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Cultivating & Navigating Bootstrapped Kasinas

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Hi everyone, can anyone please share advice on this topic from their own experience? You can skip down to Questions if you like emoticon

Background: 
To the best of my knowledge I’m working on 3rd path. I can currently navigate up into Equanimity using a pretty decent shamatha jhana based on pleasure in the body but I need to be well rested in order to do it. (i have had to go through a lot of the territory dry though from time to time). Up until very recently I could only really generate very vibratory vipassana-jhana’s. I really struggle with my 2nd or 3rd sit of the day sometimes because I seem to drop on the out-breath to wherever I might be (usually somewhere in the DN) and have to really bear down on the pleasure in the body to get into a stable jhana. Otherwise I’m stuck just solidifying where I am and taking it from there. 

That approach always worked fine for me but this path is really different. For a start I think i must be on cycle 7 or 8 at least by now and still not landing it. But it also seems to require a lot better concentration. 

For a couple of years I have been “seeing white”. It started before I had got 2nd path. I would wake up in the night and be able to see (a pretty neat trick seeing as I am blind…) but although the room was all white I could not see my hand in front of my face. After 2nd path (last October) There has been a LOT of white during the A&P, dancing nimittas and some super scary white-out’s while taking cannabis. 

My “visual purple” actually is a gorgeous deep electric blue, but white is what I can (somewhat) manipulate…

Current experience: 
Right now I am experimenting with this whiteness. I have so much pain in my body this path and I’ve noticed that it *seems” as though I can progress through the stages of insight and concentrate at the same time using the whiteness and visual tv snow behind my eyelids (mostly i need them open a bit though). 

I can’t really start from scratch this way, i usually pick it up during the A&P. I focus on either the sheet of whiteness or the dancing nimita (which is often a coin sized shimmer of much whiter whiteness against the white, swirling tv snow) and dissolve it. As it dissolves, another slides in from the left to take its place and I dissolve that. And so it goes..

After a while it will all go black again but I can still see a ton of detail in the swirling blackness and if concentration is good their may be a “black nimita”. An area of even backer blackness against the black hehe..

Sometimes (most often) i get a border of whiteness at the periphery of vision which can expand and expand so only a coin sized hole of black remains and with some playing around it will eventually take over and this *appears* to be Equanimity. Its a bit unclear, I’ve not been playing with this stuff for long. 

So…


QUESTIONS

1) Is this a valid way to progress though the stages of insight? It’s very appealing as it seems that by focusing away from the body i have less pain.

2) When in the DN, should I focus on the black hole and the shifting randomness in there (which when paid close attention to starts to organise) or widen to focus exclusively on the peripheral whiteness?

3) Can you add anything else that might be useful?

Thanks so much, 

stay safe everyone!




RE: Cultivating & Navigating Bootstrapped Kasinas
Answer
5/16/20 10:03 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
I am curious as to how much practice a day you are doing to get those effects?

What is up with the pain?

For question 2, I would play around with it and see what works best for you. It sounds like it is working well.

That said, I find that if I can stay with the visual middle and it has lots of detail, it is good to stay there. The outside begins to come in on its own.

Once you have the whole visual field pretty effortlessly, experiment bringing in sound and feel as well. If bodily tension builds, let it go.

RE: Cultivating & Navigating Bootstrapped Kasinas
Answer
5/17/20 1:13 PM as a reply to Jason Massie.
Hi Jason, thanks for that. Much appreciated. 
>Practice
Since last summer about 3-5hrs a day. Currently about 3, split over 2 sits. Not really getting to the end though. Seriously condering focusing on mahamudra stuff in the waking day and reducing sit time to 1 session and focusing on concentration like my life depended on it emoticon

>Pain
Went through some textbook shoulder and neck pain in the early stages but this is now mostly in the paraspinals. Not just the large muschles that run up the sides of the spine but the smaller ones that branch up and out of the sacrum area to cross the rib cage. I' ve not dought my posture (lying down on my back) is partly to blame but if I go through reobservation dry or with poor conecntration then those muscles can actually pulse with pain. It's quite horrid. So i'm reasonably sure it's meditation related. 

2hd path was horrific emotionally (poor practice certainly didn't help) but this path all the existential fear and angst is 99% gone but I've got a lot of physical pain and it's odd but the whole 1st vipassana jhana and the 4th are HUGE, and the A&P/DN are pretty short and easy. Makes you think about fractals...
~BTG

RE: Cultivating & Navigating Bootstrapped Kasinas
Answer
5/17/20 9:07 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
It sounds familiar except my pain was tension and sometimes itches. It seemed like I had a long 1st vipassana jhana then a mild A&P\DN and, while I thought I was in EQ,  the tension was still there in the background. Shortly after I crossed the real A&P. Maybe try to see the oscillation in the pain. Or if you want to stay visual, try to really see the detail in the center as clearly as possible. I have no idea if that is where you are at though... emoticon

Sometimes it is murky and you just have to fail back on good practice. I try to balance the factors and remedy the hinderances. If I try to put myself on a map, I stay open to a more skeptical possibility. It is hard to go wrong doing that...

It sounds like you are doing good and getting interesting results. Have faith in your practice and direct a tiny bit awareness to where you are at with the factors and hinderances.