Something happened last March...

JP Hamilton, modified 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 2:20 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 2:20 AM

Something happened last March...

Posts: 4 Join Date: 11/3/21 Recent Posts
First post. Sorry if this is a little long. Something happened last March and this is the first time I've tried to put it into words. I generally call it "the thing in March" or "the tragic meditation accident". I mean a person died, mostly emoticon

For background purposes, at the time of the event I had only been meditating for 20 minutes to 1 hour a day. At the time I had not read book one on any of this. So there was no understanding really of what I was doing or where this could lead. I was doing it solely because it seemed to give me the ability to pause a bit before reacting to life. At the time I had "seen through" materialism and desires related to that. Life at home was simple and isolated. I also had several profoundly religious/spiritual experiences (in spite of not being religious at all) using a mushroom called panaeolus cyanescens that 1) cured me instantly from alcoholism in one night, 3 years sober now. 2) gave me my first non-dual experience (I didn't know it was "non-dual" at the time. 3) Completely removed the "atheist" label that I had attached to myself. This led to me going on wild "label hunt" and trying to discard as many of them as I could find. 4) Generally made me a nicer person. So, that was sort of my loose trajectory. My feeling is that I was making space for something.

Last March, I had just come home after spending 8 hours stuck in an airport after just breaking up with my girlfriend. So, a little raw. I sat down and did a 15 minute guided meditation along the lines of "move awareness to seeing, move awareness to hearing, move awareness to the breath, body sensations, everthing at once etc." When the meditation was over I just kept on. There was this sense that there was nothing to do but this. Some kind of complete and absolute surrender of some kind. I wasn't thinking at all. Just moving awareness around. I'm guessing I was about 3 hours in when BOOM! Something like this...

1. One second I was one way.
2. Something indescribable with words goes here.
3. Then I was completely different. (My best friend later said I seemed like a completely different person and now we never talk).
4. The subject/object perspective collapsed. Everything was rearranged or something? Everything I thought was on the outside (i.e. the world) is actually on the inside. And the stuff that was on the inside is still on the inside, but it's really tiny and in a different place. And it's all one thing. I'm no longer a dude walking around in a world.
5. I remember laughing because it seemed so obvious I couldn't believe I hadn't noticed it before. Like, wow, that was right in front of my face the whole time. Closer than that!

Afterwards, I started noticing:
1. Some big chunks of personality stuffs were gone, along with major life regrets, anxiety, interest in my hobbies, politics, news of the world, TV (interest in most things, other than this, which might not be so good). 
2. The subject/object perspective comes and goes, but still I KNOW. Can't unknow. The spaciousness of it does not really ever go away. There is a certain clarity that is mostly present or easily accessible at all times with little to no effort. But the CLEAR CLEAR view is intermittent. 
3. There is no more constant dwelling or thought loops. I can still get lost in thoughts (mostly about this stuff), but I can come back to "the space" with little effort. Thoughts no longer have a strong visual component. Mostly very quiet inner dialog that fades with disinterest.
4. The space is amazing. It's like I was wearing dress shoes two sizes too small my whole life and now they are off. This is hard to explain but the space is huge, so the tiny thinking/story generating mind is like a little spec in comparison. Random things will happen like I will look at my hand or turn on the sink and it is the most amazing thing ever. And ordinary at the same time.
5. All emotions are present, but strong ones like anger and annoyance are like spikes that come and go very quickly. And when they go, I can't connect back to them and trigger an emotional response from them.
6. Music is absolutely orgasmic. Can't describe it exactly, but when music is on, it's like everything is mixed with it or made out of it. It fills the big mind space.
7. There is a general well-being most of the time. Even when crazy stuff is going on. When there is not, I seem to find my way back to it.
8. Whatever this is, it's not complete. It's wild but there is certainly no sense of liberation. There is some sort of sense of unsatisfactoriness (is that word?) that still shows up. I mean if you were to look at my life from the outside, you wouldn't see much.

Really just exploring whatever this is but there is no urgency or anything. I don't care about attainments or all that. If anyone has any avenues of exploration that would be great! My whole life has gone from sitting 20 minutes a day to entirely this for the most part.







 
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 4:29 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 4:29 AM

RE: Something happened last March...

Posts: 384 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
Hello J.P., welcome to Dharma Overground!

First of all: Please disregard the strange first answer you got: Unfortunately this site sometimes gets some spam posts. I am sure the moderators will remove it and blog the user.

And next: What a wild experience! From your description it could sound as if you have experienced a cessation and thus have reached "stream entry". But please take this with a ton of salt, I am not a very advanced yogi, and diagnoses and advice should preferably come from yogis that have come longer along the path than your self. So let's hope some of the more advanced yogis will chime in emoticon

It is not clear from your post how much you have read, so maybe words like "cessation" and "Stream Entry" don't mean anything to you right now. If you let us know what kind of theoretical knowledge you posses, it becomes easier to give you relevant answers.

So assuming that you haven't read much, let me recommend this brilliant ressource. It is a compilation of posts (answers, advice) by one of the most experienced and most cherished posters on Dharma Overground, shargrol. Check out what he writes about cessation and stream entry. And (at the very beginning) about how to post in an optimal away as to get the most precise and usefull answers.

Good luck, hope to hear from you again!
– Niels
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Pepe ·, modified 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 8:14 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 7:52 AM

RE: Something happened last March...

Posts: 574 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Hi JP, welcome to DhO!

Everything I thought was on the outside (i.e. the world) is actually on the inside. And the stuff that was on the inside is still on the inside, but it's really tiny and in a different place. And it's all one thing. I'm no longer a dude walking around in a world. >

Unlike what my friend Niels says, given your description and the little meditation you were doing, I would guess it's more related to "I AM" (non-dual experience) than to a Stream Entry. But I'm also not an advanced yogi, so take this with a grain of salt. 

You may check List of symptoms for ñana diagnosis in Daniel Ingram's pots compilation, see if your experience matches A&P or Stream Entry criteria.

​​​​​​​For I AM criteria, you may check Thusness' Seven Stages of Enlightenment. Post your question in  Soh Wei Yu's Awakening to Reality facebook group (check also the files section) and/or in Angelo Dilullo's Awakening, Realization and Liberation facebook group (also check his youtube channel). Other resources are subreddit r/nonduality and Nisargadatta PDFs. 

Best!
JP Hamilton, modified 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 9:38 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 9:38 AM

RE: Something happened last March...

Posts: 4 Join Date: 11/3/21 Recent Posts
@Neils 

Thank you so much for the welcome. I recently read a description of stream entry on reddit that resonates strongly, but not sure if it would be considered accurate here. I have read quite a bit since, but everything I relate to does seem "parial, not complete". I am not so concerned with definititions to be honest. Just curious and exploring the territory. There are zero feeling of "needing to get somewhere". I just started reading Daniel Ingram's book, so I am trying to develop a lay of the land, I guess. One thing I can add is that sensate experience, like Daniel talks about, has been pushed way into the foreground of experience. The thinking stuff which used to be there is way in the background of experience. A general reorientation of how I used to experience.

@Pepe

Thanks for the reply Pepe. It's true there was little actual cushion time, but a lot of actual practice time when I look back. Afterwards, I did a read quite a bit of Nisargadatta and John Wheeler (among others). It seems I had a neti-neti like practice going almost constantly for about 3 years. Dropping opinions/beliefs as they arose and losing self labels when found (e.g. I am not an atheist, I am not a software developer, etc) - not mere saying the words, but really seeing through them. Noticing the transiency of experience, especially around desires  - the pointlessness/unsatisfactoriness of much of it. This was sort of a near-constant background process that was always running. 

One thing to note is that I can meditate for long periods quite effortlessly now where as before it was somewhat of a chore. Roadblocks that appear are drowsiness. I usually just allow myself to fall asleep and when I wake up, I continue meditating. But it's not formal and every day. I just somehow know when it's supposed to be done.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 10:11 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 10:11 AM

RE: Something happened last March...

Posts: 384 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
Pepe is probably right. For almost everyone, it takes quite a lot of formal meditation to reach Stream Entry. But the diagnosis isn't that important – practice is! So if you want to stabilize what ever you attained and develop it futher, I recommend that you get your self "a daily, nonheroic practice", as shargrol often says. emoticon
JP Hamilton, modified 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 10:38 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 10:38 AM

RE: Something happened last March...

Posts: 4 Join Date: 11/3/21 Recent Posts
Thanks Niels! This does seem right.
George S, modified 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 12:14 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 12:14 PM

RE: Something happened last March...

Posts: 2463 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
 Hi JP!

Sounds great emoticon 

For some context, I would check out the following books (if you haven't already):

Perfect Brilliant Stillness by David Carse
- The Open Secret by Tony Parsons
- Collision With the Infinite by Suzanne Segal
- The Mystique of Enlightenment by U.G. Krishnamurti

All the best,
George
 
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Chris Marti, modified 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 12:29 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 12:29 PM

RE: Something happened last March...

Posts: 379 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
I've deleted the spammer's second post.

- Chris
​​​​​​​DhO Mod
shargrol, modified 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 12:53 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 12:51 PM

RE: Something happened last March...

Posts: 1761 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
I'm not going to say what it was, but I can understand why Stream Entry is suggested. In general, very quick and profound changes often occur with the Arising and Passing nana. That's another possibility. The A&P stage is called "false kensho" in Zen, not because it's stupid --- it's actually a really profound stage --- but because it is almost but not quite kensho/stream entry. 

It's good to know this because if someone keeps practicing meditaiton after A&P (and sometimes even if they don't keep practicing) the "glow" of this stage wears off and life suddenly starts becoming harder again. When this happens, it can be falsely assumed that something was lost or we're doing something wrong. What is really happening is we start seeing the world with a new sensitivity and so we are able to see subtle problems more clearly.  Basically, with our new found awareness we start entering the next stage of practice/insight -- it isn't going backwards, it's going forward.

As you're reading various books, find time to read about A&P in Daniel's Mastering the Core Teachings. That's a really good discussion of this stage.
JP Hamilton, modified 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 1:40 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 1:40 PM

RE: Something happened last March...

Posts: 4 Join Date: 11/3/21 Recent Posts
@shargol - I have been reading/scanning MCT. Thank you so much for your suggestion and encouragement. I did go through a "lost it, found it" sort of phase for about 2 months, but that has mostly gone away. Life has been nothing like before so even if this is it, that is totally fine. More please emoticon I will just continue to practice (more formally as suggested) and let it unfold. Again, thank you.

@George, Thank you for responding. The Mystique of Enlightment sounds pretty wild emoticon
George S, modified 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 5:46 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 5:28 PM

RE: Something happened last March...

Posts: 2463 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Yeah, U.G. is a little on the nihilistic side, possibly due to some unprocessed psychological stuff. But the insight is strong and a lot of the sense experience/phenomenology is similar to what is described around here, which is interesting because he came from a different tradition.

FWIW, your experience reminded me of David Carse the most, although the initial "event" in his case also seemed to be the final, whereas in most cases there are a series of "glimpses" before insight is realized "permanently" (i.e. timelessly).
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Zero, modified 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 9:59 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 9:59 PM

RE: Something happened last March...

Posts: 68 Join Date: 2/21/18 Recent Posts
What's the difference between 'I AM' and stream-entry? 
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Pepe ·, modified 7 Months ago at 11/4/21 5:06 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 11/3/21 10:30 PM

RE: Something happened last March...

Posts: 574 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
My 2 cents (mostly theoretical knowledge):

- I AM/Soul/The Witness is mental state (with some anatta insight) reached through a "Subject" centered practice.

- Stream Entry is an insight stage (with varied degrees of jhana skills) reached through an "Object" centered practice. 

- Stream Entry is reached after gaining insights through the 16 ñanas and involves a big amount of hours of formal meditation (1-3 years?), including a few 1, 2 and 7 days retreats.

- I AM is easier to happen in (a what would be) a High-EQ like scenario, but happens as well in (a what would be) an A&P like scenario (e.g. Kenneth Folk), post Stream Entry (e.g. Nikolai old DhOer, Daniel Ingram post 4th path) or even out of formal or no meditation (e.g. Eckhart Tolle, Loch Kelly, Saint Paul, etc) and usually involves relatively shorter but intense practice ("a few months to a few years").

Some description given by Kenneth Folk 5-6 years ago about The Witness (and beyond):

On at least two occasions, for periods lasting several years at a time, I thought I'd found something static, constant, or perhaps abiding, within experience. The first was what seemed to be a kind of witnessing consciousness that could be found within any moment of experience irrespective of whatever else was going on. I was able to cultivate this into a recogizable and reproducible state that I thought of as the witness. I also believed that this witnessing consciousness was there in the background even when there was no conscious recognition of it. The witness, when cultivated as a state, was compelling because it felt like an upgrade from my default identity as Kenneth; from the point of view of the witness, there wasn't any concern for whether Kenneth lived or died. There was very little sense of time; it felt like riding the razor's edge of now, without reference to past or future.

The second candidate for an abiding phenomenon was a subtle, exquisite, diffuse presence that seemed to underlie and pervade or contain all experience but had no location or individual identity. From this point of view, which I thought of as primordial awareness, "I" seemed to disappear and merge within the totality of experience. This was, subjectively speaking, the best of all; it felt wonderful to meld into the universal consciousness and cease to exist as a separate entity.

In both cases, as I continued to cultivate, explore, and investigate the experiences, the orientation toward them changed. It became apparent that as wonderful and valuable as these experiences were, they were still experiences. For "experience," I'm using a simple, common-sense definition: if it can be remembered, it was an experience. If there was consciousness during it, it was an experience. Notice that this definition of experience doesn't posit an "I" to have the experience; that's a separate question.

As the experiences of the witness and primordial awareness were integrated through the years, it became increasingly difficult to think of them as special, or to believe that they were more real, more valid, or more ontologically significant than an itch, a sound, or a thought. This was simultaneously devastating and liberating. I could no longer privilege even the loftiest of phenomena as the "right" way to be or the "truth." The common habit of spiritual teachers to speak of Reality as though it had a capital "R" no longer made sense to me.

Here is my current working model: all experience has exactly the same ontological status as any other. In other words, there is no reason to believe that any experience, however subtle, exquisite, or profound, gives one special knowledge or insight into the ultimate nature of the universe. As humbling and discouraging as this may sound, it turns out to be a great relief, once integrated. It's terrible when Santa Claus dies, but at least you don't have to drag him around anymore. Now, having grieved extensively the death of my sacred states, I am much more likely to be delighted than discouraged upon noticing that there is nothing in this or any other world that we can be sure of.

From this point of view, experiences of the "witness" or "merger with the cosmos" can still be valued as beautiful and enriching, and one can enjoy them for their own sake.


Also check Shargrol's Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta