Ants and enlightenment?

Robin Woods, modified 8 Years ago at 7/21/13 10:00 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 7/21/13 10:00 AM

Ants and enlightenment?

Posts: 189 Join Date: 5/28/12 Recent Posts
Leaving more technical diagnostic criteria - such as fruitions and access to new jhanas - to one side for a moment, do you guys think it's possible to identify a major shift/path moment through:

* marked and sustained decrease (10 days+) in self referential thoughts and mental noise
* dramatically increased awareness of Nature (there are suddenly birds and insects Everywhere. And ants. I haven't seen an ant since I was about 5!)
* dramatically increased baseline concentration
* falling away of the sense that what you're looking at in any given moment is separate from 'you'
* some vague sense that present sensory experience is whole or perfect in some half-glimpsed way
* increased baseline level of mindfulness so that it becomes quickly apparent when one has been lost in self referential mental images or 'talk'
* mindfulness becomes habitual and starts to take on a momentum of its own in more and more complex life situations (like autopilot)
* existential confusion/sense of 'what am I doing in this universe' diminished

And cobwebs and reflections in glass! Where did they all come from? emoticon

Thanks! X
thumbnail
Richard Zen, modified 8 Years ago at 7/21/13 10:40 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 7/21/13 10:40 AM

RE: Ants and enlightenment?

Posts: 1652 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
A 9 stage map of developmental Enlightenment

Enlightenment is not binary (as in “you either have it or you don’t), but exists on a continuum from totally clueless on one end of the spectrum to full and complete enlightenment on the other. Every person on Earth can be plotted at some point on this continuum at some particular point in time. The hope is that one moves further and further along the scale throughout his or her life. Below is a 9 stage map of this developmental process. The model is a work in progress; I will add more detail and update it as I learn more, including adding additional levels if necessary. I am publishing it now in the hope that meditators will find it useful in their own practice and in helping others to awaken. There are some obvious flaws in this kind of map, not least of which is that in order to make sense of it, one must have a solid working knowledge of Theravada Buddhist concepts including the Progress of Insight, jhana, and nirodha samapatti. I apologize for these shortcomings and welcome feedback on how to make the map more accessible across traditions without losing the high level of resolution included here.

Stage 1 (sometimes called KF1 for convenience and to distinguish from similar stage maps): The 4th Insight Knowledge, Arising and Passing away of Phenomena, aka A&P. Read about the first five Insight Knowledges here. How common is this stage? I expect all my students to attain this. It usually takes just a few weeks of weekly Skype coaching or several days in intensive retreat. I’ve guided dozens of students to this stage and many of my students already have it by the time they contact me. This is the point at which someone is well and truly bitten by the meditation bug.

Stage 2: Stream Entry. Practitioner has completed all 16 Insight Knowledges. (Mahasi 1st Path) Read about the Insight Knowledges 5-10 here. (Follow the link at the bottom of the page for Insight Knowledges 11-16.) There are inaccuracies in this essay and places where my current understanding no longer matches what I wrote there, but in the interest of getting this all in one place, I’ll save the revisions for later. How common is stream entry? I expect all my students to attain this stage and they nearly always do. I’ve seen dozens of students get this far.

Stage 3: Practioner has developed through all 16 Insight Knowledges for a second time. (Mahasi 2nd Path). How common is this stage? I expect all my students to attain this stage and they almost always do if they stick with the program. Anyone who has attained KF2 has all the tools necessary to attain KF3. It’s just a matter of continuing on with regular, targeted practice.

Stage 4: Practioner has access to the Pure Land jhanas and Nirodha Samapatti. (One interpretation of Mahasi 3rd Path) Here is a fascinating insight map from the Theravada, based on the 31 Realms of Existence. Notice numbers 23-27, which are said to only be available to 3rd Path practitioners and beyond. These are the Pure Land jhanas. The “Pure Land jhanas” terminology is my own invention; I first accessed “PL1” by doing a Pure Land Buddhist practice of invoking the name of Amitabha Buddha, which is said to transport you instantly to the Pure Land. It worked, after a fashion, so I dubbed the experience a "Pure Land jhana." This was circa 1994, and the name has stuck. How common is this stage? Many of my students get this far, but it is not as common as the first 3 stages because it requires a greater level of concentration.

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...

Stage 6: Emotional transformation. Marked attenuation of feelings. (See Damasio’s Looking for Spinoza for the distinction between emotions and feelings. Feelings are the subjective component of emotions. Emotions can and do carry on without the corresponding feelings, as emotions and feelings happen in different parts of the brain.) Practitioner may still display full range of emotions as observed by others while reporting only contentment, well-being, acceptance, etc. This new emotional stability sets the stage for...

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.)

Stage 8: A deepening of the insights from stages 6 and 7, plus a crushing blow to the ownership and agency aspects of selfing. (See Metzinger, The Ego Tunnel, for more on ownership and agency as components of selfing.) Practitioner feels very “enlightened” at this point, even somewhat alien as compared to “normal” people. Lots of disorientation. At times some sense of “divine retardation,” in which practitioner feels him or herself losing interest in some things that mattered previously, while simultaneously feeling profoundly OK with these changes. Life gets simpler as unnecessary ideas and attachments slough off. Friends can drift apart if some neurotic need no longer needs to be fulfilled. Conventions and concepts soften in favor of “this is happening now.” Disorientation becomes the norm and one adapts to it. Some motivations, e.g., need for social status, need to be right, need to please others, which began to lose steam at KF5, fade further. How common is this stage? I personally know at least seven people, five of whom are my students or former students. As of this writing (April, 2012), I also consider myself to be at this stage.)

Stage 9: Edit, 26JUL2012: Hmmm... Don't know yet. Staying open to possibilities.

Kenneth Folk
May 2012
Robin Woods, modified 8 Years ago at 7/22/13 3:54 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 7/22/13 3:54 AM

RE: Ants and enlightenment?

Posts: 189 Join Date: 5/28/12 Recent Posts
Thanks Richard- I'm kinda familiar with Kenneth's (ever expanding) stages. I guess I just wondered if the earlier shifts could be diagnosed in terms of the changes to daily perceptions that I outlined?
thumbnail
Hermetically Sealed, modified 8 Years ago at 8/18/13 6:28 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 8/18/13 6:28 AM

RE: Ants and enlightenment?

Posts: 113 Join Date: 6/27/13 Recent Posts

True sanity entails, in one way or another, the dissolution of the normal ego, that false self competently adjusted to our alienated social reality: the emergence of the “inner” archetypal mediators of divine power, and through the death a rebirth, and the eventual re-establishment of a new kind of ego-functioning, the ego now being the servant of the divine, no longer its betrayer
– R. D. Laing (The Politics of Experience)



…the prevalent sensation of oneself as a separate ego enclosed in a bag of skin is a hallucination which accords neither with Western science nor with the experimental philosophy-religions of the East…This hallucination underlies the misuse of technology for the violent subjugation of man’s natural environment.
- Alan Watts (The Book: On the Taboo of Knowing Who You Are)



“I did not tell Fat this, but technically he had become a Buddha. It did not seem to me like a good idea to let him know. After all, if you are a Buddha you should be able to figure it out for yourself.”
― Philip K. Dick, VALIS

"Therefore it can be reasoned that Valis will show as few times as possible, and, if he does reveal himself to a person, Valis will becloud the situation so that the person cannot make the knowledge he has- hence the real situation- generally well known."
- Philip K Dick, VALIS

“We hypostatize information into objects. Rearrangement of objects is change in the content of the information; the message has changed. This is a language which we have lost the ability to read. We ourselves are a part of this language; changes in us are changes in the content of the information. We ourselves are information-rich; information enters us, is processed and is then projected outward once more, now in an altered form. We are not aware that we are doing this, that in fact this is all we are doing”
― Philip K. Dick, VALIS




Krishnamurti: I am not, sir, nor am I reaching out into the abstract. Our social and religious structure is based on the urge to become something, positively or negatively. Such a process is the very nourishment of the ego through name, family, achievement, through identification of the 'me' and 'mine', which is ever causing conflict and sorrow. We perceive the results of this way of life - strife, confusion, and antagonism - ever spreading, ever engulfing. How is one to transcend strife and sorrow? This is what we are attempting to understand during these discussions.



Jesus said: If you have gained this within you, what you have will save you. If you do not have this in you, what you do not have in you will kill you – Gospel of Thomas



...perhaps there is a pattern set up in the heavens for one who desires to see it, and having seen it, to find one in himself
- Plato



Know that the philosopher has power over the stars, and not the stars over him - Paracelsus



I pray Thee, O God, that I may be beautiful within - Socrates



The Egyptians had no vicarious atonement, no imputed righteousness, no second-hand salvation. No initiate in the Osirian mysteries could possibly have rested his hope of reaching heaven on the Galilean line of glory. His was the more crucial way of Amenta...to tread with the guidance of the word, that step by step and act by act he must himself make true
- Gerald Massey (Ancient Egypt: Light of the World)
thumbnail
Hermetically Sealed, modified 8 Years ago at 8/18/13 7:15 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 8/18/13 7:15 AM

RE: Ants and enlightenment?

Posts: 113 Join Date: 6/27/13 Recent Posts

When I tap into the core of this archetypal moment of becoming self-conscious, there is always fear of some “other.” A sense of separate self/others and fear simultaneously co-arise and reciprocally condition each other; one is never found without the other. As it says in the Bhagavad Gita, “As soon as there is an ‘other,’ fear arises.” When this self-conscious self emerges which experiences the world as separate from itself, it feels like I am individually participating in a timeless, archetypal moment – a moment of terror, which is the traumatic birth of the fear-based separate self. The self-contraction that pulsates through me during these moments simultaneously generates, while being an expression of, the part of me that is seemingly bound in linear time, frozen in trauma, and feeling absolute terror. This self-reinforcing dynamic of the self-conscious, separate self generating its worst nightmares, appears to be the origin, source, and genesis of the very experience of terror itself, as it is a literal and symbolic revelation of how we terrorize ourselves.

In addition to being the source of the archetypal experience of terror, encoded in this moment of the birth of the self-conscious, separate self is its own self-liberation. This moment is the revelation of itself, which is to say that simply by seeing the part of ourselves that is grasping, we are lessening our grasp. We can only see the part of us that is grasping in an objective way, outside of ourselves, if we step into the part of ourselves as subject that is not grasping. As if designed by an awakened software engineer of the mind, the moment of self-consciousness, though apparently an obscuration, is potentially a self-liberating revelation when recognized as such. Bound up in the energy that’s animating our self-conscious contraction is the creative spirit. When we stop contracting against our own inner, open-ended radiance, we can’t help but to express ourselves creatively. Paradoxically, is the moment of self-consciousness the very portal through which we can potentially step out of and let go of ourselves? Could the part of us that’s grasping, rather than obscuring our true nature, be an expression of it? Is it just as simple as a change in viewpoint? Instead of identifying with and being taken over by the terror, we can simply recognize within ourselves the part of us which feels terrified, an essential change in our stance towards ourselves which is in the service of the birth of compassion.

In essence, in my case this moment of self-consciousness is potentially the place where I have given away my intrinsic power and authority, divesting myself of being the author of my own experience. For at the moment of self-consciousness, I am seeing myself not through my own eyes, nor how others are actually seeing me, but rather, how I imagine others see me, as I imagine who they are. I then react to my own imagination of how others see me as if my projections are real and “objectively” exist in the minds of others outside of me, separate from myself. I have then created an imagination of who I am, at least in my own mind, relative to an imagined other, a process in which I am separating myself from simply being myself. Like a kitten endlessly reacting to her reflected image in a mirror, I then become apparently caught in a self-fulfilling negative feedback loop of my own making. When deeply contemplated, the whole experience of self-consciousness reveals itself to be a process that is fundamentally taking place in our own imagination. The phenomenon of self-consciousness, though on one hand the seeming problem if there ever was one, when sufficiently unfolded is itself ultimately pointing us to the primacy of the creative imagination in creating our experience of ourselves. Imagine that!

Paul Levy - http://www.awakeninthedream.com/wordpress/the-birth-of-self-consciousness/
thumbnail
Hermetically Sealed, modified 8 Years ago at 8/18/13 7:44 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 8/18/13 7:44 AM

RE: Ants and enlightenment?

Posts: 113 Join Date: 6/27/13 Recent Posts

“To the untrained eye ego-climbing and selfless climbing may appear identical. Both kinds of climbers place one foot in front of the other. Both breathe in and out at the same rate. Both stop when tired. Both go forward when rested. But what a difference! The ego-climber is like an instrument that’s out of adjustment. He puts his foot down an instant too soon or too late. He’s likely to miss a beautiful passage of sunlight through the trees. He goes on when the sloppiness of his step shows he’s tired. He rests at odd times. He looks up the trail trying to see what’s ahead even when he knows what’s ahead because he just looked a second before. He goes too fast or too slow for the conditions and when he talks his talk is forever about somewhere else, something else. He’s here but he’s not here. He rejects the here, he’s unhappy with it, wants to be farther up the trail but when he gets there will be just as unhappy because then *it* will be “here”. What he’s looking for, what he wants, is all around him, but he doesn’t want that because it *is* all around him. Every step’s an effort, both physically and spiritually, because he imagines his goal to be external and distant.”
-Robert M Pirsig
thumbnail
Ian And, modified 8 Years ago at 8/19/13 6:39 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 8/19/13 11:51 AM

RE: Ants and enlightenment?

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Robin Woods:
Leaving more technical diagnostic criteria - such as fruitions and access to new jhanas - to one side for a moment, do you guys think it's possible to identify a major shift/path moment through:

* marked and sustained decrease (10 days+) in self referential thoughts and mental noise

Yes, it is significant. But keep a close watch on this as it can flutter into and out of focus.

* dramatically increased awareness of Nature (there are suddenly birds and insects Everywhere. And ants. I haven't seen an ant since I was about 5!)

Any increase in your spatial or mental awareness is a plus and definitely something significant.

* dramatically increased baseline concentration

Any increase in your ability of concentration (either during or outside of meditation) is a significant event.

* falling away of the sense that what you're looking at in any given moment is separate from 'you'

This speaks to insight. And, yes, it is significant.

* some vague sense that present sensory experience is whole or perfect in some half-glimpsed way

This also speaks to insight. And is equally significant.

* increased baseline level of mindfulness so that it becomes quickly apparent when one has been lost in self referential mental images or 'talk'

Mindfulness is the key component in the awakening process. Mindfulness + insight = awakening. Very significant.

* mindfulness becomes habitual and starts to take on a momentum of its own in more and more complex life situations (like autopilot)

This is what an arahant experiences on a daily basis. I'll leave it to you to assess its significance.

* existential confusion/sense of 'what am I doing in this universe' diminished

Anything related to insight is significant.
thumbnail
Fitter Stoke, modified 8 Years ago at 8/19/13 1:57 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 8/19/13 1:57 PM

RE: Ants and enlightenment?

Posts: 487 Join Date: 1/23/12 Recent Posts
Robin Woods:
Leaving more technical diagnostic criteria - such as fruitions and access to new jhanas - to one side for a moment, do you guys think it's possible to identify a major shift/path moment through:

* marked and sustained decrease (10 days+) in self referential thoughts and mental noise
* dramatically increased awareness of Nature (there are suddenly birds and insects Everywhere. And ants. I haven't seen an ant since I was about 5!)
* dramatically increased baseline concentration
* falling away of the sense that what you're looking at in any given moment is separate from 'you'
* some vague sense that present sensory experience is whole or perfect in some half-glimpsed way
* increased baseline level of mindfulness so that it becomes quickly apparent when one has been lost in self referential mental images or 'talk'
* mindfulness becomes habitual and starts to take on a momentum of its own in more and more complex life situations (like autopilot)
* existential confusion/sense of 'what am I doing in this universe' diminished

And cobwebs and reflections in glass! Where did they all come from? emoticon

Thanks! X


This is all stuff that happened to me after an event I was told was stream-entry. I noticed and was impressed by all these things, but I didn't notice the "stream-entry event" itself.

These sorts of experiences popped up after that. It was like the mind was opening ... closing ... opening ... closing. I was told by my pragmatic dharma teacher that this is "cycling". The particulars become less interesting after awhile.

Anyway, yes. All good, significant stuff.

Breadcrumb