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The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and furious

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The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and furious J C 1/14/19 2:26 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur shargrol 1/14/19 3:48 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur J C 1/16/19 7:29 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Anna L 1/14/19 4:18 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur J C 1/16/19 7:13 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Anna L 1/17/19 3:42 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur J C 1/18/19 9:44 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Anna L 1/18/19 2:54 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Chris Marti 1/14/19 5:18 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur J C 1/16/19 7:08 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Chris Marti 1/17/19 6:52 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur shargrol 1/17/19 8:36 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur J C 1/18/19 10:12 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Chris Marti 1/18/19 10:14 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur shargrol 1/18/19 12:08 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Anna L 1/18/19 2:59 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur shargrol 1/18/19 4:08 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Anna L 1/18/19 9:39 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur shargrol 1/19/19 7:06 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur J C 1/19/19 12:29 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur shargrol 1/19/19 9:09 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur J C 1/18/19 9:52 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Chris Marti 1/18/19 10:12 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Noah D 1/14/19 9:13 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur J C 1/16/19 7:19 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Noah D 1/17/19 2:11 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Andromeda 1/15/19 3:55 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur JohnM 1/16/19 2:55 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur J C 1/16/19 7:24 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Andromeda 1/17/19 6:03 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Anna L 1/17/19 3:47 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Andromeda 1/18/19 6:51 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Chris Marti 1/18/19 7:07 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Andromeda 1/18/19 9:00 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Chris Marti 1/18/19 9:31 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur shargrol 1/18/19 8:38 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur J C 1/18/19 10:42 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Andromeda 1/19/19 6:11 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Daniel M. Ingram 1/19/19 11:39 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Daniel M. Ingram 1/19/19 12:07 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Daniel M. Ingram 1/21/19 10:00 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Chris Marti 1/19/19 4:08 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Ben V. 1/21/19 5:43 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur T DC 1/16/19 11:03 PM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/19/19 4:56 AM
RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur Ernest Michael Olmos 1/21/19 1:29 PM
I seem to currently be approaching the portion of anagami where there are many progress/review cycles coming quickly - they're getting faster and the last one took less than two weeks. I don't know what you'd call this - mid-anagami?

I'd like to hear from anyone who is in this stage or has been in it. Any thoughts, suggestions, challenges, corrections, or criticism is welcome.

Some things I'm noticing:
  • emphasis on immediacy of the present moment
  • the way thoughts about the past and future occur in the present moment
  • "now" feels like a clean, clear, empty space
  • large chunks of self keep dissolving
  • practice keeps happening on its own throughout daily life - no clear distinction between sitting and not sitting
  • sitting feels somewhat automatic, easy, effortless - it's hard not to sit for hours
  • lots of changes in visual perception - at each change, everything seems larger and closer and my field of focus seems wider - wearing glasses gets disorienting because I'm not used to seeing with the outer portion of the glasses lenses and it looks distorted
  • I AM NOW
  • motion seems free and wobbly - turning feels like something is hanging free instead of pivoting
  • cycling feels very automatic, very no-selfy - sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between a progress and review cycle - mini-cycles, partial cycles, cycles within cycles
  • a lot of mind wandering at times, with cycling going on through it all
  • effortless effort - like I'm watching myself exert effort in a progress cycle, and yet, in a way, it feels effortless
  • agency seems mostly gone, with a little bit left mostly in the realm of internal narration - mind is searching for the last bits of agency as they pop up in thinking and self-talk
  • a lot of asking "who am I?" coming up faster and faster and faster
  • an automatic process has arisen trying to "catch" interruptions in the flow as they occur
  • investigation is investigating itself and "catching" itself, faster and faster, more and more aware of the way the process of investigation arises
  • my current practice: watch the flow in everything, one continuous uninterrupted flowing 3D formation with all 6 senses, and when there's "grab" or a discontinuity, or anything that (seems to) interrupt or divide the flow - any "selfing" or fundamental attraction, aversion, or ignorance - look at it, zoom in on it, direct attention to it, watch as reality syncs itself up -
  • and make sure to include anything that seems like effort, directing, looking, zooming, doing anything, trying, fixing, including, controlling, correcting, or making sure!
  • the attraction and aversion components of suffering are pretty obvious, as are discontinuousness (impermanence) and automaticity (no-self) - it's ignorance that's especially subtle - letting it tease itself out - the places where attention half-greys itself out for self to hide.

Daniel writes about this in MCTB:


It is only by understanding the immediate moments that seem to make up the “fractal” that you will gain the understanding you seek, so, as suggested in the section “A Clear Goal”, keep your practice focused on the here and now, one part of which may be thoughts and sensations about fractals and maps. Things might proceed as follows. It seems certain that a cycle has been completed. Next, there seems to be a clear mastery stage that withstands the most rigorous tests, then more early progress of insight stuff shows up, the cycle begins to go around again, perhaps with more backsliding, moving forward, falling back again, remastering the old territory, more progress, and suffering shows up with its associated struggles and rationalizations. Then comes a sense of there being no option but progress and acceptance, and finally the sense that the cycle has completed itself. Soon enough there is a clear sense of a mastery stage, and so on.

New progress cycles and their accompanying vagueness can be very confusing if we are fixated on models but are not aware that the in-between territory is nearly impossible to successfully map in real-time. We may sometimes feel that we have just gone through the larger progress of insight cycle when we may have gone through just a small part of it.

I have concluded that fear, anxiety, confusion, indecision, and even certainty about these issues are clear markers of what needs to be investigated: that is, these sensate patterns of emotional phenomena themselves. Noting “fear”, “confusion”, “frustration”, “doubt”, and the like can be very skillful to help us develop a metacognitive awareness of those patterns until we can delve more deeply into the sensations that make them up. In this way, these aspects of suffering have become trusted friends, clear signposts, and red flags, as well as aspects of the goal, which is the path in the end. The more we realize that those very processes are it, those very sensations are it, the closer reality is to understanding itself. The closer reality is to understanding itself, the less fundamental suffering there is.

Good stuff! My own sense of these things is when the practice is doing itself, you let the changes happen and try to keep a playful attitude about the whole thing.

There are all sorts of third path practices that you can do, but they are going to be contrived compared to the natural awakening instinct. You're sitting practice is perfect. Sit, notice where things seem to get hung up, and gently and curiously investigate.

You'll find that there are phases of big chunks of self letting go... followed by more gentle stuff. When the big stuff is happening, no need to complicate it, let the big stuff happen --- and say thank you to the amazing mind that somehow knows what it is doing. After all, the whole point of these practice is to connect with our own intelligence. 

Welcome to my life! emoticon

Currently I notice cycles within cycles. What I curently note as a "macro" cycle might take up to 10-14 days to complete. "Micro" cycles can last hours/days or just the length of a short sit. 

Daniel writes: "the in-between territory is nearly impossible to successfully map in real-time. We may sometimes feel that we have just gone through the larger progress of insight cycle when we may have gone through just a small part of it."

I definitely relate to this and have let go of trying to track all cycles and now just observe them. 

My key strategies: don't become embedded in any state. Don't cling to any state (especially a&p). Practice! (when I stop, the embedding and clinging arise)

I find that this is the type of territory where Kenneth Folk's three gear model works particularly well: http://kennethfolkdharma.com/2017/07/the-three-speed-transmission/ 

(for me, anyway)

I feel like I've been going through this territory for a long time now (maybe 18 months? Practice has been patchy through this period) but only now just starting to get a good handle on it.

I don't know what you would call this. According to Culadasa's fetters model I am 2nd path. 

My advice is going to be very simple (it was about ten years ago that this was happening to me):  just let it all happen on its own.



This is a "grab bag of shifts" to quote Dreamwalker.  There are many shifts which present as "4th path", "done", no more seeker, complete, certainty, free falling, etc.  Most of the time, these are just more sub shifts.  The real thing is clean, open, the attention muscle stays with the awareness, they rest together, the field presents itself completely in an easy, harmonious manner - continuously in all waking hours.  Vision should be completely panoramic at all times, automatically.  The silence between sounds should be deafening.  The felt sense of the body as a whole should embrace all touch points.  The bouyancy of the greater space embracing the body should obviously enfold oneself.  All of these backdrops should be fused together as one whole.  All objects should arise within their own quadrant in the field, such that oneself is felt to be "over there" with the object completely.  The field should seem possessed of one's own consciousness, but that too should mellow out into a sensed of melded ease.  There should be an equal sense of wonder, disregard & normalcy to the awesomeness of it all.  There should be a pervasive sense of "doneness."  A peripheral intuitive grokking that mind constructs all of this & none of it is solid.  

Ooo! That sounds familiar. It's such a joyous thing when practice gains its own momentum and aliveness and just does itself.

Try to remember not to be arrogant. If you're anything like me, the hardest part is still years to come. So play and enjoy the process of exploration, but don't underestimate just how much more there is still to do. 

RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur
Answer
1/16/19 2:55 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
This thread is having a profound effect on my perspective. A few months ago on Denman I was trying to get a handle on the awakened mind and Daniel said to me "It would be dangerous to compare (your experience) with the Arahat mind." Seeing from all your comments how high the bar is in terms of qualities and content, I can get a glimpse of how far I still have to go. Equal parts humbling and motivating. Thank you all for sharing this rare dialog - first time I've seen a lot of it in this context except for in MCTB.

RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur
Answer
1/16/19 7:08 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
My advice is going to be very simple (it was about ten years ago that this was happening to me):  just let it all happen on its own.


Yeah, that's what my intuition says to me. It's all happening on its own anyway.

What happened over the next 10 years - did the cycles continue getting faster and faster till 4th? Were there more difficult, less automatic periods?

Anna L:
Welcome to my life! emoticon

Currently I notice cycles within cycles. What I curently note as a "macro" cycle might take up to 10-14 days to complete. "Micro" cycles can last hours/days or just the length of a short sit....

... I feel like I've been going through this territory for a long time now (maybe 18 months? Practice has been patchy through this period) but only now just starting to get a good handle on it.

I don't know what you would call this. According to Culadasa's fetters model I am 2nd path. 
What do you consider a macro vs. micro cycle? Do they feel different? Is there a difference in how they present during review vs. progress?

What's your practice been like over the last 18 months? Has the territory changed at all in that time?

I don't find the fetters model especially helpful for all the reasons discussed in MCTB - I don't believe in limited emotion models. But I think of 3rd path/anagami as the completion of the 3rd progress cycle and where luminosity and immediacy stand out.

Noah D:
This is a "grab bag of shifts" to quote Dreamwalker.  There are many shifts which present as "4th path", "done", no more seeker, complete, certainty, free falling, etc.  Most of the time, these are just more sub shifts.  The real thing is clean, open, the attention muscle stays with the awareness, they rest together, the field presents itself completely in an easy, harmonious manner - continuously in all waking hours.  Vision should be completely panoramic at all times, automatically.  The silence between sounds should be deafening.  The felt sense of the body as a whole should embrace all touch points.  The bouyancy of the greater space embracing the body should obviously enfold oneself.  All of these backdrops should be fused together as one whole.  All objects should arise within their own quadrant in the field, such that oneself is felt to be "over there" with the object completely.  The field should seem possessed of one's own consciousness, but that too should mellow out into a sensed of melded ease.  There should be an equal sense of wonder, disregard & normalcy to the awesomeness of it all.  There should be a pervasive sense of "doneness."  A peripheral intuitive grokking that mind constructs all of this & none of it is solid.  
Thanks for this! That is a good description and a very high standard. I have certainly thought I've been at "4th path" or "done" before and each big new shift seems like it might be the end for a minute.

Do you see yourself at that point? What was your journey to that point like?

I have not found Dreamwalker's model to be particularly helpful as it doesn't seem to line up with my experience and it seems overly focused on mapping inherently unmappable territory - I think the area past 3rd is pretty unpredictable, and shifts don't necessarily go in the same order for everyone and can't be pinned down precisely. I'm sure my views on all this will change as I go through the territory.

Can you elaborate on a couple of those points, in particular:

* the attention muscle stays with the awareness, they rest together
* The felt sense of the body as a whole should embrace all touch points.
* The b\[uo\]yancy of the greater space embracing the body should obviously enfold oneself.

RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur
Answer
1/16/19 7:24 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Ooo! That sounds familiar. It's such a joyous thing when practice gains its own momentum and aliveness and just does itself.

Try to remember not to be arrogant. If you're anything like me, the hardest part is still years to come. So play and enjoy the process of exploration, but don't underestimate just how much more there is still to do. 

I hope my post didn't come off as arrogant. It's helpful to be reminded that these are all just fingers pointing at the moon and there is still lots of work to do.

If I recall correctly, you don't believe in an endpoint or 4th path, right? Could you elaborate on "don't underestimate just how much more there is still to do"? I am sure hoping that the shifts will continue to come faster and faster, things get more and more automatic, and finally it ends in 4th path pretty soon.

I'd also like to know what you mean by "the hardest part is still years to come" from your experience - do you mean that there was a period where the practice seemed to do itself, and then that stopped and you entered a more difficult period? That pattern certainly comes up a lot throughout the path.

shargrol:
Good stuff! My own sense of these things is when the practice is doing itself, you let the changes happen and try to keep a playful attitude about the whole thing.

There are all sorts of third path practices that you can do, but they are going to be contrived compared to the natural awakening instinct. You're sitting practice is perfect. Sit, notice where things seem to get hung up, and gently and curiously investigate.

You'll find that there are phases of big chunks of self letting go... followed by more gentle stuff. When the big stuff is happening, no need to complicate it, let the big stuff happen --- and say thank you to the amazing mind that somehow knows what it is doing. After all, the whole point of these practice is to connect with our own intelligence. 

Thanks for this - your posts are always brilliant and wise. I agree on the natural awakening instinct and the amazing mind that knows what it's doing - I'm a big believer in following intuition on this. Makes so much more sense than following some contrived 27-step Tibetan analytic meditation where you visualize a lion eating a little kid in a temple or something like that. Those always frustrated me.

J C:
I seem to currently be approaching the portion of anagami where there are many progress/review cycles coming quickly - they're getting faster and the last one took less than two weeks. I don't know what you'd call this - mid-anagami?

Good question!

For me personally, the cycles of insight were very indicative of progress between 3rd path and 4th path.  In early third path, I only completed new insight cycles once in a while, perhaps every couple weeks, and their effects were more profound.  Near the middle the cycles sped up more and the effect of new fruitions decreased somewhat.  In the weeks before 4th path, I was going through multiple new cycles of insight in a single 30 minute meditation session, and the effects of completing these new cycles, while pleasant, were quite mundane.

Daniel has a quote to the effect that 4th path occurs after a yogi tires of the endless cycles of insight and begins to look for something else to occur.  For me this was very much the case - in late 3rd path, while blowing through numerous cycles of insight, their effects became largely insignificant.  When 4th path did occur, it did so in an entirely unexpected fashion, unique to anything I had experienced up until that point.

Hope that helps!

J C:
Andromeda:
Ooo! That sounds familiar. It's such a joyous thing when practice gains its own momentum and aliveness and just does itself.

Try to remember not to be arrogant. If you're anything like me, the hardest part is still years to come. So play and enjoy the process of exploration, but don't underestimate just how much more there is still to do. 

I hope my post didn't come off as arrogant. It's helpful to be reminded that these are all just fingers pointing at the moon and there is still lots of work to do.

If I recall correctly, you don't believe in an endpoint or 4th path, right? Could you elaborate on "don't underestimate just how much more there is still to do"? I am sure hoping that the shifts will continue to come faster and faster, things get more and more automatic, and finally it ends in 4th path pretty soon.

I'd also like to know what you mean by "the hardest part is still years to come" from your experience - do you mean that there was a period where the practice seemed to do itself, and then that stopped and you entered a more difficult period? That pattern certainly comes up a lot throughout the path.
Here's my perspective on insight models in general and the Theravada 4 path model in particular (subject to change, these are just my thoughts this morning): they have never been very helpful or interesting to me personally and they seem to cause a lot of clinging/toxicity and so I've mostly just ignored them. I've spent a significant amount of time on models of morality and psychology and this has been enormously beneficial, but just haven't been a mappy practitioner when it comes to insight. This is probably in large part due to the fact that my own wiring is highly atypical (due to autism spectrum or whatever, I might just be an alien) and always was--for me, there never was a center point as others describe, I never got a kazoo, synesthesia has been there from the beginning, I don't think in words unless preparing to speak/write, I have an auditory processing disorder, and probably a bunch of things as well that I just haven't taken the time to figure out or am forgetting. I'm weird, and so comparing the evolution of my own perceptual development to that of others is frustrating and of limited utility. I'm still scratching my head that people start off with a "center point." Strange! And it just isn't that interesting to me--I'd much rather spend my time and energy discussing practice and how to practice well, which is also easier for me to do as it's more concrete. It takes a fair bit of effort for me to translate my non-verbal thoughts into a language that others can share and so it is preferable for any discussion to be rewarding and less draining.

Other people seem to find the models useful and want to talk about them, however, and so I've recently made the effort to become at least somewhat conversant in the models. But this is not a strength of mine nor will it ever be. The 4 path model does seem to more or less accurately describe my own broad developmental trajectory, but trying to nail down the specifics of the semantics makes my head hurt. FWIW, Daniel's Simple Model in MCTB2 is probably my favorite. 

As far as there being an "endpoint"--to what, exactly? To practice? To life? To the spiritual path? What does that even mean? Okay, so you max out insight. If anything, that seems to me more of a beginning than an end if we are going to use such abstract terms. There is only this, the present. This may be my own idiosyncratic use of language, I don't know, but "endpoint" just doesn't make much sense to me. 

Daniel has referred to 3rd as the dark night of the entire path. Others have spoken of the golden chains of luminosity. You say "I am sure hoping that the shifts will continue to come faster and faster, things get more and more automatic, and finally it ends in 4th path pretty soon." This is what I mean by underestimating it, as that is what it feels like at first, and that is kind of what happens for awhile--it feels like it's going to be a nice and neat straight shot, except it doesn't end in 4th any time soon (or at least it didn't for me). What you have to figure out has nothing to do with cycles, which will just continue. It took me awhile to realize that Eden is full of rats and there is a dark side to perfection--can't think of any other way to put it. It is not surprising to me that so many get stuck at or fooled by 3rd as being "it." 

The territory that I had to get a handle on was bigger, broader, deeper, and more deeply disturbing than anything that came before. When it became clear that more cycles weren't going to do it, that it wasn't really about that, then I had to start trying to figure out what would. Exploring and experimenting with all sorts of practices with a very high level of skill and capacity and energy--more than enough to get myself in trouble, and get myself into trouble I did. That's too long a story for this post, but just keep in mind that mistakes can have bigger consequences at this stage and you can REALLY make a mess of things, especially if you are siddhis-prone like me. It's not that there became less automaticity, it's that automaticity became terrifying.

Your post didn't come off as arrogant, I was just looking back at myself. 

Hopefully, none of this scripts you into unnecessary awfulness. Just trying to be honest and give you a heads up for potential traps. My experience may not be typical--dunno. 

JC --

What happened over the next 10 years - did the cycles continue getting faster and faster till 4th? Were there more difficult, less automatic periods?

I wasn't, and don't, pay much attention to cycling. I was coached back then to ignore noting practice and to lean on concentration practices. This was good advice as noting wasn't productive for me at that juncture anyway. I got focused on how deep and satisfying moment to moment experience was, all the time. My experience felt like swimming in melted butter. I was deeply soaked in the authenticity of it. The difficulty came later on when I became curious, sometimes frustrated, even angry at why I seemed to be "missing something" that others I was in contact with know that I didn't. What was that thing? Turns out it was the tiniest, simplest and most earth-shattering thing - that weird universal center point that is presumed but never actually experienced.

The practice now seems to move in wide swings - from really good, fluid and insightful times to struggling and striving times, and everything in between. I see no end to this process because human beings are so complex and the potential to become more aware and awake seems to me to be infinite. That's' how our lives play out. What's different from ten years ago is that I can see "it" all objectively, as it plays out - which it does all the time, on its own. It's like surfing. Big waves, little waves, a few rocks, a sandy bottom -- just no beach.

RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur
Answer
1/17/19 8:36 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I just wanted to comment that cycling was more of road up to 1st and 2nd for me, and never really a prominent feature of how I percieved the world. The most cycling seemed to occur in early equanimity during these paths, as sort of a recapitualtion of the territory as part of soldifying EQ. I had very little review cycling, but I also tended to reduce/stop practice time during review.

In the road to second path, nanas were confusing because it was combined with stronger/more jhana states and body rewiring. The road to 2nd is sort of a mess.

In the road to 3rd, nanas were more of a background thing -- by then it was very obvious that nanas didn't hold some ultimate value, they were conditioned/contextual states/strategies of percieving the world. Emptiness was the prominant thing. Regardless of what appeared, mind object but also including entire contexts/worldviews which held the objects, were somehow inherently empty. Nanas were almost laughable at that point. I had wonderfully enjoyable 10 (?) day retreat just watching nanas appear and kinda laughing at how they used to trap me in their context. 

From 3rd to 4th it was very clear that jhanas were contractions as well, the mind protecting mind. Which hinted at some final knot of self that felt like it needed protecting. Presence, luminosity, spaciousness dominated, but there was something still bugging me -- what was enlightenment? 

J C:
Noah D:
This is a "grab bag of shifts" to quote Dreamwalker.  There are many shifts which present as "4th path", "done", no more seeker, complete, certainty, free falling, etc.  Most of the time, these are just more sub shifts.  The real thing is clean, open, the attention muscle stays with the awareness, they rest together, the field presents itself completely in an easy, harmonious manner - continuously in all waking hours.  Vision should be completely panoramic at all times, automatically.  The silence between sounds should be deafening.  The felt sense of the body as a whole should embrace all touch points.  The bouyancy of the greater space embracing the body should obviously enfold oneself.  All of these backdrops should be fused together as one whole.  All objects should arise within their own quadrant in the field, such that oneself is felt to be "over there" with the object completely.  The field should seem possessed of one's own consciousness, but that too should mellow out into a sensed of melded ease.  There should be an equal sense of wonder, disregard & normalcy to the awesomeness of it all.  There should be a pervasive sense of "doneness."  A peripheral intuitive grokking that mind constructs all of this & none of it is solid.  
Thanks for this! That is a good description and a very high standard. I have certainly thought I've been at "4th path" or "done" before and each big new shift seems like it might be the end for a minute.

Do you see yourself at that point? What was your journey to that point like?

I have not found Dreamwalker's model to be particularly helpful as it doesn't seem to line up with my experience and it seems overly focused on mapping inherently unmappable territory - I think the area past 3rd is pretty unpredictable, and shifts don't necessarily go in the same order for everyone and can't be pinned down precisely. I'm sure my views on all this will change as I go through the territory.

Can you elaborate on a couple of those points, in particular:

* the attention muscle stays with the awareness, they rest together
* The felt sense of the body as a whole should embrace all touch points.
* The b\[uo\]yancy of the greater space embracing the body should obviously enfold oneself.

Yea, this is a description of my current baseline, these cumulative effects together.  But that's just mine.  There are things that I don't have & things that I'm still working on (agencylessness, lucidity in sleep, continuity-intensity of rigpa at the forefront of mind during waking).  Shifts keep happening & blind spots pop up.  With each new shift, a degree of static charge is released that I didn't even know was there before it happened.  I agree that things don't happen the same way for everyone - that is very important to know.  FWIW, the fact that shifts go out of order is part of Dreamwalkers map.  People can have different sets of sense doors open & thus have different "3rd paths" in that map.  Even at 4th path in this map, only some of the walls between open senses drop away.  The "post 4th path" work of taking down the remaining walls remains.  

Between May & August of 2018, the power source of struggle dropped away & with this, a variety of side effects occurred (got off all psychiatric medication, insomnia disappeared, the agitation/resistance associated with mood disorder mostly dropped away, early psychoemotional issues became mostly healed, etc).  Hereare some of the things that came before that - http://noahsmonthlyupdate.blogspot.com/2017/12/milestones.html

Here are the other questions - 

* the attention muscle stays with the awareness, they rest together

When the walls come down, attention moves freely across the gestalt because there aren't interruptions based on false categorization done by the brain.  When this first happens, it has the habit of making one very subdued, almost tranquilized, because that movement becomes much smoother.  That is what I mean by "rest together."

* The felt sense of the body as a whole should embrace all touch points.

One of the sense doors that opens earlier in this process is the body.  The body is one thinig, but it is beig sliced up by the monkey brain.  When this sense door opens, that process stops & the whole body as one is continuously felt in the background & on top of that, individual sensations rise & fall.  It's a type of feel-sense-nonduality.

* The b\[uo\]yancy of the greater space embracing the body should obviously enfold oneself.

This is the other feel-sense-door.  The body is in space.  With this shift, it feels as if everything turns inside out.  The 5th jhana subaspect of the field becomes one's baseline.  There is a sense of becomg much larger.  One's body is only a small body inside the larger body of physical space as a whole.  This is usually the earliest perceptual shift.  Some people even get it at "technical 1st path!"

J C:
Anna L:
Welcome to my life! emoticon

Currently I notice cycles within cycles. What I curently note as a "macro" cycle might take up to 10-14 days to complete. "Micro" cycles can last hours/days or just the length of a short sit....

... I feel like I've been going through this territory for a long time now (maybe 18 months? Practice has been patchy through this period) but only now just starting to get a good handle on it.

I don't know what you would call this. According to Culadasa's fetters model I am 2nd path. 
What do you consider a macro vs. micro cycle? Do they feel different? Is there a difference in how they present during review vs. progress?

What's your practice been like over the last 18 months? Has the territory changed at all in that time?

I don't find the fetters model especially helpful for all the reasons discussed in MCTB - I don't believe in limited emotion models. But I think of 3rd path/anagami as the completion of the 3rd progress cycle and where luminosity and immediacy stand out.

Hey JC, 

Macro cycles last longer (12 - 14 days) and seem more "real" - i.e. it is easier to "embed" in them if one is not careful. Because macro cycles are longer, it is also much easier to clearly notice and observe the phenomenology of each nana and to notice transitions from one nana into another. 

Micro cycles are very brief and fleeting. They may last less than an hour and without investigation could easily be mistaken for a “mood”. But with close investigation they are clearly cycles with discreet stages and transitions. 

If we investigated all moods, would we find they are made up of insight cycles - that’s an interesting question! And the kind of question that can send you mad during these "fractal" type stages! My current intention is just to notice and investiagte cycles without putting narrative on them. 

Past 18 months there has definitely been a change in territory. Most notably, much less embedding in cycles or states. The past 6 months fear and terror have been a big issue for me in the dukkha nanas. Extreme bleedthrough into real life. It's manageable but there have been some really challenging instances and it's something I need some advice on how to manage. Currently fear/terror is the only dukkha nana that can get me to "embed" /lose insight/close the dharma eye or whatever you want to call it. However, I am getting better at recognising this state and in my most recent cycle have not been caught in that trap. As long as I continue with practice I am fine. 

According to MCTB description I would be 3rd and probably have been for past 18 months (although I am terrible with memory regarding linear timelines). Thank you for reminding me of the limited emotion models. Given that I live as a householder in the everyday world, it makes sense to retain a healthy degree of desire in order to function!  

RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur
Answer
1/17/19 3:47 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda, your posts are always so on point for me. Do you write/blog anywhere? 

Thank you for the compliment, Anna, but I only post here and occasionally on Awakenetwork.

Adding to the main discussion--I still haven't sorted thing out my own timeline in terms of paths, but to use that point at which practice really takes off:

This is where I had to branch off from my mostly-Theravada with a dash of Zen practice. Jhana was clearly a trap and it became clear to me that Theravada could lead to dangerous emotional repression. Anybody ever notice how much passive aggression there tends to be in a lot of Buddhist communities? That's due to undercurrents of repressed anger. Not good, especially for someone like me for whom anger has always been the primary problematic emotion. I went back to practicing martial arts and resurrected old magickal practices from my teenage years, plus a lot of shadow work. Also, prayer and devotional practices mostly from the Catholic tradition because this was the hated religion of my grandparents which enhanced its ability to break down ideas about myself being any particular type of way. And Vajrayana, of course. I was ruthless about seeking out and deconstructing fixed beliefs and ideals. Also, I spent a lot of time using pain as a meditation object which I'd also done many years prior. For example there was a 6 year period where a friend or family member died horribly every year except one, which gave me plenty of emotional pain to work with.

I had to recommit myself to go all in, whatever the consequences (prayer was especially helpful for this). We don't get to choose what we become and if we try to, if we try to make ourselves unfold according to someone else's blueprint or cram ourselves into an ill-fitting box, this is a recipe for madness. Especially if we take some of the Theravada emotional perfection ideals to heart--there is so much danger here--or fall prey to the pressures to conform to some sort of liberal Buddhist-y "niceness." I think it was Bill Hamilton who said that awakened people become caricatures of themselves-- if you try to turn yourself into someone else with your practice, this is going to cause big problems. Hopefully, by the time you get to this point you will know the best and worst parts of yourself really, really well, but if not there will be important work to catch up on. If we think about the awakening process as being like upgrading a computer's operating system while it's still running, maybe this part of the path is like a final debugging to prevent a crash and total system failure. Do not take your sanity for granted. If you're running Linux don't try to turn yourself into Windows. I've heard tales of people being wrecked by this stage of practice.

To give you an idea of my meaning, it seems like a number of PD types and Theravada teachers paint a picture of their endgame as being all about play, more and more bliss, increasing numbers of fun perceptual shifts, with goals like minimizing pain and maximizing joy. Now, I don't want to be judgmental of other peoples' paths because they are clearly very different animals from me--we all have to choose our way and make our own decisions. But this is far from how things have turned out in my life. Sure, there's been plenty of bliss and joy and perceptual shifts, and at a certain level it IS all about play (friends and coworkers see me as a very fun and playful person) but my idea of play is a very serious one and I do not try to avoid pain. In fact, I've sought out spiritual friends and mentors who help me do the opposite because that is where this path has led me and to try to avoid this fact would be wrong. "You don't get to play, Andromeda." "Your urge to be a hermit is not wholesome, Andromeda." "Be in touch with that pain all the time--it is your friend. That is your practice now." Look for the people who will tell you the things you don't want to hear--people who just flatter you or indulge your self-absorption will never spur you to grow.

I'm not complaining--my life is awesome and there is a peace I never could have possibly imagined. But it is not what most people might imagine and certainly not how I expected things to turn out. We don't get to choose how things turn out, but we can choose to participate in the process.

RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur
Answer
1/18/19 7:07 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
I was ruthless about seeking out and deconstructing fixed beliefs and ideals.

This reminds me of Jed McKenna.

emoticon

RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur
Answer
1/18/19 8:38 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:

We don't get to choose what we become and if we try to, if we try to make ourselves unfold according to someone else's blueprint or cram ourselves into an ill-fitting box, this is a recipe for madness. 


Well said. Not an excuse for laziness, but a fundamental truth nonetheless. 

RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur
Answer
1/18/19 9:00 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Never heard of him, but "spiritually incorrect enlightenment" and "spiritual warfare" does sound like me emoticon

RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur
Answer
1/18/19 9:31 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
I suggest you read his first book. It's about spiritual awakening being a huge life disruptor. In that book he describes his process of awakening as being what you described - ruthlessly seeking out and destroying fixed beliefs and ideals. Not so much a meditation process but a dialectic.

Anna L:

Past 18 months there has definitely been a change in territory. Most notably, much less embedding in cycles or states. The past 6 months fear and terror have been a big issue for me in the dukkha nanas. Extreme bleedthrough into real life. It's manageable but there have been some really challenging instances and it's something I need some advice on how to manage. Currently fear/terror is the only dukkha nana that can get me to "embed" /lose insight/close the dharma eye or whatever you want to call it. However, I am getting better at recognising this state and in my most recent cycle have not been caught in that trap. As long as I continue with practice I am fine. 


Do you notice any shifts or changes as each macro cycle ends? Do you notice review vs. progress cycles?

RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur
Answer
1/18/19 9:52 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:

I wasn't, and don't, pay much attention to cycling. I was coached back then to ignore noting practice and to lean on concentration practices. This was good advice as noting wasn't productive for me at that juncture anyway. I got focused on how deep and satisfying moment to moment experience was, all the time. My experience felt like swimming in melted butter. I was deeply soaked in the authenticity of it.

Thanks for this - this is a really helpful and deep post.

This is interesting as it seems to ignore the three characteristics in some ways - the description of swimming in melted butter sounds very continuous as opposed to the discontinuities of impermanence, and you were focused on things being satisfying rather than unsatisfying! It sounds like you were carrying some form of concentration throughout daily life - were you just concentrating on experience? How does that work without a solid concentration object to focus on?

What type of concentration practices were you doing? I've just become aware of the distinction between absorptive concentration and non-absorptive.


The difficulty came later on when I became curious, sometimes frustrated, even angry at why I seemed to be "missing something" that others I was in contact with know that I didn't. What was that thing? Turns out it was the tiniest, simplest and most earth-shattering thing - that weird universal center point that is presumed but never actually experienced.
Yeah, my main goal is to see that center point so clearly and catch it so quickly that I see right through it. I keep thinking I've done so - it keeps looking like I've untangled some confusion and seen through it, and then more comes up.

It seems to me I just need to continue seeing through it over and over, catching it more and more quickly, until it's done - am I missing something? Or is there a point where you're done repeating the catching but you're not done because something new is needed?

JC --

What type of concentration practices were you doing? I've just become aware of the distinction between absorptive concentration and non-absorptive.

I did classic Theravada jhana practice - up and down the jhanic arc. I didn't do any investigation because, as I said before, it wasn't doing much for me in terms of progression. Before this I'd been doing vipassana investigation and noting practices for years.

It seems to me I just need to continue seeing through it over and over, catching it more and more quickly, until it's done - am I missing something? Or is there a point where you're done repeating the catching but you're not done because something new is needed?

I reached a point where watching perception was "old hat," which is why it was suggested to me to switch from vipassana to a jhana oriented practice. I firmly believe, and have since coached others on this, that at the late third path juncture we need to relax and accept what's happening from moment to moment. We have, by that time. fully grokked the nano-second to nano-second nature of perception, and we can cite the process chapter and verse. If you read my meditation diary you'll see that at this point in my practice it was more like solving a mystery, plumbing the depths in a more metaphysical way, as opposed to continuing to examine experience with a microscope. It appears that then the mind has a different kind of grokking to do - it has to uncover and upend the last, very, very deeply held and hiddcen assumption that keeps us from seeing the truth of experience.

I suspect looking for this hidden gem like you're doing will not get you there. That's why I got angry - what had always worked didn't work for me any more. I was just banging my head into a brick wall using vipassana.

RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur
Answer
1/18/19 10:12 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:

In the road to second path, nanas were confusing because it was combined with stronger/more jhana states and body rewiring. The road to 2nd is sort of a mess.
Yeah, me too. Glad to hear you say this because I am still not sure when I got A&P, 1st path, the next A&P, or 2nd path, and I had a lot of jhana mixed in.

All I know is that after a lot of confusion, retreats, shifts, chunks of self dissolving, and jhana over the course of 4 years, during which I still wasn't sure about any cycling, FINALLY on one retreat I was able to clearly see the nana cycles in review, with these little blips or clicks continuously really loud in my head, and on the next retreat I started a new progress cycle.

When that cycle finished - BOOM - all of a sudden everything was just "out there" in a way it hadn't been before. And since then there have been a few more progress/review cycles, deepening a little after each cycle.

In the road to 3rd, nanas were more of a background thing -- by then it was very obvious that nanas didn't hold some ultimate value, they were conditioned/contextual states/strategies of percieving the world. Emptiness was the prominant thing. Regardless of what appeared, mind object but also including entire contexts/worldviews which held the objects, were somehow inherently empty. Nanas were almost laughable at that point. I had wonderfully enjoyable 10 (?) day retreat just watching nanas appear and kinda laughing at how they used to trap me in their context.



Interesting - this sounds like my current experience, but I definitely didn't get this until after (what I think of as) 3rd. The road to (what I think of as) 3rd for me was pretty difficult and I definitely felt embedded or trapped in the nanas. No fair! Maybe I'm actually still 2nd - though I've been through a number of progress and review cycles since then.

What are your thoughts on this? What was getting 3rd like for you?



From 3rd to 4th it was very clear that jhanas were contractions as well, the mind protecting mind. Which hinted at some final knot of self that felt like it needed protecting. Presence, luminosity, spaciousness dominated, but there was something still bugging me -- what was enlightenment? 
The part about jhana is interesting because it matches with the fetters model - I haven't really experienced jhana as contractions. What is that like?

So here is my big question - the thing I'm really trying to figure out:

As I said to Chris, it seems to me that I just need to keep homing in on that moment where subject and object split. I keep thinking I've seen through it, but then it turns out there is more illusion of self to go. So am I just repeating that over and over, trying to see it more and more clearly and quickly, until I see through it all? Or is there something else, something after that?

JC, re-read my last post. I edited to tell you that you do need to try something else. Vipassana, that which has always worked for you in the past, is not what will work well for you now.

RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur
Answer
1/18/19 10:42 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:

for me, there never was a center point as others describe ... I'm still scratching my head that people start off with a "center point." Strange! And it just isn't that interesting to me--I'd much rather spend my time and energy discussing practice and how to practice well, which is also easier for me to do as it's more concrete. It takes a fair bit of effort for me to translate my non-verbal thoughts into a language that others can share and so it is preferable for any discussion to be rewarding and less draining.


Well thank you so much for being willing to translate - it's incredibly helpful for me and I am very grateful!

Just so I understand correctly - you never experienced any sense of free will, any sense of the possibility of multiple possible futures that you could freely choose between, any sense that there's a 'you' doing things or taking actions separate from the flow of cause and effect? That's what I think of as the center point.



As far as there being an "endpoint"--to what, exactly? To practice? To life? To the spiritual path? What does that even mean? Okay, so you max out insight. If anything, that seems to me more of a beginning than an end if we are going to use such abstract terms. There is only this, the present. This may be my own idiosyncratic use of language, I don't know, but "endpoint" just doesn't make much sense to me.

Agree completely that it's a beginning as well as an end, and that there is only the present.

What I mean by 'endpoint' is what Daniel calls "ditching the split" as opposed to "ditching your stuff."

"Ditching the split" is removing the sense of separation between self and the world, the center point, the sense of free will, resistance to the present moment by blocking out part of it (aka ignorance) - but maybe you never had the split in the first place! If so, no wonder it doesn't make sense to you that so many of us are trying to hard to see through it, and see ditching it as the endpoint.

Daniel in MTCB - this part is one of the best things he's ever written in my view:

MCTB:

There are models of awakening that involve getting rid of all of our “stuff”, that is, our issues, flaws, quirks, pains, negative emotions, traumas, personalities, cultural baggage, childhood scars, relationship difficulties, insecurities, fears, strange notions, illnesses, etc. Such models underlie most of the mainstream ideals of spiritual attainment.

What is funny is that lots of people spend so much time working so hard to get rid of all their stuff but think that awakening, which is ditching the illusion of the separate self and the dualistic split, is largely unattainable. I have exactly the opposite view: that ditching the split is very attainable, but getting rid of all of our stuff while in this mammalian body is completely impossible. ...

What is nice about ditching the split, aside from the fact that it can be done, is that now we can naturally, gently, be friends with our stuff, even if our stuff sucks. We can work with it as well as can be expected and from a place of great clarity and understanding. Stage by stage, ditching the split makes all the slow but necessary healing so much easier... Our stuff is here and being dealt with anyway.

You wrote:

Daniel has referred to 3rd as the dark night of the entire path. Others have spoken of the golden chains of luminosity. You say "I am sure hoping that the shifts will continue to come faster and faster, things get more and more automatic, and finally it ends in 4th path pretty soon." This is what I mean by underestimating it, as that is what it feels like at first, and that is kind of what happens for awhile--it feels like it's going to be a nice and neat straight shot, except it doesn't end in 4th any time soon (or at least it didn't for me). What you have to figure out has nothing to do with cycles, which will just continue. It took me awhile to realize that Eden is full of rats and there is a dark side to perfection--can't think of any other way to put it. It is not surprising to me that so many get stuck at or fooled by 3rd as being "it." 

The territory that I had to get a handle on was bigger, broader, deeper, and more deeply disturbing than anything that came before. When it became clear that more cycles weren't going to do it, that it wasn't really about that, then I had to start trying to figure out what would. Exploring and experimenting with all sorts of practices with a very high level of skill and capacity and energy--more than enough to get myself in trouble, and get myself into trouble I did. That's too long a story for this post, but just keep in mind that mistakes can have bigger consequences at this stage and you can REALLY make a mess of things, especially if you are siddhis-prone like me. It's not that there became less automaticity, it's that automaticity became terrifying.


Ok, I'm a little confused - and this is really my big question:

If all there is is the present moment just as it is, Eden-dwelling rats and all, including pain and difficult emotions,

if 3rd is the dark night of the entire path, and the key to the dark night is to just keep observing things as they are,

why the need to experiment with all sorts of practices? Why the need for the switch to Zen, Vajrayana, prayer, Catholic devotional practices, martial arts, magickal practices, and so on?

Why not just continue to observe exactly what's going on in the present moment and see the Three Characteristics?

Why isn't that enough?

J C:

What are your thoughts on this? What was getting 3rd like for you?

I almost feel like I need to apologize for this, but my road to 3rd ---- honestly ---- was very short (a few weeks). I know it seems impossible and I know I'm very very very atypical in this, but I also had beaten my head against the wall as a three decade dark night yogi and I think that has something to it. All I can say is everything came together for me. My heart and mind were very clean. I simply very very radically knew there was NOTHING I could do except show up and participate in practice. I completely trusted the intuitive nature of the vipassina mind and I could feel it working. I wouldn't try to vipassina-ize anything in particular, but the mind knew what to put its attention on. Nor did I try for jhana, but I would drop in and out of formless realms without trying, simply by abiding with the present moment. Typing this now makes it sound amazing, but to me it was a simple as sitting and letting things happen.

So, ironically, I can't even take any credit for a fast road to 3rd path. It was a wonderful experience for me and I was completely humbled by it. Actually, I was already humbled and it seemed to happen because of that. (?)

Perhaps the most important thing I realized (at this stage in practice) is you don’t control mindfulness. The mind is teaching itself to be mindful. You let it focus on the meditation object, you let it drift, you let it come back. You don’t need to do anything. The mind does everything.

A helpful pointer I had was while on retreat at IMS was the teacher pointed out that right at the point of positive, negative, and neutral sensations (vedana) is where greed, aversion, and indifference arises (tanha). That's where samsara is born. That's where craving occurs. So I got very interested in seeing/feeling the distinction between the contact of sensation and the subsequent craving/avoiding/ignoring. This is very very subtle, but entirely possible.

You can notice: good feeling, want it. neutral feel, whatever don't care. negative feeling, push it away. etc.   The "good feeling" and the "want it" occur in two mind moments, not one.

The other thing that helped me was my literacy in the 6 realms of rebirth. At the time, I could see clearly that I was alternating between the titan realm and the gods realm. So I could see my jealousy/ambition/power mode (titan) and I could see my pride/eliteism/status mode (gods). On the same retreat where I watched the nanas go by, I also watched my mind go from "I'm doing great, I'm awesome" (god realm) and "I'm gonna get what those teachers have" (titan realm). For short hand, I simply noted being "superior" and "inferior" --- it was pretty hillarious to watch my entire worldview change so much, back and forth, during the day. I simply could neither take winning or losing in the game of meditation seriously, because either of those were samsaric states. If you can't win or lose, what happens?

3rd is really about getting past being a hot shot meditator and realize that it's totally beyond you're doing.

There will be a natural attraction to the mindful state and it leaves a mark on us, making us more prone to being mindfull. The flip side is there will be a disenchantment with clinging or aversive states and it leaves a mark on us, so we are less prone to clinging or aversion. Over time, it stacks the deck, the mind is inclined toward mindfulness/equanimity and proned to “dropping” clinging or aversive states. The mind itself trains itself to be clearer and more sensitive.

(And that's why 3rd path feels like 4th path, because 95% of the sense that the ego/will has any power goes away).

As I said to Chris, it seems to me that I just need to keep homing in on that moment where subject and object split. I keep thinking I've seen through it, but then it turns out there is more illusion of self to go. So am I just repeating that over and over, trying to see it more and more clearly and quickly, until I see through it all? Or is there something else, something after that?


I think it's all about _subtlety_. Really seeing the slightest preferences, the slightest ambition, the slightest avoidance, the slightest ignoring. The trick to doing this is to use _less_ effort. Much less effort, even no effort. So this is where getting clear about intention is important, because you basically intend to see what you think you need to see, but then let the mind do it.

One other simple model that an teacher at IMS said to me: notice how your mind “leans”. Notice if you are leaning into experience or leaning away from experience… try to find a way to view experience without leaning.

Hmm… I think that’s some good stuff I just gave you J C! emoticon

Regardless, best wishes for your practice!!

J C:
Anna L:

Past 18 months there has definitely been a change in territory. Most notably, much less embedding in cycles or states. The past 6 months fear and terror have been a big issue for me in the dukkha nanas. Extreme bleedthrough into real life. It's manageable but there have been some really challenging instances and it's something I need some advice on how to manage. Currently fear/terror is the only dukkha nana that can get me to "embed" /lose insight/close the dharma eye or whatever you want to call it. However, I am getting better at recognising this state and in my most recent cycle have not been caught in that trap. As long as I continue with practice I am fine. 


Do you notice any shifts or changes as each macro cycle ends? Do you notice review vs. progress cycles?


Yes, there's always a shift/change. However, oftentimes it will be a mundane psychological insight (which is still meaningful and valuable). I associate this with a review cycle. 

The big shifts in Insight/Being/Perception that come with a path I associate with a progress cycle, however I find it best to reality test these insights over long periods of time. That's the only way to really differentiate.

I think Daniel is correct when he says that maps don't make much sense at this point (cycles within cycles). They're too clumsy.

shargrol:


(And that's why 3rd path feels like 4th path, because 95% of the sense that the ego/will has any power goes away).


Nice! Now about that last 5% ... emoticon

Anna L:
Nice! Now about that last 5% ... emoticon


I know you're joking, but just in case "many a truth[ful question] hath been spoken in jest": as Chris mentioned above, the last 5% is all about the mind that keeps asking "what am I missing?". That question points at the last 5%.

shargrol:
Anna L:
Nice! Now about that last 5% ... emoticon


I know you're joking, but just in case "many a truth[ful question] hath been spoken in jest": as Chris mentioned above, the last 5% is all about the mind that keeps asking "what am I missing?". That question points at the last 5%.

"many a truth[ful question] hath been spoken in jest" - yes, spot on ;)

And yes, I feel like I "get it" (that last 5%) intellectually, but that is very different from it being a permanent lived experience... 

Out of interest, would you say 4th path was an "ah ha" moment where you went from 95-100% immediately? Or was it more a gradual creeping up, where one day you looked back and you realised the 100% was the new normal? 

RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur
Answer
1/19/19 12:29 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
I simply very very radically knew there was NOTHING I could do except show up and participate in practice. I completely trusted the intuitive nature of the vipassina mind and I could feel it working. I wouldn't try to vipassina-ize anything in particular, but the mind knew what to put its attention on. Nor did I try for jhana, but I would drop in and out of formless realms without trying, simply by abiding with the present moment. Typing this now makes it sound amazing, but to me it was a simple as sitting and letting things happen...

I think it's all about _subtlety_. Really seeing the slightest preferences, the slightest ambition, the slightest avoidance, the slightest ignoring. The trick to doing this is to use _less_ effort. Much less effort, even no effort. So this is where getting clear about intention is important, because you basically intend to see what you think you need to see, but then let the mind do it...
Hmm… I think that’s some good stuff I just gave you J C! emoticon
Yes, thank you! Very good stuff!

This makes complete sense to me: trust the mind, the mind knows what to do, just stay with the present moment, just sit and let things happen, much less effort, seeing the subtlest and slightest defilements.

In a post in this thread, Chris suggests that this isn't sufficient - I'd like to know your thoughts on that. He said:

Chris Marti:


I reached a point where watching perception was "old hat," which is why it was suggested to me to switch from vipassana to a jhana oriented practice. I firmly believe, and have since coached others on this, that at the late third path juncture we need to relax and acceptwhat's happening from moment to moment. We have, by that time. fully grokked the nano-second to nano-second nature of perception, and we can cite the process chapter and verse. If you read my meditation diary you'll see that at this point in my practice it was more like solving a mystery, plumbing the depths in a more metaphysical way, as opposed to continuing to examine experience with a microscope. It appears that then the mind has a different kind of grokking to do - it has to uncover and upend the last, very, very deeply held and hiddcen assumption that keeps us from seeing the truth of experience.

I suspect looking for this hidden gem like you're doing will not get you there. That's why I got angry - what had always worked didn't work for me any more. I was just banging my head into a brick wall using vipassana.


This is a deeply humbling and profoundly inspiring thread. Thank you all for that!

J C:
Andromeda:

for me, there never was a center point as others describe ... I'm still scratching my head that people start off with a "center point." Strange! And it just isn't that interesting to me--I'd much rather spend my time and energy discussing practice and how to practice well, which is also easier for me to do as it's more concrete. It takes a fair bit of effort for me to translate my non-verbal thoughts into a language that others can share and so it is preferable for any discussion to be rewarding and less draining.


Well thank you so much for being willing to translate - it's incredibly helpful for me and I am very grateful!

Just so I understand correctly - you never experienced any sense of free will, any sense of the possibility of multiple possible futures that you could freely choose between, any sense that there's a 'you' doing things or taking actions separate from the flow of cause and effect? That's what I think of as the center point.



As far as there being an "endpoint"--to what, exactly? To practice? To life? To the spiritual path? What does that even mean? Okay, so you max out insight. If anything, that seems to me more of a beginning than an end if we are going to use such abstract terms. There is only this, the present. This may be my own idiosyncratic use of language, I don't know, but "endpoint" just doesn't make much sense to me.

Agree completely that it's a beginning as well as an end, and that there is only the present.

What I mean by 'endpoint' is what Daniel calls "ditching the split" as opposed to "ditching your stuff."

"Ditching the split" is removing the sense of separation between self and the world, the center point, the sense of free will, resistance to the present moment by blocking out part of it (aka ignorance) - but maybe you never had the split in the first place! If so, no wonder it doesn't make sense to you that so many of us are trying to hard to see through it, and see ditching it as the endpoint.

Daniel in MTCB - this part is one of the best things he's ever written in my view:

MCTB:

There are models of awakening that involve getting rid of all of our “stuff”, that is, our issues, flaws, quirks, pains, negative emotions, traumas, personalities, cultural baggage, childhood scars, relationship difficulties, insecurities, fears, strange notions, illnesses, etc. Such models underlie most of the mainstream ideals of spiritual attainment.

What is funny is that lots of people spend so much time working so hard to get rid of all their stuff but think that awakening, which is ditching the illusion of the separate self and the dualistic split, is largely unattainable. I have exactly the opposite view: that ditching the split is very attainable, but getting rid of all of our stuff while in this mammalian body is completely impossible. ...

What is nice about ditching the split, aside from the fact that it can be done, is that now we can naturally, gently, be friends with our stuff, even if our stuff sucks. We can work with it as well as can be expected and from a place of great clarity and understanding. Stage by stage, ditching the split makes all the slow but necessary healing so much easier... Our stuff is here and being dealt with anyway.

You wrote:

Daniel has referred to 3rd as the dark night of the entire path. Others have spoken of the golden chains of luminosity. You say "I am sure hoping that the shifts will continue to come faster and faster, things get more and more automatic, and finally it ends in 4th path pretty soon." This is what I mean by underestimating it, as that is what it feels like at first, and that is kind of what happens for awhile--it feels like it's going to be a nice and neat straight shot, except it doesn't end in 4th any time soon (or at least it didn't for me). What you have to figure out has nothing to do with cycles, which will just continue. It took me awhile to realize that Eden is full of rats and there is a dark side to perfection--can't think of any other way to put it. It is not surprising to me that so many get stuck at or fooled by 3rd as being "it." 

The territory that I had to get a handle on was bigger, broader, deeper, and more deeply disturbing than anything that came before. When it became clear that more cycles weren't going to do it, that it wasn't really about that, then I had to start trying to figure out what would. Exploring and experimenting with all sorts of practices with a very high level of skill and capacity and energy--more than enough to get myself in trouble, and get myself into trouble I did. That's too long a story for this post, but just keep in mind that mistakes can have bigger consequences at this stage and you can REALLY make a mess of things, especially if you are siddhis-prone like me. It's not that there became less automaticity, it's that automaticity became terrifying.


Ok, I'm a little confused - and this is really my big question:

If all there is is the present moment just as it is, Eden-dwelling rats and all, including pain and difficult emotions,

if 3rd is the dark night of the entire path, and the key to the dark night is to just keep observing things as they are,

why the need to experiment with all sorts of practices? Why the need for the switch to Zen, Vajrayana, prayer, Catholic devotional practices, martial arts, magickal practices, and so on?

Why not just continue to observe exactly what's going on in the present moment and see the Three Characteristics?

Why isn't that enough?

So I certainly must have had at least some partial equivalent of what Daniel refers to as a center point and was working toward an endpoint, but I never thought about things that way and my funny wiring makes it kind of pointless (and painful) to compare notes. BTW cycling (as shargrol also mentions) has never been a prominent feature of how I view the world either. TBH there's a ton of stuff in MCTB (which I've read multiple times and found extremely helpful) that I just skimmed over, "BLAH BLAH BLAH wtf is he talking about? BLAH BLAH boring..." emoticon We take what is useful to us personally and disregard the rest, yes? It's not that I think Daniel is wrong or incorrect, it's just a very different perspective from mine and his wiring and ways of thinking/expressing himself are very different.

Let me see if I can explain so it makes a bit more sense to you. Near as I have been able to figure out myself and confirm after talking to knowledgeable map people, stream entry for me was around 2001-2002 age 22 but I had no idea what had happened. Because I'd spent 12-ish years doing the chronic dark night thing and then my life radically transformed, I assumed until relatively recently it was some normal developmental milestone I'd hit late. When I first found MCTB about 10 years ago, my problem at that point was that it had become very easy for me to drop into deep concentration states which brought on inconvenient siddhi stuff while I was trying to make it through the most intensive part of my professional training. Big engine, sensitive gas pedal, sketchy steering ability--that might sound great to a lot of people struggling with basic skills in meditation, but it's actually a very dangerous situation to be in especially off retreat and with no access to a teacher and during such an intense and critically important period in my life. So I just took what was useful to keep myself from going off the rails and didn't bother trying to sort out the details until many years later. It was a tremendous relief because at the time I was worried it was schizophrenia or something and I didn't have time to go crazy like that. I will be forever grateful to Daniel for this. 

I should point out that my own history is unusual and most people do follow some sort of path. My best explanation is that I've been an exceptionally driven seeker from an early age and made my entire life about practice (I've basically poured everything into it, made every aspect of my life about it), plus random chance that it happened to work out. It's just been my intuition that has led me rather than maps or any particular teacher or tradition. I didn't do any formal retreats or even talk about my practice to anyone else until a few years ago. I was going to be a hermit but then everything changed and I've been trying to sort that out.

"Why not just continue to observe exactly what's going on in the present moment and see the Three Characteristics?" Because my inner compass sent me elsewhere and I have complete faith in it. So far, it hasn't steered me wrong and so I will continue to follow it to the best of my ability until death. This is the most important thing in my life.

Anna L:

Out of interest, would you say 4th path was an "ah ha" moment where you went from 95-100% immediately? Or was it more a gradual creeping up, where one day you looked back and you realised the 100% was the new normal? 

After 3rd, I felt very done. It thought it could have been 4th -- I could make a very good case for it. But a teacher I respected (who I won't mention, because I want to completely own what I'm saying and not bring an outside authority into this) had openings and it seemed like a great opportunity to work with a mentor. I worked with the teacher for about a year, basically starting from square one and ending with exercises at the end of Ken McLeod's Wake Up to Your Life. When it happened it happened all at once, I almost said "oh shit" out loud on a silent retreat. Pretty funny.

(And I should mention that basically it was NOT any technique that "did it". I think it was the inherent tension between my ideals and reality that created a fracture line in my sense of self and practice. I was sitting on retreat with an abbot of a monestary who studied under Ajhan Chah and had been a monk for 40 years and he was talking about having a very mundane life... So where was his enlightenment???? So frustrating!!) 

Later I mentioned it to my teacher and he was very smart about diagnosing me: he basically ignored me, which was perfect. But I also knew that if the matter wasn't settled, my body would let me know. When I saw him in person maybe a couple of months later, he also ignored me for a few days. It was very interesting to see my body during the entire time: my body fundamentally didn't care. It's very interesting, you can lie to your thoughts, but you can't lie to your body.

J C:


In a post in this thread, Chris suggests that this isn't sufficient - I'd like to know your thoughts on that. He said:

Chris Marti:


I reached a point where watching perception was "old hat," which is why it was suggested to me to switch from vipassana to a jhana oriented practice. I firmly believe, and have since coached others on this, that at the late third path juncture we need to relax and acceptwhat's happening from moment to moment. We have, by that time. fully grokked the nano-second to nano-second nature of perception, and we can cite the process chapter and verse. If you read my meditation diary you'll see that at this point in my practice it was more like solving a mystery, plumbing the depths in a more metaphysical way, as opposed to continuing to examine experience with a microscope. It appears that then the mind has a different kind of grokking to do - it has to uncover and upend the last, very, very deeply held and hiddcen assumption that keeps us from seeing the truth of experience.

I suspect looking for this hidden gem like you're doing will not get you there. That's why I got angry - what had always worked didn't work for me any more. I was just banging my head into a brick wall using vipassana.


I think Chris and I are saying the same thing: you can't intentionally/aggressively vipassina the shit out of things at this point. .

(Cultural reference:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BABM3EUo990 )

Or as Chris says: "the mind has a different kind of grokking to do"

JC said "why the need to experiment with all sorts of practices? Why the need for the switch to Zen, Vajrayana, prayer, Catholic devotional practices, martial arts, magickal practices, and so on? 

Why not just continue to observe exactly what's going on in the present moment and see the Three Characteristics?
Well, it could be enough, sort of. The Three Characteristics are profound, very profound, staggeringly profound, and not easily grasped in their entirety. It seems perfectly reasonable to grasp them in their entirety by observing them, but there is a problem, actually, that last line contains a bunch of problems that are not obvious until you see them clearly.

I will go by the words in that last line to illustrate the problem.

"Continue": there is no continuing. There is nothing to continue, no past that could be continued, no future to continue into, and this moment is entirely ungraspable. No sensation could ever actually grasp or continue. Everything is fresh but perfectly ephemeral. The notion of continuing, from a high insight point of view, is a serious problem. Instead, there has to be a deep non-grasping, a perfect and flawless appreciation of non-continuing, a deep never could be a continuing, a deep nothing could ever be continuing, a deep sense of not only discontinuity, but of the utter flowing, vanishing, empty transience of anything that seemed to be able to continue. One must figure out how to go beyond continuing, beyond grasping, beyond that strange mental illusion that such a thing could ever occur or have occurred.

"Observe": there is no observing. There can be no observing. There is nothing that can observe at all. Everything is just occurring where it is, naturally, straightforwardly. There is no observer. There can't be any observer. There never was any observer. Deeply understanding this is required. There never was any observation. Observation can't finally do it. One must figure out how to shift out of observing to just phenomena occurring.

The qualifier "in the present moment" is a problem in some way. This almost always involves some subtle or gross pattern of sensations that we refer to mentally when we say "now", or "the present", which are not actually stable, not actually a present, not actually anything but more empty transience, yet we make them seem like a stable present. This is very subtle, deep, profound. Even "the present" doesn't withstand scrutiny, and we must be careful with this sticky concept, as it can itself become a sort of a solidified thing, part of the illusion of continuity, observation, practitioner, etc.

So, while it is true that deeply comprehending emptiness, non-continuity, non-observation, and even non-present, can occur by just continuously observing this present moment, we must be careful, and sometimes it takes people shifting out of their trench of "good practice" to do something that is out from good practice and instead is just the unfolding empty wisdom dharma. Various people find various methods to make this subtle shift, and one size definitely does not fit all, so best wishes sorting out what will help you work out your salvation with diligence.

Daniel

RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur
Answer
1/19/19 12:07 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
One could just say that each transient moment, however it is, naturally understands its ungraspable, discontinuous, emphemeral, non-existent, empty nature, straightforwardly, perfectly.

However, one must be careful not to idealize or intellectually reify any of those concepts and qualifiers, and instead this is something that is purely perceptual.

It applies to every transient moment, regardless of any other consideration of the specific qualities of that moment.

RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur
Answer
1/19/19 4:08 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
One must figure out how to go beyond continuing, beyond grasping, beyond that strange mental illusion that such a thing could ever occur or have occurred.

Bada bing!

RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur
Answer
1/21/19 10:00 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
All that said, I did, as my last push, go back to the Three Characteristics and Six Sense Doors, just those, but at a level of extremely high precision, inclusiveness, and acceptance, and found that effective. Yet, the place I had gotten to that seemed to make it effective was a radical disenchantment and dispassion towards with everything “I” had attained, everything “I” was, everything “I” could become, everything “I” could experience, and how to arrive at such a place varies a lot by the person.

Really interesting post, with lots of useful information.

I'm not there yet (anagami with paths fast and furious), but I'll keep this post bookmarked emoticon.

RE: The "Twelfth Path" portion of anagami where the paths come fast and fur
Answer
1/21/19 5:43 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hi Daniel,

I have a question about your paragraph "observe" (i.e. no observer or observing, only phenomena occuring).

I hope this is not diverting this thread too much, or this should this be put in another thread?

It seems there are two schools of thought about this observer thing.

The Thai forest tradition seems to talk of an Original Mind, some pure unconditioned awareness untouched by the phenomena that rise and pass.

There is also Advaita which seems to posit a Pure Awareness untouched by phenomena.

The Patanjali Yoga sutra also starts with:

'Yoga is the cessation of all mind-movements.

Then Pure Awareness (sometimes translated as the "true observer") can abide in its own nature.

Otherwise Pure Awareness mistakes itself to be the movements of the mind.'

One commentator to this text says awakening brings the insight that although phenomena are being known, they are empty of an observer.

I realize the Burmese vipassana methods never present things this way, but rather the way you present it.

Is there a contradiction between both views? Or are they just saying things differently?

Any thoughts about these two views?

Thanks
Ps.I find very inspiring your description in last post about your final awakening (dispassion toward all things) so thanks for sharing that!