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Post-Goenka stream entry?

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Post-Goenka stream entry?
Answer
1/3/11 5:20 AM
Hello all

Happy 2011!

I think I just nailed stream entry, would be very happy to have feedback on my report. I returned from retreat a few days ago...will do my best to describe what happened. Here's the background.

I crossed the A&P in 2006 ago with no formal practice. It was the first time I took LSD. It was a sunny day and I had made sure my set and setting were good, that I was peaceful inside and utterly open to the experience, and dropped one tab with some friends. An hour or so in, I lay back in the long grass (on London's Primrose Hill!) and fell into a spontaneous rapture, with numerous mystical experiences of union with Gaia and other things. As these feelings peaked, there was a moment when it felt like my entire consciousness was sucked up into infinity and blasted out into infinite bright white ecstatic space...this happened twice in quick succession. After that I knew something big had happened but I didn't know what...I knew I was no longer in the slightest bit afraid of death. I wanted very much to live life to my potential, but death...no problem. I did all the things that people do when they have no context for this experience, I wondered if I was enlightened etc.

Funnily enough the subsequent dark night period wasn't so terrible. Isolating yes, confusing yes, but also was a period of huge revelations about the whole nature of existence thing. I didn't really have a chance to wallow in the nasty stuff as a week later I started a full time masters degree and a job teaching kids performing arts three days a week. It was hectic to say the least. However whenever I shared my experiences I would get at best an interested nod, at worst uncomfortable stares. There began the isolation.

Anyhow, the next year after graduating I decided to go to a few beginners meditation classes, and immediately started having what I now know were 4th nana experiences, energetic stuff etc. I told the teacher about this, and my prior experience, but got an uncomfortable sort of response. I came to the conclusion that if even the meditation teacher doesn't know what I'm on about, then I'm on my own.

Over the two years before finding MCTB I worked on my concentration and started intuitively working with sensation and equanimity with no prior knowledge about any insight techniques. MCTB cleared a load of stuff up, inspired me deeply and in January 2010 I went off to India for the second time and sat my first Goenka 10 day retreat down in Kerala. I didn't really use MCTB on that sit, I hadn't read it for quite a while prior to sitting, I wasn't tagging my progress and had I think forgotten a lot of the descriptions.

After that retreat I got back into MCTB and decided to work on my concentration prior to another Goenka. This time I wanted path! I had been listening to loads of Buddhist Geeks podcasts (Thank you Vince!) and was super eager and inspired. In July I sat my second Goenka, at the beautiful Dhamma Malaya near Kuala Lumpur, and this time tagged my progress to the hilt with MCTB on my iPod touch... :-)

For the first time I started to feel distinct transitions between stages, as well as some textbook MCTB stage descriptions. I sat through the dark night in one super intense day, feeling as though someone was beating my chest with a hammer. When I got to 11th nana I was pretty excited and impatient for fruition. Looking back, I probably didn't investigate the sensations of that subtle but pervasive desire. After a jaw-droppingly stunning moment of my entire sensate universe forming, looking back at "me" and morphing into a shining mandala, I was plonked back into Mind and Body. I sat the rest of the retreat rather exhausted enjoying anapana and recovering. emoticon

I sat my third Goenka back here in the UK and finished last week. However when I arrived I was asked to serve, and agreed.

Because I had less time to sit, I really went at it, soon powering up into A&P territory. I hit the event lying awake in energetic raptures one night and the next day sat through the whole dark night in a couple of hours. Re-observation really floored me in a very physical way, I was dizzy and light headed for about 24 hours before hitting equanimity the next day.

On that retreat I also made some very strong resolutions to service. I had had an profound dream a few weeks ago in which an unknown female being helped me out of a panic with an indescribable purity of heart and action...the experience of meeting a being such as this has resonated within me deeply these last weeks. When I came off retreat I spent new years eve alone meditating and strongly cultivating the intent to attain to first path quickly for the sake of myself and all beings. The last few days I've been sitting about 2 hours a day, and noticing subtle increasing emptiness of phenomena, my actions, etc. More concretely, I've experienced a huge quickening of the cycles post retreat. Scanning sort of started to happen more effortlessly, with less sense of me if I sat for more than about 30 mins.

Yesterday I came back to this forum and started reading about people's experience around stream entry. Daniel's response to Hala's situation seemed taylor made advice, so I resolved to follow it. I was able to call up A&P and move through the dark night within minutes. Last night I woke up in the middle of the night, cycling.

I sat about 40 mins this morning, and continued my day mindfully, walked the dog etc. I should mention that after my second Goenka retreat I had felt I had made such progress that I resolved to continue with the same technique until stream entry, knowing I would probably be tempted by a switch to noting... Yesterday I was highly tempted to do that to try and speed things up. I could feel something building, some momentum increasing, and was really impatient to just get it done! However I decided today that it was a stupid idea to change things when all seemed to be progressing so well, and resolved to chill out and just sit, continuing with the scanning and mindfulness at a sensate level.

This afternoon, inspired my more reading of the forum and the Hamilton Project website, I went to sit. I had been building stuff up a lot in my mind regarding how close I thought I might be. I even thought I might have had a fruition already, with my ability to cycle through to equanimity in minutes. However, taking the advice of "in case of doubt, just keep practising" that's what I did.

I sat down about 5 hours ago and off I went, straight into dark night, and through quickly to equanimity, fell back into re-observation, and chilled out a bit, back into equanimity. After about 30 mins of chilled out scanning I got almost drowsy, then out of nowhere, a blip, and my heart was beating slightly faster. That couldn't have been it no? I tried closing my eyes and starting again, but things were just different. I got up, started laughing a bit, but thought no, I'm just kidding myself as I wanted this so badly. I went to pee, came back to sit again, but the most obvious part of my experience was that I didn't have the urge to sit any more. No urgency at all. Then I started laughing. Things were not much different, but I laughed and laughed... I got up, walked about, no, I didn't really feel lighter as such...but yet...I went downstairs and my mum was there. I was still laughing.

Since then this is all I can report. The sense of urgency in practice has completely gone. I'm kind of "clearer" in my head without really being able to say much more. Sense desires have less control over me, an easy one to use as a barometer as there's a load of chocolate and cake lying around at the moment...a weakness of mine ;) I see slightly more clearly and stably the nature of the underlying sensations that give rise to my actions. And I'm a lot more relaxed.

I haven't tried practising much since, just a little anapana in between breaks typing this up. Concentration seems easier, and I seem to be able to call up A&P, dark night and equanimity sort of territory quite easily.

We'll see how it shapes up!

And, finally, with risk of sounding like an oscar winner collecting an award they haven't yet got, I'd like to thank Daniel and Vincent with all my sincerity... Path or no path, you guys have been key in this last year being a deeply profound journey into practice for me.

And thanks to all you guys too! I know ultimately it's up to the test of continued practice and time, but feedback still appreciated.

Cheers :-)

Thom

RE: Post-retreat stream entry?
Answer
1/3/11 5:00 AM as a reply to Thom W.
An update to follow up...

I managed what I think are a couple of repeat fruitions in quick succession last night, followed by tingling and brief bliss, which weren't so noticeably present the first time. The way I got there way by holding my entire sensate universe as a unified, observed whole, intending to go beyond it, and just letting go. The "vibrational field" of awareness seemed to shift, almost "swim" a little before the discontinuous blip...did that happen to others too? I'm assuming it's as my concentration isn't high enough to perceive how the door presents.

Something in my awareness seems subtly changed, that's for sure. Tweaked in a slightly more stable way that I've been accustomed to over the last few months. There's an underlying tranquility that wasn't there before, different to that gained by moving into equanimity. I'm also still inclined to laugh quite a lot :-)

Thanks all emoticon

Thom

RE: Post-retreat stream entry?
Answer
1/3/11 4:47 AM as a reply to Thom W.
Smells like significant progress, Thom. I'd give it more time though. Much more time. It'll become much clearer what it was over the coming weeks and months. Not saying it was this or that. But it does sound like your practcie is taking you somehwere good. So keep doing what you are doing. The idea is to get happier and have more peace in one's life. So seems like you are on the right track. emoticon

Congrats on the progress!

Mudita,
Nick

RE: Post-retreat stream entry?
Answer
1/3/11 8:10 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Hi Nick

Yes, for sure, I'll give it time before drawing solid conclusions. I've learned well that it takes time to be relatively sure about where you are / were. There's been an interesting change though. Practising today has a different feel to anything over the last few years. More relaxed, easier in a way, with the low samatha jhanas now within my grasp in a way I had only touched on retreat...

Onwards, onwards, with joy.

Thank you for the input emoticon

Thom

RE: Post-retreat stream entry?
Answer
1/4/11 11:57 AM as a reply to Thom W.
Sounds like a good candidate for stream entry! A few notes...

* tarin's advice for after stream entry is to sit without any resolve. just sit and see what happens. do you go through the cycles leading up to a fruition naturally? i was very intent-driven in reviewing stream entry and i think it messed up my practice for a bit afterwards...
* contradicting that a little: Try blinking your eyes rapidly and trying to observe the last flicker. See if that causes what looks like a Fruition.
* don't be too sad when the happy equanimity fades, since it does fade! and the excitement to post and talk about this stuff is probably high now, but that, too, will fade.

also if your concentration is indeed greater, try concentrating a lot on other things like music, tastes, etc - could be fun!

RE: Post-retreat stream entry?
Answer
1/5/11 6:46 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Thanks, good advice. I had come to the same conclusion about sitting without strong intent (or rather, I've sitting with the intent to not to push anything at all) and letting practice progress naturally. There's a slightly impatient (although understandable!) part of me that's keen to "know I got there" and desiring more fruitions to kind of cement it, so I've been observing that as it arises and trying to forget about being sure about anything for the moment. I've been cycling naturally and quite easily through to equanimity but that underlying expectation I think has prevented fruitions from occurring over the last 2 days, if indeed they were fruitions before. I'm now back in London working with a lot less time available to sit so we'll see what happens over the next weeks and months, like Nick says.
And yes, I've already been playing a little with the increased concentration with music, interesting and fun! emoticon

Thanks Beo,

Thom

RE: Post-Goenka stream entry?
Answer
1/9/11 4:07 AM as a reply to Thom W.
Hi Thom,
Send me a message on jennybirkett@hotmail.com I'm a fellow Londoner and previous Goenka practitioner that's had some similar experiences. I'd be really interested to talk more.