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Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

Hello, Question about Fruition, and Where am I on the Path?

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Hi All!

This is my first post here, so I would like to start by saying THANK YOU to Daniel Ingram for MCTB – a fantastic gift to Humanity! Thanks also to all of you who contribute to this great site. I have spent a lot of time the last months reading many interesting and useful posts.

Since I have practiced without any personal guidance most of the time, it would be very valuable for me to get some feedback and comments about the many experiences I have had over the last months.

I have tried to describe my experiences rather than my interpretations of what state I have been in, but in some cases only the interpretations are described in my meditation notes.

I would be very grateful if I could get some advice about the following:

1.When I write “Fruition” below, I refer to the following experience: A discontinuity of about a tenth of a second at the end of three consecutive out-breaths. Is this a fruition, or is it something else?
2.At what stage on the Path am I?
3.Any recommendation for how to continue the practice? Should I dedicate some time exclusively for Samatha?

So, here comes a description of my experiences. I hope that somebody has the time and patience to read it and give me some feedback!

Best Regards,
Christian

-Summer 2006: I read the Book “Happiness” by Dalai Lama “by accident”, and I thought it was great. I got interested in Tibetan Buddhism and started to read a lot.

-December 2006-Januari 2009: A few hours a week of meditation at home and reading. Wanted to do a lot more, but difficult due to small children and very little sleep at night. I spent a lot of time reflecting about morality, based on the messages from Dalai Lama, and tried to be mindful and implement it in my daily life.

-January 2009: One day retreat with a qualified Vipassana teacher.

-February 2009-28th of May 2011: During this period I participated in one 4-day retreat and in 6 one-day retreats. I gradually managed to increase the daily meditation time to 1,5-2 hours. I also read many books.

-29th of May 2011: Started to read MCTB.

-30th of May to 18th of June:
The first revolutionary change from reading MCTB came from the sentence: “If you decide to do a concentration practice, stay on that object like a rabid dog until you have enough stability and skill to let the mind rest on it naturally”. This was a totally different language compared to the other books I had read! Instead of patiently accepting my bad concentration I decided to follow this advice and I had an almost aggressive attitude. I am not sure if this works generally, but it was what I needed at that time. My concentration increased and I could follow my progress through the first three ñanas when I read MTCB. I managed to increase to 3-4 hours of meditation per day.

-19th of June: When I meditated on the bus on the way to work I was suddenly, and totally unexpectedly, caught by a force I had never experienced before (or after): Extremely strong vortexes of “electrical” vibrations from the spine going up to the head. I don’t remember the details of the experience, but afterwards I felt that this was an experience I was going to remember the rest of my life. When I came to work I started to read MCTB to find a explanation to the experience. I went to the restrooms to meditate instead of working, and it took hours before I could do any work.

-20-26th of June: Increased concentration, light effects and explosions, rapid changes in the breathing pattern. Some experiences with a feeling that the world was vibrating and that I was sitting on an air cushion.

-27th of June-14th of July: Sounds of a helicopter in the ears. Inability to see the beginning and middle phase of the breathing and walking, chaotic breathing pattern, breating disappearing from time to time, pain in the teeth.

-15th of July: Started to feel the breaths from the beginning to the end once again

-16th of July: One and a half hour sitting meditation in the morning without interruption (longest sitting so far). Mix of good and bad concentration in the beginning, then a marked increase of the frequency of the sound in the ears. Difficulties to keep the eyes completetely closed, more and more light. Very concentrated meditation in the afternoon, with a soft light.

-17th of July: One hour and forty minutes of sitting meditation without interruption. The world was bright, soft and nice, with much better concentration than I had experienced before. At times I felt as if the world was only vibrations. Pain at the groin towards the end of the sitting. I put a strong focus on the increasing pain, and felt it as vibrations.

-18th of July: The same experiences as the day before.

-19th of July: The same experiences as the day before, but at the end of the sitting I had a lot of pain. I considered to stop, but then made a firm decision to just stay with the pain and fully accept it. The pain point and everything else were vibrations. Suddenly something happened. The pain ceased for a moment. It was something very special, but I can not describe it in detail. Then the pain was back, I stopped the medation, and I felt very good. When I lied down a couple of times later during the day, I felt a great peace and joy, and I saw light.

-20th of July: Similar experiences as the last days during the morning meditation, but I felt a greater clarity, somehow. I felt some very small spontaneous movements, which surprised me. Strange feeling that walking and other movements where “automatic”.

-21st of July: Stronger feeling of not being able to find a “self”. Especially clear when I moved one of the hands and looked at it - the hand was somehow moving without any connection to “me” in a way I had not felt before. Tried for the first time a get into a Jhana. After a very short time of concentation I got the feeling of rupture and joy. I now realised that this was what I had felt when I had just lied down to relax two days before.

-22nd of July: Did Samatha instead of Vipassana meditation. I could enter the first Jhana easily, and then move to higher stages. Strong feeling during the day that the sensations were “just out there”.

-23rd of July: Samatha practice in the morning. Not as easy as yesterday. Then I went back to Vipassana: Tried the advice to go from A&P and step by step up to fruition. To my surprise I could note up from A&P to equanimity and then get what I thought was a fruition, except that I did not feel ñana 7-9 clearly. I repeated this excercise in a few minutes and then got the same effect. Then I tried to get a fruition by just closing my eyes and following the breath, and it worked! Now I could see what was happening clearly in what I thought was the fruition moment: There was a discontinuity of about a tenth of second at the end of three consecutive out-breaths. I repeated this over and over again during the day (in total maybe 30 times), until the effect became so weak that I could not note it anymore.

-24th of July: Samatha meditaiton where I think I reached the immaterial states.

-25-26th of July: Samatha practice.

-27th of July: Review of the ñanas. It took around 40 minutes to get a fruition, then this was repeated one more time in 5 minutes. After that, I entered into a state I had not experienced before: It was Jhana-like, stable, at the same time as I was doing vipassana meditation.

-28th of July: Felt like I was back to zero in my mediation practice. Nothing interersting, only bad concentration.

-29th of July. Felt like a was back to mind and body, and cause and effect .

-30th of July: Clear experience of being back to A&P during the whole morning mediation. When I was lying down at night to get the children to sleep, I dozed off, and then I woke up suddenly experiencing light and vortexes. Then there was a discontinuity in the middle of the out-breath, and one discontinuity at the end.

-31st of July: Could only feel the end of the breaths and the steps. Anxiety and fear: I gave jumps only for a small sounds.

-1st of August: Same experiences as yesterday. Then the the breath became clearar and I was able to follow it from the beginning to the end. There was more and more light. Once again the right groin started to hurt (due to sitting for a longer time than I usually do), and I concentrated to feel all the sensations. Everything was vibrations, and then there was a stable light and I felt like I was sitting on an air cushion. Then I got what I thought could be a fruition, but I can not describe what happened. I lied down and felt very happy. When I did the evening mediation I got a frution, continued to note, and got into a state of the highest peace and pleasure I have felt. It was Jhana-like, but I could note the raise-fall of the abdomen, concentrate on sounds etc). I stayed in it for some 20 minutes, and then I had to stop.

-2nd of August: 5 fruitions during 45 minutes of morning mediation. The pattern was: A few minutes of light and vibrations, a few minutes of inability to perceive the beginning and the middle part of the breath, and difficulty to perceive the breathing in general, a few minutes of very good concentration and soft light, and fruition, and then it started again. Experienced 5 fruitions while I was waiting 5 minutes for the bus (with eyes closed). Now the pattern was: A short moment of very good concentration and then a fruition. Several spontaneous fruitions during the day. When I was sitting down meditating later during the dayI got several consecuitive fruitions, and after the last one I once again entered into the Jhana-like state of pure pleasure.

-3-5th of August: Many fruitions per day (maybe 20-30). Sometimes they came after only a short time of concentration with closed my eyes. Sometimes they came according to the cycle described the 2nd of August. I noted that the field of attention had changed somehow. It was like if the center point had become weaker. The difference between sensations coming from different sense doors had somehow become smaller.

-6th of August: Intended to continue the practice to note up from A&P, Dark Night, and Equanimity and Fruition, but it was suddenly difficult. I continued to note, and suddenly I experienced once again a Jhana-like state at the same time as I was doing vipassana meditation. After some 5 minutes in this state, I entered in A&P. I continued to meditate 30 minutes more with A&P. 2 x 30 minutes more of mediation during the day in A&P.

-7th to 8th of August. A&P, incl. A&P event, which was not very strong

-9th of August: Back to the experience of being unable to see the beginning and middle phase of the breaths and steps, difficulty to follow the breathing pattern, breathing disappearing.

-10th of August: Morning mediation with 5 Hz sound, many stray thoughts, and I could only feel the end of the breaths..During the day, the sight was flickering. Much stronger effect of only seing the end of the processes than I had felt before. When I looked at my knees when I was walking up the stairs they were flickering; I only saw the end of the movements. When I meditated later during the day, the breathing pattern was chaotic, or it disappeared. I got a very bad pain in one of my teeth for some time. Then, the clarity of the breathing started to come back. After a while I experienced high concentration and soft light, and then I got into higher concentration than I had ever felt before. It was only vibrations. Suddenly everything became calm, I dozed off a little bit, and there came three faint quick discontinuities at the end of the breath. Then after a while I got into a very blissful state with a lot of light, and in it felt like I was trevelling backwards at an incredible speed.

-11th of August: First lots of stray thoughs and nothing special happening, then there were suddenly light effects and vortexes of electrical vibrations, and the world felt coarse. Then the breath became unclear and I could only see the end of the breaths, I felt anxiety reacting with fear when there was a small sound, then the clarity was back and after some minutes there were three quick disoncontinuities at the end of the breath. This took about 10 minutes. This was repeated two times at a sitting later during the day, but with a longer duration (30 minutes in total). For the first time in a long time I did not feel much like meditating.

-12th of August: Same pattern as yesterday.

-13th of August: Sick, very little mediation. When I had gone to bed and almost felt asleep, I suddenly woke up, and experienced the three quick discontinuities at the end of the breath.

-14-15th of August: Sick. Very little meditation.

-16-17th of August: Breathing was very tight and jerky, bad concentration, boring, some pain.

-18th of August: Continued the same way as the day before in the morning, then the breating was suddenly not so tight anymore, there was more light, vortexes of vibrations, and moments of bliss.

-19th of August: Still tight breath, some light, some vortexes, some bliss.

RE: Hello, Question about Fruition, and Where am I on the Path?
Answer
8/23/11 6:09 AM as a reply to Christian A.
Thanks for your descriptions and your questions. I am glad that you got something out of MCTB.

There is a lot in your email, but I am going to give my quick and possibly imprecise impressions, realizing that I prefer to do this sort of stuff in person or by Skype or something like that, but this perhaps will give you something to play around with, realizing that these are just impressions from someone who doesn't know you based on one, albeit long, post.

Given how much is happening spontaneously and the various experiences you had, if someone asked me to bet if you had stream entry or not, I would bet yes: again, an imperfect metric, but perhaps it will do to have an outside impression. I get the sense that you already have a solid sense of what is going on with you: just keep an open mind and keep paying attention and see what happens.

I would also suspect that you, like many, are overcalling Fruitions, thinking that many of the transitions between various things are themselves Fruitions, which they probably aren't, given how rapidly and how many you think you may have had, but then again, I could be wrong, meaning that they might not be Fruitions and I am getting fooled by your descriptions, or you may in fact have that many and that often, but more likely some are Fruitions and some are just state shifts: it took me personally a year or two to get good at making that call all the time, but everyone is different.

It is entirely possible that you are getting into the territory the early to later second path ñanas, as it seems you suspect, and while that would be pretty quick for daily life, it is, in fact, quite possible. Sorting out what is post-path aftershocks, just more review stuff varying with practice and life conditions and what is new territory is not always easy and doesn't actually matter, as the practice is the same.

It sounds like you are having all sorts of fun with this, and the big point is to just keep going, realizing that it can take some time to come to firm conclusions, and then the practice will likely shake some deep aspect of those, as that is its nature.

It will be interesting to see how this shakes out and what conclusions you come to as the days, weeks, and months go on.

Sorry for a few days delay in responding to this: I have been working nights, and it sounds like no one else wanted to take this on, which can happen with posts of this nature. You should thank Tarin for pointing this thread out to me, which I might have missed, as my days of being able to find the time to read everything that happens at the DhO have gone for the time being.

One more question: how are you doing with your family and friends and talking or not talking about this stuff? This can be one of the more interesting aspects of early success to try to figure out what to do with if, particularly if they are not into this stuff, or perhaps even if they are.

Daniel

RE: Hello, Question about Fruition, and Where am I on the Path?
Answer
8/23/11 5:57 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Many thanks Daniel for your reply, and many thanks also to Tarin for noticing my post!

I have not told anybody about what has happened in my meditation practice the last months. None of my friends are doing any meditation practice, and my wife neither, so I think it would be difficult for them to get a correct impression of what this is about. I am practicing with a Vipassana meditation group in Stockholm when I can, but due to three small children and a distance of 150 km to travel to Stockholm, I can not go there so often. Maybe I will talk to the group's two (very good and qualified) teachers when I get an opportunity. For the moment I am very happy with just investigating what is happening in the meditation practice, and I will continue to follow the discussions at the Dharmaoverground and also post updates of how my practice develops. At the end of September I will participate in a 4-day retreat with Bhante Yogavacara Rahula – I am looking forward to that!

Best Regards,
Christian

RE: Hello, Question about Fruition, and Where am I on the Path?
Answer
8/23/11 11:02 PM as a reply to Christian A.
If that is the Bhante Rahula the ex-Riverside California wild-man who spent years at Bhavana Society, please give my my best regards.

I hope you have a good retreat, and let us know how things go, if you wish.

Daniel

RE: Hello, Question about Fruition, and Where am I on the Path?
Answer
8/24/11 1:45 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Yes, that must be him! This is the introduction of him:

Bhante Rahula was born in California and ordained as a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka in 1975. ....Since 1987 Bhante Rahula has been residing and teaching at the Bhavana Society Forest Monastery in West Virginia with Bhante H Gunaratana.

I will pass on your greetings to him!

Now that you are online, I will take the opportunity to ask a follow-up question!

The many “discontinuity of 1/10 s at the end of three consecutive breaths” events, occurred during a few days after the assumed steam entry, and also during a few days after completing the following review cycle. The closest fit with your descriptions in the "The doors" chapter in MCTB is with "the three moments in which the universe is ripped away from us are distinct" (suffering door predominates with impermanence present). Does this seem to fit my my description, and may there be a correlation between the experience prior to the fruition (a lot of pain), and the door (suffering in this case)?

After completing the second major review cycle, I got a fruition that fits with your description in MCTB of when the impermanence aspect predominates and is combined with the emptiness aspect: Three strobing moments at the end of the out-breath. I got these fruitions in total 7 more times during the three following days, and then it stopped. Yesterday night, and three nights ago (before falling asleep), I also experienced the same type of fruition. Is typical / likely to "change doors" in this way?

Best Regards,
Christian

RE: Hello, Question about Fruition, and Where am I on the Path?
Answer
8/24/11 8:41 AM as a reply to Christian A.
Christian A:
Is typical / likely to "change doors" in this way?


you don't always have to go through the same door. you might be able to trigger doors in particular.. when nearing a fruition (e.g. in equanimity nyana.. or just during an entire sit), try focusing predominantly on a particular one of the three characteristics.. once that is locked in, try focusing on a secondary one. and see if your experience matches one of the 6 ways the entrance can manifest. i really liked the no-self/suffering one the times i got it really clearly.

it also might be neat, when reviewing each of the stages, to focus particularly on each of the 3 chars and to see how the nyana feels different accordingly.

RE: Hello, Question about Fruition, and Where am I on the Path?
Answer
8/24/11 4:31 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Thanks a lot - very interesting! I will try that and see what happens!

Best Regards,
Christian

RE: Hello, Question about Fruition, and Where am I on the Path?
Answer
12/18/11 2:08 AM as a reply to Christian A.
Hi All,
Since some time the pulse is interfering with my noting of the breath. I also note the pulse on the retina sometimes in daily life, most clearly when I look at a stable object (e.g. at a wall). Is there something I can do, in addition to noting this, and the associated feelings of irritation etc.? Does anybody recognize this as a “Dark Night Phenomena” (maybe due to the lack of ability to keep the focus on the main object)?

Short summary of my introductory post, and what has happened after my latest update:
Stream entry 19th of July, daily review cycles during the next two months, then early 2nd path ñanas followed by intensive A&P during a four-day retreat with Bhante Rahula 21-25 of September, then Dark Night from the beginning of October until the beginning of December.

The last two weeks I think I have been partly in early equanimity and partly in re-observation.
The pulse interference started at the end of the retreat, and I perceived it as a very annoying disturbance during the Dark Night. Now, I can maintain full attention on the breath (without interference of the pulse) during short periods of high concentration in Equanimity, but after a while the pulse comes in again.
Some advice would be highly appreciated!

Best Regards,
Christian

RE: Hello, Question about Fruition, and Where am I on the Path?
sweden
Answer
12/18/11 8:37 AM as a reply to Christian A.
Tjena Christian,
I'm Pejn (from KFD) and also live in the Stockholm area.
You're the only Swedish "pragmatic dharma" practitioner I have seen so far. :-)
Want to chat a bit?

RE: Hello, Question about Fruition, and Where am I on the Path?
Answer
12/18/11 12:43 PM as a reply to Pejn ..
Hej!

It would be nice to hear from you on chhv@hotmail.se

....and comments from somebody about my "pulse issue" above would be very appreciated

Best Regards,
Christian

RE: Hello, Question about Fruition, and Where am I on the Path?
Answer
12/18/11 1:00 PM as a reply to Christian A.
Christian A:
Since some time the pulse is interfering with my noting of the breath. I also note the pulse on the retina sometimes in daily life, most clearly when I look at a stable object (e.g. at a wall). Is there something I can do, in addition to noting this, and the associated feelings of irritation etc.? Does anybody recognize this as a “Dark Night Phenomena” (maybe due to the lack of ability to keep the focus on the main object)?

I'll feel my pulse in the center of my head. I think it is either a Cause&Effect phenomenon (pulse, followed by mental reaction, repeat), or it might be a Dark Night phenomenon (vibrations - the pulse keeps shifting, and the steady pulsing breaks down and is kind of annoying - but that might also be 3 chars territory).

As to what to do about it... I don't have much advice there. I never did anything in particular about it. It comes + goes. Just observe the causality - what exactly about it is annoying? (If it's cause you can't follow the breath precisely - what exactly about that is annoying? etc)

RE: Hello, Question about Fruition, and Where am I on the Path?
Answer
12/18/11 1:41 PM as a reply to Christian A.
Christian A:
Hej!

It would be nice to hear from you on chhv@hotmail.se

....and comments from somebody about my "pulse issue" above would be very appreciated

Best Regards,
Christian


The mail adress bounces...
/Pejn

RE: Hello, Question about Fruition, and Where am I on the Path?
Answer
12/18/11 2:54 PM as a reply to Pejn ..
Sorry, I missed one letter, it should be chhhv@hotmail.se
/Christian

RE: Hello, Question about Fruition, and Where am I on the Path?
Answer
12/18/11 3:31 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Thanks for the reply Beoman. During the recent two months of Dark Night, the "pulse problem" has been even bigger than now, especially after Dissolution. It was a great feeling when I got into Equanimity a few weeks ago (and there was only a clear focus on the breath - no disturbing pulse). Now I think that I have fallen back into Re-observation, but I manage to get back to Equanimity occasionally. It would be interesting to hear some more comments about this, especially about associating it with a lack of ability to focus on the breath due to the Dark Night. Maybe the problem is only that I see it as a problem? Still, it is something new for me, and it prevents me from following the breath clearly...