Stream entry?

Vidar Andre Eide, modified 8 Years ago.

Stream entry?

Posts: 8 Join Date: 5/8/13 Recent Posts
Hi everyone.

I found this site when looking for answers to what the A&P experience I had a week ago was. It is an experience I have had many times, and it started long before I had a daily meditation practice, but I didn't know what it was.

Four years ago I started daily meditation practice, using a mantra. The technique I used was sort of like Vipassana in that there was no hard concentration on the mantra (it just had a slight priority over everything that arose in the mind) and there was no effort to remove thoughts that arose and disappeared. I just allowed them to be. Since then I have changed it and have used more effort to improve concentration.

I chose mantra above just watching the breath because for some reason, the effects outside of meditation were much more pronounced (mental peace and equanimity, lack of anger, lack of fear etc.) I did some zazen at a zendo a year ago, and dropped the mantra for a few weeks, with the consequence that many dark night effects started appearing (although I did not know what they were at the time). Not that using a mantra entirely removed such phenomena, but I have to say that they, for the most part, have been relatively rare and weak the last four years.

Meditation radically improved my peace of mind in daily life from something very much like a bad dark night the years before I took up daily practice. At this point I cannot remember when I last felt really angry or afraid, and I have let go of so many attachments that I wouldn't know where to begin to explain it all. Also, positive emotions started arising, such as deep compassion for all living creatures, even insects. This led me to change the way I eat. At any rate, to get to the point here:

I have had a stronger drive to meditate than usual for quite some time now, which has resulted in my meditating twice a day for one hour, sometimes more. My usual routine was 30 minutes, twice a day. But finding this site, watching the videos with Daniel on Vimeo and reading A Reformed Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry, increased my drive even further. I decided that I would turn my life into one big retreat and meditate at all times when not at work or asleep, until I reached stream entry. I decided to use choiceless awareness as the technique, since so many people who have attained this stage speak very highly of this kind of meditation.

So I started yesterday evening. One hour. Brief break, and then another. I found the technique to be incredibly easy to do. Almost no distracting thoughts and it felt quite effortless, and so I felt I could go on forever. And so I continued. I am not sure whether the following happened in the third or fourth session (I stopped counting them):

My perspective shifted so that I suddenly had sort of a third person view of the sense of self. There was consciousness watching the self, and the conscious sense of self being watched from the outside, so to speak. It felt like watching my self like an entity floating in the ocean. But then it started to fade, becoming transparent and ghostlike. Finally it simply disappeared, and it felt incredibly peaceful. When meditation has usually caused the "me" to feel a deep sense of peace, this was much better, because where this "me" used to be, there was now absolutely nothing. It felt like a yoke had been lifted off me. I felt tremendously light, tremendously peaceful, and felt a deep sense of completion.

At the same time, it felt like such as small thing. Definitely no big deal at all. In fact, I thought to myself that even bothering to tell anyone of this would be absolutely pointless, since it was such as small thing. Nothing to brag about, and no sense of self there to feel elevated due to this so-called achievement. And nothing was really lost anyway. All the six streams of consciousness were still there. Everything was as before, except this feeling of self. Now I see how unnecessary it is. As I am writing it is still not there. I wondered if it would reappear when I went to bed last night, but it has not. Even when I have tried searching for it mentally, I have failed.

It took quite some effort to write this, because this feels like a very small thing. It is highly anticlimactic actually, just like it says in the Idiot's guide. But I think that if I can contribute to anyone doing the same, that will be a good thing.

The strange thing is: There has been no dark night at all from the A&P a week ago and until this. If it happened at all, it must have been brief enough to go completely unnoticed. Also: the only retreat I have ever attended was a two day, Zazenkai (8 hours pr. day), and I suspect I would still have been writing this if I had not. I have spent a lot of time contemplating and reading huge amounts of books about this stuff though, so I would say that I have used a great deal of effort the last few years, but not just doing meditation.

So if I am going to interpret this according to Daniel's map, I would say that I was in the dark night territory for many years prior to taking up daily meditation practice. Then I must have reached equanimity and stayed there 90% of the time for four years (with increasing positive mental effects). And finally I have experienced stream entry (I had a brief ten second episode of non-self asleep a year ago or so, but I doubt that counts). I cannot possibly see how this could be otherwise, unless I am now deluding myself into experiencing the lack of self. I don't see how that would work.

A big thanks to all of you and to Daniel. Without you I this would not have happened.
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Mike Knapp, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Stream entry?

Posts: 63 Join Date: 10/26/11 Recent Posts
Hi Vidar,

Your post is interesting; can you give any more detail as to what was happening phenomenologically in your practice in the sessions leading up to what you believe was stream entry? Some of what you say tracks my own experiences in this area, and some doesn't (which isn't surprising since little differences are to be expected between different practitioners). A more play-by-play description of what you actually experienced (e.g., physical pain, narrow focus of concentration, equanimity, etc) might be helpful in terms of figuring-out where you are on the progress of insight.

In any case though, it sounds like you've progressed to a point that involves some fundamental insights, and not a little bit of peace (regardless of whether you decide that its stream entry or something else) - so congratulations!


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Vidar E, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Stream entry?

Posts: 8 Join Date: 5/8/13 Recent Posts
Hi Mike, I'll try.

I was paying attention to how my body/mind felt. There was very little thought activity, although in the first session I got briefly caught up in some images I do not remember. My mind was unusually quiet, and so most of my attention was with my body and the visual field that contained the color of my closed eyelids, as well as the greenish changing lights that always seem to appear when I have my eyes closed for some time, whether or not I am meditating. My body started feeling numb, as it usually does during meditation, and there were very quick vibrations everywhere I could feel something (EDIT: on my skin, not "inside the body, like in A&P), except for the pressure points between my body and the cushion, and also warm/cold did not vibrate. Speaking of heat, my body heat rose dramatically. This is very uncommon these days. It used to be the norm the first couple of years I meditated, but it has not happened for a long time. I was sweating and my hands were very warm (when I could feel them). The state gradually shifted towards not watching the body and simply being. Existing. The body became increasingly numb, to the point where it was almost gone (but not quite). The mental sense of peace and calm increased. It felt so easy and pleasant to meditate, particularly because I am used to paying attention to a mantra, and that takes more effort. This felt effortless. There were only brief breaks between the one hour sessions, and this continued progressively until there was so little of the body left to notice that I started noticing the sense of self instead. It was as if I was it, and it was floating in consciousness, while unbounded consciousness was watching it. The thought arose that this was a strange and contradictory state. I simply watched and the self feeling faded, it dissolved, and the duality between what was watching and what was being watched was gone. There was a profound emptiness in the place where I had felt "me" before, and it felt so incredibly light. I felt an enormous relief, like I was finished. All the drive to get somewhere was gone. I simply existed in this state until my meditation timer went off. And then I felt like doing nothing. Like this state was absolutely wonderful, but also that what had actually taken place in the mind was insignificant. So insignificant that I wondered if I should tell anyone, even a very good friend whom I discuss meditation with a lot. The effects were amazing, but what caused them really isn't all that big a deal. I feel very normal, and yet this insignificant change has changed a lot.

EDIT: There are a couple of more details I should probably mention. Several times during the meditation I felt arousal, but it did not make me want to do anything about it. I simply let it be. I think I felt it tingling up my spine, but I am not sure whether or not that is a false memory due to my reading lots of stuff about this in the aftermath. There is also the fact of the vibration I have felt, almost constantly (but not quite) in my forehead since I started meditating four years ago, bot in and out of meditation. This has gradually increased and it covered my entire scalp while this was happening. There was a quite strong pressure at the top of my head. I still feel it while writing this.

As for stream entry, I do not feel as certain now as I did when I wrote the first post. There was no dip into nirvana that I can remember, and that seems to be a criterion? I also haven't the foggiest idea what the "fruitions" Daniel mentions are. On the other hand, I am quite sure my experience is what Shinzen Young was talking about in that article someone linked to about "initial enlightenment", and his description matches perfectly.
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Mike Knapp, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Stream entry?

Posts: 63 Join Date: 10/26/11 Recent Posts
Thanks for the extra detail, Vidar. If you haven't read the section of the MCTB on the four formless realms (which you can find here broken into hyper-linked sections), I would recommend you do so. In my own experience, when in "high" Equanimity, these states can crop-up and lead to some very interesting insights, that (for all their bizarre splendor and majesty), aren't stream entry (despite maybe looking like it some).

That isn't to say that your BIG EXPERIENCE wasn't stream entry, its just to say that it might be this instead. I say this not to discourage you, but just to be super honest given that it appears that you're growing less sure of what your BIG EVENT was (not more) as time passes, and you seem to have skipped some pretty classic experiences one usually (but not always) experiences before attaining a path (formations and fruitions). Ultimately, what your BIG EVENT was is something only you can ever diagnose, and such things sometimes only become clear after they are pretty far in one's rear-view. But, worst case, if it wasn't stream entry, it was still significant in that it represents progress on the path - SO KEEP MEDITATING NO MATTER WHAT!

Hopefully, rather than being depressed that this was possibly not stream entry, or being stoked that it is in fact stream entry and deciding to slack-off, you will regard everything up to this point as progress, and your position now as one in which you are poised to attain even greater insights and awakenings than you have previously. Isn't that liberating? No matter what your BIG EVENT was, your course of action should be the same: continue meditating with diligence and precision.

I hope this was helpful, and if you have any observations, criticisms, or remarks on what I've said, or whatever, I'm right here. emoticon
Vidar E, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Stream entry?

Posts: 8 Join Date: 5/8/13 Recent Posts
You might be entirely right. Ultimately "steam entry" is merely a label anyway. What I experience(d) is what it is nevertheless emoticon

And I am, of course, going to continue my meditation practice. I meditated 5 hours in total today, so I am not slacking off, it seems emoticon

Thanks for your valuable insight.
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dream walker, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Stream entry?

Posts: 1333 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Ditto on what Mike said....it's hard to map out where you are when you have not read the book and are starting from scratch. Definitely read MCTB all the way through again and see what rings true to your experience. If you have modified the selfing process such that parts are permanently gone; then that there is what people trying for stream entry are trying to get. The fruition experience is secondary to this permanent shift...useful and fun but transitory. Permanent shifts are the goal. If the self only disappears for a while or only when in certain states then that is not stream entry (as described). Your descriptions of altered states sound like the Jhanas.
Regardless of where you are the direction is forward to the next permanent shift, so don't worry too much on what you got...keep meditating and see where you get next.
Vidar E, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Stream entry?

Posts: 8 Join Date: 5/8/13 Recent Posts
The selfing process seems to be gone. But it has only been a couple of days. I have tried looking for the self many, many times throughout these days when I start to wonder if it is back, and I have so far come up empty. But, I guess time will tell if it shows up again. What would you recommend as a continuing practice? Concentration training (mantra) or merely paying attention to everything that happens in the mind, half/half?

EDIT: BTW, While I cannot induce the dark night states (I think, I haven't really tried), I can quite easily induce A&P. But I have been able to do that long before this happened, and I have actively tried not to focus my attention so that it arises, since I have been slightly worried about what it is, and if I am losing my mind or something.
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dream walker, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Stream entry?

Posts: 1333 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Vidar E:
The selfing process seems to be gone. But it has only been a couple of days. I have tried looking for the self many, many times throughout these days when I start to wonder if it is back, and I have so far come up empty. But, I guess time will tell if it shows up again.

There are layers to the selfing process...I'm sure you will notice the subtle layers as you continue or as they are deleted next path.
Vidar E:
What would you recommend as a continuing practice? Concentration training (mantra) or merely paying attention to everything that happens in the mind, half/half?

I always start with concentration and then move to noting then when I hit EQ to noticing whatever presents without the labeling. I tend to follow my breath a lot especially if I am distracted.

Vidar E:
EDIT: BTW, While I cannot induce the dark night states (I think, I haven't really tried), I can quite easily induce A&P. But I have been able to do that long before this happened, and I have actively tried not to focus my attention so that it arises, since I have been slightly worried about what it is, and if I am losing my mind or something.

Just notice with all your attention what is coming up and the nanas will shift from one to the next.
Good luck
~D
Vidar E, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Stream entry?

Posts: 8 Join Date: 5/8/13 Recent Posts
Having read some more now, I know what a fruition is, but I am unsure if I have had one. How would I know the difference between a blip in consciousness that simply means I have fallen asleep and the real deal? I have had many breaks in consciousness, some when I am tired, but also sometimes when I have been fully awake, during meditation. It happened at least once in the evening of SE or whatever it was, but not during the last session where perception changed. Coming out of the blip generally feels A&P-like for a couple of seconds. I have always interpreted such events as sleep like loss of consciousness... Now I am not sure. I am going to pay more attention to this in the future.
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dream walker, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Stream entry?

Posts: 1333 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
If your head nods, you're falling asleep. Shifting from 2nd to 3 and to 4th jhana can sometimes feel like a really subtle blip but it's totally different. Pay attention to the moments before and after the blip....there are standard descriptions that most people report....see what you can see and describe it. This might take quite a few times to see it clearly.
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Mike Knapp, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Stream entry?

Posts: 63 Join Date: 10/26/11 Recent Posts
I agree with Dream Walker. Pay very close attention to what is happening at a phenomenological level in your meditations and if you aren't keeping a practice journal that records those happenings, I very much recommend you begin keeping one - they're highly useful for dharma diagnosis and the like.

Frutions are difficult things to describe and discuss because they're non-events. Their substance is more in what was absent than what was present. Compare to the A&P where all sorts of weird and striking stuff was happening right there in front of you. In this respect the most useful data you can collect regarding your own possible fruitions is what happened IMMEDIATELY BEFORE the fruition, and what happened IMMEDIATELY AFTER it, and then once you've got a few sessions-worth-of-data, compare it to the standard accounts on the forum and in the MCTB.

I would also add that you don't have to worry about recreating fruition events. It is in the nature of the beast that if you're experiencing fruitions, you will continue to experience them on a regular basis for a little while. They tend to hang-out together, like geese . . . or gang members.

Sound workable?
Vidar E, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Stream entry?

Posts: 8 Join Date: 5/8/13 Recent Posts
dream walker:
If your head nods, you're falling asleep. Shifting from 2nd to 3 and to 4th jhana can sometimes feel like a really subtle blip but it's totally different. Pay attention to the moments before and after the blip....there are standard descriptions that most people report....see what you can see and describe it. This might take quite a few times to see it clearly.


Will do. Sometimes my head nods. But often it does not. Also, sometimes there is "sinking" prior to the blip, which probably means that I am falling asleep. But sometimes there is no sinking at all, no head nodding, just a break.

Mike Knapp:
I agree with Dream Walker. Pay very close attention to what is happening at a phenomenological level in your meditations and if you aren't keeping a practice journal that records those happenings, I very much recommend you begin keeping one - they're highly useful for dharma diagnosis and the like.

Frutions are difficult things to describe and discuss because they're non-events. Their substance is more in what was absent than what was present. Compare to the A&P where all sorts of weird and striking stuff was happening right there in front of you. In this respect the most useful data you can collect regarding your own possible fruitions is what happened IMMEDIATELY BEFORE the fruition, and what happened IMMEDIATELY AFTER it, and then once you've got a few sessions-worth-of-data, compare it to the standard accounts on the forum and in the MCTB.

I would also add that you don't have to worry about recreating fruition events. It is in the nature of the beast that if you're experiencing fruitions, you will continue to experience them on a regular basis for a little while. They tend to hang-out together, like geese . . . or gang members.

Sound workable?


Yes it does. Excellent advice. Thank you both.