Stream Entry?

Tim Christensen, modified 9 Years ago.

Stream Entry?

Posts: 389 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
So, to start off, I am new to Daniel Ingram's approach to meditation. I have been meditating for a year and a half, mostly following samatha technique, from Chogyam Trungpa's books as well as Turning the Mind into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. My technique has been to just focus on the breath, and try to let thoughs go, or be... I haven't really had clear goals, other than hoping meditation would quiet my mind a bit, which it seems to have.

Anyhow, two days ago (Tuesday) I came across MCTB, and watched the first two videos here: http://vimeo.com/23568408. From listening to Daniel Ingram talk, I recognized I had been through the first three stages, and I also seemed to be through the Arising and Passing away. I also recognized re-observation as something I had been feeling now and then. The day I watched the videos my state of mind was very stable, and I felt a disconnect from my normal patterns. One thing I recall from the day was looking at other people and thinking how little I could tell about them just from their faces; that people are just born with a face, and it doesn't mean much about what is in their minds. Looking back it seems I was in equanimity

So I watched the videos, and then I decided to sit and see if I could get to stream entry, and "lock it in" as Daniel says in the video, so I could get out of the dark night. I sat for 20 mins, focusing on the breath, until I was distracted by what I thought was a spider crawling over to me (It was some sort of bug, not in my mind..ha). I placed my mind back on the breath for a bit, then switched to a vipassana meditation Daniel talked about in the video, placing the atention on both hands, and watching the mind jump back and forth between them.

After a while of this meditation I was concentrating much more deeply than usual. I began to perceive a pile of binders and a shirt on the floor as a bright blue shark. At first I noticed I was doing this, but then I seemed not to be able to perceive it as a trick of the mind, and I experienced terror. My throat began to seize up very tense and I felt like I might vomit. It was very painful. Then the shark faded back to reality, and I experienced another wave of terror which seemed to be trying to find a thought to latch onto.

This experience then faded into what I labeled as equanimity. My mind was calm and rational, and easily dealt with thoughts. I decided to try to gain stream entry from here by thinking "what am I missing?" and turning equanimity to the thought. After a few thoughts down this path, I am not entirely sure what they were, I looked at the concept of "I" expressed in the thought. As I did this, my attention seemed to turn back into my head, the thought dissolved, and my consciousness seemed to bulge outward, until "I" was looking fully out of my own eyes. That's the best way I can describe it. I perceived my body as part of my environment, with no separation between the two. This faded back into equnimity, and several minutes later my timer went off. I sat for ten more minutes then got up.

I was in an altered state after the meditation, constantly noticing my body as a part of the surrounding environment. Another change was that any thoughts about self, such as "I am bad because of such and such..." were immediately dismissed. They felt odd, or wrong to indulge in. In fact, pretty much all thoughts were immediately dismissed for the next 18 hrs or so after the meditation. As I write this, there still seems to be less mental activity than before "stream entry".

As for getting back into stream entry again, this has not happened, unless I simply missed it. Several of the meditations I have done ended up being anxious and frustrated due to a desire to gain another fruition. I have also found that not focusing on this as a goal, and doing concentration is much more beneficial for my mental state. I have decided to start at the basics of MCTB as I really have very little technical background.

So there it is, sorry about the long read. I am very open to the possibility this was not stream entry. However I am left wondering what it was, and how to proceed. Some perspective on the experience from people who know about this sort of thing would be awesome.
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Tommy M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Stream Entry?

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Welcome to the DhO, Tim.

I like your descriptions, a year and a half of samatha practice would have been, at the very least, a solid grounding to build from.

After a while of this meditation I was concentrating much more deeply than usual. I began to perceive a pile of binders and a shirt on the floor as a bright blue shark. At first I noticed I was doing this, but then I seemed not to be able to perceive it as a trick of the mind, and I experienced terror. My throat began to seize up very tense and I felt like I might vomit. It was very painful. Then the shark faded back to reality, and I experienced another wave of terror which seemed to be trying to find a thought to latch onto.

6th ñana, Knowledge of Fear.

This experience then faded into what I labeled as equanimity. My mind was calm and rational, and easily dealt with thoughts. I decided to try to gain stream entry from here by thinking "what am I missing?" and turning equanimity to the thought. After a few thoughts down this path, I am not entirely sure what they were, I looked at the concept of "I" expressed in the thought. As I did this, my attention seemed to turn back into my head, the thought dissolved, and my consciousness seemed to bulge outward, until "I" was looking fully out of my own eyes. That's the best way I can describe it. I perceived my body as part of my environment, with no separation between the two. This faded back into equnimity, and several minutes later my timer went off. I sat for ten more minutes then got up.

The part I've put in bold is very interesting, it sounds like you've did exactly what needs to be done while in Equanimity to get Path and it's exactly what I'd recommend to anyone at this stage. The description sounds like you may well have gotten a fruition, did you notice a discontinuity in your experience at any point?

Without more details it's difficult to confirm or deny that you've gotten stream entry, but the descriptions you give sound like the words of someone who's been through it. Even if it wasn't stream entry, the fact is that you know it's possible and that it's well within reach with some accurate attention to this sensate experience.

As for getting back into stream entry again, this has not happened, unless I simply missed it.

I know you probably know what you're talking about but I just wanted to highlight this line. You don't get "back into stream entry", it's a one-time thing, you get Path and go into what's called Review where you'll cycle up and down the ñanas from A&P to Fruition naturally until the next cycle of insight begins for 2nd path. Fruitions are funny, they happen naturally after 1st Path but it's not uncommon to miss them and I know what you mean about frustration when aiming for them at first. If anything, this makes it harder 'cause you're expecting them to happen when they actually happen right when you don't expect it! Take it easy, don't beat yourself up and just maintain your practice, maybe post a practice thread and describe what goes on in your sits, this was it'll be much easier to offer more appropriate advice.

Give it a bit of time 'cause the change that occurs after 1st path is permanent and you'll notice whether or not it changes, subsides or stays as it is. If you find yourself back to "normal" then so be it, you just get back on the cushion and get back to work but I think there's a strong possibility that you've gotten stream entry.

T
Tim Christensen, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Stream Entry?

Posts: 389 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
Tommy M, thank you very much for your reply, it was encouraging to read.


Here's a bit of an update on my practice/mind state: my mind state does seem to be subtly altered from how it was before this experience. Mostly I notice myself not getting caught up in neurotic thoughts about self to the same degree as I used to. Also I have decreased anxiety in general. My concentration practice seems more stable as well.

I can see these changes resulting from the experience I had, and I could also see some of them coming from clarifying issues related to daily life through reading MCTB. The primary example something recently clarified is the separation of Morality from Concentration practice. Before reading this section, I generally tried to maintain concentration on the present in life all the time. Not buying into this pattern, or simply buying into it less has helped me relax a great deal, and be less hard on myself, just in the last 24 hrs.

As of right now, I am really not clear on what the experience was. Reading through MCTB as well as other posts on DhO, it seemed like the experience had could have been The A and P, or Stream Entry. One effect which seemed to point to stream entry was significantly increased mind energy/power the day after this experience happened. However this seems to be associated with the A&P as well. Anyhow, I have pretty much stopped trying to get back to that state, and am really just focusing on understanding the basics of insight practice and the path in general as presented in MCTB.

If you have any suggestions or clarifications, don't hold back. I really do not have much knowledge in this area, so any advice is appreciated.
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Dauphin Supple Chirp, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Stream Entry?

Posts: 154 Join Date: 3/15/11 Recent Posts
Tim Christensen:
Another change was that any thoughts about self, such as "I am bad because of such and such..." were immediately dismissed.


This is the only part of your description that I clearly recognize as something that happened to me. Interestingly enough, I did not notice the first "cessation" until about 2 or 3 days later. Then, just like you, I couldn't get back to that fruition thing, so I had some doubt for several months, even though life definitely felt A LOT better than before. After a few months, when I started meditating more consistently again, I went through the same cycle again, including cessation.

By now I'm pretty much certain that stream entry happened around the time that I had the insight I quoted from your description, but honestly I still don't see all of the 16 ñanas, not even in retrospect. All I know is this: After a while, there comes A&P (including some weird, but typical side effects like lucid dreams, increased sex drive, etc.), then fairly quickly come the dukkha-ñanas in their totality, then it slowly starts getting better, and when you don't really care anymore, there comes cessation followed by a wave of bliss.

I say you have probably had stream entry or are about to. If unsure, just keep doing what you are doing and give it a few months.

If in a few days or weeks, you start feeling a "gut-wrenching sadness" or "panic" because stuff is "slipping away," then we would pretty much know that this has been A&P rather than SE.

Once you are sure that you have been through SE, by the way, you can drop the noting and pretty much all "technique" or "methods" and just sit still each morning for half an hour (or however long and frequently you usually practice). I went through the whole cycle again by doing just that, with hardly any noting. What I'm trying to say, if it was SE, then the experience will keep repeating without specific effort, but you do (probably) need to sit still and give it some time.
Tim Christensen, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Stream Entry?

Posts: 389 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
This was not stream entry, just so anyone looking at this is aware.