Question on the ’nature’ of the ñanas

alfonso ‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎ ‎, modified 5 Months ago at 12/27/21 6:15 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/27/21 5:52 PM

Question on the ’nature’ of the ñanas

Posts: 5 Join Date: 10/14/21 Recent Posts
Hey!

Newcomer here to the forum, been lurking for a couple of months, having started taking meditation seriously the last 12...

to my question:

there's something I haven't been able to wrap my head around regarding The Progress of Insight... an ambiguity: namely if whether the ñanas purport to 

a) describe and track the microphenomenology of seemingly linear and discrete meditative states with respect to formal vipassana, 

​​​​​​​or

b) describe and track one's overall "psychospiritual development," as it pertains to, and is effected by, one's meditative practice (and the insights thereof),
​​​​
or

c) both,

or

d) something else entirely or slightly different.

Thanks!--And I'm sorry if there's an unequivocal post on this somewhere that I haven't found. I truly am confused about this... (and yes I have read the relevant chapters in MCTB.)

​​​​​​​

Best wishes 
Alfred
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Dream Walker, modified 5 Months ago at 12/27/21 10:37 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/27/21 10:37 PM

RE: Question on the ’nature’ of the ñanas

Posts: 1414 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
E) All the above.
​​​​​​​What's your real question?
~D
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago at 12/27/21 11:34 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/27/21 11:34 PM

RE: Question on the ’nature’ of the ñanas

Posts: 6296 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Hi and welcome!

This has been debated quite a lot, based on anecdotal information and subjective experiences, so I understand how confusing it can be. I think it's fair to say that as of today there is a lack of consensus.

If I understand it correctly, Daniel and his research consortium are among other things working on getting empirical data to delineate the varieties of progression in a systematic way. I look forward to seeing the results. 

In the meantime, I would say that it's a model, and as all models its applicability for a specific case might vary.  According to my personal experience, it's surprisingly accurate and helpful. It continues to help a lot of people even now, more than 2000 years later, which I'd say is very impressive for a model. Still, it's not spot on for everyone's needs. 

I have a hypothesis that the PoI cycling manifests more clearly when lots of energy is led through the system when there's friction, and that there are lots of factors involved there - intensity of practice, wiring, intensity of life challenges, propensity for strong emotions or for being energetic, propensity for variety with regard to highs and lows, ratio of insight and tranquility/concentration, snsitivity to experiences of change, and so forth. It's not as easy as to say that it only occurs with some specific practices. Some of us have followed this cycling even before starting the practice. For me, the already ongoing cycling was a central driving force when I started my practice. I was so happy to find something that could explain what I had been wondering about for a decade. It explained all the oddities that I had been experiencing, including the different kinds of vibrations that I feared were pathological. Others developed clear experiences of cycling from doing shamatha, which some people claim will prevent the cycling. If my hypothesis is correct, it's worth bearing in mind that energy goes where the attention goes, so if we narrow our attention down to aspects of the cycling a lot of the time, it is reasonable to assume that it will lead more energy to those pathways, for good and for bad - which might exacerbate frictions while also making them undeniably clear in a way that can be very helpful for insight if one has the capacity to take in all the implications and do the work needed to cut through it. It's probably wise to find a balance there. Taking in the space around us can be very helpful as an antidote if there's too much friction. 

I personally do think that with skilled translation work and an openness to the many factors that affect how developments manifest for people in different circumstances, some version of this map can probably make sense for spiritual development in general, as I think it has to do with some basic functions of the human mind. On the other hand, it may not always be very helpful to push that interpretation on other people's experiences. Regardless, it's just a belief. Not everyone shares it, and that's okay. Then again, I also think that if empirical data can support some aspects of it, widespread knowledge of it would possibly benefit people who need spiritual guidance and who are fatally misinterpreted today. 
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Stefan Stefan, modified 5 Months ago at 12/28/21 12:22 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/28/21 12:22 AM

RE: Question on the ’nature’ of the ñanas

Posts: 238 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Problem: my mind creates suffering in daily life due to the changing nature of all things and the conditional nature of what I understand happiness to be. This makes me stressed, unhappy, unfulfilled, etc... 

Solution: you learn to recognise the ever-changing nature of reality and the conditional nature on which your (idea of) existence rests, and then you can begin to untangle how your mind resisted change and did not know conditionality, which both produced the dissatisfaction with mundane existence. 

The POI details how that skill develops. Unlike many other skills, which are about executing a usually overt behaviour or skill, meditation aims at the existential part of our minds, which makes it a very slippery thing to track. However, it still is a skill -- overcoming suffering. Our unawakened minds did not skilfully appreciate or handle change and conditionality, so we had sub-optimal responses.

The POI details how the mind begins to re-wire and adapt to the new experience of reality, and the new execution of the skills to untangle the knots of suffering which it produced. These are knots pertaining to how our mind handles impermanence of all phenomena and the conditionality on which it erroneously (but benevolently) sought to derive pleasure. 

I do believe it is roughly linear, however, some people do skip over parts while others get bogged down in certain parts. It's no different to how we learn new vital skills. The first 2 nanas are generally pretty enjoyable because we're learning how to execute the skill with some proficiency. The 3rd nana is difficult because now we're stringing together a little more of the skill in time, which drains us of a bit of focus and energy. 4th nana (A&P) is very exciting because now we can narrowly focus our energy and, in a restricted way, execute the "undo suffering knot" skill. The dark night nanas are no fun because we realise that the skill of undoing the knots of suffering requires a fuller comprehension of the environment and context that we're in, there's so much more to take care of and understand before being able to holistically eradicate suffering in any meaningful way. Fear arises because we're scared of losing our previous conditioned responses toward pleasure/pain, which were comfortable. Misery because we're sad to be losing them. Disgust happens because we're now kind of ashamed that we ever fell into the trap of constructing barriers for our own contentment. D4D is a reaction to disgust, "okay, I wanna get off this samsaric ride ASAP". And re-obs is the most painful because now we're getting past the emotional reactions themselves, which were also conditioned responses, we realise that changing our conditioning is a very deep affair. Equanimity arises as soon as the realisation of unconditional satisfaction arises, the previous unskillful handling of change and conditionality has mostly been understood and overcome, good times pervade (calling them "good" is a very big understatement). Stream entry/path moments happen when these skills are reached to a high enough level of competency at the point that we no longer have to work to get equanimity, the knots of suffering preventing us from finding satisfaction in the present moment are gone (Theravadin would call these fetters). 

So, with that being said:

Q1) describe and track the microphenomenology of seemingly linear and discrete meditative states with respect to formal vipassana.
A1) Phenomenology is only part of the game. I can see the ball, but now I gotta hit it to get the home run. 

​​​​​​​or

Q2) describe and track one's overall "psychospiritual development," as it pertains to, and is affected by, one's meditative practice (and the insights thereof),
A2) hitting a home run is a great skill to have. But can only be called a skill if you can execute in a variety of environments and contexts. Being able to hit home runs only when it is hot is not super ideal. Nor is it ideal if I can only hit home runs when I've had frosty flakes for breakfast. These are still conditions for my home run hitting skills.  Ultimately, the idea of psychospiritual development is extremely complex because we always have our minds (apart from Nirodha, sedation, comas or death) so the only true gauge is being honest with yourself (not sceptical, but honest). Better yet, a skill is only really super valuable to us if we can execute it unconsciously so that it is an integrated part of our lives. Does the POI describe this, I would say not really too much, but what it does do is describe common troubleshooting, "if we're experiencing X, you're likely in territory A, so use methods 1, 2, or 3 to help the problem move along". That's all maps are good for anyways, we only use maps when we're lost, looking for direction, and when we are doubtful of where we are. In any other case, a map is a distraction from one's environment. 

hope this helps, it's how I see the POI, I think it's a bit more of a grounded and a deliberately "un-spiritual" explanation of the things happening
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago at 12/28/21 5:40 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/28/21 5:40 AM

RE: Question on the ’nature’ of the ñanas

Posts: 6296 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Excellent explanation! _/\_
shargrol, modified 5 Months ago at 12/28/21 6:21 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/28/21 6:19 AM

RE: Question on the ’nature’ of the ñanas

Posts: 1747 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
The Progress of Insight stages are mostly not about "psychospiritual development", but there is some correlation. It is very hard to move through the dark night nanas, when the sense of self becomes more transparent/ephemeral, without adult maturity... and this maturity is fairly advanced in the sense that it much less based on ego roles, cultural identity, personal preferences, etc. . When the sense of self becomes less concrete, the person almost has to move into psycholgical frameworks like existentialism, gestalt, etc. For someone to keep sitting during Equanimity, there needs to be a lot of maturity. As someone said to me, "there really is nothing in Equanimity that feeds [the narrow identity of] the ego". So in this sense there is some correlation.

The better framework for thinking about overall adult development, which includes aspects of "psychospirituality" would be this: https://www.actualized.org/downloads/the-9-stages-of-ego-development-cook-greuter.pdf This framework talks more about the overall development of adults and emphasizes the overall cognative abilities and psychological maturity, including rareified stages associated with spirituality.

​​​​​​​Hope this helps!
alfonso ‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎ ‎, modified 5 Months ago at 12/28/21 7:06 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/28/21 7:06 AM

RE: Question on the ’nature’ of the ñanas

Posts: 5 Join Date: 10/14/21 Recent Posts
Thanks to the four of you for taking some time to answer my question! There's a lot of interesting bits and pieces of information in all of your posts that I'll try to digest and respond to, eventually -- duties call on me!
alfonso ‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎ ‎, modified 5 Months ago at 12/28/21 7:14 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/28/21 7:14 AM

RE: Question on the ’nature’ of the ñanas

Posts: 5 Join Date: 10/14/21 Recent Posts
My 'real' question is stated as clearly as I could phrase it in the above post! If your question is intended as a Koan, then I guess I'll answer with a slight nodding-in-agreement with my one of my eyebrows somewhat raised.
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Jim Smith, modified 5 Months ago at 12/28/21 7:29 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/28/21 7:29 AM

RE: Question on the ’nature’ of the ñanas

Posts: 1116 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
In case you or other readers haven't see this and might be interested, I found this link and the pages it links to  were a lot of help in understanding the POI. 

https://web.archive.org/web/20141020082643/http://alohadharma.wordpress.com/the-map/

alfonso ‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎ ‎, modified 5 Months ago at 12/28/21 7:34 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/28/21 7:33 AM

RE: Question on the ’nature’ of the ñanas

Posts: 5 Join Date: 10/14/21 Recent Posts
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
Hi and welcome!

Thanks!

... cycling manifests more clearly when lots of energy is led through the system when there's friction ... what kind of 'friction'? Like a friction between my sense of self and the contents of my experience (dukkha)?

Some of us have followed this cycling even before starting the practice.
Gotcha, and yes, I've heard similar things ... this is why I read the map as tracking some sort of (albeit) cyclical "development".

... the already ongoing cycling was a central driving force when I started my practice ...
Would you care to elaborate? Or do you have a practice log you could point me in the direction toward? I'm interested in how you would describe the correlation between your formal sits, and their impact on your psychology, and the already cyclical nature of your mental experience.

... all the oddities that I had been experiencing ... different kinds of vibrations that I feared were pathological.
How and when would these manifest?

... if we narrow our attention down to aspects of the cycling a lot of the time, it is reasonable to assume that it will lead more energy to those pathways, for good and for bad ...
I would think so too. I also suspect that if one expects certain phenomena to occur (having read litterature on POI, say), one might interpret sensation/phenomenon x as being a sign of expected phenomenological characteristic A. I.e., the more we conceive of the POI as a somewhat accurate model of phenomenology/experience the more we'll find reason to think our perception aligns with said model -- not to say that it is not an accurate model of things!

... which might exacerbate frictions while also making them undeniably clear ...
I hear that! Although in practice, I find it hard to distinguish between what might be a,  say, physiological tension (due to, say, a lack of stretching properly) and e.g. an "energy-knot" due to some putative psychospiritual difficulty (or however one might characterise such frictions). Sorry if I'm coming of overly skeptical or w/e, I just tend toward analysis... x)

Taking in the space around us can be very helpful as an antidote if there's too much friction. 
Will try, thanks!

alfonso ‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎ ‎, modified 5 Months ago at 12/28/21 8:53 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/28/21 8:53 AM

RE: Question on the ’nature’ of the ñanas

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Awesome, thanks!
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago at 12/28/21 12:01 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/28/21 11:17 AM

RE: Question on the ’nature’ of the ñanas

Posts: 6296 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Good questions! I'll try to answer, but I'm not sure how precise I can be. I suspect that in trying to answer, I'll generate new obscurities. I hope that at least some of it is helpful in some way.

I used the word friction because it allowed me to remain open to what it "really" is. So yeah, it's vague. I don't really know. I think there are many possible models of explanation that can be applied more or less accurately and I'm not sure to what extent and how they intersect. I think that at some level it might be helpful to think of it in terms of how entangled and frizzy our energy channels are, and how the traffic flows in them - or in neurological pathways for that matter (which I would say overlaps but isn't quite equivalent), or with regard to habitual patterns. Not saying that energy channels are absolute in any way, but working with it on that plane does things. Now, what you suggested, subjectively experienced friction between self and objects etc, is definitely related to that. In my subjective experience, insights release energy that was locked up in limiting patterns, and then that energy needs to go somewhere. It can very easily flood into other habitual patterns instead, because those routes are highly accessible. So when one works with insight, things can come out in the open that was previously masked because there was less energy flowing around in the system, whatever we believe the system to be. And Gosh, can it be messy there! But seeing the mess and cutting through it is also sort of the point, I think. We just need to find ways of doing it that work for us and for those around us. So I guess at least part of what I'm saying is that when there is more traffic flowing around in the infrastructure, the organizational flaws of it become accentuated, and we are trying to rebuild the organization with the traffic (life) still going on. 

I do have practice logs: Polly Ester's practice log - a pilot project, and then numbers. Unfortunately I haven't saved any links to the old ones and the search function on this platform sucks, so I thinkthe easiest way to find the first ones are to go into the section for practice logs and look for them manually. Really sorry about that. I believe I'm currently on number 12 (or is it 13?). I was more inte mapping earlier in my practice. Where I'm at now, there are so many fractions to it that it's no use keeping track of it. However, I still find it helpful to recognize treats from specific ñanas on the fly and secondguess myself accordingly. Like "This thinking pattern is classical reobservation stuff, so I'd better not take it too seriously" or "The way I feel sorry for myself right in this moment and the way it makes me disgusted of myself is totally out of proportion, classical misery-disgust sequence. It will pass." And then zoom out to the whole space, which clearly has better things to be aware about than obsessive selfing. 

I had what could be classified as spontaneous Kundalini arising many years ago, so there were all sorts of weird stuff going on for a long time. Bolts of energy shooting up through the spine and exploding, energetic buzzing, weird vibrations of differents sorts, ups and lows in temperatures, changes in focus and in clarity - pretty much what Daniel describes here: https://vimeo.com/69793499 It's much more subtle nowadays. Sometimes I miss the intensity so much that I seem to call it up again, and that can be quite the shock. Now I have gotten accustomed to a smoother ride. I guess I haven't quite found my balance yet. Either that, or my balance allows for some variety in intensity and pace.

Psychologically, over time I can see a clear tendency of being able to deal with challenges with more and more equinimity, in most types of life situations. At the same time, I see more and more of what still needs working on, which can feel heavy. It's good to remind myself of how much has actually improved. Things are less about me me me, and that makes life less messy, but I would prefer it to be even less about me (and of course, the me that finds that the selfing sucks is caught up in the midst of selfing, so that will never see the end to it). 

Yeah, sure, confirmation bias is always a factor.

As for the relationship between energy body and physical body, that is tricky. I find that a practical approach is to pragmatically work with things on many planes while not investing too much energy in searching for the perfect story around it that makes it all come together. Also, just like I wouldn't do brain surgery on myself or on any other being, I try not to fiddle with the energy plane beyond what seems to know its own way. Sometimes I happen to suddenly and seemingly magickally unblock something that seemed completely solid and physical just a moment ago, and I try to not screw that up by getting into full analytical mode. That kind of thing happens, sometimes with a popping sound, sometimes even with like a very small electrical surge. It can also happen gradually, by way of what feels like untangling going on in a state of lucid sleep. Sometimes I find physiological explanations to what happens (like, a specific ticking sound in my ears that coincides with breathing becoming much easier - I accidently found out that in some phases, puffs of air are pressed out through the ears, creating a vacuum that makes air enter in through the nose automatically; I noticed that while meditating with my ears under water in my bath tub). I also suspect that the fascia contracts and expands in accordance with the cycling. 

Being sceptical is totally fine. Investigating for oneself is both fascinating and helpful. 
Adi Vader, modified 4 Months ago at 12/30/21 11:09 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 12/30/21 11:09 AM

RE: Question on the ’nature’ of the ñanas

Posts: 110 Join Date: 6/29/20 Recent Posts
When we establish mindfulness in the 3 foundations of mindfulness - body ( 5 senses), mind (6th sense), vedana (valence associated with all objects), we gain an intuitive understanding of how stuff works in the 3 foundations. This intuitive understanding emerges as realizations or pattern recognitions or connections between things. These realizations are also cognitive events in which we establish mindfulness. This is the 4th foundation of mindfulness.

There are various such realizations. The three characteristics - Anitya, Dukkha, Anatma are part of this realization.

The Progress of Insight is a sequence of realizations that emerge when practice is structured in a particular way. For most people the grossest characteristic comes first followed by the subtler characteristic.

Things change and fluctuate and comes out of nowhere and disappears into nowhere - Impermanance and Emptiness
Things cannot be relied upon - Anitya
We hate it when stuff cannot be relied upon - Dukkha
Upon letting go of our own constructed expectations, and imagined ownership on phenomena and awareness we discover that 'we' or 'self' is a construct. an emergent property - Anatma

This sequence happens in distinct relaizations that are called the Progress of Insight.

These realizations come about when we observe phenomena - thus there is a phenomenological component
The knowledge, the wisdom, the insight - it has no phenomenology.

We dont get to keep the experience and the phenomenology. we only get to keep the insights. the realizations. And they change us ... forever.

You can read this and see if it helps.

​​​​​​​https://www.reddit.com/r/streamentry/comments/o19kpo/vipassana_the_progress_of_insight_part_1_anitya/

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