What kind of attainment?

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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

What kind of attainment?

Posts: 36 Join Date: 4/12/11 Recent Posts
Hi All,

I've been sitting zazen for 10 years now (6 in Japan), but only recently discovered the jhanas and the whole new world they've opened up to me. I guess my story can be broken into 3 parts, so if you have the patience please read them and give me any feedback you think relevant.

Part One

About 10 years ago I had a very profound 'mystical' experience that caught me completely by surprised and unprepared (I wasn't doing any 'spiritual' practice or meditation at the time. In fact, I was strongly skeptical about such things). One evening, whilst watching TV, I heard an audible 'click' inside my head and in the same instant all the labels and concepts we give objects/phenomena vanished in an instant, even the sound of the TV disappeared. "I" (all sense of an 'I' also vanished) was left in a room which seemed to bathed in a blueish-gray, moonlight with every'thing' being exactly as it is, or in its 'suchness' - to borrow a phrase I would come across later. With the web of concepts removed I felt completely liberated and felt it like, "This is it! Just This!". After a while I could feel a warm, blissful sensation at the base of my spine start to flow upwards until it reached my head and I was bathed in a kind of 'liquid love' that felt like it would completely annihilate me if it didn't stop. As much as it was blissful, I forced myself out of it (partly cowardice and partly because I wanted to 'live' and tell my girlfriend about this). Next day I went to the library to research what had happened. Two things stuck out: satori and kundalini. My intuition told me that the insight (satori) was more valuable than the feelings (kundalini), so thus I began Zen.

Part Two

About 3 years ago I went on a 10-day Vipassana retreat (S.N.Goenka) in Kyoto. Fantastic experiences, lots of OBEs and altered states of consciousness which I put down to endorphins brought on by the pain of sitting so long. A good lesson in impermanence - the bliss comes and goes and the pain comes and goes. The most useful thing I learned tho was that my sense of equanimity surpassed more than I ever thought would be possible for me (eg, sitting with white-hot pain in my hip joints for an hour even tho they were screaming for me to move and just observing calmly all that was going on). An overall useful experience, but I saw it as just a good supplement to my Zen practice.

Part Three

Two weeks ago I undertook another Goenka retreat, but the altered states of consciousness experiences were far stronger and deeper this time. I'll limit myself to the strongest and most profound (but there were many more 'minor' experiences). On day 2 of the course I was particularly distressed about things with my girlfriend and almost quit the course there and then. Of course, with my background in Zen I could just ride the unpleasantness as impermanent phenomena. Sitting that evening I noticed a fluttering of energy in my solar plexus area and just put it down to a bodily response to my emotional state. Then after about 30 minutes the fluttering expanded to fill my whole chest cavity in a blueish-green explosion, my heart stopped (I really thought I wasgoing to die there on the cushion!) and a bolt of golden energy burst up my spine and exploded into a flowering, white fountain of energy in my head. This was accompanied by a vibration that felt as tho a gong had been struck inside my head. All thinking ceased and there was no "I" to even witness what was happening, but paradoxically I was aware of a bliss that I thought would literally kill me.
Since that retreat, I have found out about the jhanas (not once in 10 years of Zen did I come across the literature and when I've discussed anything about my experiences I've been told to dismiss them as 'makyo' (worthless hallucinations). In these past 2 weeks I find that I can access the jhanas in about 10-15 minutes by concentrating on my breath only. My breath becomes very fine and I'm aware of a distant kind of bliss beginning to fill my body. My eyes then begin to flutter unconciously and I follow this (my nimitta?) instead of my breath (which seems to have stopped anyway). All of a sudden the fluttering increases in intensity - as does the bliss- and WHAM! I'm back in that vibrating, intoxicating bliss I experienced 2 weeks ago on the retreat. This lasts for some time and then fades somewhat, but I'm not out of it and sitting seems so easy and effortless. Then I go back to either watching the breath or the pleasant feelings and then my eyes start fluttering again and BANG! I'm in another cycle. This happens every time I meditate (everyday for 2 weeks) and what's really strange is that even when I've been reading about the jhanas I've experienced this (twice). Now I feel I've come to a point where I have to consider - drop all this as a distraction (Zen) or pursue this as a new path. My intuition tells me this stuff is not 'makyo' and is worthy of further investigation. Ideas?
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

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

Outstanding bio there, and very interesting too!

I suppose one way to look at is that everything "experienced" is mayko and that there's only this awareness, but it's up to whether or not these things are worthy of investigation. What happens before and after the "BANG"? Do you get a sense of discontinuity, or that sort of "EUREKA!" feeling?

Great post and it'll be excellent to see you talk more on this stuff.

- Tommy
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 36 Join Date: 4/12/11 Recent Posts
Hi Tommy,

I've read a few of your replies to other people here, and I like your candidness, so I'm happy that you chose to answer my post. Please be as forthright as you usually are!

After I experience that (almost overwhelming) upsurge of bliss/energy I find that it kind of tapers off quite quickly and a more mellow sense of joy and happiness pervades (almost like my mind/body is being dipped in honey). This lasts a considerable amount of time longer and I can stay in this 'state' as long as I keep mindful of the pleasant sensation. This stage also tapers off and I find myself back into a place where I can use the 'body-sweeping' technique I learnt at the Goenka retreat. I can do this for at least another 30-50 mins with no sensation of pain, but still an overall feeling of (mellow) pleasure. I should say that I'm aware of body pain towards the end of the session (about the 50-60 min mark), but I'm not in the least concerned with it. After the session the 'warm and fuzzy' feeling lasts for many hours - almost like post coitus or after the intensity of MDMA begins wearing off. I think I mentioned that I've had this cycle occur a couple of times just by reading about the jhanas on the computer. If I had to put this into a nutshell, I'd say that within 5 mins of following my breath I can begin to feel the pleasant sensations; by 10-15 mins the eye fluttering begins and I leave my breath to become absorbed in this; within a few seconds.. WHAM.. and the the above cycle begins again. The end product seems to be an enhanced state of equanimity coupled with a warmness of being. I just can't believe I've gone so long in my practice (10 years of Zen) before experiencing this!

Hope this explains a bit more? I'm writing in a very 'stream of consciousness' style and so I've missed out other bits and pieces that might be pertinent to a better analysis. What's take on all this? Cheers, M
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Mike James Brown:
After I experience that (almost overwhelming) upsurge of bliss/energy...
2nd jhana
Mike James Brown:
... I find that it kind of tapers off quite quickly and a more mellow sense of joy and happiness pervades (almost like my mind/body is being dipped in honey). This lasts a considerable amount of time longer and I can stay in this 'state' as long as I keep mindful of the pleasant sensation...
3rd jhana
Mike James Brown:
...This stage also tapers off and I find myself back into a place where I can use the 'body-sweeping' technique I learnt at the Goenka retreat. I can do this for at least another 30-50 mins with no sensation of pain, but still an overall feeling of (mellow) pleasure. I should say that I'm aware of body pain towards the end of the session (about the 50-60 min mark), but I'm not in the least concerned with it.
4th jhana. as you have found it's quite equanimous and a great place to investigate the fundamental nature of all sensations (their impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness). that investigation leads to enlightenment. for what it's worth, i have heard that many have done the Goenka body-sweeping technique for years without getting stream entry (1st stage of enlightenment), but many have done a Mahasi-style noting practice for months and gotten it (a good primer on the technique can be found here). also knowing that it's possible makes it easier and tends to focus one more, which is why i recommend reading MCTB and hanging out at the DhO =P.

Mike James Brown:
After the session the 'warm and fuzzy' feeling lasts for many hours - almost like post coitus or after the intensity of MDMA begins wearing off.
jhanic afterglow - 'tis quite nice!

Mike James Brown:
If I had to put this into a nutshell, I'd say that within 5 mins of following my breath I can begin to feel the pleasant sensations; by 10-15 mins the eye fluttering begins and I leave my breath to become absorbed in this; within a few seconds.. WHAM.. and the the above cycle begins again.
can you be a bit clearer, here? there was no mention of WHAM in your initial description. is there a WHAM from the eye fluttering to the dipped-in-honey-state, or does the fluttering just taper off into the dipped-in-honey-state?

Mike James Brown:
I just can't believe I've gone so long in my practice (10 years of Zen) before experiencing this!
aye.. dismissing any sign of progress as a hallucination tends to make it hard to know you are progressing.
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 36 Join Date: 4/12/11 Recent Posts
Oops! I seem to be having a hard time figuring how to respond in chronological order : ( Yes, I've ordered the MCTB book from Amazon so looking forward to getting it. I've been reading about the 'noting' technique in the last few days and it does seem to be a good technique for long retreats, but extremely difficult to do in 'normal' life. Is that your experience? I like the 'body-sweeping' technique just for the ease of applying it. 'Noting' definitely seems more hardcore!

So it would seem that I can access the 4th jhana (at this stage I'm not sure what that really means). What should I be thinking of doing next? I guess I should answer my own question and just focus on strengthening what I have attained thus far. I also quess that Daniel's book will point me in the right direction as to what comes next (although I don't want to get too far ahead of myself). I do have some further questions, but I feel I've taken up alot of your time already (and Tommy's) so I'll call it a night. It's been an absolute pleasure so far! Thanks, M
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 36 Join Date: 4/12/11 Recent Posts
Mike James Brown:
If I had to put this into a nutshell, I'd say that within 5 mins of following my breath I can begin to feel the pleasant sensations; by 10-15 mins the eye fluttering begins and I leave my breath to become absorbed in this; within a few seconds.. WHAM.. and the the above cycle begins again.
can you be a bit clearer, here? there was no mention of WHAM in your initial description. is there a WHAM from the eye fluttering to the dipped-in-honey-state, or does the fluttering just taper off into the dipped-in-honey-state?

I think it might clearer if I explain it this way:

1) I begin meditating with the aim of sitting for about one hour;
2) I concentrate on the in/out of my breath on the space just below my nostrils;
3) After about 5 minutes I feel 'locked on' to my breath and all thoughts/distractions are weak and on the periphery;
4) A pleasant feeling pervades and increases as my breathing becomes shallower;
5) Another 5 or so minutes after this the pleasure is quite strong and my eyelids beginning to flutter;
6) I switch focus onto the fluttering of my eyes (my breathing feels suspended at this point)'
7) Although the overall sensations are pleasant and there is a feeling of impending bliss, the fluttering of my eyes is quite painful because it also feels like they're being squeezed shut;
8) The feeling now is like I'm reaching the top of a roller-coaster of bliss and... ... ... WHOOSH - I'm there! Vibrations, bliss everywhere, and for a few moments I'm just going along with the ride as I can't do anything about it at all;
9) Still really blissful but the crescendo has passed (my eyes have relaxed) and I can just 'sink into' just being (I also find that I am smiling here);
10) This lasts maybe 5 mins or so and now begins the equanimity which is free of pain and the intense bliss/pleasure, but there is still that feeling of being dipped in honey. Maybe that is too strong a description. A warm contentment might be a better description;
11) Now this is the interesting part (I haven't come across another account of this yet). If I stay with the equanimity and just follow my breath again, the whole sequence above recycles again. It isn't really any different but maybe a bit 'deeper' by a factor of one;
12) I pull myself out of the sit and find time has flown (about 60-80 mins) and I feel like I could probably sit for a couple more hours. The contentment lasts for many hours after.

Well, don't wanna end on a 13) so I'll leave it at that. That process of itemising was actually quite useful for me so I hope it made sense and makes things clearer. M
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

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Hi Beoman,

Damn your quote didn't come out in my above post! The above was addressed to you, but I'll be well happy to hear anyone else's thoughts too. M
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Mike James Brown:
Hi Beoman,

Damn your quote didn't come out in my above post! The above was addressed to you, but I'll be well happy to hear anyone else's thoughts too. M
ty for the clarification. note that you can "Edit" your posts once you made em =). you can re-do a post if it didn't come out to your satisfaction in exactly the same way you can't re-do jumping off a 40-story building
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment? (Answer)

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Mike James Brown:
I think it might clearer if I explain it this way:

1) I begin meditating with the aim of sitting for about one hour;
2) I concentrate on the in/out of my breath on the space just below my nostrils;
3) After about 5 minutes I feel 'locked on' to my breath and all thoughts/distractions are weak and on the periphery;
4) A pleasant feeling pervades and increases as my breathing becomes shallower;
5) Another 5 or so minutes after this the pleasure is quite strong and my eyelids beginning to flutter;
6) I switch focus onto the fluttering of my eyes (my breathing feels suspended at this point)'
7) Although the overall sensations are pleasant and there is a feeling of impending bliss, the fluttering of my eyes is quite painful because it also feels like they're being squeezed shut;
8) The feeling now is like I'm reaching the top of a roller-coaster of bliss and... ... ... WHOOSH - I'm there! Vibrations, bliss everywhere, and for a few moments I'm just going along with the ride as I can't do anything about it at all;
9) Still really blissful but the crescendo has passed (my eyes have relaxed) and I can just 'sink into' just being (I also find that I am smiling here);
10) This lasts maybe 5 mins or so and now begins the equanimity which is free of pain and the intense bliss/pleasure, but there is still that feeling of being dipped in honey. Maybe that is too strong a description. A warm contentment might be a better description;
11) Now this is the interesting part (I haven't come across another account of this yet). If I stay with the equanimity and just follow my breath again, the whole sequence above recycles again. It isn't really any different but maybe a bit 'deeper' by a factor of one;
12) I pull myself out of the sit and find time has flown (about 60-80 mins) and I feel like I could probably sit for a couple more hours. The contentment lasts for many hours after.

Well, don't wanna end on a 13) so I'll leave it at that. That process of itemising was actually quite useful for me so I hope it made sense and makes things clearer. M

ah awesome, it makes it a lot clearer.

it sounds exactly like you've reached stream entry (you're partially enlightened, wooo) or some later path, and you're in the review stage of that path. what happens is you sit, you go through the insight cycles, you get a fruition (likely the WHOOSH you talk about), then it subsides into a really blissful feeling (warm contentment), you chill out in the post-fruition glow for a bit, then the whole cycle starts again from the 4th nyana (the one with lots of fluttering/energy/excitement etc). especially the feeling that you can sit for as long as you want with no problem is very common in a review stage.

i recommend reading the 'progress of insight' chapter, the 'three doors' chapter, and the 'was that emptiness?' chapter that i linked earlier, from MCTB, if you want to learn more about it / verify it for yourself.

if you want to look for some cool things, pay attention to the WHOOSH (the fruition, i suspect), or more specifically, what happens right before and right after. is there a gap or a discontinuity of some kind where all of reality blinks out + in, but you don't perceive the blinking out (cause how could you since all of reality has blanked out - there's no one to perceive)? in particular, the entrance to the fruition can manifest in one of 6 ways (read the 'three doors' chapter for more), and it can be a lot of fun to watch just how reality collapses. in particular you're probably going through the impermanence/no-self door, as you dont describe the whoosh as unpleasant, and you're focusing on the flickering of your eye-lids which is quite impermanent. maybe next time, try focusing on how sensations are happening on their own and how they're quite unpleasant, and see if focusing on those leads you into a WHOOSH as well though with a different entrance - i like that one in particular.

in particular i'd pin it down to this event:

Mike James Brown:
Sitting that evening I noticed a fluttering of energy in my solar plexus area and just put it down to a bodily response to my emotional state. Then after about 30 minutes the fluttering expanded to fill my whole chest cavity in a blueish-green explosion, my heart stopped (I really thought I wasgoing to die there on the cushion!) and a bolt of golden energy burst up my spine and exploded into a flowering, white fountain of energy in my head. This was accompanied by a vibration that felt as tho a gong had been struck inside my head. All thinking ceased and there was no "I" to even witness what was happening, but paradoxically I was aware of a bliss that I thought would literally kill me.

fruition probably happened around when the heart stopped. huge bliss wave afterwards is characteristic of a fruition.
Mike James Brown:
Since that retreat, I have found out about the jhanas (not once in 10 years of Zen did I come across the literature and when I've discussed anything about my experiences I've been told to dismiss them as 'makyo' (worthless hallucinations). In these past 2 weeks I find that I can access the jhanas in about 10-15 minutes by concentrating on my breath only.
sudden access to jhanas with no prior training or particular expertise also tends to happen after stream entry. you seem to have a lot of concentration (as you mention feeling all the effects powerfully), so maybe you can even get the formless jhanas (5th - 8th jhanas), check out this link for a description of them (which should be enough to try to cultivate them), though i didn't get very clear 7th jhana until i had a bit more experience, personally.

the question is, now what are you going to do?
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 36 Join Date: 4/12/11 Recent Posts
Thanks mate, that was really interesting and informative. And how's this for timing (synchronicity?) - my MCTB arrived today! I'll get straight into those 3 chapters you recommended and get back to you. Shit, life is good! M
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 36 Join Date: 4/12/11 Recent Posts
Well, that's been a most interesting day. I received Daniel's book this morning and waited til my girlfriend left for work to read it in quiet. Opened the packet and just looking at the cover started another cycle! WTF! Read my most of the chapters Beoman recommended and during this I could feel another cycle coming on so put the book down (I was in bed) and went with it. I seem much more in control of the (painful) eye fluttering now (except for the rush of bliss which I now think is just a transition from one jhana to the next) and by a kind of easing of the pressure on and around my eyes I can make the jhana last longer. One different thing tho this time is that I let myself fall asleep and woke up many hours later (still daytime). Right now some of the exhilaration of the last few days have worn off and I'm feeling a bit flat (I'm guessing from sleeping so long in the daytime). I'm really hoping it's not the Dark Night!! Not yet - I'm not ready!

As for the read - wow! I'm still kinda in shock that there are books like this out there and a community of people going thru the same stuff exactly as I'm experiencing.
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 36 Join Date: 4/12/11 Recent Posts
Hi Beoman,

Looks like I'm not going to get any more feedback from this thread (pity as I was looking forward to reading a consensus of my experiences) so I'll sign off here with your post as being an answer to my original question. Thanks for all the feedback - it helped so much. I've still got lots of questions as things are getting pretty freaky over here! I'll give the MCTB book a further read as it seems to covering everything I'm going thru. Cheers bro! M
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Mike James Brown:
Looks like I'm not going to get any more feedback from this thread (pity as I was looking forward to reading a consensus of my experiences)...

if you'd like more feedback, then start a practice thread. describe what happens during your sits. it's hard to figure out where you are from few data points (could be stream entry, could be A&P - could be jhanas, could be something else), but if you describe a bunch of sits in detail one can begin to see a progression and then go from there.

likewise with jhanas. if you say 'space opened up', that can mean many things, but if you say 'i sat down. i locked on to my breath. then i let go of the effort and a bliss pervaded my body. the bliss grew in intensity until it dropped away and i felt a warmer, calmer bliss, and i could sense my periphery well. then even this warmer bliss faded and i was left with a calmness. i turned my attention to the blackness in front of my eyes and it felt like a boundary dropped away and space opened up' - then that's likely to be 5th jhana.

likewise with the progress of insight - easier to see your progression through the progression if you track it over many sits
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

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Beoman,

Good idea. I'll start doing that now and get back to you. Cheers. M
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Mike James Brown:
One evening, whilst watching TV, I heard an audible 'click' inside my head and in the same instant all the labels and concepts we give objects/phenomena vanished in an instant, even the sound of the TV disappeared. "I" (all sense of an 'I' also vanished) was left in a room which seemed to bathed in a blueish-gray, moonlight with every'thing' being exactly as it is, or in its 'suchness' - to borrow a phrase I would come across later. With the web of concepts removed I felt completely liberated and felt it like, "This is it! Just This!". After a while I could feel a warm, blissful sensation at the base of my spine start to flow upwards until it reached my head and I was bathed in a kind of 'liquid love' that felt like it would completely annihilate me if it didn't stop.

did the sound of the TV really disappear or was it just perceived differently?
was the state different when it started (the sense of 'I' vanishing) vs. when the bliss started creeping up?
it sounds like it might have started as a PCE. do these descriptions sound right? you can do an open-eye moment-to-moment practice to cultivate that state (also called apperception) by applying attentiveness and sensuousness, described in this essay (very pithy). it's easier to do that practice if you are happy and harmless, and this technique is a way to cultivate happiness and harmlessness (and hey, feeling good is always nice =).

Mike James Brown:
Since that retreat, I have found out about the jhanas (not once in 10 years of Zen did I come across the literature and when I've discussed anything about my experiences I've been told to dismiss them as 'makyo' (worthless hallucinations).

Like Tommy said, that's technically true, as all these things are side-effects on the path.

however, these 'worthless hallucinations' have a particular structure to them, e.g. the samatha jhanas (1st-4th), the formless jhanas (5th-8th). in particular, there is "the progression of insight" (15 stages total) which pretty accurately maps out what happens starting from nothing to the first taste of enlightenment (stream entry) and a review of that attainment. if you're interested in knowing more, i strongly recommend you read Mastering the Core Teachings of Buddha as it lays it all out for you in plain english. i recommend you start with the progress of insight chapter, read up on them, and see if they match your experience.

you may already have stream entry, and reading the chapter on was that emptiness? after reading the progress of insight might be a good way to check.
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

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Hi Beoman,

Great questions and great links. Spot on, actually! Yes, not only the sound of the TV, but all sound, concepts, intellectualisations, labels etc vanished. All that remained was a pureness: a world as it actually is before we put that web of concepts over it. Everything almost crystal-like in its purity. The descriptions in the PCE link capture it better than I could ever do.

The second link also perfectly captures what my idea of Zen is - that moment just before a thought or label appears. I haven't read it all yet, but I'm looking forward to doing so when I'm not so tired (it's almost 1am here in Japan). I should add that I was in India recently and became very interested in the work of Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj and I've been doing lots of work on 'awareness': the sense of letting come what comes, letting go waht goes and see what remains.

After this period of clarity and "This is IT!", I did come back to myself more and could 'expeience' the rush of energy up the spine and the feeling of 'liquid love' coursing thru 'my' body. Although this looks like a garden variety kundalini experience (it probably is), I've always felt it was the physiological consequence of a spiritual liberation such as in kensho experiences.

Gotta say, I'm loving this discovery (I'm 46) and can't believe so many people have experienced the same things and there is a community of us out there! I also can't believe that a practice as established as Zen is so (intentionally?) backward in the areas of absorbtion and jhanas. Nice to meet you all! M
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Mike James Brown:
After this period of clarity and "This is IT!", I did come back to myself more and could 'expeience' the rush of energy up the spine and the feeling of 'liquid love' coursing thru 'my' body. Although this looks like a garden variety kundalini experience (it probably is), I've always felt it was the physiological consequence of a spiritual liberation such as in kensho experiences.
i think you're right. experiencing the world for however many moments without a self seems to deal a huge blow to it.. you're not the only one to start off on the path from a PCE - i believe Richard (the man who coined the term PCE) started that way, as did Chris Ballhaus as described here.

to explain a bit of background: many people here currently believe the goal (as in the end of suffering) is an experience like in an uninterrupted PCE. a perpetual moment before a label appears. it also seems like the path of absorption, jhana, insight, etc, does lead to a pleasant way of existing with a great reduction in suffering (we call it 4th path), where there is a self but the sensations that make up the self are seen to also be just more selfless sensations (so it doesn't bite quite as much), but it doesn't lead to the uninterrupted PCE-like state (i say PCE-like because those living in it say it's even deeper and purer than in a PCE). in fact there are people who got the 4th path (and seemed like no more progress could be made on that front, so the belief was that one was fully enlightened) but then went on to progress further and attain an "Actual Freedom" (which is the term for the uninterrupted PCE-like state - which happens when the self disappears completely). also it seems you can go the Actual Freedom/Zen as you understand it route without having to get enlightened in the jhana/absorption/4th path way, though being enlightened in that manner does seem to make it easier to pursue the Actual Freedom route. (i wrote a post comparing&contrasting the different paths as i understood it; you can check it out here).
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Mike James Brown:
Great questions and great links. Spot on, actually! Yes, not only the sound of the TV, but all sound, concepts, intellectualisations, labels etc vanished. All that remained was a pureness: a world as it actually is before we put that web of concepts over it. Everything almost crystal-like in its purity. The descriptions in the PCE link capture it better than I could ever do.

ah i forgot to press this point - so was it as if you suddenly became deaf? (no sound?) it's weird to call that the world as it actually is, as there is actually sound in this world (vibrating air molecules striking the cochlea)
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tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

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looks to me like it could be a&p. how come no one has even suggested it?
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 36 Join Date: 4/12/11 Recent Posts
Hi Tarin,

Haha! It looks like I've been 'demoted' from the lofty heights of stream-entry emoticon To be honest, and after reading more of both Daniel's book and KDF, I feel like I'm getting into the 5th jhana. The reason why is because the last stage I get to before I finish is like a 'non-centre' looking at an expanse of space inside my head. When I say "inside my head" it's more like a boundless space inside my head - like catching the whole of the moon in a dewdrop (I should add that in my 10 years of Zen I am well past 'What was your Original Face before your mother was born). Also, since my 3 month trip to India, I have been doing a lot of work with Ramana Maharshi's 'I Am' and the witness and 'what is it that never changes - experience that'. These seem to tie in quite well with the my experience in the 5th jhana. Although I'm not bothered with where I am being labeled (honestly!), I do want an accurate assesment as possible so I know what practices to undertake. Thanks Tarin!
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 36 Join Date: 4/12/11 Recent Posts
Oops. I forgot to say that I think my A&P was the experience I had 10 years ago that got me onto this path. M
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 36 Join Date: 4/12/11 Recent Posts
Tarin,

My apologys. The terminology here is quite new to me and it's taking a while to get used to. Your comment forced me to reread the chapter with A&P and I think you're quite correct. My initial understanding was that an A&P was a once only 'opening' event to the 'spiritual' life (coming from Zen the word 'spiritual' doesn't quite do it but I think you know what I mean). Anyway, back to the book for me. Ta, M
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
tarin greco:
looks to me like it could be a&p. how come no one has even suggested it?

the mention of cycles got me thinkin' about stream entry. i did find it odd there was no mention of dukkha nyanas, but i figured perhaps he had so much practice in equanimity that they didn't affect him much
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 36 Join Date: 4/12/11 Recent Posts
Hey guys I'm here if you wanna ask me anything. My equanimity was pretty strong before all this started happening due to zazen and other factors. However, and I hate to look like I'm just telling you what you want to hear,but I have had a few flat moments during this situation. For example, I've been experiencing a kind of grieving that my relationships are not permanent (deeper than an intellectual knowing) and also a vague feeling that the bliss in the jhanas are somewhat cloying (after they've gone - not during them).
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Apologies for the delay in replying Mike, after reading the rest of your responses I'm likely to side with tarin on the A&P suggestion. On the upside, it's likely that you'll get 1st path pretty quickly if you practice well and it seems that you already have some decent momentary concentration skills through your previous practice.

You also mention doing Maharishi's self-enquiry, the result of this is more typical of the 6th jhana, infinite consciousness, than 5th, infinite space. Getting into the formless realms isn't indicative of being post-1st path but it at least demonstrates that you've got the skills to get there in the first place.

My own opinion on figuring out where you "are", particularly if you're new to the terminology as we all were at one point, is that it's better to underestimate, at least initially, until you can have these things confirmed by someone who really knows the territory. The practice thread idea is excellent, tarin pretty much changed my entire practice with a few words and pointers so I don't doubt that you'll benefit from this. I think everyone else has said enough without me wasting your time, just get that thread going and we'll see you in the stream.... emoticon

Metta & Mudita
- Tommy
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 36 Join Date: 4/12/11 Recent Posts
Hi Tommy,

No need to apologise - I'm grateful for any advice, no matter when it comes. I'm finding that things are falling apart with my meditation at the moment, so I'm thinking of going right back to basics (just get to access concentration and do the body-scanning I learnt fom the Goenka retreats). The noting systen talked about in Daniel's book sounds good,but I don't know enough about it to do it justice. I'll post a new thread when I have something more substantial and positive to add. Ah well, back to the cushion... M
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Mike James Brown:
Hi Tommy,

No need to apologise - I'm grateful for any advice, no matter when it comes. I'm finding that things are falling apart with my meditation at the moment, so I'm thinking of going right back to basics (just get to access concentration and do the body-scanning I learnt fom the Goenka retreats). The noting systen talked about in Daniel's book sounds good,but I don't know enough about it to do it justice. I'll post a new thread when I have something more substantial and positive to add. Ah well, back to the cushion... M

could be getting into dukkha nyanas. tends to follow A&P quite reliably.. so don't despair, keep practicing.

in particular try not to grasp at how you could meditate before, since if it was indeed A&P and now you're in Dissolution et. al, you won't be able to. in particular, the grasping (if it is there) is just another thing to notice (another set of sensations defined by the 3 characteristics) and not something to pay any more attention to than that.

hey that is advice i should follow, too..

about noting - this is a good primer on the technique if you want to read more about it.
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Back to basics is my absolute favourite approach whenever I'm uncertain about something in practice, seriously.

I don't think that Goenka-style body scanning is going to cut the mustard when going for a Path, Nikolai "Whichever Pseudonym He's Using These Days Booyakasha" Halay is a veteran of Goenka retreats so perhaps he could offer some advice with that, he knows his stuff and is full of good info.

The noting systen talked about in Daniel's book sounds good,but I don't know enough about it to do it justice.

Nonsense! There's nothing to "know" about the technique itself, it's so simple that it's incredibly easy to make an arse of it if you overthink it or try to figure it out.

You sit down, get access concentration (which, btw, you almost certainly already have but maybe don't know it by that particular name) and start putting a label (mentally or even verbally at first, whichever you're most comfortable with) on sensations starting with one each second and gradually building up from there. Accuracy is more important than speed, in my opinion, and as long as you're noting well you will move through the progress of insight in a very natural, predictable and, eventually, identifiable way.

Start with the following the rise and fall of the abdomen, as it rises and you note "rising", it stops and you note "stopping", it falls and you note "falling". From there, all you're doing is including more and more of what makes up reality at the sensate level, objectifying it, seeing that every single part of it is transient, fundamentally unsatisfying and absolutely completely and utterly not you. From the feeling of your backside on the cushion to the space between space between space and so forth, it's all there to be seen through.

Don't make excuses, or think that you can't do this. Practice is the only way you'll ever learn and you already know you can do that at least!

Good luck mate, lookin' forward to your practice thread.

- Tommy

P.S. - Don't worry about posting negative results, "it's all just grist for the mill"....
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 36 Join Date: 4/12/11 Recent Posts
Tommy,

I agree with you regading the Goenka body-scanning technique, but right now I think I need to stick with what I know (I do see me changing this at some future date, but right now in Japan the Goenka retreats are all I have available due to the language barrier). I've also started a new practice thread as per your recommendation so looking forward to your observations.

Gassho

MJB
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Nikolai Blue Mountains Bush Yowie*, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Hi Mike,

If you don't want to mix techniques, I wrote about what you could do to increase your chances of getting 1st path on a 10 day Goenka course here:

http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com/2010/11/going-for-stream-entry-on-goenka-10-day.html

Nick
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What kind of attainment?

Posts: 36 Join Date: 4/12/11 Recent Posts
Hi Nick,

Wow, that was a great read and lines up almost exactly like the phenomena I've experienced on the Goenka retreats. My intuition and experiences tell me I'm (somewhat) close to stream-entry and your encouragement to 'go for it' are quite inspiring! I'm thinking of doing another 10-days soon(ish) so that could be 'my time'. Cheers mate (btw, I lived in Perth for 17 years, although Welsh by birth and upbringing). M

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