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Time needed from a&p to stream entry

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Time needed from a&p to stream entry
Answer
9/2/14 10:32 AM
Dear reader,

Last week i did a week retreat, and I am pretty sure that I am in the arising and passing away. After this retreat i have a much deeper faith in the path.

The things that helped me:
- I dropped content as soon as I noted I was thinking about stuff
- I did my best to look into impermenance, suffering and no self 
- I gave it my maximal effort, trying to stay aware all the time
This gave me some good insights a lot of mindfulness and concentration and a lot of faith.

Assuming that my own diagnosis is right. And it took me 6 days to get there. (I probably have been there earlier in life but than didn't know what happened.) As I am very motivated and have faith that it is possible to achief stream entry in my next retreat I wonder what length of retreat would be a good idea? I only did two 10 day retreats and one 8 day retreat so far.

At the moment I believe i have a good change at streach stream entry in a 10 day retreat. However as I consider my self still as a baby regarding this stuff, I might be completely wrong with this believe...

Untill the next retreat t I will try to keep on noting during daily life and do 2 hours of formal meditation daily.

So my questions especially to people who reached steam entry:
- Does my view seem realistic?
- What length of retreat would you advice for stream entry?
- Are the different stages sort of comparable in time length if one works diligently?

If any more information from me could be helpfull to better answer these questions please ask!

Any reactions and opinions would be highly appreciated!

RE: Time needed from a&p to stream entry
Answer
9/2/14 12:44 PM as a reply to Pjotr Hill.
The best way to get to stream entry is to develop equanimity towards all experiences (including meditation).  By demanding a timeline to get there you'll likely be self-referencing instead of meditating.  I would recommend reading lots about dependent arising and Nagarjuna's middle path.  The understanding is needed in the meditation and in daily life.  Understanding the Buddhist description of timelessness is also a part of the the practice and can be a practice in of itself.

The Visuddhimagga has good descriptions of the path and so does Daniel's book and Mahasi Sayadaw's book.  Once you get these understandings you can't read too much.  You need to keep it simple and keep letting go of holding to preferences and be equanimous towards all experiences.  You have to fade your senses with letting go repeatedly.

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/talk/9553/

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/talk/11929/

http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.ca/2014/07/the-yogi-toolbox-specific-neutrality.html

Basically it will happen when it happens.  Timelines are something look back at after you get stream entry, not before.

RE: Time needed from a&p to stream entry
Answer
9/2/14 2:33 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Thanks for your reaction and advice, it makes sense to me. I will look into the things you mention thanks! 

To try to better explain myself: I guess i think that i might have been a "dark knight yogi" for some time, and caused myself and others suffering because of this and because of my own ignorance. 

It is not that I demand a timeline. I however want to get through this, and having a better understanding of what is required might help me to make choices that allow me to do this. I want to try to fit this into my life, progress and decrease the chance of getting stuck.

RE: Time needed from a&p to stream entry
Answer
9/2/14 2:47 PM as a reply to Pjotr Hill.
Time from A&P to SE varies considerably. Most of the heavy lifting is done in the early nanas, with A&P and the Dark Night happening more or less on their own. If you can keep up a good practice and maintain equanimity through the Dark Night, stream entry tends to come sooner rather than later.

Two hours a day is great, but be sure that you are maintaining mindfulness throughout the day, as much as you can. 

RE: Time needed from a&p to stream entry
Answer
9/2/14 5:24 PM as a reply to Pjotr Hill.
Pjotr Hill:
At the moment I believe i have a good change at streach stream entry in a 10 day retreat. However as I consider my self still as a baby regarding this stuff, I might be completely wrong with this believe...
So my questions especially to people who reached steam entry:
- Does my view seem realistic?
- What length of retreat would you advice for stream entry?
- Are the different stages sort of comparable in time length if one works diligently?
If any more information from me could be helpfull to better answer these questions please ask!
Any reactions and opinions would be highly appreciated!

There are tons of variables that affect the speed at which you can progress. The problem is in measuring the variables when you have no yardstick with which to measure it.
-How is your concentration?
-How well can you stay in the now with noting?
-How willing are you to clearly see things, especially the difficult stuff.
Most people find that getting to EQ is pretty fast compared to the length of time from getting from EQ to stream entry. If it takes you a ten day retreat to get to EQ then you can expect that EQ to SE will take longer. This is not a rule, just an observation from many many posts.
Remember that Stream Entry only happens in the now....any now....now now or future now. If it happens the moment you read this or if it happens years from now, make it the same thing. Hold your expectations towards it with equanimity as that is where it will happen. So we have the time and place covered.. emoticon

If you can, how about a retreat for as long as it takes? Pack everything up and go for a year? Hit SE and go for second path?
Good Luck,
~D

RE: Time needed from a&p to stream entry
Answer
9/2/14 6:56 PM as a reply to Pjotr Hill.
Hi. I crossed the A&P almost a year ago to the day that I got stream entry this year. Honestly, I was very lazy about practice and put in less than 100 hours total to get to SE. I never went on a single retreat, and I tend to sit only 30 minutes a day. I sat only once a week during the DN, if that. When DN got really horrific, I just spun out and did not practice. I absolutely did not develop one iota of equanimity toward the Dark Night. I nearly ended up on a psych ward, in fact, so severe was the anxiety, depression, and disgust. I finally went on SNRI antidepressants, and when they kicked in I was able to meditate again, and EQ emerged right away.

I say all this not to disagree with the others above, but just to point out that it is different for different people. I for one don't believe, however, that purposely cultivating equanimous regard for the Dark Night does a thing to bring stream entry along. Everything is really fairly automatic once A&P Event is crossed. You don't get anything from the DN except disenchanted with samsara. If there is any good in it, then that is it: You feel just how extreme suffering can be, and you know what it is not to have equanimity within reach at all. So disgust and complete wretchedness bring about Desire for Deliverance. And that's when the tide turns.

RE: Time needed from a&p to stream entry
Answer
9/2/14 11:42 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen Pearly:

I say all this not to disagree with the others above, but just to point out that it is different for different people. I for one don't believe, however, that purposely cultivating equanimous regard for the Dark Night does a thing to bring stream entry along. Everything is really fairly automatic once A&P Event is crossed. You don't get anything from the DN except disenchanted with samsara. If there is any good in it, then that is it: You feel just how extreme suffering can be, and you know what it is not to have equanimity within reach at all. So disgust and complete wretchedness bring about Desire for Deliverance. And that's when the tide turns.
Jen,
You succinctly explain the "secret" ingredient. I was thinking about this the other day, why can some people rewire their brains and why some can not. The stress/fight or flight center is wired to the pleasure center...exhilaration/fear etc. Cultivating dispassion and seeing the suffering clearly seems to help in getting the brain to rewire sensations out of the stress/fight or flight center. Many people get stuck in EQ and can't seem to get SE to happen. This may be one of the biggies....why rewire when you are still getting your jollies/serotonin rewards from other things than the untried promise of SE? It seems like the people here who suffer/depression and embrace it get the dukkha door to open up pretty easy. Why do so many people stop at SE or second path? The in your face existential suffering is the stick that can not be ignored, it's what keeps me going.
Just some thoughts,
~D

RE: Time needed from a&p to stream entry
Answer
9/4/14 3:12 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Thanks for all the reactions. Very useful for me. 

Out of the reactions it is very clear to me that an estimate about the time can not be made on forehand.

So instead of thinking about time frames I'll focus on equanimity and trying to be aware as much of the time as possible at this stage.

Regarding going for long retreats, at this time this is not possible for me. I will do a retreat in december. And there is a possibility that i can leave for a month in october. Next year I hope to do the Mahasi 60 day retreat, and if my responsibilities and finances permit I might stay longer.

Once more thanks for the reactions. I am very glad that I found a place where I can openly ask this kind of questions.

RE: Time needed from a&p to stream entry
Answer
9/4/14 10:13 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
Jen Pearly:

I say all this not to disagree with the others above, but just to point out that it is different for different people. I for one don't believe, however, that purposely cultivating equanimous regard for the Dark Night does a thing to bring stream entry along. Everything is really fairly automatic once A&P Event is crossed. You don't get anything from the DN except disenchanted with samsara. If there is any good in it, then that is it: You feel just how extreme suffering can be, and you know what it is not to have equanimity within reach at all. So disgust and complete wretchedness bring about Desire for Deliverance. And that's when the tide turns.
Jen,
You succinctly explain the "secret" ingredient. I was thinking about this the other day, why can some people rewire their brains and why some can not. The stress/fight or flight center is wired to the pleasure center...exhilaration/fear etc. Cultivating dispassion and seeing the suffering clearly seems to help in getting the brain to rewire sensations out of the stress/fight or flight center. Many people get stuck in EQ and can't seem to get SE to happen. This may be one of the biggies....why rewire when you are still getting your jollies/serotonin rewards from other things than the untried promise of SE? It seems like the people here who suffer/depression and embrace it get the dukkha door to open up pretty easy. Why do so many people stop at SE or second path? The in your face existential suffering is the stick that can not be ignored, it's what keeps me going.
Just some thoughts,
~D

This comment really hit home for me.  While I've had plenty of insights into the truth of suffering, I also seem to have developed pretty decent equanimity that has percolated into all my states of consciousness.  I usually take this as a blessing, because it makes quotidian life much more bearable, but as Dreamwalker pointed out, it can also be a hindrance.  I'm a bit jealous of Jen's measly 100 hours getting her to SE.  If I had to make a rough estimate, I think I've sat about 2,000-3,000 hours over the last 5 years in retreats and daily practice, and still no SE.  But it is so so so easy to turn your daily sits into an insipid routine where nothing gets done for years at a time.  I know that first hand, so just keep yourself motivated and remind yourself every time you sit why your doing it.
-T

RE: Time needed from a&p to stream entry
Answer
3/4/15 7:43 AM as a reply to Teague.
Teague: " This comment really hit home for me.  While I've had plenty of insights into the truth of suffering, I also seem to have developed pretty decent equanimity that has percolated into all my states of consciousness.  I usually take this as a blessing, because it makes quotidian life much more bearable, but as Dreamwalker pointed out, it can also be a hindrance.  I'm a bit jealous of Jen's measly 100 hours getting her to SE.  If I had to make a rough estimate, I think I've sat about 2,000-3,000 hours over the last 5 years in retreats and daily practice, and still no SE.  But it is so so so easy to turn your daily sits into an insipid routine where nothing gets done for years at a time.  I know that first hand, so just keep yourself motivated and remind yourself every time you sit why your doing it."

This is really good advice. Having just come off a lengthy retreat I'm finding it hard to motivate myself to sit. I am twice a day but concentration has gone to the wall. Feeling really dry about practice right now.

So, before each sit I am trying to 1. Instill a sense of gratitude. 2. Motivate myself (by recollecting exactly why I'm taking the time to get my butt on the cushion) 3. Give myself and/or others some metta.

RE: Time needed from a&p to stream entry
Answer
3/4/15 1:04 PM as a reply to Pjotr Hill.
If you forget about paths completely for a moment, the secret to attaining equanimity in any situation is to let go of the idea of positive feelings.  The suffering that comes from negative feelings is caused by a mental urging for change.  Equanimity is a difficult concept to understand, even when examining your own memories of it, because while nothing about any specific sensation changes, without equanimity there is suffering and with equanimity there is no suffering.  Subjectively, equanimity feels like a kind of invulnerability because nothing can bother you.  All things are equally pleasant.

The Buddha spends a lot of time urging his monks to guard the sense doors and to stop all delight in sensuality.  While this is, essentially, a rather negative way to view the world, it's also a very good way to cultivate the equality of experience that is equanimity, and equanimity is a very positive and wholesome way to experience all things.  We've spent our whole life so far being happy when we feel good and being sad when we feel bad.  The point is that this is not the only option.  These are just perceptions of things and are not set in stone.

So while it can seem like a paradox without the full picture, equanimity is actually not that hard to understand intellectually.  You simply have to let go of all your delight related to anything specific.  Forget about good feelings and forget about any kind of pleasure, and the mind stops looking for anything better.  When the mind if still, this is the cessation of craving, and the cessation of stress.

Put another way, the stress that comes from a negative feeling is not caused by the feeling itself, but rather the memory of other feelings that were judged to be better.  It's the longing that is stressful, not the sensations.  When you no longer delight in anything at all, the result is that each sensation just exists on its own, and this is percieved to be the same as each sensation being delightful because each sensation carries no longing with it.  You are always satisfied because there is no longing for anything better.

So equanimity is actually the complete absence of delight, which is why it often comes spontaneously from extreme negative states.  It can be helpful to see delight as the chief problem - especially while in a period of negativity.  It's also possible to flip the whole thing on its head and say that equanimity is the complete absence of aversion, but this is more difficult to practice because our instict is to reject aversion anyway.  The truth is simply that equanimity is the absence of both - a third option, if you will.

EDIT: Sorry if this is off topic, I was replying to the theme of the thread and forgot about your original question.