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Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

'otherness' hit me and I collapsed into it

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Hey all,
I've been lurking around here for a while and figured it's about time to do some posting. Having others who seem generally grounded, sane, and willing to talk to about this stuff is a bit unheard of for me, but I like the idea so I figure why not. I admit, though, that for some reason it makes me nervous do openly discuss brain change, altered states and whatnot. In any case, I've been wondering about an experience I had earlier this year while on a weekend retreat, an enlightenment intensive. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enlightenment_Intensive I was working on the inquiry of 'who am I.'  This was the fourth intensive I've been on in about 2 or 2.5 years and each one I've used 'who am I'.  I've been trying recently to remember what happened when throughout all the previous retreats and time in between so I might be able to place this experience on a map better. I'm certain to have hit the A&P event at one point, perhaps at the second but definitely at least at the third retreat (at least according to the notion that spiral activity with whooshing is a no-brainer diagnosis).  I also recall a period that was definitely dark night. I recently read Insight Meditation Practical Steps to Ultimate Truth by Achan Sobin S. Namto and the descriptions of the dark night territory psychology was bewildering in its accuracy. This shit really has been figured out, huh?  Haha.

So, I'm on this fourth retreat and I believe it was the second day, I'm pretty sure I wasn't very enthusiastic and was feeling like I just couldn't see where any of this could go. I think I was referencing against earlier retreats and how 'wowie zowie' they had been and nothing was happening for me this time around, everything seemed so even keel. There is a communication aspect to this retreat format and partners (dyads) contemplate and then share what they come up with, taking turns doing so.  So at one point when my turn came around I said I wanted lights and fireworks and something amazing to happen, so then the teacher comes up and says something like "How about something eternal and everpresent?" with a questioning smile. "Yeah, ok, sounds cool, I guess I could go for that. But HOW?"  So she tells me to describe it and really impressed upon me the importance of trying to communicate it to my partner, to really articulate it as well as possible. So I take to it and I begin investigating this sense of spaciousness which seemed eternal and all that and describing it to my partner, but really trying. Suddenly it just gets really interesting in the sense of "whoa...what the hell really IS this spaciousness and how can I even percieve it and what is its relationship to me?" and I begin seriously and sincerely trying to understand it and a sense of build up occurs untill at one point the whole thing made perfect sense and it felt like something clicked.  There was a sense of something coming at me from out of nowhere, it was like the sense of "the other" or "otherness' or something like that, or maybe the sense of space itself...I'm not really sure.  But it came at 'me' and then 'i' merged with 'it,' it was like we collapsed into each other.  It wasn't all crazy and fancy with a whole lot of lights and whatnot...it was just a profound sense of "oh, shit, there IS no other, it's only a SENSE of other vs me which is really and has always been a false dichotomy."  The whole thing seemed really obvious but a little disorienting too.  After the retreat I spent many days feeling like I wasn't there and that everything was just happening on its own. That sense and feeling is still there, but not nearly as strong as the few days and weeks after the retreat.  I remember trying to find anything that would shed light on how I was feeling and the only thing that made any sense was the tao te ching.  Thoughts and ideas and all that just seemed really silly and all logic felt so ridiculous and built on false premises that it amazed me how any of it could be so easily bought into.  My 'mind' felt really clean and slippery, like nothing would stick for more than a moment, and there was a feelng of amusement at how any of my thoughts could ever have been so strongly identified with.

So, sorry for the rambling, but out of all the experiences I've had this one seems the most profound even though it wasn't lights and fireworks.  It felt like pure knowledge which was pretty cool.  But I can't seem to fit it into the insight maps.  A&P stuff seems way flashier, it sounds more like equanimity but does equanimity have raptury stuff?  I've toyed with the idea of it being stream entry but I can't recall there being a blip or not...it was so unexpected that it just came and went, and my concentration wasn't strong enough nor did I really have the language to be able to see or recognize the really technical aspects that seem to be discussed here so often.  I don't know if I've given enough info for any reasonable diagnosis, but I figure maybe someone must've had a similar experience who knows a lot more than I do about this stuff.  The people at the center I've gone to aren't very fond of maps.  They propose a very simple one: there's an enlightenment experience, one 'knows,' and then this will over time penetrate until ones whole being 'knows.'  This totally makes sense to me, but I also like seeing different viewpoints, and it still amazes me how the maps of insight really do seem to apply in such a linear manner.
Thoughts?
Thanks for the great site and great posts which I've been reading for a few months now.  Cool stuff.

RE: 'otherness' hit me and I collapsed into it
Answer
6/26/14 11:25 AM as a reply to Chris W.
Stream-entry doesn't necessarily have a noticeable 'blip'. Chuck Kasmire, a 30+ year Thai Forest practitioner who posts here sometimes, never has Mahasi-style fruitions. Respected monks like Bhante Sujato and Ajahn Brahm don't believe fruition is nibbana or representative of awakening.

Are there any classes of thought or qualities of mind that disappeared after the experience, are still gone, and don't seem like they're coming back? Is there less obsessive rumination on self-ideas, like the narrative of past self, hope/fear for the future self, etc.

"After the retreat I spent many days feeling like I wasn't there and that everything was just happening on its own. That sense and feeling is still there, but not nearly as strong as the few days and weeks after the retreat." This definitely sounds like stream-entry because it hasn't faded with time.

Are you still practicing regularly? If so, does practice have any effect on the presence or absence of the impression that sensations are doing themselves without an agent?

RE: 'otherness' hit me and I collapsed into it
Answer
6/26/14 1:44 AM as a reply to Chris W.
What you're describing is a unitive/nondual peak experience, however due to persisting view of inherency and duality, the experience remains as a peak experience. For effortless sustaining of nondual experience, deeper insights into nondual and anatta must arise. However nondual insight also has different 'types' or 'grades', some resolve duality into an all-encompassing nondual awareness, which still results in subtle reification of 'awareness' even though it is seen that manifestation and awareness are inseparable. There is strong tendency to subsume or collapse one pole into another - such as Objects into Subject (another extreme is Subject into Object).

On the other hand, some do away with the background subject completely by realizing anatta or the emptiness of the subject (seeing through the center/agent/seer/perceiver/controller has always been assumed, that it is extraneous and in reality never exists), which leads to full emergence as pure manifestation - in seeing just the seen, in hearing just sound. That has nothing to do 'you collapsing into it' as there never was a 'you' there to experience or collapse into an 'it', it is not a unitive state or experience or stage, but a dharma-seal being realized as always already the case. Even after that, we must continue to refine and penetrate the view (of emptiness) and karmic tendency aspect.

I wrote this yesterday in my dharma discussion group but might be relevant here:

Oh ok I think I get what you mean. It seems that you think (and feel) that there is an observer that follows the body around and experiences the body. Like the third-person camera view that follows around a character in a video game like GTA. This is false because first of all as explained above, the 'body' is really just an imputed construct, like a placeholder with a supposed fixed shape and boundaries, but when we see through the construct then there is just vibrant patterns of energies and dissolution of a substantial mind-body. We literally feel no boundaries and instead vibrant energies that is disjoint yet in total exertion.

Secondly there simply was never an observer who can 'follow' or 'observe' anything. Sensations are self-luminous, meaning, sensation feels, no feeler involved. Scenery (i.e. vision) sees, no seer. They simply happen and are aware-ing so to speak. There is no such thing as an inner person inside the head looking out there at the world as depicted in cartesian dualism ( http://www.overthinkingit.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/cartesian_theater-300x236.jpg ). There is in seeing just scenery, full stop, never a seer. In hearing just sound, never a hearer. That is anatta (later should go into twofold emptiness).

Another thing I think it's important to point out is that the so called 'circle' or 'mindstream' is simply another placeholder, another conventional label or imputation. There is no real 'circles' or 'mindstreams'... it is like h2o is empty of being an entity or having a substance called 'water' but due to the aggregation of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, a conventional label is applicable called 'water molecule'. Yet there is no such thing as a core or waterness that resides in the center of the three molecules connecting and coordinating them. No waterness of water can be found apart from imputation. Likewise due to the five aggregations or skandhas the conventional label 'person' is applied but in actuality there is no real person or soul or core. And likewise, 'mind' is a conventional label for the four mental aggregates, which are all self-luminous, manifesting transience that dependently originates and is fundamentally empty and non-arising.

As 3rd Karmapa says, "Mind is no mind--the mind's nature is empty of any entity that is mind
Being empty, it is unceasing and unimpeded,
manifesting as everything whatsoever."

One last point.

It is important not to subsume subject-object into Self, as that can either mean subsuming into a universal consciousness, or leads to seeing that everything is self and therefore other mindstreams are subsumed into self, which is sollipsistic. Both are false views. The point is to see through inherency, not to subsume one pole to another (either object into subject, or subject into object).

Conventionally, water is still water, and is not the same as for example, carbon dioxide molecule. The point is not to collapse all types of molecules or atoms or particles into one 'water substance' (like collapsing all others into one Self), but rather to see through the inherency (such as an eternal, changeless, core of waterness) and therefore directly touch the manifestation and dependencies. Likewise I am still I, you are still you, conventionally (but empty of an inherent, eternal being). Through insights into anatta and emptiness we see through the inherency of Self, mind, body, and therefore experience becomes direct gapless self-luminous because there is no more imputing the perception of inherent subjectivity and objectivity and instead one penetrates the reification and touch the suchness of the six entries. Yet there is no absolutist claims like 'There is only THIS' or 'There is only SELF' or 'There is only X and no others', etc, which is really still an essentialist/substantialist/inherent view, which results in a tendency to subsume despite clear nondual experiences, there is no breakthrough clearing away of inherent view.

RE: 'otherness' hit me and I collapsed into it
Answer
6/26/14 1:27 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
Also Thusness (my spiritual mentor) just wrote today to someone:


Hi David, thanks for sharing.

First there is the direct apprehension of Clarity/Awareness.

Next is recognizing the apparent separation of clarity and appearance caused by a seeming perceptual knot.

Then
there is resolving of this separation and what’s left is appearances /
phenomena / cognized, seen, heard, tasted, smelled and sensed

It
is interesting that the resolving of the separation for your case is
not by way of subsuming into an all-encompassing non-dual
awareness/space; however the overcoming of the center/agent can arise
(from my experience) by:

1. By a prolong training in a state of no-mind.

2. Seeing through the center that the center has always been assumed, it is extra. In reality it does not exist.

3. Seeing through that the fundamental nature of the perceptual knot itself

4. A combination of above

Do you overcome the center by any of the above or by a different approach?

..........

Hi David,

Nice meeting you too and thanks for sharing your experiences…felt a little nostalgic after knowing your Taoist background.

Your
description of the little girl’s stare is beautiful. The stare cuts
through not only one’s discursive thoughts but also pierces through the
living Presence (the first level of koan of one’s original face) and
right into the fundamental essence of anatta. Even from your mere
description, there is still the wordless transmission of headlessness
that penetrates deep into one’s bone marrow and boils the blood. The
stare preserves the lineage that is beyond words. Thank You.

For
me, the initial insight of anatta was mainly what I have stated in
scenario 2 -- seeing through the center that the center has always been
assumed, it is extra. In reality it does not exist.

Up
until this point of anatta, I was very much a non-conceptual advocator,
less words more experience. I have heard of the word “Kong
空”(Emptinesss) numerous times but never exactly know what it truly
meant. The idea of Emptiness struck me probably “2 years later when I
came across the chariot analogy of the Buddhist sage Nāgasena. There
was an instant recognition that the analogy is precisely the insight of
anatta and anatta is the real-time experiential taste of the “Emptiness”
in relation to self/Self except that it is now replaced with “chariot”
in the example.

The
insight was huge and I began to re-examine all my experiences from the
perspective of "Emptiness". This includes mind-body dropped, the
impression of hereness and nowness, internal and externality, space and
time...etc. Essentially a journey of deconstruction, that is, extending
the same insight of anatta from the perspective of emptiness to all
phenomena, aggregates, mental constructs and even to non-conceptual
sensory experiences. This led to the taste of instant liberation at
spot of not only the background (self) but also the cognized, seen,
heard, tasted, smelled and sensed without the need to subsume either
subject into object or object into subject but liberates whatever arises
at spot.

The
deconstruction process reveals not only the taste of freedom from
freeing the energy that is sustaining the constructs (in fact tremendous
energy is needed to maintain the mental constructs) but also a
continuous formation of a perceptual knot that blinds us in a very
subtle way and that relates to scenario 3 -- Seeing through the
fundamental nature of the perceptual knot itself. Seeing the nature of
perceptual knot involves in seeing clearly certain very persistent and
habitual patterns that continues to shape our mode of knowing, analysis
and experience like a magical spell. The perceptual knot is the
habitual tendency to reify and Emptiness is the antidote for this
reifying tendency.

The
journey of emptying also convinces me the importance of having the
right view of Emptiness even though it is only an intellectual grasped
initially. Non-conceptuality has its associated diseases…lol…therefore I
always advocate not falling to conceptuality and yet not ignoring
conceptuality. That is, strict non-conceptuality is not necessary, only
that habitual pattern of reification needs be severed. Perhaps this
relates to the zen wild fox koan of not falling into cause and effect
and not ignoring cause and effect. A koan that Hakuin remarked as
"difficult to pass through".

Not falling, not ignoring.

A word different, a world of difference.

And the difference causes a wild fox for five hundred lifetimes!

A long post and time to return to silence.

Nice chat and happy journey David!

RE: 'otherness' hit me and I collapsed into it
Answer
6/26/14 8:29 PM as a reply to Matthew.
Hi Matt
Are there any classes of thought or qualities of mind that disappeared after the experience, are still gone, and don't seem like they're coming back? Is there less obsessive rumination on self-ideas, like the narrative of past self, hope/fear for the future self, etc.
There do seem to be some differences in general everyday experience.  I'm typically more 'present,' or less prone to getting lost in daydreams and fantasies, flights of mental fancy and whatnot.  I guess more grounded would be a good way to put it.  Also the slickness thing I mentioned before seems to be continuing. For instance it seems there's more of a choice as to whether or not to give in to emotional states.  If anger or sadness or joy or whatever comes up I notice it in a way that I feel I can decide whether or not to go with it or to pay less attention to it and let it die down...although I'm not sure if this is just a better ability to repress or something of the sort.... It still gets gummy at times, but less so/less often than I ever remember in the past. Also, there is a consistent and pervasive sense of spaciousness within my realm of awareness/perception, if that makes any sense.  This actually appeared a while ago but just seems to be growing or becoming stronger (though those terms don't seem to sound just right in describing it) and feeling less weird than it initially did. It's kind of like a sense of aloneness, like...I'm not here with myself as much as I used to be...again, if that makes any sense....
Are you still practicing regularly? If so, does practice have any effect on
the presence or absence of the impression that sensations are doing
themselves without an agent?
I'm not practicing regularly. I'm honestly not really sure if I know how to practice. This is an issue that I've been a bit confused over and can't seem to figure out, but perhaps it's because I haven't spent enough time. The dyad technique is interesting and questioning the notion of self within this format certainly seems to get at it, but I feel I don't understand how it works and thus get confused when trying to practice. Do I just sit and pay attention to what happens while holding on to a curiosity of "who am I?"  MCTB seems to emphasize the notion of 'bare attention' or 'bare sensation' over and over again but I'm not sure I know what this means.  Isn't everything that ever occurs bare sensation? What's the difference? I think I over intellectualize things. I feel like I can get the difference between buying into content and not buying into content but then I find it difficult to tell if I'm just trying to empty my 'mind' and stop thought or if I'm actually 'doing insight.' I suppose choiceless awareness is what I was trying to do?

I've done a few random experiments in the past which seemed to effect the sense of agency, one was a 'not me' approach where I would say 'not me' or 'i don't know' to anything that came up, at the time most of which were fantasies and philosophising and such. This had interesting results, but this wasn't recent, this was a while before the january retreat.  I've also tried noting a few times recently and I'm not sure I understand it properly.  It's basically a training technique to drop when it's not needed, but better to use than getting lost, right? I find that I feel like I'm going batshit insane trying to note every sensation that occurs because it's impossible, there're too many things that happen between each note and it seems like it takes forever to find a term and apply it and then I find I'm trying to note the trying to find a term and it gets really confusing.
Respected monks like Bhante Sujato and Ajahn Brahm don't believe fruition is nibbana or representative of awakening.
Is there any commonly agreed upon notion of what awakening is? I feel a bit like ranting right now about information overload and trying to understand this whole thing and all these different takes on it, and are these different takes on 'it' (whatever 'it' is) even talking about the same thing? and yadda yadda yadda.  I guess this is why I finally decided to post here and get some of this shit out/try to work out some theory... Didn't the buddha supposedly say that at the end of the day, the only true way is to figure it out for yourself or something like that?

RE: 'otherness' hit me and I collapsed into it
Answer
6/26/14 8:33 PM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
Hi An Eternal Now,
I think I get some of what you're saying, but I also think I need to chew on some of it before responding.

RE: 'otherness' hit me and I collapsed into it
Answer
6/27/14 6:08 AM as a reply to Chris W.
Hi Chris W! I've done a couple enlightenment intensives (~15 years ago, with a martial artist named Peter Ralston). It can be tricky to apply the Buddist maps from MCTB to that practice because the states/stages tend to be covered up by the switching roles with your partner and the focusing on the "listenting". One thing about dyad practice is the culture of it tends to promote having more mental insights or a kind of intellectual cathartic release -- which is different than buddhist insights. It's also very scripted into trying to understand "other" and "space" --- or at least it was for me since those were the big enlightenment insights that Peter Ralston had. I haven't heard much discussion about mapping in the dyad practice, despite looking desparately for it years ago. Maybe it exists now, I'm not sure. I do think these practices are helpful and useful and can lead to awakening... but the approach is fairly new and I just don't think there is enough data on it to make it as predictable for attaining stream entry as other practices such as noting practice. It's kinda a mixed bag that helps people break through where they are at --- which is a good thing --- but it doesn't seem like a complete system that can guide and differentiate between all the variety of experiences that are possible.

So all that said, my best guess is that you made it to low equanimity and had some higher equanimity insights. Equanimity has a feeling of "everything is clear and simple and fine as it is, how could there be anything different?". It's to your credit that you recognized the essential practice pointer --- that even that experience of EQ is still an experience, something percieved as having particular qualities, knowable, etc. In equanimity, you can have fairly deep understandings of the dualistic nature of human existance. I remember having many insights during the last couple days of the enlightenment intensive and I saw through a lot of my psychological positions and strategies.

Sounds like you've already had some mind-opening/exploding experiences and are interested in investigating awakening, and it sounds like you don't have a daily practice. I would strongly recommend really reading Daniel's book, understanding the maps, understanding what meditation does and doesn't do, and then think about whether you want to start a daily practice. There are a lot of important things in life and meditation can be one of them --- or not. I remember thinking that enlightenment would fix everything or tell me how I should live my life... and that's just a fantasy. So make sure your whole life is in good enough shape (education, job, friends, family, psychology) and then consider that when you start meditation, you won't want to stop. It's a fairly serious commitment. I'm trying to be honest and not sugar coat it.

There is a lot of different practices out there, but the best one for ramping up a serious practice is vipassina/noting practice. This is the observation made by many of my friends, and folks like Daniel and Shinzen Young (who learned Vipassina practice even though he already learned Zen because the Vipassina teachers had higher success rates at getting students to Stream Entry). It's also very simple and lends itself to a home daily practice.

Hope all of this helps. Dyad practice is a bit like a gateway drug. I felt frustrated that something that seemed fairly powerful was also so confusing. Of course meditation is going to be wildly confusing, but I really felt like awakening was a big mystery until I read Daniel's book.

You have read his book right?

RE: 'otherness' hit me and I collapsed into it
Answer
6/27/14 9:33 AM as a reply to x x.
By the way, Stream Entry is entirely possible. Never say never.

What happened for the rest of the retreat after your insight?

RE: 'otherness' hit me and I collapsed into it
Answer
6/27/14 5:56 PM as a reply to x x.
Hey XX!, what's happenin?
Your post makes a lot of sense to me.  "One thing about dyad practice is the culture of it tends to promote having more mental insights or a kind of intellectual cathartic release."  I certainly get that sense.  Perhaps this is what has the unsticky influence, the mental insights concering my psycho-emotional-pyhsical progamming.  The place I've gone to talks about 'spontaneous information,' which will seem to happen but it's really difficult for me to understand what it really means when I get 'spontaneous information' or what to do with it.  "It's also very scripted into trying to understand "other" and "space""  Yeah, I notice that also.  I actually recently attended another intensive a few weeks ago and recieved 'spontaneous information' about 'other,' given that was my contemplative focus.  It's just that I don't know what to do with that information or what it means in any context, or even the mechanism by which it works.  The term mental insight seems to make sense to me and what I find strange is that they talk about such things like noticing how the emotional/mind system works are really just side effects, yet it seems to be encouraged to notice these things and I don't seem to get a sense of what awakening really is out of the system (though I'm not sure anything can truly be understood outside actual direct experience, which admitedly they strongly encourage)  I feel like I know what you mean about feeling how awakening was a mystery before reading MCTB, I've read it in the past and reading it now in retrospect after going to these intensives, it throws so much light on my experience that I couldn't make sense of otherwise.  It seems like the stages of insight should be common knowledge in spiritual circles/groups/communities and out of any book I've ever read that was the first I had seen them mentioned (at least from the perspective of them being stages of a specific universal pattern of potential human development/reporgramming).  Of course the knowledge didn't really have much impact on me untill after I hit A&P, bought into the corruptions of insight, kept going, more A&P, and later went through an isolated period of dark night bamboozle. 

"It's kinda a mixed bag that helps people break through where they are at --- which is a good thing --- but it doesn't seem like a complete system that can guide and differentiate between all the variety of experiences that are possible."  Yeah, I certainly feel I've gotten a lot out of them, but I think I may have gone as far as I can with them and I feel a need to change direction/method which I guess is why I'm here.  I'm definitely attracted to the approach that is ok with talking openly about states, stages, and whatnot and discussing what they may mean and how they might interelate.  I'm certainly interested in investigating awakening, and your advice seems sound to really read MCTB...I really like the down to earth and honest approach it presents, and how it makes sense of the whole thing.  I certainly don't think enlightenment/awakening is going to make me an awesome person or anything like that (though I did get quite self-righteous during one period, I'm embarassed to say...and I'm also on the lookout for a return of this too, as best I can...)  I don't expect it to make me a good person, I don't expect to learn calculus from it, I don't think it will give me the answers or access to cosmic bliss or anything.  It's actually difficult for me to pinpoint exactly why I'm interested in this stuff to be honest.  I remember Daniel saying something to that effect in the book, "Why are you doing this? Why are you interested in this?"  And I've been trying really hard to figure that out.  It just feels like theres something in me, nagging me incesantly to do this, to look into this stuff, and again I can't ultimately say why but it just seems REALLY important to me for some reason.  It feels more like a need than anything else...like something I can't not do.

You say to make sure my life is in good enough shape, and I feel like it is.  I (believe I) am generally down to earth, practical, have good relationships with the people in my life, have an ok career (that I'm not sure how pleased with it I am), I certainly don't think I'm perfact and feel I'll have room to improve for my whole life.  But one of the points MCTB makes is that it may be a good idea to get some degree of awakening first, then to look at your life from that perspective (though again, I don't expect awakening to suddenly make everything awesome...I feel like in most ways everything will be the same as before after awakening, except for one little thing that seems hard to pinpoint).  This isn't to say I'm ok with just throwing my life away and suddenly not caring about people or anything like that for a spiritual pursuit, but am I making sense?

"Dyad practice is a bit like a gateway drug."  Ha!!  I laughed out loud at that.

"By the way, Stream Entry is entirely possible. Never say never.  What happened for the rest of the retreat after your insight?"  I suppose it is, but to be honest I have no idea if it's actually even likely or not, this mapping stuff and how the progress of insight works functionally is still a bit confusing to me, outside of the simple linear aspect of it.  The only REALLY obvious stages I've been in that I'm certain about are A&P and dark night, the descriptions of them vs my experience of them are spot on.  The reason I was toying with the idea of stream entry was the explanation in MCTB about the three doors and how theres a sense of something coming at you from that side, which is what this experience seemed like.  For the rest of the retreat I felt kind of burnt out almost, and there was such a sense of space or centerlessness that it was like I was being done and not doing the doing 'myself', but it was flipping back and forth between doing and being done, if that makes any sense.  Also, there was no discernable cycling, would I have to have a high degree of concentration or build up of practice to notice this?  Or more experience?  This also makes me highly doubt SE.  Also, MCTB says one way to find out is to try and repeat the experience because one should be able to do so, given enough skill and practice, perhaps I should try to do this?  Your guess about equanimity makes sense, but who knows...what I find really confusing about the whole mapping situation is in MCTB it seems like the higher up the stages, the more warnings there are about how 'this stage seems like that stage' and it's almost like any stage could mimic another stage.  I get the feeling, though, that with time and practice these things may clear up, although it's mentioned that it's still common for people on higher paths to make mistakes about where they are.

Actually, another point about my desire to continue and go further with all this is that I'm reasonably certain that I've crossed the A&P event and have gone through the dark night, and if this is true and I haven't got stream entry then this would mean that the side effects of DN could still be affecting me even if subtle and hardly noticable?  Or not subtle....?  And differentiating between DN symptoms and psychological issues is apparently quite difficult.  Also, I wonder if I may be a chronic DN yogi since my late teenage years and yadda yadda whatever...but one thing that confuses me is the whole cycling thing...how can SE help with DN if one is then cycling through DN all the time after?  It's almost like "once dark night hits it follows forever untill SE, then after SE DN is still always there"  haha...what?  Is it just that DN has less power to mess with one after SE? Or that the experience of it is altered due to the reprogramming effect of SE?  Not sure if I should start a new thread for some of these questions but I've been thinking about this stuff for a while and blurp it all comes out.  Enough rambling for now!

RE: 'otherness' hit me and I collapsed into it
Answer
6/28/14 7:27 AM as a reply to Chris W.
Chris W:
Hey XX!, what's happenin?

Not much emoticon . I enjoyed reading your post. It seems like there is a lot of commonality between our experiences of dyad work. Ultimately, I now find it a bit naïve and somewhat dangerous, mostly because I have a lot of sympathy for someone who has gone through the A&P without context or support.

I feel like I know what you mean about feeling how awakening was a mystery before reading MCTB, I've read it in the past and reading it now in retrospect after going to these intensives, it throws so much light on my experience that I couldn't make sense of otherwise. It seems like the stages of insight should be common knowledge in spiritual circles/groups/communities and out of any book I've ever read that was the first I had seen them mentioned (at least from the perspective of them being stages of a specific universal pattern of potential human development/reporgramming).


!!! Agree!

It's actually difficult for me to pinpoint exactly why I'm interested in this stuff to be honest. I remember Daniel saying something to that effect in the book, "Why are you doing this? Why are you interested in this?" And I've been trying really hard to figure that out. It just feels like theres something in me, nagging me incesantly to do this, to look into this stuff, and again I can't ultimately say why but it just seems REALLY important to me for some reason. It feels more like a need than anything else...like something I can't not do. … You say to make sure my life is in good enough shape, and I feel like it is. I (believe I) am generally down to earth, practical, have good relationships with the people in my life, have an ok career (that I'm not sure how pleased with it I am), I certainly don't think I'm perfact and feel I'll have room to improve for my whole life. But one of the points MCTB makes is that it may be a good idea to get some degree of awakening first, then to look at your life from that perspective (though again, I don't expect awakening to suddenly make everything awesome...I feel like in most ways everything will be the same as before after awakening, except for one little thing that seems hard to pinpoint). This isn't to say I'm ok with just throwing my life away and suddenly not caring about people or anything like that for a spiritual pursuit, but am I making sense?


You are making a lot of sense and you sound very grounded. Unfortunately, sometimes the dark night really messes up people’s lives and they get quite contracted and they can start “spiritually bypassing” the real-life problems in their life. I have a lot of sympathy for this, since sometimes the world seems meaningless in the DN and spiritual practices can be like a light in the darkness… but spiritual practices really should rest on a solid foundation of basic mental health, a good body, and a good social context. That isn’t always possible and isn’t essential, but it really does help. It’s sort of like going for a long distance drive and not filling up your car’s tires fully with air. You might get to your destination, but there will be more wear and tear and you might have to fix a flat or two along the way. Sometimes an ounce of prevention, taking a few minutes to fill the tires, taking a few months or a year to get your life ship shape, is a smarter investment in time in the long run. If people really are having difficulty, it’s much much better to see doctors, social workers, councilors, psychiatrists, fitness instructors, to fix your diet, to cut back on drugs and alcohol… all of this stuff will help much more than sitting a few months or a year without it. It isn’t necessary, but it’s much wiser nonetheless. No need to procrastinate with some self-perfection project, just make sure there is a bit of a foundation – and don’t be surprised if you find yourself needing to adjust this mundane stuff as practice progresses.

"By the way, Stream Entry is entirely possible. Never say never. What happened for the rest of the retreat after your insight?" I suppose it is, but to be honest I have no idea if it's actually even likely or not, this mapping stuff and how the progress of insight works functionally is still a bit confusing to me, outside of the simple linear aspect of it. The only REALLY obvious stages I've been in that I'm certain about are A&P and dark night, the descriptions of them vs my experience of them are spot on. The reason I was toying with the idea of stream entry was the explanation in MCTB about the three doors and how theres a sense of something coming at you from that side, which is what this experience seemed like. For the rest of the retreat I felt kind of burnt out almost, and there was such a sense of space or centerlessness that it was like I was being done and not doing the doing 'myself', but it was flipping back and forth between doing and being done, if that makes any sense. Also, there was no discernable cycling, would I have to have a high degree of concentration or build up of practice to notice this? Or more experience? This also makes me highly doubt SE. Also, MCTB says one way to find out is to try and repeat the experience because one should be able to do so, given enough skill and practice, perhaps I should try to do this? Your guess about equanimity makes sense, but who knows...what I find really confusing about the whole mapping situation is in MCTB it seems like the higher up the stages, the more warnings there are about how 'this stage seems like that stage' and it's almost like any stage could mimic another stage. I get the feeling, though, that with time and practice these things may clear up, although it's mentioned that it's still common for people on higher paths to make mistakes about where they are.


Your mapping seems pretty right on. I haven’t heard many people talk about this, but in my experience there are “dry” A&Ps which lack the lights and bliss and present a lot like SE/fruition. The world can blink out, sometimes you are transported to almost a dream-like or vision-like dimension afterwards, and you definitely feel like you “have stood at the ragged edge of reality”, and there is definitely a change in perspective, some additional insight. I had a few of these (along with several more flashy A&Ps) before SE. I remember one in particular after my dyad retreat: the world completely stopped and restarted, but no cycling, no new access to jhanas – so probably not SE according to MCTB. About a year later I had the more classic SE which was preceeded by lots of EQ and the beginnings of jhanas, and after SE the jhanas really were instantly accessible. Even now, I still don’t have full confidence in how to map those old experiences, so it really shows that while there is a lot of interesting stuff that isn’t cookie-cutter and you should always be careful not to “be certain” about mapping your experience. Frankly, it doesn’t matter --- you still make progress even if you don’t know how to map the past. emoticon

Actually, another point about my desire to continue and go further with all this is that I'm reasonably certain that I've crossed the A&P event and have gone through the dark night, and if this is true and I haven't got stream entry then this would mean that the side effects of DN could still be affecting me even if subtle and hardly noticable? Or not subtle....? And differentiating between DN symptoms and psychological issues is apparently quite difficult. Also, I wonder if I may be a chronic DN yogi since my late teenage years and yadda yadda whatever...but one thing that confuses me is the whole cycling thing...how can SE help with DN if one is then cycling through DN all the time after? It's almost like "once dark night hits it follows forever untill SE, then after SE DN is still always there" haha...what? Is it just that DN has less power to mess with one after SE? Or that the experience of it is altered due to the reprogramming effect of SE? Not sure if I should start a new thread for some of these questions but I've been thinking about this stuff for a while and blurp it all comes out. Enough rambling for now!


Those are really good questions and you will understand this more after going through it a few times. Explanations will help, but first hand experience really clarifies. The essential point is that all of these experiences arise up on their own and over time, we learn not to take them so seriously, not to discount them either, and to treat them like bits of information rather than things that require strong reactions. It’s like the difference between a 3 year old getting angry and a teenager and an adult. A three year old will freak out and lash out when it’s angry, a teenager might be agnsty all day and kinda passive aggressive and sulking but not angry, and an adult might reflect and say “what it the trigger for all of this, why is this pushing my buttons”? (Not a great example, but hopefully kinda helpful.) It’s the same way with each pass through the DN. You learn that all of these moods/emotions/reactivity doesn’t need to be acted out or believed. They aren’t “you”, they are experiences that don’t obligate you to be one way or another. They suck, but they suck like seeing a sucky movie – you don’t take it so personally.

The paradox of it is to get this perspective, you need to fully experience those moods/emotions/reactivity. So by having them completely you learn to see their limited nature. Paradoxical. Anytime an experience isn’t fully experienced, there is the opportunity for a reaction to be triggered and followed upon. This becomes very clear when you do sitting meditation and watch your mind and body trigger a chain of thoughts and reaction --- completely on it’s own! That’s when you start seeing the NEED for meditation practice. It’s very hard to get this kind of insight without formal practice.

After SE, there seems to be more of a separation or clarity about experience which really accelerates having complete experiences and not entering into reactivity.

Ironically, as you progress through the paths, you also become more sensitive and you see how there are even more subtle triggers and reactions. It can feel like losing ground at times. But ironically, your friends and family will notice you are even better grounded. Which is kinda the sick joke about this work, but honestly that’s life. It also seems true that the people who do the best in their life keep practicing even after 4th path. Reactivity is very subtle and perhaps never goes away completely, but it is quite nice to live in a space of more openness.

Hope this helps! The last thing I’ll mention is that having a teacher is very helpful and people with teachers do make the fastest progress. The next best thing is to have a public practice log on a website you feel comfortable on --- that way more experienced folks can help you troubleshoot your practice. Neither is necessary of course, and certainly not required to get started.

Good luck!

RE: 'otherness' hit me and I collapsed into it
Answer
7/1/14 5:27 PM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
Hi An Eternal Now,
I wrote a bunch of reply but the internet gremlin ate it up, so I'll just try to get to the core of my response.  Basically, you're saying the experience of the merging of poles is just that, an experience that doesn't necessarily point to an intrinsic penetration of 'isness' 'suchness' or whatnot into the core of being?  Perhaps it's just a metal insight along the lines XX spoke of in reference to the type of experience the enlightenment intensive modality supports.  Never the less it still seemed to point to something intrinsic, if only 'my' outlook.  Though, if I'm right in interpretation, it also seems you're saying it's not about outlook or certain experiences because outlooks will be there regardless of the degree of suchness that has penetrated, it's the degree and level of completeness of the penetration of suchness instead because outlooks will change over time and experiences will repeat themselves (or not) but the penetration of suchness is deeper than that.

In reference to the movie watching/video gamer analogy I have had that concept come up within myself too.  At times it has been as you've described, with 'me' following the body, or 'me' watching the movie of my reality, but it seems more like it's a movie that watches itself...like the movie and the watching are both the same.  Like, the screen is just there being and it's not being watched but it's just there...(where ever there is, lol...)...in the way of 'sound is just sound, the seen is just seen.'
There is in seeing just scenery, full stop, never a seer. In hearing just sound, never a hearer. That is anatta
Yeah, like that.  But what does this mean:
(later should go into twofold emptiness)
In response to this:
Conventionally, water is still water, and is not the same as for
example, carbon dioxide molecule. The point is not to collapse all types
of molecules or atoms or particles into one 'water substance' (like
collapsing all others into one Self), but rather to see through the
inherency (such as an eternal, changeless, core of waterness) and
therefore directly touch the manifestation and dependencies. Likewise I
am still I, you are still you, conventionally (but empty of an inherent,
eternal being). Through insights into anatta and emptiness we see
through the inherency of Self, mind, body, and therefore experience
becomes direct gapless self-luminous because there is no more imputing
the perception of inherent subjectivity and objectivity and instead one
penetrates the reification and touch the suchness of the six entries.
Yet there is no absolutist claims like 'There is only THIS' or 'There is
only SELF' or 'There is only X and no others', etc, which is really
still an essentialist/substantialist/inherent view, which results in a
tendency to subsume despite clear nondual experiences, there is no
breakthrough clearing away of inherent view
What are the six entries?
So nondual experiences are nondual experiences, and sense of inherent seperate eternal self can still remain and not be seen through regardless of how many nondual experiences one has or how deep they may seem.  So don't get stuck in clinging to experiences and don't get stuck in labeling/philosophy.

RE: 'otherness' hit me and I collapsed into it
Answer
7/1/14 6:07 PM as a reply to x x.
It seems like there is a lot of commonality between our experiences of dyad work.
I agree, I'm glad to be able to see the point of view of someone else who has done this work and also moved on to other things.
Ultimately, I now find it a bit naïve and somewhat dangerous, mostly
because I have a lot of sympathy for someone who has gone through the
A&P without context or support.
I think I get where you're coming from, it reminds me of one of the passages in MCTB where the question of how much warning is necessary is proposed. I agree with you, especially about the context aspect.  In terms of support I think the center I went to does offer it.  I'm personally a somewhat introverted individual, though.  And when dark night stuff hit it was hard for me to believe anyone could understand the feelings and notions and whatever I felt, but it seems that this is just stock experience/protocol that's part of the human nervous system.  From my current vantage point it seems the best thing is to keep practicing...who knew such experience indicated progress and I didn't really know how to practice.
since sometimes the world seems meaningless in the DN and spiritual practices can be like a light in the darkness
Yeah, for real.  Except the spiritual practice being a light thing, well sometimes it does, but it can also seem like "oh shit, I don't know if I can deal with everything that comes with that."  Haha...yet the draw remains. 
but spiritual practices really should rest on a solid foundation of
basic mental health, a good body, and a good social context. That isn’t
always possible and isn’t essential, but it really does help. It’s sort
of like going for a long distance drive and not filling up your car’s
tires fully with air. You might get to your destination, but there will
be more wear and tear and you might have to fix a flat or two along the
way. Sometimes an ounce of prevention, taking a few minutes to fill the
tires, taking a few months or a year to get your life ship shape, is a
smarter investment in time in the long run. If people really are having
difficulty, it’s much much better to see doctors, social workers,
councilors, psychiatrists, fitness instructors, to fix your diet, to cut
back on drugs and alcohol… all of this stuff will help much more than
sitting a few months or a year without it. It isn’t necessary, but it’s
much wiser nonetheless. No need to procrastinate with some
self-perfection project, just make sure there is a bit of a foundation –
and don’t be surprised if you find yourself needing to adjust this
mundane stuff as practice progresses
Yeah, I see what you're saying.  I've been mulling it over a lot.  Thing is, though, say I've got the best healthiest most wonderful life in the world and BAM supreme meaninglessness, aloneness, boredom with everything hits and I'm too naive to recognize it as part of the package to be seen, not clung to, and investigated?  I feel that even though I've gone through a&p, dn, and probably haven't hit se and will have to do all that again, maybe many times before getting se, how many times will the corruptions of insight snag me? Or the the potential by products/symptoms/insights of dn? You seem to address that later in your post.  But ultimately, I like your advice, it seems basically like "just try not to go into this stuff totally fucked up from the start if you can help it."  haha, yeah, I agree that that would probably be best if possible for anyone, really.  I also like Daniels advice concerning resolutions.  I've tried them in the past and they can be very powerful and helpful.
It’s the same way with each pass through the DN. You learn that all of these moods/emotions/reactivity doesn’t need to be acted out or believed. They aren’t “you”, they are experiences that don’t obligate you to be one way or another. They suck, but they suck like seeing a sucky movie – you don’t take it so personally.

The paradox of it is to get this perspective, you need to fully experience those moods/emotions/reactivity. So by having them completely you learn to see their limited nature. Paradoxical. Anytime an experience isn’t fully experienced, there is the opportunity for a reaction to be triggered and followed upon. This becomes very clear when you do sitting meditation and watch your mind and body trigger a chain of thoughts and reaction --- completely on it’s own! That’s when you start seeing the NEED for meditation practice. It’s very hard to get this kind of insight without formal practice.
This all makes a lot of sense to me.
which really accelerates having complete experiences and not entering into reactivity.
Could you elaborate on what you mean by complete experience?
Neither is necessary of course, and certainly not required to get started.
I think I'm started whether I like it or not, haha...!
Good luck!
Thanks XX!

RE: 'otherness' hit me and I collapsed into it
Answer
7/1/14 7:10 PM as a reply to Chris W.
After SE, there seems to be more of a separation or clarity about experience which really accelerates having complete experiences and not entering into reactivity.
Could you elaborate on what you mean by complete experience?


Maybe it's not a helpful expression... Basically, after SE you intuitively see a bit more of the "emptiness" or impermanent aspect of the moment, which in a certain sense is the "missing half" of experience.

By the way, you can approach all of this stuff from a philosophical/logical/analytical point of view, which maybe helps a little, but it's nothing like really having insights through actual meditation practice. In retrospect, I wasted a lot of years reading books and trying to understand. The curious thing is you can kinda get to a point where you do intellectually understand the dharma, but it just doesn't really affect your basic level of sanity, you "understand" it, but you don't KNOW it. When you are a scholar, you just get locked into retrospective thinking about your behavior and what it means. You don't really make much spiritual progress. I wish someone had sat me on the cushion and said practice this way, look out for this stuff, and check in with a more experienced spiritual friend every so often.

Neither is necessary of course, and certainly not required to get started.
I think I'm started whether I like it or not, haha...!


Yeah, I think you are too. So finish quickly! emoticon

RE: 'otherness' hit me and I collapsed into it
Answer
7/4/14 4:57 AM as a reply to Chris W.
Chris W:
Hi An Eternal Now,
I wrote a bunch of reply but the internet gremlin ate it up, so I'll just try to get to the core of my response.  Basically, you're saying the experience of the merging of poles is just that, an experience that doesn't necessarily point to an intrinsic penetration of 'isness' 'suchness' or whatnot into the core of being?  Perhaps it's just a metal insight along the lines XX spoke of in reference to the type of experience the enlightenment intensive modality supports.  Never the less it still seemed to point to something intrinsic, if only 'my' outlook.  Though, if I'm right in interpretation, it also seems you're saying it's not about outlook or certain experiences because outlooks will be there regardless of the degree of suchness that has penetrated, it's the degree and level of completeness of the penetration of suchness instead because outlooks will change over time and experiences will repeat themselves (or not) but the penetration of suchness is deeper than that.

In reference to the movie watching/video gamer analogy I have had that concept come up within myself too.  At times it has been as you've described, with 'me' following the body, or 'me' watching the movie of my reality, but it seems more like it's a movie that watches itself...like the movie and the watching are both the same.  Like, the screen is just there being and it's not being watched but it's just there...(where ever there is, lol...)...in the way of 'sound is just sound, the seen is just seen.'
There is in seeing just scenery, full stop, never a seer. In hearing just sound, never a hearer. That is anatta
Yeah, like that.  But what does this mean:
(later should go into twofold emptiness)
In response to this:
Conventionally, water is still water, and is not the same as for
example, carbon dioxide molecule. The point is not to collapse all types
of molecules or atoms or particles into one 'water substance' (like
collapsing all others into one Self), but rather to see through the
inherency (such as an eternal, changeless, core of waterness) and
therefore directly touch the manifestation and dependencies. Likewise I
am still I, you are still you, conventionally (but empty of an inherent,
eternal being). Through insights into anatta and emptiness we see
through the inherency of Self, mind, body, and therefore experience
becomes direct gapless self-luminous because there is no more imputing
the perception of inherent subjectivity and objectivity and instead one
penetrates the reification and touch the suchness of the six entries.
Yet there is no absolutist claims like 'There is only THIS' or 'There is
only SELF' or 'There is only X and no others', etc, which is really
still an essentialist/substantialist/inherent view, which results in a
tendency to subsume despite clear nondual experiences, there is no
breakthrough clearing away of inherent view
What are the six entries?
So nondual experiences are nondual experiences, and sense of inherent seperate eternal self can still remain and not be seen through regardless of how many nondual experiences one has or how deep they may seem.  So don't get stuck in clinging to experiences and don't get stuck in labeling/philosophy.


Merging of the poles is just a peak experience of unitive experience, no fundamental transformation or baseline shift of perception will take place because the fundamental delusion of duality persists. Nondual insight is different, nondual insight is realizing there never was a subjective perceiver apart from perceived experience, and that is/has/will always be the case as it is the nature of experience to be nondual. Nondual insight can be split into two types: substantial nonduality and insubstantial nonduality (I explained this in http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.sg/2011/08/substantial-and-insubstantial-non.html) Six entries is just talking about the six senses, i.e., five senses + mind, in Buddhism.

Yes, nondual experience are nondual experience, cultivating them is not the vital point but penetrating through our deeply rooted delusions via insight is more crucial. As I wrote in http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/experience-realization-view-practice.html, 'Experience, Realization, View, ...'. Experience and realization is different. What you described is more like an experience.

RE: 'otherness' hit me and I collapsed into it
Answer
7/6/14 8:41 PM as a reply to x x.
By the way, you can approach all of this stuff from a
philosophical/logical/analytical point of view, which maybe helps a
little, but it's nothing like really having insights through actual
meditation practice. In retrospect, I wasted a lot of years reading
books and trying to understand. The curious thing is you can kinda get
to a point where you do intellectually understand the dharma, but it
just doesn't really affect your basic level of sanity, you "understand"
it, but you don't KNOW it. When you are a scholar, you just get locked
into retrospective thinking about your behavior and what it means. You
don't really make much spiritual progress. I wish someone had sat me on
the cushion and said practice this way, look out for this stuff, and
check in with a more experienced spiritual friend every so often.
Yeah, I get what you're saying.  I think I tend to use philosophical/ideological placebo from force of habit, and also as a defense mechanism against certain fears of going forward, I suppose. Thanks for your advice.
Yeah, I think you are too. So finish quickly! emoticon
Ok, ok, I'm working on it!

RE: 'otherness' hit me and I collapsed into it
Answer
7/14/14 6:53 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
Here's a good article: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.hk/2014/07/some-remarks-on-conceptualization-and.html