Message Boards Message Boards

Stream entrance or delusion?
5/10/14 6:42 PM
I've copied some of my other threads to make this more organized.

To give a brief summary of my meditation history, I took a Goenka course in 2012 where I believe I crossed the A & P and entered a dark night.  I found Daniel's book and really started ramping up my practice and around June of last year believe I got stream entry as outlined in the book.  If I had to guess where I am in practice currently, I would say I have started a new path and have not yet reached the A & P on this new path yet.  These are merely best guesses, but I could be wrong about any of these observations.

As far as how I know for certain I got stream entry, the short answer is I don't, that is I've never been dharma diagnosed by a teacher if you will.  What leads me to believe this is about a year ago I really ramped up my practice for a few months (at least 3 hours a day, and at least 5 a day on weekends).  I didn't keep a journal so these are best guesses.  Approximately a year before that, I crossed the A and P and went into a dark night after a 10 day Goenka course.  I am pretty certain of that.  I believe I crossed the A and P before that while not formally meditating as well, about 5 years before at the Western Wall.  The stages I went through seemed to follow the stages in Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha and the descriptions of those on this site.  In terms of Jhanas, it was after I began to notice formations in my practice.  Things that would happen before might be during my meditation, I would notice a bird chirp outside, and there was no differentiation between the bird, the chirp, and my body.  It all seemed to be part of the same terrain.  At the point I believe I may have got stream entry, I noticed a shift in my perception.  It was quite subtle and I might have not noticed the moment itself as something significant had I not read about it.  It was different than the A and P in that it didn't feel like an "Oh Wow" type of moment.

After that, I felt a higher ability to feel my feelings fully.  I would feel something, happy, sad, whatever it was, but I wouldn't walk around holding on to that feeling.  The feeling of I did drop away in the sense that I didn't see myself as a separate permanent being, but in my day to day life, I wouldn't have same sense that I did during meditation of there being absolutely no boundary.  The months following my meditations did start with what I believe were A and P phenomenon, usually a Kundalini type energy that would radiate up my spine.  I also noticed what seemed to be consistent with fruitions, especially in the days following what I believe to be the stream entry event.  I started practicing less frequently than I was.

A few weeks ago I noticed that I seemed to have trouble getting into the first Vipassana jhana.  As I practiced more, it became easier to get into it and I started noticing what might be consistent with Vipassana jhana 1 and then 2.

I am in contact with an assistant teacher from the Goenka course.  I didn't share my experience, but when I was at her house after a group sitting, I mentioned the topic of stream entry, and she brushed off the idea that anyone could achieve this in regular practice.  She felt that arahants come once every maybe 500 years and certainly wouldn't be found in regular life.

I have been wrestling with the idea that I got stream entry ever since it happened.  It seems consistent with the descriptions here, and I have a sense of I know in my heart what I experienced.  The other part of me, in my head, says I am a not a monk and have only been formally meditating for a relatively short time, so how could I have possibly acheived what monks who spend a lifetime doing this may never acheive.  At times this doubt has even been a good object, examining this uncertainty.   

In any case, I will continue to practice, but I as a scientist I figure there are 2 or more distinct possibilities.  One is I got stream entry and am now on my second path.  The other is that I tricked myself into thinking I got stream entry though suggestion and have simply fallen back to square one as I decreased my sitting frequency.  Any input on the subject would be appreciated.  Thank you.

RE: Stream entrance or delusion?
5/10/14 7:32 PM as a reply to Michael A Speese.
Michael A Speesler I also noticed what seemed to be consistent with fruitions, especially in the days following what I believe to be the stream entry event. 
Hmmmm...more info about this might be helpful.
Michael A SpeeslerIn any case, I will continue to practice, but I as a scientist I figure there are 2 or more distinct possibilities.  One is I got stream entry and am now on my second path.  The other is that I tricked myself into thinking I got stream entry though suggestion and have simply fallen back to square one as I decreased my sitting frequency.  Any input on the subject would be appreciated.  Thank you.

Third option is continue as if you are 1st path as defined by MCTB and try to get to second path and pay very close attention to what is happening this time around so you can look back at your memories of what happened and see how they correlate to this journey.
You might want to speak someone by skype firsthand and see if they can clear it up a bit if you really want some in depth feedback.
Good Luck,

RE: Stream entrance or delusion?
5/11/14 12:56 AM as a reply to Michael A Speese.
Man, just ignore that teacher.  Anyone who's spent even a few minutes reading the suttas will tell you that arahants were swarming like flies in the pali canon.  What's the point of spending all this time meditating if it's impossible to find release at the end?  Make it a habit to ignore people who say something is impossible, and you'll be much happier in life.

Maybe a good question to ask yourself is, is thinking about attainments helping your practice, or is it just spinning your mind in loops?  You are going to find a great deal of people will challenge/deny anything you achieve.  If you focus on what to call yourself, or even what tradition to place yourself in, you're going to waste a lot of time defending yourself, or looking to teachers to confirm what's happening in your own head.  It's your mind and your personal experience, so you're the only one who will ever be able to confirm your own attainments.

You asked if you're delusional, I'd say why does it matter?  Do you feel less stress?  That's not delusional.  If you're attached to the system, then you can be delusional.  If you are your own sail and rudder, you can never be delusional.  Be your own refuge and find your own way!

All that said, if you describe in detail the physical/emotional/sensory experience of whatever meditation effect you want to put a name to, I'm sure someone can help ease your doubts a bit.  Whatever they say, though, keep going with what works for you!  Make this a lifestyle rather than a series of sprints to attainments and you'll see greater benefits that come with less doubt and uncertainty. emoticon

RE: Stream entrance or delusion?
5/11/14 6:29 AM as a reply to Michael A Speese.
If its stream entry then you should be able to enter "timeless".

When we start out with meditation its zero level. We have access to the timeless however. On first level or stream entry that timeless is more powerful.

second level its even more powerful, start to notice that things are part of your awareness while being on that "timeless"
third level even more powerful starting to notice stronger and stronger "movements" in "timeless"
fourth even more powerful...

everything enhances, also lots of suffering. At least for me there is lots of suffering, i believe up to last chakra there is suffering because we are going through real alchemy.

for me stream entry unlocked a new perception and i needed to update my old perception manually, that means i still needed to "enter it" and then cultivate it(dwell in it), doing it second perception started to unlock..

RE: Stream entrance or delusion?
5/12/14 7:10 AM as a reply to Michael A Speese.
If you haven't noticed when you had stream entrance, then you don't have it. Ven. Sujiva said in his book 'The Tree of Wisom,The River of No Return',chapter 3.5,
Just like someone said, “If a lightning strikes your head, how can
you not know?” It is possible that one can be mistaken because one can
encounter many strange and wonderful experiences, but for one who has
really experienced the unconditioned, it is impossible for skeptical doubts
to arise.

But when one first gets into jhana he may don't notice it .

RE: Stream entrance or delusion?
5/12/14 7:49 AM as a reply to Michael A Speese.
Thank you for all the thoughtful responses.

Dream Walker- The fruitions that I may have experienced just seemed like tiny flashes from what I remember where reality would go out and then come back in an instant.  Its a bit hazy now as its been a while since it has happened though.  Your advice about just continuing to practice is very good and probably the most useful thing I can do right now.  I may keep a journal so I can have a better recall of what is going on during my sits.

Not Tao- You're right in that it is something that I think about probably too much.  I'm trying to use those thoughts as objects when they arise and watch them come up and then pass away, as dwelling on them is just another source of suffering.  In my experience with the assistant teacher in the Goenka tradition, things like stream entry aren't really discussed as something likely attained in this lifetime by the non-monk meditator, but as something to strive for over many lifetimes.  However, reading the stories here and having my own experience, I believe that it is very possible in this lifetime.  I still enjoy my group sits with this teacher, and she has many useful things to teach, but this is one area that at least for right now, we don't agree.  I just don't know of any other teachers in my area.  I'm afraid to pay for services, as I think I may start attaching expectations and other things to the advice, and quite frankly my memory of some of my meditation experiences from a year ago probably aren't entirely fresh and I'm afraid I would describe them inaccurately now.

Rist Ei- The feeling of entering the "timeless" was definitely much stronger for about the first month or so after the event happened, and has faded in the past few weeks, (possibly an indication that the stream entry event was not in fact stream entry although I've heard others say that there is sometimes a powerful afterglow after it happens, which is possible as well).  I did feel as if everything was enhanced and though it has faded to a degree, part of that has still not faded.

Huajun-I definitely noticed something in terms of perception afterwards, I'm just trying to figure out if it is what I think it was.

I truly appreciate all of you taking the time to give your thoughts. 

RE: Stream entrance or delusion?
5/13/14 6:23 AM as a reply to Michael A Speese.
You may check the points that tests if one has passed the stream entrance in the above mentioned book:
At this point, it will be of interest to note the points given to say whether
a yogi has indeed passed through the first path. Some of these are given
in a vipasanna book written by a Burmese teacher:-
1. One has clearly passed through insight knowledges 1-11.
2. The conformity knowledge leading to emergence is clear.
3. The moment of cutting off occurrence to non-occurrence and its
emergence is clear.
4. The reviewing knowledge about the nature of the unconditioned is
5. The emergence of an extremely clear and matured fourth insight
knowledge following the path and fruition.
6. The appearance of the extremely pure consciousness following the
emergence from the supramundane consciousness.
7. One is able to repeatedly attain the fruition by the power of one’s
resolution and stay longer in it.
8. When one discards the Old Dhammas one has already achieved, one
experiences extraordinary new Dhammas (Insights).