Message Boards Message Boards

Claims to Attainments

Discussing and perhaps diagnosing

Discussing and perhaps diagnosing
Answer
5/11/20 3:13 PM
Hey everyone, I thought it might be interesting to discuss my experience here, as the interest in diagnosing my own position on the maps got reinvigorated. I pieced together a few things I've written at different times about the different relevant topics, if there is something else that would be interesting let me know.

PRACTICE
Meditating since around 4-5 years, seriously since maybe 1.5. Never did a residential retreat but a handful of periods with jacked up practice hours while still at home with my family. Most of my practice time went into TMI, TWIM, mahamudra type practice and seeing that frees stuff at different periods, but also have extensive experience with freestyle noting as taught by Kenneth Folk, self inquiry, direct pointing teachings, fire (and other) Kasina, mantras,...

Now a little on the baseline effects

EMOTIONS
There was a period with profound equanimity but emotions still occurred, they just weren't a problem. Deep sadness like I had never felt became something beautiful, something that would have been absurd to me before. It changed after a while, slowly there stopped being this thing called an emotion and it's more just clusters of stuff happening that can maybe be somewhat accurately described to other people by emotional words, but more detailed descriptions usually lead to total confusion, a common thing when talking about all this.
Interestingly it didn't feel like much had changed, it's like it had always been this way. There were never emotions in the first place, just an excess of thoughts around clusters of phenomena called emotional events. Daniel Ingram sums it up perfectly and the formulation keeps coming up spontaneously since I've heard it: "this mammal seems to be in a state of X". Outer appearance seems to be unchanged apart from some things that don't trigger something anymore.
Right now emotions seem to be coming back. After a long period of there just being bodily correlates that could be interpreted as emotional reactions if noticed and with a corresponding intention with the odd thought thrown in here or there, the automatic recognition of emotions is coming back online. It's very different from before but it feels like a big improvement over the standard mode and maybe even better than the complete lack of full fledged emotions. It actually feels like I was just incompetent in noticing them, the body still reacts to outside stimuli, as it probably, and even hopefully, always will. And not always being up to date there seems suboptimal, although I'm not sure yet. Had one negative experience so far, but it's far too early to judge.

SELF IMAGE
Big decrease in thinking about it, but no problems calling up an image or something. Functionally all is as usual apart from the occasional thing when something functionally important is forgotten where some social inhibition would have kicked in before, which leads nicely into...

MEMORY
Definitely emphasise with the struggles often reported around that one, my guess is that there is no real functional impairment, but since so little comes up by itself, appointments or things that are asked of me are forgotten at like 90%.

BODY AWARENESS
This was - or at least felt (there is a good paragraph on the disparity between the estimate and the reality of it in "the finders") - amazing after the first retreat, faded little by little back to what I would say are ordinary levels with the ability to make it very clear and vivid at any point. Depends heavily on what the daily practice is and was never a focus for me.

AGENCYLESSNESS
This is a weird one. Had the first shift in that at 16 and the last one around November. To use the classic rod/snake analogy: there is never any agency and it's always a rod laying in the corner of the room, but most people perceive it to be a snake and never question it. At 16 I realised it couldn't be a snake but still always saw it when looking, at ~19 i discovered that while looking intensely and at the right angle, I could see the rod but it was always a transition from the snake to the rod. Then at some point it just became less and less effortful to make that transition, so from the corner of the eye it would still look like a snake but when looking at it, it always turned into a rod. And after the November retreat, it's just always a rod. Sometimes there is no attention on that corner of the room/ part of experience, but the sense of something transforming when looking is gone.

BEING VS DOING
No difference for me. Everything just unfolds and whether the body or mind are more active or less is just part of the field with no special significance. Obviously there are "lazier" periods but not more than ever before.

CONCEPTS AND TRUTH
The fact that there is no way to relay experience via language and concepts is very clear, everything seems untrue to some degree but that just integrated into a dropping of the concept of truth kind of. So I still call things true, I just mean something different by it. So very similar to emotions in a sense. Understood the analytical emptiness arguments for a long time here but had an experiencal shift around it later.

SENSE OF TIME
There was a period of very high presentness with little past or future but that kind of normalised. The present moment is seen as just as constructed and empty, but because it's also just more interesting and pleasant, it's still often the default. There are still periods where that's different though, with something often pulling thought towards it like a dream or a particular memory or event.

MIND CHATTER
This was mostly gone for a while, keeps coming back, especially after reading or talking about it, but it's not taken seriously, just some hear-in... and it's 95% pleasant anyway, but it has always been. Also again some periods where this is off, same as with time.

ENJOYMENT
I actually don't feel Jeffrey Martin is exaggerating with his descriptions, although to me it seems like I'm an exception there, my baseline was very high for the first part of life as well, so maybe that has something to do with it but everything is just amazing.
Moving, talking, just doing nothing is all way more enjoyable. Reading about new meditation things, or old ones, is fascinating and there is lots of trying around, but no attachment to outcomes. The sense door itself is fascinating and pleasant itself and the different emptiness lenses Burbea offers make it even more so. Funnily enough, that is not reflected outwardly, I still complain sometimes, even when feeling just pleasant. Conditioning again, but that's probably even positive socially, so maybe it'll stay.

And the details that don't fit in with the maps:

THE POI
Very little direct perception of insight stages, no noticeable spill into life and no discernable patterns on cushion either. At a very recent fire kasina semi-retreat, I got a few awareness shifts while sitting (hard to describe, was too focused on the visuals) with definite fear, misery,... aspects like spiders attacking and all that classic stuff. But all not really triggering and without any impact on mood or life.

CESSATIONS
A few months ago something started happening in meditation which after a lot of discussion with dharma friends seem to be cessations and I've learned to trigger them very quickly by now. My eyes always seem to twitch when it happens and there is very little happening which marks it other than a stopping of any running mental reactionchains running and some relaxation sometimes. The eye twitch was my hint to consider them cessations: if I put my fingers at the corner of my eyes, I can feel them moving in, but then they're just back at the relaxed position without the movement back. Also after sitting I get a whiff of the three doors thing, everything vanishing in specific patterns depending on how I trigger them. Often happen during the day, especially when something happens that could be called an "insight".