Was that stream entry? (I think I really did it now)

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Joshua Sw., modified 8 Years ago.

Was that stream entry? (I think I really did it now)

Posts: 86 Join Date: 9/28/12 Recent Posts
[Please go to end of thread, these earlier posts were mistakes of mine]

Hello all. I'll keep it short.

In march I began to get the gist of basic insight practises and concentration and all this.
In June - July, I was getting amazing meditation which often kickstarted basically with very little effort all the time (I suppose this was the A and P).
In August it went dead and I was finding every moment of existence awful and barely bearable (I suppose this was dark night).
A couple of weeks ago I kept forcing and forcing the jhana after reading Ingram's book, saying that this was to get to equanimity and solid practise was best. There was a bit of a breakthrough and the meditation continued like in June-July but stronger and deeper.
Three days ago I went from 1st to 4th jhana in one sitting, surely a new personal best. I didn't try to continue further as I had time constraints, though I certainly imagined it was the fourth jhana because of the titanic peace of it.
This morning I made a resolution to go as far as I could go. I sat and went through jhanas 1 to 4. I kept going. Fifth jhana was certainly more subtle and different than fourth. Sixth jhana I felt like my thoughts were bleeding out of my head into the world. After than I can't say, It was mostly variations of wispy purple shapes, though I could feel the advancing of stages. The focus kept moving back to a watcher behind the watcher, et cetera.
Eventually, the whole area of focus in front of me became heavy. And I saw a sharp black dot which dissappeared and reappeared somewhere to my right. The black dot made me feel 'oh sh*t' because It vaguely reminded me of what I had read somewhere about stream entry or the like. Also I had never seen that phenomenon before.
Then the whole field became very very smooth and calm as if something clicked. The visual objects went from madness to complete stillness, sliding on top of eachother very slowly now like glaciers.
I waited a little longer to see if anything great would arise, and then I myself arisen.
I don't even feel quite good in a post-jhana way, just that something fundamental is somewhat different. I know you cant say anything for sure when all you have is this text, but any response would be greatly appreciated!

Joshua
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Nikolai ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry? (A question for Daniel Ingram specifically&

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Joshua Sw.:
Hello all. I'll keep it short.

In march I began to get the gist of basic insight practises and concentration and all this.
In June - July, I was getting amazing meditation which often kickstarted basically with very little effort all the time (I suppose this was the A and P).
In August it went dead and I was finding every moment of existence awful and barely bearable (I suppose this was dark night).
A couple of weeks ago I kept forcing and forcing the jhana after reading Ingram's book, saying that this was to get to equanimity and solid practise was best. There was a bit of a breakthrough and the meditation continued like in June-July but stronger and deeper.
Three days ago I went from 1st to 4th jhana in one sitting, surely a new personal best. I didn't try to continue further as I had time constraints, though I certainly imagined it was the fourth jhana because of the titanic peace of it.
This morning I made a resolution to go as far as I could go. I sat and went through jhanas 1 to 4. I kept going. Fifth jhana was certainly more subtle and different than fourth. Sixth jhana I felt like my thoughts were bleeding out of my head into the world. After than I can't say, It was mostly variations of wispy purple shapes, though I could feel the advancing of stages. The focus kept moving back to a watcher behind the watcher, et cetera.
Eventually, the whole area of focus in front of me became heavy. And I saw a sharp black dot which dissappeared and reappeared somewhere to my right. The black dot made me feel 'oh sh*t' because It vaguely reminded me of what I had read somewhere about stream entry or the like. Also I had never seen that phenomenon before.
Then the whole field became very very smooth and calm as if something clicked. The visual objects went from madness to complete stillness, sliding on top of eachother very slowly now like glaciers.
I waited a little longer to see if anything great would arise, and then I myself arisen.
I don't even feel quite good in a post-jhana way, just that something fundamental is somewhat different. I know you cant say anything for sure when all you have is this text, but any response would be greatly appreciated!

Joshua


Hi Joshua,

You might try explaining more about exactly what happens phenomenologically in in each of the states you are calling 'jhana' to give more idea of what was happening in your practice. It will make it easier for Daniel and others to offer advice.

Nck
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Joshua Sw., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry? (A question for Daniel Ingram specifically&

Posts: 86 Join Date: 9/28/12 Recent Posts
I am not a master of these concentration jhanas but here goes...
Well the first four concentration jhanas as regularly described..The first emitting almost gross pleasure and being generally a little wobbly. The second like an immovable mountain. The third having a different tasting pleasure, less gross. The fourth dropping all the pleasure and just peace. (from here I have only been thrice) The fifth seems to look microscopically into the characteristics of the fourth and the sixth seemed to correspond exactly to what I had read about it "boundless conciousness", like the movement of the mind was drifting off somewhat in space somewhere. After that, it is incredibly abstract to write down, anything would be basically misleading. Between all my changes between jhanas, whether 1st to 2nd or 6th to 7th I get a pulsating purple impression for a few moments. I had one or two more separate full pulsations after reaching the stage beyond 6th.
The event at the end was so supremely unusual that I supposed this was stream entry. I feel as if something has changed permanently since I got up again that I have never had before.
On the other hand, I feel no afterglow or pleasure or smug satisfaction whatsoever, just that something happened. I checked Ingram's book and he writes that some may feel like little has happened while some might be in ecstasy a while or the like.
For me, I have felt no pleasure or happy afterglow. Twice a day during the A & P I would be in rapture, and now it's only peace, which think is better.

In fact the solid thing that has happened is that a feel a tension has been resolved and I am now more relaxed than before. It's not what I imagined being on the path to nirvana would be like. I blame all those who diluted the buddha words from 'peace' to 'bliss', for my previous wrong view of this.
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Joshua Sw., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry? (A question for Daniel Ingram specifically& (Answer)

Posts: 86 Join Date: 9/28/12 Recent Posts
I will close the thread as I am certain I am a stream-enterer now. In the first sit since that event, it took a while to access jhana but once I was in, what was previously a two-dimensional purple impression is now a three dimensional object with clearly different hues of blue decorating.
I'll just keep up the practise...
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Nikolai ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry? (A question for Daniel Ingram specifically&

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Joshua Sw.:
I will close the thread as I am certain I am a stream-enterer now. In the first sit since that event, it took a while to access jhana but once I was in, what was previously a two-dimensional purple impression is now a three dimensional object with clearly different hues of blue decorating.
I'll just keep up the practise...


Hi Joshua,

Where have you seen that as criteria for SE? What is the relationship with the notion of 'self' nowadays? Has it changed? If so, how? Have you experienced what is called a 'fruition' in MCTB? If so, what was happening before it occured and then directly after it, phenomenologically speaking?
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Joshua Sw., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry? (A question for Daniel Ingram specifically&

Posts: 86 Join Date: 9/28/12 Recent Posts
Thank you very much for answering but I am unskillful in using words for these things. In equanimity I was not in the kind of hell I had been in a good month prior. I wasn't totally anxious but still had unresolved tension. My whole life had been a progression to this point, seeing the everything I once felt truly at home with was just constructed from sticks and hay, always resting upon something else which itself was unsure. Since the event I have felt like I have some grounding, for real! As much as I infinitely appreciate Daniel Ingram's guidance for breaking through the dark night, when I thought it would be the end of me, his explanations of everything are far too intellectual, abstract and diluted into thoughts for me to follow, even the things I have seen for myself! Basic things like A & P event and first concentration jhana, in this book, while precisely written, are in a style which I don't feel. I'm more of a feeling in the dark and getting the knack of it person. I know that's a good excuse to hide knowing nothing but I can't tell you much phenomenologically.

The experience was underwhelming, as the way Daniel described it, I thought I would be looking through the Hubble telescope into the cosmos and seeing it turn it no a donut shape or whatnot. But of course we cant help but fantasize what we dont know.
It will be tremendously boring to read but it was past perception, past conciousness... The only thing I can say now is it is like I am a higher class of human than before. I was familiar with kundalini happenings earlier and entheogen-enduced peaks (of years ago) but this was uniquely unspectacular, but a truly truly truly deep change. Can't say much about it really, maybe I'm closer to absolute reality now? Even in one day (tiny amount of time I know) I have had less indulgence of unskillful behaviour of those around me. Can't really say much more than that...I could of course be highly deluded but what can I say...
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Tommy M, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry? (A question for Daniel Ingram specifically&

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Hey Joshua,

I know Daniel's a busy guy so you might be waiting a while for a reply, but I'm pretty certain that even he'd struggle to confirm stream entry based on the information you've provided. Based on what you've written so far, I can see no evidence of Path; Everything you've described is, as far as I can tell, samatha jhana territory and you're not getting into the arupa jhanas either as the descriptions you provide don't correlate with them at all. You might be hitting the early stages of Equanimity, but without more details it's nigh on impossible to say with any certainty.

What's your practice like right now? What happens when you sit down to meditate, just describe the basic sensations you notice as that will make it much easier to ascertain your whereabouts.

What sort of practice have you done before? What traditions or methods did you work with, and for how long?

As Nick already asked:

What is the relationship with the notion of 'self' nowadays? Has it changed? If so, how?


Regardless of how unskilful you consider yourself to be when it comes to writing, you're speaking with a group of serious and experienced practitioners who've been through these states and stages hundreds, if not thousands of times and so you'd be surprised how quickly your descriptions will be recognized. You've managed to post this much so far so I'd suggest, if you're serious about your claims to having landed stream entry, providing some more information and details about what actually happens during your practice, how often your practice, how you actually practice in the first place, as well as giving, as best you can, more phenomenological data so that you can get the appropriate advice.
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Joshua Sw., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry? (A question for Daniel Ingram specifically&

Posts: 86 Join Date: 9/28/12 Recent Posts
I am tremendously embarrassed for having wasted your time both of you. Yes it probably was at best equanimity. And now I am back in the buzzing hell of the earlier stages. Woe is me...


Edit: During a strong hour and a half of practice, made a beautiful shift back into equanimity. Though I could just be confused again. Now, onto breaking through...
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry? (A question for Daniel Ingram specifically&

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
I may have some time Monday or Tuesday, depending.

Skype name: daniel m ingram without the spaces.

D
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Joshua Sw., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry? (A question for Daniel Ingram specifically&

Posts: 86 Join Date: 9/28/12 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
I may have some time Monday or Tuesday, depending.

Skype name: daniel m ingram without the spaces.

D


Thank you so much! I am free 4pm to 9pm GMT today. Can't manage tuesday at any time I'm afraid. (also, if you happened to have an iphone, I've got facetime)

Thanks again!

Edit: our timezones are a bit too disparate unfortunately. No worries I will crack this equanimity thing somehow
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Tommy M, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry? (A question for Daniel Ingram specifically&

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
I am tremendously embarrassed for having wasted your time both of you. Yes it probably was at best equanimity. And now I am back in the buzzing hell of the earlier stages. Woe is me...

Don't be embarrassed at all, and you certainly didn't waste anyone's time! Everyone here is interested in trying to offer the best advice they possibly can so that you can go on and do this thing, and it's not a problem if you get mixed up 'cause it's all too easy to do that. We've all been there and misjudged where we're at at some point, but in all honesty it always, always leads to a deeper and more thorough realization of these things when you go back and examine it.

Hopefully you got the chance to chat to Daniel and got some more info from him, but please don't ever be concerned about wasting people's time on here. You seem to be a sincere and passionate practitioner so you're in good company here and we're all in this game together, just keep up a solid practice and it'll all come together in time.
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Joshua Sw., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry? (A question for Daniel Ingram specifically&

Posts: 86 Join Date: 9/28/12 Recent Posts
Hello!

For the last six days I have been investigating whilst in fourth jhana for a sum total of 3 - 4 hours each day. I tried to use its afterglow also and of course have just tried to be aware at all times.

Last night I laid in my bed and relaxed into access concentration (might be the wrong name, some kind of pre-jhanic absorption). I considered trying to enter jhana while in this lying down flat on my back position but I didn't bother and just stayed in this state. Normally, this was only ever a temporary waypoint before jhana, but I felt something almost physically in front of me. I access jhana by pointing and piercing at this wall usually, but it felt like there was a jugular vain to my whole existence just sitting there beside the usual access to concentration states.
Two things occurred to me then. Firstly, the whole Thus come, thus gone business was apparent. I could see where everything went in and out, compressed, of my existence. Secondly, as I started mentally milking this object, I recalled how I once read somebody say that samadhi was like sleep, just you were aware also. I felt this to be very appropriate.
I have had two kinds of great pleasure before. One is in the jhanas, and the second are these spontaneous mad seizure like kundalini experiences where my legs were jumping around like being electric shocked and shivering and sweating and all the business.
During this, I was not in Jhana however, and the pleasure was tremendously creamy and smooth and relaxing, not energetic. This lasted about 45 minutes, until I felt like the room was pressing on me and I walked and hung around a bit for a few hours before sleeping.

I know I should wait longer to see what holds up and the like, but it's been 20 hours and I don't know what to make of it. Stream entry seems too good to be true..I could talk about changes, like being permanently less tense and less reactive, not thinking of a self doing things but they could just be imaginations. I would just like to know if anyone finds anything in that retelling that sounds like stream entry.
I am neither in equanimity now or the dark night... I'm not really sure about anything. I'll just keep up the practise.

Thanks for checking this out
Joshua


EDIT: First real sit since the event. Felt exactly like the A & P in june but a quantum leap better. Like being a gold statue in a gold palace with cut rubies and diamonds being thrown at you.
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Tommy M, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry? (A question for Daniel Ingram specifically&

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Hang fire for the moment, what you've described sounds more A&P-related than Path but it's way too early to do anything other than speculate. The kundalini, shock-type things are almost certainly related to 2nd vipassana jhana, and the "creamy and smooth" stuff is more reminiscent of the early stages of Dissolution, but it's difficult to say with any certainty without knowing more about how you're practicing.

Are you doing insight practice, as in bare sensate attention to sensation or "noting"? Or do you tend to do straight concentration?

How is it that you go about getting "relaxed into access concentration"?

What, specifically, is it that's changed for you? Is it more psychological or perceptual? Is there any qualitative, significant difference in the way you experience and perceive the world?

I have no idea where you're at in terms of the Progress of Insight model, but based on the descriptions you've given so far and, as I've already said, without more information on your current, and ideally previous, practice, I'll throw a few suggestions out there based on my experience with this:

I considered trying to enter jhana while in this lying down flat on my back position but I didn't bother and just stayed in this state. Normally, this was only ever a temporary waypoint before jhana, but I felt something almost physically in front of me.

Unless you've got shit-hot concentration skills, which you may well have for all I know, there are specific stages you go through when accessing jhana. If you did not enter jhana, you were in access concentration and so I'd suggest that you might have been going through 1st ñana, which would be perfectly natural for someone pre-Path; that sense of something mentally - the body tends to be experienced as if it's somehow in front of the mind at this stage - moving to the front is definitely 1st ñana-related, in my experience, and so I'd suggests that, perhaps inadvertently, you've begun to practice vipassana.

I access jhana by pointing and piercing at this wall usually, but it felt like there was a jugular vain to my whole existence just sitting there beside the usual access to concentration states.

Sounds more like an insight-related thing rather than purely concentrative, and so I'd say we're still in 1st ñana here. You mention that you usually get into jhana by "pointing and piercing at the wall", this sounds like you're probably just focusing on a mental object rather than a physical one such as the breath, both are effective and if you're working with this sort of concentrated focus then you'll almost certainly encounter at least the early stages of jhana.

Two things occurred to me then. Firstly, the whole Thus come, thus gone business was apparent. I could see where everything went in and out, compressed, of my existence.

What were you doing between the point where that "jugular vein" sort of thing happened and when this became apparent? It'd be interesting to know because it'd be easier to hazard a guess that way, this could be either 2nd ñana, Knowledge of Cause & Effect, or possibly the early stages of 2nd vipassana jhana. The reason I mention this is because you also go on to say:

I have had two kinds of great pleasure before. One is in the jhanas, and the second are these spontaneous mad seizure like kundalini experiences where my legs were jumping around like being electric shocked and shivering and sweating and all the business.

As I mentioned above, this is typically 2nd vip. jhana related and so I'd like to know more about the specifics of how you're practicing. It could make quite a difference in coming weeks if my current suggestions are correct, so I'd be interested to hear more.

Try to get an idea of what's happening at the bare sensate level, just the most basic sensations of touch, sound, contact, etc, and the way in which they're experienced. You've mentioned things about feeling like the room was pressing in on you, so look at the sensations that suggest to you that this is what's happening; there are specific patterns of bare sensation which are overlayed with specific mental concepts which then inform your overall experience, break these things down and investigate them directly. This is how you do insight practice.

No point in rushing with this, it's a subtle business but ultimately do-able so take your time, work on the detail rather than painting in broad strokes. It's good in it's beginning, middle and end. : )
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Joshua Sw., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry? (A question for Daniel Ingram specifically&

Posts: 86 Join Date: 9/28/12 Recent Posts
Hi, Thanks for answering. I thought I had a slight idea of this map model, and what you're saying ripping to shreds what I considered. And even then I don't understand, is stream entry relatively mundane compared to full enlightenment or is it half the puzzle? Are the dukkha nanas something half the world population are stuck in or is it only for those who have already traversed millions of hours of meditation? Reading posts on this forum a lot of people talk casually about themselves as being third and fourth paths while lots of people say that stream entry is tremendously difficult so I'm finding it really really hard to get a perspective on things.

Before reading any maps seriously, all I could be sure on was this, in June I could lay back and within a minute be tuned onto a state where any Bach piece was transformed into heaven's music itself, more sublimely than any hallucinogen could have done it (I had experimented with these years earlier). The afterglow of this would last an hour or so, where I would walk in the countryside and It would be like a fantasy chivalric romance.
After two months of this self indulgence I came into a buzzing brick wall and found it tremendously hard to concentrate or focus. The whole of existence was a nightmare, anything at all was seen as disgusting or disturbing and there were real desire for deliverance moments. At the time I knew it was because of no objects but my relationship to existence itself, but still I didn't know where to turn. I read the Ingram book and decided I was in reobservation because of all these bad feelings, and then after it subsided and I felt pretty chill, although I fell back once or twice I thought it was equanimity. This is the last month or so, what I thought was the equanimity business. I thought I could access all four jhanas too, and that this might be stream entry and I might be cycling. So it is hard to read that I am probably at the very beginning of something, I am upset that I deluded myself otherwise. I feel like there are a billion places in the last couple of years which I could call peaks so these maps just throw me in a mess. Ok enough of my neuroticism, onto your questions,

Hang fire for the moment, what you've described sounds more A&P-related than Path but it's way too early to do anything other than speculate. The kundalini, shock-type things are almost certainly related to 2nd vipassana jhana, and the "creamy and smooth" stuff is more reminiscent of the early stages of Dissolution, but it's difficult to say with any certainty without knowing more about how you're practicing.

Five or six times in the last year and a half, I have had these hour long events where I felt like I was dying, the sky and the clouds seemed to be flowing through my mind, the last two times accompanied by mad bodily twitches (I have considered the possibility of these being so-called LSD flashbacks but I have rejected it, I had several 300microgram trips some years ago but I never lost control or messed up or anything. Infact it was the panoramic way my mind was temporarily taking things in that got me into this thing..).

If you didn't reply to this post I would have assumed the I had attained path and today had cycled through A&P very strongly and am now in the dark night again. I only make such grand assumptions because I have seen so many on this form talk of stream entry as not so much a big deal, just go on retreat for a couple of weeks intense. It's just that I have had what seemed to be a killer dark night in august, it seems hard to swallow that I am nowhere near it. I am a student with few pressures and there was no other clear reason why I should be able to access ecstacy on cue whenever for two months then by in gigantic hell for a month. I don't think I have mental illness... If stream entry is as grand as the whole opening of the crown chakra business and a million suns meeting a million moons, then I havent attained stream entry. I would have assumed the was a description for full enlightenment.

Sorry, your questions...my practise is mostly concentration, serenity and all that. I have tried watching the breath but I end up just sitting doing nothing. I have tried staring at my face in a mirror absolutely still, until my face transforms from one to another every ten seconds. I don't know if that is an insight or concentration practise, but I did that a lot before what I consider to be my A & P event in June. Checking through Mr Ingrams book once more about the A & P event, he says one of his friends got his while on drugs, randomly. While consciously never considering dharma or existence properly, that is what got me focussed on figuring out this existence, which if I forced a map onto, during and after a massive trip, could be an A&P event....I don't think that was though. Just to round up the whole psychedelics thing, I had a large amount last april, and this was two months after I started some kind of practise. And I completely saw through the whole thing and suppose I got some good insight from it, I could see the delusions it was playing off and have put aside all hallucinogen use since.

Sorry, getting lost in content again I think. I will do a quick timeline just to clear my practise history up. (I have no idea how relevant this is but I might as well throw this out there)

2011 - June - Had massive psychedelic trip (my fifth), due to boredom with worldy things. I debunked something for good on that day, whilst intoxicated. I felt like a saw people's faces for the first time. I didn't see my mother as my mother or my father as my father anymore. They were just creatures who happened to be at this place and this point in time and I didn't have any special link to them besides biology. I had empathy with them as everybody else, but they werent just cardboard cut outs anymore. From this point in I started reading lots of books on theravada, zen, yoga.

2012 - January-February - Was fundamentally discontented with life. Every person, including myself seemed to be like animals, hardly conscious, reactive, going through the motions, preparing for something which never comes, not questioning the fundamental state of affairs. I lost a lot of who I considered friends because this was the only topic I could get into, rather than chasing a pretty girl or networking to move up the greasy pole.
I had no idea of what formal practise to do, just through sheer fed up-ness with life I observed it. I felt I had little to lose so I just watched everything. Stared at a point in space until the room started to melt or twirl. Such events were quite frightening, like parts of me were dying.

February - May - I don't really recall what I was doing...I was still doing everything open-eye at this point, as that's how I started. I was interested in perspective and panoramic view. Just observing. Dry insight perhaps? Just looking at my reality as hard as possible, sitting in my chair, hearing people walk around the house and just being the ambience. It seemed like an eternal nightmare. Aside from the rare events I mentioned earlier, where I would almost jump for joy with random people in the street because it seemed that the sun and the whole world was rendered with my head and I was one with it (no one has ever considered me mentally ill by the way...hehe).

June - big breakthrough, I managed to start closing my eyes and getting to jhana. After sitting still for a few minutes I would have purple pulsations and then be in it hard. Greatest times I've had aside from those rare single hour spontaneous events.

August - Brick wall, stopped practising, the whole thing was disturbing and tiring but I kept forcing concentration and got through

September - Left dark night, felt sooo good. I could have given up the whole work and just relaxed. In the concentration practise, after an hour of muddy jhana transitions, I would get to a very very peaceful state which I considered to be the fourth jhana. This felt a little like a dead end. Since it got rather still I sillily considered an experience in it to be stream entry. I fell back to re observation after relaxing too much.
August - Anyway I've said the rest earlier, I tried to investigate fourth jhana in equanimity, and I was in bed when the smooth experience happened.

Anyway, I think I cycled to A&P postpath which was a billion times stronger than the first A&P though similar in style, and I think I am right now as I type, in the darknight, after achieving path though. Or I might be near the very very beginning and be very dearly mistaken, which would be better to confront if it was the case but I truly don't know.


Sorry sorry, your questions, is there a significant difference in the way I see the world...I can't say, I don't know how dramatic the difference is meant to be. I'm more in the here-now. But now I think I am in dark night again I am feeling disturbed and uncomfortable. It's more psychological than perceptual. Some smoke and mirrors in my head have been dropped but since I can see so much darkness remaining it doesn't seem like much of an achievement.

Of all the above, the one thing I can be most sure about, is that in the last few days I could enter four jhanas, albeit slowly, and they were not all just manifestations of the first. I have felt and watched the shift into each, and became acquainted with them. Sorry for all the vagueness, I'm not a technical practitioner that's for sure. I mention the massive a&p experience today as how else could I go from equanimity right to a&p without intervening dark night?

Thanks a lot for reading...shame there's no surefire way to see exactly where I'm at. I don't suppose there's a trick that only stream-enterers could do?
emoticon

Joshua

EDIT: This post is so full of typos even I am finding hard to read, it is evidence of how buzzy my mind is right now!
Jason B, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry? (A question for Daniel Ingram specifically&

Posts: 343 Join Date: 8/9/11 Recent Posts
If your practice is mainly concentration it's unlikely that you got stream entry. It's pretty clear you've passed A+P at some point, I think, so you're likely to have all kinds of dark night and A+P weirdness until you get an insight practice going. If you take up noting, you'll at least have a better idea of specific sensations that are arising and can start to discern patterns. Going through different Nanas every day is normal. I've never heard anyone claim that Jhana practice can lead directly to SE. It can cause a lot of visionary side-effects though, so maybe you'd have more clarity with less of that.

Don't feel too discouraged. You're past A+P and you can concentrate. If you practice noting well, SE is likely not very far off, IMHO.
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Tommy M, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry? (A question for Daniel Ingram specifically&

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
I thought I had a slight idea of this map model, and what you're saying ripping to shreds what I considered.

Don't worry about it, I said it before but it's worth repeating: We've all been there at some point, I could link to at least three practice threads I've posted on here which have ended with me saying "Ah, looks like I was wrong...ok, back to square one". It's really not a big deal and, in my experience, leads to a deeper and more thorough understanding of the whole thing.

And even then I don't understand, is stream entry relatively mundane compared to full enlightenment or is it half the puzzle?

Stream Entry is something which permanently changes your entire experience of the world in a way which defies description. It's a complete perceptual shift, but at the same time it seems so completely normal in this paradoxical way where you realize that it's never actually been any other way. As far as "full enlightenment" goes, I have no idea what that could even be. The ideas I had in the past about what "full enlightenment" could be have been blown to bits repeatedly over the years, so don't cling too tightly to anything 'cause it will change.

Are the dukkha nanas something half the world population are stuck in or is it only for those who have already traversed millions of hours of meditation?

One important thing to remember about the maps is that they're just outlines, they're not the territory they describe. The "dukkha ñanas" are only found within a specific conceptual model, but the same phenomenological descriptions those words symbolize are found within other non-Buddhist traditions under such names as "Dark Night of the Soul", or "the nigredo stage", or "Crossing The Abyss". Anyone who's experienced a profound spiritual insight or a glimpse of how the illusion of a Self is created will almost certainly go through a period of dissolution as their old paradigms and conceptual understandings are broken down, this is evident in pretty much every single tradition and is why it's not incorrect to say that many, many people are probably going through "the dukkha ñanas".

Reading posts on this forum a lot of people talk casually about themselves as being third and fourth paths while lots of people say that stream entry is tremendously difficult so I'm finding it really really hard to get a perspective on things.

Bear in mind that a lot of us here have come from long and intensive practice histories, I only found this site and MCTB after having gotten stream entry but not actually knowing what the hell stream entry even meant! emoticon

Don't stress, you can only work with your own experience. Take tips and advice, see what others are saying and how they're describing things, but you'll only ever know your own immediate sensate experience and it's the only place that any of this stuff can truly begin to make sense. What to remember is that all of this is completely possible and that there are ways to go about it which make it considerably more efficient.

Before reading any maps seriously, all I could be sure on was this, in June I could lay back and within a minute be tuned onto a state where any Bach piece was transformed into heaven's music itself, more sublimely than any hallucinogen could have done it (I had experimented with these years earlier). The afterglow of this would last an hour or so, where I would walk in the countryside and It would be like a fantasy chivalric romance.
After two months of this self indulgence I came into a buzzing brick wall and found it tremendously hard to concentrate or focus. The whole of existence was a nightmare, anything at all was seen as disgusting or disturbing and there were real desire for deliverance moments. At the time I knew it was because of no objects but my relationship to existence itself, but still I didn't know where to turn. I read the Ingram book and decided I was in reobservation because of all these bad feelings, and then after it subsided and I felt pretty chill, although I fell back once or twice I thought it was equanimity. This is the last month or so, what I thought was the equanimity business. I thought I could access all four jhanas too, and that this might be stream entry and I might be cycling. So it is hard to read that I am probably at the very beginning of something, I am upset that I deluded myself otherwise. I feel like there are a billion places in the last couple of years which I could call peaks so these maps just throw me in a mess.

Right, so you've crossed the A&P and hit Dark Night. Good. Once you've crossed the A&P, you'll cycle from Mind & Body up to Equanimity until you hit Path, after which every sit will begin in the A&P, you should be able to hit fruition and have access to the arupa jhanas.

You don't need to be upset, it's a complete waste of time. Seriously. When I first found these maps, I spent a long time trying to align my previous experience with them until I realized that, regardless of what's gone before, awakening can only happen now. All the stuff you've experienced prior to now, while it's important and will have provided a decent baseline to work from, is no more than a memory, a mental formation and not the actuality of your experience as it is now. Some of it will just slot into place, you'll recognize some profound insight from before but this time you see it clearly enough to allow the full realization to occur. Either way, don't waste your time on feeling shit; investigate those feelings, look at what they're made of and how they come together to form an experience.

"Peak experiences" are too common to use as landmarks, they're temporary experiences which, although amazing and revelatory at times, are only a peek at what it's like to experience the world from that perceptual baseline. Use them as reminders to incline the mind towards that way of experiencing and see what it is that makes your immediate mode of experience different to that. Awakening isn't the peak, it's finding yourself at what looked like the peak but eventually realizing the top of the mountain was obscured by clouds; some people park their asses there, some continue the adventure.

Five or six times in the last year and a half, I have had these hour long events where I felt like I was dying, the sky and the clouds seemed to be flowing through my mind, the last two times accompanied by mad bodily twitches (I have considered the possibility of these being so-called LSD flashbacks but I have rejected it, I had several 300microgram trips some years ago but I never lost control or messed up or anything. Infact it was the panoramic way my mind was temporarily taking things in that got me into this thing..).

I'm familiar with LSD and would agree that these aren't flashbacks, although there's a strong possibility that your experience with hallucinogens has 'primed' you in some way for getting into insight. I know a few people who attribute their initial crossing of the A&P to LSD, and I was experimenting with it myself in an insight context not too long ago, but these symptoms all sound like 'kriyas' and are common in the A&P.

If you didn't reply to this post I would have assumed the I had attained path and today had cycled through A&P very strongly and am now in the dark night again. I only make such grand assumptions because I have seen so many on this form talk of stream entry as not so much a big deal, just go on retreat for a couple of weeks intense.

This is why it's worth asking questions, especially if you're not familiar with the conceptual models used to describe these things. I got stream entry almost by accident, but it was 'cause I was actively investigating the impermanence of all phenomena, however I'd also been practicing in other traditions for about 12 years prior to that so, much as it sound like it's not a big deal, most, not all though, people on here who claim to have attained 1st Path and beyond have been at this in one way or another for a long time.

It's just that I have had what seemed to be a killer dark night in august, it seems hard to swallow that I am nowhere near it. I am a student with few pressures and there was no other clear reason why I should be able to access ecstacy on cue whenever for two months then by in gigantic hell for a month. I don't think I have mental illness...

This is just normal cycling, I don't think you have a mental illness either so try to take a step back and see this from a wider angle. In daily life, your perceptual baseline and overall emotional tone will change as you cycle through the ñanas, this is perfectly natural and is worth looking at more closely 'cause it makes it much easier to work with and learn from. When you sit to practice, you'll start from 1st ñana and go as far as it's possible for you to go based on your current perceptual baseline.

It's not that you're nowhere near it, it's just that you seem to have this idea that you just cycle through these stages once and then hit Path but it's not the case. This is what I mean about how easy it is to get confused if you're not familiar with the maps and the technical side of things, there's a lot to it but always remember that they're just conceptual models and not the experiences they describe.

If stream entry is as grand as the whole opening of the crown chakra business and a million suns meeting a million moons, then I havent attained stream entry. I would have assumed the was a description for full enlightenment.

Drop the ideas about "full enlightenment" 'cause it's really unhelpful and will just set up unrealistic expectations. This could be described as a process, not an event, it's a continual unfolding of reality as it is in all it's luminous, empty, transient splendour, but trying to conceptualize it before you've actually experienced it will lead to more confusion.

my practise is mostly concentration, serenity and all that. I have tried watching the breath but I end up just sitting doing nothing. I have tried staring at my face in a mirror absolutely still, until my face transforms from one to another every ten seconds. I don't know if that is an insight or concentration practise, but I did that a lot before what I consider to be my A & P event in June.

Yeah, I know what you mean about the mirror thing. This is actually a cool way to access jhana-like states, the way your face changes is kinda like the way it works when you're doing concentration on a kasina, or external object. It's a concentration practice though and will almost certainly have helped or at least allowed you to incline your mind towards that way of experiencing.

Checking through Mr Ingrams book once more about the A & P event, he says one of his friends got his while on drugs, randomly. While consciously never considering dharma or existence properly, that is what got me focussed on figuring out this existence, which if I forced a map onto, during and after a massive trip, could be an A&P event....I don't think that was though.

I'd say it's highly likely that it was an A&P Event, based on what you've described so far. Check out the chapter "Was That Emptiness?", there's a lot of good stuff there which might help you get a better understanding of this.

2011 - June - Had massive psychedelic trip (my fifth), due to boredom with worldy things. I debunked something for good on that day, whilst intoxicated. I felt like a saw people's faces for the first time. I didn't see my mother as my mother or my father as my father anymore. They were just creatures who happened to be at this place and this point in time and I didn't have any special link to them besides biology. I had empathy with them as everybody else, but they werent just cardboard cut outs anymore. From this point in I started reading lots of books on theravada, zen, yoga.

2012 - January-February - Was fundamentally discontented with life. Every person, including myself seemed to be like animals, hardly conscious, reactive, going through the motions, preparing for something which never comes, not questioning the fundamental state of affairs. I lost a lot of who I considered friends because this was the only topic I could get into, rather than chasing a pretty girl or networking to move up the greasy pole.
I had no idea of what formal practise to do, just through sheer fed up-ness with life I observed it. I felt I had little to lose so I just watched everything. Stared at a point in space until the room started to melt or twirl. Such events were quite frightening, like parts of me were dying.

February - May - I don't really recall what I was doing...I was still doing everything open-eye at this point, as that's how I started. I was interested in perspective and panoramic view. Just observing. Dry insight perhaps? Just looking at my reality as hard as possible, sitting in my chair, hearing people walk around the house and just being the ambience. It seemed like an eternal nightmare. Aside from the rare events I mentioned earlier, where I would almost jump for joy with random people in the street because it seemed that the sun and the whole world was rendered with my head and I was one with it (no one has ever considered me mentally ill by the way...hehe).

June - big breakthrough, I managed to start closing my eyes and getting to jhana. After sitting still for a few minutes I would have purple pulsations and then be in it hard. Greatest times I've had aside from those rare single hour spontaneous events.

August - Brick wall, stopped practising, the whole thing was disturbing and tiring but I kept forcing concentration and got through

September - Left dark night, felt sooo good. I could have given up the whole work and just relaxed. In the concentration practise, after an hour of muddy jhana transitions, I would get to a very very peaceful state which I considered to be the fourth jhana. This felt a little like a dead end. Since it got rather still I sillily considered an experience in it to be stream entry. I fell back to re observation after relaxing too much.
August - Anyway I've said the rest earlier, I tried to investigate fourth jhana in equanimity, and I was in bed when the smooth experience happened.

This is crossing the A&P and then cycling to Equanimity and back down, but there's no evidence of Path. There can be little moments of where things seem to drop out completely while you're in A&P territory and also in Equanimity, these can be tricky and can make it seem like a fruition occurred.

Anyway, I think I cycled to A&P postpath which was a billion times stronger than the first A&P though similar in style, and I think I am right now as I type, in the darknight, after achieving path though. Or I might be near the very very beginning and be very dearly mistaken, which would be better to confront if it was the case but I truly don't know.

Again, this is where not being familiar with the ins and out of the maps can throw people. Post-Path, you're in Review and won't start the cycle for 2nd Path immediately so your suggestion of being in the Dark Night of that cycle is a non-starter. If you're continuing to practice then your concentration will improve which, in my opinion, is what's led to a clearer experiencing of the A&P as part of that recent cycle. If it seems like the A&P, as you said "similar in style", then it's almost certainly the A&P but your familiarity with it opens up more of the subtleties of that stage and can seem more "Whoa!".

Sorry sorry, your questions, is there a significant difference in the way I see the world...I can't say, I don't know how dramatic the difference is meant to be. I'm more in the here-now. But now I think I am in dark night again I am feeling disturbed and uncomfortable. It's more psychological than perceptual. Some smoke and mirrors in my head have been dropped but since I can see so much darkness remaining it doesn't seem like much of an achievement.

I'd be quite confident in saying that you didn't get Path, but that you're cycling as normal. That last line in particular is something I've heard a lot of people say who thought they'd gotten "enlightened", only to find that they'd barely opened the door. As before, no great shakes and so don't go thinking "Aw shit, I've made an arse of myself now" 'cause nobody's likely to think that other than you. There's no fun to be had in getting into these negative thought loops, just look at them for what they are and see what it is that feels embarrassed or let down or annoyed.

Of all the above, the one thing I can be most sure about, is that in the last few days I could enter four jhanas, albeit slowly, and they were not all just manifestations of the first. I have felt and watched the shift into each, and became acquainted with them. Sorry for all the vagueness, I'm not a technical practitioner that's for sure. I mention the massive a&p experience today as how else could I go from equanimity right to a&p without intervening dark night?

Could you describe, as well as you're able to, how each of the four jhanas feel to you?

As far as the progression from A&P to Equanimity goes, the speed and intensity at which a person passes through Dark Night depends on a lot of things. My partner went through the main Dark Night of a Path cycle in a matter of minutes, for some people it might take months or years, but it's quite idiosyncratic and also dependent upon practice as well as a host of other factors.

Thanks a lot for reading...shame there's no surefire way to see exactly where I'm at. I don't suppose there's a trick that only stream-enterers could do?

You're welcome. Here's the list of criteria Daniel gave me when I asked the same sort of questions:

Criteria for stream entry are straightforward, but seeing if they actually fit is a complex process and can vary depending on the training and talents and conceptual frameworks of the person being evaluated.

Big things:

1) You should be able to get into some sort of altered/meditative state at will within about 1/2 a second just by deciding to investigate something or look at reality carefully or incline your mind that way 100% of the time you try this.

2) Once you become familiar with the insight stages as described, you should be able to sit down in a brief version of 4th, progress down in to 5th, hit the Dark Night, progress to Equanimity, and then, maybe, depending on a number of factors, get a Fruition: note: not everyone can do this last part, even if they are a good meditator. Some can and some can't. Criteria for a Fruition are given in MCTB, as well as common mimics listed. Even if you are a stream enterer, if you haven't exercised this ability or done it only once, it may not be that easy to do it again until you have had some practice and maybe not even then. This is particularly true of those who have come up in other traditions where that particular ability was not the focus of practice.

3) Your life should be completely different in some ways: problem is, the A&P can do this on its own, so this is insufficient criteria in and of itself.

4) Talk with someone who has stream entry about this, particularly someone who is familiar with the variability in presentation and abilities that can occur.

5) Try to have repeat Fruitions: incline, incline, incline, and practice. Resolve, resolve, resolve and practice. Pay attention. Learn to navigate through the Vipassana Jhanas, learn their qualities, learn how to shift to each new level and know what they shift was and how it occurred: this is the foundation of the solid practice that causes progress and clarifies what was what.

I have no idea if you actually have stream entry, but do the experiment for yourself: see if you can get real, honest-to-goodness Fruitions or at least progress through the stages of insight up to Equanimity sit after sit, and watch for the changes, and, again: talk with someone about this: as trying to figure out things across traditions is complex. Best to get in touch with someone who knows the magickal frameworks you are coming from so they can translate that into vipassana terminology, if only for communication and criteria application purposes.

Helpful?

Welcome to the DhO,

Daniel


Ask whatever you like, it's a complicated process at first and there's a lot of wishful thinking that can come up. No matter what though, you're welcome to ask away, make mistakes, get confused and get annoyed 'cause you won't be the first or the last and it's through these things that we learn more. I genuinely don't think you've gotten stream entry though, based on what you've described and comparing my own experience over the years it sounds more like A&P followed by cycling, which is a good thing as some people don't even get that far!

T
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Joshua Sw., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry? (A question for Daniel Ingram specifically&

Posts: 86 Join Date: 9/28/12 Recent Posts
Thanks loads, these were very helpful answers and the prepath cycling makes more sense to me now and I believe your assumption of where I'm at is correct.
It felt like last time I had the A&P I just indulged in jhana for ages before progressing. Now I fear the same thing is happening again. If I just stick it out and investigate will I progress through it faster? It felt like a few days ago my practise was nice and cool (equanimity I imagine) and now as soon as I incline towards meditation, it is like being pumped full of opiates (I don't actually know opiates...). It feels addictive but simultaneously rather gross compared to what else I've seen.
Do you think perhaps If I sit intensively two separate sessions of 2 hours a day I could get through these nanas rather quickly? The only technique I really know is investigating whilst in jhana...Also have you got a tip for not messing up at equanimity again?

I don't really know the scope of these questions but I appreciate any response and thank you already for your previous analysis.

Joshua

Edit: About the 'will the a&p last ages' question, I can see now that it transfers rather quickly into dark night stuff. It's just that every day feels like an eternity! I feel like everywhere I look is just fizzy like I am trapped in a bad simulation. Well, on the bright side I am trying not to dilly-dally with the practise!
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Joshua Sw., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry? (A question for Daniel Ingram specifically&

Posts: 86 Join Date: 9/28/12 Recent Posts
I've been pumping concentration practice for two periods of one and a half hours a day while trying to be aware of sensations 24/7. In jhana I try to investigate, such as yesterday I heard a violin in the background while meditating. I looked into the sound and separated something like my physical ear, where the source of the sound seemed to be, the sound itself and the relationship between these. I feel like over time this could lead somewhere, but it seems to have nothing to do with the flickering in ordinary life, as jhana seems to solidify things. Am I on the right track focusing on concentration practise and investigating in that? Should I be in it far more than three hours a day to gather momentum?
My concern is that I don't know whether my practise is leading to stream-entry or just to some concentration side-street.


Thanks for reading
Joshua

Edit: While contemplating my existence, mundane truth versus supramundane truth, absolute versus relative and all this
(it's painful as I feel it to be almost an intuitive grasp, but alas that cannot be true of course and it must be mental masturbation..) ..my questions dissolved into a state of open eye jhana. I feel something's got to give soon.
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Joshua Sw., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry?

Posts: 86 Join Date: 9/28/12 Recent Posts
That's it, I'm sure stream entry happened.

A week ago I lied to a professor about sickness so I could have a week off. It was a sort of 'spiritual' sickness after all. I felt like I needed to get stream entry, just needed to do it so I wouldn't tumble around forever where I was. Overall these months I have reached equanimity three or four times, but have always fell back. All the times previous I thought I had perhaps attained stream entry, it was just some kind of fourth concentration jhana event and was only an extension of concentration practise.

At 11pm yesterday I realised I was in a dark night nana. I was scared, disgusted and disturbed by everything. After moping around and almost revelling in the condition, I decided to just sit and sort it out. Something that occurred to me during the sit felt somewhat profound. I considered the relationship between my mind and the actual world, for when I was in a nana of disgust, every object in the world was disgusting, and when I was in the a & p, the whole world was like a fairy tale heaven. After this, I entered jhana and investigated all the most icky and awkward things I could, to clean out my stuff. I investigated every sensation including those which have been so buried in the background to ignore them, are hard to rediscover. For example, I have always been awkward about the bowels and whatnot. I looked deeply and investigated.
At some point, it became obvious to me that I had emerged from the dukkha nanas once more. So I ended the sit.

I basically wasted time for a few hours. Playing some games and watching some shows. For I woke up very late that day, I wasn't sleepy until very late also. At 4am I decided to stop wasting time and try to go to sleep. I got in the bed. I contemplated how some men had tenor voices, some bass voices, and found the variation to be quite beautiful. At some point I very relaxedly and curiously considered the relationship between my mind, and what I considered the world. It seemed profound, and I looked into it further. My eyes were closed during all this. My eyelids started flickering like mad. A strange feeling was overcoming me. I was going into this but only expecting it at best to be an energy burst of some kind.

I could hear and feel my right eyelid fluttering madly against the pillow. As if a glass tank underwater got a hole in it and the water sloshed in, this heavy hard blackness of the void broke through my existence. It was very very eerie. I was being sucked down forever and ever into this black mass that at one moment seemed infinitely big and small. It was as if the mediator was broken and existence was seeing itself. I felt absolutely at peace because I felt no division between everything else. Every object seemed to just be a crease in the carpet of existence. I felt ultimate relaxation because there was no other, it was all me, and I was all it. My mind seemed to grasp the sun and the stars all. My vision hadn't improved, but I could see all in its proper place. The whole room was looked fizzy and fake, but the energy I could feel was true. I could feel no person, only discrete scattered sensations.
This lasted only a few minutes, and it felt timeless. I could manually reattain the fruition by feeling for that sweetspot above the eyes. These two manually brought about fruitions were very small. I realised I had sweated massively and so had to change my clothes and clean myself. I couldn't sleep for a while afterwards and so I investigated concentration states. I saw that the power of my mind had increased tenfold. I could bring about the four jhanas quickly. I finally slept at 6:30 am.


I woke up today at 12. I went for a long walk to investigate perceptual changes. There is a fundamental though quite subtle change. The most obvious is that I am more relaxed full stop. I can't explain the rest but basically more at ease and less easily moved. More rooted in the true nature of things. It was nothing compared to the taste of nirvana though, so I can see why one would continue to practise after SE. The walk was unspectacular and peaceful. I still felt an internal narrator, although the sense of bodily self is much lessened. I can see what has changed and what is still the same, so I can appreciate the importance of SE but how infinitely small it is compared to the real deal, so it is hard to brag about it.

It is too early to speak of cycling yet. I haven't even had a proper sit today, although I mean to. I always used to find the whole 'enlightenment versus everyday morality' thing profoundly boring. When I would read of people who had some attainment say, "ooh, I don't have time to practise, I have to feed my kids but I can't meditate" I would feel, "well, just be happy you have SE, some of us don't!". Now I understand it...

My reasoning was this, I would have a week off study to have a dig at SE, and If I managed it, stop meditating a while and knuckle down on work. I think I did it, and now the week is up, but now I want more meditation! Now I have a week to do the work.
I feel that to the left of me, I have these terribly mundane papers that I couldn't care less about, but my whole worldy life has been leading up to, and to my right, the keys to a mental lamborghini to states of further bliss. It is very tough...


Joshua
(I haven't yet tried adverting to a particular nana on command or anything like that, I feel like I've explored nothing of my new mind power yet)
Russell ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry?

Posts: 92 Join Date: 10/19/11 Recent Posts
Give it some time to make the call. Talk to some experienced practitioners if you can. My opinion (and I can always be wrong, of course): Your description does not sound like it to me. You are describing what it felt like to have a cessation, but that is not possible. There is nothing during a cessasion, you may be able to recognize it by the entrance and exit, but you sound like you are describing a blankness/darkness that you remember. That's not a cessation.
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Shashank Dixit, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry?

Posts: 282 Join Date: 9/11/10 Recent Posts
The most important criteria for stream-entry is breaking of the fetter of self-view and the breaking of this fetter breaks another fetter - skeptical doubt.

Are you 101% confident that there is not-self/anatta in the body , consciousness , feelings , perceptions , volitions ?
In what sense are they not-self/anatta ?

Stream-entry is like a robot realizing that it has always been a robot , is a robot and will be a robot.
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Tommy M, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry?

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Much as I'd love to be able to confirm your claims, and with the usual caveat that I could be totally wrong, I genuinely don't think you're describing Path. I know this probably seems like I'm just coming on here to try and knock you down at every turn, but based on your previous posts, practice, experiences and the way in which you've described what occurred, I can't see any evidence of a Path moment. Like I said, I could be totally wrong, this is just an opinion so feel free to disagree, but I'd ask you to continue to investigate your experience regardless; whether or not you've actually gotten stream-entry will become evident in the coming weeks and months. Complacency in practice gets you nowhere but, if you did land Path, use this period to acquaint yourself with the subtleties of how the mind moves, how fabrications are constructed and try to develop some mastery of the jhanic strata.

So, based on the suggestion that you haven't gotten Path I'll try to explain my reasons for this:

Overall these months I have reached equanimity three or four times, but have always fell back. All the times previous I thought I had perhaps attained stream entry, it was just some kind of fourth concentration jhana event and was only an extension of concentration practise.

To be honest, I don't think you've been getting into 4th samatha jhana at all and you're also confusing yourself on various key aspects of this model. You've likely reached Equanimity through natural, pre-Path/post-A&P Event cycling with the regularity of each cycle increasing due to improved practice, but you've only recently started doing insight practice - this is something I'll come to in a minute 'cause you've described an example of practicing vipassana really well in one of your other posts - and so are unlikely to have gotten to the level where you're able to investigate stuff like formations and the subtle 'clumping together' of phenomena (yet!), both of which are typical of Equanimity.

In jhana I try to investigate, such as yesterday I heard a violin in the background while meditating. I looked into the sound and separated something like my physical ear, where the source of the sound seemed to be, the sound itself and the relationship between these.

This is good stuff and is proof that you're now doing insight practice, try to stay at that bare sensate level and investigate how experience is actually built from those sensations. See how each sensation, no matter what it is or where it seems to come from, is subject to change, devoid of a Self and, due to being transient and ungraspable, is inherently unsatisfying. This is what leads to stream-entry, not concentration practice.

At 11pm yesterday I realised I was in a dark night nana. I was scared, disgusted and disturbed by everything. After moping around and almost revelling in the condition, I decided to just sit and sort it out. Something that occurred to me during the sit felt somewhat profound. I considered the relationship between my mind and the actual world, for when I was in a nana of disgust, every object in the world was disgusting, and when I was in the a & p, the whole world was like a fairy tale heaven. After this, I entered jhana and investigated all the most icky and awkward things I could, to clean out my stuff. I investigated every sensation including those which have been so buried in the background to ignore them, are hard to rediscover. For example, I have always been awkward about the bowels and whatnot. I looked deeply and investigated.
At some point, it became obvious to me that I had emerged from the dukkha nanas once more. So I ended the sit.

Remember what I said before about the subtleties of this model and how there are certain stages which mimic other, higher stages in certain ways?

Again, based on your previous posts and descriptions, I'd suggest that it's more likely you've been investigating 3rd ñana, Knowledge of The Three Characteristics. Why? In my experience, it's considerably more physically-orientated than the dukkha ñanas but does imitate certain aspects of those stages in a way which could confuse someone not familiar with the maps. Also, 3rd ñana does tend to have a sluggish, tired, lazy vibe to it in a way which is similar to 5th ñana and so the next section also seems to confirm this.

I basically wasted time for a few hours. Playing some games and watching some shows. For I woke up very late that day, I wasn't sleepy until very late also. At 4am I decided to stop wasting time and try to go to sleep. I got in the bed. I contemplated how some men had tenor voices, some bass voices, and found the variation to be quite beautiful. At some point I very relaxedly and curiously considered the relationship between my mind, and what I considered the world. It seemed profound, and I looked into it further. My eyes were closed during all this. My eyelids started flickering like mad. A strange feeling was overcoming me. I was going into this but only expecting it at best to be an energy burst of some kind.

Moving from 1st vipasanna jhana into 2nd, i.e. A&P territory. The eyelids flickering is typical of 4th ñana but can also occur in other stages too, but the way you describe it here suggests to me that you're still in A&P territory.

I could hear and feel my right eyelid fluttering madly against the pillow. As if a glass tank underwater got a hole in it and the water sloshed in, this heavy hard blackness of the void broke through my existence. It was very very eerie. I was being sucked down forever and ever into this black mass that at one moment seemed infinitely big and small. It was as if the mediator was broken and existence was seeing itself. I felt absolutely at peace because I felt no division between everything else. Every object seemed to just be a crease in the carpet of existence. I felt ultimate relaxation because there was no other, it was all me, and I was all it. My mind seemed to grasp the sun and the stars all. My vision hadn't improved, but I could see all in its proper place. The whole room was looked fizzy and fake, but the energy I could feel was true. I could feel no person, only discrete scattered sensations.

Definitely A&P-related; definitely not Path. Good insight though, so don't be downhearted.

The line in bold is almost identical to the way I've described the A&P before, and the clarity of perception you mention is also typically A&P-related. Remember, you'll cycle naturally from 1st to 11th ñana due to having crossed the A&P, but there's what you could maybe call a 'greater cycle' which colours your everyday perception and through which you'll move due to practice. This is what I meant in an earlier post about familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs of this model, the phenomenological aspects of each stage and the way they tend to play out.

This lasted only a few minutes, and it felt timeless. I could manually reattain the fruition by feeling for that sweetspot above the eyes. These two manually brought about fruitions were very small. I realised I had sweated massively and so had to change my clothes and clean myself. I couldn't sleep for a while afterwards and so I investigated concentration states. I saw that the power of my mind had increased tenfold. I could bring about the four jhanas quickly. I finally slept at 6:30 am.

You've crossed the A&P through doing insight practice properly, you haven't gotten Path yet.

Also, the lack of sleepiness and alertness of mind? Typical A&P stuff.

If you'd gotten Path, you'd have access to all eight jhanic strata. I'm still waiting to hear your descriptions of the jhanas too. Technical meditator or not, there are still certain specific sensations involved in each jhana which make it possible to confirm whether or not you've gotten past 2nd, never mind 4th.

I woke up today at 12. I went for a long walk to investigate perceptual changes. There is a fundamental though quite subtle change. The most obvious is that I am more relaxed full stop. I can't explain the rest but basically more at ease and less easily moved. More rooted in the true nature of things. It was nothing compared to the taste of nirvana though, so I can see why one would continue to practise after SE. The walk was unspectacular and peaceful. I still felt an internal narrator, although the sense of bodily self is much lessened. I can see what has changed and what is still the same, so I can appreciate the importance of SE but how infinitely small it is compared to the real deal, so it is hard to brag about it.

Even if this was Path, you would have no way of telling how fundamental the changes involved are for at least a few days, if not several weeks or months. What you describe here also sounds like post-A&P blissfulness and the pseudo-enlightenment stuff a lot of people experience at this stage. Again, no evidence of Path and I strongly suggest dropping any ideas you've got about "the taste of nirvana", as well as this nonsense about "the real deal" 'cause you're setting yourself up for a fall.

It is too early to speak of cycling yet. I haven't even had a proper sit today, although I mean to. I always used to find the whole 'enlightenment versus everyday morality' thing profoundly boring. When I would read of people who had some attainment say, "ooh, I don't have time to practise, I have to feed my kids but I can't meditate" I would feel, "well, just be happy you have SE, some of us don't!". Now I understand it...

Post-A&P pseudo-enlightenment rambling...you may find yourself feeling rather embarrassed at having written this in a few weeks...emoticon

My reasoning was this, I would have a week off study to have a dig at SE, and If I managed it, stop meditating a while and knuckle down on work. I think I did it, and now the week is up, but now I want more meditation! Now I have a week to do the work.
I feel that to the left of me, I have these terribly mundane papers that I couldn't care less about, but my whole worldy life has been leading up to, and to my right, the keys to a mental lamborghini to states of further bliss. It is very tough...

Even if you'd gotten stream-entry, the relative world of people and things doesn't go anywhere and you still need to deal with your life. This urge towards meditating is another classic A&P symptom.

Right, I'll level with you, and forgive me if this seems a bit rude or harsh: You've got no idea what you're talking about when it comes to these maps and models, you continually use terminology in a way that demonstrates a total lack of understanding with regards to the phenomenological experiences they represent and are on the verge of deluding yourself that you've attained enlightenment. You seem to think that this is a pushover and that a few weeks or months of concentration practice will lead to awakening...you're wrong. Much as it's a realistic and entirely achievable goal, stream-entry takes insight and an eye for the three characteristics of reality; impermanence, not-self, and suffering. Without investigating the true nature of sensations at the level of bare sensation, which you've merely glimpsed in the last day or so, you will not make progress in the way you'd like to think you have. I'm not saying you're lying, all of this makes perfect sense in light of my own experience and I can understand what it's like to feel like that, but I also know that what's to come is considerably more worthwhile than any sort of A&P Event and leads to an unquestionable, permanent improvement in experience.

On the upside, you've started practicing insight properly and have actually made some progress, but it's not the end of the line by any stretch of the imagination and what lies ahead of you could prove overwhelming without an adequate skill-set. Sitting there thinking "Right, that's me done with that" will lead to nothing useful 'cause the raw experience of the dukkha ñanas, particularly Re-Observation, will kick your arse. Not knowing what's coming next, or thinking you've already dealt with this stuff will just mess you up, take you by surprise and lead to you trying to fight with what comes along; the opposite of what's required for navigating the dukkha ñanas is to struggle and trying to cling to or defend this transient belief that you're now enlightened will not help.

Don't take this personally, it's not an attack on you or your integrity, but I'm hoping that being straight with you will help you get some more clarity on things and avoid the pitfalls typical of buying into this pseudo-enlightenment sort of experience.
Jason B, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry?

Posts: 343 Join Date: 8/9/11 Recent Posts
Hey Joshua,

I spent 4 months fiddling around in the 4th nana all the while thinking I was on the verge of enlightenment until our friend Tommy was kind enough to set me straight. The straight talk you're getting from him is golden, and if you keep taking it in like you have - unpleasant though it may be - you'll be on the right track to your goal. Hang in there!
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Joshua Sw., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry?

Posts: 86 Join Date: 9/28/12 Recent Posts
Thanks a lot Tommy. You're probably correct, so have I reached my furthest point so far? I mean, from the descriptions I have given over the thread, do you think this is the first time I have crossed the A&P? Have I experienced any dukkha nanas before? Am I heading for them for the first time?

Joshua
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Richard Zen, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry?

Posts: 1635 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Joshua Sw.:
Thanks a lot Tommy. You're probably correct, so have I reached my furthest point so far? I mean, from the descriptions I have given over the thread, do you think this is the first time I have crossed the A&P? Have I experienced any dukkha nanas before? Am I heading for them for the first time?

Joshua


If you feel withdrawal symptoms from addiction to self-referencing, if you feel physical dispassion for things you loved before because of seeing how painful attaching to things that will be lost in the end then you are in the dukkha nanas/dark night (what ever you want to call it). How this happened for me is when I noticed that if I let go of the obssessive thoughts towards likes and dislikes ("letting go") I felt less pain but the old habit of attachment came back and this back and forth between emotional pain and relief created a fight in my body that I could literally feel. A deep disatisfaction with likes/dislikes/life in general/meditation practice. Eventually your brain gets used to it and with more letting go you get to equanimity. Tommy set me straight on that because it felt so BEAUTIFUL (because I never knew equanimity before) that I thought I hit nirvana. Unfortunately the 4th jhana fades. Then I slammed back into re-observation (not a scary name :grinemoticon and it was horrible for a couple of days until equanimity could become more habitual. It almost felt like old habits were nefariously destined rule my life (even though I broke through for a period of time). You just have to keep practicing so it becomes less of a problem. Those who have a consistent practice find that the dark night is tough but not a deal breaker. Less habitual attachment = less emotional pain.

Keep practicing because when a shift to equanimity happens it should be noticeable and become more normal as you engage that territory again and again.
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fivebells ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Was that stream entry?

Posts: 563 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
Tommy, I'm really curious about the relationship between your criteria for stream entry and the definition Shashank Dixit gave. Is it the same thing, just at a much finer grain of awareness?

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