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Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

Not sure where I am at, feels like a reset?

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Hello everyone, not sure if I should start with an introduction or not. This might be a long one, so let me just dig in.

I believe that the idea of a Bodhisattva is something attainble in this life, and that through proper training, one can be "reborn" as a Bodhisattva in this life. I think I have done just this.

I've been studying and practicing Buddhism for 16 years. Almost 2 years ago I "popped" through the Gate. However, I was not satisfied, life was still...missing something. In fact, life felt rather "robotic" and I labeled all forms and objects as "stories" and "Mu" which is wonderful if you are trying to break yourself away from self-notself duality, but I also think it can go too far. Reducing the human experience to just nuerochemistry is, imho, also just a story and a defensive technique of mind. The Gate swings both ways.

Anyways, so a few weeks ago I get the itch again to start digging. "This, surely, is not the nirvana Siddhartha spoke of?" questions plauged me. So I started doing some research on the four stages of enlightenment, pegged myself as a stream enterer, and went to do some Dharma Combat. It was...one of the most interesting experiences of my life. I was "on fire" so to speak, cutting delusions away left and right, working on my own fetters (I called them "sticking points" at first, and "clouds" by the end. Love me some Li Po!). 

This is the point where my claims get...unfounded? I dunno. Something very, very serious happened, but I'm not sure how much of this is ego. Let me spit it out, and hopefully someone wiser can shine some light.

I am convinced that the idea of rebirth, like so many things in Buddhism, is true and true on a few different levels (I usually find three for most things Buddha taught). I was burning with the question though: if nothing is permanent, everything is in flux, form is emptiness, and there is no permanent soul, what is the self and what, exactly, is reborn?

As well as, is this life ordinary? Or saintly? We can engage with the mundane enough to drive and pay bills, but then on the mat we can break all this down the fractal to the bottom. So what's really going on?

I had...a vision? Some jhana experience? This is where I really need help. It came to me like being on an elevator, the elevator of mind. I was shown that there are many, many "floors" or "levels" this elevator can stop on, and usually we don't get to do much more than hit the button for the floor we want and hope to get there (or use overeating, drugs, etc to hit and try to maintain one floor/level).

My elevator was taken to the bottom and to the top. I was shown there were many paths to take, but essentially two end points: the big crunch of the Universe/Mu (bottom floor, Ultimate Control, Hell, 0 or false/null in computer science terms) or the entropic heat death of the Universe/Mu (top floor, Ultimate Freedom, Heaven, 1 or true in computer science terms). It, literally, scared the hell out of me and turned a 33 year old athiest into a man who went to two different Churches last Sunday. My family is dealing with the sudden 180 in my personality, but I'm hoping to get more info from everyone here.

I can go into much more detail, but I'm hoping this is enough for someone to guide me? The Fear comes back now and again, although prayer/meditation/rosaries help. I feel very, very, very drawn to help heal the world, generate bodhichitta, learn and teach. If this isn't a bodhisattva born, what is?

In the last two weeks, it's almost like starting over. I went through the child like innocent-joy phase, the fear of God and responsibility phase, the questioning God phase, the rediscovery of Buddhism phase, and now I feel like I'm back in my 20s with all the vigor for life and few if any negative emotions. I'm drawn to veganism all of a sudden, and feel I have a crystal clear understanding of Karma and Dukkha, among a bunch of other new things I NEVER would have considered before. There is a LOT of ego-inflation and deflating happening.

Anyone? Anybody got something similar to share? Guide? Map?

RE: Not sure where I am at, feels like a reset?
Answer
7/15/14 5:01 PM as a reply to Shane William Martins.
Possible that the thing you think of as the Gate was the A&P, Arising and Passing Away? Most people that think they have gotten stream entry just crossed the A&P. About 98% of the emails I get from people who think got stream entry just hit the A&P, maybe more than that. The A&P is impressive, so consider that a diagnostic possibility, in which case your recent Dark Night and inspiration phase may be just typical A&P repeating stuff, as it often does.

Stream enterers, particularly those who have some exposure to Buddhist theory also, should generally have a much stronger appreciation of no-self or some conceptual equivalent.

What is transmitted: the standard answer is that when you take a burning candle and light another candle with it and blow the first one out, what is transmitted?

Clearly not anything from the first candle, as it is sitting there blown out, and clearly not the flame, which is ephemeral, and clearly not the heat, which rapidly radiates out in any direction, and so you can't find anything that is transmitted that is material, that is permanent, that is continuous, but clearly causality can be extrapolated to have caused effects, so you can say that causality was transmitted, except that causality is not anything at all, so that should help.

Useful?

Daniel

RE: Not sure where I am at, feels like a reset?
Answer
7/16/14 12:24 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel, thank you for your quick response.

What, then, is the difference between A&P and the Gate? My expereince with the Gate was seeing that there was no one in control, no self at the wheel. It is all just nuerochemistry. That was two years ago. Since then, life has been easier. Lots of relief from responsibility (there was no me there after all!), some mild self-improvement (daily yoga, meditation). But not nirvana.

I'm still reading MCTB so forgive me for not knowing all the correct terminology. What is the Dark Night then? I would have described my 20s like that. I was very, very depressed. Suicidal. It was all meaningless, everything just changes, everything goes away, it's all just a dream, forms, emptiness. I actually only snapped out of this 2 years ago, and I assumed this was the Gate.

"What is transmitted: the standard answer is that when you take a burning candle and light another candle with it and blow the first one out, what is transmitted?"

The very beginning of the Universe, the very first Will. Karma of billions of years, googolplex numbers of decisions, choices, chances, happenstances, etc. ALL coming to crystalize in that one moment of the transferance of energy in a chemical process from one wick to another. That's one half of the equation at least. Are we thinking omnitemporally or conventionally?

RE: Not sure where I am at, feels like a reset?
Answer
7/15/14 6:35 PM as a reply to Shane William Martins.
We are thinking sensorily, or at least I am, meaning that, for insight practices, only the sensations arising at that moment count as the universe, as they are all you experience. They are totally transient, totally digital and analog at once, wavicles, discrete and also ephemeral, totally insubstantial, and none remain for even an instant.

RE: Not sure where I am at, feels like a reset?
Answer
7/15/14 6:39 PM as a reply to Shane William Martins.
Oh, yes, the Gate: no idea, as that may be some vague Zen map thing, and the Zen maps are, well, how does one put it? Vague and ambiguous doesn't quite sum up what they are. They are like smoke, like a mirage, like a rainbow, not much to them, but people somehow think they are interesting anyway.

If you are going to use maps, try something with more firm criteria, and that isn't Zen. Zen has lots of great points, but maps aren't one of them.

Could have been Equanimity, could have been a repeat of the A&P. Stream entry has all sorts of more specific criteria that, if you are not a technical practitioner, are not easy to sort out without you trying specific focuses of practice, generally on retreat, and knowing enough theory and enough phenomenology and enough criteria to get a handle on what is happening. That is not something people learn in Zen, generally. Lots of other cool things to learn in Zen, but those are not among its strengths.

RE: Not sure where I am at, feels like a reset?
Answer
7/15/14 11:54 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
We are thinking sensorily, or at least I am, meaning that, for insight practices, only the sensations arising at that moment count as the universe, as they are all you experience. They are totally transient, totally digital and analog at once, wavicles, discrete and also ephemeral, totally insubstantial, and none remain for even an instant.


I feel there is a level to engage above this. If I may, this is...going to take a while, I'm going to write it up in a text editor and then post it here.
Oh, yes, the Gate: no idea, as that may be some vague Zen map thing, and the Zen maps are, well, how does one put it? Vague and ambiguous doesn't quite sum up what they are. They are like smoke, like a mirage, like a rainbow, not much to them, but people somehow think they are interesting anyway.

If you are going to use maps, try something with more firm criteria, and that isn't Zen. Zen has lots of great points, but maps aren't one of them.

Could have been Equanimity, could have been a repeat of the A&P. Stream entry has all sorts of more specific criteria that, if you are not a technical practitioner, are not easy to sort out without you trying specific focuses of practice, generally on retreat, and knowing enough theory and enough phenomenology and enough criteria to get a handle on what is happening. That is not something people learn in Zen, generally. Lots of other cool things to learn in Zen, but those are not among its strengths.

I agree, and I have a few diagrams I've drawn to attempt to explain my experience.

RE: Not sure where I am at, feels like a reset?
Answer
7/16/14 12:21 AM as a reply to Shane William Martins.
I think there is a higher level to engage here, specifically with regard to the idea of karma. Yes, the experience itself is only this fraction of a moment, this "knife's edge" so to speak. With a trained, disciplined mind, one can see  the "frames" of vibrations at the fundamental levels of the Universe experience. However, there are more properties to reality than this knife's edge single frame.

"Zooming in" too closely is like having my nose too close to a painting. What's so special about starry night? I just see blobs of paint. I had to learn to refocus, and train my mind to do so rather swiftly, like an animator "scrubbing" a scene. In fact, we are going to borrow a lot of ideas like this, so polymaths, get warmed up. emoticon

We have to break down this Universe into four quadrants, four distinct properties of the Universe (Mu) first as a whole, then independently and then simultaneously. 

Try, instead of zooming in towards the knife's edge, doing the opposite. Your body only experiences time in one way, the “time's arrow” but your mind of course is much more powerful. This “now” didn't just happenstance its way into existence. There were proceeding causes and conditions that allowed it naturally to unfold into being. Karma.

I have to go slow sometimes, look at just the moment before this one: am I dreaming? No, this is real, there is this experience happening. I just lit one candle with another one. How did I get here? Oh yeah, I walked in after getting a glass of water. From the fridge. After I got home from work. I brought the candles in from the other room, where we keep them.

Then I speed it up. I'm posting from my laptop in my home. I'm here at this house because I live here. I live here because I married my wife. I came to this city with my brother. I came to this state because my dad moved our family here. I was born in California because that's where my parents were living at the time. 

Go faster. parents, grand-parents, generations stretching back 10,000 years. Common ancestors. Mammals. Pre-mammalian life. Ocean only life. Fish only. Multi celled organisms only. Single celled organisms only. Primordial sludge. This is all leading up to me and my candle.

Faster still, scale upwards exponentially. No life, only elements: fire water earth and sky. Volcanoes, oceans, an Earth tearing itself apart, growing pains for the Eden to come. Still, ALL of this had to happen EXACTLY as it did for this one karma of our candle to come to fruition.

Again, we aren't done. The Earth itself, new and rocky. Raw. A collision causes our moon.

Before even that, dust clouds, settling in silent space for billions of years.

Before even that, a great expanse of energy and mass, the formations of stars, galaxies, stellar nucleosynthesis. The very birth of the elements. Emptiness itself becoming form as energy slows it's vibrations down into matter, spreading across the vast nothingness of space. The very yin of the universe fighting yang. I'm not being poetic, this is what had to come into being for my candle transfer.

And still, before matter itself, only energy. And energy guided by Law, the fundamental Laws of the Universe, applied to this force outwards.

At the beginning, the big bang. I mean, it had to happen somehow, we are here having this experience in the here and now. Cogito ergo sum. There is at least someone WATCHING this movie, yes? So trace it back in mind. If you don't believe in free will, you don't have a choice in the matter, I've already planted the seed in your Mind. ;)

Now, when we get back to that big bang, what can we assume about it, knowing that it had to end up like it is here and now, 2014? Well, actually, the year is more like 13,798,002,014 at the scale we are working with. Start “scrubbing” from year 0 to year 13,798,002,014 just for funsies.

What is always there? I mean, after the nothing, the something. The very first somethings. I'd like to hear what your response is before I lay all my cards out on the table. emoticon

RE: Not sure where I am at, feels like a reset?
Answer
7/16/14 10:29 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Actually, doing some reading, this is pretty dang spot on to what happened to me:

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4435330