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A&P or Fruition
Answer
1/3/13 7:08 AM
I had an experience 2-3 weeks ago and I am finding it difficult to understand whether it was fruition (which was my immediate thought) or A&P as several of the features seem to fit this.

Some background - I had my first big 'experiences' and a profound dark night experience 25 years ago in the context of Christianity without any understanding of it and was probably stuck there for many years. 2 years ago in the context of a Buddhist introductory meditation course I had a spontaneous kundalini awakening (visions, altered states, energy manifestations) - again without knowing what it was. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster since - lots of experiences, lots of dark night stuff. I have a daily meditation practice (but have never done vipassana) and still have varying amount of movement in meditation. Daniel's book was suggested about a year ago and a lot of it resonated. Since reading it I have had a general sense of being in some of the stages but have not really worked with it.

Before the experience I was in what I thought was reobservation/equanimity. I felt in a state of flux. There was a general sense of listlessness/boredom/meaninglessness, with no need or ability to do or plan anything. I had been unable to read/listen to anything spiritual for some weeks. Nothing was really bothering me and there was one big provocative incident that I just had no reaction to at all - people commented on my calmness. The incident happened during sleep. I woke, probably 3/4 hour in with a strong sense of disintegrative vibration. I have that in sleep from time to time often enough for it not to be particularly unusual. It was associated with some of the arm movements (kriya) that I used to have in meditation. This was followed by seeing straight beams of light with twinkles in them and then everything flashed on and off three or four times with a kind of jolt when things came back. My immediate thought was that it was a fruition and I was happy.

I have had one other experience over a year ago that I wonder in retrospect whether it was a fruition and had some similarities, but I had not read the book at that point so wasn't observing the context. I was sitting in bed reading and an image of the universe came into mind (not with the transcendental quality of some of my past experiences). Everything then flashed on and off three or four times.

Back to the recent experience, the next morning I felt more 'solid' than for weeks ('back to normal') and I seemed to run through the cycles up to equanimity over the course of the day. Then the next day things really changed. I had severe memory difficulties for a couple of days, quite frightening at the time, but in retrospect were associated with useful insights into acceptance and letting go. At the same time, I became obsessed with really understanding the insight cycles and couldn't read enough about them. It feels really important. I also had a couple of days around this time of very concentrated meditation, going very easily into the formless realms.

Since then I feel that I am running through cycles quite quickly. I have had two other night-time experiences each about a week apart that I immediately 'recognised' as fruitions, but the next day had doubts. In both I woke with a strong sense of vibration; then there is a big sense of expanding energy and then there is an event. In both of these episodes there has been a sense of reality twisting but not really a strong unknowing component and neither have been particularly clear.

I am quite confused about what has been happening, although I know that things will happen whether I understand what is going on or not. On reading the book, there are many features that could be A&P and don't seem to fit for fruitions, but am I having multiple A&P events without fruition (which I thought didn't happen) and what has happened subsequently doesn't seem to fit that either.

RE: A&P or Fruition
Answer
1/3/13 8:48 AM as a reply to Helen Gibson.
The sense of things flashing on and off, the rapid cycling, the increased concentration ability, and even the memory loss, to me are strongly suggestive of path.

RE: A&P or Fruition
Answer
1/3/13 8:53 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
Jason B:
The sense of things flashing on and off, the rapid cycling, the increased concentration ability, and even the memory loss, to me are strongly suggestive of path.


Seconded.

RE: A&P or Fruition
Answer
1/3/13 9:55 AM as a reply to Helen Gibson.
Hmmmm....

There are multiple contradictory elements to the thing, in no particular order.

Anything with strong vibrations and lights makes me think A&P, as does things in the middle of the night.

Memory problems can be dissolution also, as well as Equanimity, so that one is hard to sort out.

Frightening: fear?

Obsession with practice and reading all about it: could be A&P or Stream Entry.

It is worth noting that one of the best ways to screw someone up is to convince them they got stream entry when they didn't.

Cycling: might be stream entry: perhaps more about that would be good, like what happens if you sit for an hour and just let things do whatever they do.

Expanding energy to event in the night: again, could be A&P related stuff, which can linger and go on for a while: I know of reports of A&P stuff lasting months...

Have you spoken with anyone in person/video chat about this stuff?

RE: A&P or Fruition
Answer
1/3/13 12:11 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thank you everyone for your replies. I posted really because after the event I spoke about I read the sections in the book and the description seemed like A&P but I don't feel that I've gone simply into dark night territory and some night time events are still happening, so I feel confused. Although I have read your book, I don't feel I really have a handle on this stuff as yet.

I am not looking for this to be called stream entry if it is not. I just want to understand what is going on.

I have had A&P things going on for a long time in the past. With the event 2 years ago, I had a full week of big experiences and the effortless meditation and raptures lasted for several weeks after that. I am not feeling rapture with this. It also came on the back of feeling tired and sleeping more rather than less. The day before it happened I had a 'Going for Refuge' ceremony with the Buddhist group that the first event happened with and I felt happy. I don't know if that provoked something.

The memory problems were frightening because the thought arose that they might be due to a medical condition and so permanent. That was where the sitting with them, accepting and letting go came in. They settled after a couple of days. There has never been any fear around the vibration events.

An example of what I call cycling (I may be misinterpreting this) has been happening the last couple of days. Yesterday morning we were driving back from family and I had a really strong sense of connection with the landscape and everything. In the afternoon, I sat to meditate; there was some jerkiness of breath. My head twisted to the left (something that happened consistently about a year ago). I had really hot hands. Through the meditation there was a really strong sense of very fast vibrations. I watched a film in the evening and felt good. My sleep was a little disturbed and I woke once with the sense of vibration, but none of the other features. This morning on waking all sense of well being had evaporated. The sense of vibrations during meditation was slow to begin with but did speed up. The meditation was not very concentrated. There were non-specific sensations of anxiety and sadness. After meditation I became really anxious and upset around some family things, thought my son couldn't cope with a situation, had an argument with my husband etc. etc. This afternoon things have calmed down although still I feel a little buzzy. I can't remember why I got so upset this morning.

My teacher in the Buddhist group I am with suggested your book, although this approach is not part of the tradition. He has generally listened through my experiences and said it sounded like I'm going though the insight stages but nothing more specific. I wrote to him about the event but he has not commented yet (he is on retreat).

RE: A&P or Fruition
Answer
1/3/13 12:28 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
It is worth noting that one of the best ways to screw someone up is to convince them they got stream entry when they didn't.


That's definitely the last thing I want to do. Helen, I would defer to Daniel here. One place I may have been tripped up is the mention of cycling, which I took at face value. Post-SE cycling is pretty distinctive and usually fast. So, you start in A+P and clearly experience subsequent stages until you hit EQ. At that point the ability to repeat some kind of "fruition" should appear. Then right back to A+P. Is that what's happening?

RE: A&P or Fruition
Answer
1/3/13 2:44 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Yes, and let me be the second again, this time to apologize. The culture of openness about attainments is helpful, but only if people treat these things competently. I skimmed your OP, formed an impression, saw Jason's was similar to mine, know he's been over the territory many times, and assented. Generally not a good policy as these sorts of milestones are taken by yogis to be very important.

That being said, reading your post more carefully this time, I have similar-ish impressions, but I'm uncertain about the exact significance. Stuff happening in the middle of the night is very A&P-ish. The advice to sit for an hour and to watch very carefully what happens is good. You should do that anyway, of course, but detailed observation that way over the course of a few days can probably help more advanced yogis here help you sort it out.

RE: A&P or Fruition
Answer
1/3/13 3:11 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
It's OK, Jason. Thanks for answering. I think the answer would be no. I think I more often cycle in dark night and equanimity and I don't have the sense that I have a fruition every time. I think things are complicated by the kundalini type phenomenon of the last couple of years. The initial event was definitely A&P, but the two years since have been littered with 'transcendental' events (visions, unitive experiences, experiences of pure awareness) and continuing energy manifestations, notably movement in meditation. Reading Daniel's book, these things seem typical of A&P, but I definitely haven't felt in A&P for all that time. Things, thankfully, have settled over the past year and are less 'ecstatic' although still tip from time to time (especially on retreat).

After the last 'event' I spoke about (which is pretty minor in the scale of things) I have been left with the sense that it is really important for me to explore these insight cycles, but I am having difficulty in placing them in my experience. I just want to learn more about what is happening and I am grateful for any advice on that and the best way to proceed.

RE: A&P or Fruition
Answer
1/3/13 3:13 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Ane thank you too, Fitter. I will monitor what is happening in my sitting over the next few days emoticon

RE: A&P or Fruition
Answer
1/3/13 3:39 PM as a reply to Helen Gibson.
Helen Gibson:
It's OK, Jason. Thanks for answering. I think the answer would be no. I think I more often cycle in dark night and equanimity and I don't have the sense that I have a fruition every time. I think things are complicated by the kundalini type phenomenon of the last couple of years. The initial event was definitely A&P, but the two years since have been littered with 'transcendental' events (visions, unitive experiences, experiences of pure awareness) and continuing energy manifestations, notably movement in meditation. Reading Daniel's book, these things seem typical of A&P, but I definitely haven't felt in A&P for all that time. Things, thankfully, have settled over the past year and are less 'ecstatic' although still tip from time to time (especially on retreat).

After the last 'event' I spoke about (which is pretty minor in the scale of things) I have been left with the sense that it is really important for me to explore these insight cycles, but I am having difficulty in placing them in my experience. I just want to learn more about what is happening and I am grateful for any advice on that and the best way to proceed.


I notice that you mentioned in your original post that you don't do Vipassana. If Stream Entry is your goal Vipassana would be the way to go. Also, it will begin to give you a better sense of the patterns in your practice. Most yogis here will recommend noting as Daniel describes it in MCTB.

A+P can be so many different things at the same time that it's easy to read into it. I spent four months at that stage practicing diligently but incorrectly because I had an incorrect self-diagnosis. (Some things seem to never change ;) Once I got that straightened out, progress came readily.

Keep us posted.

RE: A&P or Fruition
Answer
1/3/13 8:54 PM as a reply to Helen Gibson.
Stream-entry should be the elimination of sakkaya-ditthi (self-view or concept), vicikiccha (skeptical doubt) and silabbata-paramasa (clinging to precepts).

If these factors are still present you are not a stream-enterer, it's actually very simple, stream-entry is contrived, it occurs through one's own volition, will-power, effort and desire etc. It does not happen on accident, it does not happen to you, it happens because you make it happen. If your experience merely "happened" to you, without you doing anything, or having a committed, conscious, practice, then I highly doubt that it's stream-entry.

Stream-entry is sort of like getting into the flow of it, one initiates the process, BUT KEEPS GOING, the commitment to see the entire process through to the end is there and one has no doubts that ONE CAN DO IT.

Now of course if that conviction is absent, I am hesitant to diagnosis this as anything. You see? The experience is not important, it doesn't matter if you blacked-out for 45 seconds, the point is, what did you do?

RE: A&P or Fruition
Answer
1/4/13 6:01 AM as a reply to Not Important.
Not Important:
Stream-entry should be the elimination of sakkaya-ditthi (self-view or concept), vicikiccha (skeptical doubt) and silabbata-paramasa (clinging to precepts).


I agree with this. It doesn't matter exactly how you perceive "big" experiences during meditation or sleep or altered states. Ultimately the question you need to answer is: What do you know about yourself that you didn't know before? You can't really answer this question with words, but that doesn't mean it's irrelevant. It's easier to talk about things like light shows or cessations than it is to talk about exactly what it is that a stream enterer understands about the nature of existence and the nature of self, but the latter is nevertheless the defining aspect, not the former.

Some more concrete remarks relating to my own experiences (because they seem a little different from what people usually describe): The whole cycling thing can be totally misunderstood when you meditate throughout everyday life rather than on an intensive retreat. Between A&P and SE, I often felt like I was cycling through the nanas, but I found it normal. I thought that's how everyone experiences it: You sit down, then you notice the arising and passing away of phenomena, then you notice the fear based on dissolution, then sadness, and then you are stuck there, which means you "are" in the adinava nana. A couple of weeks later, you may sit down and go through the same process within the first few minutes, but get all the way to equanimity. This then means you're in the sankharupekkha nana. The truth is that actual pre-path experience is probably somewhere between the description that I gave and the description you seem to get from people who went through it all on a retreat, where everything is apparently more clear-cut and intense. Anyway, long story short: Just because you feel like you're cycling doesn't mean you have had path.

One thing I know almost for certain: When I wake up to some sort of light show or absorptive experience or intensely pleasant feeling of any kind, it's A&P. The "flashing on and off three or four times" that you describe sounds very much like A&P. It's hard to describe to someone who hasn't had SE exactly how that kind of flashing differs from a fruition, but a fruition/cessation is a much greater discontinuity in existence than what I would normally describe as "flashing on and off," but then again, these are all just words, and they may mean different things to different people.

Another thing that doesn't sound quite right is your description of equanimity. A "general sense of listlessness/boredom/meaninglessness, with no need or ability to do or plan anything" generally precedes equanimity, but when the 11th nana ("equanimity") is fully formed, you feel a lot better than that description would suggest. You're not "excited" or "exhilerated" or anything, but you have a profound sense of contentment and acceptance, not just resignation to the fact that you can't change anything anyway. You understand and love the fact that everything that ever happens is just as excellent an opportunity to observe the innermost workings of reality as anything else that ever happens. That's what true sankharupekkha is about.

My vote is definitely A&P on the experiences you have described. If you want people (and there are many more qualified than myself on here) to diagnose you better, you could try putting into words what it is that you have found out about what you are and how you exist. For example: You know how every event you experience goes hand-in-hand with your own awareness of the event. What is this awareness? What is "the watcher"? Do you know anything about it now that you didn't know before? How is an instance of your own awareness different from an instance of anything else happening? Do you know anything about this difference now that you didn't know before?

Take all this with a grain of salt though. I'm almost certain I have had SE, but I'm certain I have not had 3rd path.