15 year practice without A&P, possible?

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Allis A, modified 1 Year ago at 1/10/23 6:37 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/10/23 6:25 AM

15 year practice without A&P, possible?

Posts: 10 Join Date: 5/2/11 Recent Posts
Hi,

Trying to figure out where I am on the path.

I have practiced for a long time in various intensities, including a month long silent retreat (Spirit Rock). Started in Zen, mostly did theravada type stuff (against the stream).

I stopped for a while, after sexual misconduct in my sangha just looking at my cushion made me nauseous. Tumbled into a work burnout after not having the practice to shore me up. I healed and picked up sitting again recently.

​​​​​​​I have had all kinds of experiences that could map in the middle of the path or be something else, like an equanimity-like mindstate on a retreat that could also be a shamata-level, because my concentration was sharp then. A no-big-deal sky-like mind with some rare, visible thoughts floating, that could also just be 'this is just what a month of silence does to anyone's brain'. Same for crying on retreats. Also a lot of pain, especially on retreats but also otherwise, but then that maybe a chronic pain condition. Or insights in reality and self/nonself, but they started before I ever sat down, while studying certain types of philosophy at uni, and those could also just be not insights at all but trauma related dissociation.

The one that doesn't seem very familiar is A&P itself. I am therefore wondering whether I may have been missing the point all along. 

Would that be possible?
Adi Vader, modified 1 Year ago at 1/10/23 7:50 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/10/23 7:50 AM

RE: 15 year practice without A&P, possible?

Posts: 332 Join Date: 6/29/20 Recent Posts
When concentration skills reach a certain point, its accompanied by the mind compensating for an absence of distraction by supplying all sorts of strange phenomena - some exciting, some scary, some other worldly.

This level of concentration is what permits upasana/anupasana/tracking of phenomena from start to finish as they come into existence and disappear from existence.

this is the first hand, directly experienced knowing that conscious experience is constructed and has a life cycle. This is the udayabbaya nana. The hallucinatory phenomena is incidental, and a waste of time.

People get:
1. Uddayabaya nana only
2. Uddayabaya nana + hallucinations and excitement
3. Hallucinations and excitement only (no uddayabaya nana)

All descriptions of awesomeness do not apply to everybody.

To answer your question - yes it is possible hypothetically that one practies for 15 years and no udayabbaya nana but that need not apply to you. I dont know enough about your practice to comment.

​​​​​​​Good luck.
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Allis A, modified 1 Year ago at 1/10/23 9:33 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/10/23 9:33 AM

RE: 15 year practice without A&P, possible?

Posts: 10 Join Date: 5/2/11 Recent Posts
Thanks @adivader for taking time to reply. Very much appreciated. I didn't realise this could happen without strange sensations and/or excitement. It's then possible I have stumbled upon it before formal practice as a result of deconstructionist and postmodernist philosophy. I do remember it causing a disorienting period with an altered sense of what reality is, that messed me up and made me someone who was hard to talk to by my family (i tried to explain it to them but I don't think they got it). But no (positive) excitement, awesomeness, tingling or any other spectacular things or experiences that felt spiritual. 

This explanation is very helpful.

The burnout did deplete my concentration skills massively, though, and i am fortunately getting them back. It took basically three years to heal. Not fun.

I could provide you with more information on my practice if appropriate. What kind of information would you like me to provide?
Michal, modified 1 Year ago at 1/10/23 12:02 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/10/23 11:44 AM

RE: 15 year practice without A&P, possible?

Posts: 33 Join Date: 6/9/20 Recent Posts
Tumbled into a work burnout after not having the practice to shore me up. I healed and picked up sitting again recent
​​ly.​​​
This means that you hit the A&P.
Being able to clean yourself out by wakefulness so to speak is likely A&P specific.
You've probably hit later stages you don't know about as well.

Your doubt-tone could theoretically be the dukkha nanas.

​​​​​​​If you still aren't sure then use psychadelics at least once because they will likely hard wire A&P to your system.
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Allis A, modified 1 Year ago at 1/10/23 2:14 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/10/23 2:14 PM

RE: 15 year practice without A&P, possible?

Posts: 10 Join Date: 5/2/11 Recent Posts
Ah so the bouncing back is a characteristic of A&P, that makes sense.

Reading MCTB once again on the A&P stage, I noticed a passage I had missed earlier. It talks about the ambitious and overzealous nature of those coming out of A&P, being able to philosophise rings around someone, and wanting to join a monastery. That rings very true for me quite some years ago. I think I may conclude A&P has indeed been crossed, even though I don't remember any spectacular things.

And I have to conclude it was crossed without knowing what I was doing really, because it may have happened shortly before I found practice, and made me gravitate towards it because of it, or shortly after, without even knowing this could be a side effect.

Thanks also for bringing to my attention that I have doubts which may be a characteristic. I hadn't noticed this. Maybe you are right.

If I couple this with the above knowledge, I probably have been in Dark Night territory for a long time. A disconcertingly long time.

It may explain lots of things that don't seem related but may after all be related. Who knows. Like my invariably uncheery natured personality, though I am trying. Like questioning my gender identity, which may be a result of spiritual practice where 'me' became a fluid thing, as much as it was an uncovering of what was already there. Chronic pain that only recently turned out to have a mental cause. Especially: a growing sense of 'why the hell am I doing this anyway', the most recent years, culminating in my last retreat feeling disenchanted with the whole thing. I didn't return to retreats again after that one, because coincidentally the organisation collapsed. And through my anger and disgust over that I didn't sit for years. With literal nausea when looking at my cusion.

Would it be possible that nausea with cushion could be the 8th jhana of disgust?

If only I could have gotten myself to keep sitting, it could possibly have saved me a lot of trouble. I knew the jhanas and maps, and even I messed the Dark Night up. Sobering knowledge.

Any of you heard of gender identity questioning possibly being a part of the Dark Night identity crisis?
Michal, modified 1 Year ago at 1/10/23 2:45 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/10/23 2:42 PM

RE: 15 year practice without A&P, possible?

Posts: 33 Join Date: 6/9/20 Recent Posts
Allis A.
Ah so the bouncing back is a characteristic of A&P, that makes sense.

Reading MCTB once again on the A&P stage, I noticed a passage I had missed earlier. It talks about the ambitious and overzealous nature of those coming out of A&P, being able to philosophise rings around someone, and wanting to join a monastery. That rings very true for me quite some years ago. I think I may conclude A&P has indeed been crossed, even though I don't remember any spectacular things.

And I have to conclude it was crossed without knowing what I was doing really, because it may have happened shortly before I found practice, and made me gravitate towards it because of it, or shortly after, without even knowing this could be a side effect.

Thanks also for bringing to my attention that I have doubts which may be a characteristic. I hadn't noticed this. Maybe you are right.

If I couple this with the above knowledge, I probably have been in Dark Night territory for a long time. A disconcertingly long time.

It may explain lots of things that don't seem related but may after all be related. Who knows. Like my invariably uncheery natured personality, though I am trying. Like questioning my gender identity, which may be a result of spiritual practice where 'me' became a fluid thing, as much as it was an uncovering of what was already there. Chronic pain that only recently turned out to have a mental cause. Especially: a growing sense of 'why the hell am I doing this anyway', the most recent years, culminating in my last retreat feeling disenchanted with the whole thing. I didn't return to retreats again after that one, because coincidentally the organisation collapsed. And through my anger and disgust over that I didn't sit for years. With literal nausea when looking at my cusion.

Would it be possible that nausea with cushion could be the 8th jhana of disgust?

If only I could have gotten myself to keep sitting, it could possibly have saved me a lot of trouble. I knew the jhanas and maps, and even I messed the Dark Night up. Sobering knowledge.

Any of you heard of gender identity questioning possibly being a part of the Dark Night identity crisis?
My gender identity questioning was both joyful (A&P) and sometimes kind off anquishing (DN?). I think me (recently) completely coming to terms with my whole sexuality happened either in equanamity or in case I hit stream entry (I am not completely sure I have SE) - new A&P cycle - or both.

More people than you would think hit A&P spontaneously and it is common for it to cause sexual identity revelations. Especially if you practice a lot of concentration

If you want to add more fire / motivation to your practice listen to Daniels Fire Kasina interview with guru viking.

If sexuality is a taboo / unhealthy in your monastery (most monasteries) it can create extra needless shame. The taboo (repression) is what creates misconduct. Monastery teachers have been known for being unethical for a long time.
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago at 1/11/23 6:41 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/11/23 6:39 AM

RE: 15 year practice without A&P, possible?

Posts: 2577 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Welcome to DhO Allis A!

Here's a quote from MCTB that might be helpful:

"Strong sensual or sexual dreams are also common at this stage. These and their while-awake counterpart feelings may sometimes be non-discriminating gender-wise. Those that are attached to the notion of themselves as being something other than at least partially bisexual or just generically sexual may find these dreams and feelings disturbing. Further, if you have unresolved issues around sexuality, which we basically all have, you may encounter aspects of them during this stage. This stage can be particularly disconcerting for monastics and others who have repressed significant aspects of their sexuality.​​​​​​​"
4. The Arising and Passing Away – MCTB.org 

And yes nausea could be Disgust. And remember that "my last retreat feeling disenchanted with the whole thing" could also be Reobservation. 

Hope this helps and hope you ​​​​​​​keep moving ahead with your practice!
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 1 Year ago at 1/11/23 10:55 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/11/23 10:55 AM

RE: 15 year practice without A&P, possible?

Posts: 3275 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Yes, as Bill Hamilton said something like, and Kenneth could probably correct me on the exact wording, "Sometimes the A&P is like an explosion, and sometimes it is like a fart," meaning that sometimes it is really dramatic, and sometimes it is barely noticeable, non-spectacular, short, mild, etc., as I describe in that chapter with one that lasted barely a and was just a mild zip through my spine without anything else that interesting around it beyond a very brief preceding period of clear inquiry into this side and that side, subject and object.

Yes, I know some people who have done many years of retreats and somehow never got to any significant level of insight and, despite super careful questioning, don't describe anything like the A&P, and it is possible that they somehow haven't crossed it, or that, if they did, it was some super-mild, sub-clinical version that somehow just left them inspired to practice but with little else in the way of benefits or fireworks. 

Also, while maps can be helpful, don't take them too seriously, as they are imperfect things.

Best wishes, and practice well,

​​​​​​​Daniel
T DC, modified 1 Year ago at 1/11/23 5:33 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/11/23 5:33 PM

RE: 15 year practice without A&P, possible?

Posts: 521 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
To piggy back on what others have said, the A/P does not occur as a mindblowing-manic-fireworks type event for all people, it could be as minor as a simple insight from which we move into a deeper and more commited phase of our practice. Even with an experience as profound as Stream Entry, I have heard people describe incredibly similar events but chalk them up to a pleasant purification type experience in meditation or a gradually fading non-dual experience.

Of course, not every odd experience is the A/P or stream entry, but for people with dedicated meditation practices of 10+ or even 5+ years, they are probably relatively more common than not.  And if you go through it without prior knowledge of the territory, it seems to be harder recognise as obvious progression.  So it's possible you're farther along than you think.

As far as being stuck in the dark night - a lack of direction in practice after 10+ years and the dissoloution of your sanga could also be contributing to your overall challenging feelings around practice.  And re questioning gender identify - in my experience, progression on the path tends to break down our fixed conceptual ways of viewing ourselves and the world and can definately lead to a more open and fluid experience of gender indentity.

Hope that helps a little!  IMO diagnosing exactly where you're at is sometimes less important than finding clear inspiration and direction to move foreward with practice.
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago at 1/12/23 5:13 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/12/23 5:13 AM

RE: 15 year practice without A&P, possible?

Posts: 2577 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
T DC
 IMO diagnosing exactly where you're at is sometimes less important than finding clear inspiration and direction to move foreward with practice.

Amen!
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago at 1/12/23 7:58 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/12/23 7:58 AM

RE: 15 year practice without A&P, possible?

Posts: 2577 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
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Allis A, modified 1 Year ago at 1/12/23 11:41 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/12/23 11:41 AM

RE: 15 year practice without A&P, possible?

Posts: 10 Join Date: 5/2/11 Recent Posts
shargrol
to the OP, you might like this thread too: A&P to 1st path in 1 retreat - Discussion - www.dharmaoverground.org


This is a very interesting thread, thank you for that.
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Allis A, modified 1 Year ago at 1/12/23 12:09 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/12/23 12:09 PM

RE: 15 year practice without A&P, possible?

Posts: 10 Join Date: 5/2/11 Recent Posts
T DC
To piggy back on what others have said, the A/P does not occur as a mindblowing-manic-fireworks type event for all people, it could be as minor as a simple insight from which we move into a deeper and more commited phase of our practice. Even with an experience as profound as Stream Entry, I have heard people describe incredibly similar events but chalk them up to a pleasant purification type experience in meditation or a gradually fading non-dual experience.

Of course, not every odd experience is the A/P or stream entry, but for people with dedicated meditation practices of 10+ or even 5+ years, they are probably relatively more common than not.  And if you go through it without prior knowledge of the territory, it seems to be harder recognise as obvious progression.  So it's possible you're farther along than you think.

As far as being stuck in the dark night - a lack of direction in practice after 10+ years and the dissoloution of your sanga could also be contributing to your overall challenging feelings around practice.  And re questioning gender identify - in my experience, progression on the path tends to break down our fixed conceptual ways of viewing ourselves and the world and can definately lead to a more open and fluid experience of gender indentity.

Hope that helps a little!  IMO diagnosing exactly where you're at is sometimes less important than finding clear inspiration and direction to move foreward with practice.

Thanks, it helps!

Gender identity issues do feel like a 'natural' effect from being on the path and it surprises me trans friendliness isn't an integral part of traditions to begin with, lol.

I indeed have a lack of direction in my practice. I don't have a sangha anymore and, in spite of some periods being pretty feverish in my ambitions, never really had/accepted anyone as a permanent teacher.
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Allis A, modified 1 Year ago at 1/12/23 2:03 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/12/23 2:03 PM

RE: 15 year practice without A&P, possible?

Posts: 10 Join Date: 5/2/11 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram
Yes, as Bill Hamilton said something like, and Kenneth could probably correct me on the exact wording, "Sometimes the A&P is like an explosion, and sometimes it is like a fart," meaning that sometimes it is really dramatic, and sometimes it is barely noticeable, non-spectacular, short, mild, etc., as I describe in that chapter with one that lasted barely a and was just a mild zip through my spine without anything else that interesting around it beyond a very brief preceding period of clear inquiry into this side and that side, subject and object.

Yes, I know some people who have done many years of retreats and somehow never got to any significant level of insight and, despite super careful questioning, don't describe anything like the A&P, and it is possible that they somehow haven't crossed it, or that, if they did, it was some super-mild, sub-clinical version that somehow just left them inspired to practice but with little else in the way of benefits or fireworks. 

Also, while maps can be helpful, don't take them too seriously, as they are imperfect things.

Best wishes, and practice well,

​​​​​​​Daniel
Thanks for your insights (and your literal insightful work) and yeah, I should be down to earth about the maps.

I can imagine people's memories are imperfect to say the least too. Theoretically, I wonder if not only A&Ps that are too minor don't stick in memory, but too big ones too. Say, one is untrained and stumbles into a serious A&P event, could this, even though it's part of awakening, be frightning enough to be subject to the regular brain self defenses that kicks in to suppress traumatic memories? (I am not implying I think this is my situation, by the way.)

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