Message Boards Message Boards

Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

space + fear = ? [Mark John Evans] [MIGRATE]

space + fear = ? [Mark John Evans]


Mark John Evans - 2014-04-30 10:30:36 - space + fear = ?

I have been practicing and studying the Dharma now for about a year.  Yesterday, whilst practicing mindfulness of breath, I had the following experience:

1) a vast space opened-up.
2) the sense of my body disappeared.
3) the space filled with anxiety / fear.

1 and 2 happened pretty much simultaneously quickly followed by 3.

Any thought on what this might mean or indicate?  
  
Thanks!

-------------------

Pawe? K - 2014-04-30 10:37:32 - RE: space + fear = ?

you hit 5th jhana "boundless space" and freaked out

-------------------

Nikolai . - 2014-04-30 11:06:59 - RE: space + fear = ?

Pawe? K:
you hit 5th jhana "boundless space" and freaked out


+1, new ground either freaks us out or triggers a WOW factor or some other mental reaction. Try re-visiting that 'space' by doing exactly what you did to get there intially, and play with the reaction towards. Replace the fear with curiosity. Emotions are very malleable. 



-------------------

sawfoot _ - 2014-04-30 11:16:54 - RE: space + fear = ?

We see ourselves as bounded entities. When accessing altered states of consciousness of unboundedness, your egoic bounded nature gets scared - it equates unboundedness with annihilation. But along with the fear (aversion) there is also likely to be desire (attraction). And perhaps you can ride between the two...

-------------------

Mark John Evans - 2014-04-30 17:07:14 - RE: space + fear = ?

In that case I seemed to have bypassed 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th jhana's.  

Is that possible?  Or are they very subtle?  I guess I could have missed them...

-------------------

Mark John Evans - 2014-04-30 17:09:21 - RE: space + fear = ?

"your egoic bounded nature gets scared"

That sounds like a good explanation.  

Thanks!

-------------------

Dream Walker - 2014-04-30 17:51:01 - RE: space + fear = ?

Mark John Evans:
In that case I seemed to have bypassed 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th jhana's.  

Is that possible?  Or are they very subtle?  I guess I could have missed them...
I had a preview of 5th jhana which then caused me to search the internet for an explanation which got me to MCTB. I have not experienced it so vividly locked in to that jhana as that first time.  It took me a while to be able to get back to that jhana, and to notice the jhanas 1-4. i tend to believe we get previews of the path and then we have to work to master the new territories. Same thing happened with 7th jhana of nothingness....fear response, pop out, pop back in recognize state with much less fear, pop out....can't get back, work work work.
First it is usually fear that kicks you out of a new experience but then it will be excitement that interferes. Something's happening somethings happening {EXCITEMENT}.....arrrg nooooo!  thinking/emotion killed it again.....Like Sawtooth said "perhaps you can ride between the two... "
Good luck,
~D

-------------------

Not Tao - 2014-04-30 19:09:15 - RE: space + fear = ?

I agree with what the others said.  It's been common in my experience to have concentration build slowly while the jhanas are passing by, so if you've never hit them in a strong way, it could be easy to pass over them gently.  The formless realms always seem to be stronger, though.  If you want to do it again, remember to relax!  Jhanas happen on their own, so you'll reproduce it faster if you can just accept the moment and go along for the ride. :3

Oh, I do have a tip for formless realms, though.  If you can make the blackness behind your closed eyes the object of your attention, that tends to bring the mind out of the body.

Pawe? K:
you hit 5th jhana "boundless space" and freaked out


Haha, you made my day with this. XD

Dream Walker:
First it is usually fear that kicks you out of a new experience but then it will be excitement that interferes. Something's happening somethings happening {EXCITEMENT}.....arrrg nooooo!  thinking/emotion killed it again.....Like Sawtooth said "perhaps you can ride between the two... "
Good luck,
~D


You know, I think excitement is only a distraction if you feel like you're not supposed to be excited.  Just be excited!  It doesn't have to distract your attention - it only does that if you feel like you aren't supposed to be excited and try to stop it.  That takes attention away from what's happening.  If the jhana factors are opening up, and you feel excitement, just watch the jhana factors with excitement and there's no distraction.

This worked well for me, anyway.  Give it a try!  I think samatha jhana is really about letting go of control more than anything.  If you let go and just accept whatever is in your mind, the jhanas just seem to come effortlessly.

-------------------

Daniel M. Ingram - 2014-04-30 19:28:54 - RE: space + fear = ?

Dissolution can also do that and can cause concern.

With practice we get used to things changing in various ways and become more ok with it.

-------------------

Mark John Evans - 2014-04-30 19:45:28 - RE: space + fear = ?

I can relate strongly to what you say and thanks for the advice!

-------------------

Mark John Evans - 2014-04-30 19:47:44 - RE: space + fear = ?

I'll try - thanks!

-------------------

Mark John Evans - 2014-04-30 20:01:42 - RE: space + fear = ?

Are you saying this might not have been 5th jhana?

Does "dissolution" have a special meaning here?

-------------------

Mark John Evans - 2014-04-30 20:10:56 - RE: space + fear = ?

It is interesting that you mention the eyes.  A couple of related points:

> Often my eye keep wanting to open.

> I have noticed that it is possible to manipulate the blackness behind the eyes by shifting my point of "focus" and that this can impact on my mental state.

Any thoughts?

And thanks for your feedback and advice!

-------------------

Not Tao - 2014-04-30 22:47:52 - RE: space + fear = ?

It's interesting Daniel mentions dissolution.  I made a post a little while ago about an experience where I disappeared for a moment and someone called that dissolution as well.  Mark, did you feel like your body blinked out of existence, or did it feel like it expanded outward?  Fifth jhana has a dissolving and expanding quality in my experience, and it isn't instantaneous.  This other thing that happened felt more like a balloon popping and I disappeared completely - which is what sparked the fear response for me when I came back!

Mark John Evans:
It is interesting that you mention the eyes.  A couple of related points:

> Often my eye keep wanting to open.

> I have noticed that it is possible to manipulate the blackness behind the eyes by shifting my point of "focus" and that this can impact on my mental state.

Any thoughts?

And thanks for your feedback and advice!


I had some trouble with my eyes crossing a while back, and sometimes they seemed to want to open as well.  I realized it was just because I was trying too hard, haha.  You can kind of inspire a weak jhana type feeling by crossing your eyes (or focusing them, as you say), but I wouldn't recommend that method.  I had to train myself out of it for a few weeks after the jhanas starting becoming more intense and my eyes were so crossed I was seeing black spots!  If you can get to a mind state by focusing your eyes, you can get there without doing it, too, so don't worry.  If you hit dissolution rather than fifth jhana, you're probably doing insight practice instead anyway.  It might help to check the progress of insight and see if it matches what you see as you meditate.  What is your method?  That might help clear things up.

-------------------

Mark John Evans - 2014-05-05 11:27:56 - RE: space + fear = ?

So 5th jhana and dissolution are different things that result from different methods?  

I don't really have a method - I just sit and follow my breath as best I can.  The only other thing that was going on at the time was some thinking about the nature of my awareness.  If I remember correctly, I had a change in view from understanding my awareness as something small, that emanates from within me, to something big and empty ... or something like that.  

So - 

> my mind was quite settled.
> my thinking about awareness changed.

This resulted in a sudden flip in how I was experiencing things and then the fear filled the space.  

Thank for your time!

-------------------

. Jake . - 2014-05-05 14:52:52 - RE: space + fear = ?

Hi Mark!

Dissolution is a stage in the 'progress of insight'. The latter is a map of the process that unfolds leading to awakenings. 

5th Jhanna is a concentration state. 

although this is a bit of an abstraction, in my experience, as the two are mixed, one can generalize that there are concentration methods which lead to concentration states and insight methods which lead to progressive stages of insight. 

(Personally I have never really understood what is meant by solidfying the objects which is supposed to lead to concentration states without insight progress as whenever I have sat and paid attention to experience I have always noticed things like impermanence and emptiness right off the bat more or less. So even though I have experienced things like the jhannas it has never been without gaining insight into impermanence etc. Just to confuse things a bit! And by way of saying, it's ok to take all these maps with a grain of salt. They can be quite useful however, if for nothing else, then for communicating with other practitioners.)