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Stream Entry: Sizing It Up

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Stream Entry: Sizing It Up
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1/19/13 3:00 PM
So I think I got stream entry about a month ago. My idea of what stream entry would entail seems to have been far off the mark, which leaves room for a bit of doubt as to whether or not it was actually stream entry. However, the doubt is mostly gone. I'm left sizing up stream entry and seeing how exactly things changed.


Naively, I expected lots of drastic, pronounced changes that were truly unrealistic, such as a constantly happy outlook, infinite compassion, perma-equanimity, intense jhanic ability, obviousness of fruitions, mastery over fruitions, supercharged intelligence, etc...


Outlook:

I can definitely still get mad and experience stress and pain. However, it seems that after the problem or misfortune occurs, I don't really stay upset, it just dissipates. This is definitely in contrast to before, where problems could stay on my mind for a long time.

Pleasure seems so guiltless. Everything actually seems fairly guiltless. It isn't that I feel no moral obligation, it's just that the rules and preconceptions of morality and behavior just don't seem to sway, scare, threaten, or influence me. I wouldn't feel guilt ordering a pizza, ten ice cream cones, and burgers and eating it all at once. I wouldn't feel any sense of tension or lacking if I was planning to work out but wasn't able to for the day. If I thought I left the door unlocked at home, I wouldn't be stressed about it, since what can you do when you're completely unable do anything about the door? It's a subtle change because it's nothing new at all, it's just absence of something old. I think this must be what people are talking about when they talk about everything being less sticky. Why they chose that word, I don't know... heh. Everything is less important to me. "Important to me" can easily just be a way of justifying stressing out about something. But you realize eventually, there is no reason to be subject to stress, since the self-stressing really doesn't do any good.

Here's something I deal with a lot. What the hell do I even do? It all seems so vast and disconnected and, not necessarily trivial, but still void of meaning in some way. I feel like some sort of atom that got loose from the molecule, like the gravity of life just isn't pulling me. That doesn't mean I'm lethargic. It's just that I look at my life and aspirations, and it all just feels so empty and unimportant. I still have passion for my hobbies and such, but it's all just static on the tv. There is no problem with this though! It isn't a depressive type thing. More just like... wow, open wide world, what the heck to do?

Jhana/Nana stuff:

Probably one of the greatest hints that I indeed got stream entry is the fact that I'm finding myself in "altered states" quite often, most noticeably the A&P and equanimity. Since stream entry, I do close to no meditation whatsoever, and I'll often be doing whatever with friends, then see, oh, this is definitely equanimity. Or I'll just be playing games, and close my eyes for a little, and, whoa, A&P! I get absorbed in stuff a lot, maybe in a jhanic way. That's vague but I haven't pursued it enough to come to a conclusion.

The other great hint is that I'm just not at all worried about practice. I remember that pre-SE, I was so gung-ho on practicing all the time for hours and felt so much gravity towards it. I just had to get to SE, just had to, just had to! I felt so not okay, not having gotten it. Funny, since now that I think I've gotten it, I wonder what the big deal even is. I could have been this way all along, maybe, if I knew how to just not worry. But, like I said, the change isn't pronounced since it's more the absence of things that is noticeable.

Emptiness? I think I understand this now. It happened in late equanimity, where things really started to feel like not-I. They were all just there, in the field of perception. Now, if I try to tune into it, I can get that feeling, where everything is just where it is. Maybe this is the whole "in the x, just the x" deal. If I tune into how nothing is self, I find myself in an equanimious state. It leaves me feeling very hollow, particularly in the face.


Great! Fantastic! Highly recommended! I'll write more if I think of anything else on the topic.

RE: Stream Entry: Sizing It Up
Answer
1/19/13 6:25 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
That seems awesome, not having to practice anymore. Hell... I'll work harder just so I won't have to later on. But then again... that's not the 'end of the road' is it? (lol... I know impish of me eh?)

RE: Stream Entry: Sizing It Up
Answer
1/19/13 9:43 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Mind over easy:

Jhana/Nana stuff:

Probably one of the greatest hints that I indeed got stream entry is the fact that I'm finding myself in "altered states" quite often, most noticeably the A&P and equanimity. Since stream entry, I do close to no meditation whatsoever, and I'll often be doing whatever with friends, then see, oh, this is definitely equanimity. Or I'll just be playing games, and close my eyes for a little, and, whoa, A&P! I get absorbed in stuff a lot, maybe in a jhanic way. That's vague but I haven't pursued it enough to come to a conclusion.



Do you enjoy these "altered states?" Are they permanent? Self?


Also,

How is your communication/living situation with friends/family/loved ones? How do they respond to your practice? What do you do/how do you react to such responses?


I mention these as they were (and in many ways still are) big issues after my supposed stream entry (back in may).

RE: Stream Entry: Sizing It Up
Answer
1/20/13 9:21 AM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Mind over easy:
I think this must be what people are talking about when they talk about everything being less sticky. Why they chose that word, I don't know... heh.


Sticky as opposed to non-stick. The more you develop your mind, the more Teflon-like it becomes. I think it's a pretty good word.

Mind over easy:
It happened in late equanimity, where things really started to feel like not-I.


This was my experience also, but I think in my case it was more abrupt and clear than what you seem to describe. I was sitting there, and my being consisted of a fast, alternating sequence of events. It was always an event, then the knowing of the event, event, knowing, event, knowing, etc. Then literally from one moment to the next, the duality was gone, and I saw clearly how the "knowing" events are just as not-I as the other events.

My initial cessations, on the other hand, were not as clear and magnificent. It took me several days before I even realized that I wasn't just nodding off due to tiredness. Yeah, there was a lot of bliss, but at that stage, there were lucid dreams and unknown states, some of them very blissful, happening every few days it seemed.

Just in case you're interested in my opinion: There is nothing in your post that would suggest to me that your experience wasn't SE, although I'm not sure. Congratulations anyway. (Honestly, sometimes when I read the description of the 1st nana at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/mahasi/progress.html, I have to admit there is a possibility that what my friends and I are calling SE is really just the 1st nana, but with each passing month, I believe this to be less and less likely.)

RE: Stream Entry: Sizing It Up
Answer
1/20/13 12:24 PM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
How is your communication/living situation with friends/family/loved ones? How do they respond to your practice? What do you do/how do you react to such responses?


Good questions. My family doesn't really know about my practice at all. They're very Mormon and are certainly against the kind of practice I do. Other than that, communication hasn't necessarily changed a lot. I think I'm more patient and sympathetic, with basically all people.

Something I've noticed with communicating with friends about meditation stuff is how the will to communicate these experienced has changed. I used to be so damn fired up about sharing my experiences, and thinking they were the most important thing in the world. This is definitely more pronounced at the A&P, but I had the strong desire to share with everyone, especially towards the end of the path. However, after I got stream entry, all of that just vanished.

I just don't feel like sharing the stuff and it doesn't seem like the big deal it used to. Although I'm sure it's pronounced more at some nanas, it seemed that as I went on in vipassana, more and more, it sucked me in like a black hole. It was almost manic in a way. The desire to be free from all those random, abrupt changes in nanas was what drove me to ramp up practice quite a bit, and I was practicing quite intensely for a week or two (2-6 hours a day, plus constant noting throughout the day). Then, after the stream entry, the worry over practice just vanished entirely. While that might not seem like a great diagnostic for enlightenment, it is a huge clue for me. I'm fond of the description of "insight disease", being bitten by the bug after A&P. I know exactly what it means, to have that constant sense that there is work to be done. All of that pressure conspicuously disappeared after the supposed stream entry event though. I'm utterly not bothered by cycling. If this is stream entry, I do understand that this is just path 1 of 4, and that there is more to do. But what the heck? I'm just relaxing and enjoying the calm waters. The whole reason of vipassana seems to be to find security in something that is not reliant on states, stages, and cycles, and I'm positive that this is the reason there is so much ease of mind.

A question that would be rightly asked: isn't that just equanimity? The answer is no. Equanimity, when I was doing vipassana, is certainly a state, not just an okay-ness with everything. There's also the fact that equanimity is just above re-observation, which is made clear by the fact that when a yogi is rising up to equanimity for the first times, it feels a bit like swimming up to the surface, and getting your head above the water a few times. Or, that moment in the 3rd Matrix movie where Neo and Trinity are flying at the surface of the world, being chased by killing machines. In sheer desperation, they fly high, aiming for the sky. Then, for one glorious moment, they fly above the thick, gloomy clouds, and see a radiant sun lighting up the pristine, wide-open sky. In that one small moment, they're taken aback by the beauty of the picture, but then they sink beneath the cloud lines. Utterly beautiful scene, and perfect in describing equanimity. So, anyways, equanimity pre-SE, was like this: I'd be in DN stuff, then through continued practice, there would be a profound, glorious, wide-open state where everything was mysteriously great and fine. It would last for a few days at the most though, being a product of cycling. Then I'd drop beneath the cloud line, saying, "Fuckkkk, I lost EQ". Then, I'd climb back up. Towards the end, the disadvantage of EQ was clear: it was subject to breaking up, practically at any time. This peace that I have now is certainly not the stage of equanimity. It's lasted far too long, and doesn't have the same stage-like qualities that equanimity does. To contrast this with EQ, now, the okay-ness and lack of stress is evident all the time. I've risen through all the nanas, and this is certainly true, most obviously in DN territory, where there is a profound lack of feeling trapped inside the state, affected by the state. This peace is unlike EQ in that it doesn't entail being in a positive mood, doesn't entail practicing whatsoever, and doesn't rely on being in any particular nana or jhana. It's just there, and the profoundity of that is more and more clear as time goes.

This was my experience also, but I think in my case it was more abrupt and clear than what you seem to describe. I was sitting there, and my being consisted of a fast, alternating sequence of events. It was always an event, then the knowing of the event, event, knowing, event, knowing, etc. Then literally from one moment to the next, the duality was gone, and I saw clearly how the "knowing" events are just as not-I as the other events.


In case you thought so, I wasn't referring to a fruition moment. I was more referring to the fact that in practice, objects started to feel like things out there, without the I-ness to them. It wasn't everything, but it definitely became more and more pronounced. It made the body feel mysteriously hollow. This was reinforced, or led to experiencing aspects of formless realms while in vipassana. When that hollow, empty feeling is there in everything, it's easy to tune into infinite space, and what I'm pretty sure is infinite consciousness.

I'll post my write-up on what I thought was the day of stream entry.

I've been practicing vipassana lately, with a combination of noting, just paying attention to whatever sensations are most obvious, and looking into mental states, including formless stuff that has come up in practice, in what seems to be high equanimity. The past few days up to today, there had been a lot of dizziness in equanimity, perhaps having to do with what felt like a massive gravity between my eyes, which sometimes got very intense during practice.

Today, I was doing some simple concentration on the breath, then switched to vipassana. I got into what seemed to be equanimity, and switched to trying to see the whole frame at once. I remember humming along, with the feeling of presence that I associate with basically anything I've ever done. There was this tiny moment though, less than a second long, where perception made a smooth, sudden, yet obvious shift. I've heard this next phrase used before, but I can't remember in what context. Maybe this was the context. In that small moment, it seemed like "no one was home". Then, I was just sitting there in an almost anticlimactic way, wondering what that sudden thing was. Then, this calm and happiness washed over me. It felt like a waft of pleasant perfume had risen up and suffused my body. It was a bit comparable to the body pleasure in 3rd jhana, except much more fine, bright, and simple. I didn't really know what it was, and I was about to go to a buddy's place, so I just figured I'd play with it later.


I got home not too long ago. I got in bed and started meditating. Within seconds, I got A&P stuff, except it was a lot less heavy and perhaps more pleasant. Each nana appeared discreet and separate from the surrounding nanas. Due to the speed of rising through the nanas and the concentration, I was able to see the transitions for the first time. I got up to EQ in about 10 minutes. I was hanging out there, with the intention in the back of my head to see a fruition. I was just cruising along, with the sense of presence. Then, there was the same type of sudden, shifted perspective that lasted less than a second. This one was a different species from the last. It was more shocking, like cold water to the attention. It was over right away. I didn't notice any blip or conk-out or anything like that. However, after, I sat there, anticlimactically again, just thinking, "what was that?". Then, the lightness and bliss suffused me again, like a balloon being slowly, but surely filled with helium.


Perhaps that is the sudden-ness you are talking about. I highlighted the part in bold which corresponds to what could be called a sudden collapse of duality.

Here's something that I think a lot of people don't realize when they start practicing vipassana: not everyone has clear-cut, obvious, textbook insights. Up to recently, I never even saw any insight stages before the A&P. After the A&P, the DN was mostly a blur of unpleasant, jarring, miserable, vibrating things, only marked by the sudden, profound calm of EQ. But I never really saw textbook formations. I never really clearly saw a selfing process where there was event, knowing, event, knowing. I could never really tell how fast I was noting. I never noticed the hZ of stages. Hell, I really only knew my way by recognizing the A&P, recognizing DN, and recognizing EQ. I suspect experiences I've had point to understanding and observation of these things, but I realized early on that I was scripting so much, trying so hard to match my experience up to maps, and trying to see what people were taking about when they referred to things such as the selfing process and hZ and formations. I tried to stop doing that. I probably even hesitate to explain what could be valid interpretations of experiences of insight, since I know I and many others have a strong tendency to use the jargon and explanations that we've heard. I'm not at all trying to suggest that you're doing such a thing, just that I personally have trouble describing the processes of selfing, being unsure about whether or not I'm just using dharma jargon to explain experience. I guess the main thing I'm saying is that personally, I had to drop a lot of ideas of what was supposed to happen in practice in order to start seeing things in a more bare way.

So maybe it would be helpful to talk about what happens when I examine self. First of all, if I take a noting approach, it's obvious that I'm noting extremely fast, I'd have to imagine 10+ notes/second. This leads almost immediately into an A&P, which is what I hear happens for SE'ers. Anyways, if I just take a more broad, slower-paced look, there's something like an unraveling. There are bodily sensations, emotions, and a sense of mental presence that isn't quite in a though, isn't quite in an emotion. However, if I look into it enough, it really doesn't even seem to be there at all. It leads to this odd space in my head, made of none other than space sensations, consciousness sensations, time sensations, nothingness sensations, and sensations of just being present. However, they are all in flux. So, perhaps...

Do you enjoy these "altered states?" Are they permanent? Self?


...no, they (and the sense of self) do not at all seem to be permanent or autonomous. But yes, some of the states are enjoyable. Also, as I've mentioned before, investigating self, or just at all looking at myself seems to give me a very hollow feeling, especially in the head/face area. Very light and weightless, which possibly corresponds to descriptions of a sudden lightness after stream entry. This was especially prominent the first week or two after stream entry.

Honestly, sometimes when I read the description of the 1st nana at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/mahasi/progress.html, I have to admit there is a possibility that what my friends and I are calling SE is really just the 1st nana, but with each passing month, I believe this to be less and less likely.


I appreciate Mahasi Sayadaw and Daniel Ingram's work for the depth and inclusiveness of all possible details, but I also fell prey to being caught on all the details, thinking that experiences would always be as full-blown as they are described by such authors. I've had this depth and clarity be the case sometimes, but rarely ever. Mahasi Sayadaw's work, in my opinion, assumes that people will always see what insight stages reveal about sensations, but I really don't think this understanding happens on such a conscious level for most people, at least, first path. I was never really able to deduce things about sensations from insight stages. It was more just, whoa, shit is so energetic! Whoa, this shit is terrible! Whoa, I want to cry! Whoa, everything is great! Whoa, everything sure buzzes a lot. Whoa, I don't know where I am. Whoa, this shit is sure frustrating. Whoa, I feel like my mind is a huge, enormous room (first experience of infinite space). Whoa, all the space around me seems like it's cool and electric and bright and aware (first experience of infinite consciousness). Whoa, I feel dizzy. Whoa! Whoa! Heh. emoticon

Just in case you're interested in my opinion: There is nothing in your post that would suggest to me that your experience wasn't SE, although I'm not sure.


I'm not sure either. Nope, not sure. 99% though. If this is stream entry, I'm quite happy. If it isn't, then I'm still waiting on some kind of drop to re-observation from equanimity, waiting for a kick in the ass. But... hey. It hasn't happened yet and I'm really continuing to think that I hit something outta the park! If this isn't stream entry, then I'm excited to think that this isn't even the sublime peace that it seems to be, that actual stream entry is even better than this. In any case though, practice was done in order to feel like it didn't need to be done anymore, and I feel like that for now. So I shall await re-observation or the beginning of the 2nd path.

RE: Stream Entry: Sizing It Up
Answer
1/21/13 7:28 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Isn't a good way to tell if it was stream is that you can now induce fruitions after a relatively short sit? Also, any luck with samatha jhanas now (although I've heard that not everyone gets them along with 1st path, sometimes with 2nd)?

By the way, your analogy of getting Equanimity after a long Reobservation by using the scene from the Matrix as a metaphor was really beautifully described. Well done, sir! A regular Slavoj Zizek, you.

RE: Stream Entry: Sizing It Up
Answer
1/21/13 11:07 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
A question that would be rightly asked: isn't that just equanimity? The answer is no. Equanimity, when I was doing vipassana, is certainly a state, not just an okay-ness with everything. There's also the fact that equanimity is just above re-observation, which is made clear by the fact that when a yogi is rising up to equanimity for the first times, it feels a bit like swimming up to the surface, and getting your head above the water a few times.


The notion of 'Equanimity'' may entail varying versions, and may well benefit one to consider them for practice reasons. I have found such considering to be very fruitful.

"assuming a norm about the level of phenomenology is to be confused by content. it is content which 'pulls' the attention, because the attention isn't paying attention and so there is the (also content) assumption that it is happening on the level of insight. equanimity doesn't have to be fabricated because it really doesn't matter. im talking about the cause of equanimity. the causeless cause; the unfabricated cause. the whole body means the whole formation. not the assumption of what sensations out of the formation are taken to be body. understand what i'm saying

4th jhana is whatever equanimity shines through. The equanimity which purifies the mindfulness is not neutral feeling, as might be supposed, but specific neutrality, the sublime impartiality free from attachment and aversion, which also pertains to this jhana. Though both specific neutrality and mindfulness were present in the lower three jhanas, none among these is said to have "purity of mindfulness due to equanimity." The reason is that in the lower jhanas the equanimity present was not purified itself, being overshadowed by opposing states and lacking association with equanimous feeling. It is like a crescent moon which exists by day but cannot be seen because of the sunlight and the bright sky. But in the fourth jhana, where equanimity gains the support of equanimous feeling, it shines forth like the crescent moon at night and purifies mindfulness and the other associated states.'

'The equanimity which purifies the mindfulness is not neutral feeling, as might be supposed, but specific neutrality, the sublime impartiality free from attachment and aversion, ...'

not a feeling. not a feature of the field. not content. equanimity is insight." Tarin of DhO



"However, the cultivation of equanimity does not stop with equanimity dependent on multiplicity. Formless jhāna, if one is able to attain it, functions as a basis for equanimity dependent on singleness [§179], i.e., the singleness of jhāna. The next stage is to use this equanimity to bring on the state of equipoise called non-fashioning (atammayata),although§183 shows that non-fashioning can be attained directly from any of the stages of jhāna, and not just the formless ones. Exactly what non-fashioning involves is shown in §182: one perceives the fabricated and willed nature of even one's refined state of jhāna, and becomes so dispassionate toward the whole process that one "neither fabricates nor wills for the sake of becoming or un-becoming." In this state of non-fashioning, the mind is so balanced that it contributes absolutely no present input into the conditioning of experience at all. Because the process of conditioned or fabricated experience, on the unawakened level, requires present input together with input from the past in order to continue functioning, the entire process then breaks down, and all that remains is the Unfabricated." Thanissaro Bhikkhu-Wings to Awakening


Equanimity is overrated: http://www.audiodharma.org/talks/audio_player/3024.html, thanissaro bhikkhu

RE: Stream Entry: Sizing It Up
Answer
1/21/13 11:57 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Wings to Awakening edited by Thanissaro Bhikkhu: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/wings.pdf