Trying to define A&P for myself

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Stick Man, modified 7 Years ago at 9/23/14 1:19 PM
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Trying to define A&P for myself

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I got confused by the long list of things that Daniel ascribes to A&P because they look just like a collection of phenomena with nothing connecting them. But a questioner asks for clarification and Daniel says,

"At its core, the insight you can depend on in the A&P is that they directly perceived something to fully arise and vanish rapidly (except the few who have the slow-goo variant, in which case it is slow) on its own: that is obviously not much to hang your hat on."

I can hang my hat on that much better I think. So it's not the phenomena themselves, it's the way in which the phenomena are experienced that is distinctive of A&P ?

So, what is different, in the above, to the normal way anyone would experience, say, being hungry for a pizza coming and going ? Because experiencing feelings and thoughts coming and going is universal.

Is it (A&P) a matter of close focus and absorption solely in the phenomena of pizza lust, or in a state of - for want of a better word - trance, rather than the usual everyday scattered mental kaleidoscope of hunger mixed with other thinking and feeling ?
x x, modified 7 Years ago at 9/23/14 3:06 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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The general A&P domain can be amazing, trippy, rich and syrupy, celestial, or religious inspiring --- lots of variation of wonder and awe.

The A&P "event" is usually some shock or zap or mindblowing event that is so other-worldly that it convinces you that there is some domain or aspect of existance that is outside normal life --- lots of variations of my life is different, the material world doesn't matter as much to me anymore, I'm a seeker, I'm religious, I'm a mystic, I'm a real meditator, etc.

Are you looking to understand a past experience, an experience you are encountering in your practice now, or just looking ahead to what might happen?
J J, modified 7 Years ago at 9/23/14 3:15 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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Hello John,

In the lower nanas (pre-A&P) the perceptions of impermanence, suffering and no-self are conceptual, meaning that there is a lag between seeing a thought arise and pass (or any other sensation) and the thought actually arising and passing.

Upon crossing or entering the A&P it is now possible to notice in real time, sensations, arising and passing. This happens non-conceptually but experientially. One can feel vibrations, flickers and so on and so forth, just by virtue of noticing them.

Here's a relevant sutta:



http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/12.11-Satipatthana-Vibhanga-S-s47.40-piya.pdf
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/23/14 3:22 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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Interesting.  By these definitions, I've never even experienced the A&P.
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago at 9/23/14 4:02 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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John:
So it's not the phenomena themselves, it's the way in which the phenomena are experienced that is distinctive of A&P ?

So, what is different, in the above, to the normal way anyone would experience, say, being hungry for a pizza coming and going ? Because experiencing feelings and thoughts coming and going is universal.

Is it (A&P) a matter of close focus and absorption solely in the phenomena of pizza lust, or in a state of - for want of a better word - trance, rather than the usual everyday scattered mental kaleidoscope of hunger mixed with other thinking and feeling ?


Lets get geeky. Check out the diagram on page 30. continue to read..heck read the whole thing...its really good - http://www.shinzen.org/Articles/WhatIsMindfulness_SY_Public.pdf

good luck,
~D
J J, modified 7 Years ago at 9/23/14 6:34 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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Hey Not Tao,

I highly doubt that, you describe here in your "Perfect Stillness and a Baseline Shift" a nearly classic A&P:

Then about a week ago, I was laying in bed trying to keep a completely open panoramic awareness (something I was trying to do all day for a while), and these little fireworks started going off all over my scalp. It felt like little currents of electricity running through or something. There was an enormous amount of pressure as well, like a migraine headache without any pain. I remember thinking that my brain must be rewiring itself or something, haha. That’s what it felt like. Between the third eye pressure and the pressure at the base of the skull it kind of felt like there was an arrow through my head. None of it was particularly unpleasant, though.

This went on for quite a while, so I gave up trying to do anything and just rode on those funny throbbing waves since they are kind of pleasant. I’m not really sure what I was thinking about or doing, I may have been in a drowsy sort of state, but out of nowhere this sudden “stillness” happened. Now this phenomena is incredibly odd. I was really disoriented after it happened. The best way to describe it is that it was nothing, but I was aware of it. It was like someone dropped a bottle of ink on my brain and it made a kind of non-sound like a “WHUMP”. I think the sight/sound combination might have actually been the experience of losing sight and sound, if that makes sense? All I can really say is that it was completely still, like my whole mind turned to ice. It could be called blissful, but that doesn’t seem like the right word to use…
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Stick Man, modified 7 Years ago at 9/23/14 7:09 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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I've had zaps - because I meditated years ago, the feeling of ecstasy and oneness - and I recognise that from descriptions when I see it, usually. What I don't recognise is whether it's A&P in these maps because it's not clear to me whether the zap is the A&P or whether A&P is a viewpoint from which the zap is seen. Just saying it's an otherworldly event is no use, really, so I assume the latter.

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Stick Man, modified 7 Years ago at 9/23/14 7:07 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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That's helpful, yes, because it reaffirms that it's the way of seeing, not the content of what is seen - as it were, that's it's a state of concentration and not an event.

So I'm not sure if I've had that, although I've had all sorts of feelings come and go in meditation. Given that it's a description of extremely close attention of a mental phenomena then I have to ask whether this is simply available to anybody intently focussed on something - say a hunter or surgeon ?
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Stick Man, modified 7 Years ago at 9/23/14 7:29 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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OK so what I'm seeing from Shinzen's bit is that it's a close attention to inner phenomena. He doesn't say it's specifically the kind of energy events you get in meditation, but rather general emotional and mental events - seen with stronger attention than normal.

I'm assuming that this is like being aware of the very first neurotransmitters that are released in any particular mental event - say hunger or a bout of desire, and paying attention until they are metabolised to something else.

So, let's say I was lost in the desert and hadn't eaten for weeks, and I found a nice, juicy burger sitting on a rock - would my craving focus my attention on the experience of eating it in this way ?
J J, modified 7 Years ago at 9/23/14 7:52 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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Hello,

I would not say so, I vaguely recall a discourse (not a sutta but some reading in a book) that stated that hunters and other professions also attain samadhi but not the kind that meditators do. Anyways the point is, they obtain some form of concentration, but I would not necessarily say that it begets spiritual progress.

The reason being that intention plays a part, as does view, speech and action and so on and so forth.

The sutta that I linked directly states that the cultivation of satipatthana is none other than seeing the arising and passing away of sensations, but that the method of obtaining the cultivation of satipatthana is the noble eightfold path.
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Stick Man, modified 7 Years ago at 9/23/14 8:00 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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"The sutta that I linked directly states that the cultivation of satipatthana is none other than seeing the arising and passing away of sensations"

So, why does Daniel just list a range of specific sensations and not the broader category of all sensations generally ?
Is it because by developing that insight which applies to your general experience it usually unmasks energetic/nervous system sensations as a by product - which can be a marker but not the A&P itself ?
J J, modified 7 Years ago at 9/23/14 8:14 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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I believe it's because according to Daniel's experience he has found that those specific sensations are reliable indicators as to whether or not a meditator is experiencing or passing through A&P. Ultimately A&P phenomena are only available to people who possess the noble eightfold path (traditionally defined as stream-enterers, but this may also include dhamma-followers and faith-followers), their possession of the path (or stream) allows them the ability to see the arising and passing of phenomena in real time.

As such the external characteristics of the event, the bliss, rapture, kundalini explosion do not matter so much as the presence of the eight factors in the meditator.

Moreover I explicitly guarantee that anyone who practices meditation with the correct intention (the noble eightfold path) will eventually, with certainty, cross the A&P.

Not only that, if anyone is involved in any spiritual, renunciation-related, activity and is striving for awakening and experiences those symptoms, I can also nearly guarantee that it is an A&P.

Cheers.
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Stick Man, modified 7 Years ago at 9/24/14 1:44 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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James,
I dont know why you say it's ultimately only available to people who possess the noble eightfold path, Daniel's survey seem to say it happens to anyone. Or do you mean those random people have the path naturally ?

[just edited a bit to keep things simple]

But I guess you cover that in the second part of your answer.

OK
J J, modified 7 Years ago at 9/24/14 3:11 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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Hello hello,

Well, I have a Buddhist agenda, which is to push everyone to practice regardless of what experiences they have.

Ultimately what I'm saying is: it doesn't matter if someone has already crossed the A&P in the past or not, what matters is what that experience has on the future as a consequence, if it causes one to be proud, abandon it, if it causes one to not practice, it's useless etc.

Throughout a spiritual quest one will have numerous (literally uncountable) amounts of spiritual experiences and whatever, no need to search for one of them, practice sincerely regardless of whether or not one has them.

Ex: I find the fact that one who comprehends Buddhist doctrine, is searching for answers on a forum like this, and has started a meditation practice a more reliable indicator of someone who has crossed the A&P, then someone who merely has a "blast of universal consciousness" while high on pot and concludes he knows everything.

The latter person probably has a textbook A&P, but his experience has no effect on his mental continuum because he does not strive, the first person strives.

A koan for you: which one crossed the A&P?
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Stick Man, modified 7 Years ago at 9/24/14 5:06 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago at 9/24/14 5:26 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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John:
Soooo, obviously he finally got non-dual...
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Stick Man, modified 7 Years ago at 9/24/14 7:44 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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Well, I'm not convinced that spiritual insights are wasted on someone like Arthur Koestler, or that he is not on a path of practice just because he is  was intellectual. His meditation on mathematics seems to have produced a profound shift - why cannot prolonged scientific thinking be as good a meditation object as watching the breath ? And with the added benefit of being actively creative ? I personally like the art and poetry that comes from moments like this.
I'm getting a bit further with understanding what the A&P is supposed to be - Kenneth Folk on Buddhist Geeks -
"One way to talk about this is with the traditional simile of the rope. You’re walking down the road and you see a rope and as you get closer, you see that the rope is moving and you consider that to be a little bit fishy; probably it isn’t even a rope. As you get closer still you can see that the supposed rope is really a line of ants and as you get closer still you see that the ants are moving individually in both directions. Each and has its own body and little articulated legs and everything is moving. If you kept on drilling down, you would see that the ant is composed
of all sorts of little sub-body parts and then molecules and atoms and so on, the idea being that what appears to us to be solid is not solid;
it appears solid because we’re not looking closely enough. And at the Arising and Passing Away you are looking closely enough and you
finally see it for what it is. That is a life-changing event because you always assumed that things were solid and now you see in real time
that they are not. So that is the second chunk of the Progress of Insight."

This sounds rather reminiscent - in it's way - of several things from science - atomic theory, quantum theory, molecular explanations of mental events, Planck length pixelisation of space (hope that's right), cellular automata.
But mostly it sounds like an examination of sensory phenomena as it is constructed from discrete neurons and chemical events.

I've got Visual Intelligence here, by Donald Hoffman, which goes into how the brain will create a solid or smooth object from the input of the retina which is made of discrete cells taking in discrete photons. Kenneth Folk's description of the A&P looks like an uncovering of that process in action by way of developing close attention.

I'm sure there will be some science out there going into this, one of those guys who like to scan meditators etc ???

- a wee bit more - Hoffman - http://www.cogsci.uci.edu/~ddhoff/ecs.pdf
The human eye focuses an image onto a light-sensitive sheet of neural tissue called the retina (Dowling, 1987). This image is captured by a discrete array of cells in the retina, called photoreceptors. Each photoreceptor generates a signal which varies in time with the discrete number of photons of light that the photoreceptor catches. This discrete array of time-varying signals is the starting point of vision. The only information this array makes explicit is the varying number of photon catches at each individual photoreceptor. It does not make explicit lines, curves, two dimensional regions, three-dimensional shapes or any other aspect of the visual forms of objects and their environments. The perception of visual forms is the consequence of sophisticated processes of construction which engage literally billions of neurons and trillions of synaptic connections between neurons. Every line, curve, 2D region or 3D shape that we see is a construction of our visual system, created on the fly starting with just the photon catches at the retina. Vision researchers have made substantial progress in describing the constructive processes underlying the perception of visual form.
Hmm.. ?
x x, modified 7 Years ago at 9/25/14 6:29 AM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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James Yen:
I believe it's because according to Daniel's experience he has found that those specific sensations are reliable indicators as to whether or not a meditator is experiencing or passing through A&P.


Just to put a finer point on it, these experiences are correlated with A&P, they tend to appear during this stage. They tend to be confusing or distracting the first time they are experienced, which is why they are worth mentioning so that people don't get confused and mistake the experiences with some kind of special progress or abnormal achievement. The experiences themselves are not important, but rather the view, as you mentioned, of things coming and going on their own, of experience being more distinct moments rather than continuous, and the observer being somewhat removed from the experience itself.

When diagnosing, it's also important to understand what led up to these experiences. Did someone have a regular practice? Did they go through mind and body, cause and effect, three characteristics? It's not as simple as "trippy experience of body and mind being little dots of experiences" = A&P, but sometimes it's a pretty safe guess.
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Stick Man, modified 7 Years ago at 9/25/14 1:55 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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.... or, is this A&P fragmentation less to do with reversing or closely observing the composition of whole mental phenomena from pixelled data, than it is to do with the frequency but which neuronal activity oscillates - the beta, delta, theat waves etc ? That is, is it like slowing film down and seeing it frame by frame ?

I'm out of my depth here - but it's going to be something along these lines isn't it - rather than just being a mysterious and nebulous "seeing into the nature of things" ?
x x, modified 7 Years ago at 9/25/14 4:58 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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The "what is it really? what really is happening?" question usually get's into some kind of metaphysics or materalistic model. It's an interesting question, but even if you KNEW the answer, it wouldn't really effect the actual practice/cultivation of that experience in meditation.

I'm kinda dodging the question, cause I don't really know... but I will say that experientially, you are able to see experience as very elemental proto-thoughts and proto-sensations at an incredible rate and that experience seems to lead to an insight about the contructed nature of perception.That way of looking at the world is almost an instinctual thing the mind does itself so that it can understand itself. The A&P just follows from practice, all on its own.

Then you have the insight and you don't need that _specific_ kind of perception to sense the contructed nature of mind anymore. The solid sense of self is seen through to a greater degree. The A&P is a pretty signficiant insight, but it's so mind blowing that it is hard to relate to normal reality. Basically after A&P you then start seeing the constructed nature of your own psychology and identity, which can suck which is why it is often the dark night. But at the end, and very ironically, stream entry is a very normal almost minimal kind of event which brings everything full circle and that mindblowing insight is integrated into normal everyday life.

Hope that helps. But all of this talk is just talk, ultimately. So I hope it's at least a little interesting.
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Stick Man, modified 7 Years ago at 10/6/14 7:23 PM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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I haven't heard enough about the arising and passing yet.
What I'd like is to know if it really is like some sort of atomisation of perceived experience and why this is profound. I'd like to know what sort of neural correlate this has too.
I still have no real idea whether I've experienced it or not. If, say, a strobing effect in the vision is A&P - as I've seen someone say - then I've experienced that but I can't say that in itself is profound (though seemingly it accompanies a fine sort of energetic state (to use wooly language)).

Here is an example of someone describing A&P in those terms - http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=13020
There's also a more subtle arising and passing, which is when sense impressions start to arise and pass, come and go, change, flux, very rapidly, like a seethe of bubbles in boiling water, or a shaken can of coke , or a fast flicker of a TV screen. Sounds can break down into tiny individual bits of noise, vision can flicker or kind-of strobe, tactile sensations can become... I dunno, it's hard to describe. Seething.
This can lead to the shocking insight that everything is impermanent, everything (or at least everything we can sense) is constantly changing, arising and passing away both on a mundane and supramundane level.
It's pretty cool.
Experiencing the sort of ecstasy where you merge with your surroundings and seem to be plunged into a pool of life does seem profound (because it's such a major blow to your idea of being a fixed isolated self) but I would be hard put to say there was anything especially atomised about it.

Although having said this I think that any sort of pleasure feeling from the pins and needles type you find in body scanning to the full on ecstasy does have a kind of atomised quality - that's why it's called pins and needles I think, because it feels like a mass of miniscule points of sensation.

If A&P is experiencing a quantisation of feeling and experience then it seems to me that most people experience that in their day to day life (relaxation, sex etc). so are there two types of atomised perception - one day to day and one found in meditation ?

Or, alternativey, is it just a matter of focus, that meditation will simply amplify and focus the normal experience of everyday atomised perceptions ? That seems to be my experience.

By that I mean that the practice I had was deep breathing and body scanning, getting to focus on the natural low level buzz in the body, the kind of pins and needles sensation of being alive. Eventually this led to ecstasy, but I would not say there was a qualitative difference between the two - simply that I normally perceived a trickle of "pins and needles" whereas meditation made me feel a waterfall of it. Or as the famous saying goes, a drop to an infinite ocean. If anyone would have listened I would have told them how it seemed to be like the difference between a bath and the reservoir from which you get your bathwater from -  it's the same water, just the boundaries and depth have changed.

BTW
Oceanic metaphor for this sort of experience seems prevalent in Sufi and Hindu scripture and poetry, from what I've seen, but not so much in buddhism. Is this so ?
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Stick Man, modified 7 Years ago at 11/18/14 12:16 AM
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RE: Trying to define A&P for myself

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So everybody lost interest in this... ?