3rd and Some Important Thoughts

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Incandescent Flower, modified 7 Years ago at 12/5/14 6:03 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 12/5/14 6:03 PM

3rd and Some Important Thoughts

Posts: 87 Join Date: 10/27/14 Recent Posts
Hey everyone,

So I got 3rd path last night (99% sure on this), and I wanted to say some things that I think might be of great benefit to others pursuing the path that, were I aware of them earlier, might have made the process much easier and far less head-exploding. This might especially be true for people who, like me, experienced 1st path as a full-on cessation, or in heavy concentration, meaning some time passed before one "came back", so to speak, or, perhaps also, for people who experienced 1st path before being aware of the path models and terminologies. My main focus here will be on the way "Fruition" is presented in MCTB, and in other places, as a "re-experiencing of the moment of enlightenment", and the great confusion that that wording (combined with the coinage, "Ultimate Reality") can cause. Perhaps many of the people who claim to have attained a path but report no stored ability to attain fruition -- a category I myself thought I fell into, as it turns out, erroneously -- will gain clarity and a delicious boon in practice as a result of this post.

So first off, what exactly did I find so confusing? Well, when one believes that to experience fruition, one must "re-experience the moment of enlightenment", then it very well could seem that one must literally experience enlightenment again. In my case, having experienced 1st Path as a full-on cessation, I believed -- indeed, even after having a more momentary blip experience on the attainment of 2nd path -- that fruition was to be attained in a similar manner -- i.e., heavy concentration, high EQ, extremely subtle tuning of mind, etc. The nana and jhana map, with fruition all the way at the top, seemed to support this hypothesis. (I'll add here that the concept of Review was rather murky to me.) Add to this the wording in MCTB of Fruition being an experience of "Ultimate Reality" -- meaning, in my mind, a full-on cessation like I had at 1st Path -- and maybe you can see where I am headed with this. Now, imagine my respone when people were saying that after 2nd path and perhaps even 1st they were attaining fruitions more or less at will; like, holy crap, my concentration must suck compared to the majority of post-pathers. (Even worse, I became conviced that my practice itself was lacking, which, ironically enough, and largely due to this point of confusion, it kind of did.)

So here's where things took a positive turn for me. By chance, or more probably out of some sadistic tendency to torment myself, I read through this article on the Yogi Toolbox about the benefit of lengthening fruitions that I happened to come across:

http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/yogi-toolbox-lengthening-fruition.html

Now, naturally, given that I was under the impression that I did not have access to fruition, I more or less let what was said fall into the back of my mind. Some days later (yesterday afternoon, in fact), as I was sitting, I recalled out of the blue the way Nikolai referred to selecting one of the 3 aspects of experience (the 3Cs) and focusing on it as one "exited" a fruition. Seeing that I had decided to orient my sitting around noticing the Three Characteristics, naturally, or perhaps out of some dumb slip of mind that turned out to be quite brilliant, I gave a go at lengthening the note of one of the Three Characteristics, whichever one that was most predominant at the time. Like that, it suddenly clicked: the direct perception of the 3 Characteristics was Fruition, was the entrance and exit through the Three Doors, was the experience of "Ultimate Reality". Before I had realized the critical value of these experiences, but had just termed them in my head as "insights", something taking me closer to "Ultimate Reality" or full-on cessation, but not the experience of "Ultimate Reality" itself. Thus I paved the way for a lot of striving and rather horrendous sits, geared toward attaining a thing (Fruition) I didn't realize was happening right in front of me, and that I could just let happen right in front of me and be in perfect shape with regard to my progress toward Path. Whew! What a confusing ride that was. Hours later, I sat again, now equipped with this much helpful piece of knowledge, and things went oh, so smooth. As I lay down to go to sleep, still fruiting everything I could, I suddenly had that moment, the blip, followed instantly by that moment of "oh, but maybe I'm imagining it" but backgrounded by a steadily increasing intuitive feeling of completion and gratitude that grew to such suddenly crazy depths and, soon enough, to surging happiness, and I knew I had attained 3rd.

So, where does this leave us? I hope that my post has clarified this point of the mind-maps ("Fruition") that was confusing to me and how vast a pitfall that such a seemingly small point of confusion can create in the context of real-life practice. I hope that anyone who believes themselves to be post-path but seemingly not able to attain fruition will come across this post and re-evaluate their understanding of "Fruition", and maybe find from there make a definitive turn for the better in their practice (and to all and everyone reading this post, if you happen to come across such a person, to encourage them to this right understanding). I may just be wishing myself blue here, but Daniel, if you're reading this, I think some more clarification on the term "Fruition", and in general, a wider scope on the consequences that can come up when considering different routes by which people can attain 1st and subsequent Paths would be great inclusions in MCTB2 (my own experience [and I know this is getting into way too complex territory, not something a single book could hope to encompass, but I still think it's useful to report] was picking up meditation on my own -> Goenka 10 day retreat -> full-on cessation stream entry some few months later via anapana meditation without any idea of progressive path models -> examining the suttas and falling into some dogma, still not knowing I'd attained stream entry -> DhO -> MCTB and a ton more clarity -> 2nd Path -> 3rd Path). The discussion linked in Nikolai's article, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jhana_insight/message/2805, seems in particular to be screaming with relevancy and urgency in terms of being addressed more widely around the community. Let's make this thing easier for the people who follow after us. Lastly, to anyone who hasn't integrated it into their practice already, the lengthening of fruitions practice might be especially worthwhile for you (it was for me). All in all, limitless thanks to everyone who has contributed on this board, to Daniel, to the Buddha, and to all of those who have walked the path and taken the time and dilligence to guide those yet to come.

With gratitude,
Kyle
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Bill F, modified 7 Years ago at 12/5/14 11:50 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 12/5/14 11:50 PM

RE: 3rd and Some Important Thoughts

Posts: 556 Join Date: 11/17/13 Recent Posts
Hi Kyle,

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I can see you have the intent to share with others and for their benefit. 
      What is your understanding of what third path is, and what in the experience lines up with that such that you feel certain? I am not asking that out of a sense that you did not, but I could not understand how you are relating your experience with third path, and if it's not, that's useful information as the different stages of practices are often fed by different techniques and the removal of perceptual obscuration. Be well.

Bill
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Incandescent Flower, modified 7 Years ago at 12/6/14 4:41 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 12/6/14 4:38 PM

RE: 3rd and Some Important Thoughts

Posts: 87 Join Date: 10/27/14 Recent Posts
William Golden Finch:
Hi Kyle,

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I can see you have the intent to share with others and for their benefit. 
      What is your understanding of what third path is, and what in the experience lines up with that such that you feel certain? I am not asking that out of a sense that you did not, but I could not understand how you are relating your experience with third path, and if it's not, that's useful information as the different stages of practices are often fed by different techniques and the removal of perceptual obscuration. Be well.

Bill

Bill,

It's funny you should ask about my statement of certainty because as I was writing my post I considered going deeper into explaining the "1% of uncertainty", but eventually decided against it because I didn't want this post to go in the direction of a claim and defense of attainment thread. With this in mind I will try to keep my response or "justification" short, but also would request in a spirit of earnesty that anything you found odd or incongruent in my post in comparison to your experience of 3rd path, or to your understanding of the progress of insight in general, you bring to light, because, as I know all too well now, a minor confusion in terminology and private understanding can actually lead to a quite skewed method of practice and, in turn, greater suffering. And I apologize now if any of the OP or this response seems pompous; I realize that it would have been wiser for me to wait some weeks or so until I was more certain about the experience I had, but, to be fair, this was something that felt rather urgent to me.

Now, if I were to make a list of all the reasons why I think I attained what is commonly referred to as 3rd path, I would be here typing all day. In short, comparing the experience against numerous models, other people's testimonies, and my previous Path experiences, the evidence aligns rather staggeringly in favor of it being 3rd Path. Some examples include:

a) comparing against the fetter model: after 2nd Path, a noticeable reduction in feelings of hatred or greed that simply would not arise any more, though in the days following it I kept expecting them to. After 3rd, what was reduced before now seems almost totally gone. I can still have thoughts of greed or hatred, but they just register as thoughts and that's it (obviously, it's still too early to see exactly how deeply this will stick, but I have a pretty good feel for where it's headed).
b) I've actually found my experience to align well with Dream Walker's post about the different aggregates that are dealt with in each of the paths; in the case of 2nd, feelings in and of themselves. It's like once a feeling of hatred or greed arose, it would not "fester" in the aggregate of feelings, but self-liberate, so to speak, once it was noticed there. After 3rd (again, consider this with caution), the aggregate of perceptions in and of themselves seem not to hold any ideas of greed or hatred for very long before self-liberating. It's like I can think something of "someone", but immediately that "someone" is not the same as they were a second ago, and the greed or hatred disappears on its own. This is still quite strange to me, as I keep expecting my mind to hold onto perceptual objects as permanent, but it cannot.
c) comparing against Kenneth Folk's models of chakras being freed at each Path. After 2nd I could still feel what has been referred to as "the iron crown", and since the Path moment two nights ago, it has utterly disappeared (I do not miss it). There is still some tension that is born in the head, some in the back of the head and some in the area of the nose (where, incidentally, I "hard focused" [meaningly unpleasantly] a lot of my breath meditation before 1st and 2nd and some before 3rd, especially before I had the Fruition epiphany) but I think I can see that it is originating from the crown chakra, and I am getting a preview of where my next area of investigation will be taking place. This "preview" of where the tension was still arising from also occured after 2nd Path (in that case, the head).
d) comparing it to MCTB: just off the top of my head, a lot. Two days later, I am still not off the bliss ride (this can be quite agitating at times). My concentration is wacky good. I am developing powers of clairaudience and clairvoyance, among others, without any real effort to do so. My mind "just isn't doing a lot of things it used to do".
e) just about everything in this summary of Ayya Khema's talk about the path to Arhat (included in Nikolai's article that I linked in my OP) seems spot on to me, obviously only up to Anagami:

I stumbled on a talk by Ayya Khema here:http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/334/talk/7851/
I took some rough notes of what she said as it's a long hour talk. She
talks about path and fruit and how to get from stream entry to the
(fetter model) paths on to arahat. Well worth the listen.

1. (21.30)  Stream
Enterer: Wrong view to right view (never again believes that there is a
person sitting inside of one's body). 1st path moment and resultant
fruit attainment results in right view
.2. One has changed dramatically but hasn’t changed to the point where the “me” within is not felt. That comes later.
3. One should resurrect right view as often as one can at any time as a support system.
4. The mind needs to be ripe for the next path to occur. (32:30)
5.
In order to deal with the fetters of greed and hate, bring up the
"feeling" of the fruit moment as often as possible. Right view and fruit
moment are used together is key as well as calming the mind beforehand
with jhana.
6. It will not be impactful as it was at the 1st time, but it certainly brings back the relief, release and joy. 
7.
Doing that (resurrecting right view and fruit moment) as often as
possible, one should review (reviewing knowledge) the hindrances which
are still strong, and the hindrances which have abated.
 
8. Is there any change in any of them? Are they still strong/weak? 
9. We need to do that with the understanding that everybody has them. Can't blame anyone. 
10. How do they manifest?  Investigate!
11.
After abiding in jhana, after the mind is clean and clear again,
bring up the fruit knowledge and then review that whole understanding
that one has about the fallacy of the selfhood, the whole thing, see it
clearly again, to no longer cherish the self. To see the underlying
clinging to person/s or some aspect of human life, desire, etc.
 
12.
We should see that and if we are determined to take the next step, work
on the clinging. What is it that I’m so attached to that I cant let go
of?
 
13.
If it is attachment to people that makes us fearful, they may
disappear, our attachment creates nothing but dukkha. If we are attached
to desires we must see their momentary fulfillment and their lack of
fulfillment as soon as that momentary fulfillment is fulfilled. 2, 3, 4
or 5 mind moments is all it lasts. Desire has to be gratified again and
again
 
14. These are ways and means in dealing with clinging. 
15. Having taken the 2nd step, greed and hate are halved. (sakadagami) 
16. Hate become irritation. And greed becomes preference. 
17. A person’s mind is not shaken by 'real' hate and the mind doesn’t feel shaken at all. 
18. Being irritated has a shorter lifespan. 
19.
Similar path and similar fruit moment results in sakadagami.
Jitteriness not there as it was at stream entry fruition attainment,
relief is there, tears not there. But it can be very blissful, but it
need not happen immediately. The mind has touched on the moment of
nothingness, inferred in the 7th jhana which is not the utmost
experience of “nothingness”.
 
20.
Trees , cars and mountains are on a relative level what they are
calledl, but particles of energy on an absolute level. The moment of
nothing, where the experience goes to that one moment when everything
has fallen apart. One doesn't know that everything has fallen apart,
preceding the moment before (path)
 
21. (46:30) Ayya Khema goes through stages of insight. 
22. The
sakadagami reviews the remaining hindrances and finds that greed and
hate have reduced and reviews the first fetters that are gone.
 
23. Giving up “ourselves” totally in order to give up the greed and hate is needed to get to anagami. 
24.
To get rid of hate and greed - 2 steps --> recollecting continuously
right view and continuously resurrecting fruition attainment
 
25.
Sakadagmi does not feel the removal of the “me” unless he puts his
mind on it and checks it out then one knows there is nobody there, but
when not concerned with that “aspect” then they feel like a “me”
 
26.
Anagami-> jhanas need to be accessed. Fine material and formless
realms need to be seen. Latent desire to be reborn in such realms are to
be let go of.
 
27. The
anagami still has ignorance (still a very faintest hint of a “me”) Very
faint but it is there: There is a conceiving of a self. Ignorance plus
conceit=restless (but not as bad as rest of world). Very faint “me”
experience causing a niggling feeling of not being totally removed from
everything. They can feel it (subtle) because they come to the
recognition to what is happening within, it is all seen. Restless is a
far more subtle an experience than normal restlessness. Something still
to be done.
 
Not
finished yet. Gross hindrances are gone, 5 left. So, now one must check
the fetters that remain: Same efforts…one has to review these fetters.
Check out if there is any wish for rebirth in the higher realms. This
can manifest as the non-returner having a wish for having everything
nice, everything pleasant, not being confronted with anything that has
dukkha in it. It becomes not just an attitude but the 'inner drive'. It
can be strong that 'inner drive' and it has to be recognized. And the
remaining “self”/restlessness has to be recognized. Buddha said it is
not desirable to be reborn in the brahma realms. Keep going!

f) the post in the Middle Path section of this forum (things are locked right now, oddly, so I can't link to it; I think it was called Help Getting to 3rd, or something similar) to which many people replied with advice on how to retool one's practice for attaining 3rd ("taking on more of the sensations that seem to be controlling", "wider range of awareness", etc.) seems especially spot on looking back. Indeed, after 2nd, I switched to a broader field of awareness, and that seems to have helped. If you are interested in hearing the details, in the moments before attaining what I think to be 3rd I was following sensations of control, applying the 3Cs, and it seemed that I was kind of "tracking them down". It seems I "tracked them down" to a spot in the back left hemisphere of the brain (I'm not saying that's literally where the "control center" is, so to speak, but it might be). This plays into the popular idea that, with insight meditation, we are "hacking" the mind or "fixing bugs". Interestingly, it was only after applying the characteristic of Emptiness that I really started breaking down these sensations; I realize now that my practice has been disproportionately focused on Impermanence and Unsatisfactoriness, and so I will have to remember from now on to include Emptiness more often.

So that's just a portion of why I feel justified in claiming 3rd path, and there's surely more. A big problem with this, however, and what I had considered going into in my first post but eventually decided against, is how do I know what someone else is referring to when they say 3rd Path? How does anyone even know for sure what the Buddha was referring to when he said Anagami? There is only reasonable induction that comes from measuring what is said about these stages against what one has experienced for themselves, and going with reasonable induction, I feel pretty dang assured that I have attained 3rd path. Interestingly, there is an element of faith in all this, in that I am taking someone else's word that there is an end to this progress of insight (really the thing that makes it worth pursuing), but that's perhaps another discussion.

Alright, that's enough for now. Again, Bill, I encourage you to reply with any points of contention you may have with my portrayal of 3rd path. And thanks for taking the time to read and reply.

-Kyle
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Bill F, modified 7 Years ago at 12/6/14 6:58 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 12/6/14 6:58 PM

RE: 3rd and Some Important Thoughts

Posts: 556 Join Date: 11/17/13 Recent Posts
Kyle,

        Good evening. No need to apologize to me or anyone else. It is good to be excited about these things in my experience. 
        The one thing that stuck out to me was your phrase about needing to include more of an emptiness aspect in your practice. For me when I hit third path emptiness was seen clearly to be the nature of reality, and as such there was no effort to include, remove, or focus more upon it. It could not be included or taken away, it was automatic. To me, this is the hallmark of what I think of as third path.
        I could not correlate the rest of your experience to my own...but who am I? We all have different ways of conceptualizing the non-conceptual so perhaps it is a difference in language.  Or perhaps I have never understood the teachings. Thank you for taking the time to write and share all that.

Bill
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago at 12/6/14 8:54 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 12/6/14 8:50 PM

RE: 3rd and Some Important Thoughts

Posts: 1448 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
William Golden Finch:

I could not correlate the rest of your experience to my own...but who am I? We all have different ways of conceptualizing the non-conceptual so perhaps it is a difference in language.  Or perhaps I have never understood the teachings. Thank you for taking the time to write and share all that.
Bill

Kyle:

b) I've actually found my experience to align well with Dream Walker's post about the different aggregates that are dealt with in each of the paths; in the case of 2nd, feelings in and of themselves. It's like once a feeling of hatred or greed arose, it would not "fester" in the aggregate of feelings, but self-liberate, so to speak, once it was noticed there. After 3rd (again, consider this with caution), the aggregate of perceptions in and of themselves seem not to hold any ideas of greed or hatred for very long before self-liberating. It's like I can think something of "someone", but immediately that "someone" is not the same as they were a second ago, and the greed or hatred disappears on its own. This is still quite strange to me, as I keep expecting my mind to hold onto perceptual objects as permanent, but it cannot.

Since you brought up my name I will respond.
You will have to link to the relevant post as I do not believe in the fetter model....I do not remember "in the case of 2nd, feelings in and of themselves" <----I would most likely have said ownership and possession of thoughts and the mental echo of the 5 senses....not feelings. I do not believe in the emotional limiting models either.
I could not correlate the rest of your experience to my own...but who am I?
~D
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Incandescent Flower, modified 7 Years ago at 12/7/14 10:18 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 12/6/14 10:00 PM

RE: 3rd and Some Important Thoughts

Posts: 87 Join Date: 10/27/14 Recent Posts
Dream Walker:
Since you brought up my name I will respond.
You will have to link to the relevant post as I do not believe in the fetter model....I do not remember "in the case of 2nd, feelings in and of themselves" <----I would most likely have said ownership and possession of thoughts and the mental echo of the 5 senses....not feelings. I do not believe in the emotional limiting models either.
I could not correlate the rest of your experience to my own...but who am I?
~D


Can't find the post right now, but I seem to remember someone who I may have misremembered as being you (EDIT: Now I'm thinking it was maybe Avi Craimer? I remember it was someone of whom I thought at the time, "I respect this person's posts" emoticon) posting a kind of chart they were working on and revising that related the progress of insight to removing clinging in each of the five aggregates, moving from physical form at stream entry -> feelings in and of themselves (by which I mean the good/bad/neutral intonation of things) at 2nd -> percepts in and of themselves at 3rd -> consciousness in and of itself at 4th and then naturally with consciousness in and of itself, mind (since mind would have nothing else to cling to and, as it is not-self, can't cling to itself). This model has resonated quite well with my experience so far of "Path" moments, so I thought I'd include it in my summary.

To be clear, the way I view the fetter model is markedly different from the "official" way, though I think this is due to people misunderstanding the term "fetter" and thinking that it must mean that greed/aversion cannot arise even as a thought, when rather it seems to me, judging by my own progressive experiences of the Paths, that by "fetter" the first modelers meant the mind's tendency to proliferate things (I think this might relate to what you mean when you say "mental echo"). The way I relate this back to the "aggregate model" is that, after 3rd path, the mind no longer proliferates so heavily in the aggregate of perceptual objects, and so what was "halved" at 2nd in the aggregate of feelings in and of themselves, is fully "severed" at 3rd in the aggregate of percepts in and of themselves. And I'm with you in that I definitely don't believe in the limiting emotional models -- rather, I feel Kenneth Folk's description of "gaining transcendency at the cost of gaining intimacy, gaining intimacy at the cost of gaining transcendency" to be a poignant and particularly well-wrought description.

Again, although this is getting into some interesting territory in terms of how different people view/conceptualize their progress on the path, I don't want to turn this into a defense of attainment thread. But I suppose some of this cross-referencing of models might be useful. . . hard to say.

-Kyle
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Incandescent Flower, modified 7 Years ago at 12/7/14 7:51 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 12/7/14 7:51 AM

RE: 3rd and Some Important Thoughts

Posts: 87 Join Date: 10/27/14 Recent Posts
One suggested route this thread could take is this (and this is somewhat of a change of gears): instead of focusing on "what" is different about our experiences related to the progress of insight, investigating instead some possible reasons "why" these differences seem to present themselves (it seems a common enough thing). In other words, instead of allowing ourselves to be baffled by others' testimonies of, among other things, either having a gut-wrenching, killer DN or having a lack of a DN entirely -- often this is somewhat obscurely relegated to differences in "temprament" -- we could approach it more proactively with the idea that maybe a DN is something that can be avoided, or perhaps reduced, with good practice. Again, I will link to the discussion by Culadasa that Nikolai refers to in the comment section on his post in The Yogi Toolbox:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/jhana_insight/conversations/topics/2805

For me, ever since going on the Goenka 10-day, I have been more geared to noticing Annica and Dukha before noticing Anatta*, and, while my DNs haven't been quite as bad as they were on that first retreat (lesser and lesser with each Path), they are still definitely there, and I was thinking that maybe I could reorient my practice toward noticing Anatta first to make the progress to 4th overall less bother- and burdensome.

*And Bill, yes, when I refer to my experience of the moments before 3rd as "applying the characteristic of emptiness", I don't mean that Anatta was something I "had" to notice, so to speak, or "put any effort into" noticing it; I could have said "noticing of emptiness started happening with more rapidity and more depth, all on its own accord", but I didn't. In other words, the "I" that was doing any applying of the Third Characteristic was, naturally, not-self emoticon. It's refreshing to hear that emptiness was the hallmark of your 3rd path, because that's exactly what I meant by saying that.

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