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a 3D model for conceptualizing fruitions to make sense of the practice

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One of the reasons that I appreciate this forum so much is that it is socially accepted and even encouraged to be a phenomenology junky, as it turns out that I am one. Should have seen that one coming, hehe. Anyway, I sometimes find that language is a crude instrument for understanding complex matters, not least because it requires a linear presentation. I often find that I need to think in more than one direction in order to make at least some justice to the objects of my interest. Unfortunately, I lack both the mathematical and the technical skills to visualize how I think. After having gone through a few different doors to fruition I felt that I had to try anyway, because I needed that kind of framework to integrate my experience in a way that made sense to me. Being unable to communicate central aspects of my experience just drives me nuts. Thus I started to put together a tentative model of what the insights were about. The model is based on very little experiential data (7 fruitions, I believe), so it is of course very crude, and I will probably need to change it over time. It's not an attempt to represent any ultimate truth, just my personal attempts at making sense of something that is of course too complex to make sense of. Constructing the model helped me to straighten out some question marks that I had about my journey so far. It would be interesting to get some input from others if possible.

Here goes:

Imagine a cube. It has three dimensions. The three dimensions are impermanence, emptiness and suffering. All these dimensions are subject to tension between two extremes that only make sence if there is a reference point of some kind and thus polarity. The tension is a force of expansion vs contraction. The tensions of the different dimensions are represented on the cube in such a way that one side of the cube represents one of the extremes of that dimension and the opposite side the other extreme. The six sides of the cube are thus representations of polarized constructions of the three characteristics, two extremes per characteristic.

The impermanence polarity is between the expansive extreme of infinite flow a shaken bottle of mineral water on the one hand and the contractive extreme of absolute stillness (stagnation/rigidity/coagulation) on the other hand. The balance point within polarity (which is of course a subjective construction and dependent on scale) is a balanced flow of motion in time and space, with periods of more stillness. Nibbana is the non-polarity option with regard to all dimensions, and the ultimate balance point. "Ultimate" shall not be understood in a normative way; change is the nature of life, and there's nothing wrong with that per se. Let us represent this polarity as flow <--> stillness, thus naming one side flow and the opposite side stillness.

The emptiness polarity is between the expansive extreme of separation (dividing, making distinctions, analyzing into smaller and smaller parts) on the one hand, where everything is shattered, and the contractive extreme of unity where everything is merged on the other hand. There is an infinity paradox in both those extremes. The separation extreme paradox is explained pretty well in Zenon’s paradox. The unity extreme paradox is that if everything is on one side, there is nothing on the other side, and thus there can be no sides. The balance point is realizing that emptiness and suchness are pretty much the same thing, only dependent on whether it is looked upon from the inside or outside, as Culadasa puts it, which is in itself a paradox dependent on a reference point and thus polarity. (EDIT: The two opposite sides of the cube can be named separation and unity, but another possibility is ”I am nothing” vs ”I am everything”.)

The suffering polarity is between the expansive extreme of craving/clinging on the one hand and the contractive extreme of having no will on the other hand, which in polarity tends to become indifference/apathy when driven too far to that extreme. The balance point within polarity is letting go but still caring. Compassion if you will (and with the realization that dependent origination means that there isn’t really a independent will because that would imply a separate self).

Fruitions are sort of a discharge that gives release for the purpose of purification. They tend to bring us closer to the center of the cube where all dimensions are balanced. In the fruition, the polarity between the expansive and the contractive side is gone. Thus there is no experience. When we come back to the polarized mode we also come back to experience. When we do so, we are relatively balanced.

The different doors are approximating constructions having to do with what kind of discharge was most apparent to us. If the cube were an actual three dimensional map with real coordinations, it would be possible to pinpoint the exact location with regard to all three dimensions. That is not really the case since all these dimensions are paradoxical because they depend on referent points and scales, but we can still use the idea of it for the purpose of sensemaking. The six sides of the cube are only relative directions, but there is no endpoint. The sides are thus not the doors; they are just these constructed extremes. The eight corners of the cube do not really exist, because that would require that the sides were actually there and that there was finity, that is, something outside of the cube. There isn’t. Thus, the corners are not the doors. In fact, there are no doors. Doors imply that there is something outside. There is nothing but dependent origination. But (once again) for the purpose of sensemaking, it is useful to understand it as if there could be intersections resulting in a center and different sides and corners. The closer one gets to a side or a corner of the cube, the ”bigger” release results from the discharge. ”Big” refers to the noticability of the change when coming back and thus getting centered in the cube. I would assume that it is at least theoretically possible to get to fruition from any ”coordinate” within this cube. They are all have a relative position with regard to all of the three dimensions, although since there are no endpoints they are more like angles than actual coordinations (I have very little of Maths in my baggage so I’m probably using the words wrong here; please, bear with me).

I don’t have enough empirical data to say anything about what ”coordinates” are most common, but I would guess that certain clusters are more common than others, or at least most commonly distinguished and reported. It makes sense to assume that it is common for one dimension to be more dominant than the others, hence the notion of three doors. With enough clarity, it makes sense that it would also be possible to distinguish a secondary aspect of there is one, hence the notion of the six different doors. But in reality there should be an infinite number of doors since there is no endpoint in any direction.

For sensemaking purpose, the six door versions relate to the cube in the following way:
- The impermanence door with no self as secondary aspect deals primarily with the tension between flow and stillness and has a flavor of either unity (merging) or separation (dividing). Cf the wave-particle model. Everything as continuous flow or everything as vanishings.
- The impermanence door with suffering as secondary aspect deals primarily between the tension between flow (change) and stillness and has a flavor of either caring or letting go. Caring enough to taking or welcoming initiatives or being able to let go of craving or clinging.
- The no self door with impermanence as secondary aspect deals primarily with the tension between separation and unity and has a flavor of flow or stillness.
- The no self door with suffering as secondary aspect deals primarily with the tension between separation and unity and has a flavor of either caring or letting go.
- The suffering door with impermanence as secondary aspect deals primarily with pain caused by either too much attraction or too much aversion or apathy and has a flavor of flow (opening up something that had stagnated) or stillness (calming down something that is too speeded).
- The suffering door with no self as secondary aspect deals primarily with pain caused by either too much attraction or too much aversion or by apathy and has a flavor of unity (making connections, belonging) or separation (boundaries, integrity).

It should be possible to go through a door that is equally dominated by two of the dimensions.

It should also be possible to go through a door that is dominated by one dimension and with the other two dimensions equally involved.

I suppose it might be also possible to go through a door that is equally much about all three doors. Maybe that’s the ultimate door, to nibbana.

RE: a 3D model for conceptualizing fruitions to make sense of the practice
Answer
4/16/19 5:21 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Fascinating.

I must confess that fruitions have mostly not been a big focus in my practice. There was a period where they fascinated me but it was a long time ago and now I notice them here or there but it's more just a sense of reality having become very porous. I'm also not really a phenomenology junkie, myself.

Models I've used: I remember from long ago having had a sense of sharp edges, splitting into planes, angularity and tension. Then a period of messy transition, and then for many years I had the ocean inside me. Waves cresting and disappearing. And then for the last couple of years it is more like wispy tendrils of smoke or mist--insubstantial, nothing really there but patterns of movement. 

An experience from the period of messy transition: for perhaps no more than 5-10 seconds, I was Indra's Net (which I had never heard of at the time but read about later later). It was hyper-real (probably maps to 4th screen) with any sense of the body and immediate senses completely absent: "I" was an infinite number of nodes of infinity stretching out to infinity in infinite directions. Like glittering drops of dew on a spider's web, taken to the ultimate exponent. And then it collapsed, but the experience (which for a time afterwards felt "realer" than every day consensual reality) was so seared into me that my walking around experience was quite noticeably and permanently changed. I have always had a poor sense of linear time and memory issues and can't recall for sure, but that might have been when practice started to do itself. It definitely scorched something away.

Since then, when considering moments where it is particularly obvious that there is/was a clear fork in the road, I sometimes get microseconds long visions of multiple possible futures/presents/pasts that occur rapidly when I blink, that sort of fan out almost like a hand of cards. Visions of the multiverse or just my brain's way of processing? This question actually doesn't interest me--it's all empty, anyhow, and trying to figure this sort of thing out just seems like masturbation for the conceptual mind and a waste of time. Better to just leave things open and mysterious and not take any of it too seriously.

RE: a 3D model for conceptualizing fruitions to make sense of the practice
Answer
4/16/19 5:54 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Thankyou for sharing! I appreciate it. Beautiful!

Whatever it is, seeing multiple possible futures for any giving moment sounds like it could be helpful for remembering that all acts have consequences and be careful.

Maybe being a phenomenology junky is something that will fade in time for me. For now, it seems to be a strong karmic formation. As for being interested in fruitions, I suspect that is stage related and will pass. It is probably much bigger a deal in the beginning because of the great need for purification. Although it probably appears as if my fascination has spiked as a result of my latest fruition, my subjective experience is that it helped me to let go of much of it. I have no doubt that there remains more to let go of than I can even begin to imagine myself craving or clinging to. I have barely scratched the surface.

RE: a 3D model for conceptualizing fruitions to make sense of the practice
Answer
4/16/19 6:21 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I suspect that I would have been a phenomenology junkie myself if I'd encountered it at an earlier stage of practice. As it was, by the time I encountered MCTB maybe a decade ago (which was my first exposure to such phenomenology), I was far enough along that it didn't seem necessary. But it did put me at a big disadvantage later when I eventually wanted to talk to other people about my practice and so there's been a lot of catch up to do the past few years. So even if your interest in it fades, it's good that you are learning those phenomenological skills.

RE: a 3D model for conceptualizing fruitions to make sense of the practice
Answer
4/16/19 6:47 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Hopefully. I do find that it scares some people away too, so it is probably good to also learn to keep one’s mouth shut (yes, I remember the warnings very clearly - no shadow shall fall on MCTB2, but on me alone). What is intended as sharing and as opening up to critique from those who are more skilled, sometimes comes across as competing. I don’t understand why I would want to compete, and with what. None of this is my doing anyway. Except for the faults; they are my responsibility.

I suppose different approaches work with different people. I can’t pretend that I don’t have the karmic formations that I do have. I guess I’m stuck with trying to mature them into something that is of most benefit to all sentient beings (yes, I took that from MCTB2 too, but what can I say - it kind of captures it all), to the best of my ability.

RE: a 3D model for conceptualizing fruitions to make sense of the practice
Answer
4/16/19 7:31 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
We are whomever we have come to be and control is an illusion anyway. All we can do is our best given what we've got. emoticon

I am a fan of the Stoic concept "amor fati," or love of one's fate. I think that was Epictetus??

RE: a 3D model for conceptualizing fruitions to make sense of the practice
Answer
4/16/19 7:36 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
I don’t know who it was, but it’s great.

RE: a 3D model for conceptualizing fruitions to make sense of the practice
Answer
4/16/19 12:50 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I have a feeling that it is overly simplistic to decide that some phenomena are expansive and others contractive, as I did here. It is probably closer to the truth to think of it as both expansive and contractive at the same time but in different ways. But then again, there is no way a model could do justice to any of it.

S: That’s cool.

RE: a 3D model for conceptualizing fruitions to make sense of the practice
Answer
4/16/19 1:16 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
S.:
I sometimes get microseconds long visions of multiple possible futures/presents/pasts that occur rapidly

I get that too! Interesting.
Cool! Was there anything in particular that set things off?

RE: a 3D model for conceptualizing fruitions to make sense of the practice
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4/16/19 1:59 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
I don’t know if it is anything like what the two of you are describing, Andromeda and S., but I sometimes can see exactly what will happen from a certain action and what that will lead to in turn and how that branches out in different directions and how things will escalate, and I can see exactly what would be needed to prevent shit from hitting the fan. Sometimes I have succeeded in intervening before the worst things happened, sometimes in stopping all of it, but very often people just keep fueling it without realizing what they are doing (there are of course cases when that is done intentionally, too, but most of the time it isn’t).

I have often been baffled by how little awareness people in general seem to have about the dynamics regarding consequences of things. Sometimes I feel a bit like Cassandra in Greek mythology (she was cursed with foreseeing the future but never being believed about it). Then again, it’s not like I always realize the consequences of my own actions. I guess we all see different parts of the weave. It’s important to be mindful of one’s own limitations (I say this in order to remind myself).

RE: a 3D model for conceptualizing fruitions to make sense of the practice
Answer
4/18/19 10:11 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I don’t understand why I would want to compete

Except when I do. Sometimes I get stuck in competition and forget how meaningless it is. And when I remember, I tend to forget that I do feel like that on a regular basis. How weird it is, all these different Polly Esters who all seem to have their own idea of how they ”always” are.

RE: a 3D model for conceptualizing fruitions to make sense of the practice
Answer
4/18/19 10:52 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Originally I had the no self polarity described as ”I am nothing” vs ”I am everything”, but I changed that. After listening to a talk by Tara Brach on Humility, I feel that it should be put back in as a variety. I think I’ll edit it in.