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Coming back home, now what? Pierre Fromswi 6/24/20 7:47 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Chris Marti 6/24/20 7:14 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Pierre Fromswi 6/24/20 7:31 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Chris Marti 6/24/20 8:24 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? A. DIetrich Ringle 6/29/20 4:05 PM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Stirling Campbell 6/24/20 8:08 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Pierre Fromswi 6/24/20 8:53 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Laurel Carrington 6/24/20 9:11 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Pierre Fromswi 6/24/20 9:23 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Laurel Carrington 6/24/20 9:40 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Tom Smith 7/15/20 5:59 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Stirling Campbell 7/15/20 11:03 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Stirling Campbell 6/26/20 11:30 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Tim Farrington 6/29/20 3:13 PM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Stirling Campbell 7/14/20 11:10 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Tim Farrington 7/14/20 2:28 PM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Stirling Campbell 7/14/20 4:35 PM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Martin 7/14/20 4:29 PM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Stirling Campbell 7/14/20 5:01 PM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Martin 7/14/20 5:19 PM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Tim Farrington 6/24/20 8:56 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Pierre Fromswi 6/24/20 9:15 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Laurel Carrington 6/24/20 9:06 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Pierre Fromswi 6/24/20 9:28 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Laurel Carrington 6/24/20 9:42 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Pierre Fromswi 6/24/20 10:03 AM
RE: Coming back home, now what? Tim Farrington 7/14/20 7:33 AM
Coming back home, now what?
Answer
6/24/20 7:47 AM
I hope you can help me to make sense of this experience which had a huge, lasting impact on me, both on and off the cushion, and offer advice on what to do next with my practice.

I'm not into "maps" and attainments at all, and I confess that I loved some parts of Daniel's book but skipped some of the most mappy ones; I am also not a regular reader or poster here, but I have a tremendous respect for what this community is about, I trust that there is a high level of expertise and kindness to be found here, and... it's probably the only place on the internet where I can hope to get useful answers and suggestions to my story and the issues that I have had since in my practice.

It happened 3 years ago, but it still comes back to me at times during meditation or outside of it, although less and less frequently unless I discuss the experience with a friend, in which case parts of the experience and the emotions that came with it will often come back (which always surprises me, since it feels like it's long gone until the very moment I start telling the story again).

I had been meditating for 14 years and with a (mostly) daily practice and at least one retreat each year, mostly Mahasi.

This particular retreat was a Mahasi retreat. I was starting to have a real good stability of mindfulness in my sitting / walking practice, and felt like I was reaching a plateau. I asked the teacher for further instructions, and he suggested that I look more carefully at anatta and anicca, so that's why I did, really trying to be as precisely aware as possible of every single moment and transitions between the appearance and disappearance of sense-objects.

The dhamma-talk in the evening was about anatta and dependent-origination, and something switched in me while I was listening to it, which made me even more aware of the reality of anatta in a way that I can't exactly explain now, but which made me start sitting right after the talk even though it was supposed to be a walking period as it felt like what I needed to do.

I got into a pleasant, if at first somewhat hypervigilant state of "open awareness", noting each consecutive event / sense object that appeared then passed away according to the sense-door ("sound", "thought", "sensation", six options only). At some point, there was virtually no "gap" in awareness (that I could find), and it felt like I wasn't missing any event, and clearly perceiving the transitions from each sense-object to the next without missing any. Quite naturally, the noting stopped and I kept on simply being aware of the quick succession of appearing / disappearing of each consecutive object.

Somewhere along the way, "I" definitely wasn't part of the picture anymore. The awareness was just doing its awareness thing without any identity behind it.

And that's when it happened.

First I felt an incredible freedom. There was a joy that came with it, but not an ecstatic one like I had experienced before, much more quiet. And I still had a fantastic stability of awareness, moment by moment.

Then, and shit I'm tearing up right now writing it, there came that most beautiful feeling of coming home. The only way I can describe is that it was as if I was FINALLY reunited with a loving family that I had missed forever, finally back to where I was supposed to be, although it's adding stuff that wasn't there, it was just a very simple, very pure, "there, you're back, you're where you should be". It felt like the most important thing in the world. It felt like reality, all the rest being illusion. I also felt an absolute, absolute safety. I felt safe.

At the same time, any fear of death was gone, because it was so obvious that this thing was here before me, would be here after me, there was the OBJECTIVE perception that death is nothing because what's real has been there before, will be there after.

In Christian terms (I'm not Christian), it felt very much like being in contact with one's soul and becoming aware of its eternal nature, although it was not "mine" in any felt sense and eternal is not the right word, but at least something that "was there before and will be there after".

After this experience, quite a few things changed in my life. Any fear of death is gone, I think forever. I stopped drinking alcohol completely and lost the little interest I still had for other dopaminergic stuff (although I'm still spending too much time watching stupid stuff on youtube, and procrastinating, some gaming, I'm not a saint yet). My explanation for it is that reality is intoxicating enough as it is. I lost a fair amount of craving. I also became much less ambitious professionally and more of a family man.

I was never a believer in Nibbana, nor on a spiritual quest. I was meditating for my psychological well-being "only". All of a sudden, I also understood that words like "safe harbour", "deathless", etc. actually meant EXACTLY what they meant (suprisingly).

(I am not claiming that I reached Nibbana at all, but this experience made me understand that what I always thought was spiritual mumbo-jumbo actually was a very precise description of the ultimate reality of things that I was lucky enough to glimpse at).

Most of my past difficult emotions,don't really bother me anymore. I would say craving for (information, images, experiences, etc.) is probably still robbing me of some happiness, but I've never felt happier in my life (having a fantastic wife and a lovely kid surely helps as well).

On the other hand, ever since I had this experience, I feel somewhat stuck in my practice. I meditate daily and easily reach a "decent" level of moment-to-moment open-awareness. being well aware of most sense-objects moment to moment, with the exception at times of subtle thoughts which are particularly attached to, or evocative of, my identity and create gaps in my awareness. Meditation does help me to feel better every day, but I've lost my flame: I'm decently aware, there aren't many difficult emotions or thoughts, it's rather peaceful and safe, even in times of trouble. So I feel again like I reached a plateau. I'm very happy, but I don't know what to to with my practice anymore.

I never was, and I'm not sure I am, reaching for attainments or Nibbana, but I still feel like I have nothing to gnaw on.

I tried Samadhi for a change, with a few different objects, but I always feel like it's boring and less real and important than "open awareness" (maybe because I'm not so good at it although I had a few Jhanic experiences during retreats before). Samadhi feels like I'm aiming in the wrong direction when direct awareness is what gave me this experience and what allows me to get closer to the ultimate reality, but open awareness feels safe and repetitive and I lack the willingness to try harder. Maybe I got complacent, lazy. I don't know. 


1) What happened to me?

2) What do you think I should do in terms _both_ of daily practice and retreats? I would be very grateful for any advice.

Sorry for writing such a long post, I got carried away.

edit: again, I'm not claiming anything and am most interested in answers to question 2). Maybe my title sucked, apologies then!

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
6/24/20 7:14 AM as a reply to Pierre Fromswi.
What happened to me?

Sounds like you had some flavor of profound experience. How many dharma books you've been reading? I'm asking because (no offense meant here) your comments seem to be standard descriptions of awakening.

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
6/24/20 7:31 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
What happened to me?

Sounds like you had some flavor of profound experience. How many dharma books you've been reading? I'm asking because (no offense meant here) your comments seem to be standard descriptions of awakening.
I'm not offended, but to be fair maybe I should, I'm not sure what the purpose of your anwer is if not (not so) subtly implying I made it up.

I'm not a reader of _those_ dharma books about Nibbana, Daniel's was the first that I picked up because I realized at the end of a retreat that I was the only person who did not know his book. I am not looking for enlightenment. I'm not a spiritual seeker either, meditation was always strictly about well-being for me until this experience. I did not post this in the attainments section, as I am not as interested in knowing what happened exactly as I am in getting advice on what to do next as I feel stuck. I actually even added question 1) as an edit after first submitting the post, as I was and still am mostly focused on question 2). And... Not only am I quite certain I have not reached Nibbana at all, but I'm almost as certain as well that I won't reach it in this life either, and that's fine for me.

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
6/24/20 8:08 AM as a reply to Pierre Fromswi.
Hello Pierre,

Let me ask you: What did you learn about the nature of reality? What did you learn about what "self" truly is?

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
6/24/20 8:24 AM as a reply to Pierre Fromswi.
I'm not sure what the purpose of your anwer is if not (not so) subtly implying I made it up.

I'm not implying you made it up. I'm implying that it's very much like many written descriptions of awakening, and so it's difficult to pass judgment on it. This happens quite a lot - folks read dharma books and descriptions of others' major spiritual events and then use that language again when they describe their personal experiences. It would help if you were to post a phenomenological description of what happened to you, as it happened.

Why do you say you aren't a spiritual seeker? You're using powerful spiritual technology, as you have now experienced.

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
6/24/20 8:56 AM as a reply to Pierre Fromswi.
Pierre Fromswi:
I hope you can help me to make sense of this experience which had a huge, lasting impact on me, both on and off the cushion, and offer advice on what to do next with my practice.

I'm not into "maps" and attainments at all, and I confess that I loved some parts of Daniel's book but skipped some of the most mappy ones; I am also not a regular reader or poster here, but I have a tremendous respect for what this community is about, I trust that there is a high level of expertise and kindness to be found here, and... it's probably the only place on the internet where I can hope to get useful answers and suggestions to my story and the issues that I have had since in my practice.

It happened 3 years ago, but it still comes back to me at times during meditation or outside of it, although less and less frequently unless I discuss the experience with a friend, in which case parts of the experience and the emotions that came with it will often come back (which always surprises me, since it feels like it's long gone until the very moment I start telling the story again).

I had been meditating for 14 years and with a (mostly) daily practice and at least one retreat each year, mostly Mahasi.

This particular retreat was a Mahasi retreat. I was starting to have a real good stability of mindfulness in my sitting / walking practice, and felt like I was reaching a plateau. I asked the teacher for further instructions, and he suggested that I look more carefully at anatta and anicca, so that's why I did, really trying to be as precisely aware as possible of every single moment and transitions between the appearance and disappearance of sense-objects.

The dhamma-talk in the evening was about anatta and dependent-origination, and something switched in me while I was listening to it, which made me even more aware of the reality of anatta in a way that I can't exactly explain now, but which made me start sitting right after the talk even though it was supposed to be a walking period as it felt like what I needed to do.

I got into a pleasant, if at first somewhat hypervigilant state of "open awareness", noting each consecutive event / sense object that appeared then passed away according to the sense-door ("sound", "thought", "sensation", six options only). At some point, there was virtually no "gap" in awareness (that I could find), and it felt like I wasn't missing any event, and clearly perceiving the transitions from each sense-object to the next without missing any. Quite naturally, the noting stopped and I kept on simply being aware of the quick succession of appearing / disappearing of each consecutive object.

Somewhere along the way, "I" definitely wasn't part of the picture anymore. The awareness was just doing its awareness thing without any identity behind it.

And that's when it happened.

First I felt an incredible freedom. There was a joy that came with it, but not an ecstatic one like I had experienced before, much more quiet. And I still had a fantastic stability of awareness, moment by moment.

Then, and shit I'm tearing up right now writing it, there came that most beautiful feeling of coming home. The only way I can describe is that it was as if I was FINALLY reunited with a loving family that I had missed forever, finally back to where I was supposed to be, although it's adding stuff that wasn't there, it was just a very simple, very pure, "there, you're back, you're where you should be". It felt like the most important thing in the world. It felt like reality, all the rest being illusion. I also felt an absolute, absolute safety. I felt safe.

At the same time, any fear of death was gone, because it was so obvious that this thing was here before me, would be here after me, there was the OBJECTIVE perception that death is nothing because what's real has been there before, will be there after.

In Christian terms (I'm not Christian), it felt very much like being in contact with one's soul and becoming aware of its eternal nature, although it was not "mine" in any felt sense and eternal is not the right word, but at least something that "was there before and will be there after".

After this experience, quite a few things changed in my life. Any fear of death is gone, I think forever. I stopped drinking alcohol completely and lost the little interest I still had for other dopaminergic stuff (although I'm still spending too much time watching stupid stuff on youtube, and procrastinating, some gaming, I'm not a saint yet). My explanation for it is that reality is intoxicating enough as it is. I lost a fair amount of craving. I also became much less ambitious professionally and more of a family man.

I was never a believer in Nibbana, nor on a spiritual quest. I was meditating for my psychological well-being "only". All of a sudden, I also understood that words like "safe harbour", "deathless", etc. actually meant EXACTLY what they meant (suprisingly).

(I am not claiming that I reached Nibbana at all, but this experience made me understand that what I always thought was spiritual mumbo-jumbo actually was a very precise description of the ultimate reality of things that I was lucky enough to glimpse at).

Most of my past difficult emotions,don't really bother me anymore. I would say craving for (information, images, experiences, etc.) is probably still robbing me of some happiness, but I've never felt happier in my life (having a fantastic wife and a lovely kid surely helps as well).

On the other hand, ever since I had this experience, I feel somewhat stuck in my practice. I meditate daily and easily reach a "decent" level of moment-to-moment open-awareness. being well aware of most sense-objects moment to moment, with the exception at times of subtle thoughts which are particularly attached to, or evocative of, my identity and create gaps in my awareness. Meditation does help me to feel better every day, but I've lost my flame: I'm decently aware, there aren't many difficult emotions or thoughts, it's rather peaceful and safe, even in times of trouble. So I feel again like I reached a plateau. I'm very happy, but I don't know what to to with my practice anymore.

I never was, and I'm not sure I am, reaching for attainments or Nibbana, but I still feel like I have nothing to gnaw on.

I tried Samadhi for a change, with a few different objects, but I always feel like it's boring and less real and important than "open awareness" (maybe because I'm not so good at it although I had a few Jhanic experiences during retreats before). Samadhi feels like I'm aiming in the wrong direction when direct awareness is what gave me this experience and what allows me to get closer to the ultimate reality, but open awareness feels safe and repetitive and I lack the willingness to try harder. Maybe I got complacent, lazy. I don't know. 


1) What happened to me?

2) What do you think I should do in terms _both_ of daily practice and retreats? I would be very grateful for any advice.

Sorry for writing such a long post, I got carried away.

edit: again, I'm not claiming anything and am most interested in answers to question 2). Maybe my title sucked, apologies then!
hi pierre (fromswi---tzerland?),

welcome to the DharmaOverground, and thank you for putting so much effort into this rich sharing of your profound experience of coming home to love, from love, with love. I had what seems to me to be a similar experince way back when, at a time when i was suicidally depressed. i have always thought of it as a near death experience of sorts (and have fictionalized it as such), because i was within a minute or two, for months, of killing myself, during a blessedly isolated and ascetic period in an abandoned late-fall/winter Outer Banks cottage in North Carolina, USA. I had stopped sleeping to the clock and was out of sync with the diurnal rhythm of the sun. Reading Camus, lol, seriously, the Myth of Sisyphus. I could not imagine Sisyphus happy, no matter how many times i read the essay.

And then, without anything really setting it off, the grain in the wooden panelled walls came alive, as if on LSD or mushrooms, and the grain became the whirling of galaxies in formation and of orbiting electrons in nuclei, and time too, whirling, swimming, alive and all here no now. and i felt exactly what you describe:
First I felt an incredible freedom. There was a joy that came with it, but not an ecstatic one like I had experienced before, much more quiet. And I still had a fantastic stability of awareness, moment by moment.

Then, and shit I'm tearing up right now writing it, there came that most beautiful feeling of coming home. The only way I can describe is that it was as if I was FINALLY reunited with a loving family that I had missed forever, finally back to where I was supposed to be, although it's adding stuff that wasn't there, it was just a very simple, very pure, "there, you're back, you're where you should be". It felt like the most important thing in the world. It felt like reality, all the rest being illusion. I also felt an absolute, absolute safety. I felt safe.

At the same time, any fear of death was gone, because it was so obvious that this thing was here before me, would be here after me, there was the OBJECTIVE perception that death is nothing because what's real has been there before, will be there after.

In Christian terms (I'm not Christian), it felt very much like being in contact with one's soul and becoming aware of its eternal nature, although it was not "mine" in any felt sense and eternal is not the right word, but at least something that "was there before and will be there after".

i have no idea how long it lasted. it didn't matter.

I don't know what moved you to write in here. I think you experienced the pearl of great price, and should simply cherish it. It ain't broke, as you saw and knew. It was never broke. It can't be broke. You saw that. You know it in your bones.

Meanwhile, this is a practice oriented site, and what you are describing sort of undermines the foundations of practice as many conceive it. It makes us all Sisyphus, on our mats, a bit absurd, pushing our rock up that hill toward Awkening or Whatever with great heroic effort, watching it roll back down at the next sign of still being mortal human beings. So i'd say, if you find a reason to push a rock here, start a practice log and start sharing the adventures of the uphill slog, and we will all humor each other and you and pretend it means shit.

I say this hoping that is exactly what you will do, my friend. This is a lovely crew here, beautiful people and fun and finally and usually serious as a fucking heart attack. A state of the art sangha. You couldn't do better, if you want people who've wrecked their lives completely over this dharma nonsense, instead of wrecking them over normal nonsense. We've even got some very high souls wrecking their lives over both! These we call either bodhisattvas, or blue collar psychotics, depending on how much they swear.

again, welcome to the monkey house (try the kurt vonnegut collection of short stories with that title, it's blacker even that this riff).

love, tim

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
6/24/20 8:53 AM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
Stirling Campbell:
Hello Pierre,

Let me ask you: What did you learn about the nature of reality? What did you learn about what "self" truly is?

I learned for sure that my identity is an illusion, a collection of habits and memories, that there is something more real that is always here but not easy to perceive or reach, hidden by the identity that got contructed "over it". What surprised me is that discovering this, which could have induced existential anxiety, is actually deeply, warmly comforting. It is linked to a sense a safety, it is not threatening at all, quite the opposite.

I know that there is some sort of soul, for lack of a better word, that was here before and will be there after. The little that I knew about Buddhist metaphysics made me think that "no self" ultimately meant nothing or some sort of collective consciousness thing, but that's not what I experienced, at least until now. It still feels personal and intimate. At times, like once a month, in unexpected moments in daily life or when I tell my story to someone, I get in touch again with the reality of it, and I get a glimpse of that feeling of safety and belonging, of being in the presence of that hidden thing within me. It feels like a soul that still is "my" soul, but is a true, deep, "eternal" part of the shallow transient little thing that I am as a person. There is a "guardian angel" or "well-meaning unconscious mind" vibe to it at times that is not easy to explain. That's not what I expected at all, or understood from what I knew about Buddhism.

I also know as (what feels like) an objective fact that birth and death are irrelevant to that thing, which also comforted me and got rid of my fear of death.

Unfortunately, I can't say much more. I think I did not go far enough, long enough to understand more. I think "glimpse" is probably the right word.

And one issue I have is that on the one hand what I experienced so far, and the effect it had on me, is enough, in that I don't think I can be any happier that I am now, and I am ok with living this life as it is and wait until I find out what happens after death when it happens. But on the other hand, first, obviously I am intrigued by what I experienced and the effect it had on me and would love to know more, and secondly, ever since I started meditating, I always felt like I was improving and discovering new things, and now I feel like there is a lack a progress, and I think I need instructions to go further as I am stuck in a very pleasant situation that still feels like it is a bit stagnant.

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
6/24/20 9:06 AM as a reply to Pierre Fromswi.
My favorite term for what you experienced is The Big Wow. Congratulations for having had an experience most people would give their right arm for! I have thought of it as A&P since becoming familiar with pragmatic dharma circles, Daniel's book, and the Progress of Insight, but in your case I don't know what to say because the lead-up to it sounds a lot like high equanimity on the map. I am not a diagnostician. It seems that the main difference between your trip and mine is that yours brought on lasting changes, whereas I merely acquired a memory and a nasty phobia. 

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
6/24/20 9:11 AM as a reply to Pierre Fromswi.
The stagnation you mention sounds like a refined form of aversion, which means you're not done (not that you claimed to be, but just suggesting that aversion etc is a signpost of sorts). You may want to find a teacher who can help you work with it and find an approach that will get you to whatever is the next step. 

I am familiar with what you've described (stagnation, aversion), although my Flatlining thread testifies that my stasis hasn't been as pleasant as yours. 

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
6/24/20 9:15 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Tim Farrington:

welcome to the DharmaOverground, and thank you for putting so much effort into this rich sharing of your profound experience of coming home to love, from love, with love. I had what seems to me to be a similar experince way back when, at a time when i was suicidally depressed. i have always thought of it as a near death experience of sorts (and have fictionalized it as such), because i was within a minute or two, for months, of killing myself, during a blessedly isolated and ascetic period in an abandoned late-fall/winter Outer Banks cottage in North Carolina, USA. I had stopped sleeping to the clock and was out of sync with the diurnal rhythm of the sun. Reading Camus, lol, seriously, the Myth of Sisyphus. I could not imagine Sisyphus happy, no matter how many times i read the essay.

And then, without anything really setting it off, the grain in the wooden panelled walls came alive, as if on LSD or mushrooms, and the grain became the whirling of galaxies in formation and of orbiting electrons in nuclei, and time too, whirling, swimming, alive and all here no now. and i felt exactly what you describe:

i have no idea how long it lasted. it didn't matter.

I don't know what moved you to write in here. I think you experienced the pearl of great price, and should simply cherish it. It ain't broke, as you saw and knew. It was never broke. It can't be broke. You saw that. You know it in your bones.

Meanwhile, this is a practice oriented site, and what you are describing sort of undermines the foundations of practice as many conceive it. 
Your post made me feel very much welcome and understood. A deep, deep thank you for your kind words. I felt moved and I'm grateful that you took the time to write them. And write them so well. I'm glad that you experienced something similar at such an important time in your life. That "guardian angel" vibe I was talking about, maybe...

It's beautifully expressed (not surprised that googling your name landed me on amazon), and you're obviously right: I should just cherish it as it is. You're also right about my post possibly not being in the right place. I actually barely read anything posted on this forum before, because I am not a spiritual seeker in nature. I knew the forum existed because I read the book, but it probably would have been wiser to survey the territory a little more before posting.

I'm not sure I can share a lot of relevant things, but I will at least try to read more of what others are sharing here and see what I can learn from it before I contribute more.

Thanks again.

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
6/24/20 9:23 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Laurel Carrington:
The stagnation you mention sounds like a refined form of aversion, which means you're not done (not that you claimed to be, but just suggesting that aversion etc is a signpost of sorts). You may want to find a teacher who can help you work with it and find an approach that will get you to whatever is the next step. 

I am familiar with what you've described (stagnation, aversion), although my Flatlining thread testifies that my stasis hasn't been as pleasant as yours. 
Thanks a lot for both of your posts. It's interesting that you mention aversion. What sort of aversion could it be then in my case? How is it for you?

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
6/24/20 9:28 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Laurel Carrington:
My favorite term for what you experienced is The Big Wow

I just read your post. Thanks.

"And there was relaxation into that love which was my true home."

Indeed. That "true home" thing is intoxicating. I'm glad you made it out ok.

"I have come to prefer calling it The Big Wow, however, because that term is just irreverent enough to keep it in perspective. Such things can happen, and then other stuff happens, and it’s best not to wallow in it. The most such an experience can do is inspire you to keep practicing when you might otherwise skip it. It is ancillary, not central. That is all."

I should not forget this either. Thanks.

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
6/24/20 9:40 AM as a reply to Pierre Fromswi.
Pierre Fromswi:
Laurel Carrington:
The stagnation you mention sounds like a refined form of aversion, which means you're not done (not that you claimed to be, but just suggesting that aversion etc is a signpost of sorts). You may want to find a teacher who can help you work with it and find an approach that will get you to whatever is the next step. 

I am familiar with what you've described (stagnation, aversion), although my Flatlining thread testifies that my stasis hasn't been as pleasant as yours. 
Thanks a lot for both of your posts. It's interesting that you mention aversion. What sort of aversion could it be then in my case? How is it for you?

Aversion is one of the Five Hindrances, which are Desire, Aversion, Restlessness/Worry, Sloth/Torpor, and Skeptical Doubt. All of them, singly or in groups, can arise to derail a meditator, on and off the cushion. Each has a wide variety of presentations, some of them more obvious than others. A "gross" type of aversion might be knee or back pain; a more refined type might be what you're experiencing now, a beautiful life that would be perfect except for that nagging sense of stagnation. 

For me, aversion takes the form of boredom, a feeling of apathy and indifference, a sense that things could be better but I just don't have the energy to work on it, and so on. I like to refer to the Hindrances as Mara's Armies, which attacked the Buddha as he sat meditating under the Bodhi tree. It keeps me from personalizing them, from seeing them as a part of who or what I am. I still fall for them. Skeptical doubt is a big one: there's something wrong with me, I'll never get it right, I've always been this way, the practice doesn't work. 

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
6/24/20 9:42 AM as a reply to Pierre Fromswi.
Pierre Fromswi:
Laurel Carrington:
My favorite term for what you experienced is The Big Wow

I just read your post. Thanks.

"And there was relaxation into that love which was my true home."

Indeed. That "true home" thing is intoxicating. I'm glad you made it out ok.

"I have come to prefer calling it The Big Wow, however, because that term is just irreverent enough to keep it in perspective. Such things can happen, and then other stuff happens, and it’s best not to wallow in it. The most such an experience can do is inspire you to keep practicing when you might otherwise skip it. It is ancillary, not central. That is all."

I should not forget this either. Thanks.

You do get to cherish the memory of what happened and let it sustain you. My thinking has evolved a bit since writing that post. What can derail a person is trying to get back to it, feeling that nothing will ever be that good. 

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
6/24/20 10:03 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
[quote=
You do get to cherish the memory of what happened and let it sustain you. My thinking has evolved a bit since writing that post. What can derail a person is trying to get back to it, feeling that nothing will ever be that good.] 

The fact that it happened during, and as a direct consequence of, meditation practice did make it hard at times not to crave for it to happen again, especially during the first year. I think it's less the case now, but it probably made me expect more out of my practice in general, maybe leading to some craving and the aversion that you mentioned. 

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
6/26/20 11:30 AM as a reply to Pierre Fromswi.
Pierre,

Thank you for your reply... and apologies, I just moved several states over and it was challenging. emoticon

While seeing through the illusion of self is part of what stream entry offers, there is much more to it. I would also expect a substantial deepening of your insight over a 3 year period, and that, over that time, what you would get a glimpse of would begin to always be visible with a simple inclination toward it in your perspective.

IMHO, probably what you experienced was A&P if it makes you comfortable to label it, but I would suggest not getting hung up on it and resuming your meditation practice. Honestly this is generally the advice you get whether or not you have true insight.

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
6/29/20 3:13 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
Stirling Campbell:
Pierre,

Thank you for your reply... and apologies, I just moved several states over and it was challenging. emoticon

While seeing through the illusion of self is part of what stream entry offers, there is much more to it. I would also expect a substantial deepening of your insight over a 3 year period, and that, over that time, what you would get a glimpse of would begin to always be visible with a simple inclination toward it in your perspective.

IMHO, probably what you experienced was A&P if it makes you comfortable to label it, but I would suggest not getting hung up on it and resuming your meditation practice. Honestly this is generally the advice you get whether or not you have true insight.

dear Stirling, my beloved sangha comrade,

IMHO, what is coming out of your [expletive deleted, and left utterly to the imagination, it is certainly not qhat you might think, it is imaginative, indeed, if anatomically impossible], is presumptuous, nauseatingly condesecending, and a disgrace to the DhO community, in terms of our reputation as a bunch of fucking wonks who look down their noses at people who don't speak perfect fucking phenomenology in their experience reports, the better to get them into that good old Theravadan procrustean bed. This despite Daniel's best efforts through MCTB2 to allow for other human beings who don't talk like us having ACTUAL DEEP AND PROFOUND SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES valuable within their own tradition and not even, strangely enough, needing your fucking seal of approval. Stream entry is a buddhist stream, you [deleted, etc.]. Not everybody has to get their shit made into your fucking doormat.

love, tim

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
6/29/20 4:05 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I'm not so sure. When I started on this site, I feel confident this would have been labeled A&P. Now, well I'm speechless.

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
7/14/20 7:33 AM as a reply to Pierre Fromswi.
Pierre Fromswi:
[quote=
You do get to cherish the memory of what happened and let it sustain you. My thinking has evolved a bit since writing that post. What can derail a person is trying to get back to it, feeling that nothing will ever be that good.] 

The fact that it happened during, and as a direct consequence of, meditation practice did make it hard at times not to crave for it to happen again, especially during the first year. I think it's less the case now, but it probably made me expect more out of my practice in general, maybe leading to some craving and the aversion that you mentioned. 

bonjour, pierre, comment ca va?

love, tim

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
7/14/20 11:10 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Tim Farrington:

dear Stirling, my beloved sangha comrade,

IMHO, what is coming out of your [expletive deleted, and left utterly to the imagination, it is certainly not qhat you might think, it is imaginative, indeed, if anatomically impossible], is presumptuous, nauseatingly condesecending, and a disgrace to the DhO community, in terms of our reputation as a bunch of fucking wonks who look down their noses at people who don't speak perfect fucking phenomenology in their experience reports, the better to get them into that good old Theravadan procrustean bed. This despite Daniel's best efforts through MCTB2 to allow for other human beings who don't talk like us having ACTUAL DEEP AND PROFOUND SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES valuable within their own tradition and not even, strangely enough, needing your fucking seal of approval. Stream entry is a buddhist stream, you [deleted, etc.]. Not everybody has to get their shit made into your fucking doormat.

love, tim

Tim,

I'm have trouble parsing your epithet, and wonder if you could give me some pointers. Is it: Praise for not using terminology or Theravadan phraseology, or possibly the opposite? Both? emoticon I consider myself to have a dry wit, but I'm allowing for the idea that yours may be positively parchment paper arid.

Chastened in either case,

S

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
7/14/20 2:28 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
Stirling Campbell:
Tim Farrington:

dear Stirling, my beloved sangha comrade,

IMHO, what is coming out of your [expletive deleted, and left utterly to the imagination, it is certainly not qhat you might think, it is imaginative, indeed, if anatomically impossible], is presumptuous, nauseatingly condesecending, and a disgrace to the DhO community, in terms of our reputation as a bunch of fucking wonks who look down their noses at people who don't speak perfect fucking phenomenology in their experience reports, the better to get them into that good old Theravadan procrustean bed. This despite Daniel's best efforts through MCTB2 to allow for other human beings who don't talk like us having ACTUAL DEEP AND PROFOUND SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES valuable within their own tradition and not even, strangely enough, needing your fucking seal of approval. Stream entry is a buddhist stream, you [deleted, etc.]. Not everybody has to get their shit made into your fucking doormat.

love, tim

Tim,

I'm have trouble parsing your epithet, and wonder if you could give me some pointers. Is it: Praise for not using terminology or Theravadan phraseology, or possibly the opposite? Both? emoticon I consider myself to have a dry wit, but I'm allowing for the idea that yours may be positively parchment paper arid.

Chastened in either case,

S

hi stirling,

this wasn't my arid and desolately dry wit, it was a temper tantrum and a rant and I am ashamed of it. Please forgive me.

chastened as well, 

love, tim

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
7/14/20 4:29 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
Stirling Campbell:
...
IMHO, probably what you experienced was A&P if it makes you comfortable to label it,...

I have a map question here. If Pierre experienced A&P three years ago, why has he not entered dark night in the three years following? Reading MCTBII, dark night seems to be to be presented as an inveible follow through on A&P. Is it possible to have an A&P event and then just stay happy at a sort of toned down version that level forever?

(Edit: Hi, Pierre. Your experience and the knowledge that you gained from it sound fantastic, by the way. )

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
7/14/20 4:35 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Tim Farrington:

hi stirling,

this wasn't my arid and desolately dry wit, it was a temper tantrum and a rant and I am ashamed of it. Please forgive me.

chastened as well, 

love, tim

Hello Tim,

I appreciate your clarification. Despite how I may come across, I hope you will always assume my posts here are intended to be friendly. By default I assume everyone else is posting in the same spirit.

For the record, I don't really have much background in Theravada having worked almost entirely in Mahayana (Dzogchen and Zen traditions). Vipassana is a very different thing in Dzogchen, and the intense mapping and stages of insight aren't features of the practice in the same way as they are on this site, or "pragmatic dharma" as a whole, though I can ascribe some of the features of it to my progress if I choose that conceptual framework. In fact, those practices are largely "doormat" free.

Most of the experienced hands here suggest that one just keep practicing, regardless of whether it is thought that there is attainment or not. This was the advice given to me when I washed up here, and I think it is possibly the most useful. Any insight there might be should persist and continue to deepen over time.

Thanks again for your clarification, Tim.

In friendship.

S

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
7/14/20 5:01 PM as a reply to Martin.
Martin:

I have a map question here. If Pierre experienced A&P three years ago, why has he not entered dark night in the three years following? Reading MCTBII, dark night seems to be to be presented as an inveible follow through on A&P. Is it possible to have an A&P event and then just stay happy at a sort of toned down version that level forever?

(Edit: Hi, Pierre. Your experience and the knowledge that you gained from it sound fantastic, by the way. )

I may not be the person to answer this question, as I never used the framework of mapping within my pre-Stream Entry practice, they are intrinsic to a particular style of Buddhist practice.

After a number of discussions with teachers in my lineages (Dzogchen and Zen), my feeling is that if you are using a different set of practices, or NO practices, you may not notice (or have?) these same conceptual signposts appear as features in your life. I can say that I very obviously recall having what I would consider "A&P" events happen in my life followed by "Dark Night" events, but which followed or precipitated which? I don't know. My personal feeling is that the Progress of Insight is best seen as a conceptual framework, or a pointer, rather than any kind of objective reality, but that is my feeling about concepts in general. emoticon

The real proof of the pudding about any experience is if it leaves you with a particular unshakeable insight about reality that deepens over time.

Hopefully someone more experienced with mapping can answer your question here.

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
7/14/20 5:19 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
Thanks, Stirling!

Maybe I should be asking Pierre.

Pierre, you mention that you were mostly using Mahasi style, so I would guess that you would be expecting to see A&P followed by Dark Night at some point. Was there any DN after this event? One of the reasons I am asking is because I am trying to work out how much variation there is around these kind of events to figure out where I am.

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
7/15/20 5:59 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Skeptical doubt is a big one: there's something wrong with me, I'll never get it right, I've always been this way, the practice doesn't work. 

I read Laurel's definition of skeptical doubt above, and I wondered.  Maybe there really is something wrong with.  Maybe it is true that I'll never get it right and I've always been this way.  Maybe it is true that the practice doesn't work, at least not for everything that is wrong with me.

That is worth pondering.  I don't want to just label it skeptical doubt and refuse to consider it.

RE: Coming back home, now what?
Answer
7/15/20 11:03 AM as a reply to Tom Smith.
Tom Smith:
Skeptical doubt is a big one: there's something wrong with me, I'll never get it right, I've always been this way, the practice doesn't work. 

I read Laurel's definition of skeptical doubt above, and I wondered.  Maybe there really is something wrong with.  Maybe it is true that I'll never get it right and I've always been this way.  Maybe it is true that the practice doesn't work, at least not for everything that is wrong with me.

That is worth pondering.  I don't want to just label it skeptical doubt and refuse to consider it.

Tom,

There is nothing wrong with you. The way you feel is the human condition... it is utterly normal, and the way anyone on the path feels. In some Buddhist traditions the antidote is to simply notice that your practice has a positive impact on your day to day experience, and to let go of any clinging to ideas of progress or enlightenment. What you are working toward is not the result of getting a particular practice JUST right. Insight happens in people from many different traditions, as well as in some who have NEVER practiced. 

Stream Entry (at least for me) erased skeptical doubt permanently. The realization also decimated the idea that I was a person who could "get it right" or that the practice was some kind of cause for enlightenment vs. merely being a set of conditions present in that moment. 

In my opinion, skeptical doubt is normal. Beliefs are what we construct when we don't know and clinging to an idea of what you are looking for is ultimately counterproductive. What you are looking for is a liberation from paradigms about how things are or aren't, and from a self that is inadequate to the task. 

Do not seek the truth: only cease to cherish opinions. If you wish to know the truth, then hold no opinion for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is a disease of the mind." - Seng-Ts'an