RE: 4th Path

Will G, modified 2 Days ago.

4th Path

Posts: 12 Join Date: 4/7/21 Recent Posts
This forum has been a really valuable resource for me over the years and helped me make quick progress. I hope this post may help others do the same.

I started practicing Vipassana in 2017 in the hopes of overcoming low-grade depression that I had had since late childhood but that really began to cripple my functioning by early adulthood. I’m 28 now. Some gateways into dharma were interests in philosophy, art, music, and regular use of psychedelics, particularly psilocybin. Some of my first relevant experiences occurred shortly after starting to practice but were facilitated by psychedelics and painting, and fell into the “no-mind” category, which is to say they involved the prolonged disappearance of any sense of self or awareness, followed by a vivid re-congealing of self-identification. I also had an experience on psilocybin years before I started meditating that was very scary, in which I thought I had dissociated or lost my mind, but looking back was actually similar to some of my experiences in 3rd path. I’m mapping my progress to the Progress of Insight/MCTB maps, but throughout the process I was much more focused on specific insights, and besides the fact that I was clearly cycling through the stages, the actual path moments usually weren’t obvious. That being said, knowledge of the maps relatively early on was helpful, and I think it actually made me progress faster. My assessment is just based on my own experience, and best guesses. I’ve never had a teacher assess me.


A+P
- Jan 2018

This was easily the most intense experience of my life up until that point. It happened after reading Sam Harris’s book Waking Up, specifically the chapter on Douglas Harding and his book On Having No Head, in which instructions are given to turn attention back on itself and directly notice the absence of a self in the centre of awareness. I had been practicing Vipassana to the best of my knowledge for about 6 months by that time, for 20 minutes a day, but had no real idea what I was doing. I immediately saw what was being pointed to, and understood its significance. The ensuing experience, which far outpaced my insights by that point, lasted over a week and was similar to my much later experience of 3rd path: intensely luminous, unsupported, bouncy, effortless and utterly liberating. The way I felt during this week would, for better or worse, serve as a benchmark from which to compare every other experience I would have over the next two years. It provided me with a taste of a goal I knew was possible, and a doorway into understanding descriptions of more advanced territory. The psychological ramifications of these insights and event were huge. Gone were any traces of depression, existential angst, and much of the general social discomfort I had dealt with since childhood. I felt like I had just done years of therapy in a few months of meditation practice. I highly recommend Sam’s book and app for anyone starting out.


I Am
- 2018

I hadn’t yet found a map that described what had happened, and tried to recreate the experience for weeks, cycling back and forth through the insight stages. Eventually, whenever I would sit, my body would quiver with stray energy: spasms, jitters, tensions, piti, etc. I finally decided to follow a one week online intro to Dzogchen retreat with B. Alan Wallace that I condensed into 3 days to try to attain some kind of stability. The main practice was shamatha and the concentration object was the space in which thoughts arise, which I found to be very effective. After around 3 days of following along for 4-6 hours a day, I reached a point of total stability and clarity which I could then pretty consistently reproduce on demand. This felt like the logical endpoint of shamatha practice. A kind of door had been opened in which non-conceptual certainty about the sense of being was immediately accessible, accompanied by a subtle pressure in my head that was initially a bit alarming, as I had never felt any sensations there. From then on I could direct my attention to this sense of I Am at any time, and it felt more real than anything else in the world, like an absolute unchanging presence. Now, looking back, it contained the seed of what might be described as luminosity, or the clear perception of something happening vividly on its own (in this case, a non-conceptual thought), aware from where it was, instead of an imputed subjective vantage point. If I had to learn shamatha again, I would probably use Culadasa’s model (TMI), but I didn’t know about him at the time.


Stream Entry - 2018

This didn’t strike me as a very significant experience, probably because the first a+p was so intense. In fact no notable shift on my path ever occurred directly after a cessation, but that isn’t to say they don’t reset the mind in a way that helps move things along, I still have no idea what they do. I felt like there was a good chance I had already had one before the first time I noticed it clearly, and I can’t say that I noticed much of a change in perception, other than maybe a kind of relief that I had definitely had one and was making progress. Generally around this time I was sitting around 40 minutes a day, focusing on shamatha and jhanas, but my access to them would have been ‘soft’ and I really had no idea what I was doing, other than following what felt good and letting myself get absorbed into the highest plateau I could sustain. I had a conceptual understanding and some insight into no-self but it wasn’t very clear.


2nd Path - 2019 - 2020

I didn’t notice a significant path moment, or care much about the maps at this point. My concentration was strong, the first four jhanas had become more distinct, and fruitions happened occasionally when I sat for long enough. I was sitting for one to two hours a day, and was more interested in Dzogchen than anything else, yet I seemed to be on the cyclical path so well mapped out by the Theravadins. I read As It Is (vol. 1&2) by Tulku Urgyen and my practice in daily life consisted mostly of obsessively repeating the glimpse of the centreless nature of awareness as often as I could remember to. Occasionally when my shamatha was stable I could walk around in a state of sensory clarity/luminosity for an hour or so.

One significant shift that could have been 2nd path was a sort of letting go of the tendency to hold things, to refer back to the sense of I Am, or non-dual glimpses. Practice became much more about whatever was always already so, and there was a greater sense of synchrony.

I started experimenting with Actual Freedom inspired practice, inducing “pure consciousness experiences” (PCE) by focusing on sensate experience using the prompt “How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?” The first time it happened was really extraordinary and unlike anything I had experienced. I would say it basically follows a similar logic as jhana: using the pleasantness of the senses to create a feedback loop that increases concentration and becomes self-sustaining, but doing it off the cushion and focusing on the visual field. This worked surprisingly reliably over a period of a few months, in which I would induce a PCE sometime after my morning sit, or on my bus ride to work, and it could last in a kind of soft form for as long as a few hours. I would describe them as experiences of non-dual luminosity in which the objects of attention bubble into existence, alive on their own side, free from an observer and effortlessly integrating anything that would normally feel like a separate background into a seamless flow in which the movement of attention is continuously tracked/synchronized. I felt like I had two distinct mind streams: one in which the intensity of the sensate world was brought to the foreground and everything was clear and simple, and the other in which I was just my confused contracted self again. Since I still didn’t have much understanding of what these experiences could have been pointing to, I mostly thought of them as altered states, and I eventually lost my ability to induce them. The desire to induce them also felt contrived and began to fall away, because on some level I knew that what I was looking for had to be true of all states.

Around this time I read Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind over and over and also started playing around with Koans. I have no idea if this is how they are supposed to function, but Mu, a single syllable peppered into my sits, was a far more concise object than the breath, and seemed to define the possibility of a higher resolution of concentration, pointing in its own way to the possible 1:1 parity between sensations and my knowledge of them. Mu is its own knowledge of itself: an atom of luminous manifestation that sets itself up in stark contrast to anything that still seems bound by a subject-object dichotomy.
I went through a phase of realizing how identified I was with sensations in my head and face, which really felt like the crux of the knot of perception, and deconstructed them systematically in sits and throughout the day, as though I were rewiring every single nerve ending. The muscles in my face would often break out into frantic twitching. I was painfully aware of the sight of my nose and glasses almost all of the time, as though they were stains on my visual field. One thing I thought was ironic and annoying was that the stronger my concentration got, the stronger the pressures in my head got, which had been getting stronger since the I Am realization, and gradually moved closer to the centre of my head, with occasional sharp pangs. It felt like a very ‘physical’ process that I absolutely couldn’t ignore, and was constantly reminding me of ‘my’ location inside my head.

I went through a phase of obsessing over diet and exercise, thinking this would help my practice. Exercise probably did, but in retrospect I would have adopted a minimum effective dose approach. Tinkering with various supplements was also a distraction, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

Once I got about as concentrated as I could in daily life, which was, on many days, seemingly nearly unwavering mindfulness, and still didn’t seem to be getting anywhere in terms of lasting perceptual shifts, I sort of gave up and resolved that everything was already ‘it’. I was still practicing but getting bored with cycling, and basically at a standstill as far as insight was concerned. My default state, it seemed, was not much different than it had been over the past two years. My practice also felt very dry, like it was lacking all the release, joy and ease of some of my first experiences. I did have glimpses around this time of what was to come, but they were rare and never seemed directly related to my practice.

Looking back, a lot of confusion around a mistaken interpretation of non-duality could have been avoided. I think this is a huge stumbling block for people. I had been looking for some kind of merger or union with a reified field of consciousness to occur by sustaining concentration and attention on the lack of a centre in the visual field. This seems to be a trap of most direct pointing or awareness based teachings, particularly if you start thinking ‘emptiness’ is pointing to this lack of a centre. The idea of a merger, in which two sides of a duality are subsumed into one, is a much more intuitive fantasy than understanding the meaning of freedom from the extremes of existence and non-existence (i.e. reification), but ironically the desire to subsume just reinforces the reifying tendency. In fact, every glimpse I had of ‘luminosity’, the closest experiential correlate to my idea of non-duality, was just the unrecognized suspension of reification, in which things are simply allowed to shine however they are, free from imputations of existence and non-existence. I was still similarly confused about the self, expecting that everything I associated to it (proprioception, intentions, self-referential thoughts, etc.) might somehow fall away.


3rd Path/Anatta - Aug 2020

This really felt like a door opened up in my mind that I easily could have missed or never found. In the weeks leading up to this shift I suffered from intense anxiety and episodes of shortness of breath which I had never experienced before, and am almost certain were related to an intuition of the fact that my experience of the world was about to change completely, but were probably also compounded by uncertainty around the beginning of the pandemic. I had been laid off of work and had tons of time to practice. I had been looking online for clues about how to move forward, mostly in threads on the DhO about 3rd path.

I revisited the excellent ‘Awakening to Reality’ blog, which I already knew of but hadn’t read in a long time, because most of it didn’t make sense at the time. I came across a link to Greg Goode’s Introduction to the Emptiness Teachings pdf on the ‘Thusness 7 stages of enlightenment’ page. This was the first time I read an analytical explanation of emptiness other than the chariot analogy, which always just seemed too much like a matter of semantics. I realized that I never really understood the specific insight that emptiness was pointing to, but instead took it as a description of the centrelessness of awareness, as in the headless-way glimpses (this is the trap of interpreting emptiness teachings through the lens of awareness teachings, which Goode himself once fell into). Goode’s description of emptiness as the lack of inherent existence, not just of the self but of any object of perception, triggered a perceptual paradigm shift. Inherency of existence was like a belief or axiom so deeply engrained in the mind that it could never be questioned, let alone surface as a thought, and was inaccessible as an object of investigation. By suspending it, through this first insight into the co-arising of mind and world, or the ‘sourcelessness’ of phenomena, I was overcome by somewhat familiar but rarely accessible qualities of experience at a much higher intensity and consistency. Similar to the PCE, the main qualities were: luminosity, lack of agency, unsupported-ness, effortlessness, intimacy and a kind of sweetness for lack of a better word, like I was walking through honey. The difference was that it was way more stable and thorough, because it was based on understanding. This insight into dependent origination was like an intuitive sinking-in of the fact that consciousness was neither a mind in here nor a world out there, and that neither of those designations actually existed in themselves, they had just been assumed all along. Even if there was really a world out there and a body here inside it, as a matter of experience, the two were indissociable. This came along with the understanding that every act of perception was itself a link in a causal chain that was both participatory and yet couldn’t possibly unfold any differently, and as such, was endowed with a kind of perfection. What remained was a kind of radical intimacy with and as the world. Knowing itself to be itself through and through, there is nowhere for it to go astray, nothing for it to guard or hide. This was deeply liberating, but initially also a bit scary, because any notion of a ground that could be abided in is seen through, but so is the painful habit of creating separation by constantly referring back to one.

The repercussions of this insight weren’t yet thorough as a matter of experience, but as with any insight, it couldn’t be unseen, and old habits of thought and abiding-style practices were left scrambling to make sense of themselves in its wake. The highs and lows of the cycles were very intense and distinct, and I had to avoid pushing myself too hard, since the stronger the A+P, generally the more difficult the DN. Waking up every morning felt totally uncertain, like I had no idea what exactly I would be waking up to, since there was no more ground under my feet and only a tenuous understanding in it’s place. This lead to a whole range of distorted experiences as the ramifications of the insight were being integrated. The line between excitement and anxiety was thoroughly blurred. Concentration no longer made sense, because relaxing and easing off seemed to strengthen it. My experience alternated between states of ‘one-mind’, in which awareness seemed to be experiencing the world as itself, and ‘no-mind’, in which any sense of awareness disappeared altogether, as in the Bahiya Sutta (In the seen, just the seen). This was mixed in with a significant amount of fear, shortness of breath and some heart palpitations, as though my body had become the world and there was no way my human lungs could contain enough air to sustain it. I felt like I had to learn to breathe from scratch, or rather remember how to breathe automatically again. There was a period after a week or so where all my bodily sensations, particularly the breath, underwent a rewiring process and were no longer grasped at as mine. I felt like I was free falling through sense-data, with a fair amount of grasping at air. I probably could have benefitted from a more dedicated shamatha practice but at the time it probably seemed too dualistic and I was more concerned with exploring this new territory. Every new A+P seemed to present something that could have been final in a way, and yet each one was surprisingly distinct. The world was, at times, overwhelmingly vivid, and had an intensely self-ironic quality, like everything was simultaneously a window and a mirror.

I exchanged some emails with Soh of Awakening to Reality who was generous enough to answer my questions and point me forward. I read parts of Rob Burbea’s Seeing that Frees, tons of posts on AtR mostly about dependent origination, and Adyashanti’s The End of Your World. It often felt like I could intuit a void from which everything was emerging, or like my body was a hologram overlaid on the world, itself another hologram. My default state walking around felt similar to the 5th jhana, boundless space. One thing that really struck me about this initial experience and the following developments was the importance of ‘view’ in triggering and refining it, and the insufficiency of non-conceptuality, dualistic vipassana, and awareness based teachings. At this point my conceptual understanding was actually quite clear: there is just this unsupported flow of sensations, none of which could be a perceiver. As Daniel wrote in MCTB, no sensations can observe other sensations. But my experience was not yet entirely consistent with this, and the absence of agency aspect still felt disconcerting.

A few distinct shifts happened in the following months: an emptying of the subtle inherency of attention, the fixation on its linear/sequential nature, which led to an understanding of its disjointedness, an emptying of the sense of presence, which was still being subtly identified with, and an emptying of the sense of time, or that sensations arise, abide and pass at all, in other words, the moment they arise is the moment they disappear. These shifts in understanding and experience all happened after following contemplations discussed on AtR (on anatta, twofold emptiness, transience, non-arising, etc). The blog is packed with insight and I can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone in this territory. I also contemplated a number of koan-like phrases, like Tozan’s “place where there is no hot or cold” and Dan Berkow’s “Every point on a sphere is a centre”. I wasn’t formally practicing vipassana much around this time, at most two 20 minute sits per day, but its logic didn’t really make sense to me anymore. By this point I no longer felt like I was experiencing time in any conventional sense, and was feeling very ‘done’, except that the intensity of luminosity seemed to come and go, and I had adopted a kind of subtle dispassion and almost removed disposition towards the world. I still had some conceptual hang-ups over wether or not the senses were “fabricated”, which seemed relevant given that more often than not my entire experience would kind of “fade” as Rob Burbea describes as happening when things are seen as empty, and as is described in some of the old texts (one in particular that ends with “the monks didn’t rejoice,” can’t find it now). Culadasa’s framing of fabrication in TMI helped clear this up for me conceptually: all sensory information goes through the unconscious mind and some degree of processing before it reaches consciousness, and as such, is “fabricated”. Following this model, the way I think about the “fading” phenomenon is that things mostly remain in the unconscious when the attention faculty isn’t particularizing as frequently. So my theory is that this phase involved a kind of more consistent pacification of attention in daily life whenever possible, but only because it was still a subtle bearer of inherency, which was perceived as suffering. I think I easily could have gotten stuck here, because the ‘agent’ had been seen through, making any remaining effort of directing attention towards opportunities for insight seem unwarranted, and yet my default experience of the world was felt as a kind disappearance, and this didn’t sit right with me.


4th Path - Jan 2021

I kind of inched my way forward by contemplating dependent origination, thoroughly looking for a ‘source’ or origin of sense perception and trying to merge the flavours of luminosity and fading, which still felt like opposites. When the totally un-graspable, un-locatable nature of phenomena became crystal clear, the grasping stopped. Gradually, over about two weeks of contemplation, a shift occurred in which no-mind experiences were no longer felt as a disappearance, because the flavour of presence had sort of become refined enough to permeate every sensation, and eventually completely merge with them. The last thing to let go of was a subtle fixation or involvement with the transience of luminosity, by recognizing it was always already so. There was a moment where any last bits of doubt or worry about the ‘stability’ of it seemed to vanish, replaced by a sense of completion and ease. It still flipped back once or twice in the following days, initially seemed dependent on sensory clarity, and was accompanied by sharp pangs in the centre of my head. The “flip” moments felt a bit like the shift into a jhana. There were still moments of doubt beyond this point, particularly in a difficult DN that followed.
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While I see this shift as a maturation/stabilization of previous insights, the thoroughness and simplicity of it give it a qualitatively different feel. The sense of total 1:1 synchrony and causal unfolding was even a bit eerie at first, but overall any spookiness was outweighed by simplicity and clarity. For the first time, everything was experienced as consistently and effortlessly alive, because the mind wasn’t relying on traces or echos of things as their actual knowledge, so everything just spoke for itself. It’s not that it stopped forming mental impressions of things altogether, just that it no longer constructed a sense of existence out of them. The high mental bandwidth that seems to be eaten up by the constant reference to these impressions of things to validate them is also freed up and directed back into perception. I realize now what a deadening effect that had on my experience of the world, and I think that could have been a source of much of my former dissatisfaction with life, the sense that everything was dead on arrival, filtered through my reified knowledge of it, reduced to a kind of retelling. With this reifying activity having ceased, there is no more sense of falling out of, or coming back to a desired state. No more inside/outside distinction (it is non-dual, but I would argue only as a side effect of deeper insight, not as something to aim for in itself). Some of the thoughts or emotions that normally would have carried implicit reification still arise, but have no pull, they are totally transparent. A sense of boundlessness or infinitude pervades everything and grows stronger whenever attended to. I am completely absorbed in any activity I engage in, and anything that I may once have considered distraction just feels like more absorption (but still different from the “unification” of shamatha, higher or lower degrees of unification are still possible). When I sit I just feel totally gone, dissolved into spontaneous manifestation, not unlike 8th jhana, neither perception nor non-perception, despite never really entering jhana much anymore (jhana now feels oddly contracted). Talking to other people feels as natural as talking to myself. My body usually feels like radiance in empty space, although there are still energetic tensions and blockages at times. When my concentration is strong, a kind of perfection pervades every moment, as though the phenomenal flow itself were a pure, indivisible object of nature which couldn’t possibly unfold any differently. Compassion (more like unconditional love, or Bodhicitta) is more available and shows up spontaneously, and feels connected to seeing dependent origination in real time. There is a kind of evenness or democratization of attention: nothing holds a special status over anything else, all phenomena are of the same taste: luminous and empty, no more or less ‘reality’ than any other. The attention/particularization faculty is disinhibited and unbound to a central controlling agent, so it is continually creating centres without ever settling, and has this infinitely penetrative quality which is both energetic and still, a bit like a free fall i’ve gotten accustomed to.

While the realization itself isn’t a matter of a particular experience, one of the most surprising things about it initially is the relative consistency of experience it allows, especially after how inconsistent my experiences were in third path. There’s not much subtlety or ambiguity to it. The last thing to come online, that would come and go in the week leading up to the flip, is a kind of certainty, which seems to mostly come from the falling away of discrimination between states, particularly between states of recognition/knowing and absorption/not knowing. This falling away in itself isn’t really a matter of experience at all, just an undoing of the incessant activity of reality-attribution, but it creates a kind of implicit constancy, and with this, everything gets a lot lighter, less substantial, and easier to bear. All of the same strata of mind can still manifest, they just now clearly lack the solidity they previously seemed to have. I can still think neurotic thoughts, get lost in thought, feel the sense of ‘I Am’, etc. but all of it is happening on its own, causally, without fixation, resistance, or the sense that things could have been otherwise. I would also say that part of the sense of certainty comes from a kind of impersonal knowing that, whenever attended to, ‘sees’ presence and emptiness collapsed onto each other in every phenomena, and this has a ‘true-self’ kind of flavour which was quite surprising.

I am still pretty blown away that all of this is possible, and not just possible but communicable, and facilitated by specific pointers. It’s a huge relief to no longer be puzzling over something to resolve in the midst of daily activities: all that matters now is the activities themselves. The awe has subsided, and things now feel quite ordinary in a way, yet still just as fresh and idyllic. How the mind doesn’t develop a tolerance for this is beyond me. The cycles are still ongoing, but my experience is also still maturing. Things seem to be tending towards a more and more thorough no-mind experience, as the constancy of the mind’s recognition of things as just themselves makes any added sense of knowing them redundant, so that habit is gradually being shed. It seems to me that the central insight that really allowed this all to unravel is into the nature of reification, or the mind’s tendency to abstract things moment by moment, and then attribute inherent/real existence to them. Wether it’s the reification of self, an object, or consciousness, it causes a psychological ‘doubling up’ of reality that can’t be anything but dissonant, because the model never actually corresponds to reality: the raw sense-data can never be accurately filtered through the model. That incessant activity is really just the mind building walls within itself for no apparent reason other than, If I had to guess, confusion over what self-preservation and survival ought to look like. That being said, I can imagine reification may have given us some adaptive advantage as a species, and probably isn’t just delusion or an artifact of evolution. I guess we evolved to pass on genes, not to be happy, but I digress…
I suspect I’m far from ‘done’, and probably far from enlightened from a traditional buddhist perspective, even though on the insight axis, I can’t imagine this not being bedrock. I can definitely imagine my day to day experiences maturing and look forward to seeing how things continue to unfold. On an ordinary life level, my priorities are getting pretty drastically rearranged. Many of the ambitions I had seem to have fallen away, probably for the better. I’m thinking of getting a psychology degree and finding other ways to share some of the things I’ve learned.

​​​​​​​If you live in Montreal and would like to discuss any of this in person, send me a message!




Resources used (roughly chronologically)

Waking Up book and app - Sam Harris
On Having no head - Douglas Harding
MCTB - Daniel Ingram
What is Mindfulness pdf - Shinzen Young
Deconstructing yourself podcast - Michael Taft
Shamatha retreat - B. Alan Wallace
As It Is (vol.1&2) - Tulku Urgyen
Actual Freedom website and threads on DhO
Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind - Shunryu Suzuki
Awakening to Reality blog and ebook - Soh Wei Yu, John Tan
Introduction to the Emptiness Teachings pdf - Greg Goode
Seeing That Frees, Dharmaseed talks - Rob Burbea
The Mind Illuminated - Culadasa (wish I had read it earlier)
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Not two, not one, modified 2 Days ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 896 Join Date: 7/13/17 Recent Posts
 That was very enjoyable read Will G, and congratulations on all your progress.  It's interesting how diverse the paths are at first, until they seem to converge that in that luminous empty non-dual space, at which point the accounts I have seen all seem to develop substantial consistency, with the possible expection of the rare cases who make the direct deep jump.

Something to keep in mind is that even at the end of the path of insight (standard disclaimer: not-diagnosing etc etc). there is still much that unfolds and develops. Some of this can be all the old contractions slowly finishing winding down. Some is the two stage process of first stopping reflecting karma into your environment (e.g. your loved ones), and then after a while they stop reflecting it back at you, so your environment slowly improves.  Some is taking the new toys out for a drive - deciding which of the six realms you want to be in, and for how long, or exploring various concentration states. Some is ongoing relinquishment of rare contractions, as it takes some time for them to get triggered by their requisite causes and conditions. And some is slow loss of charge in the various energetic systems in the body/mind losing, and familiarity setting in, so that after a review period you become less amazed by the new way of being. 

But do expect there to be a residue of karma/sankhara/programming remaining, because otherwise you would be a blank slate, right? A computer without software. There will also be residual ethical obligations as a householder, but also joy to be found in that residue remaining. Engaging with that reside can also lead emotional arisings - even self-arisings in very rare circumstances. But they don't stick.

There is much more to explore, but hopefully it is all just entertainment now.  :-)  And if it turns out you still have some way to go, well just keep seeing clearly the three characteristics of those subtle concepts that create the perceptual world, and carry on experiencing the joy of relinquishment.  But it doesn't have to be relinquishment from objects, or people. Just relinquishment from craving or obsession.  And once you see love clearly for what it really is, you can enjoy that all the more too, but without clinging.  Love becomes about the other person, instead of about you possessing something.

And no matter how far you go, it is still important to practice the four right exertions, and to be mindful of the snares of Mara. For evidence, consider the endless guru scandals!

Metta

Malcolm

P.S. I actually rate the diet stuff, because it is kind of mindfulness of the smell and taste sense doors.  I don't think it needs to be ongoing, but a period of mindfulness helps to unwind the unthinking contraction in that part of consciousness.  Monastics follow the eating rules.  I followed dietary logging on MyFitnessPal.  :-)  
 
George S, modified 2 Days ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 1480 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I know you didn't mean it this way Malcolm, but I couldn't help imagining how my wife would feel if she heard me describe her as a "residual ethical obligation" XD

Good stuff Will G. Life goes on, so I've heard :-)
Will G, modified 2 Days ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 12 Join Date: 4/7/21 Recent Posts
Hey Malcolm, 

Thanks for your reply, beautifully said and that really resonates with where things are at for me now. There was an initial sort of total release of many of my habits and behaviours at 4th path which wasn't entirely healthy, but I sort of stopped feeling human for a while. I feel more integrated now, more willing to be human as sincerely as possible, since its still the only game in town. Seeing the way I react to things now, and the way others react to those reactions, has been really interesting and i've been thinking a lot more about morality and skillfulness then at any other time on the path. There are clearly lots of energetic 'residues' that seem to be tending towards winding down, but I suspect that process will take years, and may in fact be never ending. I've actually gone back to practicing shamatha more, after finally getting around to reading TMI, as I can clearly see the benefits it has on the energy body, on the clarity of intention in my actions, and on seeing all my conditioning for what it is.

As to your comments on love, I've been wondering about that too, what a romantic relationship might look like, and what commitment without attachment might look like. I actually think I'd be more well suited to being in one than before, because I seem much more focused on caring for myself and others in a very normal, down to earth way now, as opposed to putting all my energy into nurturing some of the more unrealistic expectations and aspirations I had for myself, like I can now finally be a more or less total normie and be perfecly happy being one emoticon Same goes for diet stuff, I find i'm renewing some of my intentions in that area.
Edward, modified 2 Days ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 79 Join Date: 6/10/19 Recent Posts
Great stuff. Thanks for sharing. 
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Ben V., modified 2 Days ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 342 Join Date: 3/3/15 Recent Posts
Interesting read! 

​​​​​​​Fellow Montrealer here! emoticon
Will G, modified 2 Days ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 12 Join Date: 4/7/21 Recent Posts
Oh nice! We should meet up for a walk some day, if you're interested. I have too few dharma friends. 
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Ben V., modified 20 Hours ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 342 Join Date: 3/3/15 Recent Posts
Sure!
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Chris Marti, modified 2 Days ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 3844 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Hello, Will G. Congrats!

I found your comments to be very interesting, but they seem to be lacking descriptions of the real-time phenomenological shifts that occur during path moments and larger, more critical realizations. Can you maybe fill us in on your path moments and what those were like as they happened? I know memory fades, but in my experience, path moments and impactful realizations stick.

Also, it seems some of your realizations are slightly out of sync with the more or less typical path of insight timeline. For example, you talk a lot about dependent origination during third path. In my experience, that realization was prominent much earlier in the timeline.

I'm always interested in the variability of the experiences that different folks have along the way! I hope you're willing to elaborate.

Thanks!
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Ni Nurta, modified 1 Day ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 614 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Isn't importance of phenomenological shifts depend on what kind of teachings one use?
Being an Arhat means copying others to accomplish end of dukkha and living good moral life. It doesn't have to be one specific flavor teachings which has its own dynamics like perception shifts we tend to concentrate on on DhO. Have many teachers and it will be a strange mish-mash of "insights" (note: what can be called insight also depends on the path) and they might not be entirely focused on what your teachers focused on. Seeing Thusness "I AM" and AF references makes me not expect this case to be very phenomenological similar to eg. someone who did tons of mahasi noting as their main and pretty much only one practice.

As a matter of fact no such perceptual shifts that some teachers describe are necessary to be free from dukkha as neither dukkha originate from perspectives as they say they do nor different perspectives are the only viable solution or even necessary step. I can easily see how creolized teachings along with more contemplative practice might lead to less spectacular shifts when it comes to perception and despite this they might have the same basic effects on not experiencing suffering.

This is because, as I already said it probably more than hundred times, because dukkha originates from abusing nervous system, not from perspectives. It is even possible to use perspectives said to be the worst and as long as nervous system parts used to generate it are switched in timely matter there won't be dukkha. It doesn't need to be always the same way of accomplishing this for it to count. Which of course doesn't automatically makes person an arhat otherwise most people would be arhat at least most of the time but as long as person did their share of practices, found issues, found for them where they originated, resolved these issues and know how to practice to avoid suffering it might as well be considered as such.

That said I am myself interested of Will's answer to your question emoticon
As for my assessment I will wait to see what Will will write and if Will will be there after a week to even bother with it. Somehow they typically disappear when DN hits after A&P that made them write their claims to attainment ;)
Will G, modified 1 Day ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 12 Join Date: 4/7/21 Recent Posts
Hey Ni Nurta. 

I appreciate that perspective. I think I always sort of sought to chip away at the cutting edge of my understanding rather than stick to one practice, which is what led me to explore all of these different practices and pointers. I think the path wouldn't be what it is without certain phenomenal shifts, but its true that people seem to go through them in different orders and speak about them quite differently. In many cases, they are just distortions, and the phenomenology at the end of the path need not always be that different than it was in the beginning. In some ways my early experiences actually felt more pure because I didn't have other people's words in my head helping me think through them. I'm all for getting it done using all available means though, and part of that means imitating the closest people we have to teachers. 

I was tempted to post much earlier, and actually started writing 3 weeks after the last shift, but I held off for a few months which was helpful in refining my understanding.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Day ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 3844 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Dear Ni Nurta,

Let's let Will G. provide his/her perspective on my question before we get into whatever it is you are trying to get me into emoticon
Will G, modified 1 Day ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 12 Join Date: 4/7/21 Recent Posts
Hey Chris

I was indeed a bit light on phenomenological descriptions, particularly of the first two paths. I think my progress may have been a bit unusual insofar as the first A+P really seemed to come with a great deal more insight and interesting phenomenology than the following two cessations that would be the standard markers for first and second path. I remember thinking the first A+P must have been 1st path when I found the Theravadin maps shortly after, but it was such an overwhelming and all-encompassing experience that it was hard to categorize it neatly at all. As far as I can tell, it was precipitated by insight into no-self. At that time, there was no trace of a center point to experience, which sounds unlikely for just the first A+P. Conceptually though, at least, there was absolutely no self, that much was crystal clear, even though selfing and inherency re-congealed soon after, as I suspected they would. There was a moment during the week or so it lasted when I was just walking to the supermarket and my entire field of awareness sort of came grinding to a halt, fell totally outside of time, blackened and dissolved into whispy sparks of light. Could there have been a cessation in there? Hard to say, but probably not. It didn't really matter to me though. The phenomenology of the following two paths were definitely informed by some of the shifts that may have lasted from that experience, but still paled in comparison. The shifts and realizations around the beginning of my path also happened consistently enough that it was hard to say "this one is definitely a path moment!". I thought it would also be valuable to provide an account in which those first two paths, or at least the cessations, didn't feel like the crux of progress. Also its worth mentioning that my progress correlates a bit better to Thusness' map on AtR then to the 4 path model. Having said that, i'll try to fill in some specifics:

1st Path: Awareness of a 'field' of consciousness, mostly the visual field, that was always already free of a centre, free from the feeling of being behind my eyes. Access to it whenever I intended to. Tracking the movements of attention would imbue its objects with a feeling of immediate recognition or familiarity. Attention was like a constellation of objects overlaid on a background, and that constellation was somehow intrinsically meaningful in that it said something about my drives and desires, and this was the source of its intimate character. Continuous tracking of the objects of perception would have an effect on me subsequently noticing the selfless 'field' more often, and doing so would dissolve into tracking its objects, so the two practices fed into each other. 

2nd Path: My longest lasting path, with a huge range of phenomenal experiences. The beginning of a lot of energetic/kundalini type stuff. The first nuggets of 'luminosity', and working with jhana more directly. Mostly increasing concentration and consistency of the practice permeating everyday life, such as shamatha persisting steadily throughout the day. My first tastes of an awareness that doesn't fluctuate as much in dependence on attention, but stays more consistently aware of everything. Before this awareness depended on directing attention to awareness. First changes of my relationship to time, seeing that the glimpses of a selfless awareness occured in time, not seperate from a sequence of attention that was always already particularizing, doing its thing on its own. Reduction of my sense of agency in terms of taking a backseat to this process: with consistent PCEs being the culmination of that insight. Lots of chipping away at my self-image, emotional transformations and breakdowns, tears, letting go of bad mental habits, and mourning the loss of apparent chunks of myself. Bumping up against the limits of the awareness of awareness type practices, looking for answers in strengthening concentration. Mysterious glimpses of effortless non-duality that would strike out of the blue and last an hour at most, which always caught me off guard because they only occured when the new "insight disease" I had developed was at bay, which was hardly ever. Confusion around the goals and their feasibility. What could I possibly be missing?

3rd Path: The medium was swapped out, like I got pulled out of an aquarium I didn't know I had been in, as a result of the emptiness contemplation. A definite path moment, directly correlated to a conceptual breakthrough like the first A+P. There was nothing more "I" had to or could "do". The end of the sense of there being a doer, the beginning of something really much more thorough and invasive in terms of the total lack of agency, with lapses in this being the exception, not the rule. Striking, continuous, effortless marvelling at luminosity, like the PCE was my new baseline. All the senses were merged into a single acivity or 'sense door'. Feeling of peering through the fabric of reality, of being on the verge of breaking through to some next level of sublimation with an Absolute at any moment. Expansion of the size and scope of awareness, like I was suddenly in a much bigger room all the time. Lots of energy imbalances, pushing the limits of my now effortless and continuous concentration. Occasionally watching myself fall asleep while remaining conscious. Pervasive sense of clarity but also seeming solidity of everything at first. Eventually seeing things as empty all the time caused them to fade really quite dramatically, to the point where I sometimes felt like I was walking around barely conscious, holding on by a thread. Eventual total dispassion with the senses, bopping along totally untouched and unphased by life. Equanimity with being at the mercy of life. Often feeling 'dead', like I literally died, and was haunting the world. Things were still luminous in the sense of happening on their own 'side', but not really vivid very often anymore. 

4th path: If 3d was being pulled out of an aquarium, 4th was like realizing, not only am I now in the air, but everything is also made of air, if that makes sense. There is only one "thing". Attention and awareness stay perfectly synchronized, acting always as one. With the centre having dropped out, there is a total disinhibition of attention, free to fall or sink into every nook and cranny of existence. Collapse of luminosty and fading: I guess you could call it an integration of presence and no-mind. 'Objects' are presence, nothing isn't presence. Things literally feel brighter, beaming with light. The mind is usually very still, lots of rumination just dies out, and remnants of it feel quiet and uninvasive. Sense of vastness is buoyant, all encompassing and precedes any specifics of attention at all times. Deep sense of stillness amist the most chaotic of activites. Everything is fundamentally OK on the deepest level. Attention actually has a hard time convincing the body-mind to act on anything, because the usual inherency it comes packaged with is just gone, so the mechanics of it being a kind of carrot on a stick are laid bare, but also marvelled at once again. The clear, inevitable cause and effect of things can be very raw and mechanical feeling, like you've gotten off one ride but gotten on another, that you'll never, and could never get off of (but in fact, have always been on). Nothing can be dwelled on, it's there in your face, and gone before it could be modified, improved upon, or even appreciated, and this is the very source of its sheer liveliness, and you actually wouldn't have it any other way. You're trading an illusion of distance for forced liveliness. Somehow amidst all of this there is still a sense of freedom: many of the same kinds of freedom I felt myself to have before, just seen as having dependently arisen. I still feel like I can poke around, look for blind spots that might not be totally awake yet, or set intentions and act on things.

I hope this provides some phenomenal meat on the insight oriented bones I laid out in the first post. I'm happy to try to elaborate on anything if you're interested!

Will
George S, modified 1 Day ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 1480 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Will G
Everything is fundamentally OK on the deepest level. Attention actually has a hard time convincing the body-mind to act on anything, because the usual inherency it comes packaged with is just gone, so the mechanics of it being a kind of carrot on a stick are laid bare, but also marvelled at once again. The clear, inevitable cause and effect of things can be very raw and mechanical feeling, like you've gotten off one ride but gotten on another, that you'll never, and could never get off of (but in fact, have always been on). Nothing can be dwelled on, it's there in your face, and gone before it could be modified, improved upon, or even appreciated, and this is the very source of its sheer liveliness, and you actually wouldn't have it any other way. You're trading an illusion of distance for forced liveliness. Somehow amidst all of this there is still a sense of freedom: many of the same kinds of freedom I felt myself to have before, just seen as having dependently arisen. I still feel like I can poke around, look for blind spots that might not be totally awake yet, or set intentions and act on things.

Sounds to me like Will might be cured of insight disease :-)


 
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spatial, modified 1 Day ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 605 Join Date: 5/20/18 Recent Posts
This is interesting. Can you talk about your desire to reach 4th path, as an object itself? How did it change over time?

​​​​​​​Also, when you say the doer was gone after 3rd, do you literally mean you could no longer experience a sense that you were making things happen, no matter how hard you tried?
Will G, modified 1 Day ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 12 Join Date: 4/7/21 Recent Posts
I didn't really have a desire to reach 4th path per se, but I did have a desire to stop being obsessed with insight, and curiosity about what the fuss was all about. At 3rd path, I briefly thought I had reached it, but the thoroughness and consistency were lacking: my experiences were wonderful but kind of all over the place. 

What i'm calling 3rd was the beginning of really seeing all the way through the doer (Anatta), and towards the end of 3rd it was basically consistently gone. I suppose any remnant of doership would have gone unnoticed, which is part of what makes it so sneaky. I definitely could not intentionally feel like I was making things happen, apart from intentions arising spontaneously and leading to action. No matter what the intention though, it's source remains fundamentally mysterious, so in a sense its just a matter of seeing intentions arise clearly and demoting them from their special status of somehow being outside of causality. What's really particular is that now I can have "lapses" where I'm not "mindful", but without the impression of doership re-congealing either during the lapse or after it, nor is there a sense of being "back" on return, but just... more. So once it's seen through fully, the impression of doership will just stop, you won't need to remain concentrated at all times to keep it at bay. 

Hope that's helpful!

Will
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spatial, modified 1 Day ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 605 Join Date: 5/20/18 Recent Posts
Yes, this is helpful. Thanks. It's the "re-congealing" I was wondering about. This makes sense to me. I want to write more, but there's no point. It's cool to read someone else's perspective on this stuff.
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Ni Nurta, modified 1 Day ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 614 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
@Chris
Yes emoticon

@Will
I like how you describe things. It shows you are well read but it doesn't seem you are just quoting books looking left and right and more like saying results from your mind influenced by books. Not sure if I captured distinction in understandable words or if it is clear why this matters but it does matter to how person feels and what interactions can be had. Someone who even did have some experiences but it was mechanic scripting is not very good to have any conversation with vs someone who had their own experiences inspired by books. Such person not only has something interesting to say but also it feels like they might be interested in hearing something.

Purity in insight has its advantages, especially when after you feel you attained something you open book and recognize things you found yourself, it sure feels pretty good, especially for the ego ;)

When it comes to your descriptions of paths I need to read deeper. Certain descriptions of your 3rd/4th path I find quite interesting. I did map somewhat similar things to 2nd but you seem to go deeper in one direction I actually liked myself quite a lot but somehow moved away from it rather quickly which I kinda regret. That doesn't mean anything by itself because not everyone seem to do the same things, especially at later paths. There is a kind of specialization which happens and by the time person claim 4th path they seem to have found their local minima, a sweet spot if you like. I will certainly give better detailed response after I have deeper read (for now just skimmed through it all)

In any way, while at it if you could give even more detailed description of your sensual perception. Being eyesight focused I am interested in any changes in how you see things and changes in visual perception, but also feeling of body. Do you feel any space in the mind? Anything else to note about perceptions? Not necessarily related to self.

ps. That doesn't matter but I do consider myself fully enlightened, in traditional supermundane sense. Only thing left for me to do is to pull Chris in to singularity, just do not tell him ;)
George S, modified 1 Day ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 1480 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Ni Nurta
ps. That doesn't matter but I do consider myself fully enlightened, in traditional supermundane sense. Only thing left for me to do is to pull Chris in to singularity, just do not tell him ;)


I doubt that a fully enlightened person would say such a thing - 8th fetter ;-)
Will G, modified 1 Day ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 12 Join Date: 4/7/21 Recent Posts
Ni Nurta
I think the words used to describe this stuff are important and we should use the best ones we've got, even if that means using someone else's, because they'll serve as pointers for people, which I relied on quite heavily in terms of triggering insight. Clarity in language is like a project that needs to be worked out collectively and refined over time. I'm glad my descriptions resonate with you.

I've got a few questions for you. What do you mean by specializations? and local minima/sweet spots? It's something I've been curious about, how experience will continue to change after 4th path depending on practices. I'm curious what you mean by full enlightenment, and assuming that's beyond 4th path, what practices may have led you there.

I'll try to go deeper into phenomenology in a reply to Chris that I might take a bit longer to write.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Day ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 3844 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Will, G., thank you for your extended response. I'm still wanting more phenomenological details, but that's okay. I'll be just fine without them  emoticon

Best of luck!
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Day ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 3844 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
 Only thing left for me to do is to pull Chris in to singularity, just do not tell him ;)

​​​​​​​So Ni Nurta - you can't you see me waving at you from deep inside that singularity?  
Will G, modified 22 Hours ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 12 Join Date: 4/7/21 Recent Posts
Vision:

No more sense of seeing out of my eyes. Change to the sense of depth: the perception of far away objects doesn't feel any further away then the perception of close ones. I hardly ever pay attention to the sight of my nose or rims of my glasses anymore, thank god, because they dont feel like consistent unchanging objects anymore, every moment of paying attention to them is just its own moment. The sensory periphery (not just of vision, but maybe most obviously there) always feels like it occupies the exact same mental bandwidth, and this, i think, is the source of the sense of total stability at 4th, and maybe also the sense of there being a kind of void or source of everything: that allocated 'bandwith' is always 'on', even when it doesn't have an object, and that 'onness' is sort of felt at all times, and doesnt seem to be dependent on concentration/unification of mind. Another way I have thought about this recently after reading Culadasa's description of the the passage of information from the unconscious to the conscious mind, is that the conscious mind is always poised at the unconscious's door, so instead of feeling itself to be in relation to a world out there, it knows itself to be in relation to the unconscious, hence the feeling of there being a single sense door, the flow from the unconscious to the conscious, and the sense of there being a source, the perpetually receding unconscious. As a matter of experience though, there's no sense of being in relation to anything, just vivid presence of whatever is appearing. That is just a model obviously, but I think it helps make sense of the shift in phenomenology. It also makes sense of the erosion of the sense of time and space: they are bypassed in a way, no longer imputed, the flow of data is just nakedly itself. The great release that comes at 4th also comes from knowing that while you're alive, that process cannot help but be ongoing, so you no longer need to be on guard, or even alert to perceive things (insight disease), perception just unfolds by itself, and feels infinite, because that 'passage' is always ongoing, and has 'one taste', its motion always feels the same.

Body:

Bodily sensations feel way smaller in a way, like they're no longer being magnified by the sense of ownership. At the same time, its presence is usually felt as a whole rather than one part or another, and it always feels supported by the environment in some really fundamental way. It also often feels like its not there at all though, or like its just a diffuse cloud, definitely never feels solid. ​​​​​​​Proprioception has this always on quality to it as well and, being sensory, it sort of overshadows the impression of space, so even when driving or walking around, it feels like you're never really moving or going anywhere, but more like things are just unfolding in relation to the proprioceptive body.

Hearing:

One interesting thing i've noticed recently is that often when I speak it sounds exactly the same as hearing someone else's voice, there's no sense of ownership or even association between the intention to speak and the sounds themselves, it doesnt feel like i've heard them before they're spoken. As with much of this stuff, a bit creepy at first.

Emotion:

I was never very emotionally expressive, which I used to think was a kind of deficiency, but now I feel even less so in many ways. Although I am more joyful and prone to laughter, even spontaneous bouts of it. I don't ever feel down anymore, melancholic, worried, depressed, at least not so far, but i'm also not interested in overcoming emotions.

Another 'mental' vision thing:

I was really into painting for a while and used to go through life thinking about things to paint, which would usually involve noticing something and then forming a mental inpression of it and lingering or expanding on that impression, letting it sort of resonate internally and provoke associations. It feels much harder to 'hold' anything in that way anymore, the senses kind of crowd that process out with their consistent luminosity, so theres not much of a sense of gaps or interruptions that could be filled creatively, but I think I could probably still cultivate that again if I wanted to. My dreams are still as vivid as ever and very 'creative'.

​​​​​​​There's no sense of things arising and passing away. That framing never really made sense to me conceptually, but I still used to feel like I could 'follow' sense percepts through their 'lifecycle'. Now it just feels like they dont arise or pass at all, and any sense that they did would just be an imputation.

​​​​​​​Part of agencylessness feels like the process that makes intention lead to action becomes so streamlined that there's no gap anywhere in the sequence of events where you could make things unfold differently. So I frequently get so absorbed into the automaticity of simple actions, especially but not only familiar ones, that I can just completely stop paying attention, and those become thorough instances of no-mind, of sublimation, of 'in the seen, just the seen' where i'm just not really there anymore. The opposite of that would be 'mindfulness', feeling like i'm 'here', grounded, there is a sense of knowing presence, of intention, of space, and of there being different possibilities for action in the conventional sense, if not freedom, but the knowing doesn't feel like a knower. I don't take either of these states to be more real than the other, but I am a bit curious about the seeming emphasis in dzogchen/mahamudra practice on sustaining 'rigpa', which from what I can tell, is that quality of knowing discernment, after 4th path. I've had experiences where there's been a sense of total stability of that sense of knowing that feels simultaneous to the vividness of sensory phenomena and doesn't seem to detract from it at all, but feels like it cuts through all of my usual mental processes, conditioning, and conceptualization, without interfering with my capacity to function in the world. This has happened a few times during A+Ps, but never sticks, nor do I really feel much desire to cultivate it. Anyone have experience with this?
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​​​​​​​Any thoughts or pointers Chris? What are things like in your corner of the singularity?
Stickman3, modified 22 Hours ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 21 Join Date: 1/15/21 Recent Posts
Will G
Vision:

No more sense of seeing out of my eyes. perception of close ones.

That was a fab description you gave in your OP.
You know what, I can't help thinking -
The Holographic Universe Explained
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klpDHn8viX8

"We live in a universe with 3 dimensions of space and one of time. Up, down, left, right, forward, back, past, future. 3+1 dimensions. Or so our primitive Pleistocene-evolved brains find it useful to believe. And we cling to this intuition, even as physics shows us that this view of reality may be only a very narrow perception. One of the most startling possibilities is that our 3+1 dimensional universe may better described as resulting from a spacetime one dimension lower – like a hologram projected from a surface infinitely far away."

??? !
Will G, modified 19 Hours ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 12 Join Date: 4/7/21 Recent Posts
It's often felt to me like that might be the case! Or like I could get disconnected from the matrix at any moment and not really be surprised. Fun to think about, but I tend towards not drawing any ontological conclusions from meditation related realizations, the mind is plenty mysterious without getting physics involved.
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Chris Marti, modified 22 Hours ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 3844 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Will, I think the best way for me to communicate my version of all this to you is to link you to my practice log, created in real-time back in early 2010, as I was approaching the transition from 3rd to 4th path, and then beyond. This occurred with the coaching of my then-teacher Kenneth Folk, as you'll see when you read the logs here:

https://www.awakenetwork.org/magazine/10-on-the-cushion/19-chris-journal-part-5 

https://www.awakenetwork.org/magazine/10-on-the-cushion/20-chris-journal-part-6
Alessandro Migliori, modified 21 Hours ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 7 Join Date: 3/24/21 Recent Posts
What practices lead up to that?
In only 3 years. O.o
I meditate hours a day since 3 years and i m nowhere close to 4th path as described by you. 
Still feel a lot being inside the head, how do you deconstruct that? 
​​​​​​​Very interesting this thread 
Will G, modified 19 Hours ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 12 Join Date: 4/7/21 Recent Posts
The first glimpse I had of not feeling like I was inside my head triggered the first A+P for me. If you can sort of objectify your entire field of awareness for a split second, you'll see that there's no actual experience of having or being inside a head. If you can repeat that glimpse over and over, you'll start to break the spell. That's more of a direct pointing approach, but it can provide you with some conceptual clarity and make the feeling of being inside a head feel more obviously wrong when it returns. Sam Harris's Waking Up and Douglas Harding's On Having No Head are good places to start. The actual meat and potatoes of deconstructing it systematically is a different story though and involved lots of Vipassana for me, following sensations in the head and face as closely as possible, throughout the day, on and off the cushion, seeing how they congeal together into a painful sense of solidity and separation. This is an over-simplification, but by contrasting these two modes, and consistently hunting down the moving centre that the mind keeps creating, you'll eventually see clearly that you can function without creating one moment by moment. 

Hope that's helpful!
​​​​​​​
Will
Alessandro Migliori, modified 19 Hours ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 7 Join Date: 3/24/21 Recent Posts
Yes it was helpful.
​​​​​​​How do you do vipassana if i can ask? 
Will G, modified 18 Hours ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 12 Join Date: 4/7/21 Recent Posts
Maybe start by reading Culadasa's The Mind Illuminated
Alessandro Migliori, modified 17 Hours ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 7 Join Date: 3/24/21 Recent Posts
But that it s about samatha,i can t find much about vipassana 
Will G, modified 20 Hours ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 12 Join Date: 4/7/21 Recent Posts
That was a nice read Chris, thanks for sharing. Gives me some idea of where you're coming from.