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Insight in-flight
Answer
6/19/15 9:52 PM
Super Brief background:

I HAD been doing really well with my practice.
Pretty much everyday, and had worked up to about 45 min per sit. This went on for nearly a year.(prior to that period of "doing well" I had a very nebulous on-again/of-again relationship with meditation for years)

Anyway - I WAS doing well... reading the maps I thought I was perhaps on the cusp of some milestone… 2nd nana perhaps as I was dealing with new pains. But then I just stopped. For months. Maybe six.

Recently (a couple weeks ago) I decided to get back on track.
And have done well as far getting sits in, but my attention took a hit during the time off.

Ok here's my experience:

This week, while traveling for work, I got a good deal of meditation in. On the plane ride home last night I was reading an article in Buddhadharma magazine. It was talking about "I" people tag onto experiences... "I'm seeing", "I'm meditating", etc. 

I had read articles discussing the concept of "no-self" before, and I would read the words, understand the words, and perhaps even decide to agree with them; But there was no actual experiential understanding of the concept.

The words in this article weren't particularly epic, as I said I'd read similar things before, but this time I had an "ah-ha" moment that was pretty intense.

In the past I've had experiences where I'd read something that would really hit me. It would feel like I was leaning back on two legs of chair when it started to tip over, but I caught myself before it fell. Then the feeling was over and I was left struggling to wrap my head around what I almost understood.

THIS time was different. THIS time the chair fell, but never landed anywhere. This ah-ha moment consumed me and I finally GOT IT. I GOT the whole no-self thing. I opened a notebook and started taking notes of my thoughts as fast I could.

I was amazed, and happy. Really happy.
Got home late and peeked in on my kids and was about knocked over with joy.

Today the joy is much less pronounced, and my amazing realization feels much more mundane, but still very real and ingrained. 

I get it now on a level I never did.

But ... I was reading on an airplane.
I wasn't meditating.
I had no unitive experience.
I experienced no multi-day bliss wave (though I was pretty pumped).

Can this kind of ah-ha moment be tied to any type of progression, or am I making too much out of a purely intellectual event?

Thanks folks!
Doug

RE: Insight in-flight
Answer
6/20/15 6:41 AM as a reply to Doug M.
If you know for a fact that there is no self, and if this knowing persists, then that is stream-entry in my book. Some people experience a relatively hard pop; others have a soft pop. Your transition needn't be the same as anyone else's. It's the knowing that matters.

Others on this board seem to have a different system of naming and diagnosis. I'll leave it to them to give their points of view.

RE: Insight in-flight
Answer
6/20/15 10:46 AM as a reply to Doug M.
Doug, yes, I had a very similar experience, also while on an airplane. It didn't really fit within any of the Theravada maps/experiences but then not everything we experience does, or has to. I talked to a few friends afterward, one a very experienced Zen teacher, and he seemed to have the best "exaplanation"  -- in Zen they call moments like this "kensho." It remains with me to this day.

I posted about this here on DhO about back then but that was probably on 2008 or 2009. It was not stream entry - that was a very different event which included a very dramatic cessation. With this "kensho" experience nothing like a cessation accompanied it. It was just as you descirbe, the realization that everything was not me, not self, and perfectly perfect. Nothing to add, nothing to lose.

RE: Insight in-flight
Answer
6/20/15 1:18 PM as a reply to Doug M.
Further to Cameron and Marti (your respondents so far), I agree: to me one's suffusive insights come inherently as a surprise because there is absolutely no effort/construction/longing happening, particularly right after training and effort, seconds or months. Just in a moment of let-go, ping, there it is =)

Thanks Derek & Chris!
Answer
6/20/15 1:34 PM as a reply to Doug M.
Derek - 
I see your point, and while it would be very cool to think I had hit such an important milestone, I hesitate to call it stream entry. There are 4 reasons I'm not sure I'd call it that.

1) It's too early to say if it's going to stay with me.

2) I've always heard of Stream Entry as something that "changes everything going forward". I'm not sure this has. I can now - when I stop to consider it - see the aspect of "no self" in my experiences. But I have to stop and consider it. I don't just see things differently by default.

3) Some of this comes down to how we use vocabulary, so I can't be sure everyone would describe my experience the same way. I'm trying to avoid a long winded recap of my experience ... but... Even though the concept of "no self" was clear to me there was still SOMETHING observing. And if it' not me... it must be everything. And if it/I is everything... so obviously is everyone and everything else. Even non-person things.  The seeing and the seen were both cause and effect. Equal co-creators. This is hard to explain. It's all very trippy... But it didn't leave me in a place where "proceeding is no longer optional" which is another way I've heard stream entry described. I imagine I could still very easily get lazy and fall off the practice wagon again.

4) I'm still on a bit of a high, but other than that I don't know that this experience will change much with regard to how I view things/people/situations. 

At any rate I'll be paying close attention for next couple of months to see what persists.


Chris -
Big thanks for your post! Kensho makes a lot of sense to me. It was an event of some kind, but perhaps something "less" than Stream Entry, etc.

When you say it "stayed with you" are you referring to the realization or the explanation from your zen friend? (just wondering if your kensho moment had any lasting effect.)

Also - would love to hear more about cessation. What changed exactly?


Thanks again guys - appreciate the insight.
Doug

RE: Insight in-flight
Answer
6/20/15 1:32 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Very interesting point katy.
Let the gaurd down and insight sneaks in. emoticon

Speaks to the importance in the doing of practice vs. getting all caught up in the reason of practice.

RE: Insight in-flight
Answer
6/20/15 8:03 PM as a reply to Doug M.
When you say it "stayed with you" are you referring to the realization or the explanation from your zen friend? (just wondering if your kensho moment had any lasting effect.)

What stayed with me was the ability to get to the place where the original ksnsho experience took me. I took to calling it "the simplest thing."

As for your second questoin, here's my description of my first cessation, as described here on DhO in 2009:

I’m reminded to ask folks here about a recurring experience that I have with some frequency. While observing an object in meditation – let’s say the breath entering and leaving my nostrils – I perceive a slow building of energy and focus. The in-breath starts to bring a very fine set of vibrations in the top of the head and an almost giddy mental feeling, sort of like a tiny whiff of laughing gas, that grows as the breath is drawn and until it is at its peak. The peak of the breath brings a sharp distinct break and when the out-breath starts that same energetic and finely vibrating giddy feeling resumes (this not a hyperventilation-like giddiness). Each successive breath slowly increases the intensity of these fine vibrations until a kind of crescendo is reached, at which point all the energy that has built up quickly flows to the observed object, appears to merge with the object and then FLASH!, an image appears, a complex image, for just a tiny fraction of a second, after which everything – and I do mean EVERYTHING – winks out of existence. Pure pitch black, silent nothingness ensues (no sound, no light, no feeling, no self, no perception of any kind) and lasts for about a second or so. Then awareness reappears anew. The impression after the second or so of nothingness reminds me of the rebooting of a computer. Everything is turned completely off and then restarts.

FWIW – this is very clearly not the same as the experience of the simplest thing.

FWIW#2 – the fraction of a second image always reminds me afterward of a mandala that you see from the Vajrayana tradition or a series of tiny network nodes connected by tiny threads. Coincidence? Meaningful? Meaningless? I really just don’t know.


RE: Insight in-flight
Answer
6/20/15 8:49 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Awesome description Chris Thanks!