ADR's Stream Entry Journal

A Dietrich Ringle, modified 10 Years ago at 6/11/12 4:00 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/11/12 4:00 PM

ADR's Stream Entry Journal

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Basically my practice changes a lot but mostly is in the form of staying with bare-bones sensations. I note sometimes but only when things are troublesome or it strikes me that its the right thing to do. Over-indulging in this practice in the past has led to some very ungrounded moments and stress. I have tried samatha meditation with kasina but have not had a lot of luck getting into stable states and usually feel that I am forcing something in a not so pleasant way.

When in the dark night I will often just follow/count my breaths, resetting my attention at the top and bottom until that is easy enough to stay with the whole breath, breaking into access concentration, then maybe some flavor of vibrating, low jhana with more broad body awareness or getting lost in my thoughts and starting the process over again. This will somtimes take me down into some relaxed state where I am not really awake nor am I sleeping. I then will wake up, maybe take a walk, and repeat said process.

I have gotten pretty good at identifying when I am in what Kenneth Folk calls the more stable nana/jhana pairs and really the nanas in general. I am trying to learn to love the difficult states as well as the fun ones, taking the perspective that I am watching some kind of movie in 3d with all kinds of fun and interesting sensations I get to experience (because a movie where everybody was happy the entire is usually thought of as boring!)

I have a hunch that because my A&P event came out of an intense build up of concentration where I forced my breath down into my root, and because I have been a person to always look for happiness in a driven, ocd like way, not leaving a single stone unturned, that my path moment, if it ever comes, may be through the suffering door. I have had several of what I think are near misses and they are always accompanied by fearful, deathlike visions and/or brain scrambling, hard hitting, shuddering drops.

I have also encountered for several months now what I call "little drops" in my field of vision. I am not sure what to think of them. These are usually white or blue/indigo and are basically just little tiny flashes of light. If I am in the early stages I can see the beginning of these well, if in the dark night end, and in equanimity some range of both. Sometimes I can concentrate on them for a while, almost like little kasina objects.

I guess that's all for now.
A Dietrich Ringle, modified 10 Years ago at 6/11/12 5:25 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/11/12 5:25 PM

RE: ADR's Stream Entry Journal

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I suppose I would like to share a little more on the topic of samatha meditation.

I said above that I typically haven't found great benefit in this practice. I suppose this statement is not entirely true. There have been a few times when it seems like the right thing to do, and I have done it to find good benefit. However, it seems that it has to come in certain windows or times during the day. I have yet to understand or look deeply enough into this process to be able to make any sense of it.

A question I have about the samatha vs. vipassana topic:

Say I am in the dark night and I practice samatha. Theoretically I would be in third vipassana territory, but if I am starting at a candle it seems that I am developing some kind of new access concentration and first jhana that somehow has to override the vipassana jhana. Sometimes I can focus on a kasina and it feels quite natural, and other times it seems forceful and the wrong thing to do. Could it be that this has to do with some kind of conflict between the two types of jhana?
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 6/11/12 6:38 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/11/12 6:32 PM

RE: ADR's Stream Entry Journal

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Hiya,

I'll try to point out a few things which might be helpful to you from your notes so far:

ADR:
Basically my practice changes a lot but mostly is in the form of staying with bare-bones sensations. I note sometimes but only when things are troublesome or it strikes me that its the right thing to do.

Attentiveness to bare sensations and noting are basically the same thing, the major difference is the verbalization, silent or otherwise, of the conceptual labels assigned to each sensation. If noting helps you maintain focus and stay with whatever arises then use that, although if you find you're able to observe accurately and consistently at the bare sensate level then you may find it more efficient.

Rather than jump from technique to technique, try sticking to one practice for a predefined length of time, e.g. one week doing nothing but noting, and persevere with it. Flitting between different practices may be what's preventing you from making further progress, if your intent isn't focused then you're going to be treading water rather than moving forwards.

ADR:
I have tried samatha meditation with kasina but have not had a lot of luck getting into stable states and usually feel that I am forcing something in a not so pleasant way.

It sounds like you're probably trying too hard, there's a balance required which you'll only learn through practice but which is easy to identify once you've got the hang of it. Allow your eyes to rest on the kasina, don't fight with it or try to force anything at all, just relax and gently bring attention back to your object if it begins to wander.

ADR:
When in the dark night I will often just follow/count my breaths, resetting my attention at the top and bottom until that is easy enough to stay with the whole breath, breaking into access concentration, then maybe some flavor of vibrating, low jhana with more broad body awareness or getting lost in my thoughts and starting the process over again. This will somtimes take me down into some relaxed state where I am not really awake nor am I sleeping. I then will wake up, maybe take a walk, and repeat said process. [my emphasis added]

Sounds like you're 'zoning out' more than anything, would it be fair to say that your attention becomes quite sluggish and unfocused when this happens? If not, would you mind describing this line in bold in more detail?

You don't need to "reset" the attention, just stay with the entire breath for as many cycles as you're able to. If you get distracted, go back to the breath. If you're doing samatha, just stay with the breath - If you're doing vipassana, investigate the bare sensations.

ADR:
...that my path moment, if it ever comes, may be through the suffering door. I have had several of what I think are near misses and they are always accompanied by fearful, deathlike visions and/or brain scrambling, hard hitting, shuddering drops.

Don't waste your time on this, you won't know when it'll come and you probably won't even be able to recognize which door it happens through until after the fact, if at all. What you describe as "near misses" sound more typical of Dark Night, particularly the later stages of it.

When it happens, it will happen now since it can't possibly occur anywhere else. You don't need to look for "it", just stay with whatever sensations present themselves and see each one as an empty unit of bare sensate information which flickers on your 'display' for an instant, only to vanish just as quickly. Look at how even the sense of there being someone who is observing this happening, or whom this experience is happening to, can also be seen to arise and pass away without any input from "you". It can only happen right now, not in the future or in the past so remain attentive.

ADR:
I have also encountered for several months now what I call "little drops" in my field of vision. I am not sure what to think of them. These are usually white or blue/indigo and are basically just little tiny flashes of light. If I am in the early stages I can see the beginning of these well, if in the dark night end, and in equanimity some range of both. Sometimes I can concentrate on them for a while, almost like little kasina objects.

Nikolai did a nice article on "Floaters" here, although I'm not entirely sure you're describing the same thing.

ADR:
Say I am in the dark night and I practice samatha. Theoretically I would be in third vipassana territory, but if I am starting at a candle it seems that I am developing some kind of new access concentration and first jhana that somehow has to override the vipassana jhana. Sometimes I can focus on a kasina and it feels quite natural, and other times it seems forceful and the wrong thing to do. Could it be that this has to do with some kind of conflict between the two types of jhana?

The differentiation between vipassana jhanas and samatha jhanas is not present in the Buddha's original teachings, it's a later addition to the Theravadan model. Basically it comes down to whether you're focusing on an object, samatha, or investigating the sensations which make up that object, vipassana. Insight practice can dismantle a stable jhana to reveal how even those sensations are still subject the Three Characteristics, however concentration practice can lead to the false solidification of those sensations which may prevent you from seeing their true nature.

They're not really different "types of jhana" as such, it's the same territory but you're either (consciously) solidifying or dismantling the sensations occurring at that moment. Investigating sensations tends to be less pleasant since you're dismantling those pleasant, blissful or joyous sensations rather than 'soaking' in them and thus stabilizing them into a state.
A Dietrich Ringle, modified 10 Years ago at 6/11/12 11:00 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/11/12 11:00 PM

RE: ADR's Stream Entry Journal

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Thanks for the feedback, Tommy, here are some more thoughts.

On Practice:

Tommy M:

Rather than jump from technique to technique, try sticking to one practice for a predefined length of time, e.g. one week doing nothing but noting, and persevere with it. Flitting between different practices may be what's preventing you from making further progress, if your intent isn't focused then you're going to be treading water rather than moving forwards.


I pretty much do, although at this point I have had to let go of so many things that I am trying not to affect my practice too much or I suffer. If I feel like eating I eat, if I want to sit I sit, walk I walk, note I note, etc. Besides Vipassana I have spent a good deal of time at practice centers associated with the Plum Village tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. One of the things he says quite a bit and I like is that "if the practice is not pleasant you are not practicing correctly." Even in the darkest moments of Re-Observation usually the difference between tremendous mental suffering and pleasant equanimity is just a recognition of something quite simple, like "what am I trying to achieve" or even "I am suffering, please help" (one of the Plum Village Mantras that works incredibly well for me when I actually say it sincerely).

On Samatha:

Tommy M:

It sounds like you're probably trying too hard, there's a balance required which you'll only learn through practice but which is easy to identify once you've got the hang of it. Allow your eyes to rest on the kasina, don't fight with it or try to force anything at all, just relax and gently bring attention back to your object if it begins to wander.


Yes, agreed. Applying the same principle as above seems to yield good results. I just was sitting in my living room hanging out with my parents when a glean of a candle caught my eye. I sat for about 45 minutes with good stable concentration (around 1st Jhana level I think) before I started feeling like continuing would be forcing something and start to not be so pleasant. Now I am enjoying typing, and that is pleasant lol.

It is interesting to me that I seem to have made it to at least the 5th Jhana in vipassana terms (more on this below) but still am not able to get into stable 2nd Jhana territory.

On Zoning Out:

Tommy M:

Sounds like you're 'zoning out' more than anything, would it be fair to say that your attention becomes quite sluggish and unfocused when this happens? If not, would you mind describing this line in bold in more detail?


As far as zoning out goes, it varies. Once again remember I am trying not to affect to much (I hope I am using this word in a clear way). If I feel tired during a sit then I will lie down. Sometimes I will legitimately sleep. Other times I kind of go into these reverie/vision things that end with the things I described as near misses (I describe them as such because Daniel mentions this in his book. You could be right about them being dark night things though, I don't know).
One time a couple weeks ago I was in one of these resting states and awoke to find myself in a pretty solid state where I couldn't tell where my body began and the room ended. My mind was also difficult to pick out as everything just seemed huge and expansive. I am assuming this is a formless realm, but don't have enough experience to know which one. My guess would be B. Space.

The most recent zoning out experience occurred two nights ago when I awoke to find myself completely immersed in suffering, like syrup. It was quite unsettling and shortly thereafter I had one of those things I describe as a brain-scrambling drop, although nothing seemed to engage.
While on this topic, I also had an interesting vision a few weeks ago where I felt like my brain went into hyperdrive and I saw all these colorful, fast dmt like flashes coming out of a center point followed by finding myself in this basement of sorts where two men in lab coats where testing my on my ability to "pay attention" to things they were asking me on a screen. I never saw/responded fast enough though and they disappeared with a shudder/drop. Shortly thereafter I found the janitor (who seemed to know everything) and upon my asking him if I could/needed to go somewhere (I was wanting a fruition) he said, "NO!" and the entire thing launched me back unto my couch.

On Mindfulness of Breathing

Tommy M:
You don't need to "reset" the attention, just stay with the entire breath for as many cycles as you're able to. If you get distracted, go back to the breath. If you're doing samatha, just stay with the breath - If you're doing vipassana, investigate the bare sensations.


Usually by default I follow the instructions on the Mindfulness of Breathing Sutra with the idea of not trying to be too affective. If I am in some dark night stage I will often have to keep coming back to the "breathing in I know that I breath in, etc" instructions because to do more is not pleasant. If I start getting the hang of this I will start seeing the whole breath, moving to the bodily sensations, etc.
Often times though my mind is not stable or speedy enough while I am in the dark night stages to practice noting in the traditional, pure form that I understand it, but it has happened (a few days ago) and was very interesting and empowering. Kind of like watching a horror film and knowing it is not real. The whole things was like a fun roller coaster and I blasted through the stages to middle/high EQ in less than 45 minutes (if my memory serves me correct), seeing all the fun flavors of jhana along the way.
A Dietrich Ringle, modified 10 Years ago at 6/12/12 12:54 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/12/12 12:54 PM

RE: ADR's Stream Entry Journal

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"A good start to the day"

This morning after breakfast and some chores I decided that it might be a good idea to practice "charging up the mind" a bit. As I sat down I realized that much of my practice as of late is not what might be called "formal." Sure I do a lot of sits but I am now wondering if a lot of that was wasted time as I often don't have access concentration. It's hard to say, and I won't worry about it.

Anyway, I wanted to "practice jhana" this morning and that is what I did. I started with a candle flame and quickly decided I wasn't feeling this object as it was moving around and my eyes were tired. So, I started following my breath, being specific in not trying to break it up with mindfulness but rather "getting into the groove." I noticed access concentration coming up fairly quickly (a minute or two), and what I think is first jhana followed a few minutes after that.

Eventually I started feeling tired of this state and, thinking that maybe I might be "out of gas" I just dropped my effort. This seemed to bring me into what might be second jhana because I was still clearly "absorbed" but no longer was trying to do anything. After a while this state also started to feel a bit jarring and I briefly entered into a cooler, more open space with finer accompanied ear harmonics. About this time I started to feel legitimately ready to end the session so I slowly started noticing my body and that thoughts were starting to stream in. The whole thing then fell apart but it took a few minutes for me to be ready/able to get out of my chair.

None of the states I was in were particularly high in any "wow" or "bliss" factor. I suspect this is because I am already quite familiar with this territory through vipassana work and kind of in a broad equanimity mindset in that only "ultimate leaning" things really get me going at the moment. I would say I probably experienced each of these states in a soft "samatha" quality, as there was a bit of discriminatory thinking going on and my sense faculties would come and go intermittently. All this being said, if indeed I did experience second and third jhana territory (I think so), this is probably the most "samatha-like" versions of them I have yet encountered. All for now.
A Dietrich Ringle, modified 10 Years ago at 6/12/12 2:26 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/12/12 2:26 PM

RE: ADR's Stream Entry Journal

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"Let's Try Again"

I just finished sit number 2 for the day. After getting up and just kind of wandering around the house for a few minutes (after my first sit this morning) I decided that I was ready for another go. This time I was feeling a bit more "laid back" and so I kicked back into the recliner and let my mind go free. I stayed in this state of just kind of "floating around" and I felt myself becoming tired, starting to drift off into a zone out. I moved to the couch and laid down on my right side, thinking I would sleep. Somewhere in here I realized what was happening and mindfulness came back online. I realized my breath was moving very mechanically so I focused on it and started watching it slow down. It slowed down until I felt it "engage" in a way that now I was "on it" and locked in. This freed the breath to move around naturally and immediately vibratory patterns began. My body line also disappeared. I watched this process for a while but started feeling like I was straining so I got up and wrote this. Now I will eat and do some walking meditation because I think my mind may need a bit of a change up.
A Dietrich Ringle, modified 10 Years ago at 6/12/12 4:16 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/12/12 4:16 PM

RE: ADR's Stream Entry Journal

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"Sit/Recline Number Three for Today (June 12, 2012)"

Just did another sit. Actually I was reclining in the chair. Initially I tried focusing but realized that my attention was way too narrow and thus I was making myself strain. I let my eyes kind of roll up into my head pointed towards my crown and just let everything rest. The breath settled down quickly to very faint in/outs with minimal tension in my abdomen. First I felt like I was floating around in space and then everything kind of inverted where I could feel this energy or maybe "consciousness" strobbing through my body in gentle, pleasant, tinging, fountain-like waves coming up from my feet and looping through my body. I have actually been in this state before but I think it pretty much marks the end of known territory in terms of my lucid practice history (although I think the state I dropped into a few weeks ago after waking up from sleep may have been Jhana #8, but I don't feel I have mastery over that territory as I have yet to be able to reproduce it, yet).

This is very encouraging. Its only 4:15, and I have already made it this far up the jhanic arc.
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 6/12/12 4:27 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/12/12 4:27 PM

RE: ADR's Stream Entry Journal

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It sounds like you've really got your shit together when it comes to this stuff, your descriptions are good and the way you describe your practice to date is very encouraging. In all honesty, I wouldn't be surprised if you haven't already got Path and perhaps didn't recognize it - If you haven't, it ain't a kick in the arse away given how strong your practice sounds.

Nice, thanks for posting your notes.
A Dietrich Ringle, modified 10 Years ago at 6/12/12 6:28 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/12/12 6:28 PM

RE: ADR's Stream Entry Journal

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Tommy M:
It sounds like you've really got your shit together when it comes to this stuff, your descriptions are good and the way you describe your practice to date is very encouraging. In all honesty, I wouldn't be surprised if you haven't already got Path and perhaps didn't recognize it - If you haven't, it ain't a kick in the arse away given how strong your practice sounds.

Nice, thanks for posting your notes.


Thanks for the feedback. My gut feeling is that I am close but not yet there. I have not noticed any substantial reduction in suffering or other major changes like that. Just the stages building, readjustment, building, etc in cycles and sub-cycles. I think I will lay off posting for a bit until something else major or noteworthy happens. Now I am in the stage where I know there is nothing I can "do" but just keep practicing and waiting. I will keep on keeping on.

(whoa that was strange, I just looked at the words as I was typing them and didn't recognize the language at all, seemed like some esoteric symbols - something is brewing)
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 6/12/12 8:05 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/12/12 8:03 PM

RE: ADR's Stream Entry Journal

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ADR:
Thanks for the feedback. My gut feeling is that I am close but not yet there. I have not noticed any substantial reduction in suffering or other major changes like that. Just the stages building, readjustment, building, etc in cycles and sub-cycles. I think I will lay off posting for a bit until something else major or noteworthy happens. Now I am in the stage where I know there is nothing I can "do" but just keep practicing and waiting. I will keep on keeping on.

(whoa that was strange, I just looked at the words as I was typing them and didn't recognize the language at all, seemed like some esoteric symbols - something is brewing)

Your honesty with yourself and willingness to examine your experience is commendable, I don't doubt for a second that you'll land Path. There's a few things worth looking at which just might help flip it:

- Look at how there's still this sense of an observer, it's like some sort of centre to the whole thing which is what's watching this play out. While you're in Equanimity, just watch that particular pattern of sensations, which is all it really is, and see if there's anything special or different about them. It'll arise naturally and in this amazingly spacious, three-dimensional way but look at how it comes about; where does that come from? Where does it go? What makes that any different to any other sensation?

- Try investigating things like whatever implies a sense of dimension, e.g. length, breath or depth, things you might not normally consider as being worth investigating. The same goes for things like time, movement, volition and even attention itself, you're dismantling the whole thing through seeing it clearly so what is it that's being missed?

- Any and all mental processes can be investigated too, not just the obvious ones.

- Watch how the attention 'bounces' between an object and the sense of a subject.

Best of luck and hopefully we'll hear from you soon!

P.S. I know what you're talking about with the words, this is good stuff and may lead to insight into emptiness.
A Dietrich Ringle, modified 10 Years ago at 6/12/12 10:11 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/12/12 8:55 PM

RE: ADR's Stream Entry Journal

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Ok. I have edited my original post, because I don't think I need 24 hours. I think I just landed this thing!!!!! emoticon

I was walking down my street earlier after accessing all of the formless realms via vipassana on some level or another for the first time today. I had only made it a few meters when I was suddenly aware that there had been a gap. It was tiny, the most inconspicuous thing you can imagine. Anticlimax definitely fits the bill.
I kind of laughed to myself after I noticed it joking that wouldn't it be funny if that was it, not really believing it. But then I noticed. Things seemed the same yet quieter. Whenever I would turn my mind to something it reacted differently on some subtle level. I felt lighter.
Since then I have noticed several more gaps and the distinct feeling of cycling. My mind feels more powerful, but not how I would have expected. When negative things come up there is aversion, but I seem to move on from them very quickly, automatically even. Also I have no feeling of "I need to keep driving myself on" like I have all day. There is a very subtle sense of satisfaction. My face looks a bit more relaxed as well, especially in the areas just under the eyes.

I feel very peaceful, that is a good word. Peaceful.

We will see what tomorrow brings. emoticon
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 6/13/12 8:54 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/13/12 8:54 AM

RE: ADR's Stream Entry Journal

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I kind of laughed to myself after I noticed it joking that wouldn't it be funny if that was it, not really believing it. But then I noticed. Things seemed the same yet quieter. Whenever I would turn my mind to something it reacted differently on some subtle level. I felt lighter.

Nice.

Since then I have noticed several more gaps and the distinct feeling of cycling. My mind feels more powerful, but not how I would have expected. When negative things come up there is aversion, but I seem to move on from them very quickly, automatically even. Also I have no feeling of "I need to keep driving myself on" like I have all day. There is a very subtle sense of satisfaction. My face looks a bit more relaxed as well, especially in the areas just under the eyes.

I feel very peaceful, that is a good word. Peaceful.

Nicer.

emoticon

Sounds promising, hang fire for the moment though and see how it plays out; everything sounds good to me and I can see that you're not the sort of person who'd make such a claim without some strong evidence to back it up, so I'm inclined to agree that you may well have gotten Path. A bit of reality-testing and continuing observation of how your everyday experience has changed will make it clear whether or not this is the case.

Good stuff mate, great to see someone else demonstrating how possible and realistic a goal this thing is!
A Dietrich Ringle, modified 10 Years ago at 6/13/12 4:43 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/13/12 4:30 PM

RE: ADR's Stream Entry Journal

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Just now I was able to without a doubt replicate a clear fruition.

I sat down in the chair and worked my way up from the A&P through the formless realms (the most solid (vipassana) quality to date). After that I went outside to take a walk. I felt a clear pressure in the front of my head, and felt like I needed a release. The walk only lasted five minutes, around the block, and I came back in to sit down in my chair. I was looking in kind of a wide angle out with my eyes open and had the impression of a discontinuity that had somewhat of an all-inclusive gunshot quality, followed by a radiating bliss wave. The pressure in my head was then noticeably reduced.

On another note, I feel like I can already see the limitations of my current achievement (in the form of craving/aversion). For example, today after my morning yoga routine I noticed that I felt a clear impression of "attachment to body." There was no fear (consciously) present, but the feeling was a bit "bothersome."
In days past the perspective would have/has been different. I would have perhaps thought "I will die one day" with a small feeling of fear, or reminded myself, "this is not my body."

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