MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

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Mind over easy, modified 8 Months ago at 11/30/21 6:33 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 11/30/21 6:33 PM

MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 239 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
Heyo! Quite some time after obtaining stream-entry, I've finally turned my resolve to resolve to go for 2nd path, into actual resolve into going for 2nd path. So I figured that just as I was active here many years ago logging my efforts and collaborating with peers and more experienced meditators, I'd like to continue and make a bit of a log of my practice and thoughts as I work towards 2nd. 

For record-keeping, I recently made a post outlining my scrutinization and recap of my thoughts on attaining stream entry, recognition of what I'm now pretty certain are fruitions, and tidbits of my experience as I get back to meditation. The post is here: 

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/23237171

A note- at times, I've been preoccupied with some of the struggles of practical life, the need to shift gears to focus on simple human needs, etc... I would like to share my simple yet important realization that no matter what is going on in meditation or progress, it is very helpful and wise to keep in mind that we are humans, biological organisms, products of our environments and experiences. While I've found so much to be offered on this fascinating and extremely beneficial path of meditation and insight, I would really strongly emphasize this- it's of great imporance to simply just take care of yourself! Food and proper nutrition is important. Sunlight is important. Staying reasonably active and taking care of your body is important. Safety, shelter, providence, skillful habits and daily life pursuits are important. The presence of good and loving people in life to rely on and coexist with is important. Similarly, the ability to be rational and be your own advocate and guardian in removing one's self from bad relationships and situations is important. I'm not that far along the path so I can't really speak to the depths of which suffering can be eliminated or what the full extent of that looks or feels like. However, I think that it's simply the case that when we're damaged, we hurt. When we're malnourished, we suffer on a simple and scientifically measurable level. When we're faced with trying and tumultuous circumstances, we simply suffer from these things in a basic, organism-based, causal way. Even someone new to the path with decent rationality and practicality should realize that even someone with deep attainments is still just human and subject to everything that entails. It hurts like hell when I accidentally touch a hot stove, and I'm suspecting that will still be the case at higher levels of attainment. Similarly, I think it's seriously worth taking to heart how no matter what, generally it seems that nothing supercedes the simple fact of what it means to be human and vulnerable and subject to the elements, subject to the effects of things as obvious as physical pain to the less obvious things such as how psychological well-being is subject to one's environment, self-care, quality of relationships, etc... It is not a sign of failure to be human, and it's easy to deceive yourself and neglect simple human needs and attempt to "spiritually bypass" problems that should be dealt with as anyone in life ought to deal with them. It's okay to love yourself, it's okay to hurt, it's okay to feel bad, it's okay to be human and mortal and subject to gravity and simple cause-and-effect, from a simple level of physical pain, to the more complicated and intimate levels of emotions, traumas, social experiences, etc... I'll reserve thoughts on the extent to which suffering can be eliminated until I'm further along and more confident. But I can confidently say that it is absolutely okay to be human, and to go on improving and taking care of yourself in all the simple and not-so-simple ways that the journey of being human entails! I've made many, many mistakes in this regard, and I'm sure I will continue to make these kinds of mistakes. But I'm much better off for respecting the path of self-love, self-care, and self-improvement, as anyone would be! The depths of practice and methods and insight need not neglect the fact that it's A-OK to be a human. And just simply being human and accepting these facts is an amazing thing! emoticon

Summarizing via metaphor- a skyscraper is built level by level, and the construction of higher floors doesn't supercede the importance and substance of the foundation, the ground floor, the base supports, etc. And in that same way, the pursuit of insight and meditative progress certainly shouldn't be at odds with the simple foundation of all the things that we know to be important for basic well-being and support for all our other endeavors! I wish I could go back in time and really make that clear to my younger, more naiive and over-eager beginner self. 

I don't really have a super formal idea of how the journal will take form; I just mainly want to make my efforts visible, maybe for personal accountability, perhaps for the benefit of anyone who might read and get something useful out of it, but certainly for the fact that I know there are tons of wonderful people around here. I'm immensely grateful for all those who helped me, gave me great and relevant advice, took time to help direct my efforts, etc. I take it for granted that I even stumbled upon the path sometimes, and that I happened to stumble upon pragmatists in the domain, honest and humble and straightforward people, people who were and are able to divorce the dogma from the simple and fundamental availability and immediacy of practice tools and technologies. I still have a lot of respect and appreciation for the lineages, traditions, schools of practice and discipline that have led to this point in history that got us here. But oh how I benefitted from hearing things in plain and more objective terms, modern day descriptions and all that... if nothing else, the de-mystification and de-glorification of the practices in service of simply describing the possibility of attainments and accomplishments and skills possible, was the greatest catalyst for the start of my journey. My deepest gratitude to those who've put in the work to make the work that once seemed like a heroic and fairy-tale-like journey, into something I simply realized people were just straight-up doing nowadays, spurring the realization that I could do it to. Thanks!

With that, I think I'll cap this post off as the head of the log, then leave the practice thoughts and such for further posts. Cheers and hello to old friends and ellucidators, to experienced and inexperienced folks who may have joined since I was last around here and active. Hope all is well and hope my personal anecdotes and thoughts might be of some value and inspiration/motivation to others!
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Mind over easy, modified 8 Months ago at 11/30/21 11:27 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 11/30/21 11:27 PM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 239 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
Practice from 11/29/21:

It was especially late, stayed up for a long time talking with a good friend, well worth the late bedtime. Lots of deep conversations that led to a lot of important conversations about our experiences, and the concepts of the desire for peace and the source of suffering. Something about this convo really struck me in the sense of realizing that now that I'm again in a place of having taken care of some immediate fundamental needs such as food, shelter, etc... it left me with a sense of really feeling like it would be smart to get back to practice. Lots going on in the last few months (and years, really), and the insights were in line with a lot of what I put in my intial post: simply the need to really honor my human needs and really scrutinize my own spiritual bypassing at times. Plus, the realization of the simple need to downshift to caring for myself and getting my daily life in a better place when called for. I'm going to try to make sure I keep that notion close as I continue to practice. I've been lazy in practice at times, but often I've also tried to practice when I just simply needed to take care of immediate stuff. I'm in a good place now though, things are all in order, and thus I made the resolve to go for 2nd path. I'm still working out what that will look like, but at the very least, it will consist of trying to keep present and practice awareness/mindfulness throughout the day, and practice for around an hour or so, then take the foot off the gas and just gently practice as I fall asleep.

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I start practicing, I'm tired but motivated, mind is a little buzzy from being tired yet energized. Practice seems to be flowing nicely and intuitively, so I'm generally taking that approach of just being present with sensations, meeting things where they are, kind of just playing to whatever seems to be the focus in the moment. Shortly after starting, I notice my mind is dropping into 1st jhana, nice. My mind stops buzzing, 1st jhana happens, I let it happen, feels good. Mental and physical quietude, calming the mind and body, good start. I feel body relaxing and letting go of tension. I stick with it and feel myself move out of 1st jhana and into the more unstable vipassana stages that follow. There is seemingly a difference between the rise through nanas I felt post 1st and pre-dedicated 2nd path efforts. It takes longer to move through the stages, whereas in my post recently, it felt like I could just cruise up to EQ within like 15-20 minutes with very little effort.

I'm sleepy due to it being so late, so I kind of drift from lucidity a bit as I progress. Noticing subtle yet obvious mental tensions, the quality of unpleasantness with the effort exerted to pay attention. Feels like I need to exert some effort to stay with it, present awareness seems to get muddy if I take the foot off the gas. Decidedly unpleasant but nothing troubling, nothing particularly new. Just keep going, no rush or problem. Just noticing sensations in the body and the subtle strain of sustaining concentration, using labelling whenever I catch myself drifting off but just paying attention to sensations, gently inclining the mind towards investigating the impermanence and suffering/unpleasantness. Feels like no-self emphasis can wait until later stages.

(15 minutes in or so at this point)
I drifted off quite a bit, but suddenly I feel like my eyes strongly shift over to the right on their own super rapidly for a sec, and then bam, A&P territory. Uncomfortable quick pulsing, pressure in the 3rd eye area (would be the unibrow area but just shaved today, letting the 3rd eye breathe... lol). After hitting A&P a million times, it's not particularly compelling, and the intensity is kind of annoying. Very little joy, very void of the 2nd jhana feelings. I compare it to how as someone who takes airplanes very infrequently, takeoff is super exciting, but when I look around at people who obviously fly a lot, it's just an expected and particularly turbulent part of the flight, almost inconvenient in a way. All good though, just moving along. It chills out in like 5 or so minutes, and I find myself dropping into spacious pleasant quietude. 3rd jhana factors more present, nice. Knowing I'll presumably get to EQ soon, just kinda feels like I'm on a commute to work in a sense. Noticing the periphery stuff, attention is classically diffused, feels nice and calm to take it all in and let my breadth of attention widen. Attention naturally settles on sound here, body sensations still there and I land on them, but mostly vibing on the immediacy and blipping of sound, the shift of attention's bandwidth to a wide soundscape is markedly enjoyable. Oddly enough it's very reminicsent of 5th jhana and it's spaciousness, which I haven't consciously/intentionally hit in awhile. 

I move towards the 3rd VJ stuff, pleasant factors of the 3rd jhana such as the soothing contentness slowly fade away. Noticing the very subtle feelings of uneasiness and anxiety. Noticing the subtle and quiet feeling of a sort of primal/infant-like sadness, like a child sitting quietly in sadness. It's a very quiet feeling, very easy to work with, there is almost no aversion to observing them. Naturally inclined to a sort of feeling of self love, patience, quietude, and honoring these sensations. Noticing the way the sensations come and go all the while. Here and through basically all duration of dedicated sessions, feeling a nice and quiet sense of confidence and on-trackness as it feels like I naturally apply the various techniques and approaches I've worked with. This feeling is new to post-SE practice, but especially noticeable in the very recent efforts. Feels like a mature and quiet compassion for myself and feelings of existential sadness and suffering.

At some point I hit the familiar beehive of re-observation. Very buzzy, suffering very obvious, the feeling of no-way-out very present. I'm very glad it's all so chill at this point and that the newness of all of these stages is in the past, much easier to just stick with the program and keep going. Something slightly rapturous about this point, where the unpleasantness is markedly related to the feeling in 2nd VJ/A&P. Something slightly magical and profound about just sitting back and observing the desperation, hopelessness, no-way-forwardness to it. But I know better, and the session continues, I am simply calm and confident even as I observe all of this happening. Nice. 

(45 min-1hour-ish at this point maybe?)
I feel the beehive calm down, sensations chill out, much like how when there is a storm, the beginning is quite noticeable, yet the slow quietude of the end of the storm is not as distinct. At some point I just realize things are chilling out. Attention widens, a feeling of relief. The thought appears- "A vipassana session is like embarking on a climb up a mountain with various markers and flavors, and getting to EQ is like arriving at the door of a quiet temple at the peak. Getting past early EQ and finding mid EQ is like entering through that door, then finding and sitting down on my cushion, and finally beginning to meditate". 

I notice how early EQ is still very much within the territory of re-ob. There is the feeling of the potential for easily falling back into re-ob, paradoxically juxtaposed with the quietude and panoramic mindfulness of EQ. Feeling some kind of wisdom in how such a feeling of peace, stillness, and easy awareness is so close and even overlapping with the feelings of desperation, hopelessness, and unrest of re-ob. 

I just keep going, and I seem to be chilling in mid-EQ, mind is quite flexible, awareness seems to include much of the whole picture at once. At this point, the sensations of the observer pique gentle curiosity. The gentle inquiry- "What is this effort I'm exerting to do this practice? What is the feeling of controlling this?"... gently playing with the feeling of taking my foot off the gas and just letting go. There is the sensate field, which increasingly naturally includes the sensations of observer. Where is this dichotomy coming from? Noticing that there is some kind of unpleasantness in the way that there is a grip on the steering wheel of awareness. Noticing that I can gently release that grip and just let the ride go, noticing that it's tricky and tough to do so. 

At some point I was just really tired and due for sleep, so I went to bed, and allowed myself to just very loosely be present and let myself fall asleep. Felt like resolving "I will continue to practice, as I fall asleep, and into sleep". Woke up and while I have no idea if I was "practicing" while I was sleeping, I noticed I was immediately just trying to be aware and present when I woke up. Feels like a good sign that my resolve to practice is effective.
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I'm really happy with how practice is going. I feel good about how there is a markedly intuitive and compassionate approach that I can just kind of follow. Perhaps it's related to how practice looks on the way to 2nd path, perhaps it's due to just not being surprised at all by the nanas, maybe it's just natural to feel this way after practicing for awhile. It does strongly feel like having hit SE, played around with fruitions recently, then really deciding to move on, has had a good effect in the difference in how practice is going. I feel a lot of confidence in practice, and I feel like even as I naturally incline towards applying whatever approach seems intuitive, I'm ever present with the sensations. I like that I can finally balance on the rope enough to get closer to the sensations of self, the observer, the controller, etc... without it being super frustrating and discouraging like it felt pre-SE. There is no doubt or despair and I just really feel squarely and calmly on the right track. I'm able to keep in mind that even the practice and effort related feelings are sensations. But compared to pre-1st path where it really did feel like I had to just go all out and just machine-gun my way to the goal, it feels like I can really trust my intuition to guide my practice, and there's a sense of really just allowing practice to unfold.

I feel like the marked difference in practice, the relative effortlessness, the ease and gentleness, feels like they get at the fetters model, in particular, the dropping away of doubt (I just feel like I'm on the right path, things are generally clear, and there is a very nice confidence that things are working how they should), and the attachment to rites and rituals (there is no special thing that makes practice, practice. There isn't something magical about having the "correct" practice, the "correct" seating, there isn't really a huge distinction between just being aware while I'm out and about vs. sitting, besides a sit just being a dedicated and isolated place to really get into it in a more intentional way). Nice! 

Random question... recently before I seemed to kick off the 2nd path work, it felt like I was going through the 1st path in review and just getting through the stages quickly then getting fruitions, and cool enough, I was able to do this twice in one sit and this gave me a ton of confidence that I was indeed getting fruitions. However, it doesn't feel like I could just get a fruition in this sit, the work is markedly different and new, and the focus is much different. So presumably a fruition in a sit like this would be the path moment for 2nd. But is there anything special to going back and getting fruitions? I haven't tried it nor do I feel particularly inclined to, but I'm just kinda curious if it's even possible to "downshift" back and repeat fruitions. Would there really be any reason to? I'm pretty cool with just going forwards with this sit and aiming for 2nd, but I am kind of curious how that would work.

Cheers! Feedback welcome as always. 
George S, modified 8 Months ago at 12/1/21 11:21 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/1/21 11:21 AM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 2529 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Hi MOE,

I'm a relatively new user here, but it's good to see you recommitting to practice and you've clearly got some good skills and wisdom of a few more years of life experience.

I can't advise specifically on repeat fruitions because I didn't have many, but I do know that fruition cycles and maps tend to lose their effectiveness as markers of progress after second path anyway ... so it might be a good opportunity to get used to not quite knowing where you are!

You could even try investigating the desire to map/know where are you are and see if it's masking some kind of subtle aversion to what's actually going on in your experience of the present moment ...

Cheers
George
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Mind over easy, modified 8 Months ago at 12/1/21 6:14 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/1/21 6:14 PM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 239 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
Thanks for your repsone. At first, I found myself thinking along the lines of-
I don't feel like the desire to map/know where I am is much of a problem, because I'm aware that the maps are just a rough extrapolation of whatever the process is, and I'm aware that the tools are just "the sticks that stir the fire but then are consumed by it" or however that quote goes.

But at the same time, I think in actually honestly considering it, I am faced with some questions that seem valuable, like... if the nature of reality is simply here to see in plain sight, there is definitely something to be investigated with the way map based thinking/traversal/progress is at odds with the notion that there isn't any place to "get to" or "attain to" and that the nature of reality is just simply present here and freely available to see. I've observed within myself and others how maps, advice from teachers, methodologies, tools, lots of that stuff is often clearly preventing people (myself included) from really honestly investigating exactly what is going on in the moment, and how it prevents an earnest consideration that the true nature of things is simply always right here right now, not at the end of some path.

Seems very related to the notion of effort, directing attention, controlling awareness, controlling observation, which is clearly at odds with the notion that there is no controller and no do-er. 

I set myself up in my sits so often with the pre-conceived notion that I'm simply rising up through the nanas, that the process can be roughly described as a technical exercise in applying the correct methods and moving through the territory. And it's like, I know this is good because these maps and technologies have their merit and obviously produce the results, but it's pretty clear how hindsight reveals how these efforts are rough and practical methods, fingers that point towards the moon, rafts that carry to the other side, etc...

I feel encouraged by how my sits seem to be much more indifferent to the various stages as they seem to appear and how they don't seem nearly as compelling as they once were, however I think that honesty does reveal that you're right to point out how there can still be subtle aversion to brutal honesty and openness to truly just investigating the whole thing.

My initial feeling in response to your message also reminds me of how in the past, I received plenty of amazing advice that was very relevant to what would benefit me, yet in those moments I also felt like "oh I'm fine, I'm not resistant! I don't need that!"... lol. Always gotta be honest with myself and consider whether or not I'm being stubborn and above the frequently excellent advice and pointers that I'm given. 
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Mind over easy, modified 8 Months ago at 12/1/21 7:08 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/1/21 7:08 PM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 239 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
Practice from 11/30/21:

I'm way low on sleep from the night before, so I expected practice would be tougher and that my effort would be less efficient. This proved to be true. The convo with my friend that kept me up so late was truly worth it and invaluable, yet I'm often reminding myself... sleep is so important! Lol.

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I'm about to go to bed, doing a sesh beforehand. I won't be as verbose about some of the repetitive aspects of the sits like my first log described, but I'll try to keep the details relevant enough. I again have the buzzy mind, as it often is when I'm tired. Energy is low. I find after a few moments that my mind sinks into 1st jhana. This lasts for roughly 45 seconds. Kinda funny. Hey there, 1st jhana. Oh alright, seeya emoticon 

I keep going, 1st jhana dissapears. I'm struggling to stay present, and falling asleep. My effectiveness seems very low, and presence is very hard to maintain as I keep nodding off. I realize sleep would be the most helpful thing; there is always tomorrow. I try to lightly maintain awareness as I fall asleep. I sleep for almost 10 hours. 
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When I woke up, I felt very refreshed! However, I notice qualities I associate with being in 3rd V.J. territory. Attention is diffuse, energy feels, not quite low, but just very quiet, low-key. I'm continuing to just try to stay present and investigative in the vipassana way throughout the day, yet I feel the sense of vagueness. The sense of catching sensations "after-the-fact" or something, noticing the dropping off of things. It doesn't really bother me, and I'm generally feeling calm, centered enough, quietly assured, etc... This is fine. 

I notice the sense that as I'm remaining present with my activities, showering, cooking, cleaning, etc... It's hard to notice the sense of agency as I go about doing things. I wash my face, brush my teeth, I fix myself some food. I take a potato chip, and eat it. But I'm noticing myself doing all this stuff while hardly noticing any intention or agency in these things. I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about how I'm able to generally keep paying attention and not feel like every intention and action is some enigma that I need to divorce myself from. Compared to the feeling I associated with pre-SE where I would be really hyper-vigilant of the intention to do stuff and make sure I was noting/labelling, I feel I can simply just watch, there is not much to it and there's nothing special required. I'm sitting, I observe I have an itch, I scratch it. Nothing special, no need to ceremoniously own the detachment or own the awareness before letting myself do it.

I'm trying to keep a healthy sense of caution about it all, but throughout all my efforts so far, there is the sense of effortlessness with practice which I must admit is very nice. I have the feeling that this sense of effortlessness is very much relevant to the process, and in-line with the insight I'm gaining and working to deepen. 

I've previously been much more affected by the 3rd V.J. stuff, feel like in the past, all the fireworks and weird/odd things, high levels of energy, etc... all that was very encouraging, whereas 3rd V.J. was discouraging, the vague and low-energy diffuseness felt like a step back compared to the rocketry of the more pronounced and elevated experiences. I can get down with this seemingly different time spent in the territory. The aim still feels clear, and throughout the mundane-ness and almost unsettling quietude and weird inability to clearly see intentions and agency, it's just practice, and I feel a sense of stability and on-trackness with the simple aim of investigation and scrutiny. Taking it as it comes, feeling okay with whatever comes up, feeling like the path is still clear throughout the various ups and downs and shifts in quality of awareness and flavors that come up with. If this doesn't hold up, I hope to be able to accept that as well and continue to practice effectively. 

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Practice from 12/1/2012, 5pm:

I'm done with my things to do, and as I settle down at my desk, I decide to just close my eyes and dig into a sit for a bit. The qualities I associate with 3rd V.J. remain. This isn't my dedicated/scheduled sit, so there is an aspect of more relaxed-ness, just kind of a "bonus" sit, I suppose. In the spirit of the feedback from George S, I make a point to kind of let up on map-based awareness of it all, less intention to rise up through the nanas and more intention to just really be present and investigate without the notion of needing to rise up to any point or whatever. I feel what seem like very minor and quiet signs of 1st jhana, bodily calm, a nice sustained focus.

Moving on, eventually hit a little bump of energetic activity, mental excitedness, 2nd V.J. type stuff, but very quiet and hardly noticeable. I'm sitting, the aspects of 3rd V.J. which have permeated my day seem especially pronounced, with very diffuse awareness, very low-key energy levels, a marked lack of intentions. The way in which sounds are occurring and my attention is just falling on them as they occur strikes me. Typically it feels more the case that it's a conscious and controlled thing when my attention lands on the sounds. But here, it's like, I notice that even though there's the feeling that when my attention lands on a sound, "I did that", "I moved my attention there", even if I just totally sit back, it's just happening. Still feels like it's "me" moving my attention there, but it's pronounced how it just happens. The dog barks, my attention immediately goes there, I feel the shockwave through my body. The weird lack of sense of do-er in this territory has at times been unsettling, and while it's a quality that is still there, feels natural to sit with it and just see it play out. If nothing else, it's very interesting. 

This is the part that really surprised me. In the past I've had pretty decent control of jhanas, and while I was more actively pursuing them, I was able to hit the 5th jhana to some degree, and what I think was 6th as well at times. However, hitting anything past 4th was something that really only seemed to happen when I was much more dedicated to that effort. But I was surprised to feel the unmistakable feeling of what seemed like the jhana of infinite space appear. The sense of incredible vastness, which I've described in the past as attention being like a balloon rising up in a huge stadium and expanding into the whole thing. Whether this was true 5th jhana or simply aspects of it heavily occuring, this was quite unexpected. I'm glad that there is an absence of the feeling of novelty with the various weird and interesting experiences that can come up in all the territory, since I was able to not get thrown off or excited and just keep investigating. I was able to notice a distinct, quiet unpleasantness within the experience. No idea if I was still in 3rd V.J. territory at this time, or if I was in EQ somewhere.

I did notice a feeling of lightness and relief at some point, the feeling I've associated with the transition from re-ob to early EQ to mid EQ, where it feels like the burdensome and uncomfortableness of it all simply drops away a bit and it's like the feeling of noticing a storm has passed. It was all pretty quiet and low-key, again, much of what I associate with generally being in 3rd V.J. territory. In a previous post I had talked about how there was a lot of the fractal-type experience with sub-stages appearing in primary stages and that kind of thing. Much of this is post-sit analysis, though during the sit I feel like I really was just sitting with it all and just watching.

At some point I felt like I was drifting off into the dreamlike state. I'm not tired or sleep-deprived today, and I didn't feel like I was "nodding off" or anything. But the dreamlike stuff started happening, I was getting fairly clear hypnagogic imagery going on. I'm letting go, trying to just remain present, and the meditation intentions and self-direction disappears, I find I'm getting imagery of random things. I see a window with raindrops trickling down on the outside, it appears then the window kinda just dematerializes. I sit a little longer, then at some point I conclude and go on with my day.
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Not much to comment on really, just keepin on keepin on. Stuff is happening and it feels like things are moving along. I sure am glad that the experiences I associate with 3rd V.J. don't feel like an emotional/existential boxing match with Mike Tyson. But I respect the possibility that things might get tougher than they feel now. For now, I'm cautiously enjoying and feeling grateful for the sense of comparitive ease and clear direction that seems to be present! 
George S, modified 8 Months ago at 12/2/21 8:43 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/2/21 8:42 AM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 2529 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Yeah one way to look at the path is a gradual extension of the insight of no controller/doer. It starts on the cushion by noticing that we don’t control our attention, then it extends to noticing that we don’t control our mental/emotional states (nanas). That’s kind of the first half. Second half is when the insight extends off the cushion – psychological conditioning and big picture stuff. Finally the insight extends to the search itself, at which point it collapses under its own weight and we end up simply being here with whatever is going on, because where else could we be!
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Mind over easy, modified 8 Months ago at 12/2/21 7:52 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/2/21 7:52 PM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 239 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
Practice from 12/1/2021:


I already did what felt like a pretty healthy sit previously, so I "cheat" a bit and just decide to practice in bed. Nowadays I'm more indifferent to sitting on a cushion vs chair vs wherever, as long as it facilitates the practice and sets me up well, seems to work for me. Not looking to make a habit out of inconsistent practice patterns, but eh, happens sometimes.
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I'm laying in bed, practicing. The quality through the day has been very 3rd V.J.ish. This is immediately apparent. Intention struggles to take off, everything is vague, direction feels unclear, practice feels unsure. I see this and simply continue practicing. Things are really buzzy and insect-like. I turned on my light a few times because I actually thought there was a skeeter in my room. Sounds are startling and unsettling, everything is generally unsettling. There is a distinct presence of fear and general spookiness/uneasiness. I keep getting distracted, keep losing focus, keep losing my attention. I shift gears a bit to more labelling and noting, just sticking with it and noting/being aware of these qualities. I make an effort to really just radically surrender to it and keep going. The sit still feels crummy and not productive. I feel tired and keep utterly dropping out so I decide to kinda "end" my sit, and go to bed while lightly practicing.

This was just the beginning, it turns out. Many, many hours of practice followed.

Ironically as I roll up the mat and just lightly remain aware as I allow myself to fall asleep whenever it happens, my attention and focus seems to come back online, and it's much easier to maintain presence. I'll take whatever comes along the ride but there is relief as I'm able to maintain presence. The 3rd V.J. qualities still seem to be present. The radical surrender and patience seemed called for and seems to help practice continue. The perception of vibrations becomes more clear and it's easier to keep present as I observe the buzziness, the raw and chaotic pulsing and vibrations and such. Daniel mentions how 3rd V.J. is like learning to appreciate abstract and dissonant jazz, and as someone who does dabble with some of that music, I feel like the comparison is apt. 

At some point, I realize that amidst all of these buzzing and blipping sensations, there is a shift in focus up to my head. While everything else is chaotically buzzing and pulsing, there is this sense of solidness, permanence, clearly at odds with the obvious impermanence of everything else. Why is awareness solid? Why is there this feeling of the center being rock-hard and unmoving while everything else is in flux? Examining this seemed to suddenly cause this explosion of intense distress, this primal frustration, great pain, heavy suffering that seemed to be at the very center of my head, the center of my awareness, the center of my existence. Surprisingly, my body felt like it turned into a furnace, and I started sweating. Even through this, I feel like I was still remaining centered and present, open to it, curious. This lasted for about 3-5 minutes or so, then started to chill a bit. I let off the gas, remained calm, did a little "regrouping" or something of that sort. In that moment, sort of contemplating, "what is the correct approach here?". Noting the thought, remaining aware, being level headed, allowing myself a moment of respite to process, rebalance. Allowing myself to play a sort of carpenter role, "what should my approach be?". I remembered, I have totally had this experience before. I posted about it a long time ago, shortly before hitting SE-

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4326597

Daniel gave some great advice which can be found at the end of the post. I recalled that advice, tried to let up a bit, and worked towards accepting the stress, accepting whatever it was that was going on, rekindling my patience and awareness, letting whatever was happening, just happen, and just letting myself sit with it throughout the intensity and whatever perceived problem there was in my mind with it. This certainly seemed to help me deal with it skillfully and continue investigating. This is in contrast to when it happened in the past, where it basically just completely threw me off of my sit and bothered me for days. The ability to deal with it, recall some good advice, and just keep rolling on calmly and openly, all felt like a win, and the sit continued as it chilled out.

There was also focus and centering on self love and acceptance at this point. Sort of a conversation with myself, reflection, etc... "I'm here and doing this because I love myself, I want to eliminate suffering, I want to be happy. While I might feel good, feel bad, calm or frustrated, this whole thing is a process that I'm undertaking in good faith and assurance/confidence that the result will be positive." Gentle positive reminders and affirmations, I suppose sort of a little bit of cultivation of meta and compassion towards myself.

This then led to thoughts of resolve... "...so be that it may that it might be tough, there might be hiccups, there might be feelings of confusion or doubt or misery, of helplessness or hopelessness, I shall keep going, I shall keep calmly continuing on, and rather than try to mindlessly and aggressively blast through every experience, I will take the time to be patient, to honor the experience fully, to keep an even approach throughout the experiences, and to patiently, compassionately, sternly yet lovingly continue on with awareness and presence. I am not here to aggressively defeat or kill something within myself, I am here to methodically and confidently continue on, to lovingly work with these experiences that arise. These instincts of self-preservation, attachment and aversion, truly are rooted in a desire for happiness and wellness, and I'm simply here to calmly keep walking the path, to be open and apply a gentle yet confident handling of everything that comes up. It can all be honored and respected, there need not be disdain or hatred for how they present. I will just keep going, allowing, opening myself up, and as long as I don't give up, as long as I keep a balanced and healthy approach and apply the techniques skillfully, I will most definitely continue to progress and accomplish what I'm setting out to do. I will continue, I will be strong, I will be resolute and determined, and awareness, skillfull and balanced practice will surely serve me well." Recollection of Buddha and his resolve to sit under the bodhi tree and get it done come to mind. 

Even as I try to be aware of these thoughts, resolutions, inspirations and whatnot, I feel confidence in that self-love and patience are clearly serving me well and keeping me on track, allowing me to stay centered throughout it all. I will continue to investigate these feelings and inspirations, yet this markedly different aspect to my approach seems to be serving me well emoticon 

I get back to it, shifting focus back to simply practicing, being aware, allowing it all to simply be there, allowing myself to fully feel the positive and negative. I find a great sense of peace as I continue. The intensity subsides. I note the familiar feeling of the chaotic unpleasantness simply subside, I observe my mind calm down and become still. Thoughts calm down, my body calms down, things become very quiet. I note the evenness. I simply dwell in this and allow myself to become still. My mind starts going in and out of 4th jhana. There is such evenness, quietude, expansiveness, emotional and mental silence. I keep kind of popping in and out of a solid 4th jhana, just letting it happen as it comes and goes. Attention feels quite "complete", the field of awareness is generally super even and feels undisturbed. I notice that even in the presence of this calm and quiet, there is still absolutely a dissatisfaction even in the peace and quietude. This isn't "it", there is still something that remains dissatisfactory.

My attention returns back to the observer, this sense of self. And here, I find that the solidness does start to break down. Very suddenly, it starts pulsing and I start seeing the indications of impermanence rather than solidity. Quite rapidly, this pulsing starts taking off very quickly as it feels like the very center of my attention and being is pulsing. It's sort of terrifying and threatening in an existential way, and I feel that there is resistance to the pulsing. My heart begins to pound, and while I don't actually think I'm seriously dying, it feels like I am about to have my head chopped off, like I am on the verge of execution. I am able to remain relatively calm and aware, though the intensity and super visceral sense of impending death is definitely there. The pulsing is massively intense. I sit with it the best I can, doing my best to not be compelled, to just let it happen, surrender. Nothing "happens" though, I calm down a bit, I just keep sitting. I recall this same kind of thing happening in some sits that were days before I hit stream entry, it does feel like the same kind of thing. This time there is a lot more clarity though, and as with everything else so far, I'm much more able to just keep sitting, just keep observing, and not lose my evenness and ability to just keep sitting and watching. The pulsing subsides, I focus on just kind of calming down a bit, and just regaining my composure as I remain aware. All good, whatever it may be or whatever previous experiences it compares to. I just keep sitting, and again I find mind again settling in and out of a very solid 4th jhana, then back to the investigation of impermanence, noticing the blips, etc...

At some point I notice the sense that awareness has a "complete" quality to it. Whereas when I'm not focused and calm, it feels like there are these "things" in awareness that I'm missing and worse off for, there is a sense that when the mind is very still, each moment of awareness just includes everything. It feels as though there isn't anything more to be aware of than the moment of awareness itself. The feeling of there being something just on the outskirts that isn't being included, seems like just a form of aversion of some sort. How can awareness miss anything? If things aren't in the field of awareness, it's not like awareness isn't complete. Awareness just contains everything it contains, there isn't any possibility to be "unaware" of something in awareness. There's just aversion and clinging, which give this impression that something is being missed, something is lacking, something is not included. What felt previously like solidity in my awareness, was just simply some form of holding onto something, some pushing away or avoiding something. But the act of complete surrender and loving acceptance revealed that rather than solidity, it seemed to be an incessant, desperate grasping. I sure upset something within myself in that earlier part of the sit by threatening this by just simply looking at it. It's sort of funny, like having empathy for a toddler throwing a temper tantrum over something that isn't actually a big deal. It's less funny in that it's something inside me that seems to cause suffering emoticon but I'm working on it. 

I just kept meditating and remaining aware, letting it all happen, taking in these moments of awareness, which seemed to be enabled by the steadiness and quietude of the mind hopping in and out of 4th jhana. I went on for awhile just remaining with this, not inclining towards any investigation other than gentle curiosity and examination of these frames of awarenss which seemed increasingly complete and even. 

______

I'm not sure of the timeframe of all of this, but after I "decided to sleep and stop meditating" which was only an hour into the session, the rest of it was probably around a 3 hour endeavor. At some point, I realized it was terribly late, and I really needed to sleep. So I tried my best to just stop practicing, which combined with the fascination of progress, along with all of the random heartracing moments, proved to be pretty difficult. I had a lot of funny thoughts in this time while I was just trying my best to not practice.

-"Oh, that super solid and impenetrable object wasn't my awareness. That was just the exceedingly thick and solid presence of my skull"

(while trying to get to sleep and really just stop practice and let myself drift, in the voice of S.N. Goneka, for those who have gone on those retreats, in moments where I caught myself paying attention)

-"Remain unaware... Remain unaware..."

-The funny paradoxical endeavor of trying to not practice, catching myself being aware and trying to stop doing that in favor of sleep

I eventually just decided to intentionally do something mindless, just browing random memes and stuff on the web, which really helped me get out of the practice state and finally get some well needed and well deserved sleep.


_____

So yeah, that was quite the sesh. As always, I'm trying to remain cautious and skeptical, and to just simply keep practicing and keep being aware. However, it's impossible not to notice and feel good about how the practice is going, and be encouraged by what feels like deepening insight and healthy progression. It's also impossible not to notice how a lot of the later parts of the practice are extremely similar to parts of practice that happened super close up to the moment of getting stream entry. It's a lot easier to ignore that big pulsing event towards the end, because when I got stream entry, it was not anything like that. I was just simply meditating and things were quite quiet and dreamlike, no effort or thoughts of attainment, and it was a sudden unexpected thing. It feels good how it's so much easier to stay grounded, not get thrown off by the random things that go on, not be too caught up in the expectation/anticipation of progress and attainments. It also continuously feels good and right to introduce much more compassion and patience for myself as I go through it all. I feel like the increase in chillness and lack of extremes in any direction of thinking or practice is in-line with the "middle-way" of thinking and acting.

That is a lot, but I really enjoyed writing this up and reflecting on everything; it was quite the session and I feel confident and assured as I continue on. Hopefully I'm not doing myself any disservice by simply acknowledging the fact that I feel quite positive and confident in how this is going. I would even go as far as to report that I feel like the goal of attaining 2nd path is within reach and not far! I'll do my best to continue to practice skillfully and in earnest regardless.
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Mind over easy, modified 8 Months ago at 12/2/21 8:11 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/2/21 8:11 PM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 239 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
Oh, one other thing I forgot to mention and report.

After my practice had ended, I noticed something interesting. While I was just laying there, I would go and stretch or something, and I would notice this really rapid feeling of noticing a mental impression of what I was doing, and notice how it seemingly wasn't the actual present sensation of the physical sensations themselves. This weird sense of noticing this super quick echo, where awareness would seemingly land on the echo instead of the "real thing". Dunno, almost forgot about it but I noticed that kind of thing going on. It was outside of the dedicated practice and while I was trying to sleep so I pushed the thought aside, but I noticed it and so I thought I'd tag that on. 
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Dream Walker, modified 8 Months ago at 12/3/21 9:27 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/3/21 9:27 AM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 1448 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Mind over easy

 I would notice this really rapid feeling of noticing a mental impression of what I was doing, and notice how it seemingly wasn't the actual present sensation of the physical sensations themselves.
This weird sense of noticing this super quick echo, where awareness would seemingly land on the echo instead of the "real thing".
This is my exact description of what to look into for second path....
~D

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Mind over easy, modified 8 Months ago at 12/6/21 11:42 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/6/21 11:42 AM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 239 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
Hello hello. Little update, there were recently some negative factors where I was living that called for the need to move. This was a very negative and upsetting experience which took up a lot of time and energy. I was recently sick with what was probably mono, so the sudden and intense effort of getting a move done with the factors of negativity that led to the need to move were a little bit derailing as far as the consistency of my sits go. However, even through a lot of the seriously tough and painful emotional and physical stuff going on, I still kept a respectable level of consistent awareness throughout the hustle and bustle, and at night besides the first night this situation came about, I still had the chance to focus and be present while going to sleep. 

Right before this little transitional chapter came about, it did feel like my last reported sit marked a general transition from a baseline 3rd V.J. to 4th V.J. territory. It was very strange and surreal to go through so much trouble, general turmoil, exausting physical work, emotional burden, etc... while somehow still feeling equanimity and a mystical, magical sense about it all. When the dust settled from the consistently arising stressful situations, tough emotional and mental realizations in regards to the living situation, etc... there was an odd perfection about it all. I got the impression that there is truly a magical harmony to all the aspects going on. There was a strange beauty in anger, the way in which there was perfect causality for even the harsh and difficult emotional states. A magical evenness in the balance of emotional dominos, a totally justified and called-for acceptance of hurt and pain. Of course stress and negative experiences lead to a feeling of stress and negativity. But even these very negative thoughts at time seemed strangely peaceful, reasonable. That sense of, how could things not be exactly the way they were? How could bitter treatment not lead to the experience of bitterness? How could poor soil not lead to poor growth and poor fruits? 

So yeah, while it wasn't "fun" and I didn't "conquer", "overcome", "defeat" my experience, there was this insight and wisdom that I didn't have to, that there is perfect justness and harmony in how it all plays out. Of course there is absolute skillfulness in the way I choose to act and the principles that I choose to stick to, in terms of thinking patterns and dealing with emotions. But there indeed was a sense that even through awful and painful experiences, deepening love, compassion, and wisdom do seem to indicate and garner a perspective that shows that there is a magical/energetic perfect harmony and "justness" to the way in which things play out. This also led to the sense of something I think I entirely missed during 1st path practice. There is truly wisdom that comes about from insight practice, and while I don't truly understand what path moments are, it's not as though everything leading up to them are just meaningless and discardable experiences to just be tolerated until the true prize of path moments occur. Reflecting on my practice so far, there truly is wisdom and insight that has been coming about, deepening of true compassion and love, wisdom in what that means, how it connects to daily life and skillful living, etc...

So there is my little update and reflection on my situation, my experience with something tough that "derailed" my practice consistency, how it played out and such. I completed my move two days ago and I'm in a good and safe place, and all is well on that front. After moving, I slept quite hard which was well-needed. Yesterday was good, I didn't have to do a bunch of stuff, and I was well rested, so yesterday night I was able to do a pretty good sit, which I will now report!


Practice from 12/5/2021-

_________

I'm laying down, paying attention. It's honestly kind of hard to describe a lot of specifics. At this point, simply being aware and present feels like the correct technique. There's not much in the sense of super clear nanas appearing. Definitely some moments of what feel like jhanas, noticeable slight shifts, etc, but it's all very low-key and hard to notice a lot of distinction. At some point, probably about 45 minutes in, I find myself nodding off a little bit. I get up, go run to the bathroom and grab water, then continue.
________

Seems like lately there's been a trend where I practice for about 45 minutes, get a little sleepy, pause in some way, then keep going. After this pause it seems like the sesh truly picks up and there is a lot of easy to maintain presence, not much dropping off or getting lost. As I'm sitting, practice feels absolutely regular, non-special, to the point where it's almost hard to discern what I'm even doing. I'm clearly present and aware, yet what am I really doing? There is a general sense of quiet vexation, silent perplexity, a curious aimlesness. I'm clearly aware and paying attention, yet what is effort? What effort am I directing outside of just simply being present and watching? And even then, what is watching, compared to just being there? It feels like I'm not meditating yet I know that I'm doing what I'm supposed to. I was really wondering though, is there even awareness? Is there even consciousness? There are sensations and they are experienced, but as I said, there is truly a kind of vexation in the simplicity and what seems like a lack of participation. What is "being aware" of them, "paying attention" to them? What am I doing and how am I even practicing? At risk of sounding like using overly mystical language, it really does seem like there is a kind of emptiness to things. It feels like there is no practice at all yet I know I'm practicing. There is a clear kind of tension in it all.

As noted in a previous sit and as recommended to me by Dream Walker, I notice the sense that while there's just a clear flux of sensations happening, there is an out of sync type quality. In each moment I am aware, I see the sensations all coming and going. Yet I feel what is like some primal muscle that feels like it has always been flexing and tightened, never quite relaxed. It seems like this is definitely related to the tendency to not just simply be ever aware and present of the sensations that are here and always just coming and going. This "holding" is clearly stressful in light of the simplicity and lack of need to do anything with current sensations. It's clearly based in some deep desire to "understand", to "take ownership of experience", to "comprehend", just to "be" in general. I switch to kindly and patiently looking to relax this tension, to really allow things to just truly be as they are, to appear and vanish. It feels right to do so. In working in this way, there's clearly a relief and more clear presence that seems to come about. That odd and silent vexation/curiosity is ever present. The feeling that there is truly nothing to do, that there is a true and deep sense of "not meditating", that even the notion that I'm meditating and getting somewhere is misguided compared to truly just being present, nowhere to go, nothing to accomplish, etc.

I'm not much of a zen guy but I'm familiar with it to some extent. It comes to mind, there is no such thing as practicing shikantaza, there is no such thing as practicing, all there is is shikantaza, just the natural state of things. I just keep going. The tight hold of that primal muscle seems to be seen and relaxed with patience and true resignation. It's tough to "let go" but as I've been reporting, patience and deep compassion really do seem to work wonders with dealing with and seeing into suffering and tension.

At some point, things get especially spacey, intention is very hard to detect, and I feel like I'm really working in the spirit of just truly being present. No practice, no intention, no striving, no goal in sight. Just resignation, letting go, truly giving in to where I am. I don't feel any sense of practice whatsoever but it does feel correct. Things become very dreamlike and quiet. At some point, and I have no idea how to really describe this well, it feels like my inner vision switches from landscape (the default) to portrait. Odd... There is a lot of random visual stuff going on.

Lots of dreamlike random stuff in my vision, spaciness... I get this impression at some point, "follow me and I will lead you through the door". I just kind of, I don't know, give in, "alright then". There is plenty of strangeness that occurs during meditation, it's hard to be that surprised or compelled by anything. 

I'm going along and in being present, the sense of meditating or doing anything is not there whatsoever. It feels like I'm slipping in and out of dreamlike states. At some point it feels like I'm getting super up close to my inner vision, odd spacial feeling and stuff... There are weird random swirls of colors, similar to some aspects of northern lights. Strange swirls, fluxing. I'm here throughout it as much as it feels like I'm lost at times. 

In one of these moments of being lost in the dreamlike stuff going on, I see what I for some reason know as "the golden palace". It is extremely shocking, and it pulses and vanishes, and I absolutely come to my senses, like fiercely waking up from a dream. My mind is quiet and alert. I feel shocked yet it is quiet. I open my eyes and just look at the ceiling. My eyes are wide open, and I'm just processing. There is silent intensity, I'm just unwaveringly looking up. There is absolutely the sense of "was that it? what is this?". I sit up. I close my eyes, and enter into a very strong 2nd jhana, though there is this disconnect. It is super powerful and I feel an amazing gratitude, yet there is something super non-compelling about it. It passes pretty quickly. There was not really any bliss-wave in the body that I associate with fruitions I've had in the past. Yet everything about it absoultely feels like a fruition. I'm trying to make sure to just stay present, to avoid scripting or being too compelled, yet there is something immensely compelling that I can't put a finger on.
____

I get up and go to the bathroom. I truly feel like an alien, just silently yet intensely staring at stuff. I just sit there, staring at objects for minutes. Everything is immensely deep and fascinating, yet there is this dark and almost brooding quietude about it all. I just look in the mirror, in this state of silent shock. Everything feels so deep and rich and simply compelling, yet there is amazing quietude. I'm listening to the wind and it feels like there is a conscious vibrancy to it. There is a definite sense of new openness to everything. While I'm trying to remain balanced and open to whatever it was, it truly feels like something changed. When I was laying back down with my eyes closed, I was endlessly fascinated just watching my inner vision. Darkness and little blips of the tv static that silently formed into light patterns, swirling and ever appearing and vanishing. It wasn't "intense", yet deeply compelling, so immediate and fascinating. I could watch as I breathed in, how there was a shimmer in the field of closed-eye-vision. Every thing that came to experienced caused a silent ripple in my vision. It was pretty hard to fall asleep with this whatever going on.

There was a marked sense of, "this is not the end. there is more to do.". I didn't really know what to expect if this was truly path, but I got this sense of, I truly do need to take this process all the way to the end. This isn't the end of suffering, and the fact that there is still some kind of suffering/tension in experience, even through this, is a clear indicator of that. 

I tried to practice, hopped into a few jhanas out of curiosity, tried to keep doing a little insight practice, but I really do have to admit that I feel like I did it, got 2nd path. In trying to continue in the spirit of not being sure I got it, it felt like I was trying to scratch a cat a little too close to the belly after it got what it needed. 

If I had to self-diagnose, I really do feel like I did it, feel like the resolution to get 2nd has been fulfilled. Yet there is a certainness to the sense that this is not over, this is not done. Some kind of suffering/tension/problem is still ever clear and present. Dunno. I guess with these moments, it really is wise to just let it play out, to see how things stand up, to go and test drive. We'll see how things feel and how experience is looking. Even as I type this though, that odd and vexating sense of something that has changed, something that is so immediate about perception, it's there and it doesn't feel quite like any experience I've had up to this point. There is some kind of immediacy, some kind of strange quiet vibrancy, some kind of dark and silent vibrancy and aliveness to things. Feels like my awareness is just so squarely on the things it lands on that it's amazingly compelling, yet it's so quiet and low-key that it's hard to notice that there's anything different. 

Anyways, I do get the sense that this was it, but it's still so recent, need to just see how it holds up. Maybe tonight I will try to call up fruitions. For now I'm just gonna let a little time pass, keep a healthy skepticism, maintain a healthy degree of awareness and consistency. If nothing else, whatever it is, is very cool and strange, and even if I'm mistaken, there is definitely something significant and compelling to what happened. 

Cheers!
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 8 Months ago at 12/6/21 2:01 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/6/21 2:01 PM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 2459 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
May it be of benefit to many! emoticon 

​​​​​​​Best wishes MOE! 
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Mind over easy, modified 8 Months ago at 12/6/21 2:05 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/6/21 2:05 PM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 239 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
Gracias! Saw your post on another thread we're in; for what it's worth, welcome home from work and hope ya enjoy the well earned rest! 
George S, modified 8 Months ago at 12/6/21 4:04 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/6/21 4:04 PM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 2529 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Mind over easy
I was really wondering though, is there even awareness? Is there even consciousness? There are sensations and they are experienced, but as I said, there is truly a kind of vexation in the simplicity and what seems like a lack of participation. What is "being aware" of them, "paying attention" to them? What am I doing and how am I even practicing?

​​​​​​​Great questions (and answer)! You are definitely heading in the right dirction ... emoticon
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Mind over easy, modified 8 Months ago at 12/6/21 4:28 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/6/21 4:28 PM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 239 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
Thank you kindly, George S! Your pointers were greatly helpful and motivating and you have my gratitude.

Letting it simmer in a way that feels healthy, but after I finished up, it was almost humorous in a way how the sense was that regardless of the sit and it's strange and encouraging insights, there was simply the realization that there's more to be done. Always a good reminder and perspective check emoticon
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Dream Walker, modified 8 Months ago at 12/7/21 7:08 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/7/21 7:08 PM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 1448 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
MOE- dont know if you ever got a chance to read my crapola

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5800908

see if its useful or not
Good luck
~D
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Mind over easy, modified 8 Months ago at 12/7/21 11:02 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/7/21 11:02 PM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 239 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
I was not aware of this, thanks for sending it my way. I've begun to work through it, thanks a mil for the time spent compiling this all!

Yesterday I didn't really practice much, but I was "aware" a lot, and at night I was pretty tired from being up so late and getting up early, so there wasn't much practice, just straight to sleep. It was definitely needed... Need to work on sleep habits more, though the time spent meditating has been useful too.

I'm reflecting a lot on how things seem, whether there is a difference, if there is any permanent change, etc... reflecting on the fruition from the other night, that kind of thing. I'll be taking time to have a more dedicated sit tonight, though I've made a resolve to not move onto 3rd path yet. Want to check stuff out first, plus I'm finding I prefer to wait to make the resolve to go for paths when I'm realistically ready in terms of daily life and all that. 

Looking back, there's no doubt that it was a fruition that I got from that last reported sit. I'm not super experienced with fruitions, my only clear times I deliberately hit fruition in a sit were SE (wasn't super sure), then a few weeks back when I was sitting and realizing I was able to set up and hit two fruitions in a row intentionally (this time I was super sure). I was generally sure I hit SE the days/weeks/months after I did so, but I was massively sure after the multi-fruition sit. Was really cool and confidence boosting! 

In the multi-fruition sit from a few weeks back, there was consistency in that there was a very absentminded and almost unconscious moment in high EQ when the fruitions happened, and it felt much like the SE fruition, where I was almost seemingly almost completely unaware, suddenly I came to full awareness, the mind was super blank and present all of a sudden, followed by a diffuse bliss wave through the body, followed by a 2nd jhana moment with very strong joy.

This last one, there was much more clarity, I can remember the moment it happened and what was going on in the mind, and I could actually notice what happened right up to it.

"In one of these moments of being lost in the dreamlike stuff going on, I see what I for some reason know as "the golden palace". It is extremely shocking, and it pulses and vanishes, and I absolutely come to my senses, like fiercely waking up from a dream."

Some degree of doubt comes into the picture considering I ramped up my efforts a lot so maybe it's just the fact that there was a lot more clarity than when I hit my multi-fruition sit a few weeks back. However, I'm thinking about the differences too...

-There was some kind of distinct motion that happened: I saw the dreamlike imagery suddenly pulse in some way. This is compared to previous fruitions which felt like I was basically just nodding off and getting woken up by cold water to the face, with basically no recollection of what was happening in the moment up to it.

-The way the stages of insight presented both in the days up to and during the sit were much deeper, in particular, the way in which the deep absence of the sense of practicing or doing anything seemed clear. Though I'm a map-oriented meditator and I do like and value using them to reflect and scrutinize practice, it truly does feel like there was deep insight that was setting in in the sits leading up to this point. Especially at this point which felt like EQ, the depth of the sense of not practicing and truly resigning and releasing grip on the strenuous instinct to hold onto moments, did and does feel like a true and deep insight that was being integrated and truly held.

-No bliss wave at all, not that I noticed

-A much deeper and profound sense of shock, release, sharpness, presentness, and just that sense of "something is different"

-In the drop into 2nd jhana/VJ that followed, a much deeper sense of intensity, darkness, a much more profound, deep, rich sense of connection to sensations
("My mind is quiet and alert. I feel shocked yet it is quiet. I open my eyes and just look at the ceiling. My eyes are wide open, and I'm just processing. There is silent intensity, I'm just unwaveringly looking up.")
    -In this moment, it's hard to convey how there was just this, extremely profound sense of awe and silent intensity. 

-Right after getting SE, there was this sense of almost flippant naievity, novelty, almost immature in a way. I was that guy that realized that stuff was no big deal, I felt quite free and happy-go-lucky, just enjoying it all and enjoying the novelty of jhanas randomly coming on, a naive sense of wisdom and freedom. After this one though, there was almost, honestly, a tad bit of disappointment in a way. No fireworks, no happy-go-lucky, no feeling like a mini-arahant. This felt silent, profound, dark and almost a tad bit brooding. Maybe the disappointment is in comparing it to how "enlightened" I felt and how it was all so cool and novel after SE. 

-I was simply in awe, there was such a massive depth to the simplicity of perception, yet just immediately there. Just walking around and staring at things in wonder. Perception just felt different, and it still does, I'll try to describe it...

The skeptic and doubter in me considers that the period of practice up to this point has been much more dedicated and constant/consistent, so it's entirely possible that I'm just experiencing the effects of that even as I let up on the gas. However, things still feel changed, it still feels like awareness and waking experience are just different. If anyone has ever switched from a low framerate monitor to a higher framerate one and felt the shock and amazement at how smooth and non-jumpy it is, that's what I'd compare it to. It's definitely apparent in my experience of sight, where things feel much more smooth, immediate, and the jumpy and out of sync quality of "seeing/the one seeing/seeing" does seem to be extremely diminished. Again, this is most apparent in sight, but it feels like this change of quality is present in pretty much all the field of experience/awareness. 

I've kind of felt at times that though 4th path and whatever might be beyond is ultimately the goal, it was almost immediately apparent that I just have to take it all the way to the end, that if this was 2nd path, it's just not the end, and the work is clearly the need to go all the way to the end with the problem of subject-object, and the way that the mind tightens around experience instead of just letting it be. I think that's part of the disappointment type feeling too; SE was so fun and cool and novel, yet this moment left me with the feeling of intentness, just more to be done, and it lies squarely in present experience, nowhere else, not in some magical path moment that just makes it all cool and fun. It does feel like there is a maturity to that though.

The mind seems to be all the looser, more swift and less sticky, and it's similar to how there was a physical sense of lightness in my head. But 2nd path work has really seemed to be focused heavily on mind (@Dream Walker, seems to be in accordance with your mapping you sent me above). Much less intense effort/forcing and forging ahead on relentless noting, and much more emphasis on choiceless awareness, seeing how the mind grasps to the moment itself and causes a stressful lag/disconnect from the actual present moment. It feels like there is a baseline difference in that aspect now, where the mind just simply isn't so laggy and out of sync, and the presence of awareness of the actual moment much more clear and happening on its own without needing to force it. Could be 2nd path, though again the skeptic and cautious doubter in me knows it could just be some combination of scripting, along with just having practiced a lot lately.

Still feels like I did it though, my instincts are telling me that the resolve that carried and guided me through 2nd path practice, is just simply fulfilled. It feels like burden has been lifted and that there is actual insight gained and integrated, still present. My instinct has also been to let up and just take it all in, though I know how being wrong about path moments and just letting up is obviously a pitfall. I'm meeting it in the middle by deciding to just keep up some light daily sits and resolve to not start on 3rd path if I did hit 2nd path.

So that's my report after giving it a few days to play out, how things feel, random thoughts and reflections, concessions of doubt and skepticism, etc... Nevertheless, I'm finding that there's a lot of value in the insights won, and reminding myself that as always, to keep moving forwards.
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Stefan Stefan, modified 8 Months ago at 12/8/21 8:30 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/8/21 8:30 PM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 238 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
A very detailed and excellent log. Kudos for being such a dedicated practitioner of this sublime art. 

I would suggest that you explore your attainments against the fetter model, 2nd path should greatly attenuate the compulsion of craving and clinging (aka desire and aversion). See how the mind pushes and pulls towards and away from objects of desire and aversion. It should be detectable as "attention-grabbing". Bless Ingram for having the conversation -- but the Fetters are compulsions, not emotional erasure (I am not saying Ingram is wrong, I like his model too. Fetters and Ingram models completely overlap. However, his initial characterisation of the fetters is shortsighted and narrow). I can want a burger, for example, but not be compelled by the mind to want a burger. The desire does not consume the mind as strongly after 2nd path. In my experience, nearly 80-ish percent. In this case, the translations of the Pali word Raga to "lust" is fantastic as it really does capture that English-language connotation of being drawn towards, having something on the mind constantly, and being drawn towards something despite rationally knowing better. Dvesha too is well-translated into hate, malice, or resentment. These convey the strong English language connotations of being deeply negative about whatever is happening. It's not a "gee whiz this is bad" one can accept the bad and welcome it as a friend in the spirit of goodwill and friendship. Dvesha manifests as deep resentment over negative things, "get me out of here", "I wish so-and-so would just shut the fuck up and die", etc., these sorts of strong emotional outbursts. 

Phenomenologically, in Ingram's language, this should manifest as a greater clarity to the present moment. The interaction between the everchanging and non-centred self in relation to the formations it finds itself in contact with. Mindfulness of these aspects should be quite strong. However, phenomenology is not as reliable as the Fetters, I believe. But the fetters are phenomenological too (and a little more firmly rooted in what actually causes suffering) the tension that arises from Raga and Dvesha is undeniable. It'll be a twinge, a subtle or strong reaction to conditions. 2nd path you will be slower to anger, and if you do anger, it'll be greatly softer and last less. You'll want less. It is the set up to 3rd path. A set up for more wholesomeness. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 8 Months ago at 12/9/21 2:10 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/9/21 2:10 AM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 2459 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
I know persons who are never angry and certainly never have anger outbursts. They are folks who never worked on their awakening either. They are gentle soft souls. Very loving. Does this make them 3rd Path?  emoticon 

I think that Fetter model is ripe for spiritual bypassing. 

What about No-model at some stage? Would that be so bad? emoticon 

Best wishes to us all emoticon 

p.s. btw, imma dummy when it comes to Buddhist theory and models and what not so don't take my words seriously. I'm just giving personal views and wondering and hunches which are subject to change. 
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Stefan Stefan, modified 8 Months ago at 12/9/21 4:41 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/9/21 4:41 AM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 238 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
It's a purely internal thing, Dusko. You should know this. If I am wearing a Gucci suit you'd assume I'm rich, right? But check my bank account, what does it say? Appearances  Reality. 

It's impossible to spiritually bypass, it's a pure fairy tale. It'll all comes back to bite us one way or another. Try avoiding an obvious problem, try intentionally ignoring it. Is that really ignoring a problem? The second you're paying attention, bypassing cannot happen, it's like delaying medication for an illness, it'll only get worse the longer you'll leave it. "To bypass" means to avoid. It is impossible to avoid reality -- you're a part of it whether you like it or not. 

MOE is posting about path attainments, I'm trying to lend him another perspective to help him make sense of what he's experiencing. 
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Pepe ·, modified 8 Months ago at 12/9/21 7:06 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/9/21 7:05 AM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 589 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Hi MOE! I like your posts.

This felt silent, profound, dark and almost a tad bit brooding

Forgive me if this is far off, but I couldn't resist seeing some correlation of that description with Thusness Model - Stage 3, so maybe there is some Taoist stuff that could resonate with what you're experiencing  nowadays (as a complementary stuff I mean, of course). Shinzen Young (with a Zen background) also talks about this kind of discovery. Even Nisargadatta points in this direction.

Hope this helps in some way,

Pepe
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 8 Months ago at 12/9/21 1:05 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 12/9/21 1:05 PM

RE: MOE's Journey Towards 2nd Path

Posts: 2459 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"It's a purely internal thing, Dusko. You should know this"

Internal-external things emoticon 
Im not sure I know anything anymore emoticon

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