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Equanimity Nanna
Answer
2/11/19 4:56 AM
This is not the first time this subject has been raised in DhO however I am seeking specific information on anyone who has passed through Equanimity Nanna in Nibbana/Nirvana.
 
In my practice my cycling has become limited to either the Dark Night or, Equanimity. I seem to experience nothing lower than the Dark Night Nanna’s. (no A&P etc.)

Specifically, what I describe as Equanimity (in my own words):
 
Equanimity of Formations is a deeply relaxed, pleasant state of mind where I have let go of my association to thought or bodily sensations to an extent that any formation (sense experience) that arises is of little interest to the mind. The mind is happy dwelling detached, completely aware of the rising thoughts and sensations yet not identified with nor, moved, reactive, responsive to them.
 
As I dwell in Equanimity for ½ hour or more, my experience gets a dreamlike quality. It gets harder to meditate (i.e. to practise effective insight) and the mind is tempted to just drift off. I try & ignore this temptation to stop practicing & continue insight.
 
This experience happens a lot at home & rarely on retreat. Retreat tends to push me back into Dark Night. (Not sure why?)
 
Any advice on how to push further through & attain Nibbana/Nirvana.
 
Does it take years to work through this particular stage? Am I cultivating sufficient Equanimity to reach Nibbana. (i.e. 1 of the 7 Factors).
 
When I practice in Equanimity, I am trying to keep the mind sharp, not drift off. Paying special attention to the characteristic of Anicca & Annatta in the sensate feild. Specifically noticing how some sensations feel like 'me', some feel like 'the World', objects etc., how the conditioned mind creates this impression of a seperation between 'me' & 'everything else', how the felt sense of self breaks down into layers of sensations. etc.

Thank you! emoticon 

RE: Equanimity Nanna
Answer
2/11/19 6:10 AM as a reply to U Ba Fin.
U Ba Fin:
As I dwell in Equanimity for ½ hour or more, my experience gets a dreamlike quality. It gets harder to meditate (i.e. to practise effective insight) and the mind is tempted to just drift off. I try & ignore this temptation to stop practicing & continue insight.
 
This experience happens a lot at home & rarely on retreat. Retreat tends to push me back into Dark Night. (Not sure why?)
 
Any advice on how to push further through & attain Nibbana/Nirvana.

VERY good question and so important!! The trick is to let yourself go into the dreamlike state WITH awareness. Be aware of what it is like to drift off.

It really is that simple. 

A big problem in most teaching is that the beginning practice to develop mindfulness (paying close attention, feeling in control of mindfulness, etc) is applied in mature stages too dogmatically. As a result, way too much manipulation and control can occur. And when we are using too much effort, the mind doesn't dwell in equanimity and fall into nibbana. When we use too much effort, the mind goes back to earlier stages. It can feel like progress, but it's really just a loop.

One way to think about it is like you are a over-active sun that is burning up it's fuel and as less and less effort is used, while staying aware, you suddenly collapse into a black hole. Or another way to think of it is like you need to "drop into" nibbana, not climb up and grab nibbana. Less and less effort is appropriate in late EQ. 

It can be useful to notice: awareness doesn't require effort. The mind is already aware. The self-directed manipulation of experience requires effort, but awareness itself (seeing, hearing, feeling) requires no effort. 

I had one retreat where I kept going from EQ to mindblowing A&P to EQ to A&P, but my mind was getting more and more exhausted and my entire mind and body was frazzled after two weeks. I was simply trying waaaay too hard to "get" nibbana. After that retreat, I started working with a mentor and he basically said less vipassina more samadhi. He knew I had solid vipassina skills, but like most westerners, I wasn't loose enough.  He helped me enjoy watching where the mind would go on its own. The mind goes where it goes and awareness is already there. No extra effort needed... Months later, sitting at home, in a daydream/hypnogogic-like state with full awareness (I was aware I was in that state) the mind fell into nibbana.

It's never something you can "do", you never know when it will happen... which is great! That means it's not up to you, which takes a lot of the striving and performance pressure away.

So less effort and let yourself get dreamy (it's fine to even fall asleep), but keep sitting through it and notice how awareness is already right there in the experience.


You're close. Keep the consistent daily practice going and experiment with less and less effort. When you are on retreat, this is especially true. On retreat, you will have all the power of practice helping you, you really don't need to try to "manipulate" things at all, just keep the practice schedule and while your in EQ you simply get curious about the nature of awareness that is present in all experiences.

RE: Equanimity Nanna
Answer
2/11/19 7:13 AM as a reply to shargrol.
This is great. I needed that. Thanks! Struggling with the same thing as U Ba Fin described, and I seem to cycle between A&P and dukkha nanas and EQ over and over again within the same sitting, too.

RE: Equanimity Nanna
Answer
2/11/19 9:02 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Cool. And just to be clear: there will always be many many many trips through dukka nanas and EQ and back again, round and round until we really have a true "knowledge" of the dukka nanas. (Which, in essence is: there are many types of negative experiences, if we look on these negative experiences as simply information rather than fight and reject them, then we suffer much much less and learn something important about life and the mind). But there is a point where the knowledge of both dukka nanas becomes mature.

And mature EQ is about allowing _all_experiences_ to arise as the experience itself, even things like doubt, certainty, confusion, clarity, daydreams, super-attentive mind, wandering mind, no-thought mind, etc. etc. --- which can be counter-intuitive since the early stages of practice are all about using certainty to get rid of doubt, using clarity to get rid of confusion, using super-attentive mind to get rid of daydreams, etc. For this to work, mindfulness needs to be well-developed. Paradoxically, once it is well developed we can stay aware of experience where attention itself isn't strong. Sounds wierd, but entirely possible. Almost paradoxical like "lucid dream" - awake dreaming. 

RE: Equanimity Nanna
Answer
2/11/19 9:27 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Right. So if one tends to forget to be aware of the daydreaming when it appears, then one needs to make one’s mindfulness stronger? But not in a way that makes the daydreaming go away. So how does one go about to do that? It sounds a bit like the method for achieving the result is to use the ability that will be the result of applying the method. Since I don’t do time travelling, that seems kind of hard. I know that they say that time doesn’t really exist, but for all practical purposes I seem to be limited by it anyway.

RE: Equanimity Nanna
Answer
2/11/19 10:13 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
You are aware of daydreaming...

You become unaware...

You become aware that you were unaware, which means you are now aware.

Now that you are aware... how much more aware can you be? emoticon

RE: Equanimity Nanna
Answer
2/11/19 11:19 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Apparently I’m not doing the lucid dreaming thing. It’s like there are different dissociative parts of me that are aware of different things but do not recall what happens when that other process was in charge.

RE: Equanimity Nanna
Answer
2/11/19 11:26 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Culadasa talks about the importance of developing peripheral introspective awareness in order to be able to watch out for distractions while focusing one’s attention on something. That’s supposed to make it possible not to get caught up in the content of daydreams and forget about meditating.

RE: Equanimity Nanna
Answer
2/11/19 3:07 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
It’s like there are different dissociative parts of me that are aware of different things but do not recall what happens when that other process was in charge.
How do you know that this is what's been happening?  You've got a memory after your meditation session that something kind of like that was happening. There are probably lots of times during your sessions where you remember that these kinds of events are happening where the sense of subject, object, and the world is distorted and disconnected from normal experience.  Those times when you remember are Shargrol's moments where "You become aware that you were unaware, which means you are now aware."  Over time, you learn from those memories what the experience feels like, which makes it easier to recognize in real time. When it's recognized quickly/often enough, it gets to be a bit lucid in the moment.

There's probably a link between this and Culadasa's idea of appreciating the a-ha moment where you realize that you're distracted.

RE: Equanimity Nanna
Answer
2/11/19 3:21 PM as a reply to JP.
Yeah well... those memories are often very vague. But yeah, I believe that’s the way forward - appreciating those aha-moments. And maybe sleep more... And continue practising mindfullness to increase the conscious awareness.

U Ba Fin, I’m so sorry for hijacking your thread! I hope the responses to my comments are helpful to you too. Very best wishes!

RE: Equanimity Nanna
Answer
2/12/19 11:15 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
VERY good question and so important!! The trick is to let yourself go into the dreamlike state WITH awareness. Be aware of what it is like to drift off It really is that simple. 

A big problem in most teaching is that the beginning practice to develop mindfulness (paying close attention, feeling in control of mindfulness, etc) is applied in mature stages too dogmatically. As a result, way too much manipulation and control can occur. And when we are using too much effort, the mind doesn't dwell in equanimity and fall into nibbana. When we use too much effort, the mind goes back to earlier stages. It can feel like progress, but it's really just a loop.
 
Thanks so much Shargrol - your answer is exactly the kind of information I was after. I do feel ‘stuck’ in the loop. I've been going to this cycle for the last 12 months. The fact I've been working almost exactly opposite to what you recommend is illuminating (I have been trying to increase the definition and intensity of insight while in the dreamy state).

There was one time when I really 'let go' into it to see what would happened - what did happen was that the mental objects of the mind ceased to be recognised by the mind anymore. It was like I was aware of a bunch of objects (i.e. the external sensate reality) however, the mind didn't actually recognise what any object was nor, did it care about any of the objects. It was pretty weird, deeply peaceful & cool.
 
 
…another way to think of it is like you need to "drop into" nibbana, not climb up and grab nibbana. Less and less effort is appropriate in late EQ. 


The metaphor is also helpful as I definitely identify with trying to do the latter.
 
Thanks so much for the suggestions, it's re-inspired me to try again with this new approach!
 
And no problems Polly Ester – hijack away. We are all learning here together!
Sounds like you are facing similar challenges. Best of luck!
 
 
 
 

RE: Equanimity Nanna
Answer
2/13/19 5:58 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
[quote=
]



It's never something you can "do", you never know when it will happen... which is great! That means it's not up to you, which takes a lot of the striving and performance pressure away.




Felt great to read that. emoticon

RE: Equanimity Nanna
Answer
2/13/19 6:21 AM as a reply to U Ba Fin.
Cool.

Here's some more reasons that might help you get comfortable with "letting go"...

It's totally normal and even helpful to allow the mind to go into the first four vipassina jhanas during the road to SE. This means losing the strict clarity of experience and having more of the jhana factors show up (intensity of 1st, pleasure of 2nd, bliss of 3rd, richness of 4th). To have this show up, the mind needs to be a little "loose" and be allowed to go to those jhana sensations. It will naturally at times, but you have to let the mind go there. 

It's also totally normal and even helpful to allow the mind to momentarily drop into hard versions of the first four jhanas and even drop into formless realms during the road to SE. This occurs naturally as the mind "searches" for nibbana. But the experience is very much as you describe:

"that the mental objects of the mind ceased to be recognised by the mind anymore. It was like I was aware of a bunch of objects (i.e. the external sensate reality) however, the mind didn't actually recognise what any object was nor, did it care about any of the objects. It was pretty weird, deeply peaceful & cool."


This is good practice! But if we judge it by "mindfulness" standards, it sounds like dullness or backsliding. It is NOT backsliding, it is good practice.

So overall, this why Kenneth Folk said this --- and in the passage below, read "concentration" not as the grunty, forehead wrinking version of concentration, but rather the meditative version which means "con" = with and "centration" = centering --- so more like "centering with". And he's being playful using the expression "concetrate their behinds off" emoticon


There are two very different instructions, depending on whether a yogi is pre- or post- fourth ñana. A pre- fourth ñana yogi, i.e. one who has not attained to the level of the Arising and Passing Away of Phenomena, must put his focus on penetrating the object. A post- fourth ñana yogi must concentrate. It's that simple. And the reason, in my opinion, that the western dharma scene has been so spectacularly unsuccessful in producing high levels of attainment in its students is that western dharma teachers give beginning instruction to intermediate and advanced students; they tell post- fourth ñana students to ratchet up the intensity of their vipassana, when they should be telling them to concentrate their behinds off.

This, in my opinion tragic situation, is due to a misunderstanding that arose out of a cultural difference. The western vipassana scene, as exemplified by Insight Meditation Society, is influenced primarily by Burmese Mahasi-style vipassana. It seems that Burmese people, by and large, concentrate so well that it is difficult for them to learn vipassana. This, at least, is the conventional wisdom, and my experience in Burma in the early and mid-'90's led me to believe that it is, although a stereotype, generally accurate. Burmese yogis very quickly attain a deeply concentrated state and it is all the teachers can do to get them to look clearly at an object. Westerners, on the other hand, have no concentration whatsoever. We watch television, drink coffee, and obsess endlessly about our careers and our relationships. We are so goal-oriented that if you so much as suggest to us that there is something to gain by striving we will strive from here to eternity. When Burmese monks give instructions that were designed for Burmese yogis to American yogis, the result is too much effort and too little concentration. Without concentration, the strata of mind that contain advanced insight are never reached. This leads to the chronic achiever, as Bill Hamilton put it, the yogi that has attained to the all important fourth ñana, but is unable, year after year, to attain to the Paths.

 
So keep doing what you are doing. Trust your mind to "search" for nibbana for you. Simply stay involved and curious. No one "figures out how to get nibbana". It just happens when we balance attention and relaxation and when we let go of the clinging of greed and aversion. 

Henepola Gunaratana use a metaphor of a bird on a boat that's in the middle of the ocean. The bird will naturally fly into the air and circle around the boat, looking for land. If it cannot see land, it will return to the boat. This is the metaphor for you (boat) and your mind (bird) when sitting in meditation during equanimity. Then suddenly the bird see land and, instead of circling around the boat, it flies directly to land. Tis is how SE happens. Sudden, without warning, and without guidance from "the boat".  So the dove finds land, so to speak, not the boat. In other words, the instinctual mind itself finds land -- not "you as a thinking mind figuring out where land is".


Hope this helps rather than confuses things!!


Best wishes!!

RE: Equanimity Nanna
Answer
2/13/19 7:40 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Simply said: in mature EQ you can let the mind go where it goes and you simply say “yes”.