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Wrong call
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6/24/20 12:27 AM
A few questions for those practicing some sort of vipassana and going through insight stages. 

have you called a path but not actually had it?

have you thought you were in equanimity but it was actually a&p?

have you had an a&p event and thought it was a path?

have you been in 3c's and thought it was dark night?

have you spent months chasing a path moment instead of meditating on the moment?

have you followed all your own guidance and failed utterly until finally asking for help?

have you been in the dark night over and over without gaining any real insight?

was there a point in your practice that you gave up chasing a path and just used meditation to be here now? 

I find all these questions really hilarious. I spent the last year chasing a path until the last couple of months where I got so worn out by the chasing that I asked for help and was able to start meditating on the moment. It's so funny to look back and see all the times I wanted some stat or stage to be so true and it wasn't. The other thing is I would be told I could be wrong at times but not really believe it. One thing I've learned is don't believe everything I think. The other thing I learned is that good practice helps relieve the chasing. Also that solid guidance and follow through helps tremendously. The last thing is that meditation only seems to go so far and good therapy can help when meditation doesn't. I still really want path kind of like a reward for hard work but it's a beating meditating in the future. It lead to going in circles. Anyway I think it would be cool to see some other people answer the questions and see how close people line up.

RE: Wrong call
Answer
6/24/20 1:23 AM as a reply to Dustin.
I have definitely been in the 3C nana and thought it was the dukkha nanas. More than once. And I pretty often fail to meditate on the moment, but chasing a path moment is usually not the cause. 

RE: Wrong call
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6/24/20 5:36 AM as a reply to Dustin.
I had the most perfect cessation-like moment, very calm and somewhat daydreamy before, no big mind explosion, sudden entry and a time gap. The lead up was a week-long meditation-like retreat (it was a kind of new-age-ish, martial art-ish thing). When I read MCTB I was convinced that's what it was.

It took me ~2 years (?) struggling on "the next path", retreats and working with a teacher, before I finally had a true path moment. It was nearly trivial. At that point I was so sick of striving that I really was just dedicated to putting in my sit every evening and checking in with my teacher every 3 or 4 weeks. I was observing the beginnings of thoughts as part of my normal sits... and one evening there was a hiccup.

What was the difference? Normally the big difference between A&P and path is the mind-blowing and energetic aspect of A&P. But a more "clean" or "dry" A&P can give more _profound_ understanding and creates a new kind of emotional sensitivity to things, which is what happened for me. The A&P event can be an explosion, but it can also be a cessation-like non-experience, like just the void that we feel after an A&P explosion without the explosion. Path really does seem like more of a non-verbal confirmation that feels like "oh yeah, there is no continuity of self, needing a constant and safe self is a fear response to death, interesting" kind of confirmation rather than big radically new insight. Also after SE, the body really does go through a kind of physical rewiring and the "crushing skullcap" phenominon is also very common. Some people are naturally jhanic and will "have" them before SE. (Most other people will suddenly dip into them, but they aren't as sustainable). But after SE, jhanas start happening all the time, newer, deeper, more refined, and usually very confusing --- even in people who normally aren't very jhanic like myself. So when I hear reports of people who are post-SE but "don't have much jhana" or havent gone through these wierd body rewirings, I get very suspicious. 

The road to SE is a long road for most people. It's where we clear out 60% of our identification with thoughts and emotions and where we learn to drop a lot of crude defense mechanisms. It makes sense to take it seriously as a multi-year goal --- even though there are some people who go through it much quicker. But one thing I've noticed is that people that "tip" over into SE more easily... they will often have more problems with later paths. (Including struggling with their identity as "a meditator that makes progress".) 

It's important to trust that your path is your path and honor it. Sometimes it's fast or slow or clear or confusing. Doesn't matter. Consistent daily practice and an interest in really understanding how your mind works --- that's what makes a difference. Even what path you are on doesn't make much of a difference. There are some people that suffer horribly on the road to 1st, others that suffer in the domain of 3rd. So even path isn't a "get out of jail free card" for some aspects of dukka, depending on your own particular path. You have to face what shows up in your practice, that's your path.

RE: Wrong call
Answer
6/24/20 8:30 AM as a reply to Dustin.
Yes to most of them. Note how pretty much all of those problems are down to maps.

I'm grateful for the PoI / MCTB / pragmatic dharma maps for normalizing strange experiences, but they've caused me a lot of suffering. One thing not mentioned but very present in my practice is map-exacerbated fear. "This is too fast", "I'm not ready for X", based purely on expectations and extrapolations of other people's experiences. 

I never really clicked with traditional metta, generally finding it useless or boring when I started with all that striving. But then based on the fear I started shifting into a healing modality. Somatic meditation. Grounding. Trauma release. Metta for disliked parts of myself. Bodywork. I guess that's a kind of metta that works for me. It stabilized things, reduced fear & struggle, and kicked off more shifts when things felt ready. And there are no real maps to get caught up in because there's always another layer of tension / ill-will / unsurfaced experience to heal.

I'll still slip into mapping, comparing, striving. The Frank Yang videos some weeks ago did it. Then my traditional (non-mappy) teacher tried putting some intense dukkha into perspective recently. His comment very innocently implied a "where I am", which was like crack for the ego and the suffering soon followed. A week later it's back to healing, but I suspect that's not the last time I'll be learning that lesson.

RE: Wrong call
Answer
6/24/20 8:55 AM as a reply to Dustin.
I'll add that I have had moments that I still don't know whether to classify as A&P moments, path moments or fruitions from an earlier path or something else entirely. It isn't always that clearcut. I just know that I'm far from finished, and that will have to do. 

I still don't think that the maps have caused me to suffer the way so many practicioners describe. They are just maps, not the terrain, and I have never been any good at reading regular terrain maps. These maps are the best navigation experience I have ever had. I'm amazed every time they are actually pointing me in the right direction. I'm not used to maps being that helpful and I don't expect them to be foolproof. Everyday life provides the suffering. 

RE: Wrong call
Answer
6/24/20 11:17 AM as a reply to mrdust.
mrdust:


I'll still slip into mapping, comparing, striving. The Frank Yang videos some weeks ago did it. 
I saw Frank's video and noticed ol how I got all hyped up and in a zone of craving to push forward but was able to slow it down this time. I also dealt with tons of suffering due to maps and trying figure it all out. It seems to me the whole practice is about having the ability to adapt to anything that comes up and it seems like that's what you have done with your practice. 

RE: Wrong call
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6/24/20 11:19 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I have definitely been in the 3C nana and thought it was the dukkha nanas. More than once. And I pretty often fail to meditate on the moment, but chasing a path moment is usually not the cause. 
What keeps you out of the moment in meditation? I find that for me it's thinking about money, work, relationships. But I also notice that I have aversion to the difficult parts of practice and that leads me to think about anything else. 

RE: Wrong call
Answer
6/24/20 11:26 AM as a reply to Dustin.
Dustin:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I have definitely been in the 3C nana and thought it was the dukkha nanas. More than once. And I pretty often fail to meditate on the moment, but chasing a path moment is usually not the cause. 
What keeps you out of the moment in meditation? I find that for me it's thinking about money, work, relationships. But I also notice that I have aversion to the difficult parts of practice and that leads me to think about anything else. 

That's exactly what I have going on emoticon

RE: Wrong call
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6/24/20 12:24 PM as a reply to Dustin.
Worries about the future, about my kid, about people around me going through difficulties, shame about failing to do more for them, shame about all the other stuff that I have failed to do, planning what I need to do in daily life, anxiety about doing it, music stuck in my head on repeat... Stuff like that. 

RE: Wrong call
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6/24/20 12:41 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I get all those. I think the music stuck in head is so funny. I find my self sing through the whole song sometimes.

RE: Wrong call
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6/24/20 12:51 PM as a reply to Dustin.
I guess the music stuck in the head qualifies as part of the moment, though, if one just observes it rather than trying to recall the text. Could be shamatha too, which makes even recalling the text valid, especially if the music happens to be a mantra. Have you tried using it as a strength?

RE: Wrong call
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6/24/20 1:06 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I didn't think about it like that but I have used a full verse in a concentration like way. Instead of Turing from it go ahead and use it all the way through.

RE: Wrong call
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6/24/20 1:41 PM as a reply to Dustin.
Dustin:
I get all those. I think the music stuck in head is so funny. I find my self sing through the whole song sometimes.

There is a classic meditation retreat joke... During retreat you record all the songs that went through your head and when someone asks how the retreat went, you can say "hard to describe, but here's the soundtrack"  emoticon

RE: Wrong call
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6/24/20 2:12 PM as a reply to shargrol.
That's hillarious! I do find that the songs often reflect what I'm going through in my practice, so there's some amount of truth to it too. 

RE: Wrong call
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6/24/20 2:37 PM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Dustin:
I get all those. I think the music stuck in head is so funny. I find my self sing through the whole song sometimes.

There is a classic meditation retreat joke... During retreat you record all the songs that went through your head and when someone asks how the retreat went, you can say "hard to describe, but here's the soundtrack"  emoticon
retreat mixtape emoticon

RE: Wrong call
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6/24/20 3:01 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Shargrol, what is the crushing skull cap phenomenon?

RE: Wrong call
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6/24/20 11:07 PM as a reply to Dustin.
What an excellent list of questions! I am currently extremely unsure as to "where I am", but have at various time been really certain about having gotten past certain things. In particular your first four questions (have you called a path but not actually had it? have you thought you were in equanimity but it was actually a&p? have you had an a&p event and thought it was a path? have you been in 3c's and thought it was dark night?) hit really close to home.

I had an experience in February this year which seemed a lot like a path moment to me, but which can equally have been almost anything else. Before (and for a while after) that experience I was fairly certain that I had passed through the dark night, spent a lot of time in equanimity and had a fruition. However, I realized in the month after that experience that my striving for cessations, and my clear ideas of where I was on the map were at least redudant, and at worst holding me back. I have since managed to drop most of my certainty, and with it, most of the striving. At least striving in the sense of looking for Stream Entry, I have still had periods of striving hard to resolve certain uncomfortable stages.

The main difficulty I find with letting go of this certainty is that it hinders my ability to communicate my experience. In order to describe what is going on in my practice (for example in my practice log) the stages, and my beliefs about them, offer up a really useful short hand. So now I try to be honest about my surface level beliefs (what stages I have passed and so on), without clinging to those beliefs as part of my self image.

So, for example, my honest, surface level belief is that the event I experienced in February was Stream Entry, and that I have since moved through the DN on the next path, and have now reached the Equanimity stage of that path. However, I am perfectly happy to believe that what happened in February was some sort of A&P experience, that what I previously thought of as the DN was just 3Cs, and that I have now gotten to my first real equanimity. Or even that what happened in February was nothing of value, and that I am just now passing through my first 3Cs into my first A&P.

The shift in perspective, that allows me to express my honest opinion as a method of communication without worrying about whether I am wrong, itself seems like some valuable progress which I am happy to have made.

RE: Wrong call
Answer
6/24/20 11:10 PM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
.... Also after SE, the body really does go through a kind of physical rewiring and the "crushing skullcap" phenominon is also very common....
I have never heard the expression "crushing skullcap" but the experience I think you refer to has been a significant part of my experience on and off for the last 6 months. Thank you for putting words on something I have had a hard time describing.

RE: Wrong call
Answer
6/25/20 6:22 AM as a reply to Hac Phi^2 Vita.
Hac Phi^2 Vita:

The main difficulty I find with letting go of this certainty is that it hinders my ability to communicate my experience. In order to describe what is going on in my practice (for example in my practice log) the stages, and my beliefs about them, offer up a really useful short hand. 

It really can be hard to drop using map jargon because it is so convienent, but there are big advantages with just describing what is actually occuring, nothing more and nothing less. It avoids a lot of dharma drama. emoticon

Having talked with many meditators, I also just want to mention that describing our practice using map terminoilogy is probably the worst way to do it if you are seeking input from friends and teachers. It's so much better to describe the actual sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts which appear in experience rather than trying to translate it into "I'm in the disgust nana" etc.

"My usual sit takes a long time for me to calm down, but finally I can take some deep breaths and kinda calm down my body and mind. There is a moment of calm, but then I just want to the sit to be over. The muscles along my back are almost vibrating and I'm confused about what is going on. My mind is busy trying to figure out what the best way to meditate, but each method seems wrong. I've been realizing that I'm avoiding looking at the "wrongness" of the situation. When I remember to look at where the resistance is, it's like my mind is like a fast river and few individual sensations seem to become bigger almost like I'm taking a photograph of them. It's scary because that's not how my mind normally works. What is going on what should I do?"  Good job with "going toward" aversion, keep exploring how resistance and aversion  shows up and see if you can see the indiviual pin points of experience. You might be entering a phase where things get weird, so be gentle with yourself and keep checking in with your mediation friends. (3C to A&P)

versus

"I'm in late 3C and moving into A&P, what should I do?" I don't know, maybe you are or maybe you aren't --- and even if you are right, I don't know what is showing up specifically for you. What's actually happening?  emoticon


The most important part of practice is the cutting edge -- what experiences are still difficult to be present with? where does resistance occur? what are we clinging to and what are we avoiding?  Those things are were the real work is done and it doesn't matter what nana/path someone is in. We need to focus on our weak link in the chain, we have to interested in developing our cutting edge.
   When working with a meditation friend/teacher, it's very important to be able to describe this weak link or cutting edge. That's probably the most important thing to be able to communicate.

RE: Wrong call
Answer
6/25/20 6:29 AM as a reply to shargrol.
I also just want to mention that describing our practice using map terminoilogy is probably the worst way to do it if you are seeking input from friends and teachers.

Yes, for sure. And it's how many folks who post here for the first time describe their practice. The popularization of the MCTB maps is both wonderful and frustrating. It's both informative and dis-informative. It helps us know where we are and it helps us fool ourselves.

Just sayin'

RE: Wrong call
Answer
6/25/20 9:28 AM as a reply to Dustin.
The maps are good but they must be paired with the almost over the top skepticism of attainments that Daniel recommends.

This is because if you experience something that might be it. That does not satifisfy in my experience. It actually causes me to seek validation of the experience by replaying it in my mind over and over, or from a teacher or from a messageboard etc. None of which can give me the confirmation that I need to satisfy the question.

However, the time that I thought it was it but questioned what if that was not it? What if I am still on the brink? What if I am deluded? I got what I was looking for. I was able to really nail review. I was able to able to clearly see the entrance and exit over and over. I clearly saw the back and forth between review and the next path. The experience was no longer questioned. It was a fact in my experience. Validation was not needed. This took a lot of daily cushion time for me.

RE: Wrong call
Answer
6/25/20 1:12 PM as a reply to Dustin.
have you called a path but not actually had it?

--Calling to who?  Certainly I've thought to myself "is this path?" a lot of times and mostly been wrong.  I've made a post on this forum thinking I had first path and in hindsight still think it was a path moment but can't be entirely sure I guess.  Have had various path experiences since, that don't seem relevant to talk about unless it's in a particular context, and my context is mostly sitting around my house working and practicing so it doesn't come up!  

have you thought you were in equanimity but it was actually a&p?

--I don't think so.  A&P is very second jhanic and intense and buzzy and equanimity is a lot more chill.  The second jhana / A&P subnana of equanimity gets me pretty high sometimes but it's pretty easy to sort out from context imo.

have you had an a&p event and thought it was a path?

--I don't think so.  I guess it's true that sometimes A&P events can have unknowing experiences, for example in a dream I've had my body explode into enery followed by an unknowing experience followed by waking up terrified.  But the lead up to fruitions for me is so different and so much less 2nd jhanic / intense that I don't think I get them mixed up.

have you been in 3c's and thought it was dark night?

--I don't think so, but maybe?  First path 3Cs was about as textbook as it gets for me with lots of hard pain and flickering in the primary object, lots of heat and speeding up/down in noting with phase of breath and this was possible to match up with MCTB2 phenomenology (thanks Daniel!).  I've been unable to figure out post first path when the first 3 nanas of a new path start, it kinda blends together with review for me and I only usually figure out the new path when the new A&P hits in a different way.  Review starts to feel different after awhile and there are shifts in perceptions and odd cravings and the like that probably correspond to the first 3 nanas somehow, I donno?

have you spent months chasing a path moment instead of meditating on the moment?

Hmmmm.  I mean I think a lot, so yes.  I spent a long time in first path equanimity because letting go was very hard for me, and still is something I'm not that good at.  Because I think so much and have a very active brain, I really like making thoughts one of the objects of my practice.  I understand why it's often a useful teaching to tell a meditator to avoid abstraction, thoughts, emotions, visions etc and instead stay rooted in the immediate flickering sensations in the 5 sense doors.  But over time I've gotten a ton out of making the objects of my practice all kinds of varieties of thought as those thoughts occur in the 5 sense doors in the present moment because I'm thinking all the time as a default and it would be a real bummer to be constantly angry at myself or expending effort to do less thinking.  This is a dangerous game though I admit.  


have you followed all your own guidance and failed utterly until finally asking for help?

--I'm not sure.  Asking for help seems like a good idea whether you've failed or not.

have you been in the dark night over and over without gaining any real insight?

On first path I had a bit of non standard phenomenology that I haven't often seen described elsewhere.  I know people often talk about falling back to reobservation from equanimity, and this happening lots of times (this has happened to me too).  However, I got to equanimity, and then fell back to A&P, went through the dark night again and went back to equanimity.  This happened around 6 times before equanimity stuck.  This wasn't review, just a weird path repetition thing.  Each time I'd get from A&P ---> equanimity a bit faster than before.  Later on, I got review, and would cycle through all the nanas in a sitting and this felt very different... this A&P-->equanimity repetitions would take weeks.


was there a point in your practice that you gave up chasing a path and just used meditation to be here now? 

Hmmm.  It seems like from a methodological perspective chasing path and meditating on what's happening now are identical.  The brain is gonna rewire itself if you do vipassana and this will over a long time lead to path(s).  So if you're chasing paths you're just structuring your life/time in such a way to produce lots of opportunities to meditate in good cognitive and physical conditions, no?  

I guess it's true that certain phases of the progress of insight call for different practice approaches, and this is probably the best use of the maps.  It's nice if during the dukha nanas you know you're going to feel like shit, so that you have less fear you're going nuts in a way that's permanent and destructive to yourself and others.  The maps also are useful in that it might be nice to do more jhana or have a beer or w/e floats your boat so that you don't totally lose it during the dukha nanas, knowing you're in the dukha nanas.  But from a purely functional perspective and if we had an ideal meditator in perfect practice conditions who wasn't going to go crazy, then just always pay attention regardless of nana and progress will be made.

RE: Wrong call
Answer
6/25/20 6:48 PM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:

It really can be hard to drop using map jargon because it is so convienent, but there are big advantages with just describing what is actually occuring, nothing more and nothing less. It avoids a lot of dharma drama. emoticon

[...]
I think I understand what you are saying, and I think I am mostly on the same page.

Where there has seemed to been some value for me in using the shorthand has been in longer ongoing conversations about practice where eventually it seems redundant to keep saying "That state where my visual field is really vivid and vibrates, and where it is really easy and pleasant to practice". So then I have found myself chosing between establishing my own terminology (like labelling the state above "The buzzy, easy stage") or trying to fit my experience into the existing maps and nomenclature (in which case I would call the same stage "What I think of as A&P).

Do you think using the existing nomenclature for this kind of short hand confuses more than it clarifies? Perhaps it is actually better not to use short hand at all as it imposes potentially illusory structure on experiences that don't actually have a lot in common?
 


shargrol:

[...] The most important part of practice is the cutting edge -- what experiences are still difficult to be present with? where does resistance occur? what are we clinging to and what are we avoiding?  Those things are were the real work is done and it doesn't matter what nana/path someone is in. We need to focus on our weak link in the chain, we have to  interested in developing our cutting edge.
[...]
 
This point is super interesting to me, and seems like something I can really take with me to my practice at the moment. Thanks for providing that perspective.

RE: Wrong call
Answer
6/25/20 9:23 PM as a reply to Jason Massie.
Jason Massie:
The maps are good but they must be paired with the almost over the top skepticism of attainments that Daniel recommends.

When I pair it with that skepticism I just maybe crossed the a&p at some point. Or maybe I just now got access concentration.Ha I do realize that being skeptical feels way better than being wrong. Letting off when it was just getting good liked you talked about and then days later realizing maybe I shouldn't have let off.