A&P and possible EQ, stream entry

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Dan J Franklin, modified 7 Years ago.

A&P and possible EQ, stream entry

Posts: 40 Join Date: 12/20/13 Recent Posts
Hello everyone, I've been lurking on this board for awhile and reading Daniel's book as an addition to my meditation practice which has focused strongly on basic samatha (breath) concentration and walking meditations. Recently I've had a series of events that have me thinking I've actually reached some of the stages outlined in MTCB. It started with more intense noting practice, which I hadn't really done before, while practicing walking meditation. I'd start by noting the motions of the feet, then the synching of the breath with the feet, then shift my attention to the sounds around me, like bird song and cars (I'm musically inclined, so I figured why not?). After about a week of this I started noticing that my breath would drop into a stuttering rhythm, like starting an old Ford, but a little more regular. This was accompanied by bright multi hued points of light and the sensation that physical reality was more permeable than before, as well as feeling detached from my body but still close to the breath. The lights reminded me of that Arthur Machen story and Current 93 song about "The Inmost Light". Then, while walking close to a stone wall, on the downbreath "I" dissapeared momentarily and theres just a blankness, no sound, colour, sensation or awareness. I have no idea how long this lasted but I was "back" about 10 paces later. After this I felt like I had taken some strong MDMA, but better, without the saccharine drowsiness that often clouds conciousness on that drug. I felt highly motivated to practice, was radiating positive thoughts and pursuing multiple creative projects with ease.

I've always experienced strong social anxiety and felt like I'd finally conquer my fears at work that night. Work was an intense experience, I managed to actually connect with and socialize somewhat with my co-workers, whereas I'd been the typical shut in for most of my tenure there. However I had a strong awareness of suffering, and how my actions and especially choice of language were contributing to this suffering, and the sensation that I was hauling sand out of a pit on the beach where more sand was pouring in than I could possibly bail out. This was accompanied by much mental turmoil. Then.....I just came to grips with it. I was. I could feel the familiar sensations of anger and self hatred rising within me but had the sensation that I was just watching it, that these were old patterns that didn't have to rule me anymore, and I just kind of accepted it.

When I got home I rolled a bomber and smoked it on the back porch, as my routine usually went. I'd spent several years of dissipation taking a lot of psychedelics and trying to be a combination of Keith Richards, David Bowie and the Marquis De Sade. I smoked the joint and felt a lot higher than I normally would after that amount of pot. I considered my social anxiety and began repeating a C93 lyric in my head, "This autistic Imperium is Nihil Reich". Don't do this under these circumstances if mental stability is a valued thing in your life. Then I felt my conciousness expand into what Robert Anton Wilson would probably describe as the 6th or 7th circuit of conciousness, the universal information matrix. This was too much for me. My behavior became highly irregular, I was barely coherent, I called in sick to work and got back on anti depressants and mood stabilizers. I quit most drugs except for mild herbs which I find to help with my sleep and practice. My dreams are especially intense when I do sleep; I've been dealing with insomnia by getting to access concentration which leads to a state of mind that seems similar to the 5th Circuit of Leary's conciousness model, with a lot of archetypal dream imagery. i find this to be almost as energizing as a nights sleep. I've reached jhana only a few times, once during what I think to be my A&P experience. I'm beginning to suspect I hit A&P before, in middle school, when me and a group of students would hang out outside and discuss mythological beasts and other nerdy things. I'd lead them in a game of "exploding" words by shattering them into their component syllables, and I believe I may have naively lead them into the A&P and subsequent DN with no one to guide them out. Many of these people would suffer signifigant psychological problems in the years afterward. Perhaps my experience was karmic retribution for this, but I won't presume to know the will of the Universe. I'm going to a local Zen group to look for a teacher who can answer some questions, but what do you folks think of all this? Are my guesses about my progress of insight accurate?

Edit: Realized I couldnt have possibly reached a jhana while under the influence of substances, legal or no, and I probably haven't attained SE and am probably still cycling through DN with some experience of equanimity. Anyone with similar experiences care to comment?
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tom moylan, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: A&P and possible EQ, stream entry

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
Howdy Dan,
and welcome. its sounds like you hit the A&P and then moved into the inevitable dissolution phase (aka: dark night of the soul).

IF this is true, you are "on the ride" as is stated in the MCTB and will likely stay there until you crack the code and move past it to stream entry.

as you know there is lots of advice as to how exactly to get that done but the best way is to choose a reliable method and stick to it. maybe pot etc. is the way for you but my experience is that while substances can pry open the door of the cage they generally aren't to reliable at helping us find our way out of the maze of our cinditioning.

best of luck and success.

tom
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: A&P and possible EQ, stream entry

Posts: 1333 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Dan J Franklin:
Then, while walking close to a stone wall, on the downbreath "I" dissapeared momentarily and theres just a blankness, no sound, colour, sensation or awareness. I have no idea how long this lasted but I was "back" about 10 paces later. After this I felt like I had taken some strong MDMA, but better, without the saccharine drowsiness that often clouds conciousness on that drug. I felt highly motivated to practice, was radiating positive thoughts and pursuing multiple creative projects with ease.
These experiences are very hard to diagnose with such brief descriptions. This does sound like a description of a fruition moment but does it really matter? Notice why or why not it matters. You are now past it and onto where ever you are at now. The important thing is how is your life in the now? Has it changed? If so great. Keep on keeping on. Pay attention to where you are at now and see what happens next. Keep practicing with skill and diligence and see what happens.
Good luck,
~D
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Dan J Franklin, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: A&P and possible EQ, stream entry

Posts: 40 Join Date: 12/20/13 Recent Posts
In response to Dream Walker (couldnt get the quotes right):

Hmm, good points all around. I feel a strong push toward the 8 fold path as something inherently "Good, True and Beautiful" and have been exerting myself to be more conscientious in daily interactions, as well as having more awareness of the 3 characteristics though I won't feign that I understand their true nature at all times. I think its too soon to tell if this is a massive revolution in my conciousness or if I've only traveled a few blocks. The biggest difference is that I am finding more comfort with the material world as something inextricably linked with the interior, contemplative realms. I'm reading some Ken Wilbur at the moment and really like his model of "interior/exterior" instead of "higher/lower" when describing conciousness and material form. I'm not sure about his system as a whole but that part has shifted me away from a somewhat Gnostic perspective to a more ecological (ah heck, "integral") POV.
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Daemon Shockley, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: A&P and possible EQ, stream entry

Posts: 24 Join Date: 10/19/09 Recent Posts
I think putting the jhanas on a pedestal and failing to recognize them is pretty common, in my opinion. It's possible my standards are 'too low', though obviously I don't think so.

From Leigh Brasington ( http://www.leighb.com/jhanantp.htm ):
An interesting thing that I have observed that holds for most teachers of Jhana is that they tend to regard all Jhana methods with concentration levels less than their own as "not authentic, not real Jhanas", and they tend to regard all methods with concentration levels stronger than their own as "indulging, not useful."


If you read through her site you'll see that the standards for jhana even differ between earlier and later suttas, and by the time of the commentaries had shifted from something that was fairly normal for any old monk, to something that only a very few could achieve.

When I've talked to people not taught this framework, I've found that its very common for them to merge several of these together, either 2-3, or 1-3 getting merged as just a general period of things quieting down. 4th seems to stick out as a unique thing, however. Actually, when I was first encountering these I considered my labels 'tentative', until I hit 4th and went 'huh, well thats definitely it.', so that fits my experience.

A lot of my best meditation, especially around or leading up to A&P, involves drinking way too much cola and pacing around my house like a madman. Personally, I'd say if something is still bringing you progress, stick with it. If you feel stuck or like you keep bouncing against the same blocks then try something new. Though if you want to try something, of course go for it. It's your experiment in any case. Any advice you get is going to come from a pov which will be based on a persons experiences, and their tradition. There are many approaches that work. I've found playing to my strengths and existing tendencies to be beneficial. And obviously everything I say about other people's advice applies to my own emoticon

For getting stream entry, building up practices you do habitually, all the time, is probably key. Or going on a retreat. Or both. My impression from talking to others is that experiences of stream entry are most likely to occur when you have enough 'momentum' that you are habitually doing a certain level of passive meditation, and you are 'taking a break' after a period of more focused meditation. That tracks with my experience, where I hit it while showering after going through everything from Terror to low EQ in a single session (which was a mix of sitting, pacing, and occasionally chattering to my wife about what was going on, and man isn't disgust cool?)
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Dan J Franklin, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: A&P and possible EQ, stream entry

Posts: 40 Join Date: 12/20/13 Recent Posts
Daemon Shockley:


A lot of my best meditation, especially around or leading up to A&P, involves drinking way too much cola and pacing around my house like a madman. Personally, I'd say if something is still bringing you progress, stick with it. If you feel stuck or like you keep bouncing against the same blocks then try something new. Though if you want to try something, of course go for it. It's your experiment in any case. Any advice you get is going to come from a pov which will be based on a persons experiences, and their tradition. There are many approaches that work. I've found playing to my strengths and existing tendencies to be beneficial. And obviously everything I say about other people's advice applies to my own emoticon

For getting stream entry, building up practices you do habitually, all the time, is probably key. Or going on a retreat. Or both. My impression from talking to others is that experiences of stream entry are most likely to occur when you have enough 'momentum' that you are habitually doing a certain level of passive meditation, and you are 'taking a break' after a period of more focused meditation. That tracks with my experience, where I hit it while showering after going through everything from Terror to low EQ in a single session (which was a mix of sitting, pacing, and occasionally chattering to my wife about what was going on, and man isn't disgust cool?)


oh yeah, ive been negotiating that particular territory by slipping on my mod shades, nailing a mattress to the door and playing DIO and L-7 bootlegs at ear rupturing decibels. I'm currently cycling more rapidly, and not using the presence of meds to avoid meditating. My original fear was that the wild boar tranqs i take on occaision ( prescribed meds) would smother any legit feeling i got from meditating, but then i try to remember that all feelings are worth investigating and onward. Il try more caffiene before my walks; im also starting to see how the noting can be ramped up in intensity and focus and then calm down, while still being active, kind of like slapping a compressor on an audio track to limit the peak levels (sorry, can't help the music jargon. My latest insight while sitting was "talking about music is like doing chemistry about publishing")
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Dan J Franklin, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: A&P and possible EQ, stream entry

Posts: 40 Join Date: 12/20/13 Recent Posts
Most definitely reached the 2nd jhana the other day (according to leigh b's definition), was able to hang out there for quite a while. I've gotten so used to pain and discomfort in my sits that pleasure is almost an aversive experience! I didn't use it to attempt any serious insight work, just basked in the ameboid flux of sensation. That was a few days ago, now I'm on some kind of DN plate of toe jam, as I'm constantly breaking my sits after 15 min because I have this urgency surging up in my chest, not fear or anxiety exactly, more like an eagerness that manifests as a need to go chat with the nearest person or log into Facebook. Its pretty much exactly what Louis CK describes in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HbYScltf1c . Its accompanied by a simmering sense of rebellion, a rebellion that manifests as fantasies of boyish violence and mischief. I'm usually able to catch this and just observe the feeling before it becomes a thoughtform. This is almost always followed by disgust. I'm currently alternating between t-rex tranqs and an herb reputed to be a facilitator of lucid dreaming; i can say this works, as my most recent dreams have been frightening reflections of my waking practice, like being imprisoned in the dungeons of castles of shit and extreme anxiety dreams of absurd work situations. My inkling is that I've only been skating on the curb of insight practice, and maybe these moments of urgent anxiety are where I ought to be diving in as deep as possible; I haven't been noting sensations much, only the distracting thoughts; I've also noticed that I sometimes struggle to find the word for the thought, a common newbie blunder, so I note "word finding" in that case and move on, is there anything mistaken about this?
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Dan J Franklin, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: A&P and possible EQ, stream entry

Posts: 40 Join Date: 12/20/13 Recent Posts
Well, since I seem to be slothing over well trod mud, I'll end this near soliloquy and start a practice log. Much lotus liqour (or your heedful intoxicant of choice) to you all for your considered advice. I won't post in this thread again until Im over the wonderwall and into the knoll of gallantry. Shalom .
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Daemon Shockley, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: A&P and possible EQ, stream entry

Posts: 24 Join Date: 10/19/09 Recent Posts
Dan J Franklin:

Edit: Realized I couldnt have possibly reached a jhana while under the influence of substances, legal or no


That's simply not true, based on my experience. I've reached samatha jhana's while taking tranquilizers (administered by a doctor, if anyone cares). I have done most of my best insight meditation under the influence of caffeine, often quite a bit. Cola, mostly, so sugar highs too.

SE isn't an experience of blankness, its a discontinuity in the stream of experience. It's probably going to be mentalized as a click or pop of nothing/everything in particular. It's followed by a 'bliss wave', a kind of refreshed joyfulness which will probably persist for at least a few days to some degree.

Dan J Franklin:

I probably haven't attained SE and am probably still cycling through DN with some experience of equanimity.


Sounds right to me, based on your description. I'd recommend doing a good long sit/walk, and when those feelings of disgust and so forth arise try to see them as a field of sensations.

Dan J Franklin:

I've been dealing with insomnia by getting to access concentration which leads to a state of mind that seems similar to the 5th Circuit of Leary's conciousness model, with a lot of archetypal dream imagery.


Could you give a more in depth description of 'getting to access concentration' and what you are identifying as access concentration. It's not that important, but this sounds more like 4th jhana to me.

In non fancy terms, here's how I think about/experience the jhanas.
Access Concentration => focusing in, may seem trancey as outside sensations are 'quieter'. However this is honestly a very normal state of mind. Ever not hear or not fully register someone talking to you because you were focused on something else? Same principle, but since the 'object' we use tends to be quieter, its more pronounced.
First => Pleasure, relatively still but tight, effort
Second => 'looser', lets go of the effort without losing the state, often the pleasure becomes more dynamic/tingly for me. (honestly, the pleasure I experience in second jhana often reminds me of pot, which first doesn't really. Might be particular to me)
Third => Turning down the volume on second, object may seem to move relative to the center of attention (even if I'm aware everything is actually still), cool tingling sensations
Fourth => Wide open focus, calm, visual imagery is much easier in this state of mind for me.
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Dan J Franklin, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: A&P and possible EQ, stream entry

Posts: 40 Join Date: 12/20/13 Recent Posts
Daemon Shockley:
Dan J Franklin:

Edit: Realized I couldnt have possibly reached a jhana while under the influence of substances, legal or no



Sounds right to me, based on your description. I'd recommend doing a good long sit/walk, and when those feelings of disgust and so forth arise try to see them as a field of sensations.

Dan J Franklin:

I've been dealing with insomnia by getting to access concentration which leads to a state of mind that seems similar to the 5th Circuit of Leary's conciousness model, with a lot of archetypal dream imagery.


Could you give a more in depth description of 'getting to access concentration' and what you are identifying as access concentration. It's not that important, but this sounds more like 4th jhana to me.

In non fancy terms, here's how I think about/experience the jhanas.
Access Concentration => focusing in, may seem trancey as outside sensations are 'quieter'. However this is honestly a very normal state of mind. Ever not hear or not fully register someone talking to you because you were focused on something else? Same principle, but since the 'object' we use tends to be quieter, its more pronounced.
First => Pleasure, relatively still but tight, effort
Second => 'looser', lets go of the effort without losing the state, often the pleasure becomes more dynamic/tingly for me. (honestly, the pleasure I experience in second jhana often reminds me of pot, which first doesn't really. Might be particular to me)
Third => Turning down the volume on second, object may seem to move relative to the center of attention (even if I'm aware everything is actually still), cool tingling sensations
Fourth => Wide open focus, calm, visual imagery is much easier in this state of mind for me.


Interesting, it seems Ive been putting these phases on a pedestal and second guessing my progress. Since the A&P was my first experience of these things with some awareness of their intellectual descriptions, I was comparing all my subsequent experiences with that big one, which matches the peak of the wave model in Daniel's book. By your description, I was confusing access concentration with the third jhana, where the object begins to move. I reached 2nd jhana relatively quickly the other day, though I wasn't able to steep in it enough to maintain it for longer than 10 min. I'm not sure if the rapid noting is too harsh on my mind ( a lady at the Zen center told me the other day that its like hitting the gym for a weights sesh) or I'm just not concentrated enough to hold it, or both, but the noting is what I've been doing and having success with so far.

She also recommended more mindfulness of daily activities and slow walking, whereas my walks have recently been more like Richard Ashcroft in the video for the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" (btw if anyone wants to hear a musical experience of infinite space and conciousness, the early Verve work has few rivals!). I found my meditation is much more gentle when its in a group setting, which was a new experience for me. I believe I reached 4th jhana here; my focus was definitely wide, I didn't need to note as much and the pace had slowed, I didn't try to visualize but I noticed a lot of shifting colour and movement behind my eyelids. I'm using this as motivation for further practice; I especially like the idea of noticing a "field of sensations" instead of labelling it as a negative emotion, which usually just leads me further into it.
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Hazard J Gibbons, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: A&P and possible EQ, stream entry

Posts: 40 Join Date: 12/20/13 Recent Posts
Just a brief update, as I realized some things that weren't apparent to me before.

I've noticed some slight physiological changes since my experience at the stone wall a few months ago. I used to hate, hate, hate mornings, but now I get up at 5 am and feel supercharged after my morning sit and some coffee. My family has remarked about how different I am in the morning; I used to be extremely grumpy and lethargic if I had to get up before 9 or 10 ! I also find that I can function on less sleep than before; usually 4-6 hours is enough for me. I often don't dream much during sleep, but when I sit there's a constant flow of unconscious imagery that I have the privilege ( or torment) of observing. Its not lucid dreaming, as I'm not asleep, still aware of the breath, but also watching these scenes play out. It just seems like a subtle shift in my circadian rhythm, but it has changed my life in a subtle way.

Now that I have a job where I help people, it seems that my practice and work kind of flow into and interpenetrate each other ( read my thread in the concentration forum ). The feelings of disgust and aversion seemed to peak about 2 months ago, where I'd be walking and everything natural seemed like some diseased fungus that had sprouted up on a rock whirling through the void (I read a lot of Thomas Ligotti ), then a shift happened where the natural world seemed alright, but it was humans and their self created habitat that seemed like the disease ("we're the bacteria, maaan"). Then I remembered that humans are part of nature too, and now I can walk around without aping a Skinny Puppy song in my head. I was also very socially isolated, and as I remedy that I feel much more magnanimous towards nature and humans alike.
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Eric M W, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: A&P and possible EQ, stream entry

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
Hazard J Gibbons:
Hello everyone, I've been lurking on this board for awhile and reading Daniel's book as an addition to my meditation practice which has focused strongly on basic samatha (breath) concentration and walking meditations. Recently I've had a series of events that have me thinking I've actually reached some of the stages outlined in MTCB. It started with more intense noting practice, which I hadn't really done before, while practicing walking meditation. I'd start by noting the motions of the feet, then the synching of the breath with the feet, then shift my attention to the sounds around me, like bird song and cars (I'm musically inclined, so I figured why not?). After about a week of this I started noticing that my breath would drop into a stuttering rhythm, like starting an old Ford, but a little more regular. This was accompanied by bright multi hued points of light and the sensation that physical reality was more permeable than before, as well as feeling detached from my body but still close to the breath. The lights reminded me of that Arthur Machen story and Current 93 song about "The Inmost Light". Then, while walking close to a stone wall, on the downbreath "I" dissapeared momentarily and theres just a blankness, no sound, colour, sensation or awareness. I have no idea how long this lasted but I was "back" about 10 paces later. After this I felt like I had taken some strong MDMA, but better, without the saccharine drowsiness that often clouds conciousness on that drug. I felt highly motivated to practice, was radiating positive thoughts and pursuing multiple creative projects with ease.

Very clear A&P.

What has not been mentioned yet is that "unknowing" events can be part of A&P, especially when it occurs on the downbreath. So that is typical A&P as well, not stream entry.

I've always experienced strong social anxiety and felt like I'd finally conquer my fears at work that night. Work was an intense experience, I managed to actually connect with and socialize somewhat with my co-workers, whereas I'd been the typical shut in for most of my tenure there. However I had a strong awareness of suffering, and how my actions and especially choice of language were contributing to this suffering, and the sensation that I was hauling sand out of a pit on the beach where more sand was pouring in than I could possibly bail out. This was accompanied by much mental turmoil. Then.....I just came to grips with it. I was. I could feel the familiar sensations of anger and self hatred rising within me but had the sensation that I was just watching it, that these were old patterns that didn't have to rule me anymore, and I just kind of accepted it.

Dark Night, pretty clear. A possible shift into low EQ with regards to the acceptance towards negative sensations.

As for the rest of your post, I'm not sure how psychoactives and meditation mix. The stock and standard advice is to meditate while sober, but there are members here who have gotten stream entry while being fairly regular cannabis smokers. But as I said, it's hard to tell how much psychoactives may hurt or help the progress of insight.
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Hazard J Gibbons, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: A&P and possible EQ, stream entry

Posts: 40 Join Date: 12/20/13 Recent Posts
Thanks, I was under the impression that unknowing events only happen to people who've attained 1st path or higher. It seems like the A&P throws a lot at you, perhaps as a goad to further practice. I'm not sure where I am now, probably still in the Dark Night but my job requires me to be highly attuned to whats outside of my own mental workings, and I feel much more balanced because of it. Shinzen Young's Focus Out technique has also worked wonders; I was getting too caught up in noting mental impressions and mobius looping my head up my ass. This experience has also had the effect of clearing away some residual Christian perversion ( sense of sin, guilt, shame etc ) and the Dark Night, while a difficult territory, doesn't seem to be the huge problem it appeared as at first. I'm going to just keep practicing and see where it leads.
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Eric M W, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: A&P and possible EQ, stream entry

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
Check out this paragraph from the chapter on A&P in MCTB:

The A&P Event can happen in three basic ways corresponding to the Three Characteristics, just as can the entrance to insight stage fifteen, Fruition, and the two are easily confused for this and other reasons. There is great variation in the specifics of what we are seeing and feeling when we cross this profound and intense event, but certain aspects of these events will be common to all practitioners. This event tends to manifest in a way that can mirror the Three Doors (described below) at about the middle of the out breath, leading to an unknowing event, followed by a few exceedingly clearer and more distinct moments imparting some deep understanding of the Three Characteristics before a second unknowing event at the end of the breath. It is not uncommon for the A&P event to occur during a particularly lucid dream or at least in the middle of the night.


Don't get all worried about the dark night, just practice well and be with the present moment when you aren't practicing. It kicked my ass for two years, and still does once in a while, because I got caught up in the psychological content-- fears I didn't know I had, nightmares, etc. Then again, I didn't know what the dark night was at the time-- knowing the maps really helps!
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Hazard J Gibbons, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: A&P and possible EQ, stream entry

Posts: 40 Join Date: 12/20/13 Recent Posts
Yes, the dark night seems to be more of a problem for Christians than for Buddhists, though its still harrowing and painful (never seems to kick me in the nads tho). The most intense part of it seems to have passed with the winter, though I am certainly still in it, I'm ok with it in a way I wasn't before I started practicing. If I'm correct, I experienced an unknowing event at age 11; I've tracked down people who were there and they don't remember anything weird, and I think it was the DN psychological stuff that had me thinking I had caused these people's depression etc. I'm actually grateful for it in some ways; when I sit, I'm usually able to tune into the pulsing vibrations after a short period, and pass through jhanas quite rapidly, though I've never gone past the 4th. The frustrating thing is I'd like to hang out in them longer, to investigate their features, but I seem to move through them quite involuntarily when I do get to them. I suppose that's just how it goes, and with more stable concentration I'll be able to solidify them.

This whole experience has me wanting to work in the mental health field; I had a hellish experience in a hospital several years ago and was impressed with the dedication and compassion of some of the staff there, and I think this experience would help me with, say, counseling people who've ended up there through bad trips and the like. But I can't imagine how much more effective I'd be after stream entry, so I'd better start practicing more. I think I'm just lazy; on my own I can sit for two 30 min sessions, with fairly good concentration, but I keep finding myself thinking "when will that damn clock go off so I can go about my day", even when I'm in 1st jhana. When I'm with sangha, at the Zen center, this thought is non-existent or very weak.

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