Equanimity or SE?

Gabriel, modified 7 Years ago at 9/24/14 11:44 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/24/14 11:40 AM

Equanimity or SE?

Posts: 6 Join Date: 9/17/14 Recent Posts

I've recently been in a 40-day meditation retreat in Pa-Auk Tawya, Myanmar, a center which strongly focuses on the development of concentration before insight meditation. (i.e. full mastery of the jhanas with various objects of meditation before Vipassana). Long story short, I did 20 days of Anapana, probably reached "at least" access concentration since I was getting a fairly clear Nimitta and getting some Jhana factors, but switched to insight meditation since I felt like like I wouldn't reach even 1st Jhana according the very strict criterias at Pa-Auk (i.e. 3 hours fully absorbed, etc.)

Immediately upon starting insight meditation on the 20th day, reality started "breaking down" before me in a very intense way. Here's a small quote from a blog post about my complete retreat experience :
Physically, my five sensory inputs were experienced with so much distance that it didn’t even feel like it was actually happening to me. I couldn’t even see properly! My sense of sight was so strongly perturbed, I could only “see” reality from far away, with my two eyes resembling two round separate windows. The best way I can describe is that it felt like I was “watching” a movie that included all 5 senses and thought. I was experiencing everything, yet none of it felt close to me.
Based on Daniel's book, it seems like this was probably Equanimity, especially considering the "watching a movie" thing. In the retreat, I kept attaining this state again and again, and the subject/object duality was puzzling me deeply. It didn't make sense that I was "over here" and that my experiences were "over there", so to speak. Then, after about 10 days, this happened:

Upon meditating, around the day 30-ish, there was a definite shift in the way “I” experienced reality. While observing sensations, it suddenly occurred to me that I wasn’t conscious of the sensations. The sensations were conscious of themselves.

It might not make sense to you readers, or perhaps you wonder why such a difference would mean anything, but at that particular moment, it made all the difference in the world. “Consciousnesses” were arising jointly with their respective sensations. It all came as a “package deal”. There wasn’t “anyone” watching, the “process” was just watching itself. Consciousness was permeating what it was conscious of, just like the color yellow is imbued in a lemon.

It seems like this experience is similar to what people in this community refer to as "Stream Entry", but at the same time, perhaps I could be fooling myself while being in High Equanimity or something. I definitely feel like that experience was a sort of an "Eureka" moment, although it wasn't really the kind of thing I would have normally "expected" as being SE. I feel like some change has occured, but I don't feel that much different on a "conventional" level, and 3 months after the fact, I still feel like I'm in a period of "integrating my insights" in my daily life.

I still meditate frequently, sometimes up to a few hours a day, but I mostly do it for enjoyment, as it's hard for me to find the motivation to pursue insight practices (i.e. what to do next?).

Has anyone been through similar experiences? Any thoughts?

If you guys are interested, here's the complete blog post on my retreat. It's pretty detailed : http://www.updevelopment.org/2014/09/pa-auk-tawya/

Thank you!
Derek, modified 7 Years ago at 9/24/14 11:54 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/24/14 11:54 AM

RE: Equanimity or SE?

Posts: 326 Join Date: 7/21/10 Recent Posts
All that makes perfect sense to me. Unlike most of the posters here, I subscribe to the fetter model rather than the path model. The key factor in diagnosing stream entry is whether or not the breaching of the first three fetters is permanent.
Lack of motivation is also common. People practice and practice to get stream-entry, and then when they've got it, they don't know what to do with it!
bernd the broter, modified 7 Years ago at 9/24/14 12:23 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/24/14 12:23 PM

RE: Equanimity or SE?

Posts: 376 Join Date: 6/13/12 Recent Posts
Hey Gabriel,

I read the whole report, and very much liked the way you wrote it.
That's basically the kind of reports I would like to read on DhO more often.

I don't claim to have much knowledge of the vipassana nanas and never had that much concentration (gone through them 5 times), but a few things seemed familiar:

Your first impression when switching to insight meditation sounds like a very strong Mind and Body (first nana), especially the fact that phenomena seemed to be 'distant'.

When Intentions are seen as '3rd person' that reliably happened to me in 2nd nana Cause and Effect.
I remember how I thought it was really 'weird' that this would happen, so I can relate to your usage of the word here (:

Sickness can be a feature of the three characteristics (3rd nana). Daniel describes it mainly as pain, but i actually fell sick to a small extent when I experienced them in my 2nd retreat.

No. None of this was stable. None of it was me.

The only thing that seemed to be left as stable, was the consciousness that was noticing and “knowing” all that was happening.

That sounds like how I always experienced A&P.As to the last developments: can't really relate to that. sounds cool, though.Thank you for that report again. Really enjoyed reading it.

dat Buddha-field, modified 7 Years ago at 9/24/14 4:17 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/24/14 4:17 PM

RE: Equanimity or SE?

Posts: 43 Join Date: 4/1/14 Recent Posts
Is the selflessness of dharmas something you continue to perceive strongly?  Or did the experience feel like more of a glimpse?
Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago at 9/24/14 8:23 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/24/14 8:23 PM

RE: Equanimity or SE?

Posts: 1430 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
What did the monk interviewing you say it was?
Gabriel, modified 7 Years ago at 9/25/14 12:12 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/25/14 12:12 PM

RE: Equanimity or SE?

Posts: 6 Join Date: 9/17/14 Recent Posts
Thanks everyone for your responses!

The Selfless aspect of everything is now very predominant in my experience of reality. It now seems somewhat "obvious" that there is no ultimate self, and a lot of patterns that were likely conditioned by this belief seem to be somewhat weaker. Nothing is really different, but a lot of things happen with a certain distance, sort of as if it was in 3rd person. For example, sometimes anger will arise from certain events/circumstances, but I won't be "angry" at being angry, which seems to weaken the anger tremendously.

One of the biggest changes I would say is that I'm now a lot less preoccupied by things like "impressing people", "looking in a certain way", "being the best", etc. Inconditional acceptance towards myself and other people seem to happen much more effortlessly than before.

I did not talk about these experiences to my teacher, as he was gone during the last portion of my retreat. Also, I preferred to keep them for myself in retreat since I wasn't practicing according to my teacher's instructions when I switched to insight meditation.