2nd path formations and confusion

Aaron, modified 10 Months ago.

2nd path formations and confusion

Posts: 8 Join Date: 7/4/20 Recent Posts
To put it upfront, I believe I have read many times 2nd path causes a lot of confusion so I am familiar with that concept but I guess I am confused on what to do and where to go. I seem to have hit a couple cessations on 2nd path already and I seem to get put back at A&P which leads me to believe that path isn't done yet so that's where I can place myself I guess. I do a shikantaza/choiceless awareness/do nothing technique(whatever term you want to use) for more of the insight side of things. I tend to access the imperm. doors on my cessations


Sensation echos and thoughts don't seem to be "mine" anymore. However what's called the personal bubble still clearly is.

I seem to be able to access spacious elements however feeling the barriers of them or filling them with my awareness isn't something I'm able to do yet. What may be important right now is that personal bubble which I don't know what to do with however I can see part of that formation happening.

I guess my big question comes with formations, what am I supposed to do with these? I can clearly tell formations happening in a couple things such as sound, sight and that personal bubble however I don't know what to do with them. Am I supposed to do anything? It felt like the way I have hit cessations has been to ignore them and things just kind of sync up anyway but a part of that is probably due to the technique I use to even get that far. Is there even a way to break these apart without a cessation, like a way of experiencing both sensations "as is" so that you see that non-difference?

The stages of insight(following Daniel Ingram's cycles here) seem to have gotten more and more vague. I can only really tell high EQ apart from all of the other stages anymore where it used to be very obvious because of my thought patterns especially at the start of the 2nd path. I guess other people think of these things different ways and some just ignore them completely but what are more things I may be able to use to tell these stages apart at this point when my thoughts just kinda feel contentless most of the time?

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Ni Nurta, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: 2nd path formations and confusion

Posts: 655 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
I am not sure if you are supposed to do anything different than with anything else.
So general investigation what these sensations of formations are made of, investigate their life cycle, any subtle traces of suffering and if there is any traces of identification.
Also this state is quite useful to break DN-like suffering so it is good to be able to bring it at will. By DN-like I mean any instances of suffering that is caused by similar processes. Especially at later dukkha nanas you do not really actively suffer any new suffering is added by experience of previous suffering and while there is nothing happening to warrant suffering mind experiences it everywhere. EQ state break this up and can do the same when you just make yourself in it at will.
Generally being able to bring any mind state at will is a good idea. Also being able to mix it with any other state in any fancy way you come up with.

BTW. Not sure if this gets mentioned more often or you noticed it already but there big difference between sense of self and identification with sensations. When having sense of self you typically get identification with lots of things (also in many different and subtle ways but let's not go there...) but this is not due to sense of self being equal to identification but identification happening at the same time when you used sense of self and because of it these two separate things are in a way correlated when they do not have to be.

Why I am mentioning it?
For one, you can not do full enlightenment without your full sense of self being fully healed and you heal it by bringing it back while having meditative mindset with which you will notice all the identification that happens and by acts of noticing it break it.

You can do it hard way and push through without literally "being reborn as human being" but it doesn't end up all that well. I can say this from observation of people who never mention doing anything like it and who just pushed forward. All the integration they refer to is something that they should do at 2nd path and in the way I suggest. You can still kinda progress without it but then it will be more confusing because anything that you won't heal will come to bite you back and all further paths will be kinda paths but still not quite what they were supposed to be.

It is better to just do it at once when the time for it is ripe. Then in your 3rd path (or even while still in 2nd path) you will have sense of self healed and it could be used as mind process with zero issues or confusion what it is and what it does. There is like zero integration needed if you heal your sense of self now. When you start using your mind like you did in the past it will transform because you now know things you did not know before and are your mind is comfortable with ways of reconfiguring itself it maybe wanted to try out but was affraid to try before.

Oh, and welcome to DhO emoticon
Aaron, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: 2nd path formations and confusion

Posts: 8 Join Date: 7/4/20 Recent Posts
Thanks for the reply! I have lurked here a bit but this was my first post yeah. Just to reflect what you're saying here:


I guess me trying to change or add things there does have to do a lot with why I've been getting stuck around that high EQ area which is an odd area to get stuck at so it seems. My gauge for that state is generally the dreaminess of it, I'm ready to take a nap after a session cause I'm so tranquil which may be worth investigating itself

Also this state is quite useful to break DN-like suffering so it is good to be able to bring it at will.

By "this state" you are referring to equanimity, right? 

Furthermore with the sense of self vs identification. You're talking in terms of like the character vs the experiencer right? I believe at this point the character is just there as that old VHS tape but as far as me as an experiencer it's much different and there's those attachments it believes it is such as a thinker or a space and a center point within that space. It may take some reconsideration on that part if you're thinking something different though. 
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Ni Nurta, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: 2nd path formations and confusion

Posts: 655 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Aaron:
I guess me trying to change or add things there does have to do a lot with why I've been getting stuck around that high EQ area which is an odd area to get stuck at so it seems. My gauge for that state is generally the dreaminess of it, I'm ready to take a nap after a session cause I'm so tranquil which may be worth investigating itself
If you were to choose which nana you wanted to get stuck with after you attain 4th path then which would it be?

By "this state" you are referring to equanimity, right?
Yes. It is quite useful because it is not very specific in where you feel it and how you feel everything.
Less useful later on for yourself but still nice thing to have in your toolbox should you need it for something.
Other people are more likely to react to rough EQ than dreamy high EQ.

Furthermore with the sense of self vs identification. You're talking in terms of like the character vs the experiencer right? I believe at this point the character is just there as that old VHS tape but as far as me as an experiencer it's much different and there's those attachments it believes it is such as a thinker or a space and a center point within that space. It may take some reconsideration on that part if you're thinking something different though. 
Old VHS tape... yes, sense of self is the character we create and it does kinda have this feel of analogue tape feel to it emoticon
This is due to sheer amount of activity it creates in your brain. It is heavily interconnected to whole mind. After all, people use it believing things present themselves to sense of self and they actually use it to make decisions and perform actions...

Sense of self, it does produce a lot of stories of you doing things, reacting to things, being someone, etc. and you could compare it to anime fillers and things it present to you are not exactly canon. You however do not need to use this service when you do not need its output. Should you however use it for funs there is nothing wrong in it. It is still large part of you and occasionally mind will land on it, especially when dealing with people. Best effort should be made to have it in working order.

I use word identification and not experiencer because there is also concept of experience which I find important in enlightenment. While requiring more mental gymnastic identification is somewhat more general and to the point of anatta. For example you can identify with something that is not apparent and for most of the time doesn't present itself but when other sensations get too close and it gets experienced you will feel for example feel threatened. Or any other reaction.

I am being so meticulous in used words and their meaning to avoid merging concepts which should be treated differently. When doing Vipassana it is better to seemingly go overboard and create too much what might at the time seem as useless concepts than have not enough of them. How things relate to itself should be tracked and these connections investigated.

Also as a general advice I would say feel free to investigate things which are not on maps. Even at 1st path you should have intutive grasp on doctrine anf if not sure just ask yourself what is there to investigate that you could investigate. Usually (if not always) results of these investigations will be exactly what you needed.
Aaron, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: 2nd path formations and confusion

Posts: 8 Join Date: 7/4/20 Recent Posts
So I guess in that, I'm wondering what exactly is meant by "healing it" and leaving it as a thing that you can use as you want to?

I am starting to see through experience it's how I'm reacting to this thought machine that kinda just works on its own like that sense is different but still very much reactive. That part that reacts isn't entirely moved away although this might be the same thing.

It does seem to be the case that this thing has a strong desire for deliverance, that tends to be the stage I start out my session at. Last few sessions I bounce between DfD up to mid equa up and down depending on how restless I am. This was also a major issue before stream entry and it almost felt like I just shot up past it in exactly the manner it's supposed to teach me not to. And in retrospect I have no clue how I've been able to hit multiple cessations with it but it probably has helped me in even getting to this point as fast as I did

This thing could run in the background all the way to arhatship probably due to its tricky nature but I would really like to discover what this thing comes from specifically as theres little equanimity in it. It feels like its vibrating constantly and that I have neverending energy available but meditation doesn't feel like the thing that can even tire it out(or maybe I havent figured it out?) There's a sense of being able to ride on the vibrations but I don't know the utility of it
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Ni Nurta, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: 2nd path formations and confusion

Posts: 655 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
When you meditate and experience stages of insight and jhanas your whole body learns new states of mind and gets successively more comfortable with them by familiarizing itself with them. The more you use them, especially during the day doing your normal stuff, the more you train yourself in using them. With enough meditation (both on cushion and especially off cushion during the day) you do not need to use sense of self at all to operate during the day. It is at this point when moving to use sense of self is something you can do in your practice. When you do use sense of self (or anything you not used for a long time) then all the connections which make up this sense of self will change in response with mind which knows how to use states of relaxation (jhanas) and subtle identification triggers that still exist there will melt away.

Daniel describes similar integration process in MCTB as part of his description of 4th path experience (I assume you know who he is and what this book is also) which happens to any old memory that arise. No self based mind states form much earlier. Just are not very clean and refined at first.

At some point you will notice that:
- your everyday mind state is completely no self based
- everything always happens on its own and you can clearly see that everything that happens by itself
- even when you try to do anything "yourself" it is seen as result of brain just doing its own thing and action that happened was not what you did but something that happened
Then it is the time to go back to using your sense of self. This confrontation of your old mind states with new perception will melt away the residual identification and wrong assumption about what happens in these mind states.

To me point in practice when you meed these criteria is 2nd path and at 3rd you already have sense of self integrated. This at least matches naming convention emoticon

If unsure then do not worry about path numbers because there are always some disagreements about models. What matters is having good practice and good time while doing it. What needs to be done needs to be done emoticon
Aaron, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: 2nd path formations and confusion

Posts: 8 Join Date: 7/4/20 Recent Posts
Coming back to my own thread here since I have made some advancements. I really appreciate the things you pointed out and I would only say I still have confusion on what this thing is. 

My experience at this point seems very characteristic of 3rd path meaning that doesn’t seem to be anything easily tangible on what to do however the sense that there is something left unchecked is there. Cycles seem to lead nowhere, and the states associated with them don't seem to bother me much at all anymore. I've fetishized emptiness in almost every way possible and spotting emptiness doesn’t seem to be there anymore as habits have integrated. In the background there’s a sense of bullshitting myself to have the kind of attainment that I think I do

For my practice, I have 0 clue about how all of this works, things just untangle themselves which is basically what shikantaza type practices do I guess and not too concerning just doesn’t lead well to understanding what got dropped and what’s left. I can pop multiple cessations on a good day with little indication of what it’s dropping. Other times if I’m not just restless then I fall into a hypnagogic state 

Things that seem to have changed in normal day to day:
- I'm in a sort of flow state most of the day with what seems to be little kicks into changing activities. “Doing” requires no effort but it does seem to need effort to stop.
-Suffering is dropped down to 5% of what it was maybe before any of this began. This is to the point where suffering or not, it's not relevant and I could care less
-Lack of preference in many things at this point that rides on indifference and boredom 
-Perception wise, things just kinda occur and somehow, I know what’s going on without attending to it at all. No thinking about things required however there’s like traces of those old habits, which are empty as they arise.
-I seem to be in a passive high EQ state that is relaxing and somewhat dreamy. I can’t say it’s entirely unitive but what is stopping that is unknown.
-I still feel restless most of the day and this is separate from the desires that arise which would point to this being a separate thing. The restlessness arises in a way that doesn’t bother me as much as it did, and my sleep is a lot better. However, the restlessness ALWAYS co-arises with a desire and still bothers me. Restlessness would probably be the #1 thing that I would say I'm averse to but the power of it has dropped and doesn't feel as driving as it did
-I have spotted ignorance a couple times in my experience which feels extremely relaxing, just rare

The only things I can possibly point to on my own are the confusion about all of this(what's missing?), my aversion to restlessness, and the common “seeker seeking” problem that everyone seems to say especially from less technical points of views. The confusion about all of this is probably a bigger deal than the desire for enlightenment is but it's also a byproduct of that or else why would I care. Past that, the confusion thinking seems to occur all on its own which leads to even more confusion. 
shargrol, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: 2nd path formations and confusion

Posts: 1536 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
So now, rather than extended nanas of confusion, there are shorter moments of reactivity.

If it isn't obvious, gentle investigation of subtle restlessness, suffering, ill will, resistance, aversion, greed, etc in the present moment is always the path forward. Always, always, always. What is the actual nature of dukka? How does frustration or discomfort or suffering actually appear in experience? It is real or an illusion constructed from confusing separate things together?

Notice what the mind does when it encounters positive, negative, and neutral sensations. Does it end there or is there a leaning toward positive, a leaning away from negative, an indifference to neutral? How is this leaning the same or different than clinging, aversion, and ignorance?

Notice what happens when the mind directly faces emptiness. Does it flinch? Does it try to grab onto something solid, avoid something uncomfortable, dwell on it and get more excited or agitated, try to distract itself with activity, or go into a semi-conscious state of confusion?

Go very meta and look at your entire attitude about life. Is it based on an attitude of annoyance and anger? Not getting enough? Just doing what's worked in the past? Seeking out exciting new ideas and approaches? Ambition and a subtle feeling of feeling inadequate? A slight feeling of feeling superior and staying aloof from others?
Aaron, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: 2nd path formations and confusion

Posts: 8 Join Date: 7/4/20 Recent Posts
Notice what happens when the mind directly faces emptiness.

Go very meta and look at your entire attitude about life
These 2 seemed to be linked for me although I won't jump on it yet but this is very excellent to point out. It's like falling into that hole for a second and then it zaps me awake after feeling lazy(conceit/inadequecy complex) and I have a sort of mental rush. This probably explains my restlessness like nothing else can.

Just immediate things I noticed so far, it's a lot to mull over still. 


I see lots of people on this forum not distinguishing between path/review nanas in their reports, and I also see lots of people describing a typical sitting practice as moving through multiple nanas just like OP.  
This may be a lack of understanding of how they work and as I said in my more recent post, I still have no idea how it works and I never looked more into them after stream entry to be fair so that framing was stuck there. I do get a sense of fractalization as I'm moving through which I have taken loosely from Daniel's section in MCTB trying not to get into the headwork of this all as he says later on it's beyond cycles

From my experience it seems as though during a sit I'm moving up through the nanas from somewhere in the dark night into the dreamy thick high EQ hitting a cessation then dropping me out of EQ for a few minutes only to be there again. This could very well be a small cycle in the fractal model. My path cycles would be the huge ones that those contain within each part of the cycle spanning multiple weeks. Maybe a more advanced practitioner could clear up more about this but that seems to be my impression of how this thing is working

What to take from these cycles if anything is still something I'm figuring out as I move along since it seems a lot of teachers differ and it seems a cessation(fruition) off a cycle is the only way to progress
shargrol, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: 2nd path formations and confusion

Posts: 1536 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Aaron:
Notice what happens when the mind directly faces emptiness.

Go very meta and look at your entire attitude about life
These 2 seemed to be linked for me although I won't jump on it yet but this is very excellent to point out. It's like falling into that hole for a second and then it zaps me awake after feeling lazy(conceit/inadequecy complex) and I have a sort of mental rush. This probably explains my restlessness like nothing else can.

Just immediate things I noticed so far, it's a lot to mull over still. 


After mulling it over, if the idea of  practices that involve those kinds of investigation are interesting... then those are just jargon-free descriptions of 5 elements/Dakini practice and 6 realms practice. There are some good ideas on how to go about those investigations in the book "Wake Up To Your Life" by Ken McLeod. He uses a little more jargon, but it is very clearly explained for western, english speakers. Hope this helps! emoticon
Ben Sulsky, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: 2nd path formations and confusion

Posts: 118 Join Date: 11/5/19 Recent Posts
Yea Aaron, I feel like I can match your descriptions to what seem like similar experiences except I'd describe them differently.  I don't have any particular opinion about which description works better.    It  seems confusing to me to describe the trajectory of a given sit using the terminology of the path nanas because imo what's happening during a sit (mostly) is an increase in concentration and mindfullness rather than moving through the nanas.  I agree the restlessness and stressiness that usually accompanies the beginning of a sit can feel like the sensations that tend to be there during say reobs, but to me using the same descriptor for both is confusing.

I don't see anything wrong with using a fractal model where the sensations on a given sit are conceptualized as fractals of the path nanas, and I agree that's true and interesting to some degree.  But it just seems hard for communicating phenomenology as accurately as possible to other practitioners.
Ben Sulsky, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: 2nd path formations and confusion

Posts: 118 Join Date: 11/5/19 Recent Posts
Maybe derail, but is it typical for people to cycle through nanas on path?  

I'm thinking of Aaron's description here,
"It does seem to be the case that this thing has a strong desire for deliverance, that tends to be the stage I start out my session at. Last few sessions I bounce between DfD up to mid equa up and down depending on how restless I am."

My experience is mostly that on path the nanas unroll one by one over a period of days-months, and then during review they often cycle very fast, on the order of seconds to hours.  On path I find the nanas are not very responsive to intentions, but during review they're very responsive to intentions and behave a lot more like jhanas.  

I see lots of people on this forum not distinguishing between path/review nanas in their reports, and I also see lots of people describing a typical sitting practice as moving through multiple nanas just like OP.  

I also tend to not be very confident in what nana I'm in while on path, though this varies a lot.  I tend to describe the phenomenology of sits as perhaps starting with a lot of restlessness and thoughts about my stuff and then over time progressing to increasing concentration and more pleasant or intense sensations, and then typically ending with some kind of physical pain or restlessness or desire to move the body.  

Is there actual conceptual tension here or just different ways of using terminology?  If the latter, it seems confusing!