topics, I'm writing here to demonstrate that I am a foolish, yet-to-be-humbled hypocrite. I think given Ken Wilbur's track record: viz his infomercial super-religions, his hawking of shopping channel meditation devices, and his relationship with Genpo Dennis Merzl's unspeakable Big Mind TM, I'd very much like it if his presence were not continued in any Buddhist forums and he was left to hawk his products and his anti-dhammic views through his own door-to-door efforts.
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Re: Dark night of the "soul"

Postby Individual » Sat May 09, 2009 4:08 pm

MMK23 wrote:Given my rantings on the other topics, I'm writing here to demonstrate that I am a foolish, yet-to-be-humbled hypocrite. I think given Ken Wilbur's track record: viz his infomercial super-religions, his hawking of shopping channel meditation devices, and his relationship with Genpo Dennis Merzl's unspeakable Big Mind TM, I'd very much like it if his presence were not continued in any Buddhist forums and he was left to hawk his products and his anti-dhammic views through his own door-to-door efforts.

+1
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Re: Dark night of the "soul"

Postby Nibbida » Tue May 19, 2009 1:48 am

MMK23 wrote:Given my rantings on the other topics, I'm writing here to demonstrate that I am a foolish, yet-to-be-humbled hypocrite. I think given Ken Wilbur's track record: viz his infomercial super-religions, his hawking of shopping channel meditation devices, and his relationship with Genpo Dennis Merzl's unspeakable Big Mind TM, I'd very much like it if his presence were not continued in any Buddhist forums and he was left to hawk his products and his anti-dhammic views through his own door-to-door efforts.


Oy vey!
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Re: Dark night of the "soul"

Postby MMK23 » Tue May 19, 2009 5:33 am

Nibbida wrote:
MMK23 wrote:Given my rantings on the other topics, I'm writing here to demonstrate that I am a foolish, yet-to-be-humbled hypocrite. I think given Ken Wilbur's track record: viz his infomercial super-religions, his hawking of shopping channel meditation devices, and his relationship with Genpo Dennis Merzl's unspeakable Big Mind TM, I'd very much like it if his presence were not continued in any Buddhist forums and he was left to hawk his products and his anti-dhammic views through his own door-to-door efforts.


Oy vey!


Too much?
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Re: Dark night of the "soul"

Postby Rui Sousa » Thu May 21, 2009 1:03 pm

Nibbida wrote:In this video, Ken Wilbur describes a phenomenon that I've heard many times from meditators:

http://integrallife.com/applications/da ... n-practice

My question is whether there are terms in the Theravada tradition that pertain to this.

Thanks!


Hello,

The woman on the video describes very accurately the symptoms of a panic attack: Panic attack

The idea of self, such as in the thought "I am a sane person", is a consequence of wrong view, and a cause of suffering and despair (we now call it panic attacks). Fear of losing sanity only arises if one sees himself as sane, and then holds on to this idea.

From the MN 2 Sabbasava Sutta:

"There is the case where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person... does not discern what ideas are fit for attention, or what ideas are unfit for attention. This being so, he does not attend to ideas fit for attention, and attends instead to ideas unfit for attention... This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'

"As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self... or the view It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self arises in him as true & established, or else he has a view like this: This very self of mine — the knower that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & bad actions — is the self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and will endure as long as eternity. This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.
With Metta
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Re: Dark night of the "soul"

Postby Jechbi » Sat May 30, 2009 3:34 pm

Rui Sousa wrote:The idea of self, such as in the thought "I am a sane person", is a consequence of wrong view, and a cause of suffering and despair (we now call it panic attacks). Fear of losing sanity only arises if one sees himself as sane, and then holds on to this idea.

Sabbe puthujjana ummattaka (Ordinary people are insane). From the Visuddhimagga.

Starting with that premise, and keeping it in mind, I think there are some circumstances in which it is useful and beneficial to have the thought, "I am a sane person." From a purely practical standpoint, there is a self, just not a permanent, unchanging self. Rather, this self is the product of constantly changing conditions, and those conditions can indeed be wholesome or unwholesome. So from a relative point of view, it can be skillful to identify which conditions are more predominant at this moment, the wholesome ones or the unwholesome ones. That's one way of establishing whether, relatively speaking, one is becoming more sane or less sane. The word is related to sanitary, purity of mind. Practice is the process of purifying the mind.

So in some circumstances, the thought "I am a sane person" is a consequence of mundane right view and a cause of resolve and hope (a good way to avoid panic attacks). Fear of losing sanity, like any other fear, has a variety of causes and conditions, and not all of them are necessarily intellectual.

A panic attack is not necessarily just the result of some kind of intellectual, philosophical standpoint vis-à-vis the supposed self. For most of us, having a measured sense of self esteem is going to be helpful along the path. Otherwise, how can one be kind to oneself?
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Dark night of the "soul"

Postby Rui Sousa » Sat May 30, 2009 11:00 pm

Hi jechbi,

For me the sentence "I am a sane person" is equivalent to "I am a person with no mental disorder or unbalance, my mind is perfectly normal and healthy."

Seeing virtue in our minds is very helpful, for the reasons you presented, and so are thoughts of metta towards ones mind. But rejoicing with our wholesome actions means to me that we recognize how rare and how beautiful they are, both in the world as in our minds, which would be the opposite line of thought of "I am sane".

So I say "I am not a sane person. My mind has greed, aversion and ignorance dominating it. I suffer. This has to stop". With this statement, together with metta, I can establish a plan to reduce my delusion, and rejoice when i am able of being kind, generous or when I restrain from indulging the senses.

Beyond the words and their meanings I believe that we are in tune about this matter.
With Metta
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Re: Dark night of the "soul"

Postby Jechbi » Sun May 31, 2009 5:21 pm

:goodpost:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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