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Opinions welcome
4/27/19 5:13 PM
Hi everyone !

I’ve benefited a lot from reading posts on this forum for a few months, and now I thought I’d come to participate a bit.
So, here is a description of the hour-long sit I just did.
I just decided to very gently investigate whatever would present itself (no verbal noting at all, no effort, no intentionally getting attention to be fast and sense everything that happens), as i’ve been having the impression that I’ve been “chasing states” and trying too hard to make sense of what was happening in my meditation lately. So, just sitting nicely, very quietly, in my room. As usual when I get in this kind of laid-back attitude, what happens is that I become very keenly aware of sounds. So, I’m just listening to sounds, gently staying with them, while trying to be clear about the difference between the sound perception itself, the mental echo, resonance or memory of it being created in real time in the mind, and the sort of background, mental visuo-kinesthetic sense of the room I’m in and of my body in it, which is also there.
Very nice, effortless, open awareness. Since I’m weary of not thinking about what’s happening and particularly, of any mapping taking place, I just note away thoughts like “this feels jhanic, might be in the AP with a 2nd shamatha jhana flavor.”

After a while (I do note when it feels like it makes sense to note), the way in which continuity and identity is being constructed mentally becomes more and more apparent : there are sensations, and at the same time, this seemingly all-encompassing mental construct, made in real-time based on these sensations, which, if I’m not careful, seems to be the same as them. This has been a central object of inquiry for me the past few weeks, and the fact that it has to be “seen through” again and again at each sit, that this obviously artificial sense of solidity and identity just reconstructs itself naturally however removed it might have become after an hour of meditation, has become a subject of frustration in my last few sits.

So this time, wishing to let go of aversion, in the same laid back fashion, I just quietly see what I see, and that’s that. A state shift happens after some time. At the beginning of the shift, there is this familiar sense of the hands disappearing and somehow pulling appart, and this just starts to pervade everything. The mental body-image itself, having been repeatedly seens as just a construct, has become very peripheral and insubstantial ; the body sense (perceptual) itself has changed dramatically : it feels like it has expended enormously, that its boundaries have somewhat disolved, and yet there’s a tremendous sense of weight across the whole field, almost unpleasantly so.Yet I still hear very clearly and distinctly, though sounds seem like they are farther away.

The sense of self is now very different, and it starts being investigated actively : no more does it appear like there’s an entity there, only sensory things happening, and as I look for the sense of watcher, things fade more and more. This has been a pattern for me : I get into this space where asking a certain question, like “where am I ?”, or “what is time ?”, just triggers this fading of perception, and at the same time means I’m able to see everything sort of happening at once. It always goes along with a pervading sense of anatta. I’ve wondered is this is “formations”, and I do think so, but it’s always happened after I start to investigate in a very broad and inclusive way for me, never through fast vibratory qualities.

I stay in that state(stage ?) almost until the end of the session ; what I do is to gently try to make the sense of identification dissolve by directly seeing that whatever is observed cannot be me. In the past, this has brought me to very interesting places, creating this crazy instantaneous loop where the act of “seeing such thing as not me” is being instantaneously seen as “not me either” starts to happen, also triggering an all encompassing sense of ... fading. This does happen here, though not as much as it could, and at some point, I get a little bit of fear, because the sense of self starts to unravel and it feels like disappearing completely is just a step away, but then I just note : fear, heart beating. The solidity/heaviness and (not really) boundarilessness does fade away near the end, and it kind of just feels like everything is normal. Then I question my identification with certain sets of sensations, which has formed itself again, and it kind of goes back into that different mode. And voilà, the alarm goes off (sounding quite distant), I emerge very calm, and upon seeing myself in the bathroom mirror, just start laughing thinking “this stuff is so weird man !”
Right now I feel very relaxed and almost giddy, with a mild sense of things appearing “unreal.” The last few sits (I’ve been doing 1h morning 1h evening since last Sunday, where I meditated for 8h. Otherwise, I try to do at least 1h a day…) had not been like that : rather, there was this frustration at not being able to reproduce the profound states of vastness and clear seeing of anatta that seemed so close from being “it”, and almost a sense of ill-will at this mental constructing of the sense of self ! Haha ! But this is very recent, and I think I’ve found a solution already.
I’m curious to hear your thoughts. I’ve had a sense that I’ve been in EQ for a while, though I’m not very sensitive to nanas, and only once had the sense of seeing each classic stage unfold in one session up to a very panoramic and bodiless anatta-flavored EQ. I now feel like I’m stagnating, or even regressing, and today just feel a bit confused. So, I’d greatly appreciate your input, and any advice.

Thank you,


RE: Opinions welcome
4/28/19 6:38 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Seems like it could be equanimity, with a bit of formless realm jhana. 

It might be that your stagnating, or it might be the dreamy states that can come before SE.

My sense is there is still a bit too much of trying to >investigate< at the end of your sits. So just a little too much vipassina, you could say. This is totally understandable, because this active investigation is what keeps us sitting and moving through the nanas... but there is a time when it needs to be mostly dropped, leaving the natural curiousity of the mind to take over.

When solidly in EQ, it's time to rely on the natural awareness and curiousity of the mind. Notice how the mind is naturally aware and awareness itself doesn't require any effort. Notice how the mind has it's own curious nature, and will move from object to object on its own. Participate in this process (go where the mind goes) and don't try to force the mind to go somewhere in particular. 

The gentle nudges at this stage are more along the lines of not allowing very subtle resistance to be >fully< experienced. Usually the resistance takes the form of thoughts about practice. Something says "this isn't it, this is wrong"  and we try just a little bit harder to figure it out.  It can be useful to occasionally note thoughts about practice itself. Instead of "trying to make sense of identification" and  "questioning my identification with certain sets of sensations", simply allow that tendency to want to investigate happen and note "practicing thought" or "trying to figure it out thought" or something like that. 

Because you mention the fading aspect a few times, I feel like it's important to mention that this experience is not detrimental to SE, in fact, allow your experience and self to fade completely if that's what is happening naturally. The fading tends to mean the mind is drifting into light formless jhanas, which is a good sign. Let it happen. You don't need normal clarity of mind for SE. Most likely that's you trying to subtly stay in control of things. You have to let go of control.

No one knows how to make SE happen. No one knows when SE will happen. It's beyond your control --- what a relief! If it's beyond control, that means you can really relax.

At this point you have to trust the mind itself to lead to SE. Here's the text from Mahasi's Practical Insight Meditation

How Nibbana is Realized

Path Knowledge

The ups and downs of insight {knowledge occurring in the
aforesaid manner arecomparableto abird let loosefrom a
sea-going ship. In ancient times the captain of a sea-going
ship, finding it difficult to know whether the ship was
approaching land, released abird that he had taken with
him. Thebird flew In all four directionsto look for the shore.
Whenever it could not find any land, it came back to the
ship. So long asinsight knowledge Is not matureenough to
grow into path and fruition knowledge and thereby attain
to the realization of N ibbana, it becomes lax and retarded,
just as the bird returns to the ship.

When the bird sees land, it flies on in that direction
without returning to the ship. Smilarly, when insight
knowledge is mature, having become keen, strong, and
lucid, it will understand one of the formations at one of
the six sense doors as being impermanent or painful or
without self. That act of noticing any one characteristic
out of the three, which has a higher degree of lucidity
and strength in its perfect understanding, becomes faster,
and manifests Itself three or four timesin rapid succession.
Immediately after the last consciousness in this series of
accelerated noticing has ceased, path and fruition {magga-
phala) arises realizing Nibbana, the cessation of all
So the point here is in late EQ you let the mind be the bird circling around the ship as it moves toward shore, an at some point the bird itself notices land and leaves the ship and flies directly to land, leaving the ship where it is. You are the ship, getting closer to shore, but you are not the bird. Trust the bird.

Keep your sitting practice, but use less and less effort. You might be close or it might be 10 years away. No one knows.

Hope this helps in some way!

RE: Opinions welcome
4/28/19 1:11 PM as a reply to shargrol.
"Trust the bird", I love it.

That is very auspicious : you know, that word actually comes from latin avis-specere, an expression which litterally means... bird-watching !

So, this can only mean your message is a good omen ;)

I'll go watch that bird till I see it no more (let's hope that's not in ten years though).

Thank you, Shargrol. I'll post some updates if things develop...

RE: Opinions welcome
8/2/19 12:21 PM as a reply to shargrol.

I'm gonna give a description of the development in my practice in the three months since those previous posts, in case anyone can relate to it, and maybe find some inspiration or clarification, while also hoping to get some elightened opinions for my own benefit emoticon

Sorry in advance about the length of this, but I honestly think there are interesting bits to be found.


So, since that advice Shargrol gave me - basically, that I should just relax and let things happen naturally - I chilled out quite a bit regarding meditation. I even started to slack off a bit, losing interest in any special experiences, although I kept some continuity of practice. But I had many interesting openings in daily life, moments of profound significance and beauty.

Actually, this seems to have been a regulard feature in my life for the past few months. "Feeling great and healthy naturally" sums it up nicely, but there has also been a deep appreciation of the beauty of existence and a sense of dots connecting in the depths of my being. Depth and totality of meaning, silent joy, firy silence : that's been the norm of my existence, with a lot of equanimity and acceptance of suffering, and in retrospect, a pervasive sense of ease and mastery. 

On a macro level, there has been a regular feeling of being connected to childhood. For some reason, I have a very bad memory of my personal history, of events in general. I habitually remember what I want to with great precision (I'm renowned for my mnemonic abilities ^^), particularly symbolic stuff, but strangely enough I have few memories from childhood. Yet these past few months, some have come up, and in particular, emotional memories (that is really rare for me, though some people like my brother are very prone to that) : Proustian moments of enlightened reminiscence, which conveyed a clear and moving sense that unobstructed joy and simplicity, such as the one that was the baseline of my normal experience as a boy, was directly accessible - since I was obviously experiencing this kind of mental-emotional state in the moment.... - and a very real possibility for life... And this triggered a lot of compassion, for myself and others, upon realising how simple happiness can be, and how needless our sufferings really are, how confused and pointless... Just writing this now brings tears to my eyes.

I reckon all this is quite typical of someone who is well established in equanimity, as I believe was my case. But there has been a profundity of meaning to experience, a poetic quality and emotional depth which is worth mentionning. This particularly interests me, as during those past months I finished writing my master's thesis, which deals with precisely that : the connections between esthetic moments and meditative experience. Let me tell you about such a moment which really stands out in my memory (yes, i remember it !! surprising I know).

I was taking a nice walk - well, soaring, really - in the forest, going up a hill. I felt very happy and satisfied, softly vibrant, and was kind of absent-mindedly pondering this stuff that i've been talking about. Then some verses by Augustine came up in my mind, the famous poem inspired by his experience of "conversion" :

"Sero te amavi, pulchritudo tam antiqua et tam nova, sero te amavi ! et ecce intus eras et ego foris, et ibi te quaerebam."

It's a beautiful poem. It goes on, but the verse I quoted means : "Late have I loved you, O beauty ever ancient and ever new! Late have I loved you! And, behold, you were within me, and I out of myself, and there I searched for you." Realizing once more how profound and universal the truth of these realms of experience, the awesomness of the fact that texts hundreds and thousands of years old are accessible to us, today, and that they sing the same old song (although theoretical models differ ^^)... Just like that : sacredness. And much release, much gratitude. I actually fell down on my knees and looked up to see the scintillating folliage above my head, the luminous patches of white sky merging with the greenness of the leaves into a shimmering texture, and I felt like I was a character in Pierre Michon's book, Vies minuscules (small lives). Let me quote that too.

This book tells in a half-imaginary, half-factual way the story of different people, who have existed, but not left any mark in official history. At times, this book takes on a truly mythological dimension. It's quite amazing, you'd think you are reading something from the great religious texts. The passage is at the end of a chapter narrating the life of a countryside priest, whose parish is made mostly of people from an insane asylum, among whom the author of the book has spent some time as a patient. The priest was also a drunk. He died in a motorcycle accident, in the forest, after an evening of drinking with peasants at the local bar. Michon imagines how it happened : "He carressed very soft little snakes. He was still speaking. The cigarette burned his finger : he took his last drag. He got hit by the first sunlight, wobbled, held on to fallow dresses, to handfuls of mint ; he remembered women's flesh, children's gaze, the delirium of the innocents : all this spoke in the song of the birds ; he fell down on his knees in the overwhelming significance of the universal Word. He raised his head, thanked Someone, everything took its meaning, he fell back down dead."

Haha. I didn't die. But this kind of grandiose stuff was what I had in mind at the time (april, may) and gives a good idea of my general state. I know, I know, this is not sensate level phenomenology. But these phenomena were occurring for me at this level, so, whatever... It's interesting to mention them in my opinion, because it raises the question of meaning, meaning, what is meaning, and what is its connection with insight ?

Anyways, things changed a lot since then. Unfortunately, I didn't keep a close monitoring of events, as I was busy with other things and just not really focused on practice. Actually, my meditation felt pretty sloppy during the months of may, june. I would regularly get absent-minded. I didn't know if that was maturing or just bad practice. At times I would give myself advice like : "think about death to get some motivation !" But life was very easy and my meditation somehow profound, though the states had lost a lot of their attractiveness.

At the beginning of July, though (around the 4th) I started to notice some new things. I realized, while my father was paying me a visit, that there was something a bit different. Like I was in an unnaturally good mood, but not a grandiose thing like described above, a simple, clean joy. In particular, I was surprised at how quickly emotions were moving along, how unsticky they were. That's something that stood out on its own with no reference to anything. It appeared to me specifically in a situation where some comments made by my musician dad on my new composition would usually have brought on negative emotions : in this case, they kind of did, but it just left quickly without leaving a mark. It seemed obvious there was a bit more natural space and fluidity around things. 

Then I started to notice that whenever I started to pay attention, to my body, for instance, I would experience fine tingling and vibrations all over, and could confidently and straight away pick out a frequency of 5-15 Hz on average. This was consistent. I should mention that before this, i'd never really understood that frequency thing. Now I got it : it was just a matter of sensing the internal rythm of whatever you were experiencing. I also felt really really calm, internally silent, and started to realize the I could get absorbed into whatever I wanted quite easily. Suspicion was aroused, because I was now picking up that this matched a remark from Kenneth Folk I wrote down in my meditation journal a few days before (interesting timing...), about the fact that signs of SE are : one is immediately in the A&P, and has access to jhanas...

Then I remembered an event which occurred at the end of june : during one of these "sloppy" meditation sessions, I experienced a kind of jolt, which immediately brought to my mind the thought "was that it ????" That got discarded immediately, as I tend to be quite on the look out for scripting and am definitely not one of those who identify things too quickly as this or that. In fact it's quite the opposite, I tend to question things excessively : the first time I got hard second jhana, I thought it was access concentration (granted, I was practicing with ajahn brahm instructions). I decided immediatly that this blip was that I had just fallen asleep and woken up ;) ;) So I just forgot about the event, which occurred twice more in the next few days. Now, around the 6th of july, I thought : could this have been it ?? I was very skeptical, since it seemed so anticlimactic (especially because I didn't experience a clear bliss wave afterwards). But again, this matched some descriptions (some of yours, for instance, Shargrol), and my mindfulness at the time was definitely not very high...

I decided to OBSERVE what was going on !!!

Whether it was due to my budding belief in the SE theory, or just what was happening naturally, I realized that I was experiencing some kind of return to normalcy. Compared to the past few months, everything just felt ... normal. Which was really weird. Aspects of my life appeared more simple, more naked, it seemed my outlook was somehow more honest. I also at times felt less clarity than before in my daily experience, as if life got "thicker", more "raw", as well as diminished reactivity... Meditating appeared pointless (i didn't stop though, but it was like... half-assed every time for a while !). In contrast with what I described above, where life felt so profound, easy, mystical at times, where I would spend hours listening to dharma talks (Rob Burbea !!), reading the DhO, thinking about meditation and deep philosophical questions and readings, now I had a trend off feeling like going out, having a drink (stopped drinking with no looking back over a year ago !), finding a girlfriend........

I would, at the time, always begin a sit in what i'm taking to be the AnP. During some sessions, I was noticing very clear Dukkha Nanas, much more clearly than usual, but sits were otherwise quite equanimous, very inclusive and "normal". But for some reason, I really
couldn't bring myself to meditating really seriously, like,  to check all of that....

Yes, the meditative spaciousness, seemed to have really become a baseline, yet experience somehow seemed thicker and this, in the perspective of SE, started to make sense to me : it dawned on me that things had to redensify to be penetrated again in the next round, otherwise there would be no need for further practice, right ?? That idea was seductive because it felt so "real", not something I could have made up given my initial expectations as to what SE might be like. Yet, I felt a certain disappointment. Nothing spectacular. Maybe it was the least interesting SE of all time ? Another sign of strange "realness" to me is that, contrary to previous attainments (2nd jhana, 4th jhana in particular), I had no spontaneous inclination to announce it to people. Well, because I doubt it, certainly, but also something else... As if this time, it was really serious and I shouldn't talk about it. In fact, I've been quite a bit more silent than usual these last weeks, I would say.

I started to experiment with Jhanic absorption, half-seriously, and with a sense of incredulity. Yet, the first time i did a bit of shamatha after thinking I might have gotten SE, it felt like I immediatly jumped into a jhana, and got to a very equanimous space reminiscent of a light 4th, in a matter of minutes, just before a session of work on my memoire.

The next day (11/07), taking the train to paris, I started to pay attention to the breath, and it was right there in exquisitely fine detail, completely granular and textural, effortlessly seen. It quickly (minutes) started to get a slow-motion quality, and it was also the first time I realized that I could use it as a vipassana object (before that, I exclusively used the breath for shamatha). I realized that, while maintaining a perfect attention to the slow motion of the breath, I could also sense pulses of sight/sound/body sensations all around, fluttering at a clear frequency of 20+ Hz. None would grab my attention though. That was a characteristic of sits at the time : I could really quickly have a lot of reflexivity, the kind that happens in EQ, where things are instantly seen as what they are in a powerful, all-encompassing way, which to me corresponds to what Husserl calls the "splitting of the self" ;);)

Accompanying this was a sense of profound bodily stillness and slow motion which could be maintained while moving and with eyes opened. The slow mo effect, as well as fast vibration, were also present in sight, if I remember correctly. All this was very easy, unremarkable at the time, but I realized afterwards that I certainly had never had such fine (for me) perceptual abilities. Also, at the end of this "session", I remember a sentence about the balance of energy and surrender, and realized I could decide to increase energy very easily, while surrendering deeply. How did I know how to do that ? No idea, but it provoked a kind of accumulation of pressure in a spot the base of my skull, near the back of the neck, where the sense of self started to recede, and which started to actually hurt, and i felt like it was gonna break and I was gonna die if I kept watching it ^^ I realized that this "spot", in fact, the "over there" of my field of experience, was connected in some way with the experience of the infamous "blips", "clicks"....

Later (the next day ?), at my job as an usher in the paris Philharmonic, I closed my eyes in the empty room before the show, and started to follow the breath, and felt that within minutes I got to an equanimous space which would usually have taken me a while (30 min +) of directed effort to get to... Did I just get to 4th shamatha jhana using only absorption ? That had never happened, as I'd only been able to access the 4th jhana, interestingly, through insight practice ^^ (Btw, Rob Burbea has interesting things to say about this connection...) Yet, as it was so natural, it felt unspecial, which was a bit confusing. Shouldn't all that be a bit more spectacular, i thought ? Though, i have to admit there were moments of elation and giggling during that period when I thought, "holy shit, this might be real !!!!!! YES !!!!!" But where were the fireworks ?? 

I also started to experience really unexpected things. Intense bouts of negativity, for instance. At my job : I started to see only the aspects I disliked. I experienced great aversion to people : feeling that everyone is really, really stupid and mean ; a feeling of internal "exile", and, a sense of alienation as well as hostility (paranoïa) emanating from my colleagues. Interestingly, this reminded me of similar feelings I'd had in my childhood. And it appeared to me that perhaps all this negativity was but an exacerbation of feelings which are usually unnoticed or only partially acknowledge, perhaps, and that somehow there was nothing to fear from them - especially if they were the same as some childhood feelings.... And when I saw that, the negativity disappeared completely, not to come back. Poof. Big heart opening and relaxing...
This happened a few times during the two week when i was working in the philharmonic in Paris. I found it extremely interesting to read some accounts on this very forum of people who would say that second path is basically pure ill-will and finding anything that comes out of anyone's mouth stupid, or plain wrong.... I can relate, though this isn't my permanent experience by a long shot. On 14/07, I wrote : "I've experienced intense negativity these past few days, both ill-will and its counterparts, self-contraction, fragility. These have only seemed to change when it was accepted/seen-through, but when it did it just vanished." I had also experienced mild nausea regularly in the two weeks since the supposed event. Now, I think all this might be related to daily life cycling.

When I began meditating, three and a half years ago, one 15 min session of meditation would make a huge difference in my days. It would transform my experience, honestly, it was great. During the months of may-june, it felt like even two hours of meditation made little difference in my daily life experience, except perhaps make it a bit more spacious. Like equanimity was complete. Now, it was the same, but in the opposite way : when I sat down to meditate, I felt like a complete beginner, despite the fact that I could access states and things which were certainly not there when I started... I wrote down (this will seem to contradict my earlier writing) : "it seems that gross reactivity and the return to normalcy of life, implies that there begins the possibility to do some real work again... interesting... And if it weren't that way, it would be the end of the path. Either new things are coming up, psychologically, reactivity, habit patterns appearing more clearly, etc., OR, things that were not apparent before are showing up. It's quite humbling. Very humbling. I'm not a spiritual superhero... I have very basic, human issues and flaws that it seems I wasn't even really seeing, or refusing, before... well..."

Writing this liberated something. Like it sealed some understanding. With that deep sense of humility (and having slept only a few hours), I for some reason decided it was time for some Jhana practice. Having read a cool formulation by Burbea about them ("first, we let go of the hindrances, then different varieties of pleasure and collectedness arise, then perception starts to fade until the 8th jhana"), I reconnected with the energy I had in october 2018, when I was really going for Jhanas. I sat down, remembered the brahm routine, relaxed, let go of hindrances, keeping the list of them close to my mind as a mental check up. And it seems my mind just knew what to do and I just had to trust it : very cool. Energy truely was aroused at will, kammacchanda was identified and let go of live. There was a part of me that knew : "Ök, this is first, and this is second jhana. Fuel the bliss !! Right !! Oh, woow, that is nice. Well done. Ok, time to move one ! This one will be a bit confusing. Here goes ! remember it will be murky. Ok, time for fourth now.... spacious, feels kind of normal." Here a tinge of doubt arose : "is this real or a script ?" This was immediately seen as doubt & agitation, and I knew : "ok, arouse energy just like this ! And trust yourself" A kind of mantra appeared : "let go of the perception of diversity.... there's only space... it's all the same..." And sure enough, as I kept recalling to stay with the breath, the body started to disappear. Not completely, but still. 

It's all a matter of confidence, intent, right exertion, and keeping with the breath. Wow. They were pretty hard Jhanas too... very impressive and easy. I gues it took about 35-40 min to get to that j4.j5 or whatever it was... I'd never before, as I said, been able to access this through pure concentration practice.

Somehow, I was doubting the truth of this (have I demonstrated clearly enough that I have a problem with skeptical doubt ??? one of the best things about this kind of detailed write-up is to make this kind of stuff emerge.... It wasn't obvious to me that i was doubting things in excess, but now that I see it like that....), partly because the doing as well as the knowing of what was going on during that jhana session seemed outside of my conscious control or monitoring. Key insight, I believe. (So, I also have a problem with control ? Is that why I'm not clearly experiencing repeat fruitions ?) This, interestingly, resonates deeply with what was understood earlier : I felt sobered up, mor "real", more out of control, as if it was starting to really dawn on me that this process is NOT personal. Yes, sobered up about this whole thing. Hung over ? This is starting to sound like a Rumi poem, isn't it ?

That shamatha session really showed me in a direct way what letting go means... The whole effort/surrender thing made much more sense now... And I intuited that this new (?) section of the path would be very much about surrender. 

Later that day, I went for a walk near the river, and something happened which occurred in exactly the same way the evening of the day I first got up to light formless realms in EQ through vipassana a couple of months back : it seemed like my mind tuned into the background sound of the water (there is a small water fall in my village which makes this beautiful noise) and kind of merged with it in a totally spontaneous way, giving rise to a sublime state of mind, velvety, a diffused spatial experience of a jhanic kind, coupled with the soft touch of the late-afternoon breeze on my skin... Becoming smooth, airy movement... Completely unexpected, a beautiful gift. So simple, just hearing, and touching, yet so fulfilling... Later still, I noticed that the spatial aspect was quite prominent generally in experience. For instance, writing my meditation journal entry, the spatiality of the sound produced by my pen moving from left to write as I wrote was exquisitely clear... And more surprisingly, when I had dinner, taste itself had an unprecedented dimensionality to it, as if that old goat cheese was just surrounding, not only the flavour of the pasta, but ME, it felt like it was around me !! The goat cheese space invasion : a new meditation side effect  !!

On 15/07, I again remarked that whenever I turned my attention to the body, I could sense buzzing and spontaneous tingles. I also acknowledged that I was going through a phase of pretty high sex drive, with a kind of impulsive and reckless energy. Which seemed like a real step-back, not unfamiliar though (I have been known to party a lot and such, used to smoke and drink a lot, and generally had excessive tendencies ;) ). I was afraid that it was "coming back." And when I realized it could be linked with the 4th nana being a prominent aspect of life these days, I experienced a relief, which upon noticing it, produced this insight (yes !) : this opening, liberation, means that I had been identifying with these sexual pulsions which were seen in a negative light. Which means 
I was in self-contraction, self-clinging ! Thank you, Rob Burbea. Right there, I thought : I am entertaining a view regarding SE, first, I thought it would change more things ; second - this is important -, i've the notion, which comes from reading a lot of stuff on the DhO, that basically aspects of my existence which were seemingly hidden or repressed or whatever will start to come up, and that basically, sankharas in the Goenka sense are gonna start to liberate. And I had associated this sexual stuff with that, with ME, with MY snkharas bubbling up to the surface, etc. Both these views were creating conflict and suffering. And it appeared to me that the solution was : a bit of the Diamond Sutra. Not me, not mine, not self. Have compassion for this non-self which thinks it is a self....

Later, (did this, like the previous insight before the jhana session, liberate something ?) I noticed that I was spontaneously noticing a bunch of little things about my behaviour in daily life, about a lack of mindfulness in my behaviour, a lack of care, which, though I don't necessarily do anything about it, was at least clearly present and represented an increase in baseline vigilance. This has actually been consistant since the beginning of July. 

On 16/07, I wrote down that writing things down, though very beneficial, sometimes could have the negative side-effect of "killing things", that is to say, of labelling experiences, deactivating them, rendering them automatic. Understanding it all might be preventing one from approaching experiences in a fresh and playful, engaged way.... Anyways...

On 18/07, I observed that for a few nights in a row, I'd had trouble going to sleep because of an unsettling intensity to experience. After my evening meditation, things would be pulsing (even my phone screen for instance), lots of vibrating sensations would arise, and I even felt mild nausea at times. In the evening as well as morning of this day.

Starting that date, I started a week long singing workshop, in which we would sing for 7-10 h a day, basically doing nothing else than sing this composition we were to perform on the 24th, and so I stopped meditating, basically, as well as journalling. Well, this kind of singing could be considered like a meditation retreat in itself, I believe. But I do have things to report. Firstly, it was the first time I saw my brother in a long time, as well as othr people I knew. It felt upon seeing them and spending time with so many people constantly for a few days that, really, something had changed with me. Something was more light, more fluid, more mature. Secondly, the first day of singing, I realized I had never had such ease reading (I'm not a great sight reader), had really progressed in a few ways though I hadn't sung in months and months (understanding something new about rythm, generally singing better) and had a really pleasant and smooth time concentrating and all... Felt more confident in many ways, too. At the end of the first day, I felt a bit fed up and mildly negative emotions, so I went up to my room and lay down for a few minutes... And it felt like an oferflow of energy got liberated : I immediatly got intensly pleasant and very smooth piti all over my body, and these five or ten minutes of rest were simply amazing... The singing might have something to do with that of course. 

I immersed completely in the singing and the life around it for about a week. I must add for the sake of really frying my reader's brain out with excessive amounts of information, that I seem to have a much more spontaneous relationship to things these days (july). Like, I won't hesitate to tell people things I would normally not have said, knowing full well that it is completely ok to do so, part of being a social animal. Or even raising my voice, in a non angry, but very natural way... Well, i have no good exmple in mind, but basically i've noticed behaviour things that seem closer to how I would have acted as a kid, less filtered, less processed through my ideas of what right behavior or speech are... Quite unexpected I must say.

Ok, here comes the final stretch. Resuming formal meditation practice : on the 27th of july, I did 45 min of vipassana, fast noting, followed by three 10 min light kasina sessions. After 5 or 10 min, it seems that everything gets noted from a distance, pretty fast. A kind of jhana comes up, my hands disappear, and as I tune into the intense pleasure I get from being aware with such finesse of what's going on in my body, a rather strong absorption happens. It happens three times during that session, but it never becomes full, because each time it seems that some details in the sense field cannot be overlooked and become distracting. Perception is extremely detailed, and globally the meditation is rather pleasant from beginning to end. But I would say - if you insist that I map it ! ;) -, that it didn't go beyond the fourth nana : coming out of the meditation, i was perceiving fast pulsing vibrations, 10-20 Hz, with a level of detail in perception that I've rarely experienced. 

The first Kasina session was in the same vein : an extremely detailed nimitta in its first phases, white dot, not red, with a bunch of stuff happening inside of it and around. An ability to maintain continuous focus on the dot that is really something. Inside the dot, very clear pulsing happens in phase with the breath. And surprisingly, it doesn't even go to the black dot phase !! There is a kind of black dot with a pulsing white thing inside which grows and gets smaller with the breath, but then that's it, it all goes away and I open my eyes. The same thing happens in the next two rounds : the black dot is maybe a bit more clear, but it doesn't go farther, though concentration is good. What the heck ??

It also seems, generally, that when I meditate (and not), that somehow the sense field is bigger or I smaller, that more things are there to be perceived, that reality is more solid ... I still have pretty easy access to jhanas, but it seems to me, contrary to what is commonly expressed, that they are now colored by vipassana, not the other way around ! Vipassana had always had jhanic aspects for me, and now jhanas have vipassana qualities... funny things ^^

All in all, meditation is kind of confusing. Sometimes it seems nanas happen, and I get to EQ, but these don't seem as all-encompassing as before, they seem polluted. Yet, it's becoming quite obvious that individual guidance is gonna be necessary, as I never really mastered with certainty the phenomenology of these stages and states.......... 
Sometimes meditation is nebulous. Sometimes i'm clealry in a rather strong A&P. Sometimes I feel daily life cycling, especially DN which manifests as psychological negativity....

I have felt almost distressed regarding all this at times. 

My last blip was during a meditation session last week, and this time it really doesn't feel like I drifted off. I definitely saw it happen and it clearly was not a sleep-jolt, a head-nod, nor a loss of attention followed by a snap-back. I was, I'm pretty sure, in "relaxed" and unfocused EQ when it occurred, and it was just like a really unremarkable "blip" which seemed to be connected, as I mentionned earlier, to that kind of "space" in the head where I get pressure build ups when I'm in equanimity, and that seems so connected to the sense of self in a mysterious way. But i still can't, and have never, been able to get a repeat fruition "on-command", if that's what these things are at all. I would say at least a half-dozen events of that kind happened during july... And in fact, in retrospect, they were happening in june already. Or something similar....

To be completely honest, my intuition right now, is that I am basically in A&P territory of 2nd path. There. 

Anyways, I'm trying not to obsess about all this, and since I'm going to Panditarama Lumbini for 30 days in september (Yes !!), I guess new developments, confirmations, clarifications and such will be apparent soon enough. Maybe i'll realize this was all a dream : it feels like that at times ^^

I praise anyone who had the curiosity to read all of this. I'm glad to be able to share this important aspect of my life, which is unfortunately not something one can discuss with many people. I hope someone gets something out of it. All informed opinions are welcome emoticon

Best regards & well wishes,


RE: Opinions welcome
8/2/19 3:35 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Thanks Oliver. I enjoyed reading this account. 

RE: Opinions welcome
8/2/19 5:03 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Heh, sounds REALLY good! Congrats!!

Yeah 2nd path is really confusing. Just keep a regular practice and all the right stuff will happen. 

RE: Opinions welcome
8/2/19 11:32 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Great thread, good descriptions, thanks.  Fwiw I liked the book quote as imagery for your experience.

2nd/3rd path ?
9/1/19 3:03 PM as a reply to Noah D.
Thanks for your replies guys. 

So, I'm coming back from a 9 day long retreat, and have really fresh new stuff to report. 

In fact, though the retreat was labeled as "shamatha", it was actually dzogchen with a strong emphasis on shamatha. The teacher was Doug Veenhof, a student of Alan Wallace, and what we were taught is the first in a system of eight phases leading towards full enlightenment according to the presentation of Dudjom Lingpa, a 19th century dzogchen master... 

We started with plain shamatha, moved on to a very interesting presentation of mental stillness as the "union of movement and immobility", then progressively added some very mild vipashyana, ending up with "cutting-through" practices. A lot for one week. I must say I was rather disappoited with the teachings in the first days, but when we started moving on to more advanced topics, it got more and more fascinating, until I started experiencing totally new things, leaving me to question everything I've learned about meditation so far... I've had LOTS of understandings during that retreat, on many levels. 

For now, let me stick with the most self-centered considerations ;)

On the second day, I decided that I was too good for that teacher who seemed like a mushroom grower to me. Being extremely motivated and really bored with the really long talks that taught me nothing and the small amount of actual practice (4-5h of actual meditation per day), I resolved to skip all teachings and prayers and such, to do my own meditation, and join the rest of the retreatants for the times of practice. On that day, my meditation was amazing : responsive, rich, creative, balanced, fast, profound... I went through a very clear POI : in the end of the morning I reached a profound A&P, incredibly beautiful and quite intense, with lots of understandings, creative bursts of poetry about eternity popping up spontaneously in my mind, seeing how the shimmering dance of the shadow of a prayer banner was telling me something so deep about the sun, from which we are all born, a fact we never bother to linger on... Perception was really fast, it was textbook A&P, so much so that I made a resolve not to let the impending crash be too much of an obstacle... Interestingly, I feel like I identified sub-nanas during this A&P.

In the late afternoon, I experienced a mild dissolution. Right after the last session, I broke my vow of silence to offer some advice to a woman who had expressed that she really had no idea what shamatha was about and that doing 6 hours of that during the day had been totally meaningless.... I tried to explain to her that the key was to domesticate her interest, to have fun with it... Talking with her and another guy, I realized just how out of phase we were in this moment. That basically moved me into the DN. My visual field of extremely fine grained and I was experiencing things like objects leaving a trail of color behind them as they were moving. I started getting scared and paranoid. Going to watch the sunset was strangely gloomy and ominous. When I found myself alone to look over the field, the stars and the moving cars in the distance, I realized just how detailed and clear perception was. A bit later, it all started to become overwhelming : the vibrations started to take on a really edgy and maddening quality, it got to the point where I didn't know if I was ok or not. In my bed, I was trying to stay calm, felt some fear about the fact that some stranger was sleeping on the bed next to me. This peaked at around 10 pm, when I felt full blown panick and a sense that I wasn't gonna be able to escape this experience and was doomed to madness, or something like that. Then all of a sudden, this whole delirium lifted, leaving me feeling tired, raw, uneasy, but fine... I reckoned that this was the POI of second path, in fact it seemed perfectly aligned with daniel's detailed map.

I decided that it was a problem that I was really gonna be on a trip of my own if I kept practicing like that. So, I decided to chill out and be with the others, to really do that retreat and listen to that teacher (at least some of the techings), deciding that fast progress was not worth feeling completely alienated from everyone else there... and that it was just not cool to go too much against the flow. 

So, I'll skip the next few days. Whether they all occurred in EQ or not, I don't know. I would guess that yes, but since I started really following Doug Veenhof's teachings and techniques, I'm not sure how to map any of it. In fact, is it mappable at all ? Later experiences, and teachings, have left me doubtful about the POI maps. This way that phenomena seem to develop, is it not very much the result of conditioning and ways of working with attention that create this verydevelopment ? I have some ideas about that but won't spell them out now.

I started to experiment with this "union of movement and stilness" technique in my visual field, while walking, eating, etc., finding it very interesting and much more aligned with ways of looking I had been practicing spontaneously since my early teenage years than anything I had ever been taught about meditation. The dzogchen approach is very much to work with real-axation and global awareness rather than precise attention and intense focus.

On the 5th day I had a really interesting visual experience : I could take the whole visual field as an object, and while being extremely relaxed, not focusing on anything, start to se the totality of the field come alive, as a flux of indistinct shapes and colors, all shimmering. I was getting all kinds of insights, about the equivalence of perceiving everything as "not-me" and perceiving everything as "me" ; about the fact that perceiving that everything is in constant movement (impermanence) actually cancels movement, and so that total change is rigorously changeless. Later that day, I had what I think was a fruition through the no-self door for the first time - a "woosh" thing, instead of a "blip", which matched what I imagined it would be, except it was quicker. It occured during the outbreath. Right after that i was left with a much less spatial experience, and physical sensations were much grosser in an obvious manner. I also came out of that meditation session felling extremely fresh and light, and didn't care much about meditation anymore. I now am guessing that this might have been 2nd path.

On the 6th day, during the last sits in the morning, we started to use new techniques of investigation : my examination of dependent origination had unprecedented clarity, in particular as regards thoughts : I could really see them for the first time as the dim, vague and insubstantial ghosts that they are very directly. I started to play with the way objects of perception are constructed, messing with my mind by replacing parts of the process with others, by imagining that this thing which was perceived as if it was "in front" of that other thing was actually behing the first, or replacing certain images with absurd ones, just to see if the mind would realize how crazy the whole process was ; trying to get the machine to break up, basically. It was a lot of fun. At noon, after getting up and waiting for the bell to call us up for lunch, I kept an extremely relax and extremely sharp investigation of objects of perception going while sitting on a bench. Opening my eyes, I looked at one of my fellow retreatants walking back to her room.

This was astounding. I don't really know how to explain it, but I believe I was experiencing emptiness in real time. It was absolutely clear that there was no past and future in that immediate experience : though she was obviously changing position, her movement was not of time. It was utter immanence, eternity : she was moving, and everything around her was moving ; yet nothing was moving. In fact, she didn't exist, and yet existed more than ever. Something angelic. 
I got up, went to get my food. As I looked upon the face of some of my fellow meditators, I was struck by two profound things : first, I was perceiving them in such detail and in such a light, that they appeared like universes, like infinite things which had nothing to do with anything else ; each one of them was a miracle, right here in front of me, indistinct from me, of the same fabric. This brought about deep compassion and love, which moves me to tears now as I write about it. 

As I was eating, in silence, my visual perception was deepening. It was already quite astounding, in detail and brightness. But now, looking at my fork, it was starting to really bloom in a crazy way. My forkful of dahl was the most beautiful and rich thing I had ever seen. In fact, as I was letting that develop itself, myself just trying to relax into it, it felt as if visual perception started to open, that I started to dissolve into it ; it felt like something untangled in the back, and that everything got bigger. It felt like a free fall into a world of unexpected richness, of a transfigured nature, timeless, the same as ever, yet totally different, raw, vivid, inescapably rich. In fact, this started to get freaky. I stopped the process. I felt some fear, but it was confined to a tiny perception of my heart beating in the chest. I decided to chill out. But something had flipped. It was this : reality, become REAL. I now understand what realization must mean. Just that : reality become completely real.

For about two hours I explored the premices, walking around the pond, into the forest, etc. It was completely surreal, psychedelic. Visual perception was totally illuminated : every object that had some kind of brightness or movement was emitting intense light in the whole of my visual field. It was like the experience I described earlier, x10, with an added depth to spatial perception that was astounding. Furthermore, I could "freeze" perception on command by stilling it on a particular object, which would start to acquire the same "transfigured" quality I described. The same, yet totally different, totally new, totally immanent : direct perception, pure unfolding of shapes and colors bound by nothing, flux.

Emotionnally, I felt a mix of elation, incredulity, great amusement and mild background panic. What the hell was that ?? I skipped meditation to go lie down. Was this a side effect of my ear infection ? Was it the first phases of a visual migraine ? Have I gone nuts ? 

None of these... 

I talked with another meditator in the hallway of one of the buldings. The best way I can describe it is : it was like a conversation on mdma. The kind where one is both profoundly calm, at ease in a supernatural way (nothing can touch me), yet extremely sharp, loving and energetic. Visual perception was so sharp, in particular, any reflecion in the field of vision, particularly the periphery, was perceived as a glowing neonish light. The face of that man was beautiful to look at : shimmering with light, detailed, with a background sense of eternity infusing the whole of perception... Man. Powerful.

We had been working with trying to sense the union of mind and appearances, the emptiness of all of that ; about trying to perceive everything as not different from dream appearance. Very global, synthetic ways of working, totally different than what I've been accustomed to, contrasting sharply with the highly analytic techniques and presentations I'd been immersing myself with lately. These ways of working seemed very meaningful to me, like extensions of my natural inclinations.... And it very quickly paid off in unexpected ways.

I didn't feel at all like meditating anymore. In fact, I went into the teaching very giddy. My outlook on this teacher had really changed. He started this session by saying this : "well, what's interesting about this path is that it can quckly get one from shamatha (ie access concentration) to getting a glimpse of rigpa and then learning to stabilize in that perception." He looked at me when he said that, I laughed, he smiled, and then he kept looking back at me during that whole session while explaining things about that. He said smthg which seemed to describe my life up until this point, smthg about pride and such... Then we read a text which, he said, could be mindblowing for someone who had some experience of these things : it was a dzogchen texht by the Dalai Lama on the difference of point of view between the "new translation" and "old translation" schools of tibetan buddhism. I can find it and post it if anyone is interested. One of these schools says there must be cessation for pristine awareness (the way dzogchen describes the goal, the experience of an enlightened mind) to be accessed. The other says this is not necessary. The dalai-lama argues both perspectives can be reconciled (surprising coming from him, isn't it ?). But reading that text did blow my mind at this moment. Could it be that there is indeed a completely altenate route to enlightenment ? This is what this tradition claims : they say it "cuts through", that it's a different path than the others. Of course, all traditional vehicles claim this, I assume. But here i was reminded of some things I've stumbled upon around here. Isn't this what kenneth folk calls the "simplest thing" ? I seem to recall that he says that this is something beyond the cycles and paths and jhanas and all that, and that in some ways it is independent of it... 

I'm sure someone must have asked this before, but I would love to hear your opinions about this regardless. I'd be glad to elaborate if needed, and to include some texts if you are curious.

In anycase, since that event, 5 or 6 days ago, my visual perception hasn't gone back to normal. It's not subtle : sometimes, I'm unsure what color something is, simply because the glow of it is so different from what I'm accustomed to. In the periphery of vision, anything with a reflected light on it is sharp and shiny. Lights and bright colors are really different from before, now possessing an eery and often intense glow which, when I reflect upon it trying to qualify that perception, seems "unreal". Colors seem to have a "fake" quality to them, in fact it is like they are seen in a totally non-conceptual but direct and unmediated way as MENTAL. This, may I stress it again, is not subtle, but a kind of in-your-face spontaneous, effortless new thing in perception which is pretty entrancing. Passing through Paris on the way back from the retreat, was quite an experience ^^ It seems that all these luminous things are patches of vivid "emptiness" ...... what a terribly word to describe this, emptiness....

Everyday objects are now luminous and glittering, and none of this is a hallucination, just very enhanced awareness of what is there... I get the sense that great progress would come from contemplating that luminous quality that vision now possesses. Please let me know what you think, and what that might represent. emoticon

The whole mapping, jhanas, nanas things has lost appeal to a large degree. I think enlightenment has nothing to do with that. And I'm a bit scared of the real thing, actually ! It seems like it's gonna be... almost... too real. Can you talk me out of that ?

Another slight concern is this : I'm wondering if I should move back to a more theravadin way of practicing vipassana. I'm going to nepal for a few weeks in september, to meditate in panditarama lumbini and perhaps other places. I've been doubting this projet a bit since the retreat. Doug Veenhof advised that it was moving backwards to resume with more "attentional" and conceptual prctices when serious experiences of rigpa (if that's what i had....) had been reached. What do you guys reckon ?

With friendly thoughts,


RE: 2nd/3rd path ?
9/1/19 3:05 PM as a reply to Olivier.
very cool. thanks.
would be interesting to hear what a seasoned Theravadan cartographer has to say about this..

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?
9/1/19 6:04 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Sounds pretty cool. What would your best advice be to someone who is working towards second path?

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?
9/2/19 7:39 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Hi Linda, I'm not very comfortable with the idea of teaching or even giving advice to people yet, to be honest. After all I'm still very much a student, in need for validation and guidance still.
But, given that what I'm about to say probably won't harm your practice, here is what came to mind after pondering your question for a while - don't be disappointed :

I think you are the one who has the answer. You have all the skills you need.

What do you need to do ? Ask yourself that, and you'll probably find that you know exactly what to do. What's missing ? Why are you struggling ? What doesn't add up ? What are you trying to understand ? Follow your intuition and emotions. When you ask yourself real questions like that, what brings about the deepest response from the being ? Tune your practice to something that opens something up, and rings true. Meditation is like music - in fact the buddha used that imagery a lot. What sounds right ? I think THAT is worth following. Tuning in with the unknowing did something for me : it told me : "You already know, let it happen." But that was hard, it was a kind of renunciation. It was hard and easy, obvious, painful in a just and healthy way. 

All this connects with a new way of understanding this thing about doubt being overcome by SE that's developed. It actually means something quite different than I would have guessed. I basically was entertaining a fantasy that I would be able to spell out exactly what needs to be done, that I would intellectually and conceptually know, and be in control MORE. Actually, the opposite was true. Which brought some confusion for a while. What I thought I knew, I didn't. My conceptions weren't changed by SE. Much else was, though. And it seemed I knew things I didn't know I knew. The being was transformed, not the ideas about self. Very interesting. Isn't that also, mysteriously, what the relinquishing of self-view means ? 

So, for me, I knew instinctively that what I needed to do, what I still need to do was : to trust this, to deepen the surrender. I'm sure you have some intuitive idea like that, maybe something poetic which moves you but it has nothing to do with maps and theory : flung away the theory. Trust that. Trust that. It might be something different than me, I imagine......

This was very practical : I started just following what occurred by itself in meditation. And progress was really fast then. It naturally brought me to a deeper understanding that : I don't know anything. Haha. Looking at something, paying attention to something : "What is this ?" Don't know. I really don't know. For me that opened something... "Where is this coming from ? Where is it going ?" I just don't know. Wow... Marvelous. Marvelling is good : the heart of philosophy, said Aristotle. If complete impermanence is eternity, isn't total unknowing also perfect knowledge ? 

In a more synthetic way : Get you fire going like only you know how to. Practice diligently with openness and curiosity. Anything that feels right, in my opinion, is game. Trust yourself. 

Just my two cents ;) I hope it can be helpful. Please, more advanced practicioners, don't hesitate to call me out on this if you think I'm full of crap !!

With metta.

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?
9/2/19 10:42 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Thankyou Olivier! I’m a big fan of peer support, so I don’t think one needs to be a teacher in order to give helpful advice, and you just illustrated that very well. This was exactly the advice that I needed right now. It both validates the way I’m already working and gives me additional input. Also, it took away that bit of envy that I caught myself feeling, and I think that was the main reason for my asking. I wanted to cultivate a more skillful approach to other people’s success. Now that you took the time to write this very thoughtful and humble answer, there is no way I could envy you anymore. The envy transformed into genuine happiness. I’m happy for you. That feels so much better. So your reply helped me to overcome a defilement. For that I’m very grateful.

Very best wishes for your wellbeing and practice.

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?
9/3/19 1:28 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Thanks for your long, detailed, beautiful post Olivier. I have not crossed SE so I do not really have much opinion about ur experiences but I found reading your posts extremely inspiring and beneficial. I can relate to some of the earlier parts like :
* Feeling great and healthy naturally.
* Reactions which r lot more unfiltered.
* Absent-mindedness and forgetfulness.
* Lot smoother interactions with people.
* Spontaneous tingling etc.

I found the advice you gave to Linda very relevant and helpful. "Being was transformed, not ideas about self." .Please continue sharing your experiences.

Also few lines for u Linda. Envy was very interesting for me since when I read your practice details in some thread last time , it actually brightened my day, I felt 95% happiness ( for u and in general) and 5% envy. I just found it funny, thought u might too. 

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?
9/3/19 2:20 AM as a reply to Anicca Dukkha Anatta.
Thanks for sharing, ADA. I often feel happy about others’ attainments, but apparently envy still pops up when I’m unbalanced. That’s something to work on. It’s part of the Brahma Viharas.

RE: 2nd/3rd path ?
9/3/19 11:50 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
That's very nice to hear emoticon

To get back to my earlier post : I'm still very curious to hear what people have to say about this report, even though I said I didn't care much about maps and theory anymore ^^ Shargrol, Noah ... ?

RE: Opinions welcome
9/4/19 8:37 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Out of curiousity, what kind of vipassina jhanas or soft jhanas or hard jhanas are appearing in your sits? Have you explored those?

RE: Opinions welcome
9/5/19 7:14 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Nothing so far. Not even first jhana in fact. Since that retreat was definitely not about jhanas (in fact, there was talk of jhanas explicitely being avoided in the mahayana, which I guess influenced me : I only had jhanas show up once during that retreat, in a very mischievious, surprising and quick way - like kids playing a trick on me and quickly running away), and maybe because of momentum, i haven't inclined to that at all since. Life has been busy and my meditation totally ... disengaged, kind of like in july. The experience that I had, whatever it was (I'm reading daniel's description of third path in mctb2 and, though this hasn't stuck, it seems to be quite similar in certain ways - A&P of third path ???) really  made me utterly lose interest, until a few hours ago in fact, in jhanas, nanas, and all that, because it seemed so much like the real-deal, having nothing to do with these things - though, it did : it's because I practiced the way I did and read mctb that this revealed itself. But now, it's gone : no more visual vividness, even emoticon emoticon hehe 

I really haven't started investigating anew, or even being curious about meditating. Life circumstances this past week (only ?) also played a big role in that. Today I completed my final bit of graduate school, and right now I'm in the airport waiting to board for nepal. So I guess I'll find out in Panditarama Lumbini ! I feel ready to meditate again !

Ok, in truth some things to report about daily life mostly : There does seem to be something new in the way emotions just glide by ; this also comes with a new level of honesty, like I can't avoid being aware of things I might not want to see or know about "myself", but that are in fact not clung to at all (here it is like my reactions defy my own expectations, in a vein that is becoming familiar) ; I definitely observed some cycling that manifested in very obvious ways when the lights were still there, because they transformed according to the cycle, which was pretty cool ; a couple of days ago in bed, in a half awake state, I was just thinking about the fruition I mentionned having thought of as second path (?? who knows), and it seemed to happen again several times in a row (which would be a first for me), in fact I think with each new outbreath - well, somthg happened with the outbreath several times in a row anyway... ; when I close my eyes for a sec and examine things, it seems there is more space, like the world is bigger, a perception i've had since that moment I talked about earlier when I was watching my fork and something opened profoundly ; also a recurrent feeling that reality is less solid and could vanish easily (odd) ; dependent origination (the reification process) is seen much more easily ; and a few other little things not worth mentioning, intuitions of some things which might be possible...

So, I'll post back a few weeks from now, I guess. 

Cheers emoticon

RE: Opinions welcome
9/5/19 8:12 PM as a reply to Olivier.
I’d be interested in hearing you describe your fruitions.

RE: Opinions welcome
9/7/19 2:15 PM as a reply to Shaun Steelgrave.
I'm extremely tired writing this, so don't know how this will come out ^^ I'm letting ideas burst forth, hope it won't cause confusion...

Well, i experience it in the same way that most people seem to be reporting it : quick blips, soft wooshes, and perhaps intruding cracks sometimes. I definitely am not one with a lot of clarity into that, and I'm not interested enough to try to figure more out - at least right now. I don't get bliss waves of any kind (well, some mild rush feeling sometimes, but I would never call that bliss... terminology), though sometimes the desire to meditate evaporates for a while (that's what happened for a period of a few days after both my suspected path moments - I guess that's my way of feeling done, in the negative). 

It's something that absolutely cannot be planned for me, and I must say the times that I have indeed kind of tried to make them happen have always failed. They occur when there's a true and kind of holy disinterest in what's going on, which usually is associated with low sensate clarity for me. It's honestly a lot like improvising music : sometimes you "don't care", yet you do, and that's usualy when grace comes. When you're not the one improvising, and yet it's coming from you, that's the kind of state I'm talking about, I guess. It's linked with true lack of clinging, in action. Doing something (meditation) without clinging. A subtle balance, about which the taoists have a lot to say I think. I recently started reading things about Tchouang Tseu, and I think that's gonna bring a fresh new perspective on the whole path. Interestingly, after supposed SE, my improvisation skills were a quantum leap better.

(Shargrol's first response to my initial post in this thread was a great way of expressing that and really I must credit him for putting me on this track in a way that was simple and probably more relatable to most than the heavy stuff I tend to write... Have I expressed how deep my appreciation is Shargrol ? I'm afraid not, shame on me !!)

It's also probably a "wiring"/inclination thing (this is linked with values and desires, and also views in a philosophical sense.). Some people are very naturally in tune with their bodily sensations, and I would imagine people like that tend to have more to say about fruitions in terms of sensations... Because when they let go of effort and directed attention/intention in EQ, then they maintain a high clarity of the sensate field. I tend to be more of a poet/thinker, at heart, and so, usually, I get a fruition when I'm a bit taken by a thought or image or such. I guess that's what happens when I just truly flow with things. 

Well, just an idea...

Other times, it's just when I'm paying attention to the breath, or something else, in a really soft and non directed way.
In any case there's a key point here about interest, motivation/drive, and fundamentally in the end, eros/love. I think I'm talking about dependent origination somehow here...

What about this : people who hold a strong view that the world is fundamentally made up of sensate atoms of sort, will naturally be fascinated by the detailed sensate aspects of phenomena. Others who hold other views, won't. Similarly, at a different order of magnitude or what, if one truly cares about experiencing fruitions in a very detailed way, one will. But one can't lie about that. So I guess we find again that element of absolute honesty that goes along with all this, the deep connections interrelating values (what is desirable ?) beliefs and perceptions. 

To sum up : fruitions are really not very significant - as an experience - for me. It does seem to be a co-event to some other transformations which do not ever manifest in connexion with it, though.

Nota bene : in fact, I must say that most of the time I'm not even sure that the things I experience are fruitions. Could be that I get them quite often, could be that other events get misidentified... I would say that Shargrol's descriptions are the ones that resonate most with what I experience ; you can find a bunch of topics on this. But I suspect that there is also my tendency to doubt my intuition which shows up there. In the moment, I'm usually spontaneously totally sure that something was a fruition, but will then doubt it ("that was so insignificant it could have been anything"). I am open to the possibility that I have never actually experienced a fruition, but that seems pretty unlikely to me if I reread my journal or think about past experiences. That "insignificance" of the event seems almost like a universal trait that people report...

Which in itself is incredibly interesting, if you reflect for a second. Nibbana is the most boring thing in the world. Doesn't that sound just right ? If it weren't seemingly insignificant, would the dhamma be hard to see ?

I guess the whole path, if I tried to express my current conceptin of it - what do you mean you didn't ask ? ^^ - is about learning to see what's right in front of you and always has been. Wittgenstein also said that that's what is hard about philosophy -  becoming aware of what's familiar. That is why we repeatedly immerse ourselves in the simplicity of the manifest : so that some day there will only be that, a purified awareness of pure immanence. The goal is very precisely and litteraly in front of you, right now, as we speak, and the secret is to start exactly where you want to arrive, I was told.

At the other end : Saying that something is not significant, what does that mean ? sign-ificant. Something which is not a sign, something which is not part of any kind of relational structure, not even any intentionality. The consumation of épochè. I think that's what cessation is. Fruition is utter and total insignificance, which is the exact equivalent of absolute meaning, isn't it ?

Alpha et omega...

Well, I'll stop rambling now... Hope that wasn't too out of touch with your expectations. Good night emoticon

RE: Opinions welcome
10/27/19 1:53 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Hello everyone,

So after this month long retreat in Lumbini, i've a lot of stuff to share, and I think I'll start a specific thread for this new report, as well as my questions regarding second path.

Just one remark : the events described in my previous posts (and the intense faith and grandiosity of said posts ! oops) where connected with the fourth ñana - it could have been obvious, but the realness of those things makes it hard to have "diagnostic" distance. So for anyone who might have been curious, neither second nor third path where achieved during that 7-day shamatha retreat !

The visual craziness (things appearing with a rainbow-like appearance, meaning glowing, sometimes contour-less, presenting simultaneousely observable and fused yet distinct colors) was linked with this A&P phase too. In fact, it provided a very clear personal confirmation to Daniel's notion that everything that occurs between the A&P event to re-observation, is a kind of unit, and that something else starts with EQ. That's better than U Pandita's division of the vipassana jhanas. 

One rationale for what was happening is that peripheral vision (sensitive to brightness) was extremely predominant, in a way that changed in sync with the different dukkha ñanas. I know this for sure because after the first sit during which I hit EQ of second path, with the crystal clarity and certainty that retreat conditions offers (meaning, in the realm of abstract abdominal f*ing sensations), it so happened that this visual phenomenon disappeared entirely. A fact I did not notice, being so chilled-out, until the next day. I then experienced it reoccurring every morning for a few days, in it's jarring, elusive, strange and distressing version, as I was falling back into Re-ob, and it would disappear again when I reached EQ around lunchtime.

So, to present things backwards in terms of causality : the lights were a very direct and precise indicator of what territory was being traversed : cool ! They also confirmed that the third jhana is definitely about periphery of attention in a radically obvious way : cool ! And they were not "luminosity" at all, in the sense of everything seeming aware of itself - a pretty common mistake i reckon. The word numinosity could be a nice replacement, what do you think ? cool !

Let me just add this : let's not forget that the maps are conceptual tools. They are derived from our experiences, not the other way around - just like math and sciences are theories construed from... etc. etc. A grave blunder would it be (it was Galileo's and still is most scientific minds' mistake) to mix things up and believe that theories are not descriptive but generative ! It's a sure way to lose touch with, well, numinosity, and the immediacy of experience.

Cheers emoticon

RE: Opinions welcome
10/28/19 4:13 AM as a reply to Olivier.
I guess that means that there are even more goodies in the goodiebag for you, then, which is kind of cool.

RE: Opinions welcome
10/28/19 7:01 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Right, it's all quite unpredictable isn't it ?