Second Path Six Weeks After SE?

Joe M, modified 4 Years ago at 12/18/18 8:30 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 12/18/18 8:29 PM

Second Path Six Weeks After SE?

Posts: 2 Join Date: 11/10/18 Recent Posts

I believe that I got stream entry on 11/5/18, as well as what appears to me to be second path three days ago, less than six weeks later. One on hand, this seems improbable to me since the time range is so short and I was just doing home practice without any retreats in that period. On the other hand, there appear to be some clear changes in perception, although I understand these may or may not stand the test of time. Could I get second opinions and maybe some pointers on what to do next?

What I Did:
I practiced for about 30 minutes to one hour on weekdays, and one hour to three hours on weekend days, give or take, with the exception of a couple busy days where I didn't do any formal practice. I did about a 33-67 split between TMI-style anapanasati samatha-vipassana and Mahasi-style noticing the three characteristics through the six sense doors. I did actual explicit noting, as opposed to noticing, only in the rougher parts of the dukkha nanas where I was more likely to get lost in content while meditating instead of actually observing the three characteristics.

What Happened between SE and 2nd path:
-A couple weeks after the stream entry fruition, I resolved to begin the second path stages of insight before sitting. Then, after moving through the nanas from A&P to EQ and getting a fruition, I landed back in something which seemed much more stable, neutral, "normal", and grounded than what I was used to for A&P, and I understood this to be the second Mind and Body stage. Kept investigating that and felt that it seemed qualitatively deeper, more subtle, and more solid (harder to vipassanize) than any of the earlier stages.
-I had an extremely weird potential A&P event on 12/9 while laying in bed where I transitioned into a dream/extended hallucination/vision without losing consciousness and continuous awareness at any point in between states. The dream-thing began with myself sitting in a chair in a hotel room looking at an old TV that was showing a dinosaur silently breathing and staring at me. It felt like something from a David Lynch movie. This scene then disintegrated and reorganized into seeing the face of an old man with a serious expression who had his eyes about three inches away from mine and was just staring me down. My vision very slowly "zoomed in" to his right eye over the course of about a minute before that scene also disintegrated and reorganized into my normal reality. In both scenes there was a sense that the entity I was looking at was also me. I can't stress enough how weird this felt.
-My pre-path dukkha nanas weren't a big deal, and these new ones were even less so. Spaciness/fogginess, paranoia, creepy body sensations, facial contortions, yawning/involuntary mouth opening, crying, rumination, fed-up-ness. All of this sounds worse than it actually was, partially because I had already been there before, and there was little effect on my daily life off the cushion. I sailed through them in about four days before breaking through to early EQ.
-From there the EQ stage also matured very quickly. I think it took three sits before I got to the high formations part of EQ, where the normal distinction between inside and outside blurs and then disappears and reality as a whole appears to start strobing in and out of existence very quickly (I'd guess 10-20 Hz based off my memory of it). Things like time, space, self, and separation were broken up into their constituent sensations and the characteristics of these sensations became apparent during sits.
-Extrapolating what to do from the last cycle, I eased up the effort a bit and let everything start to go by itself. Just as things started to drift, there was a familiar stutter followed by a short discontinuity in experience (fruition). The bliss wave afterwards was significantly fuller and more substantial than those from any previous fruition. Also, just like my initial SE fruition on 11/5, there was a sense of "arriving" and I felt the need to laugh because there was a certain humorous quality to it.
-Immediately after the 2nd path fruition, when I landed back in A&P, I looked at my hands and arms with my eyes closed and discovered that I had the sense that I could see them. There was this sort of image where they were pitch black with a fuzzy light grey outline, and the image would change to exactly track their movement whenever I waved my hands around. I tried "seeing" other objects in my room outside of my body but was unable to locate anything else. This lasted for a couple minutes and is so far the only experience I have that seems related to siddhis.
-Since then I've gone back to the normal A&P -> DN -> EQ -> Fruition -> A&P -> ... cycling.

Changes after SE on 11/5:
-Gaining the ability to get repeat fruitions by cycling through the nanas. This took a couple days before it was consistent, but eventually I was able to get about 3 to 6 fruitions in an hour long sit at the beginning of the Review phase. As Review matured these cycles became slower so I would only get maybe 1, 2, or 3 fruitions in an hour of strict vipassana. I also experienced a couple fruitions outside of formal meditation, for example while laying in bed and starting to drift off before going to sleep.
-Loss of skeptical doubt in the possibility of insight through meditation. My ultimate goal is to get the point where all phenomena are understood just as they are; i.e. in the seen just the seen, in the heard just the heard, etc.
-Loss of belief in any sort of lasting self, though many sensations were and are still automatically taken as being self or of the self because of habit (this is the Big Issue as I understand it which insight practice is meant to resolve).
-Generally less suffering in daily life as a result of reduced "stickiness" (habitual clinging to or running from sensations).
-Gained the ability to enter into the 5th jhana (boundless space).

Changes after supposed 2nd on 12/15:
-Access to 6th and 7th jhanas (boundless consciousness and nothingness), though these are lite jhanas and awareness of the body and the environment decreases significantly but does not completely disappear.
-Beginning to develop an appreciation for Luminosity. More and more sensations are being seen as aware of themselves, or the sensations and the awareness of these sensations are seen as one and the same. This is contrast to the normal perception of there being an I who is aware of the sensations. These sensations "stand on their own". This is definitely the minority but is something that I have been trying to cultivate since I started to clue into it.
-Related to the above, there is a general increase in the vividness of sensations, and occasionally something in the environment will "pop" and seem hyperrealistic in a somewhat disorienting sort of way. This is hard to describe clearly.
-The power of craving and aversion have been reduced in the following sense: when, for example, aversion to an unpleasant sensation arises, I am more likely to recognize the aversion as the source of suffering, rather than thinking the unpleasant sensation is the cause of it. A consequence of this is that negative reactions to the behavior of other people or circumstances "pass through" much more quickly, since there is much more sensitivity to the suffering that arises from reacting in this way. I think that this lines up pretty well with the fetter model which claims that ill-will and craving decrease significantly after second path.

So what do you think? Does this seem like second path or something else? I will be going to my first 10-day Goenka retreat on the 21st, which I signed up for a few months ago. I never would have imagined back then that progress would have been this quick, assuming I am where I think I am. Any advice on how to best make use of the retreat time at this point in practice to move forward?

Thanks for reading!

Nick O, modified 4 Years ago at 12/18/18 10:22 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 12/18/18 10:22 PM

RE: Second Path Six Weeks After SE?

Posts: 317 Join Date: 11/5/17 Recent Posts
Hey Joe,

This is pretty freaking cool and strange because it seems that you and I are making very similar progress with similar techniques / cushion time at the same time!

I am fairly certain that I attained first path on August 24th. I was able to attain a few repeat fruitions and then after maybe a month or two landed back in the familiar territory of the early nanas. I entered the 3C's nana about a month ago and it was a little rough, a lot like first path but maybe a little more challenging. While working on the more wet side of things, I learned how to easily enter light-ish jhanas 1-4 and more often than not 5-8. This gave me momentum to carry out of the 3C's nana. The A&P territory was a real pleasure. A warm, lovely and blissful 10 days or so. My concentration was high and on my best sits I was able to get to 8th jhana and then out of 8th into fruitions. About a week and a half back the A&P euphoria died out and found myself back in the trenches of the dukkha nanas. Painful sits, difficulty entering shamatha jhanas, some shitty but manageable D4D stuff, a pretty wild ReOb experience. Starting to get more momentum during sits through the dukkhas and seeing familiar EQ qualities arise.

First path timeline:

I started insight meditation in October or November of '17. I was in the 3C's in January, had an explosive A&P experience on retreat in March. Sped quickly through the dukkha nanas and arrived in the EQ territory in April. Took a month off (stupidly), resumed in May. Spent the summer exploring the wide world of EQ. Finally found the balance of effort/no effort/curiosity in August and had my first fruition shortly after.

I can relate to much of your perspective changes post-first path and a bit of what you have said about 2nd as well.
Pyro Arkar, modified 4 Years ago at 12/19/18 1:50 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 12/19/18 1:07 AM

RE: Second Path Six Weeks After SE?

Posts: 56 Join Date: 12/18/17 Recent Posts
The path to SE goes like this:

1 - Discard Fruitation ( In this session may i achieve higher path by temporarly discarding fruitation of stream entry)
2 - Focus on Anicca

in second path , signs are mostly shown as anicca.
shargrol, modified 4 Years ago at 12/19/18 6:20 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 12/19/18 6:20 AM

RE: Second Path Six Weeks After SE?

Posts: 2124 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Joe and Nick, it absolutely can go surprisingly fast --- so don't script yourself into "having problems" that you don't have! emoticon 

Practice leads onward!
Joe M, modified 4 Years ago at 12/19/18 7:14 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 12/19/18 7:14 PM

RE: Second Path Six Weeks After SE?

Posts: 2 Join Date: 11/10/18 Recent Posts
Thanks all for the replies. I practice alone for the most part without a teacher, so it's nice to get some feedback to know that I'm not barking up the wrong tree. emoticon

Nick, I'm glad that you are having quick progress too. It sounds like you'll probably be getting 2nd path pretty soon. The trick I used for 2nd path is probably what you'd expect and is pretty similar to what you did for first path: recognize when to back off on the effort once things start getting up into high EQ territory, and things will proceed from there. Then it's just a matter of time.

Based off what I've read here about practicing after second path, I've started playing around with some of the self-enquiry 2nd gear stuff mentioned here: . It's interesting to watch the perceived boundary between me/mine and not me/not mine change in different scenarios throughout the day, and it seems like the not-self characteristic of more and more "internal" sensations is becoming clear.