What was that? A&P?

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Paul C Henri, modified 10 Years ago.

What was that? A&P?

Posts: 24 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
This is an excerpt from notes that I wrote down every evening during my first retreat. A week-long Mahasi noting retreat under the direction of a nun, this August. I had made the resolve to reach the first jhana and/or A&P.

I'd be glad to hear what your thoughts are.

edit: the notes are unedited, except for a few words added within 'square parenthesis' [ ]. It's a dirty translation from the original French.

"""
Wow! I think I might have had an A&P event.
(...)
8pm Sit: So, is it still working [a reference to the previous sit]? Yes! Right away, and with ease. Now I'm not waiting for the bell to ring anymore! I'll hear it every 15mn, with no thought other than "15mn passed away so quicklly!" 30mn: "half an hour already?? Go go go! Not much time left." 45mn: a bit tired but some stamina remains: all-out now! End: "it could have lasted a lot longer, but everything has an end."

Quality tranquillity, with lots of confidence. The breath is still not easy to locate. Eventually, I focus on a small sieve [in the belly]. More and more concentrated, packed up. I'm starting to consider trying to reach a jhana...get concentrated, ...it goes on..., I'm not sure but I think that I reviewed the 3C. At some point, my skull is bathed in a field of blackness with drops of milk in suspension, and not long after that, my torso (and the heart region within it) gets moulded, rigidifies into metal such as the stainless steel dishes in the kitchen, then I feel like a flying yogi, on my black carpet, the outline of my body is highlighted by a thin white line, the rest is "translucidly" black like the surroundings; as if I was a russian doll I can turn to any direction there is high no bottom ni left nor right!...I'm having fun, the body is in rapture. I hear Sayalay entering the hall, I think that Sein Sein is in front because I'm located at the back of it (I'm aware that I'm tripping), it goes on, I endeavour another jhana? Examining impermanence, dukkha and anatta of my bodily sensations (for my body hasn't disappeared). At some point, a shadow puppet of my higher body (but with a feminin head and the head of a baby just next to it?) separates and moves up, but I lose sight of it, it dissolves, and the sensation of loss is stronger than in the previous case; anxiety 1°) Is it me that left? (I had thought about *not* "splitting into two", while I was flying in the countryside as a flying yogi, to avoid the risk of an Out Of Body Experience) 2°) but nothing happens, it seems; so I focus back; less lights, 2nd jhana? Doesn't look like it. I forgot to mention a "light show", where I fly around something that looks a bit like a stage. Then some lights lighten the inside of a skull, from the orbits of the eyes (it felt weird, at the time) , the lights seem to be half firelfies, half patroll troupers... Time goes on, I collect myself, 'huddle up', and foresee the end. When it does come, I must come down...I stay cross-legged without any pain nor discomfort for the following puja recitation [~30mn]. I tell myself that it wasn't any jhanas but an A&P event. Contentment! Aware of the "ok good but next" aspect of the experience, but I also understand the word "rapture" and the descritions of the other yogis. A good step, excellent step indeed if it is confirmed as such! Still the first jhana to reach. For sure, my doubts about this week fall away. Plus, it's only the 3rd day!! In 7 days, who knows, equanimity?
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What was that? A&P?

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Hey Paul,

Yeah, it definitely sounds like you've crossed the A&P and moved into the beginning of the dukkha ñanas. Rather than paying attention to one specific area of the body, pay attention to everything and observe the three characteristics in real-time. It sounds like you're getting caught up in a lot of content and imagery, you're trying too hard to identify what these sensations are like rather than just identifying them for what they are and seeing them as impermanent, unsatisfying and empty. Do not get caught up in the content of your thoughts, see them as objects, label them according to what they are and move on, anything less than this precise and constant attention to this sensate experience will be time wasted.

What may be of use to know is that the A&P occurs in the same territory as the 2nd jhana, and any previous insight stages occur in 1st jhana territory so you've already got access to where you want to be. Your notes are good, if a little too heavy on the speculation, but you're obviously paying attention to the sensate level and this is where you want to keep it to move forwards.

How's your practice right now?
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Phantom of the Opera, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What was that? A&P?

Posts: 24 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi Tommy, thanks for your answer.

Tommy M:
Rather than paying attention to one specific area of the body, pay attention to everything and observe the three characteristics in real-time.

I'll try your suggestions in my next sits and report back.
I'm afraid that, at the moment, it'll break the continuity of attention, which I still have to strive for to maintain for more than ~5mn. My concentration ability has regressed, I'm afraid, due to a lack of practice.

Regarding content and notes: while I sit, some of the proliferation is about...the practice notes!...."how am I going to report this?" or "let's remember; this, that and such happened, so the report will look like this", "what a gap between the experiences and a report" etc.
Duly noted...

Tommy M:
How's your practice right now?

Not great. I sit about twice a week, instead of the daily practice routine I had hoped to establish.

Two questions:
- the A&P is supposed to boost one's confidence and give important insights, right? I did have a confidence boost, but I didn't feel any wiser at all.
- Are these two effects (confidence boost, important insights) supposed to be washed away by the dark knight?

I watched the first two Daniel videos at vimeo, and though I can relate to his descriptions of the pre-A&P stages, and some of the post A&P stages, but I'm definitely not the "technical meditator" he speaks of.

I guess I am in a Dark Night now. Looking back, some physical symptoms were quite clear during the rest of the retreat.
Now, psychologically (sorry..), I see more and more clearly the jerk that I am, and I become even more jerkier than I used to be, which is not nice at all for my wife nor for my self esteem. I also project on others my own jerkiness. And among my acquaintances, friends and family, I spot more and more possible dark nighters.
I overreact (and that's an understatement) more often and settle down slower. Seeing my bad temper arise in real time, "analyzing" it for what it is, and, despite that, *not* taking a wiser course of action, is very humiliating. No control over my self. What i've always tried to avoid...

Apart from that, life's good (crap, LG's got me!)
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: What was that? A&P?

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
I'm afraid that, at the moment, it'll break the continuity of attention, which I still have to strive for to maintain for more than ~5mn. My concentration ability has regressed, I'm afraid, due to a lack of practice.

Don't worry about it and don't beat yourself up over it, there are ways to improve your practice and incorporate it into your day. Practice well and you'll get results.

Regarding content and notes: while I sit, some of the proliferation is about...the practice notes!...."how am I going to report this?" or "let's remember; this, that and such happened, so the report will look like this", "what a gap between the experiences and a report" etc.

Aye, I know it well. emoticon Note stuff like "planning thoughts", "questioning", "remembering", "effort", this is about seeing things clearly and a simple label will suffice.

Not great. I sit about twice a week, instead of the daily practice routine I had hoped to establish.

Even ten minutes of solid practice a day is better than nothing, this is about momentum and two sits a week just doesn't allow for this to build up. I highly recommend incorporating practice into daily life if you can manage it, remember that you're entire experience is made up of the sensations you're noting during a sit so there's no reason why this can't be utilized, particularly if you're pushed for time or have other commitments.

- the A&P is supposed to boost one's confidence and give important insights, right? I did have a confidence boost, but I didn't feel any wiser at all.

The A&P is "supposed" to demonstrate the fact that all phenomena arise and pass away, the increase in confidence is no more than a side-effect. I have no idea how wisdom "feels", all I know is that clarity and understanding of the nature of things increases with each Path. Insights occur but they may not be understood and integrated until further down the line, however something fundamental changes when we experience the transience of all phenomena for the first time.

- Are these two effects (confidence boost, important insights) supposed to be washed away by the dark night?

The map is referred to as the "progress of insight" for a reason, insight arises constantly as you practice and dark night is full of possibilities for deep, life changing insights. The shift in emotional tones to a more sombre mood is natural, but it is possible to navigate this phase skilfully and to learn a lot about what "you" are in the process.

I watched the first two Daniel videos at vimeo, and though I can relate to his descriptions of the pre-A&P stages, and some of the post A&P stages, but I'm definitely not the "technical meditator" he speaks of.

Ha! Don't worry about it, neither am I. Daniel's an exceptionally skilled meditator and his descriptions are the result of years of hardcore practice and retreats. He's qualified as a technical writer too so he tends towards super-detailed descriptions, but that surgical style is what cuts through all the shit of mainstream dharma blabber and demonstrates that this is all possible.

I guess I am in a Dark Night now. Looking back, some physical symptoms were quite clear during the rest of the retreat.
Now, psychologically (sorry..), I see more and more clearly the jerk that I am, and I become even more jerkier than I used to be, which is not nice at all for my wife nor for my self esteem. I also project on others my own jerkiness. And among my acquaintances, friends and family, I spot more and more possible dark nighters.
I overreact (and that's an understatement) more often and settle down slower. Seeing my bad temper arise in real time, "analyzing" it for what it is, and, despite that, *not* taking a wiser course of action, is very humiliating. No control over my self. What i've always tried to avoid...

Listen, you're acknowledging the fact that you can behave in a way which can be construed as jerkiness, that doesn't make "you" a jerk. Being aware of these behaviours brings them into awareness, they become less automatic and the ability to objectify and observe them gradually removes their ability to affect you. The fact that you're aware of this is good work in itself and will allow you to examine these sensations, see what they're made of and see the 3C's in action.

When you feel these negative emotions, examine them and watch how they change. One minute you're angry, the next you're sad, then you're raging, then you're kinda o.k. etc etc, Look at how it's only through holding onto these emotions that they can perpetuate themselves, look at how this happens, don't fight against it, just observe and note accurately,

This stage will pass, just get more momentum going and maybe do a bit of samatha practice to take the edge off of how you're feeling for a while.