Cedric: I knew I was grabbing on my doubt but I could not stop myself…
——– Sharing on the 2-day retreat (2R5) from June 14th to 15th, 2014
I arrived late on Friday night, as I result I got a punishment to kneel. It was fair, but the feeling of shame arriving late and particularly seeing my fellow students already practicing and the judgment from my teachers was making feeling worse, I doubted on it that night during my practice. The feeling of shame was really strong , so real , it was there , I couldn’t avoid it or get away from it, but I decided to doubt on it , I wanted to try my best from the beginning, even though my actions showed I didn’t care. How come there were a I feeling so shameful how come this I is no-self? I didn’t think of any other questions.
During the retreat I was a little sick and sometimes I couldn’t stop myself for coughing, I felt my throat irritated and try very hard not to cough. After I cough, it really disturbed my practice for a moment as many through come to my mind, and I was guilty of disturbing my fellow students. However I would not be disturbed long as I used those strong thoughts and feelings and doubt on it. I was coughing often at the beginning of the session but after I didn’t feel I needed to cough anymore.
The next morning, my first session started and I used my usual method for meditation, a method I thought was efficient to bring doubt. Every time I notice a thought come in, I would look at it and ask myself who is this I , how come this I is no self and then what it no self, trying to focus on the feeling as long as possible.
However our teacher Jeremy instructed us to follow another method, it is a method before that I gave up on because it didn’t seem to work well during my previous practice. Whatever happen we must have one doubt and only ask what is no self , nothing else, not follwing our feeling or thoughts.
Before asking what is no self brings no feelings and I was constantly losing my doubt. Of course I didn’t want that to happen during my 2 days retreat but I wanted to get progress and follow the teacher instructions. Therefore I started to concentrate on one unique doubt instead of always coming back to my doubt. At that time there were no feelings to that doubt, I didn’t really want to truly know, but I had the will to focus on the question. It was an empty doubt.
The next sessions, I focused on what is no-self, but in the end I couldn’t keep the doubt. Facing my pain, I was panic and suffering until the end. My doubting meditation became grabbing on the doubt and fighting the pain. The stronger the pain, the more I fight; I waited for the liberating bell ring. I knew I was grabbing on my doubt but I could not stop myself following my pain, my body.
I asked my teacher Jeremy what should I do? I was afraid to lose my doubt, I was afraid that I could not feel doubt or attached to my pain. My teacher said whatever happen, just keep on doubting, facing yourself, asking yourself who is scared of losing the doubt, who is scare of no feeling. “Do not run away” and “keep on the ground” then became my mantra as I faced whatever happen to my mind or body. It was always me having feeling, trying to escape from the pain, or thinking. This me was not imagination or hollow words. Whenever I notice I am following my thoughts, my pain, I have to be brave. I would look at that me, and wondered what it is.
I kept this doubt while sitting and taking breaks. I remembered (these questions and doubt) and hesitated between coffee and tea, and the question would come to me, very strong , what is it ?
The more sessions, the more I was involved in my doubt. There were still pain, but it would just be there and my doubt continued. Whenever I felt I was struggling, I would just wonder what it is. I didn’t know about who I really am and what is no self. This question became more important than whatever happened in my mind. Whenever I felt I wasn’t practicing well or didn’t know where to go, how to doubt, or were scared, I would come back to my teacher for advice. I could see I was scared when asking question to my teacher, I almost felt like crying. I wasn’t afraid to lose my doubt or even if I was (afraid), it was still me who was afraid of losing my doubt. And that was my doubt, and I knew I was afraid to lose it. Therefore, I could investigate deeper without being attracted by my thoughts.
The next morning, I woke up and arrived late to the class, I was panic and I was told by teacher to kneel. It was really painful but as I was feeling pain I was already doubting about me being in pain and ashamed again. Of course my body was shaking, I was hungry and angry all at once, and I was just trying to doubt. Once I joined the practice (with my fellow students) I was still shocked and breathless. It was a really difficult session for me as I couldn’t really apply my method to generate doubt.
In the next sessions I was doing better, but I knew it wasn’t good enough as I was overwhelmed by my pain and couldn’t get doubt. My mind was just blank and struggling with my leg pain in the end of the sessions. Jeremy told me the same advice, let the mind movement go, do not attach to it.
My doubt shall have no attachments and that is the only way to know what is no-self. I had no choice, I had to be brave and face myself. I was more aware of my struggling, my movement, the sounds of the insect and birds, but at the same time I focused on the question, what is no self. Later on I came back to check my practice again with my teacher and see if I was on the right way. I didn’t try to replace my pain , but I was above it , I knew I was in pain , I knew I was struggling and at the same time I didn’t know what is no self. I had chosen to follow my doubt instead of my pain and mind movements when those appeared. He told me that is no-self and self, a contradiction. When “l” chose to follow my doubt, it (the “I”) was already a manifestation of no-self. I finally had a glimpse of what could be no self but still no idea what it is.
I was told my all my life is a big question, now, just use it. After all this frustration, I felt it was a huge victory and I was really exciting. I knew I was far from knowing what is no-self and I felt the question becomes overwhelming. I didn’t know, but I could know. I got more confidence. Therefore for the next sitting meditation I had to keep doing that and stayed on the ground whatever happen. I was more motivated than ever to know what is no self. We were also told not to ask question directly since we were all already having doubts.
During this session, I kept following that path, it was hard , I didn’t use sentence , I had to look and see what is no self in any situations , not trying to fight our feeling or “love my feelings” , I could be detached from my pain and be so focus that no other normal daily life of personal thought would disturb me for longer period, but it was still me doubting and my mind was still unstable at that moment as I was just following my mind. Even though it felt like no mind for a few seconds, I was completely mistaken, I felt more relax, I wasn’t affected by the pain or sound or mind, I was feeling nothing , but still there were a I wanted to know and still I didn’t know, It felt very strange to me, but I wouldn’t pay attention to it. As later on I came back fighting my pain and struggling again with it or to doubt at that moment.
In our classes, we were always encouraged by our teachers Linda and Jeremy to ask questions regarding to our practice. During this retreat, again, we were encouraged to ask questions, and I found this time I was more involved, willing and less scared to ask more questions than my previous retreat. I also paid less attention to my fellow students while sitting and during breaks. Yes it was hard and I suffered, but I found a unique doubt and put myself on the right path for my practice.**** check more Students’ Sharing ****