What's Going On? Powerful spiritual experiences.

Jim Jam, modified 5 Months ago at 12/16/21 7:24 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/16/21 7:23 PM

What's Going On? Powerful spiritual experiences.

Posts: 4 Join Date: 1/3/21 Recent Posts
Before I begin writing anything I will of course thank you all for the advice you provide on the internet to people such as myself. It has been invaluable.

I am writing to ask about a series of phenomena that I have been experiencing for about the last week. I will go over the build-up to these phenomena, and hopefully, provide enough information to those more experienced than myself to help me out. Alright, onto the body of the post.
I have been meditating in the Mahasi style for more than a year and a half. At first, I was noting; now I am noticing more broadly. I practice formally for around 45 minutes to an hour a day unfailingly. I focus on noting or noticing as much as possible as I live my life as well. I have never been on retreat, as I live in the southern U.S. and I have not found a respectable retreat center near me.

               The past two weeks have been the hardest sets of meditation I have ever had. It felt like all of my neuroticism was cranked to the absolute maximum. Everything from anger, serious bouts of sadness to the point I didn’t want to move, all the way up to suicidal ideations (terrifying, and just to clarify I have never had them before this and don’t have them now. They were brief but really, really scary.) One day during this at work I intentionally snuck out and took a long lunch break (sorry boss, if you’re reading this) and sat in my car and just sort of wallowed in sadness. At one point I just sort of gave up, and wanted to sleep so I focused on my breath and the sounds around me and my emotions while I tried to rest. While I was resting there I experienced what I have been calling an “alignment” because that’s the word that best describes it to me. It felt like everything in my head and body just “snapped” into itself. I was immediately startled and took a breath. That was the best breath I have taken in years. It felt like something just clicked internally. I began crying with happiness. The world felt so pure! So clear! So broad, and like "I" had nothing to do with it.

I’ve felt different since this happened, as my perspective has literally changed. It feels as if I am living a dream of my own life. Or watching a movie unfold that “I” barely participate in. Things have just felt so much better, and I mean that. This happened about a week ago, and since then I have had two nearly identical (although somewhat different) experiences. One was when I was returning home from work. Sitting in deadlock traffic I just began paying attention to what was going on around me (this is easier, too! It feels automatic!) and it happened again. This time it was spooky, almost like my soul was sucked out of me. Extremely jarring, but once I took a deep breath I felt the same deep sense of peace pervade my being like I did the first time. The third event was near identical to the second.

What is going on? This event has happened several times now, and each time it feels powerful, somewhat startling, and then like something happened that was “right”. My first thought is that these might be cessations, right? I am very skeptical, as I have been fooled before. I don’t necessarily have great jhanic skills, and so I haven’t seen any of the immediate lead-up to these phenomena. Each time it feels like something “wiggles” in my head. Almost like I am observing the sense of watching in the context of everything else. Then it "aligns", startles the shit out of me, and I feel that all is perfect. The first time this happened it felt like I was done, to the point that meditation has felt far less important than it used to me. I still do it, and it is easier overall, but I don’t feel the “need” to do so like I used to.

What should I do now? What tests should I run against myself, and where would a wise way go from here be? Thanks to you all.
T DC, modified 5 Months ago at 12/16/21 9:46 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/16/21 9:40 PM

RE: What's Going On? Powerful spiritual experiences.

Posts: 439 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
Great write up, and congratulations for what sounds like a definite attainment of some sort, and very possibly stream entry as defined around here.

What comes next and what should you do about it?  Wait and see how it evolves.  It sounds like you had a dramatically dark lead up to this experience, which has then been correspondingly positive and profound.  Often in the time following such an attainment these things gradually balance themselves out and only then do we begin to see more clearly the ways in which we hope to progress going forward. 

This time after an attainment is known as review in the poi, or more colloquially as integration, and is a great time to relax into the experience and explore it more as desired.  No need to do anything in particular, although practicing repeat fruitions can be a nice, and newfound skill to work on - as well as a clear way to confirm the experience, but it sounds like you have been having these naturally.  Also no need to force yourself to continue to meditate for the next attainment right away, mainly take some time to see where the path leads you once the honeymoon likely recedes somewhat. 
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Jim Smith, modified 5 Months ago at 12/17/21 12:34 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/17/21 12:27 AM

RE: What's Going On? Powerful spiritual experiences.

Posts: 1116 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Jam


What should I do now? What tests should I run against myself, and where would a wise way go from here be? Thanks to you all.


I think Daniel's advice to see what happens over the next year or so is good. See how does the experience holds up over time.

I think the list of 12 practices here are good for anyone who finds them intriguing no matter where on the path they are:
https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-v-awakening/37-models-of-the-stages-of-awakening/a-revised-four-path-model/


Daniel has a short video on diagnosing stream entry. 
https://vimeo.com/372228348

Hey.

Welcome to a video about diagnosing stream entry.

Well, I routinely get questions which are basically, "Will you diagnose me?" or "See if I have stream entry." or "Confirm that this is stream entry" or "What do you think of this experience, was that stream entry?"

Regardless of the specifics, there are four basic cases.

The first is they do not have stream entry, and some person on a forum, or me, or whoever else says, you don't have stream entry. Ok. Good. No problem.

The next case is they do have stream entry, and someone says, you have stream entry. Okay. Now you can identify with an attainment or whatever, or maybe that can cause some hiccups. Not that much of a problem.

The next case is that they do have street entry and someone says, you do not have stream entry. Well, they have stream entry so while that can cause a little bit of confusion, it's relatively minimal, and the attainment is what it is, regardless of whether or not someone calls it that.

But the last case is the serious problem, and that's where they do not have stream entry and someone says: you have stream entry. And in this case, they've just been totally screwed if they believe that.

And not only have they been screwed, they will go around spreading this crazy to other people and they will call things like the arising and passing away, which is by far the most common mimic, stream entry. And they will call equanimity stream entry. And they will call some momentary opening into some formless realm or something else stream entry. Or a momentary taste of boundless consciousness or boundless space or nothingness, or neither perception or non perception, they will call that stream entry.

But stream entry should perform like stream entry. It should do all the things that stream entry should do. and if it doesn't do that well, then what is it?

So it would be if someone said to me, "Oh yeah, I've got a car." And I said, "Ok, let me see your car." And they took me out back, and there was a burned out old shell of a car on blocks. And you can call it a car, maybe, but it doesn't do all the things a car is supposed to do. And there are actually things that do what cars are supposed to do.

And so linguistically, I think of stream entry is a question of function. If it doesn't function like stream entry, well then pragmatically or practically, it's not stream entry, just like a burned out shell of a car is not a car. And so if whatever you think of a stream entry is not performing like stream entry should perform, with natural cycling, with rapid access to states, with hopefully repeat fruition, maybe even multiples, maybe even if you're lucky duration, and clear presentation of doors that eventually become easily distinguished from random state shifts or random formless realm things. Then, there's no point in calling that stream entry, because it's not doing what stream entry should do.

So I hope this video has helped, and I hope that there is a whole lot more terminological sobriety and skepticism and reasonable performance testing in the world of path and state and stage diagnosis.

Good luck.
Practice well.
Best wishes.
Thank you.
Adi Vader, modified 5 Months ago at 12/17/21 12:45 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/17/21 12:45 AM

RE: What's Going On? Powerful spiritual experiences.

Posts: 110 Join Date: 6/29/20 Recent Posts
The language you use is difficult to contextualize for me. But if possible consider the list of 10 fetters that bind us to a world of suffering and see if you have dropped the first three.

For diagnosis

This is a brief write up on the 10 fetters. Being brief it is  not at all very explanatory but hopefully something will make sense:

  1. Sat kaya drishti - Creation of an identity using details of our lives: I am an Indian, I am an American, I am an alcoholic, I am a teetotaler
  2. Vichikitsa - Perverted problem solving - trying to solve a problem which doesnt exist or which cannot be solved, finding one's self continuously at the problem like a bulldog - until we substitute it with something else. eg: What will happen to me in the future, Am I doing the right thing?
  3. Sila Vrat Paramarsh - Consultation of the familiar to find temporary and false sense of safety - I just need to be a good person and help old ladies cross the road and thus I will be fine. I just need to go to the gym everyday and I will always feel good about myself
  4. Kama raga - passion to possess (when nothing can be possessed)
  5. Vyapad - compulsively hitting against / opposing that which is present, can happen, or is inevitable
  6. Rupa raga - passion for form - I want to sleep with that particular girl, I must think about my future
  7. Arupa raga - passion for the formless - I just want to be a don juan, I must think - anything ..... might as well think about my future
  8. Mana - compulsion to rank against - I am less than, more than, equal to - This life, this task, this conversation, this friend, this job, this moment, this itch on my ass, this situation in my life
  9. Audhatya - restlessness - self explanatory
  10. Avidya - The innate tendency of the mind to strongly oppose any change in mental models - particularly strong defense of the above 9 - strong but relatively weaker defense of other stuff - The earth is flat, A dictatorial leader is good for the country - such things are also defended but such things are superficial. The 9 fetters are defended tooth and nail

When you are a monk - all you do is meditate, go on alms round, contemplate the sutras and do jhana - all of the above are expressed using only your current circumstances. But these fetters have nothing whatsoever to do with the Buddha. They are human cognitive flaws. compulsions which have no name and no expression except the expression they find within the details of one's lives

Sat kaya drishti - if I were to have been born in the arctic in an igloo, munching on sea weed, fish and walrus - then heck I am an Eskimo. This is a fact. But the fetter of sat kaya drishti creates a strong identity using this detail. An identity which I am compelled to defend using weapons. If I decide to migrate to the tropics for employment I will still carry a yearning in my heart telling me that I dont really belong here. Maybe in a decade a new identity will be created and now that identity will become a compulsion.

Think of each and every fetter as a driver to take a certain kind of birth in a certain kind of world

In a way think of each and every fetter as addiction to vedana - chase positive vedana, run away from negative vedana. In the eskimo analogy, a feeling of belonging to a tribe contains positive vedana. 

For Further practice planning:

1. Work on developing the 7 factors of awakening
2. Develop a deep familiarity with the 6 sense doors
3. Figure out how to study dependent origination. The parts of the chain of interest are contact - vedana - trishna (thirst). Learn to relax, not participate, not feed energy into these chains as they occur in meditation
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Dream Walker, modified 5 Months ago at 12/17/21 6:59 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/17/21 6:59 AM

RE: What's Going On? Powerful spiritual experiences.

Posts: 1414 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Jim Jam
Before I begin writing anything I will of course thank you all for the advice you provide on the internet to people such as myself. It has been invaluable.
Great!

The past two weeks have been the hardest sets of meditation I have ever had. It felt like all of my neuroticism was cranked to the absolute maximum. Everything from anger, serious bouts of sadness to the point I didn’t want to move, all the way up to suicidal ideations (terrifying, and just to clarify I have never had them before this and don’t have them now. They were brief but really, really scary.) One day during this at work I intentionally snuck out and took a long lunch break (sorry boss, if you’re reading this) and sat in my car and just sort of wallowed in sadness. At one point I just sort of gave up, and wanted to sleep so I focused on my breath and the sounds around me and my emotions while I tried to rest.
Standard 'Dark Night' crap.
While I was resting there I experienced what I have been calling an “alignment” because that’s the word that best describes it to me. It felt like everything in my head and body just “snapped” into itself. I was immediately startled and took a breath. That was the best breath I have taken in years. It felt like something just clicked internally. I began crying with happiness. The world felt so pure! So clear! So broad, and like "I" had nothing to do with it.
Standard Equanimity stage.

I’ve felt different since this happened, as my perspective has literally changed. It feels as if I am living a dream of my own life. Or watching a movie unfold that “I” barely participate in. Things have just felt so much better, and I mean that. This happened about a week ago, and since then I have had two nearly identical (although somewhat different) experiences. One was when I was returning home from work. Sitting in deadlock traffic I just began paying attention to what was going on around me (this is easier, too! It feels automatic!) and it happened again. This time it was spooky, almost like my soul was sucked out of me. Extremely jarring, but once I took a deep breath I felt the same deep sense of peace pervade my being like I did the first time. The third event was near identical to the second.
Standard Stream Entry followed by additional cessations.

What is going on? This event has happened several times now, and each time it feels powerful, somewhat startling, and then like something happened that was “right”. My first thought is that these might be cessations, right? I am very skeptical, as I have been fooled before. I don’t necessarily have great jhanic skills, and so I haven’t seen any of the immediate lead-up to these phenomena. Each time it feels like something “wiggles” in my head. Almost like I am observing the sense of watching in the context of everything else. Then it "aligns", startles the shit out of me, and I feel that all is perfect. The first time this happened it felt like I was done, to the point that meditation has felt far less important than it used to me. I still do it, and it is easier overall, but I don’t feel the “need” to do so like I used to.
Enjoy!

What should I do now? What tests should I run against myself, and where would a wise way go from here be? Thanks to you all.
Enjoy the honeymoon as you get used to whatever and stuff fades. Test? Wise? Go? Be? Screw that. Just hang out with whatever ya got. Enjoy that till it fades to the new normal. As you get bored eventually, the next thing will happen. Naturally. As it always does. If ya didn't get SE then next shift will tell you so. No biggy.
Good Luck,
~D
Jim Jam, modified 5 Months ago at 12/18/21 1:14 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/18/21 1:14 PM

RE: What's Going On? Powerful spiritual experiences.

Posts: 4 Join Date: 1/3/21 Recent Posts
Thank all of you for the advice. I will take the considerations you have put forth and put them against the test of time.

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