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My location on the maps i.e. Investigating my reality

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Hello everybody!

I'm 27 and meditating on and off for about 5 years. Mostly breath concentration, ACEM meditation and some inspiration from Shinzen Young and some Noting. When I was young I was reading a lot on philosophy, right now I'm getting back on this track.

My motivation for this journal is to sort and reflect my experiences. Further right now I want to figure out, if I'm in the dark night or not.
With the risk of repeating myself, my dilemma is:
If I'm in the A&P stage right now I would prefer to not cross it now, to be able to sort some stuff out and finish my electrical engineering diplom.
If I'm in the dark night I want to keep practicing, not sort my stuff out but finish my diplom nontheless.

Practice to verify If I'm in the dark night could lead me to cross the A&P...

Is there any way to solve the dilemma? Right now I focus on concentration, because of the good feelings which keep me functional.

My Thread on what could have been my personal A&P event.

Since then I'm meditating on average 20 minutes a day. With a lot of internal talk. Mostly I concentrate on my breath and the pleasent feelings, which are back at last. Access concentration feels quite easy to attain. But often I drift away to thoughts. I do analyze my states and I think I'm capable of reaching 3. jhana. First comes the joy and "feeling into it" feeling. Then sometimes I get "pulled in" a little bit like the narcosis they used 10-15 years ago. I think I reached third jhana. Like I did one year ago. Most of the times the perception of wide periphery and nothing in between (I love this donut metaphor!) predominates. It feels kind of empty, like the absence of sound when you jump into a swimming pool. Last night the feeling of bodily bliss/equanimity predominated and the perception of periphery was not so strong. I think that they are soft jhanas, because my internal talk is quite active meanwhile. Strangely, it happened sometimes, that I noted (ha!) that I was lost in thoughts, and then "woke up" in the next higher jana. At least there is a change in perception of space like described in the MCTB samatha janas. I don't know if it's technical possible, but this is how I experience it.

Last night I had a dream again: I realized I was dreaming, but then I thought I would be awake. I started noting "IMPERMANENCE IMPERMANENCE IMPERMANENCE" again. Then the vibrations kicked in hard. A lot of sensations were flickering, mostly visual. Quite horrifying. But I realized in the back of my head, that it is Ok to feel horrifyed. Then I woke up.

In this thread Tommy M writes
Tommy M:

the starting point for anyone pre-Path would depend on whereabouts they are on the insight maps but will also depend on whether or not they've crossed the A&P Event. If someone hasn't crossed the A&P, they'll cycle from 1st to 3rd ñana possibly crossing into 4th if their practice is strong; if someone has crossed the A&P then they'll cycle from 1st to 11th ñana until getting Path. Don't worry about the maps though, it all becomes much clearer with strong, dedicated practice.


At the moment, everything feels A&P ñana'ish. I begin to see or get a sense of vibrations. A lot sensations feel flowing, like when I hear a sudden sound I feel how it "flows" through me in the sense of sensations.

RE: My location on the maps i.e. Investigating my reality
Answer
7/7/12 9:43 AM as a reply to Peter Plan.
Backward rationalizing, before the last post, the feeling of equanimity prevailed.

At the moment I'm feeling not-so-well again. Maybe I'm manic depressive or I did cycle to the dark night again, after the A&P phase. But without an A&P event, don't know if its possible or if I just didn't notice it.

Nevertheless I decided to gunk up my practice to maybe 1 hour a day or more. Next week I'm going to a cottage in the Bretagne and plan to do my own little retreat there.

On the other hand my psychatrist prescribed therapy to me, let's see if something good may come out of it.

On my praxis:

Today I meditated for 30 minutes. After a while of concentration on my breath, rapture/bliss kicked in. I focused on the annoyance of sustained effort, got lost in 2-3 thoughts, noticed it and got back to my breath and a more spacious feeling of awareness. Focusing then on the unsatisfactoryness of the (soft) bliss attention widened more. Then I noted the spaciousness awareness which sucked me in much deeper: Attention was very wide but in a very strong manner. The first time I felt it this strong. A soft feeling of falling, a little bit of fear, and almost no awareness of my body. Maybe some awareness of my head / me residing in the back of it.

Ajahn Brahm:

From the moment of entering a Jhana, one will have no control. One will be unable to give orders as one normally does. The very idea of "what should I do next" cannot even come up. When the "will" that is controlling vanishes away, then the "I will" that fashions one's concept of future also disappears. The concept of time ceases in Jhana. Within a Jhana, one cannot decide what to do next. One cannot even decide when to come out. It is this absolute absence of will and its offspring, time, that give the Jhanas the feature of timeless stability and that lead to Jhana states persisting, sometimes for many blissful hours.


Ajahn Brahm - The Jhanas
From this definition, my experience could not be jhana, because I did have a "will" and internal talk. Whatsoever, my experience was fun and interesting.

After that I set in another half hour of noting. Unsatisfactory but well, maybe something good came out of it. I'm still learning.

RE: My location on the maps i.e. Investigating my reality
Answer
7/8/12 4:48 AM as a reply to Peter Plan.
Jhana seems a little different

Help with the best chance for stream entry

Hi, Sayadaw U Pandita Jr and Dr. Sununda both said to be in High Equanimity regarding formations (Here is Ingram's Jana & Nana Map: third from bottom) one must be able to sit for at least four hours. To attain stream-entry one must also possess Khanika Samadhi to the lvl of access concentration. So therefore to have access concentrate, you must be able to sit for at least 4hrs with ease. Don't worry about the length of time, it naturally occurs as a result of the concentration. I sat an hour, swapped overlapping legs and then went deep and sat another two an a half hours with ease, as the concentration deepened. It just occurs naturally, you don't have hold it through intense pain. Though, that can be used to strengthen the concentration, in the break through approach, as with Sunlun Sayadaw: Careful doing that don't wreak your knees.

Metta Neem.

PS The links above contain some notes I wrote from some great books on Jhana.

RE: My location on the maps i.e. Investigating my reality
Answer
7/9/12 8:45 AM as a reply to Zyndo Zyhion.
Hi Neem,

thank you very much for the above ressources, especially the one on top!

My takeaway is: a) It was soft jhana. b) There is a difference between soft jhana and jhana factors which I want to explore c) I will give Brahm's steps to jhana a try.

neem nyima:

Hi, Sayadaw U Pandita Jr and Dr. Sununda both said to be in High Equanimity regarding formations (Here is Ingram's Jana & Nana Map: third from bottom) one must be able to sit for at least four hours. To attain stream-entry one must also possess Khanika Samadhi to the lvl of access concentration. So therefore to have access concentrate, you must be able to sit for at least 4hrs with ease.


I don't really understand this chain of argument. 4. Jhana and Equanimity to Path have similar qualities. And yes, I believe in the concept that you need to have access concentration for stream entry. But the 4hrs seem rather arbitrary to me. I always thought that access concentration was something below the level of jhana and not so much of a big thing.

Right now I read Mindfulness In Plain English By Ven. Henepola Gunaratana. It says that you should meditate with your back not leaned against the backrest of the chair. Now I tried that...

on my praxis:

Today I was rather averse to the idea of practicing. And I did not lean against the backrest. There was a soft trembling of my muscles in my whole back all the time. Like when I think it came from that my back is not used to it, but it resembled vibrations quite good. Going to investigate this further, while training to sit like this. When I am able to do this for longer periods I will try sitting with my legs crossed.

RE: My location on the maps i.e. Investigating my reality
Answer
7/22/12 11:43 PM as a reply to Peter Plan.
neem nyima:

Hi, Sayadaw U Pandita Jr and Dr. Sununda both said to be in High Equanimity regarding formations (Here is Ingram's Jana & Nana Map: third from bottom) one must be able to sit for at least four hours. To attain stream-entry one must also possess Khanika Samadhi to the lvl of access concentration. So therefore to have access concentrate, you must be able to sit for at least 4hrs with ease.


I don't really understand this chain of argument. 4. Jhana and Equanimity to Path have similar qualities. And yes, I believe in the concept that you need to have access concentration for stream entry. But the 4hrs seem rather arbitrary to me. I always thought that access concentration was something below the level of jhana and not so much of a big thing.

Well, the points I'm referring to in the above train of thought are:

Ingram models his maps in the Jana Map (not Jhana) above which is from the Mahasi Tradition, he does this with only personal elaboration in that map. Sayadaw U Pandita (who helped Ingram achieve Arhatship, stated in Ingrams book) and Dr Sununda (who studied directly with mahasi himself) are both accomplished practitioners. Both these teachers have directly told me that High Equanimity Regarding formations is a state where one will be able to sit for 'at least 4 hrs'. This is also the bench mark standard for access concentration.
This is obviously connected because the suttas state you need to have the foundation of access concentration to attain stream-entry. Also Insight Janas/knowledges are built upon the foundations of concentration practice and as you get up to the higher lvls of insight knowledge, it is required that the concentration increases to attain them.
So when people such as Ajahn Brahm and Alan Wallace say 'access concentrations' bench mark is 4hrs and Sayadaw Pandita & Sununda say 'High Eq. Regarding Formations' bench mark is 4hrs; these points not only confirm each other, but also reinforce each other. Also there is the additional point that 'Soft Jhana' is merely the manifestation of Jhanaic factors, because you can't sit for the four hours required to attain stream-entry, let alone the 8hrs required to attain full absorption/Jhana. This is because if you're not sitting for 4hrs in Access or High Eq. then they're not Access or High Eq. and therefore you will never attain Stream-entry, or Jhana.
Understanding this, teaches you that access concentration is a significant or hard state to attain. Also that High Equanimity is connected to and built upon the foundation of access concentration and it is also difficult to attain. The suttas state the relationship between the two states: and the teachers of Jhana and Dry Insight say that 4hrs is the bench mark of the two states as does the Vissudhimagga meantion both prior points(I think).

Good Luck, now you know what you have to do!

RE: My location on the maps i.e. Investigating my reality
Answer
8/3/12 7:49 AM as a reply to Zyndo Zyhion.
Thank you neem again,

now that sounds reasonable. When I think about it, it is quite logic that to attain stream entry you have to be able to meditate for some time. That it is that much, in words >four< hours seems out of my reach at this moment. Reality shock if you will.

Nevertheless I kept on practicing. I was in France for holiday and tried to meditate as much as possible, maybe one hour per day. I managed not to use the back of the chair quite consistent. But somehow that led to a lot of tension in my neck & shoulder. That time I got overobsessed with posture. I noticed that I slouched too much, which is an explanation why I got so "deep" into meditation before.

Some understandings I got:

- I noticed how every moment I have a sensation of me realizing something I did wrong was past me. So that I couldn't possibly be angry about my(present)self in any moment. Made me laugh.

- In the night I was using my tiredness as my meditation object. It was feeling like it was outside of me, contracting on me from the outside. That moment I realized, that my sensation of my body is only a construction. Made me laugh.

Are those classical insights or is this just thought?

- In another night, I noticed a soft feeling of fear. It got stronger and I had visions of a medieval ship in a brutal storm on the atlantic. Quite fearfull. In the same moment I heard footsteps on the roof. I feared that aliens would be around and if I would go to the livingroom it would see me and get me from outside. Quite fun, because this was one of my night-fears when I was a child. Another day we heard footsteps on the roof again, must have been a badger or something.

- I did some Yoga and when I meditated afterwars I felt how there was a tension in my stochmach which blocks some emotions. I put my breath into the tension to losen it up. Afterwars I had one hour of pure lovesickness/love/misery, without getting lost in emotional-thought-wandering.