An honest attempt at fruition / stream-entry

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Alexander Tesfamichael, modified 4 Months ago at 2/25/22 8:24 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/25/22 3:21 AM

An honest attempt at fruition / stream-entry

Posts: 9 Join Date: 2/25/22 Recent Posts
Hi reader, this is a log.
Any entry that ends with a question mark you should feel free to weigh in on.
​​​​​​​Similarly, all forms of advice are welcome.

Sidenote: MCTB is next on my reading list, many of the clearly technical terms used here are not yet familiar to me.
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Alexander Tesfamichael, modified 4 Months ago at 2/25/22 8:39 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/25/22 7:59 AM

RE: An honest attempt at fruition / stream-entry

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Started in bed with eyes closed counting out breaths to thirty, restarting on losing focus. Felt hard. Restarted many times for 20min or so. Noticed inner visuals were most likely to take over focus. Then moved on to formal sit.

Focused the mind until it stabilized for the first ten or so minutes. By stabilized, I mean awareness became wide, the physical sensate field became prickly but very soft and the body immovable like a mountain at which point the mind seemed to wander less, or awareness appeared wider and expanded rather than rapidly contracting from object to object. Regardless, my mind still wanders and contracts onto an object again quite a bit, maybe a dozen or so times during the rest of the sit where the expansion, or differently said falling away of sensations happens in a rather large clump that appeared to be the full field just moments ago. I then lightly leaned into noting how things pass, or sensations blink out of existence, or "the going of all things".

When I sit quietly, I feel a lot is happening. I wouldn't call it busy but waves of sensations blink in and out of existence by the hundreds. I noticed that I would sometimes find awareness had collapsed again into something contracted, but that this happened remarkably fewer times when I let the mind decide freely what section of sensation to group and call the foreground, and to then let it label with a worded label. This went something like:
- scooter passing outside
- lightly painful pressure on ankles touching the ground
- brief pressing of the right middle-finger into the back of the left hand
- shift at the top of the in-breath, to out-breath
- visual memory of friend you saw yesterday
- girlfriend clearing throat
- going out of sensations with the out-breath
- excitement building in belly
- in-breath starting
- brief disappointment, lightly radiated from shoulders
- breathing in (at the same time feeling: stretching of the belly, airflow through the nostrils, slightly colder in left nostril etc.)
- [some explicit visual I'll filter out, not sure what the rules are here haha]
- sounds of a cleaning vehicle outside
- going out of all things
- light shift in balance

Two questions that float up now are, would it make sense to focus on more stability / longevity of focus, or maybe making noting more brief? What are good ways to stay on the going out of all things?
Martin, modified 4 Months ago at 2/25/22 10:44 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/25/22 10:44 AM

RE: An honest attempt at fruition / stream-entry

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Alexander, you have a beautiful descriptive style. That was a pleasure to read. 

More experienced practitioners can give you pointers on noting, but one great resource on the going out of all things is Shinzen Young's Gone technique. I find it very relaxing and, for me, a Gone-focused sit can give ease to a whole day. 

https://www.shinzen.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/art_PowerofGone.pdf
George S, modified 4 Months ago at 2/25/22 10:56 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/25/22 10:56 AM

RE: An honest attempt at fruition / stream-entry

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Sounds like good noting practice. Noting will tend to speed up and become more automatic as you transition into A&P nana. All phenomena are constantly arising & passing. Awareness of going out of phenoneman will tend to happen naturally as you transition into Dissolution nana. For the time being, just note questions about practice as 'wondering' or 'thinking' and familiarize yourself with the nanas if you haven't already - check out Mahasi Sayadaw's Practical Insight Meditation (attached) and/or The Progress Of Insight Section from MCTB:

https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-iv-insight/30-the-progress-of-insight/
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Alexander Tesfamichael, modified 4 Months ago at 2/25/22 2:20 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/25/22 2:19 PM

RE: An honest attempt at fruition / stream-entry

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Thanks Martin. More to come haha.

Love Shinzen, just read the document. It's perfect, thank you.

detect the transition point between all of it being present and at least some of it no longer being present

​​​​​​​This already suggests a clear shift in how I'm noting. Something I didn't write up was how I noticed this morning that "noting gone" on an inner visual the mind rests easily, but, in closely observing if parts were disappearing, the mind would rebuild the visual at the same time. This morning I focussed on a tweet that appeared in my mind and as seconds passed, images, buttons, and even whole replies started appearing haha. But that would change entirely with an emphasis on the first sensations to disappear, not the last. Will try this specific technique for a while I think. It also agrees quite closely with what I was doing already.

​​​​​​​Thanks again!
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Alexander Tesfamichael, modified 4 Months ago at 2/25/22 2:49 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/25/22 2:49 PM

RE: An honest attempt at fruition / stream-entry

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Thanks George!

I'm quite excited for that section of MCTB. I tried to skim it just now but there is simply too much valuable and specific information there not to let the material do its work in all the time and space it asks. It'll remain next on my list! I'm almost done with Permutation City.

Do you mean, during practice note questions about practice as "wondering" or "thinking"?

I'll familiarize myself with the ñanas when I get into the book. Thanks for adding some dry tinder there.
George S, modified 4 Months ago at 2/25/22 3:50 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/25/22 3:50 PM

RE: An honest attempt at fruition / stream-entry

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Yes, during noting practice you should just note all thoughts as 'thinking' until they disappear, and then go back to seeing, hearing and feeling. Feeling often requires more specific labels like heat, pressure, vibration etc. If you still find yourself getting caught up in thoughts then you can be more specific - wondering, remembering, planning etc. But the simpler the better otherwise you can start getting caught up in thinking again about how to label! However the great thing about noting is that it's kinda foolproof - the moment you notice yourself doing something you note it and then you are no longer doing it! I would strongly recommend Mahasi's book because it is short and simple and shows you exactly what to do. Daniel Ingram says it's his alltime favorite dharma book with no close competitors. It took me straight to first & second path by just following the instructions exactly as written. 
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 4 Months ago at 2/27/22 3:29 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/27/22 3:29 AM

RE: An honest attempt at fruition / stream-entry

Posts: 384 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
Hey Alexander,

Nice to read your detailed log and feel your dedication!

First of all: I am not that far along the path myself, so take anything I say with a grain of salt and think for yourself.

I noticed your note "scooter passing outside". That is actually a very processed thought, and maybe it would be helpful to break it down to what actually is happening in experience: So there is a sound (note for instance: "hearing"), maybe it increases in volume (note for instance: "increasing"), maybe it changes slightly in tonality due to the doppler effect (note for instance: "changing"). Later on it decreases in volume and change tonality in the other direction – these event can be noted too. At some point, possibly quite early on, maybe you managed to catch an flash of an image in you mind of a specific or more generic scooter (note for instance: "image thought" or just "thinking"). This image thought has arisen because the mind recognizes the sound (note for instance: "recognizing"). That the scooter is passing outside is also a construction based on previous knowledge, and a construction that implies a difference between an outside an inside. Imagine you had never heard the scooter-passing sound before, and had just landed on Mars. Then you wouldn't be able to note "scooter passing outside", it would just be: hearing, increasing, changing, changing, decreasing, gone.

I do realize that there isn't time enough to verbalize all these notes, and you don't have to. I am just doing this brief deconstruction to hint at how to break down experience into it's parts. Which is one of the things noting is for. If you can notice as many parts of "scooter passing outside" as possible, and maybe note two or three of them, you are already doing fine.

MCTB is of course an excellent ressource, so is the short Mahasi book mentioned above in this thread. I would add another thing to your reading list, namely shargrol's posts compilation. For me it has been as valuable as MCTB in concrete, hands-on advice on how actually to do this practice. Lot's of suggestions on noting, among many other things. Highly recommended!

Good luck with your practice! Looking forward to reading more!
Niels
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Alexander Tesfamichael, modified 4 Months ago at 2/27/22 7:11 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/27/22 7:11 AM

RE: An honest attempt at fruition / stream-entry

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Enjoyable session today! Took about ~15min maybe to get to the stone-hills body where mind has rolled into the valley of peaceful abiding. Did a short sun visualization in this section. It led to an experience I've had maybe a ~hundred times now that I still haven't heard a good label for. I used to call them reality wobbles, recently I jokingly refer to them as rigpa faceplants, or all-pervading emptiness. I'd like to keep the log short today so I'll give a proper description whenever they happen again.

When state felt steady, I switched to "note gone", this time putting an emphasis not to look for the final sensation that is "part of the group" to fade, but instead looking for the first as Shinzen suggests in The Power of Gone (linked above). A fascinating shift happened! Where sensations came and went fast nothing changed. However, auditory thought still managed to form longer chains. Some other things too but let's take the example of inner audible thought. Sometimes sentences, sometimes just a sentence, sometimes half a sentence, sometimes only the feeling of a sentence coming up, then "note gone" intention would appear, immediately recognize there the first fading, after which the whole sensate object or focus would rapidly come crumbling down. A few times this "note gone" intention itself would start to materialize. Often presenting as a diamond needle pricking some group of sensations starting their rapid fading like a glass plate struck by a steel pin. A few times, this intention would become its own object, which interestingly was much slower to fade. At first, it seemed it didn't fade at all. I'd just end up distracted by a new arising, but after a few times, this intention would pierce itself, albeit much slower than anything else.

Three times a feeling of "this sit feels too long" arose. One time followed by "the fruition hasn't happened yet, better note some more gone" haha.
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Alexander Tesfamichael, modified 4 Months ago at 2/27/22 8:31 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/27/22 8:31 AM

RE: An honest attempt at fruition / stream-entry

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Right, during practice. I already do note any thought as just more sensations, the moment I notice some form of contracting or identifying has happened around it, that reliably leads to immediate decoherence.

It could be interesting if you defined more precisely "if you find yourself getting caught up in thoughts, then you can be more specific". I've never tried this, I'm also careful of what the trigger would be, as some thinking during an hour-long sit feels unavoidable, and indeed, I want to watch out precisely for the introduction of more thinking haha.

I also notice that we'd probably need much more back and forth to clarify some of the things you're saying for me, although I'd rather leave that for after I've gone through some of the resources shared.

It took me straight to first & second path by just following the instructions exactly as written.

Alright, well if by "to first path" you mean having a fruition (non-)experience, that sounds like the best recommendation one could give haha. I have a friend that claims stream-entry that read MCTB. If you claim stream-entry, read both, and recommend Practical Insight Meditation first, I'll read that one first. As much as I know I'll enjoy reading MCTB, short and simple is helpful for me at this point. Let me know if that makes sense to you too.

Thanks George!
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Alexander Tesfamichael, modified 4 Months ago at 2/27/22 8:58 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/27/22 8:58 AM

RE: An honest attempt at fruition / stream-entry

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 Appreciate the encouragement and pointers Niels!

I quite like your suggestion. I'll see if directionally I can shift to be more mindful of the raw sensations and less of the more processed formations. Although I'll also add that I feel like I have my hands full already and can't make any promises haha. One thing you could clarify for me is, are you suggesting it could be helpful for reaching a fruition experience or at least have very stable noting to note the sensations even earlier if possible, before they become more processed sensations, or are you suggesting to instead spend longer breaking them down, i.e. after a sensation is noted that is more processed, "hey a scooter" stay with that impression and break down, into "there was a sound that came and went", "it was rapid and high pitched", "it sounded like that green one you saw yesterday"?

I ask partially because becoming conscious of "a scooter passing" happens quickly for me. Think fractions of a second. In other words, becoming conscious of "a sound" and "that's a scooter" happens virtually at the same time for me. Trying to have my mind surface sensations "earlier" or alternatively stopping it from doing further processing seems an extreme struggle when I try and unstable.

Thanks for reaffirming the resources named, and even adding another haha. An IRL friend has shared and backed the Shargrol compilation too! (not specifically for attaining fruition but more generally)
 
George S, modified 4 Months ago at 2/27/22 5:32 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/27/22 10:23 AM

RE: An honest attempt at fruition / stream-entry

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Sounds like a good plan!

Like Niels’ example below, the basic idea is to take complex mind objects (e.g. thoughts about scooters) and decompose them into more simple mind objects (sounds, words, images), noting how they are always changing, never satisfactory, and can’t be identified with a sense of self. You don’t have to try to stop thoughts, that’s actually counterproductive, but if you keep analyzing and decomposing thoughts this way then the mind naturally starts to lose interest in pursuing and proliferating thoughts, because it starts to realize on a deep level that thoughts are unsatisfactory and “not me”. You are really learning on a very functionally detailed level how the mind works and creates "reality". Personally I found it extremely interesting. If you keep going like this then eventually (after crossing A&P and navigating dukkha nanas) you will get into a state of high equanimity where you are just observing raw sensations, a kind of background hum of the nervous system, raw sense date if you like. You keep feeling the mind’s tendency to cling to them and try to create more complex objects out of them, but you learn to relax that tendency and eventually you will observe a mental formation without any clinging whatsoever, the mind experiences “conformity” and then fruition.

MCTB is encyclopedic, I was constantly delving in and out of it at various points on the path for deeper insights, but I don’t think I ever read it straight through and wouldn’t have been able to get the full benefit if I had. Once I got to the section on The Progress of Insight and read Daniel’s recommendation of Mahasi’s book, I knew that’s where I had to focus my attention in order to experience a fruition. I basically read Daniel’s POI section and Mahasi’s book together IIRC, but on the whole I found Mahasi’s instructions exceptionally clear and his book has a kind of momentum which just seemed to make the whole thing natural and inevitable. But yeah MCTB is great at any point for a more general overview of the path and all the sorts of weird and wonderful stuff which can arise. Mahasi’s advice for any experience is generally ‘just note it until it disappears’, which is great for a targeted approach to first/second path, but tends to lose some of its efficacy for some once you get into third path territory were you have to start analyzing more foundational emotional and psychological mind constructs.

​​​​​​​Good Luck!
Martin, modified 4 Months ago at 2/27/22 11:36 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/27/22 11:36 AM

RE: An honest attempt at fruition / stream-entry

Posts: 443 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Alexander Tesfamichael
 

I ask partially because becoming conscious of "a scooter passing" happens quickly for me. Think fractions of a second. In other words, becoming conscious of "a sound" and "that's a scooter" happens virtually at the same time for me. Trying to have my mind surface sensations "earlier" or alternatively stopping it from doing further processing seems an extreme struggle when I try and unstable.

 
Niels' suggestions are great. If you hear a sound and then perceive the sound as being a certain thing before the sound has finished, you can keep noticing the sound. Scooters generally take quite a few seconds to pass and, as Niels suggests, produce lots and lots of sensory material. With practice, it becomes easier to notice the parts as they happen, and that has many advantages. 
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 4 Months ago at 2/27/22 4:28 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/27/22 4:27 PM

RE: An honest attempt at fruition / stream-entry

Posts: 384 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
"One thing you could clarify for me is, are you suggesting it could be helpful for reaching a fruition experience or at least have very stable noting to note the sensations even earlier if possible, before they become more processed sensations, or are you suggesting to instead spend longer breaking them down, i.e. after a sensation is noted that is more processed, "hey a scooter" stay with that impression and break down, into "there was a sound that came and went", "it was rapid and high pitched", "it sounded like that green one you saw yesterday"?"

Answer: I would not recommend intentionally spending time deconstructing a complex phenomenon after the fact (if the mind does it by itself, just let it do so and add the note "deconstructing"). The important is to stay with the present experience each fraction of a second and notice as much as possible. What and how you note is less important, IMHO. And could and should change quite a bit along the way.

"I ask partially because becoming conscious of "a scooter passing" happens quickly for me. Think fractions of a second. In other words, becoming conscious of "a sound" and "that's a scooter" happens virtually at the same time for me. Trying to have my mind surface sensations "earlier" or alternatively stopping it from doing further processing seems an extreme struggle when I try and unstable."

Answer: Yeah, the mind is extremely fast emoticon It takes time to get up to its speed. I recommend not trying to force the mind either way. I don't think it's possible. Just watch what is does, from split second to split second. – And be patient, and kind to yourself. For most people it takes a while to get to Stream Entry. The good news is that the mind does the development on its own, you don't have to do much – other than turn up on the cushion, consistently, wholeheartedly, patiently.

 
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Alexander Tesfamichael, modified 4 Months ago at 2/28/22 3:46 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/28/22 3:46 AM

RE: An honest attempt at fruition / stream-entry

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It's tricky. Noting more actively. Especially with emphasis on decomposing seems too much "technique" to also "note gone". Went with decomposing today. Felt helpful with verbal thought. Cutting "chains of sensation" earlier, after a word or three most frequently. Felt less helpful for things like sounds, where the less processed sensations "vibrate rapid", "hard first, quick fade", "rhythmic" seem apparent on the same level as "tram", and all feel equally completely unsticky, in other words, zero clinging or aversion.

It leaves me wondering, what has the mind interested in building complex thoughts? With the exception of mental talk, after many sits, none of these sensations seem, "more interesting", "more me", or even "preferential" or "resisted" in any way. Regardless, not clinging to mental talk seems to be where it's at.

Let's do it again tomorrow (:
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Alexander Tesfamichael, modified 3 Months ago at 3/10/22 3:19 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 3/10/22 3:19 AM

RE: An honest attempt at fruition / stream-entry

Posts: 9 Join Date: 2/25/22 Recent Posts
Chopping old wood. Experience is busily ever-changing now. Like a rich, breathing jungle, full of life. At times, it is as-if awareness itself gets caught on an old sharp branch. Like walking through a doorway, but your shirt gets caught on the door handle. Awareness rapidly contracting around the object impeding the flow. These objects for me are pretty much always verbal thoughts. Then, an axe would show up, chopping right through this old wood. Freeing up, untying, seeing through the contracted illusion, whatever you want to call it. Leaving awareness to freely dance again. Wide, bright, and unencumbered. That's a playful way of putting things, more plainly put there's the noticing of a rapid mix of plain sensations, "tingly warm sun on face, pain in butt, belly expanding contracting with breath, clock ticking" intermixed with complex but subtle verbal thought, "I don't want to sit on painful butt, work I did yesterday was 'fake-work', meditation log I'll write next will contain..". These thoughts get noted and drop at various durations. Most not yet managing to appear and disappear without awareness contracting or becoming more blind, before opening again at the dropping.

That's how I would characterize my sits the last few days. I expect many more like this will follow. Today's sit, however, had a slightly different character. There was less getting lost, and "what was seen, from moment to moment" was more inclusive than usual for much longer. I'd describe this as feeling the sensations, not the concepts, of my heartbeat, so that would be, pulsing pressure sensations in hands, light wooshing sound and pressure sensations in ears etc, but at the same time, the breath, at the same time, sounds, at the same time, 'painful' butt sensations.

A couple of times, a subtle feeling showed up of, "alright, everything seems visible, continuously changing, but awareness seems rock solid. (ie the cloud of sensation is so thick and active it is hard to see any complete nothingness in between) where is the interruption? show me!". Nothing special of course, not trying to give these feelings or sensations any special status or presence, just fun to note.

Happy to keep ever more deeply let go.

Enjoy your day lovely being!
​​​​​​​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PP2hWvVyyUM

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