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Stream Entry a.k.a Good news and Bad News

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tl;dr

The Bad News: I blew my retreat after 7 full days and left early
The Good News: I got Stream Entry

Long Version
I always do a ridiculously long rambling email/blog-ish-post after I finish a retreat because I'm usually filled with manic dharma energy, and it's good to get it out all while the feelings and memories are still fresh. So I'll say up front that for a big part I'm writing this speel just for me, and you should not feel the need to indulge me by reading the full thing. I'll also divide it up in sections so if things get boring and rambly, you can skip to a more interesting section. All citations will be linked down the bottom and indicated as a [#]. Also, as inspired by Daniel Ingram, I am totally happy to claim certain things only to be humbly embarrassingly humiliatingly wrong later on. As discussed in his post here[19], you guys would be totally supportive of me if I got this wrong, right? I don't mind making a fool of myself in front of you because I trust you emoticon. I'm posting here to hopefully get confirmation.

Retreat History
  1. November 2013, Wat Prahat, Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand (http://fivethousandyears.org/) Ajahn Tong variant Vipassana/Samatha. Teacher: Ajaan Buddhasak. 10 days, completed, bit of a tourist retreat.
  2. January 2014, Dhamma Laṭṭhikā, Battambong, Cambodia (https://www.dhamma.org/en/schedules/schlatthika) Ledi/U Ba Khin lineage Vipassana. Teacher: S.N. Goenka and assistant teachers. 10 days, completed.
  3. March 2014, Panditarama, Lumbini, Nepal (http://www.panditarama-lumbini.info/) Mahasi Sayadaw/Sayadaw U Pandita style lineage Vipassana. Teacher: Venerable Sayadaw U Vivekananda. Opened ended, 8 days completed.
  4. September 2015, Dhammacari, Bavaria, Germany (http://www.vipassana-dhammacari.com/main_eng.html) Ajahn Tong style Vipassana. Teacher: Hildegard Huber. 15 days, but left on the 8th.
Leading up to the retreat
My plan leading up to the retreat, as inspired by The Hamilton Project: Going for Stream Entry on Goenka 10 day[1] was to start ramping up my daily practice each day to over one hour each day to hit the retreat at full speed. For whatever reason, for which of course I can make dozens of excuses (too busy with work, sore tonsils and tiredness, etc. etc.), that didn't happen quite as much as I hoped, but I was still sitting at least 30-45 minutes each day but also at the same mentally preparing, tying up some loose ends at work, reading/watching final materials, gathering up willpower and commitment to smashing it on retreat, etc.

Final reading material leading up the retreat: Retreat/Stream Entry articles[1][2][3][4], Daniel Ingram Cheetah House videos[16][17][18].

Retreat Centre Schedule / Technique Summary
The retreat centre was Dhammacari in Bavaria, Germany. It was recommended by a good friend, they teach Ajahn Tong style Vipassana which is a variant on Mahasi Sayadaw style noting.

The basic meditation schedule follows this basic format to be done always in this order:
  1. 3 regular prostrations
  2. 3 slower mindful prostrations with a sequence of very deliberation steps/movements (~5 minutes) 
  3. n minutes walking meditation
  4. n minutes sitting meditation (same length x as above)
  5. Metta starting with yourself and ending in all sentient beings (no more than 5 minutes)
The breaks were to be between 15 and 30 mins, not shorter or longer.

You were to be mindful in the breaks, knowing each movement, noting optional, and not slow-motion like straight-up Mahasi Centers like Panditarama. There were also 2 meals lasting each one hour, another hour mindful “working meditation”, and a 1-on-1 report meeting with the teacher each day. The teacher would ask you to report on your last 24 hours, and based on the report would provide instructions to further the technique. You would start with 10 minutes walking/sitting, then 20, then each day adding another 5 minutes. Each day, you receive some extra “touching points” at various locations in the body to be mentally touched in sequence in addition to following the breath.

Going for it
As is recommended by Daniel Ingram and The Hamilton Project article[1], I made a Formal Resolution at the beginning of the course that I would practice as 100% hard as I absolutely could, day in day out, from waking until sleeping, including the breaks, until I hit Stream Entry. I also included “and may I attain to Stream Entry on this retreat” in my metta each session. For me, this meant having breaks only of 15 minutes and never longer, doing extreme mindfulness in the breaks (slowing my movements down a little bit, like at Panditarama, and noting noting noting every damn thing). Each session I would walk and sit as hard and diligently and accurately as I could, noting everything and not reacting, just knowing, pushing through every barrier as intensely as I could without stopping. 

Prior to the retreat I knew about the Insight Stages (especially Dukkha Nanas) only as intellectual concepts but not as much in direct practice or experience. That changed on retreat, and I certainly perceived all the of stages are various times with varying levels of clarity and obvious physical literalness, e.g. literal feelings of misery/sadness, the anxiety of fear, the combination of fear/misery/pain/pressure/mindchaos/swaying-seasickness of Re-Observation. I was not completely aware during the retreat that the Dukkha nanas were occurring in the prescribed sequence, occasionally it seemed like Misery was showing up out of sequence, but maybe that can happen or maybe there was some falling back / rising up happening too. Not sure about this one. The first 3 nanas obviously happened together as a package, A&P as things switched from being searched for to being shown and seen automatically. Misery/Fear/Disgust seemed to intermingle and happen not necessarily in sequence (or I didn't realise it at the time), Desire for Deliverance, Re-Observation and Equanimity (Low/Mid/High w/ Jhana) all happened in sequence. 

I blasted up through the stages as fast as I could, each day starting again and blasting up again getting further each time. The standard pattern of suffering the inability to settle the mind, through to discomforts, itching, then pain, then the breath doing the Weird ThingTM (not to spoil what this is for fear of scripting others), then the somehow inability to note the thoughts of striving, craving, confusing surround the breath doing the Weird ThingTM without reacting. All while passing through the various stages, and through all sorts of crazy raptures, which varied a lot more in this retreat than in others I've been on. I won't dwell on them here, if people feel like having fun talking about raptures and jhanas and perspective distortions later I'd be happy to, suffice to say feeling like a giant, space squishing in to 2D, time slowing down and almost stopping, seeing faces in the visual-field static, vibrations at various centres of the body, bodily distortions etc.

The Dukkha Nanas, including Re-Observation, up to the fourth day, were bad but not actually that bad (relatively). I put this down to my having worn a “groove” (as described by the great Kenneth Folk article[2]) in to them after passing up and down them so many times in the past and my diligent intense practice on retreat.
“It is as if a groove has been worn through that territory. You now own that territory and although you move up and down through those same mental strata every day and in each meditation session, they no longer create problems in your meditation.”
By the third full day (plus the evening before) I was already hitting equanimity, and the breath had only just started doing the Weird ThingTM. My mind would drift and space out sometimes, even after finishing my sits. In my last sit that evening, I reached a reasonably hard Fouth Jhana (characterized by stillness, spaciousness, also somehow I always hear birds chirping in the background). When here, I scrambled for “the exit” after reading several times that once you are here, you are very close, and that I should look for something “behind” the experience. I scrambled around everywhere, trying different things, trying to look back at myself and question the watcher, Dzogchen style inverting consciousness on itself, doing “subject/object” tests, and generally looking around. It was very much like this hilarious scene from the end of Lawnmower Man[5] but without the eventual success. Too bad I didn't note “scrambling”, “searching”, “urgency” or “looking”.

On the fourth day I started again and worked my way up to equanimity again by breakfast. I had this sort of energy in me, like I was close to something and energized, but not like the gung-ho fuck-yeah energy of my A&P spinal bodily shaking event back in my Goenka Retreat. I had again the flickering film-reel no-self arms-moving-on-their-own effect I had in my previous Panditarama Mahasi Sayadaw retreat for a few seconds while eating my breakfast. After breakfast, I was to make 1 hour working meditation by cleaning the kitchen. When the teacher's assistant asked me to do the work, I must have look at her so (accidentally) intensely that I threw her off guard and she lost track of what she was trying to tell me and sort of freaked out. Sorry about that emoticon. When I eventually got to sitting, I glided equanimously but somehow energetically through my then 30 minute walking meditation. I can't remember if it was after just 5 minutes sitting, or after 15mins, talking a break to rest and let the feeling come back to my numb leg, then working again for 5 minutes, but I was doing nothing special and not pushing hard, not in a hard fourth jhana, following the regular old Ajahn Tong breathing and touching points with calm confidence and consistency, not yet struggling with the breath doing the Weird ThingTM (it didn’t appear immediately after sitting at this point), when suddenly...

Fruition
For a few moments my mind “drifted off”, but not in a spacing out way or lost in thoughts way, but more of a vaguing or zoning away to the right-hand side, with some knowledge of the points somehow still being followed by “me”, but at the same time not totally being with the points or the following of them, like the whole process was hazy or going out of focus. "Csshk". It was sort of like 1 nanosecond of TV static, which I audiovisualized as a tiny point of static with nothing else. I'm not sure if I “witnessed” it as this static or if my mind somehow made that the “memory” of what happened. Instantly I am straight back up with a deep breath in and consistently following the points, with a regular energy, and a small minor bliss wave passed through from my head to my mid section. About 1/10th of the pleasantness of the bliss wave one might get from a sneeze. It was very “What the hell was that?!” and “Was that it?!”, “Seriously?!... 'Csshk'?”. I continued the rest of the sit, seeing through the touching points until the end of the sit. Afterwards I sat there for a minute and thought what the hell, what was that, seriously was that it!? Anticlimax. Like 'Cshhhk', like having the impact and significance and silliness of someone blowing a raspberry[6] or a kazoo[7]. I then felt sort of confused and like pulling the “are you serious, what the hell? Really?” Face. I had read and heard that there was a “bliss wave” but expected it to be glorious, at least like a sneeze, not tiny. I went for a walk outside after and everything just felt “super normal”, like going from some type of mild MDMA high or “good drunk” to total sobriety and normal and fine. Things feel silly like: “Whatever. I'll meditate again, sure why not?”. Also a feeling of wanting to be humble about it and not too proud, nothing to brag about, like it's not actually a big deal. Later at the beginning of my next walking meditation, I was thinking about it still with the “are you serious” face, chuckled for a second, cried for a second, then got on with my walking meditation. I felt quite confident that that was really it.

Post Stream Entry
After the event, which I was quite confident about, I made a Formal Resolution to keep practicing as if it wasn't Stream Entry. In theory, I am now cycling, so if I truly had a Fruition the theory says I will have a Fruition again. I also remembered from the Daniel Ingram Cheetah House video[1:28 of Cheetah House Part III [18]] that the first trip through the Dark Night post-Stream-Entry could be very rough so I figured a retreat setting is the best setting to push that one through.

So I kept practicing, almost as hard as always, but perhaps easing off the tiniest little bit with my mindfulness in the breaks since the teacher twice told me the “tuning the sitar” analogy, hinting at tuning and turning it down a little bit to be sustainable. I kept blasting away, but things became very, very difficult. The sessions were now 2x 45 or 50 minutes, with a few brief visits to fear and misery, a very obvious and clear visit to Desire for Deliverance, but mainly the constant and unrelenting brutality of multiple visits to the most hard-core Re-Observation ever, about 100 times worse than that prior to Stream Entry and somehow never quite pushing through or staying gone for long. The Walking Meditations were and absolutely harrowing journey through a never-ending tunnel of anxiety, fear, squeezing chest and head, mind storm and bad-drunk seasick haze, or like an animated image from Dain Fagerholm[8][9], 50 minutes taking an eternity since at this level, time (as it was perceived) was also starting to literally slow down, with the cushion staring at me from the corner through the whole walk, knowing that sooner or later I would have to focus on the breath doing the Weird ThingTM and then watching/knowing the thoughts around striving and confusing with the Weird ThingTM for an equally long amount of time. This eventually proved to be too much and I eventually completely completely snapped under the pressure, breaking down crying, being unable to move, sitting and attempting to start meditating again but not being able to, eventually giving up and leaving the cushion, having a shower, then reporting to my teacher to say I am leaving. I think part of it is that I had (I think) achieved my first Formal Resolution, and the second Formal Resolution was kind of open ended. I hadn't seen another Fruition, and I had no idea how long Re-Observation would last this time around since it's known to be rough after Stream Entry. Eventually I decided maybe I had pushed through everything that I could on retreat and that I would just suck it up in my regular life, even if it took 10 times as long to go through naturally with a little daily practice. I had totally cooked myself.

Leaving the Retreat
The teacher encouraged me to chill out a little bit, do some shorter sits, and see how I feel. I tried a little bit but couldn't do it. I did a little experimentation, some Panditarama style Vipassana, used my stool instead of the tiny cushion for a bit, it was better but the breath still did the Weird ThingTM and I just fundamentally couldn’t handle it. I also played around with some concentration meditation but it felt like I was disrespecting the centre and the teacher so I stopped. I was still very sure I wanted to leave. I told the teacher again, and she asked me if I would stay over night, try practicing a bit, then see how I feel after breakfast. I was still sure, but I stayed the night. I very obviously ended the retreat at Re-Observation a.k.a the “Rolling Up Of The Mat” stage. It was very clear but somehow, I was totally fine and not regretful in the slightest. I hit my Formal Resolution and that's what I wanted to do. The teacher was good about it and gave me her blessing before I left. On the last night, after I had been chilling, doing a bunch of reading of notes/books I had with me from before the retreat but obviously hadn’t been reading on retreat, doing some Panditarama style Mahasi Sayadaw noting practice and experimenting with some Concentration practices, I went to bed. For the first time, in the middle of the night, I suddenly had the impression of what people mean when they talk about Intrinsic Luminosity or The Light of Awareness.

The Light of Awareness
In the middle of the night I woke up slightly startled, as it seemed as if someone had suddenly literally turned on a small reading lamp or night-light to the right of my head (interestingly, in the same location as where my fruition converged). I was startled and looked over, only to find no light there. I turned back and rested my head again, and noticed that I was watching the sensations of breathing and my heart beat in my chest. There was this strong sense like the reading-lamp was shining a light on to wherever my attention was landing, shining a light on my smooth breath, then my slow heart beat. My attention was the light's attention, my awareness the light's awareness. I’m a stone-cold atheist, so it’s a little surprising to find myself writing these words, but it felt very comfortable and nurturing, like we shared the awareness or shared the sensations in our awareness, like this awareness was saying to me "it's OK, you don't have to breathe, I will breathe for you", like a ventilator breathes for someone in a hospital. "I will beat your heart for you" as a pacemaker might. It felt a bit like the soft footsteps of someone else (like a small child) softly walking on my chest". I have felt this no-self-ish feeling before during walking meditation at Panditarama Lumbini, like my feet were being pulled along invisible rails as I walked, as well as during the "flickering film reel" experience of eating breakfast, where my hands were moving around all on their own. I had never really tied this to a generalized Awareness. “I will walk for you so that you don't have to walk”, “I will move your arms for you at the breakfast table so that you may have sustenance and continue living”, as a mother might do when carrying or feeding a small child.

Intrinsic luminosity. Like the motion-activated “porch light” of awareness. As the motion-activated porch light switches on to show what is there (usually just the porch with a cockroach, sometimes a person), similarly the when the porch light of awareness turns on what is illuminated is whatever is in your sensate awareness.


The Night After Retreat
I was a little concerned that I hadn’t seen another Fruition yet and didn’t know if it’s because I didn’t hit Stream Entry, even though I felt sure, or I wasn’t noticing the Fruitions (which would be shame), or that I was somehow stuck in this cycle until I figured out how to push through this next brutality Re-Observation.

I did 45 minutes meditation and didn’t get a Fruition and then prepared for bed. I was doing lying meditation following the breath and heart beat again, when suddenly I was in Fourth Jhana. Again I panicked because I knew I was close and so I didn’t get a fruition, then what felt like 15 minutes like, blip, again with a wave of bliss. Fruition? I was able to do it again in what seemed like 30 minutes later, then again during the night maybe 3 hours later, as I was not sleeping well or somehow meditating most of the night. The cessionations had a similar quality as the one on retreat, but somehow less pronounced and obvious, the details less clear, the “blip” not obvious.

It seems that during lying meditation I have more equanimity, I’m more chilled out and have higher thresholds for seeing subtle things going on. I had my first Light of Awareness moment in a lying meditation, and also on my Panditarama retreat the one and only time I noticed the specific feeling of coldness of air filling my belly during the breath was during a lying meditation.

So these night events seemed like Fruitions but I was not sure, however I was not able to have them or notice them during the day including in my meditations.

Days and nights since the retreat
I am doing 2x 30mins walking/30mins sitting meditation sessions each day. My walking meditation always seems to have the swaying aspect of Re-Observation but way less severe than on retreat. My sits seems to go straight in to calm equanimity, the breath is shallow and long but sustaining, and I can follow the points and my breath effortlessly, but with no fruitions. The “cessations” I was having at night are still there but less convincing as cessations, they are quite dull and feel like “jerks of awakeness” rather than having any actual cessation moment. I also have very minor jerks in other parts of my body including my elbow and head.

During one of my sitting meditations in equanimity, I became so peaced out that I sort of leaned forward. When I leaned up again, it felt as if someone had “switched on the light” again, light a physical brightness visible through my eyelids, like the whole front of my body had been illuminated by something.

I have found I do drift in and out of various stages through the day, but not necessarily with any order to them. At different times I have observed myself in disgust, bliss, sadness, swaying re-observation, high energy.
I am also getting this strange thing that happens when I am typing, I make all sorts of strange typos that I wouldn’t usually make (I type a lot and I’m very accurate). I don’t notice them straight away, only when reading back over my work. Things like exchanging the word “him” for “her”, and other totally random weird typos that make zero sense, like my brain totally glitched out.

Reflections on Stream Entry, a.k.a "err, are you sure...?"
Here is my list of quotes from various places, some of which I read before Stream Entry and some for the first time afterwards (to rule out scripting).

Before Retreat:
From my friend Tim: “It is followed by a Bliss Wave, a click in continuity in the Ringing of the ears (tinitis)”
Dharma Overground claim post: [10]“I could feel something building, some momentum increasing, and was really impatient to just get it done!”
“After about 30 mins of chilled out scanning I got almost drowsy, then out of nowhere, a blip, and my heart was beating slightly faster. That couldn't have been it no? I tried closing my eyes and starting again, but things were just different. I got up, started laughing a bit, but thought no, I'm just kidding myself as I wanted this so badly. I went to pee, came back to sit again, but the most obvious part of my experience was that I didn't have the urge to sit any more. No urgency at all. Then I started laughing. Things were not much different, but I laughed and laughed... I got up, walked about, no, I didn't really feel lighter as such...but yet...I went downstairs and my mum was there. I was still laughing.”

Kenneth Folk's article:[2]“In just this way, our yogi is sitting there one day (or walking, or standing), and there is a momentary discontinuity in her stream of consciousness. It’s not a big deal. But, immediately afterward, she asks herself, “Was that it?” It seems that something has changed, but it’s very subtle. She feels lighter than before. Maybe she begins to laugh. “Was that it? Ha! I thought it was going to be a big deal. That was hardly anything. And yet... Something is somehow different. It would be very difficult to say exactly what. In many ways, things feel exactly the same.”
“Using more technical language, a stream-enterer’s sitting begins with the 4th ñana, progresses through ñanas 5-11, then leaps to the 16th ñana, fruition, often a momentary event and experienced as a blip-out or discontinuity of conscious awareness. After that, it resets to the 4th ñana and repeats the pattern.”

“I became even calmer. Then, when I wasn’t expecting anything, there was a momentary discontinuity in my awareness, followed by a deep breath and a feeling of bliss (16th ñana, Knowledge of Fruition).”

Daniel Ingram:“Separating the early stages of Equanimity from its mature stage, there tends to be a “near miss,” moment when we get very close to the fruit of the path, which serves to really chill one out, as it were. From this point enlightenment is likely to be attained quickly as long as the meditator continues to simply practice and gently fine-tune their awareness and precision, paying gentle attention to things like thoughts of progress and satisfaction with equanimity. At some point even this becomes boring, and a certain cool apathy and even forgetfulness arises.”[20]
“The first time through the Dark Night after Stream Entry can be a bit rough”[1:28 of Cheetah House Part III [18]]


Sam Harris chats with Joseph Goldstein:[14][15]Sam quoting Sayadaw U Pandita: “If you sit [in equanimity] long enough, something interesting might happen”Joseph Goldstein: "Cultivating a continuity of mindfulness"

After Retreat:
My emphasis added where I believe things especially reflect my experience.

Daniel Ingram MTCB
Descriptions of Emptiness:[11]
  • If there was any sense of an experience, even of nothingness or something that seemed incomprehensible, particularly anything involving the vaguest hint of the passage of time during it, write it off as something other than emptiness. This is an absolute rule.
  • Similarly, if there was any sense of a this observing a that, or a self of any sort that was actually present for whatever happened, write it off as something other than emptiness. If you were there, that wasn’t it.
  • If there was not a complete sense of discontinuity and if it makes any sense to think of time, space, perspective or memory continuing across the gap, write it off immediately as something other than emptiness. On the other hand, if the only way to remember what happened involves remembering just forward to the end of the particular door that presented and then remembering back to when reality reappeared, well, keep reading.
  • If on continued repetition of the unknowing event over days or weeks it fails the above tests, write it off as something other than emptiness.
  • If continued repetition of that particular kind of unknowing event over days or weeks fails to give any clear experiences of the Three Doors or to reveal something very paradoxical and profound about the nature of subject and object, be skeptical.
  • If there was a double-dip into unknowing events with a few profound moments of clarity and altered experience between them, as is characteristic of the A&P Event, with one shift happening half-way down the out-breath and a second shift at the end of that out-breath, write it off immediately as more likely having been that or maybe the early stages of Equanimity.
  • If the event cannot be repeated, write it off. Those who have attained a path will attain more Fruitions naturally, maybe one to many per day, as they basically can't help but cycle.
Fruition[12]“It is as though someone hit the reset button and cleared out all the junk for a little while. There is a nice bliss wave that tends to follow and may take a few seconds to develop.”...
“The initial aftershocks, however, can go on for days, and may be mild or spectacular, fun or unsettling or some mixture of these. There are times when it is fun to show off, and this is one of those times. Aftershocks I have noticed after paths include but are not limited to” (ticks and crosses added by me):
✘ the visceral feeling that sensory reality is so intense that the nerves in one’s forehead and upper neck may not be able to handle the strain; 
✘ the feeling that one has become diffused into the atmosphere without a center, 
✔ purpose
✔ function, 
✔ sense of direction or even of will; a feeling of joy and gratitude beyond what is normally possible welling through one’s being
✔✔ the sense of discovery of that which one has most needed
✔✔ the profound sense of coming home
✔✔ a quiet awe like the stillness after a great storm; 
✘ rapturous transcendent highs that make anything that happened after the A&P seem like dry toast. 
Descriptions of the Three Doors[13]“When the emptiness aspect predominates and is combined with the impermanence door, there are three clear and discrete moments of moving towards or sideways to (or perhaps focusing on) an intelligent seeing image staring back at us, except that there is nothing on this side. After the third moment, the illusion collapses in a very natural and pleasant way.”
Kenneth Folk[2]“At this stage, the challenge is slippery mind. By slippery mind, I mean an inability to stay focused on one object, and a tendency to drift into pleasant reverie.”

“During this first phase of practice, it’s as though the yogi is rubbing two sticks together in an effort to start a fire.5 When the fire takes hold in earnest, the 4th ñana, the all-important Arising and Passing of Phenomena (A&P) has been attained. From this point on, the practice is more about constancy than heroics. Patience and trust are important; at times it is necessary to avoid the temptation to push too hard, understanding that just as you can’t force a young plant to grow by pulling on its stalk, you can’t force yourself to develop through the ñanas.”

Daniel Ingram[9:42 of 18]
“[Noting subtle things] like attention and effort [and noting itself]”
“If for some reason you fall back to re-observation / out of equanimity and you didn't, if you've been to equanimity you can do it again [...] sometimes it takes multiple runs up to it.”

Daniel Ingram from 25:14 of [18]“You're going to hit the Dark Night again probably multiple times per day [... but] the first times through it can be a little rough. One of the most momentarily micro-psychotic moments I had in my practice was the mind states that arose the first time I hit Re-Observation after I hit Stream Entry because my mind was unbelievably powerful [...] once I hit that territory [...] it was like unggg my mind felt like this unbelievable hive of angry crazy people [...] occasionally the first cycle through can be a little wild because of that mix of horse power and it's pretty new"

Daniel Ingram from 26:53 of[18]Describing multiple-fruition practice (just added this one because its frikkin' cool)

Random quotes, musings or theories
Well, it's always fun after a retreat when you're full of manic dharma energy and think that you know everything to analyze and interpret the way the universe and human psychology work. So, I will indulge.

On retreat, punch through the "wall of pain" (or other suffering) over and over and over again relentlessly as often and hard as possible but without breaking yourself. Pain/Suffering seems to be the easiest of the Three Characteristics to see clearly and make extremely fast progress in insight as compared to the others.

There is no “meta-narrative” outside of your meditative experience that isn't itself worth noting (and therefore integrating). This includes noting things like doubt, questioning, expectation. From the Daniel Ingram video[9:42 of 18]. When you notice a meta-narrative, then start noting it.

After Stream Entry, everything I've read from the theory, especially Daniel Ingram's distillation of it, takes on this whole new level of literalness rather than intellectual or theoretical. Observing suffering becoming more and more “fundamental” or basic, observing subtle thoughts in equanimity just prior to stream entry, and the concept of luminosity or the light of awareness.

Perhaps the “near miss” is always present, and is always an entry to a hard fourth jhana before later, in it's chilled after glow, only then getting Fruition, when you are able to note the energy and desperation you had for Fruition which come up in the hard fourth jhana. In later fruitions I would also enter a hard fourth jhana before later on chilling out enough to get a Fruition.

Perhaps these natural cycles of insight including fruition are happening at all times for all humans, it's just that those without insight are not aware of them because they are too subtle, just subtle moods and uncertainties in their regular life. Then, if at a time in their lives a circumstance arises that results in them having too much craving or aversion towards one of the stages, especially those of the dukkha nanas, they can get stuck there in that nana unable to move far. They are now effectively stuck in that cycle, and can only move on when they build up enough insight or clear seeing to then, again, rise through the stages and attain fruition, which in the glow of very clear insight is much, much more clear than usual and its character, at least immediately before and after fruition, can be known. Said another way, as you move up and down the dukkha nanas (by applying insight/knowing/accepting/objectivity and also energy) of your current cycle over and over again during your life, you do wear a groove in them over time that makes them easy to traverse. Each successive run at fruition gets you closer, and eventually you run hard enough and slide smoothly enough through the groove that you manage to break through the door. At this point the cycles come back in their natural way and continue to happen until again, enough craving or aversion during a particular nana causes you to get stuck, and a new progress of insight starts, but this time, it's happening at a higher level of insight, a.k.a the next "path". In the case of beginning a new path, the craving or aversion that gets you "stuck" in the cycle is noting something deeper about your experience that still has a more fundamental form of one of the three characteristics in it, and noticing this enough to get you stuck. You will then need to deepen your overall level of insight again to achieve the fruition at that cycle, and the fruition should be seen with even more clarity and detail due to the deeper level of insight. The "game" finishes when there is no further deeper insight to achieve, it is impossible to generate more craving or aversion, and so the cycles happen ad infinitum at this final level of insight.

In the afterglow of the retreat, there is this feeling like being on some good sustainable mild acid trip without the downsides and potential bad trips. Like this underlying groove and flow of time. It’s very similar to experiences I’ve had on mushrooms and acid, and is particularly relatable to when you take multiple substances at the same time including acid, you get all the crazy varying effects from the different substances, but there is still this underlying groove flowing and carrying you to the end of the night, until suddenly you’re there at the end of the night and the trip is over. I feel like I really understand now why people draw parallels between psychedelics and meditative experience, they can show you this same aspect of an underlying flowing groove.

How my cycles/nanas manifest
In my experience so far, during the retreat and now after in it's afterglow while my mind is still powerful, the nanas in my cycle manifest like this. While meditating, the effect is stronger and more obvious but still effectively the same and having the same essence. During walking meditation they are extremely obvious, during sitting, because you don't (usually) have your eyes open, nanas involving visual effects especially Re-Observation and Equanimity may be less obvious.

Arising and Passing: Mild to amazing rising energy

Fear: Anxiety in the chest, beating heart

Misery: Literally just feeling a bit like crying
                
Disgust: Physical sick feeling in the stomach, aversion to food, things looking gross or thinking/dreaming about revolting things

Desire for Deliverance: Also a kind of misery like “why are things really like this, there is only one way out that is to practice”

Re-Observation: Same as combining Fear, Misery and Disgust but also adding a sea-sick view swaying

Equanimity: Visible glow/enhancement, loudness, clarity of sound, deep slow smooth breathing, chilled bliss

Fruition: Zone out, discontinuity, then a bliss wave

Citations
[1] The Hamilton Project: Going for Stream Entry on Goenka 10 day http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.de/2010/11/going-for-stream-entry-on-goenka-10-day.html
[2] The Progress of Insight by Kenneth Folk http://awakenetwork.org/forum/kfd-public/13497-the-progress-of-insight-by-kenneth-folk
[3] A Reformed Slacker's Guide to Stream Entry http://www.dharmaoverground.org/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/ReformedSlackersGuide
[4] Daniel Ingram - General Advice on Retreats http://integrateddaniel.info/retreats/
[5] YouTube - Lawnmower man searching for the exit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RDtMjcFOlI&feature=youtu.be&t=7m17s
[6] YouTube - Blowing a raspberry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQlPjUSj7no
[7] YouTube - Kazoo Fanfare https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4YlZcX3ThM
[8] Dain Fagerholm illustrations http://dainfagerholm.blogspot.com.ee/
[9] Dain Fagerholm illustration https://33.media.tumblr.com/c2d60e10cff2358990f83dbfe246e05c/tumblr_nsoacpGAVu1tv8x2go1_500.gif
[10] Dharma Overground Stream Entry Claim to Attainment Post http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1451522
[11] MTCB Was That Emptiness? http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+Was+that+Emptiness
[12] MTCB Fruition http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+15.+Fruition
[13] MTCB The Three Doors http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+The+Three+Doors
[14] Sam Harris / Joseph Goldstein podcast part 1 https://soundcloud.com/samharrisorg/joseph-goldstein
[15] Sam Harris / Joseph Goldstein podcast part 2 https://soundcloud.com/samharrisorg/joseph_sam_2
[16] Daniel Ingram - Cheetah House Part I (http://vimeo.com/28182419)
[17] Daniel Ingram - Cheetah House Part II (http://vimeo.com/28182458)
[18] Daniel Ingram - Cheetah House Part III (http://vimeo.com/28182481)
[19] Daniel Ingram on sangha support when totally wrong about attainment (http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/view_message/4462226#_19_message_4462226)
[20] MTCB Equanimity http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+11.+Equanimity

RE: Stream Entry a.k.a Good news and Bad News
Answer
10/1/15 8:33 PM as a reply to Klay Men.
Sounds like good progress. Congratulations. What are your plans/desires/tendencies now?

Nick

RE: Stream Entry a.k.a Good news and Bad News
Answer
10/1/15 8:53 PM as a reply to Klay Men.
Yay!  Congratulations!  Interesting about the luminosity.  I still get confused on the terminology.  I have heard a lot of people talk about seeing white/glowing shadows, seeing light behind the eyelids, etc, but I was under the impression that the word 'luminosity' did not exactly refer to that but more like to the internal light of knowing or somesuch. 
-Eva

RE: Stream Entry a.k.a Good news and Bad News
Answer
10/2/15 1:35 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
As far as plans/desires/tendencies go, I feel like doing the whole "re-engage with the specifics of our life" thing Daniel Ingram talks about after Stream Entry. I want to return to German language study so I can apply for my Permanent Residency in one year's time. I have wanted to chill out and read a lot, I've seen a few friends for some wholesome hanging out. It's hard to say how much of this is just afterglow from the retreat and how much is going to "stick". I have no particular desire to have sex, and no desire to eat meat (not even mmm I remember bacon, so nice). I also have no strong desire to do my daily meditation but I do it anyway because I know it's good to do. In general mentally I feel sort of rock-solid, like conversations that would have made me feel awkward or nervous are completely effortless and calm now, like they are no problem. I have been prone to anxiety at different times in my life, and that general feeling of anxiety, sinking in the chest/heartbeat, feel like they are completely gone. I suspect this is also afterglow from the retreat. We shall see how things pan out over the coming weeks

RE: Stream Entry a.k.a Good news and Bad News
Answer
10/2/15 1:42 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
About Luminosity, "is it real physical glowing or some type of internal knowing", confusingly / seemingly contradictorily it is kind of both. When I had it during sitting meditation, I felt light behind the eyes, but also this "feeling" of light landing on me. It is like how with eyes open, during Equanimity, things feel brighter and sharper and maybe slightly warmer to look at. That same type of brightness behind the eyes. On the "internal light of knowing", it is a light of knowing but it's not "I" that is knowing it, it's like an outside general knowing force is knowing it, kind of in combination with the conventional "you" knowing it too.

RE: Stream Entry a.k.a Good news and Bad News
Answer
10/2/15 1:44 AM as a reply to Klay Men.
Nice write up....sounds like some good stuff.
Klay Men:
I suspect this is also afterglow from the retreat. We shall see how things pan out over the coming weeks

Ya, the honeymoon phase is kinda like you're having a month long slowly fading A&P. The energetics settle down to the new "normal" and then somehow the sensitivity gets turned up until you are back to working toward the next path....kinda happens on its own....
Have fun with it,
~D

RE: Stream Entry a.k.a Good news and Bad News
Answer
10/2/15 3:48 AM as a reply to Klay Men.
Good progress, Klay Men. I can definitely relate with it. My past reatreats also included Goenka, Panditarama Lumbini and Chom Thong. I think the owner of Dhammacari Robert was also my AT. Good luck on your journey emoticon

Does anyone know what these "cessations" or "jerks" of consciousness are? The've occured to me on several retreats, sometimes with colour in front of eyes and sometimes quite violently.

RE: Stream Entry a.k.a Good news and Bad News
Answer
10/5/15 4:02 AM as a reply to Klay Men.
My first thought was that you got readily fooled by the fractal, i.e. equanimity being a sub-stage of other nanas.
Did you discuss all those thoughts with the teacher, who is certainly the best one to judge your process?

Regardless of whether this is SE or not, here's a word of warning, inspired by this post and some others in the same fashion:
I have done several retreats at this center, some of them under this particular teacher. I believe that they really know what they're doing. I also observe that the very system they use is never discussed by Daniel Ingram, Kenneth Folk et al.
The system they use is very intensive. This is really the upper bound of what is possible to do with Noting practice. If you diligently follow their instructions, then there's nothing more you can do in the sense of "this program is for lazy bums, I can do better." Their instructions are even a bit more intense than what Daniel Ingram recommends.

Now you come and bring all these concepts with you and add additional elements, such as making resolutions about attaining stream entry all the time. (for the record, I once asked her about making resolutions, and she discouraged me from it. So I doubt that this was part of the instructions.)
What happens? Right, you burn yourself, and even though the teacher clearly noticed, she couldn't keep you from doing just that.
You managed to burn yourself before the intensive part of the retreat even began.

In short, your post is another excellent example of how people read MCTB and all the other stuff and then get completely unbalanced.

RE: Stream Entry a.k.a Good news and Bad News
Answer
10/5/15 3:14 PM as a reply to bernd the broter.
bernd the broter:
My first thought was that you got readily fooled by the fractal, i.e. equanimity being a sub-stage of other nanas.
Did you discuss all those thoughts with the teacher, who is certainly the best one to judge your process?

After my "event", I described with great detail the 24 hours leading up to the event as well as the event itself. She was not keen to discuss it, saying "we should cling to or crave quick changes in energy", referring to my feeling of equanimity -> soberness after the event. It's possible she was counterbalancing me because she knew I was analyzing, which I was. After the retreat, I was able to chat with the teacher on the phone about it, and I asked her very directly if it was Stream Entry, since I had written down on my entry form that I was goal oriented and that I was aiming for Stream Entry. She said it was "not important" and that "only I could know if it was".

bernd the broter:
Regardless of whether this is SE or not, here's a word of warning, inspired by this post and some others in the same fashion:
I have done several retreats at this center, some of them under this particular teacher. I believe that they really know what they're doing. I also observe that the very system they use is never discussed by Daniel Ingram, Kenneth Folk et al.
The system they use is very intensive. This is really the upper bound of what is possible to do with Noting practice. If you diligently follow their instructions, then there's nothing more you can do in the sense of "this program is for lazy bums, I can do better." Their instructions are even a bit more intense than what Daniel Ingram recommends.

Now you come and bring all these concepts with you and add additional elements, such as making resolutions about attaining stream entry all the time. (for the record, I once asked her about making resolutions, and she discouraged me from it. So I doubt that this was part of the instructions.)
What happens? Right, you burn yourself, and even though the teacher clearly noticed, she couldn't keep you from doing just that.
You managed to burn yourself before the intensive part of the retreat even began.

In short, your post is another excellent example of how people read MCTB and all the other stuff and then get completely unbalanced.

I appreciate and pretty much agree your opinion and I think this is becoming more of a discussion about Goal Oriented / High Intensity Practice in general, which has its PROs and CONs. On the plus side, I don't think I ever would have attended my last 2 retreats, or really gone for it, if it wasn't for the belief that Stream Entry was really possible and that fast progress can be made with strong determination. On the negative side, there can be a tendency towards scripting, distraction due to analysis and planning, and an unsustainable style of practice that can lead to burn-out.

I'm aware that this particular retreat becomes more intensive, as I have spoken with a friend who has completed the basic course. I would also never want to deliberately begin a retreat expecting not to finish and to burn out, and never disrespect the center or the teacher by thinking I know better or that I'm superior, in fact I feel that I followed the instructions to a T (apart from the Formal Resolutions) and it was just the level of intensity that needed tuning. I'm still personally learning how to fine tune this in a way where I'm getting the most out of the time spent on retreat while not turning the peg too far and breaking the string. My next "goal" is, surely, to practice sustainably and finish the next retreat. And in general, cultivating a general culture of sustainable practice is probably a good idea.

But on the flip side, is goal-oriented practice really that bad? If you burn hard but reach your goal, wasn't it worth it? So then the question really becomes: are you sure you reached your goal or not? I'll leave this as an exercise for the reader, but for me personally the descriptions fit too well.

RE: Stream Entry a.k.a Good news and Bad News
Answer
10/8/15 2:03 AM as a reply to Klay Men.
Klay Men:
But on the flip side, is goal-oriented practice really that bad? If you burn hard but reach your goal, wasn't it worth it? So then the question really becomes: are you sure you reached your goal or not? I'll leave this as an exercise for the reader, but for me personally the descriptions fit too well.
On the surface, this question is reasonable. But I think it's misleading.
The question, in this instance, shouldn't be "Did I reach my goal?".

Think about this instead:
"Did obsessing over my goal help me in any way?"
"Was 'getting the goal and burning myself' worth losing 5 precious retreat days?"
Even if less intense practice had entailed not getting SE, I suspect that it's not worth missing the second half of the retreat.

I think those retreats are really designed in a way that you don't have to worry about the maps. They lead you through the whole Progress of Insight, and trying to cut that short just isn't a good idea. MCTB is useful to have some background knowledge so you won't run into the usual traps (Re-observation, equanimity boredom etc.), but beyond that it very soon becomes a hindrance.

RE: Stream Entry a.k.a Good news and Bad News
Answer
10/20/15 9:36 AM as a reply to bernd the broter.
Hey

I believe that once you know about SE or other goals it is hard not want it, hard not to develop a goal motivated practice. You can not just forget and reverse, you are kinda stuck with your wantings. I think that if it pushes your practice it can be a good thing as long as you manage to overcome this hindrance.
It is a difficult topic but somehow I feel like it doesn't make sense to talk about it, either you crave it, or you don't.

Regarding this DHO has been like a double edged sword to me, but I feel like that the good side was way sharper.. emoticon
Once I knew about the nanas and SE it was hard to not want it, and I tried to not want it. Now, after my 21 day Chom Tong I am less concerned about it, maybe I got it, maybe not. (Of course it would be cool! emoticon) Cool thread, I enjoyed the read!!

With Metta
Paul

RE: Stream Entry a.k.a Good news and Bad News
Answer
10/20/15 4:01 PM as a reply to bernd the broter.
bernd the broter:
Even if less intense practice had entailed not getting SE, I suspect that it's not worth missing the second half of the retreat.

I think those retreats are really designed in a way that you don't have to worry about the maps. They lead you through the whole Progress of Insight, and trying to cut that short just isn't a good idea. 
I'd love to hear a little more context about why you think this is true. I agree blowing retreat is not good, that burning too hard and burning out is not good, and that MTCB may encourage this kind of practice, and even agree that it can lead to scripting and that it is hard to be sure regarding attainments, but I don't think I can agree with the statement "Even if less intense practice had entailed not getting SE, I suspect that it's not worth missing the second half of the retreat." Perhaps I have missed something in what you are trying to convey, but if you grant that it is true that Stream Entry is acquired, I can't see how finishing the retreat without SE is better.

RE: Stream Entry a.k.a Good news and Bad News
Answer
10/21/15 2:07 AM as a reply to Klay Men.
Klay Men:

if you grant that it is true that Stream Entry is acquired, I can't see how finishing the retreat without SE is better.
People have this weird idea of the process being almost-linear, and comparable according to the 4 Paths.
A corollary of this mindset is that "Someone with SE is more advanced than someone without SE" and also "If I have SE, then I'm necessarily more advanced than I would be without SE".

I guess that's wrong. Diligent practice will make you progress, regardless of before/after SE.
Here's a thought experiment: Let's say you have some sort of oracle which knows when your mind is almost hitting SE. And you take that to your retreat. Every time, SE is near, the oracle will hit an alarm clock. Then you pack your stuff and leave. Now you repeat that for 5 years, starting a 10-day retreat every month.
Someone else just does one 30-day retreat, gets SE and stops practicing after that.
Who is more advanced? I would certainly expect that the first person has more skills.

RE: Stream Entry a.k.a Good news and Bad News
Answer
12/9/15 8:32 AM as a reply to bernd the broter.
bernd the broter

Now you repeat that for 5 years, starting a 10-day retreat every month. 
Someone else just does one 30-day retreat, gets SE and stops practicing after that.
Who is more advanced? I would certainly expect that the first person has more skills.

Agree. Though I wouldn't use the term 'skills' as this sort of terminology just adds to competition-oriented approach to spirituality.
But definitely he would have a clearer mind and a more balanced emotional state (thus less suffering).

This goal oriented approach to spirituality is interesting.. it can have benefits in short term, but ultimately it only builds up a "spiritual ego" unless the goal of advancing is to benefit all. (benefitting others doesn't seclude you from receiving benefit).

RE: Stream Entry a.k.a Good news and Bad News
Answer
1/27/16 9:39 PM as a reply to Klay Men.
What is exactly blip-out  meaning?

often a momentary event and experienced as a blip-out or discontinuity of conscious awareness. After that, it resets to the 4th ñana and repeats the pattern.”



RE: Stream Entry a.k.a Good news and Bad News
Answer
1/31/16 10:44 AM as a reply to ANNA AIYAR.
Well, my "cession" was not confirmed, but my understanding is its like a breach in continuity of consciousness, like an ultra-fast moment of non-consciousness, where there is nothing there including no self. It kind of reminded me of the sound / moment that happens when you change channels on one of those old analog TVs