How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Charles B, modified 7 Years ago.

How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 3/13/12 Recent Posts
Firstly I want to say, I first discovered Dharma Overground two years ago after my first experience of the the stage of Arising Passing away. Because of this site, I was able to accelerate my practice all the way through the Paths. For this I am thankful to everyone here, especially to Daniel for his hard work on MCTB.

Recently I believe that I attained 4th Path and want check against other’s experience by listing what I “can” do and what I “cannot” do or what has happened and share some thoughts about the whole thing as well. I noticed that people seem quite dissatisfied with 4th Path especially when put against the ideals of the Arahat and many are moving on to PCE. At least I want to establish what we do gain from 4th Path. So let’s get started…


What I have experienced:

1) Probably the biggest fruit of attaining 4th Path, and root of my gratitude, is that I can objectively say that my defilements, that is, all desire, attachment, aversions, anger, pride, jealousy, and all negative mind states in general, have been reduced to only 10% of what it was before I started Vipassana. Defilements is one of the measures of progress and enlightenment.This is based on watching my mind and my reactions very carefully without interference and comparing it to my past reactions and habits. After attaining 1st Path, my defilements seemed to decreased by ~30%, then another ~25% after 2nd, another ~20% again, then 15% after 4th with 10% remaining. And this is across the board on all attachments and aversions. If I had a great attachment to pizza during retreat, it is only 10% of what it was. If I have a small pet peeve with someone at work, it is only 10% of that. It doesn’t seem to matter the original defilement or magnitude, it is still 10% of whatever was there. Speaking of magnitude, this reduction is across the board in terms of different dimensions of the defilements as well. For example, if an explosion of anger arises, the depth or bite of the anger, how long it lasts, its “broadness”, and the range of triggers are all reduced to… 10%. To me this is absolutely amazing and I cannot be more grateful.

Don’t get me wrong, 10% of ginormous defilements is still 10% too much. And I still have all that. I liken this to at first having $100,000 worth of defilements in your savings account. It’s a lot of money without going overboard. Cutting that down to $10,000 is only 10% left. But $10,000 is still a lot of money if you happen to lose it. So even 10% defilements is still too much and I won’t stop until I cut it all to zero. I just want to be clear that by no means am I even near done.

2) Besides defilements, something interesting I am able to do (when my mind is pure) is cognize the formation of conceptions and experience the bare field of sensations of the 6 senses at the same time. This experience is amazing because not only do you truly witness the mind forming conceptions of the reality around you that you normally perceived as real, you get to compare it to the bare sensations it is attempting to define, and see how wrong it is! If there was an experience of “emptiness” this would be it. You get to see exactly what is empty, and empty of what all at once, and see exactly how it is your mind tells you lies through those mental formations. This holds true for the sense of self as well. When in this state, nothing affects me because I truly perceive all as self-created illusions trying to grasp at the 6 sense objects.

3) Another measure of progress is the presence of the sense of self. Nowadays, my sense of self has been permanently (seemingly) reduced, probably again, to 10% of what it was before. It is not completely gone by any means, except possibly during a good sitting. In fact, it feels like I, or my sense of self, survives only as a fragment of its former self somewhere inside this body/mind which is not mine. It is as if, during each Path attainment, my “I” withdrew more and more, like the tide receding from the beach. Even now, these hands typing away seem like just another animated object in my visual awareness.

Speaking of the “I”, I can say that it is directly proportionate to the amount of suffering or defilements I experience. If it is not present, I do not suffer no matter what happens. If it is present then I am susceptible in proportion to the magnitude of its presence. From this, I can infer that if I can 100% be without an “I”, I will not suffer.

4) Another thing that arises is, when my mind is pure (with minimal self), there is a general sense of peace and joy that naturally arises. Sometimes I am just sitting there being in my default state, and I notice that it is already present. I suppose I can describe this feeling as an undercurrent of the Four Abodes. There is joy and there is equanimity. The other two, compassion and loving-kindness does arise easily with external triggers. There is just a general sense of peace, that things are known, and all is alright. Again if there are defilements or a strong “I” present, this state does not arise.


What I did not experience:

1) First, I want to make clear that I am still uncertain of my Path attainment because, without a doubt, I have not experienced cessation or any of the stages beyond Stage 11 Equanimity except for Review. I made a post about it when I first made 1st Path over a year ago and it still stands. After I go past Stage 11, I experience these unknown stages not previously described anywhere including MCTB, before arriving at Stage 16 where the stages begin to cycle. However, the psychological effects are clear and valid. And the stages take 10-15 weeks of cycling to reset before I can start on the next Path. But I do not experience Stages 12 – 15 the way MCTB or anyone else describes, including cessation. This still puzzles me to this day. But I cannot complain about the effects of whatever I got to my mind, and it gets better with each retreat. To further verify that the stages do not reset after 4th Path, I am currently waiting a few more months to confirm as the stages today are still currently cycling.

2) Something else that I cannot attain is good concentration. For all that I experienced, my concentration ability is still amateurish. At times I cannot count past 20 breaths without a thought arising unchecked. This leads to the subject of the Jhanas. Still, I can only attain soft Jhanas as I posted nearly two years ago. But I cannot get hard Jhanas or go to any other non-traditional jhanic states like the “Pureland” Jhanas. This puzzles me because, based on posts, this is somewhat a requirement for attaining 3rd or 4th Path. Regardless, I cannot do this, and plan to devote an entire retreat just to concentration practice.

3) Also, MCTB mentions most people on their way to 4th and beyond experience some kind of siddhi (magick) experience. I have absolutely not experienced any of this, probably due to my lack of concentration ability.

So there it is, this is what I’ve been able to do and not do after getting through 4th Path.

For me overall, the amount of suffering and anguish in life is just reduced to a minimum. I can say, unlike any other time in my adult life, I am “satisfied” and at peace, something I have never felt before. And if my life were to end here, I would be satisfied with my attainment. I suppose this is why I am puzzled that people are going to PCE. Isn’t there more we can follow according to the Buddha’s teachings if the results so far have been promising? Or am I missing something entirely? I will definitely give PCE a try one day.

If it is true that there is nothing more Vipassana can provide after 4th, I will switch over to Tibetan Buddhism and see what they have to offer in there neck of the woods. So far, emptiness meditation seems promising, further reducing the “self” which, seems to be the root misery and defiling mind states.

Please provide comments on your experience of 4th and after. Does it match up with mine? What is different? How much defilements have been reduced? What about overall suffering? How is your sense of self or "I"? Is it significantly reduced like mine, or is it gone completely? Have I missed something else I should mention?

Lastly, has anyone continued to make progress beyond 4th Path by continuing with Buddhist meditation?
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tom moylan, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
Howdy Charles,
i'm really happy for you that you have reduced your attachment / suffering to such a noticable degree. i have been at this stuff for a while now and despite some great retreats, jhanic experiences, obvious personal progress i cannot claim even 1st path due to not having experienced a clear cessation nor any of the immediate deepenings of insight etc. following one.

i also cannot pin down a specific point where cycling began and then settled into the 'next path grind'.

i'm interested to see the replies to this post by people who have experienced the classic pattern outlined in daniel's book.

cheers

tom
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
This doesn't sound like 4th path as Dan describes and experiences it.

To summarize your descriptions:

1) Some negative stuff is now only 10% of what it was when you started
2) You are capable of tuning your attention to emptiness in a certain way
3) Your 'sense of self' is also only 10% of what it when I started
4) Sometimes you get a general sense of peace and joy

Compare:
Daniel M. Ingram:
Since the topic has come up so often and been so bandied about so many times by so many people, let me state here what I mean by 4th path, regardless of what anyone else means by it. It has the following qualities:

1) Utter centerlessness: no watcher, no sense of a watcher, no subtle watcher, no possibility of a watcher. This is immediately obvious just as color is to a man with good eyesight as the old saying goes. Thus, anything and everything simply and obviously manifest just where they are. No phenomena observe any others and never did or could.

2) Utter agencylessness: meaning no agency, no sense of doing, no sense of doer, no sense that there could be any agent or doer, no way to find anything that seems to be in control at all. Whatever effort or intent or anything like that that arises does so naturally, causally, inevitably, as it always actually did. This is immediately obvious, though not always the forefront of attention.

3) No cycles change or stages or states or anything else like that do anything to this direct comprehension of simple truths at all.

4) There is no deepening in it to do. The understanding stands on its own and holds up over cycles, moods, years, etc and doesn't change at all. I have nothing to add to my initial assessment of it from 9 years ago.

5) There is nothing subtle about it: anything and everything that arises exhibits these same qualities directly, clearly. When I was third path, particularly late in it, those things that didn't exhibit these qualities were exceedingly subtle, and trying to find the gaps in the thing was exceedingly difficult and took years and many cycles. I had periods from weeks to months where it felt done and then some subtle exception would show up and I would realize I was wrong yet again, so this is natural and understandable, and if someone claims 4th as I define it here and later says they got it wrong, have sympathy for them, as this territory is not easy and can easily fool people, as it did me many, many times over about 5 years or so. However, 4th, as I term it, ended that and 9 years later that same thing holds, which is a very long time in this business.


There is not any overlap at all in your descriptions and Dan's descriptions.
A D R, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 694 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
I can't read Daniel's description without getting some wonky, unpleasant sensations around my solar plexus that make me stop immediately. Does this mean I am enlightened? emoticon
Charles B, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 3/13/12 Recent Posts
Thanks to everyone for responding.

Indeed, I may be completely mistaken in my understanding. The only reason I believe I have completed Mahasi 4th Path is because I thought a Path is defined by completing one round of all 16 insight stages. And the stages are completed when reaching Stage 16 Review. At this point the stages cycle naturally over and over until they reset. After they reset, the process is repeated again and again until we complete them a total of four times. After this, the stages will no longer reset and 4th Path is attained. Is this not true?

For me, this has happened. I am still waiting to see if the 4th round of cycling will reset to confirm.

Let me know where this is incorrect or attaining 4th Path can be done without this. If so I am definitely mistaken and withdraw my question with embarrassment! But, this is the point of my post, to verify what is going on.

To Beoman's post, you are correct, sir. After reading the linked posted, I do not overlap with those qualifications in any way. However, this brings a little puzzlement. No agency, no doer, and centerlessness I take to mean utterly no more sense of or perception of 'self'. If self is what brings defilements (attachment, avers, del) and suffering, then those should also cease with 4th Path attainment. Yet, it seems many who describe themselves as completing Mahasi 4th Path still describe suffering and move on to PCE. MCTB also describes anger and agitation arising from 4th pather. Can you help to clear up my confusion?

It seems I still have misunderstanding of the maps, which is fine with me as long as progress is being made, and I appreciate anyone to clarify where I am mistaken.

Thanks to all.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Charles B:
Thanks to everyone for responding.

Indeed, I may be completely mistaken in my understanding. The only reason I believe I have completed Mahasi 4th Path is because I thought a Path is defined by completing one round of all 16 insight stages. And the stages are completed when reaching Stage 16 Review. At this point the stages cycle naturally over and over until they reset. After they reset, the process is repeated again and again until we complete them a total of four times. After this, the stages will no longer reset and 4th Path is attained. Is this not true?

Well maybe as Mahasi said it initially:

When the meditator has thus become skilled in achieving the fruition attainment, he should resolutely set his mind upon the task of attaining to the higher paths and fruitions. What should now be done by one who has set himself that task? Just as before, he should carry out the practice of noticing (anything occurring) at the six sense doors.
[...]
When, however, the spiritual faculties are mature, one who carries out the practice of insight for attaining to a higher path will find that immediately after equanimity about formations has reached its culmination, the higher path and fruition arise in the same way as before (i.e., as at the time of the first path and fruition), that is to say, it is preceded by the stages of adaptation and maturity. After the fruition, the stages of reviewing, etc., that follow are also the same as before.

Anything else concerning the method of practice for insight and the progress of knowledge right up to arahantship can be understood in precisely the same way as described. Hence there is no need to elaborate it any further.


However the way it worked out for Dan and the way it's understood here is that: one cycle gets you stream entry. a second one gets you to 2nd path. then X more gets you to 3rd path, where X is a large number, and somewhere along the way cycles stop making sense, you get cycles within cycles, etc. Then 4th path is either Y cycles where Y is way bigger than X, or more cycles aren't even necessary per se but it's something outside of the cycles.

Whether that is what Mahasi Sayadaw meant... I know not. He also describes the fruition attainment differently than it's understood here. Maybe he's talking about something else entirely?
One should also set one's mind resolutely upon the further tasks: to be able to repeat the achievement of fruition attainment, to achieve it rapidly, and, at the time of achievement, to abide in it a long time, say for six, ten, fifteen or thirty minutes, or for an hour or more.
[...]
The mind can thus reach absorption even while one is walking up and down, or while taking a meal, and the fruition attainment can remain for any length of time resolved upon. During the fruition attainment, the mind will abide only in the cessation of formations and will not be aware of anything else.


Charles B:
To Beoman's post, you are correct, sir. After reading the linked posted, I do not overlap with those qualifications in any way. However, this brings a little puzzlement. No agency, no doer, and centerlessness I take to mean utterly no more sense of or perception of 'self'. If self is what brings defilements (attachment, avers, del) and suffering, then those should also cease with 4th Path attainment. Yet, it seems many who describe themselves as completing Mahasi 4th Path still describe suffering and move on to PCE. MCTB also describes anger and agitation arising from 4th pather. Can you help to clear up my confusion?

I cannot, other to say that what Dan means by 4th path clearly does not eradicate all forms of suffering. There's definitely some mismatch here between some or all of these: self, sense/perception of self, agency, doer, center, defilements, suffering.
Charles B, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 3/13/12 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
However the way it worked out for Dan and the way it's understood here is that: one cycle gets you stream entry. a second one gets you to 2nd path. then X more gets you to 3rd path, where X is a large number, and somewhere along the way cycles stop making sense, you get cycles within cycles, etc. Then 4th path is either Y cycles where Y is way bigger than X, or more cycles aren't even necessary per se but it's something outside of the cycles.


Ahah... so the number of genuine cycles does not equal number of Paths. This is great since it means Vipassana has not extinguished its usefulness. However, if this is so, what then is the marker for 3rd and 4th Paths. It seems it is not so clear anymore after 2nd. So the ten fetters model is not used here when talking about Mahasi 3rd and 4th Path, right? Then what is if not the cycles?

The other thing I don't understand is that I am quite happy with what I have achieved even if it has not even reached 4th Path. Why are others dissatisfied with what they have achieved after 4th? I have heard some describe it as "not even close" to the ten fetters model. Am I being deluded in thinking I only have 10% defilements to go? That is possible too I admit.

Ultimately I feel that there is a disconnect between my experiences and others who have "moved on" from vipassana after 4th Path. This is the real reason why I posted to get some understanding on what's going on.

And, by the way, from my limited experience, I am willing to challenge that completely and permanently removing the self does indeed permanently remove all suffering, and that there is something else going on. This is because when I can remove the self temporarily, it holds true. I do not suffer when I hear news of someone I don't know lose his job/wife/dog. If I perceive myself no different than this person, i.e. all are just objects without relating to any 'me', why would I suffer when bad things happen to me? This analogy is experientially valid for me, even if I can only hold it temporarily. Again, there is a disconnect I am not understanding. And I do believe that Kenneth Folk (a 4th Pather from what I know) said the same thing from experience.
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Pablo . P, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
However the way it worked out for Dan and the way it's understood here is that: one cycle gets you stream entry. a second one gets you to 2nd path. then X more gets you to 3rd path, where X is a large number, and somewhere along the way cycles stop making sense, you get cycles within cycles, etc. Then 4th path is either Y cycles where Y is way bigger than X, or more cycles aren't even necessary per se but it's something outside of the cycles.


Hi Charles,

Daniel tells in MCTB page 382 that he attained stream entry in January 1996, second path in July 1996, third path towards the end of 1996 and staid there for almost seven years, going through 27 full new paths before attaining arahatship in April 2003.
Charles B, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

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Pablo . P:

Daniel tells in MCTB page 382 that he attained stream entry in January 1996, second path in July 1996, third path towards the end of 1996 and staid there for almost seven years, going through 27 full new paths before attaining arahatship in April 2003.


Ah, I must have missed this part of the book and it makes more sense to me. I still have questions on what is described as 3rd and 4th path here if not the 10 fetters, nor the number of cycles of which I was mistaken. Since I see that Daniel, the man himself, has posted I can ask directly.

Obviously, I am very mistaken in my initial belief of 4th path, though all the descriptions of my experience stands. This actually brings me joy in that Vipassana has not exhausted its usefulness, and I do not have to switch to something like PCE quite yet!
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Charles B:
Pablo . P:

Daniel tells in MCTB page 382 that he attained stream entry in January 1996, second path in July 1996, third path towards the end of 1996 and staid there for almost seven years, going through 27 full new paths before attaining arahatship in April 2003.


Ah, I must have missed this part of the book and it makes more sense to me. I still have questions on what is described as 3rd and 4th path here if not the 10 fetters, nor the number of cycles of which I was mistaken. Since I see that Daniel, the man himself, has posted I can ask directly.

According to Daniel, his experience is enlightenment as written in the Pali Canon, and it's just that the common understanding of that according to the 10 fetters is wrong (emphasis mine):
Daniel Ingram:
The root of the problem in standard Buddhism comes to us from the Theravada Four Path Model. [...]

[...] Let’s face it: we all want emotional perfection, as a large chunk of the pain felt in modern life relates to people’s emotions causing trouble. I will claim that not perceiving our emotions clearly is a far greater problem than the emotions themselves, but I am clearly in the minority in this regard. [...]

The Theravada Four Path Model is a model involving four stages of awakening, namely First Path or Stream Entry (Pali: sotapanna), Second Path or Once Returner (sakadagami), Third Path or Never Returner (anagami) and finally Fourth Path, Holy One, Saint, or Conqueror (arahat, arhat, arahant, or arhant, pick your favorite spelling). [...] the core of the Theravada Four Path Model is the dogma that enlightenment involves progressively eliminating the Ten Defilements in the following manner.

Stream Entry eliminates the first three defilements: skeptical doubt, attachment to rites and rituals, and personality belief. Second Path attenuates the fourth and fifth defilements, usually translated as greed and hatred or more technically as attraction and aversion to everything that is not a jhanaic state. Third Path is said to eliminate those same fourth and fifth defilements however translated. Fourth Path, that of arahatship, eliminates the remaining five defilements of attachment to formed jhanas (the first four jhanas), attachment to the formless realms (the second four jhanas), restlessness and worry, “conceit” (in quotes because it is a bit hard to translate), and something called “the last veil of unknowing”.

It is important to note that arahats that are said to have “eliminated conceit” (in limited emotional range terms) can appear absolutely arrogant and conceited, as well as restless or worried, etc. [...]

As the Theravada Four Path Model explicitly states that realization is all about eliminating greed, hatred, restlessness, worry, etc., this is explicitly a limited emotional range model, and, as expected, deserves some serious skepticism. [...]

My real problem with the Theravada Four Path Model comes as soon as it starts talking about second path, i.e. the attenuation of greed and hatred or attraction and aversion, and by the time it promises eliminating these in their ordinary forms as they say occurs in third path, I think that serious critique of their language and dogma is called for. What they are attempting to say is that the sense of the observer, center point, continuous and separate subject, watcher or however you want to describe the sense that there is some Self at the center of all this stuff is, in fact, just a bunch of sensations. [...]

This is a very tough thing to talk about, and certainly doesn’t sell as well as saying: “Do these things, and you will be free from all negative emotions,” or worse: “We did these things and so are free from all negative emotions, and so you should worship us, give us donations, support our center, buy our books, give over power to us, think of us as very special or amazing, stand in awe of us, sleep with us, allow us to act like raving nutcases, etc.” I think you get the picture. Thus, what happens in reality is that segments of the process of making specific categories and patterns of the causal, sensate field into a separate “self” is reduced and then stops. However, many of the traditions advertise eliminating negative emotions and the sensations of craving or aversion. The two couldn’t be more different, and yet they are described as being the same.

That's an interesting about-face he does there in the section I bolded... but he didn't make this stuff up. As far as I can tell this is his understanding and experience after having sat many retreats with Mahasi-style monks. So blame them if this is wrong, I guess!
Charles B, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

That's an interesting about-face he does there in the section I bolded... but he didn't make this stuff up. As far as I can tell this is his understanding and experience after having sat many retreats with Mahasi-style monks. So blame them if this is wrong, I guess!


I think I kind of understand. I just still do not get how suffering and defilments can arise under the conditions without self-referencing, self-identifying, self-possessing, and a general sense that I exist.

As far as I can tell, all of my suffering is only related to self-referencing. When there is none, no defilements arise and no suffering arises. Granted, my experience is limited. But I must be missing something.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare? (Answer)

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Charles B:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

That's an interesting about-face he does there in the section I bolded... but he didn't make this stuff up. As far as I can tell this is his understanding and experience after having sat many retreats with Mahasi-style monks. So blame them if this is wrong, I guess!


I think I kind of understand. I just still do not get how suffering and defilments can arise under the conditions without self-referencing, self-identifying, self-possessing, and a general sense that I exist.

Depends how you define suffering I guess. Suffering is a translation of dukkha. Dan defines it (the one relevant to insight practice) as:
Daniel Ingram:
[...] the kind of suffering that comes from making artificial dualities out of non-dual sensations, and all of the unnecessary reactivity, misperceptions, distortions of perspective and proportion, and basic blindness that accompanies that process. This kind of suffering, relating to the scope of training in wisdom, is not touched by the first two trainings, and thus forms a background level of suffering in our life and also increases the potential for further suffering in the other two scopes. This form of suffering is gradually relieved by the stages of enlightenment, as fewer and fewer aspects of reality have the capacity to trick the mind in this way. I am a big fan of awakening and thus eliminating this pervasive form of suffering, just as long as we do not also neglect the other two trainings.


If you understand dukkha to mean "any kind of unpleasantness", then clearly the path Dan lays out in MCTB doesn't end that. Same if you understand dukkha to mean "any negative emotion" (Dan goes over the limited emotional models in his book). Same if you define dukkha as "being apart from the Absolute".
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare? (Answer)

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Charles B:
Thanks to everyone for responding.

Indeed, I may be completely mistaken in my understanding. The only reason I believe I have completed Mahasi 4th Path is because I thought a Path is defined by completing one round of all 16 insight stages. And the stages are completed when reaching Stage 16 Review. At this point the stages cycle naturally over and over until they reset. After they reset, the process is repeated again and again until we complete them a total of four times. After this, the stages will no longer reset and 4th Path is attained. Is this not true?

For me, this has happened. I am still waiting to see if the 4th round of cycling will reset to confirm.

Let me know where this is incorrect or attaining 4th Path can be done without this. If so I am definitely mistaken and withdraw my question with embarrassment! But, this is the point of my post, to verify what is going on.


Until you have reached Stream Entry, you'll cycle through stages 4-11 repeatedly. It sounds to me like that's what you've been doing. It seems you have mistaken this cycling for achieving a Path and reaching the review stage. The stages are always cycling, whether or not you've achieved a Path.

A Path is defined by achieving fruition. Since you haven't achieved fruition, I'm guessing you still haven't reached Stream Entry and have just been cycling around without having attained any Paths.

You will know you got Stream Entry when you experience stages 12-16 as described in MCTB, which you say you haven't yet done, right?

By the way, the stages continue to cycle indefinitely at every path, even after 4th Path.
Charles B, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 3/13/12 Recent Posts
J C:
Until you have reached Stream Entry, you'll cycle through stages 4-11 repeatedly. It sounds to me like that's what you've been doing. It seems you have mistaken this cycling for achieving a Path and reaching the review stage. The stages are always cycling, whether or not you've achieved a Path.

A Path is defined by achieving fruition. Since you haven't achieved fruition, I'm guessing you still haven't reached Stream Entry and have just been cycling around without having attained any Paths.

You will know you got Stream Entry when you experience stages 12-16 as described in MCTB, which you say you haven't yet done, right?

By the way, the stages continue to cycle indefinitely at every path, even after 4th Path.


Yes, this is a problem with my even claiming to attain stream entry. I have not experienced cessation. Some have suggested that sometimes it is difficult detect even if you do experience it. But I do not believe this is the case with me. This is still a mystery to me that I have not received a valid answer for. I have a theory but it is useless to discuss or even adopt. However, I do not believe that I can get to where my mind is today without "completing" the Stages. And I have no doubt that I arrived at the 16th stage of Review.

The reason is because up to Stage 11, I became very familiar with each stage and know their patterns, behaviors, and how to deal with each one, even before my 1st Path attainment. The stages themselves may cycle down but they will not cycle up without meditative effort. For example, once the stages reset, lets say I start off a new retreat at 4th stage A&P and make it all the way to 10th. If I drop my meditation and pick it back up after a few days, I will restart at 4th, seemingly losing the progress at 10th. But I will not immediately start at 10th. However, if I continue familiarizing myself with 10th, during my next sitting I will start at 10th. But, my mind will not auto cycle to 11th when I am asleep! I can only get to 11th with meditative effort. Even after I get to 11th the first time, I will start at 10th again and again and have to get to 11th again, though with less effort. Once I am practiced enough at 11th, I will start each sitting at 11th bypassing 10th. But if I drop my practice for a few days, I will have to restart at a lower stage and make it back up to 11th. But I will not go beyond 11th automatically. This is the behavior of the stages from 1 or 4 up to 11. And there is no baseline shift that is significant or permanent.

But, once I get past Stage 11. Everything is off the table. There are stages that arise, consistently after 11, that are not described anywhere in MCTB or anything I've read on the Stages of Insight. I will not go into detail here since I described them in detail in a post after it happened.

What I do know is there is always a fundamental baseline shift through these post-11 stages (when not in Stage 16 Review) and the stages start to cycle automatically from 4th up through those post 11 stages then back to 4th, even when I am asleep. No meditation or effort required. The cycling stages themselves have a different quality. They are lighter and more difficult to detect than when they stop cycling. What I can also tell is when they stop cycling, reset and a new Path arises, the stages settle down, attain a 'heavy' quality, and no longer cycle automatically such as when I am asleep. Then I go through them again with meditative effort, and reach another baseline shift, something that does not happen when the stages are cycling in Review.

I have no doubt that I complete whatever stages my mind goes through until reaching review and attaining a baseline shift. And I do not believe that my significant reduction of defilements is possible without at least stream entry or some variant.

This may not be a satisfactory answer which I am comfortable with because it is truly a mystery to me even taken as a whole. But I do know what I have gained, whatever the label. And I do not have attachment to labeling my progress or attainment, or lack of.

It would be nice if somebody could swoop in a provide a good answer, besides you gained nothing... which all experiential evidence suggests otherwise.
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Charles B:

Yes, this is a problem with my even claiming to attain stream entry. I have not experienced cessation. Some have suggested that sometimes it is difficult detect even if you do experience it. But I do not believe this is the case with me. This is still a mystery to me that I have not received a valid answer for. I have a theory but it is useless to discuss or even adopt.


What's your theory?


But, once I get past Stage 11. Everything is off the table. There are stages that arise, consistently after 11, that are not described anywhere in MCTB or anything I've read on the Stages of Insight. I will not go into detail here since I described them in detail in a post after it happened.


Can you link me or sum it up? How many stages and what are they like?


This may not be a satisfactory answer which I am comfortable with because it is truly a mystery to me even taken as a whole. But I do know what I have gained, whatever the label. And I do not have attachment to labeling my progress or attainment, or lack of.

It would be nice if somebody could swoop in a provide a good answer, besides you gained nothing... which all experiential evidence suggests otherwise.


Well I would suggest you get a session with Kenneth Folk, or another meditation teacher - he could probably tell you where you are and what's going on.
Charles B, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 3/13/12 Recent Posts
J C:

Can you link me or sum it up? How many stages and what are they like?


The entire post-11 stage or stages last only a few minutes at most, the longest and most intense being the first time through (1st time ever passing Stage 11). They really are just a process of sensations with a certain behavior that I have never seen described elsewhere.

Here it is:


1) Starting from stage 10 re-observation.

2) Equanimity, then high Equanimity.

3) Unknown Stage 1: Spacious sensations from Equanimity start to close in on and concentrate around middle of forehead. There is lots of activity there. Can feel something is "about to happen". Lasts 2-3 minutes.

4) Unknown Stage 2: This is what I'm calling the Ecstasy stage. Entire body is flooded with high energy sensations. Heavy sensations from bottom half of head down through body. There is a feeling of being squeezed by waves of sensations in the body. Top half of the head has the most activity out of all with highest levels of energy and the subtlest, finest sensations. However, sensations there are so fine, can barely feel anything, like from the brow up, the head is numb. But activity can be felt by subtle waves and occasional high energy sensation popping out. Feels like all sensations through body is moving towards the crown and outwards. Can "feel" there are sensations above the head. Feels like consciousness is trying to exit out the crown. This stage lasts for 2 minutes.

5) Unknown Stage 3: All sensations die down to very low energy or low activity and spread out evenly through body. It's almost like releasing sexual tension and the previous stage was the orgasm, excuse the analogy. Sensations remain stable for about 10-30sec before moving to next stage. This is the stage with the lowest energy sensations and lasts the shortest, it actually may be considered as the conclusion of Stage 2. Lasts 30sec.

6) Unknown Stage 4: Sensations return to concentrate around the forehead like Stage1. Then, remaining grouped together, the sensations slowly travel from the forehead down to the chest as a group spreading out into the torso once there. Then sensations become slightly hardened as it returns to Re-observation. The cycle starts all over again. Stage lasts 2 minutes.

Again, no cessation, no Fruition, unless it was so fast it would have been impossible for me to catch.


And there is always a baseline shift of less self and less suffering after this during a legitimate insight cycle.
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Charles B:
J C:

Can you link me or sum it up? How many stages and what are they like?


The entire post-11 stage or stages last only a few minutes at most, the longest and most intense being the first time through (1st time ever passing Stage 11). They really are just a process of sensations with a certain behavior that I have never seen described elsewhere.

Here it is:


1) Starting from stage 10 re-observation.

2) Equanimity, then high Equanimity.

3) Unknown Stage 1: Spacious sensations from Equanimity start to close in on and concentrate around middle of forehead. There is lots of activity there. Can feel something is "about to happen". Lasts 2-3 minutes.

4) Unknown Stage 2: This is what I'm calling the Ecstasy stage. Entire body is flooded with high energy sensations. Heavy sensations from bottom half of head down through body. There is a feeling of being squeezed by waves of sensations in the body. Top half of the head has the most activity out of all with highest levels of energy and the subtlest, finest sensations. However, sensations there are so fine, can barely feel anything, like from the brow up, the head is numb. But activity can be felt by subtle waves and occasional high energy sensation popping out. Feels like all sensations through body is moving towards the crown and outwards. Can "feel" there are sensations above the head. Feels like consciousness is trying to exit out the crown. This stage lasts for 2 minutes.

5) Unknown Stage 3: All sensations die down to very low energy or low activity and spread out evenly through body. It's almost like releasing sexual tension and the previous stage was the orgasm, excuse the analogy. Sensations remain stable for about 10-30sec before moving to next stage. This is the stage with the lowest energy sensations and lasts the shortest, it actually may be considered as the conclusion of Stage 2. Lasts 30sec.

6) Unknown Stage 4: Sensations return to concentrate around the forehead like Stage1. Then, remaining grouped together, the sensations slowly travel from the forehead down to the chest as a group spreading out into the torso once there. Then sensations become slightly hardened as it returns to Re-observation. The cycle starts all over again. Stage lasts 2 minutes.

Again, no cessation, no Fruition, unless it was so fast it would have been impossible for me to catch.


And there is always a baseline shift of less self and less suffering after this during a legitimate insight cycle.


And you don't think that sounds like an A&P event? Sounds like it to me. I think you're just cycling around and going back to A&P without getting stream entry. Just meditating reduces the sense of self and reduces suffering even without any attainment.
Charles B, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 3/13/12 Recent Posts
J C:

And you don't think that sounds like an A&P event? Sounds like it to me. I think you're just cycling around and going back to A&P without getting stream entry. Just meditating reduces the sense of self and reduces suffering even without any attainment.


I thoroughly know what an A&P event feels like, all the events leading up to it, and the Dissolution Stage behind it. No, this was not an A&P event. Keep in mind, I have to go through the A&P event first before I even get to these stages I describe.
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Mind over easy, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

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3) Unknown Stage 1: Spacious sensations from Equanimity start to close in on and concentrate around middle of forehead. There is lots of activity there. Can feel something is "about to happen". Lasts 2-3 minutes.

4) Unknown Stage 2: This is what I'm calling the Ecstasy stage. Entire body is flooded with high energy sensations. Heavy sensations from bottom half of head down through body. There is a feeling of being squeezed by waves of sensations in the body. Top half of the head has the most activity out of all with highest levels of energy and the subtlest, finest sensations. However, sensations there are so fine, can barely feel anything, like from the brow up, the head is numb. But activity can be felt by subtle waves and occasional high energy sensation popping out. Feels like all sensations through body is moving towards the crown and outwards. Can "feel" there are sensations above the head. Feels like consciousness is trying to exit out the crown. This stage lasts for 2 minutes.

5) Unknown Stage 3: All sensations die down to very low energy or low activity and spread out evenly through body. It's almost like releasing sexual tension and the previous stage was the orgasm, excuse the analogy. Sensations remain stable for about 10-30sec before moving to next stage. This is the stage with the lowest energy sensations and lasts the shortest, it actually may be considered as the conclusion of Stage 2. Lasts 30sec.

6) Unknown Stage 4: Sensations return to concentrate around the forehead like Stage1. Then, remaining grouped together, the sensations slowly travel from the forehead down to the chest as a group spreading out into the torso once there. Then sensations become slightly hardened as it returns to Re-observation. The cycle starts all over again. Stage lasts 2 minutes.

Again, no cessation, no Fruition, unless it was so fast it would have been impossible for me to catch.



Hey, I'm really happy to see your post! I can relate to this particular bit of your post. I've been struggling to ascertain whether or not I have gotten stream entry, (not 4th path though). I can relate to this cycle. When vipassana began, I was fairly clearly hitting the vipassana jhanas, going up, falling down, but NEVER going from any vipassana jhana to a non-adjacent vipassana jhana (e.g. from 4th to 2nd). There was a distinct feeling of climbing up and falling back down. Then, I ramped up my practice to many hours seated meditation plus constant, high intensity and engagement noting. I started landing more squarely in equanimity. I inadvertently had my first experiences with what seemed to be the 5th jhana (feeling as though I was swelling up like a balloon, filling up a biiiiiig space), then 6th. Not in the same sitting, but next, as practice progressed, I started getting the feeling of things coming in waves and being almost in sync, then out of sync. I got the sense that it was highly related to formations and attention being quick enough/subjective enough to sync up or something similar. I also started to get the feeling of intensity building up between my eyes. I have to stress that this was always AFTER going through the A&P and dissolution, then DN, then coming to a place of spacious calm. The A&P always presents itself as a steady, fairly imbalanced and mentally overwhelming explosion of joy and orgasmic feelings. However, when this pressure started to happen, it happened within the context of a calm mind (presumably equanimity), and usually came on very quickly. Sometimes it literally scared me due to the quick onset, usually from the context of a very dreamy and vague but calm state. I was having some serious trouble continuing to practice when this started happening, as there was a lot of anticipation related to it. The sense of something huge about to happen comes. And yes, that happens during the A&P, but the A&P feels more like being turbocharged or something to that effect, with a fairly smooth ramp-up, but this is more like being in a calm dream then suddenly feeling like being sucked up and out through the middle of the eyes.

There was a lot of weird gravity feelings in between the eyes up to the point of where I thought I got stream entry. It didn't really present in the rushing way like it did in the past. I rose up through the nanas, clearly hitting A&P and dissolution (very clear point in the cycle in my opinion), going through the DN, then coming to equanimity. I was sitting in the calm, where there was a very sudden event. It seemed like less than a second. It is hard to explain exactly how it presented, but for a moment, it seemed like there was utterly no one present in the whole field of experience, and I can still remember it. I'd explain it as extremely silent. There wasn't any feeling of energy or gravity within the head or anything. Like I said, dreamstate> suddenly the whole field is very clear and "viewed", and there is absolutely no one in it. It shocked me, but wasn't exciting at all like I imagined it could be. After it happened, my body filled up with some kind of bliss, and contrast to 1st jhana "electric/magnetic pleasure", 2nd jhana "explosive joy" or 3rd jhana "tingling coolness", it felt like bliss was wafting up from the bottom of my body to the top, like perfume drifting up and filling me. It felt very, "well... that wasn't really anything but things still feel different". Very down to earth and unexcited, but different.

I remember for months after that, my head felt distinctly hollow, empty and big. My desire to meditate went from being very intense and impassioned to immediately feeling as though the need to meditate was gone. I certainly had the "was that it/that was it" feeling. Since, the limitations of whatever the thing was have shown, but after a year, I still feel that there indeed has been a fundamental change about the self. I don't understand it completely, but ever since, I haven't really felt the same about meditation. It really chilled me out, and seemed to straighten out my notions of what I was meditating for. Beforehand, I had no idea what the result of doing the thing was supposed to develop, but now there is a certain threshold of mindfulness that doesn't seem to disappear. I can't fall off, it feels like. Although in overwhelming times, I do feel some limitations. But concentration was excellent after the event, I could hit the first 4 jhanas fairly solidly most anytime. If I ever have some free time, I seem to still be able to do this, although 4 still takes a bit of work and higher levels of concentration and a good setup.

On fruitions, there are two different events in meditation that have been completely new, or just for some reason I am seeing them now, but they happen in EQ. One is the first possible fruition I described in my post. The other is one where it feels like suddenly (less than 1 second), I fall through the ground and then I come back to a place of calm and bliss. It feels similar to the shock of getting a cold water to the face. It is very abrupt. Both of these events that I have observed do seem to lead to some state that feels like a hybrid of 3rd jhana's bodily tingly pleasure and the spacey feeling that dissolution gives me. The pleasure is MUCH, MUCH more refined though. I don't know how to explain this. It feels extremely clean and seems to happen automatically, unlike cultivating the jhanas where you can clearly feel that you are fabricating the various factors. I've never seen a blank-out or cessation or anything like this, but it usually takes me off guard, from a very low-effort, spacious and dreamy place. Often times I already feel as though I'm almost dozing off, but without the heaviness of tiredness.

I don't know, man. I've gotten some feedback suggesting stream entry and some feedback suggesting otherwise. Ultimately no one can really diagnose you or me, but you or me. I sometimes feel embarrassed about the confusion, but surely not everyone's experience with these things will be the same. Maps break down. Of course, the goal is to go further. Sometimes I wonder if it's not even worth trying to figure out if it was indeed 1st path, though it is still significant if it was.

Good luck, it sounds like you've gotten some pretty awesome results!
Charles B, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare? (Answer)

Posts: 55 Join Date: 3/13/12 Recent Posts
Paweł K:
what actually make you believe you are already at 4th path?

to me from your description it seems you are similar in path level as me and I rate myself as at most 2nd path in only model that matter: ten fetter model

you can have insights that will sound 4th path and will actually be needed to formulate true 4th path but that doesn't mean it is already 4th path. It have to go from knowing to KNOWING and that may take years, decades even to really sink in!

there are a lot empty arahats at DhO and reason they are not satisfied with their attainments is because they have not yet done it. They may have done something but not IT. It's that simple =)

as for magick I do experience some of this stuff lately and it imho have to do more with visualization than concentration.

anyhow, 4th path or not keep doing your stuff as it really sound like you are going in right direction emoticon


I completely agree that in the end the only model that matters is the 10 fetters. It just seems that the Mahasi model is clear and valid to based discussions on, like the one I am trying to have, even if Mahasi 4th Path does not achieve 10 fetters. But now, I am not even sure the Mahasi/MCTB is that clear to begin with. Or it is my own misunderstandings.

By the way, if you are where I am, are you still practicing vipassana? Do you find that you are still making clear progress on the 10 fetters model?
T DC, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare? (Answer)

Posts: 389 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
4th path is not the end, it is a major attainment though. 4th path is the first true glimpse of emptiness, or that which cannot be conceptualized. After having seen this, or rather attaining the seeing of this, one still has to make the long journey to understand that we are none other than this emptiness ourselves.

Suffering does not stop after 4th path! 4th path is not the end! There's so much more to go. As for why you're satisfied and other of higher attainment are seemingly not, understand this: Enlightenment is the end of suffering. This means one must get FULLY enlightened to end suffering. The whole path is a continuum with suffering on the one end and not suffering on the other, and a range of experience in between. And people are different in what satisfies them, what matters to them, and how they express themselves. The path of insight does indeed lead to reduced suffering, in that it is genuine.
Charles B, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare? (Answer)

Posts: 55 Join Date: 3/13/12 Recent Posts
T DC:
4th path is not the end, it is a major attainment though. 4th path is the first true glimpse of emptiness, or that which cannot be conceptualized. After having seen this, or rather attaining the seeing of this, one still has to make the long journey to understand that we are none other than this emptiness ourselves.

Suffering does not stop after 4th path! 4th path is not the end! There's so much more to go. As for why you're satisfied and other of higher attainment are seemingly not, understand this: Enlightenment is the end of suffering. This means one must get FULLY enlightened to end suffering. The whole path is a continuum with suffering on the one end and not suffering on the other, and a range of experience in between. And people are different in what satisfies them, what matters to them, and how they express themselves. The path of insight does indeed lead to reduced suffering, in that it is genuine.


Yes, I completely agree that the path of insight leads to a reduction of suffering. What I would really like to know is will it take us to the end, not just eliminate suffering in this life, but cut the root so that it is impossible to experience suffering in the future, in future lives or in the void as they call it? But at least suffering should be eliminated in this life. T DC, if you have attained Mahasi/MCTB 4th, do you feel that you are continuing to make clear and valid progress? And are you continuing insight practice as your vehicle to do so?
Rist Ei, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 500 Join Date: 7/14/13 Recent Posts
I wouldn't buy into fetters model much.

I think sensual desire is in our DNA. And also the sense of self and all other fetters. You won't destroy these, what happens is that eyes will open and you see what they are and also see your past motive or the drive behind fetters after breakthrough(for example).

Sensual desire basically is the whole existence. Sensual desire is the desire to learn, kill, help others etc. I have no idea why there is ten fetters hahah, its made up all to just compare who has longer..
Rist Ei, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 500 Join Date: 7/14/13 Recent Posts
probably yes i am not stream entry. I don't aim nonexistence, i believe in the after this body death life.

what about breath, when we stop it we start craving for air pretty soon. Same way sexual urge builds up. Also when we aren't aware long time, then its good feeling to be aware again. Eating a cake or mushrooms feels good, if i think about them i feel craving.

imho the fetters are just a knowing that they are ultimately not real. It is possible to become arahant by just listening dharma. So the fruit of realising this is inside all of us. It jsut matter of realizing the truth.
Rist Ei, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 500 Join Date: 7/14/13 Recent Posts
Paweł K:
sensual desire is just carrot on the stick, first it weave carrot in front of you and then beat you with the stick if you are too lazy to get it. To top that when you do get it there is another stick with new carrot and you still get beating! This hunger cannot be fulfilled! It is reason why waiting for things seems better than actually getting them...

as for things being not real or life after death imho it is better to not give definite yes or no answer to such questions. Seeing things from both perspectives is greatly beneficial over going blindly in one direction

i was dead wrong and stupid, just assumtions, there is no logic in my logic.

Fetters model is so right. You are right, it is very good way to measure.
Rist Ei, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 500 Join Date: 7/14/13 Recent Posts
So there is "sensual desire", but its our mind who imagines that it can be used for something. So mind has learned from experience that this energie can be used for pleasure. So we agree on that energy is called sensual craving.

Its our crooked mind who is ignorant. The feeling never ceases. At least for me the feeling what we call sensual craving has gone "stronger"/sneakier over time.

I could use that very same energy for something else, for watching,hearing,day dreaming, thinking. I think it is lifeforce.

there is constant flow of this energy. With discipline we will purify it so it can be turned into "emptiness". We create new pathways what automatically will turn energy to emptiness.
We are not free from sensual craving while we have a body. There must be something wrong with sexual organs when there is no craving in young people. Otherwise all oldies can call themselves arhants.

Wasn't there in Diamond sutra a story about bodhisattva cultivating sexual craving? Boddhisatva is way beyond arahant.

We know that arahant is dwelling in nonexistence..so maybe it rings true that arahant is a temporal state of free from all sensual craving, arahant thinks that its eternal that there is nothing beyond nonexistence.

If in this world everything is sensual, every our expereince is known as sensation so how do you exist?? Arahant isn't existing but still he is giving out teachings. Even if make a sound or rise a finger it is becasue of craving. Compassion is because of craving: leaving beings, who ask help, without help causes suffering.

Arahant is just one step but we will realise that its not the end. Anyone who start with energy practice(vairjayana) will notice it.

Arahant knows that in nonexistence there is no craving. But reality is for having fun. And without body there is no fun at all.

edit: Ah whatever forget it.
Rist Ei, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 500 Join Date: 7/14/13 Recent Posts
i know now everything is possible, no doubt..
for example if i can do something, why then i could not do any other thing? i just don't know how to do it yet.
Rist Ei, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare? (Answer)

Posts: 500 Join Date: 7/14/13 Recent Posts
First three paths you are gathering energy from your body, its limited.
After 4th path you have connected, can recognize unlimited source of energy.

Unlimited source of energy is your awareness. Meditation is nothing else than mixing yin and yang. Opening chakras so you could have more amounts of energy. There is a lot more paths/levels than arahant 4th path.

I suffer, crave, getting angry, jelaous. I have all same stuff what i had prior meditation. I have sense of self.
I meditate only awareness style.

I suffer because of the energy looking a way out through my senses(one reasion and other reason is i am dumb etc). I know it because when i watch movie or drink or daydream suffering will dissappear. When i come aware suffering comes back. Suffering for me is a key to progress, it exactly pinpoints what i need to do.
Ofcourse i don't suffer over things what were on 1st, 2nd, 4th path or 5th..

But 4th path is hard to get, no doubt about it. Every next level is/may be harder and longer, needs more effort..
There is not much materials about 4th path because not many reach there and not many will go beyond fourth level. Its very confusing also because for example 2nd path could mistake himslef for much higher and can relate to every phylosophical thought or know who he is. Even non pathers think they know who they are.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

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@Charles B regarding initial post:

Equanimity?
Charles B, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 3/13/12 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
@Charles B regarding initial post:

Equanimity?


Hi Daniel, in my initial post, equanimity just means the conventional equanimity when the mind is calm and has the quality of not wavering or being affected by normally affective conditions. Basically it is a sense of peace and calm when the mind is in its default state.

Daniel, if you don't mind clarifying something, it was my original misunderstanding that Mahasi/MCTB Paths refer to the number of completed Insight cycles. If 1st Path occurs always at the first completion of an insight cycle and 2nd Path the second, what defines a completion of 3rd and 4th Paths? Just the experience or realization itself?

Also, again if you can clarify something we've been discussing in this post, it is now my understanding (or misunderstanding) that 4th Path indeed removes all referencing to the 'self', yet there is still (but reduced) suffering and still defilements such as frustration and anger. Is it correct to say that without self, you would not see any intrinsic difference between stranger and self? If so, if I do not feel suffering for an unknown and unseen stranger's misfortune, why would I still suffer for my own misfortune? Or does suffering arise in a different way, that does not distinguish between subject and object?

The reason I ask is that experiencing temporary states without a sense of self or subject/object does seem to disable the mechanism for suffering. Yet I am surprised to hear or read that even without this self referencing we still suffer.
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 1333 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
I have some specific questions that may be helpful to draw parallels to my experiences...If you don't mind I would then be willing to make a guess at where you are to the best of my ability. I have some guesses now based off several things you have said but I need a bit more info.
Charles B:
What I have experienced:
1) Probably the biggest fruit of attaining 4th Path, and root of my gratitude, is that I can objectively say that my defilements, that is, all desire, attachment, aversions, anger, pride, jealousy, and all negative mind states in general, have been reduced to only 10% of what it was before I started Vipassana.

Your discussion about defilements may or may not be path related. Have you tested your "defilements, that is, all desire, attachment, aversions, anger, pride, jealousy, and all negative mind states in general"? It sounds like you are saying meditation in general has helped and approaching life from an Equanimous state had helped you immensely. Have you spent time with your family/difficult people to test this? If I was in a cave I would be Equanimous all the time....it's only around 2 fighting young kids that lets me see how far I have to go in this....Anyway, congratulations on this major achievement.

Charles B:

2) Besides defilements, something interesting I am able to do (when my mind is pure) is cognize the formation of conceptions and experience the bare field of sensations of the 6 senses at the same time. This experience is amazing because not only do you truly witness the mind forming conceptions of the reality around you that you normally perceived as real, you get to compare it to the bare sensations it is attempting to define, and see how wrong it is! If there was an experience of “emptiness” this would be it. You get to see exactly what is empty, and empty of what all at once, and see exactly how it is your mind tells you lies through those mental formations. This holds true for the sense of self as well. When in this state, nothing affects me because I truly perceive all as self-created illusions trying to grasp at the 6 sense objects.

Explain what you mean by "(when my mind is pure)"; what do you do to do this? When you say "When in this state, nothing affects me because I truly perceive all as self-created illusions trying to grasp at the 6 sense objects." What do you do to enter this state?
Charles B:

3) Another measure of progress is the presence of the sense of self. Nowadays, my sense of self has been permanently (seemingly) reduced, probably again, to 10% of what it was before. It is not completely gone by any means, except possibly during a good sitting. In fact, it feels like I, or my sense of self, survives only as a fragment of its former self somewhere inside this body/mind which is not mine. It is as if, during each Path attainment, my “I” withdrew more and more, like the tide receding from the beach. Even now, these hands typing away seem like just another animated object in my visual awareness.

Can you go into detail of the I/self reduction shifts path by path? What happened 1st path....what happened next etc? You mention your hands typing animatedly, is this always or do you have to shift focus for this to be prevalent? What stage did this happen at?
Charles B:

Speaking of the “I”, I can say that it is directly proportionate to the amount of suffering or defilements I experience. If it is not present, I do not suffer no matter what happens. If it is present then I am susceptible in proportion to the magnitude of its presence. From this, I can infer that if I can 100% be without an “I”, I will not suffer.

So the I/self comes and goes? There is magnitude? Please explain.
Charles B:

4) Another thing that arises is, when my mind is pure (with minimal self), there is a general sense of peace and joy that naturally arises. Sometimes I am just sitting there being in my default state, and I notice that it is already present. I suppose I can describe this feeling as an undercurrent of the Four Abodes. There is joy and there is equanimity. The other two, compassion and loving-kindness does arise easily with external triggers. There is just a general sense of peace, that things are known, and all is alright. Again if there are defilements or a strong “I” present, this state does not arise.

To clarify, do you mean when negative emotional states occur this obscures the general positive ones?

I'd be happy to video chat with you on Google hangouts if you have an account....message me if interested.
You have some good stuff happening, I'm glad you are happy with the results so far....that is what is important isn't it? Progress that has positive effects?
Good luck
~D
Charles B, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: How do people's 4th Path experience compare?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 3/13/12 Recent Posts
Dream Walker:

Your discussion about defilements may or may not be path related. Have you tested your "defilements, that is, all desire, attachment, aversions, anger, pride, jealousy, and all negative mind states in general"? It sounds like you are saying meditation in general has helped and approaching life from an Equanimous state had helped you immensely. Have you spent time with your family/difficult people to test this? If I was in a cave I would be Equanimous all the time....it's only around 2 fighting young kids that lets me see how far I have to go in this....Anyway, congratulations on this major achievement.


Great question! The answer is yes! After my second completion of the stages (2nd Path?) I willingly placed myself in situations and amongst those who have been the greatest cause for pain and grief in my life and let my mind do and react whatever way it wishes. Within those few weeks, with no effort to be mindful or to meditate, I simply watched myself, my reactions, my feelings, and my sufferings and took notes. There was still a great deal anguish and suffering as a result. But without effort, there was appx 50% overall reduction in total suffering and defilements (negative reactions and feelings), not as good as I hoped, but significant. Even today, I constantly monitor my behavior and mind to check my progress in other little ways and "benchmark" my mind which I won't detail. Verification for me is very important. But, yes!

Dream Walker:

Explain what you mean by "(when my mind is pure)"; what do you do to do this? When you say "When in this state, nothing affects me because I truly perceive all as self-created illusions trying to grasp at the 6 sense objects." What do you do to enter this state?


I mean pure in a relative way to we normally are in life. A pure mind means a mind that 1) has reduced sense of self referencing (a) no sense of self or (b) sense of self is un-grasped at and itself not referenced, 2) attachment and aversion are only minimally present in the default baseline state. In general, subtle feelings of grasping are at a minimum and there is no wish for anything, a feeling in which all is good, there is almost nothing to do, and self is minimal.

The state can arise spontaneously just due to regular practice, or it can arise through the normal meditation techniques of calming the mind, actively letting go, evoking loving-kindness, etc. I just use the term since I honestly do not have full control to be able to cognize reality in such a way anytime. Only when the conditions are good.

How do I cognize things this way? First, having a good mind basis (pure state) I try experience awareness without conception, ceasing attachments and aversions to all sensations, but also letting go of the process of forming identities and descriptions around them. Then I allow conceptions to arise, but do not grasp at them. Its actually quite difficult for me to do, but it is amazing to cognize the formation of conceptions, its objects, and the bare sensate experience at the same time.

Dream Walker:

3) Another measure of progress is the presence of the sense of self. Nowadays, my sense of self has been permanently (seemingly) reduced, probably again, to 10% of what it was before. It is not completely gone by any means, except possibly during a good sitting. In fact, it feels like I, or my sense of self, survives only as a fragment of its former self somewhere inside this body/mind which is not mine. It is as if, during each Path attainment, my “I” withdrew more and more, like the tide receding from the beach. Even now, these hands typing away seem like just another animated object in my visual awareness.
Can you go into detail of the I/self reduction shifts path by path? What happened 1st path....what happened next etc? You mention your hands typing animatedly, is this always or do you have to shift focus for this to be prevalent? What stage did this happen at?


If you are asking me to explain on the micro level what process the mind went through to get its reduction of self, I can not explain this, except to describe the stages post-11 as I did in another post in this thread. Why this reduces the self is beyond me. On the macro level, all I can say is with each completion of a Path or legitimate insight cycle, the self recedes further inwards like a tide receding slowly from the beach. I believe the 'self' is defined by how much of my 'world' (my body, mind, possessions, goals, etc.) is grasped at or identified as 'me' or 'mine'. The magnitude of grasping and number of objects grasped at recedes or is reduced. This is the best I can explain. If you talk to me much, I identify the micro-process of grasping to play heavily in the role of 'self' and defilements.

Regarding the typing hands, this is a little difficult to answer. There are two dimensions, whether this perception arises, or whether I notice that I am having this perception that was already there. Both of these occur. If my mind is clean, this cognition (emptiness of typing hands!) arises and I may or may not notice. But definitely if my mind is defiled, this does not arise, or is less so. The absolute first time I noticed this was right after 1st Path attainment while trying to type away to record my experience. When there is a change (body or mind) you always notice the change more than if the state was already present. So in this way it is difficult to judge persistent magnitude if you were asking for that. I can say that my typing hands syndrome is definitely deeper now (right now!) than at 1st Path, much deeper.

Dream Walker:

So the I/self comes and goes? There is magnitude? Please explain.


Absolutely, the sense of self is not constant. When I am heavily engaged in life and work and allow defilements to seep through, the self can become quite strong. But then sometimes without effort, the self recedes and there is calm, peace, and a purer mind. I am still trying to understand the causes and conditions that effect the states. During most meditation sessions I can reduce the sense of self into a very subtle state and there is a merging between subject and object. In extraordinary cases, the self seems completely removed and there is nothing there but bare particles or the 6 senses. Or the mental sense of self is no longer identified as self, and the "self" is cognized as a mental formation only and at the same time there is knowledge that the 'actual' self does not exist.

All the self is as a process, in my experience, is the mind habitually grasping at 6 sense objects, it's conceptions of those objects, and identifying them as its own possessions. This includes your own body, mind, perceived identity, good characteristics, material and immaterial possessions, etc. When the self and the grasping are absent, more of reality is uncovered. Somehow the self and grasping just covers our awareness. I am completely speaking from my analysis of my meditative experience so they may not be exactly the way Buddhism explains it.

Dream Walker:

To clarify, do you mean when negative emotional states occur this obscures the general positive ones?


Yes. Defilements truly and literally cover the minds abilit'y to see, to know, to be aware, and to understand. Here is a perfect example. Once right after attaining a Path when my mind felt very pure, I drew a conceptual picture of my sense of self compared to its shadow as a way to visually record how I was feeling. However, at later time, engrossed in daily work as a mfg engineer, with a heavy, defiled, self-filled mind, I came across the drawing and could not even understand it, even though I drew it! Later on, with a more pure and positive mind, I came back to the drawing again, and understood it right away! It was amazing the cognitive disparity between a dirty and clean mind.

Dream Walker:

I'd be happy to video chat with you on Google hangouts if you have an account....message me if interested.
You have some good stuff happening, I'm glad you are happy with the results so far....that is what is important isn't it? Progress that has positive effects?
Good luck


I do not use Google hangouts but would be more than happy to email or PM. I hope this helps to answer your questions.

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