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Yet another A&P Inquiry
Answer
6/15/12 11:19 AM
Until today I hadn't really entertained the fact that i may have crossed the A&P at some point in my life and not realized it, but on a previous post it was pointed out to me that i might have. So I'll give a brief background here of what i think may have happened and maybe you guys can help me decide if I've gotten over the A&P or not.

First of all, I've been meditating for about 11 months now. For the first probably 6 or 7, i was very unfocused about it, doing this and that, for some of the time i hadnt even been introduced to buddhist meditation yet. Also i went to a meditation class for a while and i was given what i believe to have been pretty poor, unfocused instruction. So for the past couple of months after reading MTCB I've been focusing on shamatha practices, trying to get myself into jhana to start insight practices from. I haven't yet been successful. It was because of a recent post where i asked for help because my concentration was getting poor that someone said maybe ive crossed the A&P.

I can't really remember any specific like, first A&P event, or anything like that where i had a spiritual experience and my life changed. As for the duhkka nanas, i may very well have been in them for a long time, i can relate. I'm a recovering drug addict, so yeah unsatisfactoriness has pretty much been my M.O. for a long time. I think this might signal an ongoing dark night. Daniel Ingram also cited AA/NA meetings as a place where he believes alot of people have crossed the A&P end up, which i previously thought as well and gives me more reason to suspect.

Like i said, i can't remember any crazy experience in my childhood or anything like that but, I've taken alot of drugs - which means that A) I crossed the A&P while i was high - (wouldnt be surprised, i remember plenty of times where i thought everything was "perfect" and that i had figured it all out)... B.) Drugs have fucked up my memory (which they have) and i just don't remember an earlier A&P event or C) Both A and B.

I can also remember once or a few times in insight meditation practice, i was thinking about non-self, many months ago having a profound feeling of peace, nonself, oneness, like for a second i would see it and then it would go away usually. one time specifically i remember coming out of that meditation and the sense of serenity not wearing off for a few hours, i remember driving in my car and wanting to cry because of the happiness.. maybe i lied when i said i dont remember any significant spiritual experiences... Around this time i was able to increase my meditation time from about 45 miuntes to 1.5 hrs, and then shortly after fell back down to less, and then if i remember correctly i had a period where i resisted meditation and became inconsistent. But anyway often times i go back and forth from feeling depressed, confused, without direction, disillusioned with life and feeling great, like i KNOW, and then back to not feeling so good, so on and so forth. I always chocked this up to just mood swings, normal stuff that people go through or because of the disease of addiction that i have.

Anyway, long story short what are your opinions? I cant think of much else to put here, but if i do i will edit it to include. I dont remember having any experiences with bright lights or energy perception or anything like that - have i crossed the A&P or am i flattering myself?

RE: Yet another A&P Inquiry
Answer
6/15/12 10:04 AM as a reply to Brian K..
The main reason this question is interesting, to judge from the earlier thread, is that crossing the A&P might suggest that the dukkha nanas are useful to you now as a model for the impediments you see in your current concentration practice. Do you find that they correspond well with your current meditation experience?

RE: Yet another A&P Inquiry
Answer
6/15/12 11:38 AM as a reply to fivebells ..
Right, so i just read MTCB's descriptions of the dukkha nanas, and I'll give my thoughts on where they coincide and differ from where I'm at.

I can relate to:
Wider concentration, not being able to focus on the object of meditation (as in my last thread), even though i try to focus on it its generally the last thing i'm able to maintain focus on

Renunciation. Oftentimes i want to give up, join a monastery, or just stop feeling/die. (Im not the least bit suicidal, btw) but i can definitely relate to the feeling of it all wanting to stop, like just wanting to sleep

Feeling something is wrong. Like i said in my last thread, it feels like I'm going backwards in my practice.

Lost in thought and fantasy. Once again.......

Disgust. I do feel alot of disgust, rejection, hatred for everything sometimes, sometimes specific things. Now that i think of it often times things that are a threat to my pride or sense of self i guess. Like i said, just wanting to sleep, hating all things. This will come and go, sometimes on a minute to minute, hour to hour or day to day basis.

Feeling like its impossible to go forward, useless to go back. It seems like too much work that i wont be able to do, (hence wanting to become a monk) and i know i cant go back cuz everything sucks anyway haha.

More understanding into fundamental suffering. This has unfolded slowly over a period of months, quite naturally and often by accident just by thinking about suffering in daily life, not necessarily in meditation.

Now, having said that, i would also like to mention that i dont really feel all these crazy vibrations that i hear about all the time. I haven't really done any insight practices, almost exclusively shamatha so maybe i shouldnt feel those.(I do however see lights sometimes. Usually fuzzy and white, although today i saw bright orange for a while flickering in and out towards the top center of my vision.) This is why i didnt think i was in the dark night. But now I'm exploring the idea because if somehow i did cross the A&P, then trying to force concentration like i have been just wont work. I do however see lights sometimes. Usually fuzzy and white, although today i saw bright orange for a while flickering in and out towards the top center of my vision.

So basically i just want to sort out, is this because I've been in the dark night for who knows how long and dont realize it, or am i just experiencing a normal range of human emotions and sensations and writing it off as being insight. Hope that helps.

RE: Yet another A&P Inquiry
Answer
6/15/12 11:36 AM as a reply to Brian K..
Also i would like to add that many things i listed above have been experienced for years, such as disgust and wanting to clock out, or give up and join a monastery. Some have been manifesting more lately such as the lack of concentration. Generally, many of these experiences have cycled in and out for varying lengths of time and intensity for years, and i'm pretty used to them by now, (and by that i just mean theyre normal to me, to be expected, not that they dont bother me)

RE: Yet another A&P Inquiry
Answer
6/15/12 4:28 PM as a reply to Brian K..
Is any of this characteristic of how your mind wanders during concentration practice?

Brian K.:
So basically i just want to sort out, is this because I've been in the dark night for who knows how long and dont realize it, or am i just experiencing a normal range of human emotions and sensations and writing it off as being insight. Hope that helps.


Seems pretty normal to me, but the main question is whether you want to end these thoughts/feelings badly enough to practice insight. (Though I would not recommend switching to that immediately in any case, personally.)

RE: Yet another A&P Inquiry
Answer
6/15/12 4:47 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
I'd say the only thing really predominant in my meditation practice is the inability to focus and some irritability. Nothing crazy. I did however do 2 noting sits today, just to change it up, and had no problem maintaining it. The first sit i sat for about 1hr10mins, longer than usual and it was actually quite enjoyable and concentration was better. What do u make of this.

RE: Yet another A&P Inquiry
Answer
6/15/12 7:29 PM as a reply to Brian K..
Really not sure what's going on, there, but my first thought is that the curiosity you're showing here about what's going on in your practice may be carrying over to the practice itself, which will help with stability.

The concentration you are training to achieve is literally effortless, not just effortless in the sense of "he makes it look so easy," but any effort towards concentration has to end to go where you're trying to go. (An aphorism which was fashionable in some online Buddhist communities a couple of years ago: "Concentration is what you do to oranges.") You actually have to put attention on the breath and let it stay there of its own accord. Any attempt to try to keep it on the breath will get in your way. For this reason, I expect the irritability you're experiencing about wandering attention is ironically getting in the way of your goal. If you find the irritability hard to drop, try switching to metta practice.

RE: Yet another A&P Inquiry
Answer
6/16/12 6:09 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
Ok, I tried metta practice today. It went very well. Concentration was strong, experienced rapture and it was very pleasant. Concentration didn't drop away until the last few minutes of the sitting. I think I got close to jhana, in the fact that ther was an obvious desire for jhana to arise in a way past intellectualism, just wanting it to arise by seeing that thoughts were suffering. It was like I was on the edge of a cliff looking over, and wanted go get over it. There was an obvious desire for release. If im not wrong I would say that's the mind naturally wanting to go into jhana, and/or the mind naturally want to stop clinging to thoughts. I see what you mean about the effort and how it gets in the way. I just let the feeling of metta "sit" there, bringing attention back when it wandered. It seems that the mind will go in jhana of its own accord if that is achieved and maintained.

RE: Yet another A&P Inquiry
Answer
6/16/12 10:33 PM as a reply to Brian K..
Sounds promising. I'm curious about how you cultivated the metta, and also how you experienced the desire for jhana/release.

RE: Yet another A&P Inquiry
Answer
6/16/12 10:45 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
For the metta practice i just took the first instructions from the Visuddhimagga, which was to cultivate metta towards yourself as a basis. So i stuck with that, concentrating on that, repeating the phrase from there "May i be happy and free from suffering" in intervals when the idea started to wane. That was pretty much it, and just let the feeling sit without trying to put too much effort into it. And the desire for jhana or whatever, it was just pretty much how i explained it. Thoughts became irritating, like i was just a few steps away from some kind of silence, or peace but i couldn't quite get there. I was experiencing rapture at the time but the presence of thoughts and the period wandering of the mind was making me discontent with the state. Eventually though my concentration backed off and i wasnt able to get back into the same state. I also cant help but feel that if i would have switched to breath meditation at that point that i would have been able to deepen my concentration, as by now im much more familiar with the breath (first time ever doing metta practice) but i didnt want to switch objects of meditation in the middle of a sitting

RE: Yet another A&P Inquiry
Answer
6/16/12 10:58 PM as a reply to Brian K..
Sounds good. It sounds like metta comes easily to you. You could try to combine the two practices, by cultivating metta for the experience of breathing.

RE: Yet another A&P Inquiry
Answer
6/18/12 12:03 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
Ok. Check this out i had an extremely interesting experience today. I sat down to meditate today, did maybe 10-20 minutes of breath meditation then felt the urge to switch to noting. I did. I started to note very fast, noticing many, many sensations per second. I understood some of the things ive read about here. Like the vibrations, i could feel my whole body was vibrating and certain things stood out more than others. I understood what noticing crazy amounts of sensations, like 30-40 per second is like. I started to see alot of impermanence and nonself. Impermenance was obvious, every sensation was constantly changing, every time i tried to look at one it would never be the same as the moment before. Non self was there too, but it required more effort to see. There were intermittent moments of clarity where i could see that all the things i was experiencing were just another set of sensations no different from things outside of myself, things that might be "not me", in essence. After this had been building, i found myself with more and more rapture and physical pleasure. Finally, something happened at once, then intensified in about 3 sets of physical and mental sensations. It was a sudden burst of rapture rising up over my entire body, feeling like from the abdomen up. It was accompanied by brightness in the mind/vision. my eyes were open and kind of went out of focus, everything got lighter then darker then lighter again. It may have been the most intense bliss Ive ever experienced, certainly so in meditation. I literally couldnt help smile and feel like i wanted to cry. It was scary at first, like being on the top of a rollercoaster about to go down. I tried to see the impermanence of it and the nonself, and soon it started to fade and was unsatisfactory again. Every sensation that came up i investigated: "Who is experiencing this?" And i couldn't really find "who". It was like i was a blank canvas and everything i felt or thought, experienced were just metaphorical blotches of color, fading in and out of the canvas. Eventually, i came out and decided to get up as the sitting was starting to annoy me. I sat for about an hour and a half, which ive only ever done once before. After i came out i felt weird, in a good way but i also felt the "I" and it being painful again. I sat down for another meditation about 10mins after and couldnt focus again enough to sit for more than 45 mins, certainly didnt get where i did with the last one.

So yea i've never experienced that in meditation yet, it was very new and interesting. I'm gonna do another sit or 2 today, so im looking forward on how those will pan out.

RE: Yet another A&P Inquiry
Answer
6/18/12 2:05 PM as a reply to Brian K..
Sounds promising. Hopefully someone with more experience in noting practice will have more to say about what happened, because noting hasn't been my main mode of practice. Congratulations on what sounds like a very pleasant experience of significant progress, though, and may you have many more. emoticon

RE: Yet another A&P Inquiry
Answer
6/18/12 9:47 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
yea who knows. My real question is whether i want to start doing insight practices now or not. Im probably going to stick with concentration though, because i really want to get jhana solid before i do that. Insight is very alluring though in that i crave the release from self more than i do jhanic states. But i may have to exercise patience here...

RE: Yet another A&P Inquiry
Answer
6/19/12 9:40 AM as a reply to Brian K..
I'm going to redirect this description to a different thread in itself, hopefully someone will be able to clarify for me

RE: Yet another A&P Inquiry
Answer
6/20/12 11:39 AM as a reply to Brian K..
You've basically been doing insight practice the whole time, including while doing samatha (at least as long as you're not in a trance state and even then, you can still vipassanize that, as you're noticing now). As long as you're doing moment to moment concentration, you'll move forward on the progress of insight map, which is why you're currently bouncing between the A&P and the dukkha ñanas. For what it's worth, I originally unwittingly and unintentionally got to reobservation (the last dukkha ñana) with qigong practice rather than vipassana. The thing about noting is that it's an easier and very flexible way of tracking the large numbers of sensations you're currently experiencing.

RE: Yet another A&P Inquiry
Answer
6/20/12 5:42 PM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
Interesting. I think you're probably right about this. If so, then the best thing to do really would just be to focus on insight until i complete the 1st past, correct? As I'm already in it and refraining from insight until concentration is stronger will probably be difficult, because building concentration will be difficult in the duhkka nanas. Cool man

RE: Yet another A&P Inquiry
Answer
6/20/12 6:22 PM as a reply to Brian K..
You could say it's all insight practice. You could also say it's all metta practice. As you've seen, shifts in emphasis can be helpful at times.