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Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events

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Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg 10/26/13 6:42 PM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events sawfoot _ 10/27/13 6:32 AM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg 10/27/13 2:56 PM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Tom Tom 10/27/13 8:14 PM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events An Eternal Now 10/28/13 3:02 AM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events sawfoot _ 10/28/13 3:20 AM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg 10/28/13 6:48 AM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events sawfoot _ 10/28/13 1:13 PM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg 10/28/13 4:57 PM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg 10/28/13 6:11 AM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii 10/28/13 3:17 PM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg 10/28/13 8:16 PM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii 10/29/13 8:11 AM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg 10/29/13 9:28 AM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg 10/29/13 9:32 AM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii 10/29/13 4:21 PM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg 10/30/13 6:34 PM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Tom Tom 10/28/13 7:21 PM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg 10/28/13 8:38 PM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Jenny 10/28/13 11:49 PM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events sawfoot _ 10/29/13 4:59 AM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg 10/29/13 5:11 AM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events sawfoot _ 10/29/13 9:35 AM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg 10/29/13 5:01 AM
RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events Bryn Shyndor 10/28/13 10:19 PM
Hi.

First off I am amazed and happy to have found this place on the internet and have been browsing it for a few days. It seems to be a fantastic resource and I hope I will be able to contribute to it in a positive way in the future. I stumbled on this place in my search for knowledge about something that happened to me and that I have been investigating and trying to understand for a little over four months now. I am hoping I can finally get some help with that process, and this forum seems to be the right place to ask for that help and guidance.

My 'story' is pretty long and complex so in order to make it concise enough for people to be able to read it I have had to cut out a lot of information, especially much of the context, and have decided to focus mainly on the experiences themselves and describe them as well as I can and try to present it as a “case study”. If you want any additional information just ask.

Short description of me before the first event:

A 37 years old male, typed as an INTP or ENTP according to MBTI. Born very introverted but now considered very outgoing and social after much practice. I was an extremely “cerebral” type and often reflected on my inability to “live in the present”. I was diagnosed a few years ago as a “high performing” ADD with hyper active cognitive functions and extremely self reflecting.

I've always been very interested in self-improvement and most of my activities have been of the intellectual kind. I was an adamant atheist/rationalist and extremely anti-spiritual. One of my main goals in life has always been to understand things (as in how everything works) so I've been very interested in knowledge, both the natural and humanist sciences.

The other main goal has always (a bit naively perhaps) been to “save the world” or at least maximize my positive impact on other people and our environment. I would consider myself an extremely moral person and have always been very uninterested in material gain or money, although I would also say that I suffered from a strong inferiority complex as well as performance anxiety, feeling isolated and unloved for most of my life (not counting the last few years).

THE FIRST EVENT
This summer I had been feeling more and more good about myself and more and more energetic, after being exhausted from working too much for almost a year. I was having a very creative work session in my home when “it” happened. The event took place over three days and contained in itself three rather separate event, on a sort of “background” event that kept up through the whole period.

The “background” situation was a sensation similar to the light suddenly being turned on. The world somehow became brighter and more intense, and my energy level, mood and creativity suddenly peaked at levels that I had never experienced before. It was as if my senses, well being and focus suddenly just jumped up several levels. I would guess that this was similar to what athletes calls “flow” or “being in the zone” but on an intellectual, social and emotional level rather than an athletic one. This heightened state lasted throughout the whole experience.

The first “sub event” was something akin to an intellectual orgasm. It was as if suddenly everything I had ever learned started fitting together as the pieces of a giant puzzle. I've been jumping between different branches of learning throughout my whole life and suddenly they all started to fit together. It was an incredibly dramatic experience and I was filled with an incredible sense of joy, relief and ecstasy. I'm not sure for how long it lasted but it was not an instantaneous thing, more like a fantastic mental orgasm that just kept on and on. I was crying with joy and just incredibly grateful. It felt like my whole life suddenly made a beautiful perfect sense. It was the most intense feeling of happiness I had ever experienced, I was just laughing and screaming with joy as thing after thing just made perfect sense to me.

The second “sub event” was very introverted. My brain started working on some fundamental questions like the nature of time and the true nature of the universe and existence. At this point it felt like my brain jumped into overdrive and just kept accelerating. I was following logical arguments to their “full conclusion” at an ever increasing speed, exploring the above themes. At one point I can recall having some extremely fundamental, instant and somehow 'ultimate' realization that is probably best described as a cosmic feeling of “Oh shit!”, as if I had somehow run the “cosmic calculation” to its end and realized something that was... I can't put a word on it. I remember looking into a mirror when it happened and it was like getting a glimpse of infinity and at the same time realizing that the infinity was me, but not just me but everyone. I think this is when the third “sub event” started but I am not sure.

During this time I was obsessed with positive feedback loops, infinity, life, death, logic and symbolism. I felt a strong urge to (and this is just going to sound crazy) create time, invent universes and somehow working backwards/downwards to the most fundamental building blocks of life and energy. The driving force of love was also constantly present. During this time I also had several 'visions' of symbolic nature, but since this text is already very long I won't go into them.

The third “sub event” was extremely weird. I recall very visually having conversations with “myself” inside my own brain, where one “me” was the “total me” and the other was more like my “normal” me. It was as if the “total me” split itself into two by removing some essential insights from itself, thus creating a fragment of itself that became the experiencing and conscious me. These “total me” was creating barriers in my brain/consciousness and explaining to the “normal me” that kept getting more and more “normal” as insights were being locked away. The “normal” me had no objections to this and it was all a very pleasant experience. I think the “total me” decided I couldn't handle the situation and started shutting the processes down, but in a way that I would in the future get these insights back piece by piece in a way that I would be able to handle.

The second and third “sub event” may have happened in parallel and my recollection of the total event still has many gaps. I have however been “getting back” memories and insights on a somewhat semi-regular basis and can today recall much more than a few months back, even though I still feel like I am missing essential bits. I think there may have been around ten instances where I've had some 'Aha!' experience and a part has been 'unlocked', which is always followed by a short period of almost blissful calm, acceptance and appreciation of life, as well as a heightened sense of beauty and presence in the 'now'. I think of these as “mini-events”.

The first event unfortunately ended when I suffered an unrelated and very traumatic accident. The accident was incredibly painful and I lost consciousness. When I woke up I was “back to normal” so to speak.

THE SECOND EVENT
This event happened 3 months later as I was walking home very late one night and lasted for 4-5 hours, ending (as I thought it would) when I went to sleep. Before this event I had experienced several mini-events and I was actually expecting this to happen sooner or later. Oddly enough it was preceded by about an hour of what I can only describe as the least spiritual hour of my existence since the first event. In hindsight it felt a bit like how the water on the beach pulls back before a tsunami hits. As in the first event my cognitive functions suddenly jumped into over drive and much of the 4-5 hours were very similar to the first time this happened, so I will focus on the one thing that was unique.

About halfway through this episode as I was walking on a very silent and dark but cosy street in a quite neighborhood my sense of 'self' just went from being 'me' to being 'everything'. It's very hard to describe but the closest I can get is that it felt like the whole street, with cars, houses, sidewalks, plants and everything was my body. It was like if everything I could see was part of me and my nervous system and the feeling was absolutely ecstatic. Like having 10.000 electric orgasms shot straight into my brain and my brain being everything around me. I have no idea how long it lasted but if it hadn't ended I think I would probably still be frozen to that spot.

After this event I stayed in a state of consciousness where I was extremely blissful and present in the moment, enjoying every second of existence and with a very different perspective on things. For a week or so I was just incredibly peaceful and accepting towards everyone and everything. This sort of drizzled out eventually but I am still very much more peaceful, accepting and happy than before, and my personality has changed quite drastically both due to this and some meditation that I've experimented with.

POST EVENT SITUATION
My current 'personality' is different from before all this in several ways that I figure might be noteworthy:
- I no longer have a sense of restlessness inside that has been part of me for my whole life
- I'm very much more balanced and have great control of my feelings
- Nothing really bothers me very seriously, at most I can get a bit annoyed sometimes but usually only if I let myself be
- It's as if I can induce feelings of pleasure and happiness at will most of the time, if I'm not busy. Like I found the “feel good button” in my brain.
- I used to be extremely messy and disorganized and hate menial chores, now I am much more attentive to details and feel no unease cleaning, washing dishes or doing other 'boring' things
- I've almost completely lost my competitive instinct and become almost borderline apathetic
- I'm much more in tune with other peoples feelings and emotions, and vastly more patient

I realize this became an incredibly long post even though I tried to keep it as short as possible and left several things out. If you made it this far I can only say “Thank you” and I hope I can get some feedback and guidance. If moderators or others want me to shorten it to make it readable I'll give it a try, but I really wanted to be thorough and give as good an account of the events as possible.

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/27/13 6:32 AM as a reply to Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg.
Hi Mattias,

Some really interesting experiences - thanks for sharing them with us.

You ask for guidance and feedback, but these are rather broad questions. Do you have any more specific questions? You say you have been trying to investigate and understand these experiences so what have you come up with so far? How do you interpret your experiences? Where do you want go from here?

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/27/13 2:56 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
Do you have any more specific questions? You say you have been trying to investigate and understand these experiences so what have you come up with so far? How do you interpret your experiences? Where do you want go from here?

My main question is simply the "What was that?" which headlines this forum. I have no previous experiences with anything similar to this and would frankly have written it off as drivel if I hadn't experienced it myself. My only previous frames of references would have diagnosed it as some sort of manic psychotic episode, as I was not aware something like a "path to enlightenment" existed.

So far my investigation has mainly consisted of studying psychoanalysis, buddhism (mainly through Alan Watts) and reading the book "I am that" as well as doing excercices (guess I should call them practices now) I was given by a therapist to handle the trauma of my accident.

Today I read the MCTB from cover to cover and have attempted to fit my experiences within the framework that is presented with such refreshing clarity there. I didn't want to read it before I had posted my full description here in order to not be subconsciously influenced to try and "fit" my experience into some sort of "accepted" system.

Here's my own amateur analysis where I try to fit the concept from MCTB on my experience:

The first event seems to fit the description of ”Arising and Passing away” extremly well, even though I have no clear recollection of experiencing the 3 earlier stages.

After the ”A&P” I guess I may have experienced the ”Dark Night” as I had two months of intense emotional anguish, although at the time I assumed that was only due to the trauma from my accident. There was enough ”stuff” to explain all the negative emotions.

Before this I just assumed that the second event was of the same character as the first (being unaware that there exists different stages). It still seems like a repetition of the A&P is the most likely candidate, although I have to say that it in many ways resembled Equanimity. In several ways it was closer to that desciption, but since it didn't progress into the insights following that stage I guess it must have been another A&P?

The amazing sensation of unity in the middle of the second event was exactly how mr. Ingram describes the ”Sixth Jhana” but at the same time it seems unlikely that someone who is new to meditating would be experiencing that, and I also don't recall the very specific stages of the Jhanas that are supposed to come before this. Perhaps it was just a feature of the A&P even that happened to be extremely similar to the 6:th Jhana? This also took place after I had read ”I am that” so I was probably at least subconsciously looking for that sort of experience.

Although I wasn't aware of it at the time I now realize I have been meditating for months, since the excercises I've been given by my therapist seem to translate very well into different practices.

My breathing excercises seem to be a pretty common Concentration Meditation technique.

My mental/emotional excercises of disassociating/observing negative thoughts and emotions seem very similar to observing two of the Three Characteristics, ”Impermanence” and ”Not-Self”, and thus could be viewed as Insight Meditation. I have however been clinging to positive emotions which seems like a bad idea from an Enlightement standpoint.

I've spent most of my life reflecting on the ethics of my behaviour and trying to help others as best I can, which looks like it translates into doing the Morality Practises.

The ”Pleasure button” I claimed to have located in my brain simply seems to be a knack for attaining the 1:st Jhana. A few times I think I've been able to slip into 2:nd Jhana as well, but outside of the specific events that's as far as I have gotten.

As far as insights go it doesn't seem like I am able to get further than The Three Characteristics outside of the two special events.

As a funny side note, even though I've never been the least bit spiritual or interested in mysticism, I've always liked Buddhas and have several different Buddha statues and ornaments at home. Maybe it was my subconscious trying to tell me I am a Buddhist.

As to the question of where I want to go from here I want to explore this as far as I can, I would say that is my main priority right now. I've also found a retreat that I was thinking about visiting and after reading MCTB it seems like the right thing to do. It would also be nice to get to know others who are doing the same thing, and I really feel like I need some experienced feedback and advice from people who actually know what the hell they're doing.

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/27/13 8:14 PM as a reply to Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg.
This reads like an A&P experience combined with mania. Your descriptions tend to match a lot of my experiences and what you experienced looks like mania mixed with the A&P (mania with A&P insights or what I call a "manic A&P"). There seems to be too much powersy-psychosis-like stuff going on for this to just be the A&P alone. On the other hand, you may have no medical condition if this level of intensity does not continue and an equivalently strong depression does not occur. I have written a lot of information on bipolar disorder/mental illness and meditation in this post: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3373753

Again, you may have no medical bipolar illness at all, but I would recommend you proceed cautiously with your meditation by starting with lower sitting times and gradually increasing them.


You wrote:

I was diagnosed a few years ago as a “high performing” ADD with hyper active cognitive functions


I am not that familiar with ADD as I have never been diagnosed with that condition, but the bold above sounds like you may be pre-disposed to hyper-excitable manic-like states. If this is the case, then I recommend you read the post above regarding bipolar disorder/mental illness and meditation.

You also wrote:

About halfway through this episode as I was walking on a very silent and dark but cosy street in a quite neighborhood my sense of 'self' just went from being 'me' to being 'everything'. It's very hard to describe but the closest I can get is that it felt like the whole street, with cars, houses, sidewalks, plants and everything was my body. It was like if everything I could see was part of me and my nervous system and the feeling was absolutely ecstatic. Like having 10.000 electric orgasms shot straight into my brain and my brain being everything around me. I have no idea how long it lasted but if it hadn't ended I think I would probably still be frozen to that spot.


This is what is called an "I AM" realization and is considered stage 2 on one often cited particular map found here: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html

This level of realization occurs from doing "self-inquiry" practices. It can also occur spontaneously from doing the types of insight practices done here (4 paths).

Let me know if you have any more questions
Tom

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/28/13 3:02 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
From a very poor transcript.

Criable: (?)… empty (…for a week?) then after that it’s just everything. …(? I am nothing?) then after that I am everything, I see that everything is perfect. It is a very crazy insight that everything is perfect. I don’t know how to describe.

Thusness: I had an experience when I was 17. That time when I experienced the I AMness, then I AM Everything. At that time I very much wanted to become a monk. When I first experienced, it lasted for many days, not just (hours?) Then when it rained, I suddenly strip off all my clothes, then I go out and get drenched, and kept laughing and smiling. Because I think I am everything – I like being (dripped) by the rain. Then I thought, if there is a waterfall, I can just sit there and how nice that will be! Then I saw a dog, I really wanted to go and touch it. That was when I was 17 years old, suddenly I had this ? intoxicated. So when the bond of the consciousness is being released, (?). Then when I meditate, you will not believe the kind of bliss that I undergo. That kind of intoxication, it is just like taking drugs. For example (?) you practice vipassana, you feel every sensation, your feet touches the ground, you feel very deeply, it will come to one day you will start lucid dreaming. Like I said, I squat down, I feel the (?) very clear, so clear, I touch the floor, I can feel the entire sensation. Very real. When you practice, especially after anatta, then in this lucid dream I can pass through the wall, then I can feel the entire electric (?), then I saw a ghost I started running, then I wondered why am I afraid of it, so I just stood there and kept staring at it, I open myself and welcome it, and I can feel his sensation. (?) Vipassana. So when you practice, like him (me), everybody has different experiences. But these are just passing experiences. Like him (me), he dreamt of going up the lift, (?) but these are passing experiences. Not to be too attached.

When I lucid dream, also got a lot of people teaching me things. But I said before. Someone pushed me upwards, then the Yama said “You have not overcome death.” Then when I woke up I searched the internet, as I don’t know what is Yama? I also had many other experiences. For example I am stepping on a golden cloud, I saw the monk, the whole body is emanating golden light, then he was about to teach me, I am like very formidable, I just sat there on a golden cloud. I stared at him, then I meditated and my entire body disappears. Suddenly there is just darkness, everything becomes very silent in my dream, then the ‘I’ image completely releases and disappears. Just like you (referring to me), the state of blissful and non-dual state before waking up. Then I can meditate a few days also like that. So don’t need to be attached to these experiences. These experiences are endless. Because you have practiced before. Like I said to him (me), don’t be attached to these experiences. These are (?) a form of tendencies. But through my practice I will have many of these experiences.

Criable: But the problem is I never practice, hahaha

Thusness: (?) don’t be attached to these things. I used to ask my past life. In my mind in my meditation, I saw dunnu (countless?) how many faces. Don’t be attached to these things. Otherwise you will keep asking and asking and searching for these faces. Don’t be attached to these. When you understand these experiences, let it go, let it pass. It is just a passing experience. Otherwise your entire life becomes for the search of one face. Then kalang kaboh, then your practice disappears, you only seek for the face. You understand? (?) when sitting, then the images arise like I am going through a sea, (?) also got these experience. Don’t be too attached. Don’t discuss these experiences. (focus on?) whether your insight penetrates. Some ecstasy when they arise, (?) got overexcited.

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/28/13 3:20 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Mattias,

I like what Tom Tom has to say. I would echo his warnings - people with certain kinds of minds can easily fall into these kinds of states, which can be on the extreme ends on both the positive and negative emotional spectrum.


I was an adamant atheist/rationalist and extremely anti-spiritual. One of my main goals in life has always been to understand things (as in how everything works) so I've been very interested in knowledge, both the natural and humanist sciences.



My only previous frames of references would have diagnosed it as some sort of manic psychotic episode, as I was not aware something like a "path to enlightenment" existed.


MCTB is a popular book, partly because Daniel has a way of writing which makes is sound like the "truth" but I would just say to hold it lightly. While it is nice to have found a framework to explain your insights, it is just one person's way of thinking about these matters using one framework, so don't treat it as gospel, and keep your rational head on.

You previously considered your experience as a manic episode, and actually Tom Tom (and I) agree. Manic states can be triggered by a variety of factors, and in your case it was an A&P type experience. My point is that you shouldn't discard conventional ways thinking about your experiences. You say you "were" an atheist/rationalist type person interested in self-improvement practices, so what has changed? You can still be a rational atheist and explore spiritual matters and paths, as "enlightenment" is just another self-improvement practice.

I would also add, if you are now suddently convinced that such a thing as enlightenment exists, then why are you looking for it? What is wrong with your own life that you need to escape from it? Thinking about your motivation and what drives your desire to be somewhere else, or somebody different, is important.

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/28/13 6:11 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom Tom:
This reads like an A&P experience combined with mania. Your descriptions tend to match a lot of my experiences and what you experienced looks like mania mixed with the A&P (mania with A&P insights or what I call a "manic A&P"). There seems to be too much powersy-psychosis-like stuff going on for this to just be the A&P alone. On the other hand, you may have no medical condition if this level of intensity does not continue and an equivalently strong depression does not occur. I have written a lot of information on bipolar disorder/mental illness and meditation in this post: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3373753

I have no history of mental illness nor does anyone in my family. I'm very stable emotionally and mentally and consider myself to be very resilient.

The way I see it there is no "either/or" since these events, emotions, experience etc are just what they are. Saying "it is mania" or "it is flow" or "it is the Giant Bubba-Yom-Yom on the Serpent path to enlightment" is just another perspective from a specific framework of references, which are just a collection of concepts that may be more or less helpful. I'd say that any out-of-body experience or altered mind-state could be described as psychosis but that is just from a specific pathological perspective and has no more or less inherent truth to it.

Tom Tom:
Again, you may have no medical bipolar illness at all, but I would recommend you proceed cautiously with your meditation by starting with lower sitting times and gradually increasing them.

Actually I feel like I've been extremely lazy. Before these events I had obviously never meditated and between and after them I don't feel like I've been very diligent either.

I appreciate the advice, but I must have failed to convey my situation if you think I'm suffering from something or need to slow down.

Tom Tom:
You wrote:

I was diagnosed a few years ago as a “high performing” ADD with hyper active cognitive functions


I am not that familiar with ADD as I have never been diagnosed with that condition, but the bold above sounds like you may be pre-disposed to hyper-excitable manic-like states. If this is the case, then I recommend you read the post above regarding bipolar disorder/mental illness and meditation.

The "high performing" means that it hasn't been debilitating for me or prevented me from having a successful life. ADD isn't really an "illness" or neccesarily a problem, in my case it simly means I am (used to be, rather) restless and that my brain works at a high speed and likes having things to do.

As I have never before in my 37 years experienced anything similar I doubt I am "pre-disposed" to it. When the first event happened I was in a situation that would be similar to a meditative/tantric excercise so it did not happen "out of the blue" even though it was extremely unexpected and powerful.

It's also interesting that the "insights" I had during this are still valid. It wasn't like when you come up with something while intoxicated, then wake up the morning after and see how your brilliant idea not quite holds up in the morning light. The insights of this events, both personal, general and professional, still hold true and have been very helpful and had a vey positive effect on my life.

Tom Tom:
You also wrote:

About halfway through this episode as I was walking on a very silent and dark but cosy street in a quite neighborhood my sense of 'self' just went from being 'me' to being 'everything'. It's very hard to describe but the closest I can get is that it felt like the whole street, with cars, houses, sidewalks, plants and everything was my body. It was like if everything I could see was part of me and my nervous system and the feeling was absolutely ecstatic. Like having 10.000 electric orgasms shot straight into my brain and my brain being everything around me. I have no idea how long it lasted but if it hadn't ended I think I would probably still be frozen to that spot.


This is what is called an "I AM" realization and is considered stage 2 on one often cited particular map found here: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html

This level of realization occurs from doing "self-inquiry" practices. It can also occur spontaneously from doing the types of insight practices done here (4 paths).

Let me know if you have any more questions
Tom

Thank you for the links, I will check them out immediatly.

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/28/13 6:48 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
Mattias,

I like what Tom Tom has to say. I would echo his warnings - people with certain kinds of minds can easily fall into these kinds of states, which can be on the extreme ends on both the positive and negative emotional spectrum.

I wish I had the kind of mind that made it easy to fall into these states, but that doesn't seem to be the case since I can't re-produce them. If I could I would, I'm not worried about the negative side, I have no problem experiencing negative emotions, feelings or (reasonable) physical pain. I've always had mental fortitude but since I've learned the techniques that allow me to disassociate coupled with my new perspectives on the whole situation, I'm feeling very confident I can handle what comes up. The worst that can happen is me experiencing anxiety, pain, sadness, grief or some other negative emotion, and I don't see that as a problem.

sawfoot _:

I was an adamant atheist/rationalist and extremely anti-spiritual. One of my main goals in life has always been to understand things (as in how everything works) so I've been very interested in knowledge, both the natural and humanist sciences.



My only previous frames of references would have diagnosed it as some sort of manic psychotic episode, as I was not aware something like a "path to enlightenment" existed.


MCTB is a popular book, partly because Daniel has a way of writing which makes is sound like the "truth" but I would just say to hold it lightly. While it is nice to have found a framework to explain your insights, it is just one person's way of thinking about these matters using one framework, so don't treat it as gospel, and keep your rational head on.

Well I'd like to give Daniel credit for putting such an encompassing but yet succinct book together, it beats the hell out of having to wade through 5 pages of poetry about lotus blossoms to find one small picece of information abut meditation. I very much agree with him about getting rid of all the dogma and trimmings and getting down to the techniques.

But don't worry, I won't treat it as gospel. Or actually I will treat it just as I treat the gospels, which is how I treat any book or source of information.


You previously considered your experience as a manic episode, and actually Tom Tom (and I) agree. Manic states can be triggered by a variety of factors, and in your case it was an A&P type experience. My point is that you shouldn't discard conventional ways thinking about your experiences. You say you "were" an atheist/rationalist type person interested in self-improvement practices, so what has changed? You can still be a rational atheist and explore spiritual matters and paths, as "enlightenment" is just another self-improvement practice.

You and Tom are of course free to think of the events any way you want, but I'd like to clarify some things:

I didn't say that I considered the events as manic episodes (or psychosis) only that with my previous frame of reference that would have been my only option, since my world view had no room for anything ”spiritual”. From the get go I considered the experiences to be something profound, and although I've always kept a small piece of doubt, it's been pretty obvious that this is ”something else”.

I also don't think of it as ”just another self-improvement practise” although there is obviously a strong element of self-improvement involved that I find very attractive.

sawfoot _:
I would also add, if you are now suddently convinced that such a thing as enlightenment exists, then why are you looking for it? What is wrong with your own life that you need to escape from it? Thinking about your motivation and what drives your desire to be somewhere else, or somebody different, is important.

I've seen this question before and it makes absolutely no sense to me. I don't mean to be obtuse but I can simply not comprehend it. It makes much more sense for me to ask ”If you are now aware that such a thing as enlightenment exist, why are you NOT looking for it?” It just makes no sense to me that anyone would NOT be looking for it. Enlightenment has always been the goal of my life, I just didn't realize that meditation or spiritual things could be a contributing factor, or that ”enlightenment” could mean something other than just an intellectual understanding,

Frankly I don't understand what other people are doing with their lives, though I respect their right to throw them away chasing silly materialistic gains or being trapped in presuppositions and neurosis. I've spent mine trying to learn stuff and improve the world and I see no reason to change that. If others want to spend theirs watching TV, that's up to them. But the question of ”Why” makes no sense to me, to me the question is ”Why (the hell) not?”

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/28/13 1:13 PM as a reply to Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg.
Hi Mattias,

>> I would also add, if you are now suddenty convinced that such a thing as enlightenment exists, then why are you looking for it? What is wrong with your own life that you need to escape from it? Thinking about your motivation and what drives your desire to be somewhere else, or somebody different, is important.

"I've seen this question before and it makes absolutely no sense to me. I don't mean to be obtuse but I can simply not comprehend it. It makes much more sense for me to ask ”If you are now aware that such a thing as enlightenment exist, why are you NOT looking for it?” It just makes no sense to me that anyone would NOT be looking for it. Enlightenment has always been the goal of my life, I just didn't realize that meditation or spiritual things could be a contributing factor, or that ”enlightenment” could mean something other than just an intellectual understanding,"

This is really a zen thing. Some people aren't desperately searching for a solution as they don't see themselves as having a problem.

You mentioned therapy, suffering from a strong inferiority complex as well as performance anxiety, feeling isolated and unloved for most of my life, and 2 months of intense emotional anguish (accident related), and I got the impression that you might be a particularly happy person, or someone who was satisfied with their life (outside of the honeymoon period you are in now). At the same time you are saying you are a very emotionally stable person, at least for now.

"The worst that can happen is me experiencing anxiety, pain, sadness, grief or some other negative emotion, and I don't see that as a problem."

It is pretty hard (nigh impossible) to imagine how bad things can get. Not to say things will get bad for you, but the point is to take this path seriously. Right now you might be more confident that you typically are.

"I didn't say that I considered the events as manic episodes (or psychosis) only that with my previous frame of reference that would have been my only option, since my world view had no room for anything ”spiritual”. From the get go I considered the experiences to be something profound, and although I've always kept a small piece of doubt, it's been pretty obvious that this is ”something else”."

In what way are they profound or "something else"?

Do you think the description of being in (what would normally be called in non-spiritual circles) a manic or psychotic state precludes the possibility of having useful (and lasting) insights while in that state?

"I also don't think of it as ”just another self-improvement practise” although there is obviously a strong element of self-improvement involved that I find very attractive. "

Let's assume it more powerful and long lasting than most other self improvement practices - and so how do you think of it then?

"The way I see it there is no "either/or" since these events, emotions, experience etc are just what they are. Saying "it is mania" or "it is flow" or "it is the Giant Bubba-Yom-Yom on the Serpent path to enlightment" is just another perspective from a specific framework of references, which are just a collection of concepts that may be more or less helpful. I'd say that any out-of-body experience or altered mind-state could be described as psychosis but that is just from a specific pathological perspective and has no more or less inherent truth to it."

Do you think the idea that fairies exist is just a perspective and has no more or less inherent truth to it than the statement that tables exist?

What do you think actually happens when people have OBE's?

###########

You seem to be missing the point somewhat - you say you are lazy and haven't really meditated before, and are not pre-disposed to extreme altered states. Yet you dabble with a bit of meditation and all of sudden all this crazy shit happens out of nowhere, and on repeated occasions. This doesn't happen to most people. The fact that you can't get deliberately back to these states easily isn't really informative, given the stage based model (e.g. crossing the a&p and being in the dark night etc…), nor that it hasn't happened before.

Anyway, to sum up, you asked for feedback and have disagreed with most it, but this is your life and you know yourself and your circumstances better than we can. My opinion is that I would definitely describe your peak experiences as a form of mania, and there are a number of signs that right now you are in a state of hypomania. This doesn't necessarily mean this is a bad thing, and I would also point out that I imagine most people on this forum wouldn't describe your current state in that way. And I also imagine you don't want to think of yourself in this way.

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/28/13 3:17 PM as a reply to Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg.
Hey Mattias,

I enjoyed reading your post about your experiences, found them exciting!

Like people say, you have had a big A&P or 2, and an "I AM" on the Thusness map.

Also, as a side note, I agree with you on the notion that searching for enlightenment is unquestionably a good thing, a 'natural' thing to do.

Anyway, you are clearly a very intellectually able person and your mind is evidently creatively open to handling different ideas and frameworks. You have a mind which is inclined to Truth, as evidenced from the fact that you have sort of been doing a lot of spiritual practice which has led you to these experiences, without knowing hardly anything about spiritual/meditative techniques. So my only advice is now, as a lot of new information, paths, methods, etc,come into your attention is to have a lot of faith in yourself and your own processes to free your mind. Take what you need from each source, tradition, and be patient, keep synthesizing it all. Key thing - you may not need to jump down a particular path just because it looks like a well signposted one... your own non-existent mind took you here, and it will take you all the way if you let it! emoticon

re: the stages of insight - they may not appear so detailed as they do in MCTB unless you are doing the exact noting Mahasi noting practice. Otherwise they might generally appear in life like this:
1st vipassana jhana - Interesting - "How are things?"
2nd vipassana jhana - Amazing - "Wow, things are like that!!!!!"
3rd vipassana jhana - Wonky - "Things being like that seems hard to deal with..."
4th vipassana jhana - Chilled - "OK fine, things are like that. So?"

And yes keep an eye on your mental health. If you say you are mentally healthwise sound and you can handle it, then I don't have any reason to doubt you.
good luck and all the best.

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/28/13 4:57 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
"This is really a zen thing. Some people aren't desperately searching for a solution as they don't see themselves as having a problem."

I realize people will have all kinds of motivations for doing or not doing things, I'm just saying from my personal perspective it makes no sense to not “search for enlightenment” just as I am sure it makes no sense for some people to do it. It is obviously a limitation for me to not be able to understand why some people would just not be interested in this, but I've accepted that. I want to figure out how the universe works and everything there is to know about this weird phenomena called life and consciousness, some people want to go wind surfing or make a lot of money or raise a bunch of kids. To each his or her own., it takes all sorts of people to make a world, live and let live etc etc.


"You mentioned therapy, suffering from a strong inferiority complex as well as performance anxiety, feeling isolated and unloved for most of my life, and 2 months of intense emotional anguish (accident related), and I got the impression that you might be a particularly happy person, or someone who was satisfied with their life (outside of the honeymoon period you are in now). At the same time you are saying you are a very emotionally stable person, at least for now."

I realize I may have put myself down a bit too much and come off as neurotic or imbalanced, it was just an attempt to be “honest” which for some reason usually involves mainly putting forth negative things and usually blowing them out of proportion. I'm actually a pretty awesome dude, but for some reason I tend to fake modesty and bring up any short-comings I can think of when introducing myself. Go figure.

I have never suffered from any mental health issues, but as I said I am very self reflecting and into self-improvement, which has also perhaps made me overly critical of myself, since I've wanted to identify and root out any “imperfections” or “stuff” as Daniel calls it. The performance anxiety and inferiority complex I mentioned was mainly an analysis of the negative aspects of my previous “drive” or “ambition”. Since I no longer have those feelings I guess I look back at it and give my previous self a bit of a harsh treatment sort of going “Yeah you worked really hard but that was just because you didn't accept and love yourself, and you never felt like you did enough no matter what so how well did that work out for you?”.

The 2 months of mental anguish were related to actual events in my life that are “supposed” to bring at least a few months of intense anguish. I had some very, very bad things happen to me that caused a lot of “stuff”. That was a case of extremely bad luck and bad timing and not related to the “spiritual experience”. I left it out becuase I'm not interested in discussing “stuff” or whining about my past traumas.


"It is pretty hard (nigh impossible) to imagine how bad things can get. Not to say things will get bad for you, but the point is to take this path seriously. Right now you might be more confident that you typically are."


I really can't stress enough how not worried I am about that. It's not over confidence, I just don't think anything is a very big deal anymore. No matter what happens I have been through worse and made it. And even if I don't make it, so what? The universe will be fine and we all have to die sooner or later, might as well have it happen doing something interesting.


"In what way are they profound or "something else"?"

They were profound both in the sense as they gave me insights and understanding that was incredibly eye opening, making a completely different perspective available to me, and in the sense that they revealed some things about existence and life that allows me to think it's not such a big deal. I used to be afraid of death, now I am not. That makes a pretty big difference and has a very positive (and profound) impact on life.



"Do you think the description of being in (what would normally be called in non-spiritual circles) a manic or psychotic state precludes the possibility of having useful (and lasting) insights while in that state?"

I think this question is a bit odd. Yes I think it does make a difference whether you say “You've had profound visions! You are now our mighty Shaman!” or if you say “You're psychotic, get back in your cell and eat your medicine you nut-job.”. In the first example I think you will run the risk of attaching too much significance to it and not be critical enough, in the second I think you run the risk of attaching too little significance and not being open minded enough.


I prefer having multiple perspectives and then choosing one or several to proceed with, based on the context and what I think will be most constructive going forward.

"Let's assume it more powerful and long lasting than most other self improvement practices - and so how do you think of it then?"

I think of it as something very interesting that I want to pursue. And I want to have an open mind to it and learn as much as possible.


"Do you think the idea that fairies exist is just a perspective and has no more or less inherent truth to it than the statement that tables exist?"

I think it has less inherent truth, unless you're using the word fairy as a derogatory name for gay people, in which case I think it's equally true but also bit offensive.


"What do you think actually happens when people have OBE's?"

I think they have a hallucination.


"You seem to be missing the point somewhat - you say you are lazy and haven't really meditated before, and are not pre-disposed to extreme altered states. Yet you dabble with a bit of meditation and all of sudden all this crazy shit happens out of nowhere, and on repeated occasions. This doesn't happen to most people. The fact that you can't get deliberately back to these states easily isn't really informative, given the stage based model (e.g. crossing the a&p and being in the dark night etc…), nor that it hasn't happened before."

I actually completely left out the context that led up to the first event from the description. In hindsight I don't think it's very strange that it happened, because even though I didn't realize it at the time, what I was doing came very close to some spiritual methods. Me and another person were basically using NLP methods for self-improvement in a very intense way over an extender period of time.



"Anyway, to sum up, you asked for feedback and have disagreed with most it, but this is your life and you know yourself and your circumstances better than we can."

The parts that I have disagreed with have mainly been the parts that are about some sort of psychological diagnosis that have missed the mark with a pretty big margin. Obviously it is me who is responsible for that since I haven't been able to put forward a better description of events, and have had to leave out a lot in order to keep the amount of text below “Russian Novel” size.


"My opinion is that I would definitely describe your peak experiences as a form of mania, and there are a number of signs that right now you are in a state of hypomania."


This is actually a bit annoying and I think you should be careful about trying to make psychological diagnoses online. It also becomes a bit silly from my perspective. I sit down at the computer after a very relaxing day and just having had dinner with my family, only to find out someone thinks I am in a state of hypomania. I'm the most relaxed person in the area nowadays, and tomorrow when I tell people I've been diagnosed as suffering from hypomania they're going to laugh themselves silly.


I agree that the peak experience definitely had a manic streak to it, and if you want to classify the whole event from a strictly pathological viewpoint you would probably add words like psychosis, hallucination, delusions of grandeur etc etc. That's the clinical psychological perspective. But I think people should go to a psychiatrist for that, not get it online at a forum that isn't even about clinical psychology. I think everything in Daniels book and every spiritual experience can be pathologically classified, but as I have said, psychology and psychiatry are just another set of concepts. Everyone who has a non-dual experience would be locked up or medicated if they sat down with a psychiatrist and told them about it.


"This doesn't necessarily mean this is a bad thing, and I would also point out that I imagine most people on this forum wouldn't describe your current state in that way. And I also imagine you don't want to think of yourself in this way."


You seem to have an idea about me that I don't think fit with what I would call reality. You seem to think that I am mentally unstable and/or suffering from mental illness, and that I am looking for a way to escape this by putting a “spirituality” label on a psychosis or getting validation or something. I can assure you that is not the case and I also don't feel any stigma attached to mental illnesses, so if I was suffering from it I wouldn't be looking for a way to escape the label. And just to be sure I've even got my own therapist, who agrees with me, so I may have to stop going there.

I appreciate the concern and think you have been very humane and I hope I've managed to convince you that you don't have to worry about the mental health aspect, so we can move on to the more interesting (at least for me) aspect of “What the hell was that?” and “Cool, so what should I do now?”.

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/28/13 10:19 PM as a reply to Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg.
Greetings,

Your question,
Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events.

Firstly, thanks for sharing, I too am new to this board, and very grateful to have a place to openly discuss such amazing topics.

For what it's worth.

Strange and unexpected events, well, for both skeptics and non-skeptics, they happen. Strange and unexpected events are phenomenon that arise due to causes and conditions.

Are all experiences real?, yes, it is only the interpretations that differ.

Insight only arises from an understood experience, once it is understood it is embedded in one's mind, though without practice and upkeep the insight can be clouded over. On the other side of the coin, if one does not understand an experience, then there is no insight, no wisdom.

Briefly , from my experience, there are methods and practices to cultivate the mind, the mind is like a living organism, it is like a garden, and by abandoning unwholesome mind tendencies, they will "starve", and by nourishing wholesome mind tendencies, they will "flourish". Of course the opposite is true. Tending the mind is akin to tending the garden, you have to pull the weeds. In science it would be called Neuroplasticity.

Evidently you are training your mind, and have been training your mind, this does not have to only be done in formal meditation, though formal sitting meditation helps immensely because all other worldly activities are dropped, and all one has left to observe is the mind and body, (barring external factors).

It seems, that at some point after constant and diligent mind training, the mind is placed at a juxtaposition, the old mind formation, and a new mind formation, well only one mind formation can be the dominant formation, so there is either a crossover to the new mind formation, or the mind slips back into the old mind formation.

So, it looks like you have new mind state, will it hold? Depends on the causes and conditions you set up for your mind, you will have to contemplate upon this and investigate the things you were doing that are wholesome and continue to do so. That looks like the correct path, why? Because of the results you aforementioned, being balanced (equanimity), things don't bother you as much, more of just annoyance, etc. etc.

And, really only time will tell...


Peace,

Bryan

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/28/13 7:21 PM as a reply to Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg.
I have no history of mental illness nor does anyone in my family. I'm very stable emotionally and mentally and consider myself to be very resilient.


This is one good sign that you may not encounter future problems, but it is not a guarantee. Have you started any meditation practice? My recommendation to proceed with more caution was in stating that you may encounter problems if you suddenly sign up for a super long 3 month retreat never having meditated before. This is good advice for anyone regardless of their mental health status.

The way I see it there is no "either/or" since these events, emotions, experience etc are just what they are. Saying "it is mania" or "it is flow" or "it is the Giant Bubba-Yom-Yom on the Serpent path to enlightment" is just another perspective from a specific framework of references, which are just a collection of concepts that may be more or less helpful. I'd say that any out-of-body experience or altered mind-state could be described as psychosis but that is just from a specific pathological perspective and has no more or less inherent truth to it.


Sure, of course, but the difference is in levels of day-to-day functioning. Let's take the below as an example:

During this time I was obsessed with positive feedback loops, infinity, life, death, logic and symbolism. I felt a strong urge to (and this is just going to sound crazy) create time, invent universes and somehow working backwards/downwards to the most fundamental building blocks of life and energy. The driving force of love was also constantly present. During this time I also had several 'visions' of symbolic nature, but since this text is already very long I won't go into them.

The third “sub event” was extremely weird. I recall very visually having conversations with “myself” inside my own brain, where one “me” was the “total me” and the other was more like my “normal” me. It was as if the “total me” split itself into two by removing some essential insights from itself, thus creating a fragment of itself that became the experiencing and conscious me. These “total me” was creating barriers in my brain/consciousness and explaining to the “normal me” that kept getting more and more “normal” as insights were being locked away. The “normal” me had no objections to this and it was all a very pleasant experience. I think the “total me” decided I couldn't handle the situation and started shutting the processes down, but in a way that I would in the future get these insights back piece by piece in a way that I would be able to handle.


The line is drawn where these sorts of experiences begin to interfere with everything else going on in your life. To what extent did these thoughts/experiences cover over all ordinary "day-to-day" obligations? Were you able to engage in all normal activities while all this was going on? The only thing stopping these kinds of experiences from interfering with work, relationships, or even more necessary things like eating, sleeping, and going to the bathroom is their level of intensity and prominence in "consciousness." Given that these experiences all occurred to you without even having meditated, what is to stop them from being even more intense when you actually begin to sit down to meditate and cross the A&P again? What's to stop them from being more intense when you sit down at a retreat for several weeks to months and cross the A&P with far more momentum than found in a shorter daily practice?

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/28/13 8:16 PM as a reply to Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii.
Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii:
Hey Mattias,

I enjoyed reading your post about your experiences, found them exciting!

Like people say, you have had a big A&P or 2, and an "I AM" on the Thusness map.

Thanks for reading it, and for your reply. I'm impressed that people got through it.

Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii:
Also, as a side note, I agree with you on the notion that searching for enlightenment is unquestionably a good thing, a 'natural' thing to do.

Frankly I'm absolutely AMAZED that people aren't all over this. I mean really... what could possibly be more interesting?

Me: “So... do you guys want to explore ULTIMATE REALITY and really get into the NATURE OF CONSCIOUSNESS tonight or do you want to watch TV?”

Everyone: “We want to watch TV.”

Me: “Eh... that was actually supposed to be a rhetorical question... are you guys serious?”

Everyone: “Yeah we want to watch TV.”

Me: “Ok... But did I mention the part about this being the “Ultimate Reality” and how we could explore the nature of consciousness? I mean like really getting into the ideas of who we are, what awareness is... you know, the “meaning of life” stuff?”

Everyone: “Yeah we heard you. We're watching TV”

Me: “Ok... Well I guess I'll just be over here... reading and meditating. If you change your mind...”

Everyone: “Yeah yeah, we'll let you know if we change our minds. Just try to keep the noise down, American Idol is on.”

That's pretty much how I really feel about it.

Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii:
Anyway, you are clearly a very intellectually able person and your mind is evidently creatively open to handling different ideas and frameworks. You have a mind which is inclined to Truth, as evidenced from the fact that you have sort of been doing a lot of spiritual practice which has led you to these experiences, without knowing hardly anything about spiritual/meditative techniques. So my only advice is now, as a lot of new information, paths, methods, etc,come into your attention is to have a lot of faith in yourself and your own processes to free your mind. Take what you need from each source, tradition, and be patient, keep synthesizing it all. Key thing - you may not need to jump down a particular path just because it looks like a well signposted one... your own non-existent mind took you here, and it will take you all the way if you let it! emoticon

Thanks for the perspective. I haven't really had any 'faith' in myself or the 'method' that I used to get here so your perspective was fresh to me. I've viewed myself as a newbie that accidentally stumbled onto something, but I guess that's not really true, I just didn't know what the experiential results of what I was doing was going to be.

At this stage I'm trying to get a framework to put everything in so that I can analyze it properly and learn as much as possible from it. So far there hasn't been one solitary concept, tradition or framework that has been completely fitting so I may in the end have to create one for myself. For example the “Thusness Stages” in some ways do a better job of describing some experiences, whereas the MCTB is very spot on for others. I also find Alan Watts lectures to be very helpful in creating an inclusive and very positive intellectual understanding of it that allows it to be integrated in my scientifically based world view.

Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii:
re: the stages of insight - they may not appear so detailed as they do in MCTB unless you are doing the exact noting Mahasi noting practice. Otherwise they might generally appear in life like this:
1st vipassana jhana - Interesting - "How are things?"
2nd vipassana jhana - Amazing - "Wow, things are like that!!!!!"
3rd vipassana jhana - Wonky - "Things being like that seems hard to deal with..."
4th vipassana jhana - Chilled - "OK fine, things are like that. So?"

It makes absolutely no sense for me that the “Enlightenment Area” no matter how we decide to frame it should be anything but universal. That's because I managed to have a personal experience that matched what is described in various places extremely precisely, without me having any idea about it beforehand. Thus I also think that a “true” model must be theoretically possible and that all major contradictions must be solvable. It also makes me very sympathetic to dr. Ingrams and DhO's objective to present the “path” with no frivolous bullshit, religious ornamentation or trappings. And what I am really looking for is the nuts and bolts, as in the fastest and most efficient way to get from A to Z, or rather from here to “full Enlightenment”.

Right now I'm trying to map myself within the MCTB framework. The problem with that mainly concerns the second event. It seems pretty clear that the first one was a strong A&P happening, but the second one is more unclear and I am now leaning towards Equanimity fitting the bill better.

The period between the events fit Dark Night very well and just before the second event I had a period that I described in my first post as “the least spiritual hour of my existence”. This was basically a period of doubt where I was both questioning everything that had happened to that point but also finding all my sensations to be extremely “dry” or devoid of life. This would seem to fit the “Re-observation” part pretty well.

The other reason that I am leaning towards the second event being Equanimity is the after effects. After the first event ended I was basically back in base-line mode. Now it's been more than a month since the second event happened and everything seems to point to the new situation just becoming more and more stable. As I've said previously I don't have any real “problems” anymore, I just view everything as different thoughts, feelings and experiences that it's really not healthy to take too seriously.

I've also found that I can make most feelings that I used to find painful or uncomfortable become not just easy to handle but pleasurable. For example I quit a nicotine addiction that I've had for 20 years just by intentionally starting to experience the withdrawal symptoms as something pleasurable. I simply investigated the feelings, found them to be vibrations of heat and contractions in the chest area, and decided to associate them with pleasure. So quitting nicotine wasn't really an accomplishment since I enjoyed it very much, to the extent that I've actually considered re-acquiring the addiction just so I can quit again!

This coupled with the fact that, and I know this will sound bad to a lot of people so I probably shouldn't say it, but I kind of look forward to death. Not that I feel I need to rush it (I'm not suicidal, I've got plenty of things I want to do before I die), but I sincerely think it's going to be freaking awesome. I also feel like all these things are obvious and that I've been a bit of an idiot not to figure them out earlier (I mean I'm almost 40 and I'm supposed to be intelligent, how could it take me this long?!). In a way I think it's really inevitable to figure most of the things I now understand out, if you just think logically and keep following every idea about existence to its' very end. Anyway, I digress...

The arguments for the second event not being Equanimity is that it hasn't led to actual Enlightenment (yet) and that I'm unable to get higher than 2:nd Jhana in my concentration meditation, I can barely get past 1:st most of the time. Basically I feel like I'm much too crap at the whole meditating business to be at one of the later stages.

I'm often (but not always) able to perceive reality in a very clear and direct way that is also very pleasurable (everything is just kind of nice and beautiful when I do this). The days following the second event this was almost permanent, or my “natural” state, but now it takes effort (ranging from a little to a lot) and is sometimes not doable at all.

Both when I try for the 1:st Jhana in concentration meditation and when I try to view reality in this very direct and nice way, I have a problem with what I think of as “spasm”. Basically my body will react to the increasing sense of pleasure by having a muscle spasm, which will break the concentration and bring me out of the meditative state most of the time. Very annoying.

In the month after the second event there was also a lot of something similar to “cycling” that doesn't seem to fit. It was basically similar to a sinus wave, my mood or well being continuously dropping for a period of a few days, then me experiencing some sort of “revelation” when it hit its' lowest point, accompanied by a complete switch in mood to borderline euphoria. This happened a few times, fairly predictably, but hasn't really happened for about two weeks now as it seems my situation has stabilized.

But whether the second event was another A&P or Equanimity doesn't really matter I guess, because if it was another A&P I must have breezed through Dark Night which would put me in Equanimity now anyway. Or is it possible to just keep having A&P experiences over and over...? That would be pretty neat...

Actually I think your 1-4: Interesting - Amazing - Wonky - Chilled progression fits the bill pretty well.

Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii:
And yes keep an eye on your mental health. If you say you are mentally healthwise sound and you can handle it, then I don't have any reason to doubt you.
good luck and all the best.

I've used all these insights, techniques, mind-states etc to really work on my “issues” and to increase my mental status way beyond what I would say is normal. I've handled all my phobias and hangups etc to an extent that is almost ridiculous. This was partly because I reasoned that A&P event, if that is what it was, might be re-producible by removing all “blockage” psychoanalytically. It was part of a model of explanation I created myself after the event, and perhaps I should go back to that model and explore it.

It has also become so easy and second-nature for me to handle thoughts/emotions or “issues” that I am actually hoping that I'm going to find hangups or problems in my sub-conscious just so I can take care of them. Just as how I have trained myself to enjoy housework to the extent that I am often hurrying to start the dishes just so nobody else will do it (perhaps a bit greedy, why should I get to have all the fun?).

Anyway, thanks for your informative post and the well wishes. I'd be curious to know what you think about my efforts to map my progress. And more tips on what to do in order to progress would be appreciated since I feel a bit stuck,

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/28/13 8:38 PM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom Tom:
Given that these experiences all occurred to you without even having meditated, what is to stop them from being even more intense when you actually begin to sit down to meditate and cross the A&P again? What's to stop them from being more intense when you sit down at a retreat for several weeks to months and cross the A&P with far more momentum than found in a shorter daily practice?

Dude, seriously, drop it. I'm starting to think you're projecting here. Let me make some things clear here:

1. I am a grown man.
2. You are not my mother.
3. Even if you were my mother you would not be responsible for my mental health, see #1.

No offense but there's a line where concern just starts becoming creepy and obsessive and you're crossing it. You don't know me, and even if you were qualified to diagnose or give advice on mental health it wouldn't be appropriate to do it on an internet forum, and I am not asking for it. I'm actually specifically asking you not to. I signed up her to discuss things relating to spirituality, meditation, enlightenment and my own experiences, not to get a nanny or an “online diagnosis”.

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/28/13 11:49 PM as a reply to Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg.
Hi, Mattias:

Please take a moment (or a day) to reflect on the interactions above. You know as little about Sawfoot and Tom Tom as you think they do about you and the nature of your recent experiences. I myself had a very destabilizing experience recently after crossing the exuberant A&P Event and am pretty new here. When I asked for observations and advice, both Sawfoot and Tom Tom were generous with their time and concern. I have no doubt or reason to doubt their intentions toward you or me. So I'm simply putting in my word in here to vouch for them and hope you'll reread and reflect on what they have taken the time and trouble to honestly say, take it under advisement. I hope you will not second guess their intentions, but instead listen with an open mind to their observations and cautions. They are coming here with a lot of experience.

The majority of people in the general population at some time or another have a psychotic break; it is extremely common and doesn't mean someone has bipolar disorder or any other severe mental illness, necessarily. Add to this that meditative practices that usher in the A&P are prone to inducing neuro-hyperexcitability. I myself experienced this right on the heels of a recently repeated A&P. People here, such as Tom Tom, have experienced these things from within very mature established practices and their cautions are to be respected.

No one here is diagnosing; only a therapist can do that. However, you came here asking, "What was that?" And people took the time and care to respond honestly and conscientiously. It is indisputably your call to reject two or three people's input regarding possible mania/hypomania. But consider that people here are indeed moving off long experience and kindness when they recommend slowing down and when they recommend you do seek the input of your therapist on precisely what you've written here on this thread. You've stated that things no longer can bug you, but you sound bugged just above. Please read everything you've written here after a pause beyond reactivity, and put yourself in their place. Much of what you say--and, more important,how you say it throughout this thread--does in fact sound hypomanic/manic.

Peace remain with you,

Jen

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/29/13 4:59 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Thanks Jen for the vote of faith!

I know hypomania is normally associated with restlessness and anxiety, so it might not be the best description, but I think it captures something. How about the term "spiritual honeymoon"? But then what if that honeymoon is in some sense permanent…

Personally I don't feel spirituality and psychology are categories that we can separate and treat differently - and as a kind of psychological practice, spiritual practices are a sub-type within psychology. And whatever framework you use, as Tom Tom highlights, the term pathological only really becomes a characterisation when these things interfere with day to day life. So, even if some kind of hypomania (a relaxed type!) is capturing something accurate about the experience of Mattias, it doesn't necessarily mean it is a bad thing.

But, this touches on some general issues that I was thinking about recently. To what extent are the states and personality changes associated with "enlightenment" pathological? While excessive anxiety is a bad thing, aren't excessively low levels of anxiety a "bad thing" also? For example, Mattias says he now has lost his sense of competitive drive, to the point of feeling apathetic. While this may be a pleasant state, it may interfere with one's ability to be contributing member of society (given the social norms of that society). Another example - if one is now considerably less neurotic, with increased confidence and less self-doubt, is there a danger that you might lose some self-awareness? I think a bit of self-doubt is probably quite psychologically healthy and necessary to avoid extremes.

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/29/13 5:01 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen Pearly:
Hi, Mattias:

Please take a moment (or a day) to reflect on the interactions above. You know as little about Sawfoot and Tom Tom as you think they do about you and the nature of your recent experiences. I myself had a very destabilizing experience recently after crossing the exuberant A&P Event and am pretty new here. When I asked for observations and advice, both Sawfoot and Tom Tom were generous with their time and concern. I have no doubt or reason to doubt their intentions toward you or me. So I'm simply putting in my word in here to vouch for them and hope you'll reread and reflect on what they have taken the time and trouble to honestly say, take it under advisement. I hope you will not second guess their intentions, but instead listen with an open mind to their observations and cautions. They are coming here with a lot of experience.

The majority of people in the general population at some time or another have a psychotic break; it is extremely common and doesn't mean someone has bipolar disorder or any other severe mental illness, necessarily. Add to this that meditative practices that usher in the A&P are prone to inducing neuro-hyperexcitability. I myself experienced this right on the heels of a recently repeated A&P. People here, such as Tom Tom, have experienced these things from within very mature established practices and their cautions are to be respected.

No one here is diagnosing; only a therapist can do that. However, you came here asking, "What was that?" And people took the time and care to respond honestly and conscientiously. It is indisputably your call to reject two or three people's input regarding possible mania/hypomania. But consider that people here are indeed moving off long experience and kindness when they recommend slowing down and when they recommend you do seek the input of your therapist on precisely what you've written here on this thread. You've stated that things no longer can bug you, but you sound bugged just above. Please read everything you've written here after a pause beyond reactivity, and put yourself in their place. Much of what you say--and, more important,how you say it throughout this thread--does in fact sound hypomanic/manic.

Peace remain with you,

Jen

I stated several times that I was grateful for the feedback but attempted to steer the discussion away from the psychoanalytical side since that is a pointless side track that I don't want to get bogged down in. I'm sure both their and your intentions are good, but that is besides the point really.

Am I bugged by it? Yes. Just as if someone was trying to bandage my head when I'm not injured. Getting a bandage on your head is really good if you're hurt, but pointless if you're not. And having a stranger or two trying to put one on you when you don't want or need one is annoying. Is it a serious problem for me? No. I did put some extra force into my last post simply because I didn't want to get stuck making several posts in a row trying to achieve the same effect, I had already wasted time making two rather long ones. If you now want to take that and construe it into how the fact that I claim not to suffer from a mental illness is in fact evidence that I am... It's frankly unconstructive as well as condescending, and I am not interested in perpetuating it.

That doesn't mean I think you or anyone else is a bad person, and I'm sorry if my posts come off that way. But you should probably reflect on the fact that unwanted psychological advice and diagnoses are not helpful. You, Tom and sawfoot may be very experience meditators but apart from these text messages you have no idea who I am and are obviously reading a lot into them that simply just exist inside your heads. And although I am new to meditation I am not new to life, psychology or internet forums.

Now if you or someone else feel the need to keep discussing my mental health I would ask you to do so in another thread or via private messages or e-mails. I'm not interested in participating and want this thread to be about meditation practice and things of that nature, please do not derail it further.

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/29/13 5:11 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
Thanks Jen for the vote of faith!

I know hypomania is normally associated with restlessness and anxiety, so it might not be the best description, but I think it captures something. How about the term "spiritual honeymoon"? But then what if that honeymoon is in some sense permanent…

Personally I don't feel spirituality and psychology are categories that we can separate and treat differently - and as a kind of psychological practice, spiritual practices are a sub-type within psychology. And whatever framework you use, as Tom Tom highlights, the term pathological only really becomes a characterisation when these things interfere with day to day life. So, even if some kind of hypomania (a relaxed type!) is capturing something accurate about the experience of Mattias, it doesn't necessarily mean it is a bad thing.

But, this touches on some general issues that I was thinking about recently. To what extent are the states and personality changes associated with "enlightenment" pathological? While excessive anxiety is a bad thing, aren't excessively low levels of anxiety a "bad thing" also? For example, Mattias says he now has lost his sense of competitive drive, to the point of feeling apathetic. While this may be a pleasant state, it may interfere with one's ability to be contributing member of society (given the social norms of that society). Another example - if one is now considerably less neurotic, with increased confidence and less self-doubt, is there a danger that you might lose some self-awareness? I think a bit of self-doubt is probably quite psychologically healthy and necessary to avoid extremes.

Really?

You've basically constructed a whole fictional person to analyze and diagnose online. He's hypomanic, but because he's doesn't have the symptoms of hypomania that means it's a special form of inverted hypomania. He's too un-neurotic, which is a form a neurosis! I'm sorry but I'm thinking you are indeed suffering from a neurotical compulsion to label and pathologise people.

There is an element of humor to it, but I didn't start this game to play some sort of weird online forum game, so If you want to keep this up, could you please start another thread (or take it to private messages or e-mails) so it doesn't clutter up or derail this one.

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/29/13 8:11 AM as a reply to Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg.
hey matthias.

Honestly I wouldn't put so much effort into mapping where you are according to the vipassana nanas. Don't put any unneeded mind energy into "I am here, no I am here, I am this, I am that." - that's just the less-helpful part of your mind trying to grab onto stuff. Don't be its bitch... just be aware that if you are experiencing anything weird, it could be due to the stages. At each point in insight practice, all one is trying to do is sincerely, truly see the nature of reality and the self clearly. This never changes throughout any stages. So just keep practicing as if you are in equanimity.

If you want to get enlightened, here is something maybe wore worthy of your brainpower than mapping thoughts. Ponder these sorts of things: You had a big "I am everything" sort of experience. But it went away. Really? Where did it go? Literally, where? What went?

and:

Without thought, using just 5 senses, clearly, one at a time, what is the difference between that experience and your experience now?

Contemplate these things over the next few days/weeks if you want.
good luck

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/29/13 9:28 AM as a reply to Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii.
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RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/29/13 9:32 AM as a reply to Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii.
Quoting function seems a bit unreliable so I will improvise...

hey matthias.

Honestly I wouldn't put so much effort into mapping where you are according to the vipassana nanas. Don't put any unneeded mind energy into "I am here, no I am here, I am this, I am that." - that's just the less-helpful part of your mind trying to grab onto stuff. Don't be its bitch... just be aware that if you are experiencing anything weird, it could be due to the stages.


Well I am trying to get some sort of working framework that will help me orient myself, but maybe you are right and that effort could be better invested in something else. The problem as I see it is that without that framework/map/theory it becomes very hard to decide what is and what isn't a good or productive investment of time and energy.

From what I understand a lot of people seem 'invested' in whether they are at point X or Y on a specific map, as if there was some sort of external reward for it, but I don't really care about that. I just want to know how to proceed.

At each point in insight practice, all one is trying to do is sincerely, truly see the nature of reality and the self clearly. This never changes throughout any stages. So just keep practicing as if you are in equanimity.

If the practice is always the same I suppose it doesn't matter whether I am in "Equanimity" or some other phase/stage/state? My problem right now is mainly that I for the first time feel like I'm not making any progress. It seems as if I am stuck. Not a big problem since the situation is pleasant enough... but I want ultimate truth damnit! ;)

If you want to get enlightened, here is something maybe wore worthy of your brainpower than mapping thoughts. Ponder these sorts of things: You had a big "I am everything" sort of experience. But it went away. Really? Where did it go? Literally, where? What went?

That's a very good point and I will reflect more on that. Those questions make a lot of sense and I can not answer them.

Without thought, using just 5 senses, clearly, one at a time, what is the difference between that experience and your experience now?

I guess my ability to experience them directly is what has changed, as in diminished. It's that damn 'I' and the compulsive mind-processes getting in the way, it seems like.

Contemplate these things over the next few days/weeks if you want.
good luck


Thanks, that's some really good advice. Will focus on that over the next days and see what happens.

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/29/13 9:35 AM as a reply to Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg.
Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg:


You've basically constructed a whole fictional person to analyze and diagnose online. He's hypomanic, but because he's doesn't have the symptoms of hypomania that means it's a special form of inverted hypomania. He's too un-neurotic, which is a form a neurosis! I'm sorry but I'm thinking you are indeed suffering from a neurotical compulsion to label and pathologise people.


Yes its weird isn't it, having some of the symptoms of hypomania but not all of them, which is why I think its probably not the best description, as some of the core aspects are missing, which I would normally associate with overactivity of the dopamine system. I would say it isn't really recognised in the psychiatric community probably because it quite rare (being associated with spiritual practices) and generally isn't pathological - though some people might decide to shave their heads and decide to become monks which might cause problems...But it is clear that the stages of insight do map onto bipolar/dysthymia in interesting ways - mania (a&p) followed by depression (dark night) and then normal life (equanimity?). I think there is a lot of work to do in reconciling these frameworks in the future. On a positive note, I wonder to what extent practices like vipassana can help those with non-self induced mood disorders - so can you note yourself out of depression to equanimity by particular dissociative practices? What is also really interesting is the different time scales - so Mattias describes some cycling with mood dropping over a few days, having a revelation at the lowest point, and mood switch to euphoria, but this mini cycle happens within a large cycle. And then there is this fractal pattern at much shorter time scales - within the course of a meditation session.

You raise an interesting point as to whether being so un-neurotic actually makes you neurotic - but I would say that wouldn't fit with what we normally consider neurotic to mean.

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/29/13 4:21 PM as a reply to Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg.
Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg:

If you want to get enlightened, here is something maybe wore worthy of your brainpower than mapping thoughts. Ponder these sorts of things: You had a big "I am everything" sort of experience. But it went away. Really? Where did it go? Literally, where? What went?

That's a very good point and I will reflect more on that. Those questions make a lot of sense and I can not answer them.

Without thought, using just 5 senses, clearly, one at a time, what is the difference between that experience and your experience now?

I guess my ability to experience them directly is what has changed, as in diminished. It's that damn 'I' and the compulsive mind-processes getting in the way, it seems like.


note the emphasis!

1. take the vipassana view, which is that the only things that exist are things in your 6 sense doors.
2. learn the difference, accurately, between seeing and various types of thoughts
3. look at some objects. where are the "mind processes getting in the way" of clear, self-less seeing, like your past big experience?
emoticon have fun

RE: Would like help understanding very strange and unexpected events
Answer
10/30/13 6:34 PM as a reply to Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii.
Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii:
Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg:

If you want to get enlightened, here is something maybe wore worthy of your brainpower than mapping thoughts. Ponder these sorts of things: You had a big "I am everything" sort of experience. But it went away. Really? Where did it go? Literally, where? What went?

That's a very good point and I will reflect more on that. Those questions make a lot of sense and I can not answer them.

Without thought, using just 5 senses, clearly, one at a time, what is the difference between that experience and your experience now?

I guess my ability to experience them directly is what has changed, as in diminished. It's that damn 'I' and the compulsive mind-processes getting in the way, it seems like.


note the emphasis!

1. take the vipassana view, which is that the only things that exist are things in your 6 sense doors.
2. learn the difference, accurately, between seeing and various types of thoughts
3. look at some objects. where are the "mind processes getting in the way" of clear, self-less seeing, like your past big experience?
emoticon have fun


That's very helpful, thanks.

Yesterday I have two very good meditiation seesions and it feels like I got "unclogged". Today there has been lots of emotions and it seems like oscillations are re-starting, which is great. Today I felt like I had to "hold back" not to get carried away when at a cafe, feels like progress is happening again. Motivation factor is up. Your previous tips did it, much obliged. emoticon