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Can you help me find out where I am on the path?

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I am wondering if someone well progressed can help me acertain my progress better. I have been a Buddhist for many years, but only recently introduced to 'maps' and I'm wondering if someone can help me pinpoint where I might be.

RE: Can you help me find out where I am on the path?
Answer
5/16/14 5:08 PM as a reply to Anton D..
Anton D.:
I am wondering if someone well progressed can help me acertain my progress better.


Have you read MCTB? -> http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+The+Progress+of+Insight
Read this too about the progress of insite -> http://contemplativefitnessbook.com/book-two-theory/the-progress-of-insight-map/
try this too -> http://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/98873
Google -> site:http://www.dharmaoverground.org diagnosis
Read a bit about others diagnosis's and see what relevent information you might share with us.
~D

RE: Can you help me find out where I am on the path?
Answer
5/18/14 12:03 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Hi, thanks for taking the time to give me this info. I have finished 80% of the book and am finishing it up now. I started practicing Buddhism in 6th grade, and it took over my life in high-school and everything changed. But this is 10 years ago, and I'm not sure if the memories are really reliable anymore. I'd like to say this and this happened, but really old memories are not reliable.

I feel like it's possible I have 'stream entered' after reading descriptions.  But I am really hesitant to make this conclusion myself, in fear that I'm fooling myself.  So that's why I've come here, assuming the best way to diagnose progress is person to person contact w/ someone who is more progressed than me.

edit: some more info

I 'm always in some state of equanamity, I have been going strong for years without really feeling emotions. I feel them, they are there, but they don't do anything to me I don't want them to.

Again I'm not sure if I'm fooling myself - but after reading the descriptions of cycling through the Jhanas up into fruition I went to get food and completed the cycle in maybe a 10 minute walk. I feel I can quickly move up to the description of 'infinite space' and then with a some effort move to 'infinite consciousness' then there is a second of funniness and I have super single centerness and there is intense how do I say, warm comfort everywhere that lasted quite awhile / couldn't take the grin off myself, and everyone seemed to really enjoy the presence of my grin to be honest ha.

It lasts for some time and I'm still enjoying some of the clarity from that short session yesterday.

However if I don't do formal practice for a few days sometimes I will begin to suffer again. If I completely let myself go in other words, suffering comes back in some minute (but funny?) way. I feel like I have not hit a switch where I am in pure moment by moment awareness at all times without effort. (perhaps this goal is problematic?) However I do still make some progress. The other day after considering the 3 characteristics, memories and thoughts of the future became so completely uninteresting I was stuck in the present moment for hours. I really like that, and think that's a good goal to have. Should I try to cultivate this more?

So you can see I'm confused about my progress, where exactly I might be, and what I should focus on. 

RE: Can you help me find out where I am on the path?
Answer
5/18/14 3:06 AM as a reply to Anton D..
Anton D.:
Hi, thanks for taking the time to give me this info. I have finished 80% of the book and am finishing it up now. I started practicing Buddhism in 6th grade, and it took over my life in high-school and everything changed. But this is 10 years ago, and I'm not sure if the memories are really reliable anymore. I'd like to say this and this happened, but really old memories are not reliable.

I feel like it's possible I have 'stream entered' after reading descriptions.  But I am really hesitant to make this conclusion myself, in fear that I'm fooling myself.  So that's why I've come here, assuming the best way to diagnose progress is person to person contact w/ someone who is more progressed than me.

edit: some more info

I 'm always in some state of equanamity, I have been going strong for years without really feeling emotions. I feel them, they are there, but they don't do anything to me I don't want them to.

Again I'm not sure if I'm fooling myself - but after reading the descriptions of cycling through the Jhanas up into fruition I went to get food and completed the cycle in maybe a 10 minute walk. I feel I can quickly move up to the description of 'infinite space' and then with a some effort move to 'infinite consciousness' then there is a second of funniness and I have super single centerness and there is intense how do I say, warm comfort everywhere that lasted quite awhile / couldn't take the grin off myself, and everyone seemed to really enjoy the presence of my grin to be honest ha.

It lasts for some time and I'm still enjoying some of the clarity from that short session yesterday.

However if I don't do formal practice for a few days sometimes I will begin to suffer again. If I completely let myself go in other words, suffering comes back in some minute (but funny?) way. I feel like I have not hit a switch where I am in pure moment by moment awareness at all times without effort. (perhaps this goal is problematic?) However I do still make some progress. The other day after considering the 3 characteristics, memories and thoughts of the future became so completely uninteresting I was stuck in the present moment for hours. I really like that, and think that's a good goal to have. Should I try to cultivate this more?

So you can see I'm confused about my progress, where exactly I might be, and what I should focus on. 
Finish the book and read up some more...there is so much good information here and in the books.
I highlighted some things above that need detailed descriptions. I have no idea what you mean by these terms unless you describe what actually happens/happened.
~D

RE: Can you help me find out where I am on the path?
Answer
5/18/14 6:23 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Everything changed meaning I have felt almost non-human for some time. Not in a bad way at all - I can see everyone around me has problems relating to the 3 characteristics that I'll never have again. Most of my life is spent in some state of equanamity, here is some reading you can do on the subject: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upekkha) you can also reread the link you sent me as it is a good description (http://contemplativefitnessbook.com/book-two-theory/the-progress-of-insight-map/#Knowledge_of_Equanimity_Stage_11). When cycling through the Jhanas up into fruition I am referencing the description of these terms in the book you recommended (http://integrateddaniel.info/book). If I don't do formal practice (sit down and allot time for meditation) for a few days sometimes I will begin to suffer again in an entirely Buddhist sense of the word where everything is unsatisfactory. [Is this normal, will I have to recycle up to fruition or to whichever jhana I want every day? Or is enlightenment where I no longer cycle?] Regarding progress in Buddhism, I mean the path to Enlightenment.

Yes I will definitely finish reading the book... Maybe this is a premature post for that reason. The links you sent were also very helpful and very descriptive of exactly what I am feeling. However I'd still love some help from a human just to make sure I'm not over extending myself.


Edit:

I have made it around to reading this link you gave me: 
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+16.+Review

I've read this one a few times and feel this is where I am. It also answered a lot of questions. I was not sure it is even possible to cycle into fruition so quickly that's why I was so skeptical I can do it. This text says I should master the cycling, so perhaps I should just keep cyling without any clear objective other than improvement, and I will automatically jump on to the next stage of the path.


RE: Can you help me find out where I am on the path?
Answer
5/18/14 8:03 AM as a reply to Anton D..
Hello

Please describe what occurs for you when you have fruition? Though I haven't achieved fruition I have read about different accounts of it and discussed it with people. You could be moving through the soft Jhana's, and having strong experiences with in them.
If you have got path. You will cycle very quickly and have a sense of separation from the self and associated emotions of the self. One of the clear signs is continued access to cessation and the ability to refine and master the process of cessation. 

There are some state of meditation that may be mistaken for path.
One is a kind of sleep meditation of which there are two types. The first is the the micro sleep, where you disappear briefly more obvious types of this are a kind of nodding off where you brain or consciousness just blinks out. Another variation on this is the disappearing sleeping meditation, I have done this while having to sit up sleeping, on 12 hour bus journeys, your kind of there but not there. Its kind of like you induce a deep sleep state, but can wake up if your called or touched. This is not meditation and is traditionally described as the cause for rebirth in the animal realms, it's quite restful though. And easy to slip into when your lying down and doing holosync binearial beat meditation.

The other is the 7th or 8th Jhana (refer below), which I think its likely I have experienced before, but at the time I wasn't as clear about the difference between it and the sleeping meditation. This gave me cause to doubt the experience. This is really quite similar to unconscious sleep meditation, but there is a feeling of clarity within it, of wakefulness, and there is a strong desire to return to the peace of it and to retain the after glow of the peace of it, by doing it again.
The line between space and consciousness is quite clear to me within the 5th and 6th Jhana. But as we turn this consciousness into emptiness at the 7th the sense of difference between the 7th and 8th is unclear for me, maybe because i only got nothing ness or becasue the transition between 7th and 8th is very subtle and ambiguious. There is a quality of space beginning to be non-expansive and of consciousness being empty to the point where it starts to not be there and the second point could be the transition into neither perception nor non-perception. For me they are kind of quite similar, mostly likey because my experience is quite limited in these soft jhana's, but also because by definition these two Jhanas have a quality of selfhood disappearing so its harder to be aware within in them.

This quality of disappearing has a luminosity to it, which is quite wakeful with present non-presence and you become aware of this more so when, you return rather than when you are in it. And there is a memory of deep peace which is lingers strongly. It is  the peace that comes from non-being from non-selfhood.

So these are the things that can be most easily mistaken for stream entry. Mind you that it was many years ago, about 15 maybe,  while going through A&P that I recall these experiences that might have been either the sphere of nothingness of the sphere of neither perception and non perception. These days my practice really only takes me to the 5th or 6th in soft jhana as I am not riding the high of the new A&P awakening.

The Seventh Jhana is called "The Sphere of No-thingness."It can be entered from the Sixth Jhana by shifting your attention from the infinite consciousness to the content of that consciousness. It is not surprising that the content of infinite consciousness is empty since that infinite consciousness was entered from infinite space which has no perception of diversity. The Eighth Jhana is called "The Sphere of Neither Perception nor Non-perception".
Are you familiar with these things and can you make a distinction between these kinds of expereinces and a possible fruition?

Kind Regards from neem. 

RE: Can you help me find out where I am on the path?
Answer
5/19/14 1:44 AM as a reply to Anton D..
Anton D.:
Everything changed meaning I have felt almost non-human for some time. Not in a bad way at all - I can see everyone around me has problems relating to the 3 characteristics that I'll never have again. Most of my life is spent in some state of equanamity, here is some reading you can do on the subject: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upekkha) you can also reread the link you sent me as it is a good description (http://contemplativefitnessbook.com/book-two-theory/the-progress-of-insight-map/#Knowledge_of_Equanimity_Stage_11). When cycling through the Jhanas up into fruition I am referencing the description of these terms in the book you recommended (http://integrateddaniel.info/book). If I don't do formal practice (sit down and allot time for meditation) for a few days sometimes I will begin to suffer again in an entirely Buddhist sense of the word where everything is unsatisfactory. [Is this normal, will I have to recycle up to fruition or to whichever jhana I want every day? Or is enlightenment where I no longer cycle?] Regarding progress in Buddhism, I mean the path to Enlightenment.

Yes I will definitely finish reading the book... Maybe this is a premature post for that reason. The links you sent were also very helpful and very descriptive of exactly what I am feeling. However I'd still love some help from a human just to make sure I'm not over extending myself.


Edit:

I have made it around to reading this link you gave me: 
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+16.+Review

I've read this one a few times and feel this is where I am. It also answered a lot of questions. I was not sure it is even possible to cycle into fruition so quickly that's why I was so skeptical I can do it. This text says I should master the cycling, so perhaps I should just keep cyling without any clear objective other than improvement, and I will automatically jump on to the next stage of the path.

I'm glad the readings have helped clarify some things. There is so much to learn from the books and the many posts here...I hope it is fulfilling your need for clarity regarding your experiences. 
Your descriptions lack first hand personal step by step phenomenological explanations of what you have experienced. I have little to go off of. Pointing to a book or wikipedia does not clarify your personal experience or understanding. You say you meditate? what does that mean? what kind? what do you actually do when you sit down and what are the results of this? That would be a phenomenological description and would be helpful. How do you experience a fruition? what happens before during and after in your own words? Can't help you too much without this. If you have any further question please feel free to enumerate them and we will do our best to answer.
~D

RE: Can you help me find out where I am on the path?
Answer
5/19/14 11:39 AM as a reply to Anton D..
I will try to make a timeline of my progress as honestly as I can. I was hesitant at first because it's long and I don't want to talk about myself more than I have to, but I'll have a go as it will help you to see where I am if interested.

=-=-=-=-=-
SPIRITUAL STUFF TIMELINE (Only read if interested)

Was born and placed as a Jehova's Witness.
[Even my earliest memory I had big problems with this]

Unknowing to my parents, my bed-time was too early and I sat awake every night with my thoughts for two hours. (This bed-time and staying with my thoughts for two hours every night lasted until high-school)

~kindergarden period - realized thoughts were thoughts and not god

6th Grade - Did a report on Buddhism and started meditating
[This is also a year of two after I "ex-communicated" myself by shouting 'Shut up' to the preacher giving his speech]

Mid-school

Tibetan Book of the Dead read it but didn't practice much. However from then on I really started seeing the impermanence in everything.

High-school

a) Marijuana, new influences, mushrooms, lots and lots of meditation and growin' up. Kundalini flying out of my rear, and lots of OOBES. To this day I have a good skill and can fly out of my body pretty easily.

b) Serious social anxiety problems where I could only cope through meditation (no one really knew how bad it was)

c) A meditation session that I remember clearly when I was maybe 17
[I had smoked a joint, and retreated to meditate. My concentration was really killer at this point. There was a moment when every formation was a sphere floating in nothingness. I was never the same.

d) After a year or so, no more social anxiety problems. To this day I do public speaking and teach and I have better social anxiety control than most people I suspect.

Amazon. 

I went and lived with an indigienous group for some months after high-school. I meditated through an Ayahuasca trip which can only be described as some kind of rebirth. OMG haha, realizing this now... hmmm let me think. The trip lines up very well with a full path actually and this is the first time I've realized that.

[Skip this if a bit of unstructured rambling drug experience turns you off]

Well anyway, the first 2 hours was absolutely horrible, and I went through every horrible emotion in stages like the dark night. It began with the beating of the waterfall turning into a drumming techno song. (There were beats throughout the experience) Then horrible things unimaginable. (Well so horrible only possible by imagination, but really I can't understate how intensely horrible this part was) Finally I emerged where everything was amazing. The disgusting black snakes all turned into flowers. I realized no-self completely, my fantasies of my future self stopped spitting at me and instead they also turned into flowers. It was really really intense and I've never been the same. Keep in mind that I was doing pure concentration meditation during the entire thing, and to this day I still believe like I would have died from choking on my own vomit and adam's apple if I did not keep a steady meditation. I was also hypothermic during this ordeal and via meditation managed it into something of pure bliss. 

University

Some acid trips that were quite spiritual, no formal practice, was expelled for bogus reasons. Most focused on 'content' at this time.

A rural place

Spent a few months doing nothing but meditating and reading, and small things like collecting bugs. I went through extreme paranoia at one point, and actually wrote a letter to people because I thought I was dieing of of an illness I didn't have. Was crazy, but I actually overcame this after a month or two.

Move to the far East where I currently reside

After the rural stuff I was too absolutist and did not take kindly to the Middle Path. Pure always-on concentration seemed to solve all problems. Stupid stuff like not drinking a cola and creating suffering in my G/f made me re-evaluate and tone everything down. I read a thick 800 page che guevara book in 2 weeks so think: too idealistic.

It was a year or two later I had my first feeling of genuine anger. Frustration. Emotions that really had not touched me in so long came back. Paranoia too, and other ones creeped in. At this point I had not sat on the cushion in a long time. I then escaped on a bike trip and brought myself back to a constant state of equanimity.

I now live next to a holy Buddhist mountain (I am always trying to get closer via some manifestation lol), and have just read (95% now) of Daniel Ingrams book. It is seriously impressive and I feel like he is in my head (in an funny not magical way) and have never read a book that is so seemingly accurate of my personal experience. So my curiousity is genuinly sparked. Daniel - if you are reading this, you've also dispelled some myths about enlightenment that make it tangible. For that, let's note some sensations of gratification.

=-=-=-=-=


Neem, 

your request of the description of my maybe or maybe not fruition that happened (2?) days ago:

Began insight meditation while reading Ingram's book. Had to control it to a certain point so I could still read. Eventually hungry put the book down and started walking. I was already flickering and space would stop and go. Like when you are moving forward and doing insight practice, you appear and reappear in places.

I feel like I quickly went through the Dark Knight and settled at equanimaity, where everything was good but I wanted to go further.

I imagined my body taking up all the space of the city, and then the universe.

And then instantly my consciousness expanded into this space. Formations were kind of self-aware. Something indescribable happened (which I'm so worried I'm scripting now but I think it really happened like this) and everything became very... let's say "heavenly."

As far as feelings, it was a very very comforting strong warmth that spread over everything. I felt very centered but still universal. Clarity everywhere and a huge grin that stayed for 30 minutes. I talked to people and ordered my food in this stage and I think everyone really was my best friend at that time.

I have taken your advice to make it a very conscious decision to get better at noting where in the cycle I am at any given time. I am trying better to see clearly between each stage. Ingram's descriptions are beyond my own so this is work to be done.

Thank you for the further comments, I have read, reread, and will reread. I have always been interested in sleep related states so this is a new area of research I will take on.

Dream Walker,

I am sorry for my small reply. I now understand you need phenomonelogical explanations, so that is my motivation for such a lengthy post this time. Much of what I wrote above is directed at you. Feel free to have me expand on anything, and thanks again.







RE: Can you help me find out where I am on the path?
Answer
5/19/14 2:04 PM as a reply to Anton D..
Pawel K

> if that would make you somehow happier =)

Definitely feelings in my upper chest, upper back, stomach. It takes a second or two before I notice the no-self of each sensation. There are now some lingering sensations in my upper stomach. So yeah the comment made me feel good but it was short lived. I still have fundamental suffering, as I noticed right away when you said this comment. It felt good, but it took a few moments to completely see the sensations in the full context of the 3 characteristics. Does this make sense? There is still a little bit of mental effort required on my part to cease the dual-perception.

But to be more sure you should have in memory path moment and have some vague idea what really changed. 

I will definitely promise to do this and get better at identification.

BTW. what meditation type you did during those years and do now?

Concentration first and foremost for me. I would focus on my breath.

Morality was really important. And I've done a lot of inter-personal socratic type questioning while in deep states of concentration.

And mindfullness where I would notice all sensations in the present moment. (Although I never noticed the speed of the beats and vibrations that are always present until reading Ingram's book.) The transition into the "two finger" method he describeds, was painless and only took me a few 30 minute sessions until everything became vibratory. I then had an online script created to show me 3 colored circles that flash a certain amount of times per second. I used this to better understand how fast the beat I was looking for should be. I can find this script as it's fun to play with if you want.

(edit: I wanted to add a lot of noting was done too)






RE: Can you help me find out where I am on the path?
Answer
5/19/14 6:33 PM as a reply to Anton D..
Anton D.:
Dream Walker,
I am sorry for my small reply. I now understand you need phenomonelogical explanations, so that is my motivation for such a lengthy post this time. Much of what I wrote above is directed at you. Feel free to have me expand on anything, and thanks again.


Just sit a couple times and describe what happens in your own words in as much detail as you can.
~D

RE: Can you help me find out where I am on the path?
Answer
5/19/14 8:54 PM as a reply to Anton D..
And then instantly my consciousness expanded into this space. Formations were kind of self-aware. Something indescribable happened (which I'm so worried I'm scripting now but I think it really happened like this) and everything became very... let's say "heavenly."

As far as feelings, it was a very very comforting strong warmth that spread over everything. I felt very centered but still universal. Clarity everywhere and a huge grin that stayed for 30 minutes. I talked to people and ordered my food in this stage and I think everyone really was my best friend at that time.


Hey Anton,

You have had some cool experiences, the flicker stuff in relation to the vibrations is a typical sign of a sub-nana within equanimity, called late mastery.

For me the stages of equanimity are very broad, and have constituted a kind of insight path in its self. This above description, seems to be your description of a path? And this sounds like a very hard Jhana. If you read Alan Wallace’s book 'The Attention Revolution', you hear about levels of Jhana mastery which are quite exalted. Where Jhana becomes consistent, the poisons of craving, anger, jealousy, pride and ignorance, are suspended for short periods of days or week or even for long periods like decades or the larger part of someones life, people tend to presume attainment.
From the hard Jhana perspective, what you describe is like access concentration, because it only lasted half an hour rather that a few days or a few weeks. From the Soft Jhana perspective people can access many of the 8 Jhana's, even though the experience doesn't fit the high standards of Jhana as defined in the 'Visuddhimagga' (The original meditation practice bible of the Theravada Buddhism)

The fact that your not recognising the parallel in my earlier and above description between aspects of practice that can be mistaken for path and a path, and then following up by giving this description as path, seems to suggest that you haven't attained path. And that your experiencing high levels of concentration that can occur in within Equanimity, such as with you vibratory experiences. Please describe what kind of things occur, around the time things start flickering? Describe how the practice occurs in greater detail during that period? Stay present with the body, when you get spacious/consciousness, its okay to enjoy this samadhi event of spaciousness, but in that, be mindful of subtle attachments and also be mindful of where you can still feel remnants of awareness of the body. Even if it is an indistinct outline or a subtle sense of your bottom touching the ground. When formations are moving and changing the aspect of space is present within the solid edges of body and body sensations. There is a blur, with the the impermanence of dissolving sensations and the subtle humming spacious awareness of the body, that contains these changing sensations, also with areas of indistinct feeling where the edges of the body have blurred. Explore your awareness of these contrasting phenomena. Not how these sensations of space and change can be a stepping stone into a mental formation or mental construct of space, that is Jhana.

Look I may be wrong, and I'll happily concede to a more experienced persons opinion, but it sounds like equanimity and soft Jhana (when it lasts for a few hours). With some short periods of hard Jhana, (when it lasts for a few days).

Congratulations on the development of your practice. Saddhu Saddhu Saddhu

I have attached Daniel Ingram's stages of insight map and another linkhttp://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/DanielS%20Sub-ñana%20Table/pop_up?p_r_p_185834411_title=DanielS%20Sub-ñana%20Table to another version of the map.