Message Boards Message Boards

Practice Logs

As best as I can recall - feedback welcome

Toggle
Hi, I’d like to introduce myself and get some feedback from some of my fellow yogis. I’m using this moniker temporarily because I can’t afford to have admissions of drug use out on the internet. I’ll think about this some more later and decide what to do. Maybe I’ll make a different account with my real name or just let people know individual who I am that I’d like to be friends with. I am interested in making real life friends and becoming part of this community as I feel I have a lot to offer. Here’s some of my history for those interested or willing to give feedback or advice.

Before Meditation:
Pre-meditation activities from the age of 15-27 constituting “hard-core” experimentations into the nature of consciousness/reality:
extensive lucid dreaming;
psychedelics; and
thought experimenting utilizing an unusually high degree of skill in both creativity and critical thinking individually, as well as in combination with each other.

Insights (A note about these insights: These insights were gained entirely outside the realm of vipassana meditation with absolutely no knowledge of buddhist thought or eastern philosophies. It is commonly said in these circles that “intellectual understandings” are not the same as “insights” gained through meditation, and for the most part I agree. However, I would like to suppose that both are actually labels and it is somehow possible to gain “insights” without meditation. I say this only because the following insights are known to me, they have been revealed to me, and hold identical characteristics as insights I have gained through traditional vipassana meditation.):

Knowledge of the true nature of pre-determinism/free-will.
Knowledge of the true nature of separation/connectivity. This leads to the “There is Only One Thing” experience.
Knowledge of true nature of self/no self. This leads to the “Universe is Experiencing Itself” experience.
Knowledge of the true nature of objectivity/subjectivity. This leads to the “Truth is Where it is Found” experience - I also call this one “The Grand Resolution to All Seeming Paradoxes” or “knowledge of the true nature of paradox.”

Meditation Practice Log (no knowledge of maps or anything outside of Goenka retreat)
1st Goenka 10 day Retreat Nov. 2010
Really intense ups and downs
lots of pains the first few days which after a while got normalized and didn't matter that much
Lots of thoughts regarding future plans and sexual desires desires that would change radically day to day, seemed realistic at the time, but after retreat revealed themselves as neurotic over zealous wasted creative energies.
Lazy near the end just waiting for it to be over
legitimate “mind/body” insight that after retreat had the effect of increasing masterbation while simultaneously decreasing motivation. I think this happened because the mind was now aware that what it was craving was a body sensation, sexual in nature, and that it didn’t need to look to fulfilling any prerequisite, like being successful in life to get lots of hot chicks, it could just skip that step and go straight to what it really wanted, i.e., the body sensation.
Although I didn’t get what Goenka called the Bhanga, I did have several experiences that would be regarded as A&P. The most prominent being the impression that I was on about 3 hits of LSD after the 4th day sit (the first vipassana sit after 3 days of anapana concentration meditation). In other word, a high degree of flow through all sense doors, and more awareness than I could remain equanimous with.
The most significant insight of this course was a knowledge of the habit pattern of the mind. How by, not reacting to thoughts or impulses when they come up, they evaporate from the habit pattern of the mind and are less likely to come up later, and will be less powerful.

After 1st Retreat
after retreat i was really happy... for a while.
After a few weeks I got super lazy, complacent, played lots of video games and watch TV a lot which led to sort of depression, though I wouldn’t call it clinical depression or anything, just a slump.
This slump made me want to go back to meditate again, this time with my wife who had gone to a Goenka 10 day after the one I went to.

2nd Retreat Aug 2011
So we went together, and because I had such an INTENSE time on my first course, my wife suggested I just try to keep it grounded this time
This conscious effort led to an experience of not reacting to the thoughts that caused me to have so many ups and downs the first retreat. In a very real way I became disembedded from the habit pattern of my mind, and just watched and remained equanimous.
there still was some amount of craving for or planning drug-fueled sexual experiences for after retreat, but mostly these were recognized for what they were, experiences in the moment that should be let go of.
This did get boring and I spaced out and slacked off a lot.
At the time I didn’t consider this equanimity to be an insight or a stage as I didn’t know anything about the maps. I just came to the conclusion that meditation was boring and not really for me.

After 2nd retreat
after a short honeymoon of clarity I pretty much fell right back into the slump I was in before.
I might do a little anapana here and there, but whenever I did I would just get horny and stop after 20 mins so I could take care of that

3rd retreat Feb 2012
by this point it was clear to me that mediation had a positive effect on my enjoyment of life, if even just concentration meditation, and I wanted to try to incorporate it in my life.
I didn’t really want to go to another retreat, but I didn’t really care that much and my wife wanted to go so we went.
Still not aware of the maps, but I did go straight back up to this equanimity pretty quickly and just sort of hung out for the 10 days.
I could sit no problem, very little discomfort.
no real insights
I was pretty much equanimous except once in awhile I would want to get to the bhanga but it never happened and I didn’t really care much anyway

After 3rd retreat
left thinking, ya meditation is not for me
shortly after found meditation stuff on the maps via Ron Crouch’s website and read Ingram’s book
switched to noting style

After switching to noting style - March 2012

I’ve been sitting progressively more and more over the last 3 months and am up to about 2 hours a day for over a month and there have been some dramatic improvements in my behavior and in my experience
lately there is a flickering effect present in all senses. like in the movie theater when you can notice the film flickering on the screen, or like sound is all little wavelets, lmy body feels like a metal pole that has been struck on one side and it is ringing, vibrating back and forth, in and out.

Currently I'm doing 20mins anapana followed by 40mins noting twice a day (so 2 hours a day). Recently, I sprinkle a few "stop on a dime" observations throughout the day that Shinzen Young recommends.

I should mention that the 2 hours a day is formal sitting, I find that most of the day I am meditating as I do my activities, which might explain why it seems I stay in equanimity, even high equanimity throughout the day, for long periods of time.

Seems like I am back and forth between lower and higher equanimity. I've had more than a few moments in higher equanimity that were pretty intense, just everything breaking up and waving all out of sync.
I was noting specific sensations, like itch, pain, bird chirp, circles, etc, but recently I've reduced my noting to 5 different options:
feel
ear
eye
mind
taste
By the time I have an attention moment that combines two or more sense doors, I generally just drop noting and try to observe attention. If focus starts to wane I go back to anapana for a bit, then back to noting

Lately, very subtle sensations are revealing themselves, like “body map,” “eye map,” “ear map,” and then these maps or projections start to themselves break up into flow, and I am disembedded from the subtle memory of being in a location specific in time and space.



Questions, Concerns, Wrap-up

So in my estimation it appears as though stream-entry is pretty close, although I’m not entirely confident that my experience lines up exactly with that of someone on first path as I have already “seen the no-self” Shinzen Young says. And I have seen it in the most profound way I can imagine is possible, albeit outside the vipassana tradition.

The last three months, since I started meditating every day has been the most fulfilling and enjoyable I can remember in my life. So honestly, whether or not I am on first path going for stream-entry, second path, completely enlightened or just on no path at all because the maps are a bunch of BS, all-together doesn’t really matter to me. The benefits are speaking for themselves at this point.

However, I am working on the assumption that this “blip” or “wink of nothingness” is actually something that I will notice, and have an impact on me and not just something that could pass by without having some sort of gravity to it. Because there are often times little blips all over the place if I look for them in between attention moments or at the end of an attention moment. I don’t consider them a big deal, and I don’t think they are the blip people are talking about as nibbana, unless all of you are all under some sort of group placebo effect by imagining this as a big deal.

RE: As best as I can recall - feedback welcome
Answer
6/16/12 9:24 AM as a reply to Delicate Monster.
Hiya, good to see you back - It was your initial question which actually inspired me to do this experiment, so you may find something of interest on that thread too. I'll go through your post and respond to specific points:

Hi, I’d like to introduce myself and get some feedback from some of my fellow yogis. I’m using this moniker temporarily because I can’t afford to have admissions of drug use out on the internet. I’ll think about this some more later and decide what to do. Maybe I’ll make a different account with my real name or just let people know individual who I am that I’d like to be friends with

It's not a big deal if you'd rather use an alias, the name I use is just a contraction of my full name but it's obscured enough to make it unlikely that anyone who knows me offline would make the connection. I don't use my full name because too many employers use "social media checks" nowadays and I'd rather my explorations and adventures remained seperate from that part of my life. Moniker or not, you can always PM people/have them PM you if they really wanted to know, and keep your identity otherwise hidden.

Before Meditation:

This whole section sounds very familiar to me, I also came here having had a shitload of these deep insights into things before ever having heard of vipassana. In fact, I'd gotten Path before I even knew what the hell it was! emoticon

1st Goenka 10 day Retreat Nov. 2010

Almost certainly an A&P Event, strong insights which should hopefully now inform your overall view of this thing.

After 1st Retreat

Dissolution.

2nd Retreat Aug 2011

Cycling from A&P through Dark Night into Equanimity. If you've been able to hit Equanimity consistently then you're likely to land Path with a bit of refinement in your technique...if you don't already have it, that is.

After 2nd retreat

After-effects of strong concentration while on retreat → Back into cycling. How long was it taking in your sits, if you can recall, before the sexual feelings began to arise?

3rd retreat Feb 2012

Frustrating, ain't it? emoticon

lately there is a flickering effect present in all senses. like in the movie theater when you can notice the film flickering on the screen, or like sound is all little wavelets, lmy body feels like a metal pole that has been struck on one side and it is ringing, vibrating back and forth, in and out.

Have you tried looking at what happens when one of those "flickering" effects actually stops? Where does it go to, and where does the next flickering effect come from? For example, if you imagine that these "wavelets" look like a sine wave: What's happening when the wave gets to the lowest point of the 'trough'?

my body feels like a metal pole that has been struck on one side and it is ringing, vibrating back and forth, in and out.

What's going on at the 'other side' of this "metal pole"? It's been struck on "one side", but what sensations are implying that this "pole" has two sides to it? What's implying "back and forth, in and out"? Back and forth, or in and out from where?

I should mention that the 2 hours a day is formal sitting, I find that most of the day I am meditating as I do my activities, which might explain why it seems I stay in equanimity, even high equanimity throughout the day, for long periods of time.

Have you tried bringing noting into your practice in daily life? It can be incredibly effective if done properly, but, by the sounds of it, you shouldn't have any problems.

I was noting specific sensations, like itch, pain, bird chirp, circles, etc, but recently I've reduced my noting to 5 different options (...) By the time I have an attention moment that combines two or more sense doors, I generally just drop noting and try to observe attention. If focus starts to wane I go back to anapana for a bit, then back to noting

Excellent, now turn the attention towards the sense of somebody/something which is still observing; where (and what) is the subject still perceiving these objects in the mind? How does that happen? Are those sensations any different or more special than any other?

Lately, very subtle sensations are revealing themselves, like “body map,” “eye map,” “ear map,” and then these maps or projections start to themselves break up into flow, and I am disembedded from the subtle memory of being in a location specific in time and space.

Doubly excellent, this is some strong practice, in my opinion, and some nice descriptions too. Again, look at what's still implying that there is an "I" or any sort of observer which seems to be experiencing this moment right here. All of these concepts you can note in the mind are just that: concepts, they are empty, luminous, self-liberating 'particles' of awareness itself; what is it that's still making a distinction between the sense experience and the conceptual representation of it? What still implies a "you" who's experiencing "this"?

So in my estimation it appears as though stream-entry is pretty close, although I’m not entirely confident that my experience lines up exactly with that of someone on first path as I have already “seen the no-self” Shinzen Young says. And I have seen it in the most profound way I can imagine is possible, albeit outside the vipassana tradition.

This is where the whole Path thing get more complicated, particularly if you're not familiar with this particular model of experience, i.e. the Theravadan model via Dan Ingram's MCTB model. As you've said yourself, the benefits are evident anyway and, to be honest, the Path system, while helpful and encouraging, can set up ideas about goals and attainments which you don't really need. It took me a long time to be able to drop the maps and understand this in my own terms, but it's useful to familiarize yourself with other conceptual models; it allows a flexibility of thinking which sticking to one model completely destroys, and is useful in practical terms too.

However, I am working on the assumption that this “blip” or “wink of nothingness” is actually something that I will notice, and have an impact on me and not just something that could pass by without having some sort of gravity to it. Because there are often times little blips all over the place if I look for them in between attention moments or at the end of an attention moment. I don’t consider them a big deal, and I don’t think they are the blip people are talking about as nibbana, unless all of you are all under some sort of group placebo effect by imagining this as a big deal.

There are "blip"-like things that can happen between 2nd and 4th vipassana jhanas, but Path itself is utterly unmistakeable; much as it's been said a million times before, "you'll know when it happens" really is the easiest and least outcome-seeking/goal-pursuing way to put it. As for whether or not Fruition, the non-event "blip" in 'reality', is the direct experience of Nibbana, that's a complicated and technical, not to mention historical, area which I know very little about; experientially though, when it happens "your" life changes in the most inexplicable way which you literally can't imagine.It seems like nothing has changed, but somehow everything has changed and the clarity is wonderful.

Whether you've already gotten Path, I don't know, but you certainly sound as though you're on the verge of tipping it. Whether that's onto 1st or 2nd path seems unimportant to you anyway since the results speak for themselves. Your practice sounds strong and it'll be cool to see how you get on, best of luck and practice well!

RE: As best as I can recall - feedback welcome
Answer
6/16/12 10:10 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Great feedback, thanks for that. I'll check out your experiment and leave any thoughts I have about it on that thread, sounds interesting.

Have you tried looking at what happens when one of those "flickering" effects actually stops? Where does it go to, and where does the next flickering effect come from? For example, if you imagine that these "wavelets" look like a sine wave: What's happening when the wave gets to the lowest point of the 'trough'? What's going on at the 'other side' of this "metal pole"? It's been struck on "one side", but what sensations are implying that this "pole" has two sides to it? What's implying "back and forth, in and out"? Back and forth, or in and out from where?


Yes, I have started to notice my attention being drawn toward the "spaces" in between the sensation. It's fairly new so I'm just letting stuff happen naturally. I've read descriptions and I know from the reading and other sources that mind will be drawn in... but ya, those spaces are so small... and my mind is so big... I don't think it will fit. emoticon

Have you tried bringing noting into your practice in daily life? It can be incredibly effective if done properly, but, by the sounds of it, you shouldn't have any problems.


Yes, in fact, I think a more ambitious goal that completing paths is just to be always be meditating, always equanimous. Anyway, ya, I'm noting a lot through out the day. In fact, I'm noting touch of keys a lot while I type this. emoticon

Excellent, now turn the attention towards the sense of somebody/something which is still observing; where (and what) is the subject still perceiving these objects in the mind? How does that happen? Are those sensations any different or more special than any other?


No, they aren't. There's lots of different ways to think about it, and people tend to get all hung up on language and terms, but basically, all there is is sensation, no observer. This is the only reason I question how I fit in with the paths. Most people never realized this stuff before meditation, so having a "no-self" experience for them is life changing... in this mind, there is already an awareness at a fundamental level of what self is, how it is created, how it is destroyed. Utterly uninteresting to explore. Maybe I'll make a point to explore it anyway, it's possible I'll get some sort of SE or fruition out it.

Again, look at what's still implying that there is an "I" or any sort of observer which seems to be experiencing this moment right here. All of these concepts you can note in the mind are just that: concepts, they are empty, luminous, self-liberating 'particles' of awareness itself; what is it that's still making a distinction between the sense experience and the conceptual representation of it? What still implies a "you" who's experiencing "this"?


Even in the most solidified gross moments, I stop and look, I just see layers of sensation, some of which imply separation, some which imply connectivity... both are true.

Path itself is utterly unmistakeable; much as it's been said a million times before, "you'll know when it happens" really is the easiest and least outcome-seeking/goal-pursuing way to put it.


Good to hear.

RE: As best as I can recall - feedback welcome
Answer
6/17/12 4:05 PM as a reply to Delicate Monster.
No, they aren't. There's lots of different ways to think about it, and people tend to get all hung up on language and terms, but basically, all there is is sensation, no observer. This is the only reason I question how I fit in with the paths. Most people never realized this stuff before meditation, so having a "no-self" experience for them is life changing... in this mind, there is already an awareness at a fundamental level of what self is, how it is created, how it is destroyed. Utterly uninteresting to explore. Maybe I'll make a point to explore it anyway, it's possible I'll get some sort of SE or fruition out it.

Interesting, I'm wondering whether you may find more use in a different model of this general territory: Awakening to Reality.

I know you're not too fussed about maps and models, but Thusness' descriptions may seem a bit more relevant to your experiences so far. The way you describe your current experience sounds very much like the way things were for me when I first joined this site, there are plenty of ways to proceed from here and the adventure just gets even more wonderful as you go.

The progress of insight model is useful, no doubt, but it's probably more useful for those doing straight vipassana; there are other models of experience which may make more sense to you and, even if you already know that conceptual models are just that, they're always useful to 'point' your practice in the right direction.

P.S.

I've read descriptions and I know from the reading and other sources that mind will be drawn in... but ya, those spaces are so small... and my mind is so big... I don't think it will fit.

Where is "mind" and what is there about it which implies "size"? Are those spaces any different from "mind"? emoticon

RE: As best as I can recall - feedback welcome
Answer
6/18/12 12:55 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
I'll check that stuff out when I get a chance after I read your LSD experiment... kinda busy with real life stuff atm. Right now in my down time I'm reading into Shinzen Young's approach. I have to say I really like him, personally and his reworkings of traditional meditations. He just makes sense to me. That said, he tends to go a little nuts with the talking about math and futuristic ideas.

I was just trying to make a joke about my mind not being able to fit into the spaces. emoticon

I had an interesting insight yesterday regarding the Ingram / Folk / Hamilton map that I will share real quick. If you overlay the map and Shinzen Young's labeling system, you notice that all of the dark night stages are "feel" or emotional states. I thought this was interesting because I don't really experience DN stuff ever, on the mat, off the mat, EVER. I do however have a long history of objectifying my emotions, as a professional artist, and in my personal life going back as far as I can remember, probably the result of being an over empathetic child bla, bla, bla. Point is, it's very natural for me to objectify emotions and view them in the abstract, either so I can use it to fuel creativity or just to deal and let it pass. So in my practice, as soon as I could equanimize my sexual somatic craving/aversions, I was in EQ.

My wife however, is very custom to relating to the world by and through her emotions. On the mat, she is basically in the DN stages and has been for a while. She even said something yesterday when I was explaining this like she needed to "find something that will make feel happy about meditating." emoticon And so for her, the obvious issue is dis-embedding from her emotions, then she's basically in EQ; where as the challenge for me was dis-embedding from somatic craving/aversion specifically sexual.

So I think EQ is a thing. But I don't think the stuff before EQ is stages, just crap people have to detach from, objectify, and equanimize. Different challenges for different people.

Nice to meet you. emoticon

RE: As best as I can recall - feedback welcome
Answer
6/18/12 5:22 AM as a reply to Delicate Monster.
Right now in my down time I'm reading into Shinzen Young's approach. I have to say I really like him, personally and his reworkings of traditional meditations. He just makes sense to me. That said, he tends to go a little nuts with the talking about math and futuristic ideas.

Aye, I like Shinzen's approach too, very down to earth, practical and useful.

I was just trying to make a joke about my mind not being able to fit into the spaces.

I know, I was just pointing out that even "mind" can't be found apart from the objects arising with "it".

I thought this was interesting because I don't really experience DN stuff ever, on the mat, off the mat, EVER. I do however have a long history of objectifying my emotions, as a professional artist, and in my personal life going back as far as I can remember, probably the result of being an over empathetic child bla, bla, bla. Point is, it's very natural for me to objectify emotions and view them in the abstract, either so I can use it to fuel creativity or just to deal and let it pass.

The experiential territory involved here, which is commonly called "Dark Night" in most "spiritual" systems of development, also has other characteristics aside from the emotional qualities; there's stuff that goes on with the way attention moves, the way that your mind processes information while passing through this (naturally occurring) phase, and, if you're paying attention to your experience at the bare sensate level, a lot of clarity in places where you may not expect it.

Insight practice isn't exactly objectifying emotions, or viewing them in the abstract, there's much more to it than that although it's certainly one aspect of the investigatory process. If you can recognize that emotions simply arise in response to stimuli, you can begin to investigate what it is that still "feels" those sensations; look at the physical and mental patterns of sensation which are conceptualized as an emotion, see how they come into being and how they pass away again. Investigate the pleasant and the unpleasant sensations, nothing is sacred! emoticon

My wife however, is very custom to relating to the world by and through her emotions. On the mat, she is basically in the DN stages and has been for a while. She even said something yesterday when I was explaining this like she needed to "find something that will make feel happy about meditating." And so for her, the obvious issue is dis-embedding from her emotions, then she's basically in EQ; where as the challenge for me was dis-embedding from somatic craving/aversion specifically sexual.

What you've suggested about your wife "dis-embedding from her emotions, then she's basically in EQ" isn't exactly accurate, there's far more involved if you're trying to align experience with the progress of insight. You're vastly oversimplifying an incredibly complex model of what's involved, and what's likely to be encountered, through insight practice.

In your own case, the experiences you've had involving "dis-embedding from somatic craving/aversion, specifically sexual" would be textbook A&P stuff, that's if I'm interpreting your descriptions according to my own experience with the progress of insight and other models.

So I think EQ is a thing. But I don't think the stuff before EQ is stages, just crap people have to detach from, objectify, and equanimize. Different challenges for different people.

Theoretically, you could be right, although you should try telling that to those people who've been stuck in "Dark Night" for years, even with professional help like psychotherapy, medication etc. and who only found a way out via insight practice.

Yes, all models are purely conceptual but they symbolize specific events and experiences which are present in every single "spiritual" tradition. You can dismiss anything pre-EQ if you like, but it won't help you to understand the territory you're currently investigating. Equanimity is just as much of a "thing" as Mind & Body, or Re-Observation; they're all just labels for these particular 'stages' which most yogis will encounter if they practice well. It doesn't sound like you really understand the model you're trying to align your experiences with, but this is something that won't do you any good whatsoever unless you're willing to seriously investigate it and see just how accurately, not to mention predictably, it lines up with what happens when you do vipassana.

I absolutely agree that there are "different challenges for different people", but fundamental insight into the nature of reality has very little to do with having to deal with your own psychological shit. This is where a lot of people end up stuck in "Dark Night", they're too involved in their 'stuff' rather than simply observing experience at the point of sense contact, and seeing how all phenomena is subject to the Three Characteristics of Existence; it's because of things like this that the maps are very useful, but as long as they're not turned into a goal in themselves.

Nice to meet you.

Likewise!

RE: As best as I can recall - feedback welcome
Answer
6/20/12 4:35 AM as a reply to Delicate Monster.
So last few days:

Started sealing evening sit with the meta, specifically using Shinzen Young's focus on positive directions. In one way, it's a small thing to do, especially considering it's not even five minutes a day compared to 2 hours of formal concentration/noting/do nothing.

I've chosen to fill talk space with my own mantra: "Mother, Wife, Daughter; Father, Husband, Son"

I've chosen to fill image space with : "my mother's face, my wife's face, my future daughter's face; my father's face, me, my future son's face.'

I've chosen to passively observe feel space and allow it to feedback.

Once enough momentum is going I start to incorporate more people and things, specifically including people or experiences which have hurt me in the past, until I've worked up to the genuine desire that all beings be free and happy, with the full knowledge that this desire is not immune to the criticism that all beings may not be capable of this, and that the desire is in some ways self-serving, but that this is okay because I want myself to be free, and to be happy, because I love myself.

Not such a small thing.

Only other thing worth mentioning is a subtle insight about the nature of attention. I'll write that out tomorrow as I'm sleepy now.

RE: As best as I can recall - feedback welcome
Answer
6/20/12 5:36 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
It doesn't sound like you really understand the model you're trying to align your experiences with


Right.

unless you're willing to seriously investigate it


I think I have investigated the model pretty seriously, pretty open mindedly actually.

just how accurately, not to mention predictably, it lines up with what happens when you do vipassana.


"Not very" is my preliminary conclusion, could change.

Intelligence can fail by either failing to see a pattern that is there, or incorrectly identifying patterns that aren't there.

I admit, I tend to be skeptical of people claiming to see patterns in general.

This is where a lot of people end up stuck in "Dark Night", they're too involved in their 'stuff' rather than simply observing experience at the point of sense contact


So, ya, I mean, I read Ingram's book too, and I am just going to make the argument now that this is less of a meditator thing and more of a people in general thing. Vipassana meditator or not, the vast majority of people don't get the process of deconstructionism, and likewise, the vast majority of vipassana meditators don't truly accept reality at the level of sensation.

RE: As best as I can recall - feedback welcome
Answer
6/20/12 8:00 AM as a reply to Delicate Monster.
I think I have investigated the model pretty seriously, pretty open mindedly actually.

How long have you been investigating this particular model? I ask out of curiosity, I may have misunderstood but I got the impression that you'd only been using this model for a relatively short period of time.

"Not very" is my preliminary conclusion, could change.

Intelligence can fail by either failing to see a pattern that is there, or incorrectly identifying patterns that aren't there.

I admit, I tend to be skeptical of people claiming to see patterns in general.

The process of seeing patterns in phenomena, particularly patterns which aren't actually present (which I think is called either "apophenia" or "pareidolia") seems to be common to human perception. It could well be the case that a person who chooses to adopt the "Progress of Insight" model is simply finding coincidental correlations between the phenomena they experience, and the phenomenological descriptions of those who've practiced intensively using that model. Maybe. To be honest, I'm more interested in what works for you and if you don't find that particular model to be of use to you, as I've already suggested may the case when I left the link to Thusness' blog, then that's fine.

In my experience, the "Progress of Insight" model seemed to describe, with unusual accuracy, a lot of the things I'd gone through prior to ever having had any interest in Buddhism, and prior to ever having heard of vipassana. Further experiments seemed to confirm this, although I'm not dismissing the possibility that I was unconsciously finding correlations and then taking them as evidence for the veracity of that particular model.

As far as being skeptical of people claiming to see patterns in general, I'm assuming that you're only talking about patterns which, as far as you're concerned, aren't actually present? (This may sound facetious, but I'm genuinely interested in what you mean by this.)

So, ya, I mean, I read Ingram's book too, and I am just going to make the argument now that this is less of a meditator thing and more of a people in general thing. Vipassana meditator or not, the vast majority of people don't get the process of deconstructionism, and likewise, the vast majority of vipassana meditators don't truly accept reality at the level of sensation.

What you're misunderstanding here is that "Dark Night" doesn't actually have anything to do with dealing with your own psychological baggage. The emotional turbulence of that stage is a side-effect, DN itself, aka 3rd vipassana jhana, is what I like to think of, using the alchemical model, as the "Solve" stage of the equation: Solve et Coagula (Dissolve and Coagulate); you're, as you rightly said, deconstructing your entire experience of realty at the sensate level, which is not an easy process for most people, and which can lead to the arising of various emotional or psychological issues. Dealing with those issues has very little to do with insight practice, we're talking about bare sensate experience, the phenomenological details of what you actually encounter as this flesh and blood body, not the emotions or psychological issues you may be dealing with. Of course, they should be investigated too so as to ascertain exactly which patterns of sensation, which is all "reality" is anyway, they're made up of so that they too can be deconstructed to reveal their true nature; however again, I need to stress that the emotional and psychological aspects, while being useful objects for insight practice, are secondary to the investigation of the sensate experiences which make them up.

The majority of the warnings and cautionary tales regarding Dark Night are to do with skilfully navigating through everyday life, while causing minimal harm to yourself and others. Remember, any and all models of reality are just that: Models. There's a commonly used phrase in neuro-linguistics and general semantics, "the map is not the territory it describes", which is a useful caveat to keep in mind if you find yourself taking any model too literally.

Would you mind explaining the line I've put in bold a bit more, please? I think I see what you're getting at, but I'm not sure.

What is that you're actually looking to achieve? You've seen a qualitative improvement in your life through the application of these techniques, so what is it that you're still looking for?

P.S.: My style of writing can apparently come across as quite forceful or condescending but it's not my intention. If you find yourself interpreting my words in that sort of way, please feel free to question further and I'll try to phrase it differently.

RE: As best as I can recall - feedback welcome
Answer
6/27/12 5:22 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
emoticon Hello Friend emoticon
How long have you been investigating this particular model? I ask out of curiosity, I may have misunderstood but I got the impression that you'd only been using this model for a relatively short period of time.


Since the last Goenka retreat so five - six months I think. Meditating between one and three hours a day. I've recently tried to pin down exactly what is what in my sits, and I am noticing some cycling and different stages, it's just hard to relate what's going on to some linear map.

As far as being skeptical of people claiming to see patterns in general, I'm assuming that you're only talking about patterns which, as far as you're concerned, aren't actually present?


The difference between something that can be true for one person vs. something that is true for every person every time they sit. Folk and Ingram crew claim this map is universal regardless of tradition, but in practice it's so open to interpretation and guess work it's like going to a palm reader, or interpreting the prediction of a psychic, or your finding your astrology sign in your spaghettios. One person experiences dark night for 10 years, other person cycles through it in one breath, you get path without meditating... give me a break. You can stretch the definitions of words so far and then they break, might as well not even talk.

Would you mind explaining the line I've put in bold a bit more, please?


I just meant that most people I met at retreat aren't interested in deconstructing their reality as much as they are adding to it. They want to discover themselves, not re-wire the brain to permanently see through the process of self-ing. They want a cool story, to add to the collection. As far as deconstructionism goes, it's the intellectual equivalent to vipassana I think, and equally as unpopular. People look for meaning in lots of places, but hardly ever in meaning itself.

What is that you're actually looking to achieve? You've seen a qualitative improvement in your life through the application of these techniques, so what is it that you're still looking for?


This is actually a question I just asked myself tonight. Probably because I heard these two "fourth-pathers" (which makes them arhats LOL) arguing about AF and PCE's on a blog post at hamiltonproject. I heard the one advocating for AF say something like he "got in this in the first place to eliminate suffering."
So ya, I don't know what I want out of this, never really thought about it. I just like meditating I guess, and yes, since I've started daily practice there has been a big improvement in my behavior and enjoyment- a happiness free of conditions as they say. I'll have to think about that. I went to retreat on a whim, never believed enlightenment was anything but a bunch of BS, and still pretty much hold to that. Everyone says stream-entry is close and so of course I want to check that out. Ya, I'll have to think about that.

P.S.: My style of writing can apparently come across as quite forceful or condescending but it's not my intention.

No worries, I tend to troll myself... a leftover habit from wow.

RE: As best as I can recall - feedback welcome
Answer
6/27/12 5:31 AM as a reply to Delicate Monster.
Practice is still going strong, concentration is getting pretty killer. I'm planning on transcribing the notes from a sit so I can remember what happened when.

What I was trying to conceptualize the other day was just the nature of attention. Basically attention is a mechanism that connects sensations with meta-level sensation or higher level consciousness. Like the breath, it can be directed or un-directed. It can be directed by the meta-level to connect to specific sensations or left to work un-directed. If un-directed attention will usually go to the sensation of greatest intensity or follow a previously ingrained habit pattern. So, nothing particularly magical about attention. Just another one of evolution's tools.

RE: As best as I can recall - feedback welcome
Answer
6/27/12 7:16 AM as a reply to Delicate Monster.
Welcome back! emoticon

Since the last Goenka retreat so five - six months I think. Meditating between one and three hours a day. I've recently tried to pin down exactly what is what in my sits, and I am noticing some cycling and different stages, it's just hard to relate what's going on to some linear map.

If it's not useful to you, scrap it. Remember, it's just a model and there's no point in getting caught up in the technicalities, particularly if it doesn't help you to get to where you'd like to be. The linearity thing is a good point, as my own practice has developed I find less and less value in linear models and predicted goals, but it took me quite a while to drop that way of thinking.

The difference between something that can be true for one person vs. something that is true for every person every time they sit. Folk and Ingram crew claim this map is universal regardless of tradition, but in practice it's so open to interpretation and guess work it's like going to a palm reader, or interpreting the prediction of a psychic, or your finding your astrology sign in your spaghettios. One person experiences dark night for 10 years, other person cycles through it in one breath, you get path without meditating... give me a break. You can stretch the definitions of words so far and then they break, might as well not even talk.

I spent over a decade working with everything from yoga to magick before ever having encountered the progress of insight model, and in my experience, while not "universal regardless of tradition", the general progression described in that model does seem to occur in many non-Buddhist traditions. As for people spending wildly varying amounts of time passing through "Dark Night", individual experience will obviously differ and there are probably factors, psychological or otherwise, involved in each persons life which will inform their experience, but may not have been considered to be influential in how the thing played out for them. You can only really rely on knowing your own immediate sensate experience of the world, other people's stories might provide some useful pointers or encouragement but, when it comes down to it, you're on your own and only you will know what 'rings true' for you.

I know what you're saying about how finding correlations could be similar to going to a psychic or whatever, but, again, it just comes down to what works for you. Maps and models are pointers, general outlines and nothing more.

I just meant that most people I met at retreat aren't interested in deconstructing their reality as much as they are adding to it. They want to discover themselves, not re-wire the brain to permanently see through the process of self-ing. They want a cool story, to add to the collection. As far as deconstructionism goes, it's the intellectual equivalent to vipassana I think, and equally as unpopular. People look for meaning in lots of places, but hardly ever in meaning itself.

Nicely said! The majority of so-called "spiritual" people I know are basically living in their own heads, unable to question their experience and living life based on their belief systems. By the sounds of things, you've got your shit together and you know what it is that's required to make progress.

This is actually a question I just asked myself tonight. Probably because I heard these two "fourth-pathers" (which makes them arhats LOL) arguing about AF and PCE's on a blog post at hamiltonproject. I heard the one advocating for AF say something like he "got in this in the first place to eliminate suffering."
So ya, I don't know what I want out of this, never really thought about it. I just like meditating I guess, and yes, since I've started daily practice there has been a big improvement in my behavior and enjoyment- a happiness free of conditions as they say. I'll have to think about that. I went to retreat on a whim, never believed enlightenment was anything but a bunch of BS, and still pretty much hold to that. Everyone says stream-entry is close and so of course I want to check that out. Ya, I'll have to think about that.

If you want even more of a laugh, I'm technically an Arahat too... emoticon I wouldn't bother too much with getting involved in the whole Path system thing, particularly if you don't find the model involved to be useful to you.

That line about "a happiness free of conditions" is quite literally beyond what you can possibly imagine, and I say that with the utmost seriousness and sincerity. If you think that what you're experiencing now is what those words refer to then you'll be pleasantly surprised should you choose to pursue it as a goal. I don't mean to imply that I know how happy you are or that I know your current experience of the world better than you do, but this is, and I mean it in the most literal, non-metaphorical, non-poetic way, beyond imagination. Any description of this way of being sounds like hyperbole, but it is just so, so, so, so different to the way life was experienced before.

As far as enlightenment being bullshit, all I can say is that there are shifts in perception which lead to a marked reduction in stress and suffering, along with an increased clarity, deeper understanding of the world and a different relationship towards all phenomena. Whether you want to call that "enlightenment", "awakening", or "the highstreet dropkick tournament" doesn't really matter, once it's experienced you can see what all the fuss is about and how silly some people get over it.

Have a think about what you'd like to 'achieve'. which I place in inverted commas since it's paradoxically effortless, and we can talk more about what sorts of options are available.

No worries, I tend to troll myself... a leftover habit from wow

I am partial to a bit of trolling, particularly on youtube where people think their opinions matter... emoticon

RE: As best as I can recall - feedback welcome
Answer
6/27/12 3:17 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
I am Arahat too! I had cessation this morning, immediately I remembered that I already obtained first path from a dream I had as a child, then third path came in the mail along with some other junk. Technically now I am Fifth Level Laser Lotus so "i" "have" "to" "put" "everything" "in" "quotes."

Joking aside, I seriously think I may have ad a cessation this morning. I was going through the levels of concentration trying to note the differences and pin down how they come up... got up to familiar high EQ territory at about 45-50min mark. Then for the first time that I can remember I took EQ as object, noticing blank image space, quiet in talk space, and peace in feel space - i dropped noting and just honed in on the three characteristics, that this state of relative peacefulness was impermanent, not under any kind of control (impersonal), and that attachment to it was bound to lead to misery. Maybe a kick of concentration power or something, but then just a complete dropping out, a momentary lapse, or discontinuity, followed by a sort of bliss wave and a new voice coming in asking "what was that?" "was that it?." I continued to sit, but actually there was a trailing off of concentration so I just went back to watching the breath. So Mr. Arahat, near miss or full on cessation? I definitely notice some lightness of being atm, but you know, things have been steadily heading in this direction for a while.

RE: As best as I can recall - feedback welcome
Answer
6/27/12 3:32 PM as a reply to Delicate Monster.
I am Arahat too! I had cessation this morning, immediately I remembered that I already obtained first path from a dream I had as a child, then third path came in the mail along with some other junk. Technically now I am Fifth Level Laser Lotus so "i" "have" "to" "put" "everything" "in" "quotes."

All you have to do now is wait for the "6th Level Operating Thetan Formulae of Isis & Harpo Marx" to arrive, possibly via a highly unreliable courier based miles from where you live, driving a three-wheeled van with a fucked satnav system which only communicates in biblical Hebrew. It's worth the wait though. emoticon

Then for the first time that I can remember I took EQ as object, noticing blank image space, quiet in talk space, and peace in feel space - i dropped noting and just honed in on the three characteristics, that this state of relative peacefulness was impermanent, not under any kind of control (impersonal), and that attachment to it was bound to lead to misery.

Winning.

Maybe a kick of concentration power or something, but then just a complete dropping out, a momentary lapse, or discontinuity, followed by a sort of bliss wave and a new voice coming in asking "what was that?"

Sounds promising, have you ever noticed something similar to that happening before, maybe just in your everyday life? I'm not entirely convinced that you haven't experience something like this before, it's just down to the way you write about this stuff and the level of insight you've demonstrated in your posts already. I could be talking through my arse, of course, but I know how things were for me at various times leading up to, what I thought was, stream entry.

Next time you sit, see if anything seems different or if you notice anything happening as soon as you begin to note.

So Mr. Arahat, near miss or full on cessation?

Just "The 'Hat" will do, thanks. emoticon To be honest, I can't say for certain but, based on what you've described and having interacted with you on here already, I think it sounds like you've hit Fruition; the question is whether or not you've gotten a Path or just reviewed a previous path moment...

RE: As best as I can recall - feedback welcome
Answer
7/2/12 3:31 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Sounds promising, have you ever noticed something similar to that happening before, maybe just in your everyday life? I'm not entirely convinced that you haven't experience something like this before, it's just down to the way you write about this stuff and the level of insight you've demonstrated in your posts already. I could be talking through my arse, of course, but I know how things were for me at various times leading up to, what I thought was, stream entry.

Next time you sit, see if anything seems different or if you notice anything happening as soon as you begin to note.


I wanted to really explore what's going on before writing about it. It appears as though I was wrong about the maps. In fact I think I was identifying so much with equanimity that I had worked up a denial of all the other steps that I had gone through in order to get there. This event was kind of like adding a level of equanimity above equanimity, a meta-meta brain. Anyway..

I am currently spending pretty much all day in A&P and cycling up to hi-EQ especially when I sit. So when I sit I spend a little time in A&P and then I go through a short period and I'm reminded of something I think was from Ingram's book but I didn't know what he was talking about at the time. It's the metaphor of dissonant jazz or twentieth century classical music. So for me the DN reminds of the first time you really start to like dissonant music. At first, or maybe for years, it seems out of sync, out of phase, things aren't lining up, attention is just fuzzy. But I just sort of go with it, and dig it, like it's some new kind of music. The whole DN last maybe 2 mins at the most and rarely is there any nana attached to it (usually primal frustration or misery if there is followed by desire for deliverance). It's like an attention phase instability. Then there is a gradual zooming out or syncing up and then it's time for the amazingly small wavelets of Hi-EQ to spring up. This stage lasts the longest for me and actually I haven't had another strong fruition or anything that signifies a strong resolution or ending to it, but at some point it does seem to go back to A&P and cycle up again. Once in a while I catch a cessation or something that seems like a cessation, like when I'm going to sleep and watching it cycle up, but it's not super strong, there was one today and I thought that had to be one. I've been on the look out for a repeat event and sometimes it seems like it's really close, or I might catch the side of the cessation but not dead on like that one.

I have some new jhana access and clarity with it, but I need help sorting out what is what.

With regard to having experienced this before there are two issues: the cessation, and the cycling. I have definitely experienced this type of cycling in my life for years and years. I might have experience the cessation before but never been aware of it like that. So, this brings me to a question. Seeing a cessation up close in a relatively high concentration state seems more like looking under the hood at something that's been going on already rather than some "new" experience. Is path, about seeing something that has already been going on? That is what it appears to be to me right now, and if so, it shouldn't be possible to achieve path without being aware of it, because the being aware of it part is what makes it path... I've never been aware of a cessation like this as a triggering event for my cycling, but I have been aware of this point in a cycle if that makes sense.

All I know is that was something, which is ironic because it was nothing. Either:

1. I had a super-near-miss

2. I got stream-entry

3. I had a fruition of a path I already had but didn't realize or wasn't aware of

4. I gained a subsequent path having never realized I had previous path(s)

I would like to eliminate some of these as possibilities.

RE: As best as I can recall - feedback welcome
Answer
7/4/12 3:24 PM as a reply to Delicate Monster.
Definitely cycling from A&P to Hi-EQ and into some cessation-like-point a lot throughout the day. When I lay down to sleep the cycles get faster and cessations are kinda jolting. Morning sits are pretty uneventful and this morning it seemed like the review cycles are fading into the background. That's actually a little disappointing as I'd like to have some more time to work on the jhanas but as I've learned, these things are largely out of my control.

RE: As best as I can recall - feedback welcome
Answer
7/4/12 4:10 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:
Have a think about what you'd like to 'achieve'. which I place in inverted commas since it's paradoxically effortless, and we can talk more about what sorts of options are available.


Right now I'm thinking I want to finish up the paths, clean up my jhana access, and after that look into the AF PCE stuff you linked, as it seems from my cursory look that AF is completely in harmony with Vipassana even though it seems like people are tending to pit them against each other.

Wtf is magik? emoticon

RE: As best as I can recall - feedback welcome
Answer
7/4/12 5:29 PM as a reply to Delicate Monster.
Definitely cycling from A&P to Hi-EQ and into some cessation-like-point a lot throughout the day. When I lay down to sleep the cycles get faster and cessations are kinda jolting. Morning sits are pretty uneventful and this morning it seemed like the review cycles are fading into the background. That's actually a little disappointing as I'd like to have some more time to work on the jhanas but as I've learned, these things are largely out of my control.

Definitely post-Path, and your earlier descriptions of having access to new jhanic territory points towards stream entry, in my opinion. I think that, because of the way you've come to this point and how similar your background has been to mine in many respects, it's probable that you've been skirting around the edge of landing Path for a long time through having a natural inclination towards investigating, and deconstructing your experience.

As far as working on jhanas goes, try just dropping the insight practice for the moment and focusing on samatha; maybe make a resolution not to begin the cycles for 2nd path until you're more comfortable with jhanas. You don't need to rush into the next cycle, but if it's going to happen then it's going to happen.

RE: As best as I can recall - feedback welcome
Answer
7/4/12 5:39 PM as a reply to Delicate Monster.
Right now I'm thinking I want to finish up the paths, clean up my jhana access, and after that look into the AF PCE stuff you linked, as it seems from my cursory look that AF is completely in harmony with Vipassana even though it seems like people are tending to pit them against each other.

Good plan! The whole AF thing is an unnecessarily messy business, but it's worth knowing that there are several ways to go about getting into a PCE. Bare sensate attentiveness is what seems to the most powerful way to go about it, regardless of whether that's within Actualism or Buddhism.

Wtf is magik?

It's another system which can lead to brain change, it branches off into dozens of models but the basics of the techniques still seem to come down to concentration, insight and intent. It's quite a complex subject to explore, but you might enjoy the artistic, symbolic and intellectual aspects of it; check out Robert Anton Wilson for a good overview of what's involved and how it can be modeled in other systems.