Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Florian 10/21/10 2:47 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Dan Bartlett 4/4/09 12:15 AM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Dan Bartlett 4/4/09 12:21 AM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? beta wave 4/4/09 12:54 AM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Florian 4/4/09 2:35 AM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? John Finley 4/4/09 3:00 AM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Dan Bartlett 4/4/09 3:50 AM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Wet Paint 4/4/09 4:32 AM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Dan Bartlett 4/4/09 5:45 AM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? tarin greco 4/4/09 7:33 AM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Jackson Wilshire 4/4/09 8:17 AM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Dan Bartlett 4/4/09 9:08 AM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Kenneth Folk 4/4/09 3:07 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Jackson Wilshire 4/4/09 4:28 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Kenneth Folk 4/4/09 4:38 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Kenneth Folk 4/4/09 5:03 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Kenneth Folk 4/4/09 5:28 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Jackson Wilshire 4/4/09 5:32 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Jackson Wilshire 4/4/09 5:53 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Florian 4/4/09 6:32 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Antonio Ramírez 4/5/09 7:51 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Florian 4/5/09 9:21 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Daniel M. Ingram 4/6/09 12:41 AM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? beta wave 4/6/09 2:35 AM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Natasha - Milne 4/6/09 1:55 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Trent S. H. 4/6/09 2:48 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Florian 4/6/09 10:38 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Dan Bartlett 4/6/09 10:47 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? lena lozano 4/11/09 3:56 AM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Antonio Ramírez 4/29/09 6:56 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Antonio Ramírez 4/29/09 6:59 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Jackson Wilshire 4/29/09 7:14 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Jackson Wilshire 4/29/09 7:16 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Antonio Ramírez 4/29/09 7:21 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Antonio Ramírez 4/29/09 7:30 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Antonio Ramírez 4/29/09 7:34 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Florian 4/29/09 7:47 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Natasha - Milne 4/30/09 4:35 AM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Andrew P 4/30/09 2:03 PM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Dark Night Yogi 8/3/09 5:23 AM
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? Howard Clegg 11/25/10 3:09 AM
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Florian, modified 11 Years ago at 10/21/10 2:47 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/3/09 11:21 PM

Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
I wrote up a few thoughts about balancing practice at this stage -

In the chapter about Equanimity in Daniel's Book, there is a sentence I've read countless times by now:

[indent]From this point enlightenment is likely to be attained quickly as long as the meditator continues to simply practice and gently fine tune their awareness and precision, paying gentle attention to things like thoughts of progress and satisfaction with equanimity.
[/indent]

It seemed encouraging enough the first few times around, but after a while, I got impatient with equanimity. It's pleasant enough, but ... So I tried Kenneths dry insight technique for attaining path a couple of weeks ago. In response to sending him a long description of my experiences with the dry technique, he recommended adding a bit of light, fun concentration to my daily practice, using the breath or a kasina object. I chose the breath, because I'm familiar with breath meditation. A few days later, the "kasina" thread resurfaced, with Guillermo describing his experiences. I'll give this a try after all, I thought, constructed a brown paper kasina using scissors, a saucer and brown paper, and sat staring at it for half an hour one morning. Apart from the usual side-effects of overdoing kasina practice like this the first time (see Guillermo's post for details), and learning that I can see "eyelid colors" even with my eyes open, nothing much seemed to happen.

Until that evening, that is. When I sat for meditation, I directly entered 4th Jhana, hard, and "shut the door" behind me for what felt like a very long time, and probably was about fifteen to twenty minutes, before it deflated. With "hard" i don't mean "one-pointed, to the exclusion of everything else" hard, but still distinctly hard.

Worried that I might "get stuck in Jhana" at this point, I asked Kenneth about it. He explained that the more active, forceful, "dry" technique would yield entry through the dukkha door, while letting 4th jhana/equanimity ripen would be the route through the no-self door. I had some concerns about not investigating enough and sliding back, but these were dispelled: "remember that after a certain point, viz. high equanimity, vipassana and samatha are merged. Vipassana always happens automatically." (from the "No Dog, Some Dog and the Simplest Thing" thread).

After reading a few more of my enthusiastic messages about me hitting hard 4th Jhana yet again several more times, Kenneth asked me if I would write up my thoughts on how I improved my level of concentration to balance out my level of investigation. Here's a very simple analysis of my practice up to now:



Even taking into account that investigation will exercise concentration, the lack of balance is quite obvious. Kenneth alluded to the Liebig Minimum, which is a model of plant growth, how short supply of just one essential nutrient will limit growth even if all the other essential nutrients are plentiful. Liebig himself used the image of a barrel with staves of uneven length: the capacity of the barrel is limited by the shortest stave.

It's the same story as with the five spiritual faculties. If Wisdom and Faith are out of balance, or Energy and Concentration, progress is not smooth. Same with concentration and investigation. If one is in short supply, growth is stunted, a plateau can result.

I hope this will help some of those who, like myself, are sitting in equanimity prior to first path. I'd also love it if those with more experience would chime in.

Cheers,
Florian

(Edit 2010-10-2: Originally, this was a page on the old Dharma Overground. The page was not transferred to the new site, but since this thread gets referenced occasionally I inserted the text of the original page here. This way, the thread seems less mysterious.)
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Dan Bartlett, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 12:15 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 12:15 AM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 46 Join Date: 7/20/09 Recent Posts
I believe I'm in the same situation, so this is pretty interesting to read. I've read that MCTB quote a million times as well emoticon I've been in equanimity since I came off retreat in January, but seem to have gone through a few distinct phases since then. The most recent change was when I noticed that my "awareness" or my keeping track of sensations was still slightly seperated from what I was observing (well, in my perception at least, not in reality)

When I noticed this and "allowed" (very important) physical and mental sensations to be experienced as one stream my practice seemed to move along a stage closer. That sounds like something a practioner has to do earlier on in the progress of insight, but this was the same mind-body integration on a very subtle level that I hadn't noticed before. It required some degree of surrender, and realising that any notion of an observer is also constantly being observed. Let it all flow, but be gentle!

A day or so after that step forward, I had a strange experience which I described in my diary as moving from Here to Over there. All the sudden I lost my center point and felt almost the opposite of what I usually am. It felt like moving from form, to awareness of all the "outlines" of reality. Of course I got over-excited (and confused) and there was no collapse/integration of Here and There. Apparently this can happen a few times before the Real Deal collapse, fruition.

(contd)
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Dan Bartlett, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 12:21 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 12:21 AM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

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So at the moment, I'm working on including the absolute totality of experience, and this seems to be taking me in the right direction. It seems to be all about allowing and merging with it, without disturbing "it" too much. I love the phrase "allowing awareness to discover itself", seems very relevant to me at this time. Note: my technique has always been quite formless. I try to maintain choiceless awareness whilst "emptying out" any sensation that implies a self-center (while of course observing the emptying out too because that's empty!) I've never really done much dedicated concentration practice. I did a few hours of concentration practice when I began sitting daily, and quickly had a strong kundalini experience. Since then, I've stuck with the insight, although I'm sure I enter jhanas quite often. They are a welcome lube :-) I've recently found that a few minutes of anapanna before dedicated insight really helps, especially in a morning sitting where things tend to be very cloudy for me. Good luck, and hopefully one of us will be buying the other a beer soon ;-)
beta wave, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 12:54 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 12:54 AM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

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Wow, I really like that quote, too!
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Florian, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 2:35 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 2:35 AM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

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Hi Dan and Beta,

Yes, equanimity has a few sub-stages as far as my experience of it goes. The "low vs. high" equanimity model is a bit crude, or maybe that's just because with us, off retreat, the unfolding is so slow that we blow every single little energy release out of proportion emoticon

That "Here / Over There" thing keeps happening here, too. There's a weird, very unaesthetic, oozing, grinding, slipping event every time the here/there thing keels over.

On the energy release front - quite a lot of eyelid tremors during meditation, and a strong sense of having a gyroscope embedded in my head behind the eyebrows. Probably related to the concentration.

Lube: yeah! Definitely! Cultivating the 4th Jhana also gives me something to *do*, a bit of progress to make, while watching the ripening process. And Kenneth claims that familiarity with 4J is useful later on, after first path, for exploring the Pure Land Jhanas. Just the thing to get a map geek interested. ;)

Cheers,
Florian
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John Finley, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 3:00 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 3:00 AM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

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Interesting - that's exactly how I would describe my recent experiences with kasinas the past couple of days (my first times with this method). Feels like I'm picking up some momentum, but time will tell....
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Dan Bartlett, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 3:50 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 3:50 AM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

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Most of my energetic activity has been behind eyebrows/forehead as well. It's mostly focused on the ajna chakra area, and feels like "pressure", something pushing against my forehead, or something trying to push out. I've had this on and off since I got off my last retreat. It shows up all the time, on and off the cushion, sometimes when I'm reading a good book, sometimes randomly, nearly always when sitting. It's there now as I write this, pushing and buzzin away. Sometimes the pressure spreads to the top of my head where it feels like it's on the inside of my skull.

Sometimes the pressure gets really intense, and it's very hard to just observe it like all the other soft flowing sensations in my body and surroundings. Sometimes it feels like liquid metal (heavy, dense) resting on my eyebrows, and can feel so heavy at times that my head almost slumps forward. It also tends to be quite mobile during sits, sometimes spreading out, sometimes becoming more concentrated in one area. I've looked at it closely a number of times: it feels very solid at first, and then on further investigation, pulsing at incredible speed. Very dense. Quite annoying emoticon

I sometimes feel lots of energy building around my ribcage and tummy when I really get deep into meditation, as well as the eye flickering/rolling that most people seem to experience.
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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 4:32 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 4:32 AM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: thittato

@monkeymind & danbartlett

So you guys manage to stay in Equanimity off retreat without falling back into the Dark Nights? Do you have to go through A&P and the Dark Nights in each sitting to get to Equanimity, or are you there immediately?
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Dan Bartlett, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 5:45 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 5:45 AM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

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Yeah, I don't think I've fallen back into Dark Night territory since retreat. There are always enjoyable periods and tougher ones. It's hard to tell how much is part of an insight cycle, and how much is just life. Suffering, however, has been pretty scarce since I got into equanimity, and throughout it. (I mean there's not much suffering whilst sitting; daily life is same old.) That's nice for a while, then you get bored of that...

I'm not sure whether I go through any ordered process during each sitting. There are usually some distinct shifts, but I haven't investigated them that much. There could be a general progression, but at the start I just stay focused and determined until I'm in the right groove, and then I can relax a little as concentration tends to maintain itself. Past 20 minutes or so, I'm usually back on the boundaries of my territory, with phenomena effortlessly presenting themselves for inspection, as someone put it.
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tarin greco, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 7:33 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 7:33 AM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

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stay with the weird, unaesthetic, oozing/grinding/slipping that starts to happen that feels like it shouldnt be happening, like its some kind of regress, unwanted direction, etc, viscerally stay with it. note the sense of dissonance, things going out of sync rather than in.
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Jackson Wilshire, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 8:17 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 8:17 AM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

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Man, reading your descriptions is like reading a chapter out of my own life. I got so excited by the 'moving from here to over there' phenomenon that I stopped practicing and thought it was stream entry! I wrote Daniel an email, and he quickly pointed out where I was mistaken, but told me I was probably close. My first fruition occurred a week or two after that.

I'm big in to making resolutions prior to starting my meditation practice. I don't know why, but when I make a strong resolution for a desired result, something good always comes of it. It might not be what I resolved to do, but it's always a step in the right direction.

For example, just a few days ago I resolved to attain to Nirodha Samapatti on my next sit. I had never made it past 8th jhana, but I thought, What the Hell? I didn't make it to NS during that sit (which probably has to do with the fact that I'm not yet an anagami), but I did get my first taste of the Pure Land jhanas. I don't think I would have gotten there if I hadn't resolved to make progress. There's something magical about this kind of resolution, and I haven't quite pinned down how it works. It just does.

Anyways, give it a shot. If you already do this, keep doing it! Start out with some walking meditation or jhana practice to get concentrated, and then say to yourself, "I resolve to get fruition during this sit." See what happens.
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Dan Bartlett, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 9:08 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 9:08 AM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

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This is another reason I feel so thankful for MCTB, the descriptions and the maps. If I hadn't known what to expect, I'm sure I would have mistaken that experience for stream entry as well.

I've heard a few people mention the power of resolutions now. I'll try it next sit! Thanks.
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Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 3:07 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 3:07 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

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Thanks for this page, Florian, this is really useful. The way you have presented concentration and investigation in table form really highlights the relationship between the two and helps us visualize the balance. My hypothesis, as presented in the Hurricane Ranch 09 Dharma Discussion, is that from a mechanistic point of view the way to make progress is simply to access ever deepening strata of mind and investigate (penetrate) each of them in turn.

No matter how concentrated one gets, without investigation no insight knowledge arises. Conversely, no matter how much one investigates, without accessing all the relevant strata of mind through concentration no progress is made. While the former situation can be a problem for those who have not yet attained to the 4th nana (A&P), the latter situation is very common among those who are post A&P but have not yet attained to Path.

So, the limiting factor (à la Liebig) for those in the second camp is concentration. From time to time I hear about someone who has made unusually rapid progress toward enlightenment. In fact, a friend just told me of someone who seems to have attained arahatship during her first two-month retreat (after several years of practice in daily life), a remarkable feat given that it seems to take most people twenty years or more of dedicated practice to attain full enlightenment. In this case, as in nearly all of the rapid-progress case histories, the successful yogi appears to have unusually strong concentration. This is consistent with conventional Theravada Buddhist wisdom that if someone has the power of jhana they can become enlightened very quickly once they learn the vipassana technique. If there is one bit of practical advice I'd like to impart to those "chronic achievers" who seem to be languishing on a plateau between The A&P and (whichever) Path, it's "concentrate your behind off!"

edit: fixed two typos
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Jackson Wilshire, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 4:28 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 4:28 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
Kenneth,

Regarding the above quote, and this one: "remember that after a certain point, viz. high equanimity, vipassana and samatha are merged. Vipassana always happens automatically."...

Is there a particular jhana that one should use as the basis of investigation depending on their current level of attainment in order to progress more quickly and directly? For example, I'm a 2nd Pather (sakadagami) by my best estimate, and I just stumbled upon the Pure Land jhanas over the last few days. Should I be hanging out in the highest jhanas I can access and, as Daniel says, "Let it ring" (i.e. penetrate via the vipassana technique), or should I be hanging out in a one of the lower jhanas. I'm not quite sure how the jhanas line up with the various strata of mind. This info could be very helpful for those working toward stream entry as well. If the strata of mind one needs to penetrate in order to get stream-entry is best done at the level of, say, 4th jhana, this info may give the meditator the necessary edge to break through. Just a thought.

Thanks!

Jackson
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Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 4:38 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 4:38 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

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Some people are able to sustain themselves in equanimity even between retreats, but it isn't that they don't fall below it; it's that the highest ñana that you are able to achieve in your daily sittings tends to color your entire day. The cutting edge of practice, in this case equanimity (11th ñana) has to be reattained in each sitting. You start out at each sitting pre-first ñana, and if your practice is very good and the momentum of daily sitting is strong, you can rise up to your cutting edge in minutes or seconds.

If you are used to thinking of ñanas as lasting for some period of time, you can miss this. But if you pay careful attention during the first few seconds of your sitting, you can see the early ñanas flash by. The easiest one to spot, as always, is the 4th (A&P); you might notice a brief bout of white light and/or a vibration in one of the extremities. This will quickly give way to a more diffuse awareness, perhaps a sense of coolness on the skin, and a feeling of chilled out bliss (all 3rd jhana/5th ñana phenomena), then a little rough patch of unpleasant sensations (dukkha ñanas 6-10) before the equanimity settles in. All of this can happen in less than a minute, so you really have to be on your game to notice it. If you stop meditating for a few weeks you can get rusty, and this process of rising up to the cutting edge of your practice will take longer.

After Path, it's always effortless and instantaneous to get up to the A&P, even if you haven't practiced for awhile; in fact this is what is pointed to in the Buddhist cosmology when they say that after 1st Path you'll never again be reborn in the lower realms.
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Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 5:03 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 5:03 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

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What a terrific question! I would say that we probably won't be able to second-guess nature. During any given sitting there is a natural progression from less concentrated to more concentrated, rising to a peak at your current "cutting edge", then back down toward less concentrated. I think of it as the meditative arc. If you continue to sit, the concentration will deepen again; you can ride the arc up and down for as long as you can stand to sit there. Any attempt to manipulate this natural cycle runs the risk of short-circuiting your development by inadvertently skipping over the very stratum of mind that you need to access and penetrate. So make your resolution to make progress, then be present for whatever shows up. Any tendency to space out is most likely to happen during the formless jhanas 5-8, so be sure to be alert for those. And be sure not to hurry through 4th jhana in an effort to get to the formless realms. Extended 4th jhana is where the Pureland jhanas live, and this seems to be where most of the progress is made in the upper (3rd & 4th) Paths.
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Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 5:28 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 5:28 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

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I'm glad you mentioned this, Jackson, because it brings up an interesting mapping question. According to my favorite map,

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sagga/loka.html

to be able to access the Pureland jhanas (sudhavasa) is to be at least an anagami. I favor these traditional jhana-based maps because they are unambiguous. Interestingly, (at least to me, ha, ha), by this metric I was an anagami years before I allowed myself the luxury of thinking so. I was adamant that I would not claim 3rd Path until I was sure I had access to nirodha samapatti, which for me happened much later than the Pureland. (It doesn't have to be this way. It seems to vary by individual. Daniel had access to NS long before he had access to the Pureland. Attainment of either NS or Pureland is synonomous with 3rd Path according to the traditional maps.) At any rate, although the mapping of 3rd Path is, as I believe you have pointed out, arbitrary, this way of mapping is much more appealing to me than maps that are based on more nebulous descriptions, e.g., being able to see emptiness in real time. I acknowledge that the question is largely academic, as the attainment most worthy of mention is 4th Path, and 4th Path is by far the easiest to map. How did Alan Chapman phrase it?

"Before enlightenment, I was distinct and separate. After enlightenment, I am distinct and whole."

I can scarcely imagine a better description. May all living beings have the luxury of mapping in hindsight. :-)
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Jackson Wilshire, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 5:32 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 5:32 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

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Kenneth,

Perfect! So then, the goal is to "concentrate my behind off" but not to rush through stages/states. Lately I've been zooming through the jhanas as quickly as possible in order to see how deep I can go (which, from what I can tell, is PL-2). Once I get as high as I can go, I hold it and try to note three characteristics without loosing the state. I can now see how this technique is flawed.

Since I don't know exactly which strata needs to be "seen through" (i.e. penetrated), it makes sense to let the states occur organically, in their natural order, while infusing each experience with mindfulness (e.g. noting and noticing). I will most certainly be making this adjustment to my practice!

Thank you, as always, for the sound advice.

Jackson
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Jackson Wilshire, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 5:53 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 5:53 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

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Kenneth

Interesting... I am fairly certain that states I am accessing are PL jhanas, but there's no verdict as to whether I've progressed past 2nd Path. I have completed three distinct "Progress of Insight" cycles, but I know that this doesn't really matter. It could take many full-blown insight cycles to get to anagami. I think the Nirodha Samapatti standard is a good one, and that's what I'm going for (even if it doesn't happen for a while).

Since this is starting to get a bit off topic, I may start a thread about the PL jhanas in the near future, in order to verify that this is what I am actually experiencing. I was pretty familiar with jhanas 1-8 prior to reaching these states, so if it's not PL jhana I don't know what it is.

Thanks again for the solid info.

Jackson
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Florian, modified 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 6:32 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/4/09 6:32 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

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Hi Chris,
With me, it seems that whenever I practice less, or make radical changes to my technique (and lose some momentum until I'm good at the new technique again), I "fall back", in two senses: a) I only reach a stage previous to equanimity in meditation, and b) that stage tends to color my daily experience.

In this second sense, it can feel as if I got unstuck on the map, veering back and forth. Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw described this briefly in his book, "the progress of insight". With me, this has included energetic "A&P event" type experiences and dark nights. I'm fairly certain that I've been "in equanimity" in the second sense for about two months now, without falling back.

In the first sense, I notice a "rising through the nanas" (mainly the landmarks of A&P and re-observation) every time I meditate, before I land in equanimity; in my case it takes several minutes to complete this and get to my "cutting edge of practice", faster after doing a bit of pure concentration.

@everybody who replied: thanks, great replies. Team sport enlightenment, right!

Cheers,
Florian
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Antonio Ramírez, modified 13 Years ago at 4/5/09 7:51 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/5/09 7:51 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
I'm also at this spot. Cycling to equanimity a couple times per day in everyday life (or it feels that way... at least if I'm somewhat concentrated). And during sits, also reaching equanimity, with the dark night stretch varying in nastiness and length.

I haven't been at this stage for very long (maybe a month?) and I still have a sense of progress pretty much during every sit. But man... diminishing returns. It's easy to feel conceited ("I won't be like those other people who hang out in equanimity for ages!") but ultimately the joke is on me, huh?

Maybe one really, genuinely has to become disillusioned with equanimity for things to proceed. Disillusionment is really not something one can fake.

Food for thought: is all this team encouragement, all this looking forward to useful practice tidbits from DhO, potentially counterproductive? Could we really be unwittingly feeding the corruptions of insight by doing this? Might we do better to go incommunicado for a while, and really face the possibility that first-path fruition might not something you can catalyze by sheer effort?

Obviously I like the idea of team sport enlightenment but... ugh. It gets frustrating. I already feel kinship and admiration with you guys who've been at equanimity for so much longer. I hope we make it.

I'm discouraged, is what I'm saying. And clearly, impatient emoticon
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Florian, modified 13 Years ago at 4/5/09 9:21 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/5/09 9:21 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Antonio,

Welcome to the club. emoticon

You wrote, "is ... all this looking forward to useful practice tidbits from DhO, potentially counterproductive? Could we really be unwittingly feeding the corruptions of insight by doing this?"

Do it wittingly, then. Pay attention to those sensations that make up this question, this doubt. I've found that it really pays to investigate widely in equanimity, as Daniel recommends, including thoughts about progress and so on, to watch the back and forth between compassion and suffering evident in the discouragement and the impatience.

I've also found that Kenneth's advice to pump up the concentration skills at this point is very good advice indeed. Maybe Path can't be attained by sheer effort, I honestly don't know, but by pouring the energy of frustration and sheer effort looking for an outlet, into concentration is a very good thing to do in many ways. For one, the recurring mini-dark-night phases of the daily nana progression can be recognized more quickly and clearly, and bleed-through stopped early on, maybe even before affecting friends and family. Also, sitting in hard jhana is very satisfying, and clarity is a good bit more crisp for quite some time even after emerging. Maybe this is old news to you, but I've only hit hard jhana recently, and can't recommend it highly enough.

And if you're really impatient, there's always the "dry insight" method, falling off the end of vibration pulses, fluttering eyelids, flashing eyelid lights, whatever. I play with those from time to time as well.

Well make it - we made it to this point, after all.

Cheers (feeling like a Dhamma cheerleader, wondering what sensations make up this feeling),
Florian
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 13 Years ago at 4/6/09 12:41 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/6/09 12:41 AM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 3231 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
I think that the concentration vs insight debates can be more integrated. I remember getting to places where I was able to feel wave after wave of pure suchness trying to synchronize, with very strong concentration, moment after moment, staying on reality like glue, riding wave after wave, feeling the tension as The Prisoner recommends, looking at the Three Characteristics but at the 4th jhana formation level of integrated waves of sensations, with a very powerful mix of concentration and insight, those fused so that the goal of momentary concentration was well actualized. Nothing seemed to get by and everything seemed to be noticed as it was with its true nature well attended to, like the power of the A&P but done panoramically.

It was not actually this phase that got stream entry, but I feel that it set things up well so that, once I got to the next stage, that of not even really practicing but yet being present in some natural way, stream entry was well supported. Curiously, for me stream entry arose after that in a place where I was really contemplating on how subject and object can be one, how awareness and manifestation could be one, and those things, and through this natural, almost daydream-like inquiry, I entered through the no-self door. This reminds me of what Yabaxoule does in some ways: a very hyper-engaged questioning of how the dharma theory aligns with experience and reality. Food for thought, anyway.
beta wave, modified 13 Years ago at 4/6/09 2:35 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/6/09 2:35 AM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Yuck -- I didn't like my post. Deleted.
Natasha - Milne, modified 13 Years ago at 4/6/09 1:55 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/6/09 1:55 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi postreptilian,

This is my first post here. I had heard that in order to achieve stream entry, one has to give up the craving, ( I am not sure if that is the exact word) to achieve stream entry. When I went on my first retreat,( I had experienced A&P at home previously) I experienced all the rest of the Pain Nana's and then came to Equanimity. At that point, I had only one more day to go, and hence thought, I may not have enough time to achieve stream entry.

At that time, I remember thinking to myself, that it is OK if it didn't happen. I would continue meditating, and come another time. Thereafter I let go of the thought of entering the stream and continued with the meditation, and the next day, I did achieve the Path. The way I saw it was that the subtle craving to achieve the path was the hindrance.

Hope this helps
Trent S H, modified 13 Years ago at 4/6/09 2:48 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/6/09 2:48 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
This is great. Kenneth and I shared a few stories about this last week. It really does seem like you can get so wrapped up in the investigation & progress that you just become blind to the fundamentals, which ends up creating a thin wall between equanimity & fruition. I remember so many times that I would be pushing, pushing, pushing and could not figure out why in the hell I was stuck. Then I'd remember the fundamental point of allowing experience to be, releasing self attachments, and so on...and then a day or two later the wall would fold over on its own and progress would continue.

There are a lot of great posts on equanimity around the forum that are worth their weight in gold, and this one is no exception! I can't believe the amount of times I got stuck in equanimity before I learned how to navigate it well...which is to say that I don't think I ever really did actively learn how, it just became part of the routine.

Trent
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Florian, modified 13 Years ago at 4/6/09 10:38 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/6/09 10:38 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Thanks for the added detail, Daniel. Great food for thought.

I recognize some of these experiences:rapid-fire all-round concentration bursts, dhamma daydreams, dropping out of meditation to find myself sitting on the floor with a bird chirping outside; but mixed in there are A&P-like energy releases, hard 4th jhana, 3characteristics style body twisting, sudden nama-rupe moments (or no-self, they seem related), centerpoint dissolution, the whole repertoire really, sometimes in the expected sequence, sometimes at random (or the sequence fast-forwarded over some of the intermediate bits).

There is a strong sense of something trying to cycle, judging from descriptions of past-stream-entry cycling, but unable to complete the cycle, running out of momentum and rolling around instead of completing the cycle.

As to integrating concentration vs. insight - yes, *but* emoticon I feel I actually neglected concentration, thinking it would kind be taken care of along with dedicated investigation - which it does, to an extent - but doing half an hour of pure concentration a day has done my investigation and clarity a lot of good, it's as if the "chore" of building up concentration in addition to all the investigation work has gone. I can literally concentrate on investigation, not having to knead my concentration into shape first, and it's actually more integrated with the separate concetration practice. This sounds quite silly, but I have no better way of expressing it at the moment.

Cheers,
Florian
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Dan Bartlett, modified 13 Years ago at 4/6/09 10:47 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/6/09 10:47 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 46 Join Date: 7/20/09 Recent Posts
Yeah, I find this a lot: good progress, further pushing, too much tension - forgetting to let it all be, getting pissed off, release, beginners mind, good progress, further pushing... Fortunately I know I'm making some progress each time. Each mini-cycle tends to open me up to another trap that I'll be more careful of next time. Just wondering how many more goddamned traps there are!
lena lozano, modified 13 Years ago at 4/11/09 3:56 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/11/09 3:56 AM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Post: 1 Join Date: 9/7/09 Recent Posts
just to add to all this exelent collection-on my last retreat(2 weeks ago) i felt for the first time a lot going on in my forehead and the top of the head,constant moments of some kind of vacuum at the end of sensations experienced and a lot of feeling lightheadness even stronger on the last day of retreat.only once i felt strong eyeleads blinking-was very surprised-never felt it before so distinctly.i can see mind and matter as vibrating and constantly changing but still didnt manage to trully see that there is no observer(I remains).
about going back and forth throw stages-just two days ago suddenly i felt pains in sitting and anger and depression in daily life /made note of it, and next sitting made sure i work properly,got back to equanimity and noticed also in daily life changing of my attitude for positive.amaizing-it realy is connected! i also will try the kasina thing to improove my consentration.even if it is not nesessery-what the hell?
about practice itself -i spend part of sitting with generall feeling throwout the body-still afraid i ll loose the ability to fill every corner opened up,then some ping pong between two different simmetrical points as Daniel put in his book,watch activity in myforehead and top of the head'try to see clearly vacuum moments after each sensation.by the time i finish all those ,few times in a sircle-one hour is gone.
about janas-i have no clear idea wich of them i hit sometimes-the filling is quetness' serenity, tranquility, big mind and now it stays for some time and does not disappear quickly as before-i dont need effort to keep it.
thank Kenneth for explanation about going up each sitting starting from the beginning-it helps now to relate things closer to maps.after i try kasina i ll add my results.the biggest thing i am affraid of today is that this site will disappire.hope to have access to all of u forever.may everybody get quicly and effectively throw their hindrancies
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Antonio Ramírez, modified 13 Years ago at 4/29/09 6:56 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/29/09 6:56 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
It turns out, I got Path a bit over a week ago (Apr 20)! I went on a short retreat at Spirit Rock (three nights), in which I practiced very earnestly (possibly freaking out some vipassana newcomers emoticon). Following Ken's advice, I tried to get as much momentum as possible prior to the retreat (though at the time I felt that I was slacking and had accusatory thoughts about "undermining myself"... go figure). I didn't get fruition during the retreat, but I think it really did the trick, and I got it off-retreat the night of the day on which the retreat ended.

I guess what I can say is: yeah, it does seem to be necessary to let go, and yeah, that's hard to fake. I think the retreat was really good at rubbing in the unsatisfactoriness of experience: things are so beautiful while in Equanimity (maximally beautiful, I dare say), and at the same time, they're not enough, we want Path. Somehow I got out of the retreat with a very visceral OKness about the possibility of hanging out in Equanimity for a really long time, and this might've led to "Conformity" as per the map. Re-reading my somewhat melodharmatic post above, I wouldn't say that I became "disillusioned" with Equanimity... quite the contrary, in fact. It felt more like I embraced it.

(cont)
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Antonio Ramírez, modified 13 Years ago at 4/29/09 6:59 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/29/09 6:59 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
One thing about fruitions, if it's useful: in my case they don't happen when I think they will. At least so far, they haven't. Clearly with practice they can be induced (e.g. Kenneth's dry-insight technique), and I got one fruition while following Shinzen Young's "do nothing" instructions in an article recently linked from here, but I think it might be a good idea to get concentrated and just watch the vibrations, while getting as relaxed as possible. For instance, it seems that for me fruition never happens until I'm able to see through the cravings for it: the tension, the being "poised for it." It helps to look at those and see their three characteristics until they dissolve into vibrations. Then, when I least expect it, "zap."

[edit] Another thing: I obsessed a lot about trying to see the ends of sensations clearly. To be honest, even now they're not clear (or as clear as I imagined they could be). So it's totally possible to get fruition without that aspect becoming terribly obvious.

[Incidentally, I might sound non-chalant about the whole thing right now, but WOW, the aftereffects of that 1st fruition were quite the experience for almost a whole week. It's the first time that I took days off work because I was feeling too well. (Vacation days, in case a coworker reads this emoticon) ]

Good luck to everyone!
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Jackson Wilshire, modified 13 Years ago at 4/29/09 7:14 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/29/09 7:14 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
I think you mean April 20th, yeah?

Congrats!
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Jackson Wilshire, modified 13 Years ago at 4/29/09 7:16 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/29/09 7:16 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
You got it right on the money :-D
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Antonio Ramírez, modified 13 Years ago at 4/29/09 7:21 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/29/09 7:21 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Yeah, I edited the post to correct that emoticon Didn't think someone would've read it already. Thanks emoticon
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Antonio Ramírez, modified 13 Years ago at 4/29/09 7:30 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/29/09 7:30 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Evidently it helped! Your description is very much in accord with my experience. A visceral OKness that cannot be faked, but which does blossom naturally (after shedding a few tears emoticon)
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Antonio Ramírez, modified 13 Years ago at 4/29/09 7:34 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/29/09 7:34 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
We will! Thanks for creating this thread and cheering me on when I needed it emoticon
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Florian, modified 13 Years ago at 4/29/09 7:47 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/29/09 7:47 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Well done, Antonio! Thanks for posting that. I deeply appreciate this place, and all who contribute to its continued existence.

I've been playing with Young's "do nothing" instructions, too. Works great on commuter trains and buses, where it's not that conducive to concentration practice. In a way, the "do nothing" method seems to be some kind of least common denominator of all vipassana techniques I know. Anyone else tried this?

Cheers,
Florian
Natasha - Milne, modified 13 Years ago at 4/30/09 4:35 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/30/09 4:35 AM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
I am glad it helped.
Andrew P, modified 13 Years ago at 4/30/09 2:03 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/30/09 2:03 PM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Heartfelt Congrats man!

Another one escapes the gravity of the mundane delusion! I'm hangin' out here on the brink around equanimity and tryin' to lube my way through with concentration.

I am glad to hear another account of a successful break-through. I am grateful for this community and I hope that subtle inner fire can show me the way. Who's next?

Andrew
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Dark Night Yogi, modified 13 Years ago at 8/3/09 5:23 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 8/3/09 5:23 AM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 138 Join Date: 8/25/09 Recent Posts
I think I am the unfortunate one. This is all pretty weird but it can only be stream entry.
I felt different doing walking meditation this morning, not remembering exactly when it began, or the event that the shift happened. Walking meditation was easy.

My meditation prior to this has been new and unusual, as I felt that I was unable to see the usual bright lights I see while concentrating. Or, my equanimity didn't feel like before, panoramic, energetic, it felt just sort of ordinary. I had one day where my equanimity felt completely free from suffering, got motivated then wanted to push it that weekend, and then this saturday, I tried to meditate the whole day from 9am - 2am but with sloth and low metabolism getting the best of me, i still managed to do it ok, thinking i needed to train for "when i go on retreat", and it was good training. Sunday then concentration felt more effortless, walking meditation was easier.
Today (monday) i felt funny at work, and a great weight was lifted. I felt like "so is this what it feels like to be happy?" to not be insecure? I could not do anything but smile, laugh, and felt that the great holy big deal was a great holy big delusion. I felt a bit less deluded.

Even "bragging" doesn't seem to appear fun. As I always fantasized of "oh the day i get stream entry..." like its much more thrilling and counter-productive to brag and dream before it, and dream of bragging, but when its there it loses its meaning.

I feel comfortable with people like I never felt before, and I can look at people without fearing them.
The days leading to this, I got fascinated with noting via the 4 foundations, discerning w/c is Matter, perception, Consciousness states, and thoughts.

I have not really balanced myself out and am still in a sorta blurred out "whoa". I think i am in the dark night right now, having just gone a & p.
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Howard Clegg, modified 11 Years ago at 11/25/10 3:09 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 11/12/10 4:57 AM

RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?

Posts: 61 Join Date: 10/15/10 Recent Posts
Dear All

Kenneth Folk said

If you are used to thinking of ñanas as lasting for some period of time, you can miss this. But if you pay careful attention during the first few seconds of your sitting, you can see the early ñanas flash by. The easiest one to spot, as always, is the 4th (A&P); you might notice a brief bout of white light and/or a vibration in one of the extremities. This will quickly give way to a more diffuse awareness, perhaps a sense of coolness on the skin, and a feeling of chilled out bliss (all 3rd jhana/5th ñana phenomena), then a little rough patch of unpleasant sensations (dukkha ñanas 6-10) before the equanimity settles in. All of this can happen in less than a minute, so you really have to be on your game to notice it. If you stop meditating for a few weeks you can get rusty, and this process of rising up to the cutting edge of your practice will take longer.


I read this last night for the first time and had a go this morning. Wow, it works! Took me a bit longer than a minute, but not much. But really clear. Then I got so excited that it all got messy for the rest of the sit and I was unable to replicate it as cleanly. Thank you Kenneth, so much. I've never thought too much about how meditation works. I just know I have to do some stuff to get to the nice place which turns out to be A&P OR Equanimity, everything else is just like taking the wrapping off a parcel, necessary but dull. I now know that this is not the case. Often I get stuck trying to get the wrapping off, as it were, and it takes ages to transition to 4th or Equanimity. Kenneth's point about it all being natural and not to mess too much with the progression is very useful as I normally try to force the issue, sometimes trashing my sit all together. Now I know better.

Transiting up to Equanimity often happens very quickly, if I can get a firm enough grip on my, I dunno, mind stream? Is that an appropriate word to use? The dark night stuff in between is barely noticeable, usually a mild sense of dissatisfaction. Bit of jolty, clunky stuff, physical aches and pains maybe. Then, spacious clarity, lovely jubbely.

Up till now I've just been trying to get to equanimity as quickly and as often as possible, but with out any plan. This has been a fairly hit and miss affair. I'm pretty sure I've been mistaking post rapture A&P for equanimity on a regular basis and then falling back. Need to lock that one down.

It’s still a mystery how I got here. Three years of serious illness and two years before that of very patchy practice. Then as soon as I started to recover, I was spontaneously dropping in to this crystal, spacious clarity. Subconsciously, I knew I had to do something with it sharpish, hence my hurried and fairly painful return to practice.

But what was I doing while sick, to end up here? There was something else in Kenneth's post that struck me

Conversely, no matter how much one investigates, without accessing all the relevant strata of mind through concentration no progress is made. While the former situation can be a problem for those who have not yet attained to the 4th nana (A&P), the latter situation is very common among those who are post A&P but have not yet attained to Path.


Now, I have never done much concentration practice, my mind always slides off to observe change, Which is why I loved Goenka so much for so long. And Goenka was great training to enable me to survive my illness.

When I was sick, the symptoms that I had were brute physical, many, varied, constantly changing, and very strong. They were also pretty much immune to any drug treatments. No other distraction worked sufficiently to block them out for long either. So my only option was to observe them, this removed some of the fear and uncertainty, and did actually reduce the severity a little. For much of the time, in bed for example as insomnia is one of the symptoms, I would spend hours just observing the rushes, sweats and spasms. (Insomnia also induced mild hallucinations that I kind of got used too as well.)
It was a bit like doing Goenka but in glorious high definition. Eventually I would get sick of it all and crawl off to watch late night telly. There is some great stuff on a three in the morning by the way.

Previously I have assumed that this activity would fall in to insight territory as the sensations were always changing and I was basically using a Goenka methodology. I am now thinking that what I was doing was some kind of concentration practice?
In my experience Goenka does not talk too much about Samadhi. It’s all insight, insight, insight. Some traditions, I'm thinking of the Forest Tradition here, regard insight and concentration as opposite ends of the same stick. Do one and you are automatically doing some of the other as well.

If you are still reading, thanks you for wading through my content. At this stage, process and content are still fairly enmeshed, picking the two apart is a job that has to be done I suppose.

Originally I was just going to say thanks to Kenneth, but things got out of had. Oh well.

Howard

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