I think I'm on my way to 2nd path

Mind over easy, modified 2 Months ago.

I think I'm on my way to 2nd path

Posts: 218 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
Hello, it's been awhile (I used to be active here around 10 years ago emoticon ), and to any familiar faces and old friends, hi and hope you're well! I seemed to have hit stream entry quite a few years ago after sustained practice. Without going into the many details, life has been busy and after my last bout of practice which seemed to net me stream entry, I'm at a place where I'm ready/able to practice towards 2nd. I'll just kind of recap what's new and my experiences here, as it's always nice and valuable to connect with others with experience in these realms.

So life has slowed down and stabilized to the point where I think it's a good time to keep working towards further insight. What lit the match this time was a particularly impactful experience of cycling (no practice, just off the cushion). After a few days of DN related cycling, I seemed to drop into EQ and only then did I have the thought that what I was experiencing was probably cycling. As I was realizing this, I started to kind of just sit and watch, not really in a dedicated sit sense, just spontaneously decided to sit back and observe what was going on.

(self diagnosis for this paragraph below- I believe here I experienced two fruitions from first path)
So I seemed to be at a baseline of EQ after dropping from the intensity of re-observation, and I was just paying attention, focusing, noticing and such. I felt myself go through a slightly more samatha-flavored cycle, from the pleasant sensations of 1st jhana, joy of 2nd, and weird dissolution/spacey/pleasant calm of 3rd, up into the characteristic mental beehive/agitated feelings within re-ob, and then into equanimity. This took about 5-10 minutes. Then in EQ, I was able to sit back as my focus became more panoramic and I was able to really let my mind observe the fluxing sensations of everything in my awareness, body, mind, emotions, sense of observer, etc... there was the gentle inquiry towards - "I'm seeing everything here and the mind is calm and not disturbed, but what is persisting, what is there that's stable amidst the temporary sensations?". I found myself observing more subtle ways I was "holding on" in some deep and primal way, and continuing to accept these things, accept the tension that was there, without trying to banish it, just with acceptance and intention to keep going. It led to more and more letting go until I was basically just letting my awareness naturally lead and retaining vigilance and intention. Eventually it got kind of spacey as I associate with high EQ, a bit dreamlike/hypnagogic. I really struggle to keep a lucid awareness at high EQ, it's like I am daydreaming yet still practicing. But anyways, then there was a moment where suddenly I "come to", and it's like I fell asleep for half a second and suddenly come to awareness. It's almost like a sudden cool air that wakes me, where I am suddenly just present, and it's like my mind feels so non-sticky and sharp and blank but super present. Then after a few seconds, it's like my mind goes through the 1st jhana/vip. jhana automatically, and almost immediately moves onto the 2nd jhana/vip. jhana. It's completely effortless and the mind feels unusually balanced and powerful when this happens, especially in the first few moments after the "micro-falling asleep" event.

I decided to basically just repeat the course of the sit, rising back up, surrendering to the re-ob mental beehive, dropping into EQ, the field of awareness being very level and even and undisturbed and panoramic, the gentle letting go and inquiry to what holds it all together, the dreamlike-spacey state, then again, the sense of waking up and not being present for a second, then followed by the presence of the mind being so pure and unadulterated immediately after. This second time, I was emboldened and I really let the feeling of the 1st jhana/vip. jhana and especially 2nd jhana/vip. jhana take over and it felt unusually powerful and the level of concentration was just there immediately with no effort. I'm trying to harbor reasonable doubt but even though I think I hit stream entry quite a few years back, to me this was very confidence instilling and pretty convincing that I was indeed experiencing fruitions! emoticon I think my doubts in the past have come down to not being very aware of the moment a fruition happens, but asides from anything else that indicates stream entry, being able to go through the cycle and repeat this twice gave me a pretty high degree of confidence about these events being fruitions.

Anyways, onto the 2nd path thoughts-

I've been meditating at night especially, and I'm harboring the intention of going further and deepening insight, which would mean 2nd path as far as I can tell. I've repeated the cycle described above, and what strikes me is how with the intention to go deeper and continue on, there is a lot more focus and availability/interest in the sense of self, the observer, the unfindable point that seems to be solid. Whereas before the practice felt very doable by simply noting like a madman when needed and just sticking to the practice, it feels like there is a much stronger availability for the purely mental/emotional. I'm being careful as I go but it feels like there is a largely intuitive factor to practice, where it's less about just trying to see things vibrate and more about letting myself be gentle and letting my attention fall on tension and mental uncomfortableness. I don't know exactly how they differ, but it feels like there is something deeper to work through in the 3rd vipassana jhana territory in particular. After the "novelty/satisfaction" has died down of what I think are fruitions, I've been more able to see how there is still some wanting and suffering, even immediately afterwards. There's tension/suffering in the thoughts and desires related to progress, something uncomfortable about even the quiet and peaceful/powerful presence of mind right after a fruition.

My practice has been guided by getting concentrated, going through the stages, which seem to be much more samatha flavored (I like this actually, it feels like I'm able to stay more effective with the concentration and greater evenness), observing and concentrating, until I run into what feel like "blocks". A lot of it has been focusing more on mental/emotional/awareness related sensations, and it feels like the pain/distress/primal feeling of holding onto something really is guiding me. There's this sense of becoming aware and concentrated, but then finding these ways in which I just feel like my mind is "holding on", hungry to get something out of the process, obstinately trying to retain some presence, and this process is clearly creating suffering and creating some resistance in practice. There's somewhere in the 3rd vipassana jhana where I feel like something within me is like a helpless crying being, wanting to hold on to something that clearly can't be held onto, and I've found myself intuitively applying a bit of metta here, being gentle, allowing myself to accept that pain and accept the tension. There may be something to do about it via meditation and cutting and rewiring via the process of insight, but I've allowed myself to lead with the heart a bit more within my sessions. With a bit of patience and love and self-compassion, it seems like the little teary-eyed tyrant calms down, and I'm able to look to see what's actually the issue. I associate this point with dropping into EQ but things are not so clear. But it feels like after the emotional/mental resistance is quelled, it "shows me where it hurts" and I see how there is just another reflex to hold on and try to make the transient experience persist, how awareness is totally just operating on its own and there is some constant reflex to "be" that awareness even though I can see at times how it arises on its own, and in what I think is EQ, how I can see conscious awareness just naturally moving, naturally appearing and disappearing, how there isn't any sensation as part of that that actually continues on from moment to moment. 

Also worth noting is how I've been confused at times with some of the cycling and stage stuff going on here. I've felt mini-full cycles within what really seems to be one cycle. For example, going into misery, it feels like it sometimes has its own mind and body, A&P, 3rd vip.jhana (where the contents of misery truly resonate the most and "teach their lesson"), then equanimity phase as I really accept and peer into the sensations with resignation. Other random things like having jhanas sporadically and spontaneously solidify, the feeling that the mind is naturally going to insight stages with specific jhana flavors that don't always match up, weird jhanas in nana and nanas in jhana, russian doll type things going on with that... I also for the first time had the experience of the 5th jhana spontaneously appearing during my last practice session when I seemed to be in EQ. 

So that's what's new with me and my practice. Here's a list of random thoughts/observations/tentative conclusions:

-I definitely think I'm able to call up fruitions from 1st path
-I think I'm working towards 2nd path
-Whereas progress and the path forwards to getitng 1st were very practice and technique driven (just keep noting and noting), it feels like there is an intuitive and more automatic/natural ability for practice to lead itself. For example, instead of "just note note note through this ahhh", its "wow, there is this pain of holding on, I need to truly accept and honor this instead of just trying to blast-note everything away", a more compassionate and empathetic approach
-There is some fractaline business going on with nanas containing full cycles
-Practice is much more focused on mental/emotional/consciousness sensations rather than physical
-What feels like backsliding or failing of insights is often an area that upon really opening up to and honoring and patiently/lovingly investigating, is really a deeper level upon which the mind is trying to hold onto something, trying to survive and embed, something there was previously not enough clarity or equanimity to truly look into. Suffering/discomfort/internal resistance has become a valuable pointer towards deeper and more subtle senses of "holding on", and I'm very grateful there is this sense of intuitive self-compassion and motherlike acceptance, which seems to open up the avenue to seeing deeper and more primal levels of attempting to grasp to something

As always I hope everyone is doing well! I feel the desire lately to reach out and share my experience and connect with others, especially those familiar with the territory emoticon 
Dream Walker, modified 25 Days ago.

RE: I think I'm on my way to 2nd path

Posts: 1356 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
B B, modified 24 Days ago.

RE: I think I'm on my way to 2nd path

Posts: 24 Join Date: 9/3/16 Recent Posts
Hey MOE! I remember your posts and great enthusiasm for practice fondly. It's so nice to hear that you're getting back into practice. Your post is very relatable. I could almost have written it myself. 

Some questions/pointers drawing from memory, practice notes, & intuition which may be useful to contemplate during practice.
  • What is the significance of being on the way to 2nd path if the practice remains the same?
  • Is the analyzing / categorizing tendency also active during your practice, and if so, what is the benefit of this? What are the underlying desires behind this? What are the assumptions behind those desires? What is the basis for those assumptions?
  • What gives the thoughts and non-verbalized concepts that occupy your mind as you practice meaning? Is there any foundational source of meaning?
  • Why exert effort to focus on sensations? What is there to focus on? What exactly is a sensation apart from the concept of a sensation?
  • How can we exert control over our experience? Where precisely does the Controller come in? What is the basis for that feeling of control?
  • To what extent do experiences share the same nature or have a different nature? What is the basis for those differences?
All the best!