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Formations - clarification / confirmation / question

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Formations - clarification / confirmation / question tom moylan 9/26/13 8:57 AM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question Christian Calamus 9/26/13 10:49 AM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question tom moylan 9/26/13 12:37 PM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question M N 9/26/13 12:58 PM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question PP 9/26/13 3:15 PM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question tom moylan 9/26/13 3:40 PM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question Nikolai . 9/26/13 5:57 PM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question M N 9/26/13 9:43 PM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question Nikolai . 9/27/13 12:08 AM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question M N 9/27/13 2:10 PM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question Chris M 9/27/13 2:43 AM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question S. Pro 9/30/13 3:20 AM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question Nikolai . 9/30/13 8:03 AM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question S. Pro 10/8/13 2:47 AM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question Dream Walker 9/30/13 12:14 AM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question Jenny 8/9/14 2:53 AM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii 10/3/13 6:44 PM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question tom moylan 10/8/13 1:44 PM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii 10/9/13 1:31 PM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question tom moylan 10/10/13 2:32 AM
RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question S. Pro 10/8/13 2:52 AM
Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
formations
Answer
9/26/13 8:57 AM
howdy team,
first a little blah blah then the question.

i know that formations are a tricky concept, as daniel points out in his book, and i have read here from time to time that it is a controversial part of MCTB. that said i would like to open this can-o-worms for my own edification.

i find daniel's description of formations in the equanimity section of his book fascinating, alluring and profound. i also believe that they correct due to a few deep experiences which i have had during intense practice. that said, what i find missing in that section is a phenomenological description of how formations present during the meditation of one who is NOT operating from 'deep in the formless realms'.

when i have asked the question of how formations present i have never received a satisfactory / helpful answer. i have received answers like, 'everything is formations' or 'don't worry about that' or 'i didn't experience formations like that either'. all unhelpful answers however true they may be.

i will qualify what i am about to describe with the statement that i have never been particularly clear about how my meditative experiences line up with the maps commonly used here: those presented in daniel's book. i have recently found correlations using the vipassana jhana framework which is an excellent crosscheck as daniel points out in mctb. here now is a description of how formations (or what i believe are formations, present to me in practice.

i sit at the base of a tree...i pass foggily through several stages which i can't name but there are generally two points where an energetic pulse passes up my spine, pushing through resistance around the throat and later the mid-brain / crown. i believe these two sometimes vortexy / blissful events are the passages through the 2nd and fourth vipassana jhanas. that would mean that i find myself in equanimity which fits the feel of the state: panoramic, peaceful, calm. some other aspects of this state is that there is a shift toward more clarity and an obvious sense of "seeing" but with my "inner eye".

this state, at its clearest, it is like gazing into a moonless starry night sky. the stars, i believe, are formations, when directly looked at they either blink out or, when seen more clearly, the 'streak off' to the periphery of my inner visual field. what i am taking to be formations take on other forms and levels of clarity. most commonly i will notice a white slowly strobing object at the center point of my attention. the strobing appears generally to be a masking effect ( what i believe daniel refers to as a part of the formation "blinking out"). the next phase will be an interaction between "this side" ( where i see from ) and the formation. it is as if a fog or nebula is flowing from "me" to the formation. it is of the same "substance and moves out toward the formation, co-mingles with is in a sibilant, ever-changing, continuous flow until at some point the nebula breaks off and joins the formation as an independent object. the next phase is when the entire circumference of my 'visual field' puffs out a 'nebula ring' which creates a formation to be succeeded by a succession of concentric nebulae.

when inspected closely, the 'substance' of the formation seems to be a dynamic flow of streaks of light, like arrows, or minnows, closely packed and schooling in flows throughout the visual realm.

i have had deeper experiences of these formations which come very close to daniels' descriptions of formations containing all aspects of all of the sense doors as well as subtler sensations and feeings...

so, enough of the windbagginess.

Question: Are what I am describing formations?

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
9/26/13 10:49 AM as a reply to tom moylan.
Hi Tom, interesting topic. I cant answer your question, but here are some thoughts:

For me, the term "formations" points not so much to a thing (a phenomenon in awareness, lights etc.) but to a process. This process is one that constructs (i.e. forms) very basic aspects of experience, most importantly the split between in here and out there, inside / outside, object / subject.

When I first got into (high) equanimity, this process was what stood out for me. Because in that state with its remarkable panoramic quality, inside and outside seem to be fused together into one single solid volume of experience, which is very different from the usual mode of experience I was used to. In high EQ, I found that it is still possible for example to feel my hand and interpret it as being outside / over there, but, because the inside/outside split is less solid, I can see that the seemingly outside hand and the seeminly inside sensing of the hand are both equally part of the volume, while the apparent split is something that is being constructed, imposed after the fact, coded into the volume, "formation-ed", so to speak.

Does that make sense to you somehow?

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
9/26/13 12:37 PM as a reply to Christian Calamus.
Hi Christian,
since the name of the stage is 'the knowledge of equanimity regarding formations' there is the implication that formations are a "thing", at least certainly the object / event / experience about which one is to develop equanimity.

so i understand what you are saying, and i understand that the lines between 'this and that', internal and external, mind and body etc. are at first hard, later blurred and finally disappear and seen thusly are a process more than a substantial thing.

the objects of meditation i am referring to are mental objects at this stage. i presume they will unfold with my development to disperse this static illusion about them, but that is just surmising.

in my current experience of them there is no direct understanding of the connection between me perception of 'my hand', to use your example, my internal feeling of it and how that relates to the internal object which i am calling a formation.

that said, i have made some, for me, deep connections between the micro-mechanics, associated subtle sensations and movements inside of my head to the sense of and process of how we create the illusion of space and tie that into our proprioceptive self-map. what seems to be missing from this theorehtical picture for me is the integration of space, awareness and phenomena as 'one thing'.

Spawaremena is my word for that thing :-)

so, i think my question still stands...can anyone validate that the objects i describe in the original post are 'formations'?

thanks for the provocative thoughts.

tom

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
9/26/13 12:58 PM as a reply to tom moylan.
The way I understand it, formations is a word meaning the totality of what happens in space; when the whole of what happens is seen clearly arising&passing by it's own with everything being on the observed side, you are seeing formations.
Since when you experience something like this awareness is very panoramic and space is very much obvious the mind inclines naturally toward it, so it's quite associated with formless realms, but the point is not formlessness, but the fact that everything is seen, and some formless aspect is just a natural consequence of that.
That's how I understand the concept... bye!

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
9/26/13 3:15 PM as a reply to tom moylan.
tom moylan:
i sit at the base of a tree...i pass foggily through several stages which i can't name but there are generally two points where an energetic pulse passes up my spine, pushing through resistance around the throat and later the mid-brain / crown. i believe these two sometimes vortexy / blissful events are the passages through the 2nd and fourth vipassana jhanas. that would mean that i find myself in equanimity which fits the feel of the state: panoramic, peaceful, calm. some other aspects of this state is that there is a shift toward more clarity and an obvious sense of "seeing" but with my "inner eye".

this state, at its clearest, it is like gazing into a moonless starry night sky. the stars, i believe, are formations, when directly looked at they either blink out or, when seen more clearly, the 'streak off' to the periphery of my inner visual field. what i am taking to be formations take on other forms and levels of clarity. most commonly i will notice a white slowly strobing object at the center point of my attention. the strobing appears generally to be a masking effect ( what i believe daniel refers to as a part of the formation "blinking out"). the next phase will be an interaction between "this side" ( where i see from ) and the formation. it is as if a fog or nebula is flowing from "me" to the formation. it is of the same "substance and moves out toward the formation, co-mingles with is in a sibilant, ever-changing, continuous flow until at some point the nebula breaks off and joins the formation as an independent object. the next phase is when the entire circumference of my 'visual field' puffs out a 'nebula ring' which creates a formation to be succeeded by a succession of concentric nebulae.

when inspected closely, the 'substance' of the formation seems to be a dynamic flow of streaks of light, like arrows, or minnows, closely packed and schooling in flows throughout the visual realm.

i have had deeper experiences of these formations which come very close to daniels' descriptions of formations containing all aspects of all of the sense doors as well as subtler sensations and feeings...


Hi Tom, here my 2 cents. I have had those energetic displays but thought they were part of the A&P stage. In late DN and Low EQ I experienced a sharp decrease of vibrations (they get tinnier) and hear a 4-5 HZ that I tend to locate above the head. Regarding the visual stuff you describe, I thought that they were 1st and 2nd Jhana, and the link of them with thoughts I just thought it was Mind&Body. I cannot say for sure, but the only formations I'm sure to have experienced like you describe were 3D ones.

Here's an interesting link to visual stuff.

Here Nikolai's (2009) description of formations (thread).

Having passed through dark night dukkhaville over the past month or so, I now consider myself to be at the reobservation stage. Recently, however I have been experiencing meditation sits with a lot of equanimity. In these sits, I am starting to see the ¨blinking¨ that Daniel talks about in his book, I think.... There will be just observation of the sensations and then BLINK and there is the feeling of I, me mine, then back to just sensations then BLINK and so on and so on. Is this normal? Also in this state the images of what I think are ´me´become clearer. What is suprising is that these images sometimes don´t even take on my actual face nor body or even my own voice, becuase these images seem alive. They sometimes seem like people I know or know of or faces I don´t really know. Sorry if i am being vague, I am not quite as intellectual as the majority of people here and find it hard to putinto words. My question is are what is being observed, are these ¨formations¨.? Whata re yor experience of formations exactly? I am a little confused on what exaclty is a formation.

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
9/26/13 3:40 PM as a reply to PP.
Hola Pablo,
now this is the meat and potato kind of answer i am looking for even though it doesn't confirm my theory.

to be clear, my description of my common experience IS of 3D mental objects. i have personally differentiated my experience with previous experiences of mind and body, 3Cs and the dark night. there are some correlations with very late re-ob and the 3Cs for me, especially a flashing pulsing visual which happens. in late re-ob i begin to see what I am calling formations here. they appear and are synchronized with the breath (fast in the middle, slower at the ends) and when really investigated with an overdrive of energy appear as an unbelievably fast film reel whizzing by with distorted, strange, almost random emotionally tinged images.

after this stage i experience a shift, a deepening clarity, an increase of ease and peace and the above mentioned junk.

interestingly, your quote of Nick's 2009 post is something i read today too and have promised myself to integrate into my practice as it seems a more practical, less conceptual way to see the created "I".

i'll have to get back to you on the visual stuff after i check it out.

thanks a lot for your insight

tom

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
9/26/13 5:57 PM as a reply to tom moylan.
tom moylan:

interestingly, your quote of Nick's 2009 post is something i read today too and have promised myself to integrate into my practice as it seems a more practical, less conceptual way to see the created "I".


Blast from the past!

Here is an interesting quote from Mahasi's Progress of Insight:


12. Insight Leading to Emergence
So, through knowledge of equanimity about formations, which is endowed with many virtues, blessings, and powers, he notices the formations as they occur. When this knowledge is mature, having become keen, strong, and lucid, on reaching its culmination point, it will understand any of the formations as being impermanent or painful or without self, just by seeing their dissolution. Now that act of noticing any one characteristic out of the three, which is still more lucid in its perfect understanding, manifests itself two or three times or more in rapid succession. This is called "insight leading to emergence."[40]

Thereupon, immediately after the last consciousness in the series of acts of noticing belonging to this insight leading to emergence, the meditator's consciousness leaps forth into Nibbana, which is the cessation of all formations, taking it as its object. Then there appears to him the stilling (subsidence) of all formations called cessation.

This mode of realization of Nibbana has been mentioned in many discourses of the Master, for example: "The vision of truth arose: whatsoever has the nature of arising is bound to cease." Herein the words "bound to cease" indicate the aspect of realizing the stilling and ceasing of all formations which have the nature of arising.

Also in the Questions of King Milinda it is said: "His consciousness, while carrying on the practice of bringing to mind (i.e., noticing), passes beyond the continuous occurrence of phenomena and alights upon non-occurrence. One who, having practiced in the correct manner, has alighted upon non-occurrence, O king, is said to have realized Nibbana."

The meaning is this: the meditator who wishes to realize Nibbana should repeatedly bring to mind, through the practice of noticing, every bodily and mental process that appears at any of the six sense doors. When he brings them to mind thus, his consciousness engaged in noticing — here called "bringing to mind" — will, until adaptation knowledge is reached, fall at every moment upon the (conditioned) bodily and mental formations called here "continuous occurrence,"because they go on occurring over and over again in an unbroken flow, like a river's current.

But in the last phase, instead of falling upon that continuous occurrence, consciousness passes beyond it and alights upon "non-occurrence," which is the very opposite of the bodily and mental formations called here "occurrence." In other words, it arrives at non-occurrence, that is to say, it reaches, as if it "alights upon," cessation, which is the stilling of the formations (or conditioned phenomena). When the meditator, having already before practiced correctly and without deviation by way of the knowledge of arising and passing away and the other knowledges (or by way of the purification of conduct, of mind, of view, etc.), has in this manner arrived at non-occurrence (by the consciousness alighting upon it), he is said to have "realized Nibbana." He is called one who has made Nibbana a direct experience and has actually seen it.


The following is my own take and subject to change. I want to bring attention to this notion of "continuous occurence" and "an unbroken flow, like a river's current". This flow is the arising and passing of formation after formation after formation after... and so on and on and on. It is occuring right now for you (unless you are nibbanaising at the moment) and depending on your current baseline or current mind state, it may be obvious or it may be a like being caught up struggling to swim in the river with your foot snagged under a rock trying not to drown and at the same time trying to observe the flow of the river. Not really possible in this situation. You first have to free your foot and learn to swim first.

A way to gather data on 'formations' is to pay close attention to whatever seems like a "continuous occurence", "like an unbroken flow", "like a river's current". It may be hard to do when floundering in its strong currents trying to swim and keep one's head above the water (i.e trying to develop equanimity). But that is what the 11th stage of insight and the 4th jhana is for. That "continuous occurence", which includes the whole gamut of what seems to constitute an experience of 'you', is easily seen to arise and pass nonstop at this stage, like a river's current. When a yogi's knowledge (nana) matures and equanimity/specific neutrality establishes itself, dispassion for this flow develops triggering a movement away from it. With consciousness not landing on it like it usually does continuously an "infamous blip" occurs (or non-occurs) and with it the stilling of all formations for a period whether brief or long depending on certain factors. This is an insightful period, right when the formations are stilled i.e the pre-ish reboot period. The rebooting sees the "continuous occurence" eventually return and 're-initiate' to continue the computer terminology. Allow awareness to catch what eventually re-arises to end this period.

If you have experienced the infamous 'blip' and have the ability to be very aware of the 'exit' experience from it, then you may become aware of the absence of this "continuous occurence" for perhaps a brief moment, or perhaps a few moments , a minute or two or even longer depending on your current baseline. This absence will then see the arising again of this "continuous occurence" until another cessation occurs. The absence sheds light on what and how this "continuous occurence" manifest and feels. It is easily recognised when juxtaposed with its absence. If you train the mind to pay close attention to the exit experience of a cessation (infamous blip), then you will learn much about formations, what they are and aren't, how they arise and pass, how their cessation comes about.

If you have ever had the expericne of perception suddenly flipping to "the back of the eyelids", "sounds" and absolutely no mental overlay, this is what I would call a 'stilling of formations'. In fact they are stilling all the time, it's just that the gaps between one arising and passing and the next arising and passing is too quick to catch. Perhaps inclining the mind to those gaps will lengthen them and cause an infamous blip. Perhaps this could be the Buddha's instruction to "incline/direct the mind to the deathless i.e. the stilling of formations i.e. the non-occurence of that which is bound to 'death' i.e. the deathless.

Here is an interesting quote from Mahasi on the exit/reboot period, post "infamous blip":

It has already been stated that phalasamapatti (fruition attainment) first begins to occur when arising from nirodhasamapatti. This phalasamapatti being free from raga (passion), etc., it is also called suññata(the Void). As it is free of ræga-nimitta (one of the attributes of sentient existence), it is also known as animitta. Moreover, as it is free from passionate desire such as raga, etc., it is also called appanihita. As such, phassa which is also included in this samapatti is also known as suññata, animitta and appanihita. As phassa (contact) takes place by dwelling upon Nibbana, which is known as suññata (the Void), animitta (the Unconditioned), and appanithta (freedom from longing or desire), with attentive consciousness of mind, it is called suññata, etc. The answer, therefore, is that the three kinds of phassa, viz: suññataphassa, animittaphassa and appanihitaphassa first begin to take place.

For better understanding, it may be stated that when arising from nirodhasamapatti, contact takes place with suññata-nibbana, a condition devoid of kilesa-sankhara to which the mind has been directed as its sense-object. Contact is also made with animitta-nibbana which is devoid of or free from any sign of nimitta. Then comes mere awareness of contact with appanihita-nibbana, a condition free from vehement desire, which is the sense object that has been contemplated.


Mahasi seems to be pointing to the post-cessation reboot/exit period as being free from kilesa-sankhara (sankhara being pali for 'formation'). I would have to agree. Much to learn from.

and another interesting quote

When a monk has emerged from the cessation of perception & feeling, lady, how many contacts make contact?"
"When a monk has emerged from the cessation of perception & feeling, friend Visakha, three contacts make contact: contact with emptiness, contact with the signless, & contact with the undirected."[2]

FOOTNOTE:
[2]Emptiness, the signless, & the undirected are names for a state of concentration that lies on the threshold of Unbinding. They differ only in how they are approached. According to the commentary, they color one's first apprehension of Unbinding: a meditator who has been focusing on the theme of inconstancy will first apprehend Unbinding as signless; one who has been focusing on the theme of stress will first apprehend it as undirected; one who has been focusing on the theme of not-self will first apprehend it as emptiness.


My 2 cents

Nick

Edited 6 x times for extra info as is the habitual inclination of this mind.

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
9/26/13 9:43 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
In fact they are stilling all the time, it's just that the gaps between one arising and passing and the next arising and passing is too quick to catch


Ok, this is very interesting to me; sometimes, in EQ it's like there are lots of gaps in experience, as if there was a moment of not knowing between moments of consciousness,happening at a quite fast, regular frequency; is that what are you talking about? Can you expand on that topic? What the hell is that, that doesn't seem to be possible to vipassanize?

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
9/27/13 12:08 AM as a reply to M N.
Mario Nistri:
In fact they are stilling all the time, it's just that the gaps between one arising and passing and the next arising and passing is too quick to catch


Ok, this is very interesting to me; sometimes, in EQ it's like there are lots of gaps in experience, as if there was a moment of not knowing between moments of consciousness,happening at a quite fast, regular frequency; is that what are you talking about? Can you expand on that topic? What the hell is that, that doesn't seem to be possible to vipassanize?


Hmmm, I would personally be wary of any 'gaps' that didn't make the absence of formations so damn clear. If it isn't clear, I would say it is possibly murky water where such 'gaps' are still an arising formation of a particular 'gap-like taste'. I'll try an expand on it when i have ti,me.

Nick

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
9/27/13 2:43 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Hi to all,

This is an interesting thread, which has much relevancy for me at the moment too.

... as is the habitual inclination of this mind.

Perhaps the above is relevant here? That is, if we are talking about the volitional formations that we are developing equanimity to, during insight practice. These being the deeply ingrained, "habitual inclinations" and kammic patterns of body, speech and mind, so perhaps it is not coincidental that you finished your post with this Nicolai?

I have been pondering this for some time as well, so maybe a definition of Volitional Formations/Fabrications could help shed some light on this as a base to work from. So what are these formations? Are they things? Or are they more about process? My understanding is that they are really about process and the process of why and how dukkha arises. And the process is Dependent Origination I.E.: dependent on Ignorance, Volitional Formations arise, dependent on Volitional Formations, Consciousness arises, etc through the next nine links of DO.The Buddha separated out Volitional Formations into three components, being Bodily, Verbal and Mental. He further defined each category as:
  • Bodily Fabrications, he defined as "in and out breathing"
  • Verbal Fabrications, he defined as "applied thought and sustained thought"
  • Mental Fabrications, he defined as "feeling and perception".

So consequently Volitional Formations/Fabrications are a very complex matter and are central to the process of dukkha. They arise out of Ignorance and are actually pre Consciousness in the chain of arising (although they do arise concurrently with Consciousness) and are therefore extremely difficult to get a handle on. As they are the kammic formations, they also pretty much shape our experience, whenever the process of dukkha (Dependent Origination) is occurring. So this is where my current level understanding of Formations/Fabrications is at, so please feel free to elaborate on what I've outlined, or correct my understanding, as Formations and Dependent Origination is very much an ongoing, long-term investigation.

Hope this is of help.

Regards,
Chris

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
9/27/13 2:10 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
If it isn't clear, I would say it is possibly murky water where such 'gaps' are still an arising formation of a particular 'gap-like taste

Yeah, sometimes it's definitely like that; it's an interesting phenomenon, thought. Other times, doesn't seem like it, but it might very well be.

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
9/30/13 12:14 AM as a reply to tom moylan.
Here is my take on formations. It can be anything experienced with the 6 senses only it is seen very clearly right before a fruition. So it is no help to identifying when you see one except hindsight. I spent 2 years in review and did the fruition thing several times a week...here is how it went...
Description-
I would be sitting in the sauna and get to EQ then I would feel the heat arise and pass away; get more intense then peak and fade more quickly than the build up (This was slow for me, it builds for like 2 - 3 seconds then passes away quicker like 1-2 seconds). at the bottom of the pass away it would hit bottom with a *thump* into a barrier that was solid but had some give to it like packed dirt. Then consciousness would fade slowly to almost gone and then fade back and this would happen again - Heat arises and passes away again, *thump* , fadeout again, on the last one the *thump* would be a breaking through the barrier into cessation, nothing, totally gone. The experience coming back was instant, consciousness was back, moment to notice, strong in breath and the bliss wave would roll over me.
So the formation pre-cessation that was presenting itself was heat. It was slow and methodical and very clear. If this is not it I totally missed what a formation is....many times emoticon

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
formations
Answer
9/30/13 3:20 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai .:



If you have ever had the expericne of perception suddenly flipping to "the back of the eyelids"



Nikolai,

could you explain this more? I experience that frequently (pre SE) ... what does that mean for my practice?

thanks
Sven

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
9/30/13 8:03 AM as a reply to S. Pro.
The
S. Pro:
Nikolai .:



If you have ever had the expericne of perception suddenly flipping to "the back of the eyelids"



Nikolai,

could you explain this more? I experience that frequently (pre SE) ... what does that mean for my practice?

thanks
Sven



The exact quote was a bit more than just "the back of the eyelids". No mental overlay in those periods. In other words no attention bounce from the experience of the back of the eyelids (seen in the seen) to either a subtle or gross fog of 'me-ness'. A rapid blinking in and out. At times, this binking can cease. No mental overlay presents. There is just the experience of sounds in sounds, seen in seen. No sense of a 'witness' or 'observer'. The back of the eyelids experience may occur, but is it the experience of JUST the back of the eyelids and nothing more or is there something else presenting?

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
10/3/13 6:44 PM as a reply to tom moylan.
Hi Tom, I am guessing that because you're posting in the SE section, that means you're looking for SE?

I remember reading a report some time ago where you described these formations very well in a similar way to these. So from your descriptions your concentration and noting is excellent (I never experienced formations for more than a couple of minutes!? and I couldn't describe the experience!) and also you have been hanging out with formations for a while, spending a lot of time in high EQ, but something hasn't popped.

So I write cautiously, it might be totally unhelpful but is said with only the best intent.

1. why don't you try something else? maybe straight noting just isn't your thing? what have you got to lose? other practices can be fun. like perhaps:
++ self-inquiry, in a vipassana-lite sort of way (breathe, ask question, see what thoughts/sensations arise, pay about 20% of attention to the contents of sensations, 80% to the nature of the sensations, repeat)
++ contemplating a sutta or koan or a puzzle of your own devising in a similar way
++ maybe a bit of non-dual / direct pointing stuff can be helpful as it allows one to have an experience of what the thing you're looking for might be like
++ your visualisation seems strong, maybe a visualisation practice of some sort?

2. I know you said in another thread you had been doing some strong resolutions. I almost can't believe I am writing this as it sounds phenomenally presumptuous but my gut feeling is that it's a belief issue for you. The impression I get (just from reading some posts of yours) is that at your core, your heart level, you just don't feel like you deserve it yet. Your subconscious programming, karma, whatever you call it, just thinks you need to continue suffering for a bit more for some reason. But at the surface level you are pushing and resolving hard with the mind, but there is a disconnect. I could recommend some practices/exercises for this. But please take this point with a pinch of salt, it could be total rubbish. So if you look hard and it doesn't seem remotely true, please ignore. And I apologise if it seems rude, assuming, etc. As I said, I write this only with a real wish that you find awakening.

anthony.

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
10/8/13 2:47 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai,

yes I crippled your text. I cannot relate to anything other of what you wrote except this "back of the eyelids" thing...

No blinking, mental overlay etc...

Thanks
Sven

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
10/8/13 2:52 AM as a reply to tom moylan.
Paweł K:
imho formations are just consciousness but experienced from outside



Sounds familiar. For me it´s like my whole experience looks a bit like a picture, including me meditating within it...

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
10/8/13 1:44 PM as a reply to Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii.
Man..the people in this place are really fantastic. I am awed by the honesty, the inquiry, the accomplishments and the compassion that drives this forum and the participants.

Thanks to you all who have contributed to this thread, Nikolai, Pawel...It is all very very insightful.

This reply is directed to Anthony however due to his sensitive "risk taking" in deepening this to a personal level with his queries and suggestions.

As a direct answer to your first point, basically suggesting to "try something else", I would say that that has been my traditional weakness. I think via varied practices I have increased my "doubt" despite have some wild and unusual experiences. Aside from your first suggestion of other types of practice, I have tried them and will investigate that first "self-inquiry" suggestion. BTW, my visualazation skills are not very good :-)

As to you 2nd point, I've not been big on resolutions although I have had some suggestions that this would helpful. While I believe that 'everyone believes in something', I am not really a blind believer, my trendency is to a more pragmatic, experiential model although I know that much lies outside of our rational capabilities. It just doesn't seem to be a productive path for me as I tend to spend much energy just fighting my natural tendencies. That said, I think you are VERY perceptive and that you are right in saying that, "you just don't feel that I deserve it yet".

Wow. Suggest away.

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
10/9/13 1:31 PM as a reply to tom moylan.
hey Tom I jotted down some thoughts and a couple of exercises, it might help you get an idea of the sort of strategy I'm talking about.

Faith
OK so this is just a viewpoint, not absolutely true, but maybe helpful, so here goes. It may look like vipassana is a technical exercise, about logic and technique, but really it's only an exercise to create good conditions for an essentially random act of grace to occur in which our perception flips.

Basically the mind's nature is to always be looking somewhere else in space and time for the answer. We now want it to totally go against this nature and do the impossible, which is to realise that the answer it seeks is none other than exactly itself. So it needs some very powerful forces pushing it to do this. The Zen tradition talks about great doubt and great faith:

Great doubt - this is the PUSH factor (pushing us away from delusion) that we create in vipassana. When we sit there in EQ, having noted everything in the universe, for ages, and not found the answer, the mind MAY have generated enough doubt in its usual approach (aka dispassion to the usual way of perceiving), to be willing finally to accept that maybe its normal answer-seeking mode is not working.

Great faith - this is the PULL factor (pulling us toward awakening). You must believe in the deepest core of the mind, that there is an excellent answer, and that you deserve that answer, and that you can find the answer. The mind has to want to see the truth. Otherwise we may sit in EQ for years getting more hopeless (we have all met these people!).

The point I am trying to make clumsily is that this is all about faith. You may call it belief based on evidence, but for the purposes of the mind, it amounts to the same thing. It either believes or doesn't.

Strategy

If you were a religious person, you have the advantage that you get given an entire belief structure, containing enlightenment, your path to it, and many rituals and authority figures to increase your faith in this story to an unshakable level. As you are not (neither am I), we have to make up our own one.

I am going to take it that you really believe in SE, as you are a rational minded person, and the MCTB methodology and results of those on the forum have convinced you at a core level that this is real, and possible. So this part of the belief is done.

We now need to make a belief structure, which contains all the elements like enlightenment, you, the mandala of your life, in a way that convinces you to the core of your being that you do actually want it, you are capable of it, and you deserve it.

This is beyond the scope of one forum post! but here is how I might start.

Exercises

1. Automatic writing exercises to try and figure out what you think your story is.

Get an exercise book. At the top of a page put a question (as below). Now do automatic writing for 2 pages for each question. Whatever comes up, write it down, flow, don't censor. If nothing comes, just keep writing, nothing coming, write whatever is in your head. Just keep writing. Here are some questions to do.
What do I want?
Why do I want this?
Why do I deserve it?
What am I good at?

I would repeat these exercise every few days, or however often you want, until the answers seem clear. Dip in and out, you don't have to do them all at once. Also you can and should change and add your own questions too. Especially note (write down) any resistance to the exercise, or negative thoughts which arise whilst writing. When your answers to all these questions are clear, half the battle is over! Another interesting thing to note is what your emotional response to reading your own responses to these questions is.

2. Affirmation and resolution exercises to strengthen belief and goals

This seems like an almost unbelievably stupid tool, but I find it really works. Basically you invent a strong belief that you want to have. Such as:
"I, John Smith, have practiced diligently and I am now a powerful meditator who will acheive stream entry this retreat"
** You then just write this 10 times, like Bart writing lines in the intro of the Simpsons, and you write down any negative thoughts which occur as you write. e.g. "powerful meditator? yeah right - you can't even..." or "No you wont, you're too lazy"
** Then (or as they occur), go back and look at all the objections, and use whatever tool you find best to undermine them. I like Byron Katie's "the work", basically the useful questions here are "is that thought really true? who/where would I be without that thought?"
** Repeat this exercise daily, tweaking the words to keep it fresh, and trying new affirmations. Get creative with them. As you do it more, the objectioning thoughts from your mind will decrease, or seem less weighty. This is progress.

3. Resolutions from 4th jhana
I guess just about everyone on the forum who has tried this will vouch and say that it really does appear to give one superhuman resolve and powers. When I first read MCTB, I was like "Magick"? really? But when I first started using these resolutions I was like, wow. So use it.

4. have fun
to do this thing, one needs serious effort and dedication, but also a lightness, even humour, that allows anything in. Be creative, be funny, make yourself laugh with these tools and the ridiculousness of your quest, which is basically to try to stop believing in a made-up person who exists somewhere in your head.

5. one more random thing I found in my notebook
Understand that techniques, tools, such as: noting practice, questioning thoughts which arise, bringing the attention back to the breath, etc - are all just doing their own thing, in your head. They're installed there, like an anti-virus computer program, and now they are all just working automatically, simple processes doing simple things, reacting autonomously against delusive mind-behaviour, as they find it. You're not controlling them, it's nothing to do with you. Just a process of awakening playing itself out in a field of experience. And it is inevitable. This is faith.

Just some things to play around with. Hope you have fun with them and that they may lend some clarity to you if needed. One quick thing - these exercises are about your psychological content as called in MCTB. It's probably better when actually meditating e.g. noting to not engage with your content. So I think it's good to keep these 2 strands of practice a little separate.

Feedback would be welcome from anyone too.

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
10/10/13 2:32 AM as a reply to Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii.
Dear Sadalsuud,
thanks again for your time and thoughts. i love it. there is a lot there and i can already tell that i will try at least some of your suggestions but your answer has definitely inspired me in several ways already.

i think that i need to change my tack a bit and your suggestions point to some excellent possibilities. i'll let you know hoe it goes for me.

thanks a million

tom

RE: Formations - clarification / confirmation / question
Answer
8/9/14 2:53 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Hi, all. I've been in EQ for weeks. Today something extraordinary happened, and this description is very like it. My apprehension of formations is usually visual, but until today I wasn't seeing the beginnings and endings clearly. Today they became crystal clear, very regular, much more slowed down than usual, and I effortlessly stayed with each arising and each passing away. These are visual for me--though it can occur in the dimension of sound and even tactile feeling, too. In a kind of pre-verbal way, today I saw the arisings almost as blooms. And then I watched the passings-away, and the passings-away seemed like black, inverted blooms. So I had the sense that the "gone!" was also, still, a kind of arising, and I had the sense that this was so precisely because of the contextual frame that was the "real" arising, now known to be "gone." So, several more of these arisings and passings and then--what the hell was that? I don't know if I can even find words. But "I" was just gone as sense recognition returned from . . . where? And that "nothing in the seeing but the seen" now makes perfect sense!

Now, this said, I don't recall a "bliss wave." But something was very strange after all this. I was in a group setting, and right when sensory experience was kicking back in, the mediation bell rang, and I had the strangest feeling of not being able to come out of meditation. I even walked up to the cafe with my meditation friends, totally in a diffuse meditative way. . . . This strangeness lasted about 10 minutes, and then I felt normal.