From this point the most important thing for the meditator to remember is to Not Intentionally Do Anything further. No squirming around in the seat, no expelling gases, intentional burping, stretching, getting comfortable, etcetera. The object is to let go. In one sense, the entire system can be said to be made up of techniques to accomplish this one end. Letting Go is not accomplished by any "Doing."
Stepping back from this into the world of practical reality the meditator will most likely need to work at withering away at his stored up grasping heaps. So from that point of view, at this point the seeker should reflect on his state of mind as to whether or not he is predominantly sluggish or full of vim and vigor.
If he is sluggish, he should turn his mind to either the examination of some phenomena or the examination of some aspect of the Dhamma. In either case it should not be an aspect of such a thing as appears to be a chore, but it should be something that is interesting. Follow this investigation up to, but not past the point where one is inclined to get up to do more research. At that point energy has been roused, enthusiasm has been roused, and, making one's self conscious of the matter, one should then turn to the cultivation of impassivity, getting high, and detachment.
If he is full of excitement, agitation, distraction and anxiety, he should cultivate impassivity, high getting, and detachment.
The cultivation of impassivity is the cultivation of non-reaction to stimulus.
Getting high in this system is the development of a technique of cultivating the habit of dwelling in mind in a lesser attached state by abandoning a more-attached state.
The Process is often, but not necessarily, begun by the use of some device to enhance concentration (concentration being itself the development of a lesser-attached state by the abandoning of the more attached state of distractedness).
If the meditator notices that there is in him distraction, he should direct his attention to some technique for fostering concentration. Once concentration has been attained, it should not be pursued further. The whole process culminates in Detachment, which should be understood to be detachment from anything one can conceive of...period, no arguments. You try to work out in your mind what such a state could be like, and you have gone down the wrong road.
It's Like Alice in the Mouse House
BA: A couple of questions about the sit-down. First, if the idea is to bring attention to the tension and let go, won't the body inevitably flop forward/backward/sideways when you have let go of enough key muscles? This is where I usually end up, with my back relaxed enough that I lose all bodily structure and stability. I feel that there might exist a way of letting go in succession up the spine to create skeletal support without needing muscle tension, but I wonder if this is a doing, bound down in doing, not conducive to letting go.
Actually, what happens is that the tension is making you slump and warp; when you have got into it a bit you will see that you are sitting much more erectly. Same like dickee.
I say: You cannot actually place the body in the correct posture, you can only place it in the optimum posture for it to reach the correct posture of it's own.
In the beginning you can correct the posture now and again because being so far out of kilter it's hard to figure out what tensions to release.
The tensions release in their own order if all you are doing is paying sufficient attention to release them when they come up there is no need to pick and choose...and if you did you would probably be wrong...so yes it would be a doing to work out a system.
BA: Second, how can one be sure that he is not creating "false" tension in an effort to find tension? How does one know that the tension is he is letting go of is "real". I know that true and false are words that beg qualification, so for me a false tension is a tension that is not the result of past kamma burning off, but rather present-moment kamma being created and let go of all in a brief instant.
Yes false or real is not the right way to see it; from past kamma or from kamma being made in the present moment is correct. On the other hand it doesn't make any difference in terms of letting go of tensions. You need to let them all go. If you can catch yourself in the process of creating the tensions to let them go all the better, you have learned something that you can use to stop it from happening in the future.
BA: Third, do mental tensions (preoccupations) count as the type of tension I am working to let go of?
Mental tensions count absolutely. But the distinction between "bodily" tension and "mental" tension is a little hard to make if you think about it: tension is something being maintained in the body by the mind holding on to an idea.
BA: When you were instructing me you made a comment to the effect of, "Are you trying to hold your posture?" which made me feel later on that if i wasn't moving that i wasnt letting go. I should not be concerned with how much I move right, even if i don't move at all? I should only be concerned with letting go.
Correct. The idea wasn't that you should be moving, but that you should not be trying not to move.
BA: Do you always do the smile thing at the start of the sit-down, or do you eventually just get a feel for the "satisfied face"?
The smile thing is an invention of my own that takes off from the instruction to beginners to (satiparimukkham) "sati-all-round-face," which all the translators translate differently. My take comes from the idea that most of the sense organs are located on the face and the tensions that are found in the rest of the body mostly originate there from reactions to sense stimuli. (Seeing an ugly site you attempt to control the eye from seeing it...); so the idea was to counter balance the tension-creation with the look of satisfaction. So the look of satisfaction becomes the model or pattern (the paradigm) for what you are doing in the rest of the sit-down practice. If you have that consciously in mind there is no real need to do the practice artificially.
BA: When moving out of jhana meditation, you said to bring yourself out purposefully. Does this mean you simply focus mindfully on bringing yourself back, or does it mean you intentionally bring back one of the factors you temporarily uprooted for the jhana, such as bringing back the internal dialogue to come out of the second jhana, or bringing back wordly desire to come out of the first jhana?
Well a little of both. Basically all you need to do is to focus on the world. But you don't want to be bringing back bad conditions that you have escaped! Then it becomes a matter of which jhana you are in: you focus on the factor that you eliminated so in the case of going from the second jhana to the first you would focus on vitakka/vicara (thinking, the inner dialogue); just don't focus on lust coming out of the first jhana. You do this deliberately both directions because it makes the process easier the next time. Further to this I suggest that before you actually get up, you orient yourself properly: in other words view your trip into the world as an interruption of your sitting practice; and further than that that you do not venture into the world wastefully...have at least two tasks in mind before you allow the interruption of sit down practice.
Try this exercise to physically understand the difference between "doing nothing" (which, by definition, is a doing, and is, therefore, impossible) and "not doing" (which is important to the understanding of every phase of the Pali practice, especially for Getting High). Clench your fist using extreme pressure. Hold the fist clenched for a few seconds, until you can focus on the mechanics of what you are doing. Then, without opening the fist or moving a muscle with intention, let go of the tension that is causing the fist to clench. This is not "doing" anything, this is the letting go of (the ending of) the doing that was the clenching. This example, demonstrated through the physical body, applies as well to all forms of grasping: grasping of the body; grasping after sense experience; grasping after perceptions; grasping after the creation of your own world; and grasping after consciousness.
Just so we stay orthodox: technically this 'intentional not-doing' is the doing of a deed of kamma. It is understood as kamma with no outcome, or kamma that resolves or desolves or ends kamma. The outcome if such it can be called, is the experience of the 'sensation' [vedana] which is not-painful-but-not-pleasant, and if seen as freedom is a taste of Nibbana.