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Centrelessness
Answer
10/1/19 11:36 AM
(Please excuse the British spelling of 'centre'. ;-))

Recently I've been moving in and out of an experience which I'm still investigating, but when I try to put it into words, it makes me wonder what exactly the advanced practitioners on here mean when describing their awareness as 'centreless'.

What I'm doing is essentially experimenting with 'letting go into' whatever is happening. Some time ago I found a way to 'merge with' the (Leigh Brasington-style) jhanas that I do, where it felt like 'I became the jhana' as opposed to 'I was experiencing the jhana', then more recently I've been experimenting with noticing a sense of holding back, resisting, separateness, etc., and letting go of that.

This doesn't work 100% reliably yet, but when I can ease into it, I end up moving in a kind of two-stage process.

The first shift is from 'everyday' perception to a kind of 'observer' perspective which feels somewhat pulled back and removed from an otherwise largely unified field of awareness (so there's a sense that 'awareness' is 'one thing', but also there's a 'vantage point' which is at some distance from it).

The second shift is then 'merging' - the distance between 'observer' and 'holistic awareness' reduces and eventually becomes nothing, so the contents of awareness are 'all around', intermingled with the 'observer' - except with one key difference. In 'normal' perception (as I'm using the term), there's a sense that everything in my awareness is sensed 'in reference to' a point which is approximately the physical centre of my sensory organs (i.e. the middle of my head) - so these things are 'near' and 'right of me', those things are 'far' and 'behind me', etc. After making this second shift, there's more of a feeling that things are just 'where they are', without any reference to a central point. If two percepts become relevant at the same time there's a sense that I can 'find a route' from one to the other which doesn't necessarily go via a central point. Reality feels 'bigger' somehow, almost like I could get lost in it now that I don't have that central reference point going on.

Typically this perspective is available for some time after I've been meditating for a while. I'm experimenting with getting there while walking around too - just now, walking to a supermarket to get some food, I had a bit of a sense of something similar, like a vast spacious reality was moving around and everything was flowing around... I dunno, I'm struggling to put this into words and it's sounding dumb so I think I should stop typing. :-)

Anyway. Does the way I'm describing this idea of a 'central reference point' make sense to the people who've experienced what's known as 'centrelessness' in common parlance here? Or am I just going a bit nuts? :-)

Thoughts welcome!

Best wishes,
Matt

RE: Centrelessness
Answer
10/3/19 1:15 AM as a reply to Matt.
Yes, that's it. Very well put.

Easing into it, as you are doing, is one option. The other one's to "shred", as Daniel would say, anything that seems to posit a centre or vantage point or preferred point or knot in the vast field of awareness down into its micropercepts, with high-frequency and high-spatial-resolution noting.

RE: Centrelessness
Answer
10/3/19 2:54 AM as a reply to Matt.
And there's to note (haha) that sometimes people here are speaking about centerlessness refering to the fruits of insight practices, which come from the untangling of dualistic perception. And there's also the unified state of jahna, as you describe it, which also can have qualities of this. But the first one is permanent, whereas the jhana can fade and so its nice aspects.

RE: Centrelessness
Answer
10/3/19 11:19 AM as a reply to streamsurfer.
Thanks - that brings up a related question that I've been pondering.

My original post was perhaps not as clear as it could have been, or alternatively maybe I'm not as clear about what I'm doing as I think I am. :-)

The 'merging with the jhana' thing is something that I found a way to do back in 2017 or so, but for whatever reason didn't play around with too much at the time.

More recently, in my insight practice (which is based around open awareness and gentle investigation - I used to be more of a 'shredding' type like neko describes, but in the last few years the gentle approach has resonated better with me whereas very intense practices have tended to feed some less helpful patterns in myself), I've been exploring various ways in which I seem to be 'holding on' to things. One day I found that I momentarily 'let go' of something and experienced something like a 'merging' with the field of awareness, but as it often does, my mind recoiled in horror and refused to go back there again.

So over the last few weeks I've been exploring this sense of holding and releasing. I got back into doing the merging-with-the-jhana thing because it seemed to have features in common with the experience I'm looking for in my insight practice (exactly as you describe), but I *believe* the experiences of centrelessness that I'm now moving in and out of are a feature of my insight practice rather than concentration attainments. At this point in my sits I've run the jhanas 1-8, come out the other side into open awareness, and then started to poke around with my sense of holding on, witnessing etc. So it feels more insight-y to me.

I've seen plenty of people describe their 'untangling the knot of perception' as a kind of one-time event - boom, it untangles and stays that way. That's definitely not what's happening here - I'm sliding into a 'looser' way of experiencing, and then sliding out again. (It's been interesting watching what happens as I go back and forth through that process of more holding-less holding-more holding.)

The way I've been interpreting this, I'm seeing it as an insightful meditation experience which has not yet stabilised/matured into full realisation yet. My 'felt sense' of non-duality has been gradually deepening over the last few years without any particularly dramatic watersheds, and this feels like a continuation of that process. It lacks the nice clear-cut 'big bang' nature of some of the experiences I see being talked about, however. So part of me wonders if I'm doing it wrong, or this isn't a thing at all; and part of me wonders if it's just that sometimes people have dramatic shifts (which are easy to identify and refer back to) whereas sometimes people have a slower process of dawning realisation, and right now my experience fits into the latter category.

Perhaps your post suggests a third alternative: that what I've actually done is find a way to apply a concentration attainment to a state which is not obviously jhanaic as I understand it (this feels much more 'ordinary' whereas jhanas have never ceased to feel 'altered' on some level).

RE: Centrelessness
Answer
10/4/19 8:14 AM as a reply to Matt.
Sounds really great that you found the right wave for an insight path that is not shredding your life simultaneously to sensations emoticon

I can totally relate to the gradual insight path. I mean, if you have a momentary shift which is totally blasting, then it is understandable if people talk mostly about that. But even then, prior to that there was probably constant meditation practice, bringing one further step by step and in some moment, the watermark is reached. And I found my path especially in the beginning very interesting and exciting, offering experiences, which has changed to more of a deepening and appreciation of how the process unfolds in general and with each day and mediation.

RE: Centrelessness
Answer
10/4/19 9:01 AM as a reply to streamsurfer.
That's a nice way of putting it. Thanks. :-)

Matt

RE: Centrelessness
Answer
10/7/19 6:57 AM as a reply to Matt.
Matt:
Thanks - that brings up a related question that I've been pondering.

My original post was perhaps not as clear as it could have been, or alternatively maybe I'm not as clear about what I'm doing as I think I am. :-)

The 'merging with the jhana' thing is something that I found a way to do back in 2017 or so, but for whatever reason didn't play around with too much at the time.

More recently, in my insight practice (which is based around open awareness and gentle investigation - I used to be more of a 'shredding' type like neko describes, but in the last few years the gentle approach has resonated better with me whereas very intense practices have tended to feed some less helpful patterns in myself), I've been exploring various ways in which I seem to be 'holding on' to things. One day I found that I momentarily 'let go' of something and experienced something like a 'merging' with the field of awareness, but as it often does, my mind recoiled in horror and refused to go back there again.

So over the last few weeks I've been exploring this sense of holding and releasing. I got back into doing the merging-with-the-jhana thing because it seemed to have features in common with the experience I'm looking for in my insight practice (exactly as you describe), but I *believe* the experiences of centrelessness that I'm now moving in and out of are a feature of my insight practice rather than concentration attainments. At this point in my sits I've run the jhanas 1-8, come out the other side into open awareness, and then started to poke around with my sense of holding on, witnessing etc. So it feels more insight-y to me.

I've seen plenty of people describe their 'untangling the knot of perception' as a kind of one-time event - boom, it untangles and stays that way. That's definitely not what's happening here - I'm sliding into a 'looser' way of experiencing, and then sliding out again. (It's been interesting watching what happens as I go back and forth through that process of more holding-less holding-more holding.)

The way I've been interpreting this, I'm seeing it as an insightful meditation experience which has not yet stabilised/matured into full realisation yet. My 'felt sense' of non-duality has been gradually deepening over the last few years without any particularly dramatic watersheds, and this feels like a continuation of that process. It lacks the nice clear-cut 'big bang' nature of some of the experiences I see being talked about, however. So part of me wonders if I'm doing it wrong, or this isn't a thing at all; and part of me wonders if it's just that sometimes people have dramatic shifts (which are easy to identify and refer back to) whereas sometimes people have a slower process of dawning realisation, and right now my experience fits into the latter category.

Perhaps your post suggests a third alternative: that what I've actually done is find a way to apply a concentration attainment to a state which is not obviously jhanaic as I understand it (this feels much more 'ordinary' whereas jhanas have never ceased to feel 'altered' on some level).


No mind experiences will be intermittent until a quantum shift of perception via realization

https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/11/no-mind-and-anatta-focusing-on-insight.html

https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/10/differentiating-i-am-one-mind-no-mind.html