RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

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Emil Jensen, modified 8 Days ago.

Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 232 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
 I haven't felt like loggin in a while. I think it's because I want to mention, and to discuss and talk about, that my coach/teacher seems convinced (and so do I) that this experience i wrote about a few posts ago (in my log "DBC 2"), the "A&P" event, was actually a cessation.
I want to talk about it, to understand it better, to vent, to share. But I also feel like claiming attainments on this site can be a tough one and will need a lot of explaining and possibly even defending - which I'm not in the mood for. Oh, and also, it may not do anything good other than sound like brag. Anyway, I find myself writing something about it. Let's just see what it leads to.

For now my mind is a bit everywhere about this cessation/path stuff, so let me just start by venting a bit. Or a lot, I don't know.

I want to talk about several things!: Firstly, it is not what I expected! I think I used to feel a lot of stress/worry about it because I expected something much wilder and therefore much more to long for. Funny thing is right now, there's no craving for anything pretty much. That returns, I guess, since I'm currently back to square one on the POI and will have to enter the dukkha nanas again sooner or later.

Another funny thing about this craving for something wild... I literally imagined that when a cessation had occured I would be running out the door, but naked, screaming from the top of my lungs, hysterical laugh, froth around the mouth, full on erection, all of a sudden a much more defined 6-pack, angels singing Oh Happy Day, halo around my crown, devil horns growing from my forehead, mystical shit! You know, I expected wild stuff!

What happened instead? I woke up in sleep paralysis and went back to sleep. OK, I was a bit startled and wanted to talk about it with my sleeping girlfriend. But point is, I was naked, but not screaming, no halo, nothing in particular interesting going on. A bit disappointing really.



But what does it mean to be on path 1/2? What should I expect to change for path 2/3/4? Does my practice change now? I don't think so but wth do I know? I'm just a Dumb'a badass!

How many people here on DhO have path? I have no idea if it's like 80% or 1%! Should we make a poll? (Haha, NO!)

I will gladly provide what I have of data leading up to, and right after, my acclaimed cessation. Should be fun to have some of you DhOrks analyze it as well. And fun for some of you to try and knock down or just have a go at giving an opinion. It's what y'all do here after all. I'll write another post about that below... 
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Emil Jensen, modified 8 Days ago.

RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 232 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
So why does my coach/teacher and I say it was a cessation? Well..

- Dhamma badass for almost 6 years
- 6 retreats (5 Goenka and 1 solo Mahasi style, all 10-day)
- Very steady 2-4 hours daily practice for months. And except a longer break, I've been meditating 2 hours daily for most of these 5-6 years.
- Started logging more properly about a month ago. I got a form to fill out with ratings from 1-5, from my coach, with mental positive factors, like equanimity, joy, calm, awareness of body, concentration and like 15 in total. And obstacles like desire, aversion, lethargy, lack of faith and one more. (I'm at work, I don't remember them all.)

I also made little notes to my daily morning sits on most days, as an explanation of sorts, of why the numbers were the way they were. 

When I started logging, it was clear that I was in the dukkha nanas. Aversion, tension, anxiety, sadness, craving, desire for deliveance - all so strong! And consistently. And a shell-like/peripheral awareness of the body was a characteristic of every sit.
For a few weeks it seems that I was really in the midst of it, to the point where my daily life would also be affected by the penetrating misery, seemingly oozing out from my pores.

Then a transition occurred into EQ. I started loosening up, with the effect of having pure chuckle-meditations for a couple of days. The laughter would come whenever I focused on my body/breath (any meditation object) for more than a few seconds. I think it was a sort of release, coming from the equanimity giving me that freedom from all that suffering I had been so deep in for a while. A joyful encountery with some liberation.

Then, the most boring meditation followed in the next 5-6 days. I started losing concentration and even awareness. I felt like I drifted in a non-eventful space of faint, thin, almost-nothingness. The pain and suffering had gone away, and there wasn't even bliss or piti. Just...boring/nothing. I considered the possibility that I was doing something wrong, or should up my motivation game or something. It felt weird to go from such serious inquiry to not being able to give a flying fu*k.

But at this point there was another release: I started noticing how I went conscious/unconscious and therefore started to disidentify with consciousness itself - I started seeing the No Self aspects of consciousness itself. That was a good release indeed, because letting go of that attachment had me almost sobbing from relief. In a way that one sobs because "it's finally over". Some tension/struggle definitely did get relief at this point. After the sobbing I started laughing again for a good 30 seconds or so, and then back to the boring, empty meditation.

Then, on the 5th or 6th day of "boring meditation", my meditation turned VERY boring/faint/nothing-y. I noted in my log: "This was the most quiet sit I've had for years!" Nothing happened and everything was exremely equanimous/homogenous/faint/non-existant.

Then on this night, while asleep, my "A&P" event happened, later thought to actually be a cessation. It is written in a little more detail in my log "DBC 2", but the point of the cessation was when I looked at the full moon in my dream, it started vibrating and then....well, nothing.

The day after this was the first time in years I've felt such deep appreciation and love for the journey. But it was still a little subtle, not at all as wild as I had imagined before, and I therefore didn't expect this to be a cessation myself, not initially.
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Anywho, with regards to the meditation, it definitely has been naturally inclined to metta, rather than concentration and vipassana like I'm used to.

I also noticed that I've become a "beginner" in meditation again. I feel like I can't meditate for shit. I can't see anything, I don't have the clarity I'm used to. All over I just feel like I'm learning to walk again. 

But I feel good! I feel very "normal" haha. Opposed to when deep in dukkha or EQ, one does feel a little alienated from the "normal" world, I suppose.

But my levels of equanimity and joy are generally high in these days - it's been only...6?..days since the cessation, so of course things are young. But still, some joy and relaxation surely is appreciated at this point.

What else to say?
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SushiK, modified 8 Days ago.

RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 111 Join Date: 6/11/20 Recent Posts
From what I gathered on the internet, it takes a few months for the horns to grow. 
Give it some time :-)

Whatever it was or wasn't (I will let the grown-up figure that), you seem to be in a good place and have had plenty of insights.
I wish you well friend.
George S, modified 8 Days ago.

RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 1483 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Sounds like you are in a good place. The important thing about stream entry IMO is that it's about weakening self-identity view ... so, whatever it is, it's not a personal attainment ;-)
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 8 Days ago.

RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 1660 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Whatever it was may Dukkha lead the way emoticon 
You could maybe practice self inquiry like "Look how it thinks it attained stream entry ... look how it thinks all is ok now, look how it thinks it achieved something special, look how it's unsure if indeed this was SE , look how it's walking/sitting/standing/laying .. etc etc etc ... " 
emoticon 

Unless you think your journey is over and done with? emoticon 

May Dukkha lead the way emoticon 
uless there is no more dukkha emoticon or is there? 
Yes? No? Maybe? Dunno ... let me see ... 
Edward, modified 8 Days ago.

RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 79 Join Date: 6/10/19 Recent Posts
Congratulations Emil,

How do you and your teacher define SE and what criteria do you use to assess its attainment?
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Emil Jensen, modified 7 Days ago.

RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 232 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
 When I do grow horns, I'll take personal credit for being really, really badass! lol!

But no, it's pretty obvious that this is not a "personal" attainment. Still, it's an attainment sprouting some joy and encouragement about what I've been doing for all those thousands of hours spent on the cushion.

I'm obviously not done. This is clearly just an early phase. I'm clearly a beginner-meditator who has a long way to go.

But man is it nice to get a little bit of "official" approval, that what I've been doing was at least sort of the right thing. I've been so concerned at times, with whether I was doing the practice right or not. One can work in the total opposite direction of the goal, I suppose! But now it's clearer that I didn't just believe I was gaining insight, I was.

Edward, I don't really want to define SE, I have no clue. Do you have a good definition? What I do know is this: I was in dukkha, then I was in EQ, then a cessation happened, now I'm a beginner-meditator. I am no expert obviously, but that seems to be very much in accordance with a path moment.

I heard and read that attaining SE isn't really making much of a difference in terms of overall experience of life. It's perhaps just making you more aware of how much further there is to go. According to Mahasi, if I recall correctly, doubt about the path does go away, but my doubt has been gone since 1-2 years into the journey anyway, so what do I know?. (I believe I may have had a cessation before actually - if this recent event was one, I feel like I can recognize it. But anywho...). And according to my teacher, path 1/2 is pretty much the same, except 2 is typically shorter if one has momentum going. This makes me feel like path is just.. Idk... it doesn't matter. Once you in the stream it supposedly just goes one way. I'm excited to see what the path will be like in the future for me, and I'll be happy to forget for a while to speculate about which path it may be or if it is path at all. I don't care. I see the benefits of the practice in terms of reduced suffering, so I guess all is well without all that technical analysis.

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George S, modified 7 Days ago.

RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 1483 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
From where I sit, you've been working hard and doing all the right things, so congratulations :-) You'll know it was "2nd" if you start questioning your whole life XD
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 7 Days ago.

RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 1660 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
May our practice and possible fruits be of benefit to all beings above, below and all around. 
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David Matte, modified 4 Days ago.

RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 67 Join Date: 8/3/19 Recent Posts
Hi Emil,

Nice of you to share your experience here.

I won't try any diagnosis of the actual cessation event as I don't claim to be an expert of the POI or anyone else's personal experience.
I'm mostly just personally curious of your supposed cessation and the changes in your mind afterward. 

The main traditional criterion of what a cessation event is supposed to change in the mind is mentioned to be belief in a self (sakkāya-diṭṭhi). May I ask how has your belief in self has changed as a result of the supposed cessation? Has your perception of experience changed at all?

How has your experience of ordinary life changed? You mentioned you feel "normal" as well as equanimous and joyful. This sounds like you've been experiencing less dukkha? 
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Chris Marti, modified 7 Days ago.

RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 3844 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
I'd like to say this: Congrats to Emil!
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 7 Days ago.

RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 1660 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
My thoughts and best wishes are with all those who might feel saddened, insulted, hurt, by Emils claim here. All those who are diligently practicing and yet not attaining to SE even after many years of practice. 

May you be able to hold this hurt in awareness and trasform it into altruistic joy and renewed faith in this practice. 

Best wishes to Emil and us all. 
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Emil Jensen, modified 7 Days ago.

RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 232 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
  
Actually, the main reason I made this thread was actually to see if we/I could come to something helpful through our discussions - specifically for those who are in pain because they don't have SE! (Because I remember how much I was in that kind of pain).

I'm sorry if my post above made anyone sad, my baseline intention was heavily influenced by the exact opposite. I guess I first had to vent a little, and to sort of state the matter a bit properly and thoroughly before any discussion could really proceed anyway...

The thing is tho, that I understand very much why someone would be saddened or hurt by reading someone's post saying "Hey everyone, look at me, I got SE" and thereby shining a big light on the fact that this person didn't. I know it because I've been there and I've felt so low, so miserable, that I'd rather set the whole world on fire than to have another person get SE without me getting it. Yeah, that's how deeply sad/mad I felt sometimes when I was rolling around in that dukkha!

But from where I sit now, I can see that the pain I felt back then, for this reason at least, wasn't necessary, not to that degree anyway. I feel that if I could have a talk with my previous self, I could help him sort out some of his misconceptions about what attaining this abstract thing, actually meant. And I feel that that would actually help, rather than hurt.

I still don't have a precise way of explaining why one shouldn't feel sad that one doesn't have SE yet, but I can sort of see that it doesn't make sense to be saddened by this, now that I know what it's like.
It's almost like I can recognize that the pain I used to feel over this, was based in a misconception about what SE actually was, not a "real" cause for pain, if you will.

One thing I would say to my previous self, to help him, would be this:
I used to think super highly of SE. And I guess it makes sense, that the higher one thinks of something one doesn't have, the more one is presumably lacking it...does that make sense?
The more one believes that the grass is greener on the other side, the less one can enjoy the perfectly fine, maybe a bit dry, but green, grass on ones own side. In fact, if one beliefs that the grass is 10,000 times greener on the neighbor's side, one may feel really saddened by not having a super green lawn of ones own and then get tempted to throw a grenade over the fence. "Rather the whole thing blows up than me lacking that much!"

I'm not sure this is 100% correct, but it's on to something true: SE grass isn't that much greener!

And in fact, all the fucking mole mounds are still there, the thistles are still there, the ants, the dry spots and... and the neighbor's daughter you had your eye on and really wanted to have on your own lawn.. well, she's on your own lawn now alright, but it's also your own daughter now too, so forget about the fun you thought you'd have when you moved lawns! (I get carried away with these analogies. Another obvious dry spot on my own otherwise perfectly fine lawn. Oh, and another dry spot on my SE lawn: I just ate too much cake and "hate myself" for it again, lol, - so I guess I could crave for path 2 or 3 or 4 where I just don't eat cake anymore..??? Another misconception causing pain/craving?).

If I could talk to my previous self, I'd try to make him understand that SE isn't the end of the world. (And as I heard, neither is path 2, 3,  or 4!)


So what is SE?!!!
Well, from my highly inexperienced and ignorant perspective, it's pretty much the same. There was no big "boom".
I really like what I read from someone else in here lately: That SE is really more of a collection of insight you gain over time. It's not one big insight that's gonna blow your world apart when it happens. Was is Shargrol that I'm poorly paraphrasing? Forgive me, I can't remember.
Reading that before the cessation, actually did help me chill the fuck out a little bit, and not crave SE so bad and not suffer as bad from not having it. I guess hearing it from the ones who had path, helped a little bit.

So where am I now?
Instead of a boom, for me, was of course the end of the EQ and the dukkha stages. And although I can have a chill for a while before I get back into it, on the other hand, I can't meditate for shit. I'm literally all the way back to the level of Arising and Passing and have "worse" sight of sensations/mind/vedanas/etc, than I did just a short while ago. In a way you could say that my grass just got more dry, more yellow, but I just don't give that much of a fuck about the color of grass right now. 

It's just another stage, it's nothing personal, just different. The mind is slower, dumber, the pain is less, what else can I say? Grass be green, grass be yellow.

I do feel however, that there seem to be a general improvement in equanimity lately, also before the cessation happened. I was in the dukkha nanas for idk.. the 100th time it feels like?! And I just sort of started to really try and allow the misery, to just watch it objectively. And that was hard. I wanted to whine, I wanted to do something else. But I hoped that the way out, was through. It seems it was. For now.

One way my old self could benefit from looking at it is this:
Screw paths, its actually just about learning to observe what goes on in the mind/body, with ever greater clarity. No big boom will ever necessarily ever happen, but you will gradually change the neurons used in your brain. It will be less of those associated with wallowing in your shit, and more of those just observing. Forget paths. Honestly, if you suffer less over time with your practice, do you really care that much about having a non-experience. - You literally can't even experience it!!!


Whew.. I'm done writing for now. Sorry for the spam. I guess I can't even expect any of you to read all this. But perhaps you have some other ideas for how to soothe the pre-SE pains a little bit?
  
George S, modified 7 Days ago.

RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 1483 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Yes - SE is definitely nothing to be jealous of! No more are you the central character in the tremendously interesting and important drama you used to call your life. Obviously you can try to make yourself the star of your own dharma show, but you know that’s going to end in tears XD That unpleasant side of yourself that you’ve been ignoring ... you have to face it now. Never again can you act selfishly without immediately feeling pain. Stuff you used to do without a second thought will now cause you untold amounts of pain. Suffering less, noticing more. No more hiding yourself in rites and rituals, including meditation. No more doubt, so no escape from the dharma. It’s really not such a great deal for yourself as an individual. And while it might be better for other people in the long run, it could just as easily cause pain and confusion for your loved ones in the short run as they realize you are not the person they thought they knew. Of course, there’s no other choice though ... XD
Martin, modified 7 Days ago.

RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 253 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Thanks for writing about this Emil. It is kind of you to share this with us. When I think about where I am and where I am going, my journey does not seem like a walk down a path, but rather a seafaring expedition in the fog. I find hearing other people report their location helps. It's like hearing a foghorn or catching a glimpse of something that might be a lighthouse.

Also, congratulations!

What strikes me about your overall experience of SE, is that it appears to be stabilizing. That is encouraging. 

I'm looking forward to hearing more. 
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Days ago.

RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 950 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Emil Jensen
 I haven't felt like loggin in a while. I think it's because I want to mention, and to discuss and talk about, that my coach/teacher seems convinced (and so do I) that this experience i wrote about a few posts ago (in my log "DBC 2"), the "A&P" event, was actually a cessation.
I want to talk about it, to understand it better, to vent, to share. But I also feel like claiming attainments on this site can be a tough one and will need a lot of explaining and possibly even defending - which I'm not in the mood for. Oh, and also, it may not do anything good other than sound like brag. Anyway, I find myself writing something about it. Let's just see what it leads to.

For now my mind is a bit everywhere about this cessation/path stuff, so let me just start by venting a bit. Or a lot, I don't know.

I want to talk about several things!: Firstly, it is not what I expected! I think I used to feel a lot of stress/worry about it because I expected something much wilder and therefore much more to long for. Funny thing is right now, there's no craving for anything pretty much. That returns, I guess, since I'm currently back to square one on the POI and will have to enter the dukkha nanas again sooner or later.

Another funny thing about this craving for something wild... I literally imagined that when a cessation had occured I would be running out the door, but naked, screaming from the top of my lungs, hysterical laugh, froth around the mouth, full on erection, all of a sudden a much more defined 6-pack, angels singing Oh Happy Day, halo around my crown, devil horns growing from my forehead, mystical shit! You know, I expected wild stuff!

What happened instead? I woke up in sleep paralysis and went back to sleep. OK, I was a bit startled and wanted to talk about it with my sleeping girlfriend. But point is, I was naked, but not screaming, no halo, nothing in particular interesting going on. A bit disappointing really.



But what does it mean to be on path 1/2? What should I expect to change for path 2/3/4? Does my practice change now? I don't think so but wth do I know? I'm just a Dumb'a badass!

How many people here on DhO have path? I have no idea if it's like 80% or 1%! Should we make a poll? (Haha, NO!)

I will gladly provide what I have of data leading up to, and right after, my acclaimed cessation. Should be fun to have some of you DhOrks analyze it as well. And fun for some of you to try and knock down or just have a go at giving an opinion. It's what y'all do here after all. I'll write another post about that below... 


I think a good way to understand an awakening experience is to stop meditating for several months. Find out for yourself if awakening is dependent on continued meditation. Learn from your own experience whether improved well-being comes from meditation or awakening or a combination of the two, and update your practice and intentions if necessary.
Sam Gentile, modified 6 Days ago.

RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 988 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Emil,

Your teacher  has tons more experience with these states then you do so if she tld you got SE, BELIEVE HER!

Plus you have put in more work than almost amyoe I know. I believe it from what you describe here so I add my voice of congratulations Emil!
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Emil Jensen, modified 6 Days ago.

RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 232 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
Martin, I get that analogy! A seafare in the fog, very accurate.
I would love to be able to create some light house signals if I can...

One more thing which I remember helped me with not feeling so frustrated with being in the fog, was this advice:
- "Start practicing as if you're never gonna get SE". Instead, find out the deeper reasons why you are practicing and perhaps realize that there's a lot of benefits to be had, SE or not. (I believe it was Che who helped me with this, telling me that the Dhamma Store had sold out of SE's!). For me, I realized that I do actually value a lot of things about this practice, none of them even remotely related to my "official" attainment in terms of position on the POI.
For years I've loved and appreciated the practice in patience, endurance, investigation, mindfulness, concentration, wisdom - and even more awesomely: These practices seemed to replace my old default-practices of mind-wallowing, mental chattering, self-hating, emotional overtaking.

Converting the quality of my mind like this, happened without any attainment of path and would have happened regardless of whether I ever struggled with not gaining SE. 

It would really be dumb, if so much pain is created only because there's a self-painted picture of something "better" in wait for us, e.g. "SE", that forces us to suffer because we're "not there yet".
Such a mindset just takes our attention away from value we could be appreciating, focusing on and cultivating without this kind of worry.

Besides, we gotta get comfortable with being in the fog and remember that the fog is not bad when we see it objectively/neutrally. When in the fog, the bare facts are: "foggy, sight is limited to things close by".
We shouldn't brew too many conclusions about this, as it is neither good nor bad. It is simply is: A set of characteristics of the mind in the moment they're noticed. Learning to get comfortable and accepting of studying exactly what's in front of you without dreaming of there being something else, has gotta be a very important point!

Besides, the fog is there for anyone, I think, from time to time. No matter the number of path, I believe. And of course, it depends on their state/stage of mind, which always changes: Foggy, sunny, hazy, clear, narrow, concentrated, wide, etc. They all come and go.
I'm sure I'll be surrounded by fog soon enough again, but by then I'll know that this just means that I should focus on things close by instead of trying to see far into the horizon. That will just cause me lots of strain, struggle and frustrations - because it's not possible!

Thanks for interacting with me on this! I gain clarity from writing with you about it emoticon

And Sam, thank you so much for helping me find this teacher. It has made an essential difference and I can hardly imagine that I could make the progress on my own. 

That's another point I feel I would have benefitted from earliter, actually.. get a teacher!!!!
Writing with a lot of people on DhO is good, for sure! But having a teacher who can help you intimately, who sees where you are and knows how to help you go forward from exactly where that is.. well, that's just far, far better than trying to figure it out by yourself, even with 20 inputs from a bunch of people who make guesses about where you are based on half a page of text!
There will be so many things you'll be overlooking just because you don't know about them yet. Like for me, I never practiced the 4 foundations of mindfulness. I learned vipassana from the Goenka technique, which seems to only focus on the first foundation. I can't believe I would get this far without ever practicing all four and knowing how to. That's just one example of how my teacher immediately was able to help me. I felt an acceleration in my practice right away.

Alright, that's another wall of text from me today!

​​​​​​​Love ^_^
Sam Gentile, modified 4 Days ago.

RE: Attaining path: Needing to talk about it, chime in y'all :)

Posts: 988 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
And Sam, thank you so much for helping me find this teacher. It has made an essential difference and I can hardly imagine that I could make the progress on my own. 

Your welcome! I knew she would because she has made that kind of difference in my practice. Again, congrats!

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