Message Boards Message Boards

Claims to Attainments

Attainment/Practice Survey

Toggle
Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 12/21/12 2:00 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 12/21/12 2:12 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Some Guy 12/21/12 3:32 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Ona Kiser 12/21/12 5:32 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 12/21/12 6:30 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Ona Kiser 12/22/12 2:34 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 12/21/12 6:16 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Some Guy 12/21/12 8:04 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 12/22/12 2:42 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Some Guy 12/22/12 4:28 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 12/22/12 8:58 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Some Guy 12/23/12 8:41 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Nikolai . 12/22/12 9:19 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Change A. 12/22/12 10:45 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Nikolai . 12/22/12 11:06 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Some Guy 12/23/12 8:22 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 12/23/12 10:13 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Andy W 12/23/12 5:33 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Ona Kiser 12/22/12 3:12 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Russell . 12/22/12 4:03 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 12/23/12 10:37 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Russell . 12/24/12 7:57 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 12/24/12 8:39 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Russell . 12/24/12 8:50 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 12/24/12 9:15 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Florian 12/25/12 2:39 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 12/25/12 8:09 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Florian 12/26/12 2:11 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Jane Laurel Carrington 12/26/12 8:46 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Andy W 12/26/12 11:41 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Jane Laurel Carrington 12/26/12 12:07 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Andy W 12/26/12 3:50 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 12/27/12 8:19 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Jane Laurel Carrington 12/22/12 1:04 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Florian 12/23/12 8:23 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Andy W 12/23/12 5:31 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 12/24/12 8:39 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Andy W 12/24/12 11:01 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey (D Z) Dhru Val 12/24/12 8:13 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey N A 12/24/12 1:18 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey (D Z) Dhru Val 12/24/12 8:12 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 12/24/12 9:12 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey (D Z) Dhru Val 12/24/12 6:16 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Andy W 12/24/12 4:31 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey (D Z) Dhru Val 12/24/12 6:15 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey N A 12/25/12 1:57 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 12/25/12 8:13 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 12/25/12 8:43 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Some Guy 12/25/12 9:41 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 12/25/12 10:36 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Some Guy 12/25/12 6:47 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 12/25/12 7:27 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Some Guy 12/25/12 8:45 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey (D Z) Dhru Val 12/26/12 2:36 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Daniel M. Ingram 12/29/12 5:08 AM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Dodge E Knees 12/29/12 4:53 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey super fox 12/30/12 11:34 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Jake D. 1/11/13 7:37 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Andy W 1/12/13 12:29 PM
RE: Attainment/Practice Survey Fitter Stoke 1/12/13 3:34 PM
Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/21/12 2:00 PM
I'm curious to know where the advanced (above stream-entry) meditators here are in terms of their attainments, current practice, and goals. Answer these questions if you're so inclined:

How many of the technical/MCTB paths have you completed?

How many of the 8 standard (4 rupa and 4 arupa) jhanas have you attained?

How many of the 5 Pure Land jhanas have you attained?

Have you attained Nirodha Samāpatti?

Has your progress been evaluated/monitored by a teacher?

If you have completed all four technical/MCTB paths, have you also attained or mastered any territory that you think is “above” those paths? If so, describe in detail.

Do you have attainments or mastery in traditions other than Buddhism?

What does your current practice consist in, and how long have you been at it?

What are some of your current goals, and when do you think you'll accomplish them?

Anything else you’d like to add?

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/21/12 2:12 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
My answers:

Fitter Stoke:
How many of the technical/MCTB paths have you completed?


Three. I'm about 80% confident of this. My current teacher seems more confident than this, though, and her standards are high. I'm neurotic, though.

How many of the 8 standard (4 rupa and 4 arupa) jhanas have you attained?


All of them, though I would not say I've mastered them.

How many of the 5 Pure Land jhanas have you attained?


I'm not sure. At least one of them.

Have you attained Nirodha Samāpatti?


I've landed in that area, though I have not yet mastered it.

Has your progress been evaluated/monitored by a teacher?


Yes. I've received one-on-one instruction for the last ten months.

If you have completed all four technical/MCTB paths, have you also attained or mastered any territory that you think is “above” those paths? If so, describe in detail.


N/A

Do you have attainments or mastery in traditions other than Buddhism?


No.

What does your current practice consist in, and how long have you been at it?


Current on-cushion practice is mostly anapanasati, supplemented by heavy, aggressive noting. Off-cushion practice is often some form of "3rd gear" practice: open awareness, direct path, or HAIETMOBA. I'll do choiceless noting if I'm having a particularly hard time disembedding. Sometimes self-inquiry ("who am I?").

What are some of your current goals, and when do you think you'll accomplish them?


I'd like to finish the fucking thing up some time in 2013 (by which I mean get 4th path). I'm currently taking two paths toward that. One path is to just keep going over the jhanas, doing the cycles, nailing things down, gaining mastery of higher strata of consciousness. I'd like to do a retreat this spring to help with that, since that's a good environment to quiet the mind and get into some very high-resolution investigation, but I sort of dislike retreat culture, so we'll see if I can get over that enough to do it.

The other path is to divert the stream through the stables, i.e., cut directly through the illusion, either by means of self-inquiry or 3rd gear-type technologies. I figure the more time I spend just letting reality shine through as it actually is, without any interference from "me", the more likely my mind is to tune in and finally see through the illusion of all this. I think of it as drilling from both sides, hoping to meet in the middle.

After that's done, it seems like there are many directions I can go in. I'll worry about that when I get there.

Anything else you’d like to add?


Yeah. I'm not exactly sure why, but doing this weird, off-beat, esoteric, at-times-aggressive, competitive, even hostile practice has made me much, much happier and peaceful than I was before I started. I'm really grateful I went down this road.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/21/12 3:32 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
2nd path, 8th jhana (only sometimes), no NS.

I've fiddled around with various practices in the past. 10 or 12 years ago I had a non-english speaking advaita style teacher. He would just say something like, "drop everything" over and over. I really didn't have the tools to take that practice beyond his teaching as it was in his presence, but there was something amazing about that and it did give me a sense that enlightenment of some kind was possible. Also around that time I had a pretty regular qi gong practice, which mainly relieved some stress and yielded some low-grade pyrotechnics but didn't really go anywhere in terms of insights or results. I believe my initial A+P was the result of reading a lot of psychotic literature, but I can't put a finger on when it was. My main practice has been cultivating the dark night as the driving force in my life, up until about 18 months ago. That was fun.

Early in 1st path I had a couple of Skype lessons with a teacher, but none since. I know I would have saved at least 4 months of incorrect practice if I'd had more direct access.

I hope to attain 3rd path yesterday.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/21/12 5:32 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
One of the most helpful things my own teacher did was to help me see how my questions were really about other questions, which were actually about my own practice. So when I see you ask these questions, I see these other questions hiding underneath (which would be pretty typical for 3rd path territory, though they can come up at other times):

Can I really wake up?

Do I need to master certain states or skills to wake up? Am I doing enough?

Is working with a teacher really important?

Is it enough that I've practiced in xyz tradition? Should I explore other approaches?

Where is this going?

What can I expect in the future?

...and so on. It's actually very fruitful to allow that you don't necessarily know the answers, and even if others report this or that, your own experience might differ. Embracing "not knowing" and allowing that things are far less under your control than you (like to) think is also productive.

Who is attaining things, if the self is just more phenomena and sensations arising and passing away? Who is desiring (clinging to) a specific outcome? Who is staking a territory on this non-ground, trying to fight the endless unfolding? All the practice spent observing the arising and passing away of phenomena, including the phenomena that make up our sense of self, and yet the desire to cling to permanent and defined things can't help but circle back around and around.

Third path is often notable for being a transition territory between the goal and effort driven practices that help people get started and get moving in a practice; and the recognition that things are far more spontaneous, less fixed, and less about "me" than one thinks. In fact by definition it has to stop being about "me."

I do not mean this answer to be annoying, which it may be. I know I often found these kinds of responses annoying when I received them, but I also learned a hell of a lot from looking at them in the way I suggest.

Cheers, Ona

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/21/12 6:16 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Jason B:
I believe my initial A+P was the result of reading a lot of psychotic literature, but I can't put a finger on when it was. My main practice has been cultivating the dark night as the driving force in my life, up until about 18 months ago. That was fun.


I don't know how serious you're being, but you're cracking me up anyway.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/21/12 6:30 PM as a reply to Ona Kiser.
Ona Kiser:
One of the most helpful things my own teacher did was to help me see how my questions were really about other questions, which were actually about my own practice. So when I see you ask these questions, I see these other questions hiding underneath (which would be pretty typical for 3rd path territory, though they can come up at other times):

Can I really wake up?

Do I need to master certain states or skills to wake up? Am I doing enough?

Is working with a teacher really important?

Is it enough that I've practiced in xyz tradition? Should I explore other approaches?

Where is this going?

What can I expect in the future?

...and so on. It's actually very fruitful to allow that you don't necessarily know the answers, and even if others report this or that, your own experience might differ. Embracing "not knowing" and allowing that things are far less under your control than you (like to) think is also productive.

Who is attaining things, if the self is just more phenomena and sensations arising and passing away? Who is desiring (clinging to) a specific outcome? Who is staking a territory on this non-ground, trying to fight the endless unfolding? All the practice spent observing the arising and passing away of phenomena, including the phenomena that make up our sense of self, and yet the desire to cling to permanent and defined things can't help but circle back around and around.

Third path is often notable for being a transition territory between the goal and effort driven practices that help people get started and get moving in a practice; and the recognition that things are far more spontaneous, less fixed, and less about "me" than one thinks. In fact by definition it has to stop being about "me."

I do not mean this answer to be annoying, which it may be. I know I often found these kinds of responses annoying when I received them, but I also learned a hell of a lot from looking at them in the way I suggest.

Cheers, Ona


Are you addressing this to me? It doesn't seem to fit with Jason's reply.

Ever since I began this practice, I've been looking at this, looking at that, wondering about the right way, worrying, etc. It's not really new for me. Part of it is just genuine openness and curiosity about what people are doing. I've looked through the archives here and over on KFD, and I've seen people going through various transitions with their practice, but I'm not sure what they're doing right now. Hearing back from the old guard would help complete my obsessive stalker narrative. *cue The Police*

The sort of immediate motivation for writing this is that I remembered something Daniel has said a few times, which is that if you want to realize state X, find people who have already done it. This used to be as simple as hanging around here or KFD, but now it's occurred to me that there's so many ways you can go with this practice. I have a lot of confidence in my ability to complete 4th path, but I'm already thinking about where to go from there and what the possibilities are.

And you know, you look at my questions and see obvious neurosis. And that's fine, I'm not going to defend against that. (Okay, I'm defending myself, whatEVER.) But this is probably the least neurotic thing I've ever done. (Doing the MCTB paths, I mean.) Yeah, I'm asking squirrelly questions, but my practice is also going full steam ahead. I'm not pulling back from anything or even entertaining serious doubts about what I'm doing. A lot of this - including my questions about the Western esoteric tradition - is just genuine curiosity born of the fact that I've had my focus on just this one thing for the last year, and now I feel really comfortable with it, so I'm looking around and seeing what other resources I might want to bring in.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/21/12 8:04 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
Jason B:
I believe my initial A+P was the result of reading a lot of psychotic literature, but I can't put a finger on when it was. My main practice has been cultivating the dark night as the driving force in my life, up until about 18 months ago. That was fun.


I don't know how serious you're being, but you're cracking me up anyway.


It is funny and true. I was reading John Cage's writing and walking around amazed at the sounds of the world. I read Samuel Beckett's Unnameable and really saw that the self was a mental construction. I read a lot of poetry and got into concentrated states. I took Rimbaud literally about the "long, prodigious derangement of the senses." A lot of those poets were into either buddhism or magick, so I internalized a lot of those ideas and generally just blew my mind in a not very responsible way that entailed a lot of mad dreams and weird experiences.

(As an aside, related to your "why would anyone practice magick thread,"as a non-practitioner of magick, I think it has something to do with using the imagination, which the east seems to eschew.)

I didn't intend to cultivate the dark night as the driving force in my life, but it kind of turned out that way. It took me 15 years to practice in a way that didn't drive me bananas.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/22/12 2:34 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:


Are you addressing this to me? It doesn't seem to fit with Jason's reply.


Yeah, I hit the wrong 'reply'.

Fitter Stoke:
...The sort of immediate motivation for writing this is that I remembered something Daniel has said a few times, which is that if you want to realize state X, find people who have already done it.


Good advice, I think. I worked with one teacher formally for about a year, but along the way also started working with a former student of his in a more informal way, and still later began talking regularly to another former student. I still talk to the latter two regularly, and to other teachers/colleagues on occasion, as well as going to retreats or workshops now and then.

Fitter Stoke:
And you know, you look at my questions and see obvious neurosis. And that's fine, I'm not going to defend against that. (Okay, I'm defending myself, whatEVER.) But this is probably the least neurotic thing I've ever done.


I didn't think of your questions as neurotic at all. Completely normal. But given your position as a more experienced yogi, everything is a grand opportunity to peel the onion: every thought word and deed can be fodder for the insight machine, noticing how identity and desire are constructed.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/22/12 3:12 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
I'm curious to know where the advanced (above stream-entry) meditators here are in terms of their attainments, current practice, and goals. Answer these questions if you're so inclined:

How many of the technical/MCTB paths have you completed?


I woke up ("4th path" here) in March 2011.

Fitter Stoke:
How many of the 8 standard (4 rupa and 4 arupa) jhanas have you attained?

How many of the 5 Pure Land jhanas have you attained?

Have you attained Nirodha Samāpatti?


With the exception of three weeks of coaching in the first few jhanas once, which I got bored with, I have not tried to generate any of these states, but a teacher I spoke to a month ago said some of my descriptions of some meditation events matched NS and the first PLJ.

Fitter Stoke:
Has your progress been evaluated/monitored by a teacher?


Pretty much always. Alan Chapman was my formal teacher for a while, others have been more informal or for specific periods (such as a retreat, workshop).

Fitter Stoke:
If you have completed all four technical/MCTB paths, have you also attained or mastered any territory that you think is “above” those paths? If so, describe in detail.


The ideas of mastery, attainment and territory seem very irrelevant these days. Now and then I notice changes in things like the frequency of certain spontaneous states, the prevalence of certain experiences, but in general my interests are less interior and more exterior. (ie I'm more interested in decorating my new apartment than trying to map my mental states). Sometimes something funky happens in meditation and it's unusual enough I call up one of my colleagues or a teacher and ask if they ever had that happen or whether it has a name in their tradition (like with what seems to have been a Pure Land Jhana a while back).

Fitter Stoke:
Do you have attainments or mastery in traditions other than Buddhism?


I've done practices and reading/training in various spiritual traditions in the past, including Santeria, spiritism, western magick, several kinds of buddhism, qi gong and various Christian traditions.

Fitter Stoke:
What does your current practice consist in, and how long have you been at it?


For about the past year I've read the Divine Office (3 daily sets of prayers), attend mass most days of the week, sit at least one 30 minute period of silent meditation (sometimes more, sometimes not at all), and say a rosary. I try to pay attention during the day to making sure I am acting in a charitable and helpful way, being kind to others, etc. For the first 8 months of the year I was doing qi gong classes, but I stopped doing that when I started taking Gregorian chant classes. I also participate in a group that attends funerals to pray for the dead (at the request of their families) and I help out with various projects at the churches I attend. I spend time each day studying and reading, too, as well as doing daily life/administrative stuff (cooking, cleaning, bill paying, exercise) and spending some time each day teaching and writing.

Fitter Stoke:
What are some of your current goals, and when do you think you'll accomplish them?
I'm really into improving my ability to sing this Gregorian chant stuff right now; I'm picking out some cool old photos to print and hang on the walls; I'm working on memorizing more stuff for the church rituals; and I'm working on the giant backlog of books I want to read and writing I want to do. I just work on it a little every day, enjoy the process, and it will go where it goes. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, so no sense in fussing about things too far in advance.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/22/12 4:03 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:


How many of the technical/MCTB paths have you completed?


3 as of August 2012

Fitter Stoke:
How many of the 8 standard (4 rupa and 4 arupa) jhanas have you attained?


All of the above, however, since about a month after 3rd path, I no longer recognize any of the above states or try to access them. They now seem unnecessary, which, I guess, is the case considering many people wake up without accessing them.

Fitter Stoke:
How many of the 5 Pure Land jhanas have you attained?


All of the above. Same as the above answer. However, sometimes, these will show up out of nowhere if I sit long enough.

Fitter Stoke:
Have you attained Nirodha Samāpatti?


Yes, but not in a while. This is like the PL jhanas above, sometimes my attentions just goes to this spot and NS will happen unexpectedly.

Fitter Stoke:
Has your progress been evaluated/monitored by a teacher?


Yes, for the last year. I also try to speak to as many 'awake' people as I can.

Fitter Stoke:
Do you have attainments or mastery in traditions other than Buddhism?


No, and I almost don't even consider the attainments I have related to any tradition either. I have never read a sutra or any ancient texts, I just fell upon this looking for a pragmatic, straightforward way to see through the illusions we speak of here.

Fitter Stoke:
What does your current practice consist in, and how long have you been at it?


My practice now consists of non-practice. I am very, very goal oriented and this has now become something that is getting in the way. The constant seeking, etc, is just another manifestation of the small self. I sit on occasion, but do not consider this practice. The main practice, or non-practice, is looking for the 'selfing' process and just seeing it for what it is and not trying to change it. There is nothing to "do" anymore, it has to do itself.

Fitter Stoke:
What are some of your current goals, and when do you think you'll accomplish them?


Of course I want to wake up (4th path) eventually, but I cannot make this happen. It has to wake up to itself.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/22/12 1:04 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:

How many of the technical/MCTB paths have you completed?

Two, as of July 4, 2012.

How many of the 8 standard (4 rupa and 4 arupa) jhanas have you attained?

All of them.

How many of the 5 Pure Land jhanas have you attained?

I may have touched PL1, but I wouldn't put money on it.

Have you attained Nirodha Samāpatti?

No.

Has your progress been evaluated/monitored by a teacher?

I've worked with several teachers over Skype (Beth Resnick-Folk, Kenneth Folk, and Ron Crouch). I've also worked with a teacher in my area, and on retreats.

If you have completed all four technical/MCTB paths, have you also attained or mastered any territory that you think is “above” those paths? If so, describe in detail.

N/A

Do you have attainments or mastery in traditions other than Buddhism?

I have experience, but neither attainment nor mastery, of Christian meditation techniques, particularly centering prayer. I believe I got access concentration and may have even accessed 1st jhana when I was working with these techniques years ago.

I should also point out that I had a near-death experience with a spectacular A&P when I was 19. Of course I had no idea what to call it at that point.

What does your current practice consist in, and how long have you been at it?

I began practice in the pragmantic (oh, all right: hardcore) dharma vein exactly two years ago. For the first six months or so I did anapanasati, and began to access jhanas. Then I switched to noting and got 1st path about six months after that. One thing that happened on 1st path is that I got to equanimity, became complacent, slacked off, and fell back into the dukkhas. I had to work hard to get back into equanimity. I consider none of it wasted.

What are some of your current goals, and when do you think you'll accomplish them?

I'm looking to get 3rd path, but I don't know when. After that, 4th. Again, no timetable. Of course I'd love to have it be sooner rather than later, but I'm not worried. The only thing that bothers me is my tendency to slack off now and then. I did it again this past fall, and it took a lot of effort to bring myself back to the frame of mind for regular practice again.

Right now I'm working on traveling up and down the jhanic arc, with a view to getting to the Pure Lands or Nirodha Samapatti.

Edit: I also engage in mostly 2nd gear practice throughout the day as I think of it, which isn't nearly as often as I'd like it to be.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Only that I very much recognize what Ona says about 3rd pathers wanting to know what's what and feel some sense of certainty. I also find myself wondering what "I" am going to be like in 6 months . . . 1 year . . . whatever. I used to make plans for the future, think about what retirement would be like, for example, or wonder how I would cope with this and that. Now I realize I don't even know the basics of what my agenda or concerns will be in the future. I like that.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/22/12 2:42 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
How many of the 5 Pure Land jhanas have you attained?


I'm not sure. At least one of them.


Revision: I've been through all 5 PL jhanas. Did it by following this recording. Highly recommended.

I still can't stabilize NS, and I think that's because I can't stabilize the 8th jhana. I pass over the spot associated with it, and there's a definite shift, but then I lose it and have to find it again. I'll eventually figure it out.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/22/12 4:28 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
Fitter Stoke:
How many of the 5 Pure Land jhanas have you attained?


I'm not sure. At least one of them.


Revision: I've been through all 5 PL jhanas. Did it by following this recording. Highly recommended.

I still can't stabilize NS, and I think that's because I can't stabilize the 8th jhana. I pass over the spot associated with it, and there's a definite shift, but then I lose it and have to find it again. I'll eventually figure it out.


That podcast was fantastic. Initially, I felt I was letting them script me through the jhanas because they were pointing out details I hadn't noticed. I usually zoom through them and just get lost. But as we got to the formless jhanas and beyond I was anticipating their descriptions, and went straight through all 5 PL's. That was just so great! And I even got a touch of NS, I think. I saw the darkening of the field, the sinking down. Definitely not a complete shut-down though. I was still aware. There was a strong bliss wave upon resurfacing.

I mean, I just can't believe I got that experience through the internet. So, thank you for posting it! I need to spend more time over at the Hamilton Project for sure.

Fitter, what criteria was your teacher using for 3rd path?

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/22/12 8:58 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Jason B:
Fitter Stoke:
Fitter Stoke:
How many of the 5 Pure Land jhanas have you attained?


I'm not sure. At least one of them.


Revision: I've been through all 5 PL jhanas. Did it by following this recording. Highly recommended.

I still can't stabilize NS, and I think that's because I can't stabilize the 8th jhana. I pass over the spot associated with it, and there's a definite shift, but then I lose it and have to find it again. I'll eventually figure it out.


That podcast was fantastic. Initially, I felt I was letting them script me through the jhanas because they were pointing out details I hadn't noticed. I usually zoom through them and just get lost. But as we got to the formless jhanas and beyond I was anticipating their descriptions, and went straight through all 5 PL's. That was just so great! And I even got a touch of NS, I think. I saw the darkening of the field, the sinking down. Definitely not a complete shut-down though. I was still aware. There was a strong bliss wave upon resurfacing.

I mean, I just can't believe I got that experience through the internet. So, thank you for posting it! I need to spend more time over at the Hamilton Project for sure.

Fitter, what criteria was your teacher using for 3rd path?


My teacher, Abre Chen, uses Kenneth Folk's criteria for third path: NS + 5 PL jhanas.

Congrats? I'll raise a drink to you tonight.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/22/12 9:19 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Jason B:
Fitter Stoke:
Fitter Stoke:
How many of the 5 Pure Land jhanas have you attained?


I'm not sure. At least one of them.


Revision: I've been through all 5 PL jhanas. Did it by following this recording. Highly recommended.

I still can't stabilize NS, and I think that's because I can't stabilize the 8th jhana. I pass over the spot associated with it, and there's a definite shift, but then I lose it and have to find it again. I'll eventually figure it out.


That podcast was fantastic. Initially, I felt I was letting them script me through the jhanas because they were pointing out details I hadn't noticed.



Current subject to change 2 cents

The jhanas are fabricated experiences, fashioned by mind. Scripting, whether via reading about or listening along, can trigger the mind to fashion the same or near similar experience. Attempting to master the art of fabrication is a progressive move in my experience and can expose a lot about the fabricating tendencies of one's own mind as a whole, which then can lead to doing something about one's own experience of mental dissatisfaction. Scripting may initially help with this attempt at mastery if one is intent to eventually understand the fabricating tendencies of the mind.

Nick

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/22/12 10:45 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai .:
Scripting, whether via reading about or listening along, can trigger the mind to fashion the same or near similar experience.


If a mind gets triggered to fashion the same or nearly same experience by either reading or listening about some experience, then that experience can only be useful if the mind can see what has happened. Otherwise, one may keep on deluding oneself. I got myself into AF ASC (universe experiencing itself as a sensate human being) but fortunately could see the fabrication and that helped me get out of it.

One extreme example of scripting is to be found in the third person to have supposedly become "actually free", Vineeto. In Richard's own words "Then, at the moment she became essentially the same as me.....". http://actualfreedom.com.au/richard/listdcorrespondence/listd26.htm

No one is considered to be "actually free" unless one can script the entire delusion/ASC that has been termed as "Actual Freedom".

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/22/12 11:06 PM as a reply to Change A..
Change A.:
Nikolai .:
Scripting, whether via reading about or listening along, can trigger the mind to fashion the same or near similar experience.


If a mind gets triggered to fashion the same or nearly same experience by either reading or listening about some experience, then that experience can only be useful if the mind can see what has happened. Otherwise, one may keep on deluding oneself. I got myself into AF ASC (universe experiencing itself as a sensate human being) but fortunately could see the fabrication and that helped me get out of it.

One extreme example of scripting is to be found in the third person to have supposedly become "actually free", Vineeto. In Richard's own words "Then, at the moment she became essentially the same as me.....". http://actualfreedom.com.au/richard/listdcorrespondence/listd26.htm

No one is considered to be "actually free" unless one can script the entire delusion/ASC that has been termed as "Actual Freedom".


Let's keep the he said she said and politics and bad vibes to the actual freedom yahoo listserve, shall we?

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/23/12 8:22 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai .:
The jhanas are fabricated experiences, fashioned by mind. Scripting, whether via reading about or listening along, can trigger the mind to fashion the same or near similar experience. Attempting to master the art of fabrication is a progressive move in my experience and can expose a lot about the fabricating tendencies of one's own mind as a whole, which then can lead to doing something about one's own experience of mental dissatisfaction. Scripting may initially help with this attempt at mastery if one is intent to eventually understand the fabricating tendencies of the mind.


That seems like a pretty good analysis of what happened. I may have hit PL1 or even 2 in the past, but with your leading they were all effortlessly available. This podcast should be number one on itunes. Seriously, thank you Nick. That would have taken me another month or two, and many hours, to figure out on my own.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/23/12 8:23 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
I'm curious to know where the advanced (above stream-entry) meditators here are in terms of their attainments, current practice, and goals. Answer these questions if you're so inclined:

How many of the technical/MCTB paths have you completed?


By the standards of the Simple Model:

The first understanding is that sensations are sensations, thoughts are thoughts, and this forms the basis of further inquiry. When the universal characteristics of these sensations begin to be seen, this represents growth in understanding. When the whole sense field is known directly and completely as it is, this can cause an entrance into Fruition through one of the Three Doors, and represents the first stage of awakening. - yes.

When one appreciates the cycles of the process of awakening and has completed at least one more new progress cycle, this is the next stage. - yes.

When one begins to appreciate the emptiness, luminosity, centerlessness, agentlessness, etc. of phenomena in real-time and this becomes the focus of practice rather than Fruition, this is the next stage. - yes.

When the sense of the watcher, observer, subject, controller, doer, etc. is seen completely as it is and the knot of perception untangles, that simple, fundamental way of perceiving things is the next stage of awakening. - yes.

When that untangling stays untangled, that is the next stage. - yes.

As that understanding is integrated into our lives, that is the next phase, though it is more an ongoing process than a stage. - yes.

Please note that this model does not map neatly onto the fetters model. Also, see below for the class of sensate phenomena called "emotions".

How many of the 8 standard (4 rupa and 4 arupa) jhanas have you attained?
I get all of them, but I'm a family man, so I don't do Jhana practice as an olympic discipline. Hence, while I can identify the states, and enter them and exit them, I'm nowhere at the level of mastery where they are cast-in-concrete solid, for hours and hours on end.

How many of the 5 Pure Land jhanas have you attained?
I don't know. I've seen other mental states, though, which were stable, and which did not match these descriptions.

Have you attained Nirodha Samāpatti?
Again, I don't know. I've found a way to tickle the mind into going very blank, which felt different from a fruition, but it may have been one of weird jhana-like states that don't match the Pure Land states. I agree with Nikolai on this: there are a lot of ways to configure, combine, mix and match formless states. Getting 4th jhana seems to be a good base for further exploration and experimentation.

Has your progress been evaluated/monitored by a teacher?


No, but by good, critical, and accomplished friends, each an expert in their own way and field of expertise.

If you have completed all four technical/MCTB paths, have you also attained or mastered any territory that you think is “above” those paths? If so, describe in detail.


Leaving it to readers to match my Simple Model claims to the four paths, I'll add this: in my case, cutting through the knot of perception or whatever you want to call ignorance (in the spiritual sense), was just the beginning. There was a recognizable emotional follow-up shift, a "heart release" that followed the "mind release". I don't think this is "above" the paths at all, but the two are definitely closely associated.

My even-simpler simple model/definition of enlightenment goes like this: "Not fooling my self". This includes fooling myself over identity, ownership, self-image, control, certainty, and so on - and it includes both the mental and emotional aspects of these.

Do you have attainments or mastery in traditions other than Buddhism?


I experienced Being Reborn as a Christian, decades ago.

I realized I had no gods, (how do you call the Atheist attainment?), again, decades ago.

A couple of years ago, I "crossed the abyss", which is symbolized by the strange rank of 8=3 in the Western Mystery Tradition.

What does your current practice consist in, and how long have you been at it?
I meditate twice a day, mainly in a "surrender/include/just sit" sort of way, but sometimes doing breath or mantra meditation. I keep a meditation word running whenever I remember to do so during the day. I practice devotion to the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha.

What are some of your current goals, and when do you think you'll accomplish them?


Not really a goal, more of a strong preference: being a good father, husband, neighbor, co-worker - i.e. living in a way that makes it safe and nice for me and others who are around.

Anything else you’d like to add?


To anyone who reads this, not as a reply to Fitter in particular:

Surrender is a severely underestimated mental posture. Try it!

Taboos are hideouts for (spiritual) ignorance, thus it can be good to examine them closely. For example, there is a lot of truth to the much-maligned and misapplied invitation to "stop seeking". The thing is, who will do the stopping, and how is stopping done without actually doing anything (which would not be stopping since there'd be doing...). If you can use this paradox to smash through "fooling yourself", go for it. Otherwise, there are plenty of tried-and-proven practices with fewer opportunities for fooling yourself, so please give those a good try.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/23/12 8:41 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
My teacher, Abre Chen, uses Kenneth Folk's criteria for third path: NS + 5 PL jhanas.

Congrats? I'll raise a drink to you tonight.


I have no idea, but you better imbibe just in case. emoticon

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/23/12 10:13 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai .:
Jason B:
Fitter Stoke:
Fitter Stoke:
How many of the 5 Pure Land jhanas have you attained?


I'm not sure. At least one of them.


Revision: I've been through all 5 PL jhanas. Did it by following this recording. Highly recommended.

I still can't stabilize NS, and I think that's because I can't stabilize the 8th jhana. I pass over the spot associated with it, and there's a definite shift, but then I lose it and have to find it again. I'll eventually figure it out.


That podcast was fantastic. Initially, I felt I was letting them script me through the jhanas because they were pointing out details I hadn't noticed.



Current subject to change 2 cents

The jhanas are fabricated experiences, fashioned by mind. Scripting, whether via reading about or listening along, can trigger the mind to fashion the same or near similar experience. Attempting to master the art of fabrication is a progressive move in my experience and can expose a lot about the fabricating tendencies of one's own mind as a whole, which then can lead to doing something about one's own experience of mental dissatisfaction. Scripting may initially help with this attempt at mastery if one is intent to eventually understand the fabricating tendencies of the mind.

Nick


Here's a more detailed account of what I experienced listening to your podcast:

I wasn't sure at first if I was actually following along with you guys, but I'm more comfortable with a "fake it til you make it" approach these days, so I just went with it. I realized I was with you when you hit the dark night, and I realized, "Wow, I'm actually in the dark night now!"

I usually try to go though the dark night as quickly as possible, so I never bothered to examine each ñana in detail, let alone attain any kind of mastery of them. I usually experience it as a confusing mass of sleepiness and aversion. Going through them in a more deliberate fashion was instructive for me. Here's what I got out of them:

5th ñana (dissolution): Cool, diffuse vibrations. A sense of sinking with the breath.

6th ñana (fear): A feeling like butterflies in the stomach, around or just below the navel. There's a spot on the path where I tend to experience feelings of sexual arousal. This is it.

7th ñana (misery): Sensations here are concentrated in the chest and throat area. Heaviness. A feeling of depression. Just before one of you mentioned that breathing can be erratic here, I noticed myself take a sudden, deep breath.

8th ñana (disgust): I don’t remember anything specific in here.

9th ñana (desire for deliverance): Tiredness starts to set in here. They say it’s like you’ve been crying. I tend to want to fall asleep after crying. It’s as though I could get away from everything by dissolving into sleep.

10th ñana (reobservation): Alternating between sleepiness, feeling awake (like low EQ), then back to sleepiness again, then back to fake EQ. Want to fight it but need to surrender to it. Fake EQ gets wider and longer and finally tips over into the 11th.


So I thought it was interesting that, in addition to what you guys were pointing out, I was noticing my own idiosyncrasies here, and in some cases (like in desire for deliverance), the experience was pretty different.

Here are my notes from the PL jhanas:

PL1: Pass beyond the 8th jhana and the NS spot, come out of the third eye about an inch or two in front of the head. Everything gets focused right there, and it’s suddenly very bright, very pleasant. It’s a discrete state. It does not feel like an arupa jhana. It involves the body, and the body feels very pleasant, very alive, and it also feels like it’s floating. The first time I hit this with Abre, I was searching for NS, and ended up passing "through" that spot. She hadn't instructed me, I just ended up there. It was amber-colored that time (probably because of the lights in the room). This time I think it was just white. The arupa jhanas are dark. This is very bright, almost dazzling.

PL2: Even before they said where to go, the attention naturally shifted up toward the crown. Body feels carried up by a rising column of energy radiating outward from the crown. Similar in some ways to infinite space, but more body-focused.

PL3: This one was weird. There was a shift down to the third eye, as though energy were radiating from there, but it was being carried down to a lower part of the body. It now seemed as though the third eye was way above me, showering energy down upon me, but “I” was now somewhere down in my stomach. It was like I was looking up at the third eye. It’s like the lower chakras have been incorporated into the experience but from the perspective of the third eye.

PL4: Started noticing my breath again. Very smooth, very sweet, very light. Conspicuous rise of energy up through the body and out through the crown. It came in several waves here and almost felt like an A&P. There was a feeling here like the whole body - from the base to the crown - was clearing itself out. A feeling here like being the trunk of a tree or a wide open pipe conveying a beam of energy high into the sky.

PL5: This one was cool! It’s like if you took the 6th jhana and hooked it up to the 4th jhana. Everything is perceived, and everything is perceived as a mind-moment. Suddenly the body is there, the room is there, sounds outside are there, the world is there -- but all of it is consciousness, all of it is “me”. The barrier is gone. “I” am the world. God-feeling, but simple, matter-of-fact.


Pure Land Jhanas are the shit.

What really struck me about them is that they're very clean, and they're very clear. The arupa jhanas can easily blur together. The PL jhanas really do feel like distinct states. The first time I landed in PL1 by accident, I said, "I'm in a distinct jhana. I just don't know what it is." There's no mistaking it for an arupa jhana, because they're "colorful". There's definite stuff behind the eyes, and there's definite involvement of the body. And the way they seem to involve discrete parts of the body makes it hard to confuse them with rupa jhanas, which are basically about the mind widening and deepening.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/23/12 10:37 AM as a reply to Russell ..
Russell:
My practice now consists of non-practice. I am very, very goal oriented and this has now become something that is getting in the way. The constant seeking, etc, is just another manifestation of the small self. I sit on occasion, but do not consider this practice. The main practice, or non-practice, is looking for the 'selfing' process and just seeing it for what it is and not trying to change it. There is nothing to "do" anymore, it has to do itself ... Of course I want to wake up (4th path) eventually, but I cannot make this happen. It has to wake up to itself.


I've read several accounts of what's involved in going from 3rd to 4th. What makes you choose this one?

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/23/12 5:31 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
How many of the technical/MCTB paths have you completed?

Two, as of August this year. At least two insight cycles have been completed.

How many of the 8 standard (4 rupa and 4 arupa) jhanas have you attained?

Four rupa jhanas, all learnt in the last week thanks to Kenneth and a short stay in a monastery. Hopefully a few more next week!

How many of the 5 Pure Land jhanas have you attained?

Nada.

Have you attained Nirodha Samāpatti?

Nope

Has your progress been evaluated/monitored by a teacher?

Yes, Beth Resnick-Folk and Kenneth Folk, and Hildegard Huber at Dhammacari Vipassana Centre in Germany who led me through what was probably 1st path review. I have worked with other teachers on retreat, but without such close monitoring or openness about progress.

If you have completed all four technical/MCTB paths, have you also attained or mastered any territory that you think is “above” those paths? If so, describe in detail.

N/A

Do you have attainments or mastery in traditions other than Buddhism?

Nope, although I did, like Florian, get "reborn" as a Christian in 2003, and then became an atheist in 2005. I now see the former as A&P.

What does your current practice consist in, and how long have you been at it?

Three main practices:
- Jhanas, in Kenneth's "dynamic mode" as of last week.
- Once-a-second noting - most often out loud - as of two years.
- Doing nothing whatsoever (KF 3rd Gear) as of about 10 months

Also sometimes "ships in the harbour", metta and meditative self-inquiry.

What are some of your current goals, and when do you think you'll accomplish them?

It'd be nice to get the rupa jhanas nailed down and perhaps the arupa ones too in the next few months. I'd like to get another path in the next 12 months.

Of course, as Liam and I were discussing on Skype last night, getting badges to sew on your arm are kind of irrelevant compared to reduction in suffering, uprooting of unskillful habits and increase in joy, gratitude, honesty, patience, kindness, ease, spaciousness and so on. That's what really matters, and I hope I don't lose sight of that.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/23/12 5:33 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai .:
Scripting, whether via reading about or listening along, can trigger the mind to fashion the same or near similar experience. Attempting to master the art of fabrication is a progressive move in my experience and can expose a lot about the fabricating tendencies of one's own mind as a whole, which then can lead to doing something about one's own experience of mental dissatisfaction. Scripting may initially help with this attempt at mastery if one is intent to eventually understand the fabricating tendencies of the mind.


Yeh, big time. You can even self-script, by "imagining" jhana, or so it seems to me. I'm going to listen to the PL podcast soon as I can!

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/24/12 8:13 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:

How many of the technical/MCTB paths have you completed?


Textbook model - Stream Entry. All MCTB paths in terms of day to day experience of reality. Notable for speed of attainment, took me about a month to get stream entry, and had a multiple fruition type thing resulting in centerlessness, or what I took to be 3rd path a few weeks later.

I didn't really do much noting style Vipassana after that point and don't really ascribe to the paths described in the MCTB as being final, or even necessary steps in the process to reduce suffering.

The remember having all the Jhanas before, but further shifts mean that the experience of high concentration no longer necessarily resembles a Jhana. This happened pretty quickly so I didn't get a chance to play around with them too much.

Fitter Stoke:

Has your progress been evaluated/monitored by a teacher?

Not unless some more experience meditatiors on DhO count.


If you have completed all four technical/MCTB paths, have you also attained or mastered any territory that you think is “above” those paths? If so, describe in detail.


Not good to think above or below, but further reductions in suffering are possible after all the MCTB paths have been completed.

At 4th path pre MCTB one already has complete centerlessness and lack of personal agency. However there is still this weird attentional cycling that prevents sensory clarity.


1) Immediately above was a loss of this subconscious intuitive sense of a body, that I didn't previously realize existed...

Described in detail in this thread..

2) As this deepened the sensory clarity got very high indeed. Visual field feels like it has shifted to HD from regular definition. And vision started to feel more vivid and panoramic at times.

3) After a certain point it the 'suchness' of the senses can be evident
eg. In the moment we hear a sound there is only the loudness, the distance is inferred later on through time. For touch the location of the touch is infered similarly. In the visual field is just colors, then objects are inferred later on by the mind.

Mental thought itself is just a sound or a visual image of sorts, with similar properties.Because 'objects' are seen as imputed rather than really existing, attachment diminishes somewhat.

I still sometimes believe my thoughts, and have attachment to things. And sometimes there are scary or angry thoughts, and a few of those times I act on them.

-----------
Personally I also had a lot of crazy energetic phenomenon in the body throughout the whole process, but particularly preceding and following a major shift. It has only recently started to die down.


Do you have attainments or mastery in traditions other than Buddhism?

Not sure.


What does your current practice consist in, and how long have you been at it?
What are some of your current goals, and when do you think you'll accomplish them?
Anything else you’d like to add?


I have mundane normal life goals (health, relationships, career). But I don't really see my level of peace / suffering being affected in a significant way by achieving or not achieving them. The challenge of the accomplishing the goals is quite fun and it develops useful skill-sets. The social and monetary rewards are quite nice as well.

I do want to help other people lead happier lives, but feel that I am still quite immature in some regards and have not yet developed the skill-set to contribute that much value to other people. I do what I can at a very small scale in terms of being more compassionate with people I interact with on a day to day basis, and trying to help people on DhO, whenever I can.

For meditation, I mostly just meditate whenever the mood strikes me. No real goals, lately I have been working on my concentration and seem some good benefits*.

* It is possible to observe in real time how the mind links present stimuli with past events to generate a response. This makes it easier to break patterns in the response. It is still takes quite a bit of effort. Having high concentration makes this much easier.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/24/12 1:18 AM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
How do people know what path they are at? Are there descriptions of higher paths, detailed enough to differentiate? I certainly couldn't find them in MCTB.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/24/12 7:57 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
Russell:
My practice now consists of non-practice. I am very, very goal oriented and this has now become something that is getting in the way. The constant seeking, etc, is just another manifestation of the small self. I sit on occasion, but do not consider this practice. The main practice, or non-practice, is looking for the 'selfing' process and just seeing it for what it is and not trying to change it. There is nothing to "do" anymore, it has to do itself ... Of course I want to wake up (4th path) eventually, but I cannot make this happen. It has to wake up to itself.


I've read several accounts of what's involved in going from 3rd to 4th. What makes you choose this one?


This wasn't something I really chose. Since about 2nd path I have just been doing what feels right. There became a point not that long ago where all the jhanas, nanas, attainments, etc seem strange to me and unnecessary. Like I am not sure what I have been doing all along. It's kind of funny, it's like you start at a certain point, then you run around in circles for a while only to arrive back at the same place. Right here, right now. You can read my practice log on KFD. Post 3rd path has been pretty yucky the entire time, but its not like that for everyone.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/24/12 8:12 AM as a reply to N A.
N A:
How do people know what path they are at? Are there descriptions of higher paths, detailed enough to differentiate? I certainly couldn't find them in MCTB.


Good question. Here is a description...

End in Sight:
The ultimate test for MCTB 1st path is whether you can get a fruition (either spontaneously or by meditation), so if you really want to know where you stand in MCTB, you'll have to check that out. If you can't get one, chances are you don't have MCTB 1st path. (You might have attained something like MCTB 1st path, but MCTB wouldn't have any info about it, and honestly, I doubt we at the DhO would either.)

In case it helps, here's a super-abridged version of how I understood the paths in relation to my experience:

1st: Wow, there's no self in my experience anywhere!
2nd: Deeper than 1st, but hard to distinguish.
3rd: A sense that all experiences happen independently of 'me', are not perceived by 'me', are just the universe doing its thing, etc. Sort of mystical in a dry way. Lingering ideas that "no self" is a particular way of looking at things that I need to sustain, a particular feeling, a particular perspective, a particular lack of a 'self' experience, or something like that. (3rd was very long, this does not capture all of it.)
4th: No-self is true no matter what experience I'm having or not having, experiences of 'self' are equally no-self compared to experiences of no-self; no-self isn't an experience at all, but just the way the world is; in this sense, no-self can't be deepened, as anything I could experience would equally be marked by it.

4th was like a natural end-point concerning inquiry into no self, was psychologically freeing, gave me a healthier perspective on things.

As a separate issue, let me point out that trying to figure out where you are on the map isn't as useful as you may think (especially if you're past MCTB 1st path, but in some ways even if you're not). The most useful thing in my opinion is to become familiar with the cycles of the progress of insight as it plays out in your own experience, which will help you understand why you suddenly feel a certain way for no (other) obvious reason, as well as help you understand how you might alter your meditation (based on where you're at at any particular moment) for maximal effectiveness.


To add to this there is some talk of NS being a test for 3rd path.

For me only the 1st seems to follow the textbook tragectory per the MCTB, However the experiential descriptions of the other paths match, and have edited my answer for clarity.

The survey might be better organized in terms of phenomenon experienced by the practitioner. Rather than naming paths.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/24/12 8:39 AM as a reply to Russell ..
Russell .:
Fitter Stoke:
Russell:
My practice now consists of non-practice. I am very, very goal oriented and this has now become something that is getting in the way. The constant seeking, etc, is just another manifestation of the small self. I sit on occasion, but do not consider this practice. The main practice, or non-practice, is looking for the 'selfing' process and just seeing it for what it is and not trying to change it. There is nothing to "do" anymore, it has to do itself ... Of course I want to wake up (4th path) eventually, but I cannot make this happen. It has to wake up to itself.


I've read several accounts of what's involved in going from 3rd to 4th. What makes you choose this one?


This wasn't something I really chose. Since about 2nd path I have just been doing what feels right. There became a point not that long ago where all the jhanas, nanas, attainments, etc seem strange to me and unnecessary. Like I am not sure what I have been doing all along. It's kind of funny, it's like you start at a certain point, then you run around in circles for a while only to arrive back at the same place. Right here, right now. You can read my practice log on KFD. Post 3rd path has been pretty yucky the entire time, but its not like that for everyone.


The whole psychology and sociology of this process interests me. Thinking about these things called "paths", why we think about them the way we do, what we expect from them, how the expectations differ from reality, and how all this is conditioned by the communities we practice in. It's clear that when Daniel wrote his book, he had something specific in mind. But now people have taken those ideas, and it seems like they've gone in a lot of different directions with them. It's mostly what inspired me to post this poll.

I think it would be really interesting to get all the 4th path people together and ask them what they think the 4th path is, what it means, how one gets there. I suspect there would be many different answers. Problem is, a lot of post-4th path meditators seem to be reticent or like to give delphic responses ("Who is asking this question?"). It makes me wonder whatever happened to the commitment to down-to-earth, straight talk about enlightenment that motivated the founding of this movement.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/24/12 8:39 AM as a reply to Andy W.
Andy:
- Jhanas, in Kenneth's "dynamic mode" as of last week.


What is dynamic mode?

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/24/12 8:50 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
Russell .:
Fitter Stoke:
Russell:
My practice now consists of non-practice. I am very, very goal oriented and this has now become something that is getting in the way. The constant seeking, etc, is just another manifestation of the small self. I sit on occasion, but do not consider this practice. The main practice, or non-practice, is looking for the 'selfing' process and just seeing it for what it is and not trying to change it. There is nothing to "do" anymore, it has to do itself ... Of course I want to wake up (4th path) eventually, but I cannot make this happen. It has to wake up to itself.


I've read several accounts of what's involved in going from 3rd to 4th. What makes you choose this one?


This wasn't something I really chose. Since about 2nd path I have just been doing what feels right. There became a point not that long ago where all the jhanas, nanas, attainments, etc seem strange to me and unnecessary. Like I am not sure what I have been doing all along. It's kind of funny, it's like you start at a certain point, then you run around in circles for a while only to arrive back at the same place. Right here, right now. You can read my practice log on KFD. Post 3rd path has been pretty yucky the entire time, but its not like that for everyone.


The whole psychology and sociology of this process interests me. Thinking about these things called "paths", why we think about them the way we do, what we expect from them, how the expectations differ from reality, and how all this is conditioned by the communities we practice in. It's clear that when Daniel wrote his book, he had something specific in mind. But now people have taken those ideas, and it seems like they've gone in a lot of different directions with them. It's mostly what inspired me to post this poll.

I think it would be really interesting to get all the 4th path people together and ask them what they think the 4th path is, what it means, how one gets there. I suspect there would be many different answers. Problem is, a lot of post-4th path meditators seem to be reticent or like to give delphic responses ("Who is asking this question?"). It makes me wonder whatever happened to the commitment to down-to-earth, straight talk about enlightenment that motivated the founding of this movement.


I am starting to see why this happens and I can't explain it either.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/24/12 9:12 AM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
The survey might be better organized in terms of phenomenon experienced by the practitioner. Rather than naming paths.


Yep. Good point.

Daniel and Kenneth have different interpretations of what constitute the 3rd and 4th paths, so students of (students of) Kenneth's - such as Andy, Laurel, and me - might have different concepts of this from other people here think.

The main difference as far as I can tell is that Daniel understands paths 3 and 4 in terms of what you can see (emptiness), whereas Kenneth understands them as physioenergetic processes that unfold and come to completion. Kenneth would critique End In Sight's quoted text above by saying that even a pre-SE dark nighter could see emptiness in real-time, and even a stream-winner could cultivate that into a baseline. Likewise, a 4th pather may not be able to see clearly things that a stream-winner has trained themselves to see regularly.

Instead, Kenneth's criteria for 3rd path is NS + 5 PL jhanas. The motivation for making NS a criteria is probably because that's Buddhaghosa's criteria in the Visuddhimagga (only Anagamis and Arahants can access it). I'm not sure what the motivation is for including the 5 PL jhanas. And then I'm not 100% sure how Kenneth interprets 4th path. Here's what he said back in 2009:

Kenneth Folk:
At third path, something fundamentally different has to happen. Now, the third eye chakra - from the level of the third eye chakra - the entire package of nexes of energy that have been penetrated so far, must be integrated from that level. So it’s a very big job. Every nexus of energy has to tie to every other nexus of energy. This has to happen yet again in order to complete the circuit at the 4th path level. All of those nexes of energy have to be integrated from the level of the crown chakra. At that point, the energy flows freely through the body, comes out the top of the head, curves back around, comes to rest at the heart chakra [...] Completing the circuit permanently. And that’s what’s called the Arhat. So contrary to myth, Arhat is not a perfect person, a sanitized being who will never have a negative emotion. It’s someone who has simply completed that circuit. The behavioral implications of that … are a question that would deserve another one of these sessions.


And presumably, that gives rise to the subject sense that one is "off the ride":

Kenneth Folk:
The fundamental characteristic, I would say, of the Arhat: he knows he’s done. He’s off this ride, this pull that has been torturing this person for, lo, these many years goes away. This is why, traditionally speaking, the Arhats walk up to the Buddha on the day of their enlightenment, and they say, “Done is what needed to be done.”


(Of course, every time he says "Arhat" here, you should read "4th MCTB/technical path".)

So, N A, to answer your question:

N A:
How do people know what path they are at? Are there descriptions of higher paths, detailed enough to differentiate? I certainly couldn't find them in MCTB.


There seems to be controversy.

To make things more complicated, here's what I've noticed in my own, limited, silly experience:

I've noticed there have been major "openings" along the way: peak experiences where the mind becomes very light, very finely attuned to sensations, during which it feels like the resolution on my perception increases (like going from CGA to EGA, and then from EGA to VGA, etc.), and during which the consciousness becomes very fluid, almost molten, and so the components of it align themselves with the way reality is, sort of like how molecules in rock will align themselves with the magnetic field of the earth when they're in the form of magma bubbling up out of cracks in the ocean floor.

During this period, my meditation becomes very powerful, a whole set of problems are resolved, new jhanas are accessed in a very short period of time, and there's a strong sense of heroism.

Then the petals of the flower, so to speak, start to close. The hand that opened to catch the pearl of wisdom slowly (over a week or two) closes. Meditation becomes a lot less interesting for awhile. The practices shifts off-cushion, but it no longer feels like practice. Then eventually I hit the cushion again, and the practice is no longer super-charged, but the baseline has changed, and I'm able to do things I wasn't able to do before, but I'm also not able to do quite as much as when I was going through the opening. And the practice becomes about exploring and working with the new limits.

And so I've seen my practice cycle this way several times this year, with most of the peaks signifying, if not a path, then certainly a new sensitivity to reality. There's also a psychological and even a physiological dimension to all this that I don't understand very well and will probably have a better grasp on once I'm further down the line and have more data to work with (I write everything down).

So that's my own very rough "opening and closing" model of awakening, where the attention seems to widen or narrow or move to one side or the other, and then suddenly burst forth, like a seed germinating, which will then mature and eventually pass on to something else, etc. It's cyclical but developmental. Talking about it makes me think I understand what Daniel means when he talks about fractals.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/24/12 9:15 AM as a reply to Russell ..
Russell:
I am starting to see why this happens and I can't explain it either.


Whereas I will probably be verbose and excitable until my parinibbana. :-)

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/24/12 11:01 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
What is dynamic mode?


This is what Kenneth says:

Kenneth Folk:
The dynamic yogi moves up and down the jhanic arc in each sitting, getting a little bit higher up the arc each time. [...] The static yogi goes to the first jhana, becomes absorbed there and spends some period of time attempting to master that level. He eventually feels comfortable moving on to the next level, and so on. Since this kind of extreme mastery of each stratum of mind takes a long time, he grows old, grey, and toothless long before he reaches the top... but he has a very blissed-out smile on his face!


Basically it means being a slop artist with jhana rather than, say, Pa Auk Sayadaw ;)

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/24/12 6:16 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
Kenneth would critique End In Sight's quoted text above by saying that even a pre-SE dark nighter could see emptiness in real-time, and even a stream-winner could cultivate that into a baseline.


Can you elaborate on what is meant by 'emptiness' here ?

The word is used to refer to a few of different things in spiritual circles, none of the definitions I am aware of seem to make sense here.

I get the physio-electric circuit thing, and think that is important as well. But I don't see it as an insight in to the nature of reality. But more as a rewiring that happens as a result of insight.

Fitter Stoke:

Instead, Kenneth's criteria for 3rd path is NS + 5 PL jhanas. The motivation for making NS a criteria is probably because that's Buddhaghosa's criteria in the Visuddhimagga (only Anagamis and Arahants can access it). I'm not sure what the motivation is for including the 5 PL jhanas. And then I'm not 100% sure how Kenneth interprets 4th path. Here's what he said back in 2009:


From the little I know about Andy's esteemed dharma teacher Kenneth Folk (no relation to Kenneth Lay), his model has changed is model quite a bit in the last couple of years. I think this is the most recent one...
9 stages of enlightenment - Kenneth Folk

This is how he describes '4th path' in that model:


Stage 5: The tipping point. Practitioner has a profound sense of completion, as though “done is what needs to be done.” (One interpretation of the 4th Path of Enlightenment. And here is my 2010 commentary on interpretation of the 4-Path model.) The longing to be enlightened seems to have melted away. With further ripening at this stage, it will be seen that there is more to be done; the practitioner still experiences many of the old neurotic patterns, but has some distance from them. “It’s still happening, but it doesn’t seem to be happening to me,” is a common report. How common is this stage? As a rough estimate, I’ve guided 20-25 or so folks to this stage over the last 5 years. I occasionally meet someone who has come to this through some other system. At this stage, the practitioner is identified with emotional feelings rather than a conceptual self. So he or she will resist and argue with more advanced practitioners about what comes next...



As an aside it is debatable whether what we call Jhanas or what we call NS is really what the Buddha was talking about in the Suttas or even what the authors of the commentaries like the Visuddhimagga were referring to. If you read some Thai Forest tradition people like Ajahn Brahm, they have much more strict criteria for what consitutes a Jhana.

Although, Burmese Vipassana, like all other buddhist traditions will claim that they trace back to the original teachings of the buddha it is unlikely that this is the case.

Burmese Vipassana, for instance, can only really only be traced back to the late 1800s, to Ledi Sayadaw, who learned it from some monks in caves in Burma. I personally think it is unlikely that there is 2000 years of unbroken lineage between the Buddha and those monks.

Much of the terminology that we use is really just forcing the fit with the traditional buddhist texts. For instance there is nothing in the texts that seems to indicate that a fruition = complete blackout.

Nevertheless I do agree that the MCTB is quite a useful and detailed resource. But caution that it should be taken as an experience in one sort of tradition not the ultimate one.

The stuff I am saying has all been discussed and debated to no end here in the past.

I think the models and claims are valuable in three ways:
1) It helps people understand that profoundly beneficial changes in the way the mind perceives are possible.
2) It helps in guide people who are stuck at a particular place.
3) It allows for an understanding that there may be something further, when one feels like they are done.

Aside from that it is best to focus on reducing suffering and not worrying too much about maps and stages.

You will find you naturally loose interest in the models and stages as you progress further.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/24/12 4:31 PM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
From the little I know about Kenneth Lay...


As far as I know, my esteemed teacher Kenneth Folk was not involved in the downfall of Enron.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/24/12 6:15 PM as a reply to Andy W.
Andy W:
From the little I know about Kenneth Lay...


As far as I know, my esteemed teacher Kenneth Folk was not involved in the downfall of Enron.


fixed emoticon

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/25/12 1:57 AM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
Well I've read the Kenneth Folk stages and I'm more confused than I have ever been...


Stage 7: Proprioceptive selfing is seen clearly. From the platform of the emotionally stable mind, it becomes possible to see that certain sensations, especially around the face, eyes, and forehead, are sporadically signaling “this is I, me, mine.” See Metzinger’s comments about Ronald Melzac’s neuromatrix and “a kind of proprioception that is so subtle, it’s almost unconscious” (paraphrased from memory, but here is the video). When the moments of operation of this proprioceptive selfing are juxtaposed, moment by moment, with non-selfing moments, the selfing is seen as painful and the mind conditions itself to stop doing it. This proprioceptive selfing seems to operates at several layers, however, because it comes back at a subtler level, as do feelings of fear, irritation, and aversion. Here is a Youtube video in which I sketch out the first 7 stages. (At the time, I did not know there were more stages available.)


Keep in mind this is two whole stages after 4th path - yet he is talking about physical sensations around the face that seem to be self? Isn't that, like, practically kindergarten stuff? How can you talk of even having a decent A&P much less stream entry much less 6th path without a good idea of physical sensations on your head and face that are habitually taken as self?

Personally I can identify a lot of the time with his description of Stage 8, the last stage, except that just seems like MCTB equanimity... I have never had fruitions or formless jhanas so that seems more reasonable to me.

Starting to lose faith in this whole maps business. Except inasmuch that your head blows up open once in a while which is presumably the psychoenergetic circuit opening or whatever.

Here's the N A simplified maps model: attention powers up (A&P) and synchronizes (Equanimity); the rest is mystic cruft. For better results keep repeating the process, the more you work out the more you can lift.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/25/12 2:39 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
... a lot of post-4th path meditators seem to be reticent or like to give delphic responses ("Who is asking this question?"). It makes me wonder whatever happened to the commitment to down-to-earth, straight talk about enlightenment that motivated the founding of this movement.


That's because it is so hard to talk about this stuff without horribly, horribly misleading people. Notice how MCTB puts everything in terms of technical practice, even the bits describing the results (when describing your experience, that is practice, right)? That's an ingenious way of doing it. But it's a bit dicey, too, because of the dis-empowering "the journey is the goal" fallacy. So far, any attempts of mine to talk about it in terms other than practice have resulted in what I sometimes call "ga ga goo!", i.e. total gibberish. Thus, "who is asking that question" is a description, even if it's a misleading one because it can be mis-used as an argument in a discussion: "emptier than thou"... when it's really a practice which can be used to break the mind-numbing loop of protecting the pretense we're protecting to pretend that protecting it is worth the pretense we're protecting ...

Enough of this ga ga goo business! Ehi passiko - come see - was how the Buddha is said to have put it, and that, too, is a practice instruction and result all in one.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/25/12 8:09 AM as a reply to Florian.
Florian Weps:
Enough of this ga ga goo business! Ehi passiko - come see - was how the Buddha is said to have put it, and that, too, is a practice instruction and result all in one.


I'm not exactly sitting around with my thumb up my ass, Florian. :-) I'm up to my elbows in this stuff. I AM COMING TO SEE.

But what's becoming clear is that you get different results from different practices. And the final product seems as though it has to do with the intersection between your personality and the practice. (And probably people pick practices and results that reinforce their core fixations.) I see that Kenneth has gone off in a direction different from the one chosen by Daniel, and they both seem to be different from Nikolai and maybe from you. It's interesting to know what the different possibilities are. But more than that, we're talking about years of time and effort, and we're talking about making real changes to the brain and the way one interfaces with the world. One needs that information to know what to pursue and what to avoid. You can't just say, "Oh, the Buddha said do this, so do it." You're not the Buddha. :-) None of us are doing what the Buddha was doing. We can't set personal examples the way the Buddha and his followers did.

Florian Weps:
Thus, "who is asking that question" is a description, even if it's a misleading one because it can be mis-used as an argument in a discussion: "emptier than thou"


Yeah. That's the sort of thing I had in mind with the complaint. The stink of enlightenment. Camping out in emptiness. Turning the master volume down on everything so nothing can reach you, including disagreement. Taking a lofty or elevated pose.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/25/12 8:13 AM as a reply to N A.
Here's the N A simplified maps model: attention powers up (A&P) and synchronizes (Equanimity); the rest is mystic cruft.


Meanwhile, the person who hasn't even gotten the A&P thinks you're pushing too hard, miss the entire point of meditation, and are possibly dangerous.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/25/12 8:43 AM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
D Z:
Fitter Stoke:
Kenneth would critique End In Sight's quoted text above by saying that even a pre-SE dark nighter could see emptiness in real-time, and even a stream-winner could cultivate that into a baseline.


Can you elaborate on what is meant by 'emptiness' here ?


I meant it as a placeholder for this:

End In Sight:
A sense that all experiences happen independently of 'me', are not perceived by 'me', are just the universe doing its thing, etc.


D Z:
I get the physio-electric circuit thing, and think that is important as well. But I don't see it as an insight in to the nature of reality. But more as a rewiring that happens as a result of insight.


Really? Because I don't particularly get it, and I'm doing it. :-)

I relate a little better to Daniel's description in the Simple Model, only because those are things I can directly perceive, whereas the chakra stuff in the physioenergetic model is a bit over my head. But my guess is that both of these things are happening, along with other stuff on an emotional or personality level. For instance, I've noticed that meditation has allowed me to access higher levels of development for my enneagram type than I was able to access before.

So, there are a lot of facets to the thing - phenomenological, psychological, physiological, "energetic", etc. - and we're only beginning to describe them well. But that means we have to keep pushing ourselves to nail the stuff down and not give up and say, "It's ineffable. We can't." That's a cop-out. Every experience has an aspect to it that's ineffable. That doesn't mean we don't try for a best approximation.

As an aside it is debatable whether what we call Jhanas or what we call NS is really what the Buddha was talking about in the Suttas or even what the authors of the commentaries like the Visuddhimagga were referring to. If you read some Thai Forest tradition people like Ajahn Brahm, they have much more strict criteria for what consitutes a Jhana.


I became very concerned about this a few months ago and ended up doing a lot of research on jhana as a result. You're right that we can't know for sure whether what we're doing is what the Buddha was doing. But I also can't know if what I'm doing is the same as what you're doing, even if we're using similar words to describe it. Ayya Khema had to rediscover the jhanas for herself. She had no one to teach them to her, so she went back to the Pali suttas and reverse-engineered them from the descriptions there.

The first result of my investigation was to conclude that different people are meaning different things by jhana, but more often than not, it seems to be a matter of degree of absorption and not kind. In other words, I think what Pa Auk Sayadaw calls "jhana" and what Kenneth Folk call "jhana" are the same sorts of things, but the former is teaching a much higher level of absorption. And then there are people like Leigh Brasington and Thannisaro Bhikkhu who appear to be doing something in the middle.

The second result was that I found out different techniques people were using to access jhana. I tried out a bunch of them, incorporated the ones that gave me the best results, and improved my jhana skills tremendously. Whether anyone outside my particular "school" or "scene" thought I had actually improved them quickly became beside the point for me, as I started to experience what was for me another obvious spiritual opening and concomitantly a greater level of peace and sanity.

Burmese Vipassana, for instance, can only really only be traced back to the late 1800s, to Ledi Sayadaw, who learned it from some monks in caves in Burma. I personally think it is unlikely that there is 2000 years of unbroken lineage between the Buddha and those monks.


I read a bunch about this around the same time I was freaking out about my jhanas. Do you read David Chapman's blog at all? He writes a lot about the history of Buddhism there. His main source seems to be The Making of Buddhist Modernism, which I haven't read yet.

Basically, the whole thing we call "meditation" was invented or reinvented in the last 150 years. At least "vipassana" was. This freaked me out a little at first, but then it became the impetus to go back to the Anapanasatti Sutta, read the instructions there, and retool my practice - with marvelous results.

Much of the terminology that we use is really just forcing the fit with the traditional buddhist texts. For instance there is nothing in the texts that seems to indicate that a fruition = complete blackout.


Except the description of Nirodha Samapatti in the Culavedalla Sutta sounds a lot like what we do.

Also, a lot of the stuff we do in pragmatic dharma, while not described in the Pali suttas, does come out of the commentaries and subsequent tradition. I don't see what the point is in saying that everything written or said about the practice in the 3rd and 4th centuries BCE is valid, but everything after that is just made up. It's all made up. The question is, what's reproducible, and what's going to give you the result you want?

Aside from that it is best to focus on reducing suffering and not worrying too much about maps and stages.


What's "suffering"? I don't get why maps and stages are suspect, but "suffering" is not? It's another interpretation or description of experience, one which must be subjected to scrutiny and testing, just like the states and stages themselves.

I don't buy the way people try to shut down conversation by falling back on the dogma of "suffering". Unless you drink the water you shit in or are dying of malaria, nobody here is "suffering".

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/25/12 9:41 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter,

It's interesting how vehement you are in opposing the notion of something that doesn't fit well into language. I can understand your suspicion, to a point. It vaguely resembles mushroom culture logic. But you're hearing it from people who are definitely not steeped in mushroom culture, and who seem to be doing their best to convey something to you.

I can believe in something being indescribable because I suspect that language and even reasoning are part and parcel of the experience of self. Although we see the misuse of riddles and poetic speech in self-defeating practice, that doesn't mean defeat was their original purpose or cause. What was their original purpose or cause?

It makes me curious how your practice will have evolved a month or two from now. Maybe you'll find some use in frustratingly vague and mysterious instructions like "don't know," "do nothing," or " surrender." It would be hard to surrender, I guess, if you'd mapped out ahead of time the pros and cons and specific outcome of surrender.

I understand the translation issue with dukkha, but the idea that no one suffers outside the third world is just so wrong. Have you ever experienced grief? A serious illness? Violence or other tragedy or trauma? Not to be a downer on Christmas, but there's something relevant here.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/25/12 10:36 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
Jason B:
Fitter,

It's interesting how vehement you are in opposing the notion of something that doesn't fit well into language. I can understand your suspicion, to a point. It vaguely resembles mushroom culture logic. But you're hearing it from people who are definitely not steeped in mushroom culture, and who seem to be doing their best to convey something to you.

I can believe in something being indescribable because I suspect that language and even reasoning are part and parcel of the experience of self. Although we see the misuse of riddles and poetic speech in self-defeating practice, that doesn't mean defeat was their original purpose or cause. What was their original purpose or cause?

It makes me curious how your practice will have evolved a month or two from now. Maybe you'll find some use in frustratingly vague and mysterious instructions like "don't know," "do nothing," or " surrender." It would be hard to surrender, I guess, if you'd mapped out ahead of time the pros and cons and specific outcome of surrender.

I understand the translation issue with dukkha, but the idea that no one suffers outside the third world is just so wrong. Have you ever experienced grief? A serious illness? Violence or other tragedy or trauma? Not to be a downer on Christmas, but there's something relevant here.


What I've noticed is that some people who have gotten up to 4th path have now gotten to places "beyond" or to the side of or whatever, and sometimes there are words for it, and sometimes not, and sometimes people are struggling with the words, and sometimes they're not. And I accept that there are various motivations for this. Some people are not strongly rooted in a phenomenological perspective - just like some people are not strongly rooted in a religious perspective. Some people have greater facility with language than others (look at the numerous, colorful metaphors Kenneth gives for areas that are very difficult to describe). Maybe some are running up against the limits of language itself (I think this is more common, even in ordinary experience, than most people realize, yet it's not an excuse to stop trying). And some people probably just don't care! And I think that's fine if they don't care - just so long as they don't take a 'tude when I and others do.

As for the translation of "dukkha", I feel there are a lot of problems with the word "suffering". Partly it's an intellectual interest in getting the right word to describe the right experience. I think we should argue about the descriptions of our experiences. No one is obligated to participate in them or to use words the way I want them to use them, but I probably won't shut up about it. :-)

But I think a lot of things worth looking at are concealed behind this dogma of suffering, as I've called it. We're going to cast doubt on states and stages and "intellectualizing", but never on the idea that existence itself is suffering. Really? It's very easy to use that term to deflect questions about the motivation for practice, all while solidifying those things. This was the point I tried to make at the end of the post on dukkha (I edited it about 15 mins after posting it, because I hate Jesus).

And yeah, I am going to stir up controversy by saying this. I don't think you're suffering. :-) Rather, I doubt it. More specifically, I would bet you're carrying a heavy personal weight right at this moment. I tend to assume that of everyone I interact with, because it's usually true. We're all struggling. Each of us has things in our lives that are radically not the way we want them to be.

But if we're going to be really honest with ourselves: how much of that - what percent of it - is really "suffering", and how much of it is just incredibly annoying? I'm talking about on a basic sensate level.

Yeah, "semantics", but just imagine for a moment that you're wrong about this. When I reflect upon things, I'm in a lot of physical pain right now. I know someone who's slowly dying of cancer - it's heartbreaking to watch. I have a train of emotional baggage extending back over the horizon. I have serious doubts about my ability to do anything worthwhile with my life. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of things in my experience or that could enter my experience that will cause me (extreme) emotional distress.

But the vast majority of things in my life, in my experience on a moment-to-moment basis, don't even come close to being bad let alone being something anyone would call "suffering". And yeah, here it does make sense to think about how bad things really could be - like if I lived 200 years ago, or if I lived a century ago, or if I were just unlucky enough to be born today in Somalia, where there isn't even a government, or Botswana, where health and wealth are equal to what they were in Britain in 1800.

Or for that matter, who knows what the hell will happen to me tomorrow? When I look around me, when I reflect on my experience, when I feel what's going on inside my body, when I think about where I've been and what I might be doing later, there's no shortage of pretty lousy stuff, but I have to admit that there's a whole lot to be grateful for, and it really minimizes the word when I try to refer to much (or any) of this as "suffering".

Maybe your experience is very different from mine. As I'm writing this, I'm thinking, "You know, maybe Jason has something really monstrous going on right now. His response sounded kind of ticked off." And so I hope I'm understood when I say that I don't want to diminish anything that's real for you. I think it's fine to say that life is not the way we want it to be. But to call the whole thing a heap of "suffering" is over the top. I think that kind of generalization and overuse is not helpful. It minimizes actual suffering, and it makes our lives out to be much worse than they are.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/25/12 6:47 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
It sounds like maybe you are just not relating to your own suffering as such these days, and that is the fruit of your practice. Good on ya! To some extent it betrays your argument about dukkha. Gaining insight into dukkha does greatly reduce real suffering, and the miniscule neuroses of the whining you decry.

Sorry if my posts sound harsh or argumentative. I am not suffering much at all. I appreciate your thoughts and all. Just wanted to partake of the discussion.

Don't hate Jesus. He died for all your damn namby-pamby boo-hooing. emoticon

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/25/12 7:27 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Jason B:
It sounds like maybe you are just not relating to your own suffering as such these days, and that is the fruit of your practice. Good on ya! To some extent it betrays your argument about dukkha. Gaining insight into dukkha does greatly reduce real suffering, and the miniscule neuroses of the whining you decry.

Sorry if my posts sound harsh or argumentative. I am not suffering much at all. I appreciate your thoughts and all. Just wanted to partake of the discussion.

Don't hate Jesus. He died for all your damn namby-pamby boo-hooing. emoticon


But my life was good before! :-) I'm a white straight dude. It's like playing the game on 'easy'.

I appreciate the discussion, too. Thanks for challenging me. I hope you continue to.

I'm also super-happy you are now - at least in terms of the nominal system I follow - third path, because we can continue to damage the idea that enlightened people don't hold strong opinions and don't argue. ;-) Fuck surrendering, and fuck Jesus!

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/25/12 8:45 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
I'm also super-happy you are now - at least in terms of the nominal system I follow - third path, because we can continue to damage the idea that enlightened people don't hold strong opinions and don't argue.


That is so true. My opinions continue to cause me great... dukkha.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/26/12 2:11 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
Florian Weps:
Enough of this ga ga goo business! Ehi passiko - come see - was how the Buddha is said to have put it, and that, too, is a practice instruction and result all in one.


I'm not exactly sitting around with my thumb up my ass, Florian. :-)


Now there's a hardcore practice idea... ;)

Fitter Stoke:
I'm up to my elbows in this stuff. I AM COMING TO SEE.

But what's becoming clear is that you get different results from different practices.


Well, yes, results... I get tanned from spending time in the sun, and I get calluses on my fingers from playing the guitar. I get jhanas from meditating. The thing is, "I" do not "get" enlightenment from spiritual practice. It's not like that. Result-orientation is a good motivator, but so is anger, or devotion - those are the rafts for crossing the flood, and they will be dropped.

Fitter Stoke:
And the final product seems as though it has to do with the intersection between your personality and the practice. (And probably people pick practices and results that reinforce their core fixations.)


Yeah, sure. People are different. That's how we can tell them apart.

Do you really believe this enlightenment business is about modifying yourself? Become a better preimage for the mirror on the wall or the reflective sheen of other people's eyes?

Fitter Stoke:
I see that Kenneth has gone off in a direction different from the one chosen by Daniel, and they both seem to be different from Nikolai and maybe from you. It's interesting to know what the different possibilities are.


Yeah, be an informed consumer. Choose any of the X brands. Do not leave the store!!!1!!1!!

Fitter Stoke:
But more than that, we're talking about years of time and effort, and we're talking about making real changes to the brain and the way one interfaces with the world.


Or the knees. I sometimes wonder what that fixation on neurology is all about. Of course people change over time. Of course people with similar interest will exhibit similar physical characteristics. But they never do imaging studies of meditator's joints and ligaments. Or their gut flora. It's only ever the brain.

Fitter Stoke:
One needs that information to know what to pursue and what to avoid. You can't just say, "Oh, the Buddha said do this, so do it." You're not the Buddha. :-)


I don't think it's like that at all. I do not believe there could ever be a simple n-step manual, "follow these few simple procedures, and you'll be enlightened".

Each one of us has to do this on their own. We'll face obstacles unique to each of us. We'll solve the puzzles in ways unique to us. And enlightenment will illuminate all the features which make us recognizable individuals - warts, shadows, darks corners, opennes, brightness, and kindness.

What we can teach, and codify, and put down in procedures to follow, are techniques. "To build a raft, it's useful to get as many of the chunks of styrofoam from the waste floating on the river as you can. If you can drill holes in them, that's good, but watch out, they crumble easily..." and so on. But we each have to launch that raft all by ourselves. We scramble across all alone, and when that raft starts falling apart and our legs get tangled in the plastic sheets just underneath the surface, well, we're already on our way, can't turn back, can't say "oh, I'll just avoid that next time and tell the others". This is your one shot. Your friends on both shores will cheer you on, but it's up to you to deal with whatever's in front of you at that moment, and "avoid" simply is not an option.

Fitter Stoke:
None of us are doing what the Buddha was doing.


What did he do? Found a cult? What's to stop you? Hang out with the homeless and the punks? What's to stop you? Get enlightened? What's to stop you?

But if the Buddha's example seems to daunting, that's no shame at all! Follow Jesus, he said his sincere followers would do even greater deeds than he did... or Socrates, he certainly led by example... Or any of the great saints and figures a few seconds of search-engine operating will turn up.

Fitter Stoke:
We can't set personal examples the way the Buddha and his followers did.


Oh come on. We're doing that all the time. When we eat a sandwich, we're setting an example. When we bicker over minute points of enlightenment-mapping-and-modelling, we're setting an example. When we make a mess of personal relationships, we're setting an example (remember Buddha and his vegetarian cousin?) Nothing special about setting personal examples.

Fitter Stoke:
The stink of enlightenment. Camping out in emptiness. Turning the master volume down on everything so nothing can reach you, including disagreement. Taking a lofty or elevated pose.


Spiritual bypassing, in other words.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/26/12 2:36 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:

What's "suffering"? I don't get why maps and stages are suspect, but "suffering" is not? It's another interpretation or description of experience, one which must be subjected to scrutiny and testing, just like the states and stages themselves.

I don't buy the way people try to shut down conversation by falling back on the dogma of "suffering". Unless you drink the water you shit in or are dying of malaria, nobody here is "suffering".


I think this type of discussion has value, and it is not my intent to shut it down. Let me try another way of explaining.


Why a claim to attainment is different from 'reducing suffering':

For the sake of this conversation, consider the following model of perspectives on reality...

1st person perception of 1st person perspective (I see x)
1st person perception of 2nd person perspective (She thinks y)
1st person perception of 3rd person perspective (It is 2'O Clock)
1st person perception of 4th person perspective (everyone has different opinions on what the best movie is)
1st person perception of 5th person perspective (all of the above views are valid to an extent)

When we meditate for spiritual enlightenment, the focus is on changing an aspect of our 1st person perception of the 1st person perspective (since everything is perceived through a 1st person viewpoint, there are ancillary effects).

Claims to attainment, maps and models are a 1st person perception of a 3rd person objective perspective. They have their uses, but meditation is so utterly about the 1st person perception of the 1st person perspective, that attempting to explain it in terms of 3rd person objective perspective language is very prone to errors.

Imagine describing something that tends to be a very 3rd person and objective thing like say the speed of light accurately in purely 1st person terms. (perhaps the best way to describe it is via describing an experiment one can perform to measure it)

It is similarly problematic to try to accurately describe 1st person perspective of reality resulting from meditative practice in 3rd person language of attainment.

This is different from something like 'lack of suffering' or 'inner peace' which is a description a quality of the 1st person subjective experience itself.

---------------------

Fitter Stoke:
Unless you drink the water you shit in or are dying of malaria, nobody here is "suffering"...

... But if we're going to be really honest with ourselves: how much of that - what percent of it - is really "suffering", and how much of it is just incredibly annoying? I'm talking about on a basic sensate level.


The usage of the word 'suffering' is a separate issue altogether. Niche fields often co-opt existing words which have very specific meanings in their context (eg. e-mail, web, forums, thread, script, java etc.). I can see why this contextual meaning of the word suffering is bothersome, but it isn't really too much of an issue to me.

In this context I am using suffering to mean any craving / aversion to the present moment of reality. Of course if you are being tortured there will be a lot of aversion, and if you are on vacation on a beach there will be little aversion. But there is some sort of baseline level.

To me this definition includes the first world problems of being bored, or stuck in traffic or a crappy song on the radio.

It is possible to reduce the feeling of annoyance in these situations to quite a significant extent.

Fitter Stroke:
I started to experience what was for me another obvious spiritual opening and concomitantly a greater level of peace and sanity.


This is what matters. Not whether one is at 1st path or 4th. The question is not whether the maps and stages are right, the question is whether they are useful in helping us get this type of progress.

Fitter Stroke:

So, there are a lot of facets to the thing - phenomenological, psychological, physiological, "energetic", etc. - and we're only beginning to describe them well. But that means we have to keep pushing ourselves to nail the stuff down and not give up and say, "It's ineffable. We can't." That's a cop-out.


This is a good counterpoint to balance out all the stuff I just wrote.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/26/12 8:46 AM as a reply to Florian.
I don't know what 4th path will feel like once it's done, but what I do know is what I experienced post-SE, and it upended every belief and/or expectation I had ever had. It was emptiness, for about 8 days. I remember thinking, there's no way anyone can teach this to anyone else, not just because it's indescribable, but because it's logically impossible. The person doing all the work, going to all the retreats, sitting and noting diligently, then watching stuff happen, undergoing Dark Night, kriyas, vibrations, what-have-you, talking about stages, wondering about attainments, getting into slug-fests about AF or whatever--that person is just plain gone, gone, gone. There's no one there now to experience the outcome. The outcome is you're gone. You can't experience something like that because when it hits you're just plain not there any more.

For me, it was alternately hysterically funny (I laughed a lot), terrifying, and peaceful. The rest of the time it was just plain weird. I didn't know whether I'd ever come back again (and please understand the nonsensical nature of that sentence--something or someone, I don't know who, was wondering this). Stuff was manifesting around and within, but there was no one experiencing it. I tried explaining it to my husband, and he said something like "O-Kay? . . . " All "I" (whoever it was) wanted (there was a wanting something there) was to come back. And eventually I did. And it was a big relief.

What also came back was desire, aversion, delusion, and a higher level of awareness of all of that stuff, plus a lot of mind-chatter about WTF had happened and how I didn't want it to happen again. There was a yogi on KFD who had had the same post-SE experience and he helped me a lot. And so eventually I, all of me, in one room at the same time, calmed down. And then, a few months later, it happened again, and it was dramatically different: it felt natural, perfect, complete, unforced. I just watched things come and go. I was driving. There was no danger (I didn't suddenly black out and crash the car), I just realized that sensations were manifesting and everything was happening just fine on its own without the person with the perpetually running mouth trying to control everything.

I had similar experiences for the following couple of months (once in a meeting; it was fine), then got second path. I had another afternoon and evening of emptiness about a month later, and since then I've been firmly in residence, no more emptiness for awhile. So I don't know anything about how these experiences line up with the path attainments we're discussing here. Sometimes it seems I've regressed. I gather this is typical of 3rd path. I do know that way back pre-SE, when I was like a kid with her nose plastered against the picture window to the candy store, I wondered whether one or maybe two paths would be enough. Now I can say that they're not, at least for me. But pre-SE, I was alternately fascinated and repelled by what advanced yogis had to say. Plus I couldn't make heads nor tails out of any of it. My understanding, such as it was, followed the discussion up to a point and then dropped off. What I can say now is that I see far more clearly than before just what samsara is like. I want to go to sleep again a lot of the time, but I can't do that for long without realizing how unsatisfactory it is.

Another point: I can't say that my experience of emptiness is "it," because I don't really know. I don't know how others experience this state (although it's absurd to put it that way) in comparison to me. The shift in some ways is very subtle, in other ways it's like an abyss opening up. It's not necessarily pleasant, because questions of pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral become moot. I also don't know how it lines up with other religious traditions, or other kinds of mystical experience. If I could have my druthers, I'd be the kind of mystic who got to experience heaven-on-earth and melt into ecstasy and talk to God. I'd like that a lot. But those people also had to come down to earth and try to function, and it wasn't necessarily easy. Emptiness can feel kind of lonely when it hits. For example, in my most recent experience, I was doing walking meditation and getting annoyed with mind-chatter, and I told myself, shut up please, you're missing the beauty of this natural setting here. And then it all stopped. And there was the natural setting, presumably as beautiful as it had been before when I was chattering about it, except it no longer registered as beautiful; it didn't register as anything, because it had nothing to do with me making judgments about it. It was just happening and my commentary (which by then had stopped) was utterly irrelevant.

One last thing I wonder about is the intersection between this process and the life-cycle. I'm coming at this business in my late 50's. I have a certain level of maturity, but I also have decades of habit energy that's accumulated, which drags me down. I also have the advantage that a lot of my life's questions have been answered, for better or worse. I know who I'm married to, what size family I have; I know what my work is, where I live, and how much money I'm making. There are issues ahead, of course: how long I'm going to live, how healthy I'll be (some of that up to me), who's going to die first, my husband or me, what our son will be like as an adult, what my future may hold. But the big questions that plague people in their twenties are answered. I wonder what it would be like to go through most of one's life-cycle after having awakened. In my case, that's moot. But for the sake of research--and these forums are, if nothing else, an opportunity to collect a wider body of information than has been collected before, as far as I know--it would be interesting to take the age-vector into account.

This is my report, a necessary supplement to my earlier one on this thread. I'm putting it out here in the hopes that it will contribute to our collective understanding of this business.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/26/12 11:41 AM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
Jane Laurel Carrington:
The person doing all the work, going to all the retreats, sitting and noting diligently, then watching stuff happen, undergoing Dark Night, kriyas, vibrations, what-have-you, talking about stages, wondering about attainments, getting into slug-fests about AF or whatever--that person is just plain gone, gone, gone.


Now you see this is what I haven't experienced, despite supposedly being at the same level as you Laurel. I just had cessations, and, shortly or immediately afterwards, a wonderful feeling of gratitude, tenderness, patience and joy towards everything for a while. I didn't have this world-turned-upside-down no-self experience (and I must admit I'm somewhat jealous!). I still think I went through the no-self door, but this was simply through meditating in Equanimity, really chilling out, and seeing these strange dreams arise in my experience, even though I was wide awake. I would get drawn into these surreal scenarios, watch the imagery play out, suddenly realise it had nothing to do with me and was completely occurring without my input and - CLUNK. Cessation time.

Perhaps no-self is waiting to kick me in the arse at a later path ;)

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/26/12 12:07 PM as a reply to Andy W.
From what I gather, my experience was an outlier. This doesn't make me better or more advanced or whatever than anyone else, but my experience is one of several (or many) different things that can happen to a person directly post SE. There was, as I mentioned, one other yogi on KFD who confessed to having been through the same thing--he said he felt like he was attending the funeral of a formerly-tortured best friend (sounds awful, I know, but it was something like a death, and all the mind-noise of samsara is part of that dukkha that we keep talking about). People advised me not to panic, that things would settle in time, and they did. And subsequent experiences were much different. One thing I can attest to is that I felt love and compassion in later experiences. There was, though, that sense of loneliness the last time. I am confused about that. I thought that one effect would be a sense of connectedness to the universe; in this case, there was no self to connect. I didn't particularly mind, but I was wondering about it.

From what I understand, what happened is a particularly vivid opening into anatta. I'm not trying to scare or even warn anyone, just describe it. I am an anxious person to begin with, so my initial response was a cyclone in my reptilian brain. More laid-back types might be spared that reaction. I should also say that the loss of the illusion of self is a loss, and some of us will inevitably need to mourn that loss, no matter how happy we may be to get beyond it. A part of me still wishes I could have my old self back, but this time have its desires gratified. If only.

Speaking of anxiety, I still have a lot of it as I meander along 3rd path. My phobias are alive and well. I thought maybe they'd exit stage left by now, but like cockroaches that would probably survive a nuclear explosion, they seem to have remarkable staying power. emoticon However, I don't feel as oppressed by them as I once did. I find myself thinking, oh well, there it goes again, nothing to see here, move on. I have diagnosed myself as an aversive type (no-brainer, really), and that particular reactivity continues. But I have a sense of distance and a sense of humor about it now. All in all, I am beginning to find my way to a much, much better place than I was in before. I am prone to dark night drama, but I can see it unfolding. I don't identify with it nearly as much. Above all, I am deeply, deeply grateful for the opportunity to engage in this practice. And having understood dukkha as clearly as I have, I feel a much more vivid compassion for the rest of humanity, along with myself.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/26/12 3:50 PM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
All very finely put, Laurel. Perhaps there's a dharma book in you yet.

I think Daniel has warned that after 2nd Path is the time to really jettison the perfection models, because, as you say, all those cockroaches come crawling back. I sometimes feel a bit stupid even thinking that I'm 2nd Path because of the way I seem to get caught in repetitive cycles of habit and reaction in just the same way as before from time to time.

My housemate has started doing a bit of meditation recently and asked me how I felt it had changed me. It's the big question that is so easy, and yet also so hard, to answer. This practice seems to change everything and nothing, all at the same time.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/27/12 8:19 AM as a reply to Andy W.
Laurel, thanks so much for sharing. You're right that it does contribute to our collective understanding.

I remember reading your account of stream-entry and being terrified! I was sending panicked e-mails to Beth, saying, "Laurel had a bad time! Maybe I will toooo!"

But my SE experience was pretty anti-climactic. I didn't even know that what I had experienced was stream-entry. There was a weird, unknowing event at a spot on the path which I thought was Reobservation, so I dismissed it as a transition into Equanimity. (That's the problem with having enough knowledge of the path to know what it is, but not having enough to really be able to use it constructively. "Let's just ignore enlightenment and get on to trying to get enlightened!") I didn't even care when the same thing happened the following day and the day after that. Meanwhile, the meditation is getting more and more powerful, and something really does feel different, but I can't put my finger on it. Everything just felt lighter.

I think the reason I didn't have a strong anatta experience is because I was undergoing those sorts of experiences all through the dark night. I've also experienced depersonalization before - this is what I thought was going to happen to me upon reading your account of SE - but it turned out that the path moment was something pretty different, much less threatening than that. I found I could simply reflect upon experience and see that it was empty and flowing without my control, so any bad affect that arose, I'd just reground in the body, and it would flush out. Poof! Reborn.

Plus, we have to keep in mind that we're not doing this training in a controlled context. Back in the day (=bullshit about to follow), there was a long training in sila prior to doing these practices. That conditioned the result. We're doing this in the context of our idiosyncratic personalities, our baggage, early 21st century society/culture, etc., so it makes sense that the results would vary.

And Andy, my suggestion to you is "wait and see". I didn't think this practice had made any impact on my Stuff until about a month and a half ago. It was a month and change after another opening, and when things settled down, it seemed like my baseline had shifted. I was still engaged in a lot of the same old bullshit, but I was doing less of that, finding it weird when I was down in the bullshit areas, which told me I was spending more time in less shitty areas than I was used to. Realizations like this are great impetus for practice, but it can take awhile for enough of them to accumulate, or for the necessary qualitative shifts to occur, before it finally dawns on you, "oh yeah, I have come pretty far."

It makes me happy that we're going through this process together, sharing notes, and giving one another encouragement. It is a very weird thing, hard to explain, and so the camaraderie means a lot to me.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/29/12 5:08 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
What a nice conversation! So good there are places this can happen!

Just wanted to mention a few things:

1) I had three interesting shifts post 2003: these I mentioned in some other post, but the first was when this veil of something felt like it was torn through the back of my head while driving home after work and working out and everything had this unusual sensate clarity to it since, though it is less impressive than it was, probably through getting used to it, then about 6 months later there was this time-aligning shift that dropped away substantial amounts of time pressure, then actually there was this shift about 4 days ago, and I haven't had a bodily twang reaction to any emotive thought or external stimulus since, and there have been a lot of external stimuli, but I have had periods that were similar before, and none lasted, so who knows?

2) My criteria for 4th: no sense of doer, controller, observer, subject, center-point at all, meaning a field devoid of a this side and a that side and it remains that way, such that the field is untangled through clear perception, and all phenomena are simply where they are, exactly as they are, known by themselves (to use unnecessarily complicated language), which is to say they all simply manifest as qualities needing no additional thing called awareness or anything to know them, as they simply do their thing in a way that is totally causal and integrated, as in the field of experience is totally integrated naturally by itself as it happens, which means that there is no split, no divide, no way anything could be divided, as what occurs simply is what is, where it is.

My current modeling thoughts are much more complicated than that, as in some post earlier somewhere, but that for me is still core essential understanding stuff.

Glad you all are here,

D

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/29/12 4:53 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
I'm a little late for the party, but here goes-

How many of the technical/MCTB paths have you completed?

Probably three by the KFD system, not so sure if I'm that far according to Daniel's definition.

How many of the 8 standard (4 rupa and 4 arupa) jhanas have you attained?

I can get them all, but not always hard.

How many of the 5 Pure Land jhanas have you attained?

I'm pretty sure I have access to them all.

Have you attained Nirodha Samāpatti?

I have access to something that I think is NS, but I don't practise it very often.

Has your progress been evaluated/monitored by a teacher?

No, although I often think that would be a good idea. The lack of evaluation casts a shadow of doubt on attainments.

If you have completed all four technical/MCTB paths, have you also attained or mastered any territory that you think is “above” those paths? If so, describe in detail.

n/a

Do you have attainments or mastery in traditions other than Buddhism?

No.

What does your current practice consist in, and how long have you been at it?

I first started meditating around 10-15 years ago and was quite dedicated for maybe a year or so, but then gave it up, Knowing what I know now, I was probably in A&P territory. I started again about a year and a half ago after a decade of staring at the ceiling.

Currently in my practice I'm throwing a bit of everything at the wall: vipassana, koans, jhanic arcs, straight samatha and mainly trying to tune into emptiness.

What are some of your current goals, and when do you think you'll accomplish them?

Fourth path! I no longer think it's productive to say when this will happen..other than NOW!

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
12/30/12 11:34 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
I'm curious to know where the advanced (above stream-entry) meditators here are in terms of their attainments, current practice, and goals. Answer these questions if you're so inclined:

1. How many of the technical/MCTB paths have you completed?

2. How many of the 8 standard (4 rupa and 4 arupa) jhanas have you attained?

3. How many of the 5 Pure Land jhanas have you attained?

4. Have you attained Nirodha Samāpatti?

5. Has your progress been evaluated/monitored by a teacher?

6. If you have completed all four technical/MCTB paths, have you also attained or mastered any territory that you think is “above” those paths? If so, describe in detail.

7. Do you have attainments or mastery in traditions other than Buddhism?

8. What does your current practice consist in, and how long have you been at it?

9. What are some of your current goals, and when do you think you'll accomplish them?

10. Anything else you’d like to add?


1. My current working hypothesis is that I've now completed two technical/MCTB paths. (Second path came around 1.3 months after first path)

2. After MCTB 1st Path there was a period where I was able to systematically enter very hard jhanas for the four rupa jhanas. The first three of these I was able to do in a very textbook like fashion (clearly identify all factors of the jhana and watch how when they drop the jhana transition occurred). I've spent time in the 5th and 6th jhana though nothing "hard" (except for perhaps right after SE) and beyond that I've had experiences that are not clear enough for me to say anything intelligent about them.

3. None

4. None

5. Nope. So far I've been getting away with reading old threads from DhO and various threads from KFD as many of my questions were answered there before (this is also why I generally don't post much). However, after the last baseline shift things have gotten a lot more varied/subtle so I've been contemplating reaching out to a teacher or set of peers for regular correspondence. I've never had a dharma teacher before (actually I've never even set foot in a Buddhist monastery before) so I'm not actually sure what a student-teacher relationship entails. I've also never done a retreat, so I'm contemplating going on one of those... however I'm currently a young single person living alone with a very flexible schedule, so I honestly don't have any difficulty in maintaining somewhat monastic conditions at home when I feel like it.

6. N/A

7. Nope.

8. I mainly do anapanasati. Sometimes I try Satipatthana but for both practices there are now a number of questions I have about how to go about doing the practice (will probably post another thread about this a little later). I try to do about two hours of sitting per day. I also try and watch the breath for 5-10 minutes every 2-3 hrs at work to keep momentum going.

9. Further baseline shifts and the realization of shunyata. MCTB 3rd and then 4th path? Right now I've just somewhat dramatically expanded the territory of mind I'm aware of and so just working with that and learning how to watch it and study it is my main interest. I try to convince myself I'm doing all this to reach the end of suffering, but honestly I like meditation a lot because it's just really interesting (it's like a sport... I enjoy it the way I enjoy weight-lifting or solving physics problems or programming?).

10. Have you guys read AnEternalNow's journal ebook (from his blog)? I'll probably post a thread later on to encourage discussion about it once I finish reading it. (It's really interesting and almost feels like a follow up to MCTB in a way)

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
1/11/13 7:37 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
I'm late to the party. But I feel like contributing nonetheless.

How many of the technical/MCTB paths have you completed?
I'm up in high equanimity on the first path. I guess. I'm not sure how second path is marked, since I'm not sure what distinguishes a path fruition from the blips I'll occasionally have during sits.

How many of the 8 standard (4 rupa and 4 arupa) jhanas have you attained?
Fairly sure that I've hit all of them, but the after the fifth and sixth things get confusing. I can access the fifth and sixth fairly easily, but I haven't really nailed down the characteristics that I need to focus on to enter into the other two upper ones.

How many of the 5 Pure Land jhanas have you attained?
Going through that guided meditation that was posted in this thread, I'm fairly confident I hit PL1. I've fallen into it--or been ricocheted out of the arupa jhanas into it--before; the others, nope.

Have you attained Nirodha Samāpatti?
Negative.

Has your progress been evaluated/monitored by a teacher?
Negative.

If you have completed all four technical/MCTB paths, have you also attained or mastered any territory that you think is “above” those paths? If so, describe in detail.
N/A

Do you have attainments or mastery in traditions other than Buddhism?
Nope.

What does your current practice consist in, and how long have you been at it?
I get up, drink some coffee, and sit for 30 minutes or so. On weekdays. Weekends, I get up, drink some coffee, and sit for 30 minutes to an hour. During the day, if I have time, I do some informal walking meditation. I also make a point of it to eat up the sensuous details of the world. If I'm feeling the inkling, I'll sit again at night.
I've been at it rigorously for about the last half year. Before that, sporadically for a couple of months when the mood struck me. Before the last, more disciplined practice, I lacked, as they say, follow through.

What are some of your current goals, and when do you think you'll accomplish them?
I want to hit second path, and I want to hit it soon. I've been feeling "close" recently. We'll see when that happens. After that, onward, upward, over the mountain, etc.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
1/12/13 12:29 PM as a reply to Jake D..
Jake D.:

Going through that guided meditation that was posted in this thread, I'm fairly confident I hit PL1. I've fallen into it--or been ricocheted out of the arupa jhanas into it--before; the others, nope.


I thought that any the PL jhanas are anagami-only territory. Meaning that, if you can get them, you are therefore 3rd path.

BTW if you have completed one insight cycle, and had a cessation, that is first path. If you did it again, that is 2nd path.

RE: Attainment/Practice Survey
Answer
1/12/13 3:34 PM as a reply to Jake D..
Jake D.:
I'm late to the party. But I feel like contributing nonetheless.

How many of the technical/MCTB paths have you completed?
I'm up in high equanimity on the first path. I guess. I'm not sure how second path is marked, since I'm not sure what distinguishes a path fruition from the blips I'll occasionally have during sits.

How many of the 8 standard (4 rupa and 4 arupa) jhanas have you attained?
Fairly sure that I've hit all of them, but the after the fifth and sixth things get confusing. I can access the fifth and sixth fairly easily, but I haven't really nailed down the characteristics that I need to focus on to enter into the other two upper ones.

How many of the 5 Pure Land jhanas have you attained?
Going through that guided meditation that was posted in this thread, I'm fairly confident I hit PL1. I've fallen into it--or been ricocheted out of the arupa jhanas into it--before; the others, nope.

Have you attained Nirodha Samāpatti?
Negative.

Has your progress been evaluated/monitored by a teacher?
Negative.

If you have completed all four technical/MCTB paths, have you also attained or mastered any territory that you think is “above” those paths? If so, describe in detail.
N/A

Do you have attainments or mastery in traditions other than Buddhism?
Nope.

What does your current practice consist in, and how long have you been at it?
I get up, drink some coffee, and sit for 30 minutes or so. On weekdays. Weekends, I get up, drink some coffee, and sit for 30 minutes to an hour. During the day, if I have time, I do some informal walking meditation. I also make a point of it to eat up the sensuous details of the world. If I'm feeling the inkling, I'll sit again at night.
I've been at it rigorously for about the last half year. Before that, sporadically for a couple of months when the mood struck me. Before the last, more disciplined practice, I lacked, as they say, follow through.

What are some of your current goals, and when do you think you'll accomplish them?
I want to hit second path, and I want to hit it soon. I've been feeling "close" recently. We'll see when that happens. After that, onward, upward, over the mountain, etc.


There are some ambiguities here, making it difficult to see exactly where you are in terms of the technical path system. This isn't a big deal because (a) the point is happiness, not paths, and (b) the paths probably don't carve a yogi's progress at the joints perfectly, anyway.

So it's unclear whether you're (a) merely reviewing the first path fruition, (b) have had the second path fruition and are reviewing that, or (c) are cycling (i.e., on the way to 3rd path).

Another ambiguity is that you've got a PL jhana - a criteria for 3rd path - yet you're saying you only have one path under your belt. Hmmm!

If you really care about nailing down where you are and getting some pointers, I suggest doing a Skype session with an advanced yogi (post 4th path and/or someone who knows this stuff like the back of their hand) here or over on KFD. You could probably hammer out the issue in a couple of sessions.

Of course, if you don't really care and just want to take a "wait and see" approach, there's nothing wrong with that. This doesn't have to be done according to some exact rubric. And if you were able to break ground into PL1 and are getting fruitions, you're probably moving along at any rate and are bound to have a peak experience soon.