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The insight that didn't change anything and surely can't be the "one"?

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So I'm reflecting on what has changed since I've started doing vipassana, and what changed after a particular experience that I thought was stream entry, but didn't think was stream entry, and now I'm reconsidering that it was, but anyways, besides claims to attainment or diagnosis, this is what I have:

At first, there was all the A&P stuff, the glory and light and bliss, then the dark night, with anguish and confusion and pain. Then there was the constant working up to A&P, the rough fall back down into the dark night, patches of equanimity, and a slow shifting towards equanimity as a baseline, until it seemed like that was it, equanimity as the farthest I needed to go to be okay. But of course, that faded, equanimity did not hold me together. It made me more even, but towards the tail end of one or two equanimity trips, I got the most frustrating feeling. In the dark night, you know you can surrender and there equanimity is. But in equanimity, if you feel like you're doing it right, being all equanimous, and you still find yourself suffering, having the same neurotic habits and hangups, you feel like both the high, the low, and the steady/neutral places are traps. The whole thing as a trap. I think that this definitely helped me in understanding unsatisfactoriness. It's not just that you're bound to deal with stuff that sucks, it's that nothing can save you or give you footing, so in a way, even perfect equanimity SUCKS! Very discouraging, very paradoxical and road-block like, but still close to the next point:

At some point, it seems like I destroyed my preoccupation with beliefs, truth, thought, etc... I think I really neglected this insight when it came, just feeling relief and putting the burden of practice and pseudo-freedom-seeking aside. This is something that hasn't always been, but decidedly hasn't changed since that insight came. It's very hard to articulate the change, since it didn't actually really change anything about how things are playing out. But there is always this sense that everything I feel, think, believe, conspire to, doesn't matter because it isn't real. Just fiction being played out. If I had to articulate it in one sentence: I can't find anything in my head that isn't fiction, isn't somehow made real by some kind of deception on my part. But the awareness of the deception doesn't seem to be leaving. At the time the insight occurred, it manifested as, "Oh, I just spent months spending hours on the cushion and hours off the cushion frantically noting, climbing and falling. Something has changed in that finding that place of rest, be it some kind of change of personality or whatever, has suddenly, satisfyingly, and peacefully become irrelevant". I suspect that this was the bliss of first path, but who knows, man. I just rolled with it, and ever since, I've not been able to muster the motivation to maintain daily sitting or practice, yet mindfulness seems so strong in waking hours, and it isn't so damned concerned about finding a promise land. And there is definitely some despair at times about that land being not real, but something has definitely changed in that a big chunk of that fiction and the neurosis around it dropped away.

It didn't necessarily make me more well-adjusted though, although in some ways it did. I can sit with my own content (mistake number one, we're not trying to eliminate content itself, seems so obvious but I wish I could have told myself that a long time ago and actually understood) and there is some higher perspective now that dictates almost automatically that on some level, it's all false. This decidedly means less suffering, less time spent spinning content over content to fix the content of content, etc...

But it also has decidedly made me more of a weirdo than I already am. I thought that a path would mean that I'd become some super-empath and feel love so strongly for everyone. On some level, I feel like I can listen to people and their feelings without my own brain clouding the conversation with thoughts of how they need to fix their life, how I need to fix mine, how I'm better.

But on another level... sadly, and said as bluntly as possible, I see that people are 98% bullshit and 2% genuine people trying to genuinely be happy. I never considered the implications of permanently seeing my bullshit for what it was (on some level, surely not the most enlightened), which is that I see it in other people too. It's easy to connect to people around you who seem to be going through the same struggles and issues and thoughts and self/life/contemplation problems as you. But it seems like I can't relate to people at all in the same way now, not that I'm at all suggesting that I'm superior. In fact, my brain is still teeming with bullshit, but the instinct of the insight seems to be, don't take the bullshit, don't put more bullshit on it. This isn't like that A&P evangelical, holier self, knows the way to truth kind of feeling, but rather, realization that people simply don't see the fakeness of the whole pursuit, the whole idea of getting to a better place or perfecting some kind of self. This is lonely and isolating for sure, though manageable. I'd love to hear about people's experience with insight and integration, as I'm sure that one insight can play out a million different ways after it sinks in, depending on your predispositions and beliefs.

Anyways, my problem is... I can't think or scheme or convince myself that I'm ever escaping my problems or pain. Rather than just magically wiping it off the board, it seems like whatever insight I had made a pursuit of ridding myself of those pains as futile. My strategy was to insight it away, but it seems like what happened was that insight took away the mechanism by which I would normally bury these things, ignore them, or come up with some plan to remove them. It definitely feels like progress because the fabricated-ness of all of these things is always there.

But so is the suffering, and I find myself at the limitation of whatever insight this is: okay, the mental aversion from these things has significantly calmed. Not what I was going for, but it still feels right, responsible, more mature, more in line with reality and less in line with fantasies about living with no bad feelings ever, much easier to just watch and see it happen, much easier to see that the fundamental suffering and anguish which is worse than the actual content which was unpleasant ALWAYS starts with self-investment, self-authorship, self-delusion, and the content disappears much quicker under this modality of committing to watching (although this is why I suspect path, the watching is constant and always seems to make the anguish die within a very short amount of time, an insight of sorts that seems to stand up to reality testing for a year).

This is great and definitely feels like a notch down in fundamental anguish and suffering. But even if the flames of all the mental bullshit are extinguished quick enough by directly watching them without trying to escape, it still hurts when it happens. If I'm able to see in real-time that there is clear falseness and imaginariness to these things and that there isn't any clear point of reference or self that I can find, then why do they still crop up? I feel like this is a new issue. The issue at first was the rollercoaster of it all and the mad pursuit to change it and not fall out of awareness, but now the issue is that I clearly can't modify sensations as they occur, even if my awareness stays with the stuff and brings it to a smooth landing consistently. But it clearly isn't enough! If I did get path a year ago, the pre-path dark night was clearly about pleasant and unpleasant stuff, not clinging to it, and learning to be present with it without running away or instinctively coming up with some stupid strategy to fix it all, learning to be with things with equanimity. So great, now I'm able to keep my mind on the stuff. But if this is a new dark night, it's all about how there isn't any agent to change it or become a better content-doer. So what do you do? What do you look for? If there is clearly (damn sight clearer than before, at least) not an agent, then why does the thing still arise as though it were happening to someone, and where is the suffering landing? How can I expect to go further if I've lost the sense of the center that could ever do anything or get anything or change anything, least of all about itself? What am I even trying to modify?

I figure that others might have come upon similar insights and/or dealt with similar roadblocks, so if anyone can offer any map diagnosis, or just plain old insight advice, I'm definitely interested in something that can help deal with what seems to be a new, fairly specific problem that my instinct tells me must be seen more clearly.

RE: The insight that didn't change anything and surely can't be t
Answer
2/20/14 10:27 AM as a reply to Mind over easy.
It might help to look more closely for any subtle speculations and assumptions about the existence or non-existence of an underlying agent or self or watcher, etc. E.g. I found that intellectually there was a firm belief that no self could be found in experience and yet in practice when trying to root out the sense of self the illusion was subtly becoming a reality by my over-focusing on it. A related point to keep in mind is that craving for the end of becoming is just as dangerous as craving for its continued existence.

"there is always this sense that everything I feel, think, believe, conspire to, doesn't matter because it isn't real. Just fiction being played out."

Excuse me if I'm reading too much into this, but it looks like this ties into my point that you need to be super-careful about any subtle buying-into absolutes. The word I hope you mean is emptiness, whether it's fiction or not is also an empty label.

"there isn't any agent to change it or become a better content-doer"

"If there is clearly (damn sight clearer than before, at least) not an agent, then why does the thing still arise as though it were happening to someone,"

My basic point is just stick with bare phenomena.

"How can I expect to go further if I've lost the sense of the center that could ever do anything or get anything or change anything, least of all about itself?"

Well, the Buddha never denied the existence of free will. There is intention. There's no need for a "center" for those to operate. Try just being honest with yourself about any remaining sense of I-making/subjectivity/being and seeing their illusory nature as they arise in bare phenomena.

Also important is to watch out for is any subtle attempts by the ego to chart a circuitous path. The above dilemma strikes me as a clear example of that. You might try contemplating all those suffering individuals who need to you get enlightened right now. Though if that strikes you as too much, then I'd say drop it and avoid over-stretching yourself.

Also regarding seeing people as 98% bullshit, etc., I went through a Disgust phase like that recently. Its resolution came about by simply contemplating further the emptiness and arbitrariness of my beliefs.

I'd also highly recommend you read Thanissaro Bhikkhu at Access to Insight to brush up on the finer points. And book a retreat for the summer. I'm very skeptical of SE without obvious fruitions and cycling as per the criteria in MCTB. It's not something in my experience you could be unsure about under these circumstances.

RE: The insight that didn't change anything and surely can't be t
Answer
2/20/14 11:21 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
If you got first path then go for second...keep noting the 6 senses. Second path played out with a shift of the self entangled with thoughts...think about that....lol
Good luck,
~D

RE: The insight that didn't change anything and surely can't be t
Answer
2/21/14 12:11 AM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Mind over easy:
But if this is a new dark night, it's all about how there isn't any agent to change it or become a better content-doer. So what do you do? What do you look for? If there is clearly (damn sight clearer than before, at least) not an agent, then why does the thing still arise as though it were happening to someone, and where is the suffering landing? How can I expect to go further if I've lost the sense of the center that could ever do anything or get anything or change anything, least of all about itself? What am I even trying to modify?

I figure that others might have come upon similar insights and/or dealt with similar roadblocks, so if anyone can offer any map diagnosis, or just plain old insight advice, I'm definitely interested in something that can help deal with what seems to be a new, fairly specific problem that my instinct tells me must be seen more clearly.


Your beliefs about reality and intentionality are not independent from reality.

Due to your past experiences you have adopted a fatalistic view that nothing can be changed. This itself becomes a cause whose effect it is to stop your body from taking action.

Just as an experiment: Let this post be the cause for your mind to adopt a view that you can intend to do stuff and make it happen.

This new view can then becomes a cause whose effect may to coerce the body into action.

No need for an independently existing agent. Hope that makes sense.

RE: The insight that didn't change anything and surely can't be t
Answer
3/21/14 7:16 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
I don't mean to be "Captain Obvious" BUT... can you call up a fruition? Any cycles?

In mystical branches of Catholicism some will talk about this thing called the affective ego, the "will," that apparently can disappear. I'm not really familiar with this but it does come to mind when reading your post.

I hate to sort this stuff out over the internet where communication isn't great, but from what I gather from the tone of your post, you are still suffering, but have developed this numbness that covers it. Does this make sense? Your tone and your description of interacting with people sound like you have become numb in some way.

Unfortunately this isn't what vipassana is about. Vipassana is about opening our minds and hearts to all of reality.

I suggest metta. Get on the cushion and fill your heart with love, and then when you have stabilized on that feeling, start noting.

E