Reality blinked

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Masauwu ., modified 9 Years ago.

Reality blinked

Posts: 10 Join Date: 5/1/11 Recent Posts
Not sure if words can describe this experience accurately - for a brief moment (less than a half of a second), everything ceased to exist. There was nothing there, reality took a short break. There were no visible effects of any kind immediately after this occured (that i can remember), at the time i registered it as a random unexplained experience and moved on without giving it a second thought until now.

This is not a fresh experience, it happened a while ago. The fact that it happened outside of sitting meditation and that it was not a thing i knew i should be looking for made me ignore it until now. Since one of the DhO posts made me aware that this was even a thing, i tried searching other topics to see if i can find a definite diagnostic but it seems opinions vary.

My practice background is that of a beginner, a couple of months of 30-60 min. a day samatha last year and a similar effort this year; establishing a continuous daily practice has been challenging, periods of serious dedication and insightful meditation alternating with periods of aversion to sitting. Weak concentration, a few interesting insights mostly while cultivating mindfulness during everyday activities. No extraordinary experiences to write home about; a few reocurring dreams where energy waves were coursing through my body that i took for A&P made me think i`ve been a long time dark night yogi. Subtle gradual changes in overall quality of life/experience since i took up meditation, mostly an increase in calm, clarity and detachment.

So i`m wondering what was that blink in my case and - once i know what it is - how knowing about it helps me in managing my practice? My chosen toolset is the samatha-jhana-vipassana path according to the sutta instructions, along with cultivation of mindfulness in everyday life.
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Reality blinked

Posts: 704 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Subtle gradual changes in overall quality of life/experience since i took up meditation, mostly an increase in calm, clarity and detachment.


I can relate to that. All of a sudden you look back and realise you are nothing like how you were 2 or 3mts back even!

My chosen toolset is the samatha-jhana-vipassana path according to the sutta instructions, along with cultivation of mindfulness in everyday life.


Which sutta? Can you describe your practice in a little more detail while we wait for one of the prefects to weigh in on your "experience"? emoticon
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Masauwu ., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Reality blinked

Posts: 10 Join Date: 5/1/11 Recent Posts
Which sutta? Can you describe your practice in a little more detail

Anapanasati Sutta & Satipatthana Sutta. I mentioned the suttas because many schools today seem to only emphasize concentration on the breath (at the nostrils) and i found following the progressive steps in Anapanasati Sutta to work better for me if followed to the letter. Basically focusing on the breath while establishing a sort of peripheral awareness of everything that comes and goes in my small corner of reality.

Also recently i`ve found very helpful advice in this guide from Culadasa.
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Reality blinked

Posts: 704 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Anapanasati Sutta & Satipatthana Sutta. I mentioned the suttas because many schools today seem to only emphasize concentration on the breath (at the nostrils) and i found following the progressive steps in Anapanasati Sutta to work better for me if followed to the letter. Basically focusing on the breath while establishing a sort of peripheral awareness of everything that comes and goes in my small corner of reality.


That sounds like a great practice! I have been doing *exactly* the same. Recently (and not for the first time) i've been advised to switch to metta practice for a time but it seems we are of a like mind.

I've read Culadasa's instructions. They're terrific. I even bought the original tibetan work that it's based on (Bhavanakrama of Kamalasila) but it's virtually unreadable. Lots of tibetan terminology Im unfamiliar with.

I imagine you have heard of Bhante Vimalaramsi and TWIM but you may not have read "Mindfulness with Breathing" by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu. If not, I think you'd find it very interesting indeed given your practice.
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Ian And, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Reality blinked

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Masauwu .:
Not sure if words can describe this experience accurately - for a brief moment (less than a half of a second), everything ceased to exist. There was nothing there, reality took a short break. There were no visible effects of any kind immediately after this occurred (that i can remember), at the time i registered it as a random unexplained experience and moved on without giving it a second thought until now.

This is not a fresh experience, it happened a while ago. The fact that it happened outside of sitting meditation and that it was not a thing i knew i should be looking for made me ignore it until now. Since one of the DhO posts made me aware that this was even a thing, i tried searching other topics to see if i can find a definite diagnostic but it seems opinions vary.

. . . So i`m wondering what was that blink in my case and - once i know what it is - how knowing about it helps me in managing my practice?


Hi Masauwu,

Could you point us to the post on the DhO that "made me aware that this was even a thing" so that we may examine it in the same manner in which you did? This would be very helpful in terms of gaining context about the question you ask.

On an unrelated note, I know Upasaka Culadasa (aka John Yates) personally (have conversed with him on the phone as well as followed his extraordinary commentary on the Jhana-insight yahoo groups list), and he is well versed in meditation practice and an excellent source for meditation instruction, especially during the beginning stages where practitioners occasionally need some hand-holding in order to remain diligent with their practices. His descriptions are uncannily accurate, which makes them very helpful for those just beginning to learn the ropes. One is in good hands if they are reading / contemplating / following anything that he has written.

So, yes, a link to the post (or posts, if applicable) would be most helpful in order to provide some context to your thinking about this phenomenon.

All the best,
Ian
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Masauwu ., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Reality blinked

Posts: 10 Join Date: 5/1/11 Recent Posts
Bagpuss The Gnome:
I imagine you have heard of Bhante Vimalaramsi and TWIM but you may not have read "Mindfulness with Breathing" by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu. If not, I think you'd find it very interesting indeed given your practice.
I haven`t finished reading Buddhadasa`s book, at the moment i`m trying to correct a very out of balance reading to practice ratio.

Ian And:
Could you point us to the post on the DhO that "made me aware that this was even a thing" so that we may examine it in the same manner in which you did? This would be very helpful in terms of gaining context about the question you ask.

Hi Ian,

I found the experience described as fruition in MCTB (first paragraph) and as magga-phala in this message by Culadasa. It puzzled me a bit to find such detailed discussions over this unspectacular fraction of a second event. This post from Kenneth Folk made me inquire about the issue (bold emphasis by me):
In order to know that a cessation has occurred, there must be some kind of a change. That's because cessation is a lack of experience. So, if there were a cessation without a change after it, you wouldn't know about it. For all practical purposes, let's say that a cessation is always followed by a change of some kind, usually described as a feeling of relief, release, or bliss.

Is it possible to miss the change? Yes, in which case the cycle would reset, as you suggested, without your having noticed the cessation. This is not uncommon; in fact, it's common to miss both the cessation and the reset of the cycle. Many people who have not been indoctrinated into the Theravada system and are thus not trained to look for cessations or cycles do not report experiencing either, despite having attained one or more Paths. It's only later, upon learning about these phenomena, that they begin to experience them. In other words, these subtle phenomena can happen, but unless you are trained to notice them you may never see them. And even if you are trained to notice them, you may be tired or distracted and therefore miss them at times. Eventually, they happen so often that you sometimes tune them out as irrelevant. As Bill Hamilton used to say, "How many times are you going to laugh at the same joke?"
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Ian And, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Reality blinked (Answer)

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Masauwu.:
Not sure if words can describe this experience accurately - for a brief moment (less than a half of a second), everything ceased to exist. There was nothing there, reality took a short break. There were no visible effects of any kind immediately after this occurred (that i can remember), at the time i registered it as a random unexplained experience and moved on without giving it a second thought until now.

Since one of the DhO posts made me aware that this was even a thing, i tried searching other topics to see if i can find a definite diagnostic but it seems opinions vary.

. . . So i`m wondering what was that blink in my case and - once i know what it is - how knowing about it helps me in managing my practice?


Hi Masauwu,

I think your comment about "opinions vary" sums this topic up. I'm not sure you will ever find any definitive accounting for the experience you underwent except within the acceptance of your own mind and of an explanation that makes sense to you. And in one sense of viewing this, this is the way it perhaps ought to be. Ultimately, one needs to have confidence in one's own discriminating perception and explanation of reality.

However, that said, it could also be the case that if you were under the tutelage of a specific teacher, that you might likely accept that person's version and explanation of the event. In which case you would be influence by their perception of reality.

So, if truth be told, "opinions vary" seems to sum this up nicely, without providing you with the certainty that you are seeking.

One thing that ought to be pointed out would be that the terms fruition and magga-phala are essentially referring to pretty much the same thing. Magga means "path" in Pali, and phala means "fruit," or the fruit of the path. The term "fruition" as it was used in the DhO wiki post might be viewed as being a shorthand for saying "magga-phala" event, with the idea of "path" being understood and therefore not needing mention.

It occurs to me that such fruitions (or magga-phala events) are therefore quite subjective experiences, tied to the person who experiences them and therefore up to the person himself to make sense of.

This said, it seems reasonable to use other people's explanations (or opinions, if you will) to help us begin to make sense of these experiences when they occur to us. In that vein, then, I'm likely to be partial to Culadasa's explanation as I am able to confirm from first hand experience much if not all of what he had to write about this experience. I had to read through his explanation two times, the second time with a more discriminating memory of a similar event that occurred to me a few years ago, meaning that one needs to refer to their own first hand experience when reading such descriptions, which entails a concentrated mind and clear recollection.

The following quotation below is what I am referring to:

Culadasa:
Then, with regard to the so-called magga-phala event, which may or may not always herald Stream Entry:
1. My experience agrees with what Thanissaro says in that the mind is free of intention during the experience. But I also agree with other sources that it is a cessation of all mental formations, not just the volitional formations called intention.
2. Although designated separately in the classical formulation of the khandas, I find perceptions to be a kind of mental formation as well, and there is no perception as part of that experience. I'll get to what happens in place of perception in a moment.

These two taken together mean that the "discriminating mind", mano-vijnana, which is responsible for every of karma-producing and karma-resultant mental formation, either temporarily suspends its function, or at least it ceases to project any content into consciousness.

3. Sensation, which is actually rupa, not vedana, definitely ceases. This means that the other five "sensory minds" either suspend their functions, or else cease to project content into consciousness.
4. The vedana - feelings of pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral - are a different kind of mental function. Physical vedana arise in the sensory minds in association with sense percepts - the mental representations formed in response to raw sensory input. Mental vedana arise in the discriminating mind in association with mental formations, including perceptions. Both mental and physical vedana are absent in magga and phala. The non-experience of vedana is either because there are no vedana because the sensory and discriminating minds have suspended all function, or the sensory and discriminating minds cease to project vedana into consciousness when they cease to project everything else.
5. Consciousness does not cease during magga-phala. Some methods of practice that put all the emphasis on tracking objects of consciousness lead to reports of "gaps" in consciousness, but practices that emphasize the mind observing itself do not. But the object of consciousness in magga-phala appears to be the simple fact of consciousness itself, which makes it into "consciousness without an object" - something more-or-less inconceivable to the ordinary mind, but shockingly real to the mind in magga-phala. This is the meaning of "consciousness taking the Void as its object." Consciousness has no other object but itself.

When magga-phala takes the form of a "pure consciousness experience" or a "consciousness without an object" that can be recalled afterwards, there is an apparent "perception" associated with it. But this perception is an after-the-fact mental formation derived from the imprint left on the mind by the experience. On the other hand, I think in the Mahasi practice consciousness is often in a "latent" state during magga-phala, in that it produces no imprint in the mind that can be recalled afterwards, and therefore no after-the-fact "perception" is generated. But the only way for the magga-phala experience to reprogram the mind's deep intuitive view of reality so that someone becomes a Stream Entrant is for there to be some kind of "consciousness" that conveys this profound experience to those deep unconscious parts of the mind. In the end, the main difference between these two kinds of magga-phala is just whether or not it leaves an imprint in the mind that can be processed afterwards. . . .

If all magga and phala are nibbana of a sort where sensations, feelings, perceptions, thoughts and every other sort mental formations cease to enter consciousness, but continue at some unconscious level to some degree or another, that would fit the description of a nibbana with remainder.
That kind of nibbana is certainly an "extinguishing" of craving, of mental formations, and of suffering. And it is certainly enough to provide the mind with some dramatically different data upon which to base its intuitive worldview in the future. Therefore it is enough to account for the irreversible changes of Path attainment.

On the other hand, if nirodha is nibbana in which all mental function is suspended completely, that would explain why it is called "without remainder". The complete cessation of sensory mind function would explain why the yogi in nirodha is impossible to arouse. It would, indeed, resemble the nibbana following the death of the body in every way except that the body is not actually dead. And it could, perhaps, also help us to understand why this nirodha is said to be only achievable by arhats and anagamis. This last, by the way, is a also a very strong argument against equating any other experience with nirodha samapati.

This may be something that you wish to look back upon at some future point when you have a better grasp of the phenomena in questions (especially when you are able to recall with as much clarity as possible the exact experience you had along with its characteristics). This may entail having another of these experiences at some future point, so as to be closer in time to recollect it as fully as possible. This is not something easily done by casually "looking" at the experience from the perspective of distance in time and a mind that may not have been as sharply discriminating of the event and its recollection when it initially occurred.

As far as the question "how knowing about it helps me in managing my practice" goes, those realizations are pretty much left up to you to figure out. If it is possible to attain such a state of mind wherein mental formations cease along with volitional formations (and all manner of greed, aversion, and delusion), doesn't that indicate something special? Doesn't knowing that the mind can attain to such a condition give hint as to what is possible? I'd say that that's a pretty significant gift to have had the experience of, no matter how short in time.

In peace,
Ian
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Nikolai ., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Reality blinked

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Hi Ian,

That is a great quote by Culadasa. Do you have the link to the conversation where it occurred? I'd have to say i agree with his explanation of magga and phala more and more these days. I think both these experiences showed up in my past experience so I think I can see what he is pointing to. These days I do think that the manner in which one conditions the mind to experience what is arising (via noting or another way) can lead to different experiences being termed or labeled 'path'. Which is correct? Well i would simply refer back to the descriptions of the fetters being dropped at each 'path'. Have they been dropped and has one's life taken a massive turn for the better?

Nick
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Reality blinked

Posts: 704 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:
Hi Ian,

That is a great quote by Culadasa. Do you have the link to the conversation where it occurred? I'd have to say i agree with his explanation of magga and phala more and more these days. I think both these experiences showed up in my past experience so I think I can see what he is pointing to. These days I do think that the manner in which one conditions the mind to experience what is arising (via noting or another way) can lead to different experiences being termed or labeled 'path'. Which is correct? Well i would simply refer back to the descriptions of the fetters being dropped at each 'path'. Have they been dropped and has one's life taken a massive turn for the better?

Nick


How do you define the fetter of personality view? (i.e. in your view, how does one tell if they've dropped this fetter?)
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Nikolai ., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Reality blinked

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Bagpuss The Gnome:
Nikolai .:
Hi Ian,

That is a great quote by Culadasa. Do you have the link to the conversation where it occurred? I'd have to say i agree with his explanation of magga and phala more and more these days. I think both these experiences showed up in my past experience so I think I can see what he is pointing to. These days I do think that the manner in which one conditions the mind to experience what is arising (via noting or another way) can lead to different experiences being termed or labeled 'path'. Which is correct? Well i would simply refer back to the descriptions of the fetters being dropped at each 'path'. Have they been dropped and has one's life taken a massive turn for the better?

Nick


1/ How do you define the fetter of personality view?
2/ in your view, how does one tell if they've dropped this fetter?


This is my current take on it:

1/ The sticky view that mind/body is 'self', even if one has been exposed to the buddhist notion of 'not-self', it still is a 'sticky' fetter.

2/ It is dropped when one is 100% sure via experientially seeing in real time that what was taken as 'self' is nothing but sensations and mental overlay, via seeing also that the mental overlay can drop away when perception of that which was being (mis)read as 'self' shifts to a perception that is free of such fabrication. A profound and illuminating experience of complete absence of the experience of 'self' makes one truly see that it is illusory. But it comes back online eventually as a continuing experience, yet it has been seen for what it is and holds less sway than before and one's life will experience a profound change in the way the phenomena of mind/body is seen and dealt with. One's practice is then fueled by the profound insight that was gained at the moment of the dropping away of the fetter..

This is how I would describe the dropping of the fetter of personality view. It may differ to others' understanding.
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Reality blinked

Posts: 704 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:
Bagpuss The Gnome:
Nikolai .:
Hi Ian,

That is a great quote by Culadasa. Do you have the link to the conversation where it occurred? I'd have to say i agree with his explanation of magga and phala more and more these days. I think both these experiences showed up in my past experience so I think I can see what he is pointing to. These days I do think that the manner in which one conditions the mind to experience what is arising (via noting or another way) can lead to different experiences being termed or labeled 'path'. Which is correct? Well i would simply refer back to the descriptions of the fetters being dropped at each 'path'. Have they been dropped and has one's life taken a massive turn for the better?

Nick


1/ How do you define the fetter of personality view?
2/ in your view, how does one tell if they've dropped this fetter?


This is my current take on it:

1/ The sticky view that mind/body is 'self', even if one has been exposed to the buddhist notion of 'not-self', it still is a 'sticky' fetter.

2/ It is dropped when one is 100% sure via experientially seeing in real time that what was taken as 'self' is nothing but sensations and mental overlay, via seeing also that the mental overlay can drop away when perception of that which was being (mis)read as 'self' shifts to a perception that is free of such fabrication. A profound and illuminating experience of complete absence of the experience of 'self' makes one truly see that it is illusory. But it comes back online eventually as a continuing experience, yet it has been seen for what it is and holds less sway than before and one's life will experience a profound change in the way the phenomena of mind/body is seen and dealt with. One's practice is then fueled by the profound insight that was gained at the moment of the dropping away of the fetter..

This is how I would describe the dropping of the fetter of personality view. It may differ to others' understanding.


Ian:

Therefore, it doesn't mean that you might still not be affected by the underlying conditioning that the mind still clings to. In other words, while you may understand that the underlying conditioning is false and not to be accepted, that conditioning still affects the mind (and emotions) until you are able to remove it sufficiently enough to not be affected by such tweeks to the ego.


Thanks Nick, Ian. That mostly describes my current experience (and has done for some time now I think.) Its hard to tell for sure though as I still fail to really grasp what you mean by "sticky". I've been talking off-board with Ian a little about some of this recently also, so my understanding is growing, but it can all be a bit confusing without the MCTB standard definition of SE occurring. i.e. no discernible cessations but certainly some "could be" fruitions a few times a week.

For right now I've actually stopped meditating for a week (unthinkable!) as I try to shift my practice to a more samatha-vipassana approach so it will be interesting to see how this all pans out. I don't think SE (or not) really matters in terms of practice, it's not like it changes much but it's interesting stuff nonetheless.
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Ian And, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Reality blinked

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Nickolai:
Bagpuss The Gnome:

1/ How do you define the fetter of personality view?
2/ in your view, how does one tell if they've dropped this fetter?

This is my current take on it:

1/ The sticky view that mind/body is 'self', even if one has been exposed to the buddhist notion of 'not-self', it still is a 'sticky' fetter.

2/ It is dropped when one is 100% sure via experientially seeing in real time that what was taken as 'self' is nothing but sensations and mental overlay, via seeing also that the mental overlay can drop away when perception of that which was being (mis)read as 'self' shifts to a perception that is free of such fabrication. A profound and illuminating experience of complete absence of the experience of 'self' makes one truly see that it is illusory. But it comes back online eventually as a continuing experience, yet it has been seen for what it is and holds less sway than before and one's life will experience a profound change in the way the phenomena of mind/body is seen and dealt with. One's practice is then fueled by the profound insight that was gained at the moment of the dropping away of the fetter.

I would second that definition and process. Nikolai did a very good job of explaining it.

Dropping a view means just that: dropping the view (the mindset) that such and such is this or that. While you may know it intellectually, you may not always be able to halt its underlying conditioned response in the psyche when that button is pushed.

Therefore, it doesn't mean that you might still not be affected by the underlying conditioning that the mind still clings to. In other words, while you may understand that the underlying conditioning is false and not to be accepted, that conditioning still affects the mind (and emotions) until you are able to remove it sufficiently enough to not be affected by such tweeks to the ego.

It's important that you become aware of this difference, and take heart that you are on the path and making progress.



.
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Masauwu ., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Reality blinked

Posts: 10 Join Date: 5/1/11 Recent Posts
Ian, many thanks for your in-depth answer, it`s very helpful.

Nick, you can find the conversation here on the jhana_insight yahoo group.