Stream Entry Near Miss? Please Help

Asher K, modified 10 Years ago.

Stream Entry Near Miss? Please Help

Posts: 6 Join Date: 7/31/11 Recent Posts
I’ve never posted on here before, but I am at a point where I could really use some advice. I just finished a 10 day retreat, during which time I repeatedly had an experience where I thought I was about to reach stream entry. This experience seemed to be halted every time by extreme excitement. I am hoping to get some people’s opinion if what I experienced really was almost first path, and if so what I can do in the future to allow this process to take its course.

But ok, I’ll back it up. Before starting the retreat I felt like I was in lower equanimity. I made a vow to myself before the retreat to note or be mindful every moment I was awake. On day four during a sit I had my first experience with what I believe were formations. I felt everything as a very subtle vibration, all at once. At first this was just my body sensations, but then it would move to my mind states and thoughts. When I was experiencing a formation everything was vibration, just there, all at once. Pretty soon I was spending most of my sits doing choiceless awareness or in formations.

On the sixth day I had my first near miss with stream entry. I was experiencing a very intense formation when I began to look at awareness and when I saw the impermanence in that it also became vibrations. Within a few seconds of disembedding from my awareness it was as if a hole in the vibrations opened up and I was being sucked in/falling in. As I was falling it occurred to me that I was about to get stream entry and I couldn’t help but get so excited. I was pumped. There was nothing I could do. My heart started pounded. I cant remember ever feeling such overwhelming excitement. I thought I was either going to pass out or orgasm. But in the end neither happened, and the falling just stopped. It still felt like I was deep in this hole, but pretty soon that also faded. It kind of had the feeling when you have a strong desire to yawn, and you get halfway through the yawn but cant quite finish it. It was very frustrating.

After experiencing this once it became very easy for it to happened again. But every time I was being sucked in, I just got so darn excited. I knew this was what was holding me back, but I couldn’t stop myself.

So I am really curious to hear if what I described really does sound like high equanimity right about to cross over to first path. And if that was what I was experiencing I really need some advice on how to let that experience take its course/how to deal with the excitement. I am taking another 10 day retreat in a month, and I am scared that I will get to the same point and not be able to progress beyond it.

Thank you so much for taking the time to help me. I am so grateful to have help so readily available. It makes me feel like I am not going at this alone.
TJ Broccoli, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Stream Entry Near Miss? Please Help

Posts: 93 Join Date: 3/1/10 Recent Posts
hi Asher,

that doesn't sound like equanimity at all--neither equanimity stage nor equanimity of mind. sounds very much like A&P territory. the A&P feels very special but imperfect, while high equanimity stage feels very very mundane but totally perfect.

what practice(s) are you doing on and off retreat?

jill
Asher K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Stream Entry Near Miss? Please Help

Posts: 6 Join Date: 7/31/11 Recent Posts
Hi TJ, Thanks for the reply. I hear what you are saying about it being A&P and not equanimity. That is something I will look at more deeply. After rereading my post I felt like the way I was describing my experience was unclear in a couple ways, and I wonder if that is what was making it sound like an A&P experience.

For one, when I described the experience as "the vibrations opened up and I was being sucked in/falling in" I think maybe a more accurate thing to say is that I was becoming more and more engrossed in the vibrations, and after looking at them more and more deeply I began zooming in on them without any control, which had that quality of being 'sucked in'.

The other thing was that the experience itself was not overwhelming, in fact I would describe most of my retreat as you said "very mundane but totally perfect". But separate from the experience of 'zooming in' I began to feel intense excitement, nervousness and anticipation. These were a result of me analyzing the experience as it was happening (which is so not a good idea).

I would love to hear yours and others opinions if that still sounds like A&P.

You also asked about my practice. I have a couple techniques, but noting is by far what I do the most. I've been meditating 30min-2hours everyday for the last 4 years. Up until 6 months ago it was mostly concentration. For the past 6 months I've been doing mostly insight 2hr/day and I do a self retreat every week for 10 hours.
TJ Broccoli, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Stream Entry Near Miss? Please Help

Posts: 93 Join Date: 3/1/10 Recent Posts
can you recall other dominant and striking qualities(different from previous stages) in this experience you're describing, other than the meditation doing its thing, noticing the fine vibrations, and the tendency to analyze? because those are exactly what tend to dominate in A&P territory.

i just can't imagine how this would suddenly pop up in the middle of equanimity stage:
Asher K:
As I was falling it occurred to me that I was about to get stream entry and I couldn’t help but get so excited. I was pumped. There was nothing I could do. My heart started pounded. I cant remember ever feeling such overwhelming excitement.

unless you get zapped from early equanimity to mid A&P somehow...

and then there are concentration jhana shifts...

at this point i haven't read enough about other people's experiences to know about the variations in how people experience the ñanas; i only have my own experience to compare it to. let's see what others think.

jill
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Nikolai ., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Stream Entry Near Miss? Please Help

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Asher K:
As I was falling it occurred to me that I was about to get stream entry and I couldn’t help but get so excited. I was pumped. There was nothing I could do. My heart started pounded. I cant remember ever feeling such overwhelming excitement.


I second the AP. When i had my first experiences of AP, I was seriously "overwhelmed with excitement" and my "heart was pounding". When I had my first and later experiences of the 11h nana, I was never overwhelmed nor had my heart pounding. The 11th nana had me super underwhlemed and my heart as calm as windless day. I did have a few "something is about to happen" episodes while in the 11th before 1st path occurred, but they were never overwhelming, just slightly anticipating.

Comparing with my own experience, I would second Jill's diagnosis of AP. Practice-wise? The answer would be to continue doing what you were doing in your practice, as sooner or later you will know for sure that it was the AP, with the dark night following it like thunder follows lightning. If not? if it was the 11th, you may notice back cycling through the DN re-observation territory or more calm panoramic 4th jhana-y-ness of the 11th. There is nothing more to do than continue to do what you were doing and lay down the speculating till it becomes clearer where you might be. It's all progress.

Next time you get the "anticipation" of something big, note the "anticipation" and "excitement" as "anticipation" and "excitement" or "pounding" if it arises. It is dis-identifying from and objectifying even that anticipation and excitement that gets you across the line.

My 2 cents.

Nick
Asher K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Stream Entry Near Miss? Please Help

Posts: 6 Join Date: 7/31/11 Recent Posts
Thanks for the advice. It's definitely a shock to hear that I may still be in A&P, but something I need to hear. This brings up questions for me about my practice. What I am most curious about is the attitude I should have right now to what I thought were formations. It felt very natural to allow my awareness take on everything at once; to see no distinction between mind and body, and allow it all to be there at the same time. But I wonder if being in A&P that is not the most appropriate thing to be doing at this stage.

When this experience was happening it felt like that was where my practice was heading, and while I would definitely not say I was forcing it, I would say I consciously allowed my mind to see phenomena in this way. I could have held strong to my noting or choiceless awareness practice, and I wonder if while in A&P that is the best move.

Thanks again for the support.
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Stream Entry Near Miss? Please Help

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
It's definitely a shock to hear that I may still be in A&P, but something I need to hear.

Sometimes it takes a kick in the arse to get you going again.

If you're in the A&P then noting is name of the game. Precise observation of phenomena as it arises and passes, it may be that this is what you're actually seeing rather than formations, in which case don't get complacent and allow yourself to bliss out. When you're there you can observe the entire sensation from beginning to end with incredible ease, it's unfolding before you and you can drop mentally noting for monosyllabic notes, more acknowledging than noting, and this goes for every single sensation from the pleasant to the irritating and everything else too.

Note it, note it, note it.....you get the picture. emoticon
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N A, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Stream Entry Near Miss? Please Help

Posts: 157 Join Date: 7/10/11 Recent Posts
Tommy M:
Precise observation of phenomena as it arises and passes, it may be that this is what you're actually seeing rather than formations, in which case don't get complacent and allow yourself to bliss out.


I was wondering about this. What exactly is the difference? Daniel and others say that A&P can mimic Equanimity to such extent that it even fools post-1st-pathers. Yet formations are supposed to appear only in Equanimity. Does A&P present in such a way that to fool post-1st-pathers that they're seeing formations? Or are they actually seeing formations, just not in a complete enough way?
Chad Monfreda, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Stream Entry Near Miss? Please Help

Posts: 4 Join Date: 6/5/11 Recent Posts
I had an experience that sounds similar but I do not think it was the A&P.

A year ago I awoke from an overwhelmingly explosive sensory bliss out. I cannot help but to self-diagnose, and take this to have been an A&P followed (and actually preceded too) by chronic dark night. Over the last month or so I have really stepped up my noting and concentration practice. To my surprise, over the last couple of weeks, the 1-3rd, 4th, 5th, 6-10th, and 11th nanas have become more and more clear and predictable. I can see a certain release and 'ahhh' common to both A&P and Equanimity, as well as see how they are quite different.

I have also been able to reach what seem to be the samantha jhanas simply by 'solidifying' sensations during the 1-3rd, 4th, 5th, and 11th nanas.

The experience that seemed like yours occurred when I was in what I take to be Equanimity. I was calm and concentrated, with the vibrations fine and the sense-field unified. Then my heart began pounding, I grew excited anticipating stream entry (though saying I 'never experienced such overwhelming excitement' would be an overstatement), and there was a sudden darkening, almost collapse, of the visual field into a smaller area in which vibrations were still present. The collapse magnified these vibrations, almost as if looking at them with a microscope. This then subsided. I was back in typical Equanimity within a minute.

I do no think this was A&P, again because it occurred in a distinct, refined, and calm stage, and because no dark knight followed. If anything, I am more calm than in months, or years, as I can reliably work my way to the 11th nana a couple of times daily and ride the relaxation out from there.

Of course, I do not want to deceive myself or you either, so critique or comment is welcome!

My practice: years of light zazen prior to 1 1/2 years ago; since then an average 1 hour of noting daily and a couple short retreats; and over the last months 2 hours daily warmed up with 10-15 minutes of concentration on the breath or candle kasina.
Angler ~, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Stream Entry Near Miss? Please Help

Posts: 4 Join Date: 6/5/11 Recent Posts
Hi Asher,

I noticed this thread that sounds a bit like what you mentioned:

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/2028774

Does that sound more like what you experienced or what I posted in above?

If anyone has any ideas on whether these three are the same that'd be great!
Asher K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Stream Entry Near Miss? Please Help

Posts: 6 Join Date: 7/31/11 Recent Posts
Thanks for the link Angler. Both yours and Dylan's experience sound similar to mine in a lot of ways. Personally I think I'm going to take a break from worrying too much about what stage I'm in. The answer to being in A&P or Equanimity is to just keep practicing, and I think that's good enough for me at the moment.

However I did read this article that you may find interesting. Specifically the part about the anticipation prior to fruition. Let me know what you think.

http://alohadharma.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/equanimity/
Angler ~, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Stream Entry Near Miss? Please Help

Posts: 4 Join Date: 6/5/11 Recent Posts
And thanks for your link, Ascher. This description does sound quite like my experience. I am especially curious about whether my experience corresponds to his perception of things 'rushing in'.

This has actually happened a couple of times now, triggered, I think, by intentionally adding a little extra oomph of energy and concentration during an otherwise clear and calm sit. There were energetic things happening around the crown afterwards, but I wouldn't call the event itself an energetic one full of lights and bliss.

That said, I agree the best policy is to devote more energy to practicing the best one can, letting go and not trying to micro-manage a process one by definition doesn't understand yet. At least that's my ideal approach!

Good luck and let us know how things work out.

-Angler

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