Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

Skylar Girard, modified 26 Days ago.

Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

Posts: 8 Join Date: 2/5/21 Recent Posts
HI, first post here, looking for some insight as to what I experienced and what I should do next.


Around 2 years ago I was 18 and read The Power Of Now, understood maybe 10% of the book. A few months later I found myself in a bit of a depressed state coping with marijuana on a daily basis. One night I watched a 50 minute youtube video titled "How to kill your ego" while watching it I had a number of "AH HA" moments. I remember the man talking about how one day, whether that be 100 years, 200 years, or however long it may take, there will come a time when we will be forgotten, this got me thinking. After this video I stared at my ceiling and began to think (can't remember what it was about) around 20-30 minutes went by, I then closed my eyes. I remember feeling this very intense sensation inside my head like a beme of energy was bouncing back and forth from my left to right ear and getting faster and faster. Another 20 minutes went by and I had the urge to pee. I got up and walked into my bathroom, the moment I started to pee my entire perspective shifted. It was like I was thrown into a new world, my heart rate went through the roof and I stood there staring at my door in complete awe for a few minutes. The rest of the night I looked at the most basic objects like my hat and a cup, totally fascinated by them, I remember hysterically laughing to myself because of how obvious this was and yet I had never seen it before, emphasizing that THIS is all we have. 



The next morning there was still something different about my experience, it didn't feel quite as extreme as the night before but still amazing. I was a personal trainer at the time and had some social anxiety when talking to new people, this was completely gone, I was extremely at peace and everything just flowed effortlessly. This state continued for about 2 weeks until I found myself slowly creeping back into my old habits and felt like I had lost this state of being. 


It's been about 2 years since this has happened and in that time I have read Waking Up by Sam Harris, Listened to almost all of his podcast, along with those of Michael Taft, and about half way through The Headless Way by Dougless Harding. Been pretty consistent with daily meditation (10-20mins/day for the past 6 months). When I remember to "Look for the one who's looking" or "drop back back" or "be present" I see the world the same way I did after that one night, but I can only hold it for a short period of time before getting lost in thought. Except for once, I was driving and held this view for a longer period of time. Again my heart rate jumped up but this time I felt like I was about to go insane, like I was losing myself, I told myself whatever is about to happen probably shouldn't happen while I am driving on the highway, so I began thinking and the world seemed normal again.


I believe I am close to something, but I don't know what that is (stream entry???), and I would appreciate any advice on practices or things I can do to get there. Also curious as to what my initial experience was, stream entry? or something else?
Within the last week I changed my approach to meditation and am now able to stay focused on the breath for minutes at a time, my guess is that I need enough concentration to do this for 10 minutes+, and then to "look for the one whos looking" more and more throughout my day for longer periods of time until a shift in consciousness occurs. 

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Apologies for the long copy here, I just wanted to share my experience in hopes to understand it more and get some guidance on what I can do next.
​​​​​​​Thanks!
George S, modified 26 Days ago.

RE: Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

Posts: 1255 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Hi Skylar, Welcome to the forum! Sounds like a powerful nondual experience (egoless thisness) with some A&P effects (energy, awe, amazingness) followed by a mild Dark Night (feeling of loss), probably not stream entry. Check out MCTB for the terminology. Consistent daily practice should give you more perspective. Craving for for a repeat experience could create dissatisfaction.
Cheers
​​​​​​​George
Skylar Girard, modified 26 Days ago.

RE: Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

Posts: 8 Join Date: 2/5/21 Recent Posts
Interesting, and thank you I'm going to look over that book you mentioned. Are you familiar with "The Headless Way''? I get confused/overwhelmed when one teaching says there's only one thing to do, and others give a map with many different stages to follow. I have definitely experienced the dissatisfaction you talk about, Ithink that was holding me back in meditation, I was always looking for something crazy to happen, and could never stay focused, it wasn't until recently when I dropped my desire for something more, I was able to stay focused. 
George S, modified 26 Days ago.

RE: Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

Posts: 1255 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Yeah I've read a bit about the headless way and watched some videoes. There's all sorts of tricks for inducing nondual experiences, but they have a lot in common so I wouldn't worry too much about the differences. Whatever works for you or interests you is good. The main thing is to watch your own experience really closely and figure out what is causing dissatisfaction or suffering.
Skylar Girard, modified 25 Days ago.

RE: Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

Posts: 8 Join Date: 2/5/21 Recent Posts
I will keep that in mind, thank you!
Tim Farrington, modified 26 Days ago.

RE: Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

Posts: 2397 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Hi Skylar, and welcome to DhO!

With all due qualifications and humility, your beautiful experience sounds a lot like what I would call, using the language of Daniel Ingram's Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, and his schematic of the stages of the progress of insight meditation, an Arising and Passing Away (A & P) event, which is sort of the "seeing the light" wonder and potentially life-changing experience that a ,lot of human beings have, under a wide range of conditions and in a wide range of forms, the sort of utterly vivid vision of "Something More to Reality" that leads some people to really commit to a spiritual path with discipline and real sustained motivation to explore the meaning and implications of it. That it electrified you into avid study and practice for the last six months speaks to the potency of it, and I wouldn't worry that much about classifying it further at this point, as the path forward remains the same no matter what you call it. Whatever it was, it was what it was, and it was big, and the effects are still rippling, and that's what matters, to keep them rippling through sustained practiced. There will be other big waves, and even the occasional tsunami. But most of the path happens between the high tide and the low tide on a daily basis, which is where you're at, and hurray.

Within the last week I changed my approach to meditation and am now able to stay focused on the breath for minutes at a time, my guess is that I need enough concentration to do this for 10 minutes+, and then to "look for the one whos looking" more and more throughout my day for longer periods of time until a shift in consciousness occurs. 

Exactly, you are building skill, experience, and a certain momentum with your regular practice right now, putting down roots, and stabilizing the rhythm. It's relatively organic here, it grows and complexifies very nicely pretty much under its own power as you put in the effort of doing it. In answer to your question of what your next step should be, you're answering it every time you sit. You might want to start a practice log here on DhO, as a kind of structural support, but you are already making the next step in developing what was given and glimpsed in your original experience. May you keep making those steps, and may your path unfold before you. Thank you for showing up and sharing, I hope I can follow your story more in the future.
Skylar Girard, modified 25 Days ago.

RE: Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

Posts: 8 Join Date: 2/5/21 Recent Posts
 Hi Tim, really appreciate the response, I definitely need to read Daniel Ingram's book, sounds like there's some valuable information in there. I would say its had the most impact on my life over any other experience, I've never looked at the world the same way, nor has my personality been the same. I have also experienced a strong pull towards this type of stuff, over the past 2 years I have dabbled in an out of studying awakening or non duality or whatever this is lol but everytime I stop thoughts will creep into my head telling me to start reading again, or to research something online.

How do you find balance? I have found that nobody in my personal life has any idea what I am talking about, or if they do they fail to see the significance the same way I do, and I understand why this is. My issue is in goals, I have some business ideas that I think could do well if I applied myself to them, the problem is I don't see a strong WHY. I understand that all material things will never make me truly happy and after having this experience I always come back to the thought that all this external stuff is pointless because there's something more to life that I just don't know yet, so why even chase the business?

After reading this over, I think my issue may be that I am using the idea that there is more to life than a business as an excuse not to do the work, aka I'm just being lazy and feeding myself a story to make myself feel better lol. I am curious as to what your opinion is, but I think I just need to put my head down and work.
I'm going to continue with my daily practice and even extend it. I'll take a look into making a practice log, that sounds like a good idea, it's nice to have a community of people who are interested in the same space. ​​​​​​​
George S, modified 25 Days ago.

RE: Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

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You've still gotta live! Material stuff won't make you happy, but there's no reason for it to make you unhappy either. As the zen koan goes, 'before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water' emoticon
Martin, modified 25 Days ago.

RE: Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

Posts: 193 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
I would second what George said about chopping wood and carrying water. You might also want to consider that a person with a calmer, kinder outlook on life might be able to work and do business with more ease, humility, and objectivity. If that were the case, then meditation practice and work would not be two paths going in opposite directions, but parts of the same path. 
Skylar Girard, modified 24 Days ago.

RE: Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

Posts: 8 Join Date: 2/5/21 Recent Posts
Right, I totally agree I think I would be a better business owner as a calmer, kinder person. I think my problem arrises when I feel like I need to first become enlightened then to focus on building a big business. I think I am too focused on the outcome, after having a taste of this differnet state I want to return, but in wanting to return I prevent myself from doing so... LOL
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Pepe, modified 25 Days ago.

RE: Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

Posts: 279 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Hi Skylar, welcome to DhO!

Tim already gave you an excellent intro about what this is all about, and George gave you good pointers on how to proceed. Though my hunch is that it's a classic A&P (check Daniel Ingram's Diagnosing the A&P ) , if you're strictly interested in non-dual teachings, you may want to check Awakening to Reality group in Facebook (over 600 members). 

"Beginners new to this blog should check out this article:
https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html 

"After reading the article above, do also read 'Awakening to Reality: A Guide to the Nature of Mind' - as a guide, practice manual, and commentary to the above 7 stages"
 https://app.box.com/s/157eqgiosuw6xqvs00ibdkmc0r3mu8jg 

"Lastly if you are wondering whether a topic has been discussed before, or just want to read through past discussions, check out the Historical Log of this group which is updated frequently. To search in the historical log, press Ctrl + F and type in your search keyword. (e.g. 'anatta' or 'awareness')".

- Log 1: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nTwMYJJfcgTwvvHmcYFpDThYDhh1IpZXVwkCD4_d0mA/edit?usp=sharing 

- Log 2: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FwgrB6CdEFmxASrnPcYTzgqrBDULwiloDtqI2AYazHk/edit?usp=sharing 

Also, there's a small collection of PDFs on the topic.  
Skylar Girard, modified 24 Days ago.

RE: Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

Posts: 8 Join Date: 2/5/21 Recent Posts
Thanks Pepe, I just read Daniel Ingram's Diagnosing the A&P and it definitely sounds like that was what I experienced. I joined the group you mentioned and have been reading some, I think I like this way of teaching better for whatever reason. Going to read "Awakening to Reality: A Guide to the Nature of Mind" next!
Tim Farrington, modified 25 Days ago.

RE: Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

Posts: 2397 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
hey, skylar, glad to hear you're finding the forum useful so far. 

I definitely need to read Daniel Ingram's book, sounds like there's some valuable information in there.

I do think it's a great book and it has certainly been wonderful for me. He is a wonderful blend of highly accomplished and very seasoned meditation experience over decades of very hard work and intense aspiration, of a particularly brilliant mind with a gift for cross-mappings, multi-linguistic fluency, and high phenomenological lucidity and precision, AND--- which was crucial for me--- he is totally no bullshit, and refreshingly willing to call the stinky stuff shit when he smells it.

Pepe gave you some great links, and I would hate to overload your plate with suggestions at this point, but I think you might find Daniel's story of his own journey, at the end of Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, second edition (MCBT2, in shorthand here) really interesting, fun, and inspirational, in light of the fact that your own experience has already set your hair on fire for the meditative path (I say that with great affection and camaraderie; burning hair is a crucial element). The book is available for free online (see the Links section here on DhO), and the passages I'm suggesting begin with 
41. So, Who the Heck is Daniel M. Ingram? – MCTB.org and proceed from there.

I would say its had the most impact on my life over any other experience, I've never looked at the world the same way, nor has my personality been the same. I have also experienced a strong pull towards this type of stuff, over the past 2 years I have dabbled in an out of studying awakening or non duality or whatever this is lol but everytime I stop thoughts will creep into my head telling me to start reading again, or to research something online.


This gets back to the apparently critical mass of your intial electrifying experience. You're sort of fucked, lol. You have what Daniel has called "Insight Disease," for which there is no known cure except walking the entire path. I think the work now here is for us to help you walk that path without any unnecessary fuck-ups and gratuitous life catastrophes, with which many of us here have tons of experience, lol. I have specialized in unnecessary fuck-ups and gratuitous life catastrophes myself. 

How do you find balance?

This is a great question, a koan, really, a constant question with no easy and set answer, and that you're asking it early and often is a good sign that you are ready give give it the attention its needs and to work on it right from the start. Again, sorry for seeming to offer tons of homework, but this seems so right on to me, in regard to balance between life and meditation, that I have to offer it--- 
38. Integration – MCTB.org

I have found that nobody in my personal life has any idea what I am talking about, or if they do they fail to see the significance the same way I do, and I understand why this is.

That's why DhO exists, lol. Welcome to the Strangers in a Strange Land Sangha. This will be an ongoing theme for you, living among the straights. Job one is to not get superior about it, I think. The fact that most people are not miserable enough with reality as it is to start meditating is actually a great thing. So be gentle and patient as possible. Awareness of the fundamental unbearability of samsara is an acquired taste and you don't want to hurry anyone into becoming as fucked as you are already. 

My issue is in goals, I have some business ideas that I think could do well if I applied myself to them, the problem is I don't see a strong WHY. I understand that all material things will never make me truly happy and after having this experience I always come back to the thought that all this external stuff is pointless because there's something more to life that I just don't know yet, so why even chase the business?

After reading this over, I think my issue may be that I am using the idea that there is more to life than a business as an excuse not to do the work, aka I'm just being lazy and feeding myself a story to make myself feel better lol. I am curious as to what your opinion is, but I think I just need to put my head down and work.


You're twenty years old, yes? George and Martin already weighed in that paying the rent, getting the wood chopped, and the water carried, is very real. Right livelihood is one of the eight pillars of the Buddhist path. And DhO is full of people who managed to get the balance right between making a good living and very intense and advanced meditation practice. Daniel Ingram went to med school and became an emergency room doctor, while on the path. So it can be done. But again, balance is the question, yes? I know that Olivier, here on DhO, recently decided to not pursue a very high grade doctoral program, and went for a less prudent route to get more time for his own writing and studying, but I'm pretty sure he is canny enough to not end up destitute. I was a college dropout myself, a maniac, and washed dishes and cleaned houses for decades to barely cover living expenses while pursuing my writing and meditation habits. I wouldn't recommend that to anyone, honestly. I sometimes joke that I took the monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience early, and have only gotten the poverty part right. So if you can figure out a way to make a decent living, while practicing your meditation, for God's sake do it. If you can't, sit next to me, lol, and I will lend you my begging bowl.

I'm going to continue with my daily practice and even extend it. I'll take a look into making a practice log, that sounds like a good idea, it's nice to have a community of people who are interested in the same space. 

Wonderful! It's a joy to have you here, and I look forward to sharing the journey with you.
Skylar Girard, modified 24 Days ago.

RE: Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

Posts: 8 Join Date: 2/5/21 Recent Posts
Hey Tim, thanks for the thoughtful response, I just read 41. So, Who the Heck is Daniel M. Ingram? and it made me even more interested in his book, however I think I'm going to start with Awakening to Reality_ A Guide to the Nature of Mind, it seems to connect with me a little more.

This gets back to the apparently critical mass of your intial electrifying experience. You're sort of fucked, lol. You have what Daniel has called "Insight Disease," for which there is no known cure except walking the entire path. I think the work now here is for us to help you walk that path without any unnecessary fuck-ups and gratuitous life catastrophes, with which many of us here have tons of experience, lol. I have specialized in unnecessary fuck-ups and gratuitous life catastrophes myself. 

Uh oh that doesn't sound good haha, what kind of fuck-ups should I be on the look out for? I think the first one I have realised is that this is going to be a long process and its not going to happen over night. So to stop the desire for this shift in conciousness and instead enjoy the process of awakening. (even thought that still implies I am waiting for something to happen)

That's why DhO exists, lol. Welcome to the Strangers in a Strange Land Sangha. This will be an ongoing theme for you, living among the straights. Job one is to not get superior about it, I think. The fact that most people are not miserable enough with reality as it is to start meditating is actually a great thing. So be gentle and patient as possible. Awareness of the fundamental unbearability of samsara is an acquired taste and you don't want to hurry anyone into becoming as fucked as you are already. 

Haha I see that, and I'm greatful for this fourm! In the last 2 years I have just been doing my own research and haven't talked to anyone who knew more about the subject than me. I think I have a good understanding of non duality on the intelectual level but not on the experiential level. I wonder if reading more could be a bad thing? I'm at the point where I have glimpses of no mind, or no self, or the feeling of waking up from being lost in thought 50+ times a day (sometimes more sometimes less) I wonder if I should just continue to focus on that, giving my full attention to the present moment, allowing thoughts to come and go, rather than adapting a new practice/path to follow?

You're twenty years old, yes? George and Martin already weighed in that paying the rent, getting the wood chopped, and the water carried, is very real. Right livelihood is one of the eight pillars of the Buddhist path. And DhO is full of people who managed to get the balance right between making a good living and very intense and advanced meditation practice. Daniel Ingram went to med school and became an emergency room doctor, while on the path. So it can be done. But again, balance is the question, yes? I know that Olivier, here on DhO, recently decided to not pursue a very high grade doctoral program, and went for a less prudent route to get more time for his own writing and studying, but I'm pretty sure he is canny enough to not end up destitute. I was a college dropout myself, a maniac, and washed dishes and cleaned houses for decades to barely cover living expenses while pursuing my writing and meditation habits. I wouldn't recommend that to anyone, honestly. I sometimes joke that I took the monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience early, and have only gotten the poverty part right. So if you can figure out a way to make a decent living, while practicing your meditation, for God's sake do it. If you can't, sit next to me, lol, and I will lend you my begging bowl.


Yes sir 20 years old, you guys make a good point I just need to find that balance that works for me, I am usually an ALL OR NOTHING kind of person but unless I plan to go live in the mountins for a few years I think I should learn to balance normal life and my meditation practice. Haha I will take your recommendation and get this business going!
George S, modified 24 Days ago.

RE: Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

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You’re right - balance is the key, the middle way between duality and nonduality, or self and not-self. Nondual experiences can be mind-blowing, but there’s a subtle tension involved in trying to maintain them 24-7 because they are prone to come and go just like everything else. You could think of nibbana as surfing a constant wave of experiential impermanence in the present moment.
Skylar Girard, modified 24 Days ago.

RE: Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

Posts: 8 Join Date: 2/5/21 Recent Posts
I was listening to a podcast from Michael Taft and his guest was talking about how once you can experience non duality, or no self to go out in nature and hold that view for a prolonged period of time. He said once you do for for 3-5 minutes a shift in consciousness will occur and your "default state" of being will be that of non duality, what are your thoughts on this?
George S, modified 23 Days ago.

RE: Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

Posts: 1255 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
 I don’t know, it’s hard to compare nondual experiences due to differences in conditioning. My concentration is relatively weak and I haven’t had much time or conditions to develop such states. Some people get really deep into them and claim to have found the holy grail. I’m suspicious of the term “default state” though, because it implies a kind of permanence which I just don’t see as being available in my experience. Of course, that could just reflect the limitations of my experience. The thing about experiencing nibbana though is that it frees you from a certain kind of craving for permanence or stability in your experience. You begin to see more clearly how fixating on any kind of experience, positive or negative, is a source of dissatisfaction. In a sense all experience becomes equally preferable – whether you are in a nondual state, or working on your business, or washing the dishes. Just my 2c, probably your experience will be different, that’s the cool thing about all of this. emoticon 
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J W, modified 23 Days ago.

RE: Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

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Frank Yang on intellectual understanding vs. experience vs. realization (realization here being the permanent shift in 'default state' we are talking about):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFebcvam2N0

Just need to watch the first 1 minute
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Emil Jensen, modified 22 Days ago.

RE: Was this an Awakening? What should my next step be?

Posts: 203 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
 Guys! I can feel it! There's another badass in the pit!!

Welcome to DhO, Skylar!

Reading your post has got me all fired up. You sound so much like I did just a few years ago. Oh man, the feelings of wonder, the manic studying, the feeling of being all alone with it, all the big impossible questions! 

Not to say that I'm ahead of you. Thing is, I'm still pretty much in the same spot, just learning to walk this walk with steady, patient steps.
After my initial bejazzlement, AP even probably, I started going crazy at it with the meditation. Went on 5x10 day retreats in the first three years and meditated at least two hours every damn day lol. Also read a million and one books. Unfortunately I didn't really study-study MCTB until fairly recently. People above have said this, and I have to reiterate, that this book is simply worth the read. It's both super compact with basically everything you need, and also works sort of like a manual for progress.

Oh, and one fuck up that I suppose I could warn you about, is thinking that you're done with walking this path. I did for two years, only to return to the deepest hole I've visited so far and having to rebuild the practice from scratch. No ragrats, of course. But still, was super dumb.

And btw I am into starting a business as well. Walking the path and making it in the world seem to go together super fine. I get help in all areas of my life from what I gain from meditation. Especially with respect to business, where I tend to have to do some pretty "out of comfort zone" kinda things, like pitch to a bunch of rich mofos in suits (sorry rich mofos), meditation has helped me keep steady when nervous. I am much calmer in wild/scary/nervewrecking situations as a result of my practice in just observing everything. Just to give an example emoticon

Welcome emoticon
 

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