Pre-Path Cycling?

Andy Ostroth, modified 8 Years ago.

Pre-Path Cycling?

Posts: 18 Join Date: 4/15/12 Recent Posts

I've been noticing more and more that I seem to be Cycling through the Nanas in daily life. The cutting edge of my practice is the mature form of the 11th, High Equanimity.

I was a Dark Night Yogi for years. Thanks to the help of some friends who were into Pragmatic Dharma, I read some of the descriptions of The Progress of Insight. From that point on I had a sense that I could change things and that I had enough information and evidence-based faith that it was my responsibility alone. A little later on, when I actually started a formal practice, The Dark Night melted away and I moved into EQ.

Then I noticed that every few days when my practice got weak or stopped entirely(my life was and still is kind of disorganized), I would have bouts of DN stuff.

It would happen in two ways:

Either I'd fall into really nasty but fairly short periods of Re-Observation, or I would cross the A&P and then fall through the Dukkha Nanas from Dissolution through Fear, Misery, Disgust, Desire for Deliverance, and finally to Re-Observation in the standard pattern(even nastier).

I'd always get back to EQ by practicing choiceless awareness with a very strong component of acceptance, but usually after being blind-sided by The Dark Night and its unpleasant effects.

Thus, I resolved to catch these pesky insight stages and actively observe my sense of self-as-thing dissolve whenever the process jumped back to that point. This was highly educational, as I became verly closely related to not only the awful side-effects of the DN, but some of the more primary characteristics of it, like the dynamics of how one progresses through it and how it feels on the bare sensate level when it is taken as an object.

Since then, I'd say that I've been in EQ(mostly Low EQ) about two thirds of the time. It lasts for a few days and then is punctuated by a cycling episode or two.

When things get murky and my perpective seems limited, I resolve to cross the A&P, ramp up, pop, enter Dissolution, and then rocket through the Dark Night to EQ on a powerful and seemigly automatic wave of metta.

When I cross the A&P, sometimes it is unintentional, but usually what happens is I notice that my physical energy is ramping up and think "oh, ok I guess it's time" and then actively participate. The A&P has become relatively minor for me. When I am aware that it's happening, it comes in the form of a flow state of rapidly surging physioenergetic phenomenain my body related to the loop that is created between intentions and actions as I perform simple physical tasks.

There is a feeling of participating in the ramp-up, and then letting go to watch the momentum carry me though the experience.

I'm starting to think that sometimes I am crossing it in subtler ways, which leads to a subtler and sneakier Dark Night.

I don't have Fruitions.... I think. I had a really abrupt and powerfully clear state shift a while ago. it manifested as a brief unknowing event which felt like a quick dip. I can't say for sure that the sense feild disappeared, so I pretty much wrote it off. I havent been able to repeat it.

Anyway, the reason I'm posting this is that I wan to ask the community how common it is to experience cycling before Stream Entry, and also directly before subsequent Path Attainments. I'm familiar with the theory about how review cycles follow path attainments before the next set of stages arise, but basically what I'm asking here is whether or not anyone has heard of incomplete review cycles on the front end of a Path rather than after attaining it.

I may have gotten Stream Entry a while ago. It's unclear to me. I think I'm probably Pre-Path and just getting acquainted with the complexities of EQ and the broader pattern, but I think it's possible that a blackout I had a while ago was actually Stream Entry, and I just skipped review and entered The First Nana of Second Path.

Ugh. I think about it less and less as I ease into the direct experience of it, but I felt like it was time to ask.

A description of the earlier "blackout" unknowing event(which could definitely be improved upon) can be found here.

I may write a new description with better precision about what I was experiencing by relating it to what I've done and been able to understand in the past few months since that last post about it. I think this post is aiready long enough.
Tommy M, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Pre-Path Cycling?

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Hi Andy,

Cycling in this way is perfectly natural after crossing the A&P Event, you'll cycle from 1st to 11th until you hit Path and then your sits will all start from 4th ├▒ana until the cycle for 2nd Path starts. The increase in awareness of this cycling happening in daily life is more than likely down to your practice getting stronger and your concentration levels improving, it's a good thing and is worth observing to see how, even when you're not on the cushion, the phenomenological details are pretty much the same every time.

Based on your previous post, I'd suggest dropping any idea that you've gotten Path as none of the descriptions, in my experience at least, line up with that and a lot of what you say here also suggests pre-Path to me. The idea that you might have 'skipped' Review is also highly unlikely, every Path attainment has brought a period of intensive cycling with super-high clarity into the workings of this so I'd suggest letting that one go too. The maps can get quite complicated, especially if you're trying to align your experience of them with expectations you may have, even unconsciously, of attainments and suchlike. In actuality, they're just a conceptual model which can help you practice more efficiently, so don't get caught up in expectations and just stick to bare sensate awareness.

Your practice sounds pretty good, but I think you're maybe drawing yourself away from the fine details by trying to fit experience with the insight maps. If you stick to straight-up vipassana with an eye for the 3C's, a lot of this stuff will become much clearer with practice and you can simply stay with bare sensations as they happen; this is where progress is made, not in intellectually understanding a conceptual model.
Andy Ostroth, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Pre-Path Cycling?

Posts: 18 Join Date: 4/15/12 Recent Posts
Cool. Thanks Tommy.
Nick P, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Pre-Path Cycling?

Posts: 41 Join Date: 5/20/12 Recent Posts
Andy, +1 to all you said. I just logged in to write and ask about this, only to find this post which describes the exact same thing.

To me, it was an unknowing event last week, in the middle of a sitting. For the rest of the sitting, the self just wasn't there, and I thoroughly enjoyed this deep, non-conceptual insight into anatta. The mind felt a form of joy very different and more peaceful in taste compared to the A&P stuff. The event only lasted a moment, but it did match the fruition descriptions as "reality stops cold and then reappears". What was even better was that the clarity and the absence of the sense of a self endured for two or three days, and then I gradually went back to normal. It came as a surprise to me that these insights and unknowing events could come pre-path.
After doubting for about one day whether it had been a fruition, I just concluded it had been just a very clear insight while not leaving the state of high EQ. I've since cycled through another DN and came to low EQ yesterday. Cycling has been clearer and faster as of late, and the stage I'm in definitely dyes my mood of the day.
Andy Ostroth, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Pre-Path Cycling?

Posts: 18 Join Date: 4/15/12 Recent Posts
Nick P:
Cycling has been clearer and faster as of late, and the stage I'm in definitely dyes my mood of the day.

Yeah, and cycling can be a total pain in the ass when it's irregular and hard to control. does it speed up and slow down for you? Do the Nanas manifest at different levels of intensity?

I've noticed that for me the stronger the A&P is, the more intense the Dark night is, but this is actually a good thing because I know for sure what's happening and as soon as I hit a real rough bout of Re-observation, I can redirect the power of the suffering into Metta and I'm in EQ in like two minutes.

I highly recommend shifting your perspective from self to other-referential when you find yourself suffering horribly in The Dark Night. Maybe it's just me, but when shit's getting real, even just slightly inclining my mind to the investigation of the needs of others and the health of the interdependent world creates sych a powerful feeling of love and wellbeing that sometimes I start crying.

I really have to be careful when this is happening at work emoticon

Interesting comment about the unknowing event. I'd recommend asking people who are further along than me. They'll probably tell ya to try to repeat it. When I thought I might have attained Stream Entry Daniel referred me back to the "Was That Emptiness?" chapter of Mastering the Core Teaching of the Buddha.

I'm no expert, but the high standards in MCTB seem helpful.