Martin's sporadic log

Martin, modified 4 Months ago.

Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 294 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
I have decided to log a little, mostly because I get so much out of reading other people's logs that I feel like chipping in to the sharing pool. I only log some of my sits (when they are interesting or I happen to have time) and I only visit DhO on weekends, so these logs will be sporadic. 

Dec 26
  • At the end of a two-hour sit, I decided to brighten by entering j1 as if from zero, focusing on the breath, and it worked, but the sensation was like assigning it to an avatar of myself and the experience was like a simulacrum experienced by the avatar that I experienced vicariously. This sense came back several times in the day. In this second-self view, the observer is not exactly anyone, more like a neutral surrounding observer. 
  • I started a 20-minute sit in the afternoon and there was an interesting event. It was like a camera shutter. Very brief, less than a second. No other things. It clearly was not a fruition, and it does not line up with the sense of reassembling after a cessation. More like just a perceptual effect. Still kind of interesting. 

Dec. 27
  • Same timing, 20 min sit after 2-hour sit, same very brief shutter effect but this time an inwardly closing iris shutter (fast) preceded by a separate dip in the light. Also, on a walk afterward a flash in the sky (the whole sky) but, although it was a flash it was more like a glitch, or a hiccup in the sky. 

 Dec. 31
  • Interesting today. Sat for an hour with the intention of waiting for the light of access concentration at 15 or 20 minutes before starting jhana and then hanging out in the third. It worked well. First/second started at 15 and was ridiculously fun (tingly and stupid amount of chuckling, and all wow-wow-wowy). Got third but not super strong, maybe 80%, and held it for at least a half an hour. At some point I started making a point of relaxation in the manner of Bante V. In particular I worked on releasing tension in my forehead and not grabbing on to frissons, golden lights, waves and so on (but I did pay attention to pulsing when it was there). As this progressed, though I did not formally leave third and sink down into fourth, my body progressively slumped and, for a short while, the breath and body disappeared, though I did my best not to latch onto that either. I was using "don't latch on" as a sort of quiet response to any kind of reaching out, reification or co-operative fabrication. Interestingly, before the breath disappeared there was again the sense that the breathing was being done and perceived by an avatar. 
  • At the bell I tried for 5th and got it: I increased in size to probably something like 100 feet tall and then let the space spread away, below me at first and then in all directions, The space being grayish-white and unbounded but I could not "see" beyond about a mile in any direction. This then filled up with the content of my mind, which was the usual fleeting semi-visual formations that show up in vipassana sits, but expanded out into space. I took this to be, maybe, a weak proto-sixth, or just an elaborate collapse of fifth. It was fun, in any case. 
  • I walked halfway around the block. Very pleasant. Saw how it felt to apply "don't latch on" to things seen with the eyes as well. Then I went to the bathroom and the toilet was crazy far away, but sometimes popping up in different places like an active Picasso painting. I was in this kind of frozen state and so it took quite a while to get away from the toilet. Walking felt really mergy. There was no separation or otherness to walls and so on. This mostly calmed down in less than a half hour. 
Jan. 1
  • Had planned two and a half hours, but got cold and had a full bladder after an hour and a half, so I pulled the plug. That was just sitting and thought it was very quiet, nothing much happened (hmm, redundant, but also not). 
  • Later did a 30-minute sit, which turned into more than an hour of sitting, and noticed the sound-through-a-fan and strobe light effects. I found that if I watch the blanking part of the pulse, everything stops in that blanking interval, including any thoughts or perceptions, or fabrications. It's like they are gone into the blank. Normally, I think, there is a bridging function going on that produces a sense of continuity. Interestingly, when there is clinging, in the form of a sensation or formation or the like that is persistent, and I turn my attention to the blanks in that, the clinging breaks up after a second or two. 
Jan. 2
  • One hour sit. Breath disappeared after an hour, like ten seconds before the bell or something, but I had work to do, so I tried a j5 exit, but it was pretty weak. There was a lot of talk that broke up 3rd today, so it basically wasn't 3rd. 
  • Full day of work but quite pleasant. Kept noting the pulsing nature of perception off the cushion and kept finding that thought trains ended if I notice the blanks. But there is still general continuity for everything else but verbal thought. Before sleep I was noticing that the particulate nature of perception (little blips and dots) doesn't seem to be synched up with the pulsed nature. They can both be going on at the same time, independent of each other. Of course, both seem to be modes that I can tune into at least somewhat voluntarily, and so neither is likely to be any more unfabricated than the stitched together version or perception. 

Jan. 3
  • Very relaxing sit. Not what I was trying for, which was a stable j3, and instead what I got was a relaxed state with talk, especially of the "oh, no talk now, how nice, damn!" type. But talk is natural too. I kept not latching on. That kept working. Would have liked to sit longer, but had plans so I stopped after 90 minutes. 
  • Later did 20 minutes. Not planned, it just started when I sat in a chair. Got one of those sudden dips of light, like an eyelid closing, even though my eyes were already closed. 
  • Went for a long run with friends. My face was so tense afterward. Sat for 30 minutes. The inner eyelid closing thing happened again. I would have liked to be able to see the pulses because I imagine I could have let them swallow the tension in my face, but they were not there. They were not there in any sits today, which is odd, because they were there when I woke up so I had said to myself, "Yay, pulsate perception is here to stay!" Never a good idea to presume when it comes to perception, I guess. 
agnostic, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Great, good stuff. Please increase the font size though as it's very hard to read!
Sam Gentile, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Martin, it's so great to see you my friend posting a log. Subscribed! As the other poster said, please increase your font size. It's hard to read.
Martin, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Recently I've been agitated. If asked to give a reason, I would be tempted to say it's because I am in a new, public role at work. But I'm not shy. So the reason doesn't really make sense. It seems more like somebody's putting agitation in the water :-). My formal sitting has been a bit odd because the sitting goes as it ordinarily would but with papancha in the background. Sometimes it's in the foreground, but it is basically as if the ordinary sit is progressing in parallel. One part of me is getting calmer, clearer, unified, insightful, and another part of me is nattering away about any old bollocks. The attention goes back and forth. It's like opening and closing a door.

And this papancha is not entirely benign. At times I feel downright stressed, straight up worried. And I have nothing to worry about.  There's clinging involved. There are all sorts of views and fears and desires (none of which I care about in the grander scheme of things) that pop up and get briefly clung to. And I keep asking myself (particularly off the cushion), just what the hell is doing all this clinging. It's not "me." I don't give a damn about this stuff. It's like an automatic clinging function. Where is that installed? Where is the battery so I can take it out?
Martin, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Wow, I can't believe that I remembered to write this! What I want to record is that I can't remember a lot of stuff that goes on in my sits. Particularly in concentration practice, but also after concentration practice, some sort of pattern of content or sensation will come up and I will go "Oh, yeah, this again. I totally recognize this, it happens all the time, but I had forgotten about it." And I say, you should put that in the log. Then I forget. I made an effort to remember today and now, although I cannot remember the specifics of the thing I wanted to remember, I can remember that some things (there are multiple) are happening that I cannot remember. 
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Martin
Wow, I can't believe that I remembered to write this! What I want to record is that I can't remember a lot of stuff that goes on in my sits. Particularly in concentration practice, but also after concentration practice, some sort of pattern of content or sensation will come up and I will go "Oh, yeah, this again. I totally recognize this, it happens all the time, but I had forgotten about it." And I say, you should put that in the log. Then I forget. I made an effort to remember today and now, although I cannot remember the specifics of the thing I wanted to remember, I can remember that some things (there are multiple) are happening that I cannot remember. 
 lol, this reminds me of a great leonard cohen song, on forgetting what to remember about the most crucial things, but knowing that it must be remembered. Sounds like the spiritual path: "I can't forget, but I don't remember what."

(5) Leonard Cohen - "I Can't Forget" - YouTube

I stumbled out of bed
I got ready for the struggle
I smoked a cigarette
And I tightened up my gut
I said this can't be me
Must be my double
And I can't forget, I can't forget
I can't forget but I don't remember whatI'm burning up the road
I'm heading down to Phoenix
I got this old address
Of someone that I knew
It was high and fine and free
Ah, you should have seen us
And I can't forget, I can't forget
I can't forget but I don't remember whoI'll be there today
With a big bouquet of cactus
I got this rig that runs on memories
And I promise, cross my heart,
They'll never catch us
But if they do, just tell them it was meYeah I loved you all my life
And that's how I want to end it
The summer's almost gone
The winter's tuning up
Yeah, the summer's gone
But a lot goes on forever
And I can't forget, I can't forget
I can't forget but I don't remember what
Martin, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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I love it, Tim. Just right!
Martin, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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For the past month, I have been being bothered by papancha in my sits. It has kept coming up in both concentration and noting sits. Today I started my sit with Bhante Vimalaramsi's instructions for metta-based concentration. It's been several months since I did that. Boom! No papancha. Calm, pleasant, clear. Such a great practice. 

Had fun later in the sit noticing khandhas when I noticed that noticing perception invites an infinite regress: perception of perception. I've had this before when noting noting. Fortunately, anicca keeps the regress from being literally infinite :-)
Martin, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Feb. 7, 2021
  • I just noticed that, as I am well into my second year since the Big Wow and the start of logging, I have to add a year to the date. 
  • Full-range sit today. Hour and a half planned, hour and forty-five done. Used Bante V. style to start. Man, that takes out the verbal thought. It could be because the metta formulations involve mental verbalization. I noticed that, after a bit, just starting a metta phrase could just wipe out thought. Probably related to semantic satiation. 
  • Somewhere in the 40 to one hour range the new dukkha thing was there. This is the bit where absolutely every noticed phenomenon, including pleasant sensations, sounds, somatic sensations, thoughts, dispositions, everything, is predominantly dukkha. Everything has a pull, a demand, an insistence, a movement away. I have no idea what the movement is away from, or what the distraction is from. In this state, I can release the attention from the object, but it just sticks to another object. It's like a magnet that you can pull off one piece of metal only to have it immediately stick to the next. But relatively fast -- sub one second. The dukkha is in the nature of the magnetic attraction itself. This is not dukkha in the sense of, "Oh, my god, this sucks!" but just a "Hey, that's annoying" kind of dukkha. Like being bothered by flies.
  • There were a bunch of those things that I can't remember. I infer that they were fun.
  • At some point close to an hour and a half, the oiled feeling showed up. In a way, the oiled feeling is the opposite of the magnetic dukkha. But not. The attention is still there, but objects come and go without friction. It occurred to me, the other day, that the oiled feeling would come up as a result of noting sits, and then stay for several hours, in the months before the Big Wow. I'm a fan of the oiled feeling. I still have it now. 
  • After the bell, I ended with first jhana, which was very bright and ethereal.
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Chris Marti, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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It's like a magnet that you can pull off one piece of metal only to have it immediately stick to the next. But relatively fast -- sub one second. The dukkha is in the nature of the magnetic attraction itself. This is not dukkha in the sense of, "Oh, my god, this sucks!" but just a "Hey, that's annoying" kind of dukkha. Like being bothered by flies.

​​​​​​​Martin, this is a realization as much as it is an observation.  It's how things are.
Martin, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Thanks, Chris. Yes, it is not surprising, especially in light of all the spoilers I have read, and yet sometimes things appear like that, and sometimes they don't -- seemingly, without any rhyme or reason. I watch the world. It's nice for five minutes, then it sucks for five minutes, then it's neutral. Or it's lovely for two hours straight, or, like today, it seems entirely made of suckage. Later it will be something else. I get it but I would rather not. 
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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t-shirt of the week candidate: "​​​​​​​There were a bunch of those things that I can't remember. I infer that they were fun."
Martin, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Feb. 8
  • Interesting sit. Planned to do 1 hour starting with Bante V. concentration. Could not do it. People in the alley or in the housing development were making noise (I sit in a detached garage because it is quieter than my house). Not a lot of noise: just people moving around and indistinct voices, but it was annoying. I could not get my attention on the spiritual friend. I tried switching to metta for the people who I could hear. Didn't work. Each sound created aversion and a fear response. Not actual fear, which would include some kind of ideation of the potential threat, but just the kind of visceral response that would alert me to a threat. 
  • So I just turned it into a noticing-vedena sit. I would say 90% of the vedena was unpleasant. A phenomenon I have seen before was happening, in that every stimulation threw off a little burst of aversion on contact, like sparks in a gas flame. And the entire field of awareness also had an underlying aversive quality to it. Also, I was cold, because it was really cold out (the garage is unheated). But at the same time, I had a moderate heart glow going, so there was this kind of lava-lamp thing going on where there was this flowing, somewhat mobile pleasant warmth in my center-right torso, surrounded by the vastness of cold and aversion. It sounds worse than it was, but it was not an overall nice experience either. 
  • Somewhat after halfway through there was a kind of energetic thing with vibrational shaking and muscle contraction kind of like going into j1, but with back pain, followed by a kind of gray neutrality into which aversion re-penetrated over time. I could still hear outside noises, though they were quieter and, while still unpleasant, they didn't have a fear component. This gave way to settling or slumping reminiscent, in a bodily sense, of j4, but with the outside noise increasing clear and aversion producing. 
  • A few minutes before the bell, I decided to close with j1, but I could not get it started for around 20 breaths. Then it suddenly kicked in with finger-in-the-light-socket type intensity. It was startling and mostly unpleasant (though I've had worse j1s). J2 took a while to come but brought giggly happiness, though little physical pleasure. 
  • Half a day later, aversion is still ruling the roost. It's too bad that the oiled feeling is not available on demand. 
George S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Nice sit! Good job sitting through all that and keeping your wits about you emoticon
George S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Your comment about your noisy neighbors reminded me of this passage from Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm. emoticon

For example, when we are meditating and hear a sound, why can’t we simply ignore it? Why does it disturb us so? Many years ago in Thailand the local villages surrounding our monastery held a party. The noise from the loudspeakers was so loud that it seemed to destroy the peace in our monastery. So we complained to our teacher, Ajahn Chah, that the noise was disturbing our meditation. The great master replied, “It is not the noise that disturbs you, it is you who disturb the noise!”
Martin, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Damn, views are weird. I've been clinging to some more than usual recently. Today, sitting with them, trying to watch them, I could not distinguish them from my body. They have a felt sense of presence within the spatial area I think of as me, and they are all caught up in physiological things like muscle tone. Intellectually, I know they are empty fabrications, but they sure don't feel that way. Ick. 
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Analayo suggests looking at the hedonic aspect of views. What I can notice, so far, is that, when a view is uncomfortable (when simulated arguments are going on in my verbal thoughts) it has a definite bodily hedonic presence. And when the view reaches a kind of conformity with other views and information (when simulated arguments against the view have been won in simulation) there is relaxation and quiet. So for me, so far, it seems not so much that holding the view brings pleasure, but that holding conflicting views brings discomfort. The pleasure is like the pleasure felt when you stop hitting your head against the wall. I used to smoke cigarettes. There is a similar thing going on there. Smoking itself is not pleasurable. The pleasure comes from the relief of withdrawal symptoms. Subjectively, however, that is indistinguishable from smoking being pleasurable. So I wonder if that is true about views too, or if there is a pleasure inherent to holding a view that I have not seen yet. 
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Another "dukkha-jhana" sit. The absorption cycle starts running like a dishwasher or something: settling, light levels increase, piti, physical sukkah, happiness, tranquility, bodily quiet, space, all that jazz.  At the same time, annoying verbal thought is running its course. I'm actually trying to pay attention to what is arising, but there is this background absorption cycle going on. After half an hour, it's all kind of mixed together into this broad-spectrum grossness. The thought has settled down, but I can hear outside sounds coming from all directions at all distances, so the effect is very spacious, but it's crappy spaciousness. Like a vast view over an industrial wasteland. After a while, I start asking what it is that doesn't like this, and trying to localize the sense of aversion. It is like watching a fish darting around in the physical space of the body, trying to get away from something. 

While all of this is going on, the other program is doing its thing. There are moments of peace and quiet and non-crappy space. There are different levels of light, and gold fractals through black backgrounds. They come and go. I am aware that I could change the experience by, for example, opening my eyes and switching to noting, instead of noticing, or sitting up straighter and inducing some metta. But I don't. It just plays out. 

As tends to be the case, many hours after the sit, I still feel annoyed at everything.  Maybe this is just ordinary non-specific grumpiness and the sit was just collateral damage. 
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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And now back to "normal." Or actually on the pleasant and relaxed side of normal. For the record, no outward circumstances have changed since yesterday, which continued to be unpleasant until bedtime. Some of the things that I noticed were that the general heading of happiness/joy covers a pretty broad range of experiences.  Happy and relaxed is quite different from happy and uptight. As it does not seem that one gets to choose, that may not be actionable information. It's harder to see a watcher of greed than aversion. Because I had noticed the aversion swimming around to different locations in my body space yesterday, I tried to see if could localize the perceiver of pleasure today but, while I could notice locations from which pleasure emanated, I could not seem to see a locus of perception or response. 

For quite a long time, toward the end of the sit, I saw (perceived myself as being located among) pine trees covered in snow, snowy fields, and so on. Thoughts appeared voiced in various women's voices. These are common things (not specifically pine trees, but locations) included among the stuff that I usually forget. I tend to notice thoughts in women's voices because that is not my default inner voice. I don't think any of it has any particular significance but I am logging it for logging's sake. I notice that, so far, making a habit of recalling seems to make recall easier. 

 
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

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Martin

As it does not seem that one gets to choose, that may not be actionable information.


​​​​​​​Exactly - crappy always comes and pleasant always goes. There ain't a damn thing we can do about it. The only possible *action* is to let go of aversion to the crappy and preference for the pleasant. emoticon
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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The only possible *action* is to let go of aversion to the crappy and preference for the pleasant. emoticon


Thanks, George. That does seem to be the deal. This is a good reminder/pointer for me. 

I find the first half has become quite easy. Off the cushion, I can see physical pain, for example, as just a sensation. I can see worry as just a state and let it run its course without getting particularly fussed. On the cushion, I can see aversion as aversion. It's of interest, but that is pretty much all. 

But, unlike the unpleasant, the pleasant, and particularly off-the-cushion pleasant states, seems important. It feels foolish, wasteful, almost sacrilegious, to let it go to waste by failing to indulge in it.  When things are pleasant, I feel that I have got things right. The voice of reason says, pay attention so that you can do this again. On the cushion, the pleasant is nebulous, ill-defined. I don't see distinct, fragmented things to note, the way I do with pain or aversion. For example, if I am adverse, sounds are clear, arising and passing away with beginnings and ends. If I am in a pleasant state, I don't hear sounds much, and when I do, they are just additional texturing of the pleasant. 

I think I will have to gain skill in examining the component parts of the pleasant.
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Sometimes there can actually be a subtle aversion to pleasure, expressed as a need to take it to pieces before it's had a chance to blossom to its fullest extent. Ajahn Brahm says in MBB:


“Be careful here not to start asking questions like “What is this?” “Is this jhāna?”“ What should I do next?” which all come from the doer trying to get involved again. Questioning disturbs the process. You may assess everything once the journey is over. A good scientist only assesses the experiment at the end, when all the data are in.”
Tim Farrington, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Martin: I find the first half has become quite easy. Off the cushion, I can see physical pain, for example, as just a sensation. I can see worry as just a state and let it run its course without getting particularly fussed. On the cushion, I can see aversion as aversion. It's of interest, but that is pretty much all. 

But, unlike the unpleasant, the pleasant, and particularly off-the-cushion pleasant states, seems important. It feels foolish, wasteful, almost sacrilegious, to let it go to waste by failing to indulge in it.  When things are pleasant, I feel that I have got things right. The voice of reason says, pay attention so that you can do this again. On the cushion, the pleasant is nebulous, ill-defined. I don't see distinct, fragmented things to note, the way I do with pain or aversion. For example, if I am adverse, sounds are clear, arising and passing away with beginnings and ends. If I am in a pleasant state, I don't hear sounds much, and when I do, they are just additional texturing of the pleasant. 


I tend to go back to the basics, on this stuff: samsara is dukkha, we're on the path because that's clear enough to us that the desire for liberation becoms the deepest desire, the last desire. And so we practice meditation, and see the three characteristics in everything that arises, the transience, the suffering inherent in trying to hold on, and the failure/absence of a self to hold on or control any of it. It's the suffering that got ous going, and it's the ever clearer perception of how the suffering happens that keeps us going. If the pleasantness isn't making you miserable yet, fine. Just do the meditative work, and note what arises. Let that nebulous pleasure state be its ill-defined, textured thing. What's the rush? If it lasts forever, let us know how you got it to do that, so we can try that too, lol. My experience is that even the most pleasant states eventually pall and grow boring. Let the dukkha drive the pace, let that be your tempo, and let that pesky pleasantness have its run. Your work is to attend to it, that's all. "Transience" is built in, and so is dukkha, and so is the fact that nobody's in control here. That's practice, that's the path. Meanwhile, enjoy your coffee. You're doing fine.
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Thank you, Tim. That makes a good deal of logical sense and, of course, sounds comfortable, which always gets a thumbs-up from at least a sizable portion of my mind.
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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  • The oiled feeling is back. Where does this come from? Perhaps it comes from doing an hour of Ajan Brahm style breath practice. But I doubt that's the whole story. 
  • For the past few days, I have done one hour sits in the morning and a bit of noting or breath following in the afternoon/evening, with no off-the-cushion benefit. In the morning sits, I have been starting with spontaneously arising jhana and having very strong j1 and j2, often at the ridiculous "this is nuts" level, but j3 will not latch. It's there for a few minutes and then it switches into image-space with all kinds of visual stuff including nimittas, sense of place (notably inside old barns, sitting on an 1960s style harrow, and in an orchard) and some extremely rapid image turnover (well over 10 Hz), most of which was unsatisfactory and interspersed with verbal thoughts. 
  • In one instance on the weekend, I had a fear episode. This used to happen quite regularly several years ago. In this instance, as various images were coming and going, I was in some sort of industrial space and I saw a young woman dressed in black crouching down, who looked up at me, and a sensation of horror arose.  It was not that the woman was horrific, but more a sense of having accidentally discovered a murder at work and knowing that you are next, as in a horror movie. This lasted for a few minutes and then morphed into a sense of being a homogeneous solid or gaseous substance without any positive or negative valence. In the past, moments of horror like this used to fall away and leave me in a very large open space, somewhat like j5 (except, at the time, I had never heard of jhanas). It was interesting because I thought those events were permanently gone. The next day, there was a point where fear/horror arose but there was no image to start it, and it was less intense. It did, however, resolve into the sense of being a homogeneous solid or gaseous substance.
  • So, in that context, annoyed by these pointless sits that left me feeling unchanged (like watching a matinee and coming outside to be immediately caught up in the world that is still going about the ordinary business of the day), I decided, as I sat down, to ignore jhanic factors and just stay with the breath and only the breath. There was quite a bit of thought, especially for the first half an hour. There were various changes in light levels. In the last 15 minutes, the breath became abstract and the body, other than the nostrils, disappeared, and in the last 10 minutes, the oiled feeling arose. I wonder if there is an association between the oiled feeling and equanimity. I tend to think of equanimity as being spacious, but the oiled feeling doesn't have a spatial component. It likewise doesn't have an exalted component, or a bright component, or really any components. And it's not like the oiled feeling is the absence of craving. For example, I am hungry right now. It's just that it's fine, it's smooth, there is hunger, it's urging me to act, and that's fine. 
  • It is not the case that AB style sits always result in the oiled feeling. They are pretty reliable relaxation generators, but the oiled feeling is not the same as relaxation. 
  • Looking at all this stuff, it is tempting to see POI stages in there and assume that I am cycling. But I am 99% sure that is not the case. First, my experience just doesn't fit with POI. My A&P-like stage lasted for months and was not followed by DN. Second, the experiences that could be mapped to POI stages are not showing up in POI order and, if they can be said to be showing up at all, they are showing up in inconsistent time scales (days, minutes, etc.). It's a shame because I am a fan of maps. 
  • I don't get it. I'm not complaining. It's interesting and generally beneficial. But I wish I could reliably get it to work. I feel like a guy in the cockpit of an alien spaceship, who presses buttons and pulls levers and feels the ship moving in response, and so knows that the buttons and levers do things, but who can in no way be said to be flying the ship.
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Maybe that's it, that's the insight - you're not flying the spaceship! If that's the case, you don't really have any control over what's happening in meditation. So try focusing in on that subtle sense of dissatisfaction and restlessness ... What does that really feel like in your body? Where is it coming from and where is it going? That sense of wanting your experience to be other than what it is ... How is that even possible? Where is the controller and what does that feel like? (Just things to ponder)
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Good thought, George. Thank you.

In an intellectual sense, I know that I am not flying the spaceship. That said there is some relationship between intention, action, and results. I am used to thinking that there is no me, no controller, behind any of those three things, and notably no controller behind the intention, but that doesn't mean that the three things are not causally linked. For example, I notice patterns such as this: if there is an intention to go for a run, there is a pretty high probability that I will go for a run and, for example, if the intention is to go for a hill run then it will be a hill run, and my calves will usually hurt more than my quads, and I will generally sleep for longer than on a day where I did a speed session. There doesn't need to be an I or a controller for any of that to happen, but the results are still predictable. But with meditation, the intention, the action (the specific things that my mind does in the sit), and the results are much more loosely connected. That's curious to me. The lack of predictability in the mind is an anomaly when looked at in comparison with other biological and non-biological phenomena. 
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Chris Marti, modified 2 Months ago.

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Martin,

The area of control vs no control is commonly thought of as being binary, either/or, as when meditators say, "You have no control at all, over anything." In truth, the situation is not that obvious and clearly not binary. I like your running example because it illustrates the nature of this issue quite well. This is similar to the "no-self" thing, which is likewise murkier than what folks think.
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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In my experience the difference in predictability is due to the greater influence of unconscious drives in meditation. The way I see it, you have a choice between patiently sitting it out and waiting for this stuff to bubble up, or being more proactive about investigating your deeper motivations and intentions. It's not to everyone's taste, but for me that essentially boiled down to asking the question: what do I really want out of meditation? Is it just to suffer less? Is it to have "better experiences"? Is it to have a "better life"? Is it to become a "better person"? Is it to become an "enlightened person"? Eventually I began to see that these deeper drives or "ambitions" were closely related to the suffering I experienced and the dissatisfaction I felt with myself and my life.
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Thanks, George. Yes, I am sure you right. It makes sense that there would be a lot of stuff going on under the hood. As for me, I really don't know what I want out of meditation. Mostly more of what I have got so far. 

Many years ago, as part of overcoming addiction, I noticed that there was no lasting thing that could be called a self and so I looked to see if there were any philosophies out there that recognized this, and bumped into Buddhism. I started meditating out of curiosity and kept going for a very long time because it made me less bothered by life's ups and downs. Then, last year, things suddenly and unexpectedly changed (the big wow), and I started to see the range of things that the mind can do and the exceptional explanatory power of core Buddhist teachings beyond just no-self. Having seen that a number of surprising things are true, I'm keen to find out what else is true. Basically, I would have been happy to go through life as an uninstructed worldling, but having seen that there is more, it seems silly to leave it unexamined. 

As for deeper motivations, I have always been a little incurious when it comes to introspection, which may sound odd, coming from a meditator, but I might explain by saying that what I expect to find by examining my experience are impersonal natural processes rather than anything specific about the instance of human consciousness known as Martin. But I am starting to look at it more, and your log is actually a kind of model for me in that regard. 
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Thanks, Chris. I'm glad to hear that it's murky for other people as well. 
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Feb. 27
  • 90 minutes morning sit With Ajan Brahm style breath concentration. Nothing special. The thoughtstream ran in the background while I kept attention on the breath in the foreground, and sometimes it would switch so I would be carried away for a time by the thoughtstream. The only really interesting thing was that there was no aversion to the thoughts. They came, they went, whatever. There were some blissy periods in there. The body was obviously there at times, and obviously absent at other times, and neither state was particularly remarkable, nor notably important either. 
  • 40 minutes sit before dinner. Tried standard sutta jhana progression, and, once again, got image space instead of third, which was interrupted by random bursts and waves of piti and sukha.
Feb. 28
  • Started with breath counting with the idea of moving to quietly staying with the breath until access concentration and then doing standard jhana progression, but was overcome by piti at about breath 90, so I just went with it. Pretty intense. Maybe a 7 out of 10. Managed to latch j3 at the 15 minute mark. This was stable for a while, then broke down into images (can't remember what/where) then came back to quiet spaciousness and stability, then back to images, several times. There were thoughts too, and aversion to the thoughts. These would fall under the heading of view-organization/development/ rationalization: so boring, yet so captivating; the junkfood of the mind.
  • In the second half, various effects were taking place, some of which I noted as new ("I've never felt this before"). These followed the format of waves of tingling and/or joy and/or warmth followed by changes in the perception of space. They came and they went, without any indefinable periodicity or cause. I was reminded of the way clouds blow across the mountain when I am snowboarding: sunny, foggy, sunny, cloudy, sunny, foggy.
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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There is a big chunk missing from the log because I have been really verbose for the past few weeks. The short version is that my teacher told me to leave vipassana alone for a while and just concentration on getting a stable fourth jhana by increasing access concentration. I did this by limiting the focus strickly to the nostrils, ignoring piti and lights, and so on, relaxing when those things came up so that I could stay with the breath, and just watching that one thing. It worked. It has changed j1, 2 and 3, so that they are almost (but not quite) unrecognizable. J4 is now super stable. The first time I went into j1 after an hour and it felt like being blasted into space. Floating in a tin can, far above the world. No thought, and no sound. It took a week of sits to be able to calm down to j3. When I got to j4 the big difference was that, instead of feeling like being at the bottom of the pool, which was a dark quiet place, as I used to, I got down to the bottom and a bright light came on, like access concentration. From that point on, I am in a homogenous bright place (indeed, much like being under a sheet in a bright field). And it stays like that. Yesterday, I got to j4 in about half an hour and went up to one and back down to four. I was surprised to see that I got the pop and the floating in space on j1 the second time round, and got the light coming on in j4 just like the first time round, so these seem to be fairly robust and repeatable. I have been going at them for a week. 

There, that saves you reading thousands of gushy words, and two instances of a grown man crying :-)

  • I decided to wait for a full half hour before entering first. First was very strong, especially after the blast off, in the floating in space part. I had my wits about me enough to notice that I could hear sounds during blast off, and they very definitely did go away entirely during floating in space, and did come back in second.
  • Second was understated. I've noticed it's a thing with the high-concentration jhanas that, instead of sukha being pumped out from my chest and filling up my body, it's more like being in a swimming pool or something, and the sukha just flows around me and through me, so it's more of a case of "you're soaking in it" than it being self-produced. It's also less "sexy."
  • The progression thought third to fourth was typical, though somewhat delayed by the long first. There seems to be always a moment where I start to wonder if the states will actually change this time. 
  • The bell went when I was only ten minutes into fourth, and it kind of disrupted it. I noticed that I could hear the bell, and then I noticed noticing that I could hear it. I hung out for a while and basically decided that I was out, so I would try what I tried yesterday, and go all the way back up and down. But when I moved my attention to the periphery to get third, the sinking started again. This was some pretty big time sinking, not just a little slump. That seemed odd to me, because I figured I had already been at the bottom. But I just kept sinking and sinking, and things got more and more less. I had the not unfamiliar sensation that things might just stop entirely, but they didn't.
  • I sat for a half an hour after the bell (so, 1:30 in total) and I cannot say what happened but I can remember that I thought it was amazing. The one thing that I do remember was that there was some sound (can't remember what, probably a bird or a power tool) which I knew was distant, and the perception was that whatever was the source of the sound and the perception of the sound were part of a single solid. It wasn't the sense I have often had that awareness extends to include both me and the sound in some gossamer web or gaseous cloud, this was a solid and everything in the solid, of necessity, moved together.
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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No sit today. Last night I had too much momentum and my sleep was disturbed by periods of waking in which all experience was just streams of points and each flashing moment of perception of the points was there and then gone forever. That's kind of cool. But it also freaked me out, and ate up a lot of time that I should have spent sleeping. I also had a dream in which I suddenly lost my sight. Not much fun. This is a thing I have noticed: practice gains momentum, and gains more momentum, and then it spills over into sleep. So I am taking my foot off the gas today.

My teacher tells me to work on gaining efficiency in the jhanas, to avoid messing around and thinking about them or delighting in them, and just work diligently on mastering them. This will be interesting. I am planning to approach it like sports training, which I like.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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I've noticed that before, the old "jhana hangover" :-) It seems like going deeper in absorption often unlocks a deeper layer of hindrances, particularly anxiety and restlessness but also anger sometimes when coming back into the world.

By the way, I found your last post really inspirational :-) Congratulations on getting into a solid jhana! It's something I've been working on for a couple of years and it's nice to be reminded that it's possible :-)
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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  • Sat with a no-nonsense attitude for just over an hour. Just kept the attention on the breath. I noticed that I could, at least today, cut out two inefficiencies. The first is the noticing of thoughts. Instead of noticing a thought, and then noticing the noticing of the thought, and then reminding myself that thoughts are nothing to get interested in, I can just increase the attention on the breath. The same applies to noticing sensations, although it does seem to be necessary to add a relax step because, unlike thoughts, sensations themselves make it hard to feel the breath. 
  • I had decided to try for 1st on the third time that things got strongly brighter, and went forward with that plan at about 20 minutes. The shaking aspect of 1st was not as strong but 1st was silent, thought free and long (though not as spacious as it can be).
  • Second took a long time coming, but was joyful and a bit giggly. 
  • I tried to keep the attention on the contentment aspect of third, instead of the clarity aspect, and that did seem to stabilize it. It was quite long. 
  • Fourth was not as bright as it can be. Very quiet though, with no thought, not even the dreaded "look, ma, no thoughts" trap. Some images (not full fledged images, but some three-dimensional stuff, and notably the "bundle of threads under a microscope" thing) started to appear after ten minutes. Again, I decided to move to third but, in shifting my attention to the periphery, I sunk down again. This peripheral attention thing seems pretty much like a knob that can be turned to reduce formations. Ended up spending about 30 minutes in fourth. 
  • I returned to third and up to first (which was quite light) at the bell.
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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March 19(from memory next day) Went 1-2-3-4-3-2-1-2-3-4. All three 2s were high-sweetness. Second 4 was stronger.
March 20
  • Plan was to do 1-2-3-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-3-2-1-2-3-4 (down and up three times). Started 1 at about 15 minutes. Here I have a somewhat conflicting understanding. It seems to me that 1 was a bit like 3, 2 was next to non-existent, and so I just gave up and went with 3. On the other hand, based on the 15-minute interval bells, it seems it took 15 minutes to get from 1 to the start of sinking into 4. I would have put it at 2 to 5 minutes, but the clock put it at 15. To be clear, there were no gaps, but time perception may have been impacted.
  • From 4, three was not hard to get into, but there is this sort of disconnect. Going in the 0 to 4 direction, there is a kind of desire, but in 4, there is no desire for the contentment of 3. It works, but it is a little forced. 3, 2 and 1, were all intense and clear from the second time onward. 
  • Going up and down, it appeared to me that I was just working with three components (piti, sukha, and equanimity) and that I was simply changing the proportions. Or, at least, that is the way it felt in the transitions, at the peak of each state, it just felt like that state. 2 is a bit weird to go in and out of -- crazy happy, gone, crazy happy. 2 is always weird that way -- happiness without a cause -- but when done in rapid-fire, it is particularly odd. 
  • It was a bit disorienting going down for the third time. I stayed in 4 for 25 minutes after the bell. Was nice. There was a time when I thought it was ending. It was like the jhanic perception was a porous substance and ordinary perception was seeping in. I could almost see/feel the tiny interspaces filling up with ordinary space. But instead of ending, it just switched to something else, which was something unfamiliar. ​​​​​​​
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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I've been finding these Ajahn Brahm jhana talks helpful:

https://youtu.be/tU9UZ1oTfa0
https://youtu.be/gcSfH9Aw-0E

EDIT: I'm nowhere near the level of concentration he describes. emoticon

Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

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George S:
I've been finding these Ajahn Brahm jhana talks helpful: https://youtu.be/tU9UZ1oTfa0 https://youtu.be/gcSfH9Aw-0E EDIT: I'm nowhere near the level of concentration he describes. emoticon


Thanks, George. I love those talks. Like you, I am a long way off from getting to the levels of quiet he talks about but I think I learned a lot by taking his hands-off approach to sitting. It's quite different from Brasington's active approach and, different again from the efficiency-oriented approach that my teacher is currently coaching me on. I would love to go to one of Ajahn Brahm's retreats. Even if I didn't get very far, I imagine it would be wonderful to try. 
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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The main challenge for me at the moment is the strong energy that gets released in my head when my mind gets calm, and finding a way to channel that down into my body so as not to disturb my mind. And then the excitement and fear that kicks in when I start getting sucked in.

I seem to alternate between phases where I think of myself as practicing light jhana and phases where I'm aiming for hard jhana and think of myself as tuning the jhana factors in access concentration. It's probably the same thing physiologically, but the framing is different. In phase one it's 'j1, j2, j3, j4, j3, I got this'. In phase 2 it's 'get into the breath, whoa that piti is too strong, relax into the sukha, total quiet, nimitta coming, lost it, generate some more sukha to re-energize, still no nimitta, sigh' :-) Phase 1 feels like I'm in control and getting somewhere, but I know I'm settling for less. Phase 2 my absorption is deeper because I've got a higher bar, but it's easier to get frustrated due to the seemingly unattainable goal. I guess that's the point, accepting the experience for what it is :-) Of course if I could just stay with the breath there wouldn't be any of this nonsense lol.
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Pepe, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Martin
Going up and down, it appeared to me that I was just working with three components (piti, sukha, and equanimity) and that I was simply changing the proportions. Or, at least, that is the way it felt in the transitions, at the peak of each state, it just felt like that state. 

​​​​​​​ 
I like your "changing proportions" description. Easier to understand. There are a couple of posts from Daniel related to the topic:

Categorical and Dimensional Jhanic thinking 
Advanced Jhana Classification 
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Pepe
Martin
Going up and down, it appeared to me that I was just working with three components (piti, sukha, and equanimity) and that I was simply changing the proportions. Or, at least, that is the way it felt in the transitions, at the peak of each state, it just felt like that state. 

​​​​​​​ 
I like your "changing proportions" description. Easier to understand. There are a couple of posts from Daniel related to the topic:

Categorical and Dimensional Jhanic thinking 
Advanced Jhana Classification 

Thanks, Pepe. Those are useful. Reading Daniel's advanced classifications feels a bit like watching parkour videos on Youtube. There is an amazing level of mental clarity and agility. My jhana classification is usually limited to "wow!"
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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March 21
  • I had the idea of building up really strong access concentration before going into 1st but that's not what happened. First, I started late (about 2 pm) and after having had a political debate with my mum. The result was thinky, with poor concentration (poor continuity). I did get the thinking to stop but, when I went in after 45 minutes, I basically slid into a so-so third, without anything more than a shadow of first and second. 
  • I went for fourth almost immediately. It was OK, but nothing to write home about.
March 22
  • Planned to do a standard 1-2-3-4 and then stay in 4, but with a fairly raid entry. It worked quite well, but with an understated second. 
  • Was at 4th by 30 minutes but by 45 minutes it was starting to break up. There was basically no thought (some wispy thoughts in other people's voices, but very infrequent) but at the same time, I did not have either thought-impossible or thought-unnecessary going on. So basically, concentration was weakish, but not terrible. Then images started to appear, without meaning or significance or narrative or even interrelatedness, just little flashes of shapes. 
  • At that point, even though it had not been the original plan, I decided to move up to first and back down. I got third quite easily by looking for contentment and very shortly thereafter felt dopping. So, rather than go back up, I went back down to fourth and it was considerably brighter and more stable than it had been at its peak.
  • After a bit, it started to break up with images again. This was getting quite interesting: looking at how it broke up. What it is and what it is not. I brought in a little bit on sukha contentment again and it stabilized, which is to say that the images stopped, but it didn't regain density.
  • Opened my eyes with 01:40 still on the timer.
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Pepe, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Martin: I got some questions for you. While in Jhana 4, is it difficult to investigate the anicca, dukkha, anatta of those  shapes? Is it possible to investigate those subtle aspects of self, like wonder, intention, equanimity, etc? I ask because I recently have a deepening of concentration in my sits and I found it more difficult to investigate. And I guess that if it were easy, you would have already jumped to SE while investigating those shapes. I would be happy to know your experience and thoughts about it. Also, do you sense an tactile or aureal vibration while in Jhana 4?
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

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The short answer would be, yes, that's hard for me. If I have a stronger (harder) jhana, even the lower ones, it's hard to do much intentional stuff. But, as it happens, I've actually stopped investigating the 3cs in the jhanas. My teacher has told me not to "deconstruct" the jhanas until I have got them efficiently and reliably reproducible on demand. He says that deconstructing them now may mess with them. In a few weeks, if I'm doing well, he will give me instructions for looking at the 3c and deconstruction with the specific goal of SE. 

It's funny you should ask about vibration. Since I have got the jhanas a bit "harder," about 25% of the time there is a vibration when I enter j4. It's like a whole-body hum, for less than a minute. Also, the same thing sometimes happens when the state is increasing in what I am calling "density" and, at the same time, the brightness is increasing. It's not what I would have expected to find because the rest is very still and very stable, so, in a way, it strikes me as a bit out of keeping. But it has been a thing for me recently. 

How about you, what is going on with the vibrations for you?
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Pepe, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Ah! Good to know that your teacher has a plan, and that he/she would give you further instructions. Let us know how that evolves.

Regarding vibrations, not much to say yet given my new situation. As my "Vip-J4" is way less stable than yours, if I put intent into detecting vibrations, I find them. I observe "wave height" and the increase-decrease of intensity, see if there's some discontinuity. A good sign would be if all phenomena perceived, including I-Self, would be felt vibrating. That happened briefly only a couple of times, not recently though. 
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

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Interesting. I definitely got more vibration/strobe stuff with noting practice. 
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

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March 23
  • That was a weird one. The plan was to wait at least 15 minutes, and as long as a half an hour, for first. There was quite bit of persistent return of thought while developing concentration, also the breath seemed hard to find because it is not as cold in the garage as it was. But after a bit, the breath became very clear. Each time it got abstract I relaxed and kept the focus on the physical sensation at the nostrils (though there was this thing where I felt currents of air on other parts of my face). 
  • I let first sort of develop and fade several times with an attitude that I was not going to make the call or hold its hand. Fist could establish itself. And it did. Oddly it started relatively mild, but then it just went nuts. It was like getting electroshock therapy, complete with crazy rapid breathing reminiscent of an injured dog. That lasted a long time, and then settled down into the big silence. 
  • Two was back to its "current of water sweeping in" thing, without much joy. I can't remember third but I remember that the dopping at the end went on for a long time. 
  • Fourth was very stable but I knew that I had the intention of leaving it. After some halfhearted groping for sukha, I remembered to try smiling. There was a bit of thought clarity as third started to develop and it occurred that there may be clinging to fourth. 
  • The weird stuff happened as I went up and down. It was pretty normal and I only note that the second second was the same as the first second but the third second was full of joy. But the weird stuff was in the transitions. I cannot really describe it but there was a sense that it was very weird that transitions should take place at all. I mean, it is! This is some exceptionally arbitrary stuff. For that matter, absolutely everything, and not just jhana transitions, is exceptionally arbitrary. There was also an amazement at the aniccia, of it all. And some pretty strong non-duality. I mean, if this stuff is all weirder than I could possibly come up with, who's doing it then? And if nobody's doing it, then it's ALL just occurring, with no differentiation as to parts (how can there be parts in any real sense?). That is not news, but it was very real in the transitions. 
  • The bell went before I got into second fourth so I hung out. Fourth did form but then there was this long thing that I don't know what to call. I guess it was mostly just chilling, but there were images and some senses of place formed (fields of newly planted crops, and other rural stuff). There were some thoughts not a lot, but fairly consistent clusters coming up once a minute or once every few minutes, mostly in other people's voices. But the thoughts couldn't form. There was this blanking pattern thing again. At the same time there was this vast space stretching to the bottom left that came and went. Like unidirectional nonduality. There were numerous transformations to gold, and being very big, and benign made of gold, and that kind of stuff. When I write it, I realize there is nothing very new or special about that, but it definitely felt new and unclassifiable at the time. 
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Your question about the transitions reminded me of the correspondence table between the hindrances and jhana factors in the visuddhimagga:

dullness -> applied attention
doubt -> sustained attention
ill will -> piti
restlessness -> sukha
sense desire -> unification

You could argue that you are on autopilot and the transitions happen automatically once the relevant jhana factor has exhausted the corresponding hindrance and is no longer needed. So you transition from first to second once applied & sustained attention has exhausted whatever dullness and doubt you had, then into third once piti has exhausted ill will and into fourth once sukha has exhausted restlessness. Then you transition back up to third if restlessness arises again and sukha is needed etc.

I'm not sure if I believe it necessarily, but thought it could be interesting!
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Map stuff is always interesting. Thanks!

The whole autopilot thing is interesting too. It certainly felt like that for months. I thought of it as the "dishwasher" thing. I would just stay on wash for however long the wash cycle was, the switch to rise, and so on. And there is this little interval of near silence between one cycle and the next where all you can hear is the water running down on the inside. Recently I have a specific intention to do xyz at the beginning of the sit. I don't know how that factors in. 

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