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Nearing the end of the path curious 2/12/19 3:56 AM
RE: Nearing the end of the path Raving Rhubarb 2/12/19 4:41 AM
RE: Nearing the end of the path curious 2/12/19 12:11 PM
RE: Nearing the end of the path Milo 2/12/19 9:44 AM
RE: Nearing the end of the path curious 2/12/19 12:29 PM
RE: Nearing the end of the path alguidar 2/13/19 11:31 AM
RE: Nearing the end of the path curious 2/13/19 12:55 PM
RE: Nearing the end of the path Milo 2/13/19 9:00 PM
RE: Nearing the end of the path curious 2/14/19 11:47 PM
RE: Nearing the end of the path Chris Marti 2/14/19 7:25 AM
RE: Nearing the end of the path curious 2/14/19 1:45 PM
RE: Nearing the end of the path Chris Marti 2/15/19 6:32 AM
RE: Nearing the end of the path curious 2/15/19 12:59 PM
RE: Nearing the end of the path Milo 2/15/19 12:47 AM
RE: Nearing the end of the path Milo 2/15/19 1:03 AM
RE: Nearing the end of the path curious 2/15/19 4:32 AM
RE: Nearing the end of the path Jinxed P 2/15/19 10:13 AM
RE: Nearing the end of the path curious 2/15/19 1:28 PM
RE: Nearing the end of the path TomB 2/15/19 4:20 PM
RE: Nearing the end of the path curious 2/15/19 4:49 PM
RE: Nearing the end of the path TomB 2/15/19 5:12 PM
RE: Nearing the end of the path curious 2/15/19 5:29 PM
RE: Nearing the end of the path TomB 2/15/19 6:17 PM
RE: Nearing the end of the path Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 2/16/19 6:45 AM
RE: Nearing the end of the path curious 2/16/19 1:02 PM
RE: Nearing the end of the path Raving Rhubarb 2/16/19 8:57 AM
RE: Nearing the end of the path Chris Marti 2/16/19 10:19 AM
RE: Nearing the end of the path curious 2/16/19 12:52 PM
RE: Nearing the end of the path curious 2/16/19 12:42 PM
RE: Nearing the end of the path curious 2/17/19 3:01 AM
RE: Nearing the end of the path An Eternal Now 2/17/19 9:53 AM
RE: Nearing the end of the path curious 2/17/19 2:40 PM
RE: Nearing the end of the path Kent 2/19/19 1:30 PM
RE: Nearing the end of the path curious 2/19/19 3:38 PM
Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/12/19 3:56 AM
Hi everyone,

I have now achieved a marvellous semi-endpoint, so I thought I would share my story in case it helps or encourages. My current existence might be 4th path in some systems, but I think it would be 3rd path in Daniel’s view, and in the view of the suttas. I have only eliminated nine and a half fetters, and the last half a fetter holds me back from final awakening into sensate consciousness.

So anyway, my recent life is a growing and stabilising non-dual existence, in a luminous, vividly clear world, with happiness and joy as the natural baseline states. There is no centre, no agency, no this and no that (unless I let myself be drawn in), no suffering (except tiny tiny shreds). It is not a jhanic or mystical state. Instead, it is just basic joyous existence having removed the twisted tendrils of karmic reactions.

At first I thought that when I had stabilised and grown this I would be DONE. The feeling of getting DONE was strong for a while. But now I understand this joyous pure non-dual existence is also a fabrication, and so eventually it will be seen through to experience consciousness without any fabrication. I understand what to do for the final stage, but am in no rush.  I’m enjoying my holiday!  I can sense that the ear will be my gateway to the final stages.

So how did I get there? As a teenager I had intellectual insights (thoughts do not imply a thinker), mystical experiences, including a vision of a head at the point of sleep, and took refuge at 14.  At University I got some glimpses of luminosity, and then I was a dark night yogi for 30 years, cycling without realising it, with a heavy emphasis on reobservation and desire for deliverance. This made me very achievement oriented. So I had 30 years of effort in physical and intellectual disciplines, trying to escape from the dark night.

I started seriously following the dharma in late 2015, first from Bhikkhu Bodhi’s talks, then MCTB, and then some really kind personal email advice from Daniel pushing me in the right direction. Nine months later, after also following Leigh Brasington’s advice to uncork piti, having regular light rupa jhanas, following the eightfold path, and serious concentration on the nature of the mind, I achieved stream entry through the no-self door. I did so in an unusual fashion, with an emphasis on studying the dharma rather than on vipassana, and luckily stumbled on a cessation. Everything else before and after was textbook stream entry, including major reductions in suffering and clinging.

Following all the post-stream entry stuff, I looked at Ramana Maharshi’s instructions for self-enquiry. I tried them out, and within minutes had another major-cessation like event, with really powerful post-event concentration, detailed observation of sensations, but also unfortunately huge depersonalisation. This alarmed me (even though it caused another layer of clinging to evaporate), so I took up TMI practice to build my concentration to better take advantage of any further insights. While building up my concentration through TMI, I started to get deep but fleeting insights of emptiness and non-duality. Throughout these times I was getting a lot of A&P events, but not obviously cycling.

Life intervened, and I stopped practice for a while, but the insights into emptiness kept deepening in the conceptual sphere, and I slowly tore up the mental fetters of concepts - love and hate, good and bad, gravity and form, and so on. I watched my mind in an intuitive sense, feeling the way concepts knitted in to it. I had some fleeting insights of some sense perceptions shifting outside the body. I started cycling more obviously and spewed a reobservation onto the DhO. I kept building mindfulness and anapanasati through wim hof breathing, a couple of really long body scans including the entire interior, and also the practice of ‘watching the lizard mound’ to catch unwanted voilitions. I saw through pain, and tested this at the dentist (encouraging him to drill into the dentine without novocaine) Somewhere around here I had a well developed yab/yam vision and around this time I started to note the nanas more clearly. This was all mucky, confused territory, and I’m not sure of the order of events now.

Then my mind did a couple of weird things at the point of sleep with sucking voids and a sensation of innumerable surrounding consciousnesses. Later I was reading Noah’s practice diary, and a major insight hit me about the jhanas, and I saw through pleasure. From reading about Sariputta’s enlightenment I knew what this meant, and from Daniel’s writing on the DhO I knew to aim for deconstruction of sensate concepts like time and space. After this, my perception pushed out into space in front of me, and I got access to a new joyous state associated with the sense of space, and this became instantly accessible and dominating for some weeks. Eventually I lost interest in it, but it led on to an understanding of how emotional states and jhanas could be evoked from attention to various parts of the body. My control over emotional and rupa jhana factors became very precise for a while.

Mindfulness and study of the dharma continued. The nanas became even more obvious. Once I went through them backwards. Then I got really sick for a week, and for the first three days and nights lay there absorbed in the mindfulness of sensations, whether asleep or awake, virtually nonstop. After 72 hours of this a whole lot of minor clinging just evaporated.

Then Shargol nudged me in the right direction. and I started contemplating the aggregates, and my bare existence. And also stopped drinking for a few days!  Some solid formless jhanas (so to speak) appeared for the first time. Then for about five seconds my consciousness moved out of my body and into the breeze on my skin, and my current state started to emerge.

It has taken a few weeks to stabilise and strengthen this state, but it’s hard to describe how pure and clear and happy it is. Some old habits of frustration arose this week and I just watched them float by, kind of amused at the same time as I was frustrated.  There was no grabbing at the frustration, and generally there is no grabbing at all.  An exception: I did grab slightly at some very good news today. The experience was so clear and pure and joyous, it was great!  It made me realise even the happiest moments in the past had been subtly dragged down by karmic clinging.

What could be better than this vivid, luminously clearly non-dual centreless experience? There is something qualitatively different about it compared to jhana-like bliss, happiness and joy.  Instead of having to be cultivated, and then arising and passing, it just is. After a couple of weeks of consolidation it now just pops up with the slightest effort.  But I know there is still a little bit more to achieve.

Anyway, ask me anything.  AEN and Thusness have written that my kind of joyous non-dual no-self arises from deconstructing the subject, whereas deconstructing the object (vipassana) leads to more of a witness or true self experience.  I guess the two routes converge at fourth path, but meanwhile my experience may not be the same as others, and I can’t answer any technical vipassana stuff.  But happy to clarify my own path and experiences and to relate it to the Suttas.  The Suttas are mostly so clear now, as are the four noble truths. And I know what Buddha meant when he said the dharma was good at the beginning, good at the middle, and good at the end.

Love and happiness to all.

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/12/19 4:41 AM as a reply to curious.
curious:
Hi everyone,
[...]
Anyway, ask me anything.
Can do.
Okay, so what makes you think that you're
nearing the end of the path
?

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/12/19 9:44 AM as a reply to curious.
How long have you been in this baseline and have you gone through many non positive contacts (Besides the dentist?) If so, what was your experience of dukkha (Or not?)

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/12/19 12:11 PM as a reply to Raving Rhubarb.
"Ok, so what makes you think you are nearing the end of the paht"

Good question!  There are a few things.

1. I finally fully understand the Bahiya Sutta and Daniel's explanation of fourth. I just haven't lived it yet.
2. This baseline is different - others fade, this one strengthens.
3. Suffering is 99% gone, clinging is about 99.9% gone.
4. I'm not feeling any ego defence about being wrong - not even a subtle one. If someone can teach me more, great!

There is a certain spiritual teacher who desribes sitting on a park bench for two years after his big awakening.  I had a small taste of that when my perception moved into the joyous space in front of me. Again, this is different.  The absorptions all have an engaging and very subtly dulling effect, and the perception of joyous space was no different.  My current state is liberating rather than engaging, and vivid and clear rather than subtly dulling. The clarity extends through to the mind.

But I know it is not quite the end because I still have to strengthen this state in some of senses, and because I can now see that this too is fabricated state with a subtle and relocated sense of self.

Make sense?

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/12/19 12:29 PM as a reply to Milo.
Milo:
How long have you been in this baseline and have you gone through many non positive contacts (Besides the dentist?) If so, what was your experience of dukkha (Or not?)

Just two weeks for this most recent shift.  The dentist was a while ago, prior to this.  There has been plenty of other dukkha since stream entry, including an immediate family bereavement, serious family health problems, major disruptions to living situations, and teaching teenage duaghters to drive/dealing with minor dings.  None of it mattered, although it could still produce some transient dukkha.

Anyway, the major angst and misery disappeared after stream entry, and unhappiness further eroded with ongoing insights. There is very tiny minor angst around a residual sense of self (really just a knot of karmic threads looking for something to cling to) but that is steadily evaporating since my latest shift.  So dukkha is almost completely gone although it still arises from physical pain or danger, and from events that trigger some embedded karmic habits.

So for the physical pain or danger - I mindfully spot the dependent arising of the reaction (contact, perception, feeling, craving, clinging, becoming) and cut off the chain of DO. The more I do this, the stronger my tranquility and equanimity becomes.

For triggering of old karma - this hardly ever happens, but when it does I see it easily, as it doesn't grab. So I just watch it go by, and watch it weaken.  It's kind of weird because one part of me feels the old frustration or anger, and another part looks on with mild disinterest, or maybe even amusement. Then that bit of karma feels significantly weakened. 

Actually, there is one more, which is habitual unskilful reactions.  I spot these and eliminate them through DO, but the focus here is on the moment of voilition, whereas I cut off physical pain or danger further up the chain.

Also, as suffering has weakened, love and joy and has grown.

Hope this answers. 

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/13/19 11:31 AM as a reply to curious.
Great to read your story curious!


Fear of death? Still lingers?


Do you have the feeling that you´re just a  lucid character  in a dream and other "persons" are just non lucid characters in a dream.


Do you have judging thoughts? like " trump is an idiot".


Did your aproach to familly/close relationships changed over this process?


Sex drive/performance? Any change?


What were the major attachments that droped away?


What is your body to you versus what it was before SE?


Do you still have any significant attachement?


Ever tried Shikantaza/Zazen?  How was it?


thanks

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/13/19 12:55 PM as a reply to alguidar.
[quote=alguidar
]Great to read your story curious!Thanks!  Answers below.

* Fear of death? Still lingers?
No, that went a couple of years ago. There is a sense of not wanting to abandon family, and recently a sense of wanting to finish the last bit of the path, but that's it. 

*Do you have the feeling that you´re just a  lucid character  in a dream and other "persons" are just non lucid characters in a dream.
Had that feeling previously, but now there is no me and them, just experience. That is not to deny or depersonalize anyone, but rather I just don't think in that way any more.

*Do you have judging thoughts? like " trump is an idiot"
.
Thoughts arise, including judging thoughts, but I don't cling on to them. Also, there is some kind of natural bias towards compassion and right speech, which extends to thought. Right speech is still a work in progress as there is some residual karma there. So the four right exertions are still important and if anything more important than ever as they help to scrape off the last of the karma (embedded patterns of behavior). 

*Did your aproach to familly/close relationships changed over this process?
Yes, I became much happier and a much better husband and father.

*Sex drive/performance? Any change?
Lots of changes. None initially, then a reduction to gross sensual desire (mental grabbing), then a reduction to subtle sensual desire (mental inclining), then an almost complete non-attachment to sex (that does not mean aversion, though), then an almost complete elmination of subtle sensual desire due to perceptions of emptiness of phenomena, then an increase in sex drive associated with enhanced physical perceptions and the physical side effects of insight practices (the body just works a bit better, and circulation improves).  

*What were the major attachments that droped away?
Attachment to ego, attachment to angst, attachment to possessions, attachment to performance, attachment to pain and pleasure, attachment to evaluation. Attachment to striving.

*What is your body to you versus what it was before SE?
It's just part of the field of perceptions. No negative thoughts about it. I might enjoy perceiving it sometimes, but just as might enjoy perceiving a cup of coffee, or a nice chair.

*Do you still have any significant attachement?
A little bit of attachment to dharma and family, and secuity, and enjoyment. It's very small, but it is there.  Hence not quite finished.  Some of these attachments completely dropped away at one stage, but that was too disorienting and I decided I wanted a few of them back, for now. The interesting difference is that these remaining small attachments are now increasingly positive only, and don't generating any subtle suffering or other negativity that I can detect.  It would be a test though to see what happened if my house burnt down and I went bankrupt.  Don't think I'd attach to negative thoughts, but who knows?

*Ever tried Shikantaza/Zazen?  How was it?
No, not in any formal sense, although have recently been doing a lot of just being in the field of experience.

Thanks for asking!

Love and peace

Malcolm

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/13/19 9:00 PM as a reply to curious.
curious:
[quote=alguidar
]Great to read your story curious!
Thanks!  Answers below.

* Fear of death? Still lingers?
No, that went a couple of years ago. There is a sense of not wanting to abandon family, and recently a sense of wanting to finish the last bit of the path, but that's it. 

*Do you have the feeling that you´re just a  lucid character  in a dream and other "persons" are just non lucid characters in a dream.
Had that feeling previously, but now there is no me and them, just experience. That is not to deny or depersonalize anyone, but rather I just don't think in that way any more.

*Do you have judging thoughts? like " trump is an idiot"
.
Thoughts arise, including judging thoughts, but I don't cling on to them. Also, there is some kind of natural bias towards compassion and right speech, which extends to thought. Right speech is still a work in progress as there is some residual karma there. So the four right exertions are still important and if anything more important than ever as they help to scrape off the last of the karma (embedded patterns of behavior). 

*Did your aproach to familly/close relationships changed over this process?
Yes, I became much happier and a much better husband and father.

*Sex drive/performance? Any change?
Lots of changes. None initially, then a reduction to gross sensual desire (mental grabbing), then a reduction to subtle sensual desire (mental inclining), then an almost complete non-attachment to sex (that does not mean aversion, though), then an almost complete elmination of subtle sensual desire due to perceptions of emptiness of phenomena, then an increase in sex drive associated with enhanced physical perceptions and the physical side effects of insight practices (the body just works a bit better, and circulation improves).  

*What were the major attachments that droped away?
Attachment to ego, attachment to angst, attachment to possessions, attachment to performance, attachment to pain and pleasure, attachment to evaluation. Attachment to striving.

*What is your body to you versus what it was before SE?
It's just part of the field of perceptions. No negative thoughts about it. I might enjoy perceiving it sometimes, but just as might enjoy perceiving a cup of coffee, or a nice chair.

*Do you still have any significant attachement?
A little bit of attachment to dharma and family, and secuity, and enjoyment. It's very small, but it is there.  Hence not quite finished.  Some of these attachments completely dropped away at one stage, but that was too disorienting and I decided I wanted a few of them back, for now. The interesting difference is that these remaining small attachments are now increasingly positive only, and don't generating any subtle suffering or other negativity that I can detect.  It would be a test though to see what happened if my house burnt down and I went bankrupt.  Don't think I'd attach to negative thoughts, but who knows?

*Ever tried Shikantaza/Zazen?  How was it?
No, not in any formal sense, although have recently been doing a lot of just being in the field of experience.

Thanks for asking!

Love and peace

Malcolm



Hmm please don't take this the wrong way as I am working this out for myself as well, but are you sure you are near the end of the path and not near the end of *a* path? I too have been at a similar baseline, however I'm not remotely convinced I am at the end of The path. If I look very closely, subtle conscious maintenance is still required. For example, if I stop practicing for a while, there are no problems at the conscious level but the residual karmic stuff can still manifest in dreams for example. Very embedded aversion or attachment can still snare subtlely if not cut off consciously. There also seems to be a seemingly limitless space to cut off arisings closer and closer to contact. I am coming to think there may just be a very slow polishing process from here on out to burn off very deeply embedded and subtle habits. I would like to hear your perspective on this. Do you think finishing off the path would mean you would no longer experience these things on a subtle level or is it more like the wild fox koan where you are just no longer ignorant?

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/14/19 11:47 PM as a reply to Milo.
"Hmm please don't take this the wrong way as I am working this out for myself as well, but are you sure you are near the end of the path and not near the end of *a* path? I too have been at a similar baseline, however I'm not remotely convinced I am at the end of The path. If I look very closely, subtle conscious maintenance is still required. For example, if I stop practicing for a while, there are no problems at the conscious level but the residual karmic stuff can still manifest in dreams for example. Very embedded aversion or attachment can still snare subtlely if not cut off consciously. There also seems to be a seemingly limitless space to cut off arisings closer and closer to contact. I am coming to think there may just be a very slow polishing process from here on out to burn off very deeply embedded and subtle habits. I would like to hear your perspective on this. Do you think finishing off the path would mean you would no longer experience these things on a subtle level or is it more like the wild fox koan where you are just no longer ignorant?"

Oh yeah, absolutely. Completely possible.  All I can say with absolute confidence is that I am somewhere between stream entry and fourth.  Or maybe somewhere between second and fourth.  Looking at the 8 types of people, I would guess I am the seventh type of person (on the road to fourth), but actually maybe I am just the fifth type (on the road to, or nearly at third).  I would love to have a conversation about this, because there are lots of criteria, and they don't always align. Also, the progression of insights may be different for mahasi-style noting and other practices.

As to your question, somewhere I have read that an Arhat doesn't generate any new karma, but still has to deal with the karma they had before they became awake.  Does this simply mean they continue to have a personality until they die?  Or does it mean that there is post-awakening practice to grind off the unskilful karma? I don't know, but I am inclined to the second option - so as you say Milo, a very slow polishing process. That is definitely the territory I am in, and have been for a while including prior to this latest shift.

Now I know I am not an Arhat because I can perceive the subtle sense of self that pervades the entire field, the state is not completely stable yet, and I don't yet meet the Bahiya/Daniel criteria (he seems to be right most of the time!).  But for lots of other criteria around suffering, clinging, not creating new karma, and the ten fetters, I am there or very nearly there. And this last shift has been as significant as stream entry (I had three fetters unmistakably and instantly cut off at SE).  But I think I am attaching to karma quite a lot less than you, so it could be that we are doing things in a different order.

Anyway, following up on your excellent question, is an Arhat?

(1) When you have nothing left to do except that polishing process?
(2) When you have finished that polishing process?

I'm plumping for 1.  But from my current state, it's just a guess!  Anyway, I am well in to the polishing territory, but it is not the case that I have nothing else left to do.  So I don't meet either criteria yet.

(Edit - deleted a sentence as on re-reading is could be interpreted as sarcastic/patronising.  Not the intention)

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/14/19 7:25 AM as a reply to curious.
Is the sense of self any different than other experiences? Why?

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/14/19 1:45 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Is the sense of self any different than other experiences? Why?
Thanks Chris, very thought provoking. Trying to avoid a scripted answer, and after investigating for an hour, here is what I found.

1. A very subtle sense of self is everywhere, integrated in the field of perceptions. I thought this was a problem but now I am not so sure.  There is no meaning associated with it - that is, it isn't falling into Atman/Brahman/Eternalism. I guess this is just one of the subtle flavours of existence. Slightly distinctive, but not too different from everything else, and part of the integrated whole.

2. There is sometimes a separation of the mind sense from everything else. If I build mindfulness of experience then the whole field integrates pretty easily (including the mind sense). If I focus on sight, hearing, form, senses, then each of those integrates into the whole field pretty easily (including the mind sense). But if turn into the mind sense specifically, it pops up a field of its own and doesn't integrate. There is still no subject/object, but it creates some separation.

3. Clearly seeing mental objects as clusters of sensations is still at an early stage, but there are glimpses. There isn't really a sense of self there, as I am not attaching to mental objects as they arise in consciousness. But I do now detect some unexamined mental objects in the depths of the mind sense - so there might be a slight sense of self there. The difference from other experiences is that I hadn't clearly spotted them, so they are sneakily inclining voilition and thus becoming.

Not sure that was the answer you expected!

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/15/19 12:47 AM as a reply to curious.
curious:
"Hmm please don't take this the wrong way as I am working this out for myself as well, but are you sure you are near the end of the path and not near the end of *a* path? I too have been at a similar baseline, however I'm not remotely convinced I am at the end of The path. If I look very closely, subtle conscious maintenance is still required. For example, if I stop practicing for a while, there are no problems at the conscious level but the residual karmic stuff can still manifest in dreams for example. Very embedded aversion or attachment can still snare subtlely if not cut off consciously. There also seems to be a seemingly limitless space to cut off arisings closer and closer to contact. I am coming to think there may just be a very slow polishing process from here on out to burn off very deeply embedded and subtle habits. I would like to hear your perspective on this. Do you think finishing off the path would mean you would no longer experience these things on a subtle level or is it more like the wild fox koan where you are just no longer ignorant?"

Oh yeah, absolutely. Completely possible.  All I can say with absolute confidence is that I am somewhere between stream entry and fourth.  Or maybe somewhere between second and fourth.  Looking at the 8 types of people, I would guess I am the seventh type of person (on the road to fourth), but actually maybe I am just the fifth type (on the road to, or nearly at third).  I would love to have a conversation about this, because there are lots of criteria, and they don't always align. Also, the progression of insights may be different for mahasi-style noting and other practices.

As to your question, somewhere I have read that an Arhat doesn't generate any new karma, but still has to deal with the karma they had before they became awake.  Does this simply mean they continue to have a personality until they die?  Or does it mean that there is post-awakening practice to grind off the unskilful karma? I don't know, but I am inclined to the second option - so as you say Milo, a very slow polishing process. That is definitely the territory I am in, and have been for a while including prior to this latest shift.

Now I know I am not an Arhat because I can perceive the subtle sense of self that pervades the entire field, the state is not completely stable yet, and I don't yet meet the Bahiya/Daniel criteria (he seems to be right most of the time!).  But for lots of other criteria around suffering, clinging, not creating new karma, and the ten fetters, I am there or very nearly there. And this last shift has been as significant as stream entry (I had three fetters unmistakably and instantly cut off at SE).  But I think I am attaching to karma quite a lot less than you, so it could be that we are doing things in a different order.

Anyway, following up on your excellent question, is an Arhat?

(1) When you have nothing left to do except that polishing process?
(2) When you have finished that polishing process?

I'm plumping for 1.  But from my current state, it's just a guess!  Anyway, I am well in to the polishing territory, but it is not the case that I have nothing else left to do.  So I don't meet either criteria yet.

(Edit - deleted a sentence as on re-reading is could be interpreted as sarcastic/patronising.  Not the intention)


You may well be right about that. I have a tendency toward single pointedness and reading this made me realize I need to need pay more attention to the background/whole field stuff. Can you tell me how you have gone about doing so? Interestingly you mention on another post further down that you are still working on seeing clearly that mental objects are clusters of sensations, which is very clear for me (Perhaps this lends to very single pointed observation?). The path is often presented as a linear thing, but that does not always seem so accurate.

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/15/19 1:03 AM as a reply to Milo.
I would also be interested in hearing how you investigated karma directly, if you have. I have considered it might be possible to somehow pick this out of the 3rd/4th jhana boundary where thoughts can just bubble up like clouds seemingly out of nowhere, but I've never quite managed the skill to do that (Or it isn't there).

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/15/19 4:32 AM as a reply to Milo.
Hi Milo,

"I have a tendency toward single pointedness and reading this made me realize I need to need pay more attention to the background/whole field stuff. Can you tell me how you have gone about doing so?"

I'm not sure that I can accurately attribute causes. I had various mental and physical disciplines prior to SE that might have helped. Being among trees with varied light seems to encourage the senses outwards (and this was the Buddha's initial advice to meditators - sit at the base of a tree looking out). Shaking up the conscousness helps - I think yab/yam probably activates something that helps move perception outwards, and so does seeing through time and space (even temporarily).  But also a quiet mind and mindfulness of the field of perceptions, and getting attention and awareness to rest together in that field. So TMI probably helped quite a bit there too. Best guess, anyway, but not much of answer sorry.

"I would also be interested in hearing how you investigated karma directly, if you have."

I see karma as embedded patterns of behaviour that lead to grasping that creates becoming and suffering, with becoming also reinforcing the pattern of behaviour.  I investigate it in two ways. One is to spot the moment of voilition where karma activates, and starts to create grasping at phenomena. I then then to try stop the grapsing, and renounce and relinquish the karma. This is quite a focussed and deliberative act.

The second way is more intuitive and non-conceptual. I turn intuition onto my own mind, to get a sense of what is going on.  Karma seems like pieces of angst, or waving seaweed, or tendrils of some creature - snares and suffering.  My intuition gets some non-conceptual appreciation of what is causing it, and what it is attaching to.  Once I have that non-conceptual understanding, I form an intention of letting go.  

Metta

Malcolm

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/15/19 6:32 AM as a reply to curious.
Not sure that was the answer you expected!

I wasn't expecting a specific answer. Just curious, curious. I found deeply held assumptions behind the sense of self to be a critical mountain to climb along the way.

emoticon

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/15/19 10:13 AM as a reply to curious.
What stage of TMI did you get up to?

I have some everyday practical questions. As I tend to be curious, about how enlightenment functions for people in daily life. 

On no suffering...

1. Would you feel nervous giving a TedTalk, or some other major public speech? 
2. Would you feel nervous at a job interview, or going on a date?
3. Would you feel embarassed if you shat yourself on the subway?
4. Is there suffering if you are sick?

On daily life

1. How have your social relationships changed?
2. Do you still crave romantic connection?
3. Have sexual fantasies?
4. Do you still maintain hobbies? Enjoy watching television shows, sports, etc?
5. Has your worklife been impacted? Are you better at your job? Find yourself gravitate towarads different fields?
6. Do people notice a change in you?
7. Do people find you magnetizing, like how guru's have a special charisma?






RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/15/19 12:59 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Not sure that was the answer you expected!

I wasn't expecting a specific answer. Just curious, curious. I found deeply held assumptions behind the sense of self to be a critical mountain to climb along the way.

emoticon

Metta to you Chris.  emoticon

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/15/19 1:28 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P:
What stage of TMI did you get up to?

I have some everyday practical questions. As I tend to be curious, about how enlightenment functions for people in daily life. 

On no suffering...

1. Would you feel nervous giving a TedTalk, or some other major public speech? 
2. Would you feel nervous at a job interview, or going on a date?
3. Would you feel embarassed if you shat yourself on the subway?
4. Is there suffering if you are sick?

On daily life

1. How have your social relationships changed?
2. Do you still crave romantic connection?
3. Have sexual fantasies?
4. Do you still maintain hobbies? Enjoy watching television shows, sports, etc?
5. Has your worklife been impacted? Are you better at your job? Find yourself gravitate towarads different fields?
6. Do people notice a change in you?
7. Do people find you magnetizing, like how guru's have a special charisma?





Thanks for asking Jinxed P.  Really happy to respond.  Answers below.

A. Stage 6 of TMI, with visits to 7 and 8. But 6 was pretty stable. I had thought I would go back and finish it off sometime, but that seems irrelevant now that awareness and attention rest together in the field of perception, and mental chatter is usually no more distracting than stomach rumbles or birdsong.

Enlightenment ... not claiming that.  It's a word freighted with so much clinging and aversion that I prefer to avoid it.  I would say we get progressively liberated, and then become unbound. I'm not yet completely unbound, or fully awake, but I am significantly progressively liberated, and nearing the end. Although that is of course an unskilful claim to make that will slow down my final progress.

B. Suffering: 

1. Sure!  But not much, and I wouldn't attach to it.
2. Same answer.
3. Don't know, haven't done this. But I don't think so as embarrassment seems more mental than physical, and relies on ignorance about phenomena to arise. It would cetainly be a bit annoying though. For years I had a greater than average aversion to faeces/shit, but that's gone too.
4. There is pain, but little to no suffering.

Emotions are of the body, so they continue to arise. But them seem to be significantly weakened, and latching on to them and blowing them up into suffering seems to be almost completely gone.  We're all human, and continue to be so.  But I am almost liberated from the malfunctioning nature of the mind, as it clings to things are impermanent, not-self, and stressful.  Although as noted, I am not quite all the way there. Having said that, a new or uncommon situation might bring up a rare emotion or some embedded patterns of unskilful beahviour that hasn't yet been weakened. These are easily spotted and you can watch them go by.  But it might take some effort to change the embedded behavioural pattern. This is where the four right exertions come it - arising and maintenance of skilful mental qualities, and non-arising and abandonment of unskilful mental qualities. I'm finding this and many other practices much easier now that there is so much less grabbing at phenomena.

C. Daily life:
1. Elimination of most negative emotions. Much happier and more fulfilling relationships.
2. No.
3. Yes. These are a response to bodily urges. But the clinging to the overlay of fabricated phenomena is pretty much gone. So eveything to do with sex is much less mentally complicated.
4. These get harder and harder to engage with. I am in a state of flux at the moment, with some inertia from habit, but have really lost interest a lot. Not sure how this will play out over the next few months. Much more interested in just being and in practice.
5. Yeah, instead of being a career full of meaning, it's just a job. And that's fine.  I enjoy it when I am doing it, but would choose to spend much more time at home now, if I could.  This is a really significant change for me. But the other thing I am finding is a huge boost to mindfulness, energy, persistence, investigation, equnimity (non-arising), and tranquility (non-reaction).  So productivity is all spheres is way up.
6. You would have to ask them ...
7. I hope not!

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/15/19 4:20 PM as a reply to curious.
curious:
Jinxed P:
6. Do people notice a change in you?

6. You would have to ask them ...

Does that mean no one has made comments to you about you being different or acting out of character or anything like that?

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/15/19 4:49 PM as a reply to TomB.
Tom O Barron:
curious:
Jinxed P:
6. Do people notice a change in you?

6. You would have to ask them ...

Does that mean no one has made comments to you about you being different or acting out of character or anything like that?

No, it means that I don't generally evaluate how other people evaluate me. That is all related to the eighth fetter - evaluation/mana/conceit.  There may be a tiny bit of that fetter remaining, but my recent shift substantially weakened it, and maybe cut it off altogether.  So I just don't think (edit: much) about what other people think of me, as this represents a form of clinging. My main concern in this context would be right speech and not hurting people.
 

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/15/19 5:12 PM as a reply to curious.
curious:
Tom O Barron:
Does that mean no one has made comments to you about you being different or acting out of character or anything like that?

No, it means that I don't generally evaluate how other people evaluate me. That is all related to the eighth fetter - evaluation/mana/conceit.  There may be a tiny bit of that fetter remaining, but my recent shift substantially weakened it, and maybe cut it off altogether.  So I just don't think (edit: much) about what other people think of me, as this represents a form of clinging. My main concern in this context would be right speech and not hurting people.
 


Hi, curious,

I followed up on JP's question because I saw your response as a deflection. Now I'm seeing your response to me as a deflection. I just asked whether anyone had commented, not about how you evaluate about any such comments.

I ask because I'm genuinely curious whether you've received any objective evidence (like recent unsolicited comments from other people) that indicates they've noticed changes in you.

This is none of my business and I don't mean to be a butt and if you'd rather just drop this, I'll let it go. You did say, "Ask me anything."

Thanks!
Tom

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/15/19 5:29 PM as a reply to TomB.
Haha. Yes fair enough Tom O Barron!  It is a deflection, but not from the question so much as from any latent desire in me to cling on. So my spouse has been looking at me with a slightly odd expression.  My kids have been effusively saying what an amazing dad I am. I gave some talks in the last week (on something else) that we’re incredibly well recieved and in fact several people independently described them as inspirational (quite unusual from that particular audience). What do you make of that? Could be that the sun is shining and we are all just happy. It could be just that I had a few good days. But I don’t want to feed any sense of charisma as that seems to lead to almost inevitably lead to suffering for others. Does that answer your question?

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/15/19 6:17 PM as a reply to curious.
It does indeed. Thank you very much.

Now I need to go see about getting my handle changed. "Tom O Barron" is way too fancy.

Tom

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/16/19 6:45 AM as a reply to curious.
Thank you for your openness! This seems like a liberating development indeed, and it seems to be of the kind that I would wish for mankind.

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/16/19 8:57 AM as a reply to curious.
curious:
No, it means that I don't generally evaluate how other people evaluate me. That is all related to the eighth fetter - evaluation/mana/conceit.  There may be a tiny bit of that fetter remaining, but my recent shift substantially weakened it, and maybe cut it off altogether.  So I just don't think (edit: much) about what other people think of me, as this represents a form of clinging. My main concern in this context would be right speech and not hurting people.
Is it possible that you're needlessly worried a behaviour which is a normal and, in fact, wholesome part of "not being the only human on earth"?

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/16/19 10:19 AM as a reply to Raving Rhubarb.
I feel the need here to say that the path isn't about removing or eliminating suffering. It's about truly and deeply understanding suffering.

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/16/19 12:42 PM as a reply to Raving Rhubarb.
Raving Rhubarb:
curious:
No, it means that I don't generally evaluate how other people evaluate me. That is all related to the eighth fetter - evaluation/mana/conceit.  There may be a tiny bit of that fetter remaining, but my recent shift substantially weakened it, and maybe cut it off altogether.  So I just don't think (edit: much) about what other people think of me, as this represents a form of clinging. My main concern in this context would be right speech and not hurting people.
Is it possible that you're needlessly worried a behaviour which is a normal and, in fact, wholesome part of "not being the only human on earth"?
Anything's possible!  But the point is really that I'm not worried about it.  emoticon

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/16/19 1:02 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Thank you for your openness! This seems like a liberating development indeed, and it seems to be of the kind that I would wish for mankind.
Thank you for your kind and skilful words Linda.  It is nice to be at a point that seems to justify the path.  

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/16/19 12:52 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I feel the need here to say that the path isn't about removing or eliminating suffering. It's about truly and deeply understanding suffering.
Helpful and thought provoking as always Chris.  I do understand (and know) the role of the three characteristics, clinging and dependent origination in the whole thing.  But your comment make me realise there is a bit more to dig into there, which I will do.

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/17/19 3:01 AM as a reply to curious.
Just a small update to say that things are persisting and slowly getting stronger.  New situations bring up old karma and I steadily reduce it.  Hints of the next stage seem to come along by themselves. The dharma carries me along, and no doubt I will progress further in a month, or a year, or a decade.

I posted the whole story as part of my review of the recent shift.  But also because my path is not a mahasi-noting path, given that I fell into stream entry before properly starting noting. But everything I experienced was quite well described in the suttas, and the Culadevalla sutta in particular is a really close description of what I have done. I think Abidhamma approches are probably pretty reliable, and so may be an advance on the suttas, or a nice explication of a particular method in the suttas. But the suttas do describe several alternatives to observing the arising and passing away of phenomena.  So could the mahasi-noting path could be counterproductive for people who are already well advanced using one of these alternatives?  My intuition is that the sixteen stages of insight and subsequent practice include a mix of things that are essential, and things that are contingent on the path of the body witness (noting the arising and passing away of phenomena).  

So what was prominent to me, using different methods? Definitely A&P and aspects of cycling up to equanimity, uncorking piti, stream entry (through the non-self door). And then a whole series of shifts around depersonalisation, mindfulness of sensation, glimpses of luminosity, glimpses of mobile consciousness, empitness of physical form, fabricated nature of pain, emptiness of concepts, emptiness/clinging nature of pleasure, glimpses of construction of space and time, pushing a different type of consciousness out of the body, gaining precise control over mental states and moving them around at will by focussing on different chakras/bhumis, more extended mindfulness and glmpses of what is to come. And then breaking through into vivid, luminous, non-dual, agencylessness bliss and happiness as a baseline, with many subsequent changes following from that. And some aspects of that basline had been there all along, but I couldn't understand that until perception got really vivid

I know this is a reobservation-kind of thing to say, but here is a go at my non-noting map:
- A&P and cycling
- Stream entry (BANG!)
- Heaps of mucky lIttle shifts that progressively deconstruct the flailing snake of clinging
- Non-dual vivid bliss (waxing and waning a bit for while)
- Suff after that (still to come for me)

This is not a million miles away from Daniel's simple model.  I have put 'stuff after that ' as from what I have read, further development of perceptual mind states seems possible even for people who meet Daniel's 4th path criteria.  I guess what I need to do now is read MCTB 2, and re-read Daniel's advice for people in the Rigpa-type territory, and work out whether his advice also applies to people on my path, or only to those on the noting path.

Anyway, not unbound yet.  But it feels like I am starting to wake up, and the wisdom eye is stirring. 

Metta to all, and gratitude for this amazing site (DhO). 

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/17/19 9:53 AM as a reply to curious.
curious:

Anyway, ask me anything.  AEN and Thusness have written that my kind of joyous non-dual no-self arises from deconstructing the subject, whereas deconstructing the object (vipassana) leads to more of a witness or true self experience.  I guess the two routes converge at fourth path, but meanwhile my experience may not be the same as others, and I can’t answer any technical vipassana stuff.  But happy to clarify my own path and experiences and to relate it to the Suttas.  The Suttas are mostly so clear now, as are the four noble truths. And I know what Buddha meant when he said the dharma was good at the beginning, good at the middle, and good at the end.


Vipassana generally don't lead to the Witness or the True Self type experience and realization - that would be self-enquiry, unless you're talking about Thai Forest. However if one has already experienced the Witness then perhaps they may practice vipassana dissociatively.

Vipassana with right pointers lead to anatta realization. It needs pointers to luminous manifestation, otherwise it becomes mindful reminders of 3 seals but lacking direct realization of self-luminosity of manifestation.

Also, contemplating on Bahiya Sutta really helped and was what triggered my anatta breakthrough -

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2008/01/ajahn-amaro-on-non-duality-and.html
http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2010/10/my-commentary-on-bahiya-sutta.html

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/17/19 2:40 PM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
AEN - thank you for the clarification, and the great links. I have also been reading some of your book, and have the Heart Sutra (Thay's translation) and the Bahiya Sutra on my desktop for over two weeks now. I take the point, and will keep the Bahiya Sutra more in mind.

This phrase from one of your links really spoke to me too, from the point of view on ongoing purification: "Clinging operates best when we are not looking. When clinging is the focus of our awareness, it can’t function properly. In short, clinging can’t cling if there is too much wisdom around." 

Edit: And re-reading those suttas led me to think
Gone from the world of this,
Gone from the world of that,
Utterly gone from this or that or in between,
Gone from the world of conceiving,
Liberated.
Yeah ! 

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/19/19 1:30 PM as a reply to curious.
This is all amazing information. Thanks for sharing.

"
I started seriously following the dharma in late 2015"

How much dark night stuff after 2015? (And how difficult was it?)

Also, how much did you typically practice? (per day, per week, or whatever)

Thanks again!!

RE: Nearing the end of the path
Answer
2/19/19 3:38 PM as a reply to Kent.
Kent:
This is all amazing information. Thanks for sharing.

"
I started seriously following the dharma in late 2015"

How much dark night stuff after 2015? (And how difficult was it?)

Also, how much did you typically practice? (per day, per week, or whatever)

Thanks again!!
Hi Kent, glad it's useful.

After 2015 the dark night stuff was hugely reduced.  First I was striving after the dharma and in a kind of flow state where the dukkha nanas didn't arise much. Then stream entry cut off the really bad stuff that used to happen. 

But there was some quite unpleasant material around depersonalisation and no-self. I had developed a bit unevenly, so at one stage I was a bit distressed by the insight that if I don't exist, then neither do the people I really love. It's kind of funny to look back on this now, and see it as a side effect of imperfect realisation. But it gave me trouble at the time. First I dealt with it by choosing to engage and love. But there was a lurking  'why love these formations more than other formations.'  Then I tried thinking about co-dependent arising and how we are co-creating each other and were in effect part of each other, and that was ok I guess. Then there was more general love and compassion and they were key objects for it, which was quite nice but there was an undercurrent of dullness or ignorance.  But now, the question just doesn't arise. There is uncomplicated love and joy with them and I just don't think about it.

The other aspect is cycling. I only started to clearly observe the cycles after stream entry. Prior to seriously following the dharma I would be prone to falling in to a nana and wallowing in it and creating new karma. That stopped happening, but nanas might still arise in a weakened form and I would grab at them a bit and have minor dark nights. Over time, I got better at recognising this, naming the nanas, recognising the three characteristics, and that would take away most of their power.  But now the nanas are steadily becoming items for examination. Prior to my current state I had some nice cases where fear arose, and it didn't grab at all and I could just watch it and go "oh look, there is fear!"  So fear wasn't fearful, and that was kind of fun. Yesterday I had disgust arise, and it took me a few minutes to recognise it. It didn't grab at me mentally, but it did cause me to keep my distance. But now I want it back so that I can look at it again, as it was a very pure and full version of disgust - an excellent example!  So the nanas became more clearly observed, and then not-self and impermanent, and then uncomplicated non-grabbing objects for mindfulness and engagement. This continues to be a work in progress, to spot them earlier and go from banishing them to using them to experience the mind. So that's my dark night now.

On practice. My practice always used to be a bit restless, although I did have decades of relevant preparation in breathing, concentration and investigation. I would have three components to practice - regular sits, studying and thinking about the dharma and the mind, and mindfullness and investigation during the day.

My sits were initially 30 to 40 minutes, being anapansati, then jhana.  This might average very second day.  Later, with TMI, I went to an hour nearly every day for a while, and I consistently found that most of the progress would occur in the last five minutes of the sit.  Then I stopped for a while. Now I am back to half an hour, followed by yoga and additional breathing exercises.  Occasionally I would do more - two sits a day, or a mini-retreat at home, or a two hour body scan - there might have six to ten such occasions.

However, studying and thinking about the dharma have been huge. In the months leading up to stream entry this would have been about 5-8 hours a day.  Afterwards it very slowly reduced over time, but is typically one to two hours a day minimum.  Over time it has slowly been replaced by mindfulness of experience and mindfulness of the mind, accompanied by investigation of phenonema.  This mindfulness and investigation just occurs randmonly throughout the day - sometimes for long periods, sometimes short periods, sometimes five or six times a day, sometimes not at all. Also, I would spend time in newly accessible states after major moments of progress.  This could be an hour or two a day for a few weeks. 

One interesting feature of my practice is that I haven't perfected anything, really. There are many things that I would experience just once, or a few times, but that seemed to be enough to saw away at the fetters.  Some of these experiences or insights were minor (but still added up), and others were as if I was struck like gong, and the pure sound reverberated throughout existence.

Oh, and the restlessness has been cut off now.  That is very clear.

Hope that answers your questions.  If not, just ask.

Malcolm