Multiple Fruitions, the Middle Paths & Some Questions

Christian B, modified 8 Years ago.

Multiple Fruitions, the Middle Paths & Some Questions

Posts: 88 Join Date: 10/23/10 Recent Posts
My vipassana practice is particularly strong at the moment and I enjoy it very much. Over the last weeks, I have learned to do the following with relative ease: I sit down and note my way up to equanimity in approx. 15 minutes. Once established in equaninmity I look for the sensations that seem to be me, e.g. somatic feelings around the eyes and mouth. I focus on those and try to see them vibrate, flicker, morph etc. as clearly as possible in real time, I stay with that for a few moments – and a fruition hits. Immediately after the bliss-wave has passed, I look again for the sensations that imply “me”, which sometimes appear at roughly the same spot, but often have moved elsewhere, e.g. a point behind the eyes, or a strand of tension in the neck and chest, or a cluster of feeling in the back of the head etc. It usually takes me a few seconds to find the sensations implying “me” and a few more seconds of focusing and watching them flicker until I get the next fruition. Sometimes it’s more difficult / interesting, because the sense of “me” attaches to some more obscure sensations, e.g. it happens that spaciousness and lightness and ease appear in the foreground as I emerge from a fruition. Usually I would tend to rest in that and enjoy the ease and space and try to keep it stable etc., but recently I noticed that these sensations seemed to imply “me” being that space, and so I tried to focus on that sense of space as the carrier of “me” just as before, and indeed the sense of space flickered and another fruition occurred.

I seem to be able to get a lot of fruitions in relatively rapid succession in this way, yesterday I did this for over an hour, and although I didn’t manage to count the fruitions it must have been many.

After a long period of feeling that my practice was inconsequential and going nowhere, I experienced a major change about three months ago. Since then my practice has gotten stronger and I’m very excited about the clarity and sense of accomplishment that has come to my practice. I suppose this may be the review phase of some path, but I don’t really care about that at the moment.

What I care about and would like to ask is: What role do fruitions play in the later paths?

In my understanding and experience, fruition is an important sign of progress in the first and second path and can even be considered as a (technical) goal in vipassana practice. But now I feel that if fruitions can be attained so easily, maybe there is something that I don’t see, don’t recognize, don’t do or understand correctly? Being able to experientially debunk the perceived self in this way is great, and I’m very pleased about having gotten this far in the first place, but I somehow feel that I’m missing a point.

I feel inclined to repeat the routine outlined above again and again, but I fear that the ability to do so will fade soon (as it usually goes with these things) and I’d like to get to a better understanding about what I can do to make further progress while my practice is strong.

So, where should I go from here? What point am I missing? Any advice would be highly appreciated!
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Alan Smithee, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Multiple Fruitions, the Middle Paths & Some Questions

Posts: 310 Join Date: 4/2/10 Recent Posts
Once established in equaninmity I look for the sensations that seem to be me, e.g. somatic feelings around the eyes and mouth. I focus on those and try to see them vibrate, flicker, morph etc. as clearly as possible in real time, I stay with that for a few moments – and a fruition hits.

I realize that this in no way answers your questions, but, as a pre-1st Path practitioner, and someone who regularly gets to EQ, could you please say a few more words describing the types of "somatic" sensations you look for which seem to be the experience of self. What does this look like? How does this feel? I'd appreciate this very much. I'm going on a 3-day retreat in a few days, and your advice could give me something to experiment with and explore...
Christian B, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Multiple Fruitions, the Middle Paths & Some Questions

Posts: 88 Join Date: 10/23/10 Recent Posts
I can try to describe it some more, but you might get a better idea from descriptions that others have posted, see especially the discussion of the „attention tendril“ in this this thread.

Although in Equanimity experience seems to be completely panoramic and integrated, as if inside and outside were fused / melted together etc., I still can find something like a focus point, where the observer of this integrated field seems to be located, where the observing happens. At first glance, this focus point seems to exist on its own, as if it was a fixed feature of the experience field itself, like one pole of a magnetic field or one end of the “attention tendril” something like that. But if I investigate, I usually find that this seemingly independent observer point is attached to or carried by some mundane bodily (somatic) sensations, e.g. sensations around the eyes and mouth, or sensations in the forehead, the neck, etc. The “carrying” sensations tend to be located around the head and face and tend to be sensations that are usually not consciously experienced (because they seem to be “too close” to be easy foci of attention).

After reaching equanimity, I first try to find that focus/observer point and then try to see some of the mundane sensations that carry it. I focus on those with the intention to see if I can catch the “carrier” sensations of this seemingly solid/fixed observer point flicker/move/flow etc. If I see clearly the impermanence of the carrier sensation, this seems to imply the impermanence of the observer point that is carried by them, and this implication is what causes the fruition.

I don’t know if this is a good way to practice in order to get first path, but just give it a try if you feel inclined that way. When I first tried to do this, I got to the same point where you seem to be at: Repeatedly reaching equanimity, but without a clear idea about what to do next. The advice that helped me then was to simply look around and really investigate the stuff that makes up equanimity (the ease, the contentment, the space, the absence of boundary...). Once you are up there, there’s usually no need to keep the noting going, no need to focus narrowly etc, you can just step back and investigate what’s there without “spoiling” it. This may take a while, as it did for me, and you might succeed eventually without clearly understanding what you actually did right (as I did).

Helpful?

[edit: spelling]
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Alan Smithee, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Multiple Fruitions, the Middle Paths & Some Questions

Posts: 310 Join Date: 4/2/10 Recent Posts
Thanks, man. You did a fantastic job of explaining something really abstract. I'll let your knowledge inform some of my future sits. 'Preciate it.

Now, I wish someone with more experience than myself would answer YOUR question!
Christian B, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Multiple Fruitions, the Middle Paths & Some Questions

Posts: 88 Join Date: 10/23/10 Recent Posts
You're welcome, i'm glad that you got something out of that. Also I'd be interested in what you find when doing this kind of practice, so feel free to report back here on this thread.

Best of luck for your retreat!
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dream walker, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Multiple Fruitions, the Middle Paths & Some Questions

Posts: 1312 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
You can spend as much time as you wish on first path until you feel you have explored what it has to offer. Then when bored it's time to go for 2nd path. As far as I understand you will lose the 1st path Fruitions for the length of time you have resolved to practice for 2nd path
Quote from Progress of Insite
Practicing for Higher Paths and Fruitions
When one is skilled enough in the practice that one can enter the fruition that one has attained very quickly and remain in it for a long time, one should practice with the purpose of attaining higher paths and fruitions. To do this, one should first determine how many days he or she is going to practice, and then make the resolution, “May I not return to the fruition that I have already attained during this period of time; may I attain a new and higher path and fruition instead.” After this, one should simply note the present phenomena as usual.

There is more...overall a great read. there is a buddist geeks link somewhere to this book.
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Alan Smithee, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Multiple Fruitions, the Middle Paths & Some Questions

Posts: 310 Join Date: 4/2/10 Recent Posts
Christian B:
My vipassana practice is particularly strong at the moment and I enjoy it very much. Over the last weeks, I have learned to do the following with relative ease: I sit down and note my way up to equanimity in approx. 15 minutes. Once established in equaninmity I look for the sensations that seem to be me, e.g. somatic feelings around the eyes and mouth. I focus on those and try to see them vibrate, flicker, morph etc. as clearly as possible in real time, I stay with that for a few moments – and a fruition hits. Immediately after the bliss-wave has passed, I look again for the sensations that imply “me”, which sometimes appear at roughly the same spot, but often have moved elsewhere, e.g. a point behind the eyes, or a strand of tension in the neck and chest, or a cluster of feeling in the back of the head etc. It usually takes me a few seconds to find the sensations implying “me” and a few more seconds of focusing and watching them flicker until I get the next fruition. Sometimes it’s more difficult / interesting, because the sense of “me” attaches to some more obscure sensations, e.g. it happens that spaciousness and lightness and ease appear in the foreground as I emerge from a fruition. Usually I would tend to rest in that and enjoy the ease and space and try to keep it stable etc., but recently I noticed that these sensations seemed to imply “me” being that space, and so I tried to focus on that sense of space as the carrier of “me” just as before, and indeed the sense of space flickered and another fruition occurred.

I seem to be able to get a lot of fruitions in relatively rapid succession in this way, yesterday I did this for over an hour, and although I didn’t manage to count the fruitions it must have been many.

After a long period of feeling that my practice was inconsequential and going nowhere, I experienced a major change about three months ago. Since then my practice has gotten stronger and I’m very excited about the clarity and sense of accomplishment that has come to my practice. I suppose this may be the review phase of some path, but I don’t really care about that at the moment.

What I care about and would like to ask is: What role do fruitions play in the later paths?

In my understanding and experience, fruition is an important sign of progress in the first and second path and can even be considered as a (technical) goal in vipassana practice. But now I feel that if fruitions can be attained so easily, maybe there is something that I don’t see, don’t recognize, don’t do or understand correctly? Being able to experientially debunk the perceived self in this way is great, and I’m very pleased about having gotten this far in the first place, but I somehow feel that I’m missing a point.

I feel inclined to repeat the routine outlined above again and again, but I fear that the ability to do so will fade soon (as it usually goes with these things) and I’d like to get to a better understanding about what I can do to make further progress while my practice is strong.

So, where should I go from here? What point am I missing? Any advice would be highly appreciated!


In response to your original post, I thought this quote from Daniel Ingram might be helpful. See what you think. http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/313551

Alright,

While there is some individual variation, the standard pattern is this:

One attains Stream Entry, and then one starts at the A&P naturally, and one gets better and better at those cycles and getting to Fruitions.

One shortly after Stream Entry begins to see hints of what is not yet done, sensations that seem "unenlightened" or poorly perceived or new or strange or previously unnoticed or something like that, however, the cycles of known territory tend to be most interesting during the early to mid part of Review, so the mind inclines to those rather than to new progress, generally.

As time goes on, which may be days or weeks or years, the sensations of new territory become stronger, and, resolutions or not, soon enough the early insights of the first 3 insight stages (Mind and Body, Cause and Effect, Three Characteristics) are showing up.

However, this intermediate territory is hard to map, and one may be getting Fruitions after cycles and yet having the neck tension and back twisting of Three Characteristics territory in the same sit, as an example.

After one crosses the new A&P of the path they are headed towards (which itself tends to be sufficiently compelling that one is not as interested in Fruitions) one generally has a harder time getting Fruitions, though they may still be accessible with strong inclination to that and reduced new investigation. It may seem that poorer practice is required to get one's hit, as better practice tends to make for progress, which necessarily at this point is away from old territory.

As the Dark Night kicks in, many will automatically incline to previous territory when things get hard. It may nor may not show up, and if it does, it may seem stale, old, vague or less satisfying, and afterglow of Fruitions may be markedly reduced, though not always.

There can be backsliding, forward progress, and backsliding again up and down from territory one has mastered into the new territory. Mapping here can be hard even for really good mappers and their really good mapper dharma friends who might be helping them with this. One can always start out with something like the A&P, and one may be able to get Fruitions, making things confusing.

After completing the new cycle, however many attempts it took, one is in Review again, and the pattern repeats itself, with hints of new territory showing up relatively quickly but not taking center stage until Review has progressed further. How many times it repeats varies by the individual, but the underlying pattern is the same.

Resolutions are a very interesting topic, and can slant one in a particular direction or another, but the dharma has a way of moving onwards when we don't even necessarily want it to, and once one is in the stream, even those who resolve not to make progress generally will anyway, and those who don't resolve to make progress will also. True, resolving to make progress does tend to speed things up, but it can also result in a rougher ride, and people forcing themselves into territory they are not yet able to handle well. I did this a lot early on and, while it did make things fast, I did pay the price at times also.

Helpful?

Daniel
Christian B, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Multiple Fruitions, the Middle Paths & Some Questions

Posts: 88 Join Date: 10/23/10 Recent Posts
Thanks Alan, yes that clears things up a bit, and i really appreciate Daniel’s insight into the complexity of this process.

What your quote doesn’t address is the idea that there is a shift in the patterns of progress somewhere after second path or around third path. There is a line in the MCTB that says something like “the anagami fractal is vast”. I didn’t have the slightest clue about what that could possibly mean when I first read it, but now I think I may be getting into something like that. It seems to me that the more progress one makes the less reliable the signs of progress become. Around third path there seems to be a point where the idea of “making progress” itself becomes suspicious. This shift is hinted at in some sections of the MCTB and elsewhere on the DhO, and I suppose that one might need to practice differently in order to accommodate that shift.
That’s what my original post was about and I’d still love to hear some further opinions & comments.

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