Message Boards Message Boards

Claims to Attainments

A very long letter on my recent stream-entry

Toggle
A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Bruno Loff 1/23/10 1:10 PM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Florian 1/24/10 5:30 AM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Daniel M. Ingram 1/24/10 3:22 PM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry ManZ A 1/25/10 11:19 PM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Bruno Loff 1/27/10 11:59 AM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Chuck Kasmire 1/27/10 3:00 PM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Julius P0pp 1/29/10 1:24 PM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Bruno Loff 11/16/10 4:09 PM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Anthony Keating 1/30/10 4:33 AM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Bruno Loff 1/30/10 4:33 PM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Daniel M. Ingram 1/31/10 3:41 PM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry J Adam G 1/31/10 6:45 PM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Bruno Loff 2/1/10 5:53 AM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Julius P0pp 2/1/10 12:43 PM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry J Adam G 2/1/10 5:37 PM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Daniel M. Ingram 2/1/10 9:48 PM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Julius P0pp 2/2/10 1:56 AM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry ManZ A 2/2/10 8:25 PM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Daniel M. Ingram 2/3/10 11:48 PM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Jackson Wilshire 2/4/10 11:04 AM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Chuck Kasmire 2/4/10 12:11 PM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Bruno Loff 2/4/10 5:10 PM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry mjk 10 93 2/4/10 6:05 PM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Crazy Wisdom 11/18/10 3:28 PM
RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry Bilbo Baggins 12/2/10 7:34 PM
A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
jhana stream entry attainments qigong yoga
Answer
1/23/10 1:10 PM
Dear DhO'ers,

As some of you have already read, in the 27th of December I began a 20-day retreat by myself, with the guidance of Tarin Greco. I got to stream-entry during this retreat, and I'd like to share my experiences here. This is a very large post in four parts, which I index:

1. My retreat
2. Back home
3. A discussion of the Mystical-Schmystical
4. Gratitude

1. My retreat

On the fourth day of the retreat, at about 7h30 PM, I had my first fruition experience, which I would repeat a number of times on the following days. However, my experience since then seems to be somewhat different than Daniel's descriptions in MCTB, and I think it would be interesting to discuss why that is the case. I'll use the words "understood", "were", "realized", "concluded" instead of "I think I understood", "seemed to be", etc... Just so you know I am not as confident about my "insights" as it might seem.

Up until the moment of fruition, my retreat experience seemed to follow the classical vipassana insight cycles that Daniel has described so well. (1) Effort turns to (2) widespread ecstasy that joins into (3) violent vibrating pain smoothing out into (4) a panoramic wide vibratory quality. The four jhanas, over and over again, everywhere in my brain and body.

One thing that I realized at the time is that the "four jhanas" were a very generic method of the nervous system to "integrate" or "release" tension. I felt that the "vipassana nanas" were based on the same process that was happening in my feet, my knees, my shoulders, my internal organs, etc. Happening instead on the "higher" parts of the nervous system, i.e. the brain, this same process would trigger reactions of emotional pain and misery, and that this was what provoked the emotional aspects of the insight cycles.

Fruition, I've come to believe, is just the very same "tension-integration" process happening on a specific part of the brain dealing with higher-level cognitive attention. My first few fruitions would happen by applying effort in the "attention" aspect of experience, i.e. I would "pay attention, again, again, again, again..." rhythmically and intensely, i.e., I would do noting practice. Attention would then gain an automatic rhythmic micro-vibratory quality, turn into larger and violent medium-vibratory shaking, and then to a smooth panoramic-vibratory experience. In this last phase I would have glimpses of my sensation of space, or my whole body moving simultaneously, etc, wide panoramic stuff. Then I would usually sit, stuff would still be wide and pretty much everything would calm down except for the annoying aggressive vibration in the third eye area; as I would focus on that, it would eventually also calm down, leaving a kind-of spacey feeling. Then I would relax, maybe gently space out, and then "zzt" or "wham" or "bzzt" or something like that, and then relief, peace, complete whole body-and-mind relaxation-integration. "Coming home" is a perfect description :-)

Although this has some elements of Daniel Ingram's precise and detailed description of a fruition, it is certainly no match in completeness or clarity. I'm stressing this because my last few fruitions happened in a somewhat different way, and I'm going to describe that now; however by comparing my previous description with Daniels', you can get an idea of how imprecise my mental image is of what I am about to describe.

In any case, my experience of fruitions changed at some point. You see, during the whole of 2009 I have had a very hard time dealing with symptoms of what I thought was a "kundalini awakening". What happened in my retreat and since then confirms my suspicions. In any case, this had led me to read books on the spiritual tradition of yoga, which describes the kundalini-awakening related phenomena. In these books, fruition is always described as an explosion in, following a rise of energy to, the crown chakra. During the first few days after stream-entry, my fruitions slowly changed from this "ever-widening of attention" description into something else, much more similar to what is described in the yoga literature.

What would happen is this: I felt a tremendous amount of tension in the base of the spine. Believing that my "mission as a meditator" was to release as much tension as I could, and believing that the four-jhanas where the way to do it, I would simply get the four jhanas happening in the base of the spine. I would do touch touch touch, go through 1st-3rd-jhana, and when the tension on the base got into the fourth-jhana quality, something different would happen. A massive amount of vibratory energy would be released, force it's way up my spine, reach the third eye, blast its way through, and then somewhat violently and forcefully widen my attention to the point of fruition. After this it would slowly and vigorously descend, opening my "chakras" along the way, and these would flow out tremendous amounts of energy bringing me to convulsions and other bizarre body phenomena, such as abnormally slow breathing.

I was sometimes scared, but all the emotional aspects that Daniel describes so thoroughly happened only briefly and vaguely. Furthermore, I had the impression that I knew which area of the brain was "activated" or "stimulated" when these phenomena where present. While in "dark-night", there would be "energy" somewhere in the rear-middle of the brain, slowly and painfully moving up.

Then I remembered that my yoga books (which I did not bring to the retreat) mentioned a way to connect the third-eye and crown chakras, and I had a vague idea of the location that needed to be stimulated. So I proceeded to 4-jhana'tize this area. This triggered more energetic phenomena, and as this connection was "purified", the upward resistance of the nervous system became less and less, to the point that I felt I could "approach" fruition easily simply by pushing energy up to the crown, and then "retract" not-so-easily by focusing somewhere else further down. So typical fruition was: I would focus on the root to spinal nerve to third-eye to crown connection intending to lead energy upwards; it would do so, and when there was enough energy at the crown I would have fruition.

This kind of experiments occupied my last few days of retreat. Although I was very excited and energized during those days, and I could feel my energy going up and down, there was no emotional "dark-nightish" response any more. I was convinced that my depression was over, which was my foremost meditative goal anyhow. Furthermore, the whole root to crown connection was so cleared up that there was a constant upward pull of energy leading to a permanent four-jhana full-body nervous dissolution/catharsis, which was scary. I decided that I needed to go back, give it some time, gain some perspective, and think things over. That was on my tenth day of retreat.

2. Back home

Coming back home did by no means stop the dissolution process. The first few days I was euphoric and borderline egomaniac, but this faded down into a much more reasonable and balanced condition. Then one day of intense full-body shaking and dissolution, I got really scared, which generated more energy and shaking, and then more fright, in a dreadful cycle that let to a panic attack. The next day I understood what had happened, and I've managed to avoid having panic attacks since then. However, the dissolution proceeds further every day, sometimes at a somewhat uncomfortable pace, but mostly it is ok.

The somewhat surprising factor for me is that having Daniel Ingram's book and interviews as my primary raw-material for expectations, I was expecting to cycle through the vipassana nanas over and over again. But this is hardly the case. Instead, I feel that I'm diving deeper and deeper into pleasant and ever-more-subtle mind states. My perception refines every day. I am learning to do something that could be described as "connecting with silence", and I get better and better at that too. I am assaulted by feelings of unity. My attitudes towards others changes for the better every day. Unpleasant habits are quickly wrapped in their own awareness, and fade away with small effort. My whole body's muscles relax tensions that I wasn't even aware of (I am now able to do things on the saxophone that are supposed to require years of training, simply because the front of my body is fully relaxed while playing). I am learning how to transmute unpleasant emotions into raw energy and back into pleasant emotions; e.g. changing frustration into enthusiasm.

It is sometimes still scary, particularly when plenty of energy gets released. To help with this, I've begun practicing Chi Kung and reading about the "energy channels" that exist in the body. Cleaning and maintaining these channels seems like a huge task all in itself. I've opened up the front channel aka the conceptual vessel, and that was a huge help with the big energy release phenomena, as now I usually direct energy into the guts (aka lower Dantien). But all over the body stuff is opening up, and if I meditate for more than a short while, the releases are so intense it becomes unpleasant.

But no vipassana nanas… no cycling, no excessive euphoria and no depressive reactions. The four jhanas still happen over and over again, but while they are accompanied by the same changes in cognition (e.g. I'm smarter in the fourth jhana), these are no longer of an emotional nature, and my actions are only slightly influenced by the jhana I happen to be in. Also I either don't have fruition in the end, or it is so subtle I don't realize it.

Besides not having any more "dark nights", at least not so far, I do have other phenomena that MCTB does not mention. It feels as if the sexual function was expanding its role and presence. My perineum area no longer has that huge tension that it used to have. Instead it seems to suck up energy that is going down, and redirect it back up through the spine, in an extremely sexual and pleasant manner that feels very close to "coming". I sometimes feel that the sensations of ecstasy are getting too much to handle, to the point that occasionally my body temperature goes up almost by a degree, and when this happens I drink a lot of water and focus on abdominal breathing. Then the energy seems to get absorbed by the intestines, which will grumble with all sort of funny noises and eventually warm up, cooling and calming down the rest of the body.

3. A discussion of the Mystical-Schmystical

I found all these things described in the yoga tradition. Happily, there is also a very pragmatical, no-bullshit teacher of yoga, called Yogani (http://www.aypsite.org). In his books on yoga, his website, and its forum, many people describe these kind of heavy-duty symptoms as purification and opening, and most of these people claim to be progressing towards enlightenment with hardly any emotional or mental discomfort.

The path of yoga seems to be divided into two distinct practices: the practice of "inner silence" and the practice of "ecstasy". Inner silence is also sometimes described as pure bliss consciousness, shiva, etc; ecstasy has other names such as kundalini, shakti, sexual energy and so on. I'm guessing that a correct yoga-insight translation would call "subject" or "observer" to "inner silence" and "object" or "phenomena" to "ecstasy". Yogani prescribes mantra meditation for inner silence practice and spinal breathing pranayama for cultivation of ecstasy. Eventually, he describes, the two are seen to be one and the same, what yoga tradition describes as "the union of shiva and shakti", and that is the final point of enlightenment, which sounds pretty much the same as insight tradition's merging of subject and object.

Kundalini is the likely explanation for all the powerful and bizarre emotional, mental and physiological stuff that I've been going through.

Now the conjecture pertains to the question: "why is it that the progress of insight is described as a bipolar roller-coaster, but the progress of yoga is described as a gradual falling into a permanent state of ecstatic bliss consciousness?"

My conjecture is the following: (1) enlightenment a process that happens somewhere in the crown-chakra region of the brain; (2) by correct and sufficient stimulation, eventually our cognitive attention comes to synchronize sufficiently with reality, and realize "the truth" about subject-object duality; (3) There are probably many ways of getting this stimulation to happen, and this corresponds to the various enlightenment traditions that we know of; (4) insight practice stimulates this part of the brain by working directly with attention; (5) Yoga works by cultivating the "witness", developing the sexual function, and eventually leading energy to the crown by using specific body postures and other techniques.

The results, it seems, are not entirely the same. If my conjecture is true, then this would mean that in the end of the insight tradition process, a specific part of the meditator's brain has been sufficiently and correctly stimulated that it causes no needless resistance to the surrounding reality. But in the end of the path of Yoga, the entire nervous system of the practitioner has been stimulated and refined with the same thoroughness and density.

Does this make sense? It seems to imply that even arhats are missing out on part of the fun. Daniel and others arhats here have mentioned that when all was said and done was what needed to be, they felt like normal, regular blokes. Just to emphasize that a little further, let me cite something Yogani wrote:
"The rise of Shiva, Shakti and their final union everywhere within us make up the three stages of enlightenment – First, 24/7 inner silence. Second, 24/7 whole body ecstasy. And third, 24/7 ecstatic bliss, the joining of the divine polarities of silence and ecstasy, yielding an endless outpouring of divine love, which is unity. […] It is an unending cosmic orgasm within cell and atom in us."

I am very curious to hear what you have to say!

4. Gratitude

Stronger than my intellectual-mystical curiosity is my feeling of gratitude towards this community. I have passed through such difficult times last year that I sometimes considered taking my own life. Whenever that idea came to mind, I usually replied to myself:

"Come on, it would be stupid to kill myself without at least checking out what the Buddhist dudes are talking about…"

So I did. I've had enough personal, direct experience to conclude, without reservation, that the Buddhist dudes were right all along. So, with tears of gratitude, I would like to specifically thank Daniel, Trent, Kenneth, Hansen, Tina and of course Tarin; but I am also very grateful to so many others who posted here, because reading these posts was a cause of growing curiosity and conviction, as well as good company in dark times.

Thank you Buddhist Dudes!

Affectionately yours,
Bruno

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
1/24/10 5:30 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Hi Bruno,

This is really good to hear - well done! Thanks for the detailed account. This place is such an incredible resource.

Regarding the "no ñanas, no cycling" thing - how is going through the four jhanas all the time not cycling? The ñanas, as I understand them, are about noticing specific features of the jhanas.

The energy stuff: MCTB is not very explicit about energy experiences - It would have to be at least twice as long if it did, I guess. Early on, after reading MCTB for the first time, I discovered the Baptist's Head, and the descriptions of Alan and Duncan, while recognizably the progress of insight, fill in a lot of detail. For example, Alan describes an "absolute terror" in his stream-entry experience; and Duncan has lots to say about chakras acting up.

Anyway, congratulations!
Florian

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
1/24/10 3:22 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Dear Bruno,

Your descriptions are great and the questions you raise are old and very relevant ones.

Being as my practice was less yogic and more insight, less energetic (though had some very interesting energetic periods) and more fundamental awareness/perception/bare-sensate-reality focused, I can related to some of what you say, but some of it is outside my scope, as I never practiced seeing the chakras and energy centers in the way you did except for some periods in the A&P when that sort of stuff could go on for days and it was all about bliss and energy channels and strange shaking and odd breathing patterns and sometimes slow breathing and energy releases and tension and explosion and sexual stuff and orgasmic bliss and massive life-changing insights and egomania and thoughts of enlightenment and unitive experiences cycling and cycling and cycling.

Thus, what I will be very interested in is what more chi-focused practitioners such as Chuck have to say, as that is more his turf, as well as how the thing holds up over time.

If it does hold up and continue to deepen over a long period of time in a more linear fashion as the yogis describe, that will be very valuable information. If it is just a highly-cultivated and extended run of A&P territory (which I have known people go through for months, though never once met anyone who could sustain it year after year), then it sounds like you will have checked out that territory with profound depth: keep records of your experiences, how it progresses, and contribute to the mapping process one way or the other, as it sounds like you are inclined to that. More data points from more practitioners help everyone to know how their unique take on this stuff interfaces with the rest of the world's take on it.

Keep going and let us know how it turns out. I am not sure the jury can be said to be completely in on what you are going through, so keeping an open mind will probably be of benefit.

I would be interested in exactly what the various practices you do are in detail, such as the Chi Kung practices specifically.

While energetic practices are often mentioned on this site, few take the time to actually detail what is done in a way that would allow someone else to follow in their footsteps, and perhaps someone will really step up and write something in the wiki or mention good, solid print or ebook references for exactly what they found the most helpful.

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
1/25/10 11:19 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Congratulations Bruno!

That was a very nice detailed account, and I enjoyed reading it. It sounds like you're on to something with this combination of energy practices and insight. I'm no expert on either of these, so I don't know what else to add. All the practices you undertake interest me, and it would be great if you could write about them so that people could practice through detailed instructions as Daniel pointed out.

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
qigong yoga stability
Answer
1/27/10 11:59 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Thank you for your messages :-)

I've shifted my practice from insight meditation into the various limbs of Yoga, and I will also establish a Qigong routine, because it seems to have an amazing balancing effect. In fact qigong feels so stable and settling that I might one day switch entirely to such a practice. But a place with pragmatic, simplified, free teachings is still to be found.

This Yogani fellow recommends learning Yoga in the following order:
1. Learn mantra meditation, specifically the "I AM" (AYEM) mantra. While I used to think this didn't do anything, nowadays I find it INCREDIBLY powerful. 5-10 minutes of this twice a day is about as much as I can handle. As my situation stabilizes I will add the remaining practices. This practice is supposed to lead to these states of "pure awareness", and it is considered the fundamental practice.
2. Learn Spinal Breathing Pranayama. This is the core energy development practice. You breathe, gently favoring slow breaths, and pass attention from the base of the spine to the third eye on inhalations and the other way around on exhalations. Just a few minutes of this take me bring me to a subtle full-body orgasm. This happens because the base of the spine and perineum suck up energy like on the usual orgasm, but instead of directing it to the genitals, they shoot it up the spinal nerve. I'm not doing it for now, as it is too intense!
3. Learn specific poses for energy manipulation and stimulation. For instance there are ways to push energy up the crown, other ways to have energy circulate up the spine and down the front channel, etc.

And there are some more. samayana, full-body mudra, "cosmic" samayana, whatever that might be, and so on.

For excessive energy, I do Qigong. I asked my teacher today and apparently we do the "18 movements" of "Tai Chi Qigong" (Taiji Chi Kung, Taiji Qigong, whatever). Sometimes we also do the inner smile and healing sounds practices. My teacher learns from a student of the taoist Mantak Chia. He has some DVDs on Tai Chi Chi Kung, maybe they're available on the internet. There are, however, many different Qigong and Taiji forms, each of which serve a different purpose.

I think only time will tell what is sustainable and what is not, what comes and goes and what doesn't. It is clear that many stuff that I used to complain about is still happening. But I tend to have a different relationship with phenomena. It is as if my dualities are shifting from Pain/Pleasure to Silence/Ecstasy. A good day isn't so much a case of having more of one aspect (pleasure) than the other (pain), but a matter of balancing both Silence and Ecstasy. Even just silence leaves me happy and content, but if you add ecstasy things get glorious and mystical. Just ecstasy leaves me edgy and prone to irritation. Even with silence, too much ecstatic sensations are upsetting.

I certainly haven't ruled out the possibility that all this is temporary. But while I can get into some incredibly intense moments (Ecstasy), it isn't "A&P", or at least not a usual A&P, as I feel very calm, sleep a lot, listen to others without interrupting, ... We'll see, I'll keep you posted.

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
1/27/10 3:00 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Hi Bruno,

I came through this path from a qi gong perspective. I never noticed things like repeating fruitions, dark nights, etc. They weren't part of my training. To some extent I can look back and see where these terms come from – based on my own experiences – but these are deeply experiential in nature and holding to one label or another can lead to missing other ways they may be understood or worked with or lead us to emphasize certain aspects of the experience over others. Each tradition tries to map out progress (or not) in the way it finds most helpful.

“I am learning to do something that could be described as "connecting with silence", and I get better and better at that too. I am assaulted by feelings of unity”

Yea, that's good. Qi Gong is not just cultivating energy but also stillness – these two work together. One lubricates the other. You find the same approach in the Suttas.

“But all over the body stuff is opening up, and if I meditate for more than a short while, the releases are so intense it becomes unpleasant.”

-Yes, that's the way it goes. It is also true for people that do intense noting practice. You can regulate your practice schedule, diet (heavy foods like meat/cheese will tend to slow things down) but to a certain extent you're on the ride – can't say if it's stream-entry or not but seems like things are ramping up.

If you don't already then I think it would be helpful to practice the microcosmic orbit. You are basically doing it anyway – so a more systematic approach might be helpful.

of the Mystical-Schmystical:

I have come to really like the three yana model that Kate Gowen posted a while back: Sutrayana, Tantrayana, and Dzogchen

I think that what ever approach we take it will always fall into these three phases. So if one is starting out using Qi Gong then they will go through a sutrayana phase where the practice requires concentration, persistence, investigation, etc. followed by a tantrayana phase followed by a vajrayana phase. The focus and terminology are different between say the noting practice and the qi gong practice or other practices at any level and may (I am coming to believe) lead to different ways of understanding and interpreting our experience – and in some ways – the experience itself will be different and may lead to different flavors of awakening.

"The rise of Shiva, Shakti and their final union everywhere within us make up the three stages of enlightenment – First, 24/7 inner silence. Second, 24/7 whole body ecstasy. And third, 24/7 ecstatic bliss, the joining of the divine polarities of silence and ecstasy, yielding an endless outpouring of divine love, which is unity. […] It is an unending cosmic orgasm within cell and atom in us."

This isn't my experience :-( Is it possible? Could be –

I don't think its over, 'till the Tathagata sings.
You know I'm just a newbie, to this whole thing.

-Chuck

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
1/29/10 1:24 PM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Hi Bruno,
first thanks for the link, I read several pages, appears to be the best online source on yoga practice I've come across. I'd be interested to know how you spent your day on your retreat and what would be your suggested ratio of silence, spinal breathing, relaxation (same as silence?) and vipassana / self inquiry if you had to obtain stream entry again, risking more to overdo it than to fall short of it?
And the ecstasy you're describing, how much different does it feel now compared to some months back?

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
1/30/10 4:33 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno,

exact same thing happened to me(years of vip prac leading to kundalinin awekening which i thought was A/p into dark night or it could have been, However I found more answers when i looked at my situation from the yogic perspective and everything thing has been great ever since). I have now been practicing daily spinal breathing and a meditation involving listening to an internal sound for three months. It is really opening me up. I don't even think about what stage I am at any more, where as before i was totally obsessed with it.

The main shift has been the understanding that this awakening process is happening all by itself, It really is such an amazing concept and for me at the heart of a big transformation in my life.

I do sometimes wonder if the vipassana cycling is the same thing as this tension/ relaxation phase that i go through.

One interesting thing that i have experienced is when i am near or around spiritual places or high level meditators/monks. My kundalini starts to become really intense. Same strong tingling from the base of the spine followed by movement of energy up to the middle of the head folowed by feeling of peace and calm then it happens over and over. Its quite uncomfortable so i have adopted and support the idea of self pacing discussed in AYP forums.

all the best
Anthony

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
qigong yoga
Answer
1/30/10 4:33 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Julius:

As you will find in reading Daniel's excellent descriptions of the "dark night", and I can vouch from my direct experience, it is not a pleasant thing to go through. I've recently come across Yoga, and people in these traditions seem to describe a way to enlightenment that is far less riddled with pain. Chuck and Anthony's experience seems to point in this direction, and if this is in fact possible, regardless of how interesting or educational the "dark night" might be, I would much sooner prefer and recommend a practice that would circumvent it. That is not the case with pure insight practice.

Still, if you want to know, I did 14 hours/day of noting practice as described in Mahasi Sayadaw's "Practical Insight Meditation". I think the breakthrough happened when I intuitively understood what the four jhanas were. At the time Tarin wrote a number of sentences on "what to do" in order to go through the jhanas in the "conscious attention" aspect, and these where easy to generalize to any part of the body:

Effortful "touch and accept" is first jhana; repetition eventually makes it happen automatically which feels like small vibrations, this is second jhana, then you "plunge into" the small vibrations which turn into medium violent vibrations, third jhana, then you "expand" awareness to the surrounding environment (you note more panoramically) and this brings you to fourth jhana. Eventually fourth jhana disappears and you get "Inner silence" in that part of the nervous system.

I think that the understanding of this as a four-part process is a fabulous contribution of the insight tradition which I have found mentioned nowhere else. The four jhanas are a great mental model for the process of "dissolution of tension", which happens in our nervous system.

Chuck and Anthony:

I have something to say on this Yoga vs Qigong, and why Chuck isn't feeling anything "sexual" in his Qigong practice.

The way I think about enlightenment, nowadays, is more-or-less as follows.

There are two aspects of experience: "Awareness" and "Phenomena". Enlightenment is the ability to see that both these aspects are made of the same stuff, what the enlightened dudes call Emptiness, and thus they are one and the same thing. In order to realize this, Yoga (as in aypsite.org) suggests two kinds of practice; one practice emphasizes the "Awareness" aspect, and the other emphasizes the "Phenomenon" aspect. Awareness practice leads to "Inner Silence" aka The Witness, Pure Awareness, etc; and Phenomenon practice is energetic development. Yogani describes that when both are sufficiently developed, awareness slowly gains a dynamic quality and phenomena gradually begin to feel silent, and eventually they are seen to be the same thing.

Both Yoga and Qigong do complete energetic development, but each tradition has different tricks and emphasizes different things. For instance, Qigong is much more thorough in its coverage of energy channels in the body, and has many more ways of balancing the energy going through these channels; but it seems to come short of the power and wildness of Yoga's mudras (e.g. the Kechari Mudra where you shove your tongue up the nasal passage to touch the third eye, making a direct spinal-nerve to front-channel connection).

Chuck, in Qigong terms, "Kundalini Awakening" is the opening of the root chakra (Hui Yin) so that it can shoot energy up the spinal chord (thrusting vessel) to the third-eye (Yin Tang?) and/or crown (Bai Hui). This feels _very_ sexual, a bit like a delicate continuous orgasm, which I read will become less and less delicate and more and more orgasm as the practice deepens :-) Yoga (or at least AYP) starts working with the spinal chord from the start, but Qigong considers this a very advanced practice. On the other hand, Qigong begins working with the crown as soon as the microcosmic orbit, but AYP warns against working with the crown before you've been stable with many other practices for many months.

So I'm a bit puzzled about what I should or should not do. Right now I'm doing 10m deep meditation (inner silence cultivation) twice daily, plus half-an-hour Qigong inner-smile and six-sounds. When I feel reasonably stable for a week or so, I will add two or three minutes of Spinal Breathing Pranayama before deep meditation.

I think my yoga will eventually develop to include all the mudras, asanas, etc, and my qigong will eventually develop maybe to Wuji Qigong. The point will always be to get the most out of the practice, using the least amount of time, and in the fastest possible, safe and comfortable way.

I would really LOVE to share notes with other Yoga and Qigong practitioners, say, on a bi-weekly or even weekly basis. Practical shit, like what is practice like and what do you get out of it and how do you think about it, tricks, theories, etc. If you would like this, we could do it in a thread here, or schedule a voice-conference or something. If not, that's ok :-)

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
1/31/10 3:41 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
These are all very interesting topics.

There is plenty of room here for this and more, such as, and specifically, as I stated earlier, lots of energy stuff is mentioned here, but rarely with the sort of explanation that would allow someone else to follow it.

If you have any interest in providing that, please do so, as I think it would make this a more accessible and practical discussion for those not coming from that background.

Thanks for all your insights and correlations,

Daniel

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
1/31/10 6:45 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
You mention how different energy techniques may provide different, even contradictory advice. I find the same thing is true with singing technique. There are different schools of thought about singing, however many of them work very well. Two that come to mind for me are CVT (complete vocal technique) and Estill voicecraft. These two systems are both excellent, producing good results for their students. The students are able to sing a wide variety of styles of music, some of which is very intense (like opera or belting), without hurting their throats. Yet sometimes these two systems provide different advice, or even contradictory advice.

Here's the thing -- each system DOES work. A CVT student might follow a teacher's advice, "Do A, and not B, with your throat." This student would probably get good results. An Estill student might follow their teacher's advice, which is the opposite: "Do B, and not A, with your throat." This student would probably also get good results. BUT -- if the CVT student tried to do B, or if the Estill student tried to do A, that probably wouldn't work!

So I think that different systems for doing things contain advice that is dependent on other factors unique to the system. I bet for a qi gong practitioner, it IS advanced to work directly with the spinal column. If a qi gong student read one page of AYP which described the spinal pranayama and tried it, this might be difficult or perhaps even harmful. But, of course, people who have done all of AYP's preparatory work and who understand how spinal pranayama works in the AYP context, these people would probably get good results with the spinal pranayama. Presumably, the reverse would occur with an AYP student trying to do a qi gong exercise that is too advanced for them.

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
2/1/10 5:53 AM as a reply to J Adam G.
Adam: You think that might be so?

I'm gonna try to do both anyway and see how it goes. You see I really notice progress when I do yoga, and I really notice balance when I do Qigong. I hope this is not a mistake, but it feels great so far.

Daniel: I could probably write up something in the DhO wiki in a few months or years, when I get more familiarized with the practice. Meanwhile I would love to find people with similar practices, and we could discuss these in the energy forum of DhO.

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
2/1/10 12:43 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:

I would really LOVE to share notes with other Yoga and Qigong practitioners, say, on a bi-weekly or even weekly basis. Practical shit, like what is practice like and what do you get out of it and how do you think about it, tricks, theories, etc. If you would like this, we could do it in a thread here, or schedule a voice-conference or something. If not, that's ok :-)

I'll join in, Brune, it's overdue and should really be useful ... will you start the thread? I'll join next weekend.
And thanks a lot for the words on jhana ... I'll do it right now with this in mind and see how far I get / if I notice sth like 4 jhanas. Do you forget about the rest of your body for the time being / till you dissolved the tension?


@ J Adam G:
I don't think there should be contradiction when we talk about something natural. All babies know how to use their voice with maximum efficiency, that's what you have to relearn later on. See whether both kinds of singers still have a beautiful voice at the age of 75 and whether they still think that their techniques are different. Singing is something simple. Of course there are innumerable ways to make it complicated.

"I don`t believe in different ways of fighting now. I mean, unless human beings have 3 arms and 3 legs, then we will have a different way of fighting. But basically we all have two arms and two legs so that is why I believe there should be only one way of fighting and that is no way." - Bruce Lee

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
2/1/10 5:37 PM as a reply to Julius P0pp.
Many of the technical aspects are more alike than different, or are simply very different ways of looking at what's happening. On several occasions each group has independently come up with basically the same solution to a problem. However, there are some differences between the two schools regarding what you can and can't do healthily.

The reason is that Estill voice craft focuses on the physiology of what's happening in the larynx and developing conscious control of the relevant musculature. They teach students which muscular actions are potentially damaging, so they know what to avoid. On the other hand, CVT focuses on finding acoustical setups favorable for the desired sound, so that the vocal folds automatically operate in the most efficient fashion possible. Needless to say, the most efficient way of producing a sound will be healthy, and singers who trained with either technique will be able to produce their sounds with the efficiency of a baby's cry.

Neither of the two seems to cause any vocal problems for its students, either in the short term or the long term. I can think of other systems that do tend to cause problems for students over time, despite giving great results at first. With those systems, you can really tell what the problems are by listening to the voices of the teachers -- they definitely deteriorate over time. I haven't observed any of that happening with CVT or Estill voice craft.

However, this isn't a singing forum, and what applies to singing may not apply to energetic phenomena. I chose that metaphor because I considered it helpful for the discussion of energy work systems, but it might be misleading. I apologize to anyone who finds this to mess up the conversation instead of enhance it.

It could be the case that when yoga and qi gong say things that are contradictory, one is simply right and the other is simply wrong. Maybe one of the two just works better. But how will we tell that? When has everything been cut-and-dried with energetic phenomena? My point is that different schools of thought may propose different ways to arrive at a goal, but they will likely each arrive at their goal. Sometimes the differences come from having different goals, or from taking different roads to arrive at the same goal. I may say, "Take this interstate and go north, then get off the exit and go west." Someone else might say "Take the other interstate that goes west, then take the exit that heads north." Both of these could, in fact, end up at the same place. Maybe they won't, but maybe they will.

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
2/1/10 9:48 PM as a reply to J Adam G.
Bringing this back more directly to the topic, I find that when I look up energy stuff there is much controversy.

For instance, just looking up the Inner Smile lead me to discussions of Mantak Chia and whether or not he was a fraud and whether or not his practices are authentic and helpful or harmful and confusing. Some thought his practices were great, others considered them to be terrible advice and that one must travel to China to find the hidden immortal masters that are the real deal and otherwise one was wasting one's time.

I found all that confusing. In short, I hope there are more discussion between skilled and aspiring practitioners on these topics, as they are clearly powerful at times and so it makes sense to have access to that technology. I have reoriented part of the front page of the wiki to begin to have people who know these techniques at the level of mastery to begin to discuss energy practices there so that those of us who came up in different traditions can follow along.

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
2/2/10 1:56 AM as a reply to J Adam G.
Ok Adam, thanks for this long explanation. I know which school I'd prefer, not the one where you learn to control the details. For singing I never needed anatomycal knowledge, just the right state of mind which correlates to an attitude of joyful amazement. The attitude is suffiecient, the body and breath follow easily. I don't believe anyone anymore who makes singing more complicated than this. One statement that came to my mind, from this same friend and teacher, is:
"There's nothing more individual in the human than his voice."

Can't tell how much this applies to the energy body though, but there should be underlying principles that are helpful for everyone. Maybe here's a good place to thank you, Chuck, for what you've written so far. It has really been helpful in sorting out what the core teachings are in these practices.


@ Bruno: My first impression was that Yoga lacks the full-body coverage that Qigong has. But that has to be (one of) the purpose(s) behind asanas, and that's why you learn them before starting pranayama.

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
2/2/10 8:25 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Please correct me if I'm wrong, I'm not sure if this is what you really mean or not. But it seems to be implied that the path of yoga and energy based practices are superior to insight based practice? Or are you saying a combination of these is superior to just one? Superior in the sense that one is more pleasant of a path to tread.

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
2/3/10 11:48 PM as a reply to ManZ A.
These sorts of debates are very old.

Let's see how all this settles out for our friends who are riding high on these energetic experiences and see how they hold up over time.

Everyone is different in terms of exactly what combinations of practices or single techniques will work best for them at any given time, and as the experiment can only be done one way at any moment, no one can know exactly what is or would have been optimal.

Again, the jury is still out on what these guys are describing.

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
2/4/10 11:04 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Everyone is different in terms of exactly what combinations of practices or single techniques will work best for them at any given time, and as the experiment can only be done one way at any moment, no one can know exactly what is or would have been optimal.


Bingo!

During different phases of my practice, I was SURE that one particular style of practice or map of experience was the "true way" or whatever. Over time it has become increasingly apparent just how incredibly malleable experience (i.e. reality) is. I honestly can't tell you how many times I've changed my tune, because I've lost count at this point.

It can be difficult to refrain from making blanket statements like "this practice is more practical/useful/advanced/etc. than all these other practices," when in reality it just happens to be the way that experience is unfolding for the yogi at the present time. Therefore, stating the facts without making value judgments is a more skillful way to go about this stuff, in my humble opinion.

At the same time, such temporary shifts in model preference are par for the course. It doesn't need to be restricted, per se, but it helps to view the process from a wider, more inclusive perspective whenever possible.

My $0.02.

~Jackson
"Lying is a science, truth a paradox."

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
2/4/10 12:11 PM as a reply to ManZ A.
An important element in these sorts of discussions is aspiration. What motivates you to carry out the practices that you have selected? For myself, it has been 'to know the truth - whatever it takes'. If your practice is like a vehicle then your aspiration is like the direction that vehicle is pointed. So when we discuss what kind of practice leads where, which is more 'direct', etc. - we have to consider what the practitioners goal was as well. My sense is that this has much greater impact than the practice itself.

-Chuck

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
yoga insight practice
Answer
2/4/10 5:10 PM as a reply to ManZ A.
I suspect that the answer to Manz A's question is YES, "yoga is superior to pure insight" in the sense that it "is a more pleasant path to tread".

This is not a judgement, nor is it a claim that Yoga is "the true way" or "the best way", and that was not what Manz A asked, either. But I have observed that:

(1) My canonical reference for yoga (Yogani's "Advanced Yoga Practices" system) describe the "path of yoga" as something which does NOT have to be unpleasant, but in fact becomes more and more pleasant as the practice deepens; however my canonical reference for insight practice (Daniel's MCTB ) describes progress as something that necessarily goes trough difficult cycles over and over again until arhatship.
(2) People in the AYP community tend to describe their experience in the same terms as the AYP reference, which leads me to believe that this is a natural result of practicing AYP style.
(3) There is an aspect of "energetic development", in particular "development of the sexual function" aka kundalini, which is not present in insight practice. I can tell you from personal experience that this is very, very pleasant emoticon

My own experience with AYP in the last month seems to go in the same direction. There are local ups and downs, but things seem to be getting globally better every week. I feel that yoga is what I should be doing right now, However,
(a) I am speaking from after stream-entry which I owe to insight practice;
(b) stream-entry effectively cured my depression (assuming that the results will hold).
As far as I know, Yoga could have taken years to get me to this point, rather than the few months plus two ten-day retreats that it took with insight practice. Years deep in depression would certainly NOT have been pleasant, even if yoga was slowly and steadily getting me out of it. So who knows?!

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
2/4/10 6:05 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
I have some thoughts on this but they are drifting off-topic so I am starting a new thread here.

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
11/16/10 4:09 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
It was interesting to re-read this thread, which I did after pointing it out on another thread. For eventual readers who might stumble upon this description, it might be relevant to add that I am pretty certain that what I was going through at the time fits the A&P bill very well.

I had a tremendous A&P period moving into second path. Loads of orgasmic bliss things going on, unitive experiences, etc, etc.

Eventually it got to the point of high instability, there was a night I couldn't sleep because of all the super-orgasm stuff going on, and what I did then was to stop all meditation, and practice grounding exercises for 10m two times a day. I did ankle rotations, knee rotations and a lot of squats (and I still do this every day). I also got into this "intuflow" exercises, which are basically exercises for the joints (really really good for grounding energetically).

Check out The Three Amigos of Rooting.

So if you happen to stumble upon this thread, and have similar things happening with you, you might want to consider grounding exercises, they're really really great, and I couldn't recommend them more.

Over a period of about two months, energy started dying down, and eventually I was once again plunging into dark night territory, where I got some insights into unsatisfactoriness, and seen with my very own eyes that "desire can't really be satisfied the way it makes you think it can."

However, I should note that I never got depressed (so far) in the same way as that horrific year of 2009. Insight meditation was, apparently and so far, a cure against that.

On the road towards being happy and harmless emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
Bruno

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
11/18/10 3:28 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
With regards to yoga and qigong saying contradictory things about what is dangerous and what is safe the answer in many cases is that the other practices included in one system and not the other serves to counterbalance the effects of the practice making it safe. As the otehr system don`t have those practices doing such and such at such and such a stage seems dangerous. For example, AYP warns against working directly with the crown untill after a long time of other practices wherasin many qigong systems the crown chakra is opened from the crown down. IN other words they after some intial practices start with the crown. THere are two reasons I can see that make that work. One, they bring energey from the crown DOWN the front channel and then up the back. In otehr words once the energy is generated in teh crown it is quickly removed and sent down to other centers avoiding over stimulation of the crown and when energy is brought up the back to the crown the passageway from the crown further down the front is not blocked so no problem is created. Just going up and down the spine seems to not give the same amount of control. True, one can as in AYP bring the energy down the back but this does not seem to be as safe as down the front when working with the crown, or just hte third eye. Presumably this is because the front is more yin and the back more yang so up and down the back is more stimulating and activating while the front is soothing on the whole system. Just up and down can the lead to a more yang and activated state and maybe the crown becoming too yang. THe second reason I think direct work on the cronw is ok is that the root is developed sufficently. Standing meditation for example develops a connection to energy deep into the earth and builds a tremendous amount of earth chi. Once this is strong you can do a lot of work high up and make things up there very active and you still have the "muscle" to pull it down. WIthout sufficient earth chi and sort of an anchor into the earth you are not strong enough to pul the energy down quick untill it starts to create problems. THis aspect is usually not strongly enough developed in yogic systems hence the need for other types of precautions to handle direct work with the crown.

RE: A very long letter on my recent stream-entry
Answer
12/2/10 7:34 PM as a reply to Crazy Wisdom.
I get the impression that trying to find which system is the right one is like trying to find whether dentistry is more relevant than opthalmology. They deal with different parts of the same system, and some may need one more or less than another, and some never at all. My two cents.
Interesting reading Bruno. I haven't seen a better forum for discussing these things.