Cautious about practicing consistent vipassana with mental health issues?

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Cautious about practicing consistent vipassana with mental health issues?

Post by purist_andrew » Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:42 pm

Hello friends,

I mostly lurk here but came across some reading material the other day that I'd like to share and ask your opinions about.

A little history... I'm 35 years old and I have been in the (outpatient) psychiatric system for most of my adulthood with schizoaffective disorder, basically not full blown but halfway to schizophrenia along with a mood component. I have made substantial recovery and am doing mostly well in community college and having a social life... I have a fair amount of experience with mindfulness, sila, and metta. I have grown a lot with it and practice the precepts in daily life, although I do not have a consistent meditation practice at this time. I used to, for a short period of time, however, before I backslid some, and I find benefits to it like guarding my morality (see below paste), helping quite much with mental health and ending addiction to substances (been clean years now), as modern research confirms it does, and so on.

As referenced below it helps with moral conduct and steadying the mind:
This concentration through mindfulness of breathing, when developed and practiced much, is both peaceful and sublime, it is an unadulterated blissful abiding, and it banishes at once and stills evil unprofitable thoughts as soon as they arise."
I aspire to be a consistent practitioner and have some level of realization, but I was reading the second edition of "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha" by Daniel M. Ingram which is being released at about the present time. I am most interested in his (very explicit and descriptive) maps of the progress of insight as the core of the book. But morality too. And I came across the following that I'd like to share and ask your opinions on..

I understand Ingram is very controversial as well as his teaching, all the more reason I'd like your feedback, especially whoever reading this has experience with retreats and long-term consistent practice.

I have read previously that insight practice directly enhances mental health (see Bhante G. and his book MIPA as well as modern scientific studies on the brain), presumably more and more as your practice deepens. But after reading this passage I think maybe I should take it easy a while and focus on sila, metta bhavana, trying to get more stable and healthy in more mundane ways, eg hobbies (in this case for me, computer programming is the field I'm majoring in at college), work, trying to be kind and helpful to people in different ways, drawing from Theravada and other Buddhist traditions about living a wise and kind life, other mind-training techniques. Then when I'm more together approach insight practice more seriously.

Here is the material, not all of it was together but in snippets:
This should be seen as another warning: this book and the path presented in it are not for those who at this time find that they are unstable spiritual seekers. Meditation at the levels I am about to describe requires a baseline mental and material stability; and with respect to the latter, not necessarily wealth or even a 401(k), but ethically acquired requisites such as food and a safe, conducive shelter. You must have your psychological trip very together to be able to handle and integrate the intense techniques, side effects, and results I am about to discuss.

Stated much more explicitly: people who do strong and intensive practice can hurt themselves and freak out. Just as serious athletes can hurt their bodies when they take a misstep or push themselves beyond their limits, just so serious mental athletes can strain their minds, brains, and nervous systems, and strained brains can sometimes function in very strange ways. To rewrite the operating system rapidly while it is running doesn't always go so well in the short term or occasionally in the long term. Thus, while I will include nearly endless exhortations to find the depths of power and clarity that you are capable of, I will also add numerous warnings about how to keep from frying yourself.

By “frying yourself”, I mean explicitly severe mood instability and psychotic episodes, as well as other odd biological and energetic disturbances, with some practitioners occasionally ending up in inpatient psychiatric facilities for various periods of time. Exactly how much of this is nature (their own “inherent wiring” and potential for mental pathology), how much of it is nurture (practicing hardcore meditation techniques in high doses such as those presented here), and how much is related to other unidentified factors is a question that is still being worked out, just so that you are not in any way uninformed about the still-developing state of modern science as it applies to the art of intensive meditation.
I would like to have a four foundations of mindfulness practice (like described by U Silananda in his Four Foundations of Mindfulness book and others) as part of my well-rounded daily life of getting more "together" but do you think I should stay away from even that altogether as I work on getting healthy, or just don't do it intensively. Please address this point, specifically, I'd really like an insight (or some spiritual) practice even if it's not on deep levels approaching realization before I begin in earnest. Nourishment for the spirit and Buddhist practice.

I recognize it may be a trap to get hung up on waiting till an "ideal" future time but clearly if Ingram is right I'd be well to work on mundane life although my aspirations are/have been, for the heights and the goal.

Please share your thoughts, especially if you have relevant personal experience, and thank you as always, Dhamma friends.

-Andrew Levin

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Re: Cautious about practicing consistent vipassana with mental health?

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:16 pm

purist_andrew wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:42 pm
I think maybe I should take it easy a while and focus on sila, metta bhavana, trying to get more stable and healthy in more mundane ways, eg hobbies (in this case for me, computer programming is the field I'm majoring in at college), work, trying to be kind and helpful to people in different ways, drawing from Theravada and other Buddhist traditions about living a wise and kind life, other mind-training techniques. Then when I'm more together approach insight practice more seriously.
Hi Andrew,

If you could do just what you have listed above, you will have accomplished an enormous amount. You would be doing far more for your own benefit than people who don't practice, and a lot more than many committed meditators. So if you find that you can do any of them without detriment to your mental health, that's what you should do.

I don't have personal experience of the health issues you refer to, so please bear that in mind. But couldn't you just try out some different meditation techniques, and see whether you remain stable? Check it with a health professional before, of course, but I doubt if there is anything about a common vipassana meditation technique which would do irreparable damage. Try it gently, monitor your body and mind carefully, and if all is well, try it some more.

With regard to Ingram, please bear in mind that the best way to learn any meditation technique is face-to-face with a trusted teacher. Corrective feedback and sharing of concerns might be particularly important for you because of your background. Can you get to a monastery, or classes, or a group? Remember also that if you are going to learn a technique from a book or the internet, then there are plenty of others available. I don't know much about Ingram, but it seems possible that his warning about "frying" is a bit overdone. He might be offering a technique which is genuinely dangerous (which is an excellent reason to avoid him and find someone else!) or he might be trying to cover himself legally; or more likely, he is trying to generate interest in his technique by claiming that it is really powerful stuff.

I hope others with a bit more experience can add their voices to this. I wish you the best of luck, any way. Be confident in the merit you are already making, and look after yourself. :anjali:

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Re: Cautious about practicing consistent vipassana with mental health issues?

Post by robertk » Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:30 pm

a few issues I have with the various technique schools.
They often lead to people having intense experiences which they identify as some stage of vipassana or even higher. Imgram is an obvious example, but even lesser levels of delusion are not good.
Then some people have experiences which are very negative and impact on their mental health.

the develoment of vipassana can never be a technique : it needs patience and a rooted understanding of the complete anattaness of dhammas..
And yes there can be understanding even while you are doing a hobby.

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Re: Cautious about practicing consistent vipassana with mental health issues?

Post by befriend » Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:33 pm

I am also schizoaffective and am also Leary of intense practice as it brings up the defilements so you can know and let go of them we tend to have stronger defilements then most people so this can be dangerous in my experience. I also don't have a regular meditation routine maybe 3 days a week of mindfulness of body this has been the gentlest way of meditating with my illness. Where i sit close my eyes and observe everything happening in my body. sensations, thoughts, but I stay away from breathing awareness it's too hardcore for me. If you do get negative thoughts/defilements coming up the day after you meditate and are in a crazy mood what I do is bring my awareness to the thoughts and states and this mindfulness is a healthy dose of reality that collects you and brings you back to normalcy. I also change all of my negative thoughts during the day into the brahma viharas this is also beautiful lifestyle.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

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Re: Cautious about practicing consistent vipassana with mental health?

Post by 2600htz » Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:42 pm

Hello Andrew:

-I think the fact you are following the precepts and having interest in sila, its showing that you are having a mature approach to the practice, and its not a crazy intellectual esoteric pursue.

-Take in consideration that metta bhavana (or Brahma Viharas) can take you all the way through every stage of the insights up to the highest attainments, and its usually a better suit for people with mental health problems.

-I don´t really know about Daniel M. Ingram teachings, but did read that he called himself an arahant (a perfect one), and that of course is a very very controversial statement, like you maybe already know. If you ask for a personal opinion, i would say usually people with mental health problems have the tendency to fall into the hands of not so good controversial teachings and that ends up causing severe problems, but of course just because something is controversial it doesn´t absolutely mean its wrong (but you are playing with the odds).

-Yeah look for a teacher, and try to practice with real people, not all by yourself. Thats the safest way to go (also be careful with overthinking or complicating to much this stuff, don´t read so much about it, take a practical approach and you should be fine).

Regards.

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Re: Cautious about practicing consistent vipassana with mental health issues?

Post by Wizard in the Forest » Sat Jun 23, 2018 10:30 pm

Doing intense meditation is fine as long as you are consistent with your medicine, and see your therapist regularly. The same trouble that one can have with meditation can in fact happen to anyone, primarily because meditation is not an opiate or a sedative, it's a laxative. It's a purgative. It gets rid of all the junk in your mind that cause unhappiness, but in doing it, you can feel intensely awful if you aren't under the guidance of a teacher. You should also try and do your best to talk directly with your teacher about what meditation you're ready for, so you can personalize your meditation practice, and work up to the intensity you desire.
"One is not born a woman, but becomes one."- Simone de Beauvoir

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Re: Cautious about practicing consistent vipassana with mental health issues?

Post by purist_andrew » Sun Jun 24, 2018 1:50 am

robertk wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:30 pm
a few issues I have with the various technique schools.
They often lead to people having intense experiences which they identify as some stage of vipassana or even higher. Imgram is an obvious example, but even lesser levels of delusion are not good.
Then some people have experiences which are very negative and impact on their mental health.

the develoment of vipassana can never be a technique : it needs patience and a rooted understanding of the complete anattaness of dhammas..
And yes there can be understanding even while you are doing a hobby.
Hi RobertK.

It's Andrew Levin from Long Island.. I post once in a while on dhammastudygroup and I believe we have talked over the years...

Please forgive me (again) for not following up in posting to your group recently... I've (truly) been thinking of you guys regularly but have been unsure to address the rifts that we have about the same issues and how to argue them.. I just don't have it in me to articulate my thoughts right now...

But let me try a bit here... might not the "technique" be just a way of adverting the mind's attention to the dhammas to come to view it in light of its true characteristics... like the second factor of enlightement investigating states? (ie anatta, dukkha, anicca)? I like your reference to patience, really. It's a good reminder. Does the following help see how meditation might further take this in the right direction? From Bhante G's "Mindfulness in Plain English" about his technique of vipassana, and how it can develop said quality of patience?
At each
sitting you gain some results, but those results are often very subtle. They occur deep
within the mind, only to manifest much later. and if you are sitting there constantly
looking for some huge instantaneous changes, you will miss the subtle shifts altogether.
You will get discouraged, give up and swear that no such changes will ever occur.
Patience is the key. Patience. If you learn nothing else from meditation, you will learn
patience. And that is the most valuable lesson available
Many (more than) thousands have reported these techniques as valuable methods of developing and refining attention to hone in on the object to view it in its true characteristics?

It has been in the front of my mind DSG members' reminders to me about anatta and how there is not a 'self' that can manage everything. It's a good perspective. But still perhaps a behavioral or mental pattern which can expedite one's comprehension of reality and where to look and direct one's attention or to what characteristics of this to see. Like the way your brain has remembered the routine of what muscles to move to control your knife and fork when you eat dinner, rather than saying "formal eating is wrong view. let eating just happen." Ingram talks about the maps and progress of insight progressing similarly in most all of the major wisdom and meditative traditions. It's a unique fact of the way the mind works. I think I have heard it called "the unfolding of awareness".

Thoughts?

Please share further thoughts also on how we can bridge this rift.. if it would be fruitful I would love to go back to DSG as you guys are very knowledgeable and admirable in your virtues but I can't get past this "no formal meditation practice" thing.

Might I share one more bit with you that has been on my mind? Please tell me how you receive this.
“What should be done for his disciples out of compassion by a teacher who seeks their welfare and has compassion for them, that I have done for you, bhikkhus. There are these roots of trees, these empty huts. Meditate, bhikkhus, do not delay or else you will regret it later. This is our instruction to you.
Majjhima Nikaya
19. Dvedhāvitakka Sutta: Two Kinds of Thought

Thank you, RobertK.

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Re: Cautious about practicing consistent vipassana with mental health?

Post by purist_andrew » Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:02 am

2600htz wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:42 pm
Hello Andrew:

-I think the fact you are following the precepts and having interest in sila, its showing that you are having a mature approach to the practice, and its not a crazy intellectual esoteric pursue.

-Take in consideration that metta bhavana (or Brahma Viharas) can take you all the way through every stage of the insights up to the highest attainments, and its usually a better suit for people with mental health problems.

-I don´t really know about Daniel M. Ingram teachings, but did read that he called himself an arahant (a perfect one), and that of course is a very very controversial statement, like you maybe already know. If you ask for a personal opinion, i would say usually people with mental health problems have the tendency to fall into the hands of not so good controversial teachings and that ends up causing severe problems, but of course just because something is controversial it doesn´t absolutely mean its wrong (but you are playing with the odds).

-Yeah look for a teacher, and try to practice with real people, not all by yourself. Thats the safest way to go (also be careful with overthinking or complicating to much this stuff, don´t read so much about it, take a practical approach and you should be fine).

Regards.
2600htz,

Thanks for your post.

I don't think that I wanted to follow Ingram's technique so much as I thought his treatment of the progress of insight is among the most descriptive and complete of any modern meditation books, and, as he says, the vast majority of meditation and Dhamma books today don't have this level of detail. One that comes to mind that does is Mahasi Sayadaw's "Manual of Insight." I think the progress of insight is somewhat universal regardless of which of a more or less similar set of techniques one uses, so I meant by asking this whether his warning should be applied to other treatments of techniques as well, including Mahasi.

Mahasi has a lot of brilliant detail in his book but no warnings. So I want to be on solid ground when looking to start this. I figure it applies to all of them or none of them just the same. That's my thought in approaching these works. If I need to take a few months (or more) to build a more mundane healthy life and focus on sila and so on I'd like to know that's my task, because if not, I'm keen on renunciation, but I don't want to go on without a foundation if it's self-defeating or worse. Thus my question.

I like practicing metta bhavana a lot but in the past I liked anapanasati, too. I practice metta to develop kindness methodically and merit and just to be more compassionate to people in daily life. I'd like to practice the four foundations of mindfulness both at home and even moreso while walking outdoors. I don't, at this point, want to ordain, but I think I can have a lot of systematic practice while outdoors unfettered, perhaps walking meditation focusing mostly on the breath and postures. I am not too keen on using Brahma Viharas as method for jhana, or jhana itself that much at all.... I am drawn to dry insight practice. So, if I can get myself together a bit more I'd like to start a consistent practice and study the vipassana knowledges from all these wonderful works and get going. If I have to put it on hold, that's something else.

Hence my question. Thanks for your reply. Anyone else wants to chime in, too, I'd be appreciative.

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Re: Cautious about practicing consistent vipassana with mental health?

Post by purist_andrew » Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:16 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:16 pm
purist_andrew wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:42 pm
I think maybe I should take it easy a while and focus on sila, metta bhavana, trying to get more stable and healthy in more mundane ways, eg hobbies (in this case for me, computer programming is the field I'm majoring in at college), work, trying to be kind and helpful to people in different ways, drawing from Theravada and other Buddhist traditions about living a wise and kind life, other mind-training techniques. Then when I'm more together approach insight practice more seriously.
Hi Andrew,

If you could do just what you have listed above, you will have accomplished an enormous amount. You would be doing far more for your own benefit than people who don't practice, and a lot more than many committed meditators. So if you find that you can do any of them without detriment to your mental health, that's what you should do.

I don't have personal experience of the health issues you refer to, so please bear that in mind. But couldn't you just try out some different meditation techniques, and see whether you remain stable? Check it with a health professional before, of course, but I doubt if there is anything about a common vipassana meditation technique which would do irreparable damage. Try it gently, monitor your body and mind carefully, and if all is well, try it some more.

With regard to Ingram, please bear in mind that the best way to learn any meditation technique is face-to-face with a trusted teacher. Corrective feedback and sharing of concerns might be particularly important for you because of your background. Can you get to a monastery, or classes, or a group? Remember also that if you are going to learn a technique from a book or the internet, then there are plenty of others available. I don't know much about Ingram, but it seems possible that his warning about "frying" is a bit overdone. He might be offering a technique which is genuinely dangerous (which is an excellent reason to avoid him and find someone else!) or he might be trying to cover himself legally; or more likely, he is trying to generate interest in his technique by claiming that it is really powerful stuff.

I hope others with a bit more experience can add their voices to this. I wish you the best of luck, any way. Be confident in the merit you are already making, and look after yourself. :anjali:
Sam Vara,

I live just outside the New York City city limits and so there is a Theravada Vihara even within more or less walking distance. I have been to it in the past often but I think for most of the laypeople it's (weekly services) just a token observance and (still valuable) opportunity for dana to the sangha. I have also been taught slightly from the (Tibetan-style practice themed) Shambhala in Manhattan that offers (both one on one and group) meditation instruction and even NY Insight Meditation society. I have made a fair amount of progress in the past meditating just from reading books and I think I'd like to continue to progress on my own. Additionally there are health issues with how well practice will go at these places if I'm not stable enough.

However there is some advice in the suttas about a layperson living in dependence on a monk and practicing the four right efforts and ostensibly the four foundations of mindfulness. The eight conditions for acquiring the wisdom of the holy life. (Anguttara 8:2, I believe) However I don't know how to get started. I think I'd just like to practice at home and moreso outdoors, walking (suttas talk about the "open air" vs the home life, can't outside be open air?). I'm hesitant to approach temple because I'm not that serious yet and it's a bit of a commitment to be in the company of bhikkhus. I want to get started with sutta study and studying the progress of insight from a number of books and methodical mindfulness practice myself before I show there.

What is a good way to get started studying the Canon? I have some bookmarks I've gotten from this site but I don't know where to start. I think if I could be less idle and began sutta study I could go a long way in mindfulness practice based on that. I have all the Wisdom Pubs Teaching of the Buddha books (mostly by Bhikkhu Bodhi) and some Abhidhamma books.

Thoughts?
Last edited by purist_andrew on Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Cautious about practicing consistent vipassana with mental health?

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:25 am

purist_andrew wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:02 am
Mahasi has a lot of brilliant detail in his book but no warnings. So I want to be on solid ground when looking to start this. ...
I think he's assuming that practitioners would have some access to a teacher to report progress and problems.

You might enjoy this interview with Steve Armstrong: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/talking-p ... d=38889353

:heart:
Mike

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Re: Cautious about practicing consistent vipassana with mental health?

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:34 am

purist_andrew wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:16 am
purist_andrew wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:42 pm
I live just outside the New York City city limits and so there is a Theravada Vihara even within more or less walking distance. I have been to it in the past often but I think for most of the laypeople it's just a token observance.
I wouldn't be too quick to judge. Some of the lay people at my local Thai monastery are actually very serious, but they could easily be judged ast "token"... This has become particularly clear when I've been on retreats there - it's much easier to pick up the "vibe" of how people behave when providing food, and so on.

Unfortunately, there is little organised practice for non-fluent-Thai people, but I sometimes spend a weekend or a week staying in a kuti, and checking in with one of the monks after evening chanting.
purist_andrew wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:42 pm
What is a good way to get started studying the Canon? I have some bookmarks I've gotten from this site but I don't know where to start. I think if I could be less idle and began sutta study I could go a long way in mindfulness practice based on that. I have all the Wisdom Pubs Teaching of the Buddha books (mostly by Bhikkhu Bodhi) and some Abhidhamma books.
Do you have Bhikkhu Bodhi's "In the Buddha's Words?". If not, you can read essentially all of it here: viewtopic.php?f=25&t=14640#p279487
That was my first real introduction, after which I worked through Bhikkhu Bodhi's talks on the MN:
http://bodhimonastery.org/a-systematic- ... ikaya.html
viewtopic.php?t=19955
and his talks on "In the Buddha's Words".
I found that the framework used in his MN talks and "In the Buddha's Words" was really useful in getting an overall view of the Nikayas.

:heart:
Mike

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Re: Cautious about practicing consistent vipassana with mental health?

Post by purist_andrew » Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:59 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:34 am
purist_andrew wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:16 am
purist_andrew wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:42 pm
I live just outside the New York City city limits and so there is a Theravada Vihara even within more or less walking distance. I have been to it in the past often but I think for most of the laypeople it's just a token observance.
I wouldn't be too quick to judge. Some of the lay people at my local Thai monastery are actually very serious, but they could easily be judged ast "token"... This has become particularly clear when I've been on retreats there - it's much easier to pick up the "vibe" of how people behave when providing food, and so on.

Unfortunately, there is little organised practice for non-fluent-Thai people, but I sometimes spend a weekend or a week staying in a kuti, and checking in with one of the monks after evening chanting.
purist_andrew wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:42 pm
What is a good way to get started studying the Canon? I have some bookmarks I've gotten from this site but I don't know where to start. I think if I could be less idle and began sutta study I could go a long way in mindfulness practice based on that. I have all the Wisdom Pubs Teaching of the Buddha books (mostly by Bhikkhu Bodhi) and some Abhidhamma books.
Do you have Bhikkhu Bodhi's "In the Buddha's Words?". If not, you can read essentially all of it here: viewtopic.php?f=25&t=14640#p279487
That was my first real introduction, after which I worked through Bhikkhu Bodhi's talks on the MN:
http://bodhimonastery.org/a-systematic- ... ikaya.html
viewtopic.php?t=19955
and his talks on "In the Buddha's Words".
I found that the framework used in his MN talks and "In the Buddha's Words" was really useful in getting an overall view of the Nikayas.

:heart:
Mike
Mike,

Perhaps you are more or less right about not judging the seriousness of the laity and their observance.

It is really a great resource to have available, a Vihara with actual bhikkhus in short distance of where I live. I have even had occasion to meet and speak with Bhikkhu Bodhi, albeit very briefly. Still I am not on a sound footing with virtue and knowledge of the canon.

I have all Bhikkhu Bodhi's books. I find ITBW's to be very excellent, but don't know where to start the depth of the rest of the Nikayas. I have read in some suttas previously about how a practitioner should "master" the canon, the sayings, verses, etc (BTW I have listened to the entirety of B. Bodhi's Majjhima audio set already! However not yet his talks on ITBW... maybe this is a task for now)
Four blessings, brethren, may be looked for as resulting from lending an ear to, from reciting with the lips, from pondering with the mind, from penetrating by insight the teachings of the Norm.

What are the four?

Herein, brethren, a brother masters the Norm, the discourses, the songs, the expositions, the verses, the solemn sayings, the Master's words, the birth tales, the marvels, and the book of diverse teachings. He listens to them, repeats them, ponders over them, and thoroughly penetrates them by insight.
It then goes on to say that the practitioner dies while mindful and arises in a sensuous heaven where he fulfills the training in that life.

This helps rebirth and realization of the Dhamma onesself as well as teaching others....
"Monks, these eight causes, these eight requisite conditions lead to the acquiring of the as-yet-unacquired discernment that is basic to the holy life, and to the increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of that which has already been acquired. Which eight?"

[...]

"He has heard much, has retained what he has heard, has stored what he has heard. Whatever teachings are admirable in the beginning, admirable in the middle, admirable in the end, that — in their meaning & expression — proclaim the holy life that is entirely complete & pure: those he has listened to often, retained, discussed, accumulated, examined with his mind, & well-penetrated in terms of his views. This is the fifth cause, the fifth requisite condition..."
But still I could use advice on the systematic study of the suttas and anyone's course and experience in embarking on that.

Still I am shy of going to temple, I am not where I want to be with sila or practice or having a plan to go forward, and I don't think it would be much help just to show up for weekly services (consisting of a one hour meditation session and another hour or more of sutta reading and discussion). I want to get knowledgeable about the progress of insight and begin practicing seriously, all the while learning the suttas. Also to focus on responsibilities of mundane life, work, hobbies, etc, even though it's not dhammic, the discourse on blessings on Sutta Nipata discusses a craft for a layperson as a blessing.

Edit: I found viewtopic.php?f=13&t=29785&p=428630#p428630 this post I made a while back about studying the canon, tell me your thoughts on the responses there.

Thoughts?

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Re: Cautious about practicing consistent vipassana with mental health issues?

Post by rightviewftw » Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:07 am

I am not familiar with the author you are quoting but any method where some of the practitioners end up in mental institutions sounds dodgy.

Assuming that vipassana practice is properly done as in being a method directed at training guarding of the senses and cultivation of the perspectives outlined in the Satipatthana Sutta, in particular;

1. mindfulness of the bodily postures and activities,
2. mindfulness of sensations
3. mindfulness of the mental states
4. mindfulness of the Dhamma as various contemplation and mindfulness of teachings

When practiced like this one will be building concentration and with support of the concentration the perspectives will bring about penetrative insight when one observes phenomena arising and ceasing.

If practiced correctly and intensively at a certain point what is known as Corruptions of Insight may arise as a result of concentration and insight knowledge, these (except Delight which is always a defilement) are considered as defilement ony if they are accompanied by wrong view , conceit and craving and should not be confused with enlightenment factors;

1. Seeing light, colored lights and images. ie sparkling light or one might find oneself surrounded by light as if it was daytime during the night or see images ie of the Buddha.
2. Clear, lucid, and distinct understanding of arising and passing away of mental and physical phenomena, as well as easily understanding the three characteristics due to reflection on them. One can begin to assume that the knowledge arose by itself due to observation of phenomena and not as result of reflection
3. Rapture, various kinds of pleasant feeling ranging from occasional to pervasive and of varying intensity
4. Tranquility, a soothing feeling of comfort and not feeling the body
5. Happiness and comfort
6. Faith and confidence
7. Balanced energy making the practice proceed smoothly
8. Effortless mindfulness
9. Equanimity on account of knowledge
10. Delight in extraordinary insights, and other corruptions of insight, a form of craving.

Most of them can occur simultaneously. If one mistakes unusual experiences for path knowledge or fruition knowledge or its signs, mistaking it it for awakening to the truth and enlightenment one will fall away from the the path. This can become a difficult obstacle to overcome if one is stubborn about it, one might end up wasting a lot of time enjoying and taking pride in these experiences being obsessed by conceit and wrong view.

Apart from the Corruptions of Insight i don't see what can go wrong if one is practicing correctly.

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dylanj
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Re: Cautious about practicing consistent vipassana with mental health issues?

Post by dylanj » Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:30 am

If you are sane enough to read the Dhamma you are sane enough to practice it, & practicing it will remove whatever degree of insanity & mental illness you might have.
susukhaṁ vata nibbānaṁ,
sammā­sambud­dha­desitaṁ;
asokaṁ virajaṁ khemaṁ,
yattha dukkhaṁ nirujjhatī


Oh! extinction is so very blissful,
As taught by the One Rightly Self-Awakened:
Sorrowless, stainless, secure;
Where suffering all ceases


etaṁ santaṁ etaṁ paṇītaṁ yadidaṁ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭi nissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṁ

This is peaceful, this is excellent, that is: the stilling of all preparations, the relinquishment of all attachments, the destruction of craving, detachment, cessation, extinction.

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robertk
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Re: Cautious about practicing consistent vipassana with mental health issues?

Post by robertk » Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:09 am

purist_andrew wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 1:50 am
[quote=robertk post_id=478544 time=1529789450 user_i
a few issues I have with the various technique

Hi RobertK.

It's Andrew Levin from Long Island.. I post once in a while on dhammastudygroup and I believe we have talked over the years...

Please forgive me (again) for not following up in posting to your group recently... I've (truly) been thinking of you guys regularly but have been unsure to address the rifts that we have about the same issues and how to argue them.. I just don't have it in me to articulate my thoughts right now...

But let me try a bit here... might not the "technique" be just a way of adverting the mind's attention to the dhammas to come to view it in light of its true characteristics... like the second factor of enlightement investigating states? (ie anatta, dukkha, anicca)? I like your reference to patience, really. It's a good reminder. Does the following help see how meditation might further take this in the right direction? From Bhante G's "Mindfulness in Plain English" about his technique of vipassana, and how it can develop said quality of patience?
At each
sitting you gain some results, but those results are often very subtle. They occur deep
within the mind, only to manifest much later. and if you are sitting there constantly
looking for some huge instantaneous changes, you will miss the subtle shifts altogether.
You will get discouraged, give up and swear that no such changes will ever occur.
Patience is the key. Patience. If you learn nothing else from meditation, you will learn
patience. And that is the most valuable lesson available
Many (more than) thousands have reported these techniques as valuable methods of developing and refining attention to hone in on the object to view it in its true characteristics?

It has been in the front of my mind DSG members' reminders to me about anatta and how there is not a 'self' that can manage everything. It's a good perspective. But still perhaps a behavioral or mental pattern which can expedite one's comprehension of reality and where to look and direct one's attention or to what characteristics of this to see. Like the way your brain has remembered the routine of what muscles to move to control your knife and fork when you eat dinner, rather than saying "formal eating is wrong view. let eating just happen." Ingram talks about the maps and progress of insight progressing similarly in most all of the major wisdom and meditative traditions. It's a unique fact of the way the mind works. I think I have heard it called "the unfolding of awareness".

Thoughts?

Please share further thoughts also on how we can bridge this rift.. if it would be fruitful I would love to go back to DSG as you guys are very knowledgeable and admirable in your virtues but I can't get past this "no formal meditation practice" thing.

Might I share one more bit with you that has been on my mind? Please tell me how you receive this.
“What should be done for his disciples out of compassion by a teacher who seeks their welfare and has compassion for them, that I have done for you, bhikkhus. There are these roots of trees, these empty huts. Meditate, bhikkhus, do not delay or else you will regret it later. This is our instruction to you.
Majjhima Nikaya
19. Dvedhāvitakka Sutta: Two Kinds of Thought

Thank you, RobertK.
dear Andrew
good to see you posting here!
for your quote from the majjihma
yes the Buddha encouraged monks - and he wanted monks even to be content and endeavor with a seat at the base of a tree.
he also said that monks should be diligent while walking, standing , robing, urinating, eating, talking and so on.
But being diligent means with wisdom, and without it there is merely silabataparamasa - taking one the wrong way. .

If you really want to discuss further with me read over this thread and make some comments on my posts there
viewtopic.php?t=15952

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