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Interesting experience after 'direct pointing' - stream entry?

Hi Guys,

Some background: long time (several years) meditation practitioner (Samatha mainly). For the last few months I have been routinely able to enter Rupa Jhanas (not always at will), probably up to about third-ish (on the cushion and off during walking).

I recently went through the 'awakening' process on the Liberation Unleashed direct pointing forum (easily found on Google). I had an interesting experience of a big chunk of the 'egoic self'/personaility/individual story falling away and have spent the last few days being very mindful with relatively little effort (although energetically, I feel kind of fried). A lot of old thought patterns have fallen away and a lot of things that would have 'pushed my buttons' no longer seem to as much / at all. Also felt quite a strong sense of relief and have lost a lot of the drive for 'seeking'.

According to the LU guys, this is awakening, job done - the rest is 'stabilisation'. Although there has been a very strong perceptual shift and a lot has changed, this doesn't seem to be even near the end as far as Buddhist maps of attainment go (at least the Theravadan ones I am familiar with). I am wondering where I might be at in terms of the classic Buddhist descriptions - near stream entry maybe ?

Regardless, the LU guys have certainly made a difference (of some sort!)

Ideas / thoughts appreciated.

Jim

RE: Interesting experience after 'direct pointing' - stream
Answer
7/2/12 4:38 PM as a reply to Jim W.
Hiya Jim,

The whole "direct pointing" approach has it's uses, no doubt about it, but what they're referring to as "awakening" isn't the same thing as referred to in either Buddhism or any other system that I'm familiar with. While the methods can lead to an experience of "anatta" (not-self), there's a tendency to overestimate the realization and see it as being some sort of ending...it's not, it's another experience and, while important, is only a glimpse of what's possible beyond that.

What you've described doesn't sound like stream entry, but given your history in meditation you'll hopefully find this change in experience to be beneficial in attaining Path. I'd suggest getting down to investigating your experience at the bare sensate level, not even "noting", just precise attentiveness to what's occurring right now; see how any and all sensation are subject to the Three Characteristics, look closer at impermanence and suffering too, don't just focus on not-self.

There's a guy on here called Wylo who's one of the original RT folks, hopefully he'll drop in and give his opinion too.

RE: Interesting experience after 'direct pointing' - stream
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7/2/12 4:59 PM as a reply to Jim W.
From a certain perspective, that is awakening, but in that context, awakening is a commonplace occurrence, and "stabilisation" is where the hard work is.

You cut through some karma, and you're riding the energy that released. Without sustained attention, that energy will flow into and strengthen some other karma. As I understand it, until the root karma of identification of a self with respect to an other is cut, this pattern will continue.

RE: Interesting experience after 'direct pointing' - stream
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7/3/12 1:22 AM as a reply to fivebells ..
Thanks Tommy and Fivebells. I am sure it was an experience of anatta, it was a useful experience, but has left me feeling a little fried. Not sure what effect it will have in the longer term, at the moment I have to some extent lost the feeling to need to 'seek' or sit. I also have a persistent low level headache (bit like a tension headache).

RE: Interesting experience after 'direct pointing' - stream
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7/4/12 2:15 PM as a reply to Jim W.
Have looked at this further - and still feel like the 'I' or 'me' has been reduced considerably - for example, I look at my hands as I type these words and it feels like they belong to someone else. Also, apart from feeling like I have a permanent tension headache, I feel like mindfulness has gone onto automatic, takes no effort. If I just stop and look at anything it has a jhana-like quality much of the time.

Not sure what to make of it all really, confused as to where this fits into the classic models of progession (if it does) - or have I just had a hefty whack of insight ? Also, feels like the body / mind is 'fighting back' - very scattered sort of energy quality. Hard to explain.

Any more thoughts / comments would be most welcome !

RE: Interesting experience after 'direct pointing' - stream
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7/5/12 8:21 AM as a reply to Jim W.
I don't have much experience with those things but based on those symptoms I'm tempted to say early equanimity:

-Feeling tired/fried
-Tension in the head
-Sense of ease/Not easy piss-off
-Sense of self diminished
-Feeling of relief

Ask yourself if you had dark night symptoms before, anxiety, pain, tension, addiction.

Pay attention to any tension left, especially in the neck. Do you get to feel vibrations when you practice?

EDIT: Dissolution also has this kind of quality but I don't think the tension in the head make much sense in dissolution. Note I'm pre-path. Could be wrong about all this.

RE: Interesting experience after 'direct pointing' - stream
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7/9/12 12:58 PM as a reply to Jim W.
Hi Jim, I come from a direct pointing background, I 'saw no self' in April 2011

I would definitely say its an awakening of sorts, but not stream entry or full enlightenment or anything like that.Theres so so much more. I think you're in a good position because you're more exposed to other teachings and places like this, it took me about 7/8 months to find other stuff.
I have issues with LU etc about this notion that you're "done" or "liberated" and the rest is "stabilization". Ive debated with them many times over it. It just encourages the notion that that event is IT, and everything else works off that event if you follow. It encourages the story.

Now that said, they are fairly cool and open minded these days and theres even some LU based facebook groups that encourage sharing of all other types of practices and teachings etc. There is definitely a nice openness compare to what there was at the likes of RT (site prior to LU).

But anyway, the seeker feeling may have stopped but you'll probably start going into dark night and cycling around now I would imagine, so its not the end of suffering by any means, but its cool, I think so long you're aware of it and keep practicing then I cant see much reason why you wont hit stream entry sooner rather than later. Also , dark night will probably be only subtle and mild confusion at times.

To be fair , it IS a fundamental shift, and thats why Im reluctant to say its anything pre path on the MCTB map. But its definitely not SE either. I'd be fairly confident at this stage to say Im at least 1st path (although Ive given up on maps to an extent lol) , and there are definitely fundamental differences. But it would be difficult for me to describe them to you right now, because the shift you experienced is too fresh, and so it replicates SE even more at the start.

The good news, it doesnt go away, there is alot of shit afterwards and I definitely would only consider that the start if I was you, but the underlying insight basically remains and deepens with more work.

RE: Interesting experience after 'direct pointing' - stream
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7/11/12 8:29 AM as a reply to wylo ..
Hi Wylo - thanks for your thoughts on this!

It is interesting to compare the difference between the buddhist 'maps' and what the advaita vedanta /non-dual systems (and modern versions of it) say. I very been walking the buddhist path for some time, and have had a number of 'dark night' type episodes (from general darkness to clinical depression!). Not sure I have experienced 'cycling' as described in MCTB. My practice has always been anapanasati and 'everyday mindfulness', never got into the 'noting' or other more classic vipassana techniques. I can get into rupa jhana states on (and off) the cushion quite regularly.

I am convinced there is 'no self', just present moment awareness and thoughts / perceptions / other phenomena in flux. I have seen this quite clearly, especially now things have settled down after the 'no self' experience (which left me absolutely fried - headaches, confusion, tension, light headedness - the body/mind really protested).

I think I have had sort of awakening (seems quite like some of the 'satori' experiences I have seen described by zen practitioners), but am aware that I am not the Buddha - at least not yet emoticon

LU does have some interesting support groups on FB, posted a few times on them.

Thanks again for your sharing your experience !

RE: Interesting experience after 'direct pointing' - stream
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7/26/12 12:59 AM as a reply to Jim W.
Hello Jim,

I thought I'd piggyback onto your post since my own experience with LU and stream-entry may help contribute to the discussion.

To Clarify: Now I'm acutely aware that some very intelligent and well-practiced people will be dissecting this, so please understand that my use of the words "stream-entry" or "noself" is strictly within the context of what I've experienced. This "noself" experience that started and has continued over the past five weeks seem to fit within Daniel's Ingram's description of "The Non-Duality Model" in MCTB in a very obvious way. That description is the most accurate representation of what I'm experiencing that I've seen put to words.

The actual story: I managed to puzzle out the trick of noself (or seeing through the illusion of self, whatever) while reading the blog post "The Thunder and The Sunshine" by Ciaran. His analogy of viewing the illusion of self like a pattern in a tapestry helped me "look" at the illusion in a very visceral and direct manner. I realized that "I" wasn't home. There was no self to attach all of these thoughts to anymore. No self, neat. Now what? So what? It was subtle, by the old patterns of self have certainly lost much of their strength in my day-to-day life. That being said, the patterns are still very much there and part of daily experience.

From that realization, I googled around and discovered LU and found they had an "Unleashed" group where people who've realized noself (by their criteria) could talk about their experience. Plenty of people have their own suggestions for how to deepen/develop on that realization, but there are also plenty of people who seem to be fine riding it out on their own. There's plenty of idle chit-chat, but these are everyday people, not highly-attained Buddhas/masters/yogis/teachers/whatever. Mostly it's just people helping each other in kind and compassionate ways with words. Pretty nice I'd say.

So from there I've turned to MCTB as a primary source for my meditation practice. I haven't dug into the later stages of attainment on "the path" but I'm working on what Daniel calls "Access Concentration" at the moment. I feel like I've nailed it a few times it sure as hell isn't easy yet ;). On average I'm doing 30-45 minutes of practice a day, which I understand means glacially slow progress. I can talk about noself all day, but realizing a truth does not unravel a lifetime of patterns in the brain overnight.

RE: Interesting experience after 'direct pointing' - stream
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8/1/12 6:07 AM as a reply to Erik Blanchard.
Hi Erik thanks for sharing !

I found LU after reading about it here. A month after seeing 'no self', things have settled down - but I somehow 'know' that regardless of model, it was a major realisation of some sort. I have been a meditator for a number of years and have had jhana experiences on and off the cushion prior to this, so have had some experience of 'experiences'! However, I still meditate and try to be mindful (which is much easier than it was before seeing no-self), as these are useful on just about every level and as you suggest, help to 'undo' or 'see through' old bits of conditioning. It is now the case though, that I do not feel the need to 'better' myself or to endlessly 'seek' for anything.

Hope your practice is going well !

all the best

Jim

RE: Interesting experience after 'direct pointing' - stream
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10/4/12 4:30 PM as a reply to Jim W.
Hi All,

Thought I'd drop by with an update.

Well, it's about 3 months since I experienced some pretty full on anatta over at the Liberation Unleashed forum. Things have settled down - changed, but settled. I have bowed out of LU for now, I was quite active there for a while. There are some great people over there but as with any group, you get a few who seem to think that an anatta experience is all there is and then they start identifying with it (I did for a while, I think).

Still sitting everyday (samatha mainly), using mindfulness as much as possible and going on the occasional retreat. Difficult for me to know where I'm 'at' (if anywhere). Jhana states come and go (rupa, not quite got into arupa), sometimes great joy / laughter, other times identification with suffering.

The key thing I got out of LU was that anatta was experienced quite clearly (and kind of remains), whereas before, I had only got tasters / intellectual understanding.

Anyway, enough gabbing - the cushion calls.

Thanks for you previous comments all !

Jim

RE: Interesting experience after 'direct pointing' - stream
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10/4/12 5:43 PM as a reply to Jim W.
Hey Jim,

Good to hear from you, I'm really glad you haven't clung to the anatta experience too and that you're still practicing. I know a lot of people from the L.U. forum and groups and, as you said, there is a tendency to think that the initial realization is 'it' although quite a few of them have gone on to see that there's still something to be 'done'. I reckon that the group itself will continue to develop and become more flexible, acknowledging the progressive nature of deepening insight as time goes on; they're doing a good thing but, just like this site, they'll change and progress but they're a good bunch all 'round.

Still sitting everyday (samatha mainly), using mindfulness as much as possible and going on the occasional retreat. Difficult for me to know where I'm 'at' (if anywhere). Jhana states come and go (rupa, not quite got into arupa), sometimes great joy / laughter, other times identification with suffering.

I've written a couple of blog posts on jhana which seem to be quite useful in getting a hang of the basics, give it a read and see if there's anything helpful there.

I highly recommend trying to just be attentive/mindful of your immediate sensate experience as much as possible, e.g. look at how seeing doesn't involve anyone who "sees", even though you've seen through the illusion of a self there's still a lot of increasingly subtle sensations which continue to create a sense of subject - "you", an observer, an entity who sees - and object - anything which is not you, that which is seen. This can be applied to each sense door, even to thinking itself, so that you can see directly, just as you directly experienced not-self, how even the sense of an agent, a do-er, being, or any sense of even existing seperate from the rest of actuality is entirely imputed.

Thusness has these two stanzas which I've found to be incredibly useful to contemplate and see what they refer to experientially:

There is thinking, no thinker
There is hearing, no hearer
There is seeing, no seer


In thinking, just thoughts
In hearing, just sounds
In seeing, just forms, shapes and colors.

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.co.uk/2009/03/on-anatta-emptiness-and-spontaneous.html

Congrats on your realizations so far, and thanks for the update. You could start a practice log on here, it's a really useful part of practice actually and you can learn a lot from getting input on the specifics of the techniques. Either way, good to hear from you and all the best!

RE: Interesting experience after 'direct pointing' - stream
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10/4/12 8:55 PM as a reply to Jim W.
Hey Jim,

Also from LU myself (zenkitties) as well. Pleasure to see you here!

Just wanted to let you know Tommy's info is good to go, he's really straight forward and practicle when it comes to Jhana stuff so if you're working on that, it will be useful.

Also just did some posting around for what the buddhist model calles Dependent Origination lately as thats where I'm headed at the moment. Found some pretty good information from a guy named Albert Hong.

Soh We Yuh or Eternal Now on (DHo) has a post on his blog that talks about this a little bit that might help with the "Emptiness" aspect. If you are feeling the "There is no you, however there is still a sense of "something" there"

So without further adou, I'll post the most helpful links from my POV that is helping me with DO

Rob Burbea on D. O. Part 1?

Rob Burbea on D. O. Part 2?

and the blog I was reading earlier from Soh:

The Middle Way

and lastly, from DHO archives on D.O. if you decide to go down this path. Sorry I'm putting a lot of content up here!

A usable map on D. O.

RE: Interesting experience after 'direct pointing' - stream
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10/5/12 3:59 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
I 'guided' for a while too, but was worried about the effect the process can have on people - some seem to have a pretty rough ride after 'seeing'. I wonder if Direct Pointing might be better controlled in a face-to-face setting....

The emotional and psychological turbulence post-realization is incredibly common, and it's also part of the reason why, in terms of the Progress of Insight maps, I'd say that most people coming to this via direct pointing are hitting the A&P Event and not Path; Whether or not everyone crosses the A&P and moves in Dissolution, I don't know for certain. Then again, it's not entirely impossible that some people might be able to but, in my opinion, they'd almost certainly have to have had at least some sort of serious practice prior to that.

I do think that more people should be made aware of the potential for difficulties after than initial insight arises, one of the criticisms I have of the direct-pointing and L.U. approach is that this is rarely mentioned when it could be hugely beneficial to a lot of people. After all, this is a process of stripping away and letting go so it's only natural that, like any major change in life, there's a period of integration before we can really get our bearings; I'm fairly sure that this will become more openly discussed in that community at some point but your comment is a good one.

I recently asked my teacher about arupa-jhana and she recommended making sure I have worked through all the rupa jhanas first - I think I have got up to 3rd, 1st/2nd definitely. The characteristic pitti / sukka being quite strong, with thoughts getting very weak / absent and an all over awareness of the energy body (hard to describe, but like an all over vibration/buzz/warmth) with an 'ease' of focus/attention (if that makes sense). I also have had numerous experiences of rupa / nama (body/mind) interaction (e.g. seeing my body / hearing my voice as though it was someone else) and have had jhana-like experiences off the cushion, with heightened senses and awareness (especially visual - everything looking very 3D - hard to describe).

You won't get into the arupa jhanas until you've got 1st Path, or at least technically speaking, so you'd be as well sticking to the first four in the meantime. It's a solid foundation to work from and the practice itself is worthwhile for all manner of reasons. Your descriptions sound pretty good, you're almost certainly getting into 1st jhana and it sounds like you're maybe hitting early 2nd too if thoughts are becoming less apparent.

What you describe as having noticed in daily life sounds like normal cycling, which definitely suggests that you've crossed the A&P and will likely be cycling from Mind & Body to Equanimity, particularly if you continue to practice; Those 3D sort of experiences are typical of being in either 2nd or 4th vipassana jhana but there's a lot of subtle stuff that differentiates the two so don't get too caught up in it just now. Your perceptual baseline will fluctuate as you cycle, but how quickly you progress through it will depend on your practice so I see no reason why you shouldn't aim for Stream Entry as soon as possible.

Have you tried switching to pure vipassana? This may be just what you're needing to give you that extra 'push'.