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Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

Shifts in External Visual Perceptions

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Shifts in External Visual Perceptions
Answer
1/14/19 9:08 PM
First, a little info about my assumed insight progress: Pre-SE, past A&P, repeatedly bobbing up to early Equanimity and back down into Dark Knight.

Lately I’ve been experiencing some strange shifts in external visual phenomena, and wondered if anyone had any thoughts.

The first thing I’ve noticed is seeing faces in inanimate objects. This tends to happen on its own, but I can also almost instantly cause it to happen if I incline the mind in that direction. This has happened many times before, and was especially strong during my last retreat when I was seeing faces in trees, carpet patterns, and wood paneling. I’m almost positive that I have read about this in one of the versions of MCTB but I can’t find it now.

Another experience has been seeing familiar places/things in a way that is like they’re new. A recent and powerful example happened today as I was driving home from work, the same road I take every day. All of a sudden, the whole of experience flashes into attention in a way that, for a split second, feels like I’m seeing the experience for the first time. Because I’m driving, there’s a very subtle hint of fear...like you come around a sharp curve for the first time, not knowing what to expect around the bend. I wasn’t in a particularly, especially mindful state...just normal, listening to a podcast and driving. I even remember the moment/external visual view just before the ‘experience’, so I’m thinking that I also wasn’t spaced out and then ‘came to’. There’s also something about this experience that is like I’m seeing in a way that incorporates the background in with the focal point, and the focal point is ‘softer’.

Any thoughts or ideas are welcome. Of course, I’m somewhat hoping to help diagnose my current insight stage and I’m also well aware this could be a big nothing-burger. Either way, just trying to figure out if/where I read about ‘seeing faces’ will at least give me some closure on that irritating little itch in my brain!

Thanks in advance for your help!

RE: Shifts in External Visual Perceptions
Answer
1/14/19 9:16 PM as a reply to Brato Ganibe.
In my experience, the progress of insight makes the senses raw.  This process is completed with the cycle, when that rawness becomes permanent.  It's peeling away layers of perceptual skin, a numbness that has developed over the course of ones life.  The brain has developed ways of perceiving that are simultaneously convenient shortcuts & horrible sufferings.  Insight meditation undoes this.

RE: Shifts in External Visual Perceptions
Answer
1/15/19 3:00 AM as a reply to Brato Ganibe.
I have read about that, too, and I’m almost certain that it was somewhere in MCTB2. If I happen to find it again, I’ll let you know. I’m rereading passages quite a lot.

I believe I share your predicament of sometimes reaching low equanimity, or at least getting close to it, and then going back into dark night over and over again. I have only maintained a daily formal practice for less than three months, so I probably have a lot to learn before getting beyond that.