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Thread: Time falling away and Dissociation

  1. #1

    Time falling away and Dissociation

    I was listening to a Dharma talk today on the Diamond Sutra. We were given instruction on seeing the past as illusory, the future as illusory and the present as illusory. This made sense, because the past and the future are mental formations and the present isn't something fixed, it is constantly changing. But after investigating this in my own moment to moment experience, there was the feeling of a mind as clear as a mirror, very few thoughts, just experiencing. And I had a sense of just this, as if the self dropped away and there was no mind. And a big sense of relief, almost as if Dukkha wasn't present or not obvious to me.

    And yet, when I go to a list of symptoms (that I currently experience) regarding dissociation, some common signs are:

    - Few thoughts, "mind is blank"
    - World appears "dream like"
    - Normal emotions, but "not mine"
    - Hypernowness, no past or future
    - Disownership of self
    - Disconnected from body, emotions, thoughts

    Here is the comprehensive list: https://www.cheetahhouse.org/hyperar...d-dissociation

    How does one differentiate between genuine insights and mental illness? I am aware of the complexity of this topic, but just hoping to get some feedback.

    Gassho, Tomás
    Sat&LaH

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Tomás ESP View Post
    I was listening to a Dharma talk today on the Diamond Sutra. We were given instruction on seeing the past as illusory, the future as illusory and the present as illusory. This made sense, because the past and the future are mental formations and the present isn't something fixed, it is constantly changing. But after investigating this in my own moment to moment experience, there was the feeling of a mind as clear as a mirror, very few thoughts, just experiencing. And I had a sense of just this, as if the self dropped away and there was no mind. And a big sense of relief, almost as if Dukkha wasn't present or not obvious to me.

    And yet, when I go to a list of symptoms (that I currently experience) regarding dissociation, some common signs are:

    - Few thoughts, "mind is blank"
    - World appears "dream like"
    - Normal emotions, but "not mine"
    - Hypernowness, no past or future
    - Disownership of self
    - Disconnected from body, emotions, thoughts

    Here is the comprehensive list: https://www.cheetahhouse.org/hyperar...d-dissociation

    How does one differentiate between genuine insights and mental illness? I am aware of the complexity of this topic, but just hoping to get some feedback.

    Gassho, Tomás
    Sat&LaH
    Since whatever anyone has to say on this topic (or any topic) is necessarily flawed from an absolute point of view I would simply sit and save yourself a headache.

    Gassho, Jishin, ST, LAH

  3. #3

    Time falling away and Dissociation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    Since whatever anyone has to say on this topic (or any topic) is necessarily flawed from an absolute point of view I would simply sit and save yourself a headache.

    Gassho, Jishin, ST, LAH
    What Jishin said!
    Too much analyzing of the mind using the same mind might be kinda counterproductive I’d say … especially compared to just sitting!

    Sat Today


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Bion; 04-30-2022 at 10:10 PM.
    Bion
    美音

    -------------------------
    Please consider whatever I might say as my own ideas, experiences and understanding, and not zen doctrine.
    Join me on Insight Timer
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  4. #4
    Why does one need to make distinctions like that. Accepting all, believing in yourself 100%, trust in the whole universe are ways of expressing just sitting, clear mind like space, don’t know.

    Sat/lah




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

  5. #5
    Well... the experience you had sounds nice. I have experienced such states as well from time to time. I didn't necessarily worry that it was mental illness... it was usually pleasant, but if you ever have such worries, it would be best to speak to a professional about them, if only to ease your mind. Disassociation often occurs as a trauma response, and is not necessarily pleasant.

    Gassho
    Sat, lah
    求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  6. #6
    I would also add that it is not necessarily productive to just bark, "Go sit!" at someone who is concerned about mental illness.

    Gassho
    Sat, lah
    求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  7. #7
    How does one differentiate between genuine insights and mental illness? I am aware of the complexity of this topic, but just hoping to get some feedback.
    This a good question and there is an interesting book called Collision with the Infinite about a woman who had a spontaneous satori and spent years seeing mental health experts to find out what was going on before talking to a spiritual teacher and recognising her awakening for what it was.

    As far as your question goes, the way dissociative disorders are defined, they often come with symptoms we would not associate with what Dogen describes as shinjin datsuraku (body and mind fallen away), such as amnesia (in the case of Dissociative Amnesia), switching identities (in the case of Dissociative Identity Disorder) and a sense of the unreality of all of life, not just the self (for Dissociative Derealization). The way that dropping away body and mind has occurred for me during sits, is that while the fixation on self drops away, everything feels very clear rather than unreal and fuzzy.

    Mostly, the states that arise in meditation do not last and, as Geika says, if anything is troubling you, talk to a mental health professional and/or Jundo.

    Apologies for running long.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  8. #8
    We learn that when such moments occur, we let them go like everything else. They happen from time to time, and what I find interesting is that I can remember those moments the same way you recall a dream just after awakening, even years and decades later.

    I have had experiences like this when sitting, but more often when doing other things, even when reading.

    This quote from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind gave me a bit of a jolt like that earlier today:

    “I discovered that it is necessary, absolutely necessary, to believe in nothing. That is, we have to believe in something which has no form and no color—something which exists before all forms and colors appear.”


    Gassho,
    Ryūmon (Kirk)
    Sat
    流文

    I know nothing.

  9. #9
    My rule of thumb is simple: What is the effect in one's life, for good or harm?

    Does it leave one unable to function, confused, feeling lost, broken in mind, trapped in delusion, feeling disconnected, despondent or derailed from life? Then this is a harmful state, an illness, and not awakening, likely something requiring professional mental health intervention too!

    Does it leave one with a sense of wholeness, peace, clarity combined with the ability to continue living in this world in a healthy and balanced way, at home in one's shoes, seeing through self and time perhaps yet at home in self and time? (I also mean in a balanced and ongoing way, not some passing manic state of extreme behavior which is ultimately harmful too.) Then this is a wholesome realization. In fact, one is left more at home in this world, and truly connected to oneself and this life.

    That is my simple rule of thumb.

    But after investigating this in my own moment to moment experience, there was the feeling of a mind as clear as a mirror, very few thoughts, just experiencing. And I had a sense of just this, as if the self dropped away and there was no mind. And a big sense of relief, almost as if Dukkha wasn't present or not obvious to me.
    That sounds like a very rich and rewarding insight! Please apply my rule of thumb to what follows. It does not sound from your tone like it left you lost, but rather, that you found something very rich.

    By the way, I sometimes joke that being "crazy" in this life is not the problem. To be "crazy" simply means to see or experience life in a way that is not "standard" and "run of the mill" by societal standards: Many of our greatest geniuses, writers, thinkers and other creators and inspirations as human beings were perhaps a bit "crazy" in their way. The question is whether it is a good "crazy" which makes the mind more fertile, and life richer and better lived, bringing positives and originality and new insights and contributions into the world ...

    ... or a bad "crazy" that causes harm and destruction, loss and sorrow to self and others? It is the same in judging the value of spiritual insights and states.

    I am happy to be a bit "good crazy" myself.

    Gassho, J

    STLah

    Sorry to run long
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-30-2022 at 10:48 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    We learn that when such moments occur, we let them go like everything else.
    Yes, in our way, we do not cling to such states, nor chase after them. We learn and are touched by the experience, then move on.

    That is what happened then, this is what is happening now. If it happens or does not happen again, that is also what is happening.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-30-2022 at 10:49 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    The Soto way is crazy. It is crazy to drop everything and do something so radical as the goal to just sit, achieving that goal, dropping everything, having a perfectly whole and untangled mind with no problems and nothing to gain for a while then getting up and taking that sanity into the world.

    The “normal” way to look at things is to tangle up the mind with problems, viewing everything as a problem to be solved which then in turn creates more problems (running on the treadmill of problem solving like a mouse in a cage) until they are torn by feelings, tortured by thoughts, and needlessly suffering, vacillating wildly between pleasure and pain, lacking and discontented because they are fighting reality with unrealistic desires and expectations and want everything under the sun, or everything to be different and can’t have it. The “normal” person is sometimes so worked up by personal problems and needless suffering that they cannot be effective or helpful in the world (believe me, I was “normal” for a long time and still tend to be too much of the time.) No thanks. I’d rather be crazy.

    (Sorry for all the words)

    Gassho,

    Tom

    Sat


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
    “Do what’s hard to do when it is the right thing to do.”- Robert Sopalsky

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Geika View Post
    I would also add that it is not necessarily productive to just bark, "Go sit!" at someone who is concerned about mental illness.

    Gassho
    Sat, lah
    Sitting is good medicine for a mind in disarray. I, unlike you and others, lack the skill to delicately explain why the answer eventually lies on Just Sitting. Thank you for amplifying on my reply.

    Gassho, Jishin, ST, LAH

  13. #13
    The mind is often compared to a monkey, jumping from one place to another, never relaxing. But even monkeys completely calm down when sitting in some hot springs.
    It looks like your mind found one of those springs, Tomas .

    Gassho.
    Sat.

    Sent from my Lenovo TB-7305F using Tapatalk

  14. #14
    Thank you all for your responses, both the "just sit" and the more elaborate ones. Both were very helpful to me. I have much to learn, especially in the realm of trusting and letting go. Time to just sit.

    Gassho, Tomás
    Sat&LaH

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Tomás ESP View Post
    Thank you all for your responses, both the "just sit" and the more elaborate ones. Both were very helpful to me. I have much to learn, especially in the realm of trusting and letting go. Time to just sit.

    Gassho, Tomás
    Sat&LaH
    even the “just sits” are filled with kindness, my friend, and I know you know that!

    Sat Today
    Bion
    美音

    -------------------------
    Please consider whatever I might say as my own ideas, experiences and understanding, and not zen doctrine.
    Join me on Insight Timer
    Help me feed those in need by joining my Share The Meal team HERE

  16. #16
    Hi Tomas

    I work in the field of mental health and I often find that people with dissociative experiences tend not to be philosophical about what is happening to them, quite the contrary, they often seem unable to describe much at all because of the dissociation. In my Buddhist practice I have had times of feeling dissociated from the tight grip on my sense of self which, after many years of 'dedicated' practice to being an ego, felt naturally weird, dissociated and unreal. However, the consequence was one of realising the vast interconnected nature of things, of seeing the interdependence. The people I see with mental illness derived dissociation seem unable to have this experience either, so appear rather tragically disconnected from life. I am not an expert on matters of mental health or insight experiences, this is simply my own take on it. Thanks for sharing this though, some people are afraid to share their deeper experiences but they can be so rich for many others to learn about.

    Gassho, Tokan

    (satlah)

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by StoBird View Post
    The Soto way is crazy. It is crazy to drop everything and do something so radical as the goal to just sit, achieving that goal, dropping everything, having a perfectly whole and untangled mind with no problems and nothing to gain for a while then getting up and taking that sanity into the world.

    The “normal” way to look at things is to tangle up the mind with problems, viewing everything as a problem to be solved which then in turn creates more problems (running on the treadmill of problem solving like a mouse in a cage) until they are torn by feelings, tortured by thoughts, and needlessly suffering, vacillating wildly between pleasure and pain, lacking and discontented because they are fighting reality with unrealistic desires and expectations and want everything under the sun, or everything to be different and can’t have it. The “normal” person is sometimes so worked up by personal problems and needless suffering that they cannot be effective or helpful in the world (believe me, I was “normal” for a long time and still tend to be too much of the time.) No thanks. I’d rather be crazy.

    (Sorry for all the words)

    Gassho,

    Tom

    Sat


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
    An excellent description of the craziness of Soto Zen, Tom. I completely agree that I'm too "normal" and practising to become a bit crazy each day.

    On a serious note, I think Jundo's rule of thumb answers your question succinctly, Tomas.

    Gassho,
    Van
    SAT+LAH

  18. #18
    I’m no expert, I just regurgitated Jundo’s teaching. I don’t practice or have faith nearly enough and I fail over and over again. But believe me when I say that Jundo’s take on Soto Shikantaza Zazen is sanity when you cannot find sanity and that it must be very close to when Dogen mentions the “true dragon.” Jundo’s a good guy, I can say because I gave him many chances to be mean to me. Take him for his word and practice the practice and you can go very deep into Soto zen.

    Gassho,
    Tom

    Sat
    “Do what’s hard to do when it is the right thing to do.”- Robert Sopalsky

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