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Self-referential thoughts at 4th Path?

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I realise everyone is different, and that there will be situational variances, but is it possible to still get lost in chains of thought post 4th path? Or is the mindfulness strong enough to keep neck and neck with what the mind is doing?

I only ask because I'm VERY confused as to where I am on the maps at the moment and had almost an entire day yesterday - with no 'formal' practice - where I didn't get lost in thought hardly at all. Or I very quickly realised what was happening and pulled myself back to the present. Would this kinda thing be possible at the first-path A&P? Or have I somehow managed to 'do what had to be done'?!!!

I've been pretty much like this for two weeks now. My 'problems' ('mind forged manacles' - thanks Blake for this one) just seem to have upped and gone....

RE: Self-referential thoughts at 4th Path?
Answer
7/25/13 9:51 AM as a reply to Robin Woods.
Once during my periodic dabbling with sitting practice before i got serious and experienced SE I had a very nice click-in moment with the breath that was quite profound. For months afterwards (without any more formal practice) I was extremely calm and clear and could see thoughts arising and passing without getting lost in them. My attention went wherever I pointed it and rested there. My body felt calm and clear. Stillnes was palpable.

What was it? who knows, A&P, something else. It was impressive at the time. It would be impressive now. But it wasn't awakening.

I also had some powerful A&Ps in the months prior to SE that were extremely impressive. It was almost impossible to believe that I wasn't awakened, maybe even super uber awakened, during these phases. Again, in retrospect, it's quite funny how mistaken those thoughts were emoticon

RE: Self-referential thoughts at 4th Path?
Answer
7/25/13 4:39 PM as a reply to Robin Woods.
Robin Woods:
I realise everyone is different, and that there will be situational variances, but is it possible to still get lost in chains of thought post 4th path? Or is the mindfulness strong enough to keep neck and neck with what the mind is doing?

Generally speaking, if you have to ask the question, then you haven't arrived.

Mindfulness is EVERYTHING prior to and post 4th path. It is what keeps you from falling off the wagon, so to speak, by allowing you to be able to maintain control over the emotions, desires, etcetera.

Robin Woods:

I only ask because I'm VERY confused as to where I am on the maps at the moment and had almost an entire day yesterday - with no 'formal' practice - where I didn't get lost in thought hardly at all. Or I very quickly realised what was happening and pulled myself back to the present. Would this kinda thing be possible at the first-path A&P? Or have I somehow managed to 'do what had to be done'?!!!

As to your last question, highly unlikely. But then I do not know you, have never met you, and only know what I know about you based on the information provided in this post. So this is only my best educated guess. All of which means: I could be wrong. (In other words, asking such things on the Internet is certainly not the best place or environment to ask. You need to deal with people who KNOW you when asking such things.)

However, keep observing your experience, and if after one year, two years, three years your experience remains the same, then perhaps you have "done what had to be done." After I got to the point where studying more Dhamma seemed pointlessly repetitive, and I was able to generally maintain control over the mind, I found it difficult to believe that I had accomplished anything profound. Except as time went on, I gradually came to accept that perhaps I had accomplished what I set out to accomplish.

It is one thing to awaken to anicca, dukkha, and anatta. It is another thing to be able to maintain that awakening when it COUNTS. Like: in each and every present moment in succession.

RE: Self-referential thoughts at 4th Path?
Answer
7/25/13 5:29 PM as a reply to Robin Woods.
Just having a period where the mind seems to be pretty on track and problems seem far away is common at many stages, and sometimes just in ordinary life by very ordinary circumstances.

As to your question, the following points may be of use.

While definitions of 4th path vary widely, I will give my take on this:

Mindfulness is a conditioned quality, and, like every other conditioned quality, it comes and goes.

Fourth path involves a total lack of split between what one might call the mind and phenomena, so the notion of a mind here noticing those thoughts there and keeping them on track misses something of that basic point.

That said, practice, mindfulness and the like may still occur, being ordinary empty phenomena, and good practice and good mindfulness still help as before, as the mind is an organic thing, and its continued conditioning continues to modifies its function for better or for worse.

As to being lost in thoughts, that depends on how you would define that. As before, and using somewhat conventional language for the sake of clarity, attention may tune to this or that, detune from other things, and attend to various objects with more or less emphasis at various times, including thought.

You could also say the same thing at that level by saying that there is no attention beyond bare phenomena, but those bare phenomena may arise differently at different moments, with some moments being made much more of the sensations whose qualities we use to define them as thoughts and other moments being made much more of the sensations we define as physical or auditory or visual sensations, realizing that this divide is not really quite how things are at a very basic sensate level, but functionally is a good way to think of things most of the time.

I agree with Ian: if you have to ask and the experience of that question itself doesn't ring with the beauty of an untangled, fresh, bright, clear, natural effortlessness, then further practice and investigation will likely be of benefit.

Also, two weeks is not that long in this business: see how things hold up to various adverse circumstances and further time, this being a recommendation that basically always applies.

RE: Self-referential thoughts at 4th Path?
Answer
7/25/13 10:48 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
*intense embarrassment* - haha, thanks guys. I don't even understand Daniel's post so it's clear I have a looong way to go...

I guess what I should have said was that, having suffered from intense suicidal ideation for about 15 years it feels like a big shift to wake up one day and find that 90% of my problems seem to have disappeared. I just pray that whatever this sense of heightend mindfulness and sensory clarity is continues...

Thank you Daniel for possibly saving my life. Or at least for giving me a couple of happy weeks if this is the A&P before the shitstorm.....

RE: Self-referential thoughts at 4th Path?
Answer
7/25/13 11:17 PM as a reply to Robin Woods.
EQ is smooth-sailing, A&P is mania. There may be current confusion at where you are at but the dust should settle and it shouldn't be too hard to figure out. Remember that you are continously cycling, you simply see what your cycle includes and you know where you're at.

That's great that all your problems are gone.

No embarrassment

RE: Self-referential thoughts at 4th Path?
Answer
7/26/13 10:40 AM as a reply to Ian And.
After I got to the point where studying more Dhamma seemed pointlessly repetitive, and I was able to generally maintain control over the mind, I found it difficult to believe that I had accomplished anything profound. Except as time went on, I gradually came to accept that perhaps I had accomplished what I set out to accomplish.


Hello Ian. Finding texts boring to read and happening to not lose control of your faculties due to anger very often or whatnot seems an extremely weak basis for claiming arahatship in that soft way you just did. If I give my grandfather some valium he will be in a place to find sutras boring and not lose his cool as well. In fact he wouldn't need drugging, the peaceful countryside and family to look after him is enough to cultivate a mindstate of happiness and calm.

I have not completed the holy life. Until I can see perfectly the way my continuing perception of existence comes about and works I will not stop. The texts are often boring to read. They are often stupid. Apparently the Buddha can refute a moralistic argument against his monks asking for alms from famine struck peasants by saying "nah, don't be silly, there's always enough for everyone". Of course the deliverer of the argument is awestruck by this non-response and goes forth. Yeah. Finding that boring is not part of enlightenment criterion surely emoticon

If you were captured by a terrorist and were about to be beheaded would you feel fear? If you did then your arahantship would surely not be an arahantship to be content with.

RE: Self-referential thoughts at 4th Path?
Answer
7/26/13 2:02 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
alright guys, I'll try a slightly different approach. When you look at people is the distance through (what I'm calling at the moment) 'non-dual mode', do you kind of lose sense of perspective and see them as the tiny images that are appearing AT THAT MOMENT inside your head?

Also, when you do samatha with the attention on the rising and falling of the stomach, does it feel like the sense of separation between yourself and the outside world has been replaced by a 'relationship'?

Or have I just finally gone fucking mental? (it doesn't feel like it...)

RE: Self-referential thoughts at 4th Path?
Answer
7/26/13 2:05 PM as a reply to Robin Woods.
I'm trying hard not to 'intellectualise' any of this btw. Just trying to report the distinct change in my sensory experience as best I can in words......

RE: Self-referential thoughts at 4th Path?
Answer
7/26/13 6:21 PM as a reply to Robin Woods.
Robin Woods:
I'm trying hard not to 'intellectualise' any of this btw. Just trying to report the distinct change in my sensory experience as best I can in words......


Hi robin,

Sounds like good progress all the same. Why the need to label it as something? Is there any sense of 'agency'? Is there a centrepointedness to that sense of 'you' at anytime or does it drop momentarily when doing samatha or is it absent all the time? Is there a tangibly felt sense of presence and location in the world? Perhaps setting down the 'desire' to label the change you have experienced and continuing to do what you were doing to get there in the first place (or experimenting with other approaches) may result in something even better than the current tentative (give it a few months) baseline.


Nick

RE: Self-referential thoughts at 4th Path?
Answer
7/27/13 3:59 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Thanks nick - that's really helpful. Yes, there is definitely still a centre point and sense of agency when I'm out walking about, it's essentially just that my internal monologue ('problems') has pretty much switched off and the sense of separation between myself and the world has changed. BUT I also think I'm starting to get what you guys mean by centre pointedness now- I never even understood what you were all talking about before.......

Btw- I literally just had a shattering fruition whilst lying on my bed, so something's obviously going on....

Thanks to you all!

RE: Self-referential thoughts at 4th Path?
Answer
7/27/13 1:06 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
As to being lost in thoughts, that depends on how you would define that. As before, and using somewhat conventional language for the sake of clarity, attention may tune to this or that, detune from other things, and attend to various objects with more or less emphasis at various times, including thought.


Just thinking about this yesterday and I realized that I was still repressing thoughts just a little bit towards the end of them. By allowing it to pass 100% on its own improved my practice. It made thoughts feel completely like sensations without a meditative concentration or tension on my part. I may not understand what you write at the beginning but when it sinks in with actual practice it all comes together. It's like paying attention without any exertion outwards towards objects. They are already registering in consciousness. I feel like getting lost in thought does still feel like stepping out of the present moment but with enough presence to let go of adding to it or feeling crap about not having perfect presence creates more relief.

RE: Self-referential thoughts at 4th Path?
Answer
7/27/13 6:17 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
By allowing it to pass 100% on its own improved my practice.


YES. It becomes even an impurity to have the mental system that controls and prevents mind wandering, that ego get's destroyed.

RE: Self-referential thoughts at 4th Path?
Answer
8/2/13 4:38 AM as a reply to Robin Woods.
Fourth path involves a total lack of split between what one might call the mind and phenomena, so the notion of a mind here noticing those thoughts there and keeping them on track misses something of that basic point.


I'm not claiming anything, but This (above). Getting "lost" in thought implies someone getting lost, like "I" was "tuning out" or "checking out." I have trouble comprehending statements like "when the mind wanders bring it back to the present moment." There is no mind to wander...so it makes little sense. There are only sensations that arise and vanish right where they arose and vanished. What is this thing called mind that is wandering off? It doesn't exist.

I have trouble comprehending this now, and don't quite understand what people are talking about when they say they're getting lost in thought. This is similar to the trouble you have in comprehending Daniel's post, where it seems to make perfect sense, and I have trouble understanding your post where you say you're getting lost in thought. However, there is the advantage that I have memories of when this (mysterious thing) used to happen to me, whereas you have no memory of experiencing reality as Daniel does.

Meaning 4th path is the realization that there is no mind to wander off, not the state of not having the mind (whatever that is???) wander off for long periods of time. Samatha/concentration practice is good at making the latter state occur and often fools people into thinking they're enlightened because of it.

Daniel has described it like one of those magic eye posters (or the old lady/young lady picture). Except once you see it the way Daniel sees it, you can't go back to seeing it the other way (except via memory).