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I know you'll say A&P, but...
Answer
5/13/19 10:17 AM
it doesn't feel correct. Nor does it feel like something "great" and grand. It was just a sort of compelling experience, and perhaps that's all it was. 

Yet, I want to inquire all the same. 

Backstory: Meditating regularly for 8 months. 45 minutes each weekday morning, 2 hours each weekend morning. I passed the A&P once, months ago, with the colors behind closed lids and the following excitement and zest for practice and such that is described in many places. 

More recently, I would have days of (apparently) navigating the dark night. I had reached what very much felt like equanimity in a jhanic experience a few weeks ago. That occurred for about four days every time I sat; it was quite lovely. I have also been doing a little work with liberation unleashed and doing a lot of discussion on realizing no-self. 

Then (two weeks ago), began days that were just crummy, for lack of a better term. I was unpleasant with myself, though not toward others. I would have days that were fine enough and I'd be pleasant, but most of each day I would have a real internal "dis-ease" throughout the day. A sort of gnawing that something was just wrong, and I was really, deeply, unhappy about it. Sitting during this went along, though I was more apt to get up before the bell if there were some excuse to do so. However, I was basically practicing the same as mentioned above. Three days ago, it was the worst. My wife called me to task for there being something wrong with me. The whole day everything just felt... wrong. I was very deeply unsettled.

The day before yesterday, I was in a sort of lucid dream when I first awoke. It started as a dream, but I woke up and knew I was awake as the sort-of-dream continued. 

(If nothing else, the scene felt cool. So maybe y'all will at least enjoy that part.)

I live in, and grew up, in a very rural area. A couple hundred acres of woods directly abutting my childhood home. I was there, on the back deck, and heard a rifle shot. It was late dusk. As opposed to my childhood, I was not excited for my father to bring back a deer. Instead, I was filled with fear that something had been killed. 

I laid on the deck with binoculars to see what had happened. From the wood line, came first a deer, and then a skunk, and then a moose, and then, and then... you can fill in the blanks. Ultimately, all sorts of animals that don't actually live in this region came from the wood line toward me. A buffalo actually laid its head on my legs, very softly. 

Due to my generation, I suppose, my first thought was "selfie!" I grabbed my cell phone and decided a video was actually in order. So I held it up and "flipped" the screen for a selfie video. It was all black - nothing to be seen. I tried taking it with the phone the normal way, but I couldn't see what I was doing. I went back to the flipped screen, but this time it was blindingly bright with light. I could see nothing. It made me squint and look away. I angled the phone some, and I could see part of my face but any time I looked straight on, it was just exceedingly bright light that made me squint and turn away. The animals were still there with me, all gathered around, but any time I looked into the selfie, it was light too bright to actually take physically. I recall it actually hurting my eyes... not my dream eyes, but my physical being's eyes as I lay there in bed. Anyway... I don't know what happened next. I got up and went downstairs to meditate, as usual, as soon as my alarm sounded. 

Except - the gnawing is gone. I'm much more pleased with the world and myself (and others!). I have less of the mental drama occurring. I feel totally lighter. The meditation that morning (and today) was easy. Just sit and breathe - no biggie. I'm not feeling excitement or zest; I just feel really good. 

I don't think I'm "experienced" enough to have had a fruition, nor do I think it is the A&P, however. Is there a mid-point that isn't just the swamp of the dark night? I am unsure of what the heck it was. Just a really cool/intersting experience?

Any insights (punintended)?

RE: I know you'll say A&P, but...
Answer
5/13/19 12:57 PM as a reply to T.
I'm not sure what that experience in particular could have been, but it's worth keeping in mind that you can temporarily cycle back through earlier stages even if you're predominantly in the Dark Night or Equanimity.  Daniel talks about the "standard pattern" of falling back from Equanimity into Reobservation:
What I call “the standard pattern” involves people crossing the A&P, learning (if reluctantly) many deep and essential lessons in Re-observation, getting to Equanimity, but then falling back to Re-observation, learning more lessons of a similar nature, getting back up to Equanimity, and so on until the lessons hit deeply and finally Equanimity really predominates in its unobtrusive way. 
I can't find a reference for it, but when I was coming up on first path it felt like I started cycling from the A&P up through Equanimity more and more quickly.  Since then, I've had a bunch of cycles from Mind & Body up through Equanimity -- usually after I finally notice something important that I'd previously overlooked.  It's also very normal to cycle up through the different stages within a sit until you reach your current "cutting edge" stage.  And then of course in Review you'd expect to cycle rapidly from the A&P on up.  So being temporarily in the A&P is not really a problem at all if  you're concerned that you've lost all your progress -- if your practice is strong, you'll probably keep on going through it periodically.  
Except - the gnawing is gone. I'm much more pleased with the world and myself (and others!). I have less of the mental drama occurring. I feel totally lighter. The meditation that morning (and today) was easy. Just sit and breathe - no biggie. I'm not feeling excitement or zest; I just feel really good. 

Maybe you're just back in Equanimity again?  Alternatively, Insight can occur in any stage of the Progress of Insight, and everything tends to feel better after the mind lets go of something that it's been clinging onto.  

RE: I know you'll say A&P, but...
Answer
5/14/19 8:00 AM as a reply to T.
Hi there T,

T:
Except - the gnawing is gone. I'm much more pleased with the world and myself (and others!). I have less of the mental drama occurring. I feel totally lighter. The meditation that morning (and today) was easy. Just sit and breathe - no biggie. I'm not feeling excitement or zest; I just feel really good.

I don't think I'm "experienced" enough to have had a fruition, nor do I think it is the A&P, however. Is there a mid-point that isn't just the swamp of the dark night? I am unsure of what the heck it was. Just a really cool/intersting experience?
You probably know that the standard answer is "it is very problematic diagnosing somebody over internet with little consistent information on the minute details of their practise" and "whatever it was just continue practising" emoticon

What you say about the gnawing being gone sounds nice and could definately be a sign of awakening/stream entry if the condition lasts. Only time will tell you that. It is generally better to think too humbly of your attainments, because of the obvious risk of ego-inflation. That being said, I myself spend years doubting my own attainment, while in retrospect I can say was there. There is no particular harm in delayed diagnosis, though. I just want to give you a heads up that you will probably not know what that was for many years.The good thing is that it does not matter too much! In either case what you do is keep up the good work and study and learn new stuff about the inner workings of your mind and how it is related to this thing outside of you that we call world. Also, beware that you will also doubt yourself and think, when the mind gets muddy inevitably some occasions, that nothing was released and nothing worth while happened. It's normal, and will pass and you will learn how to discern what is going on.
Keep an attitude of openness and gentle inquiry. It is useful also to observe the eagerness with which you are in need of the answer.

Personally I've noticed a gradual lessening in my need to obtain some kind of verification to "where I'm at in the path". It started from desperately wanting to know, moved to "I'm so over wanting to know this sort of stuff" but in retrospect still wanting to know quite badly, to actually needing very little verification and being ok at every step of the way (still waiting for that next step to see where I actually was now writing this ;) ).
Also, I never did find in my experience the classic description of a fruition. I spend years trying to understand that...

In Open Heart buddhism, that I'm familiar with, there is a way of tuning into the person's energetic body (practically speaking one could translate this as the appearance that transmits also the inner, emotional vibe of the person) and feel if said person has released this big knot of selfing that takes place when the illusion of self is seen through. It's called bhumi analysis and it is an art that takes practise to learn, so at this point it will not be of much help with regards to your question.