ardacigin

Thoughts on Culadasa (John Yates) - My Practice Method

18 posts in this topic

Hi everyone. Here is my current practice method. I wanted to share with you one of the most useful mindfulness manuals I've ever read. 'The Mind Illuminated' by Culadasa.

For me, his training method was so effective that I've experienced a lot of exponential growth in a relatively short amount of time. More people need to know about this guy.

For anyone who has read his book, I'm currently working on stages 7-8-9 holistically. After stabilizing the attention to the breath, I start an investigation towards the sense of being an individual self and awareness practices in no-mind.

I do this not only in sitting sessions but also in daily life. For instance, today my awareness of external sensations were so acute that when I was meditating in the subway train, the sound of the door closing (+ the engine of the train) was so loud that if I hadn't cultivated equanimity so much, I definitely would have gotten startled. It was so intense.

I'm currently trying to master effortless stability of attention to the breath sensations at the nostrils in stage 7 and once I do access such levels of concentration, I expand my awareness of external sounds and bodily sensations while maintaining stable, bright and continuous attention to the breath. Making sure to have introspective awareness (aka. inner awareness of thought and feel space) for potential distractions and dullness.

From this foundation of samadhi, I start the self-inquiry process where I try to pinpoint and investigate the sense of being a self. I separate the three fundamental aspects of being a self: see, hear and feel modalities. 

Then I inquire if there is anything more. A locus of consciousness. The experiencer/doer addition to these 3 modalities. Once I do this inquiry, my mind slows even more. Thoughts go away. Emotions cool out. And sensations of external sound, visual and touch modalities get amplified and I start to feel like my sense of self starts to melt away merging and blurring out because of the awareness of external sensations.

I continue from here and try to access deeper and deeper aspects of no mind while maintaining the stability of attention to the breath.

This is my current practice and I get TONS of growth out of it on a daily basis.

Also, I'm doing 90 to 120 mins of SDS sits in the cross-legged posture with these techniques on a daily basis as well. So that also adds a lot of spiritual weights and stable foundation as I start my day.

I hope this gives you guys some motivation and an idea of how to move forward in your practice if you feel stuck. 

For more information, read Culadasa's fantastic book 'The Mind Illuminated'. Here is the special Reddit forum of the book if you are interested: https://www.reddit.com/r/TheMindIlluminated/

Let me know your thoughts on Culadasa and his methods. Have you tried them? If so, what are your experiences? What do you struggle with? 

I'd love to hear your thoughts and give guidance as much as I can :)

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Yes, it's great stuff. No nonsense mindfulness meditation a la Shinzen Young.


"Be melting snow. Wash yourself of yourself." -- Rumi

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@Yonkon My opinion of him has not changed much. I don't think he is ultimately awakened, but he doesn't need to be in order to teach what he teaches, and he's more than enough awake for you. He's an excellent meditation teacher.


"Be melting snow. Wash yourself of yourself." -- Rumi

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13 minutes ago, Leo Gura said:

Yes, it's great stuff. No nonsense mindfulness meditation a la Shinzen Young.

Basically, I use Culadasa's breath techniques to develop samadhi and then use Shinzen Young's silent noting (not labeling) technique to investigate see, hear, feel modalities clearly with added self-inquiry to get a permanent insight into no-self, impermanence and suffering.

It is a very strategic and intense schedule to follow on a daily basis. I recommend it to everyone.

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@ardacigin Sounds very solid. Keep it up and you should see awesome gains.


"Be melting snow. Wash yourself of yourself." -- Rumi

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25 minutes ago, Leo Gura said:

@Yonkon My opinion of him has not changed much. I don't think he is ultimately awakened, but he doesn't need to be in order to teach what he teaches, and he's more than enough awake for you. He's an excellent meditation teacher.

I understand why you might think this way Leo. But hear me out. I've recently watched Shinzen's latest interview here.

In this interview, Shinzen says that he'd lunch with Culadasa himself just the other day.

It seems to me that Shinzen might come across as a materialist sometimes (rather than a non-dualist) but he actually explained the reason for this in his book saying that he has many 'personas' so to speak.

The scientific Shinzen is humble about making spiritual claims about the objective universe. Obviously, in this scientific persona, he makes a distinction about objective and subjective. He puts more weight in third person experience rather than first-person experience. He cares a lot about logic and evidence. (The Sam Harris Paradigm basically)

But there is also a legit spiritual Shinzen persona many of us are familiar with. The times when he doesn't shy away from using words like 'GOD', source, expansion and contraction, universe coming into existence from the polarization of father and mother, all elimination of boundries etc.

So I think it is important not to make swift judgments about his level of meditation experience. Maybe his experiential understanding is not as deep as 5 meo DMT insights but it definitely sounds (if he is not lying) pretty damn close to that.

And finally, just look at him in this interview :) He definitely looks like his meditative experience has permeated his entire life in Sahaja samadhi. 

Edited by ardacigin

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@ardacigin I know all that.

What I meant was, he's still missing a few deeper layers of awakening like Absolute Infinity and Absolute Truth.

Last time I spoke with him I asked him why reality exists and he was not able to give me an answer. Nor was he aware of Infinity.

Of course I still consider him enlightened. Just not at the highest level of understanding possible because I've clearly become conscious of why reality exists. So I know it can be done. Just probably not through mindfulness meditation and labeling.

Being aware of God is one thing. Being aware of the mechanics of God is another yet deeper thing. There is a lot of important stuff to discover about the mechanics of God. How does God actually materialize reality? And why? This can all be understood and it is worthwhile to understand it.

Don't take this to be anything negative against Shinzen. He's still great.


"Be melting snow. Wash yourself of yourself." -- Rumi

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11 minutes ago, Leo Gura said:

@ardacigin I know all that.

What I meant was, he's still missing a few deeper layers of awakening like Absolute Infinity and Absolute Truth.

Last time I spoke with him I asked him why reality exists and he was not able to give me an answer. Nor was he aware of Infinity.

Of course I still consider him enlightened. Just not at the highest level of understanding possible because I've clearly become conscious of why reality exists. So I know it can be done. Just probably not through mindfulness meditation.

Oh, I see. That is very interesting actually. Do you think that certain insights like Absolute Infinity (and potentially many more) are not possible to access with 40+ years mindfulness or self-enquiry? Do you think that maybe only through substances like 5 Meo Dmt can you truly go so deep that you become conscious of these things?

Because let's be real. We all have a finite amount of time and energy to train our consciousness circuits. So maybe the time and energy required to access such deep levels are simply not enough to reach 5 meo Dmt levels of insight in a lifetime. Maybe not even living in a monastery can give you that time and energy. 

What are your opinions on that line of thinking since you are more experienced in 5 meo dmt?

Edited by ardacigin

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13 minutes ago, ardacigin said:

Do you think that certain insights like Absolute Infinity (and potentially many more) are not possible to access with 40+ years mindfulness or self-enquiry? Do you think that maybe only through substances like 5 Meo Dmt can you truly go so deep that you become conscious of these things?

No, I think it's definitely possible, just very, very rare and difficult. Yogis and sages have definitely accessed the highest levels of awakening without any chemical assistance. I suspect though that they were exceptionally gifted, whether due to genetics, karma, past-lives, upbringing, the right brain chemistry, luck or a combination of all the above. I don't know exactly why some people are exceptionally spiritually gifted. That is still a deep mystery waiting for an answer.

5-MeO just makes it so much easier and more accessible to ordinary people.

I recommend a hybrid approach.


"Be melting snow. Wash yourself of yourself." -- Rumi

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2 minutes ago, Leo Gura said:

No, I think it's definitely possible, just very, very rare. Yogis and sages have definitely accessed the highest levels of awakening without any chemical assistance. I suspect though that they were exceptionally gifted, whether due to genetics, karma, past-lives, or upbringing.

I see. What do you think about the marathon monks who go through the 7+ days of SDS without movement, water and food? (which is the most intense spiritual training I've ever seen so far). Do you think such a feat can be accomplished without suffering if the meditator is not on 5 meo levels of mastery? It seems to me that they must definitely tap into absolute infinity without really having the conceptual understanding of absolute infinity. Maybe they do really have satisfying answers to why reality exists? Have you ever had the opportunity to speak to a monk who'd survived this ordeal? :) 

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@ardacigin I don't think that such medieval methods are healthy or lead to the highest understanding. Sure, those monks are badasses, but I doubt how much of reality they really understand or how Spirally developed and well-rounded they are. I would bet most of them are underdeveloped on the Spiral, which would be a great shame.

The thing is, running marathons has little to do with insight, development, or understanding. Don't automatically assume that doing brutal rigorous mechanical training methods will get you to the highest levels of understanding. I highly doubt it would. I am much more in favor of a thoughtful contemplative approach which incorporates study of psychology, sociology, semiotics, science, etc. I think some of the hardcore Eastern schools are not thoughtful and scientific enough. They can be too grounded in tradition for tradition's sake without evolving with technology and the times.


"Be melting snow. Wash yourself of yourself." -- Rumi

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16 minutes ago, Leo Gura said:

@ardacigin I don't think that such medieval methods are healthy or lead to the highest understanding. Sure, those monks are badasses, but I doubt how much of reality they really understand or how Spirally developed and well-rounded they are. I would bet most of them are underdeveloped on the Spiral, which would be a great shame.

The thing is, running marathons has little to do with insight, development, or understanding.

I see. Thanks for all the replies Leo. Really appreciate it :)

I just have one last question for you. Do you think that somewhere in the future science can find the neural activities that leads to deep awakening? Because Shinzen talks about a neurological disorder called 'Athymhormia' in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFZ6KiiBIg4

He says that this rare condition has very specific and well understood neural changes in basal ganglia which results in something he calls 'perfect equanimity' where the individual can sit indefinitely without moving, without suffering (regardless of pain intensity), without forming a self. In fact, that is the disorder.

These people who have this condition can't boot selfhood without external warning. They don't complain about anything. They are normal if you keep them engaged in a conversation but after a few minutes of silence, they go into indefinite no-self. 

If you've never heard of this condition, does this give you hope that maybe investigation towards brain science on these sort of conditions really do have the potential to create a neurological map of enlightenment?

Maybe one day, we'll all go to the doctor and get the enlightenment surgery and go full Buddha as much as our nervous system allows for in that short amount of time. :) 

 

Edited by ardacigin

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1 hour ago, ardacigin said:

Maybe one day, we'll all go to the doctor and get the enlightenment surgery and go full Buddha as much as our nervous system allows for in that short amount of time.

Yeah, I think that's possible to some extent.

5-MeO-DMT is already that technology in powdered form.

It still won't be that easy in practice because to deeply awaken your entire mind has restructure itself. It's not as simple as cutting a few wires. Your entire web of beliefs needs to be reconfigured too. Otherwise it will be a half-assed enlightenment leading to Zen devirly and pathology. And awakening alone is not enough, there is also the need for Spiral development which cannot happen simply through some surgery or even a chemical.

There are all sorts of rare and interesting abnormal brain case studies. For example some people can hallucinate monkeys or see the world as a cell-shaded cartoon. Some people convinced that other people are robots. The brain/mind is a very tricky thing. Enlightenment is far from the only interesting mystical thing that the brain can do.


"Be melting snow. Wash yourself of yourself." -- Rumi

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On 26/04/2019 at 9:22 PM, ardacigin said:

I see. What do you think about the marathon monks who go through the 7+ days of SDS without movement, water and food? (which is the most intense spiritual training I've ever seen so far). Do you think such a feat can be accomplished without suffering if the meditator is not on 5 meo levels of mastery? It seems to me that they must definitely tap into absolute infinity without really having the conceptual understanding of absolute infinity. Maybe they do really have satisfying answers to why reality exists? Have you ever had the opportunity to speak to a monk who'd survived this ordeal? :) 

I have thought this also, isn't this possible once you reached the 3rd or 4th jhana, not sure thats as deep as 5meo.

I've literally just ordered the book yesterday and will put everything you and the book recommended into practice. I'm thinking 2x 2 hour SDS a day should do the trick and spend a few years in an intensive retreat. I think after a certain point of development I will start using 5meo but very carefully.  Will you also consider 5meo? and have you thought about doing a long retreat ? Also kyria yoga is amazing too, defo worth trying, every time I do it i leave my body. It gets so intense I have to just stick to meditation because I cannot function properly at work.

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On 26/04/2019 at 9:27 PM, Leo Gura said:

@ardacigin I don't think that such medieval methods are healthy or lead to the highest understanding. Sure, those monks are badasses, but I doubt how much of reality they really understand or how Spirally developed and well-rounded they are. I would bet most of them are underdeveloped on the Spiral, which would be a great shame.

The thing is, running marathons has little to do with insight, development, or understanding. Don't automatically assume that doing brutal rigorous mechanical training methods will get you to the highest levels of understanding. I highly doubt it would. I am much more in favor of a thoughtful contemplative approach which incorporates study of psychology, sociology, semiotics, science, etc. I think some of the hardcore Eastern schools are not thoughtful and scientific enough. They can be too grounded in tradition for tradition's sake without evolving with technology and the times.

@Leo Gura Is this the reason why you don't go off and do a longer intensive retreat for say 1 year or more ?

 

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