Kinda like fruition but not exactly...

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HouseOnFire, modified 27 Days ago.

Kinda like fruition but not exactly...

Posts: 21 Join Date: 10/29/20 Recent Posts
Hey all. I was just thinking about this experience I had on my first meditation retreat a couple summers ago. It was a 10 day Tong style Mahasi retreat, so walking sitting, walking sitting, equal parts all day. The sitting instructions were to note the rising and falling of the breath, then the fact of sitting, then to touch a certain point from a sequence of points on the body. So each breath cycle was "rising, falling, sitting, touching". We were told to note "thinking" if we caught ourselves thinking, but that was all that was said of noting and anyway with so much to do each breath cycle there wasn't much time to note anything. 

After the 4th day, as I was sitting there frenziedly attempting to keep up with all I had to do during each breath cycle, I noticed that my body was filling up with "smoke". I didn't have any knowledge of subtle vibrations at the time so that was how I thought of it. This continued to happen and became more pronounced until on the 8th day or so during a sit I felt my body was so full of smoke that I couldn't find my breath so I just stayed with my body. It felt like my whole body was made out of this smoke stuff but all of it was connected to the rest of it so I couldn't focus on any one point, then I went into my mind where I found that I had become a dark vastness floating over a dark vastness. The best thing I can think to compare it to is the sky above the ocean at night, and I was identified with the sky. After that sit as I walked back to my dorm I realized I was no longer identified with "Adam" or as I started calling him "the mammal". I knew what "the mammal" was thinking, I knew what he wanted, I knew his pain and confusion and ego, but I did not think I was him so I only felt compassion for him and maybe some pity. Naturally I asked the question "well who am I then?" I couldn't find a satisfying answer. I was only certain that I wasn't the sad mammal who had come here in order to stop drinking so much. This conviction lasted the rest of the night and then faded throughout the next day. 

So any ideas on if there is a word for what that was? I'm guessing I was in A&P but it could have been just a very intense version of one of the earlier stages. It wasn't cessation because I remember it happening, but it's after effect does sound a bit like what people describe when they talk about fruitions; like they are finally free of having to play the absurd game of pretending to be something they aren't. And this did feel good like that. I really wanted to stay like that forever. 

Thoughts?
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Jim Smith, modified 27 Days ago.

RE: Kinda like fruition but not exactly...

Posts: 941 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I don't have a direct answer to your question, but I think it would be helpful for me to explain why...

I have my own opinions based on my own experiences, and other people with different experiences can say if they disagree, but my opinion is that producing, classifying and naming every weird brain state produced by meditation might be interesting for a student of neuropsychology, but I don't think it is that helpful for a student of Buddhism. What I think is most helpful for a student of Buddhism is to observe in their own mind the origin and cessation of dukkha.

In my opinion meditation can assist the process of awakening by quieting the mind reducing mental turbulence so it can function without distraction to observe itself. But awakening is a lasting effect produced by conscious understanding that comes from conscious experience and is not a state produced directly by intense meditation alone.

In my opinion awakening occurs gradually as you observe the activity of the mind and see how egoistic thinking causes mental anguish. If you look into every twinge of unpleasant emotion you find at the root, a reaction of the ego (defensiveness, wanting to control, wanting to win, not wanting to lose, wanting to be better, smarter, richer, luckier, more powerful, happier, more enlightened, always right, etc etc). When you see how the ego causes trouble, you recognize that relaxing and giving up those ways of thinking reduce the mental anguish you experience, so that is what you do. When you stop thinking of yourself in relation to others or to things that are not self, a side effect is a reduction in perceived separation between "self" and "other" For example when you hear of someone else's good fortune you are not envious, their good fortune is like your good fortune, you don't feel separate from them. But without the insight into the origin of suffering and the ending of suffering (2nd and 3rd noble truths) non dual experiences produced by meditation are just weird brain states produced by intense meditation. As you observed, they don't last without continued intense meditation or even with continued intense meditation.
shargrol, modified 27 Days ago.

RE: Kinda like fruition but not exactly...

Posts: 1485 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
HouseOnFire Hey all. I was just thinking about this experience I had on my first meditation retreat a couple summers ago. It was a 10 day Tong style Mahasi retreat, so walking sitting, walking sitting, equal parts all day. After the 4th day, as I was sitting there frenziedly attempting to keep up with all I had to do during each breath cycle, I noticed that my body was filling up with "smoke". I didn't have any knowledge of subtle vibrations at the time so that was how I thought of it. This continued to happen and became more pronounced until on the 8th day or so during a sit I felt my body was so full of smoke that I couldn't find my breath so I just stayed with my body. It felt like my whole body was made out of this smoke stuff but all of it was connected to the rest of it so I couldn't focus on any one point, then I went into my mind where I found that I had become a dark vastness floating over a dark vastness. 
...
So any ideas on if there is a word for what that was? I'm guessing I was in A&P but it could have been just a very intense version of one of the earlier stages. It wasn't cessation because I remember it happening, but it's after effect does sound a bit like what people describe when they talk about fruitions; like they are finally free of having to play the absurd game of pretending to be something they aren't. And this did feel good like that. I really wanted to stay like that forever.    
 

That was a concentration state which arised during vipassina practice, so it's likely a hybrid "vipassina jhana"... but the description is close to the third jhana, The harder version of these can include a loss of a sense of body. The third jhana is also when breathing sensations tend to disappear. Smoke or haze or colored lights are very common when doing vipassina practice but falling into samantha states.

Another option is touching on fifth jhana (boundless space), but my hunch is this is unlikely to be sustained during days of vipassina practice. 

My hunch is it was a "hard version" (bodyless) of the third jhana (void-like, numbness, cool bliss).

Good reading references: 

https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-iii-the-samatha-jhanas/26-the-wide-world-of-jhana/
https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-iii-the-samatha-jhanas/27-the-concentration-states-shamatha-jhanas/
https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-iii-the-samatha-jhanas/28-the-formless-realms/
And not for the faint of heart:
https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-iv-insight/34-the-vipassana-jhanas/

Hope this helps in some way.
Martin, modified 26 Days ago.

RE: Kinda like fruition but not exactly...

Posts: 181 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Yes, the sky above the ocean stuff is a typical third jhana experience for me. 
shargrol, modified 27 Days ago.

RE: Kinda like fruition but not exactly...

Posts: 1485 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Adding on...

And the neat thing about your report is it also shows how jhana supports insight. When aspects of "normal" experience get subtracted by falling into jhana, it can't help but lead to a new understanding of things. When the body falls away, we see how much we identify with biology and patterns/habits and can appreciate that "I" is somehow not the same as the body. And when combined with the pleasurable (or radically not-painfulness) of the jhanic state, it can kind of be healing and make us appreciate how there are still new things to experience, we much we still don't know about life and  consciousness and identity, there is a sense that life at its core is much more simple than all the drama of our normal life ... and we develop a certainty that there really is something to this meditation practice that is profound.

So, anyway, nice job on retreat! emoticon

 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 26 Days ago.

RE: Kinda like fruition but not exactly...

Posts: 1570 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
My first hunch was also touching on 5th Jhana as this is something I would also say back in the days I first experienced 5th Jhana " I really wanted to stay like that forever"

3rd Jhana's bliss is nothing compared to 5th Jhana feeling of utter safety in that vast space. Who am I will rather be very much in the center of that experice as its "surrounded" by that safe vast space. Also who is that space? God? 

I was never into hard drugs but I have a feeling that heroin addicts experieenced 5th Jhana-like state the first time they took the hit. I might be wrong but cligning like mad to that state (wanting it back) will NOT give you that state back.
I can understand why folks would want to hold onto that 5th Jhana state and if indeed this is what heroin dose does first time to people then its a fucking ugly joke and man do I feel sorry for them if they keep doing it just to get there again emoticon 

What ever this state was, see it for what it is. Note it. Note its aspects. What is it made of? Who is experiencing this? etc ... Whatever you do try not to get attached to it. Weather it is 5th or 3rd Jhana aspect matters not. What is of value is that which is arising RIGHT NOW without pushing it away or trying to keep it.

Best wishes!
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HouseOnFire, modified 25 Days ago.

RE: Kinda like fruition but not exactly...

Posts: 21 Join Date: 10/29/20 Recent Posts
Thank you all for sharing your experience and wisdom. I do think it was kind of a hybrid vipassana/concentration state because for my untrained mind the task of keeping up with constant rising/falling/sitting/touching was really engaging. This makes me wonder if it might be useful to find ways to make my meditation more difficult now. Maybe the fact that it's requiring a lot less effort for me these days to stay focused on the breath for instance isn't entirely a good thing. Plus the walk/sit/walk/sit format made it easy to practice for hours on end. 

Also my experience of coming out of the third jhana (apparently) makes more sense now. If I'd just had the experience of dropping ego and body then how could I be identified with ego and body? It's pretty wild to think that there are deeper states and deeper insights than this. ​​​​​​​

As to the heroin experience... I've always thought it must be like something I experienced during worship at a Christian youth group as a teenager. My whole body filled up with this electric blue love sensation. It came on and off for weeks. I used to think that if other people could experience it even for a few seconds they would beg me to tell them how to get back into it. To this day it was the most amazing thing I've ever experienced. When it finally stopped happening (I suspect I entered in the Dark Night) I tried and tried desperately to get back into it and that of course made it impossible. Unfortunately because of the belief structure I was in I thought that God had abandoned me. It was a dark night indeed. 

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