RE: Stream Entry Question

Florian Lau, modified 5 Months ago.

Stream Entry Question

Posts: 34 Join Date: 11/5/20 Recent Posts
Hello friends,

this thread is more of a question than a declaration of attainment.

A bit of background information: I have never visited a meditation retreat and only did a 16-week dry insight meditation course online. However, I practice meditation for at least 2 hours daily and had some "interesting" experience lately that are to a degree ongoing.

A few months ago I had my first experiences with Jhana. It was a lot like people described. Quite strong Piti, a sensation like a stream of water was hitting my face and a sensation of "zooming in" or laser-like focus. I repeated that experience quite often and after a few sessions I felt something different. It was a sensation of slowly falling into the depth of my skull. It's hard to describe. But one thought arose very clearly after I emerged from that state. In that situation I was perfectly fine with the thought of dying. I assume that is what people call equanimity.

After that realization I sat a bit motionless as I had no inclination to do anything. However, I could clearly observe that my body had a different opinion as my eyes were moving wherever they wished. I had no control over the process and could clearly see that. I was an observer and not the do-er.

The next few weeks I tried to repeat what I had experienced. Every time I tried to "predict" where I would look next, what I would move next, what I would feel next and what I would know next. Since a controlling consciousness should surely be able to do that. However, I failed a lot of times. One day after repeating the sensation of equanimity and falling into a depth, the feeling of non-self and me being an observer instead of the one that controlled stayed for hours on end and I can now tap into it "whenever I wish" (I have no control over when it happens, but it happens pretty often and I can see it pretty much all the time - it kinda became second nature). My mindfulness gained a different "quality" or depth.

After a while of practicing I noticed that objects would "randomly" appear out of nowhere and that I couldn't really predict what would be the next object of my consciousness. My mind seemingly no longer tries to make things look like items in my surroundings "have always been there" if that makes sense. The online meditation course monk called it an experience of impermanence. However, he wasn't talking much and I failed to ask him the right questions as I had no real idea what to ask.

During the time of that course I also developed what seems to be "knowledge of appearance as terrors" (term I picked up from a commentary on the Visuddhimagga), as I was afraid of my own reflection in the mirror quite a lot and felt quite alienated when I looked at peoples faces for too long. There was sometimes a deep feeling of dread. I decided to go back to the Jhana practice after many of those experiences.

I have read that most people experience impermanence first and the non-self or suffering. For me, it was non-self first then impermanence and the suffering (a subtle sensation of having to do something all the time, never being able to rest).

I am not too sure what to make of all of it.

Can anyone of you help me with this?

Sincerely
Flau
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Emil Christian Stillhoff Jensen, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 238 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
I feel like I can recognize some of what you describe. I remember being freaked out by discovering that my thoughts, emotions, feelings, opinions, actions appeared all on their own. In fact, my first experience with meditation was when I decided to question whether I was "making" my thoughts or not. When I discovered I wasn't, my world started changing. It was a long, interesting but also scary road.

I wish I had known Daniel Ingram's book back then, as I darted into some psychological territory (dark night) which is intimately related to these kinds of insight - something which the book MCTB describes in a very understandable language. Check it out if you haven't.

It can be scary to discover that there is no self. But when you do these practices you start to see that it would actually be quite nice if there was never any illusion of a self, as it's actually just a source of our misery (dukkha). I am myself no longer freaked out, but wish to see through this illusion so that I can really taste that freedom of not being under that spell any more.

And even though I'm not Enlightened, I still think that I have tasted the freedom this kind of insight produces.

Cheers
Florian Lau, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 34 Join Date: 11/5/20 Recent Posts
After skimming a bit through the forum I have a bit more knowledge on the topic as before.

However, I am still puzzled. I am unsure if I experienced a moment of "fruition" (or path-moment) and therefore probably haven't.

Nonetheless, in a video about Stream Entry that was linked under another thread on possible attainment the person said that it should more or less be judged by the lasting qualities.

My view on (non-)self has been permanently altered and I can see it whenever my mind inclines towards it.

Any external interpretation is still more than welcome (I will read a bit more on the forum in the meantime)

Sincerely
Florian
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Emil Christian Stillhoff Jensen, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 238 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
I think it's tempting and common to think that one is stream enterer. From what you write I see no reason why you would be stream entry, but I guess you never know.

I figured myself for a long time that I ought to be one. However, in a recent 10-day solo retreat I really tried to map my progress and followed it up to stage 11 Equanimity. I wasn't able to get a fruition...

If you are a stream enterer, apparently you guys most commonly have fruitions often. So if you wanna know, dedicate time to find out and get some fruitions. If you can't then most likely you are not stream enterer.

The reason why I thought that I should be one, is exactly like you say, due to the seemingly permanent alteration of perception of self.
But remember that insight into the three characteristics is only insight stage 3 (out of 15). Have you had the Arising and Passing event happen yet? That's stage 4...
Florian Lau, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 34 Join Date: 11/5/20 Recent Posts
With the assumption that it might be Stream Entry I went 100% with what is in the Nikayas, as that is pretty much the only Dhamma texts I have read (not yet finished, but very far in). And the presented model there suggests that Stream Entry is exactly breaking the three lower fetters.

I am not very attached to the idea of being a Stream Enterer to be honest. I am just curious. If it's not Stream Entry, I am going to continue trying, as that is what I would have done anyway.

Thank you very much for your answer nonetheless! I think I should read about the 16-stage model that is used here instead of the fetter model I am accustomed to.

Sincerely
Florian
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Pepe, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 332 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Florian Lau:
With the assumption that it might be Stream Entry I went 100% with what is in the Nikayas, as that is pretty much the only Dhamma texts I have read (not yet finished, but very far in). And the presented model there suggests that Stream Entry is exactly breaking the three lower fetters.

I am not very attached to the idea of being a Stream Enterer to be honest. I am just curious. If it's not Stream Entry, I am going to continue trying, as that is what I would have done anyway.

Thank you very much for your answer nonetheless! I think I should read about the 16-stage model that is used here instead of the fetter model I am accustomed to.

Hi Florian, 

Welcome to DhO! Interesting description of your experiences. Good to know that you will continue practicing regardless that was Stream Entry or not. I'm not a stream enterer so I cannot validate your alleged attainment. To be honest, probably nobody will, as they know little about you, your practice, mental stability, etc. If you are really interested in feedback, I would suggest starting a practice log here in DhO and give a fair description of the phenomenology you are experiencing and the insights you get from that. With enough data, people will chime in and offer tips, suggestions or pose you questions.

In the end, the best judge is yourself. So it might help you to check Daniel Ingram's  diagnose of A&P, as it sometimes mimick SE when coupled with strong concentration. Also check Shargrol's posts about SE (from "Diagnosing SE" to "What was I doing when I attained Stream Entry"), though I would seriously recommend to read all his previous texts too. 

Metta!


 
Florian Lau, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 34 Join Date: 11/5/20 Recent Posts
Thank you very much for letting me know! I will check out the thread =)

AI'll also think about the practice log. Up until now I only wrote a private one.

Sincerely
Florian
Florian Lau, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 34 Join Date: 11/5/20 Recent Posts
Hello friends,

I have now finished reading good parts of Daniels book and a few new questions arose in me. According to Daniels map system, I am very likely not a Stream-Enterer, as I haven't experienced all the different phases that come before it.

However, I have quite a bit of trouble finding out where I stand on the map. Maybe this is the wrong place for follow-up questions, thus I apologize in advance. Here it comes anyway:

I had quite some strong experiences concerning the three characteristics. Thus, I first thought that phase 3 would be my territory. However, I also experienced a strong vortex experience during meditation session where it felt like I pretty much spun all over my chair. Further, it felt like my whole field of vision was kinda "pulsing". With pretty high speed new sensations came into my field of vision and traveled from right to left which probably created the spinning sensation. According to Daniel that is "almost a sure sign for an A&P" - but I might very well misunderstand this, as I haven't had much "guidance" so far. I also never had any of the remarkable emotional highs, but I remember very strongly how my attitude towards trying to convince others to meditate drastically changed. I also experienced a much more difficult time to enter any Jhana. If I get there, only for a very short time usually. And if it works, it is often more of a momentary concentration that gets me there.

I also had quite a few events where I felt a strong sense of terror whenever I looked into a mirror after meditating and sometimes when I look into the faces of people without any apparent reason. That seems to be characteristic for phase 6 (Fear), if I am not mistaken. I am quite sure that I haven't experienced any of the more advanced phases though. Daniel mentioned, that the fear phase usually doesn't last too long, but it seems like I am "in it" for quite some time now (and haven't really experienced any of the other phenomena described in the fear section, like hard pains etc).

Any good guesses from someone that already went through all of this?

Sincerely
Florian
agnostic, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 1545 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Sounds like A&P, Dark Night and a possible not-self fruition, but I'm really not qualified to judge. The only thing you can do is keep practicing and see if the experience repeats or observe any other changes that might take place. You might want to ask yourself why is it important to me to have stream entry validated? What would I do differently?
Florian Lau, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 34 Join Date: 11/5/20 Recent Posts
Thank you for your answer and feedback!

As mentioned, I do not think of it as stream entry anymore after reading parts of the book. Thus, I do not want to have it validated. What I do want "now" is to get this over with and be done with the uncomfortable parts. Or rather, I want to find out what the appropriate next steps would be to follow a clear plan for once.

If anything changes about my practice then it will be "fixing" of what I do wrong or miss right now.

Sincerely
Florian
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Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question (Answer)

Posts: 3869 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Florian, there's nothing in your experiential descriptions that points to a cessation/fruition, which is a requirement for stream-entry. There is ample evidence of A&P experiences, however. 

Best to you, and keep going!
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 1669 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"If you are a stream enterer, apparently you guys most commonly have fruitions often. So if you wanna know, dedicate time to find out and get some fruitions. If you can't then most likely you are not stream enterer."

I hope not to upset a hornet nest with what Im to say;
Nope. One can have only one cessation per path. THE One that counts. All the others are but part of the Review Stage. Im sure some folks go through Review a long time (hence get repeated cessation's) and some rather fall into the new 2nd path soon after the SE. Stream Entry is not be all end all but is a very good stuff to work towards. 

Constantly desiring/thinking about SE will be a hindrance. Noting/Noticing that there is thinking/desire about SE is of benefit. 

Best wishes! 
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Ole Henry, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 9 Join Date: 10/31/20 Recent Posts
Maybe this can be of some help ... 

There are three or four parts to this stage.

https://www.amaravati.org/audio/chapter-16-i-entering-stream-part-1/
Florian Lau, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 34 Join Date: 11/5/20 Recent Posts
I will listen to it, thank you very much for sharing!
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 194 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Ole Henry:
Maybe this can be of some help ... 

There are three or four parts to this stage.

https://www.amaravati.org/audio/chapter-16-i-entering-stream-part-1/
Thank you for this link. The mythology involved is fascinating. That you can be born an arahant, Hmmmmm I wonder, maybe I......emoticon 
I think an important point is that you have to be able to manifest the removal of the fetters in real life.  So, "There's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path." -Morpheus

Flo, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 34 Join Date: 11/5/20 Recent Posts
Hello friends,

a few days ago I had another let's call it "interesting" experience that I am unsure what to make of it.

When sitting on the meditation cushion, I have sometimes experiences what feels like blinking with eyes closed. Sometimes when I was very concentrated that blinking happens in very fast succession. The last experience was a bit different though.

I went grocery shopping as usual and felt a bit uneasy - not sure why. However, a few moments later reality started slowing down a lot and at some point there were "frames" missing. I only saw every other picture of reality with a pause in the middle. When I was standing/moving in front of a shelf and tried to move my hand towards an item, part of the whole "sequence" was missing and another image appeared after the last one went missing. This made it quite difficult to grab something to say the least.

That went on for a minute or more and happened a good 5 to 10 times.

Is this what is meant by "mind-moments"? is it normal to perceive them with such a big "gap" in-between? It felt quite unsettling in an environment that isn't the meditation cushion.

Sincerely & thank you in advance
Flo
Flo, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 34 Join Date: 11/5/20 Recent Posts
Someone asked (but I cannot find the message here - it is still in my mails though) if "Did the blinking feel like your point of view was rapidly alternating between left eye and right eye?" - and I cannot really tell to be honest. It was not a different picture each moment, it was just like frame after frame of visual input "appeared" out of nowhere. And it wasn't that "rapid" in the first place, since it only happened a few times over maybe one minute.

But then again, I never had such an alteration between pictures from left to right (without closing one eye at least), so it's hard for me to clearly identify it. Since there was some physical "distance" between the frames, it might actually come from pictures of different eyes - since there is always a slight shift. But since I was moving that is also a valid explanation for the shift.

Sincerely
Flo
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 2437 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Flo:
Hello friends,

a few days ago I had another let's call it "interesting" experience that I am unsure what to make of it.

When sitting on the meditation cushion, I have sometimes experiences what feels like blinking with eyes closed. Sometimes when I was very concentrated that blinking happens in very fast succession. The last experience was a bit different though.

I went grocery shopping as usual and felt a bit uneasy - not sure why. However, a few moments later reality started slowing down a lot and at some point there were "frames" missing. I only saw every other picture of reality with a pause in the middle. When I was standing/moving in front of a shelf and tried to move my hand towards an item, part of the whole "sequence" was missing and another image appeared after the last one went missing. This made it quite difficult to grab something to say the least.

That went on for a minute or more and happened a good 5 to 10 times.

Is this what is meant by "mind-moments"? is it normal to perceive them with such a big "gap" in-between? It felt quite unsettling in an environment that isn't the meditation cushion.

Sincerely & thank you in advance
Flo

Hi Flo, and a belated welcome to DhO! After two months, this sort of amounts to your working practice thread. You said you practice a couple hours a day, but I couldn't find a description of your method or technique in this thread so far. Sorry if I just missed it, but I'd be interested to hear what you're doing.

The temporal distortion and sense of the perceptual frames starting to have gaps is indeed an "interesting" experience. It is a big step along the way toward realizing the deeply constructed nature of perception, and to understanding how our "normal" perception is at best a working compromise with the vastness of reality, a filtered and edited version tailored to social and material survival and the values associated with those. 

Probably the most important thing to say is, be very alert now, after a spontaneous, off-the-mat experience like this. Like, maybe, don't operate heavy machinery for a while? And if you have an opportunity to test it, see if you can shut it down on purpose and relatively quickly make the gestalt shift back to the perceptual world where it's generally thought to be best to step out from under a falling piano. You don't want to be driving, for instance, and start missing perceptual frames. So context, context, context. In a safe setting, it can be fascinating to experience, and I tend to think it comes with the territory and is not uncommon. Your world view, de facto, has to expand after experiences like this, and a conceptual integration takes some time; and also, to get hit with a lot of experiences of normal reality getting shaky or dissolving entirely can be overwhelming, and quickly get into very dangerous territory. As a bipolar guy, I had a real propensity, a sort of greed, at times, for those conventional reality dissolutions, and paid the price in sanity. So be alert here. It sounds like so far, so good, with you. 

Best wishes, happy new year, and it's lovely to have you here on DhO,
tim
Flo, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 34 Join Date: 11/5/20 Recent Posts
Hello friend!

Thank you very much for the kind words. I will start a practice tread today - and apologies for using the wrong thread.

Sincerely
Flo
Martin, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 275 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
I get a freeze-frame effect at times, particularly in the first half-hour after interesting sits. But I get one frozen frame, rather than a bunch of them in succession. It may happen two or three times, but each time will be separate. I have no idea what it means, but it doesn't seem to cause any problems or offer any benefits other than reminding me that everything I perceive is made by the mind, and the way the mind operates can change. (For mappy reference, I have not got SE.)
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Helen Pohl, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Stream Entry Question

Posts: 83 Join Date: 8/10/20 Recent Posts
Same here, after meditation I often lay staring up at the ceiling and, as when you look at any flat-coloured, uniform surface(blue cloudless sky) there are these "visual tingles" that sometimes stop for me for a brief moment. Happens 2-3 times in a row, maybe 5-10s apart. I've often wondered what it is.

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