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Stream Entry at Goenka on Day 8 - some concerns

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I just completed a 10-day Goenka retreat and I'm pretty sure I got stream entry on Day 8. I wanted to write about what I experienced and see what people thought. I'd like to know people's thoughts on what these experiences were, where I am now, and if anyone has any experiments for me to try to see what happens, or questions about what I experienced. And what people suggest next.

Before the retreat: I hadn't sat much (about 30 minutes three times a week for the last 9 months). I figured I was a Dark Night yogi but was not aware of having experienced any A&P events and couldn't get very far or fast in my noting: it seemed like I was just hovering around stages 1-3 mostly. I had tried to get into jhana but only briefly managed a state that I thought might be jhana 1 a few times, in which I was keeping sustained attention on my breathing and breathing very slowly.

My goal for the retreat was to get stream entry: I had resolved to get it as quickly as possible and to note as consistently and accurately as possible all through the retreat. My plan, which I followed, was to try the body scanning technique they taught a little, but to mostly note or to combine it with noting. Days 1-3 of the retreat were samatha: I noted some as well on those days but mostly focused onsamatha.

Here's what I recall from the retreat, to the best of my recollection: some of it blurs together but this is about right.

Day 1 and 2: alternated noting with samatha. Noting got faster and more consistent. At the end of Day 2 I did a walking meditation and the noting was rapid-fire, faster than it had ever been before. I felt full of energy, almost manic, and couldn't get to sleep (I'm guessing A&P though I didn't experience any event). I remember thinking "all right, here I go, bring on the Dark Night!"

Day 3 sucked, in large part because I was so exhausted. I kept falling asleep and couldn't concentrate. I started becoming paranoid ("people aren't talking to me or looking at me, they must not like me!") and I remember seriously being concerned about the US rounding up its Jews and committing the next Holocaust, thinking about all the countries in the past that had persecuted Jews (this isn't something I normally ever think about).

I was freaking out until I remembered the description of the Fearnana as being like a mother who has watched all but one of her children executed and is about to watch the last one die, and I realized how well it lined up! I got excited that I was hopefully making progress. Around here I started getting more successful with jhana: I started to "let the jhana show itself" rather than need to keep consistent attention (jhana 2?)

Day 4 I had a really great sitting. I was leaning my legs against the chair and it put a lot of pressure on them, and it started hurting like hell, but I was determined not to move: I kept thinking "I want to be enlightened... I'm going to sit through this." Finally it stopped hurting: I still felt the pain but I didn't feel aversion, and it seemed like I entered some kind of concentration state where I focused on the pain (that's one thing about pain, it definitely keeps your attention).

Later that day I decided to try the "Talking in Jhanas" technique from The Hamilton Project where you ride up the jhanas, emerge in Equanimity/4th jhana bypassing the DN, and get stream entry from there.

I went in jhana, and for the first time got in spaces I thought were 3rd and 4th jhana (though I'm not sure) and then started noting as fast as I could and including everything I could think of, fatigue, worry I wasn't doing it right or wouldn't succeed, mapping, thoughts about where I was on the map, seeing, hearing, and so forth. I remember trying to "force it" to pick up by noting faster and faster and trying to make it "lift off." I started noting a lot of things about control, wanting to be a self that controlled things, being afraid of not being in control.

I kept feeling a tingling and a feeling like I was being "pulled up," and finally, as I noted faster and faster, I felt a string lifting me off the ground, but then the string got caught on a large black dense sphere around my solar plexus, which somehow represented my sense of self. It was like a fish being caught on a hook. I tried again later that day but couldn't get there again.

Day 5 I tried the same thing and got back to that point twice, but I still couldn't get it to "lift off."

Day 6 I had an amazing experience, my best sit to date. I tried to ride the jhanas and note quickly again, and this time I felt myself being pulled up and up, stretched out vertically, and then left and right and forwards and back, until my consciousness filled the meditation hall. I'm not sure if this was Equanimity, jhana 4, jhana 6, j4.j6, or what. It felt amazing and very open. I stayed up there for a while, through one sit, through the snack break, through the rest period, and through the next session, for about 3 hours without moving.  I kept noting as much and as fast as I could.

Days 7 - 8 really sucked. They told us that Day 10 was talking so we'd really only have until the end of Day 9, and at the end of Day 7 they said that the last two days would be more intense, our last chance to work, and we should focus on continuity of practice. I resolved to just keep noting as much as I could, to work hard the last two days. My continuity of practice was shit: I just kept getting distracted every sitting, ranting in my head and not remembering to come back to meditating for a while.

I just remember floundering a lot, not being able to concentrate at all, thinking that it was pointless, that I'd never make it, started ranting in my head a lot, writing a post in my head about what happened (which became this one), noting stuff like "this sucks" "i hate this" "i can't get enlightened" and so on. I definitely felt a lot of desire for deliverance and I suspect I was in DD/ReOb for most of these two days.

I remember thinking a lot about the three characteristics, in particular dukkha, and trying to note them as I noted perceptions: I'd note 'flick' for each one to remind me of impermanence, for anatta I'd say to myself "no one here, no one's doing this, stuff's just happening," and started becoming more aware of how each thing flowed from the next, thoughts appeared due to previous events, and I started being able to notice intentions preceding actions more clearly.

I translated dukkha to myself as "restlessness" (which I like better than suffering/stress/unsatisfactoriness) and just kept thinking about how I always had this craving for something, wanting something different than how it was, imagining myself spinning like a mouse on a wheel chasing cheese.

Around this time I was also doing some of the Goenka body scanning / full-body flow, where you start bringing together all the scanning so that there's a flowing tingle. I actually found the body scanning to be very compatible with noting: really it's just noting where you only note anicca, and limit your noting to skin sensations on one area of the body. The flow through the whole body seemed to help me... it sort of helped relax me from the more intense noting.

On the evening of Day 8, I remember thinking a lot about wanting to be free from all this, just wanting it to be all over, getting tired of the restlessness. I started thinking about renunciation, and about an interview with Thanissaro in which he talks about how he doesn't really miss giving up music and movies because he can just meditate.

I started thinking about how compared to this, nothing else in life felt like it mattered, like it all just seemed so small. I had been thinking a lot about craving and aversion, because Goenka talked a lot about it in the lectures with respect to body sensations, and equanimity, and I felt equanimous, just very stable and calm for the first time in a while, like whatever happened, getting enlightened or not, it would be fine - because I was somehow rooted or connected to something deeper or more important, something that made all life's problems just fade away in the distance, as if they were just specks on the horizon that couldn't tip me over.

Then I very matter of factly thought "I'm going to sit and get stream entry." It was odd, no strong emotions towards it, just "this is what's going to happen now." I sat up and started noting, noted for a few minutes as usual, and I don't remember what happened next, but then...

*pop* something "clicked." I entered the stream, 10 pm, Thursday June 12, 2014.

I saw a small yellow oval at the side of my vision. I remember not wanting to get my hopes up. I started noting again, and whoa, little bright specks all over my field of vision when I close my eyes... those weren't there before. Noting comes quickly and easily... seems like A&P. I try to concentrate and see if I can get into jhana and all of a sudden I feel intense tingles all over my body, in a way I've never felt them before.

I'd been frozen in place since the 'click.' I start to move and WHOA MY HANDS ARE MOVING BY THEMSELVES. This is awesome. My sense of self just seems gone. Stuff's just happening. I just feel so free, like a huge burden has been lifted. I feel a little "drunk" or "high" and my movements feel all loose and wobbly and floating. I go for a walk, and it just feels so great, everything beautiful and free and flowing and no one there to do it, and not like I've lost anything, but just like I'm seeing more clearly.

I didn't feel like practicing... it felt like something had been completed. I remembered that after getting stream entry is supposed to be a good time to make resolutions, so I said "I resolve to become enlightened as quickly as possible for the good of all beings. I resolve to attain second path as quickly as possible for the good of all beings."

I couldn't get to sleep for a while and didn't sleep much. I woke up and still felt the "stuff happening by itself" thing... but the next day, Day 9, I didn't have much success with jhana. I was trying to get in and notice the different jhanas, and at one point it seemed like I went up and down the jhanas in sequence, 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1, but I still don't think I can clearly distinguish them.

I also didn't have much success with "review." I tried to note quickly and move through the stages, but I didn't really notice any cycling or different stages. It just seemed like I was staying in A&P.

So that was three days ago, and things have been the same since then. The "no sense of self" thing is starting to feel more normal, but it's still there. I still seem to be at A&P when I start noting, but I haven't really been able to have instant access to jhana, and I also haven't noticed any other fruitions...

I'm a little unsure what's going on, if I really hit stream entry, although it seems like I have to be there. Am I wrong about hitting stream entry? If I don't notice fruitions after some time, what does that mean and where am I? How can I get fruitions and cycling to recur? Do I need to do something to trigger it? Am I having fruitions without noticing it?

Did the resolution I made skip me over the review phase, so I'm now in A&P on path 2? If I hit stream entry, why don't I have easy access to the jhanas now? And if I didn't, what happened to me and where am I on the maps?

Thanks for reading all this - I'd love to hear what you think.

Other thoughts:

I meditated roughly 50 hours before the retreat, and 10 hrs/day during, meaning it took 130 hours to hit stream entry (if I did). Is this about on target or way too small?

Masturbation - I didn't masturbate on days 1-4, but then just couldn't get to sleep and masturbated on the evening of day 5 twice and again on the evenings of days 6 and 7. It didn't seem to affect anything.

Continuity of practice: I had thought I wasn't doing very well with this because I kept getting distracted, but now I'm thinking that's ok, that the point is just to notice as soon as you can when you get distracted, and if you keep doing that all day, even if you spent a lot of time wandering, you're still continuously working as much as you can.

RE: Stream Entry at Goenka on Day 8 - some concerns
Answer
6/15/14 11:58 PM as a reply to J C.
Your description of equanimity and stream entry seem pretty on point.  That you noticed a discernable gap in experience followed by blissful body experience and a lessened sense of self are also good indications that you reached stream entry.

As for the review cycles, keep in mind that you shouldn't have to try that hard to move through the cycle.  In my experience, while you must move from one stage to the next, this is maybe 40% meditative effort, and 60% power of suggestion.  In other words, you should be able to just walk yourself through the cyle to some extent.  By power of suggestion I mean call up the mental experience and then go with it.  Try starting in the Fear nana, or the misery nana, and go from there.

Right after stream entry it was a bit difficult for me to cycle, mainly I got hung up in re-observation a bit, which is probably normal.  While you can force your way through the cycle somewhat, it also takes meditative skill (so to speak), the key to which is patience and persistence.

Anyhow good luck, I have faith you can do it! emoticon

RE: Stream Entry at Goenka on Day 8 - some concerns
Answer
6/16/14 2:18 AM as a reply to J C.
J C:
I sat up and started noting, noted for a few minutes as usual, and I don't remember what happened next, but then...

*pop* something "clicked."...

I saw a small yellow oval at the side of my vision. I remember not wanting to get my hopes up. I started noting again, and whoa, little bright specks all over my field of vision when I close my eyes... those weren't there before. Noting comes quickly and easily... seems like A&P. I try to concentrate and see if I can get into jhana and all of a sudden I feel intense tingles all over my body, in a way I've never felt them before.

I'd been frozen in place since the 'click.' I start to move and WHOA MY HANDS ARE MOVING BY THEMSELVES. This is awesome. My sense of self just seems gone. Stuff's just happening. I just feel so free, like a huge burden has been lifted. I feel a little "drunk" or "high" and my movements feel all loose and wobbly and floating. I go for a walk, and it just feels so great, everything beautiful and free and flowing and no one there to do it, and not like I've lost anything, but just like I'm seeing more clearly.

I didn't feel like practicing... it felt like something had been completed.

Well dude, is this the best phenomenological step by step description of the event you can do? Based on this it is a bit hard to tell what happened. Could be first path or not. The problem to add to this is the high you get from retreats. What has happened since the retreat? how long ago was it? What are your current sits like now?
You are saying all the right kinda things but there are a few things that stand out that make me question what happened. That is the problem with forums....not the best way to dig deep into stuff that would take an hour long conversation to nail down. If you would like to chat I do hangouts and skype. Not that you need to...you got what you got. Seems like you are happy with it.
Good luck,
~D

RE: Stream Entry at Goenka on Day 8 - some concerns
Answer
6/16/14 2:32 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
J C:
I sat up and started noting, noted for a few minutes as usual, and I don't remember what happened next, but then...

*pop* something "clicked."...

I saw a small yellow oval at the side of my vision. I remember not wanting to get my hopes up. I started noting again, and whoa, little bright specks all over my field of vision when I close my eyes... those weren't there before. Noting comes quickly and easily... seems like A&P. I try to concentrate and see if I can get into jhana and all of a sudden I feel intense tingles all over my body, in a way I've never felt them before.

I'd been frozen in place since the 'click.' I start to move and WHOA MY HANDS ARE MOVING BY THEMSELVES. This is awesome. My sense of self just seems gone. Stuff's just happening. I just feel so free, like a huge burden has been lifted. I feel a little "drunk" or "high" and my movements feel all loose and wobbly and floating. I go for a walk, and it just feels so great, everything beautiful and free and flowing and no one there to do it, and not like I've lost anything, but just like I'm seeing more clearly.

I didn't feel like practicing... it felt like something had been completed.

Well dude, is this the best phenomenological step by step description of the event you can do? Based on this it is a bit hard to tell what happened. Could be first path or not. The problem to add to this is the high you get from retreats. What has happened since the retreat? how long ago was it? What are your current sits like now?
You are saying all the right kinda things but there are a few things that stand out that make me question what happened. That is the problem with forums....not the best way to dig deep into stuff that would take an hour long conversation to nail down. If you would like to chat I do hangouts and skype. Not that you need to...you got what you got. Seems like you are happy with it.
Good luck,
~D


Talking on hangouts would be great. PMed you

RE: Stream Entry at Goenka on Day 8 - some concerns
Answer
6/16/14 2:36 AM as a reply to J C.
J C:
Talking on hangouts would be great. PMed you
hangout started