Possible Stream Entry, Jhanas 1-4 Within Eq, Using Jhana with Vipassana

Mind over easy, modified 8 Years ago.

Possible Stream Entry, Jhanas 1-4 Within Eq, Using Jhana with Vipassana

Posts: 216 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
Hello hello!

So I practiced vipassana and jhana more than usual last month, with the intent of gaining stream entry. I didn't quite meet the goal by the end of the month, but I gained valuable, direct experience with what appeared to be the structure of the vipassana jhanas. At first, this came from applying some advice Tommy gave me about the dukkha nanas. I believe he said that inclining the mind towards the 3rd jhana and it's calmness can help remain steady through the potentially unpleasant sensations. I began playing with this, seeing that I could very effectively switch between corresponding jhanas and nanas (mind and body/1st, a&p/2nd, dissolution & dark night territory/3rd, eq/4th). Fashioning jhana or any jhanic factor became a tool for steadying the mind in excitement, calming the mind in suffering, and "re-charging", as though these points were refuges on the vipassana road, where a meditator could rest and account for necessary provisions on the journey. Of course, the provisions are just an aid to get to the destination of path.

Over the last 5 days or so, I seem to remember practicing a solid two or three hours each day, with a few days having more practice than that. Noting has also been strong. Previously, I used noting to try to reveal the three C's, but now, it seems that simply tuning into the three C's increases the speed of noting. It seems, the less effort I make towards anything, the more natural sensing everything and noting it becomes. Equanimity seems to be a magical, calmly shimmering set where there's some new kind of happiness that seems almost childlike in innocence.

Here's where my current confusion lies. So in the past few days, I've definitely been hitting equanimity in my sits, as assumed by the definition given in the previous paragraph. I've generally tried to avoid thinking about nanas, mostly, and thinking only loosely in terms of the general (vipassana) jhana model, in order to know what kind of effort to apply. Today, I started off with a little walking meditation, then just stopped by the window to watch birds, squirrels, branches swaying, and occasional raindrops off roofs. I stood there, very still and happy, while each small movement by anything resulted in recognition and a note. I did this for about 5 minutes, then went to sit down. I didn't assess my position within the vipassana jhanas, since usually I use walking meditation simply to build up a bit of mindfulness for momentum.

Anyways, when I sat, I decided to try setting an intention to rise up to equanimity in the sit. In no long time, I had experienced a rather strong A&P, lasting for a little longer than normal. As usual, I rode the joy and vibrations lower, lower, lower, lower, till things became very still and calm. I had the small passing thought to brace for the dark night. As the A&P melted into dissolution, vibrations generally calmed down. Then, the sense of cave-ness set in, with the scattered feelings. However, when the perception of vibrations came back into the forefront, it was clearly not dissolution. The vibrations were largely by, or somehow connected to, behind the eyes. These vibrations were much more intense than dissolution or DN vibes, and were not unsettling. The vibrations were fine and very clean, and very cerebral. This really seemed to be happening with the happy, curious, pure mindset of equanimity. Much unlike the A&P, there was minimal excitement, although there was a bit of stomach flutter feeling.

Almost classic in description, I felt a very clear, distinct pulsing behind my eyes, like someone was gently tapping from the inside quickly. There wasn't a strobing light associated with this like there is in A&P. There was also this dizzying feeling, almost like vertigo, almost disorienting, but not unpleasant. This kept going, mostly, for a few minutes, while I tried to remain calm, although like I said, the backdrop for this is almost certainly equanimity. There was this moment where suddenly, everything got kind of intense, almost like a compressed, sudden jhanic "gravity suck" or something. I went from calm, watching the vibes, to this extremely sudden falling feeling, like someone had grabbed my ankles and pulled me, or in some way shocked me. The feeling suddenly came on, and disappeared to nothing in less than a second, it seemed. Afterwards, there was this extremely new, energetic feeling. The dizzy, vertigo feeling was strong in between my eyes, and it seemed that the pulsing had stopped, like the water was suddenly clear. My body felt diffuse and tingly. Effort seemed to just disappear. Noting was, actually... kinda hard. It felt like right after orgasm when you're too sensitive for touch. Notes seemed to be just so pointless. There was this extremely motionless feeling. I got the thought, "Maybe this was it?", but there was this sense of no importance to the inquiry, no reason to worry about that. I considered I might have just had a sudden shift into the true equanimity, so I kept trying to note, but things were just not really usual at all.

Once the sensitivity wore off, my noting quickly and powerfully brought on an A&P. At this point, I got confused, feeling like I took a wrong turn at eightford path or something. I then considered, perhaps I did get stream entry. I decided to try jhanas. Using the breath for a few seconds, the first came on quite strong and easily, and quickly. It blossomed, lingered, then gave way to the second. Then, third. Then, fourth. They all came on so effortlessly and showed maturation clearly and quickly. I keep getting those dizzying, vertigo, like feelings right between my eyebrows, although they are in no way bad. They're kinda nice, almost. They feel like some pure energy, although I'm not sure. I also have a great, clean feeling. Very at ease. There is indeed some sense that vibrations are not so significant.

So, of course, there's wondering if I got stream entry. On writing this out, it really does sound like it, although scripting is always possible, and I've certainly been guilty of that. However, this is just so different feeling. I'll post a few questions that would help me understand.

Is the shift into equanimity ever sudden, shocking, jolting, exhilarating? My understanding from experience is that the shift into eq is better marked by the suffering and the realization that it's not hurting you, that things are just fine.

Upon entering equanimity, does anyone find that noting is too sensitive, that the mind is too sensitive with bliss or peace to touch like that?

Can jhanas be done within the nana of equanimity? Because my experience almost certainly took me from equanimity to something to the A&P. If this sudden peace and calm I felt was equanimity, then the implication is that I did jhanas 1-4 starting out in the nana of equanimity. Confusion: solid jhanas within nanas, nanas in non-traditional jhanas?

As I write, the vertigo/dizzy, feeling continues to have quite some pull between my eyebrows. This is completely new.

In any case, I see this situation as thus:
-I got stream entry
-I didn't get stream entry, but am most certainly poised to get it soon, should I remain mindful

Make of it what you will, comment of it what you'd like. I hope I've conveyed an accurate description of my experience. I would love to hear what others make of this. I will also give it time.
Mind over easy, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Possible Stream Entry, Jhanas 1-4 Within Eq, Using Jhana with Vipa

Posts: 216 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
I have not gotten stream entry. There hasn't seemed to have been a fundamental shift. I'm definitely getting better at vipassana and jhana though! I do think I've been touching equanimity though, getting some flavor of that. I could be wrong, and I'm sure that I get confused in real-time practice as well, but I'm beginning to see equanimity as some kind of ultra-smooth a&p. Whereas the a&p is abrupt, coarse, overwhelming, electrifying, and often times emotionally charged, equanimity is soft, quiet, ethereal, emotionally neutral (although there does seem to be some emotional content: relief and well-being related to dukkha losing its "punch").
To be sure it isn't dissolution or 3rd vipassana jhana territory,
-Dissolution is soft, but it's blurry and muddy, whereas the softness of equanimity is tangible, immediate, and easier to contact
-The emotional peace in dissolution seems to be more due to satisfaction from the a&p phenomena, and tends to float away like smoke in calm air, but in equanimity, the peace seems to be more consistent, simple, and quiet. The peace could simply be due to the contrast of re-observation, but it seems like the peacefulness of it all is due to investigations effortlessness. In these moments, I think that the peacefulness (the equanimity?) is a result of a mind detached through vipassana and propelled through samatha.

On 2nd and 4th vipassana jhana:

I've realized that as I continue to practice, the a&p gets less energetic, less intense in general. However, it seems that heavier samatha practice can lead to more intense a&p moments, and perhaps more deep and obvious nanas in general. I've been having some confusion lately as to the nature of these pulses between the eyebrows. This sort of thing happens in a&p, but it's usually much more tense, abrupt, and coarse in that case, as well as being suddenly energetic. Now, these pulses seem to happen much more smoothly, but in the same spot. They're not accompanied by mental energy, spinal shaking, flashing lights, or any of that business. I'm not sure if the pulsing phenomenon people speak of immediately before attaining path is similar to this or not.

Formations are a confusing matter also. One concern I have with Daniel Ingram's book is that his descriptions sound much more intense, precise, and specific than how they've typically played out for me. This seems to be due to the energy and dedication to which he imbued his practice with. However, it often times leaves me doubting my attainments since they're rarely anywhere near so clear, besides perhaps the a&p event. Anyways, I get to this point in insight where I'll try to just increase the noting as fast as I can. In the beginning of the sit, this naturally evolves from mainly physical sensations, and almost always brings on the A&P. However, after that, there's the dissolution, and then dukkha nanas. I've realized that I'm terribly unclear when I get to dukkha nanas. It's just not clear what point is what. However, the agitation, negative feelings, and harsh vibrations do come to the surface in this territory. This generally grows in intensity until I reach a point where everything feels so bad. At this point, I start letting up, trying to surrender. "This suffering isn't going anywhere, and I'm not going anywhere, so I'll just stay there and allow it to do it's worst, not trying to make it disappear or change anything about my faculties of perception". This leads to a sense of freedom, where suffering, along with no-self and impermanence, can be viewed easily and without resistance. Then, if I try to speed up the speed of sensations, I'll get things to where that "altogether new moment of perception" is happening a lot quicker. It's tough to describe, but I'm wondering if maybe those "altogether new moments of perception" are formations. In any case, the pulsing behind the eyes is definitely associated with this point in practice.

Also, there has continued to be a lot of weird sensations in the eye and head area in general. These are never negative; they're neutral.
-That pulsing, like tapping on the inside of my skull
-Weird, gravity feelings, like the butterfly feeling when you're in an elevator or on a rocking boat, except up in the head, behind the eyes
-A sense of pressure in the forehead, kind of like sinus pressure except without any actual sinus/nasal issue

I'm really starting to feel a faith grow that this can be done. Often times, practice is a matter of highs and lows, disappointment and excitement. But now, even in dukkha nanas, I seem to find my way. I can keep my cool in the a&p territory. I don't sweat when it gets hard to get my mind to do one thing; I can get my mind to do a lot of things now and it's more a matter of knowing where to look and when to tap and when to excite and when to calm. Dukkha seems to be decreasing, and even if dukkha nanas still bring about unpleasantness, I never really give up since I can effectively practice my way out. That's another valuable thing I've learned: just keep practicing. Whatever you think it is, and whatever it is in actuality, are both relatively unimportant. This process is doing what it's doing, and it progresses just by matter of continuously applying mindfulness.

I'm still trying for stream entry, but I've stopped trying to apply techniques to make it happen, besides the mindfulness practice itself. If there is advice to get stream entry, I'll take it. However, it seems like it really just comes down to consistent noting, investigation of 3 c's, and concentration. I'm in college and I worry that I'm just too busy to actually get it done. It's sometimes discouraging to only hear of stream entry happening on retreats and such. My practice happens sporadically, between other obligations, and never completely outside of contact from other people, which isn't always conductive to staying mindful.

Here's another thing I've chewed on. I'm nineteen years old, and I wonder what the benefits are to doing insight practice at this point in life. I've most certainly crossed the a&p in my early teens. Unlimited fascination with psychology, lucid dreaming, meditation (poorly understood though), telekinesis, and stuff like that filled my time and thoughts. There were also periods of intense pressure, tension, alienation, depression, self-loathing, hatred, and despair at being trapped in this world. All of this points to having crossed the a&p at least once. Doing vipassana actively has brought vipassana stuff into my life. This makes school tricky. Sometimes I feel like it's all a waste and that I should discontinue in order to practice dharma far away. Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't have ever started so I didn't have to feel so tossed around through what is already a confusing time in life. Sometimes I wonder if being this age puts me at a disadvantage to practitioners who've lived longer, seen more of the world, and grown more psychologically, as which happens with age. Sometimes I wonder if vipassana is a good idea before one has really finished their mental development, maybe in terms of the brain. However, I'm at the least, empowered by the ability to move through nanas, to have a way to ground things, to break them apart. Jhana is also an excellent asset.

There they are, thoughts. Hopefully these comments will be of use to someone, and perhaps someone will find something interesting to talk about.