Fruition? While sleeping? Spontaneous formless Jhana?

ND, modified 10 Years ago at 4/17/12 10:58 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 4/17/12 10:58 PM

Fruition? While sleeping? Spontaneous formless Jhana?

Posts: 18 Join Date: 4/15/12 Recent Posts
Hey everybody,

Last summer I had some interesting experiences. I was working hard at a yoga retreat center during a shutdown in which we were doing alot of work on the building. I was also doing my customary walking meditation, which in June produces a tremendous amount of energy and focus for me because my sleeping/waking cycle is extra sensitive to sunlight.

In addition to applying that energy to the work I was doing, I was doing alot of sporadic noting at the reccomendation of a Dharma friend. Alot of my old psychological patterns were being activated by a relationship I was beginning and that experience was also very fertile for noting practice. I remember being very mentally clear and I think I was sort of fluidly moving between choiceless awareness and noting.

Two things happened which I want to ask the community about.

I remember that one day when I finished my work my mind was quite calm. I sat down in the dormitory and without thinking anything like "I'm going to meditate" started doing the choiceless awareness thing. I did that for a while and then began listening to a Ken Wilber interview about states of consciousness. I laid my head down and I'm not really sure what happened. At the time I would have said that I "blacked out." It was like I had an experience of there being no experience and I have no idea how long it lasted, but I remember that the Wilber interview was still playing so there's no way it was longer than like forty minutes. Immersion in it however was utterly timeless. Unfortunately I don't remember what that times were before and after the event. Deep dreamless sleep is how I would characterize it, which is interesting because that's what Ken Wilber was speaking about in the lecture. Did I hypnotize myself?

Anyway, when I "woke up" I remember having a feeling of complete purity and freedom. It was like my subconscious had been purged of the subtle internal friction of fundamental suffering. Immediately after the event I was in an experience of equanimity, but the freedom I felt gave rise to intense joy and I got just a bit carried away with it. That evening I ran around and played catch with a baseball and crashed a bike.

The next day after I was finished with my work I was sitting in the sanctuary of the retreat center. Another volunteer was playing piano in the corner. It may have been Chopin. It was beautiful. I sat and listened. As I concentrated on the melody I felt energy coursing through my body and began to feel very fine vibrations like my flesh was simmering.

I pretty sure this was an A&P event. It was rapturous for sure. The intensity was way higher than the energy and joy I experienced after the earlier event, but the duration was much shorter.

I am certain that I was in the dark night for several years before that week and then afterwards stopped practicing and drifted back into it for about eight months.

It was right after these experiences that I first read Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha. Until I was advised by a friend to note and told about the three characteristics, I had no exposure to insight practice, so I was cofused and just letting all of this sink in. I immediately diagnosed the experience as a fruition and A&P event, but was advised by the same friend to be careful of over fixation on maps and to watch out for confirmation bias, so I was like "whatever" and just moved on.

Now I am doing more formal insight practice and suspect that I am in the Equanimity stage.

What do you think?
Daniel M Ingram, modified 10 Years ago at 4/18/12 2:12 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 4/18/12 2:12 AM

RE: Fruition? While sleeping? Spontaneous formless Jhana? (Answer)

Posts: 3232 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
I remember Bill Hamilton, one of my teachers, talking a lot about "unknowing events", periods of time during which there is some sort of blackout, and I remember that he said he had one while listening to a recording of someone talking about meditation very early on in his meditation practice that lasted some long period of time (I will bet Kenneth Folk knows the story better than I do, if you want to ask him).

Anyway, there are all sorts of ways to try to figure out what that likely was, and some just aren't going to match up with any of the usual suspects well.

The temporal sequence of what you think was Fruition leading to A&P doesn't make sense, as generally the A&P after a Fruition is basically a very short, not much of anything event, not a big, pleasurable A&P thing.

Second, to hit some 40-minute Fruition without some sort of build up and lots of practice and all that is beyond anything I have heard of, though that doesn't mean it didn't occur, just not at all likely.

Third, there are a ton of things that could cause a long blackout, sleep being one, but there are other contenders, and sometimes they just happen and don't fit into the standard maps at all.

Anyway, if it really was a Fruition, you should try to repeat it, and pay careful attention to the few moments of the entrance and exit, as well as the sequence of things that lead up to it, and see how that lines up with "Was that Emptiness?" criteria in MCTB.

Anyway, sounds like fun stuff regardless,

ND, modified 10 Years ago at 4/18/12 9:33 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 4/18/12 9:33 PM

RE: Fruition? While sleeping? Spontaneous formless Jhana?

Posts: 18 Join Date: 4/15/12 Recent Posts
After re-reading "Was that Emptiness?" I think it's best to assume that it wasn't a Fruition/Stream Entry. From what I remember, there doesn't seem to have been any sense of time passing or of there being an observer and it did seem like sort of a strange discontinuity of experience, but I haven't had any more of that sort of unknowing event, so I'm clearly not cycling quickly through the progress of insight in the way that you described.

A few weeks ago I felt called to start practicing formally and dilligently for the first time since all of these things were happening. Years ago, before I was exposed to these maps or insight practice in such a way that I could do it intentionally, I think I began meditating without really knowing that was what I was doing. I gradually realized that the sleep hygeine and physical exercises I was deeply comitted to produced as much clarity and happiness as they did because of the mindfulness and equanimity I was infusing them with and that this was meditation. However, until I learned about Insight Practice from friends at that retreat center, it was always more of a concentration thing.

The main reason I began thinking about this supposed Fruition again is that i noticed how my experience over the past eight months or so has matched up to descriptions of how Stream Enterers drop the belief in a self, attachment to ritual, and skeptical doubt about these teachings and practices. I definitely still experience lust and ill will though...

Perhaps I've just worked out some of my psychological stuff. I don't know. What I do know is that since I started practicing(seriously)again, I am living with a sense of "peace, ease, and a panoramic perspective" that seems to line up with the description of Equanimity in MCTB.

I'm just gonna keep practicing. Thanks for weighing in! This is a great resource.

-Andy O.