Message Boards Message Boards

Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

The Ongoing Journey To Stream Entry?

Toggle
The Ongoing Journey To Stream Entry?
Answer
10/10/11 2:19 PM
I haven't written much in a long time. I've done two Goenka retreats over the last 9 months, and have a lot of home practice. I did phone sessions with Kenneth Folk, and had a good phone call with Daniel I. I've practiced noting with great diligence. I haven't written much because I'm not sure what all I could say that would be useful. Certainly, my goal in posting here has been, from the beginning, to help cultivate my practice so that I make more progress and do it more quickly. I continue to "go on to stream entry" as quickly as I possibly can.

My last retreat was in August, and I "noted" diligently from morning to night each day for ten days. I put "noted" in quotes, because sometimes I actually verbally note things, and sometimes I just notice them, but I try to stay as close as possible to the intended purpose of the practice - to see the arising and passing phenomena of this moment as they are - from moment to moment to moment to moment to moment. And, so many moments it has been! Again and again and again and again and again and again just noticing stuff, and starting over each moment to notice this moment and then notice this moment. Again and again and again and again and again. I put a lot of "agains" because it is WAY more "agains" than I thought it would take to get stream entry. I note thoughts, feelings, sensations, emotions, I note mind states as they come, as they go, the arising, the maintaining, the passing away. I note the hearing of keyboard clicks as I type this. I note the anger, the frustration, the confusion, the questioning, the doubt, the desire, the longing, the fear, the isolation, the mental images, the thoughts, the theorizing, the philosophizing thoughts, the wonder, the curiosity, the conflict, the tension, the happiness, the joy, the lightness, the heaviness, the pain, the cold, on and on.

While on retreat, I think for the first time ever, I got some idea of what stream entry might be. I think I made it to the "office shutting down" phase. As noting became more rapid and more inclusive, it became clear that the arising and passing phenomena were arising dependent on the arising and passing phenomena from the moment before. That each was only just sensations. And as none were more important or different than any others, there was no need for the continued feeding of this reality making process. As such, it was possible for things to simply pass away without reaction such that mind-body was closing down shop. There were a couple of these moments which gave me a clue as to "oh, I could see now how this mind-body experience could come to a complete cessation." As might be expected, these moments led to following moments of excitement, analysis, imagining, etc... and the accompanying noting to go along with that continuous process of change.

I continue to practice diligently with it still being my number one priority in life. I get most of my meditation in before sleep and after waking while in bed. I often have lucid dreams with this practice, and try to note as soon as I become conscious in the morning. I also note when driving (which I do a lot) or whenever I have time. Currently I'm working and going to school for about 50 hours per week, so not much time is left for meditation. I find that with this daily practice, my meditation doesn't make nearly as much progress as on retreat.

What's incredible is that through the practice of meditation and actualism, I have made so much progress in my life that it is almost unbelievable. What I can't fathom is how I could have had so many insights, grown and matured so much, and diminished so much my sense of identity without having gotten stream entry. By this standard, it seems stream entry must be a very very high level attainment. I don't know many people in person who can attain this much growth in even a few decades. Yet, somehow some people here on this website claim it like it is just opening a can of beans - that easy. In my experience, going from low equanimity to high equanimity is a long and hugely transformative process (perhaps I'm doing it wrong?)

So, I write because I assume that there is the off-chance that by my writing here, I may get some response which may quicken the unfolding process of cultivating insight, eliminating delusion and attaining to a life of happiness and harmlessness.

I also write because somehow I have had at times a feeling of being misled about the nature of insight progress. For me, going on to stream entry quickly seems to be a process which happens over a longer period of time than for other people who are going on to stream entry quickly. I find this perplexing. I don't know what to make of it. I suppose it doesn't matter too much because there's really nothing that could stop me from continuing to persist with great effort toward the goal. I don't think I could stop it if I tried. Keep going. Keep going.

It seems like it'd be more sensible to get it done now rather than later, but I don't know what I can really do to get it done, the best I seem to be able to manage is to just keep noting, keep noting, keep noting, keep noting, keep noting. So, that's what I do.

Anyway, comments are most definitely welcome.

- Daniel

RE: The Ongoing Journey To Stream Entry?
Answer
10/10/11 5:09 PM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Daniel Johnson:
What's incredible is that through the practice of meditation and actualism, I have made so much progress in my life that it is almost unbelievable. What I can't fathom is how I could have had so many insights, grown and matured so much, and diminished so much my sense of identity without having gotten stream entry.


As you have done two Goenka retreats, what do you think of Goenka's theory that suffering is caused by past sankharas, and meditation allows one to eliminate the accumulated tendency to react with craving / aversion by practicing equanimity with respect to one's store of past sankharas so that they disband?

I personally do not know if his model is true, but in my experience it seems to be an enormously good guide for how practice unfolds, and so it could well be that one makes lots of progress (by dampening craving) without the formal attainment of stream entry.

I will post a theory about this soon-ish.

RE: The Ongoing Journey To Stream Entry?
Answer
10/11/11 7:10 AM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Daniel Johnson:
I haven't written much in a long time. I've done two Goenka retreats over the last 9 months, and have a lot of home practice. I did phone sessions with Kenneth Folk, and had a good phone call with Daniel I. I've practiced noting with great diligence. I haven't written much because I'm not sure what all I could say that would be useful. Certainly, my goal in posting here has been, from the beginning, to help cultivate my practice so that I make more progress and do it more quickly. I continue to "go on to stream entry" as quickly as I possibly can.

My last retreat was in August, and I "noted" diligently from morning to night each day for ten days. I put "noted" in quotes, because sometimes I actually verbally note things, and sometimes I just notice them, but I try to stay as close as possible to the intended purpose of the practice - to see the arising and passing phenomena of this moment as they are - from moment to moment to moment to moment to moment. And, so many moments it has been! Again and again and again and again and again and again just noticing stuff, and starting over each moment to notice this moment and then notice this moment. Again and again and again and again and again. I put a lot of "agains" because it is WAY more "agains" than I thought it would take to get stream entry. I note thoughts, feelings, sensations, emotions, I note mind states as they come, as they go, the arising, the maintaining, the passing away. I note the hearing of keyboard clicks as I type this. I note the anger, the frustration, the confusion, the questioning, the doubt, the desire, the longing, the fear, the isolation, the mental images, the thoughts, the theorizing, the philosophizing thoughts, the wonder, the curiosity, the conflict, the tension, the happiness, the joy, the lightness, the heaviness, the pain, the cold, on and on.

While on retreat, I think for the first time ever, I got some idea of what stream entry might be. I think I made it to the "office shutting down" phase. As noting became more rapid and more inclusive, it became clear that the arising and passing phenomena were arising dependent on the arising and passing phenomena from the moment before. That each was only just sensations. And as none were more important or different than any others, there was no need for the continued feeding of this reality making process. As such, it was possible for things to simply pass away without reaction such that mind-body was closing down shop. There were a couple of these moments which gave me a clue as to "oh, I could see now how this mind-body experience could come to a complete cessation." As might be expected, these moments led to following moments of excitement, analysis, imagining, etc... and the accompanying noting to go along with that continuous process of change.

these are all clear signs of strong practice and of progress. and yet, progress is not path-moment.



Daniel Johnson:

What's incredible is that through the practice of meditation and actualism, I have made so much progress in my life that it is almost unbelievable. What I can't fathom is how I could have had so many insights, grown and matured so much, and diminished so much my sense of identity without having gotten stream entry. By this standard, it seems stream entry must be a very very high level attainment. I don't know many people in person who can attain this much growth in even a few decades. Yet, somehow some people here on this website claim it like it is just opening a can of beans - that easy. In my experience, going from low equanimity to high equanimity is a long and hugely transformative process (perhaps I'm doing it wrong?)

or perhaps, beyond the universality of the fetters (doubt, superstition, belief in a self) which are cut (and which serve as the criteria for the attainment), stream-entry is something different for different people?

the pali commentaries on the buddhist canon draw distinctions between different 'types' of stream-enterers (on the basis of how quickly they then proceed to arahatship). further, there is a category of worldling (pre-stream-enterer) designated something like 'junior stream-enterer' (cula-sotapanna), which indicates a person who seems to experience many of the benefits of being a path-winner and yet is not (yet) one. indeed, as you indicated in your post, there is far more merit to the practice than that found only in attainment ... and this can be a strong support for the attainment's occurrence, as well as for the depth of its occurrence.

as for myself, i had spent about 8 years practising, including (a total of) a little over a year on retreat, before i then quickly went on to get stream-entry.



Daniel Johnson:

So, I write because I assume that there is the off-chance that by my writing here, I may get some response which may quicken the unfolding process of cultivating insight, eliminating delusion and attaining to a life of happiness and harmlessness.

I also write because somehow I have had at times a feeling of being misled about the nature of insight progress. For me, going on to stream entry quickly seems to be a process which happens over a longer period of time than for other people who are going on to stream entry quickly. I find this perplexing. I don't know what to make of it. I suppose it doesn't matter too much because there's really nothing that could stop me from continuing to persist with great effort toward the goal. I don't think I could stop it if I tried. Keep going. Keep going.

It seems like it'd be more sensible to get it done now rather than later, but I don't know what I can really do to get it done, the best I seem to be able to manage is to just keep noting, keep noting, keep noting, keep noting, keep noting. So, that's what I do.

Anyway, comments are most definitely welcome.


here is a quotation from u pandita's book, 'in this very life', which you may appreciate, whether for its encouraging message or for the flavour of its irony:



U Pandita:

A yogi who can maintain continuous mindfulness will experience deep joy in the practice. There is a flavor of the Dhamma you may not have tasted before. it is incomparable. The first time you taste it you will be filled with wonder. “How wonderful the Dhamma is. It’s fantastic. I can’t believe how much calm, rapture and joy arise in me.” You are filled with faith and confidence, with satisfaction and fulfillment. Your mind starts to think of sharing this experience with others. You may even get ambitious and plan your evangelical campaign. This is the noise in your mind, your song of praise for the ride on the silent chariot.

Another noise is somewhat less enthusiastic. It is the screeching of yogis who ride the chariot without grace or pleasure. They may manage to hang on, but just barely. These are the yogis who do not practice diligently. In vipassanā practice, a puny effort bring measly results. Slack yogis will never get to taste the flavor of the Dhamma. They may hear of others’ success. They may see others sitting still and straight, presumably enjoying deep concentration and insight, but they themselves will be swamped by distractions and hindrances. Doubts will creep into their minds: doubts about the teacher the method, and the chariot itself. “This is a lousy chariot. It won’t get me anywhere. The ride is bumpy, and it makes a lot of noise.”

Sometimes one might even hear a desperate wail coming from the chariot’s direction. This is the cry of yogis who have faith in the practice and are trying hard, but who for one reason or another cannot make as much progress as they wish. They begin to lose confidence. They doubt whether they can reach their goal.

In Burma there is a saying to encourage these people. “The more the anagārika loses his way, the more rice he or she gets.” An anagārika is a kind of renunciate that exists in Buddhist countries. Such a person takes eight or ten precepts, puts on a white coat and shaves his or her head. Having renounced the world, anagārikas live in monasteries, maintaining the compound and aiding the monks in various ways. One of their duties is to go into town every few days and ask for donations. In Burma, donations often come in the form of uncooked rice. The anagārika goes through streets shouldering a bamboo pole that has a basket hanging from each end.

Perhaps he or she is unfamiliar with the village byways and, when it is time to go home, cannot find the way back to the monastery. The poor renunciate bumps into this dead end, turns around in an alley, gets stuck in that back lane. And all the while people think this is part of the rounds and keep making donations. By the time the anagārika finds the way home, he or she has a big pile of loot.

Those of you who get lost and sidetracked now and then can reflect that you will end up with a really big bag of Dhamma.


tarin

RE: The Ongoing Journey To Stream Entry?
Answer
10/13/11 7:01 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
tarin,
Thanks for the comments. I find them helpful.

RE: The Ongoing Journey To Stream Entry?
Answer
10/13/11 7:15 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:
As you have done two Goenka retreats, what do you think of Goenka's theory that suffering is caused by past sankharas, and meditation allows one to eliminate the accumulated tendency to react with craving / aversion by practicing equanimity with respect to one's store of past sankharas so that they disband?

I personally do not know if his model is true, but in my experience it seems to be an enormously good guide for how practice unfolds, and so it could well be that one makes lots of progress (by dampening craving) without the formal attainment of stream entry.

I will post a theory about this soon-ish.


I think I've done 12 Goenka retreats, but I'm starting to lose count.

I'm not sure I have much to say about the said theory. If it helps your practice, then great.

RE: The Ongoing Journey To Stream Entry?
Answer
10/13/11 7:42 PM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Daniel Johnson:
So, I write because I assume that there is the off-chance that by my writing here, I may get some response which may quicken the unfolding process of cultivating insight, eliminating delusion and attaining to a life of happiness and harmlessness.


It sounds like your practice is going well, and you list a number of benefits that stream entry certainly did not bring me.

A few things to try out (I'm not sure what you have already tried so, sorry if I'm giving advice that has already been given to you):

1) Read this alohadharma article about equanimity, and have a sit after.
2) Equanimity nyana is more about concentration (samatha) than investigation (vipassana)... or rather, the two become indistinguishable somewhere in that territory. Try ramping up concentration as much as you possibly can, once in equanimity, but in a non-interfering (effortless) way.
3) Have you tried any direct pointing stuff? Ask yourself, while on the cushion or off: Is there a 'me'? What do I take to be 'me'? What am 'I'? Who/what is watching this? Who/what is experiencing this? Try thinking the word 'me', and investigate any sensations that arise with the thought.
4) Try investigating the sensations implying awareness, or location, or direction, or a 'me' looking at something 'over there', or intention. While sitting, intend attention to look at the leg, for example, looking at all those sensations: the intending, the attention moving, the contact that happens after attention has moved, the arising sense of someone watching something, etc.

RE: The Ongoing Journey To Stream Entry?
Answer
10/16/11 8:19 AM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Daniel Johnson:

While on retreat, I think for the first time ever, I got some idea of what stream entry might be. I think I made it to the "office shutting down" phase. As noting became more rapid and more inclusive, it became clear that the arising and passing phenomena were arising dependent on the arising and passing phenomena from the moment before. That each was only just sensations. And as none were more important or different than any others, there was no need for the continued feeding of this reality making process. As such, it was possible for things to simply pass away without reaction such that mind-body was closing down shop. There were a couple of these moments which gave me a clue as to "oh, I could see now how this mind-body experience could come to a complete cessation." As might be expected, these moments led to following moments of excitement, analysis, imagining, etc... and the accompanying noting to go along with that continuous process of change.

Hi Daniel,

could you tell us a bit more about the above part in bold?
-how did it "become clear"--what were you doing, were you just resting or meditating, what were you paying attention to, what else came to your attention, what did you notice about that type of awareness (will, intention, quality of equanimity, etc.)?
and
-did those moments of "it became clear" have some new effect on your daily existence--did those insights stick or get integrated into all of life in some way?

jill

RE: The Ongoing Journey To Stream Entry?
Answer
10/16/11 2:30 PM as a reply to Jill Morana.
"What's incredible is that through the practice of meditation and actualism, I have made so much progress in my life that it is almost unbelievable. What I can't fathom is how I could have had so many insights, grown and matured so much, and diminished so much my sense of identity without having gotten stream entry. By this standard, it seems stream entry must be a very very high level attainment. I don't know many people in person who can attain this much growth in even a few decades. Yet, somehow some people here on this website claim it like it is just opening a can of beans - that easy. In my experience, going from low equanimity to high equanimity is a long and hugely transformative process (perhaps I'm doing it wrong?)"

FWIW, I share a similar sentiment. I will add that I am glad to have such a strong practice community here and on KFD. Without it I wouldn't have the strength to just 'keep on keepin on' as they say. You aren't alone, at least. If you are ever looking for some inspiration I recommend reading 'knee deep in grace'. Not exactly a high level response, but thought I would chime in here.

RE: The Ongoing Journey To Stream Entry?
Answer
11/8/11 7:40 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

1) Read this alohadharma article about equanimity, and have a sit after.

i'll check it out.

Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
2) Equanimity nyana is more about concentration (samatha) than investigation (vipassana)... or rather, the two become indistinguishable somewhere in that territory. Try ramping up concentration as much as you possibly can, once in equanimity, but in a non-interfering (effortless) way.

Yes, I've heard this before and it seems to match my experience. However, I find it difficult to "ramp" concentration without retreat time. My next retreat is Dec 17th, however.

Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
3) Have you tried any direct pointing stuff? Ask yourself, while on the cushion or off: Is there a 'me'? What do I take to be 'me'? What am 'I'? Who/what is watching this? Who/what is experiencing this? Try thinking the word 'me', and investigate any sensations that arise with the thought.

I read the whole Jed McKenna trilogy a while back. I listened to tons of Adyashanti satsangs, and I got a lot out of it, but I never got so much as moment to moment, diligent attentiveness to the 3Cs - which I think is pretty much direct pointing anyway.
I read a bit of Ciarian's ebook and found it to be mostly useless for me.
I do investigate this "me" phenomenon quite a bit, after all, that's sorta what it's all about, isn't it? This incessant activity of a self which seems to have developed quite spontaneously through my lifetime. What is this thing? and what is it doing here?

Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
4) Try investigating the sensations implying awareness, or location, or direction, or a 'me' looking at something 'over there', or intention. While sitting, intend attention to look at the leg, for example, looking at all those sensations: the intending, the attention moving, the contact that happens after attention has moved, the arising sense of someone watching something, etc.

Yes, I think this could be investigated more thoroughly. Location, direction, and the movement of attention are both fascinating and somewhat unclear to me at this time.

Thanks for the tips!

- Daniel

RE: The Ongoing Journey To Stream Entry?
Answer
11/8/11 7:48 PM as a reply to Jill Morana.
TJ Broccoli:

could you tell us a bit more about the above part in bold?
-how did it "become clear"--what were you doing, were you just resting or meditating, what were you paying attention to, what else came to your attention, what did you notice about that type of awareness (will, intention, quality of equanimity, etc.)?
and
-did those moments of "it became clear" have some new effect on your daily existence--did those insights stick or get integrated into all of life in some way?

jill


Hey Jill,
I'm not sure I have much comment on that selected passage. It's just a fading memory now. I will report more as things progress. Right now, things seem to have a more Dark Night type of quality to them.

I appreciate your comments.

- Daniel

RE: The Ongoing Journey To Stream Entry?
Answer
11/8/11 7:52 PM as a reply to bill of the wandering mind.
bill of the wandering mind:
"What's incredible is that through the practice of meditation and actualism, I have made so much progress in my life that it is almost unbelievable. What I can't fathom is how I could have had so many insights, grown and matured so much, and diminished so much my sense of identity without having gotten stream entry. By this standard, it seems stream entry must be a very very high level attainment. I don't know many people in person who can attain this much growth in even a few decades. Yet, somehow some people here on this website claim it like it is just opening a can of beans - that easy. In my experience, going from low equanimity to high equanimity is a long and hugely transformative process (perhaps I'm doing it wrong?)"

FWIW, I share a similar sentiment. I will add that I am glad to have such a strong practice community here and on KFD. Without it I wouldn't have the strength to just 'keep on keepin on' as they say. You aren't alone, at least. If you are ever looking for some inspiration I recommend reading 'knee deep in grace'. Not exactly a high level response, but thought I would chime in here.


Thanks Bill Of.

I like the photo on the cover of that book.

RE: The Ongoing Journey To Stream Entry?
Answer
11/10/11 2:47 AM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Daniel Johnson:
..I never got so much as moment to moment, diligent attentiveness to the 3Cs - which I think is pretty much direct pointing anyway.


No not really. Direct Pointing is basically starting without a concentrated mind and seeing that there is no 'you'. Though mileage most definitely varies depending on people's temperament to what they get out of that. For me it was a week of A&P like clarity and the firm intellectual knowledge (Right View) that even these words now, though felt as if coming from a self, are infact not.

Daniel Johnson:

I do investigate this "me" phenomenon quite a bit, after all, that's sorta what it's all about, isn't it? This incessant activity of a self which seems to have developed quite spontaneously through my lifetime. What is this thing? and what is it doing here?


Have a close look at the assumption that there is a thing there at all. Who is investigating 'me'?

'Me' phenomenon?, yes the belief in a me is a phenomenon but is it the activity of a self? yes or no?. Was 'it' spontaneously developed during your lifetime? or was some of it perhaps programmed at birth and through conditioning there is this phenomenon of reading sensations as a separate permanent self?..

How you frame the question, (the formulation/optimization/hypnotic script!) will make a difference to what you find there. If you can intellectually understand that there is no 'you' then you can approach your (amazingly) diligent practice without the expectation that you have to wait to see it first.

Start where you plan on finishing in other words.