I sit right down, but I get up again, or: A fool persists

John M., modified 6 Years ago.

I sit right down, but I get up again, or: A fool persists

Posts: 135 Join Date: 2/11/12 Recent Posts
Shiny new practice thread. Old one here. My story in brief: after unwittingly crossing A&P over two years ago, I had a thoroughly unpleasant stint as a chronic dark night yogi (read: asshole). This eventually prompted me to take up a consistent practice, into which I'm roughly five months gone, averaging around two hours a day. My current goal is second path.


It's been about two weeks since stream entry. Fruitions have been varying pretty wildly both in terms of frequency and intensity. They're all super neat, though. Big fan. The other night they were bubbling up with zero effort (a clue there, I'm thinking). There was also some vivid and highly pleasant heart-center activity at the same time. Uncommon, but not unwelcome.

I'm able to follow fruition into deeper / more effortless absorption, but this doesn't seem to have had any effect on my baseline ability to access or cultivate jhana. It's as though I get to be a capable meditator for a brief period before having to march back to the insight mine with the rest of the plebs. I've read of practitioners becoming jhana masters immediately after stream entry. Well, that's nice for them.

I came across a Rob Burbea talk wherein he described the relaxation of the selfing mechanisms, and the sense of vacuity that is left behind. A bit like how a receding tide reveals not only the underlying terrain but also the space that had been occupied. I hadn't quite clued into this near-palpable sense of vacuity. A bit of an ah-ha! moment having it pointed out. Should be interesting to play with this in practice.
John M., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: I sit right down, but I get up again

Posts: 135 Join Date: 2/11/12 Recent Posts
Far too long between posts. A more diligent approach to maintaining a practice log seems to work better for me. Might even go back to noting session length, as I'd like to get up to 3hrs daily.

That said, whatever it was that I took to be fruitions have completely stopped. Nothing even resembling them in over a month now. Also, the experience of absorption seems to have changed: instead of discrete states with distinct shifts to clearly delineate them, there's only an initial shift that ranges anywhere from very pleasant to ridiculously enjoyable. Something like the energetic equivalent of a stubborn muscle-knot suddenly releasing -- about 4 inches above the forehead. After that initial release, no further shifts follow: it's more like a sinusoidal pattern as this quiet bliss-state waxes and wanes (though it never ends entirely -- without taking some time between sits I can't seem to repeat that initial shift.) It feels more like the practice doing me than me doing the practice once I cross that initial threshold / shift.

What I've been doing to potentiate this shift is to try and hold my mind with a kind of blank expectation -- to really lean into an unarticulated sense of I wonder what will happen next. Because, after all... who knows! This really seems to short-circuit the ordinary sense of solidity and continuity, letting awareness dangle out there in Non-Conceptual-Sensate-Experience-Land (the happiest place on Earth: suck it Disney). The three characteristics seem to present much more directly in this headspace, though clarity gets a bit wonky once the bliss hits.

Lastly, one recent sit left me with the impression was that I could perceive, in real time, the difference between raw sense input and mental impression of that input. By way of analogy: if you've ever watched television with headphones on, you may have noticed that the mind tends to default to (incorrectly) suggesting that the sound is originating from the screen. But you can direct your attention in such a way that reveals, of course, that the sound is in fact coming out of the headphones clamped onto your head. Felt really quite profound at the time, although just now I couldn't exactly say why.
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Dream Walker, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: I sit right down, but I get up again

Posts: 1312 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
John M.:
That said, whatever it was that I took to be fruitions have completely stopped. Nothing even resembling them in over a month now.
Sounds like you are out of review and have started the work towards second path.
John M.:

Also, the experience of absorption seems to have changed: instead of discrete states with distinct shifts to clearly delineate them, there's only an initial shift that ranges anywhere from very pleasant to ridiculously enjoyable.
The three characteristics seem to present much more directly in this headspace, though clarity gets a bit wonky once the bliss hits.

Sounds like the first possibly second jhana.
John M.:

Lastly, one recent sit left me with the impression was that I could perceive, in real time, the difference between raw sense input and mental impression of that input. By way of analogy: if you've ever watched television with headphones on, you may have noticed that the mind tends to default to (incorrectly) suggesting that the sound is originating from the screen. But you can direct your attention in such a way that reveals, of course, that the sound is in fact coming out of the headphones clamped onto your head. Felt really quite profound at the time, although just now I couldn't exactly say why.
Nice mind and body description. Are you getting the cause and effect too?
Looks like everything is unfolding as it should. Keep it up.
Good luck,
~D
John M., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: I sit right down, but I get up again

Posts: 135 Join Date: 2/11/12 Recent Posts
Hey Dreamwalker, thanks for the input and encouragement.

Dream Walker:
Sounds like the first possibly second jhana.

It's most definitely jhanic (jhanish?) but it presents quite differently from anything I've experienced in the jhana department previously. It seems like every time I get myself situated, the deck gets shuffled... which, I suppose, is kind of the point.

Dream Walker:
Nice mind and body description. Are you getting the cause and effect too?

Definitely getting the ratchety, rapid slideshow-like presentation of sensations from time to time, but they tend to resolve quickly into apparent smoothness and continuity. It's like I'm toggling insight/concentration modes without really meaning to.
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Dream Walker, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: I sit right down, but I get up again

Posts: 1312 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
John M.:
It's like I'm toggling insight/concentration modes without really meaning to.

1-3 nana = 1st jhana
4 nana = 2nd jhana
DN = 3rd jhana
EQ = 4 jhana
Daniel has a diagram somewhere showing the connections. I'll look for it later. He calls it the Vipasanna jhanas. http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+The+Vipassana+Jhanas

Second path can go pretty quick to EQ so make some notes as things change. I zoomed to re-ob in about two weeks then it slowed down to re-ob to EQ daily ad then the slower climb up the levels of EQ.
Keep on keeping on
Good Luck,
~D
John M., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: I sit right down, but I get up again

Posts: 135 Join Date: 2/11/12 Recent Posts
Alright, so, recap.

Hit A&P about a month or so ago. Pretty low-key overall, at least by A&P standards. Although, I do see a number of "wow" and "??? wow" notes in my sit journal during that period. Dissolution wasn't super clear, but reality was just so super groovy pretty much all of the time that it was hard to be bothered. The vipassana jhana model is finally starting to make some practical, first-hand sense.

Either I'm completely fooling myself or I zipped through dissolution -> low EQ rather quickly and with relatively little grief. Fear presented very clearly; everything else less so until re-observation. What I'm taking to be re-obs was actually super interesting, albeit intensely frustrating. It's as though re-obs shows you how the trick is done, again and again and again. And yet, I couldn't quite get it and see through the whole thing. Even after seeing all the wires, mirrors, and trap doors, part of me is still totally convinced that it's actually magic. Conceptual mind kept popping up and going, what the hell man! It's like seeing the villain wink at the camera, yet somehow still getting worked up as the plot unfolds.

During this period, there was often a clear sense of all sensations occurring within a single "volume," but the me/mine sensations would get to rocking back and forth at incredibly obnoxious / unsynchronized wavelengths within it, like a washing machine with an off-center load, and then abruptly dissipate. Wobble, fade. Wobble, fade. Like a cloth being slowly wrung out and then released. This meta-rhythm wasn't entirely unpleasant, but all the asynchronous wobbling and discursive mind within it was pretty gross. Hard to settle the attention, lending a kind of "slide show" quality as mind repeatedly tapped in and tapped out of attention. This seemed like another important aspect of seeing how the trick is done, so to speak. 

Yesterday there was a pretty distinct break in the tension during these cycles. The contract/expand pattern continued but seemed totally harmless. Just sensations. Unpleasant things are still unpleasant, but even that assessment itself -- surprise -- just another sensation. The sense I had of everything occurring within a single "volume" that came up during re-obs is still ongoing, but is no longer a point of frustration or preoccupation. The slide show feel is gone, and it's more like watching the volume slowly flux and shift.

Sit times are around 2-3 hours daily, but desire to practice is pretty high so I might push it a little bit.
John M., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: I sit right down, but I get up again

Posts: 135 Join Date: 2/11/12 Recent Posts
I've been reflecting a bit on why I keep practicing and what I'd like to see out of it. And I'm starting to recognize that I haven't got the slightest idea. Sometimes I practice out of a sincere yearning to connect with whatever's on the other side of all this; sometimes it's out of a need to validate the time and energy invested thus far, like a poker player on tilt; sometimes I practice in a bid to be free of the tyranny of motive and expectation altogether; at other times I do it out of simple, bloody-minded habit. There doesn't seem to be so much as a single continuous thread running through the whole mess, which is itself constantly shifting every bit as much as the person it supposedly belongs to.
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Not Tao, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: I sit right down, but I get up again

Posts: 997 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
Lol, I like your thread here.  Threads about direct experience are always fascinating (and useful).  Keep practicing so you can post more. :3
John M., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: I sit right down, but I get up again

Posts: 135 Join Date: 2/11/12 Recent Posts
Not Tao:
Keep practicing so you can post more. :3

Hah, one more for the list!
John M., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: I sit right down, but I get up again

Posts: 135 Join Date: 2/11/12 Recent Posts
Practice continues, though at times the terrain feels a bit featureless and drawn out. Lately I've been semi-obsessed with the notion of "listening" to the six sense doors with (ideally) the same sense of effortlessness that one can perceive a piece of music or read a book. What this experiment is revealing is that the mind likes to combine, to degrees, "audience" mode (perceiving sense data) and "author" mode (shaping / directing / interpreting sense data). It seems as though each faculty borrows from the same power source, where one faculty operating at full power hugely saps the other. A gross example would be daydreaming, where a particularly enchanting fantasy can totally hijack the mind-body complex -- which at this point is reduced to something of a drooling, gullible idiot. Another example is apparent in dreams, where gaining lucidity immediately divests the authored dream space of a good portion of its grandeur and solidity, often to a degree sufficient to fracture the dream entirely. Really settling into audience mode (essentially powering mindfulness) and watching this interplay at the subtler levels that present during meditation is strange, but captivating. Essentially it's just another way of poking at the subject / object relationship, which at this point I have to say is feeling super, super gross. I am so well and truly ready for this thing to pop.

I've also been bumping into some curious states, mostly as a result of disrupted sleep. Hard to describe. Reality shifts -- inside of a quarter of a second, probably -- and immediately reforms in a way that is exactly the same... but also not. Helpful description, no? All the content is identical, but somehow, experientially, there's a sense of it having done a 180. The space is very cohesive and integrated, including time as well. A lot like Giacomo Balla's Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash. Also a very strong sense of "rightness" and joy as a result. Intense, brief, and really tough to put a finger on. My working theory is that of an especially vivid formation.

Earlier I had mentioned that desire to practice was quite high, but this isn't entirely accurate. It's more like once I start sitting, I just keep on going.

Edit: at some point, can't be sure where, interest in the samatha jhanas pretty much evaporated. They still manifest periodically and are enjoyable enough, but for whatever reason deliberately entering them holds zero appeal.
John M., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: I sit right down, but I get up again

Posts: 135 Join Date: 2/11/12 Recent Posts
Alright, recap. About a month ago I was having fairly regular non-dual "sneak peaks" (for lack of a better way to put it) where the field of experience would shift briefly but dramatically as (rather poorly) described above. Then, a pronounced blip on the out-breath during a formal sit. After that, I began to experience very clear, very distinct jhanas during meditation. Way, way more vividness and clarity than I have experienced from concentration states before or since. So, second path I guess? I am still very much experiencing life as a me, thinking me thoughts and doing me things.

At present I am dealing with a profound disinterest in practice. I'm still sitting, but practice time has dropped substantially and there is some real resistance. Interest in anything dharma-related is just about nil, actually. Some obstinate part of my brain seems to be making me document all this, rather than just binging on some video games and passing out, as was my first inclination.

Related: I feel as though a great addition to the nana graphs would be one that covers Motivation to Post on DhO.
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Dream Walker, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: I sit right down, but I get up again

Posts: 1312 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
John M.:
Alright, recap. About a month ago I was having fairly regular non-dual "sneak peaks" (for lack of a better way to put it) where the field of experience would shift briefly but dramatically as (rather poorly) described above. Then, a pronounced blip on the out-breath during a formal sit. After that, I began to experience very clear, very distinct jhanas during meditation. Way, way more vividness and clarity than I have experienced from concentration states before or since. So, second path I guess? I am still very much experiencing life as a me, thinking me thoughts and doing me things.
Claps with one hand....congratulations if you got it. How is your stress/dukkha?
John M.:
At present I am dealing with a profound disinterest in practice. I'm still sitting, but practice time has dropped substantially and there is some real resistance. Interest in anything dharma-related is just about nil, actually. Some obstinate part of my brain seems to be making me document all this, rather than just binging on some video games and passing out, as was my first inclination.

Related: I feel as though a great addition to the nana graphs would be one that covers Motivation to Post on DhO.
Ya, people are horrible about posting up the important things about the practice that really would be useful for others to see the reality of it. Noone wants to post embarrassing things or things that make them seem unskillful...or stuff that is so totally not the prescribed "way". Also loss of motivation following paths keep people from revisiting their own posts of asking advice on how to do something and going back to ANSWER their own questions for others to follow.....grrr...frustrating. Rant mode off....enjoy yourself for a while, keep notes and keep practicing a bit.
Good luck,
~D
John M., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: I sit right down, but I get up again

Posts: 135 Join Date: 2/11/12 Recent Posts
Dream Walker:
Claps with one hand

Classic.

How is your stress/dukkha?

Hard to say, as nothing in my present circumstance is especially stress-testing. Maybe I should get in touch with an ex or talk to my parents about Buddhism -- you know, for science. It is interesting that there is none of the was-it-or-wasn't-it anxiety of first path. Looking back on that particular preoccupation it seems 100% absurd.

Ya, people are horrible about posting up the important things about the practice that really would be useful for others to see the reality of it. Noone wants to post embarrassing things or things that make them seem unskillful...or stuff that is so totally not the prescribed "way".

Word, and it's a shame. Happily, I have enough documentable shortcomings to compensate for 2 or 3 meditators.

The brilliant thing about understanding something of the progress of insight is that it casts experiences that seem challenging or even "wrong" as signs and aspects of progress. It really does have the power to take a sour outlook and have it do a 180. Learning to work with difficult psycho-somatic-energetic stuff instead of railing against them is likely the hardest (and best) lesson meditation has had for me.
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Dream Walker, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: I sit right down, but I get up again

Posts: 1312 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
John M.:
Learning to work with difficult psycho-somatic-energetic stuff instead of railing against them is likely the hardest (and best) lesson meditation has had for me.
Dude, your second path wisdom is overflowing out everywhere...would you clean up after your no-self? emoticon


How many times can you learn the same lesson....Well you just wait til third path.....muahaw haw ha  <-(evil laugh here)

But seriously, there is learning the lesson and there is mastering the lesson....I still got work to do.

When you're ready to start the next thing give a shout out
Good luck,
~D
John M., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: I sit right down, but I get up again, or: A fool persists

Posts: 135 Join Date: 2/11/12 Recent Posts
Alright. I've been encountering some interesting territory as of late -- very difficult to describe, so bear with me.

During some meditations (or extreme fatigue) there's a kind of "shift" that repeats itself. It's like reality unfolds in some kind of panoramic, all-inclusive, completely transparent way. Anicca and anatta are clearly and effortlessly perceived. Sensations that might ordinarily impute "me" are still very much present and ordinary, but are in no way a problem (or a boon). Positing a separate self in this state feels something like trying to park a raft in the middle of the rapids: not only absurd, but actually impossible. Nothing actually changes, and yet everything is somehow different.

The initial shift is very sudden and distinct, something like how the mind lurches into jhana. But then normality fades back in so subtly that it's not possible to pinpoint a single moment where it's all over. Ordinary perception just creeps back in, and the feeling is like some grim combination of teenage heart-ache, being fired, losing a pet, and hard liquor hangover. Typically I'll end up toggling between these two modes of perception for awhile; the contrast is a bonafide ass kicker.

I know how to get "in the neighborhood" of where this shift occurs, but I have no idea how to get in the door. I just show up and hope it opens from the other side.What else can I do?

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