assess me! please :-)

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tom moylan, modified 10 Years ago.

assess me! please :-)

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
howdy folks!
first let me say that after sniffing around in the background of this site it is now time for me to out myself and ask for some objective assesments from this beautiful collection of intelligent and discriminating wayfarers.

me. soon 53, very active meditator for almost 5 years in various flavors of practice from ayp to theravada to yantra...never digging deep holes. i am inclined to read and research a lot and be lightly swayed by stories of fast track solutions. i have two goenka retreats under my belt during which i was able to concentrate very well and got to a point where i could follow sensations throughout my body, a fact which i found astounding. that said, i was never able to achieve "bhanga". after much toe dipping in other traditions, i settled back to simple anapana.

and then there was MTCTB! i read it with glee and interest due to its practical no hidden mirrors approach. (thanks a million daniel!)

i decided to use this cookbook model for a 5 day self-retreat with a schedule based loosely on the goenka plan, focusing primarily on jhana absorbtion practice because "if you aint got jhana, you aint got squat".

on day two of straight anapana and no jhana my frustration was high. i whipped out my downloaded copy of this website and found a gent named andy (thanks man!) whose experience seemed to have mirrored mine namely: he could concentrate easily for an hour or more but didn't reach what he thought were jhanic states. daniel answered him that he was farther along then he assumed. despite having no concious memory of having an A&P in this life, i took this to heart and started in on vipassana on the next sit and followed the sensations primarily on my face and head.

please use the following experiences to assess where i am:
striking collection of sensations at the crown, then 3rd eye,
at throat a very strong energetic pulse which forced my head waaayy back for some minutes
strobing of breath at nostrils in tact of breath
much facial muscle twitching / pulling

so where am i at?

thanks
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Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: assess me! please :-)

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Don't worry about jhana, I didn't have any jhana access at all when I got stream entry. Just note note note, let your attention become panoramic until you can note everything at once, including silence, stillness, background, time, space, etc, really powering up the momentum until it becomes easy to do.

Also: decide to go for stream entry without doubt or hesitation of any kind, make sure you decided you are going to get it.

Also: don't tense up, if you by any chance find you are tensing up excessively to the point you're feeling "more and more stuck the more you practice", you probably have to find another way to get there (effort and tension are different, the former is unwavering persistency, the latter is gut-wrenching painful strain). If this is not the case, then disregard this sentence.

(PS. no idea where you're at)
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tom moylan, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: assess me! please :-)

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
Bruno..my man! Thanks for the encouragement. When I gave up trying to "Force a Jhana" during my little mini retreat..that's when things started to happen. So we're in the same boat..both of us don't know where I am! :-) Thanks again!
tom
C C C, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: assess me! please :-)

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
I've no idea where you are, but your story sounds genuine. Amazing. Teach me!!!!
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tom moylan, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: assess me! please :-)

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
C C C ... thanks. genuine it is but waaay short of teaching, perhaps even waaay short of learning. keep up the good work..i've seen some of your impressive posts and feel inspired by them.

cheers

tom
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Dauphin Supple Chirp, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: assess me! please :-)

Posts: 154 Join Date: 3/15/11 Recent Posts
It's hard for me to guess where you might be on the map of the 16 ñāṇas (which is how I understand your question), because you are, as you put it, a very active meditator and you try/tend to experience extraordinary states. Personally I just sat still, concentrated, and observed. (That's what I did whenever vipassana progress happened; Whenever I tried for jhāna or got caught up in "big experiences," it seemed to only hinder my progress.) Insight at its core is just seeing, not doing anything, nor being overwhelmed by huge experiences. The big experiences, if any, are side effects.

The activity of insight is just seeing, and the (intended) result of insight is just a subtle shift in how life is experienced. Any huge waves of bliss, strong vibrations, inner explosions, etc., are really just side effects.

I'm not saying strong jhānas can't lead to enlightenment, but I believe the maps are not really useful to the type of meditator who spends 20 years honing his concentration without attaining even stream entry, then sits down one afternoon, has several path and fruition moments and walks away an anāgāmi or arahant. None of us are exactly that type of meditator, and none of us just sit and note our way to stream entry, but depending on how close we are to either extreme, our experiences will differ.
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tom moylan, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: assess me! please :-)

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
dauphine! thanks for your points..all well taken. i think that is also my hurdle to overcome, namely not to seek experience and just get down to it. my reason for asking for objective assessment is that i can fool myself so easily. i think i am, was , just before a&p but wanted to get my palm read from someone else.

in any case..
i'll just keep noting.

cheers,

tom
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: assess me! please :-) (Answer)

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Hey Tom,

It's impossible, or at least very difficult, to make an accurate diagnosis of someone on a website and based on minimal information, in my opinion at least. The best you'll get is an (un)educated guess, so here's my uneducated two cents worth.... emoticon

striking collection of sensations at the crown, then 3rd eye,

What sort of sensations? This could indicate a lot of stuff and it's not a lot to go on.

at throat a very strong energetic pulse which forced my head waaayy back for some minutes

Possibly kriyas, it's to do with kundalini which, if this is the case, would suggest that you have indeed crossed the A&P at some point in the past.

strobing of breath at nostrils in tact of breath

Hmmm, could be anything from 3rd to 11th ñana as strobing is seeing impermanance. What happens here?

much facial muscle twitching / pulling

Again possibly kriya-related, but also likely to be something to do with 8th ñana. Knowledge of Disgust. I say this because facial contortion is something which happens here in my own practice.

You'll move through the jhanas anyway while doing vipassana, but absorption is a different matter and not essential for insight which, I'm assuming, is primarily what you're aiming for.

What do you expect 1st jhana to feel like? Look for tingling, pleasant sensations on your skin and stay with that.

The level of experience you're describing from your previous practice would indicate to me that you're more than likely getting into the jhanas without much difficulty, but you might be looking for the wrong signs to show that you're already there.

With the A&P, it's not always a massive deal but it's always the point of no return. It may have been the point where you decided to first get into meditation, it may have occurred years before but it doesn't really matter 'cause, when it comes down to it in the here and now, it's gone and there's no point scouring your memories for it. Focus on being here, now and with sensation as it arises and passes, and you'll see soon enough what we're actually talking about here. Once you can identify it in practice at present you're more likely to think "Oh yeah! Now I remember, I had feeling when I was waiting for a bus..." or whatever. It's universal but it can manifest in a lot of different ways so don't get too hung up on textbook definitions, MCTB is an amazing, wonderful and, for me, life changing book but I did the same as you're doing and set up these expectations which, in reality, may not be exactly what happens for you.

One thing I just need to pull you up on here..... emoticon
despite having no concious memory of having an A&P in this life

Forget having crossed the A&P in a past-life, whatever your belief or interpretation of rebirth is, this is not the way it happens. That sort of thinking isn't helpful and I would advise against it, focus on what's happening right now 'cause this is the only moment that matters. If I were to believe the past-life "memories" which have appeared for me, I've been an African shaman and a Spanish soldier, amongst other things, but none of this is helpful or shows things as they are. Take this stuff with a pinch of salt and stick to sensation 'cause that's quite literally where it's at.

Good luck and I hope this was of some use to you.

- Tommy
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: assess me! please :-)

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Tommy M:
If I were to believe the past-life "memories" which have appeared for me, I've been an African shaman and a Spanish soldier, amongst other things, but none of this is helpful or shows things as they are.

ooh were you a spanish soldier that killed an african shaman that you also were? that would be interesting!
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: assess me! please :-)

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
ooh were you a spanish soldier that killed an african shaman that you also were? that would be interesting!

HA! Quantum mindfuck. emoticon
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tom moylan, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: assess me! please :-)

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
@Thommy
thanks for your detailed answer. i've been impressed by your posts and value your input greatly.

just for clarity# sake, i'm not fixed on past life experiences (or this life either for that matter) too much. my not having a clear and memorable a&p makes my present assessment just a little less certain.

i am certain that the throat thing was a kriya, but i don't see that term here anywhere so where would that map? it was a very cool event that i could just watch as it happened...perhaps i allowed it to happen to some degree, but it was a definite force...as for the other twitching events etc. i find those difficult to use as assessment points as well.

as far as the crown sensations..it was as if a very hard rubber pencil eraser were being rubbed on my fontanelle ins 2cm circle , the direction of which i could influence. much stronger than the "dancing ants" sensation which i can tune into at almost any time and in any state.

as to the breath strobing...simply while inhaling i noted the breath as distinct "puffs" or "pulses" as opposed to a steady stream the tact of which slowed or sped up in relation to the pace of the breath.

i think you are also right in that my expectations of jhanas are more in the "wonderful" arena almost like "well if I'M feeling it, it couldn't be jhana...

anyway...thanks a million!

tom
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: assess me! please :-) (Answer)

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
No probs mate, I'm not an expert or anything but if what I'm saying is helpful then I'm happy with that!

just for clarity# sake, i'm not fixed on past life experiences (or this life either for that matter) too much. my not having a clear and memorable a&p makes my present assessment just a little less certain.

I thought it seemed a bit odd when you said it 'cause I didn't get that impression from you before.

i am certain that the throat thing was a kriya, but i don't see that term here anywhere so where would that map? it was a very cool event that i could just watch as it happened...perhaps i allowed it to happen to some degree, but it was a definite force...as for the other twitching events etc. i find those difficult to use as assessment points as well.

I've never seen kriyas written about on here other than in passing, or over on KFD, and I would avoid using them as criteria to define your current position on the maps. About the only reasonable indicator I could point to would be post-A&P after kundalini has been raised for the first time, which as I said before is quite likely to have happened to you previously, as this energy continues to rise and flow through the body, clearing out the "energy channels" for want of a better phrase.

The twitching can appear, in my own practice at least, anywhere from 4th to 10th ñana, but I don't ever get them after these stages. It's common for yogis to get this, don't use it as a diagnostic tool 'cause they're not unique to any Path. I don't know if any of the resident Arahats on here would chime in and say if they noticed these after 4th path? I think it's unlikely as it seems that this particularly energetic circuit is completed on attaining 4th path but I stand to be corrected.

as far as the crown sensations..it was as if a very hard rubber pencil eraser were being rubbed on my fontanelle ins 2cm circle , the direction of which i could influence. much stronger than the "dancing ants" sensation which i can tune into at almost any time and in any state.

A&P, but there's also similar to sensations around this area when in High Equanimity in my experience. How would you describe your attention at this point?

as to the breath strobing...simply while inhaling i noted the breath as distinct "puffs" or "pulses" as opposed to a steady stream the tact of which slowed or sped up in relation to the pace of the breath.

1st ñana into 2nd ñana, Mind and Body into Cause & Effect. Check out this talk by Kenneth Folk and see if it rings any bells for you, it might iron out a few creases and fill in a few of those holes you've been digging. emoticon

i think you are also right in that my expectations of jhanas are more in the "wonderful" arena almost like "well if I'M feeling it, it couldn't be jhana...

Who else is going to be feeling it?!

All the best!
Tommy
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tom moylan, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: assess me! please :-)

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
Tommy M:

A&P, but there's also similar to sensations around this area when in High Equanimity in my experience. How would you describe your attention at this point?


Hey Tommy,
i would say that my attention was strong but not "microscopic" and i'm pretty certain that i am not at equanimity yet. all in all i was thinkin stron 3rd or 4th nana (with tilda) so your opinion is my curren standard anad the best answer so far! thanks for the support!

cheers

tom

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