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Questions about the experience of a first path attainment

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Hi all, first time posting.

I have a question about the experience of attaining the first path. Is it attained from a state of pronounced selflessness, a surrendering? Does it have a quality of going back into the past, of germinating a seed that long lay dormant, or perhaps many seeds, a kind of inward folding? To anyone's knowledge, can it be blocked by the recollection of a bad karma, such as the recollection of a deliberate lie (perhaps this could even be classified as a dogmatic fear?), such that one is jarred back into the present without attaining? Or is it something totally unique for everyone who experiences it? I would give more context but I'm afraid it is all very convoluted. Any input is much appreciated.

RE: Questions about the experience of a first path attainment
Answer
10/29/14 1:08 PM as a reply to Incandescent Flower.
Kyle:
Hi all, first time posting.

I have a question about the experience of attaining the first path. Is it attained from a state of pronounced selflessness, a surrendering? Does it have a quality of going back into the past, of germinating a seed that long lay dormant, or perhaps many seeds, a kind of inward folding? To anyone's knowledge, can it be blocked by the recollection of a bad karma, such as the recollection of a deliberate lie (perhaps this could even be classified as a dogmatic fear?), such that one is jarred back into the present without attaining? Or is it something totally unique for everyone who experiences it? I would give more context but I'm afraid it is all very convoluted. Any input is much appreciated.

None of the above in my experience.

RE: Questions about the experience of a first path attainment
Answer
10/29/14 9:01 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:


Okay, as to the first talk, the experience of the deathless, i.e., complete cessation of all procceses except awareness (only really able to be reviewed after coming out of it), I believe I have reached that state once through breath practice, and perhaps gotten very close once with body scanning. Now, I almost feel foolish asking, but is that or something related to that what I'm looking for? Foolish because after coming out of that state, which only lasted a whole of probably 6 or 7 seconds (I could be wrong), I remember saying to myself: that was it, that was the deathless, that was Nirvana, that was the end of suffering. But there was no sense that I had attained anything permanent except for a very deep insight.

Looking over Daniel Ingram's map, it seems this state (NPNYNP?) can lead to attainment. But I'm not sure what to make of his "Post-8th Junction Point". Anyone care to shed some light?

RE: Questions about the experience of a first path attainment
Answer
10/29/14 9:23 PM as a reply to Incandescent Flower.
The fruition that Daniel refers to as 1st path is best described as a discontinuity, or lost time. An example might be, if you're watching the breath, you are watching yourself breathe out, and then you are suddenly breathing in. It's as if, for a few seconds, you were gone completely. So awareness is also gone. The after effect of this is a kind of "rebooting" where the mind reconstructs itself, and this is what is supposed to give insight into Anatta. As a note, I have no personal experience with these things, so I'm just giving you my conceptual understanding.

The state you're talking about sounds like the 7th jhana if I'm comparing with my experience. In the 8th jhana, awareness itself begins to blink out and wobble.

RE: Questions about the experience of a first path attainment
Answer
10/30/14 9:17 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
The fruition that Daniel refers to as 1st path is best described as a discontinuity, or lost time. An example might be, if you're watching the breath, you are watching yourself breathe out, and then you are suddenly breathing in. It's as if, for a few seconds, you were gone completely. So awareness is also gone. The after effect of this is a kind of "rebooting" where the mind reconstructs itself, and this is what is supposed to give insight into Anatta. As a note, I have no personal experience with these things, so I'm just giving you my conceptual understanding.

The state you're talking about sounds like the 7th jhana if I'm comparing with my experience. In the 8th jhana, awareness itself begins to blink out and wobble.


Many thanks. I suppose I should have been more clear, in that in the state I attained awareness definitely blinked out for an interval, it was only after coming out of it that I realized anything special had happened. I suppose instead of saying awareness was the only process, it was more like the only process was a process of pure bliss, that I was only able to realize had even been going on after I emerged.

Nevertheless, I understand how useless it is to worry about validating this state (but oh, if only I really understood!), what I'm really concerned with is if, in people's experience, the 8th jhana can lead to fruition, and if so, in what way -- does the length of "time" this state is maintained hold any bearing, is there some sort of insighty/concentrationy balance that needs to be upheld, etc. -- or if that's something completely incommunicable or unknowable.

RE: Questions about the experience of a first path attainment
Answer
10/30/14 12:42 PM as a reply to Incandescent Flower.
If you have a longer fruition while hanging around the eigth jhana, that's probably nirodha. emoticon The only time the "higher cessation of consciousness" is mentioned in the suttas is after traveling through the jhanas. Some people even refer to it as the 9th jhana. It's good to be wary of trying to define yourself, though. To me the best metric is how much these experiences help you.

EDIT: Maybe someone can give you more experienced based advice, as well, since I haven't had any fruitions that I know of.  Maybe try to repeat the event a few times and you can get more details to help you figure it out.

RE: Questions about the experience of a first path attainment
Answer
10/30/14 9:45 PM as a reply to Incandescent Flower.
Kyle:
Hi all, first time posting.

I have a question about the experience of attaining the first path. Is it attained from a state of pronounced selflessness, a surrendering? Does it have a quality of going back into the past, of germinating a seed that long lay dormant, or perhaps many seeds, a kind of inward folding? To anyone's knowledge, can it be blocked by the recollection of a bad karma, such as the recollection of a deliberate lie (perhaps this could even be classified as a dogmatic fear?), such that one is jarred back into the present without attaining? Or is it something totally unique for everyone who experiences it? I would give more context but I'm afraid it is all very convoluted. Any input is much appreciated.

Hi Kyle,

In my experience, there was a state very similar to what you have been describing: A few seconds of "nothingness." It may very well have been the 7th jhana. I have experienced it a few times. It feels like I'm floating or falling, as the 5 senses are disappearing. Then there is a period of time of what feels like a few seconds when nothing is perceived. There are no thoughts during those seconds, just the perception of nothingness. It's hard to say exactly how long that state lasts because nothing seems to change enough for the mind to be able to keep track of the passage of time. Anyway, then one comes out of it, and on the way out, beautiful things like the most sublime and perfect music one has ever heard can happen, but not always. Afterwards one realizes and understands things like the enormous amount of suffering inherent in the relatively crude medium of experience that is the human body. One may lose fear of death and feel like spirituality is the purpose of life etc.

These experiences tend to lead to great amounts of insight, happiness, peacefulness, and it honestly feels like they were just about as important in changing my life as stream entry. However, they are definitely not cessations, which I have also experienced in this life:

A cessation feels like nothing much at all. It's almost like you're just dozing off for a tiny fraction of a second. In my case, it took a few weeks for me to become reasonably sure that I wasn't actually just dozing off. In any case, the insight that came with stream entry was totally different from just losing the body and reducing perception to that almost stable state of perception of nothingness. Mainly from reading MCTB, I understand that there are 3 different doors etc etc, and to tell you the truth, I'm not very experienced with all of that, but I can tell you that the key insight of SE—in my case—was the absolute and unmistakeable realization that even that innermost core of my being, which I believe is accurately called consciousness, is a natural, impersonal process totally devoid of any quality or property that would distinguish it as "being part of me" as opposed to being part of the rest of the universe. I simply saw directly, clearly, and unmistakably that there is no such intrinsic quality of "me" or "mine" or "self" in anything that exists, any phenomenon that is experienced, or anything that experiences.

I understand there is NS; cessations can be longer than a tiny fraction of a second; but I just wanted to share my personal experience and nothing (or not too much) else, because if not much else, I do believe I (almost accidentally) fell into the 7th jhana a few times, and I also went through SE, and I know how different these two are from each other, even though the words we use to describe them are usually such that they could apply to either of the two.

RE: Questions about the experience of a first path attainment
Answer
10/30/14 11:54 PM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Dauphin, I can completely relate to what you just described!  Before falling into that still nothingness, is there a kind of pulsing sensation?  I'm thinking it might be yoga nidra - or conscious deep sleep - because it happened to me a few times as I was falling asleep.  These were usually after a long day of maintaining awareness.

RE: Questions about the experience of a first path attainment
Answer
10/31/14 1:19 AM as a reply to Incandescent Flower.
Hi Kyle,

       It's boring and not very exciting, but my experience of stream entry was that it was the culmination of a long period of practice and a signifigant deepening into the insight of the three characteristics, those being annata (non-self), annica (impermanence) and dukha (unsatisfactoriness). The three characteristics have not been something that I think about much in practice, nor are they consciously part of my orientation or what I find exciting about practice, but seeing those three things really deeply (and I was not leaning in towards them, they became blatant without my pursuing their understanding) led to a period of pronounced peacefulness in the face of a variety of phenomena that I would have previously grasped after. Seeing the three characteristics clearly, the grasping onto phenomena was released, a peace deeper than I thought imaginable came into my life for several weeks. I continued to practice heavily (5-6) hours a day and then there was a point where it seemed like there was a tremendous surge of energy to my head and then a fruition occured. After the fruition there was the sense that something was different in an irretrievable way in my perception, and in the way that I positioned something solid as the receiver of my perceptions. There was no sense that I was in any way retrieving anything from the past. The insights had been seen before, but there was a sense of permanence in the changed perspective that was totally new, and somewhat destabilizing. Nothing to do with seeds or inward folding. Actually, I shouldn't say that. I have no idea what an inward folding is. But it doesn't seem like something that could be related. Can't be blocked by remembering bad things. My two cents would be that it is not unique in the way it is experienced, but like many things that are conceptually sticky, the way it is talked about may vary wildly among practitioners.

RE: Questions about the experience of a first path attainment
Answer
10/31/14 2:28 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
Dauphin, I can completely relate to what you just described!  Before falling into that still nothingness, is there a kind of pulsing sensation?  I'm thinking it might be yoga nidra - or conscious deep sleep - because it happened to me a few times as I was falling asleep.  These were usually after a long day of maintaining awareness.

Not Tao, That sounds very much like the situations I experienced. (I was doing noting practice at the time. It happened around A&P, if that means anything to you.) Yes, I remember different kinds of pulsing sensations right before the falling: One time, I had a vision of a jungle or something like that. The vision started pulsing in and out of existence, then became solid again for just the in-breath, then started pulsing again before totally disappearing. Another time, there was a sensation of hearing something like a pure rectangle wave, maybe 500 Hz, which started pulsing, then disappeared. That one was probably the "strongest" one of those experiences and had the "music" on the way out of the "absorption." That music sounded sort of like strings, and seconds later, I was completely unable to remember the specific melody or harmony. I still remembered how peaceful, rich and beautiful it had been, but it seemed like it was just impossible to reproduce in the human realm.

Sorry, Kyle, for going off on a tangent, if this is not the same kind of experience you had.

RE: Questions about the experience of a first path attainment
Answer
11/1/14 7:28 PM as a reply to Incandescent Flower.
Thanks all,

What I'm thinking now is that I was entering a very hard 7th jhana and maybe on the way to the 8th when the memory brought me forcibly back (still can't explain that, but oh well, the mind is a crazy thing, not everything can be mapped). Now being aware of the Vipassana map, I believe it may have fallen under the desire for deliverance, as that very much was the intent going into the meditation and the experience afterwards of kind of seeing it all come crashing down has become all too familiar (luckily, being aware of this pitfall is a huge boost). Incidentally, after reading your posts and looking over the maps, I believe I may already have attained stream entry ~5 months ago and just not known it.