RE: Potential SE

George Melon, modified 1 Year ago at 1/31/23 5:13 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/31/23 5:13 PM

Potential SE

Posts: 27 Join Date: 6/20/22 Recent Posts
Total practice experience - 7 years, 1-3 hours per day on average. 17 total days of goenka retreat. A few not-so-intense weekend retreats. Then, for 4 months at the end of 2022, I was practicing 5-10 hours a day in Asia, the practice developing nicely and bouncing between dark night and EQ. Then, a foot injury/surgery went poorly and brought me home to the US in December. It was difficult to maintain the practice as I couldn't do walking meditaiton, and momentum was sizzling out. For 2-3 weeks, I started listening to neo-advaita, general advaita, and nondual teachings and a deep surrender started to happen and the 'seeking' energy was weakening. I didn't give a hoot about concentration at this time and it seemed pretty low, I was just doing 2-3 hours of shikantaza / do nothing / surrender in sitting posture.

1) At the crux of this, I just noticed one morning my perception had shifted - the belief in and feeling of a seperate self evaporated, I felt internally free, I would access a soft nondual perception throughout the day where awareness spread out through the field of awareness, particularly in the field of seeing. I was energized, happy, being creative, very blissy, no resistance to life, very little unpleasant emotion but even that was welcomed and enjoyed as a natural human experience.

2) This lasted 5 or so days before I entered an intense dark night experience for a week - resistance returned, the no seperate self insight faded into the background, but was still readily apparent when accessed.

3) Then another weeklong period of clear seeing that there is not seperate self, lots of energy and happiness, very little resistance to experience, but the running narrative of the mind slowly returned and became more prominent in experience. 

4) Then another weeklong period (currently as of 1/31/23) of dark night-ish experience but not as intense. 

So, no clear cessation. Thus, no repeated fruitions as I didn't even think of it or care at the time, I was just enjoying being incredibly free and happy at first. Concentration has been quite low the month leading up to and after this experience. Meditaiton doesn't seem to have changed much at this point. Still doing mainly shikantaza, do nothing, surrender style of practice with gentle inquiry at times. 

At point number 3 is when I thought it may have been SE and that this shift and period of honeymooning and intense dark night was related to review or next path. I never had such a clear perception of no/not-self, and yet after a month, the feeling of a self or identifying with thoughts has returned to a similar level. Dukkha/suffering/resistance has returned but a bit less than before, more acceptance and curiousity. So I've seen through the illusion of self but it still appears to be there. Is this a common post-SE experience once the honeymoon wears off?

The mind has been on a goose chase this last week trying to make sense of this and reading different opinions and phenomonolgy on SE, first awakening/shift, kensho, etc. Perhaps trying to avoid this current dark night. I know time will be the best judge and that SE or not, I shall carry on with head held high. Off I go to sit now. Would love any feedback.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago at 1/31/23 5:57 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/31/23 5:57 PM

RE: Potential SE

Posts: 7134 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Really hard to tell. Without clear door moments and clear cessations, I would personally be cautious about assuming SE, just to be on the safe side. I would recommend that you keep investigating. I had rapid cycling before my stream entry, so that doesn't necessarily mean review. A sense of honeymoon can occur after A&P as well. If it was SE, you will have the benefits of it regardless of whether or not you lable it as such. So this is just my very pragmatic take on it. I really can't make any diagnosis. It sounds like a positive development, whether or not it was SE, so congrats for that! May the awakening continue for the benefit of all sentient beings, including you of course! 
Robert L, modified 1 Year ago at 1/31/23 6:03 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/31/23 6:03 PM

RE: Potential SE

Posts: 72 Join Date: 2/10/19 Recent Posts
Cessations and fetters. After streamentry, I started to "notice" the cessations, and I slowly noticed the dissolving fetters. Concentration is just there, easy. I used to care about jhanas, now they are just available, they are just right there. But I don't know what path I am on, because it just doesn't matter. You are where you are, right now. Keep doing, notice your immediate experience, stop caring about where you are, because you're not there at all.
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago at 2/1/23 6:49 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/1/23 6:01 AM

RE: Potential SE

Posts: 2525 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Gunnar, it's much more likely that the ease of #1 and #3 and the struggle of #2 and #4 are more refined versions of alterating between EQ and Reobs. And the goose chase of research you did was more of a "desire for deliverance" binge of activity.

I like to say that the EQ nana is vast --- mostly because just about everybody, including myself, really underestimates it.

EQ (eventually) removes a lot of fascination with spirituality, attainments, practice, and even SE itself. By the time SE happens, we almost don't even care anymore... which is actually good because SE is just one path along the way afterall. Even though SE is profound and life changing, so to speak, it mostly changes how we frame our experience into ideas of better/worse, winning/losing, achievement/failure... SE is a realization of the simple pre-verbal is-ness of this "lump of red flesh, sitting on a cushion, in which the breath moves in and out" in zen language. It seems silly to brag about being a lump of red flesh -- and it is. That's why folks that hit SE aren't shouting it from the roof tops. emoticon Finally relaxing into the truth of EQ requires --- and is caused by --- a deep relaxation of fundamental and obsessive interpretation about the meaning of this moment. When the relentless drive of assessing and meaning-making relaxes (and really, the Dark Night and EQ beats the drive out of us by showing its futility), then we can truly dwell in this moment, as it is. And simply hang out there.

At first we think we're dwelling in the moment, as it is, because everything is so good and easy and practice seems to be finally working ... but we don't see how the "enjoying all the good and easyiness" and "pride that practice is finally working" is kinda manic. We can be so positively positive for a few hours or days before it gets out of control. We start thinking "about" practice instead of practicing. We develop all sorts of ideas and plans. But the manic-ness of it all falls apart and then we're back in the dark night again. The dark night teaches us to "give up" and just accept how things are, which makes everything manageable again, which leads to EQ, which... often makes us excited again and we develop all sorts of ideas and plans again... and the cycle repeats itself.

One way to think about it is: right in the middle of EQ is a sub-nana that is A&P-like. If we don't note/notice our joy, freedom, space, curiosity, creativity as events that occur _within_ the mind, we will assume that those moods are "me" or that "practice is now working" and we hold onto that state and try to make more of it. And then samsara will have it's hooks in us. But if we can go through all the sub-nanas of EQ --- the clunky start, the passonate phase, the confusing void-like phase, and the simplicity phase --- then we can have a moments of simple, basic, plain, ordinary "Conformity" and SE does itself. 

None of this is something the "I" does, it happens by deeply relaxing the "I, me, mine" that we put on top of experience, including experiences in the EQ nana. Practice -- especially in EQ -- is about relaxing the I, me, mine and noticing how the display of experience does itself even when things are plain, simple, ordinary. Don't become indifferent to plain, simple, and ordinary. And continue to gently keep practicing! So many people stop practicing because life suddenly feels okay, managable, "enlightened", etc.

So it's mostly about humbly getting out of the way, which is still not something that can be "done". It's a relaxation of doing. Basically we realize very viscerally, wordlessly, that all of our "I, me, mine" ideas and beliefs are ideas and beliefs that are sort of happening on the side... they are not as important as we think. So we stop investing so much energy into it. The proof of it comes in moments of no-self-ish-ness when reality keeps happening even though we're not doing much. Aha! We DO NOT have to get rid of "I, me, mine" -- that's another trap, an extreme view, that seduces us by its extreme purity -- but we do have to see that "I, me, and mine" are just thoughts floating in space. They are just sometimes-useful ideas, but not truly true. When thoughts can come and go as thoughts, when emotions can come and go as emotions, when sensations can come and go as sensations, then sitting in meditation becomes... sitting. And we can... sit. Wow, so simple. Is this really even practice? And when "meditation" doesn't stop because it is also sitting, walking, pooping, peeing, talking, working, sleeping. (For hours and days.) When the distinction between life and practice falls away, then the lessons of EQ are being deeply learned and SE becomes more and more likely.

There are soooooooo many insights in the EQ nana that need to be learned and relearned so that the mind is grounded and relaxed enough to truly just be. For most people, including myself, moments or periods of EQ are initially "what I've been looking for" and then there is an inability to simply dwell in EQ. Usually EQ transforms into some kind of busyness, some kind of eagerness to do something, find something, achieve something, become somebody, fix something... in the openness and resistance-free-ness of EQ all sorts of creative ideas come up. And 99% of the time, we believe in those creative ideas and don't objectively note/notice what is going on. It feels so true and closer than close... it feels like what "I am" or "I do"... but it is a very clever way that samsara gets it's hooks back into us.

This is as true on retreat as off retreat. That's why "renunciation" is part of the buddhist path. And the most important renunciation is renouncing believing that thoughts are more than thoughts, that believing emotions are more than emotions, and believing that sensations are more than sensations. Renouncing the pride and shame and all the extra drama. Getting really really simple is the path forward.

And of course the most clever way that samsara gets it's hooks into us is with spiritual thinking, meditation mapping, practice thoughts, comparing spiritual attainment thoughts, comparing practice methods, reviewing practice history... all of this covers up how this moment simply IS.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas. I might be wrong, so don't just assume I'm right. Explore this for yourself. Only you can truly guide your practice. 
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Asaf M, modified 1 Year ago at 2/1/23 8:08 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/1/23 8:08 AM

RE: Potential SE

Posts: 47 Join Date: 12/9/22 Recent Posts
in the openness and resistance-free-ness of EQ all sorts of creative ideas come up. And 99% of the time, we believe in those creative ideas and don't objectively note/notice what is going on. It feels so true and closer than close... it feels like what "I am" or "I do"... but it is a very clever way that samsara gets it's hooks back into us.


good one. I cerainly relate to this. Its fun to sing and play music and enjoy all of this creative stuff. really seductive stuff. convices us that its worthwhile. not clear that it isnt. I suppose this is why we have the upgrade from 5 to 8+ precepts. keeps us going forth on the path.
sesuality, even the ultra-wholesome version of it, sure is seductive...
George Melon, modified 1 Year ago at 2/1/23 10:26 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/1/23 10:26 PM

RE: Potential SE

Posts: 27 Join Date: 6/20/22 Recent Posts
Thanks y'all, this feedback is grounding and filled with important reminders. It's all right here, right now. Cheers.
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Asaf M, modified 1 Year ago at 2/2/23 2:31 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/2/23 2:31 AM

RE: Potential SE

Posts: 47 Join Date: 12/9/22 Recent Posts
Gunnar, the one thing I would add is:
Going over the basics over and over again seems beneficial and I tend to do this daily.
The stuff in the initial chapters of MCTB.
In particular: discerning the three characterisitcs of the five affregates.
At times reviwing the eight fold path , checking in on where we are with each of the eight elements of the path.

As for 'right here, right now', Lock Kelly's 'what's here now when there is no problem to solve' can be used to fine tune the goal oriented, resolution driven approach.
Adi Vader, modified 1 Year ago at 2/2/23 8:37 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/2/23 8:36 AM

RE: Potential SE

Posts: 318 Join Date: 6/29/20 Recent Posts
Hi Gunnar.

Some theory for you to consider as a build up to specific advice.

Awakening practice can be described in multiple ways.
And no matter how we describe it, its just one view of what happens in awakening practice, there can be multiple such views.
One way of describing what we do is:

1. We develop observational familiarity with experience
2. We juxtapose mutliple different experiences and categories of experiences
3. And we find connections between experiences (or objects) and categories of experiences (or objects)

experience and object include affective states like fear/misery/disgust etc.
The above three things, in practice, they are never neatly and cleanly laid out in order in the way I have written them. Its always a bit messy.

But when we do the above three things in meditation enough, a certain attitude develops.
Everything that I am observing is mechanistic, it is impartial, it is impersonal, it isnt about me! it was never about me!

At this point the heart withdraws from the observation. Affective entanglement with what is happening in the mind is gone!
Cognitively we still 'care' but affectively we have no more fucks left to give.
This is equanimity.

But the question is equanimity towards what?

The term Sankhara Upekkha means No more fucks left to give (Upekkha) about conditioning (Sankhara)
And conditioning in terms of the raw mechanistic movements of the mind.

1. A memory comes up - it carries negative vedana - ordinarily we would have freaked out about the negative vedana ... but .... no more fucks left to give. 2. The smell of pizza wafts into our nose - it carries positive vedana - ordinarily the heart would have been over joyed ... but no more fucks left to give
3. A thought about the upcoming performance review at work comes up - negative vedana, we know we be getting rogered - negative vedana .... but no more fucks left to give

Nothing is seen as 'personal', nothing is seen as about 'me'. 

This state comes about through the Dukkha Nanas.
In the Dukkha Nanas we see the affective results of shoving our hearts into objects. Shove it in this way ... you feel fear. Shove it in that way ... you feel misery. so why shove it in at all. Lets stop shoving the heart where it doesnt belong!!

In this entire chain of developing wisdom the following questions may or may not arise. Who am I, why am I, where am I, how am I, why am I. These questions in case they arise are seen simply as a result of a mind doing whatever it is that minds do. 

Who is Pizza, Who is Burger, Who am I ...... they are all the same questions. 'Meaning' the way we normally find in our life has no value, no purpose, no place in the progress of wisdom. 'Meaning' is just one more experience/object. Meaning making is just one more thing that the mind does! The mind makes perception and that which is perceived. The mind makes cognition, the mind makes affect, the mind makes the question what will I eat for dinner, the mind makes the question ... who am I? - when we see this happening, 'see' as in Dharma Drishti - the eye of wisdom - then we understand 'Not Self' or Anatta.

Some observations

The lokuttara citta has to take nibbana as its object. An awareness refined and pure and unadulterated by Sankharas of all kinds - perceptive, cognitive and affective has to arise. In this refined pure awareness - The lokuttara Citta, there has to be absolutely no objects projected by the mind. It is a moment of perfect, blazing clarity. With absolutely nothing to be clear of! to be observant of! This is a marga phala or path and fruit moment.

Without this there is no stream entry. The show aint over until the fat lady sings.

No matter how much we want it! No matter how much people tell us .... hey! I had no cessation! But I ... AM ..... Stream Entrant! The show just simply aint over until the fat lady sings emoticonemoticon It just simply aint!!

Keep going. Assess your skills, figure out skill gaps. Create a skill building plan and investigation plan, And work that plan!

I am a stranger on the internet,  I dont know your practice in detail, but maybe something I have written here will help you. emoticon

​​​​​​​Take care.
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Dream Walker, modified 1 Year ago at 2/3/23 6:39 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/3/23 6:39 AM

RE: Potential SE

Posts: 1746 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Gunnar Malensek

Total practice experience - 7 years, 1-3 hours per day on average. 17 total days of goenka retreat. A few not-so-intense weekend retreats. Then, for 4 months at the end of 2022, I was practicing 5-10 hours a day in Asia, the practice developing nicely and bouncing between dark night and EQ.
What Practice?
Then, a foot injury/surgery went poorly and brought me home to the US in December. It was difficult to maintain the practice as I couldn't do walking meditaiton, and momentum was sizzling out.
What was "THE" practice that you could not Maintain?
For 2-3 weeks, I started listening to neo-advaita, general advaita, and nondual teachings and a deep surrender started to happen and the 'seeking' energy was weakening.
Ummm.. ok....Deeper? What seeking 'Energy' was weakened and in what way?
I didn't give a hoot about concentration at this time and it seemed pretty low, I was just doing 2-3 hours of shikantaza / do nothing / surrender in sitting posture.
What 'concentration' did you not give a hoot to? 
wikipedia-Shikantaza
shikantaza seems to be defined in wikipedia as both jhana and vipassana....so, if not that, what the F were you doing? Where did you get the instructions to sit and 'do nothing'?
1) At the crux of this, I just noticed one morning my perception had shifted - the belief in and feeling of a seperate self evaporated, I felt internally free, I would access a soft nondual perception throughout the day where awareness spread out through the field of awareness, particularly in the field of seeing. I was energized, happy, being creative, very blissy, no resistance to life, very little unpleasant emotion but even that was welcomed and enjoyed as a natural human experience.
A&P
No idea how you define the rest.

2) This lasted 5 or so days before I entered an intense dark night experience for a week - resistance returned, the no seperate self insight faded into the background, but was still readily apparent when accessed.
Um ok....fear, misery, disgust, DfD, reobs.....but without descriptions or anything.

3) Then another weeklong period of clear seeing that there is not seperate self, lots of energy and happiness, very little resistance to experience, but the running narrative of the mind slowly returned and became more prominent in experience. 
A&P again....cycling

4) Then another weeklong period (currently as of 1/31/23) of dark night-ish experience but not as intense. 
sure

So, no clear cessation. Thus, no repeated fruitions as I didn't even think of it or care at the time, I was just enjoying being incredibly free and happy at first. Concentration has been quite low the month leading up to and after this experience. Meditaiton doesn't seem to have changed much at this point. Still doing mainly shikantaza, do nothing, surrender style of practice with gentle inquiry at times. 
Happy? great!

At point number 3 is when I thought it may have been SE and that this shift and period of honeymooning and intense dark night was related to review or next path. I never had such a clear perception of no/not-self, and yet after a month, the feeling of a self or identifying with thoughts has returned to a similar level. Dukkha/suffering/resistance has returned but a bit less than before, more acceptance and curiousity. So I've seen through the illusion of self but it still appears to be there. Is this a common post-SE experience once the honeymoon wears off?
No SE evidence so far.

The mind has been on a goose chase this last week trying to make sense of this and reading different opinions and phenomonolgy on SE, first awakening/shift, kensho, etc. Perhaps trying to avoid this current dark night. I know time will be the best judge and that SE or not, I shall carry on with head held high. Off I go to sit now. Would love any feedback.
We all learn as we go....You got insight and it was good. Thats great. With more phenominology/descriptions, there might be better feedback.
Good Luck,
-D
George Melon, modified 1 Year ago at 2/3/23 9:48 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/3/23 9:48 AM

RE: Potential SE

Posts: 27 Join Date: 6/20/22 Recent Posts
<strong>what practice?&nbsp;</strong><br /><br />Little to no effort, but consistent awareness of the flow of phenomena, particularly the babbling of the mind stream. I did noting to gain momentum and let it go when awareness was operating itself and just noticing without much wandering/getting lost.<br /><br /><strong>What was "THE" practice I could not maintain?</strong><br /><br />The one mentioned above. And unable to develop the momentum of noting to get back to that space.<br /><br /><strong>What seeking 'energy' was weakened and in what way?</strong><br /><br />The care for SE or progress in any form was dissolving. I believed that 'this is it' and that if SE were to happen, it would be just this. So stopped believing in some future outcome and rather trusted this moment as the only thing that matters. Started to investigate the idea of 'no free will' in my experience and saw that I wasn't controlling or operating anything, it was all just happening. "I" could 'give up', because I never had any control in the first place. Rather, I couldn't give up, I couldn't do anything, everything just was. That kinda feel. That sense is still here, but the mind is bucking like a horse trying to get it off the reigns.&nbsp;<br /><br /><strong>What concentration did I not give a hoot to?</strong><br />The kind of concentration where I could put forth minimal effort and awareness and investigation would operate smoothly. When this kind of concentration dropped, I would sit with minimal effort still but awareness and investigation would be more sporadic, less consistent, more lost in thought. As the seeking energy was dissolving, a kind of knowing and flowing came about as 'awareness' and 'being lost/identified with thought' interchanged seamlessly, but it didn't feel so much like concentration. It didn't seem to matter at that point, as i wasn't trying to get anything/anywhere.&nbsp;<br /><br /><strong>What was I doing in shikantaza? Where did I get the instructions to sit and do nothing?</strong><br />Instructions from Shinzin Young - let go of any intention to direct attention. Also from Angelo dilullo which is a similar idea - don't push or pull on anything, you can't do this wrong, just sit and let things be exactly as they are.<br /><br />-------------<br /><br />I accept that this could have been cycling. It's hard for me to understand the high energy A&amp;P kind of stuff, I can't even remember what a significant A&amp;P would feel like. My practice and (inner) life is usually quite even-keel, calm, and I don't experience much pleasure in meditation, mostly nuetral, relaxed, mildly pleasant things, but moderate to strong unpleasant feelings and periods. I do notice passing through A&amp;P qualities 5-20 minutes into a sit before unpleasant feelings, thoughts, sensations start arising between 15-30 min usually. These pass and a calm, cool, clear experience opens up from 25 min - 45 min during a sit. Then pains and some restlessness rise up again near 40-60 min.<br /><br />I figured with my practice experience, I was moving between the DNs and EQ as I shifted between mellow, smooth, clear, mundane periods and intense feelings of existential dread, depression-like hopelessness and misery, DfD, and emotional/mental instability.&nbsp;<br /><br />The high periods of energy, clarity, joy described in the OP were completely new experiences. Could have been just a big A&amp;P surge, but it seemed to contain insight that would ground-breaking. I always knew intelectually there was 'no self' but i really experienced it ongoingly for a week, in a way I can't unsee, even while mind identification creeps back in.&nbsp;<br /><br />This recent week has become quite an intense collection of feelings of insecurity, shame, existential fear, social anxiety, restlessness, and uncovering limiting beliefs in the mind. It has felt more raw and less sticky than before, but still stings.<br /><br />Thanks for your thoughts Dream walker.&nbsp;<br />